Ji Ning’s body flickered, then he transformed into his three-headed, six-armed form. He wielded the Thousandbull Sword in his hands, as well as five of the top-grade, Immortal-ranked Skyraker swords.
In the face of this third forbidden zone, Ning didn’t dare to relax in the slightest. Only after fully preparing himself did he step forward towards the Fiendgod corpse, moving past the thirty-meter threshold and entering the field of the third forbidden zone.
“Ning, son, eat some more.”
This was an incomparably familiar hall. The lit candles here were as thick as a child’s arm, and the child-Ning was seated in front of a table. Atop the table there was a flagon of water as well as a plate of meat and pastries.
“This…” The child-Ning stared in front of him. In front of him was a woman, her gaze filled with benevolent love as she looked at him. “Why are you looking at me? Hurry up and eat.”
Ning turned his head to look backwards. Indeed; behind him was seated a handsome young man, Ji Yichuan. However, he only gave Ning a frowning glance, then barked coldly, “What are you looking at? Focus on your food when you are eating!”
“Yes, father.” Tears suddenly streamed out of the child-Ning’s face, but he hurriedly lowered his head, picked up a biscuit, and began to wolf it down.
Within the mountain gorge.
The black-robed youth remained seated in the lotus position at the corner of the gorge. He stared towards Ning, who had made it within thirty meters of the Fiendgod corpse, then shook his head. “The third forbidden zone isn’t so easy to overcome. It tests the weakest, softest parts of your soul. It doesn’t matter how powerful your body is, how mighty your divine power is, or how formidable your sword-arts are; all of those are useless.”
The days child-Ning spent with his parents were very happy. One day passed after another, and the child-Ning learned both agility techniques and sword techniques.
The child-Ning arrived outside his parent’s room. There was a female servant yawning sleepily outside. Upon seeing the child-Ning arrive, she couldn’t help but feel surprised. However, she didn’t stop him as he moved to knock on the door.
Creaaaak. The door opened.
It was the fur-clad Ji Yichuan who had opened the door. Upon seeing his son, he frowned and said coldly, “It’s late. Why have you come here instead of sleeping?” Ning’s mother, Yuchi Snow, left her bed and walked over, smiling as she rubbed the child-Ning’s head. “Hurry up and go back to sleep. It’s late.”
“Father. Mother.” The child-Ning suddenly said.
“Eh?” Yichuan and Snow both looked at their son.
“I want to hug you two,” the child-Ning said.
Yichuan was puzzled, but Snow just laughed. “Silly boy.” She immediately pulled Ning into her arms.
In his mother’s arms, Ning stretched one of his own arms to tightly embrace his mother, then the other towards his father.
“Father…” The child-Ning looked at his father.
“You are just…” Yichuan gently shook his head, but he still moved closer, allowing Ning to hold him.
With one arm, he held his father. With the other, he held his mother. Ning pressed against his parents, smelling their scent. He closed his eyes, tears streaming down his face. He said very softly, “I really want to continue like this, but…my memories are already beginning to grow blurry.”
“Ning? Son?” Snow looked at Ning, and Yichuan look at him as well.
Ning raised his head, his tears blurring his vision. He just stood there and stared at his parents.
Ning’s unwilling, angry roar suddenly filled the entire illusory world, shaking it and instantly shattering it like glass. Everything quickly vanished.
One illusory world after another appeared, each one playing on all the deepest desires in a person’s heart. Greed…love…hate…obsessions…
“How can this be?” The black-robed youth, still seated in the corner of the gorge, stared at the scene before him in astonishment. Ning had already spent more than an hour within the third forbidden zone after taking his first step…but after that first hour, each subsequent step needed less than the time needed to boil a kettle of tea. One step at a time, he broke through the illusions until finally, all of them vanished.
The black-robed youth laughed, then said with a soft sigh, “So he is the one.” And then, he disappeared into thin air.
Ning arrived at the side of the Fiendgod corpse, having completely awoken. He stared at the enormous figure of the Fiendgod corpse, at the shattered armor it wore and the black greatbow with the snapped bowstring, as well as those two glowing arrows.
Ning’s gaze was distant and dreamy. He murmured softly, “Although the time I spent in that illusory world was very short…it was the happiest I’ve ever been since I left Swallow Mountain. That experience made me even happier than acquiring these treasures left behind by this Fiendgod.”
Ning knew quite well that this third forbidden zone had been created by Patriarch Subhuti himself. It must be understood that when Pangu’s World was destroyed, it had been Patriarch Subhuti who had personally teleported each remnant onto his Crescent world. Naturally, it had also been Patriarch Subhuti who had set up the forbidden zones. As for which of his disciples would be able to acquire the relics and treasures from the Primordial World, that was up to luck and destiny.
“Young fellow.” Suddenly, the figure of the black-robed youth appeared in the air above the black greatbow. He said delightedly, “I bet you didn’t guess this, did you?”
“You are…” Ning was startled. “…the spirit of the treasure?!”
“Of course! When I told you I was a Celestial Immortal, I was just playing with you. I didn’t expect you to actually pass the third forbidden zone. Based on what Patriarch Subhuti said back in the day, anyone capable of passing the third forbidden zone would have to have an incredibly formidable Dao-heart.” The black-robed youth sighed. “Although you haven’t overcome the Celestial Tribulation to become a Celestial Immortal yet, you aren’t bad at all.”
Ning laughed softly.
“You…don’t seem that excited.” The black-robed youth sat in the lotus position above the black greatbow. He said in amazement, “I bet you don’t know who I am, right? Let me tell you. I am one of the top ten divine bows of the Primordial World, a high-grade Protocosmic spirit-treasure!”
“A Protocosmic spirit-treasure? Wonderful.” Ning revealed a smile and said a word of praise.
“But…I don’t feel as though you are that excited.” The black-robed youth frowned.
“That’s only because just a short while ago, I was given something even more precious.” Ning smiled. “Please introduce yourself to me, as well as this ancient Fiendgod.”
The black-robed youth nodded. “In the era of the ancient Primordial World, the major powers once killed an incredibly terrifying creature named ‘Rahu’. 1 They used the various components of Rahu’s corpse, mixed with many other incomparably precious materials, to finally forge a top-grade Pure Yang spirit-treasure. That would be me…and the name given to me was the ‘Rahu Bow’. Over the course of countless ages after my creation, my spirit grew increasingly powerful until I finally evolved to become a Protocosmic spirit-treasure. As soon as I made my breakthrough, I became a high-grade Protocosmic spirit-treasure.”
“Oh.” Ning nodded.
“Just ‘oh’?! I’m one of the ten great divine bows of the Primordial Era! Only one bow, the legendary Houyi’s Bow, was ranked as the undisputed number one; the rest of us, such as the Qiankun Bow or the Blacknether Bow are all ranked on par with each other.” The black-robed youth said arrogantly, “In fact, during that great tribulation, all of Master’s Pure Yang treasures were damaged, and even the spirits of those treasures were destroyed. I was the only one left.”
Ning chortled. “But your bowstring is broken.”
“You can just help me get another bowstring, right?” The black-robed youth shook his head. “You need to understand that for divine bows like myself, the bow shaft is what matters; that’s where the increased power comes from. But of course, the bowstring is also very important. In the future, I’ll help guide you to picking or forging a good bowstring.”
“Alright.” Ning asked, “How should I bind you, then?”
“Just use your elemental ki. I’ll give you all the help I can,” the black-robed youth said. “I’ve been here for an eternity. I’ve been bored senseless.”
“Alright.” Ning immediately began to bind it.
Generally speaking, binding Mortal-ranked, Earth-ranked, Heaven-ranked, Immortal-ranked and Pure Yang treasures all had certain requirements in terms of elemental ki. For example, one had to at least be at the Void level to bind Immortal-ranked magic items, or at the Celestial Immortal level to bind Pure Yang treasures.
However, Protocosmic spirit-treasures had the blessings of Heaven and Earth. They were extremely mysterious…and if the spirits of the treasures was willing, they could allow even an ordinary mortal to use them!
If they were unwilling…even Celestial Immortals would be unable to bind them. Perhaps Pure Yang True Immortals could forcibly bind them, but if the spirit of the Protocosmic spirit-treasure were to resist, the binding process would be extremely tiresome. It would have to be done at one go; if one were to pause midway through, the efforts would be for naught, and one would have to start from scratch again.
Thus, binding a Protocosmic spirit-treasure was very troublesome. Fortunately, the Rahu Bow had a good impression of Ning. By overcoming the third forbidden zone, Ning received his acknowledgment.
Just a short while later, the binding process was complete.
Ning heft the Rahu Bow in his hands. He could sense the limitless power hidden deep within it; this was a sort of sinister might that also carried a sort of power that was akin to the ripples of water. This power was unfathomably deep and infinitely powerful.
“In you go.” Ning waved his hand, and the Fiendgod corpse next to him was collected as well.
Instantly, all of the ancient restrictive formations that had existed within the Riverfang Mountains were automatically deactivated. Previously, divine sense could not be used to search the region, but now it could.
Ning used his divine sense to sweep the region, locating the Goldfur Bearking and Patriarch Limitless outside the gorge.
“Time to go back.” Ning flew into the skies, then immediately executed a spatial teleportation. Entering the spatial ripples, Ning disappeared into thin air.
“Divine sense?” Both the Goldfur Bearking and Patriarch Limitless were stunned. There was no way to use divine sense within this region…but just now, they sensed someone scan them with it.
“The restrictions are gone.”
“The lightning zone is gone as well.” They quickly discovered that even the terrifying ripples that had emanated from deep within had also disappeared. By the time they charged into the gorge…they saw nothing within it at all.
The Riverfang Mountains had become an extremely ordinary mountain range. Although there were some peculiarities to it, it was no longer anything special.
“The treasure was taken away by uncle-master Darknorth.” Patriarch Limitless knew what had happened.
Ning returned to Mount Innerheart. He first rested for a day, then went into the mountain forests of Mount Innerheart. A violet greatbow appeared in his hand; this was a Heaven-ranked treasure.
“The test for [Houyi’s Archery] really isn’t easy.” When Ning thought back to the trial mentioned on the abridged version of [Houyi’s Archery], he couldn’t help but feel a headache.
It really was too hard. This was the hardest trial of the Three Realms Palace.
“Junior apprentice-brother.” Suddenly, a voice rang out.
Ning turned his head to look, only to see a hatchet-carrying swarthy-skinned man wearing hempsack clothes, a grass hat, and grass shoes come walking towards him with a smile.
“Eldest apprentice-brother,” Ning hurriedly greeted him. Mount Innerheart was vast; he needed some additional space for training in archery, and so he had left the Tristar Crescent Abode and come to the mountain forests outside of it. He hadn’t expected to run into his eldest apprentice-brother.
“Why have you come here?” The woodcutter asked him.
“I want to train in archery,” Ning replied.
“Oh?” The woodcutter glanced at Ning’s greatbow, then asked, “[Houyi’s Archery]?”
“Right.” Ning nodded. “But only the trial for [Houyi’s Archery] for now.”
“That’s not easy. Train hard.” The woodcutter smiled, nodded, then leisurely sauntered away, hatchet over his shoulders.