Ji Yichuan coughed, his face ashen. Seeing the worried look on his son’s face, he couldn’t help but laugh. “Previously, I used multiple forbidden techniques. My Zifu has been twisting and contorting, and is on the verge of collapse. Thus, my body has suddenly grown much weaker.”
“Used multiple forbidden techniques?” Ning was astonished. “Father, then, you…” “Hahaha.” Yichuan laughed jubilantly as he stroked Ning’s head. “This battle was the last battle I would ever fight. Afterwards, I will become a useless cripple. Naturally, I had to use as many forbidden techniques as I could.”
Ning’s face changed. Forbidden techniques were enormously harmful to the body; they relied on sacrificing the body’s future longevity, then using that to reach a level of power beyond that which was normally possible.
“Yichuan, your body…?” Ji Ninefire’s face changed as well. “I should be able to live for another month.” Yichuan said. “A month!” Ning’s face instantly turned white, without any trace of blood.
Why. Why had it ended up like this? He…he had clearly made it back in time. Why did it have to be like this?
“Ji Ning.” Yichuan looked at his son. “You’ve seen so much life and death. Can it be that you still do not understand? To me, living a life akin to a cripple’s would be a life of torture. I would rather die gloriously after my final, greatest battle…that the fate to which I belong.” Ning’s body was faintly trembling as he listened.
“In addition, your mother has been waiting for me for too long. I should go accompany her.” Yichuan looked at his son. Looked at him closely. “After your mother died, the only thing keeping me here was you. But you no longer need my protection. You are now capable of truly spreading your wings and roaming about the world.”
“No, Father…” Ning looked at his father, his eyes turning moist.
They had survived a tremendous tribulation. They should have been overjoyed, but Ning simply couldn’t find it in himself to rejoice, no matter what.
Time passed by. Ning spent every single day with his father. Each time, the two of them, father and son, would train in swordplay with each other. Although they were simply sparring and displaying their techniques, the two of them fully absorbed themselves within their fights. By their side, a snowy white hound would often appear. At other times, a young Bluestone would appear. Still other times, their steward, Autumn Leaf, would watch from the side.
Finally…that day came.
Yichuan reclined on his seat. The Whitewater Hound was in its original form and by Yichuan’s side, its head gently nudging against Yichuan.
“Little White.” Yichuan gently stroked the fur atop the Whitewater Hound’s head. “To have had a brother like you in my life…I die with no regrets.” The Whitewater Hound lowered its head, its tears falling down.
“Ji Ning.” Yichuan looked at the nearby Ning. “Originally, I wanted to let Little White regain his freedom. However, as a Zifu-level Godbeast, I’m afraid that after he regains his free will, he will be captured by other Immortal practitioners. In addition, Little White has watched you grow up and is very close to you. I want to have him follow you. This is my wish, and it is also Little White’s wish.”
Ning nodded lightly. “Alright.” Yichuan looked at his lifelong brother. “Little White. Help me take care of Ji Ning. When I’m going, you will be Ning’s elder relative. Make sure you keep him from going astray.” The Whitewater Hound nodded lightly.
From within his clothes, Yichuan retrieved a piece of beast skin parchment, handing it over to Ning. “I know that you deeply desire to know who it was that killed your uncle and harmed myself and your mother so badly. The name is on this, along with some information about him. I originally wanted to let Grandfather give it to you, but since I survived and returned from Oxhorn Mountain, I decided to give it to you personally.”
Ning accepted the beast skin, his eyes flashing with a fierce light. Grinding his teeth, he said, “I swear that I, Ji Ning, will definitely kill them and take revenge!”
Yichuan nodded. “I won’t stop you from taking revenge. However, remember this. In the hearts of myself and your mother, your life is far more valuable than theirs.”
Ning nodded. “I understand.”
“Mm.” Yichuan could clearly sense his life force ebbing away. His breathing grew weak. Smiling, he said, “Remember. After I die, cremate me and scatter my ashes over Serpentwing Lake. I once promised your mother that after I died, I would accompany her.”
Ning forced back his tears as he listened. “In my life,” Yichuan continued, “I was fearless and worry-free as a child, hard-working as a youth, and relied on the sword in my hand to became famous throughout Swallow Mountain.” He stared towards the empty skies, his gaze growing distant. “I once swore that I would rely on the sword in my hand to make my name resonate throughout the boundless lands of the Grand Xia Dynasty! Unfortunately…I won’t be able to accomplish it. However…my son will accomplish it.”
Yichuan looked at Ning. His eyes were filled with endless expectations. “Ji Ning. You will accomplish it!”
A sour feeling was in Ning’s heart. He could still clearly remember how his father had taught him, step by step, how to use the sword.
“From today onwards, I will train you in the sword.” He was only a toddler. His father had seemed so tall, so muscular, so big. Starting from those thirteen basic sword stances, his father had taught him, step by step…
Ning now understood that at that moment in time, his father, whose own Immortal path had been shattered, had entrusted his expectations in the sword to Ning himself.
“I will accomplish it.” Ning looked at his father and made gave his word. “Father, I will accomplish it. I definitely will. I will definitely make my name resound throughout the boundless lands of the Grand Xia Dynasty.”
Yichuan reached out with his hand, gently stroking Ning’s face. His hand was trembling.
“Remember. Live a good life. Live an exciting life.” Yichuan’s voice was beginning to fade, but his smile only grew brighter and brighter. “Live a happy life. A happy, free life…”
His father’s hand suddenly went limp, and his eyes closed as well.
Ning fell to his knees, pressing his head to the ground, grinding his teeth. “AAAAAH!” Ning suddenly aised his head again, letting out a loud howl.
The Whitewater Hound used its head to gently nudge Yichuan’s body. As it did, tears appeared in the corner of its eyes as well.
No one was aware of what had happened. Ji Yichuan died quietly. Only Ji Ning and the Whitewater Hound were by his side. The other servants on Brightheart Island did not have any idea.
“Splash.” “Splash.” A boat was floating about atop Serpentwing Lake. Ning was at the helm of the boat, holding a crematory urn while sprinkling the ashes within the urn towards the water of the lake, letting the wind pick it up and merge it into the lake.
The glow of the setting sun was around him.
A small boat. A solitary youth. A large, snowy white hound. Together, they slowly drifted on the lake.
Ning didn’t immediately leave Swallow Mountain. He continued to live atop Brightheart Island, within Serpentwing Lake. He also made a trip to the underwater estate, where he challenged and passed the second level of the Wargod Hall! The second level, to the current Ning, posed no danger whatsoever. Afterwards, Ning selected yet another Mortal-ranked magic treasure.
Time passed, and in the blink of an eye, autumn left and winter arrived. There were large goose-feathers of snow falling down from the skies in the outside world. As for Ning, he sat within his study, executing swordplay techniques with his fingers, then recording a few things down on a beastskin parchment.
“Autumn Leaf.” Ning called out. “Young master.” Autumn Leaf soon pushed the door open and walked in.
“Arrange for some people to notify the City of Ten Thousand Swords and West Prefecture City.” Ning said. “Tell them that I am leaving.” Autumn Leaf was stunned, and she looked at Ning. “Leaving? Young master, are you going to leave Swallow Mountain?”
Autumn Leaf had known long ago that this day would come. Her young master was a supreme talent, the likes of which was rarely seen in the world. Sooner or later, he would leave Swallow Mountain. But now that this day had actually arrived, Autumn Leaf still felt heartsick and unwilling to part from him.
“You truly are foolish.” Ning walked forward, reaching out and wiping away Autumn Leaf’s tears. “I need to go out on a good adventure. The world is so vast, and there are so many experts within it. I can’t just hide here and bask in my own self-importance.”
“Understood. Autumn Leaf understands.” Autumn Leaf said hurriedly. “Autumn Leaf.” Ning took out a kalestone and handed it to her. “This kalestone has some treasures within. I have prepared them for you and Bluestone. Spring Grass died. Although I am leaving, I have to take good care of Bluestone. There is a book within the kalestone that carefully details the ways in which these treasures can be used.”
“Amongst them is an essence-cleansing pill which I acquired from that Wanxiang Adept. After eating it, one will qualitatively transform and rise in power, making the likelihood of you entering the Xiantian lifeform stage become much higher.” Ning said.
“This…this is too precious.” Autumn Leaf, shocked, hurriedly refused. Ning looked at Autumn Leaf. “The path of Immortal cultivation is a long one. I don’t want to see you die early on, Autumn Leaf. If you become a Xiantian lifeform, you will live longer. Don’t refuse…perhaps in places like Swallow Mountain, essence-cleansing pills are precious, but to formidable figures like Wanxiang Adepts, they aren’t much at all.”
“Live longer.” Autumn Leaf nodded gently, no longer refusing. She looked at Ning. “Young master, will you return?” “Of course.” Ning sighed as he spoke. “I will definitely return. Here within Serpentwing Lake, there are many things which I cannot bear to part from. Once I have reached my goals in training, I will return and live here at Serpentwing Lake permanently.”
“I will wait for you, young master.” Autumn Leaf looked at Ning. Ning laughed. “Don’t just wait pointlessly. If you do meet someone you like, then marry him.” Autumn Leaf shook her head. “I am your handmaiden, young master. I will be your handmaiden for my entire life.”
Ning didn’t say anything further.
The next day. The outside world was covered with a decorative silver layer of snow. The snow was so white, so pure. Ji Young, Ji Redflower, Ji Ninefire, Ji Truekeep, and the other members of the Ji clan had all hurried here.
“These are some secret manuals that I managed to acquire by a stroke of good fortune.” Ning handed them over to Patriarch Ninefire. “Most of them are comparable to the [Melody of Ten Thousand Swords] or the [Raindrop Sutra].”
“This scroll records the insights on formations by a Loose Immortal, known as the [Nine Scrolls on Formations].” Ning handed this to Patriarch Ninefire as well. “The profound mysteries within are unfathomable. However, to study formations requires talent and time. In the future, I hope that it can be entrusted to a suitable clansman.”
Ninefire, Truekeep, and the others were all shocked. The insights of a Loose Immortal regarding formations?
“As for this, this is known as the [Thunderflame Sword Addendum].” Ning took out a fur-clad book. “This was developed based on my hypotheses regarding the fragments of the [Thunderflame Sword] we possess. It includes some of my own insights regarding swordplay. I was able to create four additional sword techniques, and thus this [Thunderflame Sword Addendum] has a total of seven major sword techniques.”
“As for this…over the course of the last half year, I have spent virtually all my energy and effort on creating this.” Ning took out another fur-clad book. It had three characters written on it: ‘Rain’ ‘Water’ ‘Sutra’. “The set of sword techniques recorded within, I named the [Rainwater Sutra]. In the future, if anyone in our Ji clan can reach the level of mastery in the [Raindrop Sutra], they can learn from this [Rainwater Sutra].”
Ning looked at the book within his hands, filled with emotions. Over the past half year, he had pondered nonstop regarding this. He had summarized all of the insights he had gained regarding the ‘Dao of Rainwater’, then written it all down into this [Rainwater Sutra]. The summarization process had caused Ning to make great strides in further understanding the Dao of Rainwater as well.
As the person who had comprehended the Rainwater Sword Domain, the [Rainwater Sutra] he had written contained hundreds of different layers of insight regarding the True Meaning of the Dao. Even his every stroke of the brush had contained sword-intent within.
“This…” Ninefire and the others, upon seeing the three large words imprinted atop the [Rainwater Sutra], could sense the sword-intent pouring from this tome. Their faces all changed. As experts, they could sense how extraordinary this [Rainwater Sutra] was. Even they felt the awe-inspiring presence from it; no wonder Ji Ning required practitioners to master the [Raindrop Sutra] before learning from his [Rainwater Sutra].
“From today onwards, the [Rainwater Sutra] will be the treasure that protects our entire Ji clan.” Ninefire said with incomparable excitement. The other clansmen were all excited as well. For the clan to produce a genius was a matter of luck, but for this book to be left behind would allow them to raise more geniuses in the future. This [Rainwater Sutra] was clearly above the level of the [Melody of Ten Thousand Swords] and other secret manuals.
Ning didn’t ask for others to send him off. He had Ninefire and the others all go back.
Late at night. It was very quiet. Ning, by himself, led the Whitewater Hound to the side of the lake, then knelt down atop the snow. Facing the endless waters of Serpentwing Lake, he kowtowed three times, then said solemnly, “Father, Mother, I, Ji Ning, will execute our enemies within Snowdragon Mountain and take revenge for the two of you. I will also definitely make my name resound within the vast lands of the Grand Xia Dynasty.”
“Please forgive your son for having to depart for a time.” Ning rose to his feet, then looked at the Whitewater Hound by his side. “Uncle White, let’s go.”
“That little girl…” The Whitewater Hound sent to Ning. Ning glanced towards the distance. There stood Autumn Flower, far away in the darkness. Autumn Flower knew that Ning was going to leave, so she hadn’t slept at all. She was waiting quietly. Upon her seeing Ning look towards her, she couldn’t help but cry. Ning grinned towards her.
“Let’s go.” Ning stepped onto the boat that had appeared out of nowhere in front of him, and the Whitewater Hound followed him onto it as well. Whoosh! The boat soared rapidly into the air, piercing through the dark night skies.
“Young master.” Autumn Leaf immediately ran forward a few steps. Raising her head, she stared towards the distance. “I will definitely wait for your return, young master. Definitely.”
The night sky. The flying boat was amidst the clouds. Ning looked down at the vast, endless world. He could see the massive lake below him as well: Serpentwing Lake. He could also see Brightheart Island at the center of it.
Ning gave it a deep, meaningful look. There were too many things here which he couldn’t bear to part from.
“Let’s go!” Ning turned his head, staring towards the vast, endless night sky. Outside Swallow Mountain, there was an even larger, even more exciting world.
The flying boat had only a youngster and a snowy white dog atop it. It quickly disappeared into the horizons of the world.