This midsummer dawn was uncommonly cool. Ji Ning, still clad in his black furs, walked out from the estate atop Darknorth Peak.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” Meng Roch, who had grown only more muscular and tanned, immediately greeted him with respect.
“Rocky, prepare some food for me. Same as what we’ve done in the past.” Ning laughed as he gave some instructions. In the past three years, Northmont Baiwei had delivered two more retainers, and so he now had a total of six under his control. He was now quite familiar with all six of them, but he still trusted Roch the most.
Because Roch had damaged his ki foundation in the past, upon entering the Black-White College, he began to train as a Fiendgod as well, and his skin had darkened as a result. “Yes, senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning,” Roch said, immediately departing.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, you came out.” A beautiful figure walked over from afar. It was Cloudjade. Behind her was a black-robed youth; this was one of the six retainers under Ning’s command, Weifang.
Cloudjade’s eyes were as bright as jewels. After having been in the Black-White College for so long, her aura had improved as well, and she now had an additional hint of otherworldliness about her. “You were in closed-door meditation for so long this time, senior apprentice-brother. It was almost a month.”
She stared at Ning with a gaze that was quite scorching. Although her horizons had been expanded during her time at the Black-White College…in her eyes, Ji Ning was still the most brilliant star of them all. Three years had passed, and compared to three years ago, Ning’s aura had only grown more simple and pure; he was like a youth who lived a rustic life in the mountain wilderness.
But Cloudjade understood that her senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning was now far more powerful than he had been three years ago. There were now extremely few people who were willing to engage in a discourse on the Dao with Ning at the Dao Debate Palace, and quite a few secretly claimed that Ning must surely be a reincarnated Immortal. From this, one could tell how monstrous Ning’s performance had been.
“Each time I come out of seclusion, I’ll see you,” Ning laughed. “Cloudjade, you need to calm your heart and focus on training as well. Look at Weifang..he arrived after you did, but he’s the most powerful of the six of you.”
“Senior apprentice-brother, you praise me over-much,” the black-robed youth, Weifang, immediately said with respect. “Compared to you, senior apprentice-brother, I am countless tens of thousands of kilometers beneath you.”
“I’ve already worked quite hard,” Cloudjade said. But Ning only shook his head. “Your talent is excellent, but your Dao-heart is somewhat lacking.” Cloudjade just rolled her eyes.
Ning secretly shook his head. When Cloudjade had first joined the school, she had wanted to seduce him. After realizing that there was no hope…although she was still very respectful to Ning, she started to begin to work on seducing the other senior apprentice-brothers of the College.
“She walks the path of Immortal cultivation, but instead of calming her mind and focusing on training, the only thing on her mind is becoming Dao-Companions with powerful Immortal practitioners. Jeeze!” Ning felt quite resigned about this as well.
He understood everything quite clearly. Cloudjade, by nature, wasn’t a bad person. Of his six main retainers, the person Ning trusted the most was Roch, and the person he trusted the second most was Cloudjade. As for the other four, although they were extremely respectful towards him, Ning could sense that all four of them were hugely ambitious, and so he had to be careful in the amount of trust he showed them.
Ning sat there, sipping some stewed rice porridge that contained natural elemental energies within it while eating some delicacies. His mood was quite good to begin with, and it was improving further and further. Next to him was the Whitewater Hound who just lay there, looking at Ning. He sent mentally to Ning, “Ning, son; you seem to be in quite a good mood.”
“Right. I was in closed-door training for nearly a month, but I’ve finally comprehended the second stance of the [Three-Foot Sword]!” Ning looked at his Uncle White, his face covered in smiles.
“You’ve comprehended it?” The Whitewater Hound instantly revealed a look of surprise and delight as well. Over the past three years…Ning had an Immortal guiding him, the sword arts manuals of the Dao Repository Vault to peruse over, and the complete [Three-Foot Sword] in his mind, as well as the sword-intent which senior Northwalker had transmitted to him.
Ning’s rate of improvement had naturally been astonishingly fast. In the past, he had never had a truly formidable teacher. Even his father and the others, when faced with Ning’s monstrous talent, felt that they were not quite good enough to teach him.
With Immortal Diancai guiding Ning, Ning felt incomparable joy, and his rate of improvement had reached an astonishing level. However, he had never been able to completely comprehend the second stance of the [Three-Foot Sword].
“Three years. You’ve finally mastered it.” The Whitewater Hound rose to his feet, feeling excited for Ning.
“With this sword art mastered, I now have the confidence to go spar with Master once again,” Ning said with a laugh. “Perhaps this time, Master will acknowledge my growth and permit me to go out wandering.” Without his master’s permission, Ning was not to leave the school.
Logically speaking, given his current level of power, Ning should’ve been able to go out wandering long ago. However, given how incredible Ning’s talent was, Immortal Diancai’s requirements for Ning were similarly incredible! By now…Ning had sparred against his master numerous times, and although he had improved greatly each time, he had never received his master’s permission.
“Go,” the Whitewater Hound mentally sent to him with a laugh. “If you go, I’ll be able to accompany you in wandering. In the past, I went out adventuring with your father as well. When I think about it, my blood starts to pump.”
By borrowing from Ning’s liquefied elemental essence, the Whitewater Hound had naturally reached the peak Zifu stage long ago. Ning had wanted to trade for some powerful secret arts on behalf of the Whitewater Hound, but the Whitewater Hound didn’t need it. All he accepted was some formation techniques to analyze, which Ning had spent 200 black-white pellets on. Because it took quite a long period of time to analyze formation techniques, the price of such techniques was actually quite low. Ning had spent 600 black-white pellets for his thirty-six sword arts manuals, but as for the formation manuals…he had spent merely 200 black-white pellets for 91 books.
The [Nine Scrolls on Formations] which that Loose Immortal had left behind was incomparably broad and profound. This was the complete legacy of a Loose Immortal. As a Godbeast, the Whitewater Hound had focused on analyzing formations, even when he had been accompanying Ning’s father. Acquiring the Nine Scrolls was already a case of him being akin to a tiger who had gained wings. Now that he also gained so many formations manuals from the Black-White College, he naturally had made enormous improvements. And, every so often, the Whitewater Hound would even go to the Black-White College to listen to some Primal Daoists or even to some of the Immortals expound on the Dao.
“I’ll go, then.” Ning rose to his feet. “Go.” The Whitewater Hound watched as Ning left. Ning boarded his flying boat, then quickly disappeared into the distant horizons.
Ning stood there atop his boat in midair, staring downwards. Soon, he arrived at the residence of his master, Immortal Diancai.
Whoosh. Ning landed in front of the estate, and the gate guards smiled towards Ning. Ning strode directly inwards without waiting. Immortal Diancai had given the order long ago that Ning was to be permitted to enter directly, without any need to report his arrival.
Within the hall. The black-haired, black-robed Immortal Diancai was seated in the lotus position on his jade bed. It seemed as though the passage of three years had not affected Ning’s master at all.
“Today is not the first of the month. Have you come here to spar with me once more?” Immortal Diancai looked at his beloved disciple. Over the course of the past three years, he had come to love his sole disciple even more, to the point where his affection for Ning was even greater than his affection for the descendants of his clan.
“Yes.” Ning looked at his master. A sword-light that seemed almost physical had appeared within Ning’s eyes, and his entire person slowly began to radiate a terrifying sword-intent. His sword-intent surged through the heavens!
“It does seem that you’ve improved a bit.” Immortal Diancai nodded. “Come, then. Attack me.”
“Be careful, Master.” A Darknorth sword appeared out of nowhere, and he gripped it with two hands. Swish! Ning transformed into a blurry, rapidly moving figure, and the sharp sword in his hand seemed to have turned into a ghostly image. His speed had reached an extremely high level, and he instantly pierced the sword towards Immortal Diancai, seated on the jade bed.
Immortal Diancai, seated on the jade bed, leisurely stretched out his fingers, forming a sword-finger. With a light tap, a streak of sword-light instantly arced out. “Clash.” This solitary streak of sword-light repeatedly clashed in mid-air multiple times with Ning’s sword-shadow. Ning’s sword moved about like a ghost, but although this solitary streak of sword-light was in an arc, it’s position also fluctuated unpredictably.
“Hmph.” Ning’s sword-light changed, becoming domineering and tyrannical. Bang! Instantly, the surrounding area was submerged into a sea of fire, and Ning’s sword became one of the flames within it, incomparably valiant as it chopped directly towards Immortal Diancai. This sword attack of Ji Ning’s…had already vastly surpassed the [Thunderflame Sword]’s level, and most likely even the person who had originally developed the [Thunderflame Sword] was no match for the current Ning in terms of the Dao of the Sword.
“Extinguish.” Immortal Diancai revealed a hint of a smile as well. With a gentle tap of the fingers, a sword-light flew out from his fingertips which instantly transformed into thousands of silken lines. These silken lines criss-crossed each other, seeming to form a giant net. This giant net of sword-light howled forward, quickly surrounding and wrapping around Ning’s pyroclasm of sword-light.
“‘Heartless Waterflame’!” Ning revealed a smile as well. Instantly, the surrounding area changed yet again. One side was filled with blazing flames, while the other side was filled with boundless rainwater. In one of Ning’s hands was a blazing sword of fire, while in the other was a sword of rain.
Ning’s entire figure radiated an invincible aura as he charged directly towards that net of sword-light, and the twin swords in his hands spun in a vortex together as he did so.
“Bang!” The sword-lights of fire and water clashed head on with the net of sword-light in a giant explosion…and both shattered apart.
“This latest ‘Heartless Waterflame’ finally seems to have a bit of flavor to it.” Immortal Diancai pointed with his sword-finger once more. Swish! A sharp sword-light attacked with incomparably astonishing speed towards Ning, while at the same time, Immortal Diancai pointed again, and again…one streak of sword-light after another shot out, all moving at incomprehensible speeds.
“Last time, he was defeated by this technique, and his body was filled with quite a few bloody holes. I wonder if he’ll be able to block it this time.” Immortal Diancai’s eyes were filled with anticipation.
Ning no longer revealed an incomparably relaxed smile on his face as he had before. Instead, his eyes lit up, and he seemed to suddenly explode with power.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! The twin swords in Ning’s hands began to move. Suddenly, in the area around Ning, an enormous millstone of fire and water appeared. Fire and water were contradictory, opposite types of elemental energy, but they twisted past each other here to form this enormous millstone. In the very center of the millstone, where the water and fire clashed with each other, a terrifying wind force arose. This tri-colored millstone revolved around Ning, and where Ning’s sword light flashed past, an incomparably powerful wind arose as well!
Fast! Faster than fast! Chop! Chop! Chop! Ning consecutively chopped and extinguished the sword-lights created by his master’s finger-taps. The bedstone of fire and water revolved around him, while the gale raged around his body. Ning’s sword flashed out like lightning as well, each time striking at the weaknesses on the side of those flashes of sword-light, rather than taking them head out.
“Faster. Move a little faster.” Immortal Diancai began to tap with his fingers even faster, and the sword-light which appeared in the air grew increasingly ferocious as they shot towards Ning. Ning, ensconced within that giant millstone of fire and water, wielded his sword at an inconceivably fast speed, and continued to chop apart and extinguish those flashes of sword-light.
“Go, then!” Immortal Diancai gently flicked his fingers, and the thousand rays of sword-light that were in midair suddenly seemed to transform into brilliant stars. They resonated amongst each other, thundering forth with a unified attack that blasted towards Ning at the same time.