Book 18, Pure Yang, Chapter 15 – Protection
Ji Ning and the other eight commanders all returned to their own military camps, which were quite spacious. Entering the camp, Ning walked towards his own residence.
When the Celestial Immortals and Loose Immortals saw Ning, they all called out to him. Ning smiled back to them, even calling out some of their names. “Fellow Daoist Frostlike. Fellow Daoist Dong Zixiu…” He could sense the veneration these Immortal soldiers felt towards him. Back when they were in the imperial palace of the Grand Xia, these Immortals only followed Ning because the Xia Emperor had ordered it. Now, however, Ning’s performance in battle had thoroughly convinced them. If they were to follow a powerful leader, they would have a much greater chance of surviving this terrible storm.
The veneration these people showed Ning caused him to feel full of vigor and energy, but it also made him feel pressure.
He soon reached his residence.
Yu Wei, dressed in white clothes, was waiting for him at the door.
“You are back.” Yu Wei smiled. “I heard the other Immortals talking about you just now. Our Darknorth Army has achieved a great victory; supposedly, we killed hundreds of Celestial Immortals and tens of thousands of Loose Immortals.”
“Yes. However, our losses in the Loachwater Army were very heavy.” Ning strode into the residence, then stared in surprise. “Eh?”
This residence was the general’s residence, and so it was fairly large. Prior to this, however, it had been sparsely decorated and plain-looking. Now, however, there were paintings hanging on the walls, and there were exquisite pieces of furniture laid out throughout the rooms. In fact, there was now even a special study, with a table that was covered in quills, ink, and paper. There was a brush-holder that had three feather brushes within it. When relaxing, Ning usually liked to write calligraphy and paint paintings. At the innermost part of the residence, there was also a private resting room meant for the two to sleep together.
Some exquisitely made delicacies were currently placed atop the black wooden table.
“Senior apprentice-sister, how’d you do this so quickly?” Ning laughed. “I just went out for a short while, but by the time I returned, our entire home has changed. You’ve even prepared a meal for us.”
“This campaign is most likely going to be a very long one. We are most likely going to be living here for a very long period of time; naturally, I have to decorate it a bit and make it look nice. Just now, when I saw the Xia Emperor summoning the nine of you to the main palace, I took the opportunity to cook a few dishes as well,” Yu Wei said with a smile. “You’ve come back with a resounding victory; we have to celebrate it!”
“Yes, we do.” Ning immediately sat down, picking up his chopsticks and picking up a crystalline piece of meat that looked like pineapple in texture, then eating it. This was indeed personally prepared by Yu Wei; he could tell as soon as he tasted it. When the two had lived together in the Black-White College, Yu Wei had often personally prepared food for him.
“Excellent. It’s delicious,” Ning praised. “You should sit and have some as well.”
Yu Wei sat down next to him, accompanying him in eating.
Ning and Yu Wei ate together and chatted together. Suddenly, Ning felt as though his heart, which had previously still felt excited and restless after that great battle, had turned calm. Back when he had lived by the side of his parents, he felt this sort of inner peace. Now, when he was with Yu Wei, he felt the same thing.
Ning glanced at Yu Wei, who was eating slowly while gently stroking her stomach. He murmured silently to himself, “Even though the storm has come…I, Ji Ning, swear that I will do everything I can to protect you and our unborn child.” The things he needed to protect were also the things he cared the most about.
The underwater estate. The Stellar Hall. Before the thatched cottage.
Ning’s true body manifested a seemingly material Immortal sword within his hands, using it to train in sword-play. Sword-light flashed everywhere, and sword-ki flew everywhere.
“I have to master the entire Dao of the Sword as soon as possible, as well as come up the heartforce technique.” Ning came to a halt, a hint of delight in his eyes. “Although my battle against the Seamless Gate was quite short, a life-and-death battle like that was of tremendous help to me in gaining further insights into the Dao of the Sword.”
That battle was a battle in which both sides harbored the intention of killing the other.
There was no mercy to be shown whatsoever!
It was a battle where one completely emptied one’s mind of everything besides the fight. This did indeed allowing for an astonishing improvement in one’s insights into the sword. For example, even back on Earth, if you had one swordsman who had studied for several years in a martial arts school and another swordsman who had fought in just a few life-and-death battles with the goal of surviving, the latter would probably be able to kill the former in just a single exchange of blows.
Life-and-death battles…these things could indeed provide tremendous strength!
“In the future, I’ll be engaged in many battles. I have to work hard to understand more of the Dao of the Sword and master it as soon as I can.” Ning was already very close to the final bottleneck of the Dao of the Sword; after reaching it, he would only need one more step before mastering it.
“I’ve just barely managed to reach the basic level of skill in the application of heartforce to the soul, but to create…” Ning frowned when he thought about heartforce, because it was clearly far harder to advance in it.
It was easy to reach the basic level of skill, because there was a very close relationship between heartforce and the soul to begin with. Even if you didn’t know any special heartforce techniques at all, just possessing powerful heartforce would be of tremendous help in controlling magic treasures. Thus, Ning had quickly reached the most basic level of skill, but to further analyze it and come up with many practical methods for perfecting it and applying it to the soul was of incredible difficulty.
“Time to begin training in my [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].”
Ning immediately sat down in the lotus position. He sat down within the thatched cottage, pulling out a pill bottle. Pulling out the plug, he glanced inside, then nodded. “The Xia Emperor is indeed generous. Just a portion of this is enough for me to train to the Sixth Cycle.”
He immediately pulled out a sparkling golden pill, a Great Firmament Immortal pill, then tossed it into his mouth. The Great Firmament Immortal pill contained an astonishing amount of energy, but his Fifth Cycle foundation of the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] was completely capable of absorbing it all.
The main plaza of the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.
Nine massive Heaven Punishers stood there, and next to them were four equally towering Empyrean God golems.
“Ji Ning, the nine of you should have a good spar against them. Get them familiar with battles against these types of opponents.” The black-robed Xia Emperor stood to one side, watching as he gave instructions.
“Right.” The nine Heaven Punishers looked at the four golems.
Three of the golems were from the Xia Emperor, while the fourth was originally Ning’s. It must be understood that the Xia Emperor had two thousand Celestial Immortals under his direct command. While he had sent some to replenish the ranks of the Loachwater Army, he had also arranged for others to go utilize the Empyrean God golems. Empyrean God golems needed to be controlled by Celestial Immortals; Loose Immortals were useless for this purpose.
“Be careful,” Ning said.
“Fellow Daoist Darknorth, go ahead and use your full power!” The four Empyrean God golems were proceeding with caution as well.
Ning and the rest of the nine exchanged a glance, going so far as to grin at each other. Then, with a series of whooshing sounds, they immediately threw themselves towards their foes.
Nine Heaven Punishers against four golems?
Generally speaking, a single Heaven Punisher would be able to easily suppress two of these golems. Ning was able to give all four of them a good fight by himself. When all nine of them joined together…they would naturally be able to dominate these Empyrean God golems with ease.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
They battled so violently, the world itself seemed to turn dark.
Fortunately, the Eight Dragons Cloudcity was a Protocosmic spirit-treasure, far more stable than the outside world. They couldn’t even damage the ground in the slightest. Ning and the others unleashed their full power, using saber-arts, sword-arts, staff-arts, axe-arts, and more, sending the four golems flying again and again. The four Empyrean God golems were incredibly resilient and able to swiftly clamber back to their feet and once more enter the fray. This was, of course, a ‘battle’ to accumulate experience; if they were fighting against the Seamless Gate, they would really be going all out to capture, subdue, and kill.
A short while later…
“You can halt,” the Xia Emperor said.
The nine Heaven Punishers and the four Empyrean God golems immediately came to a halt.
“How did it feel?” The Xia Emperor asked.
“The four of them are roughly as powerful as the Empyrean God golems on the Seamless Gate’s side,” Ning said.
“Not much difference,” Celestial Immortal Unity and the others agreed.
The Xia Emperor nodded. “As I suspected. We’ve tested these Empyrean God golems multiple times, and as a result we’ve discovered that having a hundred and fifty Celestial Immortals controlling them is an optimal number. If you use any more, it won’t increase the power of the golems by much, but if you use any fewer, the amount of power will drop dramatically. A hundred and fifty; that’s the perfect number for using these golems.”
“Just a hundred and fifty?” Ning called out in surprised, “If that’s the case, then they are able to tie me down by using just four golems and six hundred Celestial Immortals.”
Ning knew exactly what a pain these Empyrean God golems were to deal with.
The Xia Emperor shook his head. “The reason why they are so tough is due to the golems themselves. They are incredibly rare; right now, I only have four of them, including the one you gave me. Even the Seamless Gate has a limited number of them. Otherwise, they would just employ a large number of them, at which point we would definitely be defeated.”
Ning and the others all nodded.
“Empyrean God golems are very difficult to create, and they are extremely costly. Our side is completely unable to manufacture them.” The Xia Emperor sighed. “The core formation-diagrams of the Empyrean God golems…our Daofathers and True Gods have tried on multiple occasions to steal some, but they failed every time.”
“The Seamless Gate is that incredible in their golem-forging skills?” Celestial Immortal Unity and the others hadn’t known this.
“Of course. In the Dao of Constructs, they far outstrip us; there’s no need to deny this at all,” the Xia Emperor said.
Ning nodded as well.
Years ago, his junior apprentice-brother Mu Northson had been imprisoned within one of the enemy bases. That place, a mere base, had amply demonstrated that their skills in manufacturing constructs had reached an unfathomable level. Even Northson had been stunned by their prowess! Despite that, the base had most likely been one of the low-level manufacturing facilities for the Seamless Gate.
“The core formation-diagrams for the golems are the most valuable parts,” the Xia Emperor said. “If we can acquire them, then we can manufacture golems of our own. In fact, the Seamless Gate has other golems as well, including some that are even more powerful than Empyrean God golems. Acquiring a set of the core formation-diagrams would be of great benefit to our overall position throughout the entire Three Realms. Gaining a formation-diagram would be even more important than losing the entire Grand Xia major world. But alas…we haven’t been able to acquire one.”
Ning and the others all understood.
Not even the leaders of the Daoist Path and the Buddhist Way, the Primordial Imperial Clan, and Subhuti of the ‘Dream of the Three Realms’ had been able to procure these diagrams. From this, one could tell how tightly and carefully the Seamless Gate protected them.
“If we could acquire a set…” The Xia Emperor’s eyes were filled with obvious desire.
If he could acquire one, then most likely all of the Daofathers and True Gods of the Nuwa Alliance would thank him. It must be understood that the strongest golems of the Seamless Gate had the power to threaten even True Gods and Daofathers. This was one of the gravest concerns for the major powers of the Nuwa Alliance, and one of the most frightening aspects of the Seamless Gate. In fact, to ensure that golems would be manufactured properly, the leaders had even set up an independent organization, the ‘Myriad Demons Cavern’, to carry out that task. The Nuwa Alliance had attempted to infiltrate the Myriad Demons Cavern to acquire formation-diagrams, but they had failed each time.
“Enough of that.” The Xia Emperor refocused his attention, turning to look towards Ning and the others. “Take a rest. The forces of the Seamless Gate are already taunting us and calling for battle. Prepare to engage them.”
As he spoke, the Xia Emperor waved his hand, producing an illusory image next to him. The illusory image showed four White-Faced Flood Dragons and nine Empyrean God golems; clearly, the destroyed White-Faced Flood Dragon had its ranks replenished. Like the Xia Emperor, the Seamless Gate had quite a few Celestial Immortals and Loose Immortals in reserve.
Ning stared at the illusory image.
Killing one would be a major accomplishment!
When Ning looked at the image before him, the picture in his mind was that of Yu Wei caressing her belly. He had to protect them, no matter what.
After resting for a few moments…
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Nine Heaven Punishers vanished from the Eight Dragons Cloudcity, going to the outside world.
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