Book 19, Empyrean God, Chapter 16 – Training in Solitude
The Five Treasure Peaks were ancient beyond belief. A complete version of the number one sword-art of the Three Realms, the [Five Treasures] sword-art, had been left behind on them, giving them an aura of being even more exalted than the Dao of the Heavens.
The aura and presence emanating from the Five Treasure Peaks was enough to ensure that neither birds nor bugs could survive here. The only living creatures here were the forty-plus Empyrean Gods and True Immortals, but given how vast the Five Treasure Peaks were, the cultivators weren’t particularly eye-catching.
“It really is rare to find such a quiet place.” Ji Ning landed, then stood there upon the wilderness, head raised as he stared at the criss-crossing sword stances that had been left atop the distant mountain cliffs.
“Whew.” Ning’s heart clenched as a series of sword techniques began to flood into his brain. This sword-art was ancient, profound, and beyond the Heavenly Daos themselves.
“Truly inconceivable. How could such a divine sword-art exist in the world?” Ning was only able to recover after a long period of time had passed. A cloud appeared beneath his feet as he began to slowly fly upwards. The first peak was a thousand kilometers high, and so it naturally pierced far up into the clouds. As for the first chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art, it covered more than half of the mountain walls of the first peak.
Ning continued to view the sword-art as he flew upwards, and various sword stances began to flash past his eyes. Ning viewed them very slowly, taking a full hour before finishing his viewing of the first chapter.
“The first chapter is truly as vast as an ocean.” Ning sighed in amazement. This was definitely the most complicated sword-art he had ever seen; just the first chapter alone contained a total of 3729 different stances, each one incomparably marvelous.
“Mm.” Ning transformed into a streak of light, charging back downwards. As he landed on the ground, he pointed off into the distance. Instantly, the power of Heaven and Earth began to activate, quickly causing an ordinary thatched cottage to take form. Ning stepped into it, then sat down into the lotus position. He faced the Five Treasure Peaks, then closed his eyes and began to think back to what he had seen.
The sword stances began to replay through his mind as he began to attempt to fathom them.
Ning knew what his advantages were and what his disadvantages were!
He had been tremendously lucky, as he had the chance to learn divine abilities like the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] and the [Starseizing Hand]; these two divine abilities were already enough to allow him to stand at the very peak of power for Empyrean Gods! But his goal wasn’t to be a powerful Empyrean God…it was to become a True God and a Daofather! During the final Endwar, one had to have the power of a True God or a Daofather in order to be of use.
In addition, he had to become a supremely powerful True God and Daofather. In fact, he wanted to try to work hard to reach the level of the leaders of the Daoist Path and the Buddhist Sangha…or even the level of Nuwa and Pangu!
But how was he supposed to reach this level?
Ning knew very well that compared to the other major powers, his greatest weakness was that he hadn’t trained for very long. This was a tremendous disadvantage. The storm had already begun to press down upon them, and the final, terrifying explosion wouldn’t be too far off. He didn’t actually have that much time. If he wanted to take things step-by-step, first mastering the various Grand Daos and then slowly work on the Heavenly Dao of Water, then the rest of the Five Elements so as to reach the level of Lord Buddha or Daoist Three Purities…without question, it would take an unfathomable amount of time.
He didn’t have enough time.
What could he do?
His only choice was to make a lateral thrust, to make an unconventional gambit!
His greatest talent currently lay in heartforce. The heart was an invisible, formless thing, but it was possible to make great breakthroughs in it. Right now, Ning had already reached the fourth stage in heartforce! If he was to reach the fifth stage, he would instantly be comparable to the most supreme of Daofathers. Long ago, Houyi had reached the fifth stage of heartforce as an Empyrean God and thus became capable of killing True Gods and Daofathers!
Master Subhuti believed that Ning’s talent with the sword was even greater than his talent in heartforce. Supposedly, if swordforce reached the fifth stage, it would be no weaker than heartforce of the fifth stage. But how was he to reach such a level?
The best choice was to train in the number one sword-art of the Three Realms, the [Five Treasures] sword-art! The [Five Treasures] sword-art was even capable of allowing the speed of his sword to exceed the limitations of the Heavenly Daos; it would definitely allow him to be the most powerful figure amongst his peers. Even if his peers also mastered fifth stage swordforce, if he mastered the [Five Treasures] sword-art, he would still be far more powerful than them.
“I’ll walk these two paths simultaneously. So long as one of them succeeds…I, Ji Ning, will stand at the very peak of the Three Realms!”
Ning knew very well that both paths were extremely difficult paths to walk…but if you wanted to stand at the top, how could you avoid taking a difficult path? Others wouldn’t even have the chance to make an attempt like this. Ning had both the chance and the necessarily talent…of course he had to go all-out!
Not just for himself; it was also for his family, for his loved ones. If he didn’t have enough power, not only would he be doomed, even Brightmoon and the others would find it hard to survive.
Ning completely subsumed himself into his training. Every so often, he would leave the thatched cottage to take another look at the first chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art. Although he had already memorized it all, the sword stances on the cliff had been personally left behind by Daofather Fuju, and it contained Fuju’s sword-intent. Ning was able to memorize the stances, but he wasn’t able to memorize the sword-intent.
This was the reason why, in times of peace, thousands of Empyrean Gods and True Immortals would come here to cultivate, with each cultivation session often lasting a million years or even longer.
Time passed, one day after the other.
The entire Five Treasure Peaks were completely silent. All of the Empyrean Gods and True Immortals were as silent as deadwood, completely focused on the sword!
“The Dao…is slipping away…”
Ning opened his eyes.
The Dao was vanishing from his mind, one strand at a time. No matter how hard Ning tried to recollect those memories, he was unable to do so. They had truly been lost.
“Continue.” Ning shut his eyes, continuing his meditations.
If he lost his other Daos, he lost them. For the sake of the sword…it would all be worth it.
Losing the other Daos represented that Ning was continuously progressing in his understanding of the [Five Treasures] sword-art. Ning also had the nine chaos seals to meditate over as well. As time passed and as his insights deepened, Ning began to realize that the nine chaos seals were even more profound and even more difficult to fathom. By comparison, the 3729 sword stances of the first chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art were simply meant to familiarize Ning with a system that was different from all other sword-arts, a system that transcended the Heavenly Daos themselves.
The [Five Treasures] sword-art was more detailed, but its power was also a bit weaker.
It made sense, truth be told. The nine chaos seals…not even Daoist Three Purities or Mother Nuwa (prior to the destruction of the Primordial Era) had been able to completely master them. The [Five Treasures] sword-art, however, had been created by Daofather Fuju.
Just by comparing them, it was clear which one was superior. However, both transcended the Dao of the Heavens, and so they could be compared to each other.
“Finally…I’ve lost the Grand Dao of the Waterdrop.” Midway through his training, Ning suddenly could sense that his Grand Dao of the Waterdrop was no longer perfect and complete. He paused for a moment…but then he once more began to calmly continue his meditations.
The Dao continued to leak away from him in tiny strands…but his understanding of the [Five Treasures] sword-art grew increasingly refined.
“Five treasures…five treasures…” Ning rose to his feet, walking out of the thatched cottage. He raised his head to stare at the distant first peak, then sighed softly to himself. “It truly is a treasure. Only when you truly begin to train in it will you understand how vast and marvelous it is. I really have no idea how Daofather Fuju could’ve developed such an unfathomably powerful sword-art in the past. How could a major power like him have perished in such a silent, noiseless manner?”
Daofather Fuju’s death was a mystery. He was so formidable…how could he have perished?
Why was it that before he went into the primordial chaos, he intentionally left behind his legacy within the fifth peak? It was as though he knew that there was a chance he would die.
“Did he encounter Outsiders in the primordial chaos who killed him? Or did he encounter a mysterious, dangerous area within the infinite primordial chaos which he had to enter despite the danger?” Ning was unable to come up with the answer, and so he stopped guessing. The primordial chaos was simply too vast and mysterious. The nine chaos seals themselves had come from the primordial chaos.
“Training in the first chapter alone has made my sword far faster than it was in the past.” Ning had already mastered the first chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art.
The first chapter wasn’t that difficult; the majority of those who were truly determined to train in it would succeed in their efforts. But of course, one had to have at least reached the first stage of swordforce to succeed.
A Darknorth sword emerged, appearing in Ning’s hands. He began to execute the sword-art.
He didn’t use any of his Immortal energy or his divine power. He was like an ordinary mortal training with the sword.
Chopping…piercing…slashing…deflecting…these were the most basic of sword stances, but in Ning’s hands they seemed to flow together like water. As Ning continued with his swordplay, a layer of white-gold light began to appear atop his sword. The dazzling, white-gold halo caused his sword to possess inconceivable might.
It made his sword faster. Sharper. Even space itself began to crackle and tear.
This was the second stage of swordforce…the ‘Dazzling Sun’ stage.
The first stage of swordforce was known as the ‘Silver Moon’ stage, because at this stage a layer of silvery-white light would appear atop the sword.
“So, without even realizing it, I’ve already reached the second stage of swordforce.” Ning laughed.
Within the Daoist monastery.
Subhuti sat there with his eyes closed. In truth, he was watching over the entire Three Realms. The Three Realms were currently in a state of chaos; as the most accomplished expert of the Three Realms in the art of spacetime, Subhuti would naturally keep an eye on all places.
“Eh?” Subhuti opened his eyes, a trace of a smile within them. “This disciple of mine has actually reached the second stage of swordforce. Mmm…I imagine that he’s probably calmed down by now. It’s time to let him exchange blows with the Seamless Gate.”
Given Subhuti’s abilities, he had long ago found some suitable headquarters of the Seamless Gate for Ji Ning to act against.
However…if he always let Ji Ning attack so furiously, Ji Ning would probably die in his fury. Thus, Subhuti wanted to ensure that he was in control of the general tempo of things. He wouldn’t let Ji Ning get involved in an excessive slaughter, but he had to allow Ji Ning to reach his goal of forcing the Seamless Gate to bow its head. Thus…Subhuti needed to handle things with precision.
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