Book 19, Empyrean God, Chapter 39 – Soleheart
The Three Realms. The Celestial Realm. The Dao Palace in the eastern regions was extraordinarily lively on this day.
Many major powers had gathered here. Even Buddhas Tathagata and Amitabha had arrived to celebrate, along with many others.
“Congratulations, fellow Daoist.”
“Eastflower, you’ve finally made your breakthrough.”
“Haha, Eastflower, you finally broke through. I’ve been waiting for this day since the Primordial Era.”
The Dao Palace was bustling with activity. The man of honor for this occasion was not Daoist Three Purities. Rather, it was someone who the Daoist Path had placed great expectations in…Patriarch Lu, Lu Dongbin. For some time now, Lu Dongbin had been journeying through the primordial chaos. Upon returning…everyone discovered that he had already broken through to reach the Daofather level. Thus, upon his return almost all the major powers had learned of Lu Dongbin’s breakthrough.
“Fuxi, long time no see!”
The major powers all chatted amongst themselves in small groups. Some had come in person, while others had sent their clones or incarnations.
Subhuti and Fuxi ran into each other in the Dao Palace. Subhuti had come in person, while Fuxi had merely sent over a clone.
“Eastflower caused quite a stir when he returned from the primordial chaos. It seems he encountered quite the stroke of karmic luck,” Fuxi said with a laugh. “And from what I saw…it seems as though Eastflower should have mastered the fifth level of taiji-force as well. Amazing, truly amazing.”
“He wished to merge the teachings of Buddhism and Daoism together…Eastflower truly is an ambitious man.” Subhuti sighed with emotion. “However…it was precisely because his ambitions were too great that, despite possessing deep insights in both his previous life as ‘Eastflower’ and his current life as ‘Lu Dongbin’, he remained unable to make the final breakthrough. This time, thanks to a lucky encounter in the primordial chaos, he was able to make a fortuitous breakthrough, merging Buddhism and Daoism into one, with the Taiji supporting him. Upon making this breakthrough…he has now become one of the elite Daofathers of the Three Realms. No wonder Three Purities, Carefree, and the others all viewed him with such favor.”
Fuxi nodded as well. Everyone felt quite moved.
True Gods and Daofathers could roughly be divided into three levels of power.
The first level of power was the level which ordinary True Gods and Daofathers were at. Most True Gods and Daofathers were on this level, and unless they made a qualitative, transformative breakthrough, they would find it very difficult to improve any further.
The second level was the level often described as the ‘elite’ level. The Five Emperors of the human race, Daofather Carefree, Wargod Xingtian, and other extraordinarily powerful figures were considered to be on this level.
The third level was the ‘overlord’ level. This was the level the two leaders of Buddhism and Daoism were on, along with the three mighty Human Sovereigns.
In truth, it was certain that the likes of Subhuti, Old Man Yuan, and Houyi were significantly more powerful than the likes of Wargod Xingtian. Most people usually viewed them as being very close to the ‘overlord’ level, but because their exact power level was a mystery, it was hard to say if they had reached the ‘overlord’ level or not.
Lu Dongbin had managed to combine his cultivation in both Buddhism and Daoism, and his taiji-force had reached the fifth level. He definitely had reached the elite Daofather level of power!
There had been others who had made such powerful breakthroughs in the past. Xingtian was another example, as was Houyi, whose breakthrough was even more ridiculous. Youdu was another example. As an Empyrean God, he had trained in the [Twelve Heavens Fiendgod] and reached the second level, and so he had twelve clones that were all equal in strength to his true body. After he broke through to become a True God, he had combined his twelve bodies and also become a elite Daofather.
But of course, what the Nuwa Alliance had, the Seamless Alliance also had.
“That disciple of yours has formidable heartforce,” Fuxi said. “If he can break through to the fifth stage of heartforce, he’ll instantly have the power of a elite Daofather as well.”
“It’s not that easy. Eastflower only succeeded because he’s been building up a foundation for countless years. Honestly, if it wasn’t because he was simultaneously training in so many things at once, he probably would’ve become a Daofather long ago. Eastflower is simply too ambitious, which is why it took him this long to make his breakthrough.” Subhuti shook his head. “As for Ji Ning, he hasn’t trained for long enough. It’s far too difficult for anyone to reach the fifth stage of heartforce. To be honest, I’ve always felt that his talent lay more in the sword than in anything else. To this very day, I feel that way. Compared to the Dao of the Sword, heartforce is too ephemeral and formless a path.”
Fuxi nodded in agreement. “How’s he doing in his Dao of the Sword?”
“He’s still building up his experiences,” Subhuti said.
“Oh, right. Here’s the formation I promised Ji Ning.” Fuxi waved his hand, producing a bamboo scroll. “I brought it along with me to give to you.”
The Seamless Gate was naturally aware of Lu Dongbin’s breakthrough. All they could do, however, was gnash their teeth in silence.
The Nuwa Alliance had gained yet another powerful ally! In truth, they had wanted to get rid of Lu Dongbin long ago, but he was the True Immortal which the Daoist Path cared about the most. Everyone knew that given Lu Dongbin’s cultivation path, he would become incredible as soon as he made that final breakthrough, and so the Daoist Path had treated them as a precious treasure. In addition, Lu Dongbin hadn’t been as suicidal as Ning, and so the Seamless Gate had never had the chance to do anything to him.
“For him to make his breakthrough just as the storm arrives…Lu Dongbin is going to be a threat. Still…in the end, victory will be decided in the Endwar.” The Godking was absolutely furious, but on the whole was still calm and level-headed about it.
In this war between the two alliances, the addition of a single elite Daofather was something they could still handle. If, however, an overlord-level Daofather was to appear within the Daoist Path…he really would go crazy with shock and rage.
As for Ji Ning?
The Godking had all but forgotten about Ji Ning by now. Based on Ji Ning’s current actions, it seemed as though Ning was completely focused on training in swordplay and was no longer going to ambush the Seamless Gate. “Ji Ning has finally wised up.”
The news that a new Daofather had been born was mainly circulated amongst the major powers themselves. Very, very few Empyrean Gods and True Immortals knew of this matter. Because Ning was completely focused on his training with the sword, Subhuti didn’t tell him about this matter. In fact, he wasn’t even in a rush to give Fuxi’s formation to Ning. “It’ll be easy for him to learn this formation. This disciple of mine is currently wandering the Three Realms, training in the sword like a madman. It’s best if I don’t bother him for now. After he’s completed his training, I’ll give it to him.”
Subhuti’s judgment was quite accurate.
Ning had indeed entered a berserk state. When he had mastered the Dao of the Sword, he had just reached the first stage of swordforce. Upon reaching the second stage of swordforce, a new world had opened up before his eyes. And so, Ning wandered the Three Realms, constantly training and competing against others in swordplay. He began to gain an increasingly clear picture of the path he had to take. As for all the insights he gained, he merged all of them into those five stances he had visualized.
As Ning saw it…
“The essence of all sword-stances in the world, including those of the [Five Treasures], can be merged into these five stances.”
“This sword-art that I, Ji Ning, will create…let it be called the [Brightmoon] sword-art. In the many years to come, I will spend much of my time constantly improving and perfecting these five stances.”
This was what Ning’s idea, for these five sword-stances to encompass all the mysteries of swordplay which the Three Realms contained.
In truth, sword-arts were quite simple when broken down. The most fundamental sword-stances were to chop, pierce, scrape, sweep, break, tap, cleave, support, intercept, twist, lift, draw, and sheath. Although they were seemingly simple…like the Dao itself, these simple concepts gave birth to countless different things, and were capable of transforming into infinitely powerful sword-arts.
Based on his own experiences, Ning had come up with five all-encompassing stances. Strictly speaking, these five stances represented five different types of sword-intent; what mattered the most was the intent, not the actual technique.
The fifteenth year of Ning’s training with the sword.
“Careful!” A Primal-level Fiendgod roared as he charged towards Ning.
Ning was using Zifu-level strength to fight back with a sword in each hand. When his sword struck out, it was like a black hole had been created, draining and weakening his opponent’s massive strength. No matter how fast the opponent attacked, he remained unable to escape.
In fact, the Fiendgod’s own power was beginning to work against him. He couldn’t help but stagger back by two steps.
“The five stances of the bright moon…I didn’t expect that the first one to take form would be this one. I shall call it ‘Soleheart’.” Ning nodded slowly.
The [Brightmoon] sword-art.
He had named it after his daughter. His decision to do so reflected the fact that to Ning, she was that which he had to protect above all others!
The ‘Soleheart stance’ of the five stances of the bright moon was a sword-art that was meant for defending in a one-on-one battle. It represented the most profound insights Ning had gained in defensive sword-arts. When his sword struck out, it was as though a black hole had formed that would absorb and trap the enemy’s strength. But of course, this sword-art was still very crude and unfinished…but it was still the most powerful sword-art which Ning currently possessed.
In this moment…
Ning silently and soundlessly reached the third stage of swordforce. However, Ning actually didn’t care too much about that. The only thing in his heart right now was his [Brightmoon] sword-art. This sword-art represented the crystallization of all his blood, sweat, and effort. This would be the true foundation of his sword-arts in the future.
Only after creating all five sword-stances would Ning rest.
“Eh? I’ve finally subdued that True Immortal Winterpeak.” Ning suddenly cracked a smile.
Within an ice-locked stone stele that was located deep within a gorge of an icy star that was within the infinite primordial chaos.
Eight lotus petals were high in the sky, facing the ground as they continued to unleash eight streams of truefire. The streams of truefire completely filled the ground beneath the lotus petals, blazing away at a bowl-shaped treasure.
A white-robed youth was located outside the restrictive formation, eyes closed as he continued to meditate on his sword-arts. Every so often, he would add in a little bit more energy to keep the treasure active.
Although his opponent was ‘only’ a Pure Yang True Immortal, this sort of top-tier True Immortal was comparable to the Daofathers of the Three Realms! Once he hide himself under the bowl-shaped magic treasure and began to fill it with his energy to defend against the eight blazing streams of truefire…he had been able to hold on for fifteen full years.
“I-I…admit defeat.” The embarrassed, enraged, and resentful voice of True Immortal Winterpeak finally rang out from underneath the bowl-shaped treasure. His energy and his pills had all been used up. He would at most be able to endure for another three days.
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