Book 3, Chapter 18 – Determining Life and Death
“I can’t keep running. If I keep running, the Crimsonbright divine power in my body will be completely used up. Once my divine power is used up, I will definitely die. I won’t even be able to struggle.” Ji Ning suddenly came to a halt, then turned to look towards the four ugly giants, already extremely angry due to the long chase. The ugly giants wielded those stone staffs, charging forward with large steps.
“He finally stopped running.”
“The human should be out of divine power by now.”
“Competing with us in running. We could run for several more days without fear.” The nine ugly giants wanted to devour this human in front of them.
Ning wielded a sword in each hand, standing there calmly.
Faced with life and death, Ning’s spirit was incomparably calm and empty. In this moment, he had thrown all other thoughts to the back of his mind, and in his heart, the only thing remaining was this battle.
“Hmph.” The nine ugly giants charged forward, and Ning immediately charged forward as well. Three fire lotus petals and three water lotus petals slowly swiveled around him, causing the giants to be unable to attack Ning simultaneously when they drew near him.
Ning’s sword struck out.
A sword like fire!
“Haha, his sword is too weak.”
“Too weak.” The ugly giants didn’t care at all. Ning’s sword pierced through the protection of that thick black light, but was only able to leave behind a hint of a wound.
Although Ning was very calm, he was using his full force.
“Not much divine force left.” Ning could feel that his divine power was ebbing. Grinding his teeth, he suddenly charged forward like a giant Roc soaring into the skies.
The corridor was a hundred meters high, so Ning leapt a hundred meters into the air. While flying, two ancient Dao-seals appeared in Ning’s hands. One was a Light Body Seal, while the other was a Divine Movement Seal. The Xiantian ki in his body immediately rushed into the two Dao-seals, and two queer surges of power immediately flowed into Ning’s body.
“The last sword!” Ning hit the very top of the corridor, and then with two kicks, released all of his power!
He charged downwards!
Relying on the force from springboarding off the ceiling, the always-terrifying speed of the [Windwing Evasion], and the force of gravity pulling him downwards, as well as the Light Body Seal and the Divine Movement Seal, his speed became all the more terrifying! In this moment, Ning’s downward charging speed had reached a heretofore unreached level, as fast as light!
Speed is power. When speed reaches a certain extreme, the power of the sword would naturally be great as well.
“The raindrop holds the meaning of Raindrop Pierces Rocks. The raindrop can become a Rain Line, a Thin Stream, a river or an ocean.” As Ning charged downwards, he was using the killing stroke of the Raindrop Sutra, the ‘Raindrop Pierces Rocks’. As he did so, in his mind, he couldn’t help but think back to the scene of his father, Ji Yichuan, teaching him swordplay. His father had once demonstrated all nine stances of the Raindrop Sword for him, three times.
At this moment, when faced with death, Ning immediately understood.
When his father demonstrated the swordplay, he moved very slowly. He started from ‘Raindrop Pierces Rocks’, then moved to ‘Rain Line’, ‘Eternally Fresh Waterflow’, ‘Merciless Waterflow’, and then finally returned to the ‘Raindrop Pierces Rocks’.
Right after that, it transformed into ‘Drizzling Rain’, ‘Tempest Curtain’, ‘Water Curtain Links to Heaven’, and finally returned once more to the ‘Raindrop Pierces Rocks’!
After that, it transformed once more into ‘Thin Streams Flow Forever’, ‘Watertight’, before finally returning to ‘Raindrop Pierces Rocks’ once more!
“Raindrop Pierces Rocks is the most powerful attack, but also the weakest attack. The amazing mysteries in the [Raindrop Sutra] are inexhaustible and boundless. One can spend a lifetime training in it. Remember…Raindrop Pierces Rocks!” Yichuan had said these words. At the time, Ning had felt he understood them.
But after that night of meditating on the Dao, and these repeated life-and-death battles, Ning at this moment finally, truly understood what his father had labored to teach him.
“This is the attack.”
Ning, charging downwards at high speed with twin swords, immediately drew away one of the stone staffs of an ugly giant, sending it smashing to one side. With his right hand, Ning pierced directly towards the ugly giant’s skull! The ugly giant’s stone staff had missed its downwards smashing mark; naturally, he didn’t have the chance to raise it back to block, but he wasn’t afraid at all. “He can’t hurt me.”
“…Pierces Rocks!” Ning only stared calmly at the head of that giant.
His sword was like water, like a heavy raindrop landing upon a stone. Pa! The sword instantly pierced through that thick black barrier, driving itself deep into the head of that giant, even into the brain. The terrifyingly natural power of the blow suddenly exploded. There was nothing in the body that could block it, and so, instantly, with a ‘Swish!’ sound, the head exploded. It transformed into a puddle of black water, and the armor and the stone staff all fell to the ground.
“Collect.” Ning immediately collected both the armor as well as the stone staff into his own storage magic treasure.
The pool of black water quickly reformed into the strange giant again, who called out in shock, “How is that possible? How is that possible?”
“Nothing is impossible.” Ning was now completely confident. He understood that these nine strange giants were no longer able to stop him.
Ning only had to control his Waterflame Lotus to quickly once more smash the strange giant into a puddle of black water. Without the protection of the Dao Battle-Armor, the giant wasn’t able to resist the crushing force of the Waterflame Lotus at all.
“The eight of you can die as well now.” Ning transformed into a blur, once more flashing forth like lightning.
All nine Dao Battle-Armors had to be linked together for them to be able to assist each other. Right now, the strange giants weren’t able to combine their strength at all. Now, when facing Ning’s vastly improved swordplay…they became unable to flee. All of them were killed, one after the other, and even their Dao Battle-Armor and stone staves were stored by Ning into his storage treasure.
Ning stood there unmoving, only relying on the Solar and Lunar Divine Tattoos to control six Waterflame Lotuses, repeatedly grinding down on those nine giants, smashing them time and time again into black water. Even though they reformed, Ning would simply grind them apart again.
After being crushed just a few times, the nine strange giants completely collapsed and weren’t able to reform.
The fog at the two ends of the corridor slowly faded away.
“Father.” Ning gently murmured.
Although that night he had spent meditating on the Dao resulted in Ning gaining a hint of true understanding regarding fire, water, and wind, understanding was nothing more than understanding; whether or not it could be used was another matter. In the past, Ning only understood the Waterflame Lotus, this single technique, which was meant for self-protection, not for attacking.
But just now, relying on the guidance his father had given him to be his foundation, in that moment between life and death, he had finally understood the true meaning of the [Raindrop Sutra] – the True Meaning of the Raindrop!
In terms of levels of understanding…
The level above ‘one with the world’ was that of the ‘True Meaning’!
“The True Meaning of the Raindrop originates from the ‘raindrop’.” Ning sighed in amazement. “A single raindrop is the source. When there are many raindrops, it can transform into a line and become the ‘Rain Line’. When there are even more raindrops, naturally it can begin to flow and have life force, which is the ‘Eternally Fresh Waterflow’. And once the waves swell to an unblockable tide, that becomes ‘Merciless Waterflow’. But when the countless raindrops all come together, you can still describe it as just a single raindrop.”
“Raindrop Pierces Rocks is the most powerful attack of the Raindrop Sutra, but also its weakest.” Ning laughed. “That is true for defense as well. Drizzling Rain, Tempest Curtain, Water Curtain Links to Heaven…they all become Raindrop Pierces Rocks in the end. Thin Streams Flow Forever and Watertight also become Raindrop Pierces Rocks.”
“The True Meaning of the Raindrop.”
“An unending circle.” Ning sighed in amazement. “No wonder Father said that one can spend a lifetime on the Raindrop Sutra.”
Without question, his father had clearly understood the True Meaning of the Raindrop long ago.
One truly could spend a lifetime to understand that the [Raindrop Sutra] could infinitely circle in on itself to grow even more powerful.
Upon gaining insight into the True Meaning of the Raindrop, the [Raindrop Sutra] itself actually became without value. Perhaps the ancestor who had originally developed the [Raindrop Sutra] himself only reached this level, the True Meaning of the Raindrop, after having in some lucky circumstance developed these nine techniques that could forever cycle without ending. But of course, it was also possible that it was some sort of powerful Fiendgod or powerful Immortal who intentionally developed this sort of inexhaustible, circular, increasingly powerful swordplay.
“Raindrop Pierces Rocks. Raindrop Pierces Rocks.” Ning chanted softly, and then he shut his eyes to rest. That battle had been too exhausting.
After resting and eating to his fill, Ning’s divine power recovered and then he began to perfect his True Meaning of the Raindrop. Upon having learned the True Meaning of the Raindrop…he was completely capable of using one small raindrop after another to create a thin line, then execute the ‘Rain Line’. The power of this attack was far greater than that of Raindrop Pierces Rocks.
Time flowed on.
Ning ate and drank. Fortunately, prior to this, his kalestone and Ironwood Zhan’s storage treasure all had some food within it. What he lacked right now was time. As time went out, if he was able to increase his [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] by another stage, if he could make his swordplay become even more powerful, then his chances of survival would naturally become greater.
He had relied on the Waterflame Lotus to make it through the first trial, while in the second trial, he had been pushed to his limits, at which point he had gained insights into the True Meaning of the Raindrop, finally making that breakthrough in peril. Based on the increase in difficulty, the third trial would definitely be very terrifying. Since Immortal Juhua had publicly called for a disciple, one could imagine how difficult this third trial must have been.
By Serpentwing Lake.
Ji Yichuan and Yuchi Snow, husband and wife, were temporarily staying here by the side of Serpentwing Lake. They were quietly waiting. Waiting for their son to return. But as one day after another passed, their hearts grew increasingly frantic, because the more time passed, the lower the chances were that their son was still alive.
“Cough, cough.” Snow was coughing.
“Don’t panic, don’t panic.” Yichuan saw that in one short month, his wife’s illness had rapidly worsened, making him feel all the more pity for her.
“I don’t want to panic either.” Snow stared at the endless waters of Serpentwing Lake, then sighed. “But Ning, Ning, he…it’s been more than a month. Why hasn’t he come back yet. Why hasn’t he come back yet!”
To Yuchi Snow, her son was her whole world.
“Our son will definitely come back. Definitely. When you were pregnant with Ning, the roots of your illness took hold. You can’t be angry, and you can’t panic. You know that. Take care of your body.” Yichuan’s heart was as frantic as a scorching fire. In his heart, he cared deeply about his son, but he was also worried about his wife by his side. Ever since that great battle they had fought on the way back from the Darknorth Seas…
Although the Whitewater Hound had braved a serious injury to take his wife away and flee, and their son had been lucky enough to survive, his wife and his son had both been injured.
“Ning.” Yichuan stared at the boundless lake waters as well. “You have to come back alive.”
Within the endless hallway.
There was no day or night within this hallway, and there was no way to clearly judge the passing of time. His appetite was enormous, but the amount of food in the kalestone wasn’t that much, nor the amount in Ironwood Zhan’s storage treasure. After all, they could hunt for food at any time in Swallow Mountain, while the kalestone had size limitations, so why put in too much?
After a month, all of the stored food was completely devoured.
“Thin Streams Flow Forever and Rain Line have all reached the ‘True Meaning of the Raindrop’ level.” Ning said to himself. One was a defensive technique, while the other was offensive. His power could be considered to have greatly advanced. “After a month of training, my divine power has grown stronger as well. This third trial is the final battle…”
Ning understood how terrifying this final trial would be.
He also understood that if he passed through it, then he would survive.
But if he failed, he would die!
“Whether it is life or it is death, it all comes down to this.”
“If I die, I will most likely go to the Netherworld Kingdom again. This time, I probably won’t be so lucky as to avoid drinking Granny Meng’s Elixir. After drinking it, I will no longer be myself.” Ning had a dim sense right now, the deep, unconscious sense which one would have when one’s soul grew powerful. His unconscious sense felt a type of incomparable terror right now, as though he was about to face an incomparably terrifying trial.
“Time to determine life or death.”
Wielding the Darknorth swords in his hands, Ning headed directly for a twisting corridor, which still had three corpses on it that hadn’t completely rotted away, as well as some magic treasures scattered on the floor.
Ning used his divine sense to pick them up, calmly binding them. Upon investigating, he found that there were thousands of magic treasures stored within a storage treasure, all of which he could easily fuse. Indeed, these were all unranked magic treasures. However…such a terrifying number still represented an incomparably astonishing wealth. Ning was very calm though. Because…if he died, what use would these be?
“You finally came.” A hoarse voice rang out, in the tongue of the humans which was spoken everywhere throughout the Grand Xia Dynasty.
Ning immediately looked over. From afar, in a place filled with black mist, a figure walked out. He had a crooked body, an oily green gaze, and his entire body was covered with black fur. He seemed to walk very slowly, but with each step, he travelled dozens of meters. “A pity. You are too weak.”
In an instant, he appeared in front of Ning. His fan-sized, big grey palm carried a dense, deathly aura which slammed down towards Ning. This simple slap was so fast that Ning was completely unable to dodge. All he could do was relying on using his two swords to execute his ultimate defensive technique, ‘Thin Streams Flow Forever’, to block it. This ‘Thin Streams Flow Forever’ technique was currently also holding the True Meaning of the Raindrop within it.
“Swish!” Ning was knocked flying, and his hands instantly turned numb.
“No…” Ning wanted to tighten his grip over the Darknorth swords in his hands. If his swords were sent flying, how would he use his sword techniques? But his fingers were already completely numbed and had no feeling. Hua! Hua! His shattered fingers and his two Darknorth swords flew far away, smashing into the distant walls and emitting a clear ringing sound.
Every part of Ning’s skin had split open, and he was surrounded by a bloody mist. The fingers on both hands had been shattered. And so, his entire body covered by that bloody mist, he flew backwards and smashed against the distant ground.