Book 9, Ji Ning of Serpentwing Lake, Chapter 1 – New Raindragon Guards
The winding Crimson Dragon Mountains stretched off into the endless horizons. Even Immortal cultivators couldn’t see to the end of them.
Atop one of its peaks, an enormous teleportation array began to glow with light. Whoooosh! Ji Ning and the rest of the fifty two suddenly appeared within the formation.
“That was fast.” Ning glanced at his surroundings. Although he had already used the array once, the speed at which it transported a person still caused him to sigh in amazement.
“Wait here. Soon, the Raindragon Guards will send people to welcome you,” said a red-faced old man in a high voice. He was one of the ten plainly dressed elders who were located around the array and guarded it.
Ning’s group thus obediently walked out of the array, waiting next to it quietly. Very soon, a large, wide ship swooped down from the distant clouds, causing waves of air to emanate from around it as it landed atop the peak.
An incomparably ravishing pink-dressed maiden flew down from this large ship. Behind her was a group of similarly alluring women. For a moment, it was as though a host of fairies had descended into the mortal world. And then, the spirit-beasts flew down as well, each of which immediately moved towards the cultivators.
“Uncle White!” Ning instantly recognized the Whitewater Hound, who was also amidst the group of spirit-beasts. The Whitewater Hound had a look of surprise and delight his eyes. Over the past three months, he had grown increasingly concerned. When the master of a spirit-beast died, the spirit-beast would regain its freedom, and they would sense when that occurred. Over the past period of time, spirit-beasts would often depart and fly away, and as one after another left, the spirit-beasts who remained began to understand that quite a few cultivators had died!
“Ning, son.” Uncle White looked towards Ning. Suddenly, he saw the head of the little azure snake, wrapped around Ning’s wrist. He couldn’t help but say in surprise, “Ning, son, this snake is…?”
“This is an Azure Skysnake,” Ning sent mentally to him. “She’s that Azure Skysnake who I battled in the past, when I adventured through Eastmount Marsh. This time, we were lucky enough to meet yet again in the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains, and it can be said that we experienced a life-and-death event together. Perhaps because I saved her, she voluntarily offered to become my spirit-beast. And so…that’s how it happened.”
The Whitewater Hound nodded gently. He looked towards the Azure Skysnake with friendliness in his eyes while mentally saying to Ning, “Azure Skysnakes will often discover some treasure sites, and they have astonishing potential for growth. They are indeed quite suited for you, Ning.”
“So you are ‘Uncle White’?” Qingqing sent to him. The Whitewater Hound looked at her, amusement in his eyes. “You were good brothers with Ji Ning’s father, right? I heard that you are from Swallow Mountain as well. So am I. It can be said that we share the same hometown. Myself, Master, and you, Uncle White…we can be described as the Three Heroes of Swallow Mountain!”
While Ning and the other cultivators were chatting with their spirit-beasts, the group of beautiful, alluring women stared with curiosity towards them. Their leader, the pink-robed woman, waited for a short while, then finally said, “Everyone…” The fifty two all looked towards her.
“First, let me congratulate you all for having survived. You may address me as ‘Daoist Yulan’.” Her flesh beneath the pink robe seemed both visible and hidden, and her voice was even more irresistibly charismatic. Ning’s retainer, Cloudjade, could be described as possessing innate beauty and seductiveness, but the charisma of this woman clearly came from some technique or some secret art which she had trained in. But her allure was even more powerful! In addition, she was a Primal Daoist; this made it so that even Wanxiang Adepts were susceptible to their Dao-hearts being affected by her charm.
“Each of you, please produce your corpses of Wanxiang Diremonsters for my inspection. I’ll review them, one by one.” Daoist Yulan looked at each of them, her eyes filled with a seductive, alluring look. “For those who have not acquired Wanxiang Diremonster corpses, you should stand forward now, so as to help save me some time.”
Immediately, seven figures walked out. As for Ning and the rest, they produced Wanxiang Diremonster corpses for inspection.
Diremonster bodies were innately different from human bodies. Humans bodies were, by nature, weak; unless they trained as Fiendgods, their bodies would be incredibly fragile. Diremonsters, however, were different; many of them possessed certain innate abilities that granted them mighty physical strength. Although they were far from being a match for Fiendgods, they could be considered as standing somewhere between humans and Fiendgods. Many monstrous races would even transform some of the deadlier parts of their bodies into intrinsic magic treasures; from this, one could see how extraordinary their bodies were. This was why it was quite easy to tell, from a corpse, if a monster had been of the Wanxiang level or not.
“Mm.” Daoist Yulan spread out her divine sense, instantly sending it into the heads of each Diremonster corpse. After but a single breath, Daoist Yulan nodded gently. “Very good. They’ve all reached the Wanxiang Diremonster level.”
“The seven of you, stay over here. Later, someone will come to arrange for you to leave.” Daoist Yulan looked at the seven rather haggard-looking figures, then turned her gaze to Ning’s group. “As for the forty five of you, take your spirit-beasts and bring them aboard my ship.”
Moments later, the incomparably alluring Daoist Yulan led Ning’s group aboard her ship.
“This Daoist Yulan…jeeze…” Ning’s forehead had a faint sheen of sweat, and he even felt a faint fire begin to stir in his loins. In the past, Ning hadn’t been moved by even bewitching figures like Cloudjade or Ninelotus. However, the allure of this Daoist Yulan clearly stemmed from some technique or art which she had trained in. How could the mesmerizing technique of a Primal Daoist be so easily shrugged off?
The nearby Mu Northson’s face was completely flushed. In fact, some of the Wanxiang Adepts even had bloodshot eyes by now. However, their tempered Dao-hearts allowed them to maintain their calm, in the end.
As for Daoist Yulan? She swept them with a gaze, then let out a soft laugh. This gaze…this laugh…instantly, quite a few Wanxiang Adepts closed their eyes.
“Doombringer, what a doombringer,” Ning murmured silently to himself. “No wonder, in my previous life on Earth, there were so many historical records of cases where beautiful women brought doom and destruction to entire nations. These Wanxiang Adepts all have sturdy Dao-hearts, and yet they are all so drawn to her…if she were to go charm a mortal Emperor, she would easily be able to cause that Emperor to no longer care for his empire, and only care for her.”
The ship continued to fly through the clouds. Daoist Yulan waved her hands, and one book after another began to fly towards Ning and the rest of the forty five.
“Congratulations to you forty five for having become new Raindragon Guards!” Daoist Yulan continued, “Now that you have become Raindragon Guards, you have gained some of the special privileges belonging to the Raindragon Guard. At the same time, you also have some duties and responsibilities to the Raindragon Guard. Take a close look.”
Ning and the others began to flip through the books. As he did, Ning secretly sighed in amazement. “The Raindragon Guard truly lives up to its reputation. This book’s description of the special powers they possess…the Raindragon Guard truly is incomparably overbearing and dominating! Its Immortal cultivators cloak themselves in imperial authority, and can all but act with impunity.”
The Northmont clan of Stillwater could only act as they pleased in Stillwater Commandery, but Raindragon Guards could do the same in virtually any commandery in the entire Grand Xia Dynasty!
“Responsibilities?” Ning gave them a quick glance. They were fairly simple.
One-clawed Raindragon Guards – Every ten years, they had to complete a mission worth a single karmic point (these were the most ordinary of missions).
Two-clawed Raindragon Guards – Every hundred years, they had to complete missions worth a total of a hundred karmic points (the value of a normal two-clawed mission).
Three-clawed Raindragon Guards – Every thousand years, they had to complete missions worth a total of ten thousand karmic points (the value of a normal three-clawed mission).
Four-clawed Raindragon Guards – Every ten thousand years, they had to complete missions worth a total of a million karmic points (the value of a normal four-clawed mission).
Five-clawed Raindragon Guards – These were the highest ranking members of the Raindragon Guard. They were able to mobilize the armies of the Raindragon Guard, and were comparable to a Marquis in power.
The book described the basic requirements and responsibilities of Raindragon Guards!
For Wanxiang Adepts like Ji Ning, carrying out one mission every ten years was enough. For example, if you carried out a minor mission like killing Bei Zishan, upon completion, the Raindragon Guard would no longer bother you for a time.
Some Loose Immortals would spend thousands or tens of thousands of years between carrying out missions. By comparison, their lives were fairly relaxed.
“This isn’t so bad.” Northson sent to Ning, “Senior apprentice-brother, being a Raindragon Guard isn’t that hard. Based on what this says…we can just go ahead and carry out a ‘ten karma’ mission. After doing so, we can relax for a century.”
“We can relax, yes, but in doing so, we won’t be able to acquire any secret arts, divine abilities, or magic treasures,” Ning sent back.
“Uh…” Northson immediately flipped through a few more pages, then stared. “Whaaat? Divine abilities and secret arts require the exchange of karma points? And also have requirements in terms of rank?”
Many divine abilities could only be acquired by two-clawed or three-clawed Raindragon Guards. However, there was one exception; if one became a Keeper of the Raindragon Guards!
“Done reading?” Daoist Yulan swept her gaze towards this new class of Raindragon Guards. “It can be said that we Raindragon Guards have the most plentiful number of secret arts and divine abilities in this entire world. Even the Northmont clan of Stillwater cannot compare with us in this regard, because we are the most powerful force of the entire Grand Xia Dynasty.”
“However, these many divine abilities and precious treasures cannot be casually granted to you. After all…it wouldn’t be quite fair or equitable for all of you to simply have to do one mission, then relax for centuries and gain access to all these things.” Daoist Yulan continued, “Thus, you have two choices. The first is to just train slowly; after you become two-clawed or three-clawed Raindragon Guards, you’ll slowly gain chances to acquire divine abilities.”
Ning and everyone else nodded. Two-clawed Raindragon Guards were comparable to ordinary Primal Daoists in power; Bloodshadow was one such example. Three-clawed Raindragon Guards, however, were probably comparable to Loose Immortals. To wait that long to train…would probably be too late.
“The second choice is to become a member of the Keepers of the Raindragon Guard, the most incomparably loyal soldiers of the Grand Xia Dynasty! If you do so, the Raindragon Guard will naturally expend quite a bit of effort in training you!” Daoist Yulan swept them with her gaze. “Think well on this. Whether now, a year from now, ten years from now, or a century from now…we will always welcome you to join us as Keepers.”
Ning and the others understand quite well that ordinary Raindragon Guards were like deputies or retainers! They were quite free, and they had some special powers…but the Keepers of the Raindragon Guard essentially made up the devoted armies of the Grand Xia Dynasty!
Actually, early on in the history of the Raindragon Guard, every single Raindragon Guard was mandated to be governed in the same manner Keepers were now governed. However, Immortal cultivators, by their very nature, pursued carefree, unbound lives! The more talented an Immortal cultivator, the less they liked to be governed. Thus, if the rules were too strict, the only result would be for many of the most peerless, powerful, talented of cultivators to end up leaving the Raindragon Guard.
Thus, the Raindragon Guard, in order to be able to draw in many elites from around the world, finally set up a stand-alone ‘Keepers’ organization.
As a result, many lone wanderers and solitary Loose Immortals who had been training in their own private mountains all decided to join the Raindragon Guard. The Raindragon Guard’s power and reputation instantly skyrocketed, and they became the undisputed number one military force of the entire Grand Xia Dynasty! There were many major powers who were secretly members of the Raindragon Guard, and most likely, there were very few people in the entire Grand Xia Dynasty who could enumerate them all.
No one knew about all of the old freaks and talented figures who lay hidden within the Raindragon Guard. And today…Ning had become a member of the Guard as well. Although, he was of course the most ordinary type; a one-clawed Raindragon Guard.