The imperial capital. Within the Youngflame clan’s estate.
“Clan leader.” An azure-robed middle-aged man flew in a rush into a study, then knelt down, unable to mask the excitement on his face. “We’ve found Ji Ning.”
The Godplume Duke, who was seated behind a table, flipping through a book, was stunned upon hearing this. And then, he called out in delight, “Found Ji Ning?”
It had been more than a year.
Per the orders from Patriarch Arcanum, the Godplume Duke had been searching for Ji Ning’s traces this entire time, but Ji Ning seemed to have completely disappeared, leaving no traces behind at all. In fact, the Godplume Duke actually believed that Ji Ning had perhaps hidden himself within another lesser world or major world. In fact, he had thought that ten or twenty years might go by without any traces of Ji Ning being discovered. For Ji Ning to kill the successor to the Youngflame clan and then leave completely unhindered was a humiliation to the entire Youngflame clan… but if they couldn’t find him, what could they do about it?
And yet, they actually found him!
“Where is he?” The Godplume Duke immediately asked.
“Ji Ning has already arrived here in the imperial capital. We followed him the entire time,” the azure-robed man said hurriedly.
“The imperial capital? He came to the imperial capital?” The Godplume Duke frowned. The imperial capital was tightly guarded, and here in the imperial capital, without a shadow of a doubt the most powerful organization was the imperial clan of the Grand Xia. For Ji Ning to come to the imperial capital actually made things more difficult.
“He actually came to the imperial capital. Fighting is forbidden in the imperial capital… what should we do about him, then?” The Godplume Duke continued to frown. In some other commandery cities, the Youngflame had quite a large amount of influence, but in the imperial capital, there were quite a few clans more powerful than the Youngflame clan… and in the end, there was the Imperial Xiamang clan, which had completely unified this major world.
In the face of the Imperial Xiamang clan, even the supremely powerful clans such as the Youngflame clan, the Kindwater clan, and the Skyfarmer clan had to tread carefully.
“Ji Ning must be followed continuously. Keep a close watch on his movements,” the Godplume Duke ordered. “Don’t do anything else for now; just await my orders.”
“Yes.” The azure-robed man immediately acknowledged the order.
It was true that Patriarch Arcanum had originally ordered for Ji Ning to be killed immediately upon him being found, but this was the imperial capital! To kill someone inside the capital… this was a challenge to the Imperial Xiamang clan! The only way to do it was to send out Deathsworn, Deathsworn who wouldn’t betray the Youngflame clan even after being captured.
“Given how tightly guarded the imperial capital is, once the battle started, most likely in the space of a single breath, the Imperial Guard of the Grand Xia will immediately arrive,” the Godplume Duke pondered to himself. “To find a Deathsworn who can kill Ji Ning in just the space of a single breath… where am I supposed to find such a Deathsworn? Ji Ning has acquired many of Youngflame Nong’s treasures!”
Ji Ning was powerful to begin with. Given that he had protective treasures on him as well, even Loose Immortals would find it hard to defeat him in such a short period of time. A Deathsworn like this would be very difficult to find.
“I’ll go see the Patriarch.” The Godplume Duke no longer hesitated.
Soon, the nine Flood Dragons flew outwards, pulling an Immortal carriage behind them with the Godplume Duke seated within it. They howled through the air, leaving the imperial capital and entering the azure skies.
Filled with curiosity, Ning continued to stare at the imperial citadel, and also at the distant Skylight Palace. Alas, given Ning’s status, how could he possibly be allowed to enter the imperial citadel? And so, a few moments later, his black dragon carriage flew away.
“Master, there are three people behind us now,” Little Qing glanced backwards. Ning, seated within the carriage, glanced backwards as well. There was a long shuttle behind them, with a white-robed elder and two others on it. Earlier, the only one following them had been the white-robed elder, but now, there were three in total.
“One is a Primal Daoist.” Ning could feel those behind him reaching out through divine sense, and he immediately sent his own divine sense crushing backwards as well.
[Soulshaker Art]! Their divine senses collided, and instantly, the face of the tall, thin, azure-robed man changed. “This Ji Ning actually has such a powerful soul?”
After the divine sense collision, the three behind Ning immediately grew much more ‘obedient’, no longer trying to challenge him.
“Ning, son, where shall we go next?” The Whitewater Hound sent through their spirit-link.
“To the Heavenly Treasures Mountain,” Ning sent back through their spirit-link as well. “I’ve acquired quite a few treasures this time; the amount of magic treasures alone is quite astonishing. With so many magic treasures… I should go to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain to exchange them for liquefied elemental essence, then trade for treasures I actually need.”
Right now, what Ning needed the most desperately was treasures which contained the purified essences of the Five Elements, so that he could begin training on the second Cycle.
The black dragon carriage advanced at an astonishing speed through the wide streets. The streets of the imperial capital were all extremely wide. The several major thoroughfares were actually built and ‘tiled’ with clouds, causing them to seem extraordinarily beautiful. Even the ordinary streets were tiled with incredibly rare and precious stones.
“The main headquarters of the Heavenly Treasures Mountain lives up to its name.” Ning’s eyes lit up as he stared into the distance. The other Heavenly Treasures Mountains in the various commandery cities were merely local branches; this one here in the imperial capital was the true center. Many of the most rare and precious curios were all stored here in the main headquarters. Many Immortals would come to the imperial capital expressly for the purpose of purchasing items at the main headquarters of the Heavenly Treasures Mountain that could not be found elsewhere.”
“It really is huge.” Little Qing’s eyes were filled with excitement as well.
The Whitewater Hound raised his head as well. He had never before seen such a beautiful place. The Heavenly Treasures Mountain before them was structured like an enormous qilin creature which lay there, nearly ten thousand kilometers long. In other words, the size of this Heavenly Treasures Mountain was comparable to the entire Stillwater City.
The black dragon carriage quickly flew into the Heavenly Treasures Mountain.
“Let’s first get something to eat, then sell off our treasures.” Ning was in a superb mood. He paid no attention to those three following him, and the black dragon carriage flew straight in, under the guidance of the greeters.
The main headquarters of the Heavenly Treasures Mountain was filled with enormous crystalline mirrors which hung in the air everywhere, nearly covering the entirety of the sky at a height of tens of kilometers.
Beneath the countless mirrors, many Immortal cultivators were congregating.
As Ning, the Whitewater Hound, and Little Qing flew into the Heavenly Treasures Mountain, one of the mirrors quickly locked onto them.
“Black dragon carriage, the one used by young master Youngflame Nong of the Youngflame clan. Youngflame Nong has already been killed by Ji Ning..”
“The rider on the carriage is dressed in magic robes in the shape of furs, and looks identical to Ji Ning.”
“Next to him are two Godbeasts; Azure Skysnake and Whitewater Hound.”
“99% chance of the youth being Ji Ning.”
This report was quickly duplicated and spread out, and as it was, it was sent out through one of the thousands of intelligence channels. This was a location under constant surveillance by the main headquarters, as every day, all sorts of figures would arrive, including those from other major worlds or even the Heaven Realm or the Netherworld Kingdom. All sorts of intelligence reports could be generated here, of greater or lesser import. As for the news of Ji Ning… in the eyes of the many intelligence agencies, he was very unremarkable and ordinary.
“Ji Ning has already appeared within the main headquarters of our Heavenly Treasures Mountain. There are five customers who have a standing purchase order for all information regarding him. Immediately deliver these reports to them.” A black-robed woman gave a calm order, and soon, the Heavenly Treasures Mountain sent out five subordinates, each with a copy of an intelligence report, towards five different locations in the imperial capital.
Immediately report Ji Ning’s whereabouts upon discovering him! There were five customers who had standing purchase orders of this nature.
“Is that the Blackwater Carriage?” Within the Heavenly Treasures Mountain, a violet-robed man stared into the distance as Ning, aboard his carriage, entered a private courtyard. The black dragon carriage brought him all the way into the courtyard, then Ning entered a two-story building within the estate, sitting down alongside Little Qing and Uncle White to enjoy some of delicacies that came from places throughout the Grand Xia Empire, and even from some other major worlds.
“Fur-clad youth? Azure Skysnake? Whitewater Hound?” The violet-robed man murmured to himself, “Can this be the Ji Ning who killed Youngflame Nong? He truly is ignorant, to dare to so be so arrogant and open… he’s probably already been discovered by the intelligence division, and the Youngflame clan will most likely quickly be aware of him as well. However, none of that has anything to do with me.”
“Youngflame Nong was quite wealthy. Ji Ning killed him… and must have taken his many treasures. It seems my opportunity has come.” The violet-robed man’s eyes lit up, and he immediately, leisurely walked forward. A few moments later, he arrived outside the courtyard. He stood there, outside the courtyard, waiting silently, not entering.
A long time later…
“Who is it outside?” Ning’s voice rang out.
“Yu Qi of the Heavenly Treasures Mountain,” the violet-robed man laughed.
“Enter,” Ning said.
The violet-robed man obediently entered, quickly arriving at that two-story building. He followed the stairs up to the second floor, where Ji Ning, an azure-robed maiden, and a white-robed man were seated. They had essentially finished eating.
“You were outside the courtyard for quite some time. What for?” Ning leisurely held a cup of wine in his hand, sweeping this Yu Qi with a weighing gaze. Yu Qi’s power… from what Ning could tell, he should be at the Wanxiang level.
“I am responsible for purchasing and selling treasures on behalf of the main Heavenly Treasures Mountain,” Yu Qi said modestly. “For example, if some people wish to sell their treasures or want to buy something special, I can assist. And of course, for the deals that I was responsible for carrying out, the main Heavenly Treasures Mountain will give me some rewards.”
Ning nodded lightly. “You recognize me?”
Yu Qi laughed. “I immediately recognized that carriage that you rode on, fellow Daoist Ji Ning. The carriage is known as the ‘Blackwater Carriage’, and was used in the past by Youngflame Nong; he often rode in it to come to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain. Thus, quite a few people recognize it. Upon seeing the carriage, seeing the way you look, and the Azure Skysnake and Whitewater Hound by your side, I was able to guess that you are the ‘legendary’ Ji Ning.”
“It seems I’m quite famous. Even the imperial capital knows about me.” Ning couldn’t help but laugh.
“Fellow Daoist Ji Ning, you might not be aware of this, but you are indeed quite well-known,” Yu Qi laughed. “Youngflame Nong was one of the Four Dukelings of the imperial capital. Although they were described as the Four Dukelings, they weren’t necessarily the most powerful individuals of their generation; however, they had exalted statuses, were extremely wealthy, and loved to have fun. Youngflame Nong, however, ended up dying in the outside world. This news was naturally picked up by interested parties. Although the Youngflame clan never publicized it, anyone who did just a bit of investigation would realize that the killer was Ji Ning. Thus, your information was quickly unearthed by many as well. You have as spirit-beasts a Whitewater Hound and an Azure Skysnake; you like to dress in fur-shaped magic robes; you are extremely talented in swordplay, and have the appearance of a delicate, handsome youth…”
Yu Qi rambled on and on, while Ji Ning, Little Qing, and Uncle White just stared.
It seemed as though after having killing Youngflame Nong, he truly had become quite well-known in the imperial capital.
“…and I guessed that the reason you came here today, fellow Daoist Ji Ning, was to sell off some treasures,” Yu Qi laughed. “And I, here at the Heavenly Treasures Mountain, specialize in this sort of business.”