Ji Ning walked to the bookcase that only held sword-arts manuals, carefully flipping through the others. After confirming his decision, he then picked up the abridged version of the [Heavenraker].
“Senior apprentice-brother, I choose this one, [Heavenraker],” Ning said.
With the Heavenraker Swords in his hands, he would of course choose [Heavenraker].
“Fine.” Silvermoon nodded, then waved his hand. A series of thick tomes appeared within his hands; this was the full version of the [Heavenraker] technique which Daofather Heavenrake had created. Ning’s eyes immediately lit up as he accepted the tomes. As he opened them up, he couldn’t help but lose himself within their contents. Ning couldn’t be bothered to move around, and so he just sat down right there on the ninth floor of the Divinities Palace and began to analyze this sword-art.
Summer left, winter came. A full year had passed.
During this past year, Ning didn’t immediately go to the Three Realms Palace. After all, it wasn’t as though the palace would run away. During this year, Ning defeated the ninth golem three more times, acquiring two more sword-arts manuals alongside the [Heavenraker]. These were all created by Daofathers, and were all some of the most supreme sword-arts of the Three Realms!
Ning carefully analyzed the techniques, gaining quite a bit from them. He mastered thirteen sword-stances in a row of the [Heavenraker]!
“It is time to go to the Three Realms Palace.”
It was already night, but Ning set out from his Immortal estate. Over the course of this past year, he had further perfected his [Three-Foot Sword], and his level of insight into the [Heavenraker] had already reached a very high point. It would be hard for him to improve significantly within a short period of time, and so he decided to go to the Three Realms Palace.
The Three Realms Palace was an ordinary building that was just ten meters high…but it was the one of the most mysterious places in Mount Innerheart!
Ordinary disciples of Mount Innerheart could occasionally enter Patriarch Subhuti’s Daoist monastery and listen to him expound on the Dao, but they would never, ever have the chance to enter the Three Realms Palace. Almost every single person allowed into the Three Realms Palace was an extremely famous figure of the Three Realms.
A ringing, snoring sound rang out, occasionally high, occasionally low. Outside this palace was a skinny old man who was lying on the ground, his fan across his chest as he slept. When Ning had first arrived at Mount Innerheart, he had seen this old man sleeping. It had been thirty years, but Ning had never seen him wake up.
It was as though this old man would slumber for ten thousand years at a time!
“Second senior apprentice-brother,” Ning walked over, then called out respectfully.
After having lived here for a period of time, Ning now knew about this second senior apprentice-brother.
As Lord Jiang had said, “Of the many disciples which Master has accepted, his true heir is our second senior apprentice-brother! Second senior apprentice-brother trains in both the Dao and in Buddhism, and is a master of all techniques. He’s even the only one who has ever learned Master’s greatest divine ability, [Dream of the Three Realms]. I once asked Master to teach me this divine ability, but Master said that I cannot learn it. Of his students, only second senior apprentice-brother was able to learn it!”
Silvermoon had said something similar. “Don’t be fooled by the fact that second senior apprentice-brother is always there sleeping. In reality, his avatars are roaming throughout the Three Realms, leaving behind countless legacies. There are very few mysteries in the Three Realms which can deceive second senior apprentice-brother. As I see it, under Master’s tutelage, eldest senior apprentice-brother might be the most powerful, but the second most powerful is definitely second senior apprentice-brother!”
Patriarch Subhuti had also praised him. “Your second senior apprentice-brother has done countless good deeds and accumulated nigh-infinite amounts of karmic merit. He truly wishes to do good, and has been like this since the era of the Primordial World. His karmic luck has already reached an utterly inconceivable level. Both the Buddhists and the Daoists have invited him on multiple occasions to join them.” Even Patriarch Subhuti felt proud when mentioning his second disciple. Clearly, he was very satisfied with him!
After learning more about his second senior apprentice-brother, Ning also felt extreme admiration.
Because of the [Dream of the Three Realms], Ning’s second senior apprentice-brother’s avatar had visited almost all of the lesser worlds, and had left behind legacies in countless places. Thus, his name was extremely famous! Even in Ning’s own world of Earth, his second senior apprentice-brother’s reputation was as resounding as the thunder.
“Second senior apprentice-brother? Senior apprentice-brother Crazy Ji?” Ning called out. [1. This person is Ji Gong, aka Daoji, aka Li Xiuyuan. He was an eccentric monk that lived 800+ years ago that was famous for being extremely kind, seeming to have magic powers, but lived a life in violation of Buddhist rules due to eating meat and drinking wine. He is an incredibly famous semi-mythological figure in China that everyone has heard of. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ji_Gong]
“Who is calling my name?”
The skinny, napping old man rubbed his name, then opened his eyes languidly, seemingly to still be half-asleep. Beaming merrily, he said, “Oh, you are the disciple which Master just took in, that Ji Ning of the Grand Xia world?”
“Just so,” Ning immediately said.
Of the figures the Old Patriarch’s command, eldest senior apprentice-brother was unfathomably profound in power and without question the number one figure.
Second senior apprentice-brother’s reputation was known throughout the Three Realms, and he had accumulated tremendous karmic merits and had tremendous karmic luck. Both the Buddhists and the Daoists desired to take them into their leagues…but he continued to wander the Three Realms by himself, doing countless good deeds but belonging to neither the control of the Daofathers or of Lord Buddha.
“Master told me long ago that you would come, but I didn’t expect you to come so soon. Just thirty years after joining, you have already come to my Three Realms Palace.” Crazy Ji held that ragged fan in his hands as he nodded slightly. “Go in, then. You can choose from the divine abilities and secret arts inside as you please…but the Dao cannot be casually taught. You will have to pass some simple tests in order to learn them.”
“I understand,” Ning said. He had similarly had to pass some tests in order to acquire each of the sword-arts manuals he had chosen in the Divinities Palace.
Crazy Ji watched as Ning entered the palace, a hint of light flashing through his half-asleep eyes. “This junior apprentice-brother…he has a pure and innocent heart, and is surrounded by karmic merit. And that sword-heart of his…ohoho, it really is not bad at all! But why has Master chosen him as a disciple?”
Crazy Ji understood Patriarch Subhuti more than anyone else, and he had learned more of Patriarch Subhuti’s abilities than anyone else as well.
When Patriarch Subhuti chose a disciple, he always had a reason for it; he wouldn’t just randomly pick someone. Perhaps the disciple was surrounded by tremendous karmic luck! Perhaps the disciple had an extraordinary heritage! Perhaps the disciple had an unearthly level of comprehension! There was always something!
“But it seems this junior apprentice-brother doesn’t fit any of the usual criteria. Can it be that there is a huge secret regarding him?” Crazy Ji smiled, then walked in as well. He was going to see what Ning would choose.
Upon entering the building, Ning saw three tables scattered within it. Theses tables all had various abridged books placed in a casual manner atop of them. In total, there were only nineteen books. There were divine abilities, there were formations, there were secret arts…
“The complete [Torch Dragon’s Eye]?!” Ning immediately picked it up. Back in the world of the Grand Xia, Ning had only learned the first part of the technique. So the Three Divinities Palace had the full version!
He flipped the abridged version open. Atop the first page was listed a simple trial: “Go and clean the mountain paths of Mount Innerheart and you can learn this technique.”
“But but but…” Ning was speechless. “How can this be a trial?! And this is the same as for the techniques on the first level of the Divinities Palace!”
A supreme divine ability that could rank in the top hundred of the Three Realms…could actually be so easily learned? Just by cleaning the mountain paths? That wouldn’t even take half a day!
“It was Master who collected these divine abilities and secret arts in this Three Realms Palace,” Crazy Ji said as he walked in, a smile on his face. “He did this to teach them to his disciples. Naturally, he wouldn’t make the trials too hard.”
“But…this is still too easy. Even the trials for the seventh and eighth floors of the Divinities Palace are far more difficult than this,” Ning said.
“It is true that the ‘test’ for this [Torch Dragon’s Eye] is a bit too simple,” Crazy Ji agreed. “However, the Torch Dragon died a long, long time ago, after all. After he died, quite a few of the Daofathers acquired this divine ability! This is the first reason why the test is so simple. The second reason is that the [Torch Dragon’s Eye] is best-suited for Fiendgods like the Torch Dragon to train in. As for other living creatures…to this very day, I’ve never heard of anyone who could reach a level of power in the [Torch Dragon’s Eye] that the Torch Dragon had.”
Ning now understood. This technique was not only difficult to train in, it was also fairly common amongst the various Daofathers, and so the ‘trial’ was made a simple one.
“This is the easiest of all trials,” Crazy Ji said. “Junior apprentice-brother, keep looking at the others carefully. There are some truly supreme techniques here…and in fact, there are some that are unique in the Three Realms, to be found nowhere else.”
Ning immediately began to look carefully at the others.
Another manual suddenly caught his attention. The words atop the manual caused Ning’s pupils to contract. The words were: [Houyi’s Archery].
“Houyi?” [2. As explained long ago, Houyi is a mythological Chinese archer and an incredibly famous god. According to Chinese legend, long ago there were ten suns that baked the Earth and nearly killed everyone. Houyi ended up shooting down nine of the suns, sparing only the last one. He was acclaimed by mankind as a hero, but was punished by the heavens because the suns were the sons of a powerful God, and was later banished from the heavens. He was also the husband of Chang’e, who later became the goddess of the moon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houyi] Ning had naturally heard of this major power before. He immediately picked up the copy of [Houyi’s Archery] and started to flip through it.
The name of this technique was very simple…but [Houyi’s Archery] was indeed an incredibly powerful divine ability! In fact, it was even more powerful than the [Torch Dragon’s Eye].
“Ever since Pangu established the universe, this divine ability has always been ranked in the top ten,” Crazy Ji said. “This was created by True God Houyi, who used it to roam and dominate the Primordial World. However…the trial to acquire it is also the most difficult trial here in the Three Realms Palace!”
“Master actually has the main divine ability of Houyi?” Ning was astonished. This was ranked in the top ten! That meant it was on the same level as Ning’s own [Starseizing Hand]?! Not even Patriarch Subhuti had ever developed a divine ability on this level.
“This trial truly is difficult.” Ning immediately frowned upon seeing it. This trial was indeed the hardest of the nineteen trials here in the Three Realms Palace. Ning then looked at the contents of the abridged book. “So this is what [Houyi’s Archery] is all about…”
Ning immediately understood. Although [Houyi’s Archery] and the [Starseizing Hand] both ranked amongst the top ten divine abilities of the Three Realms, they were diametrically different.
The [Starseizing Hand] was used to make one’s hands even more terrifyingly powerful than magic items. By the Second Cycle, one’s hands would already be comparable to Immortal-ranked magic treasures. By the Third Cycle, they would be comparable to Pure Yang magic treasures! The raw power and strength of the [Starseizing Hand] was utterly astonishing!
But [Houyi’s Archery] was a skill-type ability!
It was just like the [Windwing Evasion], in that it was a matter of skill and finesse. It required enlightenment and it required slow comprehension. Although it did include some clever ways to use divine power…it was more about skill and technique! Even Ki Refiners were capable of learning [Houyi’s Archery], so long as they could comprehend the mysteries within it.
“It is much simpler to train in the [Starseizing Hand]; all I need to do is procure enough Five Elements essence, and my hands can become even more terrifyingly powerful, to the point where in the future I will even be able to crush stars with my hands,” Ning mused to himself. “But this [Houyi’s Archery]…it requires enlightenment!”
They truly were completely different. As a result, [Houyi’s Archery] was extremely hard to train in. To this very day, aside from Houyi who had dominated the Primordial World with this divine ability, there had never been any other individuals who had been able to completely master this divine ability.
“Don’t read it,” Crazy Ji said, shaking his head. “Quite a few of Master’s disciples have chosen this archery technique, but most of them were only able to gain a basic understanding of it. None of them have reached the level which the primordial Houyi once did. Go look at the other techniques first…and in the future, when you have some more free time, you can try and learn [Houyi’s Archery].”
“Alright.” Ning nodded.
No matter what…this simple archery technique was still ranked in the top ten of the divine abilities created since Pangu established the universe! He had to learn it sometime! But of course, there was no rush.
Ning immediately began to read through the other tomes…and suddenly, yet another technique caused his eyes to light up. The words written atop this abridged tome were: [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].