“I…” The giant yellow bear looked at the Patriarch.
“He died. He died long ago. He died within that tribulation.” The Patriarch shook his head. “Given Threelives’ temperament, if he was still alive, how could he not come back for you? How could he have let you drift through countless ages by yourself? Little bear, you clearly knew the truth…you just weren’t willing to believe it.”
One teardrop after another fell onto the ground. The giant yellow bear’s kneeling body was shaking. He let out an agonized moan. “Nnnrragh…”
The agonized cry caused Ning’s own heart to feel sour as well.
“Master…master…master…” The giant yellow bear raised his head, howling madly. Daoist Threelives was like his father. Only a long time later did the kneeling bear say, “Forgive this little bear for his earlier outburst.”
“Alright,” the Patriarch said, “You can go back to the Starseizing Manor. You cannot break away from the Starseizing Manor for now.”
“Yes.” The giant yellow bear responded respectfully, then disappeared, having once more returned to the underwater estate.
Although Ning felt moved by the depths of the feelings the spirit of the underwater estate had for Daoist Threelives, he had noticed a few puzzling points. Since the giant yellow bear was the spirit of the estate…why did he seem like he was a living creature? He even shed tears? And the Patriarch had even said that he couldn’t break away from the Starseizing Manor yet? Could it be that he could in the future?
However, given that the spirit of the estate had already been within it for countless years without breaking free, it probably would take it a very, very long time before succeeding.
“Ji Ning.” The Patriarch looked at Ning. “Threelives is dead. I will teach you the Dao in his place. Are you willing to take me as your teacher?”
Ning immediately fell to his knees. “Your disciple greets you, Master!”
“Mm.” The Patriarch revealed a hint of a smile. “From today onwards, you shall be one of the honorary disciples of my school. Once you become a Celestial Immortal after your tribulation, you shall become my personal disciple.”
“Yes,” Ning said respectfully.
“There aren’t too many rules in my school. Just two.”
“One: You must not be disobedient and unfilial.”
“Two: Without my permission, in the outside world you cannot say that I am your master,” the Patriarch said. “If you violate these rules…for a lesser infraction, I will kill you, wipe your memory, and return you to the cycle of reincarnation. For a severe infraction, I will destroy your soul. For an extremely severe infraction…I will make your soul suffer an eternity of pain through truefire.”
Ning said respectfully, “Your disciple understands. Then…when can I say that I am your disciple?”
“When the time comes, you shall naturally be permitted,” the Patriarch said with a laugh. “Alternately, if you can reach your eldest apprentice-brother’s level of power, you can also tell whoever you please.”
Ning was secretly speechless. Eldest apprentice-brother? He was the number one expert amongst the many disciples. Even the white-robed Lord Jiang sighed at his own inferiority. How could it possibly be easy for him to reach such a level of power?
“As for whether or not you act virtuously or evilly in the future, I won’t interfere. I only ask that you act in accordance with your true nature,” the Patriarch said.
“Yes,” Ning said.
“Step forward. Come to stand in front of me,” the Patriarch instructed. Ning was startled, but he moved forward, moving up the steps and walking to the Patriarch’s side.
The Patriarch stretched a finger out, tapping Ning on the center of his forehead. This was a simple tap, but it caught Ning completely off-guard. The tap landed directly on his forehead.
Ning’s entire body turned soft. He sat down on the ground, then shut his eyes. He just sat there.
The Patriarch smiled as he looked at Ning. He then closed his own eyes as well, no longer paying any attention.
A lonely corridor. The two sides of the corridor were covered with paintings of various sword-art techniques. The sword-arts in the paintings were even moving, displaying the profound mysteries within.
Ning walked forward through the corridor, staring at the endless sword-arts lining the two sides.
“These sword-arts are fairly ordinary; they aren’t even comparable to the first level of the [Three-Foot Sword].” Ning walked forward.
He forgot why he had come here.
He forgot about the past.
All he knew was that he was walking deeper and deeper through this corridor.
The sword-arts on the two sides continuously moved about. They even managed to separate from the walls, swirling around Ning and allowing him to understand the mysteries within them.
“This place…has reached the power of the second stance of the [Three-Foot Sword].”
Ning continued to walk forward. After walking for a short period of time, the sword-arts lining the halls began to demonstrate themselves in front of Ning, as though displaying the Dao of the Sword in fine detail. Ning had originally thought that he had a high level of comprehension of the Dao of the Sword, but he now realized that his insights were insufficiently detailed! Evil…dominating…arrogant…lonely…savage…all sorts of sword-arts were being displayed before him.
“This place…has reached the level of the third stance of the [Three-Foot Sword].”
He had no idea how long he had been walking for.
“This place…has already reached the level of the seventh stance of the [Three-Foot Sword].” Ning continued to walk forward, constantly interacting with large amounts of marvelous sword-arts. Ning’s foundation became increasingly solid and stable. Although he had long ago reached the level of the seventh stance, his insights into the Dao of the Sword were now significantly greater than before.
After yet another long period of time.
“This is now at the level of the eighth stance of the [Three-Foot Sword].” Ning felt that walking forward was becoming increasingly difficult. The countless sword-arts around him were constantly transmitting all sorts of profound mysteries to Ning. Ning was constantly being buffeted by them. This made his walking pace through the corridor to grow slower.
“The level of the ninth stance of the [Three-Foot Sword].” The sword-arts became increasingly unfathomable. Every single sword-art surrounding him was comparable to the ninth stance of the [Three-Foot Sword], and countless sword-arts were on display. Although Ning couldn’t comprehend them, the fundamental mysteries of these sword-arts were firmly imprinted onto Ning’s soul.
As he walked forward, the techniques vastly surpassed the [Three-Foot Sword].
If there were more stances to the [Three-Foot Sword], then the later sword-arts were comparable to the tenth and the eleventh stance…
Ning was completely submerged in the sea of swords. As he walked through the corridor, his heart and soul was completely filled with all sorts of sword-arts, and the increasingly unfathomable sword-arts brushed past his heart. Although he didn’t understand them, this baptism by countless sword-arts caused Ning to become extremely familiar with the profound mysteries.
A long, long time passed.
It felt as though thousands of years had passed. Ning finally saw the end of this corridor. The end was an enormous, glowing streak of sword-light.
Ning didn’t know why he was walking towards it. He didn’t know whether or not he should stop. And so, just like that…he walked to the end of the corridor. His body became submerged into that giant sword-light.
A vast flood of mysteries flooded his soul.
The vastness of the Dao of the Sword…all of its mysteries…Ning was touching it all right now. The countless sword-arts he had interacted with earlier in the corridor also flashed through Ning’s mind, causing his heart to become even closer to the Dao of the Sword.
Ning suddenly opened his eyes.
He was still seated on the dais. Before him, seated on a prayer mat, was the loose-robed Patriarch. The Patriarch opened his eyes, smiling as he looked at Ning.
“I…this…” Ning stared at his surroundings. Everything felt so fake and illusory.
Only after a long period of time did his three decades of memories completely recover. The marvelous sword-arts that he had seen were now suppressed and hidden deep in Ning’s soul.
“Master, I, I…” Ning nervously looked at the Patriarch. He felt as though thousands of years had passed. It had taken him so long to recover his decades of memories.
“What’s wrong? Didn’t you just doze off?” The Patriarch laughed.
“Master, how long did I sleep for?” Ning asked.
“Not too long. The amount of time for a stick of incense to burn down,” the Patriarch said.
“But I…I feel as though thousands of years passed,” Ning said.
The Patriarch said, “All I did was apply the [Thousand Year Dream] technique to let you truly experience the complete Dao of the Sword for once. From the very start of the Dao of the Sword…to the very end, the completion of the Dao of the Sword.
Right. The [Thousand Year Dream]. It truly did feel as though he had been in a dream. He had lost almost all of his cognitive abilities; all he could do was walk forward along the corridor in a daze.
“All I did was let you sense the complete Dao of the Sword for once. Your own Dao of the Sword hasn’t risen in level that much,” the Patriarch said. Ning, however, knew very well that this [Thousand Year Dream] had been tremendously beneficial to him.
Although he was still only able to execute the seventh stance of the [Three-Foot Sword], his understanding of the sword was now far more stable and solid than it had been before. And as he continued to move forward on the Dao of the Sword…he would feel a vague sense of recognition of what to do next. In fact, he would even have a vague sense of what it felt like to completely master the Dao of the Sword.
The path of Immortal cultivation was akin to a blind man using his sense of touch to search for rocks which would allow him to ford a river. Now that he had vague understanding of the path forward…he would be able to move through it much more quickly.
“Thank you, Master.” Ning immediately fell to his knees.
“I just gave you a single helping hand. How much you can make of it is up to you.” The Patriarch pointed gently, and a streak of light flew directly into Ning’s mind.
Ning could sense a large amount of information pouring into his brain. Only after a long period of time did he become clear-minded again.
“The [Darknorth Sutra]? The four scrolls of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]?” Ning could sense the cultivation techniques that were now within his soul.
The first scroll of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] was divided into the Houtian, Xiantian, and Zifu levels.
The second scroll of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] was divided into the Wanxiang, Primal, and Void levels.
The third scroll was the Empyrean God scroll!
The fourth scroll was the True God scroll!
“The [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] was created by Crimsonbright. Even Nuwa praised this technique, and it truly is an exquisite specimen that allows you to train all the way to the True God level,” the Patriarch said. “As for the [Darknorth Sutra], it is a water-element Ki Refining method that was created by Daofather Carefree; it will allow you to train all the way to the level of Daofathers of the Great Firmament.”
“One is Body Refining, the other is Ki Refining. In the future, they shall serve as your foundation,” the Patriarch said.
“Yes.” Ning was absolutely delighted. [Darknorth Sutra]? Something which Daofather Carefree had created? Just from this alone, he could tell that this was one of the most supreme Ki Refining techniques of the Three Realms.
“In the Three Realms, Ki Refining Techniques and Body Refining Techniques aren’t that valuable,” the Patriarch said calmly. “Divine abilities and secret arts are much more valuable.”
However, not even the Grand Xia Emperor possessed techniques like the [Darknorth Sutra]. Only someone on Patriarch Subhuti’s level would dare describe it as ‘not that valuable’.
“My Mount Innerheart has two Dao-Palaces which contain all things within them. Formation techniques, construct techniques, the Dao of the Sword, the Dao of the Saber, Taiji, lightning arts, lotus arts…it includes all types of techniques, as well as many divine abilities and secret arts. It will be up to you to acquire them, if you can,” the Patriarch said calmly. “The Dao cannot be casually transmitted. If you wish to learn, then you must show the ability to learn.”
“Your disciple understands,” Ning said respectfully.
“Go, then. Calmly focus on studying the Dao, here in my Mount Innerheart. Only when your power is sufficient shall you be permitted to leave the mountain and return to your world of the Grand Xia,” the Daofather said. “And when you leave my tutelage and leave the mountain, I shall give you two great gifts.”
“Master…at what level will my power be ‘enough’?” Ning asked.
“When you reach it, I will tell you,” the Patriarch said.
Ning was instantly speechless. He was being told to study the Dao…but he didn’t even know when he would be allowed to leave his master’s tutelage.
“Go now,” the Patriarch said, calmly closing his eyes. “Without my permission, you are not to come here and disturb me.”
“Understood.” Ning immediately left obediently.
Only after Ning left did the Patriarch open his eyes again. He gently shook his head. “How long has it been? This is the first time I’ve ever been so talkative in front of a disciple. When I thought of Threelives, of that tremendous calamity we faced…my heart ended up being disturbed.”