Silvermoon shook his head and laughed. “It’s not that I’m formidable; it’s that there are only a few people at Mount Innerherat who have trained in the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art]. By process of elimination, I was able to guess that it was you, junior apprentice-brother.”
Ning nodded. The [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] was located in the Three Realms Palace; only personal disciples and those who had received special permission from the Old Patriarch could learn it.
“If you transformed into someone else, I might not have been able to tell that it was you,” Silvermoon said with a laugh. “These ‘seventy-two transformations’ cause a person’s aura to completely change; even the appearance of sin or karmic merit surrounding you changes. This truly is an incredible transformation divine ability.”
Ning nodded. Indeed. For example, when Ning transformed into a rock, he could use the technique to completely retract his three-foot aura of golden karmic light. If he transformed into a viledoer, he could transform to display the bloody light of sin.
“Back in the era of Pangu’s World, there was an ancient Diremonster who relied on these seventy-two transformations to transform into the appearance of a Buddha. He used it to trick people for thousands of years before being discovered,” [1. This is a reference to a story in Journey to the West, where a monster was transformed into the appearance of Buddha in order to trick travelers going on a pilgrimage to visit the real Buddha. He would eventually eat them.] Silvermoon said with a laugh. “You have now gained a basic level of expertise into the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art]; your foundation is set. These seventy-two transformations alone will serve as a top-notch escape method or hiding method.”
“However…at this level, it merely remains a deceptive tool, a hiding method. When you are truly in a dire situation, what matters the most is your combat ability,” Silvermoon said. “Junior apprentice-brother, although you’ve reached the early Void stage and are comparable to ordinary Celestial Immortals…I’m afraid that slightly more powerful Celestial Immortals would be able to deal with you or even kill you.”
“I understand.” Ning truly did. Unless he was so lucky as to only encounter extremely weak Celestial Immortals, the amount of power he currently had was only enough to allow him to swagger around in front of those who had yet to overcome their Celestial Tribulation.
“That’s why I’ve come to find you, senior apprentice-brother. I’ve come to ask you for help,” Ning said with a laugh.
“Help?” Silvermoon waved his fan, then said in a leisurely manner, “Speak. What do you need?”
“I’m currently quite weak; forgot about the Thee Realms, even in this Crescent world, any random Celestial Immortal might be able to kill me. Thus, I wish to reach the Third Cycle of the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] as soon as I can,” Ning said.
Silvermoon stared at him. “The amount of treasures consumed by the training of the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] is utterly astonishing; even I had to spend countless ages to be able to train to my current Sixth Cycle! Can it be that you, you little brat, want me to give you my treasures for free to help you train? No way!”
The [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] used up far too many treasures. To reach the Ninth Cycle? Even Daofathers would feel pain at the cost!
Even a mighty demon like Empyrean God Silvermoon had only trained to the Sixth Cycle; logically speaking, Empyrean Gods should be able to reach the Ninth Cycle, but he simply didn’t have enough treasures.
“Of course I wouldn’t ask you to give them to me for free,” Ning said hurriedly. “During this trip of mine to the outside world, I acquired some Immortal-ranked magic treasures. I wanted to trade them to you for Immortal pills, senior apprentice-brother!”
“Trade for Immortal pills?” Silvermoon nodded lightly. Immortal pills referred to Immortal-ranked spirit-pills, Pure Yang spirit-pills, and Great Firmament spirit-pills.
“That’s acceptable.” Only now did Silvermoon agree. “Bring out your Immortal-ranked magic treasures. I definitely won’t make you suffer a loss, and I won’t profit from this trade with you.”
Ning smiled, then waved his hand. Whoosh. Instantly, one Immortal-ranked magic treasure after another appeared, hovering in the air. These were the spoils he had gained from killing the monster kings and the evil Patriarch on the last journey. In fact, he even took out the low-grade Immortal-ranked flying sword the Grand Xia Emperor had given him.
“Let me take a look.” Silvermoon quickly spread out his divine power to bind each of the magic treasures.
There was no way to use divine power to actually control magic treasures, but upon overcoming the Celestial Tribulation and becoming an Empyrean God, things would change. Empyrean Gods were unfathomable in their power, and their divine power could be applied to all sorts of magic treasures. The Empyrean Gods and True Gods who were birthed from the primordial chaos were born with the ability to easily use magic treasures. Only the weaker Fiendgods, such as those that were born at the Xiantian level, were only able to use Bloodforged weapons.
“Mm.” Silvermoon looked through the weapons, then said, “Three top-grade Immortal-ranked magic treasures, nineteen high-grade, twenty one middle-grade, and sixteen low-grade.”
Silvermoon kept his calculations simple and by grade. For example, he counted the six scimitars which the Flamewing King had used as six separate items! That was why the number was so high.
“Junior apprentice-brother…the difference is pretty huge.” Silvermoon looked at Ning, then said helplessly, “The amount of Immortal pills you can trade for with such a small amount of Immortal-ranked magic treasures…there’s no way you can train to the Third Cycle.”
Ning immediately asked, “How far off am I?”
“Even if I’m generous to the point of suffering a loss…I could at most give you sixty of my top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills! But to train to the Third Cycle, if you completely rely on such pills, you would need at least a hundred of them,” Silvermoon said helplessly.
Ning felt resigned as well. He had kept behind a single low-grade Immortal-ranked flying sword for Little Qing, and had kept the Immortal-ranked magic item he had acquired in the underwater estate for Uncle White! He needed to use both the Thousandbull Sword and the Heavenraker swords. He had taken out every other magic treasure he had left. In fact, aside from the Heavenraker swords, he no longer even had three spare Immortal-ranked flying swords for his [Three Heads, Six Arms] technique!
“How about this?” Silvermoon waved his hand, and a piece of parchment appeared. “Write on top of this paper that today, you are borrowing a total of forty top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills from me. You have to repay me a hundred such pills within ten thousand years. If you are unable to do so within ten thousand years, then you’ll have to pay me back with the most valuable treasure you carry!”
Silvermoon waved his fan as he beamed merrily towards Ning.
Ning felt resigned. He had heard from others long ago as to what sort of a person this Silvermoon was; the reason why all of the disciples of Mount Innerheart secretly referred to him as ‘that demon Silvermoon’ was because he, an exalted Empyrean God, would seek opportunities to squeeze and extort even the ordinary disciples.
“Fine.” Ning lowered his head.
“Hurry up and write,” Silvermoon chortled merrily. “Junior apprentice-brother, the sword you used to display your swordplay last time was pretty good; it nearly has the power of a Pure Yang treasure. That sword alone is worth nearly a hundred top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills. I’m sure that within ten thousand years, you’ll have acquired even better treasures.”
Ning immediately began to furiously scribbling on the parchment.
Between fellow disciples, a written acknowledgment of debt was enough; everyone would give each other face.
“Here you go!” Silvermoon waved his hand and a white jade bottle flew towards Ning. “These are top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills that were forged in Doushuai Palace. They contain extremely pure elemental essence and are very well suited for training in the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].” [1. Doushuai Palace, in Chinese legends, is the place where Laozi, the founder of philosophical Daoism, resides. In Journey to the West, this is also the place where Laozi concocts pills for heaven, and the place where Sun Wukong stole and ate countless pills of Immortality when he was drunk.]
Ning had been instantly impoverished…and now owed a hundred top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills to Silvermoon. Still…Ning accepted this. He wasn’t strong enough to leave his master’s tutelage yet; any powerful Celestial Immortal was capable of annihilating him.
“The [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].”
Ning sat on the netherwater jade bed within the Still Room. Hefting the jade bottle, he poured out a spirit-pill. The spirit-pill was a white-jade color, and it emanated a faint aroma of mouth-watering fragrance.
If an ordinary Zifu Disciple or Wanxiang Adept were to eat this top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pill, they probably wouldn’t even be able to refine it; their Zifus would explode! After all, the purity of the elemental ki within these pills was comparable to that used by Celestial Immortal. These sorts of pills were usually given to reincarnated Immortals, so as to allow them to reach an extremely high level of power in a short period of time.
Alternately, Celestial Immortals who had fought for a long period of time, or who had used up a great deal of energy in binding a Protocosmic spirit-treasure, would use them to instantly replenish their elemental ki.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh…
One pill after another came pouring out, each comparable to a high-grade Immortal-ranked magic treasure in value.
Ning swallowed them all in one gulp. He then immediately began to activate the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] technique. The purpose of the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] was to train his body to the point of making it as indestructible as a magic treasure! This required an enormous amount of energy…and top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills were purposefully designed for replenishing energy. As for ordinary liquefied elemental essence? Absorbing them took too much time; there was no way one could use them to activate the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].
Ning’s entire body immediately began to transform. His bones, his marrow, his sinews, his flesh, his skin, his hair…every part of his body was now changing. If previously Ning’s flesh and bones could be described as tofu, then after using up the very first spirit-pill, they had reached the consistency of stone.
But of course, in reality, Ning’s divine body had already been extremely powerful. From this, one could imagine how huge the improvement brought by the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] was!
“The First Cycle is complete!”
Ning could sense how powerful his divine body had become. A single top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pill had allowed him to complete the First Cycle and allowed his body to become incomparably mighty.
Clang! Ning formed his finger into a sword and slashed at his other arm. Sword-light flashed past, but the only thing it left behind was a white smudge.
“My body is already comparable to a Heaven-ranked magic artifact. I can just stand there without doing anything and Loose Immortals will be unable to damage me at all. And this is just the First Cycle!”
“This [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] is far more powerful than whatever divine ability Adept Ninedeaths used back during the Conclave of Immortal Destiny. Her body was like a magic treasure, but by comparison…her technique could not compare to the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].” Ning didn’t spend too much time thinking about it; after all, only a Primal-level Fiendgod could even begin to train in the basics of the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].
Adept Ninedeaths had only been a Wanxiang Adept; there was no way she could’ve trained in the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art], even if someone had given it to her.
“The second pill.” Showing no hesitating at all, Ning began to digest additional pills. The incomparably pure elemental ki of the top-grade Immortal-ranked spirit-pills flowed through Ning’s entire body, being drawn into every part of it. Ning’s body was like a sponge, ravenously drawing in the power of these pills…and then his body began to repeatedly transform, like a sword being reforged time and time again.
“The eleventh pill.” As Ning was digesting and refining the eleventh pill, the Second Cycle of the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] was mastered.
One spirit-pill after another was rapidly consumed. Ning’s body was continuously rising in power as well, increasing in both endurance and resilience. Clang, clang clang! As Ning continued to train, rumbling and clanking sounds could be heard coming from within his body as his muscles and flesh clashed against each other. It sounded like two mighty mountains were colliding, and as Ning’s heart beat, it sounded like a sea was trembling.
Ning knew that this was a form of tempering! Magic treasures would be tempered through magic fire and other sources of power, while the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art] tempered the body. Every single organ, including even the skins and the hair, would be tempered nonstop by this technique. By now…a single strand of Ning’s hair was so tough that even if a Loose Immortal were to wildly hack at it with full power, he wouldn’t be able to damage it in the slightest.
Another booming sound could be heard from Ning’s body. His muscles rumbled, his bones rumbled, his organs rumbled…the rumbling almost seemed to form into a wondrous sort of music.
Ning’s skin was beginning to shine with a dark light. He seemed to have transformed into a terrifyingly powerful magic-treasure. Only when the dark light faded away did he seem like an ordinary person once more. His skin was very soft and white, seemingly quite tender; one could not tell just by looking at him as to how powerful he had become.
“Hahaha…I’ve finally completed the Third Cycle.” Ning was overjoyed. Waving his hand, he immediately produced the Thousandbull Sword. “Time to test my power.”
WHOOSH! The Thousandbull Sword transformed into a black dragon of sword-light, carrying unearthly power with it as it chopped down against Ning’s left arm…but it didn’t even leave a white smudge behind.
“[Starseizing Hand].” Ning used his full power, launching an even more powerful blow!
A thunderous banging sound could be heard within the Still Room…but Ning’s left arm still didn’t have even the slightest hint of a mark at all on it.
“I’ve mastered the Third Cycle. My body is comparable to an Immortal-ranked magic treasure now. When striking myself with full force, I can’t even leave behind a tiny white mark. I imagine that even Celestial Immortals would only be able to stare at me, stupefied, without knowing what to do. This truly is the number one divine ability in the Three Realms for those below the True God level. Primaltwin, Heavenraker Sword Formation – Attack!”
Ning was utterly delighted. In front of him suddenly appeared the black-robed Ning, who immediately controlled the power of the Heavenraker swords, transforming them into nine streaks of sword-light and sending them howling forth as they stabbed towards Ning’s bared upper chest!