Yu Wei and Immortal Diancai suddenly felt spacetime around them began to change and blur. By the time their surroundings turned solid once more, they were now within a hallway next to Autumn Leaf. Upon seeing Immortal Diancai and Yu Wei suddenly appear, Autumn Leaf was quite startled. She immediately addressed the two: “Madame, Immortal Diancai.”
“It seems they don’t want us to watch,” Immortal Diancai said with a helpless laugh.
“I wonder who junior apprentice-brother’s master is.” Yu Wei was curious as well.
Just now, they had only heard the words, ‘I’m his master’, before they were forcibly teleported away. They hadn’t seen the man at all, much less learn who Ji Ning’s master was.
“What happened?” Autumn Leaf was intrigued. “You said something about the young master’s teacher?”
“Nothing.” Yu Wei shook her head and smiled. “It’s something good, but it’s not something for us to know about.”
“Oh.” Autumn Leaf nodded, asking no further.
“Master.” Ning immediately called out with respect and excitement. The skinny, white-bearded elder in the Daoist robes smiled and nodded towards Ning, then looked towards Old Man Yuan.
“YOU!” Old Man Yuan’s eyes bulged. “You cucumber! You friggin’ cucumber! You ended up snatching away such a wonderful disciple!”
“This is the third time, you know.” Patriarch Subhuti sighed. “Why do you always come after the disciples that I take in and teach?”
The third time?
It seemed as though Old Man Yuan had gone after two of his fellow disciples as well?
“Ahaha, all I can say is that you are formidable in teaching students, Subhuti.” Old Man Yuan laughed, “Since it’s you, Subhuti…that makes everything easy. We came to an agreement last time, right? Go ahead and tell me whatever it is that you want. This old man has plenty of treasures, and I’m willing to spend them. I’m not afraid of any demands that you might make.”
“Ji Ning, are you willing?” Subhuti looked towards Ning.
“I’ll follow your orders in all things, Master,” Ning said respectfully. If it didn’t make things tough for his master, there would be no issues. More importantly, Master Subhuti had to know more about Old Man Yuan than Ning did; Ning trusted that Master Subhuti wouldn’t steer him wrong in this ddecision.
Subhuti nodded slightly.
“He can be both considered one of your disciples as well as one of mine,” Subhuti said calmly. “I’m only going to ask one thing of you…that you stand with us, on our side.”
“You…” Old Man Yuan’s face became unsightly to behold.
Subhuti frowned. “Are you still unwilling to make your choice?”
“It’s merely a matter of taking on a new a disciple, and I’m not even asking him to switch sides! He’ll be our jointly shared disciple. If you want divine abilities or Protocosmic spirit-treasures, that’s fine…but why are you trying to force me?” Old Man Yuan scratched his head. “Didn’t things work out splendidly when little Peacock became my apprentice? She addresses both of us as ‘master’!”
Ning was intrigued. Were they referring to senior apprentice-sister Peacock?
“Little Peacock?” Subhuti shook his head. “That was before the storm came, and before I knew it was coming. Now that the storm is already here…of course you have to make your choice. Otherwise, there’s no way I’ll permit my disciple to become apprenticed to you as well.”
“How can you…you are absolutely…you old blockhead!” Old Man Yuan was infuriated.
“Hmph.” Subhuti snorted coldly. “Then let me ask you this; if Ji Ning becomes your apprentice, and you end up joining the Seamless Gate…what is Ji Ning supposed to do? Is he supposed to choose to stand with me, or is he supposed to choose to stand with you? If he stands with the Seamless Gate, then I’ll definitely strike and annihilate such a vile disciple! But if he stands with us, then you’ll move to kill him as well. After all, by then it will be a life-and-death battle; no one will be able to escape it.”
Old Man Yuan’s face grew even uglier to behold now.
Ning, standing to one side, now understood everything.
Right. If he took on two masters who ended up in opposing, enemy camps…then no matter which side Ning was on, he would end up becoming enemies with one of his masters!
“If you want him to become your disciple, then I imagine you don’t want to make things difficult for him; you don’t want him to eventually be killed by one of his masters, right? That’s why you have to stand with us; only by doing so will Ji Ning not suffer such a sad fate,” Subhuti said. “So long as you agree…Ji Ning can take you on as master.”
“You…” Old Man Yuan had a complicated look on his face.
Ning just stood there, watching quietly.
The Four Ancestors of the River Source; they were a formidable power within the Three Realms. Most likely, whichever side Old Man Yuan chose would be the side the Daofathers who followed him would choose.
“Why are you forcing me on this? This isn’t just a personal matter; I have all my friends and disciples and grand-disciples to worry about.” Old Man Yuan was truly upset now.
“There’s nothing to negotiate!” Subhuti shook his head. “Don’t make things difficult for Ji Ning.”
“But didn’t things work out perfectly when I took on little Peacock?” Old Man Yuan snapped back irritably.
“That’s because you haven’t made your choice yet. Once you do make your choice in the future…if you choose to join the Seamless Gate, little Peacock will have to make her choice as well. Will she follow you, or will she follow me?” Subhuti sighed. “I’ve already done wrong by little Peacock; I don’t wish for Ji Ning to face the same tough situation in the future.”
Old Man Yuan suddenly grew angry. “I don’t get it. Why are all of you so damned stubborn?”
“I don’t understand either! All of us were born from the same primordial chaos. We were like brothers! All of us are standing together now…why is it that you are roving about on your own? All four of you Four Ancestors of the River Source act in the exact same manner; you don’t give a damn about your old friends and friendships.” Subhuti was no longer calm either; in fact, he was so angry that his eyebrows were twitching, and as he spoke he pointed angrily at Old Man Yuan.
“The rest of you are in Nuwa’s debt, but we aren’t,” Old Man Yuan replied angrily. “And Pangu’s Primordial World shattered long ago. This is now the era of the Three Realms. That old, undying bastard just wants to take over the Three Realms; let him! Do you Daofathers really care who is in control of the Three Realms? Do you have to risk everyone’s lives over this question? You say that I don’t care about old friends and friendships? If I didn’t, I would’ve joined the Seamless Gate long ago!”
Subhuti was now truly enraged. “How can you be so…”
Their voices suddenly turned silent.
The distant figures of Patriarch Subhuti and Old Man Yuan’s turned blurry as they angrily but silently yelled at, argued with, and cursed at each other.
Ning wasn’t able to hear a single word of it.
“It seems…they don’t want me to hear this.” Ning mumbled to himself, “They said something about an ‘old undying bastard’ who ‘wants to take over the Three Realms’…who? He must be a truly terrifying major power of the Three Realms.”
Ning had no choice but to just stand there silently and watch. As for the two distant Daofathers…both of them were awe-inspiringly famous figures of the Three Realms who stood at the very pinnacle of power amongst Daofathers. Both had multiple Daofathers amongst their disciples, and both also had many Daofathers who were their resolute allies. Both possessed tremendous power in every sense of the word.
In addition, both were born from the primordial chaos of the universe.
And right now, they stood there arguing, each trying to convince the other.
A long time passed…
The two Daofathers actually argued for two full hours. Towards the end, Ning noticed that Patriarch Subhuti was growing increasingly imposing as he argued, while Old Man Yuan seemed to become increasingly less self-assured.
Boom! The area around him suddenly trembled. Now, Ning could once more hear the voices of the two Daofathers.
Old Man Yuan charged over, an ugly look on his face. He snapped angrily, “That master of yours is like a big hunk of wood. You just can’t talk to him! Those who walk different paths can’t make plans together. I really can’t be bothered to talk to him any longer. You are quite talented, kid; although that rotten blockhead is very skilled in some respects, he’s complete crap in heartforce. Since we aren’t destined to become master and disciple…then forget it! This is a technique for applying heartforce which I developed. Although it’s not a complete system, it might be of help to you in some way. I’ll give it to you as a gift!”
As he spoke, he pointed a finger towards Ning.
Instantly, a streak of light shot out from his finger into Ning’s forehead.
An ocean of information instantly filled Ning’s mind.
“Subhuti!” Old Man Yuan turned to point at Subhuti, then cursed, “In terms of fleeing abilities, you are number one in all the Three Realms! You’ll be able to flee and survive, but how many of our other old friends will be able to survive? All those years ago, Threelives and the others all perished. How many more do you want dead?”
“If we retreat, even more will die. In fact, all of us might die!” Subhuti said angrily.
“Fine. Fine. Fine! We’ll wait and see!”
The enraged Old Man Yuan turned and walked away.
After taking two steps away, the now-ordinary old gardener suddenly slumped supinely to the ground as a streak of light shot into the skies, disappearing.
Subhuti waved his hand, and the old gardener was instantly teleported away. He was nothing more than an ordinary old man, after all; prior to this, Old Man Yuan had simply been possessing him.
Subhuti walked towards Ning, who was completely filled and preoccupied with the enormous amount of information regarding the application of heartforce.
It was awe-inspiring.
It was unfathomably profound.
When Ning viewed the awe-inspiring collection of information, he couldn’t help but feel veneration towards Old Man Yuan. Incredible! Old Man Yuan’s true power, however, most likely didn’t lie in heartforce; after all, in terms of heartforce, Ning could tell that Old Man Yuan shouldn’t be as powerful as Houyi had been.
Old Man Yuan, however, was different from Houyi.
Houyi was extremely focused on his archery, and he had systemized a way to apply heartforce to archery in a terrifyingly profound and powerful manner.
Old Man Yuan, however, was a jack of all trades. Most likely, he liked analyzing heartforce, and so had come up with multiple different heartforce techniques, some meant for the legs, some meant for the entire body, some meant for the fingers, some meant for the hair, some meant for the sword, some meant for other treasures…there were all sorts of techniques here! However, none of them were truly systemized; from the looks of it, Old Man Yuan had jotted down a few notes whenever inspiration struck him.
His most profound techniques regarding heartforce actually were in applying heartforce to the soul! This allowed the soul to control even more magic treasures. For example, if normally Ning was only able to control the third level of the [Greater Thousand Swords Formation], if he applied heartforce to his soul, he would be able to control the sixth level or even the seventh level. This was a technique which Ning was truly eager to learn.
Heartforce was like a marshal, with the soul being the soldiers; if one used them together properly, the number of magic treasures one could control would instantly explode. In addition, the amount of heartforce that was used up was neglible; after all, it merely served as a commander, without much of it being actually burned away. The increase in power, however, was still astonishing! This was definitely a killer technique for any Ki Refiner.
However…none of it was systemized, which meant that no one could simply ‘learn’ the technique after reading about it.
Ning wasn’t an uninformed outsider to this art.
He was someone who, after learning how to apply heartforce through [Houyi’s Archery], had first come up with a way to apply heartforce to his sword-fingers, then come up with a way to apply heartforce to his swords! Ning was capable of creating these techniques himself; now, after having seen the more profound techniques of Old Man Yuan, he was of course stimulated by them and had new insights. These insights would absolutely be enough to allow Ning to come up with a suitable method for applying heartforce to his legs or to his entire body, or even to his soul.
Aside from Old Man Yuan’s own techniques, there were also techniques which other major powers had devised for the application of heartforce.
All these non-systemized heartforce techniques…this collection was known as the [Heart Sutra].
“The [Heart Sutra]? With this [Heart Sutra], I’ll be able to grow dramatically more powerful in every aspect, whether it be dodging in close combat, fleeing, or anything else. My Primaltwin will become more powerful as well.” Ning was unspeakably excited right now. Before this, he was only formidable in his attacks; he was quite lacking in other respects. Thus, almost any Empyrean God or True Immortal would probably be able to capture him.
Now, however, Ning would be able to improve himself in every area. He would no longer have any obvious weaknesses, and so capturing him would become far more difficult in the future.
“Wow.” Ning opened his eyes, a look of delight on his face.
As he did so…he saw his master, Patriarch Subhuti, standing not too far away from him. Ning’s face quickly stiffened.
“Master,” Ning immediately called out.