Ji Ning’s heart clenched. He could tell that there were some disagreements between his master, Subhuti, and Old Man Yuan. Was his master going to forbid him from training in the [Heart Sutra]?
“What did Old Man Yuan transmit to you?” Subhuti asked.
“The [Heart Sutra].” Ning didn’t dare to hide this. “It contains his many experiences with various heartforce application techniques, as well as a mix of heartforce application techniques from a few other Daofathers. However, they are all un-systemized…but they will still be of great benefit to me, especially the one that applies to using heartforce on the soul. It will be of tremendous help to me in controlling the [Greater Thousand Swords Formation] as well as in overcoming the demonheart tribulation.”
Subhuti gave Ning a glance, then revealed a calm smile. “Your master isn’t the pedantic, unflexible sort; since Daofather Yuan has gifted you with this sutra, and since he hasn’t forced you to become his disciple…go ahead and learn from it! If in the future, Daofather Yuan decides to stand with us, you shall naturally repay his kindness. If, however, he stands with the Seamless Gate…then when a war to the death erupts between our two alliances, you’d have to fight against him with all your might. This would be true even if he really was your master, to say nothing of him merely having transmitted a technique!”
Ning’s heart shivered. He immediately said, “Your disciple understands.”
This was a storm!
A storm which no one would be able to avoid.
“I hope senior Old Man Yuan decides to stand with us,” Ning mused secretly to himself. Everyone who he owed a debt of gratitude to, such as the former Lord of Cui Palace who had been the First Judge of the Dead and who had transmitted the [Nuwa Painting] to him, belonged to the side of the Nuwa Alliance. Even the master he had never met, Daoist Threelives, had also been on the side of Nuwa. The same was true for the seven Empyrean Gods of the Starseizing world, to say nothing of Patriarch Subhuti, Daofather Crimsonbright, and the Xia Emperor.
There was also already a feud between himself and the Seamless Gate…and Ning had a true disliking for the way in which the Seamless Gate had acted in seeking to conquer the universe. Once they took over the Three Realms, not only would they pay no attention to maintaining any order, they would instigate countless battles and massacres.
“This Old Man Yuan truly is an extremely formidable figure,” Subhuti said to Ning. “His power is most likely no lower than mine, and he loves to analyze and research many different types of techniques. He’s a master in many areas, and in heartforce he is second only to Houyi. In terms of how many heartforce skills he knows, he’s even superior to Houyi. Spend some effort on this [Heart Sutra], especially in the part that shows you how to apply heartforce to your soul. You must gain insight into it; once you do, your chances of overcoming the Empyrean Tribulation and shall incrase by quite a bit.”
“Your disciple understands.” Ning nodded.
Heartforce as the general, the soul as the soldiers.
Once the general commanded the soldiers to unleash their power in an organized fashion, he would be able to control even more magic treasures while also making it harder for the demonheart tribulation to invade his mind. Against a weak soul, it was easy to create a terrifying demonheart illusion, but against one with a powerful soul, it would be far more difficult. In fact, there were some truly terrifying souls that were so powerful that the demonheart illusions were completely unable to take hold against them.
Once Ning learned the art of applying heartforce to his soul, his soul would instantly become more than ten times steadier. This, in turn, would dramatically lessen the power of the demonheart illusions generated by the ‘demonheart tribulation’ of his Empyrean Tribulation.
“Your disciple has a subconscious feeling…if I am able to master this soul heartforce technique, my Primaltwin will be in virtually no danger during the Celestial Tribulation,” Ning said. “Should your disciple delay the tribulation?”
“No need.” Subhuti shook his head.
Ning looked at his master, puzzled.
“If you wait until you’ve mastered the soul heartforce technique, your Primaltwin’s tribulation will indeed be very easy.” Subhuti nodded. “But…first of all, it’s hard to say how long it would take you to come up with such a technique; after all, there’s a tremendous difference between applying heartforce to the soul and applying heartforce to sword-fingers. Second, although your Primaltwin’s tribulation is indeed a tribulation, it’s also an excellent and rare opportunity to temper yourself.”
“Temper myself?” Ning was intrigued.
“After having withstood the karmic sinflames, your heartforce improved dramatically,” Subhuti said. “By the same principle…your Primaltwin’s demonheart tribulation will be a tempering experience as well that will allow your heartforce to improve in strength and your Dao-heart to grow even more resolute. If you wait until you come up with a soul heartforce technique before you attempt the tribulation, ending up in an excessively easy tribulation, it won’t have any tempering effect on you.”
“Your Primaltwin’s tribulation is a minor matter. What really matters for you should be your true body’s tribulation.” Subhuti looked at Ning. “Your true body has trained in many divine abilities, and its potential is far greater than your Primaltwin’s. After all…compared to Fiendgods, Ki Refiners are always at a significant disadvantage. If you look at the Three Realms, all of the most supreme of powers of the Three Realms have powerful divine bodies.”
“Threelives, for example; he clearly didn’t master a Heavenly Dao, but was still able to kill many Daofathers.” Subhuti looked at Ning. “Or for example, you; even if your Primaltwin becomes a Pure Yang True Immortal, it will still most likely be merely an average Pure Yang True Immortal. But once your true body becomes an Empyrean God, you’ll instantly become one of the most supreme Empyrean Gods or True Immortals. If you spend a bit of time training, you’ll probably come extremely close to Lu Dongbin’s level. That’s the advantage which Fiendgods have! Look at the most famous figures of the Three Realms; Houyi, Nuwa, Pangu, Old Man Yuan, and yes, myself; which of them trained solely as Ki Refiners?”
“The more monstrously talented you are, the more terrifying your tribulation will be. Even I can’t be certain as to how powerful your Empyrean Tribulation shall be. All I know is that it will definitely be shocking.” Subhuti looked towards Ning. “Thus…the most important thing for you right now is to focus all of your efforts towards preparing for your Empyrean Tribulation.”
“Your disciple understands,” Ning said solemnly. “Three days from now, your disciple’s Primaltwin will undergo the tribulation.”
“Good.” Subhuti nodded with satisfaction. “If you succeed in this tribulation and your Primaltwin becomes a Celestial Immortal, your Dao-heart shall be further strengthened. This would naturally be an ideal outcome. However, even if you fail and lose your Primaltwin…you’ll have at least experienced the demonheart tribulation. If you end up failing it, it’ll have been of even greater help to you in terms of tempering yourself.”
Everything was for the sake of his true body!
“Shall I still go to Daofather Crimsonbright’s place for the tribulation?” Ning asked.
“No need.” Subhuti shook his head. “Undergoing the Celestial Tribulation is a major matter; naturally, as your master, I will ensure that you won’t suffer any disturbances during your tribulation. I was always planning to guard you while you underwent your tribulation. I didn’t expect that you’d go seek out that kid Xiamang.”
Not even Subhuti could keep the [Dream of the Three Realms] up at all times. Subhuti only found out about Ning speaking to Xiamang after the fact.
“You can undergo it here at Swallow Mountain,” Subhuti said. “Don’t worry about anything. I won’t show myself, but I definitely won’t let anyone disturb you.”
“Thank you, Master,” Ning immediately said.
“This Celestial Tribulation is nothing more than a tempering experience for you; don’t waste it. Your Empyrean Tribulation is what truly matters,” Subhuti said solemnly.
Upon becoming an Empyrean God, Ning would have become one of the truly formidable figures of the Three Realms.
“Calm yourself and prepare for your Celestial Tribulation. Although this Celestial Tribulation isn’t as important as your true body’s Empyrean Tribulation, it will still be extraordinary.” Subhuti smiled, then vanished into thin air, no longer anywhere to be seen.
Ning continued his preparations here at Swallow Mountain. He spent a little bit of time to pay a visit to the Xia Emperor, informing him that his own Daofather master was going to protect him, and so there was no need to trouble Daofather Crimsonbright. The Xia Emperor had nodded; if there was no need to bother his master, all the better.
During these three days prior to his tribulation, Ning paid a visit to West Prefecture City, where he had spent his early childhood days. He visited the Eastmount Marshes he had once adventured through, went to the mountains where he had once killed Bei Zishan…and as he retraced his steps, Ning felt his heart grow calmer and calmer.
This was a day on the cusp between spring and summer. The early dawn was very cool and refreshing.
Within a solitary mountain peak in the Swallow Mountain region, Ning’s true body and his black-robed Primaltwin were seated together in the lotus position, a hint of dew on their bodies. They had sat here all night, their minds and hearts as calm as still water. Far away, on a distant mountain peak, stood Uncle White, Little Qing, Mu Northson, Immortal Diancai, Autumn Leaf, and the pregnant Yu Wei. They all watched nervously…because Ji Ning was about to undergo his Celestial Tribulation.