The walls of the Seamless City.
True Immortal Whitepole stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the black-haired, black-robed, red-eyed elder. They stared at the distant battle occurring, with nine Heaven Punishers doing battle against four White-Faced Flood Dragons and nine Empyrean God golems.
“Fellow Daoist Crimsonjoy,” True Immortal Whitepole said with a calm laugh, “Fellow Daoist Blackheaven asked you to kill Ji Ning. I wonder…when do you plan to make your move?”
In a head-on battle, True Immortal Whitepole was very confident in his powers. Most likely not even Azurefox was a match for him. In terms of killing someone, however…True Immortal Whitepole didn’t dare to compete against True Immortal Crimsonjoy. Engaging in a head-on fight was completely different from murdering someone. True Immortal Crimsonjoy was extremely skilled in murder; he had many murderous techniques indeed! In the Seamless Gate’s headquarters, True Immortal Crimsonjoy had a very special, transcendent position. Not one of the hundred Seamless Gates under the command of the Godking were qualified to command True Immortal Crimsonjoy. Crimsonjoy reported directly to the Godking himself.
Not even True Immortal Whitepole was able to ask him for help. And so, he truly didn’t understand…how was it that Blackheaven, who was clearly a mere Celestial Immortal, had managed to accomplish this? True Immortal Whitepole always had the feeling that Celestial Immortal Blackheaven had many secrest about him.
“No rush. The time isn’t right yet,” True Immortal Crimsonjoy said calmly.
“Right, fellow Daoist Crimsonjoy…fellow Daoist Blackheaven must have paid a significant price to get you to help out, right?” True Immortal Whitepole said.
True Immortal Crimsonjoy glanced at True Immortal Whitepole, then grinned. “You couldn’t possibly guess what the price was.”
“Let me have a guess?” True Immortal Whitepole laughed, intrigued.
“I won’t tell you.” True Immortal Crimsonjoy shook his head. “Still..don’t worry. Since I accepted fellow Daoist Blackheaven’s request, I’ll do everything I can and pay any price to kill Ji Ning.”
True Immortal Whitepole nodded lightly. It wasn’t too likely that he would be able to take such a powerful figure under his command, and so he simply said, “You said that this isn’t the right time yet. When is the right time?”
“Wait patiently.” True Immortal Crimsonjoy stared at the nine distant Heaven Punishers and the most powerful of them all, Ji Ning’s Heaven Punisher.
“Wait?” True Immortal Whitepole frowned.
True Immortal Crimsonjoy gave True Immortal Whitepole another glance, then said, “The more overconfident they are, the greater my chances of killing them are. Right now, however, the war has just begun. All of them, the Xia Emperor concluded, are on high alert and are extremely cautious.”
“But…they’ll always be cautious,” True Immortal Whitepole argued.
“That’s different.” True Immortal Crimsonjoy shook his head. “Right now, they are cautious of everything. After multiple battles happen and as time goes on, they’ll slowly grow accustomed to the rhythm of battle, and as that happens…although they’ll still be careful, they’ll naturally become less guarded against those things they feel accustomed to.”
True Immortal Whitepole nodded in seeming understanding.
“Simply put…after they fight for a long time, even though they’ll still be in great danger each day, they’ll grow numb to the danger,” True Immortal Crimsonjoy said. “What I need to do is wait for them to grow numb.”
“Then when the time comes, I’ll be watching to see your abilities, fellow Daoist Crimsonjoy. Our Seamless Gate has sought to kill Ji Ning, but we’ve never been able to succeed, even though we’ve spent quite a bit of effort on it,” True Immortal Whitepole said with a laugh.
True Immortal Crimsonjoy shook his head. “The Seamless Gate has many powerful figures; Commander Azurefox alone has many mighty experts under her. If the Godking truly wanted to kill Ji Ning and was willing to pay any price, including risking a battle against the Daofather behind Ji Ning, Ji Ning would’ve died long ago.”
True Immortal Crimsonjoy’s gaze fell once more upon Ji Ning’s Heaven Punisher. He let out a soft sigh. “He truly is a peerless genius. A pity…”
True Immortal Crimsonjoy was a very patient man.
He waited for over three years.
Three years later. A misty dawn.
Within an incredibly vast wilderness that was filled with craters. Seven massive Heaven Punishers and five Empyrean God golems were in a frenetic battle against three White-Faced Flood Dragons and eight Empyrean God golems.
The land shook, and the mountains trembled. In fact, many of the distant mountain ranges had already collapsed into piles of rubble.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Ning’s Heaven Punisher was wielding a pair of divine swords that would occasionally appear and occasionally vanish. Sword-light flashed everywhere, with the attacks occasionally transforming into heavy punches and insidious claw strikes. He was currently fighting against the Venomsong Terrorbeast, and the nearby Celestial Immortal Unity was occasionally giving him a hand. The two of them, fighting together, were now completely capable of slowing down Venomsong’s White-Faced Flood Dragon.
“Retreat.” Venomsong gave the order.
Whoooosh! Instantly, the massive forms began to gather together and retreat.
Ning and his comrades just watched as they departed. “Let’s leave.” Ning gave the order as well.
The seven Heaven Punishers and the five Empyrean God golems vanished, returning back to the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.
Within the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.
The many Loose Immortals and Celestial Immortals were allowed to disperse and return back to their own camps. As for the seven generals, they turned to fly towards the walls of the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.
The seven of them arrived, then sat down atop the city walls.
“Come, let’s try some of my wine today. I acquired this Immortal wine when I took part in the Feast of Peaches [1. In Chinese stories, one of Sun Wukong’s notable misdeeds was his crashing of one of these feasts, stealing and eating all of the large peaches in a fit of anger after not being invited.] back in the Primordial Era. Only a little bit is left now, but…since we have wine today, let’s get drunk today. Come, come, come!” Celestial Immortal Whacko laughed loudly, but a hint of grief remained visible within his eyes.
“Whacko’s wine? That’s good stuff.” Ning immediately accepted and filled his gourd with the wine.
The others smiled and filled their gourds in turn.
They each held their gourds and began to drink from them.
Not long after the war had begun between the Grand Xia and the Seamless Gate, the then-nine generals had agreed that after each battle, the nine of them would get together and reflect on the battle and on what they had learned from it. However, after the battles became increasingly common, it became rare for Ning and the others to learn anything new from them. Their teamwork had become nearly perfect, and so their get-togethers after each battle became drinking sessions. After three years worth of battles, they had become as close to each other as real siblings, and had become accustomed to this sort of get-togethers.
Ning silently murmured these two names.
Ning didn’t feel quite as close to Celestial Immortal Loachwater, because Loachwater had died roughly half a year after the start of the war. Although the two were comrades, their relationship hadn’t had the chance to reach an extremely deep level.
But Fairy Thousand Needles…
Everyone present, including Ning, Unity, and Dustfloat all felt great pain in their hearts. Celestial Immortal Whacko felt the most pain of all.
Ning and the others had known all along that Immortals would die as a result of this long war. Over the past three years, four of their Heaven Punishers had been crippled. Loachwater had lost his Heaven Punisher during his very first battle, while Unity had lost his during a battle in the second month. He had managed to survive, and had received Immortal reinforcements.
Roughly half a year after the war had started, however, Loachwater had once again had his Heaven Punisher destroyed. He hadn’t been lucky enough to survive again; this time, he was slain, along with many of the Loose Immortals and Celestial Immortals under his command.
Due to the number of Immortals that had been sent to reinforce the Unity Army, there weren’t many Celestial Immortals and Loose Immortals in reserve. And so, this time the Loachwater Army wasn’t rebuilt, and the nine armies turned into eight armies.
Afterwards, the army of Celestial Immortal Allbeasts was also dealt a heavy blow. Allbeasts himself, however, was lucky enough to survive.
The fourth Heaven Punisher to be destroyed was that of Fairy Thousand Needles.
“Thousand Needles.” Ning sighed to himself. She had just died roughly a month ago. She had been a rather cold and grim Immortal. After battling by her side for three years, all of them had grown very close to Thousand Needles. In fact, they had even learned that Celestial Immortal Whacko had been wooing her for countless eras, albeit with no success.
However, after fighting shoulder-to-shoulder for three years, Celestial Immortal Whacko and Fairy Thousand Needles had slowly grown very close to each other. Ning and the others had often teased them for it.
Who would’ve thought…
That a battle like that would’ve happened!
In that battle, True Immortal Azurefox, Empyrean God Threesuns, and Empyrean God Beastleave had all appeared at the same time. In truth, True Immortals and Empyrean Gods now often appeared during these battles. This, however, was the first time True Immortal Azurefox had personally acted. She was both a True Immortal and an Empyrean God, her body was that of a powerful Godbeast, and she had a very high level of insight into the Dao. This was her first time showing her power, and her power exceeded their expectations, forcing the Xia Emperor to personally intervene as well.
Alas, things happened too quickly in a battle!
The Thousand Needles Heaven Punisher was destroyed, and Fairy Thousand Needles died on the spot.
In that instant, Whacko had gone completely mad. Ning and the rest went berserk as well…but there was nothing they could do. After destroying the Heaven Punisher, their foes immediately retreated.
They felt pain!
That grim, callous woman who had shared life-and-death battles with them…the woman who occasionally revealed a smile in the fact of Whacko’s crazy antics…that astonishing, beautiful woman…she died, just like that.
“Darknorth, you are the youngest of us; you definitely have to be ranked as our ‘Eighth Brother’. Come, address me as ‘Second Sister’.” Fairy Thousand Needles had teased Ning about his age, and the fact that he was accustomed to addressing her by her name. Roughly a year after the start of the war, months after the death of Loachwater, the other eight had grown very close to each other and had sworn oaths of brotherhood with each other.
Ning was naturally the youngest, and so they referred to him as ‘eighth’.
It was very rare for Immortals to swear oaths of brotherhood and sisterhood with each other, but once the relationship between individuals reached a very deep level, it was a natural next step.
“Thousand Needles…” Ning glanced at Whacko.
Whacko and Thousand Needles had become Dao-companions. Thousand Needles’ death had been a huge blow to Whacko. In fact…Whacko no longer acted as whacky as before.
“If Yu Wei died…would I be able to endure that blow?” Ning asked himself. As he did, he realized that he couldn’t even imagine it…because there was no way he could endure it.
“Let’s go. It’s time to go back.” Ning raised his head, draining all of the Immortal wine in his gourd, leaving not a drop behind.
“Right. Let’s go.”
“Get a good night’s rest. We have more battles ahead.”
The three years of war had changed them all dramatically. They now loved to sleep, because sleep could wash away their mental weariness. They no longer had the graceful Immortal auras of old; rather, they now seemed much more vulgar, casual, and relaxed.
After parting paths with his seven sworn siblings, Ning returned to his camp.
All the Celestial Immortals and Loose Immortals he met on the way back felt deep, heartfelt veneration for Ning. It had been three years, but the Darknorth Army had never suffered a serious blow, and that was because of this peerless figure before them, a man who had trained for less than a century before becoming a Celestial Immortal.
Ning returned to his residence.
Yu Wei had already prepared a meal for him and was waiting for him.
“You reek of alcohol,” Yu Wei said with a laugh.
Ning couldn’t help but glance at Yu Wei’s belly. The swell in her belly was already quite noticeable by now, as it was fairly large. Laughing, he said, “Our child really is the child of an Empyrean God and a Celestial Immortal. He’s still staying in his mom’s belly and isn’t willing to come out.”
“The children of Gods and Immortals can gestate for anywhere from one year to decades,” Yu Wei laughed. “As for those that are born from the natural world itself, from Heaven and Earth, its not uncommon for the process to take trillions of years.”
“There’s no need for our family to wait that long.” Ning moved closer, pressing his ear against Yu Wei’s stomach. He could already hear the little heartbeat from within.