The Xia Emperor made the introductions, one by one. Ji Ning had heard of some of these Empyrean Gods and True Immortals, although he had never met them before. There were also some he had never heard of. Not everyone was as famous as Lu Dongbin, after all…but one’s power couldn’t be judged by one’s fame. Some especially reclusive Empyrean Gods and True Immortals might have power comparable to Lu Dongbin’s.
“This is junior apprentice-brother Evergreen,” the black-robed Xia Emperor said with a laugh as he glanced towards Ji Ning.
Sword Immortal Evergreen?
Ning was startled. He gave Sword Immortal Evergreen a careful look. This was a young man who had a strange-looking face and an outstanding aura of talent. He couldn’t help but muse to himself, “So he is Sword Immortal Evergreen? The Xia Emperor once asked him to accept me as his disciple, and he agreed, transferring a message talisman to me. However…I instead went to Mount Innerheart and didn’t take him on as my teacher.” Ning felt somewhat apologetic towards this Sword Immortal Evergreen; after all, he had gone off to Mount Innerheart without saying a thing. Although Sword Immortal Evergreen’s instructions were that if Ning let ten days pass without shattering the talisman, he would take it as Ning having refused…Ning had slipped out in a rather stealthy fashion, afraid that the Xia Emperor would stop him. To be fair, that wasn’t the most straightforward and honest of actions.
“In the past, Ji Ning nearly became apprenticed to junior apprentice-brother Evergreen,” the Xia Emperor said with a laugh. “Come to think of it, it can be said that there are karmic ties between the two of you.”
“Respectful greetings, senior Evergreen,” Ning immediately said. “Back then, I ignored your good intentions…”
“Back then, I didn’t actually want to take you on as my disciple.” Sword Immortal Evergreen spoke quite calmly. “Because Master instructed it, I agreed to take you on as my disciple. I’ve never been good at teaching disciples; if you had followed me, you probably wouldn’t be as accomplished as you are now. It is good that you have become apprenticed to a Daofather.”
These words contained arrogance within them; it was as though Evergreen was implying that he had never taken notice of Ning, and that Ning should be thankful that he was lucky enough to become apprenticed to a Daofather. His words were as sharp as a sword, and they caused Ning to feel startled.
“This Sword Evergreen Immortal…he really cares nothing about friendship at all,” Fairy Rainsoar mused to herself.
“If I were Ji Ning…just based on his attitude alone, I wouldn’t even bother to speak to this man,” Celestial Immortal Unity mused silently to himself as well.
The Xia Emperor laughed. “Ji Ning, junior apprentice-brother Evergreen is always by himself in seclusion, and is a Sword Immortal; his bones are steeped in pride. Although his words are often unpleasan to the ear, he doesn’t have any ill intentions.”
“Right. My words are indeed unpleasant to hear; I say whatever I wish to say.” Sword Immortal Evergreen looked towards Ning as well.
“Senior, you are a straightforward man.” Ning smiled, not saying anything else.
There were some people whom you simply couldn’t converse peaceably with.
He had previously felt a hint of embarrassment, but this simple interaction made Ning feel certain that it was best for him to keep his distance.
The Xia Emperor held a special celebratory banquet for the newcomers. Although Sword Immortal Evergreen was cold and arrogant, there were many other Empyrean Gods and True Immortals present. With so many people there, things naturally became quite lively, and so this Immortal banquet was a joyful one.
While the Xia Emperor was relaxing in a carefree manner, True Immortal Whitepole of the Seamless Gate was having an absolutely miserable time.
Within the vast world of darkness.
True Immortal Whitepole and Gatemaster Azurefox, the two fellow disciples, were both on their knees. The towering, black-robed figure seated upon that distant, massive throne caused them to feel dread in their hearts.
“Godking, please pardon us for our crimes,” True Immortal Whitepole said nervously.
Although he was the Godking’s disciple, he still usually referred to him as ‘Godking’ rather than ‘Master’.
The Godking had a heart that was as cold as ice. When he gave instructions to his subordinates, he usually only cared about the results. Their ‘sneak attack’ plan had died in the cradle; they hadn’t even had the chance to initiate it. Although this really had nothing to do with True Immortal Whitepole, in the Godking’s heart…the value and trust he placed in Whitepole had dropped dramatically.
“Daofather Ink Bamboo will descend upon the Grand Xia for this Realmwar. He will take control over everything,” the Godking said.
“A Daofather is descending?” True Immortal Whitepole and Gatemaster Azurefox were both stunned.
Daofather Ink Bamboo was one of the oldest members of the Seamless Gate, who had been alive when it had first been founded. He had experienced the war that resulted in the destruction of the Primordial Era, and had managed to safely survive it. However, since the Godking’s status was very special due to the fact that he was the sole disciple of that slumbering presence, Daofather Ink Bamboo was willing to assist the Godking.
“Whitepole, you have deeply disappointed me. There is no way I can possibly let you manage the Realmwar now,” the Godking said. “Thus, Daofather Ink Bamboo shall personally manage it. But of course, he won’t personally intervene. Once the Daofathers begin to personally intervene, it’s possible that the Endwar will suddenly happen, earlier than we intend.”
If Daofather Ink Bamboo dared to attack, then the Nuwa Alliance’s major powers would strike out as well. The other Daofathers of the Seamless Gate would then help Ink Bamboo…and so the battle would quickly escalate, resulting in the Endwar.
Neither side wished to launch the Endwar in advance, because the results of such a war would be catastrophic. Even the victor would suffer terrible losses.
“Your subordinate understands,” both Whitepole and Azurefox said respectfully.
“I’ll send squads of Immortal armies to reinforce you. Since we cannot ambush them, then let us build up our strength. Once we are fully prepared, we’ll make our move,” the Godking instructed.
“Yes.” Whitepole and Azurefox kowtowed.
Empyrean Gods and True Immortals were very important in Realmwars, but having vast armies of Celestial Immortals and Loose Immortals was also very important.
In sufficient numbers, they could kill even True Immortals and Empyrean Gods!
The reason why they had ‘only’ sent out sixty-six Empyrean Gods and True Immortals earlier was for the sake of ambushing their foes; thus, they hadn’t sent out their armies of Loose Immortals and Celestial Immortals. The armies would cause too much of a stir; there was no way to hide such a massive mobilization.
Time passed, one day after the other.
The Eight Dragons Cloudcity and the Seamless City both remained there in midair, facing each other. Neither side called out the other for battle. A strange peace had arrived…but this sort of peace caused every Immortal and Fiendgod on both sides to feel as though a terrible storm was pressing towards them. What was coming next…was the eruption of a terrifying Realmwar!
“Imperial Majesty.” Ji Ning was meeting the Xia Emperor by himself.
“Ji Ning?” The Xia Emperor was seated atop his throne, flipping through a few books. Smiling, he said, “Sit.”
Ning sat down. He couldn’t help but ask, “Imperial Majesty, the countless Immortals of our six Heaven Punishers are feeling uneasy and nervous. When, exactly, shall we begin our fight against the Seamless Gate? Or shall we have a long-lasting truce? It’s best if we can give a clear answer, so as to calm everyone’s minds.”
Fear of the unknown was one of the greatest of fears.
“Oh. This is my fault.” The Xia Emperor understood. “My clone has been by Master’s side at his seat of enlightenment this entire time, helping to make the arrangements for the various armies. I forgot about the many Immortals within the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.”
Ning looked at the Xia Emperor.
“This Realmwar…the twenty-six Empyrean Gods and True Immortals that arrived earlier are all people who don’t have things tying them down, which was why they were in the first wave. There are others who will be coming as well. Most importantly of all, there are many Immortals coming; the number of summoned Celestial Immortals is in excess of three hundred thousand,” the Xia Emperor said.
“Three hundred thousand Celestial Immortals?” Ning called out in shock.
“There’s nothing to be surprised about. The Grand Xia alone has ten thousand Celestial Immortals,” the Xia Emperor said. “Master is in control over dozens of major worlds and countless minor worlds. With so many major worlds embroiled in war, many new Celestial Immortals have been birthed through their experiences. The Crimsonbright world which Master himself created has a particularly high number of Celestial Immortals. The total number of Celestial Immortals under Master’s command has to be over a million.”
“A million Celestial Immortals?” Ning couldn’t breathe.
“However…that’s in the past. Even our Grand Xia has seen three thousand Celestial Immortals turn traitor, thanks to the blandishments of the Seamless Gate. I imagine that in the entire Crimsonbright Realm, at least a hundred thousand Celestial Immortals have been induced to join the Seamless Gate. The total number of Celestial Immortals currently under Master’s command is now probably less than a million,” the Xia Emperor said.
Before the Seamless Gate appeared, the likes of the Youngflame clan and True Immortal Whitepole were, on the surface at least, subordinate to Daofather Crimsonbright.
Once the storm arrived…many lines were drawn. Daofather Crimsonbright’s forces had indeed been weakened.
“Because many other major worlds need to be stabilized as well, it was quite hard for three hundred thousand Celestial Immortals to be gathered here,” the Xia Emperor said. “If we squeezed our resources a bit more, we might be able to summon another two hundred thousand Celestial Immortals…but the amount of pressure that would place on the other major worlds of the Crimsonbright Realm is too great.”
“Understood.” Ning nodded.
“More than three hundred thousand Celestial Immortals, and tens of millions of Loose Immortals.” The Xia Emperor continued, “In addition, my elder brother, Daofather Raindragon, has sent some reinforcements as well. Based on what our Daofathers have learned, the Seamless Gate has sent Daofather Ink Bamboo to personally command their forces in this Realmwar…and so Master will accompany his grand army of three hundred thousand Celestial Immortals. He will descend upon the Grand Xia and take personal command of this war.”
Ning’s heart clenched.
So this was how a war between Immortals was?
Both sides would have Daofather commanders and dozens of Empyrean Gods and True Immortals, hundreds of thousands of Celestial Immortals, and tens of millions of Loose Immortals.
“This is a Realmwar!” The Xia Emperor stared at Ning. “Both sides are frantically summoning as many soldiers and generals as they can in an attempt to build up as much power as possible before launching the war. Once the war stars…I truly can’t even imagine how many Immortals are going to die. During this preparatory time period, you need to focus on your training. Ideally, you would become a Pure Yang True Immortal. That way, the Immortals under your command will pose a greater threat to the Seamless Gate.”
Ning nodded slowly.
He did indeed have to start training harder.
Although he had already become a Pure Yang True Immortal, he hadn’t even reached the expert level in his soul heartforce technique. Every day, he had some new insights into the soul heartforce technique; given enough time, his power would continue to increase until the day came for him to reach the level of mastery in it. Upon reaching that level…Ning couldn’t even imagine how powerful his Heaven Punisher would be. One thing was certain; by then, the amount of natural energy absorbed by a thousand Celestial Immortals and a hundred thousand Loose Immortals would definitely be insufficient. He would need more Immortals.
“Calm your mind and enjoy this final period of peace before the great war erupts anew,” the Xia Emperor said, looking at Ning. “Once both sides have finished their preparations…I’m not even sure if I will survive that war. If half of the Empyrean Gods and True Immortals survive, that would be an excellent result.”
“Right.” Ning nodded.
Ning spent the following days with his wife while diligently training in his soul heartforce technique. The full attention of both his true body and his Primaltwin were focused on the soul heartforce technique, because it was this technique that would allow him to reach a high level of power as fast as possible.
All the Immortals within the Eight Dragons Cloudcity knew that these were the final days of peace they would see. The Realmwar was coming. The mood within the city became noticeably heavier.
New Empyrean Gods and True Immortals were constantly descending upon the Eight Dragons Cloudcity, until finally…one day…
The entire world of the Grand Xia seemed to shudder.
Ning had been seated in the lotus position with his eyes closed, focusing on the soul heartforce technique. He immediately charged out and flew into the skies, and right away he saw that in the air above the black Seamless City, an utterly enormous spatial corridor had appeared. A tall, skinny man whose unbound hair seemed to gleam with infinite darkness stepped out from the spatial corridor, entering the Grand Xia.
He looked rather ordinary, but he radiated a halo of infinite darkness. Behind him appeared an enormous, swaying bamboo stalk that was thirty thousand meters tall, causing Ning and the others to feel a sense of oppression.
Ning, a Pure Yang True Immortal, still felt a sense of oppression. One could only imagine the nameless dread which Celestial Immortal Unity and the others felt!
“Daofather!” Ning immediately recognized what this individual had to be.