Every Loose Immortal was very weak, but the amount of natural energy a hundred thousand Loose Immortals could summon…finally, Ji Ning had a taste of it for himself. Even though a thousand Celestial Immortals were guiding and taming the energy, making it so that it wasn’t too unruly or chaotic, Ning still could sense how tough it would be to control it.
“Controlling the power of the Heaven Punisher Formation is like controlling the [Greater Thousand Swords Formation].” Ning sighed.
The [Greater Thousand Swords Formation]…the more Immortal swords one used, the more difficult it was to control the formation.
This was especially true now that Ning used nine top-grade Pure Yang flying swords, the Ananda World-Swords, as the heart of his [Greater Thousand Swords Formation]. Although his heartforce was incredibly powerful, which was of use to him in controlling these magic treasures…Ning was still only able to just barely activate the first level of the [Greater Thousand Swords Formation]!
The main reason for this was that those nine Ananda World-Swords were simply far, far too powerful. It must be understood that not even most Pure Yang True Immortals would be lucky enough to acquire such a complete set of top-grade Pure Yang swords. Thus, one could imagine how hard it was to control them! The only reason why Ning was able to do so despite being merely at the Celestial Immortal level was because his heartforce had reached the third stage, ‘ruler’.
Although Ning hadn’t yet learned the way to apply heartforce to his soul, the more powerful one’s heartforce was, the more flying swords one could control. This was similar to an unskilled strongman wielding a sword; the stronger he was, the heavier his sword could be. The application of heartforce to the soul was like a matter of technique; with the proper technique, the strongman would be able to wield even heavier swords, while also allowing the power of his sword-arts to explosively increase.
This was the difference a good technique could make.
Right now, Ning was completely relying on his heartforce to brute-force things for him.
Whoooooosh. A flood of energy circulated throughout the Heaven Punisher as Ning took control over it.
He slowly grew familiar with its power and gained experience wit it.
In truth, it really wasn’t that different from controlling one of his sword-formations.
The white-robed Xia Emperor put away the earlier, shattered chaos goldstones, then placed ten more undamaged pieces on the ground. The chaos goldstones all glimmered with golden light, filled with beauty and magnetism.
“You can begin.” After watching Ning familiarize himself for a few moments, the white-robed Xia Emperor gave the order.
The Darknorth Heaven Punisher took a single step forward, lifting up his thick, powerful right arm. The attention of the million-plus Immortals located outside the formation was all focused on this massive arm, many thousands of meters long.
The enormous palm hacked down like a massive greataxe, chopping downwards with irresistible might.
It was like Pangu splitting open the cosmic egg of primordial chaos and establishing the universe. Spatial ripples appeared around the palm, pushing out in two directions like waves.
The enormous, dark-red axe-hand carried awe-inspiring might as it chopped downwards like a hatchet towards the mountain of chaos goldstone.
An enormous collision, followed by a shockwave that blasted out in every direction. When the shockwave struck against the grand sealing formation, a series of booming sounds could be heard. When the million-plus Immortals outside the formation heard those sounds, they were all tremendously shocked.
“This level of power…it’s definitely the strongest thus far.”
“This Ji Ning truly is extraordinary. Monster. What a monster!”
“I wonder how many pieces of chaos goldstone he broke apart?”
The Immortals all sighed in amazement. In their hearts, Ji Ning truly was a peerless monster. They had thought that he wouldn’t necessarily be that impressive in commanding the Heaven Punisher Formation, but who would’ve thought that he had most likely surpassed all of the Celestial Immortals who had come before him?
They all took a careful look.
The shockwaves dispersed. Only now could they see…that the mountain of chaos goldstone was an absolute mess. There were so many shattered pieces of stone that they couldn’t even tell how many were broken.
“Is that…eight pieces?”
The million-plus Immortals tried their best to discern how many pieces there were, but found it hard because so many shattered bits of rocks were obstructing their view.
The white-robed Xia Emperor waved his hand, and instantly all of the shattered bits flew to one side, revealing a completely undamaged piece of chaos goldstone as well as a second piece that was covered with cracks.
“Eight pieces shattered, the ninth piece nearly completely shattered.” The white-robed Xia Emperor revealed a smile. “Fellow Immortal Ji Ning truly is formidable; you’ve already become number one amongst the 330 Immortals who have tested thus far.”
In his heart, the white-robed Xia Emperor sighed to himself. “Ji Ning truly is incredible. For Celestial Immortals, using the Heaven Punisher Formation to break six pieces of chaos goldstone should be their limit. Only an inconceivable monster like Ji Ning could release such extraordinary power.”
From six pieces to eight pieces…there was ‘only’ an increase of two pieces, true, but the power of the palm-blow was being ablated with each layer. This meant that Ning’s Heaven Punisher’s power was two entire levels above that of the other Heaven Punishers. This…was because of heartforce! His powerful heartforce allowed him to control more of the natural energy of Heaven and Earth. If he had fully mastered heartforce and applied it to his soul, he would’ve been able to control an even more astonishing amount of power.
The Darknorth Heaven Punisher completely vanished, revealing a thousand and one Celestial Immortals and a hundred thousand Loose Immortals. Ning immediately flew out then said with a smile, “Thank you, fellow Daoists.”
“Ji Ning,” the white-robed Xia Emperor laughed, “Unless something unexpected happens, you’ll be one of the nine generals. But of course…if nine of the remaining twenty-nine are more powerful than you, then there’s nothing for it.”
“If that really is the case, it would be a blessing for our Grand Xia,” Ning said.
The Xia Emperor laughed loudly, then said, “Alright. Next is fellow Immortal Dustfloat.”
The person who came after Ning, Immortal Dustfloat, actually startled everyone quite badly…because he was able to just barely succeed in smashing the seventh piece of chaos goldstone. This caused many Immortals to feel shocked; could it be that there really was a group of incredibly powerful Celestial Immortals located at the end, some of whom would surpass Ji Ning?
However…as time passed and the tests proceeded, they quickly saw that although the Xia Emperor had indeed arranged for some of the particularly famous and powerful Celestial Immortals to be placed towards the end, none of them were more powerful than Ji Ning. In fact, none of them were even as powerful as Celestial Immortal Dustfloat.
The trials for the 359 Celestial Immortals took a total of two days, ending by nightfall of the second day.
The ranking was:
1 – Celestial Immortal Darknorth, Ji Ning
2 – Celestial Immortal Dustfloat
3 – Celestial Immortal Loachwater
4 – Celestial Immortal Rainsoar
5 – Celestial Immortal Allbeasts
6 – Celestial Immortal Unity
7 – Celestial Immortal Rainbow
8 – Celestial Immortal Thousand Needles
9 – Celestial Immortal Whacko
It was actually quite strange. Ning had shattered eight plates of chaos goldstone, while Celestial Immortal Dustfloat had shattered seven. The rest of the nine had shattered six pieces, while the tenth had shattered five pieces.
“These thousand Celestial Immortals and hundred thousand Loose Immortals shall be commanded by fellow Immortal Whacko; they shall be the ‘Whacko Army’.” The Xia Emperor began to assign responsibilities. Upon hearing the name, quite a few of Immortals were unable to control their laughter; this army’s name didn’t have any hint of an Immortal’s aura at all.
“These next thousand Celestial Immortals and hundred thousand Loose Immortals shall be commanded by fellow Immortal Thousand Needles; they shall be the Thousand Needles Army.”
“These next thousand Celestial Immortals and hundred thousand Loose Immortals shall be commanded by fellow Immortal Darknorth; they shall be the Darknorth Army. Alright; the nine armies have been set. The remaining Celestial Immortals and Loose Immortals shall be under my command,” the Xia Emperor said. “Nine generals, come with me. All other Immortals, you can go rest with your fellows in the same army.”
The Xia Emperor immediately flew away on a cloud towards the Skylight Palace.
The five True Immortals followed him, as did Ning and the rest of the nine.
Within a graceful hall inside the Skylight Palace.
“Sit, all of you.” The Xia Emperor sat down with a smile. Everyone else sat down as well.
The five True Immortals were naturally seated closest to the Xia Emperor. Next was Ji Ning and the rest of the nine, who seated themselves in accordance with their ranking.
“These are the critical parts to the Heaven Punisher Formation. Hurry up and learn them. Meditate well.” The Xia Emperor waved his hand, and instantly nine dark-red medallions flew towards Ning and the other eight. “True God Xingtian personally forged these, imprinting his technique within them.”
These medallions were the size of a palm. They were dark red, and covered with a savage-looking diagram.
The nine medallions hovered in the air in front of Ning and the rest of the nine. They naturally reached out to grab them, then filled them with their coresense. Soon, they completely memorized all of the information contained within it.
“You can keep the medallions.” The Xia Emperor sighed. “All of you have fearlessly volunteered to command my many Immortals to do battle against the Seamless Gate…if you manage to survive, you can use the medallion to go visit True God Xingtian, and pick a single technique of your choice from his Dao Repository. Alternately, you can choose any Pure Yang treasure or Protocosmic spirit-treasure from his treasury.”
Ning remained quite calm, but the other Celestial Immortals began to feel the fires of desire blaze in their hearts. After all, none of them were a Daofather’s disciple; there were many divine abilities and secret arts which they did not have access to.
“Meditate well,” the Xia Emperor repeated, his gaze dark and gloomy. “I fear that not too long from now, the Seamless Gate will launch the war.”
The world of the Grand Xia. Whitepole Commandery was a very remote commandery. Generally speaking, the more remote a feof was, the larger in size it was.
It was nightfall.
An enormous, towering black citadel was hovering in the air above Whitepole City. The levitating black citadel was a full size larger than even Whitepole City itself. It was completely black, and around it hovered a large number of chains. These countless chains filled the space around it, seeming to lock the citadel here as an anchor kept a ship locked in place in the sea.
The walls of the black citadel were filled with many roving black-armored soldiers.
Within the citadel itself, there was a tightly-patrolled military headquarters, as well as some towering palaces.
The largest open area within the black citadel was covered with a veritable sea of Immortals, all seated in the lotus position. These were Loose Immortals, and one could see no end to them.
At the very front of the plaza, there were three enormous, fog-shrouded caverns that were three hundred meters tall. The dark cavern entrances led to a mysterious, terrifying location.
“It’s said that those caves lead to the legendary ‘Fifth World’.”
“The Patriarch said that the Celestial Immortals within the Fifth World are numerous beyond measure. There’s even many True Immortals and Empyrean Gods there. If the Fifth World released its full power, it would effortlessly wipe out the entire Grand Xia.”
“So why don’t they?”
“Supposedly, the Fifth World is battling against many major worlds right now.”
The countless Loose Immortals were all secretly chatting with each other.
Within the tallest tower of the levitating black citadel.
Thousands of Celestial Immortals were seated in the lotus position within this palace. Black, watery runes were emanating from their bodies as they quietly, calmly meditated and trained.
At the very front of this palace sat the Gatemaster of the Seamless Gate, Azurefox, as well as the other Empyrean Gods and True Immortals. There were a total of eight of them! The Seamless Gate alone had four, whereas the Myriad Demons Cavern and Bloodcloud Hall had thus far only produced their respective leaders, their other experts having yet to arrive. True Immortal Whitepole, a white-browed, icy-looking man, was also present, along with a black-robed, black-haired, red-eyed elder.
“After many years of subterfuge and decades of instigations…nearly three thousand Celestial Immortals of the Grand Xia have joined us,” Gatemaster Azurefox said with a smile. “We now have three thousand more, while Xiamang has three thousand less; that means the balance has been shifted by six thousand. Our Seamless Gate is also gathering in some scattered pockets of power located throughout our other major worlds as well. Once these three thousand Celestial Immortals have mastered the ‘True Art of Chaoswater’, it will be time to launch the assault. Senior apprentice-brother Whitepole, we’ll rely on your leadership.”
“I’ve been waiting countless eons for this day,” the white-browed True Immortal Whitepole said in a cold voice.