Book 19, Chapter 15 - Swordforce

Three streaks of light suddenly flew towards the direction of Ji Ning and Ninefangs.

“Eh?” Ning took a careful look, instantly recognizing that one of the three was True Immortal Daoless. He had never seen the other two before.

“Is this fellow Daoist Ji Ning?” A rather ugly-looking man called out.

“I heard long ago from junior apprentice-brother Daoless tha fellow Daoist Ji Ning was going to come here. We’ve been waiting here a long time, but we were unable to find you. My heart was burning with impatience.” A handsome youth smiled merrily as he spoke.

Ning laughed, “I’ve made the three of you wait so long, fellow Daoists. I’m ashamed, quite ashamed.”

“We live right here on Sword Immortal world. We’d still be here even if we weren’t waiting for you,” the youth laughed.

Ning laughed as well. “I’ve already met fellow Daoist Daoless. The muscular fellow must be Empyrean God Hiddenwillow, while this one must be the ‘Sword Immortal of the Outer Heavens’, fellow Daoist Jimin. I’ve long heard of fellow Daoist Jimin’s illustrious reputation. Today, I finally have the chance to meet you.”

After Daofather Fuju had perished, many of his followers had scattered. These days, the Sword School only had three Empyrean Gods and True Immortals left.

They were True Immortal Daoless, Empyrean God Hiddenwillow, and True Immortal Jimin.

True Immortal Jimin had been the first to join the school. Empyrean God Hiddenwillow had come later, while True Immortal Daoless had been the last. True Immortal Jimin possessed truly extraordinary power. There were only two individuals in the Three Realms who had mastered the entire [Five Treasures] sword-art; one was a Daofather, while the other was True Immortal Jimin. After he mastered it, he instantly rose in power to become one of the most supreme of True Immortals, on par with the likes of Lu Dongbin, and so he was reverently titled the ‘Sword Immortal of the Outer Heavens’.

“So this is fellow Daoist Ji Ning?”

“Fellow Daoist Darknorth actually arrived as well.”

“I heard of fellow Daoist Darknorth’s exploits in the Crimsonbright Realmwar. He used his sword to suppress a Daofather golem…”

“Fellow Daoist Ji Ning!”

Suddenly, one voice after another began to ring out as more streaks of light flew towards them.

True Immortal Daoless hurriedly explained, “These are the Empyrean Gods and True Immortals who are at Sword Immortal world to study the [Five Treasures] sword-art. They naturally are on our side as well. Prior to the storm arriving, Sword Immortal world usually saw thousands of Empyrean Gods and True Immortals gathering here, with the occasional Daofather as well. However, now that the storm has arrived, and given that many of the Empyrean Gods and True Immortals of the Three Realms have already visited this place, there are now very few people here. Aside from the three of us and the two of you, fellow Daoist Ji Ning, there are thirty-nine other Empyrean Gods and True Immortals currently present.”

These individuals all belonged to the Nuwa Alliance, and they all knew of Ning. Naturally, they held Ning in high esteem. There were very, very few people who could have an impact on a Realmwar the way Ning did, after all. Even the likes of Redsnow had to join forces with the rest of the seven Empyrean Gods in order to possess such tremendous power. Given that Ning was able to match a Daofather golem in might just by commanding a million Immortals…which Empyrean God or True Immortal would dare treat him with discourtesy?

Even supreme Sword Immortals like True Immortal Jimin, who had mastered the [Five Treasures] sword-art, treated Ning with great courtesy.

After chatting for some time, everyone went their separate ways. They were all here to train in sword-arts, after all; this was what truly mattered.

“There are some other fellow Daoists who you haven’t met yet; they should still be busy with their meditations,” True Immortal Jimin said with a laugh. The three leaders of the Sword School accompanied Ji Ning and Ninefangs as they flew forward on a cloud.

“Right.” Ning nodded. “I can already see them.”

He was able to see the five towering peaks in the distance. The peaks, the valleys, the distant mountain lakes…there were Empyrean Gods and True Immortals seated in the lotus position throughout the five peaks. All of them were rather casually spread out, and normally none of them would bother each other.

“That one over there is fellow Daoist Jadesky,” True Immortal Jimin said as he pointed to the first mountain peak, where a black-robed man was seated atop a giant boulder.

“That one over there is fellow Daoist Icefeather.” He pointed to a barely-visible white-robed youth that was seated in the lotus position deep within a mountain cave.

All of them were seated in the lotus position, as unmoving as boulders. It was hard to tell how long they had been there.

“The two of them have given up everything to focus on the [Five Treasures] sword-art,” True Immortal Jimin said with a sigh. “The others are at most observing and studying. They’ll occasionally gain an insight, but they aren’t truly training.”

“Given up everything?” Ning was surprised. “Can it be that the [Five Treasures] sword-art really is as terrifying as the legends say?”

The nearby True Immortal Daoless chuckled. “Some legends are exaggerated, but other legends don’t go far enough.”

“Oh?” Both Ning and Ninefangs listened attentively. The legends regarding the [Five Treasures] sword-art were quite fanciful. Supposedly, not even Daofathers would dare to casually train in it.

“The [Five Treasures] sword-art is indeed incomparably marvelous and mysterious,” True Immortal Daoless laughed. “It is completely different from any other sword-art of the Three Realms.”

Ning nodded. He had noticed this as well.

“Other sword-arts are founded upon the Heavenly Daos, but the [Five Treasures] sword-art walks a different path,” True Immortal Daoless said. “If you just train as though you are dipping a toe into the water to test the temperature…you’ll at most gain an occasional bit of insight. If, however, you start your training from the very first chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art…then some of the things described in the legends will occur.”

Ning’s face changed.

True Immortal Daoless said softly, “All the other Daos you have gained insight into…Heavenly Daos, Grand Daos, ordinary Daos…you will slowly begin to forget them. They will completely vanish from your memories.”

“The more you train in the [Five Treasures] sword-art, the more of the other Daos you will forget.”

“Once you beginning training in the third chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art, aside from the Dao of the Sword, you will forget all other Daos!” True Immortal Jimin looked towards Ning.

Ning nodded slowly. “So that’s how it is.”

The nearby True Immortal Jimin said, “The [Five Treasures] sword-art has four chapters. The first chapter is recorded on the walls of the first mountain. The second chapter is on the second mountain, and the third chapter is on the third mountain. The final, fourth chapter is naturally on the fourth mountain. As for the fifth mountain…my master, Daofather Fuju, used to live there when he was alive. It holds a minor cavern-estate within it.”

“Once you begin training in the first chapter, your insights into all other Daos shall be affected; slowly, they’ll begin to recede. The deeper your insights into the [Five Treasures] sword-art becomes, the more insights into the other Daos you shall lose.”

“After you finish the third chapter, all other Daos shall be lost. The only path remaining is the Dao of the Sword!”

“The fourth chapter is the most difficult chapter of all. The most terrifying outcome…is that you will master the third chapter, but be unable to master the fourth.”

“Once you master the fourth chapter, you’ll have mastered the entire [Five Treasures] sword-art, and you’ll truly understand how marvelous and divine this sword-art is.” True Immortal Jimin sighed with feeling.

Ning was puzzled. “Training in the [Five Treasures] sword-art will cause your insights into the other Daos to be lost? Is it possible to retrain and regain them after losing them?”

“It’s possible, but…” True Immortal shook his head. “When you begin training in the other Daos, you’ll begin to gradually lose your insights into the [Five Treasures] sword-arts.”

“What?!” Ning was shocked.

“Thus, you have a choice; either train in the various other Daos or only train in the [Five Treasures] sword-art.” True Immortal Jimin chuckled. “But of course, if you completely master the entire [Five Treasures] sword-art, it’ll be completely memorized as a perfect whole within your mind. You can begin to train in other Daos once more, and by then you will no longer be impacted.”

The nearby Empyrean God Hiddenwillow interjected, “But the fourth chapter is far too difficult. To master the first chapter, you have to have at least reached the first stage of swordforce. As for the second chapter, you’ll need to have reached the second stage of swordforce. In turn, mastering the fourth chapte requires you to have at least reached the fourth stage of swordforce…and that’s just a prerequisite! Even if you have reached that level, you still might be unable to succeed.”

Ning nodded. He had heard these stories before.

But the [Five Treasures] sword-art truly was too powerful. After mastering it, the speed of one’s sword would exceed the limitations of the Heavenly Daos themselves! True Immortal Jimin, for example, was one of the most supreme True Immortals of the Three Realms. Once he broke through to become a Daofather, he would immediately become a supreme one thanks to his [Five Treasures] sword-art, even though his other insights were comparatively inferior to those of the other Daofathers.

This was because the speed of his sword would be faster than anything else.

This was the reason why the [Five Treasures] sword-art was so alluring.

“Once you master the entire [Five Treasures] sword-art, you’ll be able to enter the cavern-estate in the fifth peak which Master left behind.” True Immortal Jimin pointed towards the distant, tallest peak. “Master died in the primordial chaos, but before he entered it, he gave us certain instructions. He said that if something unexpected happened to him, we were to make the [Five Treasures] sword-art available to the public. Any Fiendgod Body Refiner who has mastered the [Five Treasures] sword-art can enter his cavern-estate and receive his most important legacy.”

“Oh?” Ning was startled.

“In the countless years that have passed since Master died, unfathomable numbers of Empyrean Gods and True Immortals have come here to meditate. Even True Gods and Daofathers have come here! However, very, very few are willing to give up all their insights into the other Daos and focus solely on the Dao of the Sword! This is especially true for Ki Refiners. Once they lose their insights into the Dao, they’ll be unable to control the Immortal energy within their bodies. They’ll begin to go insane and die from the deviant energies.”

Ning nodded.

“Ki Refiner Daofathers, for example; they are Daofathers because they have mastered a Heavenly Dao. But what if they forgot that Heavenly Dao? Given how utterly enormous the Great Firmament energy in their bodies are, once they forgot their Daos, they would be completely unable to control that energy. It would deviate and possibly even detonate, causing their souls to be shattered and destroyed.”

“Thus, amongst Ki Refiners, only Sword Immortals can train in this sword-art, and they have to at least be at the Pure Yang True Immortal level.”

“As for Fiendgods? It’s true that they can train in it without having to worry about their energy deviating. But the exalted True Gods…most of them have trained for countless years and have extremely deep insights into the Dao. How many of them are willing to give up all of their insights? From the Primordial Era to the modern era, there have been only a total of three True Gods who have truly come here to train in the [Five Treasures] sword-art.”

“However, Fiendgods by nature are weaker when it comes to comprehension abilities. Those three True Gods in particular were not exceptionally talented with regards to the Dao of the Sword. It is hard to force your way into getting insights, and so in the end they all gave up,” True Immortal Jimin said.

In truth, those three True Gods were some of the weakest amongst their peers, which was why they had been willing to discard everything to train in this art! They had thought that if they gained this astonishing sword-art which allowed the speed of their swords to surpass the limits of the Dao of the Heavens, they would instantly become some of the most powerful True Gods alive. But alas, they had no talent in this field, and so it was too difficult for them to succeed.

Take Ji Ning as an example. He was able to advance very rapidly in the Dao of the Sword, but if he trained to train in the Grand Dao of Time? He would most likely progress at an unbearably slow rate.

“The two who truly succeeded in mastering it were both Ki Refiners. I am one of them. The other is Daofather Holyflame. Because both of us are Ki Refiners, neither of us were able to receive Master’s legacy. However, Daofather Holyflame can now be considered the number one Sword Immortal of the Three Realms,” True Immortal Jimin said with a laugh.

Ning nodded.

Daofather Holyflame had grown up in a peculiar way. His mother had been a Celestial Immortal known as Princess Iron Fan, while his father had been an Empyrean God known as the Bull Demon King, one of the Seven Great Diremonster Saints of the Primordial Era. Daofather Holyflame had been born with tremendous talent in fire, and had thus been known as the ‘Red Boy’. Thanks to his incredible talent, he had smoothly sailed through his cultivation to become a Celestial Immortal, and the samadhi truefire he nourished in his body was especially powerful.

In the end, he became apprenticed to the Buddhist Guanyin and became her follower. [2. This is a story straight out of Journey to the West. The story of Princess Iron Fan, the Bull Demon King, and Red Boy is one of the more famous encounters that Sun Wukong had to face.]

Eventually, the Primordial Era ended and the Three Realms were born. He ended up breaking through to become a Pure Yang True Immortal. After Daofather Fuju died, he came to meditate on the [Five Treasures] sword-art, and he was absolutely crazy in his training. Buddhism? His parents? He discarded and forgot about all such things…and he actually managed to succeed in one go! After he mastered the [Five Treasures] sword-art, his power and status instantly skyrocketed. He then spent centuries to painstakingly regain the Grand Daos which he had forgotten.

More than thirty thousand years after he mastered the [Five Treasures] sword-art, he mastered the Heavenly Dao of Fire and became a Daofather. After that, he became known by the exalted title of Daofather Holyflame!

He personally welcomed his mother Iron Fan back home, but he didn’t pay much attention to the Bull Demon King. [3. In the stories, Red Boy lived with his mother, who was estranged from her husband Bull Demon King because the latter was a terrible playboy and adulterer who cheated on her all the time.]

In addition, his sword had become the fastest sword of all the Three Realms! Many Immortals and Fiendgods believed him to be the number one Sword Immortal of the Three Realms. However, Daofather Holyflame’s foundation was a bit weak, as he had only mastered a single Heavenly Dao, the Heavenly Dao of Fire! Even his swordforce was merely at the fourth stage, and he had yet to reach the fifth stage. Thus, not everyone agreed that he was the number one Sword Immortal!

Clearly, however, he was one of the most supreme Daofathers around.

Those who were more powerful than him during the Primordial Era now had to treat him with reverence. This was one of the marvels of time. Perhaps, in the future…a young fellow who was currently weak would end up becoming so powerful that Holyflame himself would have to treat him with reverence.

“You now know about all the pros and cons of the [Five Elements] sword-art.” True Immortal Jimin looked towards Ning. “It’s up to you whether you wish to train in it or not.”

Ning nodded.

He had heard these legends long ago; the only difference today made was that he now knew a bit more than he had in the past. In truth, the year he had spent on the other worlds was a testament to Ning’s decision! He was going to embark on the path of the Sword Immortal, and that path alone! For the sake of the [Five Treasures] sword-art, Ning had long ago decided to give up his insights into the Grand Dao of the Waterdrop and the other Daos. Right now, the reason he was powerful was because of his heartforce and his divine abilities, such as the [Starseizing Hand] and the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art]! He wouldn’t forget any of them.

The only things he would forget were his insights into the Dao!

“We won’t disturb you any further.” True Immortal Jimin and the other two immediately left.

“Ninefangs, I’m going to go take a look at the [Five Treasures] sword-art. If there’s nothing urgent, don’t interrupt me,” Ning said. Ninefangs hurriedly assented.

Ning flew far into the distance, heading towards the first chapter of the [Five Treasures] sword-art.

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