“Stop!” Ji Ning hurriedly called out.
The Seven Dragon Gods and Empyrean God Roughpeak paused their protestations, looking at Ning. Truthfully speaking, they didn’t really want to say these words either, but they also didn’t wish to see Ning die in the hands of the Purgatory God.
“You, uh…who told you that my swordforce is at the third stage?” Ning laughed.
“Eh?” The other eight were all startled. Judging from Ji Ning’s words…it seemed as though he wasn’t at that stage?
“I did.” Roughpeak looked at Ning, puzzled. “Was my guess wrong?”
“Oh!” Ning now understood. Laughing, he explained, “When I first encountered you, senior apprentice-brother Roughpeak, I was indeed just at the third stage of swordforce.”
These words instantly caused the eight to reveal looks of surprised delight.
“You broke through?”
“You made a breakthrough when fighting Snowfiend?”
“Have you reached the fourth stage of swordforce?” All of them looked eagerly and excitedly towards Ning.
Ning smiled, then nodded. At the same time, he waved a finger, causing a loop of extremely sharp black sword-light to circle around it.
Upon seeing the black, sword-shaped swordforce, the Seven Dragon Gods and Roughpeak felt extremely excited, but they also didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
Roughpeak finally said, “Junior apprentice-brother Darknorth, I…uh…”
“I understand,” Ning said hurriedly. “Senior apprentice-brother Roughpeak, you believed that I had fought against Snowfiend for an extremely long period of time, and so you naturally came to certain conclusions based on that. It’s my fault for not having explained it to you.”
“How can it be your fault? Who would be so foolish as to blurt out exactly how strong they are?” The nearby Empyrean God Tyranodragon boomed with laughter. “Excellent. It seems as though the seven of us aren’t destined to die just yet. Given how powerful you are, brother Darknorth, it should be easy for you to overcome the Purgatory God. Come, come, come! Let’s make haste towards the next island. Our chances of leaving will be greater as well.”
“We’ve been in Undermoon Lake for countless years. Oh – according to what the Purgatory God said, we’ve been here for nearly a ‘chaos cycle’. I wonder what the next island is like?”
“I’m rather curious.”
“I hear that after defeating the Purgatory God, you’ll be able to acquire treasures.”
“Fourth brother, why are YOU getting excited? You won’t be the one to get the treasures!”
“My excitement is no business of yours!”
They all celebrated and joked about. Clearly, the chance to leave this Volcano Island had put them all in quite a good mood.
An hour later, Ning and the others arrived at the other end of Volcano Island.
“Here we are. All you need to do is advance past the floating wooden bridge.” Witherdragon pointed towards the wooden bridge up ahead. In front of them was an endless sea of flames that stretched off into the horizon, with the wooden bridge being the only thing within it.
“It’s really hot.” Ning turned his head and grinned. “Everyone, come into my Immortal estate for a few days.”
“Sorry for the trouble.”
“C’mere, lemme see what your Immortal estate is like!” They all laughed and jested. Their relaxation was primarily due to the fact that they knew how strong Ning was and that he was certain of victory. Roughpeak, when he had first joined Ning, had done so in a much more nervous, restless manner.
Ning waved his hand. None of the eight Empyrean Gods resisted, allowing him to draw them into his Immortal estate.
“Let’s go.” Ning seated himself within his Ruyi Soulsnake Shuttle, then began to rapidly advance via the wooden bridge into the sea of flames. Although the flames were incredibly hot, Empyrean Gods would generally find it easily to endure them, to say nothing of someone like Ning who was protected by the [Eight-Nine Arcane Art].
After flyinig for just a single hour…
“Eh?” Ning came to a sudden halt, staring in front of himself. Up ahead, a massive red figure that was more than ten meters tall had appeared on the bridge. The figure was bald, had red eyebrows, a red beard, and was extremely muscular. He wielded a pair of short halberds in his hands, and his dark-red eyes were fixed upon Ning.
“The invisible pressure he gives off truly is stronger than Snowfiend’s,” Ning murmured to himself. The only reason Ning was able to sense this was because his foe had prepared his full power, not disguising his aura at all.
Ning put away the Ruyi Soulsnake Shuttle, then landed on the bridge. A pair of swords appeared in his hands.
He wasn’t even willing to use [Three Heads, Six Arms]. Now that his swordforce had reached a new level, and his [Brightmoon] sword-art had been further perfected…he wanted to give himself a good challenge.
“I can sense…that the volcanic island no longer has any Empyrean Gods on it.” The Purgatory God’s dark-red eyes held a hint of madness within them. “It seems you are quite confident.”
“Please come,” Ning said politely.
The Purgatory God didn’t hesitate. He immediately bound forward, his body moving at incredible speed. He instantly arrived before Ning, who charged forward as well, sending two streaks of black sword-light towards the Purgatory God.
Ning couldn’t help but take several steps back, while the Purgatory God was knocked back by one step as well.
“What tremendous power.” Ning was secretly surprised. “In strength alone, he’s nearly at the True God level. Fortunately, my swordforce reached the fourth level.” After swordforce reached the fourth level, Ning was able to unleash power equivalent to 80% of a full-force heartforce blow with each ordinary strike. This level of power was absolutely enough for him to do battle head-on against his foe. All Ning had to do was reserve enough divine power to allow him to move about at high speed. There wasn’t even a need for him to use the [Starseizing Hand] or [Three Heads, Six Arms]. In fact, he didn’t even really need to fight with full power.
Ning was completely capable of replenishing the amount of divine power which he was using up through absorbing natural elemental energy from Heaven and Earth.
“Stage-four swordforce?” The Purgatory God instantly grew even frenzied.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh! The twin halberds hacked downwards, screaming through the air like devils.
The two short halberds were like the Taiji itself; one was Yin while the other was Yang, and both joined together into a perfect whole that completely embodied the essence of of what Wuji, Infinity, was all about. Although Ning also wielded a pair of twin swords, in terms of making his swords work together in harmony he was vastly inferior to the Purgatory God. Anyone who had embarked on the path of Wuji would be extremely skilled in making multiple weapons work together.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Ning’s sword-light remained as fast and bizarre as ever.
In Undermoon Lake, Ning had spent most of his time and effort on the Shadowless stance, and this stane was the most unpredictable stance of them all.
The two exchanged blows for a long while. For a period of time, Ning was at a slight disadvantage; although his attacks were more powerful, his two weapons didn’t work together as seamlessly as his enemy’s did, resulting in him being at an overall disadvantage. In truth, if Ning used the [Three Heads, Six Arms] technique, he would be able to quickly suppress his opponent, but Ning was in no hurry to do so. Finding such a perfect opponent wasn’t an easy task!
The power of his sword-arts primarily came from his black swordforce. Very little of Ning’s divine power was being used up, and it was actually being replenished faster than it was being consumed. He’d easily be able to battle like this for a thousand years without any problems.
This battle went on for more than half a month. Ning had just broken through to the fourth stage of swordforce a short while ago; now that he was able to fight against such a perfectly matched foe for so long, his sword-arts grew increasingly refined and perfected. Although he had spent more thana year meditating on his sword-arts on Volcano Island, he hadn’t had an actual opponent to test himself against. Only upon encountering a formidable opponent would he realize that his ‘perfected’ sword-arts were still lacking in many areas. As a result of his continued improvement, his sword-arts grew increasingly powerful.
“You win.” The Purgatory God suddenly retreated.
Ning laughed. During the past half-month, he had went from being at a slight disadvantage to holding a slight advantage! The Dao of the Sword was simply too well-suited for launching offensive attacks.
The Purgatory God looked at Ning, his lips cracking apart into an ugly grin. “I’ll be waiting for you at Myriad Mountains Island.” His body then vanished, leaving behind countless flames that quickly dissipated.
“Myriad Mountains Island?” Ning murmured softly to himself, “Can it be that the third island is Myriad Mountains Island?”
Swish. Ning boarded his Ruyi Soulsnake Shuttle, then continued to advance.
After flying for around an hour, an enormous, gourd-shaped island appeared before him. This gourd-shaped island looked as though it was a small island and a large island joined together.
As for the wooden bridge, it led to the small island. At the end of the wooden bridge stood the bald, red-browed Purgatory God.
“So this is Myriad Mountains Island?” Ning landed with a laugh.
“To be precise, the small island is a treasure island.” The Purgatory God pointed towards the distant, larger island. “That large island over there is the actual Myriad Mountains Island. As for this small island…it has quite a few treasures. You can choose three of them. After doing so, you have to enter the large island. You won’t be allowed to come here again.”
Undermoon Lake was a place where you could only advance, not retreat. Ning understood this.
Upon reaching Volcano Island, for example, there would be no way back to the snowy island.
After entering Myriad Mountains Island, there would be no way back to Volcano Island. The only options were to die or to successfully pass through the remaining islands and return to the Three Realms.
“Three?” Ning said with surprise, “I hear that the fourth and fifth islands all have treasures as well.”
“Yes.” The Purgatory God nodded. “The third, fourth, and fifth islands all have treasures within them. In each place, you can choose three items. Thus, there’s a total of nine items you can acquire. Once you reach the fifth island, you’ll be allowed to leave Undermoon Lake. But of course, in this chaos cycle, the only one who survived was the man called ‘Jueming’.”
Ning instantly became filled with questions. The legends of the Three Realms stated that Buddha Jueming left Undermoon Lake with three treasures…but the Purgatory God now said that he left with nine?
“It seems there are six treasures which Buddha Jueming did not make public,” Ning mused to himself.
They walked through the smaller island, nearly a million kilometers in circumference. It took them only a short while to travel hundreds of thousands of kilometers and arrive at a lake. Compared to the endless amount of distance the Ruyi Soulsnake Shuttle had traversed over the oceans here, this island really was just a small island.
The island lake was covered by a hazy mist that prevented others from seeing it clearly.
“Disperse.” The Purgatory God waved his hand, causing all the mist to dissipate and the lake to appear. The lake was actually separated into nine distinct regions! One region was filled with incredibly hot Ninefire Lava, with a dark-red snow lotus growing atop it. Another region was filled with slowly flowing rivers of icy Iceheart Pith, and atop the pith grew a clump of jewel-like Iceheart Leaf. There was also a region filled with many types of precious medicinal herbs, all filled with life energy. These precious herbs had given birth to a jade-green fruit that appeared to levitate above them…
Nine regions of fire, of ice, of darkness, of life, of death…
A single invisible formation joined these nine regions together in a perfect manner.
“Eh? Iceheart Pith? Ninefire Lava? This place actually has both of them?” Ning’s heartrate instantly sped up. He grew excited now; he didn’t expect that he would discover Iceheart Pith, which he badly desired, right here within the third island.
“The treasures which Buddha Jueming made public are actually all here.” Ning instantly guessed at the reason behind this. “It seems that Buddha Jueming didn’t make public any of the treasures he acquired on the fourth and fifth islands.” Anyone could tell that the treasures on the later islands would be even more valuable and useful.
“Choose.” The Purgatory God, upon seeing Ning go into a daze, urged Ning to hurry up. “There are nine types of treasures here. You can choose three of them.”
“Nine types of treasure?” Ning was startled. There were nine regions in total. The Iceheart Pith region had a single Iceheart Leaf growing atop it. Although Iceheart Leaf was valuable, the large amount of flowing Iceheart Pith was something which Ning desperately desired as well.
“Can I choose the Iceheart Pith?” Ning suddenly asked.
“Iceheart Pith?” The Purgatory God frowned as he looked at Ning. “Iceheart Leafs crystallize above the Iceheart Pith. You should choose the leaf; the leaf is the crystallized essence of the pith. All nine regions have crystallized essences of certain things; you should choose them.”
“But I want the Iceheart Pith. Can I have it?” Ning asked. He definitely had to choose the Iceheart Leaf, but what of the Iceheart Pith?
The Purgatory God frowned. “The Iceheart Pith is the foundation; because it exists, Iceheart Leaf can grow. After an Iceheart Leaf is harvested, more will grow after a long period of time. You can choose Iceheart Leaf, but the underlying Iceheart Pith…how could I possibly give it to you?”