Empyrean God Sin and Empyrean God Sealthroat walked forward shoulder-to-shoulder, staring at the beautiful Immortal estate located on the distant mountain peak.
“Darknorth was only able to defeat eight guardians this time, and the last two are even more powerful…I’m afraid that it will be many, many years before we’ll be able to leave.” Sealthroat let out a sigh. He had challenged the Path of Blades many times, and so he knew very well that although it seemed as though ‘only’ two were left, a person could easily end up spending a million or ten million years on each of the final two.
For example, Greatdream had defeated five guardians upon reaching Kilostar Island. Countless years had passed, but he was only able to defeat two more during that period of time! As for the final two guardians Ji Ning would be facing…they would be the most powerful guardians of all.
As for Sealthroat and Sin, they had been here for even longer periods of time, but the amount of improvement they were able to make was miniscule. They were only able to defeat one more guardian now compared to when they had first reached Kilostar Island.
“That’s not necessarily so.” Sin shook his head. “We’ve been on Kilostar Island for a long period of time and we’ve only improved a bit, but that’s because spent far too much time on the previous islands. Almost all of our potential was already squeezed out of us, and we’ve pretty much increased as much as we can in power. Of course we would find it very hard to improve any further! Darknorth, however, made it all the way here in one try after entering Undermoon Lake. He still has much potential left, and his potential was always much greater than ours to begin with. Don’t forget, Reverend Jueming managed to suddenly defeat the last three guardians all at once, thanks to a sudden insight.”
Sealthroat was briefly startled. He nodded. “Your words make sense. Our potential has been squeezed dry and we are almost at our limit, but Darknorth is different.”
“Honestly, I’ve been puzzled this entire time,” Sin said with a sigh. “He was able to fight his way to Kilostar Island in one try. This sort of talent and ability…in the Three Realms, he definitely would have been one of the most supreme of Empyrean Gods. In fact, the True Gods and Daofathers should view him as being very important, as he stands a very good chance of joining their ranks. Why is it that he was willing to risk Undermoon Lake?”
“Right.” Sealthroat sighed as well. “I was also puzzled.”
Ning’s talent had been acknowledged even as far back as the Conclave of Immortal Destiny by the likes of Lu Dongbin and Subhuti.
They were both able to tell that Ning was born with tremendous talent for the Dao of the Sword! And indeed, Ning didn’t disappoint Subhuti with his rapid rise in power. He had improved at a tremendously fast rate, and the fact that he had reached the fourth stage of heartforce was an unexpected surprise to Subhuti. By now, the elite major powers of the Nuwa Alliance viewed Ning in the exact same way as they had viewed Lu Dongbin during the Primordial Era.
However…the difference was that Lu Dongbin had the luxury of time to slowly build up a powerful foundation, then make his breakthrough to instantly become a elite Daofather.
In his case, the storm had already descended, and the Empyrean Gods and True Immortals of both sides had already begun battling each other. The battles were becoming larger and larger, and once the final battles for karmic luck were concluded, the Endwar that would determine the destiny of the entire Three Realms would commence. The amount of time Ji Ning had was simply too little. This was one of the greatest regrets which Subhuti and the others had.
Despite their regrets, however, they also felt that there was a chance that Ji Ning would gain a sudden flash of insight during one of the many conflicts in this storm and perhaps break through to become a True God or Daofather! Thus, if Ning hadn’t trained in the [Taowu Eighteen Fiendgods], Subhuti would not have permitted Ji Ning to enter Undermoon Lake.
However, thanks to the dangers of Undermoon Lake, Ning had gained more and more experience, growing and improving so rapidly that he was now just a step away from complete mastery of the [Five Treasures].
“No matter what the reason is for it, Darknorth’s entry into this place was a blessing for us.” Sin sighed with emotion as he looked at the distant Immortal estate. “We now have a chance of leaving.”
“Right. When Darknorth returned from the Path of Blades, he barely said anything to us. He immediately went into seclusion. As I see it…he probably gained quite a few insights,” Sealthroat said.
“Even I reaped great gains from my first attempt at the Path of Blades, to say nothing of Darknorth.”
“Right. Hopefully, he’ll be able to improve enough that he can complete the Path of Blades.”
“Wait and see.”
The two Empyrean Gods were both filled with hope.
They truly had no faith in their ability to overcome the Path of Blades. After countless years, they remained trapped at the midway point. They were still far from being able to escape.
“Brother Darknorth is in secluded meditation.”
“I hope he’ll be able to improve dramatically as a result.”
The Seven Dragon Gods stared at the distant Immortal estate as they chatted amongst themselves.
All the Empyrean Gods on Kilostar Island were focused on that Immortal estate and the person meditating within it. These Empyrean Gods had all given up long ago; even Sin and Sealthroat, who were qualified to attempt the Path of Blades, were far from being able to succeed.
All their hopes rested with Ning. They did not, however, dare to give Ning too much overt pressure…and so they simply hoped silently.
They dreamed of returning to the Three Realms and once more seeing those colorful, varied worlds.
They dreamed of seeing and reuniting with their loved ones.
Even though returning meant that they would be in danger of dying…
They felt no fear!
This was because there was something they feared even more than dying; living without hope. To these Empyrean Gods who had given up, life in Undermoon Lake was almost zombie-like; there was no hope at all.
The beautiful Immortal estate was quite spacious inside. Ning’s sword-training pavilion was many kilometers in circumference, and the pavilion was studded with many lustrious gems that gathered in the light and energy of Heaven and Earth, making it dazzling to behold.
The white-robed youth, Ji Ning, was wielding a sword in his hand and executing sword-arts with it.
His sword-light drifted forward gracefully in an ephemeral, unpredictable manner.
As a sword-art that had reached the speed of light, the sword-light created by the art was nothing more than after-images; the sword itself was in front of those blurs.
Although Ning had reached an astonishing level in his sword-arts, his power was extremely measured and reserved. Ning’s sword-light scraped past a gourd of wine placed on a nearby table, missing it only by a single inch, but the gourd didn’t move in the slightest.
Even an ordinary Houtian-level human who was skilled in the sword would knock the gourd flying at such a close distance with the wind generated by his sword. But the power of Ning’s sword was so reserved that it did not!
It must be understood that when Loose Immortals, Earth Immortals, and even Celestial Immortals struck out with their swords, the power of Heaven and Earth would be unleashed, causing a great disturbance. Even for Empyrean Gods and True Immortals, being able to infuse their sword with tremendous destructive power while keeping it so reserved that it wouldn’t injure anything an inch beyond the target was incredibly rare!
Ji Ning, however, had succeeded! His sword-arts had clearly reached the ‘grandmaster’ level in the Three Realms.
Sword-light howled forth, filling the area with an aura of melancholy and despair. Ning was currently using [Mourning].
As far as despair went, his greatest moment of despair was when Yu Wei had shattered the bottle of Shennong’s medicine, then shattered her own soul and committed suicide! This was because the moment before she had done this, Ning had been filled with joy, delight, and hope. However, disaster had suddenly struck. Yu Wei’s actions, followed by her suicide, had completely struck Ning dumb.
His parents had left. Yu Wei had then left as well. In that moment…Ning’s heart had indeed been filled with utter despair.
As far as sadness and pain went…
His saddest, most agonizing moment was when he had personally consigned Yu Wei into the Infinity Hells due to his decision. That was the most painful moment of Ning’s life.
Ning was a man of deep, powerful emotions. Thus, just by viewing the sword-art he was able to understand more than half of it. Upon actually using it and practicing with it, he gained many new insights and made nonstop breakthroughs, the profound secrets of the sword-arts continuously filling his mind.
Nine days after his attempt at the Path of Blades.
“Although it’s despair, it’s not utter despair,” Ning murmured to himself within the courtyard. His heartforce had reached the fourth stage, and so although he entered a mournful, saddened state whenever he executed this sword-art, he was able to immediately go back to normal upon halting in his training. There was no way he would allow a sword-art to control him and his emotions. But of course, someone whose mental will wasn’t strong enough might actually go mad if he trained too excessively in this technique.
“The aura of being mournful…it perfects this sword-art. Although in terms of profoundness, this sword-art actually is inferior to the [Five Treasures], the ‘mournful’ essence it contains seems to give it a spirit of its own that is linked to it. The sword-art and the essence aura are a perfect whole, as though they were meant to be together.” Ning quickly came to this evaluation.
The [Five Treasures] surpassed the Heavenly Daos themselves; in terms of technique, it was naturally far superior.
Although Ning was tremendously talented in the Dao of the Sword, the real reason why he was able to make his sword attack at the speed of light was because he had the mental strength to be willing to sacrifice all other insights for the [Five Treasures], making it the foundation of his techniques. Ning’s own sword-art, the [Brightmoon] sword-art, didn’t actually have a particularly powerful ‘essence’ or ‘aura’ about it, but it was still quite powerful; clearly, this was because it had surpassed the [Mourning] sword-art in many ways, in terms of skill and technique.
However, [Mourning] had its own strengths as well.
It had an essence, an intent of its own that was one with the actual techniques. In fact, the intent of the technique reinforced every single stance, giving it marvelous power. For example, it was clearly inferior to Ning’s sword-arts in terms of technique, and yet it too was capable of reaching the speed of light! In fact, in many areas it was superior!
As for intent…if the intent of this sword-art could be further strengthened, it was completely capable of gaining a true ‘soul’ of its own.
Ordinary humans had three types of energy within them; their ‘vital energy’, their ‘ki’, and their ‘soul’. For a sword-art to merely have an ‘intent’ wasn’t that impressive; when a sword-art gained a true ‘soul’, it would truly rise to a new level…the fifth level of swordforce. Upon reaching that level, even without actually drawing the sword, one would be able to cause major powers to feel despair in their hearts and perhaps even flee.
But of course, actually reaching the fifth stage of swordforce was far too difficult. In the entire Three Realms, the number of experts in either camp who had reached this level could be counted on one hand.
“The [Mourning] sword-art…I’ve mastered it,” Ning mused to himself. “If I were to challenge the Path of Blades again, I trust I would be able to defeat the ninth guardian. But the tenth? I’m probably not strong enough yet!”
“The best solution is to merge [Mourning] and [Brightmoon] together, giving my [Brightmoon] sword-art an intent of its own as well,” Ning mused to himself.
The [Brightmoon] sword-art was derived from the essence of the [Five Treasures]; even though it didn’t have a will or an intent of its own, it was still on the same level as [Mourning]. Once it truly gained an intent of its own, it would vault to a completely new level.
“By then, I’ll be able to effortlessly defeat the ninth guardian. As for the tenth guardian…I’ll have a chance as well.” Ning nodded slowly. “Then let me first perfect [Brightmoon].”
[Brightmoon] was something that Ning had created himself and had been constantly perfecting. Now that he had mastered [Mourning], he was going to infuse the intent and will of [Mourning] into [Brightmoon]. Although this was going to be difficult, it was something he would be able to do.
If [Brightmoon] was a technique which someone else had created, it would have been impossible for Ning to do this.
This was just another example of how creating one’s own sword-technique could make a huge difference.
“My heart is in mourning.”
“My will is in my sword.”
“Let them both become one.”
Ning completely understood the profound mysteries of [Mourning]. Using it as his blueprint, Ning began to infuse its intent into [Brightmoon]. Even though he encountered some problematic issues, given enough time he would be able to break through them.
After a year and three months in seclusion, Ji Ning finally walked out of his Immortal estate.