Book 23, Chapter 2 - The Lord of Cui Palace

Theoretically speaking, the principles of the [Unbound Elder God Visualization] technique seemed to be on a higher level. However, the [Solitary World God] was more detailed and more highly refined; it was, after all, a technique which countless experts had trained in and improved, giving it a higher success rate for mastery. Although the underlying principles of the [Unbound Elder God Visualization] technique were incredibly profound, Mother Nuwa had created it as a new and inexperienced World God. In addition, since the [Solitary World God] allowed one to train all the way up to the World God level, its creator was clearly far more powerful than Mother Nuwa had been.

Still, from the creation of this technique alone Ji Ning could sense how incredibly talented Mother Nuwa had been. Even in a fairly ‘backwards’ chaosworld like the Three Realms, she had been able to train to such incredible heights. What level of power must she have reached once she entered the far vaster world of the endless primordial chaos? This truly was a difficult question to answer.

“Master,” Ning suddenly said, “Since we have this technique…do we have any Elder Gods on our side?”

Previously, Ning had always believed that the Three Realms only had a single Elder God; the Lord of All Fiends. This was what even Fuxi and Tathagata had told him.

Fuxi and Subhuti exchanged a glance, then laughed.

“We do,” Fuxi said. “The reason why we previously didn’t tell you was because we needed to keep it secret.”

“We do?” Ning was surprised and delighted. “Who?”

Three Purities, Tathagata, and the others were all quite formidable, but they were still ‘just’ True Gods and third-tier Ancestral Immortals. They had to work hard on their insights into the Dao to become comparable to ordinary Elder Gods. True Elder Gods, however, all had that level of power, even if their techniques were comparatively low-class. If they had superior techniques and insights into the Dao, they would be elite Elder Gods.

“One of our Elder Gods of Primordial Chaos is actually still alive,” Subhuti said with a sigh.

“Who?” Ning was quite curious.

The Ancestral Dragon and the Phoenix had both died. Nuwa had left, Fuxi had been reincarnated, while Zhurong and Rushou had all perished. Who was still alive?

“The Elder God of Water, Gonggong!” Subhuti said.

“Gonggong? The one who broke Mount Buzhou?” Ning immediately knew who Subhuti was speaking of.

“Right.” Subhuti let out a sigh. “That’s the one.”

“Then why has he never shown himself?” Ning was puzzled.

“During the war that ended the Primordial Era, Zhurong ended up dying to save Gonggong,” Subhuti said. “Zhurong died, while Gonggong lived…all these years, Gonggong has felt survivor’s guilt over this matter. He’s always felt ashamed, that he owed Zhurong. He’s never been able to get over it. Still, no need to worry about him. He will definitely appear during the Endwar.”

“Alright.” Ning felt a surge of delight. Gonggong was born an Elder God; after having lived for a full chaos cycle, he must’ve improved in power at least a little. He was undoubtedly very strong.

“Anyone else? Has anyone successfully mastered the [Unbound Elder God Visualization] scroll?” Ning asked.

“Yes.” Subhuti laughed.

“Suiren.” Fuxi nodded.

Ning was surprised. “Suiren? H-he…he’s an Elder God? But…but why he wasn’t able to suppress Keeper Everwood when I was assassinated by the Seamless Gate?”

“Even though you lost one of your bodies, we had to keep the fact that Suiren is an Elder God a secret.” Subhuti looked at Ning. “We were in the midst of the war for karmic luck, and all of our efforts were directed towards winning it. No matter how much we wished to save you, we couldn’t reveal Suiren’s true power. Even if you only had a single body and were at risk of true death, we still would’ve made the same decision.”

Ning nodded. He understood this principle.

“This is the reason why we took the chaos nectar you gave us and gave it all to Suiren,” Subhuti said with a smile. “Suiren was always a tremendously talented figure; even as a True God, he was comparable to Elder Gods in power. But now that he is a true Elder God…he definitely is an elite Elder God in power! Now that he also has the [Ninehorn Lightning Serpent] technique? When the Endwar comes, he’ll give the Seamless Gate a nice little surprise.”

“Right.” Ning felt excited upon hearing this. “Any other Elder Gods?”

“Uncertain.” Subhuti shook his head. “As far as we know, the only one who successfully became an Elder God thanks to the [Unbound Elder God Visualization] technique was Suiren! It’s possible that no one else has mastered it, but it’s also possible that some of the True Gods are hiding their true power.”

“Understood.” Ning nodded. In the end, most major powers only truly trusted themselves. Only a secret that was shared with none was guaranteed ot be a true secret!

For example, given that Buddha Jueming had acquired techniques from Undermoon Lake, he certainly had to be an extraordinarily powerful figure. Most people in the Three Realms, however, viewed him as just being an ordinary Daofather. Ning felt certain that other True Gods and Daofathers on his side were hiding their power as well. It had been more than half a chaos cycle since the end of the Primordial Era, after all.

Half a chaos cycle…such a long period of time was enough for virtually anything to happen.

But by the same principle, it was also hard for them to ascertain the true power of the Seamless Gate!

“We can’t be over-confident,” Subhuti said. “When the Lord of All Fiends took the survivors of the Seamless Gate and fled with them into the endless primordial chaos, they journeyed through it for a considerable period of time. What happened during those years? What did the Lord of All Fiends experience? None of us knows the answer. In fact, not even Everwood knows the answer. Only the Lord of All Fiends himself knows the truth.”

“In addition…the Seamless Gate flourished for many years in the Three Realms. On the surface though they still only have three overlord-class experts; the Lord of All Fiends, the Keeper of the Everwood, and Daomother Devilhand. I refuse to believe that they haven’t produced a single new overlord in all these years.” Subhuti shook his head. “Some of our major powers have been hiding their true might, but the same is true for the Seamless Gate.”

“In the end…everything will only be made clear once the Endwar begins.”

Ning nodded.

“Before planning for victory, first plan for defeat,” Subhuti said. “As with before, I shall not take part in the Endwar. If our side sees no chance of victory, then I’ll lead our survivors in fleeing from the Three Realms.”

“Fleeing?” Ning looked at Subhuti.

“Yes. This was the arrangement which Mother Nuwa made all the way back during the Primordial Era,” Subhuti said. “This is why I’ve been focusing so much on my mastery of spacetime. I want to ensure that when I lead our survivors away, there will be no way anyone can follow us. Although the Lord of All Fiends is incredibly fast, his skill lies in the Dao of Space alone! He can’t match me in spacetime.”

Subhuti held absolute confidence in his mastery of spacetime.

As Ning, Subhuti, and Fuxi continued to chat inside the wooden cabin, footsteps suddenly rang out from outside.

“Eh?” Ning turned his head to look, only to see an azure-robed middle-aged man walk in.

“You…” Ning was shocked.

“Ji Ning. Long time no see.” The azure-robed man smiled as he looked at Ning.

“The Lord of Cui Palace.” Ning was filled with disbelief. “You live here? All these years…I’ve never been able to find you.”

During the six hundred years his clones had been in Undermoon Lake, Ning had journeyed through the Three Realms but had been unable to find Lord Cui. It was as though the man had suddenly disappeared.

“I’m the treasure-spirit of the Book of Life and Death. To tell the truth, Nuwa handed over the Nuwa Immortal Realm to me for managing. After the Netherworld Kingdom was destroyed, I naturally chose to come here,” Lord Cui said with a laugh.

“Ji Ning.” Subhuti smiled as well. “The relationship between Lord Cui and Mother Nuwa is much like the relationship between your giant yellow bear Daoist Threelives. Understand?”

Ning nodded.

The Book of Life and Death…this was the most famous treasure which Mother Nuwa had ever created, and it contained inconceivable power over the workings of fate and destiny. Mother Nuwa must have poured all of her blood, sweat, and tears into the creation of this treasure, and she must have carried it by her side for a very long period of time as well. It was only natural for the treasure-spirit to become very close to Mother Nuwa. In truth, many major powers held more faith in their treasure-spirits than in any other beings.

This was because there was no way a treasure-spirit would ever disobey his or her master. They were absolutely loyal and devoted servants.

“Long ago, I managed to shed off the trappings of the Book of Life and Death and became an independent life form, capable of training on my own.” Lord Cui looked at Ning. “I ended up creating a clone and sent it into the path of reincarnation, and that clone ended up entering your own homeworld of ‘Earth’. That’s why I said that we came from the same hometown.”

When Ning was weak, he had been quite puzzled by this; if Lord Cui had originally been a cultivator from the Tang Dynasty of Earth, then he should have only recently become the First Judge of the Dead. And yet, the records of the Three Realms indicated that Lord Cui’s great reputation had existed for countless years already.

Only now did he realize that Lord Cui had long ago become the First Judge of the Dead, and that it was just one of his clones which he had sent to be reborn in Earth.

“How truly marvelous.” Lord Cui smiled as he looked at Ning. “I still remember what a weak, gentle youth you were. Back on Earth, you were just a bedridden patient…but now, you stand at the very peak of the Three Realms.”

“I have to thank you, Lord Cui, for bestowing the ‘Nuwa Painting’ visualization technique upon me,” Ning said. “Without it, I would never have been able to accomplish what I did.”

The ‘Nuwa Painting’ visualization technique no longer meant anything to him, but it was the reason why he had been able to survive and acquire the legacy of the ‘underwater estate’. Only then did he become able to join the Black-White College, become the champion of the Conclave of Immortal Destiny, and become the disciple of Subhuti. Without the benefit of starting off with the Nuwa Painting…he might’ve still been successful, but it was unlikely that he would become as successful as he was now.

“I actually bestowed the Nuwa Painting upon quite a few people, but none of them were as impressive as you.” Lord Cui laughed. “When I first saw you, I had the feeling that there was a certain toughness and resilience about you, that you would never collapse no matter what setbacks or pressures you faced. Earth is a place where there is no such thing as cultivation, but even there you were able to change your own destiny, living for two years longer than you had originally been scheduled to live for. I had the feeling that, given a bit of help, you would be able to make a miracle happen. That is why I bestowed the Nuwa Painting upon you.”

“Lord Cui, you…” Ning was shocked.

“Precisely. I already had the sense that the Seamless Gate was up to no good, which was why I began bestowing the Nuwa Painting upon certain promising prospects which I encountered! This would make it easier for them to cultivate…but of course, this was just one of many small plans I put in place. It’s quite unlikely for something as minor as the Nuwa Painting to result in the birth of a Daofather or True God; in fact, less than ten people I helped out were even able to become Celestial Immortals!” Lord Cui shook his head, laughing as he looked at Ning. “Thank goodness for you.”

“Lord Cui, you really accomplished a great deed for us,” Subhuti laughed.

“Ahaha…” Lord Cui laughed as well.

“Lord Cui, I tried to search for my old home of ‘Earth’, but I’ve never been able to find it,” Ning immediately said.

The Lord of Cui Palace shook his head. “Of course not. It’s much like how the Crescent world is located in an entirely different space-time continuum. Some of the trillions of minor worlds of the Three Realms are also hidden in their own pocket space-time continuums. After Mother Nuwa became a World God, she worked hard to set up these many minor worlds in their own little pockets, and your home planet of Earth was one of them.”

“No matter what troubles the Three Realms go through, these minor worlds will remain blessed places,” Lord Cui explained. “Only when the entire Three Realms is destroyed will these worlds be destroyed as well.”

Ning asked in a soft voice, “I wonder how my parents of my past life are doing…” The relationship between himself and his parents in his past life wasn’t as unshakably close as his relationship to his parents in this life, but he had never forgotten about them. He had never forgotten about how his mother had taken care of him. Although his father had been more focused on his career, Ning’s feelings towards his father were quite complicated as well.”

“They live in a blessed land. Naturally, they have nothing to worry about,” Lord Cui said.

“Can you explain in detail?” Ning relaxed slightly as he asked this question.

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