On this day, Ji Ning was seated within the levitating wooden study, working on his calligraphy. Every single character was filled with his surging sword-intent.
Next to him was the Flamefairy, Su Youji. She was obediently helping him grind his ink and watching as Ning wrote. Usually, the Flamefairy was a woman with a temper that was just as fiery as her name. The reason why she was being so obedient as to help him grind his ink wasn’t just because she was his retainer; it was also because she wanted to spend as much time next to him as possible. That way, when Daolord Solesky came to offer Ning his advice, he might give her some off-hand advice as well.
“That Daolord is simply incredible.” Whenever the Flamefairy thought of Daolord Solesky, she was filled with admiration and amazement. “He gave me a few pointers during the past three years, allowing me to get a clear picture of what I need to do to advance to the World level. Once I break through this bottleneck, I’ll become a World-level expert!”
Su Youji had benefited tremendously through her association with Ning.
Daolord Solesky was a Samsara Daolord who had reached the very Verge of the Daomerge. There was no one else like him in the entire Badlands Territory; even Daolord Badlands was slightly weaker than him! For her to have the chance to get advice from someone like him was truly a tremendous blessing for her! When she had to learn on her own and struggle through many wrong paths, she had still become comparable to a supreme Elder God even though she was just a Ki Refiner. These days, she was improving at an astonishing pace and was just a breath away from becoming a World-level expert herself.
Ning had made significant improvements as well. Daolord Solesky had even personally sparred with him a few times while using the sword. As a result, Ning’s understanding regarding the nature of the sword was undergoing a series of fundamental changes.
If one was at a completely different level of power, one would have a different perspective on the Dao. Although World God Blackmist was a formidable figure, there was a limit to how much he understood. Although Daolord Solesky didn’t really focus on the Dao of the Sword, there were certain commonalities which every single Dao shared.
“What is the sword?”
“Haha, I once heard Emperor Mirrorsnow discuss what the sword is. I felt that his words made a great deal of sense.” Daolord Solesky had once said these words to Ning. “The sword is a weapon which living beings created in order to kill others! The sword has a tip, two edges, and two flat sides. It was designed to kill. In order for you to discover and understand the Dao of the Sword, you need to start with its creation and its design.”
“How should the tip of the sword be used to kill?”
“How should you use a single edge of the sword to kill?”
“How should you use both edges together to kill?”
“How should you use the flat of the blade to kill?”
“When all these things are mixed together…how should you use them to kill?”
“When you meditate on the Dao, you meditate on the prime essence and primal nature of a thing. You should focus on simplicity, rather than complexity! If your Dao gets more and more complex, eventually you will lose yourself within it! Your Dao can appear to be complex to others, but to you it must be as clear and bright as a mirror.” Daolord Solesky had looked at Ning. “Remember this. This is very important.”
“Also – all techniques spring from the same source! If you reach a bottleneck that you cannot overcome in the Dao of the Sword, you can switch to other tasks such as calligraphy. I saw that your calligraphy isn’t bad, and you can infuse it with your Dao of the Sword. This is something that is quite different from using it to fight. However, these two things will share many commonalities, and both have their strengths with regards to helping you understand the Dao. Based on what I know, the majority of Samsara Daolords who focus on the Dao of the Sword also enjoy painting and calligraphy. I imagine there has to be a good reason for this.”
“I can also see that you have high affinity towards water, lightning, and space. Don’t discard or abandon these insights. Focus on them as well. There are commonalities between every single Dao. For example, although I’ve never focused on the Dao of the Sword, if I spent four or five days on it my mastery over the Dao of the Sword would become comparable to that of some weaker Samsara Daolords who do focus on the sword.”
Ning had felt as though a brand new gateway had just appeared before him, one which had brought him a completely new way of looking at the Dao of the Sword.
Ning had never intended to give up on water, lightning, space, or any of his other Daos. He did understand that all Daos shared certain commonalities.
As for calligraphy, he had always felt that that writing calligraphy was very pleasing and relaxing. However, only after listening to Daolord Solesky’s words did he truly understand how helpful it could be.
A new world had truly opened up before him.
“Right. Long, long ago, one of the first creatures of the primordial chaos created the very first ‘sword’. Ever since then, countless living beings have used his ‘sword’. Their techniques constantly improved until it all reached the level of a Dao unto itself that only became more and more powerful. Only then did the Dao of the Sword, a Dao feared by countless cultivators, come into existence.”
“The tip of the sword…the edge…the double edge…the flat…”
Ever since that day, the way in which Ning viewed the sword completely changed.
In the past, he had always felt that the Dao of the Sword was truly unfathomably profound, and he had dedicated himself to piously and slowly understanding all of its mysteries.
Now, Ning had a different view of the sword. Although the Dao of the Sword was indeed profound, its fundamental essence remained quite simple; it lay in the sword itself. If you could truly understand the structure of a sword, you would be able to quickly grasp the essence of the Dao of the Sword itself.
Ning now viewed the [Brightmoon] sword-art and the [Nameless] sword-art in completely different ways. He immediately began to retrofit them, making the ‘Blood Drop’ stance purer, the ‘Soleheart’ stance more ephemeral, the ‘Yin-Yang’ stance more chaotic, the ‘Heavenbreaker’ stance more dominating, and the ‘Shadowless’ stance slightly less unpredictable but even faster than before.
In fact, he split the Heavenbreaker stance into two different stances. The first used the edge of the sword to attack and was known as the ‘Heavenbreaker Hacker’; the other used the flat of the blade to attack and was known as the ‘Heavenbreaker – Eliminator’.
The power of the [Brightmoon] sword-art had suddenly increased more than twofold, just because he now had a completely different way of viewing the sword. In the distant future, Ning would understand how tremendously beneficial this new way of thinking would be for him and also feel even more gratitude towards Daolord Solesky for advising him.
“Mm.” Daolord Solesky was currently seated off in the distant, leisurely sipping some wine and watching as Ji Ning worked on his calligraphy within that levitating wooden study. Daolord Solesky couldn’t help but nod slowly.
“This Ji Ning really does have some talent.”
The Dao was not to be transmitted casually!
It wasn’t just that his guidance was incredibly valuable or precious. His avatar in Vastheaven Palace was capable of giving good guidance to every single member of Vastheaven Palace…and yet, every single cultivator had their own firm beliefs. If your guidance was very different from what they believed or what their own insights were, they would reject your guidance on an intrinsic level. Or worse; because they trusted in the Daolord and felt certain that his words had to be right, they might end up questioning their own Dao and losing their own way. That would be even worse!
Thus, each person’s Dao truly was different.
It wasn’t easy for a master to find a good disciple! When Ning had created his [Brightmoon] sword-art, he had already drawn the rough sketches of his own personal understanding of the Dao. When Ning had been in the Three Realms, he had proudly and foolishly believed that he could infuse the entirety of the Dao of the Sword into his five stances. What he didn’t realize was that all five stances were just variations on the prime essence of the sword.
He had already reached out to the prime essence of the sword. He just didn’t understand that he had done so.
Daolord Solesky’s guidance helped him to see past his own preconceptions, allowing him to see the truth. Since this was the path he had already chosen, the guidance he was given was enormous beneficial and helped him to understand his path more clearly than before.
“Ji Ning.” Daolord Solesky rose to his feet.
“Big brother.” Ning put down his brush and hurriedly walked out of the study. Elder God Wilddog was on duty, awaiting his commands.
“I am going to go to the Waveshift Realm now,” Daolord Solesky said. “After I leave, it’ll all be up to you.”
“Don’t worry about me, big brother. When you go to the Waveshift Realm, you need to be careful and stay safe.” Ning was worried as well. During the past three years, Ning had gotten a better sense of how dangerous the Waveshift Realm was. It was unfathomably more dangerous than the Windsource Ruins had been, and even Daolord Solesky would be in danger of dying in there.
“Ahaha! This old man plans to succeed in the Daomerge. How could I possibly let myself die in the Waveshift Realm?” Daolord Solesky laughed loudly, then strode away into the skies. An azure-robed figure was already waiting for him high in the air. This was Daolord Badlands’ avatar.
“Sorry for the trouble, brother Badlands,” Daolord Solesky said.
“Haha, I’ve never gone into the core regions of the Waveshift Realm either. Now that you are here, I can do a bit more exploring than I’ve done in the past.” Daolord Badlands’ avatar smiled.
The two transformed into streaks of light, disappearing into the horizon.
Ning just watched them from afar. After having spent three years with Daolord Solesky, he knew that the man truly did view him as he would a brother.
“Come back alive, big brother.” Ning murmured these words softly to himself.
Daolord Solesky had said that if everything went perfectly smoothly in the Waveshift Realm, he would be able to return in four or five years. If he ended up trapped, it could easily be hundreds of millions of years or even a hundred chaos cycles before he managed to escape.
Ning, the Flamefairy, and Elder God Wilddog continued to live within the Badlands Court. They slowly became familiar with the other cultivators who lived here, and Ning would even spend some time dueling with other cultivators of the Dao of the Sword. One of the competitions resulted in quite a bit of hubbub, because every single Elder God and Ancestral Immortal sword-wielder of the Badlands Court ended up being defeated by Ji Ning.
It must be understood that all of them used extremely ordinary swords and very little force; it was merely a contest of Daos.
In the end, even World-level experts got interested and involved. Now that Ning had begun to understand prime essence of the sword, only World-level experts who were truly skilled in the Dao of the Sword were able to suppress him…and they were only able to suppress, not defeat. The cultivators of the Badlands Court couldn’t help but sigh to themselves, “Brother Darknorth is most likely going to become a World God through the Dao of the Sword.”
Life was relaxed but quite fulfilling. Time passed on, year after year.
Three years. Five years. Ten years. Fifty years. A hundred years.
Ning continued his quiet life here at the Badlands Court, but Daolord Solesky still had yet to return.