More than ninety-two years went by in the blink of an eye.
The Qianyun Territory was a place that was incredibly far away from the Badlands Territory. Trifount was one of the planets located within this territory, and it was one of the core planets that were part of a local spacetime transfer array. The spacetime transfer array was gleaming with light as it twisted and distorted spacetime. Moments later, two figures suddenly appeared within it.
The first figure was a white-robed youth who was carrying a sword on his back. The second was a fiery-robed woman. The two were Ji Ning and Su Youji, who had travelled here all the way from the Badlands Territory.
“Trifount.” Ning and Su Youji both emerged from the formation and stared off into the distance.
A massive geyser of water could be seen off in the distance, blasting a fountain of water thirty thousand meters into the air. The stars glittered in the skies above them, causing the water to sparkle with rainbow light. This planet was constructed in a strange way, resulting in three enormous geysers that blasted mountain-sized fountains of water high up into the air. This was the reason why the planet was known as Trifount.
“We finally reached Trifount.” Su Youji had a rather solemn look on her face. “Master, our next destination will be the most dangerous place in our journey; the Sea of Darkness.”
“Yes. Once we pass the Sea of Darkness, we won’t be too far away from Vastheaven Palace.” Ning nodded as well.
Ning and Su Youji had travelled through many different territories, some of which they had to fly through or teleport their way through! This was why it had taken them so long. They had encountered a number of dangerous situations along the way, including some deadly environments as well as cultivators who had sought to waylay and kill them. However, none of these situations had truly been troublesome for the two of them.
They dared to ambush Ji Ning? They truly had been courting death.
“The most dangerous part of the journey from the Badlands Territory to the Vastheaven Territory is the passage through the Sea of Darkness.” Ning and Su Youji were standing alongside each other atop a tall mountain, staring off towards the distant void of space. Ning said, “Given how fast we travel… I expect it will take us eight centuries to go through the entire Sea of Darkness!”
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
Suddenly, three streaks of light flew towards them from afar. They soon arrived before Ning and Su Youji, the streaks of light transforming into three cultivators who emanated auras of tremendous power. There were two men and one woman, but all three had World-level auras.
“Fellow Daoists.” The leader of the three, a fairly muscular man, walked over with a smile on his face. “Have you come to Trifount for the sake of passing through the Sea of Darkness?”
“Yes.” Ning nodded, not denying it.
The muscular man smiled. “My name is Xiang Lu. He is World God Windgrace while she is Chaos Immortal Waterswell.” The handsome, violet-robed man next to him nodded towards Ning and Su Youji. “Windgrace greets you, fellow Daoists.”
“Waterswell greets you, fellow Daoists.” The female Chaos Immortal was just as attractive as Windgrace, and her aura was even more charming than Su Youji’s.
Su Youji could be described as flickering flame, filled with alluring magnetism. This Chaos Immortal named Waterswell, however, was like a pool of gentle, soft water.
“I am Darknorth. She is the Flamefairy.” Ning introduced their side as well.
“Fellow Daoist Darknorth. Fellow Daoist Flamefairy.” The muscular man said, “We saw you two appear within the spacetime transfer array from afar. When we noticed how you two decided to stay here, we had a suspicion that you might be planning to travel through the Sea of Darkness. I imagine both of you know exactly how dangerous the Sea of Darkness is, and the journey is an extremely long one as well. Given how long and how dangerous the journey is, for a small group of just four or five World-level cultivators to try to pass through it by themselves is an extremely risky and difficult endeavor.”
Ning and Su Youji both nodded. It was true. It would indeed be very dangerous! There were many dangers on the path from the Badlands Territory to the Vastheaven Territory, but the Sea of Darkness was the most dangerous place of them all! Even someone as powerful as Ji Ning wouldn’t dare to claim 100% confidence in navigating the place successfully.”
“That is why those of us who wish to traverse the Sea of Darkness will generally join together into a group before venturing forth.” The muscular man laughed. “Our current plan is to wait until we have a total of ninety-nine World-level fellow Daoists, so that we can join together into a formation if necessary. Once we have enough people, we will head into the Sea of Darkness. We already have more than eighty fellow Daoists, and the three of us have come to ask the two of you to join us.”
“Ninety-nine?” Ning and Su Youji exchanged glances.
“Don’t worry. When we have enough people, all of us will swear a simple lifeblood oath that we are absolutely not permitted to attack any of our fellow travelers,” the muscular man said. “With ninety-nine of us working together, we will have a better than 90% chance of traversing the Sea of Darkness.”
Ning agreed with this assessment. Ninety-nine! Given how many World-level cultivators would be gathered here, some would most likely be supreme World Gods.
Once they all joined together into a formation and were able to support each other, those supreme World Gods would be comparable to Arroyo in strength! The others wouldn’t be too weak either. Once they all fought together, it was likely that even Samsara Daolords of the First Step would have to stay away from them.
“Fine.” Ning nodded and smiled. “Just now, the two of us were worrying about how we were going to safely traverse the Sea of Darkness. It would indeed be much safer for us if we can work together alongside so many fellow Daoists.”
“Immortal Waterswell, please lead these two fellow Daoists to the others,” the muscular man instructed. He then looked at Ning. “Brother Windgrace and I will have to stay here and keep an eye out for any other World-level cultivators who we can invite to join us. Sorry for being unable to send you off personally.”
“No need.” Ning and Su Youji followed Chaos Immortal Waterswell and flew off into the distance.
“Our many fellow Daoists are all located close to this place.” After flying for just a short period of time, they reached a flat grassland. There were quite a few World-level cultivators here clustered into small groups of two or three people. A total of eighty-three cultivators were located on this plains.
“The two of you can rest here for now. We’ll head out once we reach a total of ninety-nine cultivators. I’m going to go back now and wait alongside big brother Xiang Lu.”
Although quite a few World-level cultivators had been gathered here, only twenty or thirty percent of them belonged to the Qianyun Territory. The others were all from nearby territories, with very few being from places as far away as the Badlands Territory.
Most of the people here didn’t know each other, nor did they need to know each other. After passing through the Sea of Darkness, they would all go their separate ways. Thus, they all stayed clustered in small groups of two or three, not really fraternizing with the others.
“Let’s just wait, then.” Ning and Su Youji sat down in the lotus position, waiting silently while drinking some Immortal nectar.
While waiting, Ning continuously sent out a small amount of his divine power to create incarnations which he sent into the Mirrorsnow Painting. He repeatedly challenged the expert swordsmen within the three estate-worlds using his incarnations.
The golden-robed emperor. The fisherman. The assassin.
When dueling, these three would use the exact same amount of power as Ning. It was merely a contest of swordplay, and so Ning could simply use incarnations of divine power to carry out the sparring.
As for Ning’s true body? Ning spent his attention on training in the [Golden Idol]. Initially, Ning immediately used three hundred cubes worth of chaos gems to upgrade his body to the Dao weapon level. After that, he began to simply train slowly in the technique, using just a small amount of chaos gems as he did so.
To upgrade his body and make it comparable to top-grade Dao weapons would require an extremely long period of time. Ning was in no rush. It was fine to take it slow.
Fortunately, they only had to wait eleven years at Trifount before the total number of World-level cultivators reached ninety-nine.
“My fellow Daoists.” World God Xiang Lu smiled as he looked at the ninety-plus cultivators on the plains. “We’ve already gathered a total of ninety-nine World-level cultivators. It is time for us to head off into the Sea of the Darkness. Here are the formation-discs. Each cultivator can simply bind a single formation-disc.”
A total of ninety-eight discs of light appeared before him, then flew towards the other World-level cultivators.
“This is an extremely simple formation. You’ll know once you take a look at it.” World God Xiang Lu smiled.
Ning accepted a formation disc. After sending his power into it, he quickly understood that this was indeed a very simple formation. It merged all the energy of the cultivators into one mass, making it so that all the cultivators were reinforcing and supporting each other. They would all be much more powerful as a result.
There were actually many formations that were more powerful than this one, but none of the World-level cultivators here really knew each other or trusted each other. It was precisely because this formation was so simple that everyone had no suspicions regarding it and were willing to use it.
As the cultivators bound the formation-discs, streams of light began to surge into the skies. The ninety-nine streams of light connected with each other, and all of the cultivators were blessed with the strength and power of the formation.
“I swear on my very life itself…”
“I swear on my very life itself…”
“I swear on my very life itself…”
The ninety-nine World-level cultivators simultaneously sent their Immortal energies into the oathstone they were surrounding. As they all swore the lifeblood oaths, they could sense the oaths of the others taking effect as well.
All of the oaths were identical. So long as they were in the Sea of Darkness, they were absolutely not permitted to launch attacks against their comrades. If the oath was violated, the assaulted party wouldn’t even need to fight back; the lifeblood oath itself would ensure that the violator’s truesoul was destroyed.
Once the oaths were sworn, the cultivators all grew noticeably friendlier towards each other. There was now at least an element of trust amongst them.
“My name is Poisonfeather. This flying vessel of mine is a top-grade Dao treasure that is specialized for long-distance flying. It should be quite suitable for traversing through the Sea of Darkness.” A bald, silver-eyed man suddenly spoke out. “We can ride it together! If anyone has any better flying treasures, we can use that instead.” [1. Poisonfeather’s name is actually ‘Flying Zhen’, with ‘Zhen’ being a Chinese mythological beast that is often called the ‘Poisonfeather Bird’, for self-explanatory reasons.]
Soon, the cultivators all decided to use Daoist Poisonfeather’s ship for their journey through the Sea of Darkness.
“Let’s head out!”
The ninety-nine cultivators all boarded the ship, keeping the formation active as they departed from Trifount and headed off towards the Sea of Darkness.