After mastering the sixth stance of the [Nameless] sword-art, ‘Unicorn’s Heart’, Ji Ning spent another year before he was able to develop the third stance of his [Quintessence Sword-Intent], the ‘Astral’ stance.
Blackmist stance, Allgod stance, Astral stance. These three stances were named after three places or people that had a huge effect on him.
The Unicorn’s Heart and the Astral stance were sword-arts on the same general level of power. However, when Ning used Violetjewel to executed the Astral stance he was able to unleash several times more power.
After his sword-arts improved, Ning became capable of standing firmly within the fifth stratum. Even Kilostar was merely on par with Ning.
In truth, when Kilostar used his full power he was clearly on a higher level of power than Ning. Unfortunately, Ning had the Elementum Waterflame Gourd and six sets of Violetjewel. It was hard for the other geniuses to compete against him in terms of wealth and treasures.
“You have six damn swords, whereas I just have a pair of warblades… and you, you sly bastard, keep on releasing lightning to attack me as well!” Kilostar was frustrated by his battles against Ning as well. He had to go all-out in each fight, but he was still only able to fight to a standstill. “Screw this, I’m done! I’m not going to accept any more challenges from you. Go ahead and admit defeat! I’d rather die than admit defeat in this battle.”
Kilostar immediately transformed into a thousand clones again and entered his formation. He absolutely refused to admit defeat, and this great formation ensured that there really was no way anyone could do anything to him.
Ning was in quite a good mood, and so he voluntarily admitted defeat.
Thirty-two years after learning the Unicorn’s Heart, Ning finally managed to piece together the footwork legacy he wanted.
“I finally have it.” Ning stared at the jade tome in his hands. The footwork legacy consisted of a series of jade slips, and there were a total of eight hundred slips. After acquiring all eight hundred, they came together to form a jade tome that radiated several large characters: “Swear the oath and you can view my true teachings.” There were a few other smaller characters hovering nearby those larger characters as well.
Ning reviewed the restrictive spells pertaining to the jade tome, then immediately swore the oath. A large amount of information then began to transmit into Ning’s mind.
Moments later, a series of tightly clustered characters began to emanate out of the jade tome, bringing with them an aura of marvelous and profundity.
“Footwork technique. What does this phrase means? It simply refers to a technique meant for movement! Unless there is a tremendous gap in power, a powerful footwork technique is far more effective than offensive or defensive techniques. This is true for both mortals as well as Eternal Emperors!
“If I am always a step ahead of you, your sword shall never touch me. Even if I can only dodge it by one centimeter, I’ll have rendered your sword-arts useless against me, no matter how powerful they are.
“If my footwork techniques are powerful, I’ll be able to strike my foes without him being able to strike me. All shall be under my control.”
Ning read these words, then slowly nodded. He understood the importance of a good footwork technique. When he was young and living in Swallow Mountain, his mother Yuchi Snow had personally taught him his first footwork techniques. Ning had never abandoned his progression in this area, and had always infused his insights into the Dao into his footwork techniques. He had even purchased a pair of Thunderlight Wings! His footwork abilities were actually quite excellent compared to his World-level peers. He actually wasn’t lacking in this area.
“All good footwork techniques share certain commonalities. They allow you to instantly explode with speed, allowing you to dodge attacks as best you can. Two people might have the same level of divine power and the same insights into the Dao, but the one who has superior footwork techniques will be able to dodge faster. A good footwork technique can make a tremendous difference.
“This footwork technique of mine involves the cycling of divine power that can be divided up into three layers of expertise. The first level is most likely comparable to that of the footwork techniques most cultivators use, allowing them to dodge and move at high speed. The second allows for nearly instantaneous dodging that is at a far faster level. As for the third level…”
As Ning read on, he couldn’t help but laugh awkwardly.
The cycling of divine power?
His greatest source of power came from his azureflower mist energy. No matter how strong his divine power became, it couldn’t possibly compare to that mist energy! Although this technique’s unique methods of cycling divine power had been transmitted into Ning’s mind, it truly was of no use to him.
Still, Ning read on.
“The power you can unleash from your footwork depends on two things. The first is the way in which you cycle your divine power. The second is the skill with which you execute the techniques.
“Those who have a high level of skill are able to easily surpass those at a lower level of skill, even if they don’t use any divine abilities.
“My footwork technique has a special history to it. Long ago, when I was paying my respects to the almighty Hegemon of the Brightshore Kingdom, I saw a lightning dragon. This lightning dragon was actually a streak of lightning which the almighty Hegemon had created that was capable of gaining eternity. When I saw how this ‘Eternal Thunderdragon’ moved about, I meditated for many years before coming up with this technique, the Thunderdragon footwork technique. It can be divided up into five different levels.
“The first level is the level known as ‘control’. Anyone who studies this footwork technique of mine can master this level.
“The second level is the level known as ‘infusion’. You shall infuse all of your insights into the Dao into this footwork technique. If you are skilled in the Dao of Spacetime, you should infuse those insights into your footwork. If you are skilled in the Dao of the Saber, then you can do the same. Only once you truly and completely merge your deepest insights into the Dao into my Thunderdragon footwork technique shall you have mastered my ‘infusion’ level.
“The third level is the level known as ‘draconify’. When you use this footwork technique, an illusion of a lightning dragon shall protect your body, allowing your speed to increase dramatically. At this level, you shall have begin to grasp the true essence of this technique.
“The fourth level is the level known as ‘thunderdragon’. This footwork technique can be used to control a type of lightning which is on the same level as other types of Dao lightning. Once you reach the fourth level, the lightning you control can become one with your body. You shall be the lightning and the lightning shall be you. You’ll be able to move as fast as Dao lightning. Even I myself have only ever reached this fourth level.
“The fifth level is the level known as the ‘Eternal Thunderdragon’. After I created this technique, the almighty Hegemon looked it over and added a few improvements to two parts of it, then informed me that once this technique reached the apex one would be able to manifest a streak of Eternal lightning, then become one with it. I have spent dozens of chaos cycles painstakingly meditating on this technique as a Verge-level Daolord, but I’m still unable to make any improvements. I can’t even imagine what sort of level this ‘apex’ which the almighty Hegemon spoke of is at, but I’ve taken the liberty of describing it as the fifth level.”
Ning couldn’t help but sigh in amazement as he read this. This footwork technique was far too powerful.
The rest of the jade tome just included a few diagrams. There were a total of eighteen images of thunder dragons. As for the detailed information regarding the footwork technique as well as the divine power cycling method, all of that had been directly transmitted into Ning’s mind.
“The divine power cycling method is useless to me, but this footwork technique itself is incredibly powerful once one reaches the apex of it.” Ning knew exactly what the phrase Eternal lightning entailed.
Chaos lightning belonged to the World level of power, which was why it could easily breach the limits of the Heavenly Daos. Chaos lightning flew incredibly fast, roughly ten times faster than the speed of light. Generally speaking, even most Daolords were unable to move that fast.
Dao lightning belonged to the Samsara level of power. Some Dao lightning was born from the endless primordial chaos, but some had been created by Daolords! In the Three Realms, Zhurong had created his own Zhurong Godfire while Suiren had created his Eternal Kindlefire. Samsara Daolords were similarly capable of creating their own incredibly powerful types of Dao lightning. Dao lightning flew incredibly fast, far faster than Chaos lightning. Generally speaking, they were able to move a hundred times faster than the speed of light.
As for Eternal lightning… this level of lightning was something out of the legends. Ning had never heard of any type of Eternal lightning emerging naturally from the primordial chaos. Perhaps it existed, perhaps it did not. Only Eternal Emperors could hope to create Eternal lightning, and that only if they had reached incredibly profound levels of insight into the Dao of Lightning.
As for how fast Eternal lightning moved? Ning had no idea as he had never seen it before.
“When one reaches the apex of this footwork technique, one will be able to manifest a type of Eternal lightning, then merge with it?” Ning was speechless. How fast would such a person become?!
“Still, even the creator of this footwork technique was only able to reach the fourth level. This, despite the fact that he was so talented that he was able to develop it after merely seeing the Hegemon’s own Eternal lightning. Most likely, the only reason why this footwork has a so-called ‘fifth level’ is because of the two alterations which the almighty Hegemon made to it.” Ning instantly realized that the fifth level was most likely something illusory and untouchable, like the reflection of the moon in the waters of a lake. If even a Verge-level Daolord spent dozens of chaos cycles without being able to master it, who could?!
“My ambitions aren’t that high. I’ll be happy just reaching the third level.” Ning was still feeling quite excited.
At the third level, he would gain the protection of an illusory thunder dragon that would allow him to move with incredible speed.
Life for Ning in the Astral Islands was quite blissful. He had memorized two valuable sword-art legacies that he could train in, which included very detailed instructions on their use. He had also memorized an incredibly powerful footwork technique, one that was far superior to any other technique which Ning had ever seen. This, too, was available for Ning to train in as he pleased.
As for experts on his same general level? There were dozens of freakishly talented geniuses for him to duel against.
Time passed on, one day after another. The battles between the fifth stratum cultivators became rarer and rarer, as by now everyone had already fought everyone else. Some of them had battled each person multiple times by now. Even Kilostar and Waterwalker had dueled each other. But of course, the end result was that Waterwalker had been defeated. Kilostar maintained his undefeated streak within the fifth stratum.
Time flowed on, and in the blink of an eye Ning had spent a thousand years here at the Astral Islands.
The sixth stratum still had just a single astral island hovering within it. This was the residence of Bertulu, and he had issued no challenges. No one was qualified to truly challenge him.
Within this astral island there was a white-haired youth dressed in loose white robes who was seated in the lotus position on the ground. Suddenly, his eyes opened up. He had a gentle, warm gaze, but they seemed to hold the light of countless stars within them. He murmured softly to himself, “A thousand years have gone past. The new cultivators have experienced a thousand years of tempering and growth. I imagine they should have reached a bottleneck in power by now. It is time for me to challenge them a bit. Mm… I shall start with Kilostar.”
Soon, something happened that stunned all of the cultivators of the hundreds of thousands of astral islands.
Kilostar, who had never fallen from the fifth stratum after entering it, had actually fallen down to the fourth stratum. All of his legacy treasures had been seized by the sixth stratum.
Everyone knew that the sixth stratum cultivator, Bertulu, had just struck out and defeated Kilostar!