Within the Sword Palace’s Silvercloud World.
The rest of the altar was now completely silent. Still, Ning merely made a note of it as he then continued to fight all-out against the golems on each level of the altar.
Explosions rang out unabated.
His Dao water and Dao lightning were combined into a formation of tremendous power, but at this point they were having a limited amount of impact on the increasingly powerful golems. Still, for someone at Ning’s level, even a limited impact would make things much simpler.
Level four hundred!
Level five hundred!
Ning continued to advance. His most powerful technique was the [Brightmoon] sword-art, and it was guaranteed that in the long run it would always be his most powerful technique! Once he became a Daolord, he would have his own path and that path would always allow him to unleash the most power possible. By then, the other sword-arts would merely provide him with guidance and experience, helping him enhance his understanding of the Dao of the Sword. However, his greatest power would forever lie within the [Brightmoon] sword-art.
The same was true for other experts of the Dao of the Sword. Their strongest sword-arts would be the ones they created!
Heavenbreaker stance. Shadowless stance. Soleheart stance. Yin-Yang stance. Blood Drop stance.
The five stances of [Brightmoon]! And Ning had now infused them with the sword-intent of reincarnation, making his five stances into a continuous cycle that flowed with no weaknesses or flaws whatsoever, allowing him to unleash even more power in battle.
Of the five [Brightmoon] stances, Ning’s strongest stances were the Yin-Yang stance and the Soleheart stance. These two were both defensive techniques. Ning had put a tremendous amount of effort into his Unicorn’s Domain, making him somewhat stronger in the area of defense.
“Hey, Woodflower. That’s the kid who just became a Swordlord in your palace, right? He actually made it to the 500th level.” Daolord Severtrip suddenly called out in surprise.
“Mmhmm.” Lord Woodflower nodded, revealing a smile as he watched Ning advance nonstop.
“It is pretty impressive for him to have even made it past five hundred. It seems this ‘Darknorth’ kid has some talent. A pity that he entered the Sword Palace a bit too late,” Daolord Yinwind said, attempting to pour some cold water on their excitement.
Daolord Woodflower didn’t argue. Even he could tell that although Ning’s sword-arts were profound, they also had noticeable flaws compared to the skills of Prince Greatjoy or Saberlord Redsnow! Ji Ning’s sword-arts were average amongst the Swordlords who had been acknowledged by the ancient pagodas. It must be understood that he had only been acknowledged a mere century ago. For him to be considered ‘average’ amongst the sixty-seven most talented World-level cultivators in the kingdom was already quite impressive.
The 500th level was a fairly ‘average’ level. Many geniuses were unable to make it much farther past this level.
Ning had three heads and six arms, and he wielded a Violetjewel in each of his six arms as he fought with all his might. Lightning and torrents of water exploded through the air unabated, doing their best to slow down and affect the impending golems.
A golem suddenly transformed into an enormous wave of water that came crashing down towards Ning. Ning hurriedly used his Dao lightning and Dao water to defend, but they were quickly submerged within the enormous wave, and it continued its crashing assault.
“Yin-Yang stance.” Ning’s six swords simultaneously struck out. This was a stance meant to deal with group attacks. Ning was often forced to use the Yin-Yang stance in the Silvercloud World, because the golems would often attack in groups.
Whoooosh. Yin and Yang spun as Ning’s sword-light flew. The surrounding area seemed to have been transformed into a black hole which completely blocked all the waters of the wave.
“Kill!” After pushing through the wave, Ning continued to advance.
Five hundred fifty. Five hundred sixty. Five hundred seventy…
Ning was incredibly tenacious and durable. There was no way for him to use any divine abilities with his azureflower mist energy, but because of how steady he was he was able to stay at maximum power for a very long period of time. Other Daolord-equivalents, even ones like Prince Greatjoy, had to conserve their divine power and thus would often engage in normal combat while only occasionally exploding forth with their full power. Thus, they even brought spirit-pills, chaos jewels, and chaos nectar to replenish their depleting energy.
Ning, however, was simply too stable!
His sword-arts were similarly stable. The five stances of [Brightmoon] included all aspects of swordplay. Some swordsmen were skilled in one area and weaker in other areas; in short, they had their areas of specialties and their deficiencies. Ning, however, was skilled in every single area. He was slightly stronger in defense, but that was just in comparison. The Reincarnation sword-intent filling his sword-arts made it so that all five stances were merged together perfectly. This naturally made him even stabler.
Emperor Mirrorsnow was legendary for his tenacity. Even those who were stronger than him would find it difficult to defeat him.
“Over the course of countless years, numerous major powers have perished. None of those Daolords who had failed their Daomerge have been able to come back to life! An enormous price must be paid in order to bring back someone whose truesoul has already been extinguished. If I’m not strong enough, I won’t be able to beseech the almighty Hegemon and experts on his level to help me. I won’t be able to convince them that the price will be worth it.
“If I want to accomplish my goals, I have to seize every opportunity I can.”
Ning would never give up. He knew that many members of even the Brightshore Imperials had perished over the course of years, with none being brought back to life. Clearly, even if the almighty Hegemon was capable of resurrecting the dead the price would be so terrifying that he wouldn’t be willing to do it lightly.
“I’ve just started. I can’t give up so soon.” Ning’s sword-arts were slowly, subtly improving during this process. He wasn’t at a bottleneck, after all, and this sort of furious, high-pressure combat would naturally result in his sword-arts being perfected nonstop.
“Keep going. I can take at least another step forwards.” Ning could feel that the pressure was growing greater and greater.
“Eh? Is he actually…”
“Is that kid from the Sword Palace actually…”
The ancient powers seated on the thirteen thrones all stared curiously at this scene. Ning was currently battling against six golems, and it was difficult for him to advance. Every single one of the six golems possessed tremendous levels of power, and by now Ning’s Dao lightning and Dao water were of very little help to him.
“Six hundred. He actually made it to level six hundred.”
“His sword-arts actually enabled him to make it to level six hundred?”
The ancient powers were all shocked. Daolord Thousand Waves cried out in surprise, “His sword-arts are clearly quite ordinary compared to the other acknowledged World-level geniuses, but he actually managed to make it to the six hundredth level! Ji Ning already ranks in the top ten.”
As time passed, the total number who made it past level six hundred continued to grow.
On the very first day, only five had made it past that level.
By the time Prince Greatjoy made it past, more than eight had already reached this level.
And now, Ji Ning was the tenth.
It must be understood that this contest was a contest involving all the World-level geniuses of the Twelve Palaces. For Ning to be only the tenth to make it through this level meant that he was one of the elites within his group. In fact, his performance was better than that of any other member of the Sword Palace.
“Six hundred and two. Mm, that should be it.” The white-bearded Hegemon nodded slowly. “Don’t underestimate this Darknorth kid. His sword-arts might seem to be inferior to that of Greatjoy and the others, making him look ordinary, but they are extremely balanced. He’s skilled in every single aspect, and from what I understand he has gained the legacy of Mirrorsnow. Look, you can see the sword-intent of Reincarnation permeating through his sword-arts. He’s managed to link everything together perfectly, making him very strong… and with those seven types of Dao lightning and Dao water supporting him, it makes sense that he can make it past level six hundred.
“Still, he’s at his limit. He’s only persisting out of sheer tenacity and stubborness.”
The almighty Hegemon watched the scenes being displayed. Ji Ning had made it to the 602nd level, but he was clearly at a complete disadvantage when facing the eight golems on this level. Still, he continued to stubbornly hang on.
“To make it to the 602nd level is not,” the almighty Hegemon evaluated.
“Yes, not bad at all.”
“In the future, this kid just might be a match for Greatjoy.”
They all agreed with the Hegemon’s appraisal. Even Daolord Woodflower nodded in agreement, but he couldn’t help but sigh to himself. Alas, the seven Swordlords of the Sword Palace had all failed.
No one rebutted the almighty Hegemon, because they all knew how astute his vision and judgement was. He was able to completely see and understand how strong Ning was right now. If he said that this level was as far as Ning could go, that would definitely be the case.
The Silvercloud World. Level six hundred and two of the altar.
Ning was so tired.
These eight golems launched combined attacks against him. Terrifying flowers of fire and water continuously rained down upon him, and some of the golems repeatedly charged into close combat against him. Every single one was just as strong as Ning, and when the six joined forces they were able to completely suppress Ning! Ning had indeed only been able to just barely hang on for this long thanks to his extremely balanced sword-arts.
He wouldn’t admit defeat lightly. Once he gave up, he would have lost. Only by persevering would there be hope.
Ning strove to learn as much as he could from this very battle, pondering on his sword-arts flaws in real time as he continuously perfected them.
Attacks rained down from every direction, and Ning was like a little boat that was being rocked within a stormy sea that would capsize at any moment.
Ning had no idea that the almighty Hegemon and twelve golden-armored powers were watching him. Although they had a rather good opinion of him, they felt certain that this level was Ning’s limit.
“Their attacks really are endless and omnipresent…” Although Ning’s sword-arts were slowly improving, he still felt a sense of despair. Defeat would come at any moment.