As Daolord Yinwind watched Ji Ning advanced past level six hundred and eighty, he couldn’t help but feel resigned. Even the best performing member of his Saber Palace, Saberlord Redsnow, had only made it to level 680. “For Heartlord Solewind to give such an impressive performance was expected, but Greatjoy’s improvements were truly shocking. He was even better than Solewind! And now, this Darknorth fellow has appeared as well.”
Ning continued to advance past multiple floors.
The attacks of the ancient golems were strong enough to sunder Heaven and Earth, and they came at Ning from all directions.
As Ning walked forwards, his Yin-Yang Sword Domain formed a region of wild, dark chaos around him. One could vaguely see the flickering of lightning and water within this region, and the region itself stretched out to be more than ten thousand kilometers wide. All enemies who sought to move close to Ning had to be able to first withstand the assaults of the Yin-Yang Sword Domain.
Ning’s swords were sometimes ephemeral and unpredictable, sometimes as heavy and weighty as a mountain. However, the speed at which he walked began to slow down. Clearly, the pressure was starting to increase.
“Six hundred ninety. Six hundred ninety-five. Six hundred ninety-six…” Daolord Woodflower had a look of delight on his face.
“He broke through level seven hundred!”
Ning continued to advance, albeit with great difficulty as he began to move slower and slower. Even though the Yin-Yang Sword Domain was helping him out, he was finding it harder and harder to deal with the increasingly powerful golems.
Ning’s sword-arts were finally breached on level 705. Although they came out in a perfect, flawless cycle, they still crumbled when faced with the overwhelming power that had been brought to bear upon them.
Outside the Daolord Cloudworld. A white-robed, rather bedraggled-looking Ning suddenly appeared, a look of worry in his eyes. “I wonder if I made it into the top four.”
“However… I have to say that my performance was better than I expected. I actually ended up developing a defensive Dao.” Ning felt both content and worried. His sword-arts had reached an extremely high level, but his opponents were the greatest World-level geniuses of the Twelve Palaces. He couldn’t help but think back to that time when he had sparred against Bertulu. Only now did realize what a truly profound level Bertulu had reached!
This was because… Bertulu was at a level of insight that was most likely one level higher than the current Ji Ning’s! Only when Ning himself improved did he truly understand how great the distance had been between the two of them. Back when he had been at the Astral Islands, Ning only had the vague sense that the man had a higher level of understanding than he did. As to how much higher, exactly? He couldn’t say for sure. Bertulu hadn’t even used his true form, after all; he had merely used his human form to spar against Ning.
“However… now, even if Bertulu was to attack me with all his power, I would not need to be afraid of him,” Ning mused.
His Yin-Yang Sword Domain was an extremely defensive skill! Even if Ning faced opponents who were stronger than him, he would still be able to defend against them.
“Darknorth.” Suddenly, a voice rang out within Ning’s mind.
“Eh?” Ning turned to look towards the direction of Lord Woodflower’s estate.
“Come here immediately,” Lord Woodflower sent.
“Yes.” Ning immediately transformed into a streak of light and flew towards the estate. Soon, he reached Lord Woodflower’s estate, and Lord Woodflower himself was standing at the entrance, a smile on his face as he looked at Ning. “Come in, Darknorth.”
“What is it, senior apprentice-brother?” Ning was a bit nervous. He didn’t know if he had made it into the top four or not.
“Damned impressive. The almighty Hegemon and the others all saw you use that sword-intent domain of yours.” Lord Woodflower was in such a delightful mood that he was positively beaming. For his Sword Palace to completely crush the Saber Palace in such a way was absolutely wonderful!
The two palaces had been at loggerheads and competing against each other since time immemorial.
“That was something I just came up with it. I call it the Yin-Yang Sword Domain.” Ning laughed. “I was just lucky. I had already prepared seven types of Dao lightning and Dao water, and I was able to use them to create my Yin-Yang Sword Domain. If I had been using any other types of treasures, the power of my domain would’ve been much weaker.”
“The Dao lightning and the Dao water aren’t that impressive. It is your sword-intent which truly impresses.” Lord Woodflower couldn’t help but praise Ning.
Even if he merely used a single, ordinary flying sword, his Yin-Yang Sword Domain would still cause it to naturally emanate an aura of swordforce. The power of the domain would still have twenty to thirty percent of the power of a domain formed through using Dao lightning and Dao water. At this level, even if he merely used his Immortal energy to manifest a sword and swordforce, he would still be able to create an extremely powerful domain with it.
“Without the Dao water and the Dao lightning, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it much farther past level six hundred and ninety,” Ning said. He couldn’t help but ask, “Senior apprentice-brother, do I have a shot at the top four?”
Only the top four would be granted the ‘opportunity’.
“You do.” Lord Woodflower nodded. “A very good shot, in fact. But of course, the three days haven’t ended and there are still World-level cultivators challenging the Daolord Cloudworld. Nothing is certain until the final cultivator concludes his attempts.”
“Oh.” Ning nodded. “Then how is my ranking?”
“Right now, you are ranked second,” Lord Woodflower said. “Prince Greatjoy is ranked first, and he made it to floor seven hundred and nineteen. Heartlord Solewind is ranked third, and he made it to floor six hundred and ninety-two. Fourth is Saberlord Redsnow, who stopped on floor six hundred and eighty.”
“Redsnow?” Ning stared.
“Something wrong?” Lord Woodflower asked.
“Nothing, nothing.” Ning immediately shook his head. “I just thought of an old friend, that’s all.”
Daoist Threelives’ most powerful general had been Redsnow. Redsnow had eventually chosen to follow Ning as well, then had become apprenticed to Subhuti as well. He shared the exact same Daoist title as this Saberlord Redsnow. Still, it was quite common to encounter cultivators with the same or similar nicknames. There were countless people in every chaosworld who shared the same name, and for a few of the more powerful cultivators to also share the same Daoist title wasn’t that surprising.
“Wasn’t the Saber Palace bragging a lot about how well they would do?” Ning asked.
“Ahaha, their boasting skills were quite profound, yes.” Lord Woodflower let out a laugh, but then he couldn’t help but sigh as well. “To be honest, they were qualified to boast. The fourth, fifth, and sixth-ranked experts all belong to the Saber Palace. We all knew that Heartlord Solewind would be formidable, but you and Prince Greatjoy caught everyone offguard.”
“Prince Greatjoy?” Ning listened attentively. He was quite curious about this man who had made it even farther within the Silvercloud World than he himself had.
“He’s also been improving quite rapidly. He actually managed to come up with two Supreme Daos.” Lord Woodflower let out a sigh. “If he can link his two Supreme Daos, he’ll probably be on par with Eastcult and Bertulu.”
Ning nodded. It was necessary to fuse Supreme Daos together in some manner.
For example, the five stances of Ning’s [Brightmoon[ sword-art were all linked together thanks to his Reincarnation sword-intent. If you weren’t able to perfectly join your sword-arts together, you would have flaws when you fought in battle.
True experts had to have powerful defenses. Only then would they be able to survive for a long time. But of course, their attacks had to be strong as well; only then would they be able to slay foes! If Ning’s attacks had been just a bit stronger, he would’ve been able to advance quite a bit further up the altar within the Silvercloud World.
“Ah!” A look of shock suddenly appeared on Lord Woodflower’s face.
“What’s wrong?” Ning looked at Lord Woodflower.
“I’ll tell you in a moment.” Lord Woodflower didn’t explain in detail. Clearly, his incarnation was watching something happen within the imperial palace.
Ning was incredibly curious as to what Lord Woodflower was watching, but he had no choice but to tamp down his curiosity. A long while later, Lord Woodflower suddenly began to laugh. “Ahaha. Pride really does cometh before a fall.”
“Senior apprentice-brother?” Ning was puzzled.
“A World-level cultivator belonging to the Palace of Kindwater, a fellow named Waterlord Firesurge, actually made it all the way to level six hundred and eighty-seven,” Lord Woodflower said.
“In other words, even farther than Saberlord Redsnow?” Ning stared.
“Right. The Saber Palace didn’t get a single slot in the top four!” Lord Woodflower roared with laughter. “Oh, this is just wonderful! When I saw that ugly look on Yinwind’s ugly face… oh, that was simply delightful. Hah! That fellow usually loves to strut about and put on airs in front of me.”
Ning felt amazed as well. In the end, the most famous Saber Palace had actually been completely defeated. Then again… the geniuses of the Twelve Palaces couldn’t be evaluated using common measures. Greatjoy, Darknorth, and Firesurge… these three had only displayed their true brilliance during this competition.
“He’s a member of the Kindwater Palace. Why is his Daoist title ‘Firesurge’?” Ning was puzzled.
“He’s another person who started off as a mortal cultivator. I heard that he originally was primarily a cultivator in the Dao of Fire. However, due to some trouble he apparently ran into within the sect he was in as a mortal, he ended up choosing the Dao of Water instead. However, by then his Daoist title had already been chosen, and so he simply continued to use it,” Lord Woodflower explained. The Twelve Palaces didn’t have that many World-level cultivators, and so he obviously was familiar with the vast majority of them.
Some cultivators would change their Daoist titles once they reached a certain level of power. Ning was another example of a person who had chosen his Daoist title, ‘Darknorth’, a long time ago. He had never changed it.
“Let’s wait for just another moment. There is one final World-level cultivator attempting the trials,” Lord Woodflower said.
A short while later…
“Alright, all done. The results are in. Prince Greatjoy, yourself, Heartlord Solewind, and Waterlord Firesurge will be the ones to partake in this opportunity,” Lord Woodflower said.
“And what opportunity is this, exactly?” Although Ning felt quite excited, he also felt quite curious as to what this was all about. All he knew was that this was an ‘incredible’ opportunity, one which no one seemed to know much about.
“Don’t ask. When you meet the almighty Hegemon, you’ll know,” Lord Woodflower said.
“Meet the almighty Hegemon?” Ning was stunned.
“Right. The almighty Hegemon has already issued a summons to the four of you. Hurry over to the place where the Imperials reside,” Lord Woodflower said.