Ji Ning was seated next to the pool of water in the lotus position. His aura was like that of savage waves crashing down. He continued to open his mouth, absorbing the liquefied soul essence within the pool, causing that layer of liquefied essence to quickly deplete.
But suddenly, Ning shut his mouth.
A smile on his face, Ning opened his eyes. He glanced at the green, liquefied soul essence in the pool. “It let me break through as a peak Xiantian expert, allowing me to establish my Zifu, then solidify my base as an early Zifu Disciple. It has saved me at least a year or two of effort. I used up a third of the liquefied essence!”
In a short period of time, just long enough to boil a pot of tea, not only had he established his Zifu, he had also solifidied his base. Even Ning, at his astonishing rate of improvement, would have needed a year or two.
If I use the remaining two thirds of liquefied essence to train, I might be able to reach the mid-stage as a Zifu Disciple.” Ning understood that since he had already stabilized his base as an early Zifu Disciple, by relying on the remaining liquefied essence, he absolutely had the possibility of breaking through again, but if he really were to rely on the [Water Element Art] to train to the mid-stage as a Zifu Disciple, his future Ki Refining path would become difficult.
After all, the [Water Element Art] was a very low-class technique. It was fine to use it to establish a Zifu, because every person’s Zifu was the same. But if Ning was to use it to break through to the middle of the Zifu level? There would be a very negative effective on the purity of his elemental energy. This single wrong step would be something which he would be unable to undo in the future. In the future, it would become ten times or a hundred times more difficult for him to become a Wanxiang Adept.
“I’ve already made a large leap forward and become a Zifu Disciple! Even if I break through to become a mid-stage Zifu Disciple, the amount of benefit I would see in terms of power would be limited.” Ning pondered to himself. Leaping to a new level was a qualitative transformation! But a small leap within the same level didn’t have that much of an impact on his power.
Xiantian lifeforms could dominate Houtiane experts.
Zifu Disciples could dominate Xiantian lifeforms!
Even an early Zifu Disciple could still dominate most peak Xiantian lifeforms. This was a qualitative difference. To battle someone at a higher level? Difficult!
But if an early Zifu Disciple were to battle a mid-stage Zifu Disciple…it would be hard to say who the victor was. This sort of small gap within the same level didn’t result in huge differences in strength.
“Even if I use up the remaining liquid, the amount of power I would gain would be limited, and it would destroy my future path. Not worth it.” With a flip of his hand, Ning made a talisman appear, which had a Fiendgod word on it; ‘Right’. This was the control talisman for the Aquatic Manor. Ning stared at it, an eager light flickering in his eyes. “Although I’ve established my Zifu, and I am confident that if I were to meet Dong Ziqi again, I would be able to suppress him and perhaps even kill him…this time, I will have to face not just Dong Ziqi by himself, but an entire group of Snowdragon Mountain experts.”
“I hope this Aquatic Manor…will allow my power to rise to a new level.”
“Given that this Aquatic Manor was able to produce the likes of Immortal Juhua, it should be extraordinary.” Ning said eagerly. A drop of green elemental ki passed from his hand into the talisman, quickly binding it.
A surge of ancient-feeling power seemed to awaken, causing Ning to feel the desire to worship it from the depths of his heart.
“What a fellow.” Ningn stared at the talisman. “I really wonder who the first master of the Aquatic Manor was.”
Ning immediately arose, while at the same time, with a flip of his hand, he produced a palm-sized jade bottle. This was an unranked magic treasure. Although it was the size of his palm, it was able to contain within it thousands of kilograms of fine wine. Ning had quite a few storage-type magic treasures like this one. For example, when Ning had undergone the Fiendgod Bloodforging process in the Aquatic Manor, he had used one such gourd to contain a thousand kilograms of blood.
“Go in.” Ning stared at the liquefied elemental essence in the pool. Summoning his divine will, ripple, ripple…the liquefied essence rose into the air, passing through the neck of the jade bottle. Every single drop was put in, leaving not a single drop remaining.
“I wonder which Immortal left behind this stone room.” Ning, before leaving, took a final glance around the room. “It has caused such a calamity to my Ji clan, but it also allowed me to establish my Zifu in advance.”
Ning understood in his heart that this wasn’t the fault of that Immortal; if he had to blame someone, he could only blame the Ji clan for being too weak.
He left the stone room. Ning then used his Waterflame Lotus, which swiveled about him, carving a path straight out from within this elemental ore mine. He quickly charged upwards at a constant pace. Ning knew that it would take some time for him to charge a hundred kilometers upwards, and so two magic treasures appeared in his hands; one was a palm-sized flying boat magic treasure, while the other was a pair of black wing-type magic treasures.
The flying boat had belonged to Bei Zishan, while the black wings had belonged to Ju San. They were both ranked magic treasures.
“Now that I’ve reached the Zifu level! I am able to use these ranked magic treasures.” Ning understood that when reaching a new level, one benefit was a qualitative improvement to his personal strength, while another benefit was that the type of magic treasures he could use had also risen. These two benefits, combined, made it so that Zifu Disciples could absolutely dominate Xiantian lifeforms.
A petal of the Waterflame Lotus burst forth from the ground, with Ning behind it.
“Ji Ning.” In the distance were Ji Ninefire, Granny Shadow, and the others. They had long since dispersed and recollected the surrounding bewildering formation, and the sight of the desolate mountain forests had returned. Only, in parts of the forest, the traces of the earlier battle could still be seen.
“Patriarch. Father.” Ning hurriedly walked over.
“You came out quite quickly. We just arrived on the surface not long ago.” Ninefire and the other four walked over, laughing. “Truekeep just emerged moments ago as well.”
Ning thought about it. He had been in training for as much time as it takes to brew a pot of tea; the amount of time he had spent boring through the ground had actually been greater than that. The Patriarch and the others had most likely had to spend more time boring through the ground than he did…and so, doing the math, it seemed as though they probably really did emerge at roughly the same time.
“Right, Ji Ning.” Ninefire asked. “Prior to this, when you killed Ju San. What magic treasures did you acquire?”
“Quite a few.” Ning said.
The nearby Grany Shadow explained in detail, “We need to do an accounting of these treasures, to see who they are most useful for. This is the easiest way to put them to good use.”
Ning nodded. “Jusan had one flying transportation magic treasure, one storage magic treasure, one protective magic treasure, one magic greataxe, and a pair of magic wings! The magic wings are useful to me, but the others are not.” Ning had already acquired a ranked storage magic treasure, a transportation magic treasure, and a protective magic treasure from Bei Zishan. Thus, only this pair of ranked wing-type magic treasures was useful for him.
“What do you need?” Ninefire looked at Ning.
“Swords!” Ning said. “I only need ranked flying swords. Other things are useless to me. The more ranked flying swords, the better.”
His two sources of combat power were close quarters combat and the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation].
In particular, now that he had established his Zifu, the power of his [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] had naturally grown only greater. However, if he continued to use unranked swords…his power would most likely only rise by one or two levels. If, however, he was able to completely exchange them for ranked swords, Ning felt that he would probably be able to give even a Wanxiang Adept a good fight.
“Ranked flying swords? The more the better?” Ninefire, Granny Shadow, the old servant Ah Xing, and Yichuan all repeated softly, then offered one or two flying swords each.
“All together, we have five flying swords that we don’t need for now.” Ninefire looked at Ning. “Is it enough?”
Ning was rather disappointed.
His [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] required at least nine swords to be used together in order to work and creation a formation base! And nine formations bases were required for each [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] formation! In other words, the smallest unit, the ‘formation base’, required at least nine ranked swords. And, to make his [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] truly transform in power, he needed at least eighty one ranked flying swords. Only by using them as the foundation would the power of the other, unranked swords become truly explosive.
But of course, the ideal solution would be to only use ranked flying swords…
According to Ning’s calculations, if he only used ranked flying swords, he would only be able to use the third level of the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation]. But the power of it would be incomparably greater than before! Quality was even more important than quantity!
“How many do you need?” Ninefire asked.
“I need seven ranked flying swords. The more, the better. If I had several hundred, it would be even better.” Ning laughed. Sword-type magic treasures were very common; Ning had acquired a pair of ranked flying swords from Bei Zishan alone. If they could come up with another seven, then Ning would have nine in total, enough for a single, smallest unit ‘formation base’. With this formation base as the core, the power of the entire [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] would double or triple!
“Several hundred?” Ninefire, Granny Shadow, and the others were all shocked. However, when they thought back to the scene of Ning utilizing the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation], they realized that he did indeed have seven hundred plus flying swords swirling around him. It seemed as though Ning really did indeed need a large number of flying swords. But several hundred ranked magic treasures? Even if the entire Ji clan bankrupted itself, it wouldn’t be able to afford it.
“We’ll strive to help you come up with seven more swords.” Ninefire said, then changed the subject. “Snowdragon Mountain will publicize this to their comrades. Most likely, they will come for battle in a day or two. Before this, you can all go back and pick up any treasures that you need or take care of any matters that need addressing. Afterwards, we will regroup here.”
Ninefire, Granny Shadow, and Ah Xing mounted an enormous wine gourd, quickly disappearing into the horizon, leaving behind only Ning and his father.
Ning understood that this was rather like taking care of one’s post-mortem affairs.
“Father, will you return to West Prefecture City?” Ning looked at his father.
“No. To Serpentwing Lake.” Yichuan shook his head. “I want to visit Little White. The two of us are like brothers who have shared life and death together. No matter what, I have to see him again.” Yichuan had stayed for five years at Serpentwing Lake, and the Whitewater Hound had stayed with him this entire time.
“Uncle White?” Ning nodded gently.
The Godbeast ‘Whitewater Hound’ had an extremely close relationship Ning’s father. They had adventured together to as far as the Darknorth Sea. The time they had spent together was even longer than the time Ning’s father and mother had spent together. Indeed, they really were lifelong brothers.
“Let’s go.” A flying boat appeared beneath Ning’s feet, and Yichuan mounted it as well.
The flying boat instantly rose into the air, quickly passing through the skies and into the clouds…
Swallow Mountain had a total of ten commandery cities. Snowdragon Mountain had three of them, which were similar to the commandery city the Ji clan controlled, the ‘City of Ten Thousand Swords’. As soon as Dong Ziqi had invaded Swallow Mountain, he had given the name of the city he had taken over the name of ‘Snowdragon City’, so as to let everyone know that this was a branch of Snowdragon Mountain!
Although afterwards, they had taken over two more commandery cities, the heart of this branch of Snowdragon Mountain remained in Snowdragon City.
“Where are they? Where are the others?
In the air above Snowdragon Mountain, three figures stood there atop a flying screen, staring into the distance as a greef leaf hurtled through the air, with Dong Ziqi and Muse standing atop it.
“Where are the other three? All dead?” These three figures asked frantically. The three of them were the three other Zifu Disciples of the Swallow Mountain branch of Snowdragon Mountain. They were of the ‘Ju’ clan and the ‘Dong’ clan. Earlier, the Zifu Disciple belonging to the Ju clan, Ju Nianxiong, had seen that his nephew’s life-talisman had shattered, and so he had hurried over to Snowdragon Mountain. The two elders of the Dong clan were terrified upon hearing this, knowing that something must have gone wrong.
But they didn’t expect that not only had Ju San died, even the He siblings had died.
“They died. My three fellow disciples all died.” Dong Ziqi gritted his teeth. “It was the Ji clan. They set up a formation early on, then suddenly attacked, causing us to be caught offguard. My three fellow disciples were ganged upon and killed one by one. With the He siblings dead, most likely that official writ was taken away as well.
Three commandery cities. They were split up between the Dong clan, the He clan, and the Ju clan. One of the official writs had been carried by the He siblings.
“The Ji clan is asking for death!” Ju Nianxiong’s eyes were bloodshot.
The nearby Muse said in a cold voice, “This time, due to the elemental ripples, we went to go investigate. We discovered that there was an enormous elemental ore mine within the Ji clan’s territory, with a large number of high-grade elemental stones. The entire quarry has a circumference of four thousand kilometers and a depth of three hundred kilometers.
Nianxiong and the two elders of the Dong clan were badly startled.
“The Ji clan wasn’t willing to hand it over, so we ended up in a battle.” Ziqi forced the words out.
The shorter of the two elders of the Dong clan howled in a furious voice, “The main sect desperately needs an enormous elemental ore mine such as this! If we offer it to the main sect…this will be a great merit for us. The Ji clan actually dares to oppose Snowdragon Mountain? Then we’ll destroy the Ji clan, we’ll annihilate them all!!!”
“Of course we’ll annihilate their clan!” Ziqi’s eyes flashed with a cold light. “But what I fear the most is that the Ji clan will sign a transfer agreement with the Grand Xia Dynasty.”
The two Dong elders and Ju Nianxiong both paused. If a transfer agreement truly was signed, then even Snowdragon Mountain wouldn’t dare to interfere. Challenge the Grand Xia Dynasty? Did they want to die?
“But the Ji clan needs to first make the report, then await the arrival of the Celestial Envoy of the Grand Xia Dynasty. It will take at least three days. If we can do our best to delay, we can delay for a period of time.” Ziqi said hurriedly. “So we have to hurry. We have to invite our comrades and have them arrive at Swallow Mountain as fast as possible, so that we can annihilate the Ji clan together.”
“Right.” Everyone nodded.
The Ji clan had killed three of their Zifu Disciples, leaving them only five. If they went and fought all out, even if the won, most likely most of them would die. No matter how great the merit they rendered would be, they had to be alive to win plaudits for it.
“The four of you, go invite the various Snowdragon Mountain branches nearest to us.” Ziqi said. “I myself will head to Swallow Mountain City to meet with the garrison general, and ask him to delay as long as possible.”
“Alright.” The four nodded.
“Invite a few dozen comrades. By then, with dozens of us together…we will utterly crush and annihilate the Ji clan with ease.” Ziqi said. “There’s virtually no danger when we join together into a group, and everyone will have a share of the glory. Those comrades will definitely come.”
“Then we’ll go make a trip.”
Soon, the arrangements and travel plans were made. The other four Zifu Disciples headed separately in four different directions to invite their fellow sectmates, while Dong Ziqi headed to Swallow Mountain City.
The vast Serpentwing Lake.
A flying boat descended at high speed from the skies, landing at one corner of Brightheart Island. This was the place where Ning’s father lived. The only thing here was a quite, secluded residence. There weren’t even any servants present, just a large, snow-white dog which lay there.
The Whitewater Hound suddenly raised his head as the flying boat descended at high speed.
“Uncle White.” Ning looked at the Whitewater Hound, feeling a surge of emotion as well. First, Ning knew that this Uncle White and his father were brothers that had fought together and risked their lives together, and that Ning’s mother and Ning himself had both been saved by Uncle White. And second, that year when gone outside of West Prefecture City every day to train archery, it had been Uncle White who had stood guard the entire time.
He watched as his father and Uncle White moved towards each other. Although Uncle White was incapable of speech, the master-servant bond allowed spiritual communication at a close distance.
Ning quietly left as well.
Ning returned to his own residence, entering the quiet room which he used for training. He immediately sealed the room off. Earlier, while flying over Serpentwing Lake, Ning had already sensed the Aquatic Manor! It was just as the old black bull had said; once he bound the control talisman, he would be able to sense and directly enter the Aquatic Manor.
“During this battle, I saw that although my power was great, it was still far from being sufficient. I hope that this ancient Aquatic Manor will be useful and be able to improve my power greatly.” Ning was filled with hope and expectations.
“Let’s go in.” Ning willed it, and instantly, an enormous illusion of a grizzly head appeared in the quiet room. The enormous grizzly head opened its illusory maw, swallowing Ning with one gulp.
Ning disappeared from within the quiet room.