Book 7, Stillwater City, Chapter 21 – Viewing the Sculpture at Night
“Leave you with just one?” Baiwei hurriedly shook his head. “How can I do that? Although your Ji clan isn’t too large, you still have people who broke through to the Zifu Disciple level. I imagine some of them would wish to become a retainer for a full disciple of the Black-White College. In addition, in the future, you might encounter a powerful figure who would ask you for a slot. How about this; I’ll shamelessly take five of your retainer positions, while you hold on to the remaining five. If, in the future, the five you have is insufficient, come talk to me…I’ll come up with some methods for having those Zifu Disciples enter a good school. But of course, they must be of the early Zifu stage.”
Ning laughed, then nodded. “That’s fine as well.” But in truth, he really did only need a single slot. Retainers entered the Black-White College for the sake of gaining top-tier Ki Refining techniques, but they ideally needed to be early stage Zifu Disciples as well.
If one entered as a middle stage or late stage Zifu Disciple, one’s path would have become set; there was no way to go back! The Ji clan’s Zifu Disciples consisted of Patriarch Ji Ninefire, Granny Shadow, Ah Xing, and Ji Truekeep.
The Patriarch and the others were all peak Zifu Disciples, while Truekeep was a middle stage Zifu Disciple; their paths were already set. As for the younger members of the Ji clan? For one of them to reach the Zifu Disciple would probably need some time.
“Even if our Ji clan is capable of producing a new Zifu Disciple, they can still rely on their own power to join another sect,” Ning mused to himself. “If my help is truly needed, in a few years, my power and status will most likely be higher as well.” In his heart, though, Ning wanted to let those future descendants of the Ji clan fight for their paths.
At most, he would occasionally give them some opportunities! Only when one adventured through the world by one’s self would one not fear the wind and the waves of life.
“Alright.” Baiwei nodded. “In two days, after the Black-White College has concluded its recruitment cycle, I will send five Zifu Disciples to you, as well as some ordinary commoners.”
“Ordinary commoners?” Ning was startled. Baiwei smiled. “Given how few in number the formal disciples of the Black-White College are, each of them take up an entire mountain for themselves…although the Zifu Disciple are servants and retainers, they still have to train as well. You can’t make them spend all their time boiling water, watering the plants, or doing cleaning, right? You can give them some important tasks, but for the normal tasks, you can have the commoners carry it out.” Ning now understood.
“I won’t tarry any longer. Take a good stroll around the Black-White College.” Baiwei laughed. “The Black-White Diagram of the Black-White College has attracted jealousy from countless powers for many years now. Even the Grand Xia Dynasty will occasionally send people over here, begging for a chance to see the Black-White Diagram. Only formal disciples like you, however, can view it whenever you want.”
After speaking, Baiwei laughed then entered his carriage, departing. Ning turned to look at the Whitewater Hound by his side. “Uncle White, let’s go.” The Whitewater Hound nodded, following him. “Right.”
Swoosh! The man and the snowy white hound both boarded a flying boat, then sped into the air at high speed. It was already dark. The Black-White College, shrouded by the night sky, appeared incomparably tranquil.
“Uncle White,” Ning laughed, “You are at the early Zifu stage. Don’t be in a hurry to train. Soon, I will ask the school for a top-tier Ki Refining technique for you.”
“Thanks for taking the trouble, Ning, son.” The Whitewater Hound looked at Ning. That child who had ridden atop his back while training in archery in the mountains had already grown up. Had become even more powerful than the hound’s elder brother, Ji Yichuan. “Yichuan…I will watch as Ning becomes a truly majestic, heroic figure within these lands.”
Ning didn’t know what his Uncle White was thinking. He instructed, “Uncle White, your status within the College will be that of my spirit-beast, and so you’ll be able to follow me around and listen to some Primal Daoists and even Immortals expound on the Dao. When following me, you’ll also be able to enter the various parts of the Black-White College. If you are moving about by yourself, however, you’ll only be able to enter these places.”
Ning waved his hand and retrieved that black-and-white book, flipping to one of the pages within it. “This is the map of the Black-White College; there are red lines marking the places where you, Uncle White, can go freely,” Ning said.
The Whitewater Hound gave it a quick look, memorizing everything. “Thanks for taking the trouble, Ning.” Ning laughed. “No trouble at all.” When he looked at Uncle White, he felt as though he had returned to those days when he had lived together with Uncle White, Father, and Mother. His parents were now gone…and Uncle White was his closest family now.
Spirit-beasts and retainers were different. Retainers who wanted to train in top-tier techniques had to work hard for themselves and be acknowledged by the Black-White College; only then might they have the rare chance to acquire a top-tier Ki Refining technique. In addition, they would only have access to a small number of top-tier Ki Refining techniques. The retainers had to do everything for themselves. For the formal disciples to allow them to enter the Black-White College alongside them was kindness enough.
If Uncle White had entered the Black-White College as a retainer, he too could’ve relied on his own power, but things would have been very difficult.
As for spirit-beasts, spirit-beasts themselves absolutely could not acquire top-tier Ki Refining techniques. But Ning, by paying a certain price, could ask for a Ki Refining technique for him. It was incomparably easier for a formal disciple to acquire a top-tier Ki Refining technique, compared to a retainer.
However, given how exacting the requirements the Black-White College placed upon its formal disciples, they couldn’t hurry fast enough to learn techniques and arts; how many of them would be willing to sacrifice their own advancement chances for the sake of their spirit-beasts?
“Whoosh.” The boat flew to the top of Darknorth Peak. “This is Darknorth Peak.” Ning pointed down towards the mountain peak below. “From today onwards, this peak shall belong to me, Ji Ning.”
“Uncle White, the only people living at Darknorth Peak for now are you and me. Go and get some rest. I’m going to the restricted area of the Black-White Diagram to take a look,” Ning said. “The Black-White Diagram is located in the innermost reaches of the entire Black-White College. Only formal disciples may go view it. Retainers and spirit-beasts are not permitted to do so.”
“Go.” The Whitewater Hound laughed, then leapt downwards from the boat, transforming into a streak of light that landed atop Darknorth Peak.
Ning nodded. Whoooosh. His ship immediately turned and flew towards another direction.
Ning descended from the skies. This was a very wide square, and the innermost heart of the entire Black-White College, a restricted area amongst restricted areas. Even the Grand Xia Dynasty or the various supreme powers would have to strive mightily and use all their connections they had in order to come view this Black-White Diagram. Retainers and spirit-beasts were naturally forbidden to come.
“The Black-White Diagram?” Ning stared at the giant stone wall that was erected within the center of the square. The stone was of an unknown type; it radiated an inky black aura, and was covered with dense, crisscrossing black and white lines that formed countless structures. These two different colored lines intersected in innumerable ways, but in doing so formed the image of an enormous, circular bedstone.
Black. White. It was like the night and the day. Like yin and yang. Like water and fire. Like darkness and light…
With Pangu’s creation of the universe, everything in the universe had a ‘dark’ side and a ‘light’ side; upon seeing those crisscrossing lines, Ning felt as though a powerful aura was surging towards him, and he immediately even felt his soul begin to ache in pain.
“That’s not right.” Ning hurriedly turned around. “The Black-White Diagram actually has so many different lines all tangled together.” Ning was secretly amazed. The Stellar Hall of his underwater estate allowed the various Dao Paths to be completely condensed into separate lines, so that those within could separately focus on comprehending these various Daos. But as for this Black-White College…it mixed in countless Daos, and some were only fragmentary.
But those various fragmentary Daos, when mixed with the other Daos…actually formed this complete Black-White Bedstone Diagram!
“Although in terms of comprehending the Dao, this Black-White Diagram is inferior to the Stellar Hall of the underwater estate…in terms of how the various Daos complement and connect with each other, this Black-White Diagram is actually on a higher level.” Ning understood, however, that the Stellar Hall was comparatively far more valuable.
The Dao was one’s foundation; swordplay and techniques were all extraneous. When Ning had risen in comprehension and gained the Dao Domain, he had done so because he had risen in his understanding of his Dao!
As for the likes of the Waterflame Lotus, it was a technique that was fused from aspects of various different True Meanings of the Dao; it was a matter of applying the Dao.
The Dao was the foundation. Techniques were an application. The Stellar Hall…it separated the various different Daos, allowing others to clearly comprehend them. Its value was priceless, and it was the reason why Immortal Juhua, a Loose Immortal, was able to live for millions of years, so that even the princes of the Grand Xia Dynasty sought to become his disciple to no avail.
The Black-White Diagram was most likely formed by nature itself, and thus contained many different things within it. It allowed others to easily gain insights into some of those things and develop certain techniques, such as the Waterflame Lotus.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” An Azure Dragon construct, a figure on its back, descended from the skies. It was Mu Northson. “I didn’t expect you’d arrive even earlier than me, senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.”
“Junior apprentice-brother Northson.” Ning laughed, then instructed, “No matter what, don’t stare directly at that Black-White Diagram. The Daos contained by the Black-White Diagram are simply too vast and unfathomable; we aren’t capable of withstanding them. Just look at a small part of it at a time.”
Unfortunately, his words were slightly too late.
As soon as he had landed, Northson had unconsciously glanced at the Black-White Diagram; naturally, in doing so, he had stared at the entire thing. Instantly, he felt the world start to spin, and his body began to slump and fall from the Azure Dragon construct. Clearly, in terms of the strength of his soul, he was far inferior to Ning, and so his ability to withstand the Black-White Diagram was weaker as well.
Hearing Ning’s words, Northson hurriedly nodded. “Right. We can’t stare directly at the entire Black-White Diagram.”
“Come. Let’s view it slowly.” Ning immediately walked past the stone wall. He stood next to the Black-White Diagram and began to inspect it closely. Actually, next to it, there were two other walls to the left and to the right of it, made from similarly unusual materials which radiated white light. Ning could sense that these three stone walls all had incredibly powerful formations overlaid atop them; most likely, the Immortals of the entire Black-White College paid extremely close attention to this place.
After all, the Black-White College had only risen to power after acquiring the Black-White Diagram. This was their life, their heart.
Each new Immortal of the Black-White College had frenetically added their own powerful formations to seal the diagram, causing it to become terrifyingly powerful by now. Upon being activated, the formations of countless elders of the Black-White College would simultaneously explode. Most likely, even Celestial Immortals would find it hard to survive.
“A three-sided wall. One is the Black-White Diagram, while the other two must have been left behind by the previous Immortals.” Ning glanced at it all. The three-sided stone walls were all more than three hundred meters wide, and they were covered with dense, clustered words, most likely more than ten thousand utterances. From this, one could estimate how many Immortals had been born from the Black-White College.
Ning’s gaze quickly halted at one of the corners of the Black-White Diagram. He began staring at a small part of it, focusing on that part.
The white lines and black lines intersected…they were opposite, and yet alike. A sensation of the marvels of nature completely engulfed Ning. Northson, by his side, was absorbed by the Black-White Diagram as well.