The towering Dao Debate Palace was located at the very top of a mountain peak, and the figures of quite a few people could be seen within it.
The Dao Debate Palace…it had always been the place where the disciples of the Black-White College enjoyed to gather at the most. These genius disciples, all of whom had arrogance bred into their bones, would often spar with each other here.
A ray of light shot out from the Dao Debate Palace. Immediately afterwards, a blue-clothed maiden flew out after it. “Junior apprentice-brother Twinwood, junior apprentice-brother Twinwood!” The blue-robed woman was standing atop a giant flower basket, chasing after him at high speed.
“Senior apprentice-sister Winterain, why are you chasing after me?” Mu Northson, standing atop that Azure Dragon construct, had a look of rage on his normally bashful face. “This was what you all planned this entire time, wasn’t it? Hmph!”
The blue-robed maiden, Winterain, shook her head and said, “Junior apprentice-brother Twinwood, actually, you can’t blame your fellow disciples. In our Black-White College…throughout our history, each time a new disciple joins us, that person will taught a vicious lesson at the Dao Debate Palace. This has already become a tradition. Although it isn’t one of the laws of the College, it has been passed down for countless generations.”
“Teach a lesson to new disciples?” Northson stared at her. “If it really was just a lesson, why did the need to pretend to be on par with me at the start?”
“That makes the lesson a deep one, one that you won’t forget,” Winterain explained. “It is to help you understand that there is a heaven beyond the heavens, and geniuses beyond geniuses! Actually, when I first joined the college, I suffered in a similar manner. This happens in each generation; every new apprentice-brother and apprentice-sister will suffer this lesson. It is meant to tamp down their pride. The elders of our College all tacitly approve of it.”
Although Northson understood this principle, he was still only fourteen years old. In addition, the two Dao Debates he had just engaged in had caused him to lose two hundred black-white pellets and ten kilograms of liquefied elemental essences. Although it was just a small bet, his losses had still caused him quite a bit of heartache.
Northson clasped his hands and said, “Senior apprentice-sister, you actually gave me a veiled warning earlier. I was too rash and impetuous. However, there’s no need to say too many words of reconciliation.”
Swoosh! Northson, mounted on his Azure Dragon construct, departed at high speed.
“Alas.” Winterain watched as Northson departed. She couldn’t help but shake her head. Although she had gone to invite Northson to participate, the simple interactions she had with him had made her feel very well disposed towards this junior apprentice-brother of hers. But because this was a tradition…it wasn’t appropriate for her to intervene in the Dao Debate Palace. At most, she could give a hidden warning. Fortunately, this time, he had only lost twice before giving up. If he had continued to duel, his losses would have grown increasingly dire.
“A heaven beyond the heavens, and geniuses beyond geniuses!” Northson was seated on the rooftop of one of the houses in his estate, a jade bottle of wine in his hands. He raised his head, taking a swig.
“Cough, cough.” Northson drank too quickly, and he began to cough. “In the future, I can’t be too careless.” Northson had slowly calmed down and regained his mental clarity. He had entered the Black-White College at the age of fourteen. Ever since he was young, he had never met a match. The unconscious pride and arrogance he felt was what made him go spar against his fellow apprentices. He knew that the foes were very powerful, but he still felt he should be remarkable.
Darknorth Peak. The still room. Ning was still completely absorbed by the [Lesser Five Elements Sword].
The [Lesser Five Elements Sword] was divided into a total of nine chapters: [Metal Element], [Wood Element], [Water Element], [Fire Element], [Earth Element], [Duality], [Tripartite], [Four Symbols], and [Five Elements].
Every single chapter allowed one to start from the basics, then go progressively deeper. The basic parts were even inferior to the “Rain Line” technique he had developed. But at a high level, this was a swordplay suitable for a Celestial Immortal!
Ning was carefully meditating on the [Water Element], [Fire Element], and the wind of the [Wood Element] parts [1. In the classical Chinese Five Elements system, wind is classified under wood.]. These were the three aspects of the Dao which he had the deepest level of understanding about. As for metal and earth…he was lacking considerably in these two aspects. Naturally, he wouldn’t squander his energy in analyzing them.
“Drizzling Rain!” Ning murmured to himself, and the sword-fingers of his right hand shot out. In midair, drops of rain began to appear out of nowhere. These raindrops struck downwards like meteors, slamming against the walls of the still room. A hazy, blurry light appeared on the walls of the room, covered with layers of mysterious runes.
“Success.” A look of joy appeared on Ning’s face. “This skill is even more powerful than my ‘Rain Line’ technique.”
When developing new techniques, one could only develop techniques at the level of one’s own enlightenment. But when learning, one could learn techniques that were at a higher level than one was currently at.
“Fire, water, wind. I’ve learned a total of seven major sword stances from these three parts. They are considerably superior to the sword techniques I developed myself, but the increase in power isn’t that noticeable.” Ning immediately flipped through the book in front of him, straight to the [Duality] part. “Only when these different insights regarding different Daos are merged together and unleashed in a single attack will the power of the attack increase explosively.”
The [Duality] part had a total of eighty nine different sword stances! For example, there were two Duality stances formed from joining the wind and the fire. There were two others formed from joining the earth and the fire. There were yet two more from joining metal and earth.
In short, the sword techniques developed from joining together the profundities of two different Daos were all included within this part, the [Duality] part.
Joining different Daos together truly could allow for the power of a technique to increase explosively. The power could jump to a whole new level! This is what ‘sword arts’ were! There were some Ki Refiners who could rely on exceptionally powerful sword arts and flying sword formations to kill same-level Fiendgod Body Refiners, even if they were in possession of divine abilities.
Sword arts, when trained to an ultimate level, were not at all inferior to divine abilities!
After another hour passed…
“Swish!” Ning’s right hand waved out once more, and a sword-finger shot out. Instantly, a ray of azure fire slashed through the air in the form of a fiery sword, seeming to vaguely shatter space itself. It slammed directly against the stone wall, and the glowing layer of runes atop the wall once more lit up.
“Success. The [Azureflame Duality Sword]!” A look of delight immediately appeared on Ning’s face. The [Azureflame Duality Sword] was a sword technique that contained the fusion of the True Meaning of Water and the True Meaning of Fire.
The power of this technique vastly outstripped Ning’s former supreme attack, [Drizzling Rain]. As for the [Rain Line] technique he had developed at Swallow Mountain? That couldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath. The power of this new technique was formed from joining together two completely different True Meanings of the Dao! But of course, the reason why he was able to develop it so quickly was because Ning had a high level of comprehension regarding the Dao to begin with, and his foundation was very solid. In addition, he had seen the Black-White Diagram, which had been of great help in inspiring him regarding how to join together different Daos. Naturally, he had only needed an hour in order to be successful.
This was a case of making a natural breakthrough after accumulating experience!
Ning once again flipped to a new part of the book. The [Tripartite] chapter!
This chapter had a total of ninety two sword stances. There was a [Tripartite] sword attack based on the fusion of earth, metal, and fire; there was also one for the fusion of wind, earth, and metal.
As for Ning, however, without question, he was only capable of learning a very small part of the stances within; the sword technique formed from the fusion of wind, water, and fire. But there were a total of eight stances for this type of [Tripartite] sword attack.
It was dark. Only now did Ning leave the still room, jubilant. “I spent ten-plus years at Swallow Mountain, then comprehended the Dao within the Stellar Hall of the underwater estate…but I’ve never been able to acquire a truly powerful sword art. Now that I have obtained the [Lesser Five Elements Sword], I really am like a tiger who has gained wings.” Ning laughed with delight and glee. He truly felt wonderful. This feeling of learning a truly powerful sword art really was wonderful!
“I have already learned two of the powerful sword techniques of the [Duality] chapter. Of the [Tripartite] chapter, I have learned one sword technique as well.” Ning smiled to himself.
The [Tripartite] chapter represented the fusion of three different True Meanings of the Dao. This sort of multiplicative power resulted in a soaring rise in power! Fortunately, he had previously reached a bottleneck in his understanding of the Waterflame Lotus technique while meditating before the Black-White Diagram. With that as his foundation, he was able to, in four short hours, develop an extremely powerful sword technique from the [Tripartite] chapter – the [Tripartite Lotus Sword]!
The [Tripartite Lotus Sword], compared to Ning’s Waterflame Lotus, was like a different melody that was played with the same level of skill; they were two different approaches that led to the same result. However, it was actually even more profound and sharp! This was because Ning had only developed it after comparing the similarities between the two techniques.
“I imagine it will be very hard for my sword arts to improve significantly in a short period of time.” Ning understood this; after all, he only had some insights into three of the Five Elements, and was at most able to comprehend the [Tripartite] chapter. As for the [Four Symbols] and the [Five Elements] chapters, he was completely unable to understand them.
In a single short day, as a Ki Refiner, he had risen from the early Zifu level to the peak Zifu level. His sword arts had consecutively risen by three complete tiers. After having learned a powerful technique from the [Lesser Five Elements Sword], the [Tripartite Lotus Sword], he had reached a limit. This caused Ning to naturally feel an incomparable joy in his heart.
“Ning, son.” The Whitewater Hound was walking over from far away. He sent mentally, “There is another formal disciple of the Black-White College within your estate who has come to pay you a visit. He has waited for a very long time.”
“A formal disciple? Here to see me?” Ning was surprised. He hurriedly walked towards the door; he couldn’t slight his fellow disciples.
He soon walked out and saw, from afar, an azure-robed man who was standing leisurely with his hands clasped, staring at the crescent moon in the sky. The man seemed to sense Ning’s footsteps, and he immediately turned to look, a smile appearing on his face. “Junior apprentice-brother Darknorth.”
“Might I ask who you are, senior apprentice-brother?” Upon seeing this person, Ning immediately knew that he was a fellow disciple, because he had met this person in the Headmaster’s Palace.
“My name is Bu Ying.” The azure-robed, long-haired man laughed. “My Daoist title is Hawkfish.”
“Senior apprentice-brother Bu, why have you come here?” Ning asked. The azure-robed man laughed loudly. “I saw how talented you appeared at the Headmaster’s Palace, junior apprentice-brother Darknorth, and then I saw you be accepted by Immortal Diancai as an apprentice…I imagine that you must be extraordinary, and so some of our fellow disciples wish to have a sparring competition with you.”
“Competition?” Ning had a sudden thought. “A spar at the Dao Debate Palace?”
The azure-robed man laughed. “Right, the Dao Debate Palace. To engage in a discussion on the Dao at the Dao Debate Palace is a superb affair.”
Ning was intrigued. The black-and-white book he had read had discussed the Dao Debate Palace; there was no danger at all in sparring within the Dao Debate Palace, and the disciples of the Black-White College all delighted in sparring there.
However…because he had read the intelligence report Northmont Baiwei had given him, Ning knew that the Black-White College had a certain tradition where some of the new disciples would be taught a lesson and made to suffer a loss at the Dao Debate Palace. In addition, the old disciples loved to watch this happen. The first reason was to help these newer disciples wake up and temper their pride. The second reason? They, too, had suffered this in the past.
“Very well.” Ning’s eyes lit up, and he laughed, “I, too, would deeply desire to spar against my fellow disciples.”
“Hahaha.” The azure-haired man, Bu Ying, began to laugh. “Let’s go. Let’s go to the Dao Debate Palace.” The two immediately mounted on their magic treasures and soared into the skies, heading towards the Dao Debate Palace.
Ji Ning and Bu Ying were flying through the night sky. Suddenly, a ray of light shot towards them from the ground below. “Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” A white-robed youth, mounted on an Azure Dragon construct, came to greet them.
“Junior apprentice-brother Northson?” Ning was surprised. Northson was reeking of wine. What Ning didn’t understand…was that just before this, Northson had been drinking wine on the roof of his estate. When he saw Ning and Ying soar past, he had flown into the air as well.
Northson said frantically, “Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, have you been invited to go to the Dao Debate Palace…”
“Junior apprentice-brother Twinwood!” The azure-robed Bu Ying frowned. But Northson continued frantically, “Don’t believe them. They are going to intentionally deceive you to make you lose black-white pellets and liquefied elemental essence to them. I lost to them; don’t be deceived by them as well.” Northson was clearly quite frantic, afraid that Ning would suffer in the same way he had.
The azure-robed man, Bu Ying, barked at him, “Junior apprentice-brother Twinwood, there are always some small stakes when one engages in a duel in the Dao Debate Palace. For someone to win, someone must lose. Can it be that you think things are only fair when you win? If everyone has to be a winner, then there’s no point to even going to the Dao Debate Palace.”
“Senior apprentice-brother Ning.” Northson was extremely nervous. “Junior apprentice-brother Northson,” Ning said reassuringly, “No need to say anything more. I know what is going on. If I lose, I can’t blame anyone else. However, I, Ji Ning, still have a certain degree of confidence in my heart.”
Northson was frantic. “Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, you…!”
“Let’s go.” Ning, who had read the intelligence report long ago, actually knew exactly what was going on.
“I’m going with you,” Northson immediately said. In his heart, he thought to himself that if he were by Ning’s side, he could at least try to help persuade Ning and ensure Ning didn’t lose too much.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
The three flew towards the Dao Debate Palace at high speed. Soon, the towering Dao Debate Palace could be seen at the top of the mountain peak, shrouded by the night sky. Ning’s group of three charged downwards, moving towards the Dao Debate Palace.