The Black-White College disciples within the Dao Debate Palace began to turn their gazes towards a small number of people. Venomblood was already quite a powerful Wanxiang Adept in terms of the Dao Debates, and yet even he had been defeated by Ji Ning. Then, in order to defeat Ji Ning…they would need someone even more powerful. There were only so many who fit the criteria.
There were only ten or so disciples who had multiple Dao Domains and were extremely strong.
“Given the situation, I would like to test your strength for myself, junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” A white-robed man who was standing next to Holyfire suddenly stood out with a calm laugh.
“Senior apprentice-brother Northmont Blackcurrent is about to engage. Senior apprentice-brother Blackcurrent’s ‘Five Energies Grand Grappling Hand’ technique is astonishingly strong, far more so than senior apprentice-brother Venomblood’s technique.”
“If senior apprentice-brother Blackcurrent engages, he will definitely win.”
Debates rang out once again. Blackcurrent, amongst the Wanxiang Adepts of the Black-White College, could be considered a well-known figure. But of course, in normal, real battles, the Fiendgod disciples would be even stronger. The likes of Bloodshadow, for example, possessed real combat power that was simply heaven-defying. On the battlefield, Fiendgod Body Refiners possessed an innate advantage to begin with.
Although Blackcurrent was a Ki Refiner, if one only looked at comprehension of the Dao, he definitely was one of the most impressive of the disciples who had comprehended multiple Dao Domains. He vastly surpassed Venomblood and the others.
“Northmont Blackcurrent?” Ning looked towards him, immediately recognizing him. When he had first gone to visit the Black-White College, he had encountered this Blackcurrent fellow. Back then, Blackcurrent had held him in no regard. “Brother Baiwei, back then, described this Northmont Blackcurrent as a viper dressed in a sheepskin. Now, it seems…at least I see the sheepskin part.”
Blackcurrent had a smile on his face. He moved with leisurely grace, and was dressed in white clothes. Indeed, he appeared quite elegant, and it seemed as though he had quite a few friends.
Soon, Blackcurrent emerged from the side room with a construct. With a step, he flew directly atop the stone pillar, and his golem also landed at the arena below.
“Junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” Blackcurrent stood on the pillar, staring into the distance. Laughing, he said, “When I first met you, I had no idea that I would be discussing the Dao with you today at the Dao Debate Palace. The changes of the world truly are marvelous and remarkable.”
“To be able to battle with you, senior apprentice-brother…I, too, am amazed by the countless transformations of the world,” Ning replied.
Blackcurrent nodded gently, but the desire for combat was quite evident in his eyes. Because he was born from a fairly remote branch of the Northmont clan of Stillwater, he had always looked down upon those main lineage disciples who had relied on the protection of their parents. He had long ago relegated Ning to the side of people such as Baiwei. Ning’s earlier repeated successes had caused him to feel all the more unhappy.
“His talent is quite exceptional. However, it’s enough for him to have won this many battles,” Blackcurrent mused to himself.
Suddenly…a white-haired, white-robed man standing amidst the many fellow disciples within the Dao Debate Palace spoke out. “Junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” Ning turned his to look, and as he did, he clasped his hands. “Senior apprentice-brother Bloodshadow.”
Bloodshadow was a bit weaker in terms of the Dao Debate, but in a real battle, he was definitely one of the top-ranked disciples of the third generation.
“Junior apprentice-brother, first you defeated three Zifu Disciples, then you defeated myself, Whitesnow, and Venomblood. And now, you are going to battle with Northmont Blackcurrent…I am truly in admiration of you. Junior apprentice-brother Blackcurrent is exceptionally talented, while you, junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, are a peerless genius. It is hard to say who will win this fight. I’m willing to take out a treasure and add to the intrigue of this battle. If you are able to defeat junior apprentice-brother Blackcurrent, I will give this treasure to you.”
As soon as these words came out, there was instantly a hullabaloo. Bloodshadow’s words were rather ‘damaging’ to Blackcurrent’s face, and he clearly was closer to Ji Ning’s side.
“Hmph.” Blackcurrent felt some unhappiness in his heart, but Bloodshadow was one of the third generation disciples he could least afford to irritate. On the surface, he maintained his calm, smiling demeanor.
“How can I accept this?” Ning immediately said. “No need to be humble,” Bloodshadow replied. “This treasure is a Mortal-ranked magic treasure; to me, it’s not very useful. When I was carrying out an assignment for the Raindragon Guard, I accidentally entered an Immortal estate, and I was lucky enough to manage to pick up a sword formation technique. I saw that you, junior apprentice-brother, are skilled in controlling flying swords, and quite a few of them at once at that. This flying sword formation I acquired is a [Heavenly Spirits, Earthly Fiends] sword formation with a total of 108 flying swords. They are useless to me, but to you, junior apprentice-brother, they will definitely be of great use. However, if you want to acquire them, you’ll have to show off your abilities in this battle, junior apprentice-brother.”
The white-robed, white-haired Bloodshadow had a smile on his face. He did indeed have a very good opinion of Ji Ning.
He had also been the first of the Wanxiang Adepts to engage Ning. In reality, he was simply ‘throwing a brick to attract jade’, seeking to draw out the others. He often engaged in life-and-death battles, and so his senses were exceptionally acute. He could vaguely sense that the distant Ji Ning was like a sword, and he had understood that this junior apprentice-brother of his would have an unlimited potential.
In taking out this set of flying swords…although he said that it would be the reward for a victory, even if Ning lost, when the time came, Bloodshadow could still find an excuse to give it to Ning. And so, the two would naturally grow closer to each other.
“I will definitely work hard,” Ning said. How could this Mortal-ranked flying sword formation be truly useless to Bloodshadow? If nothing else, he could take it to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain and exchange it for quite a few elemental badges. Clearly, this senior apprentice-brother wanted to befriend him.
“That kid Bloodshadow is the first to move to befriend your disciple.” The short elder held the gourd of wine in his hand, and was drinking it while chatting leisurely.
Immortal Diancai nodded lightly. “Bloodshadow is also a truly heroic figure amongst the third generation.”
“He stands on the side of your disciple, so he’s a heroic figure?” The short elder gave him a stare, then said with pursed lips, “Still, to tell the truth, although this kid Bloodshadow is a bit slow in terms of comprehending the Dao, he’s moved stably and confidently. In particular…he’s quite good at enduring suffering. Of the various Fiendgod Body Refining Techniques, the [Indestructible Bloodshadow Body] is described as the most painful technique to train in. If one is successful, however, the results are bizarrely, astonishingly powerful. In addition, this kid, Bloodshadow, often takes on dangerous missions for the Raindragon Guard. With his special, unbreakable body, he has walked the path between life and death on multiple occasions, and his power is increasing at a faster and faster rate. His divine ability is fairly powerful as well, now…when he first joined, he was unremarkable, but now he’s one of the most powerful third generation disciples. I imagine that in a few more centuries, he will have become one of the most powerful members of our Black-White College.”
“You have such a good view of him?” Immortal Diancai was surprised. The short elder sighed. “Although comprehending the Dao is important, the Dao-heart is even more important. Once you’ve seen as much as I have, you will understand.”
“Alright.” Immortal Diancai gave Bloodshadow a long, deep look.
“Battle’s starting.” The short elder’s eyes lit up as he stared at the distant battle. Ning and Blackcurrent had each already begun to control their golems in combat. “Junior apprentice-brother Diancai, who do you think will win? As I see it, although your disciples has comprehended the first stance of the [Three-Foot Sword], that first stance involves comprehending one’s own sword-heart!”
“What is his sword-heart like? No one knows. How powerful will the techniques he unleashes be? Hard to say. But this ‘Five Energies Grand Grappling Hand’ of Blackcurrent is far more powerful than the technique that Venomblood kid was using.” The short elder looked at Immortal Diancai, eagerly awaiting a look of concern to appear on his face.
But Immortal Diancai remained as solemn as ever. “What is his sword-heart like? We’ll know if we watch.”
“Oh.” The short elder mumbled a response, then shook his head and sighed. “Ohoho, your disciple is at a disadvantage. Seems as though it’ll be dangerous for him.”
Everyone watching what was going on within the sealed arena was holding their breaths.
“Will this junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning be able to produce another miracle?” Holyfire’s eyes were narrowed.
“It seems as though the sharpness of his sword-light is no longer increasing. Has his prajna-state come to an end?” The fat, sloppy-looking youth frowned as he watched. “If it has already come to an end, it’s hard to say who will win.”
“Senior apprentice-sister, will junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning be able to win?” Ninelotus asked. The black-robed maiden, the Rainbowflame Fairy, just watched silently without saying a word.
“Win, win, win.” Northson and Winterain were standing together in a corner. Northson’s fists were tightly clenched, and his eyes were round.
Within the grand sealing formation. Although Ning, seated in the lotus position atop the stone pillar, was at a definite disadvantage, those nine [Tripartite Lotus Swords] were continuing to struggle and resist the enormous ‘Five Energies Grand Grappling Hand’. However, by the looks of things, if they exchanged a few more blows, the [Tripartite Lotus Swords] were going to collapse.
Ning was very calm. He didn’t panic in the slightest, which caused Blackcurrent to laugh coldly in his heart. “It’s about time for you to lose.”
What he didn’t know was that Ning was currently storing up his power. In his heart, the various insights that he had gained into the sword were surging out in waves.
“To be carefree! To do as I please!”
“To force even fate to beat a retreat!”
Ning’s eyes suddenly exploded with a terrifying sword-intent, and an astonishing sword-intent radiated from his entire body.
“The first stance of the [Three-Foot Sword] – Lustrous Sword-Heart!” Ning’s gaze solidified, and instantly, a rumbling sound could be heard. Every single flying sword on the back of the Thousandswords Golem flew out, including the flying swords he had used before. There were a thousand flying swords, clustered there in the air, and they caused all of the spectators to be completely shocked. So many flying swords?! What were they going to do?
Every single one of the thousand flying swords was pointing directly to the ‘Five Energies Grand Grappling Hand’ ahead of them.
“CHOP!” Ning bellowed forth this single word! The thousand flying swords instantly blossomed into lotus flowers, and at the same time, they all chopped forward. The thousand flying swords had instantly transformed into a single, enormous sword-light. Carrying irresistible power and majesty, they chopped forward!
This single chop! It contained the invincible will of Ning’s sword-heart!
In his past life, Ning had experienced the information explosion era. As the saying goes, one who enters the red dust of the mortal world [1. ‘Red dust’ is a Buddhist phrase referring to the mortal world, and all the unhappiness that exists within it. For a similar reason, ‘women of the red dust’ is actually an old-fashioned euphemism for prostitutes.] will depart while covered in it. The distracting thoughts generated by the information explosion era were even more astonishing than the distracting thoughts generated during the era of wandering barbarians.
The experiences he had in this life, the lives and deaths of those he loved, the warmth of family; it was these things that allowed Ning’s heart to slowly grow lustrous and be purified of those distracting thoughts.
If a person were to live in a perfect utopia, a peach garden beyond all worldly matters, then perhaps that person would be able to maintain a pure, lustrous heart. But this sort of pure, lustrous heart would be a very weak one. Upon encountering any setbacks or seductions, it might easily crumble.
But Ning had seen far too many things in his past life, in the information explosion era. Tormented and wracked by pain, he had watched as others freely ran about, read books, had lovers, and more. How painful and tortured that had been!
His heart had long ago been stained by the red dust of the mortal world. In this life, the love and warmth of family had slowly polished it bright, and now, his heart was all the stronger and all the more unbreakable!
It was admittedly praiseworthy for someone who stood at the peak of a mountain to maintain perfect purity, but for someone to be born from the sludge to remain unsullied was even harder to do!
“This is my first stance of my [Three-Foot Sword]!”
Ning roared the word ‘chop’ three times, and the sword-light in his eyes was visible to the naked eye. That powerful sword-intent, that mighty, irresistible will; it caused even those two Immortals watching from afar to be moved.
The thousand flying swords, linked into a single, massive burst of sword-light, were all chopping in unison towards a single direction!
Although that mighty, heaven-defying ‘Five Energies Grand Grappling Hand’ was able to resist for just a brief moment, with a mighty boom, it shattered apart like glass.