“Master, your disciple has one more issue.” Ji Ning was still thinking about how, even after using four hundred kilograms of liquefied elemental essence, his Zifu Lake hadn’t reached its limit.
“Speak,” Immortal Diancai said.
Ning hurriedly said, “Your disciple has trained in the [Flowing Watersource]. In total, I’ve used 405 kilograms of liquefied elemental essence. According to the [Flowing Watersource], 400 kilograms is enough to establish a ‘foundation for a Celestial Immortal’, and if one tries to refine even more, one will quickly reach a limit. However, my Zifu Violet Palace has not yet reached the limit. Why is this?”
“Oh?” Immortal Diancai laughed. “Hahaha, most Immortal practitioners are vexed by their Violet Palace’s not being able to absorb enough elemental ki and their foundation not being sufficiently stable. But you are complaining about your Violet Palace being able to absorb too much?”
“That’s not it,” Ning said hurriedly. “I just am puzzled, and I don’t understand why I am unique.”
Immortal Diancai laughed. “This is because your body is the body of a Fiendgod! It would be one thing if you had an ordinary Fiendgod body, but yours is one which has been created by the legendary, number one Fiendgod Body Refining Technique, the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]. It is a truly perfect Fiendgod body, no weaker than that of a mighty Fiendgod who was born from the natural world. It only makes sense that the Zifu Lake within your Fiendgod body is able to withstand a tremendous amount of elemental ki.
“Oh.” Ning now understood.
“Actually, the better a Ki Refining technique is, the more stable one’s foundation will be. Perhaps you’ll spend a bit more time at the Zifu or the Wanxiang levels, but the further you go, the easier your life will be,” Immortal Diancai said. “Also; there are some other techniques that are also Immortal-ranked, but are even better than even the [Flowing Watersource], which allows one to use five hundred kilograms of liquefied elemental essence at the Zifu Disciple stage. The more powerful a technique, the more elemental ki it is able to control.” Immortal Diancai looked at Ning. “You should be happy.”
“Your disciple understands,” Ning said. “However, how much liquefied elemental essence does your disciple need to use before advancing to the Wanxiang level?”
Immortal Diancai pondered for a moment, then said, “Disciples who train in the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] who also train in the [Flowing Watersource] are indeed quite rare…let me think about it. Mm. Mmm. Yes, I imagine you will need around eight hundred to one thousand kilograms or so.”
Ning sucked in a cold breath upon hearing this. Immortal Diancai looked at Ning. “The [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] is the number one Fiendgod Body Refining Technique in the world. You must practice it with diligence as well.”
“Alright.” Ning nodded, then added, “Then I’ll go to the Dao Repository Vault now.” Immortal Diancai nodded. “Go,” he said, then closed his eyes.
Ning depart. As he left the room, he boarded his flying boat and soared into the skies, heading to the Dao Repository Vault.
The Dao Repository Vault. Ning headed straight for the second floor, that of the ‘arts’. “Originally, I had 200 black-white pellets left over. From the Dao Debates, I gained 600 black-white pellets. After embarking on the path of the Sword Immortal, the College bestowed me with two thousand black-white pellets. I have a total of 2800 black-white pellets.” Ning carefully searched through the countless books placed on the bookstacks. He was searching for the thirty-six sword arts manuals which his master had instructed him to find on that leather scroll.
“Quite cheap. This one is only thirty black-white pellets. Mm, this one is just ten. Ouch, this one is actually a hundred.” Ning moved as fast as the wind, and his eyes scanned the books as fast as lightning. He moved past large stacks of sword arts manuals, quickly picking out all thirty-six books.
The cheapest of these thirty-six books was just ten black-white pellets, while the most expensive was a hundred. However, these were all seemingly random, disjointed manuals; there were strange sword arts, tyrannical sword arts, fast sword arts…
“Out of a sea of sword arts manuals, Master actually chose these thirty-six after considering things for me. From this, one can imagine how many sword arts manuals Master has read.” Ning sighed to himself in amazement.
Clearly, to become a truly mighty Sword Immortal, it was also important to read many sword arts manuals. “Not bad. This sword art is even more suited to me than the [Duality Azureflame Sword].” As Ning flipped through the books, his eyes instantly began to light up.
After choosing the thirty-six books, Ning came to another table. Atop the table, there were five abridged books. They were: [Heavenly Transformation], [Divine Thunderbolt Eye], [Myriad Hibernating Venoms], [Three Heads, Six Arms], and [Eye of the Luminous Heart].
“Divine abilities.” Ning pondered to himself. “I only have 2200 black-white pellets left. Should I choose a divine ability, or a skill for my divine sense.” Divine sense techniques were even rarer than divine abilities; the Black-White College only had three books. The [Soulshaker Art], the [Soulcharmer Art], and the [Soulslayer Art].
Divine abilities and divine sense techniques were equally attractive to Ning. He wanted both. “If only I could choose whatever I wanted…” Ning gritted his teeth.
He gave one last, regretful glance to those five abridged books, then turned and left, moving directly towards the other table filled with divine sense techniques. Atop the table, there were a total of three golden books.
Not hesitating at all, Ning picked up one of the golden books, then straightforwardly departed the Dao Repository Vault.
Upon Ning leaving the Vault, the tall, muscular, armored Dao-Protector looked at him. “You’ve made your choice?”
“Yes. Take it.” Ning handed it over, and when he did, he couldn’t help but turn to look back at the Dao Repository Vault. His divine abilities! He really, really wanted to acquire a few divine abilities.
For example, that [Eye of the Luminous Heart] also had a side-effect pertaining to divine sense, and was extremely mysterious and profound. But the cost of the first scroll alone was five thousand black-white pellets. For the [Divine Thunderbolt Eye], one could immediately open a third, divine eye which was able to draw in and store the lightning and thunder of the world. With but a thought, one could release thunderbolts from that divine eye! Its power was truly terrifying.
“For now…I can’t have my cake and eat it as well,” Ning sighed to himself. “I already have a divine ability, the [Starseizing Hand], which is vastly superior to these divine abilities. These divine abilities, as far as I’m concerned, are just supporting arts that can make up for some of my weaknesses. They will not, however, noticeably increase my real power.”
“This [Soulshaker Art], however, will allow me to be able to gain yet another killer technique in a short period of time,” Ning mused to himself.
The [Soulshaker Art]’s power was not related to one’s divine power or elemental ki; it relied on the strength of one’s divine will! The stronger the divine will, the more powerful the [Soulshaker Art] would be. His divine will was at the level of a Primal Daoist’s by now, and with the [Nuwa Painting], his divine soul would only continue to grow in strength. Naturally, he had to learn a divine sense technique.
“You didn’t choose a divine ability?” The Dao-Protector, after looking at Ning’s choices, was rather amazed. “Apprentice-Nephew Ji Ning, this [Soulshaker Art] only requires a divine will to be used, but only other Wanxiang Adepts will have a divine will as well. At most, you’ll be able to slightly impact other Wanxiang Adepts. You train in the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]; it’s best if you choose a divine ability.”
Ning laughed. This Dao-Protector had no idea that his divine soul was already at the ‘divine sense’ level. “This is my choice,” Ning said.
“Your decision.” The Dao-Protector had only chosen to say a few extra words for Ning’s benefit. Since Ning insisted, he naturally wouldn’t say anything else.
“The [Soulshaker Art] requires 2000 black-white pellets, while the others need exactly 600.” The Dao-Protector looked at Ning. “I’ll destroy the restrictive spells around these sword arts manuals, and I’ll also go acquire the actual copies of the [Soulshaker Art] and the Heaven-ranked sword techniques for you.”
Soon, Ning paid the 2600 black-white pellets, then departed with the thirty-six sword arts manuals as well as the [Soulshaker Art] and returned to his Darknorth Peak.
Upon returning to Darknorth Peak, Ning felt quite the itchy feeling in his heart. He gave a few instructions, ordering that he was not to be disturbed unless there was something important. And then, he went directly into his private training room.
“Back to the training room again.” Cloudjade stared at Ning, chewing on her lips. There was a hint of sadness in her eyes. “He won’t talk to me at all.”
The nearby Roch cast Cloudjade a glance, laughing inwardly. How could he not tell that Cloudjade had been hoping to seduce Ning? “What a pity. Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning’s Dao-heart is incomparably firm. How could a vixen like you possibly move him?”
Within the private room. Ning sat down in the lotus position, immediately beginning to flip through the [Soulshaker Art]’s complete manual. The complete manual to the [Soulshaker Art] wasn’t too thick. After beginning to carefully read through it, Ning started to understand…the so-called [Soulshaker Art] was just an extremely unique way of applying the divine will. This was a technical manual, but its value was comparable to a divine ability.
“The [Soulshaker Art]?” Ning closed his eyes, beginning to ponder on what he had read. Rumble…Ning’s powerful divine will began to spread out, filling the entire private room, and he began to test it over and over.
Failure. Failure. Failure. Ning’s repeated failures didn’t cause him to feel the slightest bit dispirited. Each time, he would realize what his mistake was, and each time, he would perform better than the last.
In the blink of an eye, more than half a month passed with Ning staying within the training room. Because Ning had ordered his servants long ago that he was not to be disturbed unless there was something critically important, for this period of time, things were quite calm and quiet.
Within Ning’s sea of consciousness, there was a miniature Ji Ning, seated in the lotus position. This was Ning’s ‘divine soul’. The divine soul sat there in the lotus position, a runic seal repeatedly appearing and disappearing over his chest.
“Whoosh!” The azure seal managed to remain alive for a few instants, but then was extinguished once more.
Ning calmly absorbed the lessons of this failure, then tried again. “Whoosh!” Instantly, a queer azure seal once more appeared in front of the chest of Ning’s divine soul. This seal, at first glance, appeared to be some sort of script, but it was neither a Fiendgod character, nor a character from any language he was aware of. When seeing this azure rune, one felt as though a violent wave was slamming against the shore.
“Go.” Ning willed his divine soul to release his tremendously powerful divine will, which came out through that azure runic seal. The divine will which was released wasn’t as dispersed as it was before; rather, it was a wave that was folded together in layers. His divine sense spread out like waves in every direction, constantly rolling forth without end. One could imagine how, if Ning encountered a living creature with a soul, these turbid waves of divine will would instantly smash down against the enemy’s soul, just like a wave smashing down upon a shore.
“At last, I’ve finally managed to just barely manifest the ‘Soulshaker Rune’.” Ning opened his eyes, revealing a hint of a smile. “However, I’m still quite far off from the true, perfect Soulshaker Rune as mentioned in the book.”
Relaxed, Ning left the private room. By the time he arrived in the outer courtyard, he saw that it was late at night. Outside was a sea of sparkling stars in the night sky. Ning raised his head, staring at the sea of stars, then laughed. “In the upcoming period of time, what I’ll need to do is spend quite some time meditating on the Dao and on sword arts here at the Black-White College. Only when Master nods in approval shall I go out and temper myself through adventuring.”
Time flowed on like water. Ji Ning and Mu Northson, the two new disciples of the Black-White College, lived lives that were peaceful and yet meaningful. They focused on comprehending the Dao, on analyzing sword arts and the Dao of Constructs, and unconsciously, their power grew greater and greater. The two of them had been like two pieces of unpolished jade, but the Black-White College slowly carved and shaped them, letting them reveal their true luster.
In the blink of an eye, more than three years passed. It was the height of summer now. This year, Ning turned twenty years old.