Ji Ning, before leaving, paid a visit to Northmont Blacktiger’s Estate as well. He bade farewell to his good friend, Northmont Baiwei, who upon learning that Ning was leaving, gave him quite a few pieces of advice. He knew exactly how dangerous adventuring in the outside world was, but in order to become a truly influential, powerful figure in the greater world, one did have to undergo a brutal, merciless tempering process.
Within a desolate, wild region outside Stillwater City. “Kakakaka…crunch.” An Azure Dragon construct, hovering in midair, suddenly transformed, its body beginning to change into the shape of a wide, dragon-headed ship.
Ning raised his head, staring at the dragon-headed ship, then gave a surprised sigh and glanced towards the nearby Mu Northson. “Junior apprentice-brother Northson, this construct of yours can even transform? How formidable.”
“You are an outsider who knows nothing at all about the art of constructs. Transformations are nothing more than parlour tricks,” Northson said smugly. “Let’s go. The Stillwater division of the Raindragon Guard is located at the Crimson Dragon Mountains. Although it’s a bit far from here…flying on magic treasures isn’t quite as comfortable as letting the construct fly for us on its own.”
Laughing, Ning led the Whitewater Hound in boarding the dragon-headed ship. Standing atop the front of the ship, Northson had an incomparably bold appearance, and the ship quickly soared into the clouds, moving at high speed. Northson said, “I have an essence-gathering runic formation placed atop this construct, and so when flying at this speed, it won’t use up any elemental energy at all. The elemental essence it absorbs while flying will be enough.”
“I often heard aunt-master Jadefine praise you and say that your talents in the Dao of Constructs are extremely high. In the College, we would at most engage in Dao Debates, and so I’ve never had the chance to personally witness your power in this regard, junior apprentice-brother Northson. Now that we are joining the Raindragon Guard…I’ll be able to take a good look,” Ning laughed.
“Make sure you watch with wide eyes.” Northson raised his head proudly, seeming quite delighted with himself. Ning roared with laughter.
Although they had gotten to know quite a few senior fellow apprentices during the past three years at the Black-White College, and they were on very good terms with some, such as Ninelotus and Bloodshadow, in Ning’s heart, the one he was closest to was still Mu Northson, who had joined the school alongside him. Northson, perhaps because of his young age, had completely focused on the Dao of Constructs since he was a child, and unlike Ning, didn’t have memories from a former life. Thus, his behavior was quite juvenile and immature. In short; Northson had the temperament of a child!
If he liked something, he liked it; if he was mad, he was mad. He wasn’t able to hide anything! When he first entered the school, he had been defeated twice in Dao Debates, and had been unspeakably angry. If he had been slightly better at hiding his emotions, he wouldn’t have exposed his anger so openly. Strictly speaking…he was a bit too earnest and sincere.
In turn, however, Ning found it quite easy to get along with a little junior apprentice-brother like him.
“There we are. We reached the Crimson Dragon Mountains.” Northson’s eyes were gleaming as he pointed into the distance.
Ning stared into the distance. Past the clouds, he could see a chain of mountains that did indeed seem to be shaped into the sinuous figure of a dragon. The entire dragon-shaped mountain range was covered with a fiery red color, and from the distance, it did indeed look like a fiery, divine dragon! Its aura was quite astonishing as well, and in fact, it was even more terrifying than the grand formation of the Black-White College, which had been reinforced by countless generations of Immortals of the College.
“It lives up to its reputation as one of the top two supreme powers within Stillwatery Commandery,” Ning said with an amazed sigh.
Northson sighed in amazement as well. “The two supreme powers are the Northmont clan of Stillwater, and the Stillwater division of the Raindragon Guard. In addition, just from looking at the grand formation, we can see that they definitely far surpass our Black-White College. The Raindragon Guard really live up to their reputation. This was just a mere commandery division! When you think about how there is such a division in every single commandery which has been united under the control of the Xia Dynasty…one can’t help but shudder.”
Ning nodded. “This is true.” The Northmont clan of Stillwater Commandery held, as their enfeoffment, the entire Stillwater Commandery. They had existed from the Fiendgod era; naturally, they had accumulated countless valiant powers.
As for the Raindragon Guard? One could see from a superficial look as to how powerful they are. In addition, they could ask for the support of the other divisions at any time, and could even request support from the headquarters of the Raindragon Guard in the imperial capital of the Xia Dynasty! To the Raindragon Guard which oversaw the entire Xia Dynasty, sending out a few hundred or even a thousand Immortals was a minor matter.
“It’s precisely because they are so powerful, being representatives of the Xia Dynasty, that even we desire to join the Raindragon Guard,” Ning said. “Come. Let’s move over.”
“Right.” Northson nodded. The dragon-headed boat immediately swooped lower, moving directly towards the Crimson Dragon Mountains.
The Crimson Dragon Mountains were shaped like an enormous dragon, with the head of the dragon being the mountain where guests were welcomed. Ning and Northson directed the construct vessel to swoop downwards, landing directly atop a flat area at the guest-welcoming mountain. After collecting the Azure Dragon construct, Ning, the Whitewater Hound, and Northson all moved over. Right at this moment, two Zifu Disciples who wore fiery red armor walked over from afar. A cold look on their faces, they barked, “Why have you come to our Crimson Dragon Mountains?”
Ning and Northson both felt as though they were being rather overbearing, but this was the local division of the Raindragon Guard, after all. The two of them couldn’t act too inappropriately.
“We have come to join the Raindragon Guard,” Ning said. “Oh?” The two fiery-armored Zifu Disciples gave them a glance, and the leader, a tall, skinny cultivator, said in a cold voice, “Then follow me.”
Ning, Northson, and the Whitewater Hound immediately followed after him. They all moved through the mountainous as easily as though they were moving through flat land, and these crimson-armored Zifu Disciples could be seen throughout this guest-welcoming peak.
“The two of you, listen up.” The tall, skinny cultivator leading to them said in a cold voice, “Quite a few wish to join our Raindragon Guard. However, you have not yet joined and are not yet Raindragon Guards. And so, you’d best obediently obey the rules here…”
Northson, upon hearing this, frowned. Ning, however, was more or less calm.
“Remember this. First of all, you are not Raindragon Guards; thus, within the Crimson Dragon Mountains, you are forbidden from fighting. If you violate this, you will be killed with no mercy!”
“Second, the only place within the Crimson Dragon Mountains which you may move about in is this place, the guest-welcoming mountain. If you barge into other areas, you will be killed with no mercy!”
“Third, you are not to touch or damage the restrictive formations set upon the guest-welcoming mouontain. Violators will be killed with no mercy.”
The tall, skinny man didn’t even look at Ning or Northson. Northson’s face was now turning rather ugly. He sent mentally, “Junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, the Raindragon Guard have too many rules, and they are too brash and arrogant. We are disciples of the Black-White College, and yet they treat us like this?”
“Forget about being disciples of the Black-White College; even if we were members of the Northmont clan of Stillwater, it wouldn’t mean anything in this place.” Ning had read the intelligence reports, and knew a few things about the Raindragon Guard.
Ning, Northson, and the Whitewater Hound continued to follow from behind. Soon, they arrived at the back of the mountain, where there were wooden houses and stone houses scattered everywhere.
“Take a look.” The tall, skinny cultivator pointed towards the distant stone and wood houses. “Within those houses are those who wish to join the Raindragon Guard. These houses were built and left behind by others who came to join us. You can choose an empty one and live there for now. When we’ve cobbled together enough people, you’ll be sent to the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains.”
After speaking, the tall, skinny cultivator turned and departed, quickly disappearing.
“Who the hell is he? He’s so arrogant,” Northson muttered. “He’s an auxiliary ‘Keeper’ of the Raindragon Guard,” Ning said. He had met with Baiwei quite a few times, and had learned many things.
“A ‘Keeper’ of the Raindragon Guard?” Northson said, surprised, “The Raindragon Guard actually has Keepers?”
Ning nodded. “Of course. Those of us who join the Raindragon Guard are all quite free and unrestrained; we roam about the world, and only when we come to take on missions will we appear! However, the Raindragon Guard also needs some people who are permanently stationed here, or some soldiers who they will be able to trust completely. Thus, the ‘Keepers’ were created!”
“The Keepers of the Raindragon Guard are like soldiers; they are controlled extremely strictly, and are subject to many rules. They aren’t as free as us,” Ning said. “You should know that the Raindragon Guard has an auxiliary corps! Generally speaking, the Keepers are selected from the auxiliary corps.”
“Oh!” Northson now understood.
“Although their freedoms are restricted, they have the highest degree of trust from the Xia Dynasty. Within the Raindragon Guard, they have access to more divine abilities, secret arts, treasures, etc. As for us, even after we become Raindragon Guards, we’ll still need to carry out missions in order to receive such benefits,” Ning said. “To get something, you have to give something.”
Northson hurriedly nodded. “I don’t want to become a Keeper. There are so many rules; how does it even feel like being an Immortal practitioner? That’s just a form of suffering.”
“Everyone has their own choices,” Ning said with a laugh, then sighed. “Those who are extremely talented will naturally have the option of choosing to be free and unrestrained. But for those who are less talented, they naturally might give up these things, so as to be able to acquire some top-class techniques, secret arts, and whatnot.”
“Mm. That’s true as well.” Northson nodded, seeming to have understood something. As the two chatted, they continued to move forward. The stone and wooden residences were all very simply made; generally speaking, they had just a single house and a yard. A number of them already had Immortal cultivators residing in them.
“This one.” Northson pointed at a grassy area in front of him. As he pointed, instantly, a streak of light flew out, and the streak of light quickly began to transform and expand atop the ground, quickly developing into quite an elegant-looking estate.
“An estate made from a construct?” Ning was startled. The Dao of Constructs truly was a remarkable one. Carriages, warships, people, beasts, estates, or even cities; all these things could be produced through the Dao of Constructs.
“Who knows how long this adventure of ours shall last? It’s quite unsafe to stay in an empty, desolate area. Thus, I personally created this ‘Moonwood Estate’, which even a Wanxiang Adept would need to spend quite a bit of time to break into,” Northson said smugly.
“Not bad, not bad,” Ning laughed as he walked inside. And so, Ning, Northson, and the Whitewater Hound took up residence within the ‘Moonwood Estate’. One day after another passed, and the Immortal cultivators living in the nearby stone and wood houses began to discover that a construct-estate had appeared in their midst. However, none of them commented on it, just waited quietly together.
Early one dawn, a month after Ning’s group had arrived.
“Everyone!” A sonorous voice thundered out, instantly filling every single stone room and even wooden room. Even the construct-estate which Northson had created was unable to block out this sound, which blasted forth next to Ning, Northson, and the Whitewater Hound’s ears.
“It is time to go to the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains.” The voice continued to echo forth.
Ning felt his chest grow tight, and his face changed. “Such terrifying power. This level of power…makes me feel as though I cannot resist it whatsoever. It must be an Immortal.” Although he didn’t feel confident in being able to fight a Primal Daoist, he wouldn’t feel as completely powerless as he did now. Thus, it should be an Immortal.
Ning and Northson both walked out. Northson waved his hand, and the entire construct-estate was tucked away.
At this moment in time, figures emerged from the stone and wooden houses as well. These were all people who wished to join the Raindragon Guard.