“Young master.” Autumn Leaf’s eyes flashed with tears, but these were the tears of joy. Ning laughed as well. It had been so long since he had seen Autumn Leaf. Since he was a child, the closest to him had been his father, his mother, Uncle White, Spring Grass, and Autumn Leaf. His parents and Spring Grass had all passed away, leaving behind only Uncle White and Autumn Leaf. Ning knew that what he felt for Autumn Leaf wasn’t romantic love; it was a sort of familial love.
“Four years. Autumn Leaf, you haven’t changed much at all. You should’ve broken through to become a Xiantian lifeform.” Ning walked over to her. Autumn Leaf hurriedly wiped her tears away, then said, “It was all thanks to the medicines that you left behind, young master; they helped me to break through to the Xiantian level.”
Ning didn’t feel the slightest bit surprised by the fact that Autumn Leaf had made a breakthrough, because as someone who had been selected to be his personal handmaiden, she was naturally quite talented. With the help of the medicines he had left behind for her, Autumn Leaf did indeed have a very high chance of becoming a Xiantian lifeform.
“Have you been well, these past four years?” Ning asked.
“I’ve been alright. Brightheart Island is the same as it always has been, while the Ji clan has been growing more and more powerful,” Autumn Leaf said. “After that battle, Snowdragon Mountain’s forces in the Swallow Mountain region grew much weaker. Although they sent three more Zifu Disciples to be stationed at the Swallow Mountain branch, after news spread that you joined the Black-White College, young master, the Swallow Mountain branch of Snowdragon Mountain no longer dared to cause trouble.”
Ning nodded. In terms of power, since the Swallow Mountain branch of Snowdragon Mountain had the support of the main Snowdragon Mountain sect, it had far more experts and a much deeper base of strength than the Ji clan.
However, Ning joined the Black-White College. When Northmont Baiwei had sent people to Swallow Mountain to collect and harvest the elemental ore mines, he had also sent messengers to inform the Ji clan that Ning had joined the Black-White College. Once this news spread, the Ji clan’s reputation instantly soared to unprecedented heights.
Good heavens. The Black-White College! To the powers located in the Swallow Mountain region, the Black-White College was an incomparably massive behemoth that was far beyond their level. According to legend, every single person admitted to the Black-White College was a supreme, peerless, monstrous genius. Even Snowdragon Mountain, despite its grudge against Ji Ning, had to temporarily stay their hand and let go of their hate.
“And Bluestone?” Ning asked. “Bluestone.” Autumn Leaf turned and called his name out, and a tall, muscular youth ran towards them from far away.
Ning was shocked. What a tall, muscular fellow! The man was at least 1.9 meters tall, even taller than Ning himself. When Ning had left, Bluestone had been a mere youngster, but after four years…he’d actually grown so tall!
“Big Brother.” Bluestone walked over. “Why were you hiding over there?” Ning laughed as he ‘reprimanded’ Bluestone. He had watched Bluestone grow up from his toddler years, and had long since come to view Bluestone as his own little brother.
Bluestone chortled. “I wanted to let Big Sister Autumn Leaf and you, Big Brother, have a private meeting, alright?”
Autumn Leaf instantly stared at him. As for Ning, he just laughed.
“Big Brother, why do you have a snake around your arm?” Bluestone saw the little azure snake wrapped around Ning’s wrist.
“Little Qing,” Ning called out. Whoosh; the little azure snake instantly transformed into mist, and then reformed into an azure-robed maiden. Even Autumn Leaf was shocked, and as for the nearby Bluestone, he actually jumped. “A monster! A Diremonster!”
“I’m a Wanxiang Diremonster! A peak Wanxiang Diremonster!” Qingqing raised her head and spoke smugly.
“A Wanxiang Diremonster?” Bluestone blinked. Although Ning had originally left behind some pills and treasures for him, in terms of talent, Bluestone was somewhat inferior to even Autumn Leaf. Although Autumn Leaf had already become a Xiantian lifeform, Bluestone remained unable to break through, and was still at the Houtian stage. However, he knew about the major levels of Immortal cultivators.
“Peak Wanxiang? Our Patriarch of the Ji clan seems to only be a Zifu Disciple.” Bluestone looked towards the azure-robed maiden, unable to believe that this was someone who could easily crush the Patriarch of the Ji clan.
Ning laughed. “Little Qing was originally an Azure Skysnake who lived in the Swallow Mountains. Afterwards, fate brought us together in the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains, and so she accompanied me and became my spirit-beast.”
“Your spirit-beast, Big Brother?” Bluestone let out a sigh of relief, then asked with curiosity, “Big Brother, are you at the peak Wanxiang level yet?” “Late Wanxiang level, a bit weaker than Little Qing,” Ning said.
“Although Master’s only at the late Wanxiang level, I’m far from being his match.” Qingqing lowered her head and said, “Master…he’s a real monster, even more of a monster than me.”
Autumn Leaf and Bluestone were both delighted and surprised. Autumn Leaf then looked at the Whitewater Hound behind Ning. “Uncle White, you…” “Uncle White is also at the late Wanxiang level,” Ning said.
“This…this…” Autumn Leaf instantly realized how, despite only a few years having passed, her young master had improved at an utterly astonishing rate.
The Whitewater Hound began to speak in the human tongue. “Monsters train much more slowly, and many monsters will take thousands of years to go from the Zifu level to the Wanxiang level, and tens of thousands of years to go from the Wanxiang level to the Primal level…although I reached the necessary level of insights long ago, in terms of accumulated elemental ki, I had needed to accumulate much more. Fortunately, Ning helped me, and thus I very quickly reached the Wanxiang level.”
“Three Wanxiang experts.” Bluestone was full of delight and excitement. “The other powers of Swallow Mountain don’t even have a single Wanxiang Adept amongst their ranks, but our Ji clan has suddenly gained three. This is too…too…ahahaha, we’re going to be invincible!”
“The young master’s formidable, but you aren’t. He gave you excellent techniques, excellent masters, and various treasures and spirit-pills…but you still have yet to become a Xiantian lifeform. When the young master was your age, he was able to effortlessly kill Zifu Disciples,” Autumn Leaf scolded.
“How can I compare to Big Brother? In terms of cultivating, I can’t even compare to you, Big Sister Autumn Leaf,” Bluestone shook his head. Autumn Leaf scolded him angrily, “You don’t work hard, and you always make excuses for yourself.”
Seeing this, Ning actually felt a strong, warm feeling surge into his heart. It was just like before; Autumn Leaf also treated Bluestone as she would her own little brother.
Ji Ning had returned. The unparalleled genius, the disciple of Black-White College, Ji Ning. He had come back to Swallow Mountain. This news quickly stunned the entire Ji clan, and the members of the clan celebrated and danced for joy.
Soon, the likes of Patriarch Ji Ninefire, Ji Young, Ji Redflower, and the others, including the most outstanding youths the Ji clan had produced in recent years…they all made their way to Brightheart Island of Serpentwing Lake!
“This is a Wanxiang serpent monster?”
“The Whitewater Hound has become a Wanxiang Diremonster as well?”
The Patriarch and the others, upon arriving, were all astonished. They weren’t too surprised by the fact that Ning had become a Wanxiang Adept, as Ji Ning had been able to easily slay the Wanxiang Adept, Xu Li, in the past. In addition, Ji Ning had entered the legendary Black-White College; in their hearts, for a monster like Ji Ning to improve so rapidly was perfectly normal. If he trained as slowly as they did, that would be quite surprising.
“Patriarch,” Ning said, “Recently, I joined the Raindragon Guard.” The nearby Ninefire, Granny Shadow, Ji Truekeep, and Young all revealed looks of surprise on delight on their normally calm faces. They didn’t know that Ning had recently joined the Raindragon Guard; however, they weren’t at all surprised by the fact that he was strong enough to join them.
“After joining the Raindragon Guard, I was granted the authority to designate a region of ten thousand kilometers to be protected by the Raindragon Guard! Even if I were to die in the future, this land would still be protected by the Raindragon Guard for a thousand years. The region I designated has the City of Ten Thousand Swords at the center, and the other four prefectural cities included within it as well.”
“Here’s the talisman.” Ning took out a talisman, then said, “Only Zifu Disciples can bind it. After doing so, hang it above the gates of the Lord Prefect’s residence at the City of Ten Thousand Swords. When you do so, the entire city’s walls will have a vague outline of a Raindragon appear. Others will instantly know that this place is under the protection of the Raindragon Guard, and they won’t dare to invade.”
Ninefire accepted the talisman with incomparable excitement. “This will be the foundation of our clan, the foundation of our clan! With this talisman, our clan’s base will be even more secure, and our Ji clan will definitely flourish and grow!” The nearby Truekeep and others were all filled with anticipation and eagerness as well.
“Ji Ning, how long will you remain, this time?” Ninefire asked. “In the future,” Ning said, “I’ll permanently live here at Serpentwing Lake. I’ll occasionally go out and take on some missions for the Raindragon Guard, and also occasionally pay a visit to my master at the Black-White College of Stillwater City. The rest of the time, I should be here.”
There were some students of the Black-White College who always stayed at the College. This was because the college had the Black-White Diagram, and because they could often discuss the Dao with their fellow disciples. Ning, however, was different. First of all, Immortal Diancai only occasionally provided guidance to him. As for the Black-White Diagram? It wasn’t of too much benefit to Ning, as it would be enough for him to just go view it occasionally. This was because Ning had the underwater estate, which was even better. The Stellar Hall of the underwater estate was far more formidable than the Black-White Diagram.
Whether for the sake of the clan, or because of the underwater estate, or for the sake of the calmness of his own soul, Ning would choose to remain at Serpentwing Lake.
“Good. Good!” Ninefire, overjoyed, said hurriedly, “It won’t affect your training, will it? No matter what, training as an Immortal is of paramount concern.”
“It will not,” Ning shook his head. “Good.” Ninefire nodded repeatedly. “With you here long-term, Ji Ning, and with two Wanxiang Diremonsters…our Ji clan’s power will grow exponentially. With this additional power, our Ji clan will flourish still further, and our territory will grow.”
“Right. Three Wanxiang Adepts, and with Ning possibly being a Primal Daoist in the future! The territory our Ji clan has is too small.” Granny Shadow, Ji Truekeep, and the others all began to grow excited. The larger one’s stomach was, the more food one could eat. In the past, the Ji clan’s power was limited, and so they naturally didn’t dare to desire too much. But now that Ji Ning was so powerful, and now that he had two Wanxiang Diremonsters, and had the support of the Black-White College? Given their power, the Ji clan was naturally going to flourish.
“Do as you see fit.” Ning agreed, because this had been his father’s hope as well. “If you run into any trouble…Little Qing, Uncle White, the two of you need to give them a hand.”
“Leave it to me,” Qingqing said confidently. “Swallow Mountain only has us three Wanxiang Adepts; doesn’t that mean we’ll be able to do whatever the hell we want?”
“Haha…” Ninefire and the others all began to roar with laughter.
Ji Ning’s decision to stay at Serpentwing Lake sent excitement throughout the Ji clan. Ning also gave some guidance to some of the more promising new talents of the Ji clan. However, these so-called talents could only be considered talents in the Swallow Mountain region; none of them truly astonished Ning. Ning soon understood that the fellow disciples he usually interacted with were all members of the Black-White College…how could the ‘geniuses’ of a small clan such as the Ji clan compare with them?
Reuniting with his clan members. Providing guidance to his juniors. After three days, things at Brightheart Island finally calmed down. Only now did Ning enter his private study room.
“The underwater estate.” With but a thought, Ning manifested an enormous phantom of a grizzly bear’s head within his private room. The phantom bear had a hint of a smile on its face. Opening its mouth, it swallowed Ning into it.
Ning disappeared from the private room. He had returned to the ‘underwater estate’, located in a different dimension.