To choose to roam the world, carefree? Or to give that up in exchange for the chance to acquire truly top-tier techniques and arts? Which was the better choice? Since ancient days, there had never been a clear answer. As for Ji Ning, since he had access to the divine abilities, secret arts, and techniques of the Black-White College, he naturally wasn’t too moved.
“The Grand Xia Dynasty has really used all means available to lure the Raindragon Guards to become Keepers.” Ning sighed to himself. “Most importantly of all, the Dynasty never forces anyone; it’s up to everyone’s own decision! If you join the Keepers, you have no one to blame but yourself. What a superb move!”
“Everyone.” Daoist Yulan’s voice rang out once more. “After having become Raindragon Guards, your tribes will be blessed as well. Within the territory of your tribes and clans, you can carve out a territory of ten thousand square kilometers. So long as you are alive, this territory will be protected by the Raindragon Guard! There will definitely be no one who will dare to invade it! This includes the Marquis of Stillwater!”
Ning chuckled. Years ago, when he was young and encountered Adept Mu Xiao, the Adept had said the same thing to him.
“Even if you do die, this land will still be protected for a thousand years.” Daoist Yulan suddenly laughed, as beautifully as a blooming flower. “But if you become Keepers, even if you die, your territory will still be protected for ten thousand years!”
“Ten thousand years?” Ning was surprised. “Ten thousand years is enough time for the clan to produce some truly powerful figures, if it focuses on doing so. Ten thousand years of peace?” This hadn’t been recorded in any of the books. Aside from a few people who already knew about this, most of the new Raindragon Guards were still incomparably stunned.
“If you wish to join the Keepers, you may do so at any time.” Daoist Yulan turned and walked away. While doing so, she said, “Let’s go. Let’s go mark out the territory of your clans.” They walked to an ancient hall, where each of the new Raindragon Guards marked out their territories.
“Ji clan. City of Ten Thousand Swords.” Pen in hand, Ning lightly circled around an area on the map, encompassing an area of ten thousand square kilometers around the City of Ten Thousand Swords, with all of the four prefecture cities just barely included within as well.
The old man in front of the table nodded. Accepting the leather map from Ning, he rolled it back up, then gave Ning a talisman. He said, “Take this and have someone who is at least at the Zifu level bind it, then hang it at the gates of the City of Ten Thousand Swords.” Ning accepted it, then immediately left.
One person after another entered, mapping out their chosen territory. Some lone practitioners belonged to no clans, and so for now, they chose not to draw.
“If you wish to join the Keepers, you can do so at any time.” A lotus flower leaf appeared beneath her feet, then lifted her up into the air. Her voice resonated through the skies as she said, “Now, you can each go do whatever you please. However, remember one thing; you are now one-clawed Raindragon Guards. Every ten years, you must complete a mission for at least one karmic point. This is your responsibility as Raindragon Guards. If you aren’t able to complete this…you’ll be apprehended and forced to carry out a mission. If you aren’t able to carry it out, then you’ll be expelled.”
Her voice echoed in the air. As for Daoist Yulan herself, standing atop that lotus leaf, she gracefully soared into the clouds, disappearing into the mountains.
“Senior apprentice-brother, what should we do now?” Northson asked. Ning replied, “What can we do?” He shook his head. “Although this division of the Raindragon Guard has a plentiful Dao Repository, one has to use karmic points to trade for them. We don’t have any karmic points at all…we need to hurry up and go accept some missions. After doing so, the Raindragon Guard won’t bother us. Let’s go accept the mission, then go back to Stillwater City and sell off the items we acquired in the wild marshes.”
Northson laughed. “Alright.”
“Let’s go.” The little azure serpent was wrapped around Ning’s wrist, and the large white dog was behind his back. By his side was his junior apprentice-brother, Northson. The two of them went off to accept missions, and then…
“Back to Stillwater City!”
Ning, Northson, the Whitewater Hound, and Qingqing were seated atop the dragon-headed warship. They quickly soared into the skies and into the clouds. “Senior apprentice-brother, this mission isn’t so hard,” Northson said. “Honestly, we should’ve taken on twenty or thirty karmic point missions. When the two of us join forces…it really will be hard to find a Wanxiang Adept who is a match for us!”
“Be a bit humbler,” Ning said with a smirk. “If we encounter the likes of senior apprentice-brothers Bloodshadow, Holyfire, or Sloppy…will we be able to overcome them?”
“They, uh, they…” Northson mouth opened and closed a few times. Honestly; they really wouldn’t be able to. These were figures who had comprehended a complete Dao Path and who were definitely comparable to Primal Daoists.
Ning said, “Don’t think that just because we killed a few Wanxiang Adepts and Wanxiang Diremonsters that we are invincible. In addition, we’ve already taken on two ‘ten karmic point’ missions. As long as we can accomplish them, for the next century, we’ll be completely free.”
“True. A hundred years of freedom is good enough.” Northson nodded, then gritted his teeth. “Before going to the military missions headquarters, I really had no idea that this region had so many vile figures present. There really are all sorts of vile men here.”
“Right.” A hint of a killing intent appeared in Ning’s eyes as well. The military missions headquarters had many missions, the vast majority of which entailed killing some individuals who had committed extremely grave sins. These sins had reached the point of causing the Dao of the Heavens to cause sins to swirl about these sinners. By killing them, the entire Grand Xia Dynasty’s fortunes would improve. Naturally, the Dynasty would set up long-lasting mechanisms for ensuring this happened.
“These two…one massacred countless mortals in order to train his ‘Demonic Bloodhell Eye’. The other was actually able to cultivate a ‘Ghostfetus King’…I really don’t know how many infants he killed.” Northson shook his head. “In addition, these are just missions of ten karmic points. Those missions for tens or hundreds of thousands of karmic points…they require that one go kill some truly evil, terrifying, demonic figures which cause headaches to even the Grand Xia Dynasty itself. Despite being surrounded by countless sins, they are still capable of withstanding the Three Calamities and Nine Tribulations.”
When one embarked on the proper path, one had to be able to comprehend the Dao, had to refine one’s Dao-heart, and move one step at a time. On the deviant paths, however, things moved much faster. Although they caused sins to swirl around a person, making the Three Calamities and Nine Tribulations to grow even more powerful…these deviant, evil paths could also allow for one’s power to skyrocket, which would actually make resisting the calamities and tribulations much easier.
However, in the end, although the evil paths could allow you to grow temporarily more powerful, they were never long-lasting! When the time came for the Celestial Tribulation, those who walked the righteous, orthodox path had a chance to become Celestial Immortals; even if they failed, they would become Loose Immortals. However, it was virtually impossible for those on the vile, deviant paths to become Celestial Immortals, and extremely few of them would even be able to become Loose Immortals. This was because the Celestial Tribulation for practitioners of the vile arts was simply too terrifying!
“We reached Stillwater City.” Northson glanced downwards.
“Little Qing.” Ning glanced at the little azure snake on his wrist. “Your ancient glacial ice…give me half of it.”
The little azure snake instantly transformed into mist, then reformed into an azure-robed maiden. Her eyes were completely round, and she said furiously, “That’s mine, Master! I worked extremely hard to acquire it! You…you…you damn bandit, I completely misjudged you! That pure, innocent youth of the past has actually become so vicious. You truly have no…”
“Shut your mouth,” Ning hurriedly barked. He took a deep breath, then said, “You damn miser, you can’t possibly use up such an enormous piece of ancient glacial ice. I’m going to help you sell it at the Heavenly Treasures Mountain in exchange for liquefied elemental essence, so as to help you increase in power. Understood?”
Qingqing blinked, then mumbled, “You better not skim any of it.”
“…come with me and watch as I trade it for liquefied elemental essence. Is that acceptable?” Ning was truly speechless. Little Qing was simply too miserly.
“Fine. Here you go.” Qingqing stretched her hand out. Whoosh. A chunk of ancient glacial ice the size of a small mountain instantly appeared in front of her hand.
The nearby Northson’s mouth immediately hung open. He howled, “You little green snake, you had so much ancient glacial ice, but you only gave me such a tiny piece?! And to think I was so grateful towards you!!!”
Qingqing didn’t even give the bellowing Northson a single glance. With a wave of her hand, she sent her elemental ki out, slicing through the iceberg of ancient glacial ice, dividing it in two. She then stored half of it, giving the other half to Ning.
“Let’s go to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain.”
The dragon-headed warship charged downwards, towards that enormous, ancient city of Stillwater.
After returning to Stillwater City, Ning and Northson felt an instant sense of familiarity and nostalgia; they had lived here for more than three years, after all. After being inside the Heavenly Treasures Mountain for an hour, Ning’s group re-emerged.
“Yours.” Ning handed a jade bottle to the nearby Qingqing. Qingqing accepted the bottle, carefully inspecting its contents. There was exactly 2650 kilograms of liquefied elemental essence within; this was the exact amount which Ning had acquired when selling off the ancient glacial ice. Only now did she nod, satisfied.
Ning shook his head and laughed. Then he turned to Uncle White. “Uncle White, this is for you.” When Ning looked at the human-formed white-robed, white-haired Uncle White, who looked so similar to Ning’s own father, he felt all the more warm and loving towards him.
The Whitewater Hound walked over. After doing an inspection, he was shocked; there was 4000 kilograms of liquefied elemental essence within this bottle. He shook his head and sent mentally, “Ning, son, this amount of liquefied elemental essence would raise your power dramatically. There’s no need to waste it on me.”
“I have another 3000 kilograms here,” Ning sent back to him. “To me, an extra four thousand kilograms won’t have much of an impact. I’ll probably need tens of thousands of kilograms to reach the Primal Daoist stage. In addition, according to the traditions of the Black-White College, I must completely comprehend an entire Dao Path before I am permitted to enter the Primal Daoist stage. I’m still quite far away from being able to comprehend an entire Dao Path.”
“This isn’t of great use to me, but to you, Uncle White, it will be very helpful. Right now, Little Qing is a Wanxiang Diremonster. When you increase your power, Uncle White, you’ll be able to better assist me,” Ning sent mentally. The Whitewater Hound hesitated, but in the end, he nodded.
During this trip to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain, Ning sold off almost all of the treasures he had acquired in the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains, including Dong One’s protective treasure, as well as the treasures of the Dragonwhale King. He even sold off the Dragonwhale King’s intrinsic magic treasures for a high price; the intrinsic magic treasures of a Primal Dragonwhale Diremonster, those two dragon-whiskers, were far more valuable than ordinary Heaven-ranked magic treasures.
Ning and Northson had each acquired five thousand kilograms of liquefied elemental essence. Northson purchased quite a few construct ingredients, while Ning only had a bottle of ‘firelotus pith’, which was necessary for nourishing his goldflame earthfire.
“Let’s go back to the Black-White College. Training back in the College will be very safe; we won’t have to worry about being disturbed,” Ning said.
“Right. What we need to do is go into secluded meditation and get it all done at one go. I should be able to train directly to the peak of the Wanxiang level,” Northson said excitedly. “Senior apprentice-brother, you should be able to reach the peak of the Wanxiang level as well, right?” He had no idea that Ning had given four thousand kilograms to his Uncle White; he thought that Ning still had five thousand kilograms.
Ning laughed, then said, “Let’s go. Let’s go back and do some training.”
Immediately, the two men and the two spirit-beasts began to walk towards the Black-White College.