Ninelotus was truly surprised. Although she felt great admiration for Ji Ning, the young, handsome, fragile-looking Ning made her think of her own younger brothers. Ninelotus felt an almost maternally protective instinct towards Ning, and the fact that he loved to lie in his boat and drift above the waters of Serpentwing Lake further stirred the soft feelings inside her.
She knew that Ning was extremely talented, but she hadn’t expected him to be this talented. His level of monstrousness had already surpassed what even she had imagined.
“The Black-White College has three reincarnated Immortals at the Wanxiang Level. Senior apprentice-sister Yu Wei has spent the least amout of time training, while the other two reincarnated Immortals have trained for more than ninety years. Ji Ning has only trained for thirty, but he’s already comparable to the two of them, and perhaps even stronger.” Ninelotus suddenly began to feel a bit of panic in her heart.
It was as though her Ji Ning had surpassed the limits of what she could comprehend and control.
“What’s going on with me?”
“Why am I panicking? Why am I so uneasy?”
Ninelotus immediately realized that her emotions were off. “For Ji Ning to be powerful is a good thing. Why am I so nervous and restless?”
She asked herself this question, over and over. She questioned herself repeatedly.
During the past nine years of her ‘imprisonment’ within the Myriad Lotuses Cave, she had continuously attempted to challenge the Dao-heart illumination formation which the Forefather of the Dongyan clan had left behind. Actually, she was already quite close to ‘comprehending her own heart’. Upon feeling uncontrollable nervousness and restlessness when learning that Ji Ning had forced a peak Primal Daoist to lower his head…she finally broke through the final barrier.
“This…is me?” Ninelotus suddenly calmed down. Her eyes no longer appeared lost; the only thing left was the calmness of the vast, endless sea. “So this is who I am.”
“I’m used to being in control.”
“I like to control everything.”
“I want to be in control of everything I am surrounded by. I am going to command the Dongyan clan and lead it to greater heights, to spread my name throughout the entire Grand Xia Dynasty.” Ninelotus murmured softly to herself. Ever since she was young, she had been ambitious, but she had never truly understood her own nature as clearly as she did now. In the past, she merely acted in accordance with her subconscious.
She had gone to be a disciple of the Black-White College because she wanted to prove herself, and prove to herself, that even without the assistance of the Forefather of the Dongyan clan, she was still capable of entering the likes of the Black-White College, where only supreme geniuses were admitted.
The reason why she had never been moved by Chen Jin was because there was no way she could control the ‘Chen clan’ which stood behind him. And thus, she subconsciously rejected his advances.
The reason she was moved by Ji Ning…was precisely because Ji Ning’s clan, the Ji clan, was very weak; thus, she was completely capable of controlling and guiding it. Ning himself was extremely talented, but his talent was still within the realm of what she, as the next leader of the Dongyan clan, was capable of controlling. So long as Ning did not become a Celestial Immortal, he would not be out of her sphere of control.
Most importantly of all…Ning’s parentage and history had truly moved her inner heart. She wanted to protect him.
“He’s even more powerful than I had predicted.” Understanding her own nature, Ninelotus now calmed down. “However, even if he truly does become a Celestial Immortal in the future…that’ll be something that happens many, many years from now. After so many years together, the affection between the two of us will become incomparably deep and stable.”
In her heart, Ninelotus didn’t truly believe in ‘love at first sight’.
She believed more in…love built up over time.
“The Forefather said that becoming Dao-companions means being willing to die for each other,” Ninelotus murmured to herself. “Perhaps I’m not yet able to do that for him, but in a thousand years, I believe that I will truly, whole-heartedly, be willing to die for him. He’ll be willing to die for me too.”
Ninelotus no longer hesitated; she immediately walked towards the grand formation. The grand formation of the Dao-heart had impeded Ninelotus for nearly nine years…but this time, it no longer did.
Ninelotus walked out of the Myriad Lotuses Cave.
“Mistress.” The female servant outside, upon seeing Ninelotus walk out, immediately knelt down in surprise and delight. “Congratulations and felicitations, mistress.”
Ninelotus smiled slightly.
That very day.
Ninelotus left the Highwater Commandery and the Dongyan Mountains, heading towards Swallow Mountain of Stillwater Commandery.
The sun was brilliant this day. The Forefather of the Dongyan clan, still leisurely fishing within the gorge, revealed a look of surprise on his face. He murmured softly to himself, “Ruyin, although she physically appears very similar to you, and on the surface has a temperament similar to yours…her true nature is completely opposite to yours. Ninelotus’ heart is far stronger and harder than yours. She truly was born to lead. It seems that when I chose her to be the next leader of the Dongyan clan…it was a choice that will lead the Dongyan clan to great glory.”
Serpentwing Lake. Brightheart Island.
Northmont Baiwei and Ji Ning were seated facing each other, toasting each other and laughing and chatting loudly and happily.
“Right! There’s one thing that you never found out about,” Baiwei suddenly said.
“What is it?” Ning laughed.
“The one who killed Yu Dong and Adept Mooncrescent was you, right?” Baiwei first set up a restrictive spell around them, blocking out all sound, then continued to speak softly. Ning didn’t hesitate; he immediately nodded. He had originally asked Baiwei to help acquire the intelligence reports regarding Yu Dong, Shui Yi, and Dong Seven. It wasn’t strange that Baiwei would be able to guess that he had done the deed.
“Adept Mooncrescent had an extraordinary background,” Baiwei said softly.
“What background?” Ning was startled, although he had guessed at this long ago, which was why he had been so cautious.
“Adept Mooncrescent was a retired Immortal cultivator of one of the secret Immortal armies our Northmont clan controls, the ‘Shadow Army’,” Baiwei said seriously. “You should know that after having experienced life-and-death battles with each other repeatedly, soldiers develop extremely deep ties with each other. Incredibly few manage to survive all the way into retirement. If any retirees are killed, then their old brothers will definitely stand up for them…and in fact the entire Shadow Army will support them, because they have to be able to guarantee that the retirees will have safe, comfortable lives in their final years.”
Ning was shocked. So this was the situation? It really had been a secret Immortal army of the Northmont clan of Stillwater?
“Given the Northmont clan’s intelligence network, they should have already found me out.” Ning frowned.
“If they did, you wouldn’t have been able to spend the past ten years in security and peace.” Baiwei shook his head. Ning’s battle with Chen Jin had been after spending a year back at Serpentwing Lake, and then he had spent nearly nine more years…indeed, he had been back for nearly ten years.
Baiwei said softly, “The Shadow Army’s investigation traced the clues all the way to my estate, the Northmont Blacktiger estate. However, in the end, the Shadow Army is in service to our Northmont clan of Stillwater. They wouldn’t dare do anything to the Northmont Blacktiger estate, and so in the end, our estate stonewalled them. The Shadow Army was forced to just give up; they weren’t able to continue the investigation.”
Ning now understood. So it had been all thanks to the help from the estate of Northmont Blacktiger.
However, what Ning didn’t realize was that the loyalty of an army to its patron was an incredibly important thing. The Northmont clan had to take care of the feelings of their Immortal armies; thus, things couldn’t have been handled as simply as Baiwei had just implied. In truth, Baiwei himself had taken on the blame for this matter, informing the Shadow Army that it was he, Northmont Baiwei, an important young master of the Northmont clan, who had unknowingly killed one of their old retirees. There was no way the Shadow Army could act against such an important young master of the Northmont clan, and thus they had been forced to give up.
Ning, in both his past life and his present life, didn’t understand politics very well. Naturally, he wouldn’t understand that Baiwei had made sacrifices on his behalf.
“Thank you, Brother Baiwei. Please thank Uncle as well,” Ning said hurriedly.
“A minor matter, a minor matter.” Laughing, Baiwei waved his hand in dismissal, then lowered his voice again. “Brother Ji Ning, I heard some stories about you and your senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus.”
“You even know about this?!” Ning was surprised.
Baiwei nodded. “One time, when I was drinking at the Carefree Caverns, I invited Holyfire over. At that time, Chen Jin was present as well. I mentioned you to them, thinking that since you were fellow disciples, by mentioning your name, it would help all of us be better friends. Who would’ve thought that Chen Jin’s face would immediately turn ugly and that he would he quickly leave? Afterwards, I asked Holyfire about this matter, and thus learned about the details of the situation.”
Ning now understood. Shaking his head, Ning laughed, “To be honest, it’s a bit funny. Ninelotus had never felt anything for Chen Jin, but Chen Jin himself, in a hotheaded fit, insisted on dealing with me…but unfortunately, I ended up dealing with him.”
Baiwei shook his head. “I can tell that he feels deep hatred for you. Given how narrow-minded he is…it’ll be hard for him to accomplish any great deeds. Chen Jin is of the impressive Chen clan of Highwater…who would’ve thought that he’d be so narrow-minded? I imagine that the Chen clan must not have provided him with very good tutelage; most likely, he hasn’t been selected to be the next leader of their clan.
Major clans viewed the training and tutelage of their future leaders as something of paramount importance. They had to whole-heartedly strive to provide the proper upraising for a suitable leader. Clearly, Chen Jin wasn’t such a person.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.”
Suddenly, a voice rang out which instantly echoed across the entire Serpentwing Lake.
“Huh?!” Ning instantly rose to his feet, his face covered with delight.
“You look so happy, who is it?” Baiwei was surprised.
“That’s my junior apprentice-brother, Northson,” Ning said in delight.
Ji Ning and Northmont Baiwei immediately flew into the air to welcome him. A dragon-headed warship was flying towards them, with an entire group of Immortal cultivators aboard it.
“So many people?” Ning was surprised as well.
All of these people were at the Wanxiang level. Even Bloodshadow and Yu Wei had come. In the Black-White College, they were all considered elites. In total, fifteen people had come.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” Northson was the first to fly over to Ning, and he excitedly pounded his fist against Ning’s chest. “Incredible! Even an old fellow at the peak Primal Daoist stage was sent scurrying away by you. In the past, when we met with that Dragonwhale King, we found it so difficult to deal with him!”
“Actually, there wasn’t a conclusive end to the fight,” Ning said hurriedly.
The white-robed, white-haired Bloodshadow spoke out. “Junior apprentice-brother, no need to be modest; you are a Fiendgod Refiner, while Daoist Snowplume is a Ki Refiner; in a situation where both sides are equally matched, Ki Refiners generally won’t dare to fight all out against Fiendgod Refiners. He retreated was because he did indeed fear you, feared dying at your hands.”
Ning, seeing this, no longer tried to equivocate.
“Junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning.” A beautiful, black-robed maiden looked at Ning.
“Senior apprentice-sister Yu Wei.” Ning hurriedly acknowledged her.
During his first Dao Debate, in the end, it had been Yu Wei who defeated Ning. During the past nine years, when Ning had gone to the Raindragon Guard branch to accept missions, he heard some news about Yu Wei; during the past nine years, she had become a brilliant star as well, and had even defeated a middle-stage Primal Daoist. Her reputation was outstanding and no less than his.
“If we were to compete again, even I might not be able to defeat you, junior apprentice-brother,” the black-robed maiden said with a laugh.
“Senior apprentice-sister, you are being too modest,” Ning said hurriedly.
“Let me make the introductions. You probably don’t recognize these people yet.” The black-robed maiden pointed to a nearby gray-robed man with deep eyes. “This is senior apprentice-brother Vastriver. He is often adventuring in the outside world. We just so happened to run into him in the Black-White College, and so he accompanied us to come visit you, junior apprentice-brother.”
Ning was startled. Vastriver? The Black-White College only had three reincarnated Immortals at the Wanxiang level. Yu Wei was one, while Adept Vastriver was another. He had also trained for a very long period of time, and only rarely appeared for brief periods of time. This truly was the first time Ning had met him.