The Desolate Era - Book 13, Chapter 34 - When The Arrow Flies
Ji Ning stood there in an empty field within the mountain forest, holding the bow in front of him as he stared towards the distance.
Ten thousand kilometers away, at another part of Mount Innerheart’s forest, there was a black-robed Ning. He waved his hand, and next to him appeared an archery target.
“I need to hit the archery target dead center from ten thousand kilometers away.” The black-robed Ning shook his head slightly.
This was the trial for [Houyi’s Archery]; without the usage of divine sense and without using elemental ki or divine power to actively control the trajectory of the arrow, using just raw, primal physical force…one had to hit an archery target dead center from ten thousand kilometers away. The center of the target was just one inch in size. One had to hit it ten times in a row!
This was an extremely difficult trial.
Without the usage of divine sense…even most Earth Immortals and Loose Immortals could just barely see ten thousand kilometers away. As for the heart of the archery target? There was no way to see that clearly at all. In addition, because there was a separation of ten thousand kilometers, there would generally be some mist, trees, and other things impeding one’s vision, causing one to be unable to see clearly.
In other words, one of the prerequisites for passing this trial was the possession of a divine ability akin to the [Farseer Eye].
This divine ability, when trained to the peak, could allow one to clearly see past a distance of a million kilometers or even more!
Naturally, Ning had never trained in the [Farseer Eye], but he had trained in the even more formidable [Torch Dragon’s Eye]. Ning had learned the first part of the [Torch Dragon’s Eye] in the imperial treasury of the Grand Xia, which was suited for Fiendgods up to the Void-level. Over the course of the many years he had spent here at Mount Innerheart, when Ning was relaxing, he would harvest some of the Polaris light from the Nine Heavens and refine it within his eyes, forming it into the ‘innate torch-light’!
Although the training process was quite difficult, Ning had still managed to reach the second stage of the innate torch-light.
Upon using this divine ability, Ning could use his naked eye to clearly see an ant that was a hundred thousand kilometers away.
“I’ll give it a try.”
Ning stood there within the mountain forest. He executed the [Torch Dragon’s Eye]; instantly, both of Ning’s eyes began to shine with the light of a torch. If an ordinary Immortal cultivator were to exchange glances with Ning right now, while Ning was intentionally releasing his power…that cultivator would first feel as though his vision had just turned completely white, followed by the entire world turning dark and pitch-black.
Temporary blindness…and some weaker individuals would become permanently blind!
Whoosh whoosh whoosh….as Ning executed this divine ability, countless rays of light came from far away, gathering within Ning’s eyes. Countless rays of light reflecting off of countless objects were all being gathered.
The trees, the creek, the pool, the mountain path…everything was within Ning’s vision now.
This included the archery target that was ten thousand kilometers away, as well as the black-robed Primaltwin Ning that stood next to it.
“Can’t use divine power or elemental ki to control the arrow.” Ning waved his hand, and a black arrow appeared in front of him. He nocked it onto his bow, the pulled the bowstring.
Ning’s raw physical power was utterly astonishing; he was fully capable of tossing around an entire massive mountain as a toy by now. He instantly pulled this violet Heaven-ranked greatbow to a perfect full draw.
Ning sensed the wind…
The wind was blowing…
For archery, being able to sense the wind was very important. The wind would have a tremendous impact on the arrow. When Ning was a child, he had spent a tremendous amount of effort training in archery. However, after embarking on his Immortal path, he had stopped training in it; after all, his current level of archery was already sufficient, and when truly necessary he could use his elemental ki to control his arrows, causing it to curve and arc in small degrees. That way, even if he missed his shot due to the distance simply being too great, he could adjust the arrow mid-flight!
But now Ning was forbidden from using elemental ki to control the arrow. He couldn’t even use divine power!
“The speed of the wind…its changes…”
Ning’s eyes blazed with innate torch-light as he stared fixedly towards the distance. The fingers of his right hand suddenly relaxed.
The arrow instantly transformed into a streak of light, piercing through the heavens.
The trees in its path were pierced through, and the stones in its path were shattered. However, due to these impediments as well as the changes of the wind…these seemingly minor factors caused an astonishing amount of impact over the course of ten thousand kilometers. Swish! The arrow missed the target by nearly three kilometers.
“Uh…” Ning’s eyes were blazing with innate torch-light; he could clearly see what had just happened. He couldn’t help but feel flabbergasted. “I was off by that much?”
Three full kilometers?
This was ridiculous!
“I’ll give it another try.” Ning once more nocked his violet greatbow, then sent out yet another arrow.
The sound of the bowshot rang out once more, and the arrow itself transformed into a streak of light that flew into the distance. This time, the arrow missed the target by more than five kilometers.
“Mm.” Ning frowned.
“Let’s do that again.”
One arrow after another flew out. Some were off by three, four, five kilometers. Sometimes, when Ning was lucky, the arrow would make it to one kilometer. One time, when Ning was extremely lucky, the arrow passed the target by a few dozen meters.
Ning shot off more than ten thousand arrows at one go before coming to a halt. For an early Void-level Fiendgod like Ning, whose body was comparable to an Immortal-ranked magic treasure, shooting arrows was a very simple matter on a physical level. His mental energy, however, had been used up!
“I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t expect there would be so many problems.” Ning had tried more than ten thousand times, and in doing so discovered many of the problems.
To simply rely on raw physical force in shooting an arrow ten thousand kilometers and hitting the center of a target…
The first problem was that the trees and stones between him and the target served as forms of obstruction. When the arrow passed through them, it would be impacted, albeit by a tiny, minute amount. Although Ning’s raw power was so great that his arrows would only be impacted slightly…all of the accumulated obstructions over ten thousand kilometers would still cause tiny deviation in the flight path. A tiny deviation magnified over ten thousand kilometers would result in a huge deviation.
The second problem was the wind!
Ning had mastered the Dao of the Gale during the Conclave of Immortal Destiny, and his heart had long ago become one with the wind. His wind-sense was extremely accurate by now. However…the wind that Ning could sense was only the wind during the instant the arrow was released! In addition, it was only the wind around Ning himself!
As the arrow flew forward, the wind would change!
In addition, the wind around Ning might be very weak, but five thousand kilometers away there might be a storm.
Even though he could still get a vague sense for how the wind was off in the distance, and even though Ning’s arrow was very fast…it would still be affected by it.
These were the two major problems that made it so that hitting the target dead center from ten thousand kilometers away was very difficult.
“What should I do? Right…I have the spirit of a Protocosmic spirit-bow. He must have seen divine archers of the Primordial Era train before.” Ning instantly willed the spirit of the Rahu Bow to be summoned forth.
Whoosh. The black-robed youth appeared next to Ning.
“What do you need from me?” The black-robed youth looked at the bow in Ning’s hands. “Oh, training archery?”
“Rahu Bow, I wish to train in [Houyi’s Archery],” Ning said directly. “However, I have to pass a trial before I can do so. This trial forbids the usage of divine sense, and it also forbids me from using divine power or elemental ki to control my arrows. Just by using raw physical strength, I need to hit the center of a target from ten thousand kilometers away. The center is only one inch in size. I have to hit it ten times in a row to succeed.”
“[Houyi’s Archery]?” The black-robed youth called out in amazement, “Master, you have a chance to learn [Houyi’s Archery]?”
Ning nodded. “But, I have to pass this trial first.”
“This trial is pretty hard. Shoot a hundred arrows and let me take a look first,” the black-robed youth said.
Ning immediately shot out another hundred arrows. Although he knew where the problems lay…there was nothing he could do about it. He failed every time by an enormous margin.
The black-robed youth watched from afar. Through using his invisible senses, he could naturally see the target that was more than ten thousand kilometers away.
“How was it?” Ning looked towards the black-robed youth.
“It seems you have a bit of a foundation. I thought you’d be off by at least a hundred kilometers.” The black-robed youth nodded. “The art of archery…the most important part of it lies in ‘accuracy’. The more formidable an archery technique, the more powerful the arrows it unleashes, but as for accuracy? For powerful archery arts, it is very difficult to use divine power to improve the accuracy of a shot, and so accuracy is extremely important.”
“Start from the basics. First shoot from a hundred kilometers,” the black-robed youth said.
Under the guidance of the Rahu Bow, Ning once more began to train in archery. Although the Rahu Bow had never trained personally, he had seen many of his successive masters train in archery. Those were the divine archers of the Primordial Era!
First, a hundred kilometers.
Then two hundred. Then three…
Ning spent nearly three years training in accordance with the guidance from the Rahu Bow, but was still only able to hit the center of targets from 1200 kilometers away when using just raw force. 1200 was a limit for him; no matter how hard Ning tried, he was still unable to improve at all.
“What’s going on? Generally speaking, this is how one trains in archery; one needs to master one’s wind-sense and one’s sense of Qiankun. You’ve accomplished both, and the speed of your arrow isn’t bad. But why is it that I keep on feeling as though you are missing something?” The black-robed youth was extremely puzzled.
He had only watched others shoot arrows, after all; he himself wasn’t a divine archer.
Over the past three years, Ning had even gone to the Divinities Palace to pick out some archery techniques from the eighth floor. He had ruminated over them alongside the Rahu Bow, which was why he had improved this much over the past three years.
“What’s going on?” Ning sat down on the ground, feeling perplexed.
“Junior apprentice-brother, still training archery?” A laugh rang out as the woodcutter came walking over, hatchet over one shoulder and firewood over the other.
“Eldest apprentice-brother.” Ning hurriedly rose to his feet, then said with embarrassment, “I’ve trained bitterly for three years, but I’m still unable to pass the trial for [Houyi’s Archery].”
“[Houyi’s Archery] is indeed extremely difficult, and the trial is quite difficult as well. Shoot a few arrows for me to see,” the woodcutter said with a smile.
“Alright.” Ning was instantly overjoyed.
The eldest apprentice-brother was the absolute number one expert amongst the Old Patriarch’s disciples. Even the second apprentice-brother, Crazy Ji, admitted his inferiority, as did all of the other disciples. In fact, when Ning was chatting with Silvermoon, Silvermoon had secretly told him that their eldest apprentice-brother was definitely at the Daofather level of power. Given his incredible power and given how long he had lived here in seclusion, he had almost assuredly analyzed a technique like [Houyi’s Archery], one of the top ten divine abilities of the Three Realms.
Although there were quite a few disciples of the Old Patriarch who trained in [Houyi’s Archery], none of them were that formidable in it. Given their eldest apprentice-brother’s power, however…he surely was.
Twang! Twang! Twang! Twang! Twang! Twang!
One arrow after another shot out. Ning used all of his power while attuning to both the wind and to the Qiankun. In this instant, the world and the wind were all one with his heart. It was as though he himself was the master of the entire world, as though he was the master of countless winds. In fact, even some of the distant transformations of the wind were held within his heart, as though his subconscious was whispering to him of what would happen. This state was the state known as the Dao Domain of the Dao of Archery. Given what a high level of comprehension Ning was at, and given that the Dao of Archery was heavily related to both ‘wind’ and ‘Qiankun’, Ning had advanced fairly quickly along this Dao.
One arrow after another flew out, striking towards the distant target, more than ten thousand kilometers away.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
Each of the arrows howled past the target by more than ten meters. In fact, purely thanks to luck, one of the arrows actually struck the target. However…it only hit the target, not the center of the target.
“Alright. You can stop now,” the woodcutter said.
“Please guide me, senior apprentice-brother.” After halting, Ning respectfully asked for advice.
The woodcutter laughed. “Your fundamentals are quite solid. However…you are lacking in the most important aspect.”
“The most important aspect?” Ning was puzzled.
“Right.” The woodcutter nodded. “Remember this: When the arrow flies, the heart flies with it. Once you reach this level, you’ll be able to hit the center of the target from ten thousand kilometers away.” After speaking, the woodcutter turned and leisurely departed, still carrying his hatchet and his firewood.
Ning stood there unmoving. He murmured to himself, “When the arrow flies, the heart flies with it?”