The Desolate Era - Book 13, Chapter 5 - Trials
“That’s the requirement for learning these techniques and secret arts?” Ning stared in amazement at the line of characters above the bookshelf.
The Patriarch had told him previously as well that a simple trial would have to be passed before one could train in these techniques. Ning had already been prepared for this, and had the feeling that the trial would be easy, but…this was too easy. Just clean the mountain path once? It must be understood that everyone with access to the Divinities Palace was extraordinary; most likely, they’d be able to clean the mountain path in the amount of time needed to boil a kettle of tea.
Ning pulled out a sword-arts manual and flipped through it. He was instantly astonished. This was definitely at the level of the [Lesser Five Elements Sword] manual.
“Wow, this is an Immortal-ranked Ki Refining Technique!” Little Qing called out.
“This book on formations is definitely not inferior to the [Nine Scrolls on Formations]!” The Whitewater Hound grew excited as well.
Ning swept his gaze forward. The enormous bookshelves were simply brimming with books, and above all of them were the same line of characters – “If you clean the mountain path of Mount Innerheart once, you can choose a technique at will.” Clearly, the requirement for choosing any book on this first floor of the Divinities Palace was the same.
The handsome white-robed man shook his head and laughed. “In Mount Innerheart, there is an old saying…the techniques and secret arts of the Divinities Palace, when learned, shall allow you to become a Celestial Immortal or Empyrean God. The divine abilities and secret arts of the Three Realms Palace, however, shall allow you to be able to roam and dominate the Three Realms.”
“Master learns of the affairs of the Three Realms through his dreaming, and so he is naturally incredible in collecting divine abilities and secret arts. The number of techniques and arts he has collected here in the Divinities Palace from ancient times til now is simply uncountable. Even at the lowest level here on this first floor, the techniques present are considered quite excellent in ordinary worlds,” the white-robed Silvermoon said.
Ning nodded gently. Indeed. Through the [Dream of the Three Realms], his master was indeed quite astonishingly good at collecting various sorts of techniques.
“Senior apprentice-brother, so this is the trial for learning first level techniques?” Ning pointed at the line of characters.
“Right. When cleaning the mountain paths, you have to personally sweep it using a broom. Most likely even Immortal cultivators will need half a day to clean the many levels and layers,” Silvermoon said.
Ning nodded. If one could use techniques it would be much faster, but if one had to use a broomstick, it would indeed take considerably more time.
“The first level is too simple. Junior apprentice-brother, follow me,” Silvermoon said.
Ning, the Whitewater Hound, and Little Qing all followed Silvermoon, the manager of the Divinities Palace, up the stairs and to the second floor of the palace.
The bookshelves of the Divinities Palace also all had a line of characters above them. The line said: “ Wipe down every single table within the entire Divinities Palace and you can choose a technique at will.”
“…so easy.” Ning blinked, lowering his head to stare at the sword-arts manuals. “These are already comparable to some of the supreme manuals the Black-White College has.”
“What a precious place.” The Whitewater Hound was completely stunned as well.
“And this is just the second level? I’ve never even seen such deep and profound techniques!” Little Qing’s eyes were completely crimson.
“Hahaha, come, let’s go see the third level,” Silvermoon laughed.
They arrived at the third level. Above the bookcases were a line of characters: “Get rid of the weeds within a hundred kilometers and you can choose a technique at will.”
The nearby Silvermoon said, “You have to pull up every single weed manually. To pull up all the weed within a hundred kilometers, one weed at a time…that should take at least a month or so.”
“Getting harder.” Ning nodded. He was beginning to notice that each progressing level had a higher level of difficulty. Although it was all just manual labor, it took up time.
“Pulling up a hundred kilometers of weed for a single technique…then pulling ten or a hundred would need…” Little Qing muttered to herself.
“Let’s look at the fourth floor.” Ning led them upwards once more.
The bookshelves here had a new line of characters above them: “Personally plant ten thousand fruit trees, and you can choose a technique at will.”
“This seems a bit easier than the weeding,” Little Qing said in a puzzled manner. Ning nodded as well. Weeding had to be done within a hundred kilometers; there would definitely be far more.
“Ah, you don’t understand. These fruit trees are not the fruit trees of the mortal worlds. These are fruit trees that bear Immortal fruit or spirit-fruit; they naturally require tremendous care when planting. Even though Immortal cultivators have incredible abilities, for them to carefully plant one tree at a time by hand…ten thousand will take at least half a year,” Silvermoon said.
“Half a year?”
“So much hard work for half a year, just to learn a single technique? And this is just the fourth level, right?” Little Qing stared.
Ning was quite calm; he continued to the fifth floor.
One floor after another.
The trial of the first floor only required half a day’s worth of work.
The trial for the second floor required three days.
The trial for the third floor required a month.
The trial for the fourth floor required half a year.
The trial for the fifth floor required three years.
The trial for the sixth floor required twenty full years.
The trial for the seventh floor required a century.
“And here is the eighth floor.” Although Ning was filled with questions, he still looked calm on the surface as he arrived on the eighth floor of the Divinities Palace.
The number of books on this floor was clearly much lower. The Ki Refining techniques here had already surpassed the Pure Yang level and were at the Daofather level.
The divine abilities and secret arts here…any one of them could serve as a foundational treasure for the likes of the imperial Xiamang clan.
Ning, the Whitewater Hound, and Little Qing simultaneously turned their gazes towards the line of characters above the bookshelves. The line of words read: “Serve as novitiate guards for the Tristar Crescent Abode for a thousand years and you can choose a technique at will.”
“The seventh floor only required a hundred years, but this one requires a thousand.” Little Qing couldn’t help but say, “How long are we going to have to stay here at the Tristar Crescent Abode before we can leave it?”
“But the techniques and secret arts here…I imagine that not even the most treasured techniques of the Youngflame clan or the Northmont clan are so deep and profound.” Ning was still quite calm. “Come. Let us go to the ninth floor.”
The ninth floor was the final floor of the Divinities Palace.
On this floor, there were only three bookshelves, and they didn’t have that many books on them. Clearly, however…these were truly standouts. Any book here would allow the practitioner to become a powerful expert of the Three Realms. They could absolutely serve as pinnacle techniques…and for normal disciples here at Mount Innerheart, these were the ultimate techniques available!
Only personal disciples and those with special permission from Patriarch Subhuti could go to the Three Realms Palace!
“Eh?” Ning discovered to his astonishment that the bookshelves were completely black, with no characters above them.
“Why aren’t there any characters? Can it be that the techniques here on the ninth floor cannot be taught?” Little Qing was puzzled.
Ning turned his head to look towards the nearby Silvermoon. “Senior apprentice-brother, the trials for the first eight floors of the Divinities Palace require increasingly longer periods of time to complete…can it be that there is no trial for the ninth floor? And…can it be that the only way to learn the techniques of the Divinities Palace is to engage in manual labor? The eighth floor requires one to be a novitiate for a thousand years to learn a technique…does that mean if you want to learn ten techniques, you would have to spend ten thousand years?”
Ning had been planning to train for just a few decades or a century and then return to the world of the Grand Xia. This was his agreement with Yu Wei! To spend ten thousand years here at Mount Innerheart? He would be arriving far too late!
“Haha…you are quite clever, junior apprentice-brother.” Silvermoon waved his feather fan, then said leisurely, “The Divinities Palace actually has two types of trials. The first type consists of manual labors which naturally are not difficult at all; all one needs to do is spend some time. For those slightly dumber cultivators with poorer comprehension abilities, this is usually the type of trial they will choose. A thousand years as a novitiate to learn the powerful techniques of the eighth floor? It is worth it.”
Ning nodded. After one became a Primal, one’s lifespan became limitless; all one had to do was be able to overcome the Three Calamities and Nine Tribulations. To spend a thousand years on a single technique was indeed worth it.
“You can view this as a gift which Master gave to Mount Innerheart. Although it is said that the Dao cannot be casually taught, Master only required these simple ‘trials’ be passed,” Silvermoon said. “But of course, for truly peerless geniuses who have superior comprehension there is naturally no need to engage in all this manual labor. There are other trials for such individuals.”
“What trials?” Ning asked.
Silvermoon laughed. “Junior apprentice-brother, didn’t you notice that in the empty region outside the Divinities Palace, where all those humans, monsters, and Fiendgods were congregating, there were some restrictive formations and spells?”
Ning thought back to what he had seen, then nodded. “Right. That region was indeed marked with some formations and restrictive runes.”
“That place is the place for battling,” Silvermoon said. “Master created nine golems at nine different of power. Anyone who is capable of defeating the first golem is allowed to pick a technique from the first level of the Divinities Palace at will.”
“If you defeat the second golem once, you can choose a technique from the second floor at will. If you beat it twice, you can choose two techniques. Three times, pick three…and so on.”
“If you beat the third golem, you can choose from the third floor.”
“The principles are the same for the ninth golem; if you defeat it, you can naturally choose a technique from the ninth floor.”
Silvermoon smiled as he looked at Ning. “Understand, junior apprentice-brother?”
“This trial is quite simple as well. Understood.” Ning nodded, then asked with suspicion, “If you beat it once you will gain one technique, if you beat it twice you will gain two…can it be that the more times you fight, the more powerful the golem will become?”
“When you actually go fight them, you’ll know the answer.” Silvermoon no longer gave any more information on this. “But remember; these fights are meant to test your insights into the Dao! Thus, all divine abilities are forbidden, as well as any formations, forbidden arts, etc. I hear you are a Sword Immortal. If so, then you are only permitted to use your sword and sword-arts. Unleash the full power and sharpness of your sword-arts.”
“By doing manual labor, one can learn techniques up to the eighth floor. Only by defeating the ninth golem, however, can the ninth floor techniques be learned.” Silvermoon looked at Ning. “Junior apprentice-brother, once you defeat the ninth golem and learn a ninth floor technique, you can go to the Three Realms Palace.”
“Right.” Ning nodded, then asked, “Senior apprentice-brother, which golem should I test myself against for now?”
“There isn’t much point in acquiring those weaker sword-arts manuals; it’s best to start from a higher place! Since Master was willing to accept you as his disciple, I imagine that you are a rare, peerless genius as well…how about this? Why don’t you give the sixth golem a try?” This was Silvermoon’s best guess, as he didn’t know anything about Ning’s level of power. Still, he could guess that Ning was most likely a supreme genius.
“The sixth golem? The sixth floor?” Ning thought back to the sixth floor; the sword-arts manuals there were already even more profound than the full nine stances of the [Three-Foot Sword]! Every sword-arts manual there surpassed the best that the Black-White College had to offer.
“But I’m only at the Wanxiang level,” Ning said, a bit worried. “Isn’t that a bit…”
“Don’t worry. The nine golems which Master created are extraordinary. They will release different levels of power, based on the strength of their foes. Since you are at the Wanxiang level, the elemental ki these golems will use shall also be at the Wanxiang level. If you were a Void-level Earth Immortal, then the elemental ki these golems would use would also be Void-level. This is why I said this is a test of your comprehension of the Dao! It doesn’t matter if you are a Wanxiang Adept, a Primal Daoist, or a Void-level Earth Immortal,” Silvermoon said.
Ning instantly felt reassured. “Good. Then I’ll give the sixth golem a try.”
“Come, let’s go to the testing ground.” Silvermoon immediately lead Ning down from the ninth floor of the Divinities Palace to the empty field outside.