The Desolate Era - Book 14, Chapter 27 - The Sixteenth Stage of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]
Roughly thirty years ago, mysterious organizations began to appear throughout the entire world of the Grand Xia. It seemed as though they had come from another world.
One of the organizations was known as Bloodcloud Hall.
Bloodcloud Hall was an assassin’s guild. It didn’t participate in any political struggles; whoever gave them treasures, they would help in carrying out assassinations! They would assassinate anyone from puny mortals to mighty Celestial Immortals! They could kill anyone in the entire world of the Grand Xia, aside from the Grand Xia Emperor himself. Ever since Bloodcloud Hall had appeared in the world of the Grand Xia, they had delivered talismans to the various supreme marquises, clans, tribes, and sects. Through the talisman, one could reach out to Bloodcloud Hall and go to the legendary ‘Bloodcloud Hall world’. There, they could offer treasures and sign agreements. Bloodcloud Hall would then go kill their targets.
If the mission failed, Bloodcloud Hall would try again. If Bloodcloud Hall chose to give up the mission, they would return all the treasures taken.
If they succeeded…neither side would owe the other anything.
There was another power, one known as the Seamless Gate.
This was a power that was far more mysterious than Bloodcloud Hall. The Seamless Gate had also revealed traces of itself in the world of the Grand Xia roughly thirty years ago. They had furiously stirred up trouble throughout the entire world; for example, here in Stillwater Commandery, they had gifted the Blood God Church, which had always felt hatred towards the Northmont clan of Stillwater, with secret arts and treasures so as to help them grow much stronger.
In the past, the Blood God Church had been weak, and so the Blood God Church had suppressed its hatred for the Northmont clan. Now that they had grown powerful, and with the blandishments of the Seamless Gate…they had instantly begun to launch frenzied attacks.
The Seamless Gate had moved to seduce many powers in many places.
They would bestow treasures and secret arts…and would reward those who killed powerful figures! The more merits their supporters rendered, the more gifts they would bestow.
“What is this Seamless Gate trying to do?” Ning read through the intelligence report. He couldn’t help but feel dazed and tongue-tied. “They are causing so much trouble in the entire world of the Grand Xia…they are causing everyone to kill as many people as possible, and the more one kills, the more treasures and secret arts one would acquire?”
No one knew where the headquarters of the Seamless Gate was located.
In fact, no one had even located a gathering point for the Seamless Gate. The seduced powers all had to wait for the envoys of the Seamless Gate to personally come visit them.
The Seamless Gate was extremely powerful…their white-robed envoys were all Loose Immortals and Earth Immortals, while their golden-robed envoys were Celestial Immortals. More than three hundred different Celestial Immortals had already been verified!
“Three hundred?!” A look of utter shock appeared on Ning’s face as he read this figure.
Terrifying. Utterly terrifying!
During the Conclave of Immortal Destiny, just a thousand or so Celestial Immortals had come from throughout the Grand Xia Dynasty to the main hall of the Skylight Palace. Of course, there were even more who had remained at home, declining to participate, such as Celestial Immortals Hunchmont and Unity. The Youngflame clan, in turn, had only sent Patriarch Arcanum.
The entire Grand Xia Dynasty most likely had several thousand Celestial Immortals, perhaps even as many as ten thousand.
They represented the full force available to all the marquises, schools, and sects. They weren’t necessarily part of the imperial clan’s power! There was a limit to how powerful the imperial clan was, and in fact there had even been rebellions led by marquises in the past. Even powers like the Northmont clan of Stillwater were acting in a low-key manner, watching passively as events unfolded. There was no way they would act in an insane manner and go serve as cannon fodder for the imperial clan.
“We have already discovered more than three hundred Celestial Immortals under this single organization, the Seamless Gate. In the entire Grand Xia Dynasty, aside from them, most likely only the imperial clan is this powerful. None of the other clans or tribes are so strong.’ Ning was secretly amazed by this. “No wonder not even the Xia Emperor dares to act rashly; after all, the three hundred-plus so-called ‘golden-robed envoys’ are merely ‘envoys’; they don’t represent the Seamless Gate’s full power.”
Bloodcloud Hall was willing to kill anyone for treasures; even the imperial Xia clan could hire them to take on assassination missions.
The Seamless Gate stirred up trouble throughout the world, causing chaos everywhere. But no one knew anything about the true power, headquarters, or gathering points for the Seamless Gate.
Aside from these two major powers, there were other hidden powers as well…but they were even more low-key, showing very few traces of themselves. These two major powers were too brash; naturally, there was a bit more information regarding them.
Be it the already-revealed Bloodcloud Hall and Seamless Gate, or those other hidden powers…
They shared a commonality.
They all appeared roughly thirty years ago!
“No wonder the Xia Emperor is being so cautious. Bloodcloud Hall and the Seamless Gate are already terrifyingly powerful…much less the other hidden powers,” Ning mused to himself. By now, he had finished reading the book.
“Don’t worry too much,” the silver-haired man laughed. “The person who controls this world of the Grand Xia is still his Imperial Majesty! These powers that are causing trouble in secret, such as the Seamless Gate…if they truly had the power to shake the imperial clan, they wouldn’t be hiding around furtively, not daring to show their faces, nor would they act in such indirect ways.”
Ning was momentarily startled, but a moment later he nodded. “Right. I understand.”
It made sense. Even the likes of the Northmont clan of Stillwater had secret powers behind them such as Patriarch Unity. As the controller of this entire major world, and as the Grand Xia Emperor who came from the Primordial Imperial Clan…how much power had the Xia Emperor built up over the countless ages? The control the Grand Xia Emperor had over this entire world was extremely deep. Just look at the Raindragon Guard!
Every single commandery city had a Raindragon Guard branch, and every single Raindragon Guard branch was comparable in power to the local marquis.
The Raindragon Guard, as a whole, possessed utterly enormous power!
“His Imperial Majesty was able to bring an end to the era of Fiendgods in this world; he’s not someone that these minor powers are capable of shaking. The storm has yet to truly come; this is nothing but a bit of wind and a few sprinkles of rain.” The silver-haired man smiled as he looked at Ning. “I imagine, Ji Ning, that you now understand things a bit better, and also see clearly the overall state of affairs here in the world of the Grand Xia.”
“Right.” Ning nodded. “Thank you, senior Skyfox. Oh…I should be thanking his Imperial Majesty for allowing me to see this intelligence report. If it wasn’t for this report, I would have no idea about what Bloodcloud Hall was, to say nothing of the Seamless Gate.”
“If there’s anything you need, you can go to the imperial capital of the Grand Xia and seek me out,” the silver-haired man said with a laugh. “I’ll naturally do my best to help out.”
“Definitely.” Ning nodded, then suddenly asked, “Right, has there been any news of my senior apprentice-sister, Yu Wei?”
“After Yu Wei accompanied Patriarch Lu in leaving the world of the Grand Xia more than thirty years ago, she has yet to return. I imagine she is still training,” the silver-haired man said.
Ning led Uncle White out of Stillwater City, returning to Swallow Mountain.
On this trip to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain, he had gotten the answer he had come for; the Ba-Serpent Formation was a formation often used by the assassins of Bloodcloud Hall. The twelve who had tried to assassinate Ning were then most likely assassins of Bloodcloud Hall. As for who had invited Bloodcloud Hall to do the deed…the first thought Ning had was of the Youngflame clan. Aside from them, Ning could think of no others.
After returning to Swallow Mountain, Uncle White continued to lay down new formations. He had previously only laid down a single one of the supreme killing formations; there were two more that had yet to be laid down. As for Ning, he focused on comprehending the Dao and training. He would alternate between working on his sword-arts and training archery, in accordance with [Houyi’s Archery].
Ning was living a peaceful life, but the world of the Grand Xia as a whole wasn’t peaceful at all.
In almost every commandery, and even in the four seas, the Seamless Gate continuously fanned the flames of chaos. Everyone, including the members of the imperial Xia clan as well as the various marquisates, began to grow cautious. This was because they couldn’t tell who their enemy was; in fact, they couldn’t even find out where their enemy was located.
And during this period of time…the Youngflame clan was investigating Ji Ning.
“Even Bloodcloud Hall demanded twenty top-grade Immortal-ranked magic treasures! Although they went too far in what they asked for, based on how Bloodcloud Hall usually prices their assassination missions, this high request suggests exactly how difficult the target is to deal with. Ji Ning’s power must be even greater than what we believed it to be; otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to withstand Bloodcloud Hall’s first attempt.”
“In thirty or so short years, he has increased his power immeasurably, compared to back during the Conclave of Immortal Destiny. If he is permitted to continue to develop like this…I’m afraid that in thirty more years, it will be extremely difficult for our Youngflame clan to kill him.”
“He has to be eliminated as soon as possible. Otherwise…he will cause a disaster.”
“Since Bloodcloud Hall has named such a high price…let’s do it ourselves. We have to succeed on our first try.”
“Right. We have to plan this perfectly; we need to treat Ji Ning as we would a supreme Celestial Immortal.”
Everyone within the Youngflame clan acknowledged the threat Ji Ning posed to them. In truth, ever since the Youngflame clan sent people to attempt to wipe out the Ji clan, the hatred between the two sides had increased to a very high level. The assassination attempt in the imperial capital of the Grand Xia caused this feud to become even more difficult to result.
As for this assassination attempt by Bloodcloud Hall, since Ji Ning had no other major enemies in the Grand Xia Dynasty aside from the Youngflame clan, he would probably quickly arrive at the right conclusion…
“Get rid of him.”
“Get rid of him as soon as possible.”
The Youngflame clan began their investigations, but Swallow Mountain was completely impregnable. The terrifying formations surrounding it were even more frightening than the ones surrounding the Youngflame clan’s headquarters.
“There’s no way to assassinate him within Swallow Mountain.”
“Ji Ning is in Swallow Mountain right now. We have to wait.”
Ning’s life in Swallow Mountain wa quite relaxed. No matter how much turmoil there was in the outside world, he just quietly trained at home.
Winter passed. Spring came. Then summer. Then late autumn.
Ning stayed at Serpentwing Lake of Swallow Mountain this entire time!
Actually, this entire time, Ning had wanted to make a trip to the Eastwoods mountain range; after all, he had suffered an attack there, and that was the only base belonging to the mysterious power that he knew about. In addition, based on what he saw, he believed that his opponents shouldn’t be able to do anything to him. He naturally wanted to go back! And by relying on his Seventy-Two Transformations, there was no need for him to worry about his identity being exposed; he could effortlessly penetrate their defenses.
Ning hadn’t gone. This was because he was waiting for something; for his breakthrough in the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]! He had reached the fifteenth level of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] more than ten years ago; during recent years, aside from training in sword-arts and archery, he also trained in the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] every single day. Because of the power of his body, energy from the Solar Star and the Lunar Star was filling his body at a truly shocking rate…but at his current level, each new breakthrough required a similarly shocking amount of divine power. However, Ning could feel as though his breakthrough was coming soon.
This was why he had refrained from going to the Eastwoods mountain range; after he made a new breakthrough and his power increased dramatically, he would have a better chance in his investigations!
“Autumn Leaf, I’m going to rest a bit on the lake. I’ll come back at night. Prepare some good food,” Ning said with a grin.
“Right.” Autumn Leaf nodded repeatedly.
Ning was standing by the beach. As he waved his hand, a little boat appeared on the surface of the lake. Ning took a single step forward, stepping into the boat. The little boat then floated away towards the depths of Serpentwing Lake.
Autumn Leaf watched from afar. After watching for quite some time, she saw that Ning had completely disappeared within the distant mist. Only then did she turn and go back home.
The boat floated on the lake. Ning lay down within the boat, almost subconsciously beginning to absorb energy from the Solar Star and the Lunar Star.
Suddenly…as if sensing something, Ning opened his eyes. He could sense that the divine power in his body had reached a limit. He was about to make his breakthrough! He immediately rose to his feet, then took a single step forward, leaving the little boat and coming to stand on the waters of the lake.
From infinitely far away, the two Supreme Stars in the void, the Solar Star and the Lunar Star, instantly began to transmit their power through the void, all the way down until it reached Ji Ning’s body…