The Desolate Era - Book 8, Chapter 20 - Manifestation
Within Ji Ning’s Zifu Violet Palace. The boundless sea of elemental ki was vast and endless. With but a thought from Ning, the surface of the entire sea of elemental ki began to sink downwards.
Deep within the sea of elemental ki. A large amount of elemental ki essence was quickly, continuously condensing. One enormous star after another was constantly being born.
After an indeterminate period of time.
Rumble…the surface of the sea of elemental ki had already sank downwards considerably. Suddenly, it began to roil, and one enormous star after another slowly rose up from above it, breaking through the surface and floating upwards. Countless giant, tightly packed stars emerged from the surface of the sea, flying higher and higher into the void, each of them gleaming with faint light.
Rising. Rising. Finally, the countless stars came to a halt, high in the vast, infinite ‘sky’. In this moment, true darkness came to the Zifu. Those countless, brilliant stars hung there in the night sky, and beneath the night sky was the vast, endless sea.
This was the very first Manifestation after one broke through to the Wanxiang level – a sea of stars in the sky.
Rumble…the sea of elemental ki continued to sink downwards. In the center of the sea, where a countless amount of elemental ki essence had condensed, an even more astonishingly large ‘star’ was being formed. After another indeterminate period of time, this unfathomably larger ‘star’ slowly began to rise upwards as well. Eventually, it broke through the waves and slowly floated into the sky.
This rose in a manner which was different from the countless stars which had just soared upwards. In this moment, it was as though the only thing thing which existed in the night sky was this incomparably vast ‘star’. It emanated a soft, gentle light which illuminated the entire night sky, and which shone down on the entire sea of elemental ki. In this moment, it was the most brilliant part of the entire Zifu region.
This was evidence of a breakthrough to the second Manifestation of the Wanxiang level – the bright moon ascending from the sea!
Finally, this enormous, brilliant moon came to a halt, high in the sky. In this moment, there was a sea of stars in the sky, along with a luminous moon.
Rumble…the sea of elemental ki continued to sink. If the sea of elemental ki had been too small, perhaps even the creation of a sea of thousands of stars would be impossible. If even that was impossible…then that symbolized that there was no hope for a breakthrough to the Wanxiang level. Since the likes of Adept Mu Xiao and Adept Xu Li trained in what could only be considered decent techniques, when they made their breakthroughs, they were only able to reach this second Manifestation.
But Ning’s sea of elemental ki was now incomparably vast. Although it had continuously sank downwards for a long period of time, less than 30% of the sea had been drained.
In this moment…an even more incomparably enormous ‘star’ was forming, deep in the bottom of the sea. Even before being truly born, this ‘star’ was already beginning to emit an astonishing, blinding brilliance, to the point where even the entire sea of elemental ki was beginning to glow. Finally, it too began to rise, and this titanic ‘star’ rose upwards.
Finally, it broke through the surface of the water. In that instant, the scorching, blazing light of this star instantly spread out, covering the entirety of the Zifu with its light. The Zifu space instantly transformed from night into day.
This great sun slowly, unhurriedly rose into the heights of the sky. This was proof that one had broken through to the third Manifestation of the Wanxiang level – the dawn sun rising from the east!
The sea of stars, the bright moon rising from the sea, the dawn sun rising from the east…the appearance of these three Manifestations symbolized that this breakthrough to the Wanxiang level had been a perfect one.
When the sun flew to the highest part of the entire region, it became surrounded by stars. It was located directly opposite to the nearby moon. One Yang, the other Yin. Because it had flown so high, the light of the sun was no longer as scorchingly powerful as it had been before. The bright moon, the blazing sun; one cool, the other blazing. Two different types of light filled the sea below.
“Condense!” Ning willed it. The entire sea of elemental ki, which had only sunk by less than half, began to frantically sink at an even faster rate. As it did, spots of light began to float up from the sea of elemental ki. These countless spots of light broke through the surface and floated upwards…and as the sea of elemental ki continued to sink, more and more spots of light emerged. They were so densely packed and numerous as to be countless; there were hundreds, no, thousands more spots of light than there were stars in the sky. They all flew up into the sky.
These spots of light flew towards the stars, the moon, and the sun, then merged into them. The moon, the sun, and the countless stars began to increase in size. And, as they absorbed those spots of light, the moon, the sun, and the stars also began to evolve.
By the time the sea of elemental ki had sank down to 10% of its original size, everything finally came to a halt. The moon, sun, and stars in the sky had increased by a full size.
“Success.” Ning finally relaxed. The stars in the sky began to slowly move about. At first, they moved about in a very slow, sluggish manner. Soon, however, they began to move in a very natural, easy way, and they began to revolve around the two larger stellar bodies, the sun and the moon. The movement of the countless stars was natural and innate. These stars and the sun and the moon were naturally linked with the countless true stellar bodies in the outside world, and thus they began to move in this manner.
Within the deep cave.
Northson turned his head to look at Ning. Ning still sat there in the lotus position, but he had stopped absorbing liquefied elemental essence. “Senior apprentice-brother should have made his breakthrough.”
Right at this moment, suddenly, a large amount of natural elemental ki from the surrounding area began to wildly surge towards Ning at an incomparably shocking speed. Moments later, this elemental ki ripple came to a halt. Ning opened his eyes. Laughing loudly, he rose to his feet.
“Congratulations, senior apprentice-brother. You have stepped into the Wanxiang level,” Northson said in delight.
“I made some tests just now. Indeed, it is as you said, junior apprentice-brother; upon breaking through to the Wanxiang level, the stars within the Zifu in my body truly do resonate with the countless real stars of the outside world. Once I begin to absorb the elemental ki of the outside world, the rate at which that happens has increased by many tens of times.” Ning laughed, but at the same time, he sighed in his heart.
If one wanted to create liquefied elemental essence, it would be far more difficult. If one wanted to do that, then one would need to do what Immortal Firedragon had done; set down a grand formation, then spend a long period of time converting the elemental ki of the natural world and distill it into liquefied elemental essence!
Thus, liquefied elemental essence was naturally, incomparably precious. Wanxiang Adepts and Primal Daoists would rather spend a bit of extra time in training than use it; extremely few were able to wantonly use vast amounts of liquefied elemental essence to rise in power quickly.
“Senior apprentice-brother, you broke through to the Wanxiang level; you should be lacking in suitable Earth-ranked magic treasures.” Northson laughed. “Earlier, we acquired a set of flying swords from that Northriver Zhou. It should suit you very well. This set of flying swords shall be your junior apprentice-brother’s gift to you for making your breakthrough, senior apprentice-brother.”
Ning was startled. “No, I can’t!”
Northriver Zhou’s set of flying swords? Indeed, it really was a set of nine Earth-ranked flying swords, and they were quite good as well, most likely high-grade Earth-ranked swords. Although the current core of his [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation], the ‘Nine Yang Sword Formation’, was comprised of top-grade Mortal-ranked swords, for a Wanxiang Adept…they were still vastly inferior to a set of nine quality Earth-ranked flying swords. The comparative price of these items testified to this as well.
Top-grade Mortal-ranked flyinig swords would generally go for a hundred taels of liquefied elemental essence, which was to say, around five kilograms. This set of Earth-ranked flying swords of Northriver Zhou, however, would probably see each sword going for nearly fifty kilograms. Since the nine came in a set, most likely if sold as a set, a price of five hundred kilograms or so could be fetched.
“Senior apprentice-brother. These flying swords are useless to me.” Northson shook his head. “This is my congratulatory gift…can it be that you are going to refuse, senior apprentice-brother?”
Ning looked at Northson, then smiled. “Fine, then. I’ll accept this set of flying swords.” The two were fellow disciples, and they were engaged in a life-and-death adventure together. Ning wasn’t going to be wishy-washy about it; only, he firmly engraved this moment into his heart.
Time slowly passed. In the blink of an eye, it had been half a month.
The clouds drifted forward in the sky. A dragon-headed warship was leisurely advancing. Up ahead, a spatial distortion could be seen, as well as cracks and tears in space. Beyond those cracks was a gray, blurry void. Although Ning and Northson had seen these things many times now, they still felt their hearts beat in fear.
The dragon-headed warship naturally stayed far, far away from these things. If they were accidentally trapped within these spatial distortions…Ning understood that given their current level of power, they would definitely die.
“This set of flying swords truly is sharp and dominating. It has an extremely strong murderous intent about it.” Ning stood at the helm of the ship. He stretched his right hand out, and around his right hand were nine finger-sized flying swords. These nine flying swords swirled around Ning’s right hand, constantly spinning…and occasionally spitting out sword-light. Ning was still familiarizing himself with this set of nine Earth-ranked flying swords.
Because he didn’t know the name of these swords, Ning described them as the ‘Northriver Sword Formation’. Both because it had belonged to Northriver Zhou, and also to constantly remind himself to be warry of other Immortal cultivators.
“Senior apprentice-brother, look.” Northson pointed towards the distance. Ning took a careful look. In the foggy distance, a warship was currently flying towards them. Upon seeing the shape of the warship, Ning immediately said, “This is one of the hundred who took part in the Raindragon Guard trial. This is the ship of the peak Wanxiang Adept named ‘Formless’.”
“Formless?” Northson turned to look as well. “It’s not going to be like when we met Northriver Zhou and the others, is it? There aren’t other Wanxiang Adepts hiding on his ship, are there?”
“Let me take a look.” Ning willed his divine sense to sweep forward, thoroughly surrounding the distant warship. Ning thoroughly investigate all the activities going on inside that ship. After doing so, Ning relaxed. “It’s not bad. Including Adept Formless, there are only two individuals…eh?” Ning’s face suddenly changed.
In that distant warship. The white-robed ‘Daoist Eastdawn’ and the gray-robed ‘Daoist Formless’ were also staring towards Ning’s distant dragon-headed warship.
“That dragon-headed warship should belong to that disciple of the Black-White College, Mu Northson,” the gray-robed Daoist Formless said.
“Judging from how leisurely they are acting, and how slow they are flying…I imagine they must have acquired the corpse of a Wanxiang monster long ago,” Daoist Eastdawn said.
“They are members of the Black-White College, after all.” Daoist Formless frowned, then shook his head. “It’s unfortunate. When we first entered the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains, our luck wasn’t bad. We even killed a Wanxiang monster! But afterwards, ever since we acted against that Azure Skysnake, our luck has taken a turn for the worse. We failed numerous times. Three days ago, we were played for idiots by that Azure Skysnake, and the two of us nearly died there.”
Adept Eastdawn gritted his teeth. “The first time, we let her escape. The second time, after she discovered us, she actually played us for fools and let us fall into a trap. If we run into her again, I’ll definitely kill her.”
“Azure Skysnake?” Ning had a sudden thought. In the past, shortly after he had left the protection of his parents, he had gone adventuring in a region within ten thousand kilometers of West Prefecture City. He had battled numerous times with an Azure Skysnake.
After Ning had killed Ironwood Zhan, he had been unable to discover the corpse of the Azure Skysnake. Back then, he had suspected that it must have suddenly comprehended the ‘Void Blink’ technique and fled.
“Azure Skysnakes are still quite rare. In addition, due to their innate gifts, they generally grow quite quickly,” Ning mused to himself. “I wonder if the Azure Skysnake they met…is the same one I met in the Swallow Mountain region.”
“Junior apprentice-brother, let’s move towards them,” Ning said.
“Move towards them?” Northson looked towards Ning, who nodded. Northson no longer asked anything, instead moving the dragon-headed warship closer.
Ning stared into the distance. He wanted to learn more information about this Azure Skysnake from these two men. Since he had nothing to do during the next two-plus months in the wild marshes, he might as well go investigate and see if this Azure Skysnake was the same one he knew.