The Desolate Era - Book 9, Chapter 11 - The Culprit, Ji Ning
After having bound Adept Mooncrescent’s storage-type magic treasure and taken the items out, Ji Ning and his companion’s faces changed.
Ning’s gaze fell upon a blood-red robe. This blood-red robe emanated a sanguine aura, and it had a grayish flying sword sown onto the sleeve.
“A battle-uniform,” Mu Northson said softly. “This blood robe is covered with many runes and can also serve as a construct-type magic treasure…if my guess is correct, this should be meant to be used in unison with a group of people who all wear this same robe. They’ll be able to join into one entity and unleash an extremely powerful joint attack.”
Northson was a genius of the Dao of constructs; he instantly discovered this. As for Ning, although he wasn’t able to understand this as clearly as his junior apprentice-brother did, he was skilled in formations and so was able to discover that this war-robe was similar to a Dao-soldier’s armor.
“Judging from the complexity of the runes on this blood-red robe…it’s definitely not something which an ordinary organization can produce,” Northson said with a frown. “Sects like Snowdragon Mountain are completely unable to produce this sort of uniform war-robe…and in fact, most likely even my master wouldn’t be able to produce it.”
“He had the blood medallion of the Northmont clan,” Ning said in a low voice. “It’s very possible that he has some sort of a connection with the Northmont clan of Stillwater.”
“Look at this.” Qingqing pointed at a leather parchment. They had removed several leather parchments from the storage treasure. “Don’t touch them with your hands,” Ning barked. And then, he carefully inspected the contents on the leather scrolls.
“Old Second Brother, I, your brother, am going to retire as well. However, I will stay here at the Skylands world. I don’t want to go back…there’s nothing for me there. I’ve fought to subjugate the enemies for so many years here in the Skylands world, that I have grown accustomed to it. I have so many old brothers here, and I truly don’t wish to leave. In the past, you invited me to go with you to Mount Mooncrescent, but…forget it. If, in the future, you are free, please come to the Skylands world…”
The contents of the leather scroll instantly made Ning’s scalp turn numb. Retired? Old Second Brother? Skylands world?
“Retired?” Northson called out in shock, “Adept Mooncrescent must’ve been a member of an army, and judging from the blood-red robe…the robe should be the uniform which Adept Mooncrescent wore in that army! Because he was too old and was close to the end of his life, he came back to retire here.”
“Old Second Brother?” The Whitewater Hound spoke out as well. “Given how long this Adept Mooncrescent had lived for, I imagine that all of his surviving brothers must be extremely old as well, which is why they addressed him as ‘Old Second Brother’. But this Skylands world…”
“Skylands world…?” Ning frowned as well.
“Can it be one of the trillions of lesser worlds?” Northson whispered.
The Three Realms were incomparably vast, and the ordinary, common worlds were exceedingly numerous. The worlds were divided into the three thousand major worlds and the trillion lesser worlds. Some of the trillion lesser worlds were naturally created by the universe, while some had been established by major powers!
“Battling in the Skylands world?” Ning mused to himself, “The blood medallion of the Northmont clan?” Ning continued to ponder, while at the same time, he began to carefully read the other leather scrolls. Some had strange maps on them, while others were letters. Ning then looked at the other items. Slowly…a hypothesis began to form in Ning’s mind.
The Northmont clan of Stillwater must have had a secret, hidden army, with Adept Mooncrescent having been one of the members of this army! Ning didn’t feel surprised at the fact that the Northmont clan had a secret army of its own, because the history of the Grand Xia Dynasty included quite a few rebellions by Marquisates. The mere fact that Marquisates would attempt to rebel was a testament to how powerful and how deep their roots were. They had existed from the Fiendgod Era until the present era; this was simply too long a stretch of time.
Nobody knew exactly how deep the roots of the Marquisates were; it was quite normal for them to have secret armies of their own. As for the Skylands world, it must be one of the trillion lesser worlds, or a dimension which a major power had carved out for himself. In short, there should be living creatures within this world, which is why it needed to be subjugated.
“Senior apprentice-brother, what should we do?” Northson said softly. “It seems as though Adept Mooncrescent was most likely a member of a secret army under the control of the Northmont clan of Stillwater. And, by the looks of it, he had battled for many years for them…he definitely must have an extremely good relationship with those lifelong, battle-tested friends.”
Ning nodded. After battling shoulder-to-shoulder for counless years…one could imagine how close those soldiers were! Now that Adept Mooncrescent had died in his retirement, how could those people take it lying down?
“This is trouble.” Ning frowned. Still, even if he had known Adept Mooncrescent’s background, Ning still would’ve done the same thing. Although Adept Mooncrescent had returned to Mount Mooncrescent to retire, he had still proved to be a calamity for the surrounding area. Ning had acquired quite a bit of information on Adept Mooncrescent when reading up on Yu Dong, and the description of the Adept was…he was a sinister, petty man who had offended many.
Perhaps because he had so many pent up desires in the army, as soon as he had retired, he had relied on his power to act savagely and viciously, revealing his true nature! Ning wouldn’t show mercy to this sort of person.
“Ning, son, what should we do?” The Whitewater Hound looked towards Ning. “Master?” Qingqing looked towards Ning as well.
Ning frowned. “Let’s keep the liquefied elemental essence. We’ll put all the other treasures into the storage treasure, and then…Qingqing, use your Void Blink to go extremely deep underground and cast it deep into the magnetic core.”
“The deep magnetic core?” Qingqing nodded. “Understood.”
They kept only the thousand kilograms of liquefied elemental essence, and then discarded everything else, including even the jade bottle which held the essence! The liquefied elemental essence was incomparably pure and untraceable, so they could keep it, but everything else had the potential to prove problematic.
“I’m going now.” The little azure snake winked out of existence, passing through the void and disappearing. Deep underground, there was a magnetic core, and a powerful field of magnetic light that one could see with the visible eye. Qingqing carefully threw the storage-type magic treasure, now unbound, into the magnetic light.
A short time later.
Qingqing returned. “I tossed it all.” She looked at Ning, who nodded. “Good. Everyone, let’s think it over. Have we left any clues behind?”
“Senior apprentice-brother, earlier, when we appeared at Mount Mooncrescent…is it possible that the servants or disciples of Adept Mooncrescent might have noticed us?” Northson said, worried.
Ning shook his head. “Don’t worry. My divine sense covered the entire Mount Mooncrescent, and everything was within my field of observation. Only three people accidentally saw our dragon-headed warship, but at that time, the warship was under disguise and also had a different coloration. There’s no way they would’ve been able to identify us just on the basis of seeing that warship.”
“Alright.” Northson nodded. They came here secretly, and so they had naturally disguised the warship into a very ordinary, common-looking sort. “There’s no way they could find us just based on the appearance of the warship.”
“Good.” Ning nodded. “Everyone, can you think of any flaws?” They all shook their heads. They had been incomparably cautious when coming, and hadn’t even used teleportation arrays. They had flown all the way here, through the clouds and the mist. Only three people had seen their true appearances at Mount Mooncrescent; Adept Mooncrescent, Yu Dong, and Yue Wei. All three were now dead.
“Junior apprentice-brother, next I am going to act against Shui Yi. There’s no need for you to go,” Ning said. “Dealing with Shui Yi…will be much tricker than dealing with Yu Dong. Although he’s merely a peak Zifu Disciple, he’s within the Dong clan’s territory.”
“I have no ties or attachments to be worried about. Senior apprentice-brother, don’t say anything else,” Northson said firmly. Ning nodded gently. “Fine, then. Still…we need to decide on how we should deal with Shui Yi.” Ning looked around at everyone.
Qingqing said hurriedly, “It’s quite simple. Master, you have divine sense…you can effortlessly cover the entire Dong clan with it. As long as you find a chance to kill him, you can easily kill him, right?”
“It won’t be that easy.” Northson shook his head. “That’s the lair of the Dong clan, and the home of a Primal Daoist. It definitely will be guarded by numerous layers of protections, and there’s no way an outsider will be able to silently sneak in…”
Ning nodded. “Even an idiot can guess that this place must be ringed by countless formations. There’s no way to sneak in at all.”
“Ning, son,” the Whitewater Hound said, “Although it might be hard for us to enter the Dong clan to kill Shui Yi…why can’t we make Shui Yi come out instead?”
“Have him come out?” Ning’s eyes lit up. “Right!” Northson called out in approval as well. Ning quickly began to ponder this, and the information he had acquired on Shui Yi began to flash through his mind. Soon, he came up with a way.
“If it’s hard to go in to kill him, then we’ll draw him out.” Ning nodded. “Find. Then let’s go right now…”
Immediately, the warship, now appearing to be an ordinary, pitch-black ship, disappeared from the clouds.
They had already killed Adept Mooncrescent. There was nothing else they could do about that now! However, just as they were afraid of…Adept Mooncrescent’s group of old friends wouldn’t let the matter of his death rest! The entire Shadow Army wouldn’t let one of its old, retired brothers die in such a manner! The members of the Shadow Army had all battled for many years together, and too many of them had died. Very, very few survived to retire. If even their retirees could be killed without rhyme or reason…how could they accept this?
“Don’t worry. The old brothers of our Shadow Army won’t be killed for no rhyme or reason, just like this! In other places, the intelligence reports of the Heavenly Treasures Mountain might be formidable, but here in Stillwater Commandery…the intelligence reports of our Northmont clan are even more superior!” Within the headquarters of the Shadow Army, a red-haired old man was speaking to a group of blood-robed men in a loud voice.
Stillwater Commandery was the territory of the Northmont clan. Here, the Northmont clan’s roots were the deepest.
Just half a day later….
Stillwater City. Northmont Blacktiger’s Estate.
“Eh?” Northmont Baiwei, who was drinking some wine and listening to music, suddenly frowned. He heard footsteps from outside. “I’m listening to music. Who dares disturb me?” A hint of anger could be seen in Baiwei’s furrowed brows.
Suddenly, the door was pushed open, and a muscular, bald man dressed in an ornate black uniform walked in. Next to him was a pale-faced, beardless old man with triangular pupils. The triangle-eyed old man seemed to have a hint of laughter on his face, but it made others shiver.
“Father!” Baiwei shot to his feet. In the face of his father, Biawei always felt uncontrollably nervous. “Baiwei.” Northmont Blacktiger’s deep, hooded gaze was like an infinitely cold pool of ice. “I ask you this – was it you who sent people to the Heavenly Treasures Mountain for an intelligence report on Yu Dong, Shui Yi, and Dong Seven?”
“Yes.” Baiwei nodded. “Why?” Blacktiger asked. Baiwei immediately said respectfully, “It was for the sake of my brother, Ji Ning, who brought his fellow disciple, Mu Northson, and asked me to assist. He didn’t wish for the Heavenly Treasures Mountain to find out, so I was extremely careful as well. Aside from myself and the our servants who carried the orders out, no one else knows.”
“Oh?” Blacktiger’s eyes were dark and cold. He said calmly, “It seems, then, that the culprits are Ji Ning and his group.”