The Desolate Era - Book 9, Chapter 16 - Comprehending the Dao in the Stellar Hall
The large, ancient hall was the same as it had been in the past. Those giant prayer mats remained in the same positions as they had for trillions of years.
Ning materialized out of nowhere within this main hall. He instantly saw an old black bull and a giant yellow bear, and he hurriedly said with respect, “Ji Ning greets you two, seniors.”
“Late Wanxiang stage?” The giant yellow bear nodded slightly. “You’ve improved quite quickly as a Ki Refiner, but you have only reached the ninth stage as a Fiendgod. You are a bit slower.”
“Already at the Wanxiang level?” The old black bull was quite surprised. He looked at Ning. “Ji Ning, kiddo, it seems as though you are already much more powerful than our fourth master, Rampart. Rampart died at the Wanxiang level, you know.”
Ning just grinned. As for the giant yellow bear, he nodded. “Ji Ning is naturally much more powerful than Rampart; his talent is comparable to a reincarnated Immortal’s.”
“You praise me too much, senior,” Ning said with a laugh. Naturally, he felt quite pleased at being praised. “I wonder how much of a chance I would currently have at challenging the third level of the Wargod Hall?”
“Less than ten percent.” The giant yellow bear shook his head. “What?!” Ning was shocked. When he had left Swallow Mountain and gone to Stillwater City, he had already successfully passed the second level of the Wargod Hall. In the past four years, he had only grown more powerful as a Fiendgod Body Refiner, and had embarked on the path of the Dao of the Sword…and yet the spirit of the estate, the giant yellow bear, was actually saying with great certainty that he had less than a ten percent change of passing the third level?
“Senior, you don’t even know what level I have reached in the sword,” Ning protested. The giant yellow bear shook his head. “Ji Ning, you don’t understand. The first and second levels of the Wargod Hall, upon being completed, result in rewards of Mortal-ranked magic treasures or items of comparable value. But the third and fourth levels, when completed, will resulted in you acquiring Earth-ranked magic treasures or items of comparable value…in short, after every two levels of the Wargod Hall, the difficulty skyrockets.”
“Skyrockets?” Ning frowned.
“Right. The first and second levels of the Wargod Hall are generally meant to be a test for Fiendgods who have reached the Zifu level. The third and fourth levels, however, are meant for Fiendgods who have reached the Wanxiang level.” The giant yellow bear looked towards Ning. “Generally speaking, only when Fiendgods have reached the Wanxiang level will they have a chance at passing the third level of the Wargod Hall. You are only at the ninth stage of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]; your fundamentals are, by comparison, far too weak. Although you have divine abilities, the test has already accounted for them as well; these are tests meant for the heirs of Master, after all.”
“For example, the seventh and eighth levels of the Wargod Hall are meant to test Fiendgods who have reached the Void level of power. In the past, Immortal Juhua had remained unable to break through as a Fiendgod Body Refiner, and so although he did break through as a Ki Refiner, and he even reached the peak of the Void level as a Ki Refiner, he was still unable to pass the seventh level. Only after he trained for many years and became a Loose Immortal was he able to pass the seventh level…from this, you should be able to imagine how difficult it is.”
Ning nodded silently. Right. Immortal Juhua, even as a peak Void-level Ki Refiner, was unable to pass the seventh level. Thus, for a peak Wanxiang-level Ki Refiner to pass the third level would be similarly difficult. One had to have the finest Fiendgod Body Refining techniques, a high level of insight into the Dao, and and a divine ability like the [Starseizing Hand], or one of the other top three divine abilities in the Divine Abilities Hall, in order to be able to pass it.
These were the trials left behind by Daoist Threelives!
“But of course, you can try if you want,” the giant yellow bear said. “At the Zifu level, as a Fiendgod, you have two chances to challenge the Wargod Hall. You’ve only used one; you have one more!”
Ning laughed. “No rush. The main reason I’ve come is to go visit the Stellar Hall.” The old black bull said hurriedly, “Let me take you there. The Wargod Hall is extremely difficult; in the past, it drove Immortal Juhua nearly insane. The Stellar Hall is much better; it is completely filled with the mysteries of the Dao, and is a sacred place for comprehending it.”
The giant yellow bear followed them from behind. A bull, a man, and a bear. They walked together towards the Stellar Hall.
Within the Stellar Hall. The giant mountain remained there, filled with green, verdant life. Beneath that mountain, the stones remained strewn about wildly, with a thatched straw hut in the mist of them. The sky was still filled with those countless, sparkling stars.
“Each time I come, I have a different feeling.” Ning looked towards the stream of water which flowed atop some of the rocks, then towards the wild grass that grew amidst them. He stared at the stars in the sky, each of which made him feel extremely aware of the profundity of the Dao. “That one is the Dao of the Inferno. That one is…the Dao of the Sword?”
Ning raised his head, giving it a look. “The Dao of the Sword?!” Ning couldn’t help but let out a startled cry. The nearby old black bull gave him a surprised glance. “You’ve embarked onto the Dao of the Sword?”
Ning nodded. “Right. After leaving Swallow Mountain, I went to Stillwater City. Shortly after I entered the Black-White College, I embarked on the Dao of the Sword.”
“In the past, Juhua embarked on the Dao of the Sword as well. Immortal Juhua was an extremely famous Sword Immortal…unfortunately, he wasn’t able to completely comprehend the Dao of the Sword.” The old black bull shook his head and sighed.
“The Dao of the Sword is one of the Grand Daos.” The giant yellow bear walked towards them from behind, then said leisurely, “If you have the heart of a Sword Immortal, a heart which is sincere to the sword, and a high level of comprehension, you’ll generally be able to embark on the Dao of the Sword.”
Ning muttered to himself. It was easy for the bear to say that, but in the entire Black-White College, aside from his master, Ning was the only person to embark on the Dao of the Sword. It seemed, however, as though the bear viewed it as quite a simple matter. Still…the spirit of the estate had previously followed Daoist Threelives, a Primordial Fiendgod. It only made sense that he had a broader view of things.
“It’s easy to embark on the Dao of the Sword, and it’s also not too hard to be fairly accomplished in it. However, to comprehend the entire Dao of the Sword…that is incomparably difficult.” The giant yellow bear looked towards Ning. “In your homeland, this world which has been unified by the Grand Xia Dynasty, there probably isn’t a single person who has comprehended the entire Dao of the Sword!”
Ning was speechless. He continued to listen.
“Lesser Daos are lesser Daos. Grand Daos are Grand Daos. Heavenly Daos are Heavenly Daos!” The giant yellow bear let out a sigh. “The differences between the three are tremendous. Immortal Juhua had comprehended nine complete Dao-Paths, but even if you gave him another ten million years, he still wouldn’t be able to completely comprehend a complete Grand Dao! My master, a Primordial Fiendgod, was born from the primordial chaos with innate mastery over an entire Grand Dao! Afterwards, he comprehended quite a few complete Grand Daos, and many ordinary Daos…but unfortunately, up till the day he built this estate, he still remained unable to master a Heavenly Dao.”
Ning’s ears pricked up. Daoist Threelives? He was born from the primordial chaos with innate mastery over a Grand Dao? And had mastered many Grand Daos?
“Slowly enlighten yourself. Your talent is far greater than Juhua’s. Only by comprehending a complete Grand Dao will you have a chance at becoming a major power who can roam freely about the Three Realms. Only then will you have a chance at becoming comparable to your master, Daoist Threelives.” The giant yellow bear looked towards Ning. “In this major world controlled by the Grand Xia Dynasty…you may become the very first person to completely comprehend the entirety of the Grand Dao of the Sword.”
Ning instantly felt his blood beginning to pump. Neither Immortal Northwalker nor the even more powerful Immortal Juhua had been able to even come close to mastering the complete Grand Dao of the Sword, despite the fact that they had travelled quite far along that path. And yet, they had already become incredibly powerful figures that had awed the entire Grand Xia Dynasty, and were even comparable to Celestial Immortals, despite only being Loose Immortals. If he were to truly master the complete Dao-Path of the Sword, then he would become a truly formidable figure in the Three Realms.
“My talent is greater than Immortal Juhua, and I have the divine ability, Starseizing Hand…my starting point is much higher than his as well.” Ning mused to himself, “And with the underwater estate assisting me…given all of my advantages, if I’m still unable to become a Sword Immortal who has completely mastered the Grand Dao of the Sword, I’ll have no one to blame but myself.”
Ning felt an incomparably heroic aura surge within his breast. Senior Northwalker? Immortal Juhua? He was going to become an even more powerful Sword Immortal, the most powerful Sword Immortal of the entire Grand Xia Dynasty! A Sword Immortal whose name would be known throughout the Three Realms!
“A nine-story tower is built on a foundation of earth. A journey of a thousand kilometers starts with the first step. I must move forward on my path, one step at a time.” Ning immediately moved towards the thatched hut, then pulled open a book. It was the [Stellar Scroll One], [Stellar Scroll Two], and so on…after placing these books on the stone table within the thatched cottage, Ning sat down on a stone bench. Opening the first scroll, Ning began to read.
“Today, Chang Laijian came to me, asking me for help…” Ning read on, his enunciation of each character seemingly quite simple, but when spoken together, they linked in a way which was filled with the exquisite music of the great Dao. Naturally, this guided Ning’s heart to begin to enter a state where his subconscious beagn to focus even more on comprehending the Dao…
Ning’s eyes grew hooded as he stared towards the stars in the sky. Whoosh. A wind arose. Small winds began to stir in the nearby region. Ning stood up, then took a single step, and as he did, he seemed to become part of the wind, merging into it. He was like the flapping wings of a giant Roc, soaring about through the wind. With each movement, it was as though he was using an evasive, agility technique; he’d disappear in one place, then reappear somewhere else, where the wind had arisen. This…this was the true [Windwing Evasion].
“The Dao of the Gale.” The giant yellow bear nodded slightly. “He has reached the Dao Domain level in yet another Dao. It seems as though in the past four years, Ji Ning has improved considerably.”
During these past few years, Ning had accumulated many experiences and insights. All of them were now being drawn out by the Stellar Hall, and they began to burst forth.
Within the Black-White College in the distant Stillwater City, as Ning was reading the [Stellar Scrolls] and meditating on the Dao in the Stellar Hall.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning and I have both completed our Raindragon Guard missions. Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning returned to his homeland, the Swallow Mountain region. For me to go there wouldn’t help me much in gaining insights into the Dao of Constructs, so I came back,” Northson said with a laugh. In front of him was senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus, dressed in a sky-blue robe.
Ninelotus laughed, then nodded. “You two junior apprentice-brothers truly are formidable. Both of you became Raindragon Guards in such a short period of time. To this very day, I have not yet joined the Raindragon Guard.”
“Senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus, you have also reached the Wanxiang level. I imagine that you will soon become a Raindragon Guard,” Northson said.
“No rush. When I grow a bit more powerful, I’ll join the Raindragon Guard.” Ninelotus paused for a moment, then asked, “Right…when junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning returned to Swallow Mountain, did he tell you where he was going?”
Northson said, “Serpentwing Lake! Senior apprentice-brother said that in the future, he would be living there!”
“Oh, Serpentwing Lake!” Ninelotus nodded gently, silently memorizing this name, then laughed and rose to her feet. “I won’t bother you any further, junior apprentice-brother. I’ll go back now.” Ninelotus stepped onto a snowy white lotus-shaped magic treasure, then soared into the skies, flying far away.
While soaring through the skies, she had a hint of a smile in her eyes. “Serpentwing Lake of Swallow Mountain? Master also said that I’ve spent too much time in the College, and should go out and do some adventuring and broaden my horizons. Mmm. I’ll first go visit Serpentwing Lake.”
Two days later.
Ninelotus and her junior apprentice-sister departed from the Black-White College, heading out on an adventure. The first destination for the two of them was Serpentwing Lake of Swallow Mountain.