The Desolate Era - Book 9, Chapter 22 - The Tenth Stage of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]
Luo Qing was truly quite familiar with Ninelotus; the two had known each other for many years, and she had never before seen this expression on Ninelotus’ face. Ninelotus had always been calm and composed, and she had a breathtaking background; she had been selected long ago to be the next leader of the Dongyan tribe. As such, Ninelotus had naturally been given the best of training since youth. To force her to reveal shyness and bashfulness…this was virtually impossible.
“You…you…” Luo Qing stared, her mouth falling open as she pointed to Ninelotus. “You really are…” Ninelotus quickly recovered her calm. “Is there a need for you to act so shocked?”
“Shocked? Senior apprentice-sister, when you were in the Dongyan clan, you had countless admirers. Even in the Black-White College, where many of our fellow disciples do not know of your history and background, you still have many admirers and pursuers. You’ve never taken a fancy to any of them!” Luo Qing said, shocked, “Why have you taken a fancy to him? He’s a disciple of a small clan, and won’t be of any help to you in administering the Dongyan clan’s affairs in the future.”
Ninelotus frowned, revealing a hint of displeasure. Luo Qing hurriedly shook her head and said, “I’m not saying…I mean, you…”
“Although the tribe which Ji Ning is from is a weak and small one, his own potential is quite astonishing,” Ninelotus said. “You must understand that for some people, it doesn’t matter which tribe they come from, because they, by themselves, are even mightier than entire tribes.”
Ninelotus had a hint of anticipation in her eyes. “And…in choosing a Dao-companion, what matters the most is the feeling one has in one’s heart. He…gives me a very good feeling.”
Luo Qing stared at Ninelotus. “You really are choosing him for your Dao-companion?” Ninelotus shook her head. “Not just yet. Immortal cultivators have extremely long lives, and the selection of a Dao-companion is a monumental, life-altering event. Naturally, I’ll have to spend more time watching him and understanding him. We’ve only interacted for three or so months; it’s still too early to discuss becoming Dao-companions.”
Even mortals, when in a relationship, would at least be together for a year or two before getting married. Immortal practitioners…there were even those who would be involved with each other for centuries before finally becoming Dao-companions!
“If news of this were to spread, that the future Matriarch of the Dongyan clan has chosen a Dao-companion…oh, boy!” Luo Qing let out a sigh. “This would definitely cause a storm of commentary!”
“My choice of a Dao-companion is mine alone. Who can intervene?” Ninelotus was very calm. Luo Qing could sense how resolved Ninelotus was, and she immediately said, “Senior apprentice-sister, I won’t try to dissuade you from this decision. By staying here, you’ll be able to improve your understanding of your lotus techniques, and also continue to inspect a potential future Dao-companion. For me, however, staying here is pointless…I’m planning to leave tomorrow. I’ll go around adventuring for half a year, then return to the Black-White College.”
A look of guilt appeared on Ninelotus’ face, and she took Luo Qing by the hand. “Qingqing, we said that we’d go out adventuring together…I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. Since you are choosing a Dao-companion, as your junior apprentice-sister, of course I’ll be supportive,” Luo Qing said with a laugh.
The next day, Luo Qing departed, having been sent off by Ji Ning and the others. As for Ning and Ninelotus, they continued to live quite peacefully on Brightheart Island, discussing the Dao every few days.
“Eh?” Late one night. Ning, who had been seated in the lotus position on his bed, suddenly revealed a hint of excitement. “It seems that over the course of the past five months, all these discussions on the Dao with senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus has caused my understanding of the ways in which fire and water support and neutralize each other to rise significantly. I’ve finally understood the final principles that were necessary for a breakthrough to the tenth stage of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens].”
“In I go.” Ning willed it, and instantly, a giant phantom of a bear’s head appeared out of nowhere within the room. It opened its mouth, swallowing the seated Ning within it. And, just like that, Ning disappeared..
Within the main hall in the underwater estate. The giant prayer mats were there, the same as ever. Ning casually chose one of them, taking a seat in the lotus position.
“Ji Ning, kid, why’ve you returned so soon after your last trip?” The old black bull looked at Ning. At this moment, the giant yellow bear suddenly materialized as well. “He’s about to make his breakthrough. If he were to make it in his own room, it would probably be destroyed. In addition, to be a bit more cautious, he decided to come here, to the underwater estate, which naturally would be the safest place.”
Ning sat there in the lotus position, having absorbed his magic robes into his body, leaving it completely nude. “Let it begin.”
Since he had already grasped the essence of it, Ning immediately began to activate the principles of the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens]. Whoosh! Whoosh!
Upon Ning’s bared back, the Divine Solar Tattoo and the Divine Lunar Tattoo all suddenly lit up with incomparable brilliance. They instantly began to resonate with those two most supreme of celestial bodies, the Solar Star and the Lunar Star, which were located an unfathomable distance away and separated by countless realms. The Solar Star and the Lunar Star instantly began to send out a stream of Solar Truefire and Lunar Truewater towards him.
To advance from the ninth stage to the tenth stage was a major leap between realms. With each major transformation, the Solar Star and the Lunar Star would provide their assistance, causing the divine body to become transformed once more.
“Breakthroughs via the [Crimsonbright Diagram of the Nine Heavens] truly are special.” The giant yellow bear stared at the lotus flowers, stamen, and petals that had appeared around Ning, all of which looked just like real ones. Ning was completely enfolded within the lotus flower. “Each time, there will be Solar Truefire and Lunar Truewater to assist. This sort of divine body will thus have the potential to control Solar Truefire and Lunar Truewater in the future.”
“To advance from earthfire and dire-ice to skyfire and sky-ice, then to Solar Truefire and Lunar Truewater…” The nearby black bull shook his head. “That is all too far off. Generally speaking, only Celestial Immortals and Empyrean Gods have the chance to control Solar Truefire and Lunar Truewater…and that’s just a chance.”
A cultivator had to start by nurturing earthfire, then slowly improve it step by step, painstakingly nourishing it to the point of it becoming Solar Truefire when the cultivator became a Celestial Immortal!
“He’s almost finished,” the giant yellow bear said. Indeed. The Waterflame Lotus surrounding Ning was beginning to turn translucent; clearly, the truefire and truewater within had slowly been completely absorbed by Ning. The translucent petals of the Waterflame Lotus slowly opened, revealing Ning within the heart of the lotus. Every single part of Ning’s body was incomparably perfect; it was the body of a Fiendgod!
Ning opened his eyes, and the fur clothes appeared on his body. They still appeared just like the ones his mother had made for him.
“I broke through,” Ning said with a smile. What massive, majestic divine power. His entire body coursed with a flood of strength!
At the ninth stage, he was only comparable to regular, early Wanxiang Fiendgod Refiners. But at the tenth stage, he was already comparable to late Wanxiang Fiendgod Refiners! Most importantly of all…after every three stages, there would be a major gap, and passing through each gap was extremely hard. The three mini-stages were much easier to advance through; one only had to absorb enough solar power and lunar power in order to break through. Thus, there would be no bottlenecks for Ning as he advanced from the tenth to the twelfth stage.
“I have the Fiendgod body of a late Wanxiang Adept, and have mastered the third stance of the [Three-Foot Sword]!” Ning mused to himself, “And, with the divine ability, [Starseizing Hand]…my current level of power is significantly greater than it was back in the wild marshes of the Gaol Mountains. If I were to once more encounter a Primal-level Dragonwhale Diremonster, it wouldn’t be too hard for me to fight against him head on. And, I most likely should be on par with senior apprentice-brother Bloodshadow,” Ning thought to himself delightedly.
In terms of Fiendgod bodies, Bloodshadow was merely at the peak Wanxiang stage; Ning was comparable to being at the late Wanxiang stage, and was just slightly weaker. However, he had a far more powerful divine ability! And, with the help of his swordplay…
“Given my current level of power, I can fight against Primal Daoists now. Even if I cannot overcome them, I should be able to escape,” Ning mused to himself.
“Ji Ning.” The giant yellow bear spoke out. “Senior.” Ning looked towards him. “Since your foundation has improved, your power has naturally improved as well,” the giant yellow bear said. “If you were to go re-challenge the third level of the Wargod Hall, even without relying on archery, you would have a 100% chance of obtaining victory in close quarters combat.”
Ning laughed. “Then if I were to go challenge the fourth level? Would I pass?” “The chances of passing are less than ten percent,” the giant yellow bear said. “Once your Fiendgod body reaches the eleventh stage, you should have a 30% or 40% chance of victory. If you were to improve in swordplay as well, then your chances would become still greater. To overcome the fourth level of the Wargod Hall…generally speaking, you’ll need to be powerful enough to defeat Primal Daoists.”
Ning couldn’t help but secretly shake his head. Oh, Daoist Threelives…
The bar he had set for his successors really was too high. Even someone as monstrous as Ning found it incredibly difficult; the former successor, Immortal Juhua, really was unfortunate! He ended up becoming a Loose Immortal, and only many years after doing so was he capable of defeating the seventh stage and selecting an extremely powerful Immortal-ranked magic treasure. Unfortunately…by then, it was too late.
“No rush. I’ll challenge the fourth level of Wargod Hall next time,” Ning said with a laugh. “I just made a breakthrough as a Fiendgod; I can be considered to have reached the Wanxiang level formally now.”
The giant yellow bear nodded. “Yes.” Ning’s eyes lit up, blazing with eagerness. “Then I now have another chance to choose a treasure from the Treasures Hall.”
“Naturally. You will only have a total of three choices each time, so you must be cautious each time you do so; there’s no going back after you make your choice,” the giant yellow bear said. “Come. Let’s go to the Treasures Hall and slowly pick through the treasures.”
An hour later. After having selected yet another treasure, and with his power greatly improved, Ning quietly returned to Serpentwing Lake. No one knew that within those two short hours, Ning had left Serpentwing lake. Naturally, no one knew that Ning’s power had greatly improved.
Time continued to flow on. In the blink of an eye, a year had passed since Ninelotus had arrived at Serpentwing Lake.
The distant Stillwater City. The Black-White College.
“Junior apprentice-sister Qingqing!” In the skies above a mountain, a black-suited youth was calling out in a high voice.
“Senior apprentice-brother Flowcloud, it’s quite rare for you to come visit me here.” A tall, willowy, silver-robed, maiden, Luo Qing, walked out of her courtyard. Raising her head, she smiled towards the skies as she spoke. The black-suited youth in the air immediately landed in the courtyard.
“Senior apprentice-brother Flowcloud, please sit,” Luo Qing said. The black-uniformed youth sat down, then laughed, “I heard that recently, junior apprentice-sister Qingqing, you came back from your adventures, so I came to see how you are doing…as I recall, you and junior apprentice-sister Ninelotus went out together. Why is it that a year later, you returned but she did not?”
Luo Qing hesitated a moment, then said, “Chen Jin!”
The black-suited youth was startled. Chen Jin was his true name; however, Qingqing usually referred to him by his Daoist title, as ‘senior apprentice-brother Flowcloud’. For her to address him by his actual name…she most likely was going to discuss something important with him.
“You, me, and Ninelotus, we all came to Stillwater City together,” Luo Qing said in a low voice. “You and I both know about her background.” Chen Jin nodded. “Of course I do.”
“In the past, when senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus was in the Dongyan clan, you continuously wooed her. When she brought me to Stillwater City and the Black-White College, you decided to enter the Black-White College as well…I know that your heart has continued to be infatuated with her,” Luo Qing said.
Chen Jin laughed. “Although Ninelotus has never nodded and accepted me, I’ll continue to wait. Ten years, a hundred years…I’ll slowly wait for her.”
“There’s something…” Luo Qing gritted her teeth. “…that I think I must tell you about.”
“What is it?” Chen Jin laughed. Luo Qing looked so unwilling to speak out; could it be that she was about to confess feelings for him?
Luo Qing took a deep breath. “Senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus has chosen a Dao-companion.”
Chen Jin was stunned.
“But unfortunately…it isn’t you.” Luo Qing looked at him.
It was as though a thunderbolt had fallen out of the clear skies, completely stunning Chen Jin.