The Desolate Era - Book 9, Chapter 4 - Disappointed and Confused
The black-robed, black-haired Immortal Diancai was seated in the lotus position atop his jade bed. Suddenly, a hint of amusement appeared at the corner of his lips. “Seems as though this kid was successful in joining the Raindragon Guard. He came back quite quickly.”
At this moment, Ji Ning and Mu Northson had just re-entered the Black-White College, flying through the air.
“Senior apprentice-brother, I’ll go find you tomorrow,” Northson said. “Go back and focus on your training,” Ning said. “After you finish, we’ll go take on more missions.” The two of them had prepared well in advance; after absorbing enough liquefied elemental essence and rising in power sufficiently, they would immediately go and execute those vile, sin-laden cultivators.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Ning moved forward on a small boat, while Northson rode his dragon-headed warship. Each flew to their own little mountains.
“Ah, senior apprentice-brother Darknorth.”
“Junior apprentice-brother Darknorth returned? Last time, when I went to visit you, I discovered that you had gone out to go adventuring.”
On the way back to Darknorth Peak, Ning ran into six ordinary retainer-disciples and a single formal disciple.
“There’s Darknorth Peak.” Atop his flying ship, Ning stared downwards towards a mountain peak. It was already sundown, and beneath the glow of the setting sun, Darknorth Peak seemed so dreamlike and illusory. “Little Qing, you are my spirit-beast, but in the Black-White College, there are many forbidden areas which you cannot enter without permission. Today, just be good and quietly train in a secluded room. Don’t go anywhere else and don’t make trouble for me, understood?”
“Don’t worry, Master.” After entering the Black-White College, Qingqing was extraordinarily excited. Ning couldn’t help but laugh, and then he immediately sent his ship flying downwards.
One figure after another emerged from the Darknorth Peak’s estate; it was the six retainers Ning had left behind. Meng Roch, Cloudship, Cloudjade, Forgard, Weifang, and Nethersun.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning,” the six called out, welcoming him in unison.
“Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, you came back already? Were you successful in joining the Raindragon Guard?” Cloudjade looked at Ning, her eyes shining brightly. As a naturally beautiful, alluring maiden, she naturally attracted admirers like moths to the flame. She had many pursuers, and even amongst Ning’s retainers, aside from Meng Roch and her elder brother Cloudship, the other three were all trying to woo her. Naturally, there were other retainers on other mountains who were chasing after as well.
After having grown accustomed to the retainers, when she saw Ning, she instantly mused to herself, “Compared to senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, all of them are like clay pidgeons or earthen dogs! Hmph…even if the Dao-companion of myself, Cloudjade, isn’t as good as senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning, he should be at least half as good as him. These people aren’t even close to being comparable to him.”
“Right. I joined the Raindragon Guard,” Ning said with a smile. The six all said in unison, “Congratulations, senior apprentice-brother!”
Ning nodded, then pointed towards the azure-robed maiden by his side. “This is my spirit-beast, Qingqing. You should get to know each other.”
“Senior apprentice-sister Qingqing.” Everyone, Cloudjade included, spoke with great respect, because they could sense the powerful, monstrous aura emanating from her. She was definitely a Wanxiang-level Diremonster, while the six of them were all merely Zifu Disciples. In truth, Qingqing had released her aura intentionally, wanting to overawe them.
“Alright, all of you can leave now. Uncle White, arrange a private training room for Qingqing,” Ning said, then went by himself to his own training room.
“As soon as he comes back, he goes into training. No wonder he’s so talented.” Cloudjade looked at Ning, then nodded. “The Dao-companion I find in the future must be as hard-working as senior apprentice-brother.”
Within the private training room. The ceilings glowed with light from the star-like jewels, which bathed the entire room in their glow. Ning sat there quietly in the lotus position, atop the carved jade bed in the center of the room.
“Let’s begin.” Ning waved his hand, and a jade bottle appeared. He placed it in front of himself, then opened the stopper. This jade flask had three thousand kilograms of liquefied elemental essence within, and as soon as he opened the stopper, a thick, nourishing elemental aura drifted out from with it. Just breathing in the air in this room made one feel extremely comfortable.
Ning’s soul was powerful, his talent was tremendous, and his foundation was very deep and stable. His training speed was also astonishingly fast. Normally, Wanxiang Adepts might spend centuries without building up enough elemental ki to break through to the Primal Daoist level, but for Ning, even if he just trained slowly, a few decades would be enough.
Desspite that, however…these three thousand kilograms would be the equivalent of Ning engaging in painstaking training for six to ten years.
“Absorb.” Ning opened his mouth, and the liquefied elemental essence entered his mouth.
Within his Zifu region. At the deepest depths of that sea of elemental ki, the Watersource began to rapidly release large amounts of incomparably pure elemental ki. The entire elemental sea began to swivel slightly, and the surface of the sea naturally began to rise. At the same time, countless grains of refined essence began to emerge within the sea of elemental ki.
Rumble…these countless grains of refined essence rose into the skies. In the skies of the Zifu Region, there were thousands of stars, a sun, and a moon. These incomparably mysterious and profound stellar bodies were beginning to slowly move as well, and as they did, the truly pure ‘Wanxiang-level elemental ki’ began to be generated.
Rumble…the countless grains of refined essence were instantly swept into the orbits of these stellar bodies as they soared into the skies. The countless stellar bodies slowly moved about, grinding the grains and breaking them apart, then absorbing the remains. Naturally, it was the sun and the moon which absorbed the most.
Not seeming tired at all, the stellar bodies moved nonstop, each one exerting their own attractive or repulsive forces. Suddenly, the gravitational forces locked, and they were now unable to move an inch! These locked in stellar bodies continued to absorb more and more grains of refined essence. Upon reaching a certain size, they would undergo a qualitative transformation.
The Wanxiang-level elemental ki from these stars was now clearly much more pure than before!
“The middle-stage of the Wanxiang-level,” Ning mused to himself. “After using up nearly a thousand kilograms, I’ve reached the middle of the Wanxiang-level. Let’s continue!”
A long period of time later.
This time, Ning used up more than 1500 kilograms, and the countless stars within Ning’s Zifu region began to undergo yet another qualitative transformation.
“The late Wanxiang-level!” Ning opened his eyes, staring at the jade bottle before him. The jade bottle had less than five hundred kilograms left, but there was no way he could reach the peak with this amount. Based on his previous experiences, from the late Wanxiang-level to the peak Wanxiang-level would probably require 2000 to 2500 kilograms of liquefied elemental essence!
“Actually, the hardest part is stil going to be going from the peak of the Wanxiang stage to the Primal Daoist stage. That step will take tens of thousands of kilograms,” Ning sighed.
Could it be that Ning would go and ambush and kill other Wanxiang Daoists?
As the saying goes, if one always walks by the side of the river, eventually, one’s shoes would get wet. Perhaps Ning would encounter a low-profile yet incredibly powerful Wanxiang Adept, or one with a tremendously powerful magic treasure. In that case, he truly would die! Thus, generally speaking, unless there were special circumstances, one wouldn’t go waylay and kill other Immortal cultivators. If one did so repeatedly, one might be successful for a time, but sooner or later, one would be finished.
“No rush. For now, in terms of both comprehension as well as in the Dao of the Sword, I’m not good enough yet. Breaking through to the Primal stage won’t be for some time to come.” Ning once more began to ponder on his swordplay and began to meditate.
Time flowed past, and soon, it was light outside. It was dawn, and Northson had come.
“Senior apprentice-brother, senior apprentice-brother,” Northson called out, appearing to be in uncommonly high spirits. ‘I went all the way to the peak of the Wanxiang stage, and still have quite a bit of liquefied elemental essence left.”
“Why so smug? I’m at the peak of the Wanxiang level as well!” Qingqing stared at him. Northson was shocked. “You? With just that little bit of liquefied elemental essence? Previously, you were like me, at the middle of the Wanxiang level; I used up far more liquefied elemental essence than you.”
Qingqing pursed her lips. “I spent three hundred kilograms to reach the late Wanxiang stage, then another 2250 to reach the peak of the Wanxiang stage. Clearly, previously I was already quite close to the late Wanxiang stage and was much stronger than you.”
Ning sat there to the side, sipping on some wine and laughing while the two bickered.
“Senior apprentice-brother, how about you?” Northson sat down as well. “Late Wanxiang level,” Ning said with a calm laugh.
“Late?” Northson was shocked. “Why only late?”
“My son Ning and I are both at the late Wanxiang stage now.” A white-haired, white-robed man walked in through the gate. Northson, upon hearing this, instantly understood. Ning must have given his liquefied elemental essence to the Whitewater Hound, who had previously only been at the peak of the Zifu level. Otherwise, how could the hound have trained all the way to the late Wanxiang stage at one go?
“Uncle White had an extremely high level of comprehension with regards to the Dao of formations. Thus, with enough liquefied elemental essence, he was able to advance considerably. If one doesn’t have a sufficiently high level of comprehension and a strong enough Dao-heart, even if one has liquefied elemental essence, it won’t make a difference.” Ning looked at Northson. “Junior apprentice-brother, are you going to go visit your master? If you don’t, we’ll head out right now.”
“No,” Northson said, shaking his head. “You didn’t go visit your master either, right?” Ning nodded. They had just said their farewells last time…it had only been three months. Ning hadn’t improved that much in terms of swordplay, and so he didn’t need to be in a rush to see his master.
“Let’s eat breakfast, then head out,” Ning said. “All of you, sit down. Uncle White, Little Qing, sit.” Northson, Qingqing, Uncle White, and Ning all sat there, chatting, laughing, and eating. That very day, after the sun fully rose, Ning’s group once more left the Black-White College…and after this departure, it would be a long time before they returned.
Ning had encountered quite a few people after returning to the Black-White College, and so those who were interested in him naturally learned quite quickly that he was back.
“Whoosh.” Ninelotus waved her hand, and a watery mirror appeared in front of her. She stared at herself in front of the mirror.
“Eh?” Ninelotus frowned slightly. The style of her blue robes began to change, and even the embroidery of the robes began to change. As a set of magic robes, it naturally could change in coloration. A short time later, Ninelotus finally smiled. With a wave of her hand, she dismissed the watery mirror in front of her.
Whoosh. A snowy white lotus flower appeared. Ninelotus stepped onto the snowy white lotus flower, then flew straight into the air, leaving her estate.
A short while later. Ninelotus, aboard the snowy white lotus flower, saw the distant Darknorth Peak. After flying a bit closer, she finally spoke out: “I heard that junior apprentice-brother Ji Ning has returned. I wonder if we can meet?” Her voice echoed in the air above Darknorth Peak.
Soon, a swarthy, black-skinned man and an alluring woman appeared. It was Meng Roch and Cloudjade. Roch hurriedly bowed. “Senior apprentice-sister Ninelotus, senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning returned yesterday, but he left again this morning.” The nearby Cloudjade stared up at Ninelotus, who stood upon her snowy white lotus flower. She felt as though Ninelotus were a beautiful, Immortal fairy, and she couldn’t help but feel envious.
“He’s gone?” Ninelotus was stunned. “When will he be back?” She asked.
“We don’t know.” Roch shook his head. “Senior apprentice-brother Ji Ning said that this time, he probably wouldn’t be back for a long time.”
“A long time?”
Ninelotus nodded slowly, a hint of disappointment in her eyes. And then, still atop her magic treasure, she departed, disappearing into the distant horizons.