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Book 20, Jindan Upgrade, Chapter 23 – A Hundred Years
Demon Icepa.s.s was unfathomably long…and with each step Ji Ning took, an unbelievable number of demons fell before him.
At every moment in time, Ning was striking out with his swords using his full power. He would only succeed if he killed enough demons within the allotted timespan. Empyrean G.o.d Feiyou had managed to battle for a hundred years, but he wasn’t able to kill enough of the demons. Now that the Three Realms had been embroiled in war, it was hard to say when the Endwar would begin. Thus, Ning had to move quickly! Experiencing a hundred-year battle once was enough; he didn’t want to fail and have to try a second time or a third time!
In addition, Ning didn’t dare to slacken off for even an instant. Every single one of these countless demons had the power of an Empyrean G.o.d. Fortunately, they didn’t use any formations, and so at any given moment Ning only had to deal with the dozens of demons closest to him.
Time slowly flowed on. In the blink of an eye, nearly a hundred years of frenzied battling had gone past.
Within a gorge that had been completely frozen solid by ice, a white-robed youth was battling frenetically with a pair of twin swords in his hands. His sword-light flickered around as fast and unpredictably as lightning.
Whoos.h.!.+ Whoos.h.!.+ Whoos.h.!.+
Sword-light flashed, and a demon was cleft in twain from the waist.
Sword-light stabbed forward, and a demon’s head instantly exploded.
Sword-light curved outwards, causing three nearby demons to collapse.
“His sword-arts are becoming increasingly fast. Of all the Empyrean G.o.ds I’ve witnessed since the creation of Undermoon Lake, his sword is the fastest.” The demon king stood atop one of the two icy canyon walls above the gorge. He stared downwards at the thronging, ant-like horde of demons that were surrounding and attacking Ning.
This sort of battle had already gone on for a century.
“Right. When he first entered the icepa.s.s, his sword wasn’t this quick.” The Purgatory G.o.d, body wreathed in flames, spoke out. “He’s advancing almost nonstop, and his sword-arts are becoming increasingly powerful. If I were to fight him again, I would probably be effortlessly defeated.”
“His sword truly is fast. How did it become so fast? From what I can tell, it must have reached the speed of light, right?” The hideous sea yaksha spoke out as well.
“Yes, very nearly. Even if it isn’t at lightspeed, it’s not too far from it.” Snowfiend agreed.
The guardians of Undermoon Lake spent most of their time together, albeit the Purgatory G.o.d, Snowfiend, and the sea yaksha merely kept clones of themselves here at Demon Icepa.s.s. They were all quite curious about Ning, and so they naturally wanted to watch him battle through Demon Icepa.s.s.”
“His sword’s speed is very close to the limit set by the Heavenly Daos.” The demon king nodded. “My guess is that he must have learned a particularly powerful sword-art. Otherwise, there’s no way he would be able to advance in such a fas.h.i.+on without embarking on any wrong paths of cultivation at all. Normal Empyrean G.o.ds, no matter how powerful they are and no matter what weapons they wield, are quite far from the limits of the Heavenly Daos.”
“Agreed.” Snowfiend, the Purgatory G.o.d, and the sea yaksha all nodded in agreement.
The [Golden Sunstreak] and the [Ninehorn Lightning Serpent] had both reached the limits of the Heavenly Daos, allowing Ning to move 300,000 kilometers in an instant! Normally, even major powers were much slower than this.
However, experts were naturally capable of wielding weapons much more quickly than they moved. Generally speaking, their goal was to do their best to close in on the limits of the Heavenly Daos!
Ning’s sword speed, however, had already come very close to those limits!
But of course…it was also possible to go faster than the limits of the Heavenly Daos! Those who mastered the [Five Treasures], for example, would be able to strike with their swords at a speed that was faster than the speed of light. The missing deity Houyi, as well; his arrows were the fastest in the Three Realms, capable of killing that Golden Crow ‘Emperor of Monsters’.
“It’s about time.” The demon king nodded, then shouted loudly, “Withdraw!”
His shout echoed within the frozen gorge. All of the demons heard it, and with a series of whoos.h.i.+ng sounds, they all withdrew in unison like the tides. They all parted in two directions, entering the frozen mountain walls.
“Eh?” Ning was a bit surprised. They withdrew?
He had been battling for a hundred years. This was the first time the demons had withdrawn, and he wasn’t quite ready for it.
Whoosh. A figure flew down from the skies. It was the demon king, that golden gourd still on his waist. The demon king landed on the floating wooden bridge. He shook his head, the two enormous curved horns shaking as well.
“Demon king.” Ning looked at the demon king.
“The century has concluded.” The demon king rested his long black staff over his shoulders and said lazily, “You’ve really killed quite a few demons.”
“Am I permitted to pa.s.s through Demon Icepa.s.s? Can I go to the next island?” Ning asked.
The demon king looked at Ning. Chortling, he said, “Although I really would like to play with you a bit longer…you really have killed quite a few demons. Your sword is too fast.”
Ning blinked, then laughed.
His sword was fast? This entire time, he was worried that the number of demons he killed wasn’t enough, and so as he fought he repeatedly told himself, ‘faster, faster, faster!’ The faster his sword was, the more he would be able to kill! And given that Ning was training in the [Five Treasures] sword-art, a sword-art that surpa.s.sed the limits of the Heavenly Daos, he had made numerous breakthroughs during the past century of slaughter. He had gained repeated insights, and thus he had gained a deep understanding of the extremely esoteric fourth chapter of the [Five Treasures]. As Ning learned more, his sword became faster and faster.
“You may pa.s.s through Demon Icepa.s.s and reach the fourth island; Kilostar Island,” the demon king said. “But before you do so, I’ll lead you to a place to choose a treasure.”
Ning nodded. Upon reaching the third, fourth, and fifth islands, there would be a chance to choose a treasure.
“And those Empyrean G.o.ds you are carrying with you; since they are going to give up, have them hand their treasures over to me,” the demon king said calmly. “Empyrean G.o.ds who give up are not qualified to obtain any treasures.”
“Alright.” Ning nodded. He knew this all along, and Feiyou, Oddwitch, and the others had long ago handed their treasures over to Ning, letting him hand it over on their behalf.
A day later.
Kilostar Island was also divided into two islands, a small island and a larger island. The small island was the place where the treasures were placed, while the larger island was the place where the Empyrean G.o.ds lived.
“Go ahead. Your talent and your sword-art are both quite impressive; the only thing standing between you and freedom is the final challenge.” The demon king smiled as he looked at Ning. “It’s been countless years, but Jueming was the only one to leave. I hope you will become the second.”
Ning nodded, then turned and walked onto the floating wooden bridge towards the larger island.
Just now, Ning had chosen three treasures and, thanks to his strenuous negotiating, acquired eight of each! However, these three treasures were not of much use to Ning, at least for now. For example, if Ning hadn’t acquired the [Icefire Jindan Smelting] technique, he wouldn’t have known how to use Iceheart Pith and Ninefire Lava. Right now, he didn’t know any techniques that could make use of these three treasures.
Ning walked towards the larger island, unable to hide the excitement he felt. This was already the fourth island; he was very close to reaching the exit! Once he reached the fifth island, he would be able to leave.
“Senior apprentice-sister…wait for me.” Ning felt a deep desire to be reunited with her swell up in his heart.
Ning immediately calmed himself down, then proceeded into the island. He chose a random boulder at the borders of the island, then sat down in the lotus position. He began to go through his memories and insights from the hundred years of battle. During that century, he had been constantly fighting; although he had gained some insights into the [Five Treasures], he hadn’t had a chance to systematically examine these insights in depth.
It must be understood that prior to entering Demon Icepa.s.s, Ning had only trained for a total of roughly two hundred years! Prior to the war for the Grand Xia, Ning had actually been focused on establis.h.i.+ng a foundation for himself. The Black-White College, Mount Innerheart’s Tristar Crescent Abode…those places had all served to help him lay down a formation by teaching him many techniques.
The Nihilum Zone, the war for the Grand Xia, the Realmwar, roaming the Three Realms and challenging swordsmen…it was only during this period of time that he was truly improving on his foundation.
During this century, Ning had advanced at an incredible pace. Soon after entering Undermoon Lake, his swordforce had reached the fourth stage.
This time, however, he had spent a full century battling in Demon Icepa.s.s, and every single moment of that century was spent in nonstop combat. For someone like Ji Ning who was skilled in martial combat to begin with, this was a form of tempering that he had never before encountered. In truth, even the likes of Feiyou and the other Empyrean G.o.ds who had lived for countless years all felt that Demon Icepa.s.s was tremendously beneficial to them, to say nothing of Ji Ning.
Ning closed his eyes. The [Five Treasures] sword-art constantly flickered through his mind as many different scattered insights began to join together, allowing him to understand it better and better. The [Brightmoon] sword-art was continuously improving as well.
A gray-robed man was walking alone through the island. He murmured to himself, “When shall I be able to leave this prison? Even if I give up and return those treasures, they still won’t let me leave. I have to follow some other Empyrean G.o.d, but if that person dies, I’ll die as well. Only if that Empyrean G.o.d succeeds will I be able to leave.”
“But after all these years, Jueming remains the only one who has succeeded. And before Jueming made the attempt, who felt completely confident that he would succeed?”
“Dawn. The moon is rising.” A powerful desire to leave could be seen in the gray-robed man’s eyes. Suddenly, he blinked and turned to stare off into the distance. Far away, atop a boulder covered with gouges and marks, was a white-robed youth seated in the lotus position.
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