Book 12, Chapter 21 - The Top Twenty-Four

Desolate Era

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The Xia Emperor, Lu Dongbin, and the rest of the nine Pure Yang True Immortals were watching the two competitors within the grand sealing formation. Upon hearing their dialogue, all nine of them couldn’t help but laugh.

“This Zhuxiang…he is fearless due to his ignorance.” Lu Dongbin shook his head and sighed, “Actually, everyone who has been watching this Conclave already has a rough sense of who the most powerful individuals of the ninety-six are. By contrast, the ninety-six themselves actually aren’t clear about how powerful many of them are.”


Zhuxiang had only been warned by a Celestial Immortal Patriarch of the Redlotus Sect that Ji Ning was one of the most difficult to deal with contestants in this Conclave, and that he had to fight with full power and not be the slightest bit overconfident. But Zhuxiang himself had never fought against Ning; how could he understand how powerful Ning was?

The spectators on the outside had seen all the battles within the Diagram. The Wanxiang Adepts themselves, however, were ignorant despite having been actually within the Diagram itself. Even Ning himself had only fought against ten or so members of the other 95.

“The first round of duels doesn’t matter that much.” The Xia Emperor nodded. “The purpose of this first round is to separate the most powerful experts; I’m not actually having the most powerful ones fight against each other yet. Ji Ning truly is far more powerful than Zhuxiang.”

“Senior apprentice-brother, you had best hurry up and prepare those Immortal-ranked magic treasures. All forty-eight of the winners are going to need one.” Sovereign Hao let out a loud laugh. “Right; are the forty-eight Immortal-ranked magic treasures going to be low-grade or middle-grade?”

“Low grade, of course!” The Xia Emperor laughed.

“I knew it!” Sovereign Hao nodded as well.

“You aren’t ashamed to take out low-grade Immortal-ranked magic treasures? The Immortal-ranked magic treasures I carry with me and which I hand out on a whim are all at least high-grade!” Lu Dongbin glanced sideways at the Xia Emperor, who instantly felt resigned. “I have many subordinates under my command, and I also need to keep control over an entire major world. It isn’t easy, you know! I can’t just randomly throw out Immortal-ranked magic treasures like you, Lu Dongbin. You are free to do what you please.”


Ning exploded forth with his full power. His six Immortal swords simultaneously chopped downwards towards Zhuxiang of the Redlotus Sect like a series of catastrophes, giving him no chance to fight back at all.

“I admit defeat,” Zhuxiang called out loudly. He then gave Ning a hard look, as though memorizing Ning’s appearance. This defeat had been simply too disastrous…

“Mm. One Immortal-ranked magic treasure down.” Ning quickly returned to normal, then lazily left the grand sealing formation and returned to King Yan’s side within the palace, moving to stand together with his cousin and Yu Wei.


Soon, all forty-eight battles came to an end. The battles in this first round were all fairly simple; after all, the Xia Emperor had arranged a strong competitor to fight a weak competitor in each duel, with the goal of selecting out the strongest competitors.

“The forty-eight of you have each won a duel in the first round. Each of you shall receive an Immortal-ranked magic treasure. Now, I shall bestow them unto you.” The Grand Xia Emperor, seated high up above them on his throne, waved his hand. Instantly, magic treasures that emanated massive ripples of power came flying out. There were ropes, flying swords, clocks, millstones, needles, shuttles, spikes, warhammers, grand sealings, longstaffs, silk ribbons, flywhisks…

The forty-eight Immortal-ranked magic treasures all flew outwards to the forty-eight winners.

It was an Immortal-ranked sword that flew towards Ning. The sword-ki revolving around the Immortal sword transformed into the appearance of an old man that looked towards Ning with curiosity.

“This is…” Ning stretched his hand out, catching the Immortal sword and sending his senses into it briefly.

He was someone who had seen the Azuresilk Godfire Lamp and the Thousandbull Sword, after all; Ning had the feeling that this was comparable to the ripples given off by the Azuresilk Godfire Lamp.

“It should be a low-grade Immortal-ranked item.” Ning mused secretly to himself, “But it is still a flying sword, extremely suited to attacks. The Grand Xia Emperor saw that I am a Sword Immortal and so bestowed an Immortal sword upon me? Mmm…it’s probably worth around 1.75 million kilograms of liquefied elemental essence.”

He had expected this Immortal-ranked magic treasure to be low-grade. After all, the top twelve would receive five million kilograms of liquefied elemental essence. It was reasonable for the top forty-eight to be bestowed with a low-graded Immortal-ranked magic treasure.

“Thank you, your Imperial Majesty!”

Ning and the rest of the forty-eight all kowtowed as their voices rang out in unison. Some of them had looks of uncontrollable excitement on their faces.

Low-grade Immortal-ranked?

Not all of these Wanxiang Adepts were as lucky as Ji Ning! Many Loose Immortals were not in possession of Immortal-ranked magic treasures; for them to possess one was already quite incredible.

Whoosh. The Xia Emperor smiled and nodded. Instantly, rainbow-colored raindrops appeared above Ning and the others. As they landed upon the bodies of the Ning and the others, Ning could feel his divine power and elemental ki be quickly restored. Those who were wounded were all quickly healed as well. Although most of them had spirit-pills that could have accomplished this, Ning and the others couldn’t help but feel excited that the Xia Emperor had personally healed them.

“Arise. All of you can go back and get some rest. Prepare for the next competition,” the Xia Emperor said.

Ning and the others all returned to their respective locations. Ning and the Sloppy Daoist returned to King Yan’s side.

Soon, the Xia Emperor ordered for the second round of duels to begin.

“The second round of duels shall begin now,” the Xia Emperor said calmly. “In the first battle, Xiangtian Xiao of the Xiangtian clan shall face Kindwater Gan of the Kindwater clan.” [1. Xiangtian Xiao is an interesting name; Xiangtian means ‘facing the heavens’, while Xiao means laugh; his name thus means ‘laughing towards the heavens’].

Xiangtian Xiao…he was the final remaining competitor of the Xiantian clan within this Conclave. Kindwater Gan, in the same way, was the final disciple the Kindwater clan had within this Conclave.

Both of these ancient clans hoped for their own disciples to win.

However, victory was determined after a few short exchanges in this duel. Xiangtian Xiao, with clear superiority, defeated Kindwater Gan.

“Xiangtian Xiao is quite powerful.” The Sloppy Daoist watched the battle outside the palace and spoke out in praise.

“Yes.” Ning nodded. “His Dao is the Grand Dao of the Sabre; the Dao of the Sabre is a Grand Dao that is comparable to the Dao of the Sword…and it is even more dominating and overbearing. Xiangtian Xiao himself is quite a heroic and straightforward figure, and his sabre arts are like him…he is indeed a formidable foe.”

“He can indeed be described as a formidable foe,” the Sloppy Daoist nodded.

“The second battle shall be between the unaffiliated Adept Blackstone and Adept Danzhu of the East Seas,” the Xia Emperor proclaimed.

Upon hearing this, Adept Danzhu, as beautiful as a fairy from the Moon Palace, couldn’t help but frown. Still, she still walked into the grand sealing formation outside of the main palace. As for Adept Blackstone, he appeared as he always did; barefoot, bald, and pitch-black. He leaned on a gnarled staff as he walked forward with a calm smile.

“The Xia Emperor actually pitted Adept Danzhu against Adept Blackstone? Based on what we saw from the first round…the Xia Emperor generally pits a strong fighter against a weak fighter, so as to ensure that strong fighters won’t clash against each other too early on.” Ning shook his head. “It seem as though in the Xia Emperor’s eyes, Adept Danzhu’s power should be in the bottom twenty-four of these forty-eight.”

“Right. Although Adept Danzhu is quite famous, she still isn’t a Fiendgod Body Refiner,” the Sloppy Daoist agreed. “When Ki Refiners fight against Fiendgod Body Refiners, they are generally at a significant disadvantage…especially seeing as how all the competitors in this Conclave are supreme geniuses. The weaknesses of Ki Refiners are made even more apparent.”

Ning nodded. It was true. And this was before the tribulation; upon a Fiendgod Body Refiner becoming an Empyrean God, his power would immediately be on the same level as a Pure Yang True Immortal! From this, one could tell how major an advantage Fiendgod Body Refiners towards the late stages!


The battle between Adept Blackstone and Adept Danzhu was an extremely weird battle.

Adept Blackstone only had to use his Fuxi Staff Formation to cause Adept Danzhu to be completely unable to fight back. In the end, she had to admit defeat. From start to finish, Adept Blackstone hadn’t been forced to fight in close combat a single time.

“What a terrifying Adept Blackstone.” This caused Xiamang Zishan, Ji Ning, Adept Ninedeaths, Cangwu Jiu, and the other geniuses to all memorize what had just happened.


One competition after another.

Several figures appeared who caused Ning to be secretly alarmed. There were some whom he wasn’t too familiar with, such as the likes of Adept Goldcrow, Adept Primalback, or Adept Unicosmo. Actually, everyone in the top twenty four was quite frighteningly strong.

“The twenty-fourth battle. The unaffiliated Adept Saberslave shall fight against Adept Bloodfiend of the Heaven Piercing clan.”

This was the final battle of the second round.

Adept Bloodfiend was a fairly dazzling figure; his berserkness and his bloodlust had caused everyone watching to firmly fix them in their minds.


He was actually defeated miserably!

Just two blows of the saber! The first blow caused Adept Bloodfiend to be knocked flying backwards, but he had enough power to want to come back and try to fight again. The second blow, however…it chopped his body completely in half! The bisected Adept Bloodfiend hurriedly called out loudly, “I admit defeat!”


“How can this be?!”

Ji Ning, the Sloppy Daoist, Xiamang Zishan, Adept Blackstone, Adept Ninedeaths, and the others were all tremendously shocked. A serious look appeared in their eyes.

A formidable foe! Without question, a formidable foe! Nobody dared to say that they were confident in being able to defeat this mysterious ‘Adept Saberslave.’

Adept Saberslave was a black-robed man that carried a warcleaver. He was cold-faced and didn’t say anything at all. When he stood there silently, he was easily overlooked…but when acting against Adept Bloodfiend, he revealed his fierceness!

“This wandering cultivator…he should be the disciple of a good friend of mine. Previously, he didn’t cause any stir at all, and I thought that he simply had the same Daoist title. But those two saber blows, and his status as a wandering cultivator…there should be no doubt about it.” Lu Dongbin’s eyes lit up, and he laughed as he praised, “This good friend of mine once mentioned this disciple of his; he said that his disciple had taken on the Daoist title ‘Saberslave’ and had sworn that he would offer everything he had to the Dao of the Saber. He was going to infuse everything he had into the Dao of the Saber, and that he was willing to be a slave to the Dao of the Saber!”

“Oh? Intriguing.” Truelord Chiji’s eyes lit up. “Eastflower, who is friend of yours?”

“Umm…nice weather we have today!” Lu Dongbin suddenly turned his head to stare into the void of the skies.

Truelord Chiji was instantly speechless.

The Xia Emperor and the others couldn’t help but smile. Still, they could tell that Lu Dongbin clearly didn’t want to name this friend of his; most likely, this friend of Lu Dongbin most likely belonged to an alliance that was an enemy of one of the Daofathers supporting Lu Dongbin! Lu Dongbin made friends throughout the Three Realms; he even dared to befriend some enemies and some vile demons.

“There are quite a few solitary wandering cultivators this time,” the Xia Emperor said. “This Adept Saberslave is one of them. There are some truly powerful figures amongst this group; some most likely come from other worlds. No matter where they are from, however…since they have participated in this Conclave, I will naturally treat them all equally.”

“However, for this Saberslave to suddenly explode with such power causes me a bit of a headache.” The Xia Emperor shook his head. “Based on my previous understanding of their power levels, in the third round, I had already made plans for who would fight who…but for this Saberslave to explode with such power in the final battle of the second round makes it so that I don’t know what to do.”

“I have a recommendation,” Lu Dongbin suddenly said.

“Oh?” The others all looked over.

“This Saberslave should be the most powerful expert of the Dao of the Saber out of these remaining twenty-four. As for that Dao-companion of the little girl I like, that Ji Ning…he’s the most powerful expert of the Dao of the Sword. One is a Sword Immortal while the other is a Saber Devil; having the two of them fight each other will undoubtedly be quite interesting.” [1. In Chinese, the sword (jian) refers to thin, double-edged longswords that are used for slashing and piercing. The saber (dao) can refer to either daggers (duan dao, short saber), or to (usually) single-edged bladed weapons meant for hacking and chopping, such as backswords/broadswords and cleavers. The sword is viewed as the weapon of the gentleman due to its more graceful stances and elegance, while the saber is viewed as the sword of a brute/warrior due to its violent, hacking blows that are extremely suited for the battlefield.]

The Xia Emperor, hearing this, let out a laugh. “Each of the twenty-four are formidable. No matter who I put Adept Saberslave against, it will still cause me a headache. Since you’ve spoken out, Lu Dongbin…then let’s have this Ji Ning fight against this Saberslave.”

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