Book 20, Chapter 22 - I Don’t Regret It

Desolate Era

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“Right.” Empyrean God Oddwitch said in his hoarse voice, “Because you need to constantly battle, there’s no way you can just use up all your divine power as you please; you need to conserve it and use it sparingly. Darknorth, when you challenge the pass, you’ll have to rely on your swordforce when you fight. Swordforce comes from the very essence of the sword itself, and so it is endless and inexhaustible.”

Ji Ning nodded. If he truly did have to fight for a century, then most of his Ki Refining techniques would be useless. This was because the amount of energy consumed by the ninth-level [Greater Thousand Swords Formation] was quite high. Although his second-tier Jindan gave him far more Pure Yang energy than he had before, far more than any ‘ordinary’ True Immortal had, it still wasn’t possible for him to inexhaustibly release jade swords. He would only be able to unleash them for half a day at most, much less a century.

To battle for extended periods of time, he would have to rely on swordforce! As for divine abilities…Ning wouldn’t even dare to use [Three Heads, Six Arms], much less the [Starseizing Hand]; that would use up divine power at far too fast a rate.

The only way Ning would be able to fight for a century would be if he was able to ensure that the amount of divine power he used up was no more than the amount he was able to naturally replenish.

“So challenging Demon Icepass means overcoming an endless swarm of lesser demons?” Ning asked.

“Almost all of them will be lesser demons,” Empyrean God Autumnwing said. “A demon commander will only spawn on occasion, and the demon king will appear once towards the end. However, when the commanders or the king appears, they will appear by themselves! The lesser demons, however, will come in an endless horde; there simply is no way you can possibly massacre them all. No matter how many you kill, more will be reformed and manifested.”

Ning nodded.

“Actually, aside from battling for a century, there’s one more method,” Eastvoid said with a laugh. “The demon king once told us that if you can fight your way all the the way to the end of Demon Icepass and step onto the other island, that would of course be considered success as well.”

“Yeah, but how?”

“Right, that’s simply impossible. With so many demons attacking you, you wouldn’t be able to make it there in even a thousand years, to say nothing of a hundred.”

They all chimed in with their opinions.

Ning agreed with their opinions as well. Each of the islands was separated from the others by an enormous amount of distance. Even the Ruyi Soulsnake Shuttle would have to fly for a long period of time when unimpeded. When battling countless demons, one would only be able to advance at a very slow pace. A thousand years? Not even ten thousand years would necessarily be enough.

“Ji Ning,” Feiyou said with a laugh, “Battling for a hundred years is actually quite beneficial to us. I’ve undergone more than a thousand of those hundred-year battles, but each time I didn’t kill enough to proceed…but those wild battles caused me to continuously improve and perfect my short halberd techniques. In fact, I was even able to develop my technique, ‘Wuji Births Taiji’ and merge those two types of force together. I trust when my taiji-force reaches the third stage, I’ll be able to make it past.”

Feiyou’s infiniforce had reached the fourth stage, whereas his taiji-force was only at the second stage.

“Right. It is of tremendous benefit.”

“The first hundred-year battle is particularly helpful. The later ones become less and less helpful.”

“You’ll know when you give it a try.”

After chatting with the nine for a period of time, Ning learned quite a few things about challenging Demon Icepass. After making it past the gorge, only one step would remain before he could leave.

“Darknorth.” Empyrean God Eastvoid suddenly spoke out.

“Eh?” Ning looked towards him. He could sense that Eastvoid seemed to be hesitating. “What is it?”

Eastvoid hesitated for a while, then finally said, “I very nearly died during this demon invasion. I now see the truth of things. My talent and my abilities were fairly ordinary for Empyrean Gods of the Primordial Era. Even though my time in Undermoon Lake has increased my power dramatically, I’m still at risk of dying during every single demon invasion. As for Demon Icepass, I have no hope of making it past it. My current level of power is a limit for me. Just now, the demon king himself said, and I myself believe, that you are the first person after Jueming to have an extremely high chance of making it out of this place. I want you to help me out…and take me out with you.”

“You are going to give up?” Ning was surprised. Everyone who made it to Myriad Mountains Island had been allowed to choose a treasure. But anyone who gave up would have to give up the treasure as well! And since they were indeed quite close to being able to leave, there weren’t many who were willing to give up at this point.

“I’ve seen through to the truth of things, past the allure of treasures. If Undermoon Lake wishes to retake those treasures, let it. I really want to leave. I want to see my master, my fellow disciples, my own apprentices.” A reminiscent look appeared within Eastvoid’s eyes. In the past, when he lived surrounded by all his loved ones, he didn’t realize what a pricelessly wonderful life he had. But now, after spending countless years here in Undermoon Lake, he deeply missed his master and the others.

“Darknorth…help me out.” Eastvoid looked at Ning.

“If you’ve made up your mind, Eastvoid, then I’ll naturally agree to your request. It won’t cost me anything at all,” Ning said.

“I’ll leave as well,” Empyrean God Cloudscar said. “I can understand how Eastvoid is feeling. Like him, I’ve been trapped here for far too long. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve improved in power at all. Although my agility techniques are good, my attacks are indeed fairly weak; I’m far from reaching the level of power necessary to go through Demon Icepass, much less the final guardian. Darknorth, you have a good chance of escaping this place. I’m willing to follow you.”

“My dear, old brothers…all of you want to leave this place?” Feiyou was rather saddened.

“Big brother Feiyou.”

“We…simply see no hope for us at all.”

Of the nine Empyrean Gods present, there were actually five who were willing to follow Ning.

They were Eastvoid, Cloudscar, Oddwitch, Skyriver, and Zhenbu. They no longer saw any hope for success for themselves. Given that even the demon king had said that Ning had an extremely high chance of leaving this place, and with the jade sword attack Ning had revealed filling them with trust in him…they truly wished to follow Ning and escape this place, reuniting once more with the loved ones that they hadn’t seen in so long.

But of course, the nine all felt a bit saddened as well. As they began to make their farewells, Ning suddenly fell silent.

The nine didn’t notice at first, but eventually they began to realize that something was off with him.

“Darknorth, what’s wrong?” Feiyou asked, “Although I am saddened by my five brothers leaving, I can understand their feelings. Why is it that you have suddenly…”

“Zhenbu.” Ning suddenly spoke out.

“Eh?” Zhenbu looked towards Ning.

“I cannot take you with me,” Ning said.

Zhenbu was stunned, as were the other eight Empyrean Gods present.

“What about the other four?” Zhenbu looked at Ning.

“I can take them. I can’t take you.” Ning gritted his teeth, forcing the words out.

“But why?” Zhenbu wasn’t angry, only puzzled.

“Darknorth, what the hell are you saying?” Coppersong had the worst temper of the nine, and he immediately grew angry. “When you found yourself in a dangerous situation during the demon army invasion, big brother Zhenbu risked his own life to go save you. Although you were powerful enough that it didn’t make a difference, for you to help him out costs you nothing at all!”

“Enough!” Feiyou snapped at Coppersong, then looked at Ning in a solemn manner. “Darknorth, I can sense that you have secret troubles of your own. What is it?”

Ning took a deep breath. “Alright, I’ll tell. I’m going to talk, and none of you are going to interrupt me.”

“Alright.” The nine Empyrean Gods all nodded. They could all sense that Ning was about to tell them something important.

“I’ll need to start my story from the war that destroyed the Primordial Era.” Ning began to speak, starting his tale from the Lord of All Thing’s plot to have the two chaosworlds ram into each other. He continued his tale all the way to the present, where the Seamless Gate and the Nuwa Alliance had once more become locked into a life-and-death battle.

As the nine Empyrean Gods listened, their eyes bulged out so far that they very nearly popped out. On multiple occasions, they wanted to ask Ning questions, but in the end they didn’t interrupt.

“…And now, you understand.”

Ning let out a sigh. “Zhenbu battled by my side, and he was even willing to save me at the risk of his own life. I truly view him as a beloved brother of mine. But…although the Empyrean Gods of the two alliances are brothers here in Undermoon Lake, in the outside world the Nuwa Alliance and the Seamless Gate are embroiled into a war of annihilation. All of the Empyrean Gods and True Immortals, and in fact even all of the Celestial Immortals, will be forced to make a choice; they will be forced to choose an alliance.”

“This is a war of annihilation, a war for survival.”

“Although there are many secrets involved, the workings of fate have already revealed to us that only one side can survive; either the Seamless Gate, or the Nuwa Alliance.” Ning continued, “Even the True Gods and Daofathers must pick a side. As for the Four Ancestors of the River Source, who have yet to choose…they are only able to stay on the sidelines for now. When the final Endwar comes, they’ll have to make a choice as well. The two alliances absolutely won’t allow any powers to remain on the sidelines and potentially wipe out the exhausted victor.”

“All of you are Empyrean Gods. If we were to return to the Three Realms…do you think you’ll be able to escape this war?” Ning swept the nine with his gaze.

“Zhenbu…if you were to return to the Three Realms, which side would you choose?” Ning looked at him.

Zhenbu opened and closed his mouth several times. Finally, he said in a low voice, “My master, my brothers, my friends…all of them are with the Seamless Gate. Of course I would choose the Seamless Gate.”

“Why…why does it have to be like this…why has this storm descended…” The nearby Autumnwing found this hard to believe. “Everything was perfectly peaceful…”

“None of us have ever been able to control the destiny of the Three Realms. When the war that ended the Primordial Era occurred, it wasn’t a long period of time had passed that we realized the Lord of All Things, an alien Outsider, had been the one to instigate it. There are definitely secrets behind this castastrophe as well…but they aren’t for the likes of us to understand.” Oddwitch let out a sigh.

Feiyou suddenly said in a low voice, “Darknorth, I’ll leave with you.”

“Big brother Feiyou?” Ning was shocked. “All you need to do is make a breakthrough in taiji-force and you’ll be able to make it past Demon Icepass. In fact, you even stand a good chance of leaving Undermoon Lake on your own.”

“Now that a storm has swept the Three Realms, no one can simply act selfishly for themselves. Yes, if we hide in Undermoon Lake, we’ll be able to avoid this storm,” Feiyou said, a look of agony on his face, “But many of my fellow disciples already died during the war that ended the Primordial Era. I avoided one storm already. This time…I can’t keep hiding. I’m going to face this storm alongside my brothers and my fellow disciples.”

“I’ll go back as well.”

“And I.”

“The storm has descended. Every little bit of extra power counts.”

Of the nine Empyrean Gods, seven belonged to the Nuwa Alliance. Feiyou, Jibu, and Coppersong had been planning on staying, but now they decided to return as well.

News of the storm quickly spread throughout Myriad Mountains Island…and the Empyrean Gods who viewed each other like brothers had to make their choice.

Three days later, every single Empyrean God of the Nuwa Alliance elected to follow Ning. As for the twelve who belonged to the Seamless Gate, all of them remained on Myriad Mountains Island.

“I don’t wish to one day be forced to kill them in the outside world.” Ning stood before the floating wooden bridge. He murmured softly, “I’d rather have them stay here at Undermoon Lake and wait for this storm to pass. No matter which side wins, they wouldn’t go so far as to act ruthlessly against such a small number of survivors.”

“Let’s go.”

Although Ning felt quite miserable in his heart, he had already made his decision. He had no regrets.

He stepped onto the floating wooden bridge.

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