Book 20, Chapter 34 - Departure? The Void Stairway

Desolate Era

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Ji Ning instantly understood. The chaos-kingdom of Pangaea was far more powerful than the Three Realms, and it also had much closer connections to the rest of the primordial chaos. It made sense that the language it used was the same language as was used throughout the rest of the primordial chaos. The Three Realms, by contrast, was rather segregated from the rest of the primordial chaos. It was only when the odd alien Outsider invaded that the Three Realms would gain some more information about the greater primordial chaos.

“Eh, forget it. Vastheaven Palace, Pangaea, World God Northrest, three Wujiao Godbeasts…all of that is way beyond my level for now. Even the lifeblood oath I swore only takes effect once I become an Elder God; only then would I have to leave the Three Realms.” Ning was quite calm.

In the end, he had gained great benefits from Undermoon Lake. The Three Realms was in the midst of a war, and Ning’s home, along with those he cared about, were all in the Three Realms. Nothing else mattered.

Becoming an Elder God was no easy feat either. Even becoming a True God would be very difficult, to say nothing of becoming an Elder God; all of that would definitely take an extremely long period of time.

“It has been countless years. Only two people have acquired these two techniques from Undermoon Lake; one was Jueming, and the other is you.” The silver-haired man looked at Ning. “Don’t disappoint Master.”

“For my own sake as well, I wouldn’t dare,” Ning said with a laugh.

“Let’s go. I send you away from Undermoon Lake.”

The silver-haired man immediately led the way forward. Ning let out a sigh of relief; he was afraid that the already-deceased World God Northrest had other schemes for him as well. In truth, Northrest was far too powerful, and his abilities were simply unfathomable. Most likely, even Mother Nuwa, back when she had first broken through to become a World God, wouldn’t necessarily have been a match for him. Ning naturally was like an ant compared to the man, to be used or abused as needed. Fortunately, everything was going to be fine.

And of course, Mother Nuwa had entered the endless primordial chaos long ago to go adventuring; it was entirely possible that she had reached a shocking level of power.

Moonfall Island was truly beautiful. The silver-haired man led Ning through it until they arrived at the center of a grassy region. The center of the grassy region had a calm, curvy lake within it. The surface of the lake was so smooth that it looked like a giant piece of jade. When Ning and the silver-haired landed next to it, their landing caused a bit of wind which stirred up tiny, rippling waves on the surface of the lake, making it look even more mesmerizingly beautiful.

“Once you enter that little lake, you’ll leave Undermoon Lake,” the silver-haired man instructed.

“I’ll go in, then appear outside?” Ning pointed at the lake. When he had first arrived, he had smashed headfirst into the waters of Undermoon Lake, then appeared within the world of Undermoon Lake.

“Right. When you emerge, you’ll appear above the lake of water that is below the enormous moon.” The silver-haired man nodded, his gaze locked onto Ning. “Don’t forget your lifeblood oath.”

“Of course.” Ning chuckled and nodded.

Ning stared at the curved lake, his heart filled with joy. Finally…he was finally going to leave!

Senior apprentice-sister!

Wait for me!

Plop. Ning dove into beautiful pond, causing a series of ripples and waves to appear. Spacetime began to twist, teleporting Ning to a different place.

Ning could sense spacetime fluctuating around him as his surroundings became blurry to behold. Clearly, he was being transferred somewhere at high speed. Suddenly, the area around him began to tremble slightly, causing Ning to feel rather puzzled. When he had been transferred to Undermoon Lake, the process had been very smooth and had lasted only a moment.

When his surroundings began to stabilize, Ning took a look around and was able to clearly see the environment.

“Eh?” He was completely surrounded the Void. Within the Void, there were a series of steps that seemed to be endless, leading him deeper up.

“W-where is this?” Ning was completely dazed. According to what the silver-haired man had said, he should’ve been brought back in the air above the waters of Undermoon Lake…but there wasn’t even a drop of the waters of Undermoon Lake here. All it had was the infinite Void and those seemingly endless stairs.

“Where exactly am I? Where have I been transferred to?” Ning was extremely cautious. It was easy to die of carelessness in a strange and unfamiliar place. “That silver-haired man didn’t lie to me, and I wasn’t able to fight back against him in Undermoon Lake; if he wanted me dead, it would’ve been easy for him to kill me.”

“If this was his doing, he could’ve simply said that he was going to send me to a special place. I wouldn’t have been able to fight back at all; there’s no need to lie to me.”

“In other words…that silver-haired man probably didn’t expect this either.”

Ning felt his heart lurch. “Is it…that World God Northrest died so long ago that holes appeared in his transmission tunnel, causing an error in my teleportation?”

Nothing in the world was truly eternal. Even chaosworlds would eventually wither and day, and even World Gods like Northrest would one day be killed. It wasn’t impossible for his teleportation matrix to develop problems.

“Wasn’t I supposed to go back? Where have I been sent to?” Ning calmed himself down, then first used heartforce followed by coresense to investigate this place. But it was all useless!!

“Those stairs…? If there’s a set of stairs here, this should be a specific, constructed location.” Ning carefully advanced up the stairs, following them upwards.

Ning moved incredibly quickly. Just a short while later, he saw an enormous stone tablet levitating atop the stairs ahead of him. The stone tablet was covered with countless carvings of sword-stances, and the sword-intent surging forth from each and every carving caused Ning’s heart to turn cold. The power of this sword-intent surpassed even the [Five Treasures].

“What terrifying sword-intent…there’s no way a True God or Daofather could’ve devised this. Could it be a World God? Was it World God Northrest?” Ning mused to himself.

Ning was in no rush to advance. He slowed down to take a careful look at the nameless sword-art before him.

If he was to leave now, who knew if he would ever be allowed back? He had to seize the opportunity to carefully inspect this sword-art. He had mastered the [Five Treasures] and stood at the very peak of skill in the Three Realms, but the Dao contained within this sword-art was simply too unfathomably powerful. Most likely, it was something that only a Chaos Immortal or World God could develop.

Ning ended up spending more than three months pondering that stone tablet.

“Urgh.” Ning’s face turned ashen, blood beginning to leak down his nostrils. The blood inside his body was bubbling and roiling about.

“I can’t keep studying it. It’s beyond my limits.” Ning was secretly shocked. “I wonder who left behind this sword-art? Was it World God Northrest? No matter who it was, this sword-art…it definitely surpasses any other sword-art of the Three Realms.”

In truth, the only World God the Three Realms had ever seen was Mother Nuwa. She didn’t use the sword, and so there was naturally no way that the Three Realms would have any techniques that could compare to this one.

“Time to go.” Since he could no longer study it, Ning had no choice but to continue to advance upwards through the staircase through the Void. Just a short while later, he encountered yet another stone tablet. This one was also covered with sword-stances, and it also did not have a name to it. However, this sword-art was diametrically different from the previous one…and yet, its power wasn’t one whit weaker.

Ning spent another three months carefully analyzing this technique, resulting his understanding of the sword rising even more.

“As the saying goes, beyond the heavens there is always an even greater Heaven.”

“Anyone who believes the major powers of the Three Realms to be the most powerful figures in the universe is as narrow-sighted as a frog within a well. The endless primordial chaos has far, far too many powerful experts within it.” Ning’s skill in the sword was continuing to grow, but he was beginning to grow increasingly humble. He understood that there were many who were far more powerful than him. The creator of the sword-art on this tablet would be able to slay him with a single blow of the sword.

The staircase through the Void seemed endless.

Ning continued his path through the staircase. He actually encountered a total of ninety-eight stone tablets, each of which possessed a sword-art that was so unfathomable and profound that Ning’s horizons were continually broadened. His skill in the sword had skyrocketed, and Ning had even gained some insights and ideas about reaching the fifth stage of swordforce.

The fifth stage of swordforce, Sword God. Ning had previously believed that it represented an unfathomably dense essence of emotions, and so when one reached this level, one’s sword-art would gain a soul of its own. This was what Ning believed, and it was also what most of the major powers of the Three Realms believed.

But now, after viewing the ninety-eight profound sword-arts left behind by this alien major power, Ning understood the truth.

Having emotions in one’s sword-art was of secondary importance! For example, Ning’s [Brightmoon] sword-art had originally possessed no emotional aura, but Ning had still been able to reach the fourth stage of swordforce, right?

The emotions simply aided the swordsman in becoming further intoxicated by the sword, allowing him to unleash even more of its potential.

In the end, what really mattered the most was understanding the sword and the essence of the sword! Of course strong emotions would be needed to upgrade one’s swordforce from being ‘sentient’ to having an actual ‘soul’, giving it extraordinary power, but that was just a side effect. What really mattered was truly understanding the sword; upgrading one’s understanding was the true foundation that needed to be laid.

“If I completely focused on infusing deep emotions into my sword-arts, I would’ve embarked on a wrong path.” Cold sweat covered Ning’s forehead. Only now, after seeing so many profound sword-arts, did he understand what his own path would be.

It was clear and obvious that the ninety-eight sword-arts atop the stone tablet had surpassed the fifth level of swordforce and reached an even higher and more unfathomable level.

“I’ve finally reached the end.”

After viewing the ninety-eighth stone tablet, Ning saw an end to the stairway through the Void. At the end of the stairway lay an ancient shrine that looked like it had been completely formed from green jade. The shrine emanated an invisible aura of power and majesty.

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