Book 43, Chapter 6 - Old Friends (part 1)

Desolate Era

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Ji Ning was in an excellent mood today. “Tell me about how all my other disciples are doing, one by one.”

“Very well.” Brightmoon was rather surprised at her father inquiring in such detail, but she began to narrate without giving it much thought.

Ning had left his secluded meditations to wrap up all his worldly affairs. Of course he needed to get a good idea as to how his personal disciples were doing! While listening to his daughter speak, he also carefully inspected how they were doing through his karmic ties to them.

His first disciple, ‘Bluecliff Xiaoyu’, was even less talented than Brightmoon. To this very day, she remained just a World-level cultivator! Still, her life was a carefree one. Perhaps Xiaoyu preferred this sort of peaceful, quiet life.

His second disciple, ‘Green Bamboo’ Yang Quding, had become a Hegemon.

His third disciple, Skywind, had become a resoundingly famous figure within the Flamedragon Realmverse. He had caused quite a deal of trouble, and was stubborn to an extreme. He made many enemies, and for the sake of a female Immortal he had actually assaulted a major sect and slain two of its Emperors! He was now publicly acclaimed as the number one Daolord of the Flamedragon Realmverse. Ning, of course, had long ago transcendent such silly rankings.

“Oh, Skywind… I was able to sense long ago that your future would be fraught with troubles. You’ve always been the one I’ve been the most worried about.” Ning shook his head, then decided, “I have to visit him one final time, it seems.”

The position of ‘fourth disciple’ remained vacant.

His fifth and sixth disciples, ‘Boundless’ and ‘Muse’, lived a romantic, heavenly life together as a pair of Immortal lovers. They remained happily in love, and together they wandered the various territories of the Flamedragon Realmverse. This pleased Ning greatly.

His seventh disciple, ‘Great Immortal Almonder’, had a childlike disposition and loved to wander about. His current whereabouts were unknown.

His eight disciple, ‘Stonepool’, was a solid and reliable figure who had ended up together with Ning’s daughter Brightmoon.


After spending two years in the Three Realms, Ning departed with Azurefiend, Youji, Pillsaint, and his favored descendant Dawnjade. They left the Three Realms and began to wander through the world outside. They were going to visit his friends and disciples.

The very first person Ning went to visit was Ninedust, whom he had shared so many life-and-death adventures with.

Vast, billowing waves could be seen sweeping through this entire world. At the very center of the waves was a towering, silver-robed god who was 540,000 meters tall. He stood atop the endless waves, practicing a set of fist-arts. Every single punch and strike caused the waves around him to rumble and roil about.

A ship appeared far off in the distance, but it quickly came to a halt and did not interrupt.

Roughly an hour later, the training appeared to come to an end. Only then did the white-robed Ning call from next to the hovering realmship, “Ninedust!”

The Ninedust Sectlord turned to stare at Ning, a delighted look instantly appearing on his face: “Hah! Darknorth, my big shot Daolord friend! You surely are a sight for sore eyes. You actually came to visit me?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I know I didn’t visit you a single time in many years. I’ve been in secluded meditation the entire time.” Ning strolled over, with Su Youji and the others staying behind.

“As it should be. You are working on something important.” Ninedust looked at Ning. He could sense how Ning’s truesoul was crumbling at a very fast pace, and he couldn’t help but feel sorrow for his old friend. He knew that Ning wouldn’t last for much longer. “Darknorth… have you come to bid me a final farewell?”

“Perhaps.” Ning smiled. “I’m about to go into terminal seclusion and make one final push. If I succeed, I’ll be able to reverse my truesoul’s decay. If I fail… then yes, this will be the last time we two brothers have a chance to meet.”

“Reverse your truesoul’s decay?” Ninedust instantly became filled with hope.

“Death has always been the only outcome for anyone who fails the Daomerge,” Ning said. “No cultivators in our Chaosverse have ever been able to change this! The Sithe are able to do so, but they are different from us on a fundamental level. Not even Autarchs are able to reverse a truesoul’s decay. All I can do is try my best and then pray.”

Ninedust patted Ning on the shoulder. “I’m sure you can do it.”

“Enough about me. How have you been?” Ning smiled. “When are you planning to attempt the Daomerge? I can tell that you’ve reached an incredibly high level in the Dao of Water. From what I can see, you should be the one ranked at the top of the Daolord listings for the Flamedragon Realmverse. How did my disciple end up taking the position instead?”

Ning had passed on both the Incense Spirit-Fruit and several water-related techniques to Ninedust to help him out. Ninedust had trained assiduously and had reached an extremely high level of insight into the Dao of Water. It could be said that his defensive prowess surpassed that of all other Daolords in the Flamedragon Realmverse, save for Ning himself. He was absolutely strong enough to be ranked number one, but his actual ranking was fairly low.

“Who cares about those stupid lists? Look at you, Darknorth; you transcended that very concept long ago!” Ninedust chuckled. “Besides… as your brother, Skywind should be considered one of my juniors. How could I compete with him over something like this?”

“Skywind… he’s a bit too much of a showoff.” Ning shook his head slowly.

“But he has plenty to show off. I once sparred with him when he first became a Daolord of the Fourth Step. He truly did amaze me.” Ninedust let out a sigh.

“Excessive hardness leads to brittleness. He’s too extreme… but perhaps that’s also what made him so special.” Ning shook his head. Of his many disciples, his third disciple had been given the hardest path. The man had experienced numerous difficulties as a mortal, and hadn’t ended after becoming a Daolord.

“When are you planning to begin your Daomerge?” Ning asked.

“Soon. Thanks to the techniques you gave me, I can sense that my Dao is growing even more perfect than before.” Ninedust smiled. “Once I feel it has reached full perfection, I’ll use the Incense Spirit-Fruit and begin the Daomerge. It’ll be anywhere between 10,000 chaos cycles and 50,000 chaos cycles from now.”

“I’ll have to come to offer my congratulations once you succeed,” Ning said with a laugh.

“You must,” Ninedust agreed.

Both had their own tribulations to overcome. Ninedust had to deal with the tribulation known as the Daomerge, while Ning had to deal with the crumbling of his truesoul. Both of these two brothers had to succeed if they wished to meet again.

By comparison, Ninedust stood a very good chance; he had already used a Voidsea Jadeseal and been given both techniques and an Incense Spirit-Fruit by Ning. Ning’s chances were much lower.


After spending quite some time chatting with his old friend Ninedust, Ning finally bade the Ancient cultivator farewell.

A short while later, Ning headed off to an ordinary chaosworld within the Flamedragon Realmverse. He had come here to meet his third disciple, Skywind.

Ning found Skywind in the corner of an alehouse. Skywind was dressed in ordinary gray robes. The robes were not magic in any manner; these truly were cheap hemp robes which mortal peasants might wear. He was caked in filth, and his hair was disheveled. He sat there in the corner, drinking wine by himself. He was never able to get drunk, but he still came here to drink quite often.

No one in the alehouse dared to bother him… because half a year ago, this filthy-looking man had killed the governor of this city with a pair of chopsticks.

“Drinking by yourself?” a voice rang out.

Startled, Skywind looked up. Someone had actually been able to approach him without him even noticing it? And this person clearly hadn’t hidden his aura either; Skywind could clearly sense the aura of the sword about him. How did I not notice him approaching? This was so strange that Skywind could hardly believe it.

When he turned around, he saw a white-robed Ning seated at a nearby bench. Ning poured himself a cup of wine.

“Master!” When Skywind saw Ning, he immediately fell to his knees and kowtowed. He respected and revered his master more than anyone else.

Ning simply watched as his disciple kowtowed, not moving to stop him.

“You can get up,” Ning said a moment later.

“Alright.” Skywind rose to his feet.

Ning picked up his wine cup. “Come. Let the two of us, master and disciple, share a cup of wine.”

Skywind immediately lifted up his own wine cup and offered Ning a respectful toast. None of the ordinary mortals within this alehouse were able to notice or sense Ning’s presence.

After finishing the wine, Skywind said in a guilty manner: “I’ve disappointed you, Master.”

“There’s nothing to be disappointed about. Cultivation can lead to countless different paths,” Ning said. “A shadow was cast over your heart back in your homeland, long before you ever entered the Flamedragon Realmverse. For you to end up in your current situation… I blame myself as your master for not having helped you more.”

“It isn’t your fault, Master. This is the path I chose for myself,” Skywind said hastily. He himself knew that he had gone too far in his murderous actions. If it hadn’t been for the fact that his master was Daolord Darknorth, the Archons of the Sacred Cities probably would’ve wiped him out long ago.

“So are you planning to just spend your final years here?” Ning asked.

“I’m tired,” Skywind said softly. “I don’t want to run around any longer, and I don’t want to go back home either. I suppose I’ll just keep living here in this mortal world.”

“You might as well.” Ning didn’t try to dissuade him. “This will most likely be our final meeting. Let’s just share some wine with each other. I’ll only give you one final piece of advice – In cultivation, you must always follow your heart. The only thing you need to do is stay true to yourself. If you can do that, then there will be no need to feel any fear, nor will you need to feel guilt.”

Skywind’s eyes reddened. He could sense how quickly his master’s truesoul was disintegrating. His master probably wouldn’t be able to survive for much longer.

“Now, enough of all that. Let’s drink.” Ning smiled as he lifted up his wine cup once more.

After a lengthy drinking session with his disciple, Ning departed. He could not interfere in someone else’s path of cultivation; he couldn’t even interfere in his own daughter’s Daomerge, save to provide her with as many resources as he could. The only thing he could do was to try and guide Skywind in following, strengthening, and perfecting his own Dao-heart. As for what Skywind would do afterwards? That would be up to him.

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