During the final night before the battle, compared to the silence within the mountains in Freezing Sky Clan, the sky was rife with rumbling sounds. Those rumbles came from Heaven Gate’s nine continents moving.
To many people, this was a sleepless night. Once dawn arrived and the first rays of the morning sun appeared in the sky, many people would leave the land and head to Sky Mist…
What awaited them would perhaps be glory, a step to fame, or perhaps… death in foreign lands.
Most of them could not sleep that night. Even if they were training, quite a lot of them found themselves unable to calm down. Some of them stared at the darkness and let their minds wander, some started wiping their enchanted Vessels, some brought out the items given to them by their families and started praying.
The rumbling sounds continued traveling through the dark world outside. The shift in Heaven Gate and the offset in the placement of the nine continents gradually turned into a spread out picture. There was a distortion right at the middle of the picture. Occasionally, lightning would swim about within, as if it had turned into a mirror. The treasure that was used primarily to kill among the three greatest treasures was slowly appearing from within the distortion.
Su Ming walked out of his cave abode at midnight. The rumbling sounds had become stronger in his ears. In fact, when he lifted his head, he could even vaguely see the shape of Heaven Gate’s nine continents in the dark, as well as the faint shape of something coming out slowly as if it was emerging from another world as it came from the swimming lightning.
Su Ming stood there for a long time, and his shadow looked bizarre under the moonlight. He averted his gaze and turned to walk towards the peak of the mountain. As he stepped on the ice covering the ninth summit, a look of reluctance to leave the place appeared in his eyes.
He knew that once he left tomorrow morning, there was no way he could know when he would come back, perhaps… he would not even be able to come back, but there were some things that he must do.
Only in battle could he grow up quickly. If he shied away due to fear, then what right did he have to search for a path to go home? The path to his home was much harder that the battle this time.
However, Su Ming still found it difficult to part with the ninth summit.
He found it hard to leave the plants here, leave Hu Zi’s snores, leave his second senior brother’s smile, his eldest senior brother’s silent but loving care, and his Master’s occasional crazy antics.
All of these things he treasured.
What he found himself unwilling to part with the most was the feeling from the ninth summit, the feeling of warmth here. Even if the weather here was freezing cold, but the warmth born within his heart amidst the cold made him value and treasure it even more.
He wanted to stay here. He wanted to stay here forever and not think about Dark Mountain, about the underlying meaning within that ‘Destiny’, about the years that had gone by when he was within the crack, and about the aloof pair of eyes and those words of disappointment.
He wanted to give up on solving all these mysterious, stop thinking about them, and to just spend the rest of his days here within the ninth summit.
Yet Su Ming was not willing to give up. He could not forget Dark Mountain. He could not forget everything that had happened.
He remained silent as he walked up the ninth summit. Once he reached the top of the mountain, he looked at the dust covered hall and bowed towards it with his fist wrapped in his palm.
"I, Su Ming, would like to meet Master."
His words traveled out, but they were swallowed by the rumbling sounds in the sky and swept away by the cold wind blowing around him, making his voice sound as if it could not exist in the air.
Su Ming stayed in that bowed position, unmoving.
Time trickled by. When the time taken for the burning of an incense stick passed by, a sigh came from beside Su Ming.
"Your third senior brother is not going, your second senior brother is not going, your eldest senior brother, too, is not going back… Are you… really going to leave?" Along with the words came Tian Xie Zi, dressed in long blue robes.
Su Ming straightened his body and turned around to look at Tian Xie Zi. There was uncertainty on his face, but it quickly turned into resolution.
"I have to go. If I don’t even dare to go to the land of the Shamans and wait till I become stronger, then some day, even if I manage to reach the Berserker Soul Realm, I still won’t dare to step out of the Land of South Morning.
"It’s just as you said. It’s still incredibly dangerous to leave the Land of South Morning even for the powerful Berserkers within the Berserker Soul Realm…"
The blue robed Tian Xie Zi looked at his disciple, stayed silent for a moment, and a melancholic look appeared on his face.
"This battle will be different from the previous battles… Perhaps you made the correct choice. We can’t run away from this battle… Ah, fine. If you want to go, then go. Perhaps you might even run into me and your senior brothers there." Tian Xie Zi shook his head and sighed.
Su Ming hesitated for a moment before he asked softly, "Master, just what happened?"
"Didn’t you hear some of what happened?" Tian Xie Zi gave Su Ming a look.
"Not all of it." Su Ming was momentarily stunned, but he still answered.
"That’s enough. It’s not necessarily a good thing for you to know more of something." Tian Xie Zi was silent for a moment before he cast a conflicted look towards the dark sky and grabbed the air with his right hand. Immediately, a wooden slip appeared in his hands and he handed it to Su Ming.
"The reason you came to me is because of the old xun maker which I brought you to see last time, right? This is the location of his tribe. Take this with you, and once you’ve traveled three nights on Frozen Sky, you can leave with this thing on you. That spot is the closest to where that person is."
Tian Xie Zi looked at Su Ming deeply before he lifted his hand and patted Su Ming’s head. A kind and loving look appeared on his face.
"Walk down the path you desire, just like how I did to prove to my Master that the path I chose is correct. Go and prove that the path you chose is even better than mine." Tian Xie Zi moved past Su Ming and walked into the air before he gradually disappeared.
Su Ming stood there, silent for a long time, before he bowed towards the dust covered hall. He walked down the stairs and returned to his cave abode.
He looked around inside the cave. He did not sit down to meditate but chose to look at everything around him. All of these things were familiar, so familiar, so, so, familiar…
When dawn arrived and the first sliver of light was just about to appear in the horizon, Su Ming finished packing his belongings. He did not take away anything from the cave and let it remain as it was. In a few years, he would still return to this place. He believed it wholeheartedly.
Because this place… was also his home…
Once he was out of the cave, Su Ming suddenly lifted his right hand and pressed it on the ice wall by his side before he dug out an ice block and put it in his storage bag.
‘This is a sign of the ninth summit…’
Su Ming stood on the platform and looked at the dark sky. He looked at the gigantic thing that was already mostly revealed in the middle of Heaven Gate, but the space around it was so distorted that its form could not be seen clearly.
He sucked in a deep breath of the ninth summit’s air before Su Ming walked down the mountain stairs. When the sky started brightening up slightly, he arrived outside Hu Zi’s cave abode. Snores could be heard coming from within the cave. A smile appeared on Su Ming’s face and he entered Hu Zi’s cave.
Hu Zi was lying sprawled on the ground, in a deep sleep. Drool slipped down the corners of his mouth and gathered into a puddle on the ground. There was a large amount of wine gourds by his side, and many of them had fallen to the side.
Su Ming looked at Hu Zi for a long time before he picked up a gourd that was filled with wine and left.
The sky was beginning to brighten up, but the earth was still in darkness. Su Ming saw his second senior brother wandering about like a ghost on the mountain. He paused in his footsteps momentarily. The moment he stopped, second senior brother floated towards him in the dark. He stopped still before Su Ming and stared at him.
"Second senior brother…" Su Ming opened his mouth and said softly.
"Youngest junior brother, I suspect that Shamans are stealing my plants at night. Once you get there, remember to help me search for the perpetrator and find out who did it," second senior brother said sternly.
Su Ming was momentarily stunned before he nodded his head with a wry smile.
"Bring this with you, and take care…" Second senior brother exuded a chilling presence during night. He took a few steps forward and placed something in Su Ming’s hand before he floated past him.
Su Ming dipped his head and looked at his palm. There was a black piece of grass there that was glowing with a dim light.
"This thing grew up with my Phantom aura. It’ll turn into Phantom mist once you place it down. It can be anywhere you like… When you’re tired, you can rest at ease inside." Second senior brother’s cold voice fell into his ears from the distance, but Su Ming did not feel cold. His heart became warm instead.
Morning arrived without anyone’s knowledge. The sky brightened up and the darkness in the land was chased away. A large number of people walked out of their cave abodes from the nine summits and lifted their heads to look at the sky.
Heaven Gate’s nine continents had positioned themselves into the shape of a ring in the sky. At its center, lightning swam about, and they looked like a web. Within that web was an object that was about 1,000 feet in length.
It was entirely black and its edges were sharp. By the looks of it, it was a giant sword!
That revealed part of the sword was already 1,000 feet in length, and its breadth was about 100 feet, making it look like the top of a mountain! There were complicated runic symbols flashing on it, and every single time they shone, a gigantic amount of pressure would descend upon the land.
Rumbling sounds continued reverberating in the air, and Su Ming saw that gigantic sword rapidly coming out from within the web. As it came out, the rumbling sounds grew stronger.
Soon, when the morning sun shone on the ground with a piercing light, the sky trembled ,and with a loud crash, that sword was now completely out of the web created in the middle of Heaven Gate.
It was a black sword. The length of it was about 1,000 something feet, and it was 100 feet in breadth. It floated in midair with a shocking murderous aura. It would have been fine if that was all there was, but the moment the sword appeared, it started swelling up rapidly, and in the blink of an eye, in a bizarre fashion, a large shadow was formed on the ground!
That sword swelled to several hundred times its size. Its length had become nearly 10,000 feet, and it had turned into a gigantic object floating in the sky like a giant mountain!
It looked like a sword, but if anyone took a closer look, it would then look like a ship!
The gigantic shadow on the ground had practically covered all the nine summits on land. As that sword appeared, an intense pressure fell upon the minds of all those who had lifted their heads to look.
"I am Jing Cheng Rong, the leader of the army!"
Nine people flew out from Heaven Gate’s continents. All of the nine wore white robes, and eight of them sat down cross-legged at different corners of the giant sword. Only one of them stood at the tip of the sword. As his gaze swept through the land, he spoke slowly.
"All those who want to fight, step onto Frozen Sky! Once you step on it, you’ll be branded, and if you die during battle, that brand will disappear! All you disciples of Freezing Sky, come forth now for the Shaman Hunt!"