Book 30, Ancient Cultivator, Chapter 27 – The Core
“Which one do you want?” Ji Ning asked.
“The water-attribute Dragonfish Ki.” The Ninedust Sectlord looked at Ning. Although the two were working together, they were equal partners; the Ninedust Sectlord didn’t have the right to unilaterally choose which treasures he wanted. If Ning also deeply desired the water-attribute Dragonfish Ki, then it would end up going to whoever moved the fastest. The Ninedust Sectlord truly wasn’t confident in his chances, as the power of Ning’s nine novessence arts was truly great; if Ning was to apply all nine of them in chasing after treasures, his chances would probably be greater.
“To tell you the truth, I truly wish to acquire the water-attribute Dragonfish Ki as well.” Ning grinned when he saw the worried look on the Ninedust Sectlord’s face. “But… even if I did get it, it wouldn’t be of much use to me for now. Fine, fine; the water-attribute one is yours, but the other three are mine. I suppose I technically come out slightly ahead in this.”
“Thank you.” The Ninedust Sectlord let out a sigh of relief. Sometimes, quantity wasn’t the most important thing when it came to procuring treasures, nor was the superficial ‘market price’. When you encountered a precious treasure that you were in desperate need of, you would easily be willing to pay five to ten times the ‘normal’ price! The real question was, how badly did you need it?
“Don’t let the Dragonfish Ki escape.” Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord instantly began to make their moves.
The five types of Dragonfish Ki were aligned to the Five Elements, and four of those five types were before them – metal, wood, water, and fire. Ning’s greatest strength lay in his Sword Dao, with water and thunder in second position. Thus, Ning really did care more about the water-attribute Dragonfish Ki. However, even if he acquired it he would simply store it away for now, because he didn’t really need it for training in any secret arts at present. Perhaps in the future he would obtain a secret art which required such a treasure, but Ning’s focus was on the deceased Sword Hegemon’s secret art. That was a truly powerful secret art! It was quite unlikely that he’d be able to obtain anything more powerful than it.
Soon, the two of them fought through more than ten earth devils and acquired the four types of Dragonfish Ki.
“Hahaha!” The Ninedust Sectlord roared with laughter. “Finally, I’ll be able to make yet another breakthrough in my secret art. The water-attribute Dragonfish Ki… I once offered a bounty of three hundred million cubes of chaos nectar for it, but no one was willing to accept it. Daolord Curveclaw of the Aberrants actually offered it to me for one billion! I was so angry I really wanted to just kill him.”
“Treasures like these can only be hoped for, not counted on.” Ning smiled.
“Thank you, Darknorth. Haha, you know? I’m starting to take a liking to you.” The Ninedust Sectlord laughed merrily. “After we leave this ancestral site, if there’s anything you need me to do I’ll do it, so long as it isn’t anything suicidal.”
Ning immediately felt much more friendly towards the Ninedust Sectlord. Ninedust was the type of person who would do anything to achieve his goals, but he wasn’t truly an evil man. The Ninedust Sect’s evil reputation was primarily due to the evil deeds of the previous sectlord. The current Ninedust Sectlord was an Ancient cultivator and thus rather arrogant and aloof, and he was willing to do anything for the sake of his cultivation, but he would remember even the slightest of kindnesses or debts that he owed.
“If there’s anything you need me to do I’ll do it, so long as it isn’t suicidal.” This was quite a promise. The term ‘suicidal’ referred to something like Ning asking him to help Ning kill a Hegemon – that would be suicide! But if Ning said to him, “Come, let us venture into the Terror Starsea?” The Ninedust Sectlord would fearlessly accompany Ning into it, despite the many dangers involved.
As a result of this minor affair, both Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord became much more well-disposed towards each other. This often happened when Daolords adventured together. The term ‘lifelong friend’ often came as a result of friendships being forged through shared adversity in life-and-death situations.
“Why haven’t we been able to find a second worldsplitter stone?”
“We’ve spent another full hour in here.” Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord continued to go deeper and deeper into the planet, and the countless passageways continuously twisted downwards.
Although they had taken many twists and turns, both of them knew exactly where they were. They knew that they were moving closer to the core of the planet. Surprisingly enough, they didn’t encounter all that many earth devils on the way over; in fact, the closer they were to the core, the fewer in number the devils seemed to become.
“A worldsplitter stone.” They saw a levitating worldsplitter stone off in the distance. Ning instantly revealed a look of delight. They were now very deep inside the planet, but there were no earth devils nearby.
Swoosh. Ning immediately flew over and reached out, grabbing the worldsplitter stone with his hands. Moments later, he stared in front of him in surprise. The Ninedust Sectlord was right behind him, and he also stared in disbelief.
Right in front of them was an enormous globe that was pitch-black in color which emanated minute ripples of power. Ning, however, could just barely sense that these ripples were so powerful as to cause their hearts to quaver. Them listening to these ripples was like a pair of ants listening to the heartbeat of an enormous dragon; the terror they felt was innate and heartfelt.
“This must be the core of the planet,” the Ninedust Sectlord said softly. “This is the core of this entire world. It gave birth to all the earth devils, and also to the worldsplitter stones.”
“And the Dragonfish Ki.” Ning pointed off into the distance. The Ninedust Sectlord followed Ning’s gaze, only to see that there were four types of infant Dragonfish Ki being nurtured upon the outermost surface of the world’s core.
“Let’s go,” Ning said softly.
“Agreed. This isn’t a place for us to do as we please.” The Ninedust Sectlord didn’t have the slightest intention of trying to take away the core.
When adventuring, if you wanted to live a long life you had to know your limits. This planet was capable of suppressing the countless flame demons of the outlands, ensuring that they didn’t dare to enter. A ripple from its core alone was enough to inspire fear in their hearts. The power of this planetary core vastly surpassed that of an ordinary Eternal Emperor. Both of them had the feeling that if they so much as touched the core, they would probably be instantly reduced to dust.
Whoosh. Whoosh. They quickly departed. On the way back, they encountered a number of earth devils but were able to quickly shake them off. Although the battles seemed fierce, in truth both were still distracted by thoughts of that enormous, pitch-black world core. What an utterly terrifying core that was! Ning estimated that only someone with the power of a Hegemon would have a chance at possibly procuring it.
“No wonder the living beings born on this planet all have such incredible talent for cultivation and are able to train so easily. This world is even smaller than the Three Realms, but in this era alone it has already given birth to twenty or thirty Daolords and a terrifying number of World-level cultivators. No wonder.” Ning secretly sighed.
The Grand Elder’s avatar led a group of sixteen Daolords as they waited next to the tombstones. They stared afar at the rainbow region off in the distance which led to the world’s core.
“Elder, the two Prophets have been in there for too long. Is it possible that they…” A Daolord spoke out.
“It has been quite long.”
“Our Daolords rarely spent that much time in there.”
Generally speaking, if one wasn’t able to acquire a worldsplitter stone in a fairly short period of time, one would quickly retreat and wait for another opportunity in the future.
“The Prophets won’t die that easily,” the Grand Elder said. “Wait a while longer. They should be returning soon.”
Just a short while later. “There they are,” Daolord Inkmind said hurriedly.
Swoosh! Swosh! Two streaks of light quickly flew towards them from afar, pursued by a large number of earth devils. Ning’s nine novessence arts swirled around him like nine dragons. With the Ninedust Sectlord’s help, they managed to quickly throw off the pursuit of the earth devils. Even the most rare and powerful of earth devils were merely on par with the two of them, and even then they weren’t as fast.
Whoosh. Whoosh. They flew out of the rainbow region, then landed at the entrance of the cave. They watched calmly as the many earth devils within the region issued threatening growls to the two of them. Slowly, the earth devils turned their attention away. So long as one retreated from their home, the creatures would not pursue them.
“Congratulations, Prophets.” The Grand Elder smiled.
“I need to train for a while.” The Ninedust Sectlord didn’t waste words on ceremony. He waved his hand, causing a wooden house to descend before him. He then entered the wooden house, which was in truth an Eternal-class estate-treasure with incredibly strong defenses that were hard to breach. He sent mentally to Ning, “Darknorth, I need to train in my secret arts for a while. Two hours should be enough.”
Ning nodded, then turned to glance at the white-robed Grand Elder. He smiled. “Sorry for having troubled you in recent days. Ninedust and I have both acquired worldsplitter stones; this very day, we shall leave this world.”
The Grand Elder and the others all let out secret sighs of relief. It was best if the two left. By now, they were no longer cultivators who need ‘Prophets’ to transmit techniques to them. They had built up an enormous collection of skills after having embarked on the path of cultivation countless years ago. Although they were a bit weaker than any one of the Twelve Palaces of the Brightshore Kingdom, they weren’t that much weaker.
“I’ll have to trouble you to watch over my disciple Skywind after our departure,” Ning said.
“Don’t worry. Skywind is a member of our sacred grounds and a member of our race. We’ll spare no expense in helping him grow up and become stronger,” the Grand Elder said.
Skywind was seated at the desolate mountain in an area with no life at all. The only thing in front of him was endless sand, which contained tribal lifeforms within it. He just watched silently, his gaze travelling countless kilometers as he watched the various individuals celebrate and lament.
“I still can’t let it all go.” Skywind shook his head.
“Skywind.” A surge of godsense swept towards Skywind, ringing out by his ears. “Your master, Prophet Darknorth, will be leaving our world today. He’ll be venturing out into the outlands.”
“Master is leaving?” Young master Skywind immediately rose to his feet. He knew very well that everything he had today, he had thanks to Ning’s guidance. Many of the cultivators of this planet had once trained in the Dao of the Sword, but none of them had ever reached the level his master had reached. The information his master provided went to the core of the Dao of the Sword, and it seemed as though there were no sword-arts which puzzled his master. It was also thanks to his master’s guidance that he had been able to improve so quickly.
“Master.” Skywind transformed into a sword-shadow. Thanks to the treasures and divine abilities he had acquired in the sacred grounds, he was already comparable to a Daolord of the First Step. And now, he immediately displayed his sword-arts for all to see as he quickly headed back home.