Book 30, Ancient Cultivator, Chapter 35 – Heartforce, Stage Six – World
Ji Ning was completely absorbed by the Allworld Tribulation’s illusions.
Ning became a fisherman’s child. When he was young, he would accompany his father in fishing on the sea. He eventually fell in love with a rich man’s daughter, but her family looked down upon him. On one seafaring voyage, his father ended up perishing, resulting in Ning braving the oceans by himself. Slowly, the clever Ning learned more and more tricks for catching fish. He gradually accumulated a fortune, then purchased a large ship for himself. As his fishing skills continued to improve, he became a legend amongst fisherman. He eventually had over a hundred sails within his flee, and the rich girl’s family actually came to him to make amends.
This was a world without cultivation. His life was an ordinary one, and it started with him being a youth who slowly grew up, becoming a towering figure by his middle years and the patriarch of an incredibly strong and stable clan in his late years.
Ning became a peerless swordsman. His sword was the number one sword of the world, and his speed surpassed everyone’s imaginations.
The reason why he had returned from his drifting adventures on the oceans was because he wished to find his birth parents. Thanks to a medallion he had carried with him his entire life, he finally discovered his parents. When he was young, they had been pursued by a group of enemies and so they were forced to abandon him in front of a rich family’s doorstep. Eventually, his parents had found a place to hide. They had quietly trained until they became incredibly powerful. They killed their foes, then established a mountain villa and had many other children and even grandchildren.
And right at this moment, Ning finally came back to them as well…
Ning became a physician’s apprentice, earnestly following his master in the practice of medicine. He lived a very ordinary life, and the physician’s daughter ended up marrying him. His skill in medicine eventually surpassed his master’s, and his fame and reputation quickly spread throughout the world. Although he suffered the occasional setback, with other physicians occasionally slandering him, his influence within the world continued to only grow greater and greater…
Ning was a fiend, a true demon. His only ambition was to rule the entire world and force all of its many denizens to prostrate themselves at his feet. All schools and all sects had to bow before him… and those who refused would perish!
The fiendish Ning set up his own organization, and within its domain he was the master of all. No one dared to violate his command! Slowly, his area of influence began to spread as he wiped out the various other schools and sects nearby. His reputation grew greater and greater, as did his power. He became the undisputed hegemon amongst the countless evil figures of the world, and in the final battle he slew the three grandmasters of the righteous path. From that day forth, the entire world fell under his demonic, despotic might. No one dared to disobey him.
One life after another. Each time, Ning lived a wonderful live. Even when he became a demonic deposit or a viledoer, he would end up becoming an invincible figure, a leader amongst devils who none could shake.
The righteous path? The evil path? An ordinary mortal? A rural nobleman? A robber baron? A low-key sect farmer who was actually the number one expert in his sect? A brilliant scholar who won the imperial exams and was given the title of ‘zhuangyuan’? A down-on-his-luck scholar who encountered a fox-fairy spirit?
Each illusory life was like a form of rebirth. In truth, all of the illusory worlds were created by the Allworld Tribulation based on Ning’s own memories. For example, becoming a ‘zhuangyuan’ was something exclusive to the world of Earth in the Three Realms. Precisely because these worlds were all created based on Ning’s own memories, they all seemed very comfortable and familiar to Ning, making it easier for him to be drawn deeper into them.
It was all so real. Too real. Not only was it comparable to reincarnation, it was dimming his Dao-heart and his will! An ordinary Samsara Daolord’s mind would’ve long ago been fogged over by the endless illusions, and they would’ve forgotten who they were and been forever trapped by the illusions.
If Ning had come here shortly after leaving the Three Realms, even he wouldn’t have been able to withstand it. However, his will and his soul had been tempered and shaped to be even more unshakeable than before. He was always able to maintain at least a modicum of clarity. Although these illusory worlds were very real and held both love and hate, family and ambition and madness… Ning was always able to keep himself at arm’s length. He wasn’t seduced or led astray by the illusions, and his soul and his will watched in a detached manner as this all proceeded.
“Flamefairy, Master has spent far too much time in those illusions. It’s been nearly a hundred thousand years. You’ve already become a Daolord of the Third Step, but he’s still in the illusions!” Pillsaint and Su Youji were next to each other within the cave, staring towards the white-robed Hegemon’s corpse and the still-seated Ning.
Su Youji gazed towards Ning. “Master was able to make it all the way to the Hegemon’s corpse. Clearly, these illusions aren’t able to do anything to him. There’s no need for you to worry. Everything will be fine. Let us wait a while longer. If something really does seem to be wrong, I’ll go over there and pull him out.”
Su Youji had broken through as well. Her path had been that of the Dao of Charm and illusions to begin with, and the white-robed Hegemon’s mastery over illusions had indeed given her new insights and epiphanies. She had gained a deeper understanding of the legacy of Feixian the Exalted, and thus her rate of improvement began to accelerate rapidly. Thanks to a temporal acceleration treasure, she finally managed to break through to become a Daolord of the Third Step after nearly ten million accelerated years.
If it hadn’t been for the insights she had gained from the white-robed Hegemon’s illusions, she probably would’ve taken ten times as long in order to make this breakthrough.
Pillsaint remained a Daolord of the Second Step. The battle-scars on the cave walls were of very limited benefit to him. He was at a fairly low level of insight, and as such the intent of a Hegemon’s Dao was mostly inscrutable to him.
As for Daolord Naia and Daolord Bruteflame, they were both Daolords of the Fourth Step. Both of them were continued to ardently study those Hegemonic battle-scars, as they were of tremendous help to them.
“After becoming a Daolord of the Third Step, my soul has continuously increased in power. Given my mastery over the art of illusions, I should be more or less able to resist the remnant energy unleashed by the Hegemon’s corpse,” Su Youji said.
“Eh?” Pillsaint’s eyebrows suddenly lifted upwards.
“Master…” Su Youji was startled as well.
An strange aura suddenly shot out from the distant, seated Ning. It was as though something had just been given birth to.
One life after another. He threw himself into each life, allowing himself to experience love and hate, life and death. Each life was a wonderful one, as the illusions sought to drag Ning fully into that world and drown him within its lies.
However, each time Ning was always able to extricate himself. In the blink of an eye, thousands of worlds and lifetimes had gone by.
“Master, I’ve grown weary of the red dust of the mortal world. I wish to dedicate myself to the monastic life. Please accept me.” A white-robed youth was kneeling in front of an old monk within a monastery. But right at this moment…
Rumble… the entire world suddenly started to shake. The white-robed youth was briefly startled. He rose to his feet, scanning his surroundings. He looked at the old monk, then looked at the mountains around him. The entire world seemed to be within his gaze.
“It is time to put an end to this unending cycle of reincarnation,” the white-robed youth said.
The entire world burst apart, the illusions have completely collapsed. The world in front of Ning became clear once more. He was still seated in the lotus position within the cave, and roughly thirty meters up ahead of him was the white-robed Hegemon’s corpse. Although the power of the illusions remained as potent as ever, they were no longer able to affect him in the slightest… because the sea of consciousness within his mind had just undergone a fundamental transformation.
A powerful tidal wave of heartforce shot out, drenching reality in its waters. Reality and illusions twisted together, coalescing into a single spot of light. This spot of light was almost like the Worldheart which every single chaosworld was born from.
The spot of light began to grow, and it seemed to contain a thousand planets within it. With a rumbling sound, an entire universe began to manifest inside of it as a new world was established.
This… this was his heartworld!
Heartforce, stage six – World!
Ning’s mind and heart had long ago been at the threshold of this level; all he needed was some more experience and insights, and he would have made his breakthrough. If it hadn’t been for this event, he probably would’ve needed to experience many more things and seen more worlds before finally making his breakthrough. However, the endless illusory worlds of the Allworld Tribulation had allowed him to finally see through to the nature of reality. His heartforce vaulted over that final barrier, allowing him to reach the sixth stage. He finally established his own heartworld, a world where illusions and reality intersected.
The heartworld was to Heartforce Cultivators what the Jindan chaos region was to Ki Refiners! Only if you could establish a heartworld would you be considered a true Heartforce Cultivator!
There were incredibly few true Heartforce Cultivators. The experiences Ning had undergone in the Three Realms had given him tremendous mental fortitude, and he had always had an incredibly high level of comprehension… but in the end, he had still needed the Allworld Tribulation in order to make the final breakthrough.
“From this day forth, I am a Heartforce Cultivator.
“Ki Refiners train in Immortal energy. They are skilled in secret arts and magic treasures.
“Fiendgods train in their divine body. They are skilled in divine abilities and in using weapons in close combat.
“Heartforce Cultivators establish heartworlds. They train in heartforce and know many mysterious powers that can strike at an enemy’s heart, slaying them with a thought.”
Ning nodded slightly. Ki Refiners and Fiendgods focused on reaching ever-higher levels of mastery in the Dao. Heartforce Cultivators, however, were different.
Heartforce Cultivators did not focus on the strength of their Dao; rather, they focused on the stability of their Dao. They needed extremely stable Daos and extremely stable heartworlds, as only then could those heartworlds continuously expand. The vaster a heartworld was, the more terrifyingly powerful a Heartworld Cultivator would be! A Verge-level Heartforce Cultivator could have a heartworld that was comparable in size to an entire territory!