Ji Ning wiped the tears from his eyes. He understood that these were tears of joy, an uncontrollable joy that had come out upon his heart becoming one with Heaven in Earth.
“So…in the past, I was wrong, ridiculously wrong.”
“No wonder the truly supreme divine archers of the Three Realms are all so low-key.”
Ning finally understood the true nature of the fourth stage of heartforce, ‘mortal dust’.
It was like the grass upon the desolate battlefield…
It had to struggle to emerge from the dirt and grow up. It fought for every ray of sunshine, every drop of rain, because it wanted to grow higher and higher. It might be very low-key and unremarkable…but not even the most exalted major powers of the Three Realms could stop the will and the heart of the grass. The heart was infinite and unlimited; even a beggar could have the heart and ambitions of an emperor.
The power of the heart was invisible and formless…but it was incomparably marvelous.
Even mortals who had sufficiently powerful hearts and wills could create miracles. They would become heroes!
As for Immortal cultivators…
The number in the Three Realms who were able to reach the fourth stage of heartforce, ‘mortal dust’, was incredibly low! The number who managed to reach this fourth stage when at the Empyrean God or True Immortal level could be counted on one hand. Even amongst the exalted True Gods and Daofathers, the fourth stage essentially represented an absolute limit. Only one person had ever broken past this limit…Houyi!
Houyi was the only person to ever reach the fifth stage of heartforce, and he even left behind a systemized technique for training in it. His power was acclaimed at all, but he had long ago disappeared.
From this, one could tell how incredibly difficult it was for one to reach the fourth stage of heartforce.
“I’m like the wild grass. I’m nothing more than an unremarkable blade of grass. In the face of the Godking, in the face of the major powers…I’m unbelievably weak.” Ning had been seated atop the city walls, but he now rose to his feet and stared towards the skies. “But I want to walk further along my path, to make it to greater heights, to become even more powerful than the Godking. In fact, I want to reach Pangu and Nuwa’s level…and then surpass them!”
“No matter how lowly a person might be, his heart is limitless.” Ning felt very moved.
Prajna-states of enlightenment were profound, arcane, and unpredictable.
After experiencing so many setbacks and that agonizing choice…Ning’s heart had indeed been greatly impacted. But only when he felt as downtrodden as he did right now did he truly understand what it meant to be as insignificant as a speck of mortal dust. And so, he slowly began to understand and gain insights into this stage.
Everyone knew the principles of this stage, but to truly understand it and to thoroughly comprehend it was far, far more difficult.
‘Knowing’ what to do is easy; it’s the ‘doing’ that is tricky!
As Ning’s heart had expanded, his heartforce had risen in power as well. When Ning’s heart had reached the point of becoming one with the entire world of the Grand Xia and begun to reach out towards the infinite Void…his heartforce had truly reached an absolutely terrifying level, a level which represented an absolute limit for even True Gods and Daofathers, many of whom had not been able to reach it.
The fourth stage of heartforce!
Ning had broken through!
Aside from the missing Houyi…Ning’s heartforce could be ranked as the highest within the entire Three Realms!
“Always consider yourself as an unremarkable speck of mortal dust. Always reach for greater heights. Not even reaching Pangu’s level is the end of your ambitions.” Ning didn’t know whether or not Pangu’s level represented the endpoint for Immortal cultivation, but there was no endpoint for the heart. His heart could become infinitely vast, infinitely great.
“The difference between the fourth stage and the third stage is simply far too vast.”
Reaching the third stage of heartforce allowed one to have the power of a supreme Celestial Immortal.
The fourth stage of heartforce, however, gave one the power of a supreme Empyrean God or True Immortal!
Every single Empyrean God and True Immortal who had reached the fourth stage of heartforce stood at the very peak of power amongst their peers. The divine archer Eastbreak, for example…after using Daofruits of primordial chaos, he was able to suppress an entire battlefield all by himself! Although the Daofruits were very powerful…if it hadn’t been for Eastbreak’s archery and coreforce, how could the other Empyrean Gods and True Immortals have all been completely shut down?
“Although I’ve only reached the expert level in my soul heartforce technique…even reaching the level of perfect mastery would probably increase my power by a mere tenfold, by a single level of so.”
“With my heartforce having increased from the third level to the fourth level…my power has increased by multiple levels.”
Ning himself knew how much he had improved.
“It is time to see the Daofather.” Ning rose to his feet. He felt guilt towards Daofather Crimsonbright. It had been the Daofather who had personally handed him Shennong’s medicine in a show of tremendous faith. Although it was Yu Wei who had turned traitor…in the end, it was his fault!
Ning stared at the vast, desolate wilderness. He also stared at the enormous black levitating citadel, the Seamless City. He quietly murmured to himself, “This battle isn’t over yet.”
Prior to this, his Heaven Punisher was already very powerful. With his heartforce having increased by an entire major level…how powerful would his Heaven Punisher become? Not even Ning himself knew.
This was because only a few Empyrean Gods or True Immortals had ever reached the fourth level of heartforce. Of them, Ning was the only one who had developed a soul heartforce technique! In other words…in the entire Three Realms, there was no Empyrean God or True Immortal whose Heaven Punisher was stronger than Ning’s. His was the most powerful of them all!
“Godking.” Boundless hatred could be seen within Ning’s eyes.
Ning walked down from the city walls, then towards the distant main palace of the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.
If the Godking knew that his decision to force Ji Ning to make such an agonizing decision had resulted in Ning’s heartforce advancing from the third stage to the fourth stage…it’s hard to imagine how much regret he would feel. This was an advancement that was even more terrifying than perfecting the soul heartforce technique! And now…he had personally created a freak who knew the soul heartforce technique and had fourth stage heartforce.
The Godking’s original goal had merely been to make Ji Ning join the Seamless Gate.
Ji Ning was walking towards the main palace of the Eight Dragons Cloudcity.
“It’s Ji Ning.”
“Why is Ji Ning going towards the main hall?”
“He spent a few days sitting blankly atop the city walls. I wonder what he was thinking about? This must have been an enormous blow to him, and he also caused us to lose this Realmwar…I hope he’s not blaming himself so much that his thoughts are in a complete mess, causing him to go seek out the Daofather.
“Alas…he truly is a peerless monster, the likes of which are rarely seen. I hope he hasn’t been ruined by his Dao-companion…”
The Immortals who saw Ning walking towards the main hall all chatted amongst themselves.
Love…it was a single word, but because of this word, countless lives had been destroyed and countless paths had been severed. This happened far, far too often within the Three Realms. However…those who were able to persevere after suffering such blows, who were able to continue to advance…they all became awe-inspiring figures of the Three Realms. They were no longer referred to as ‘monstrous geniuses’; they were known as the true experts of the Three Realms!
“Ji Ning?” The Xia Emperor walked out from the main palace. He said in surprise, “Why have you come?”
“I wish to see the Daofather,” Ning said.
“The Daofather is not in a good mood. It’s best if you don’t go,” the Xia Emperor said hurriedly.
“Not in a good mood?” Ning was startled.
“Right.” The Xia Emperor nodded. “Human Emperor Shennong is out of ideas, but the Daofather is still unwilling to give up. He’s spent countless years building his Crimsonbright Realm up, after all. Thus, the Daofather went out to meet with other major powers, including the leaders of the Daoist Path and the Buddhist Sangha, as well as others, but…alas…”
Ning nodded. “I understand.”
The Xia Emperor looked towards Ning. “Do you still wish to see the Daofather, then?”
Ning’s aura suddenly transformed from that of a Celestial Immortal to that of a Pure Yang True Immortal.
“Pure…Pure Yang?!” The Xia Emperor’s eyes instantly turned round and huge. Overjoyed, he said, “Ji Ning, you made a breakthrough?”
“Yes.” Ning nodded.
Since he’d already decided that he was going to win this Realmwar…he had remain careful of the Seamless Gate’s intelligence network. Thus, Ning only revealed the fact that he had the power of a Pure Yang True Immortal, intending to force the Seamless Gate into a series of miscalculations. As for reaching the fourth level of heartforce…for now, he had to hide this. He would only reveal his power at a critical moment, allowing them to win this war in one blow.
But if he wanted to hide it from them…
He had to hide it from everyone! Only when he alone knew this secret would it truly be a secret. If he told anyone else at all, the Seamless Gate would have a chance to find out.
“Fantastic. This…this is absolutely fantastic.” The Xia Emperor was extremely excited. “Your breakthrough to the Pure Yang level means that your Heaven Punisher will increase dramatically in power. If you join forces with the Seven Planets God, you might be able to completely tie down the Daofather golem. During the last battle, the Seamless Gate managed to escape with some of its forces, preventing us from wiping them out. They still suffered castastrophic losses, however. If you and the Seven Planets God can tie down the Daofather golem…leave the others, including the Three-Eyed Demon, to us.”
“Let’s go! Let’s go see the Daofather.” The Xia Emperor was incomparably excited.
“Alright.” Ning followed the Xia Emperor into the main palace.
“The Daofather’s in a side hall.” The Xia Emperor led Ning forward in a very familiar manner. Soon, Ning saw a quiet, secluded side hall with Daofather Crimsonbright seated in the lotus position within it.
However…as soon as Ning saw the Daofather, he could sense the deathly, melancholy aura surrounding him.
This was a sort of melancholic aura which would naturally emerge once one felt completely powerless.
“Master.” The Xia Emperor spoke out.
“Daofather.” Ning called out respectfully as well.
Daofather Crimsonbright opened his eyes. Upon seeing Ning, he nodded gently. “It seems you’ve managed to bestir yourself a bit, Ji Ning. Our loss in this Realmwar cannot be blamed upon you. You couldn’t have imagined any of those things happening. If we lose, we lose. There’s always a victor and a loser in any war. Later, I shall summon the other Empyrean Gods, True Immortals, and army commanders and issue an order to retreat. You should roam the Three Realms a bit and relax. Both your master and myself have great expectations of you. Our war with the Seamless Gate shall continue. Although we’ve lost here, we’ll still need you to go fight in other places in the future.”
The Daofather was a Daofather, after all. Although he felt grief at completely losing his territory and his foundation, his gaze was still focused on the Three Realms as a whole. He naturally didn’t wish to see Ji Ning sink into endless despair; in fact, he didn’t even want to blame Ji Ning at all.
“Master…Ji Ning broke through to the Pure Yang True Immortal level,” the Xia Emperor said hurriedly.
Daofather Crimsonbright was briefly stunned…and then his eyes lit up!
His melancholic aura completely vanished. He once more became full of vigor and energy. He stared at Ning, then said with a laugh, “I really have grown old. I was so dispirited by this Realmwar that I’ve become as blind as a bat. I didn’t realize you made a breakthrough, even though you are standing right in front of me. Haha…Pure Yang True Immortal…you’ve broke through to become a Pure Yang True Immortal…then doesn’t that mean your Heaven Punisher shall dramatically increase in power? If you join forces with the Seven Planets God commanded by Redsnow, you should be able to tie down the Daofather golem, right?”
“Daofather, please give me 9000 Celestial Immortals and 810,000 Loose Immortals so that I may create a maximum-power Heaven Punisher,” Ning said respectfully.
Upon seeing how confident Ji Ning was, Daofather Crimsonbright couldn’t help but call out the word ‘superb’. Ji Ning had previously already commanded 3000 Celestial Immortals; all they had to do now was merge six more Heaven Punisher armies into his army. Six ordinary Heaven Punishers wouldn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.
“I’ll give the orders right away. Prepare for a final battle against the Seamless Gate!” Daofather Crimsonbright’s eyes gleamed with light. His aura filled the heavens, and his voice boomed forth.