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Chapter 36: Fanatic
The old monk considered before saying, “In the past, it was easy for you to become the first sword of the world, but now, it is hard.”
Ding Ning nodded. He could understand the old monk’s meaning.
However, the old monk feared Ding Ning would misunderstand and said, “Not that you need to regain your cultivation, and many cultivators are now ahead of you. The key was you created a new era. You and Ba Mountain Sword Field pushed the world forward a large step.”
The old monk’s theory was grand but very simple. For example, a sect would have realm four and five cultivators, and almost no realm sixes and sevens. But then a sudden group of realm seven grandmasters appeared. Then the state of the sect, including realm five and six cultivators, would increase in number in the next period.
The reality was so. Many outstanding masters could influence the rise and fall of an era. Wang Jingmeng and the Ba Mountain Sword Field rose when the cultivation world had been in decline. At the time, there were very few cultivators beyond realm six. But now, Ding Ning was in the era after Ba Mountain Sword Field. Many sects had risen. For example, many of Ye Celeng’s generation that had been greatly affected by Ba Mountain Sword Field’s people back then were now grandmasters.
Maybe there would be a similar battle many more years later, facing more grandmasters, and even new realm eight cultivators like Yuanwu. *What kind of cultivation was needed then to win, and become invincible as Ding Ning said?
This was what the old monk was interested in. So he thought and then asked respectfully, “Could you reach Yuanwu’s realm?”
“Back then in Changling, I was between realm seven and eight. I had doubts about some things, and did not completely understand. I was stuck there between going up or not. My cultivation was just a bit ahead of yours now.” Ding Ning looked at the old monk and said calmly, “Later, in the decade I was in Changling, I repeated some of my old paths and even corrected some of the mistakes I made in my cultivation. Those were simple, and did not need much effort. I considered the problems of realm seven and eight. In terms of realm, I am much higher than Yuanwu.”
The old monk stilled and then laughed at himself. “I was muddle-headed to ask this. You were far ahead of Yuanwu back then, and even if you give him a few years, in terms of state, you are still far ahead of him after cultivating for a decade.”
Ding Ning looked at him and said, “But this is not enough.”
The old monk thought of the goal on the mountain and then looked at his wooden staff. He understood and said, “There is also the body, the weapon and the accumulation of time.”
Ding Ning also looked at the wooden staff in the old monk’s hand that seemed to be washed in blood. The dull oily light had disappeared from the surface and the inside gave off an amber like light. Then he nodded and said nothing else.
“I want to serve by your side.” The old monk bowed slightly in the Changling manner to Ding Ning and said solemnly, “Only you have the possibility of becoming the first sword of the world.” His skin seemed to be as black as pitch, but when he spoke it shone with golden light.
The primal energies of the universe here were thin but changed, with holy rays of light coming down from the sky.
In the distant cave, the general standing and watching like a ghost showed shock for the first time. It was very far away, he could not hear the old monk and Ding Ning’s talk, and did not know who Zhangsun Qianxue and Ding Ning were.
But clearly, the old monk was talking with that young man after killing the snow hou troop. Just a few short words, and the old monk seemed to have an inexplicable epiphany. He showed hints of having a breakthrough, taking that last step into realm eight.
The general knew that cultivators could change their appearance and body shape. If they looked young, they may not be truly young. Yet ignoring the problem of age, what kind of cultivator could assist this monk cultivator in his cultivation just with a few words?
Ding Ning looked calmly at the old monk. In the past, many of his enemies hated his type of calm, but did not know where this stemmed from.
The old monk had previously said things such as service in the past, but he knew the old monk meant it differently now. The ascetic believed that he could truly surpass all cultivators in the world, and become truly invincible. So his words now were an oath. He would serve until Ding Ning reached that kind of state.
Such an oath meant that the meaning of the rest of his life was to protect Ding Ning to reach such a state. That was the state he could not reach but wanted to see.
Zhangsun Qianxue found it easy to understand now. The old monk had pursued his entire life to see a higher cultivation realm. If he could not reach it, he wanted to see others reach it with his own eyes.
This old monk was a true cultivation fanatic. He only worried that Ding Ning would not need him by his side in the future. The old monk was full of fanatics. They were just fanatics about different things.
Seeing the golden light appear on the old monk’s skin, Zhangsun Qianxue sensed the light was not coming out of him, but thin primal energies of the universe colliding onto his body and creating the light. She took a deep breath and turned to Ding Ning, “So the key from realm seven to eight is the same as the start of cultivation, not to take in, but to release?”
This was a rare opportunity, not just for the old monk’s cultivation, but for Ding Ning, it was something he had never experienced before. In his cultivation experiences, he had never taken the true step towards realm eight because he had doubts. The old monk’s state near the breakthrough was just a confirmation.
Ding Ning was very serious and slowly said, “Release, and to also not be fixed to oneself. There is no construction without destruction.”
The words were profound to ordinary cultivators, but Zhangsun Qianxue was not far from realm right so she understood.
“Destroy cultivation?” she frowned and said.
“I fear that it is so at the end of realm seven. Destroy all of your cultivation, empty your mind and body to take in a new world, construction after destruction.” Ding Ning looked at her and the old monk. He grimaced slightly. “In the past, I did not figure this out, one thing I worried about was this cycle. While the records have the existence of realm eight, and even mention realm nine, in our time, no one could reach realm eight. Even the generation before us did not have any. No one had witnessed it. So I suspected this was like old age and sickness. This is the last step, the cycle of cultivation. Destroy your cultivation in realm eight and start again. Many stories in the records are lies. I had another doubt. If one’s vital energy was dissipated, the body could be emptied, but how to empty the mind?”
Zhangsun Qianxue listened intently. She had no doubts. She knew that Wang Jingmeng surpassed the cultivators back then because he would question and create his own path. The truth proved the cultivation means in many record books were not the best, and many truths and stories were lies.
Ding Ning looked up, and took a deep breath. He said slowly, “Later, I figured it out. Emptying one’s mind … their deepest obsession. Intangible things are like tangible things, if you have a deep obsession, your mind will condense together at a point. For example, if our vital energy gathered at one point in our body, our meridians will be empty.”
“So the stories in many books are lies.” Zhangsun Qianxue understood. She looked at Ding Ning who seemed both emotional and sad. “So it is not those cultivators who have open minds and care about the world that will reach realm eight. But the cultivators who have an obsession that can reach realm eight from realm seven, or the people who are very narrow-minded.”
“Very simple, this is the ultimate truth.” Ding Ning grimaced. “Who can truly be extremely selfless? But it is very simple to be very petty, greedy and selfish.”
“There are no saints in the world, but fanatics, no matter what they care about,” Ding Ning added, looking at her.
“Let’s go,” Zhangsun Qianxue said nothing else. She nodded. “I will lead the way from now.”
Ding Ning looked at her with surprise.
Zhangsun Qianxue said, “The glaciers here do not melt. There will be tracks where cultivators have passed. Some of these tracks will be new, and some old.”
Ding Ning understood.
The Nine Hell King Sword and the cold energy in the world had a natural relationship. even though the traces of the Spirit Void Sword Sect grandmaster would be obscured by the snow and time, if Zhangsun Qianxue said she could find them, then she could sense them.
He and Zhangsun Qianxue did not worry too much about the army that was inexplicably here. Regardless of whether the target was the old monk or the sword, the other going first or them going first would not change the reality of the slaughter.
The three walked. The wood staff was handed back to Ding Ning’s hands.
The old monk walked ahead. He had the greatest perception, but not in this ice and snow. His cultivation was at the border between realm seven and eight. He was in an indescribable state, and he could even sense what Zhangsun Qianxue’s gaze and mind was on.
So he appeared to be leading the way.
Zhangsun Qianxue could understand the gate between realm seven and eight. When her vital energy reached that level, she only needed to search for that breakthrough obsession. To him, there were no absolutely good or bad people in the world, just people who were working for their own goals.
Translator Ramblings: I’m of two minds about what was discussed in the chapter. First, in Chinese myths, it is the “sages/enlightened” which become gods. So the idea in this chapter that the fanatics/obsessives are the ones who get stronger, and not the kind/wise people is a bit of a subversion. But this story really did not have good examples of the good/kind people being the strongest … it’s all those who are ambitious and cunning. So the author making this out to be such a surprise … it isn’t surprising.