This chapter has been brought to you by me and larkspur.
Chapter Forty-Two: Enemies of the Past
The deep eyes of the Donghu monk shone with a wise light. The power from the staff in his hand slowly receded. The words returned to calm again. Some of the snow-like dust fell back to the ground. But the thousand mountains formed from the swords were still standing.
These thousand mountains were like lights and shadows in dreams, like a mirage, but they oddly gave off a bloody scent. This smell came from those sword servants, and their master.
When one person, already near the top, used their entire life to get revenge for one thing, this person’s resolve surpassed their cultivation. From where the swords had departed, the sword servants who may have been able to become grandmasters but used their life energy and all their time to nurture these famed swords had all died.
Their master, Ye Xiao’s skin was blooming outwards like a cracked turtle skin, almost all his blood having bled out of him. The light and heat in his eyes were dimming, and he was not far from death.
This sword formation did not just surpass his limits, this was even power of a different level. When the formation took form, it had nothing to do with him. If this sword formation was compared to a soaring tree, then he was the blood and flesh that nourished this giant tree as it grew up.
Right now, he should have used up his energy, and died like the sword servants, but just using his stunning resolve, he was still living, still looking at the sword formation. He must live, he must ensure that people could enter the sword formation, and then he must ensure he would see the heir of the Nine Death Silkworm die.
To him, even if that young man was not Wang Jingmeng reborn, he was still Ba Mountain Sword Field’s most important pillar now. If the young man was killed, Ba Mountain Sword Field would die.
The Donghu monk looked silently at the nearest mountains of dust, and then he extended his staff. A ray of light shot out and penetrated into the dust mountains.
These dust mountains wavered, but the terrifying power contained in his ray of light followed an unknown passageway, and was dissipated in unknown parts of the world.
“I cannot defeat this sword formation.”
The Donghu monk turned to look at Ding Ning, and said seriously, “While we can walk among these dust mountains, these mountains are blocking my senses of the outside. It even blocks realm eight energy from entering. What we see now is all based on the rules of the sword formation. We will be lost in here.”
Ding Ning nodded. He glanced at the unconscious Fu Su to make sure his wounds had not exacerbated. At the same time, he said, “This should be a sword formation able to trap a realm eight.”
“Can we get out or in?” Zhangsun Qianxue looked at Ding Ning and asked.
In her perception, these thousand dust mountains were not just mountains, but unknown and changing words.
“If it cannot be entered or exited, then there is no meaning in Ye Xiao paying such a price.”
Ding Ning could not see Ye Xiao’s present situation, but he could imagine what kind of price the other paid. He frowned deeply and said, “This sword formation is likely a well. We are like frogs at the bottom of the well. We know that the outside world is there, but we cannot get out, and we cannot use that piece of the sky to judge direction.”
This metaphor was not very good because Zhangsun Qianxue knew that even the frogs at the bottom of the well could use the brightness of the light to judge where the sun rose and fell, but she understood Ding Ning.
“Will you be able to break this sword formation?” She took a deep breath and looked at Ding Ning.
“To trap a realm eight, a realm eight power is needed. Formations are a way to increase the power of a cultivator to start with. Ye Xiao is not in realm eight, but using these swords to form a formation, he formed power to trap a realm eight.” Ding Ning shook his head. “While I am infinitely close to realm eight, and I have even felt some of the profoundness, I have not actually reached realm eight. So it is almost impossible for me to defeat this formation.”
“So we can only wait for people to come and jump into the well? He made such a formation, so the power of this formation will not quickly fade.”
Zhangsun Qianxue put down the Nine Hell King Sword in her hand, and let the pure and transparent sword thrust into the ground in front of her.
At this time, the dust mountains seemed to be frozen, and there was no storm in the world. But she knew, there would soon be a storm of blood.
“Sword essence and lifebond energy are the purest things in the world. Ye Xiao borrowed these thousand swords, one to use the power of the swords themselves, and the other to borrow the almost eternal sword essence and lifebond energy the masters of the swords left behind to maintain this formation.”
Ding Ning picked a place to sit down and then said, “But we are not the only ones with a problem. The people outside who want to deal with us will be troubled by what method they will use to deal with a realm eight.”
He glanced at the Donghu monk and was slightly emotional. “You reaching realm eight at this time is unexpected to these people. But they must face this.”
The Donghu monk respectfully sat down next to him, and asked for guidance in the tone of a student, “In the past, I just thought you did not see the secrets of realm eight, but today, from your words, I know this is not so. I do not understand, why did you stay at the peak of realm seven and not enter realm eight?”
“This is a choice.”
Ding Ning looked at him and said, “Pure suppression of power will make cultivators lose their strength of having the weak defeat the strong or to fight enemies of the same strength. This will make many battles too simple, and have people make simple habits, no longer feeling the subtleties of these sword essences. Cultivation is using your sharpness to sense the minute. If you lose such sharpness, everything will become casual, you will slack off, and this will affect your later cultivation.”
“Other than this, there was no one in front of me. No teacher told me how to walk from realm seven to realm eight.” After a pause, Ding Ning said with self-deprecating scorn, “I always thought, if you are the strongest in the world in realm seven, and no one is no longer a match for you, then there is no hurry to enter realm eight, and to proceed more cautiously. No one would feel that they had not made any mistakes in their previous cultivation. If one is more cautious at key stages, if they can be better, they would be stronger. If cultivation is said to be like building a wall, then my thoughts at the time was I wanted to have a better and stronger foundation. To do my best to make up for any shortcomings in my previous cultivation journey.”
The Donghu monk suddenly understood, and outside of Ding Ning’s words, he got even more meaning. He said, very convinced, “Because back then, you thought your opponent was always yourself, you thought that everything before realm seven was the foundation, and realm eight is the start. You wanted to challenge for the legendary existence, but almost no one has reached, realm nine.”
Ding Ning slowly nodded. He was silent for many breaths and said, “Just like you said before, it was fine if I did not know. But if I know that there is usually beautiful scenery ahead, I will have regrets if I cannot see.”
The Donghu monk was silent for a moment. He suddenly thought of something, and an admiring light appeared in his eyes. “You say that a cultivator would make some mistakes in their cultivation, for example, choosing the wrong cultivation method during realm two or three, leaving behind hidden weaknesses, or being able to change in the future. But if a cultivator had enough time to restart cultivation, then he will naturally know where he made his mistakes, he will not make them again, and correct them. Using the Nine Death Silkworm, you possess such a chance.”
Ding Ning did not refute this, and looked up at the black sky, saying, “If there is enough time, I should have a chance to touch the legendary realm nine.”
Translator Ramblings: I think it’s the first time in this story the frog in the well metaphor has been used.