A thunderous roar from more than ten lightning spirits of the Void Pierce Stage blasted across the air. The intensity of their combined roar was absolutely domineering.
If it was not for Ning Fan’s strong sword consciousness, his Sea of Consciousness would certainly have shattered this intense roar and his life would end in this Black Lightning Realm.
His Sea of Consciousness remained stable after taking the forceful roar but it still could not avoid taking some serious damage.
Luckily, Ning Fan had accumulated 99 natal stars. Under the healing of his star technique, the injuries on his Sea of Consciousness recovered at an unimaginable speed.
After the roar subsided, the entrance to the Black Lightning Realm disappeared.
The group of lightning spirits thought that the intruder had already been driven off from the Black Lightning Realm by their roar since they did not see a single shadow after their roar died. Gradually, the surroundings became quiet. Only the sizzling sound of the lightning could be heard.
Only then did Ning Fan realize that beneath his feet was a vast black earth while the sky above his head was covered with black thunder clouds.
Every black lightning ray amidst the black clouds had the terrifying lightning power which could kill a Half-Step Void Refinement Realm being. They must never be touched directly!
In the vault of heaven which was filled with black lightning rays, there were fourteen black lightning ferocious beasts. All of them had the Late Void Refinement Realm cultivation base.
Each of the ferocious beasts was bound with a black lightning chain which restricted their movements.
The black lightning chains were shot out from the layer of clouds, connecting to the heavens.
Under the shackles of the chains, the fourteen ferocious beasts were limited to move around within the area of ten thousand li* (500m per li) near the entrance. They were unable to go anywhere beyond that area.
“Who was so strong to actually chain fourteen Late Void Refinement Realm beings here as the gatekeepers of the Black Lightning Realm?!” With Ning Fan’s insight, he noticed at first sight that chaining these ferocious beasts at this area was the idea of the lord of the Black Lightning Realm.
They were meant for guarding the entrance!
“Other than Thunder Sovereign Bu Zhou, is there anyone else who could do such an unbelievable thing?” Hong Yi who was next to him under concealment spoke with a flat tone, as if she was speaking something that was unrelated to her.
Judging from her tone, she seemed not to be injured by the roar of the lightning spirits at all.
Ning Fan’s eyes darkened.
This lady sure reserves a lot up her sleeve.
After they had walked until ten thousand li* (500m per li) away from the entrance, they were in the safe zone. It was because the Late Void Refinement Realm ferocious beasts were unable to move beyond such distance.
The spirit sense of a Void Refinement Realm ferocious beast could cover approximately up to an area of five hundred thousand li* (500m per li).
When Ning Fan and Hong Yi had travelled beyond one million li* (500m per li), only then did they reveal themselves one after another.
Removing their concealment was not their original intention. It was just because there were already many black lightning bamboo growing in this area.
Each of the lightning bamboo had flickering black electricity. The lightning bamboo at the center of the area was especially gigantic. Its lightning power was also the most terrifying one of all the lightning bamboo around. Even though they were ten thousand zhang* (3.33m per zhang) away from the enormous bamboo, its lightning power directly forced Ning Fan out of his concealment.
“This is… the dark golden lightning bamboo?!” Ning Fan’s eyes glinted with a hint of surprise.
The lightning bamboo at the center of this area alone was at least one million zhang* (3.33m per zhang) tall. By looking at its size, it was not an ordinary bamboo. In fact, it was a bamboo mountain.
Above the bamboo mountain, there were countless black lightning rays which gave Ning Fan an immense sense of danger.
All of the lightning bamboo in this area did not grow any bamboo leaves at all. However, there was a black teleportation formation located at the highest point of the central lightning bamboo. It was condensed using lightning power and it was at the closest range to the thunder clouds in the heavens. The place where the teleportation formation would send one to was unknown.
Ning Fan spread his spirit sense. From this central lightning bamboo, he discovered nearly ten thousand traces of qi which was extremely obscure.
All this qi was very similar to that of the fourteen ferocious beasts which he encountered earlier, but it was a lot weaker. Each of them emanated the aura of the Nascent Soul Realm and above.
Among the ten thousand traces of qi, there was no lack of Divine Transformation Realm beings. Of course, what Ning Fan dreaded the most was four particular traces of qi. The beings which gave off this qi had actually attained the Void Refinement Realm!
After sensing Ning Fan and Hong Yi’s presence, countless lightning spirits gave out dangerous hostility.
Ning Fan’s eyes turned serious.
If we approach the gigantic bamboo at the center rashly, there will certainly be a bitter battle.
“The dark golden bamboo leaves aren’t here, are they?” Ning Fan asked with a doubtful tone.
“Precisely. This place is just the lower level realm of the Black Lightning Realm. The dark golden bamboo leaves grow above the thunder clouds.”
“Above the thunder clouds?” Ning Fan raised his head and gazed into the sky. Not only were the black thunder clouds extremely dangerous, they seemed to be extremely thick as well. Judging from their appearances, they were probably at least one million zhang* (3.33m per zhang) thick.
There was no cultivator below the Void Fragmentation Realm who could travel across the black thunder clouds directly and reach the realm above the thunder clouds.
“Rest assured. I am not going to ask you to go through the sea of thunder clouds directly. Instead, I want you to use the lightning teleportation formation on the central lightning bamboo to get to the cloud realm in the upper level. When you arrive there, you will naturally be able to help me pluck the dark golden bamboo leaves.”
“Teleportation formation, huh…?” Ning Fan nodded his head. He, of course, had noticed the teleportation formation situated at the peak of the central lightning bamboo.
If he is going to use that formation, perhaps he could reach the cloud realm in the upper layer safely.
However, Ning Fan had a doubt in his mind which he did not have an answer for.
Hong Yi has great strength. She completely has the capabilities to intrude the Black Lightning Realm, ascend to the peak of the central lightning bamboo, use the teleportation formation to get past the thunder clouds and reach the cloud realm on her own.
There doesn’t seem to be a reason for her to ask for my help.
Apparently, Hong Yi had sensed Ning Fan’s doubt. Her brows slightly knitted together as she began to explain.
“Don’t tell me that you still haven’t noticed that I am just in the form of a primordial spirit?””
“The form of a primordial spirit?” Ning Fan was stunned. When he activated his Fu Li Eye, only then did he notice an unusual thing from Hong Yi’s body.
Hong Yi’s body was not a true physical body. Instead, it was the form of a primordial spirit which was extremely solid, like Luo You.
Such a solid primordial spirit was nearly no different from a physical body. Besides, in order to avoid enraging this lady, Ning Fan did not try to probe her background all this while. Thus, he did not realize that she was in the form of a primordial spirit.
As soon as Ning Fan knew that she was just in her primordial spirit form, Ning Fan’s doubt was instantly cleared.
A primordial spirit was like a cultivator’s root. If their physical bodies are injured or destroyed, they could still reconstruct their physical bodies with the help of their primordial spirit. Moreover, they could also seize someone else’s body and be reborn.
However, if a cultivator’s primordial spirit is destroyed, it would mean an absolute death to them.
On the other hand, a primordial spirit did not have a strong and firm defense like a physical body. It could be very easily hurt.
The cloud realm in the upper world was rather dangerous. Since Hong Yi was just in her primordial spirit form, she naturally had concerns about her own safety and would not willingly put her primordial spirit at risk.
“If I didn’t meet you, my original plan is to consume all the golden leaves in the Golden Lightning Heavenly Dwelling in order to regain my Mid Void Refinement Realm cultivation base. Then, I will enter the Black Lightning World to kill a Late Void Refinement Realm ferocious beast and turn it into a spiritual puppet to help me pluck the bamboo leaves in the cloud realm. However, this method is very time-consuming. Furthermore, due to the uniqueness of the cloud realm, it will be very difficult for dead creatures like spiritual puppets to successfully pluck bamboo leaves in the cloud realm… Fortunately, you appeared. It was good news to me as it saved me lots of trouble. Even though your cultivation base is not strong, you have quite some impressive techniques which make you more useful than a spiritual puppet.”
Hong Yi’s tone was indifferent but she did not cover up her true intention at all.
She was using Ning Fan in the first place to take the risk for her. Her motive was obvious. Thus, there was no point covering it up.
She spoke her true objective frankly and straightforwardly without beating around the bush. After listening to her words, Ning Fan held his chin and pondered.
Looking from Hong Yi’s objective, her motive was direct and straightforward: just to get the dark golden bamboo leaves.
When she revealed that she wanted to recover her cultivation base, this information was enough for Ning Fan to conclude that she was probably in the same situation as Luo You who had suffered grievous injuries which affected her primordial spirit and needed to heal her primordial spirit in order to regain her strength.
If that’s the case, this lady perhaps possessed the Late Void Refinement Realm or Peak Void Refinement Realm strength at first. That’s why she has such a terrifying aura force and baleful qi.
Ning Fan shifted his gaze to the central bamboo lightning and his eyes became even more serious.
What made him more serious was not the ten thousand hidden lightning spirits but the lightning teleportation formation instead.
This formation connected directly to the cloud realm in the upper layer. He was not sure what kind of danger awaited him there.
Apparently, even Hong Yi was reluctant to enter the cloud realm. Wouldn’t he only have a slim chance of surviving if he goes there?
Since the matter had developed to such a point, it was impossible for him to back off and go against his words.
However, he must gain a more thorough understanding about the cloud realm in the upper layer first. He had to know how to pluck the dark golden bamboo leaves and what kind of danger he would possibly face.
Moreover, there was one thing he wanted to make sure of… After he helps Hong Yi, how could she assure him that she would not turn against him and abandon him, just like the saying goes: destroy the bridge after crossing the river?
“I can help you. But who is going to assure my safety?”
“What kind of assurance do you want?” Hong Yi asked coldly.
“Give me all the information related to the cloud realm in the upper level. I need to know how dangerous it is to ascend the cloud realm.”
“This request is not excessive… All the related information is here. You have a look yourself and make your own judgment. From my perspective, your physical body is not weak. There is at least ninety percent chance that you will survive without suffering injuries after ascending to the cloud realm. As for the danger you may face, you don’t have to worry much about that. I’m just worried how many bamboo leaves you will be able to pluck… Gathering seven pieces of those leaves is quite difficult to you. But I need at least seven of them!”
After Hong Yi finished speaking, she condensed a jade slip with her lightning power, imprinted her memories into it and passed it to Ning Fan.
Ning Fan took the jade slip and studied it carefully. The doubt and concern in his eyes gradually diminished.
Fortunately, the cloud realm was not as dangerous as what he had imagined. Besides, it seemed like Hong Yi still underestimated Ning Fan. With Ning Fan’s capabilities, he had one hundred percent assurance that he would not die in the cloud realm.
However, there was indeed great difficulty in plucking the bamboo leaves.
Above the cloud realm, there was a black lightning bamboo tower.
Black lightning bamboo leaves grew within the tower.
However, black lightning dead spirits were also sealed within the tower as well.
The black lightning bamboo tower had one hundred floors in total. Each floor was formed by a culm segment of bamboo.
In the first ten floors, there would be a single piece of bamboo leaf growing in each floor.
Within the bamboo tower, the higher the floor, the stronger the dead spirits. Beyond the fifth floor, there would be Void Refinement Realm dead spirits appearing.
Ning Fan needed to kill his way at least up to the seventh floor in order to gather enough bamboo leaves.
As for what he had to be wary of was that these dead spirits were skilled in means which attacked one’s primordial spirit. Cultivators who entered the bamboo towers had to guard their primordial spirits particularly to avoid being injured.
This was the reason why Hong Yi dreaded to pluck the leaves herself.
As for the area outside the bamboo tower, there were three layers of barriers. These barriers tested a cultivator’s Dao heart and Dao comprehension. If a Void Refinement Realm spiritual puppet or dead being is sent to the cloud realm, it would already be difficult for it to pass through the three initial barriers, much less enter the tower to get the bamboo leaves.
Hong Yi’s original plan was to refine a Late Void Refinement Realm spiritual puppet and forcibly break the three layers of barriers to intrude the tower directly.
However, with Ning Fan being here, it would be much easier to get through the three barriers and enter the tower depending on him being a true, living cultivator.
Despite the fact that Hong Yi did not regard Ning Fan highly in terms of his treasure refinement technique, she was rather confident in his strength.
There were not many cultivators in the entire Rain World who could withstand her baleful qi.
At least, Ning Fan was much more reliable than the few subordinates of the Zhou Clan since he was able to do so.
Of course, considering the difficulty that Ning Fan might face when he plucks the bamboo leaves, Hong Yi had a secret technique to pass to Ning Fan.
With that secret technique, Ning Fan’s safety could be enhanced again.
“This technique will be a compensation to you for taking the risk for me.” Hong Yi condensed another jade slip and filled it with some information before giving it to Ning Fan.
Ning Fan received the jade slip and scanned it with his spirit sense. His eyes flashed with interest instantly.
“Armor of Primordial Lightning!”
As its name implied, primordial lightning was the lightning condensed from the power of primordial spirit.
It used the power of primordial lightning to condense an armor to protect one’s primordial spirit. It was much stronger than the protection of ordinary spiritual equipment. It could effectively defend one’s primordial spirit against the attacks of the dead spirits.
With this secret technique, Ning Fan without a doubt had another means to protect his primordial spirit.
Not only could the armor of primordial lightning could protect one’s primordial spirit, it could also be used on the physical body and increase one’s physical defense.
If one cultivates this technique to its peak level, the highest grade lightning armor that it could condense could even defend against a Void Fragmentation Realm strike. Internally, Ning Fan thought to himself.
This technique has probably attained the Immortal Void Grade. It’s a Void Fragmentation Realm defensive technique!
“I’ll keep this technique. There will no longer be any danger in my trip to the cloud realm. I also have high confidence in obtaining seven bamboo leaves. However, I still have one last concern. How will Miss assure that you won’t turn against me after this matter is accomplished. If Miss does not give me the golden lightning bamboo leaves and even commands the Zhou Clan to pursue me and murder me in opposite, I won’t be able to resist.”
“Assurance? Humph? Are you going to need me to make the Great Oath of Heart Devil for you?!” Hong Yi’s eyes turned colder.
“If you are willing to do so, it can’t be better.” Ning Fan sounded unafraid at all.
Surprisingly, the coldness in Hong Yi’s eyes receded and she became calmer gradually
If ordinary people request her to make an oath, she would certainly give them a fatal slap at once.
But Ning Fan was different. To her, Ning Fan’s utility value was not just for a single time.
Obtaining the bamboo leaves was just a small part of the big picture.
To Hong Yi, Ning Fan’s golden purple mist perhaps was of great use.
“Fine. I will make an exception to swear an oath not to turn against you upon the accomplishment of this matter. However, you also have to make an oath as well!”
“Me?” Ning Fan was stunned.
‘You have to swear that you have to help me once in the future! If I have anything that needs your help, as long as it is within your capabilities, you cannot refuse!”
“You must be joking, Miss. With your status in the Zhou Clan, why will you still need my help…?”
Just as Ning Fan was about to deny her request, she waved her hand and interrupted in an arrogant way.
“Don’t worry! The matter that I will be needing your help will definitely not involve any danger. I just need your golden purple mist to erode a seal and that’s it. When the time comes, I will certainly give you a worthwhile benefit!”
“… Well, if it is just about eroding a seal and there will be a great benefit for me in helping you, it isn’t impossible for me to just make an oath.”
Ning Fan knitted his brows. He could tell that Hong Yi was similar to him who would not put themselves in a disadvantageous position.
If he does not swear, Hong Yi would not swear as well. Thus, it would only be disadvantageous to Ning Fan since he did not have an assurance for his safety.
Fortunately, Ning Fan learnt that this lady still wanted to ask for his help because of his Wind Mist Technique.
Since he still had utility value to her, there was naturally no need for her to turn against him.
Now, since the matter had developed to this point, neither of them had any other option.
Both Hong Yi and Ning Fan made the oath of Heart Devil respectively.
To them, making an oath was a rare thing but they could not refuse it this time.
Hong Yi glanced sideways at Ning Fan but she did not seem to think Ning Fan was demanding and troublesome.
If she were to be in his shoes, she would certainly have lots of concerns and doubts too as the situation was disadvantageous to her.
“Young man, I suppose you have gotten what you wanted. Now, it’s time for you to contribute some effort! There are four Early Void Refinement Realm lightning spirits in the central lightning bamboo. I will kill three of them and you will keep one of them occupied. Are you able to do it?!”
Before ascending to the cloud realm, they had to first kill their way up to the peak of the central lightning bamboo.
Hong Yi had already begun assigning missions. She did not hope that Ning Fan would be able to kill the lightning spirit at all, even if he had three Void Refinement Realm puppets with him.
She was not underestimating Ning Fan’s capabilities. It was just that the mission of killing a Void Refinement Realm being was too difficult to a Half-Step Void Refinement Realm cultivator.
“Just keeping it occupied, huh…?”
Ning Fan patted his storage pouch and summoned his three Void Refinement Realm puppets.
It was really not difficult to keep an Early Void Refinement Realm creature occupied with three puppets and him. However, he felt like he had been belittled by Hong Yi.
After all, he was much stronger than just keeping a Void Refinement Realm creature occupied!
Hong Yi made a gentle step and her delicate foot caused the mountains and ground within one hundred thousand li* (500m per li) to shake. Heaven shattered and earth cracked. An immense baleful qi soared into the sky and a rush of ferocious aura force spread throughout the area. All ten thousand beasts within one hundred thousand li* (500m per li) were shocked!
Within the lightning bamboo at the center of the area, the ten thousand traces of hidden lightning spirits and ferocious beasts were forced to show themselves under the pressure of her aura force.
All of a sudden, the space between heaven and earth turned black. Multitudes of massive beasts filled the space. In fear, all of them let out a deafening roar, as if they were going to make a last desperate effort.
Even though they were afraid, they would also choose to die in the battle. Their duty was to guard the central lightning bamboo and forbid anyone to intrude the cloud realm of the upper level!
Translated by Tommy, edited by Roel