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Literature / Desolate Era

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Desolate Era, aka Mang Huang Ji, is a Web Serial Novel written by xianxia author I Eat Tomatoes It does not share the setting of any of his other works, despite the frequent misinformation from those who read machine translations. The translation into English was started by IEatWatermelons, but the translation is currently being performed by Ren Wo Xing.

Fate had never been kind to Ji Ning. Wracked by illnesses and infirm his entire life on Earth, Ning knew early on that he would die as a teenager. What he didn’t know was that there really was such a thing as life after death, and that the universe was a far larger place than he thought. A lucky twist of fate (one of the few in Ning’s life) meant that Ning was reborn into a world of Immortals and monsters, of Ki Refiners and powerful Fiendgods, a world where Dynasties lasted for millions of years. A world which is both greater…and yet also smaller…than he ever could imagine. He would have the opportunity to join them, and in this life, Ning swore to himself, he would never let himself be weak again! The Era he was born into was a Desolate one, but Ning would make it his era.


This story provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: Ji Ning and Uncle White, a Whitewater Hound. Although this Godbeast originally was the spirit-beast of Ning's father, Yichuan, he had also been a constant presence for Ning starting even before the latter's birth.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Within organizations, one's standing in the hierarchy often depends directly on how strong one is compared to others. A new member may be referred to by others as "senior" after displaying their strength. This also extends to the authority of the organizations themselves. A group's authority within the world is directly determined by the immortal practitioners behind it. The Raindragon Guard, for instance, is an ancient army of immortal practitioners that none of the powers would easily cross.
  • Bishōnen Line: Monstrous beasts gain the ability to take human form upon reaching a certain level of power. Most Diremonsters are able to do this at the Xiantian level, but inherently more powerful beasts (such as Uncle White, a Godbeast) can not do so until they reach a higher level. However, they are at their strongest in their original form.
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  • Blood Brothers: Ninedust. They start off as enemies, but swear an oath and become brothers and Fire-Forged Friends. During several story arcs, they are essentially Bash Brothers fighting side by side, with one concentrating on the physical aspect of combat and the other mental
  • Born-Again Immortality: This novel has two separate appearances of this tropes. The story starts with Ji Ning dying on Earth and going to the Land of the Dead before being born again in a new world. Also, on the world that Ning is reborn on, immortal practitioners that reach a sufficient level can be reincarnated in the same world. As they grow up, the memories of their previous life, along with the abilities that they learned during it, return to them. This restoration of knowledge from their previous life makes reincarnated immortals among the most talented practitioners in the world.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Although it does not happen every time, it is not uncommon to see people call out the name of their special technique when they execute it.
  • Clone Army: Some cultivators have the ability to clone themselves if they have the right type of body or technique. The dilution of power can be avoided if the right technique and proper materials are applied.
  • Cloning Blues: Averted. Clones are pretty much always created using the original's soul, meaning there is a real time connection between the original and the clone. They are one soul, networked and connected to any number of bodies.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Because of oaths sworn to different masters, some cultivators can be torn between two sides during wars.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Like so many modern Xianxia novels, often at the center of every other story arc. Ji Ning can be seen going through abandoned manors, estates, palaces, mines, mountains, graveyards, mausoleums, gardens, miscellaneous isolated pocket dimension worlds, and yes, prisons.
  • Elemental Powers: The elements are represented among the Daos that are the source of immortals' abilities. Ji Ning's first insights were into the Dao of Rainwater and the Dao of the Inferno. Each underlay his combat abilities, but he also combined them to produce his Waterflame Lotus.
  • Energy Economy: Trade can be conducted with elemental essence, the liquified form of energy that immortal practitioners consume to advance to the next stage. Later as the powerscale advances and amounts of essence used per exchange begin to exceed millions of kilograms, Immortal Pills and then Great Firmanent Pills replace it. At even higher levels, Chaos Nectar and Chaos Crystals take over.
  • Ki Manipulation: Nearly everything that immortal practitioners do depends upon this. It affects their speed and strength, their attacks, the construction of items, and the ability to sense their surroundings. When one accumulates sufficient elemental energy, they can advance to the next stage.
  • Flight: After reaching sufficient strength, immortal practitioners may begin using magic to fly. Some practitioners below that stage are shown flying on the back of their bird-type spirit-beasts.
  • Initiation Ceremony: The official initiation for the Black-White College involves the new members being presented in front of the school and being asked by one of the masters to become their disciple. The unofficial initiation happens afterwards in the Dao Debate Palace when the senior disciples challenging them in a sparring match. The new disciples are thoroughly beaten and lose some of their in-College currency and elemental essence (which is necessary to advance to the next stage). The spoken reason is to temper the new disciples' pride by demonstrating that they have entered a world where they are not longer the greatest genius in the group. The unspoken reason is because all of the senior disciples had been embarrassed in this manner when they joined, and now it is their turn to embarrass another.
  • Karma Meter: After one, typically a Primal Daoist, has opened their Celestial Eye, they can perceive people's aura. Good karma produces an aura of golden light and bad karma produces one of bloody, vile light. However, auras only appear around those people that perform the most good or the most evil deeds. Ji Ning, for instance, was reincarnated for his exceptional karma on Earth but only has a faint, clear aura.
  • Long-Lived: As an immortal practitioner rises through the stages of power, their lifespan becomes longer and longer. Only upon reaching the highest stages can they become true immortals.
  • Master Swordsman: Swordplay is a common method of fighting that can be augmented by a large number of techniques and formations. A small number of people, however, are able to comprehend the Dao of the Sword and become Sword Immortals; even smaller is the number of Sword Immortals that can fully comprehend of Dao of the Sword.
  • Ninja School: The Black-White College, and likely the other schools for immortal practitioners. After one is admitted, one of the College's masters takes them on as a disciple to guide them. Techniques, skills, items, and other resources are gained by spending "black-white pellets". These pellets are a given to advancing to the next stage, comprehending new Daos, or accomplishing certain other goals.
  • Power Levels:
    • Immortal practitioners are divided into stages (Houtian, Xiantian, Zifu, Wanxiang, Primordial, Void, and Celestial Immortal). With each level, the person's lifespan extends, their body undergoes enhancements, and they become able to use more powerful abilities and items. Although these stages tend to determine the abilities that one can have, they are also sub-divided into early, middle, late, and peak based upon how much elemental energy the practitioner has accumulated.
    • Higher stages: True God/True Immortal, Ancestor God/Ancestor Immortal, God of World/Immortal of Chaos, Dao Lord, Eternal Emperor, Supreme Sovereign. Because Ji Ning's world lack of most advanced practice condition, an normal Ancestor Immortal was only as strong as a True God.)
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Ji Ning rescues a character not from a gutter, but a never-ending fighting tournament held by a powerful being to weed out particularly strong and talented cultivators to serve his empire. This character remembers the good deed and later serves Ji Ning as one of his followers.
  • Renowned Selective Mentor: In the Black-White College, Immortal Diancai has sworn that he will only accept an disciple that has communed with the sword-intent that Immortal Northwalker left in the college. As Northwalker was a peerless Sword Immortal, members of the College take this to mean that Diancai will never take a disciple.
  • Teleportation: Individuals may teleport using one-time-use Dao-seals or talismans, but there are also larger, permanent teleportation arrays controlled by the largest powers.
  • Talking Weapon: Starting around the Immortal level, all weapons and treasures have a spirit. These spirits do not start off as independent beings, but over time can cultivate and become so. Ie. Blackheaven and the Starseizer Manor spirit. In the story, they are usually most talkative when they are first introduced. The two spirits Ning meets in the Underwater Manor being exceptions.
  • Time Abyss: Only ones who reach Eternal Emperor stage are truly immortal. But even if someone can't, they can live 108,000 Chaos Cycles (1 Chaos Era equal an amount of time from birth to death of a normal Chaosworld).
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: As part of reaching the 'Zifu' stage, the immortal practitioner forms a mystical space (the Zifu Violet Palace) within their body. This space is used to store accumulated elemental ki, magical treasures, and other special items. When one is killed, or has this space otherwise destroyed, all of the items that were stored within appear around their body.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Jiu Chen aka Ninedust (九塵). A Daolord Ning initially battles but later becomes friendly rivals with. They often compare their abilities and playfully snipe at each other over differences.
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: Ji Ning must demonstrate his mastery in swordplay and his understanding of the Dao before Immortal Diancai, his master, allows him to leave the Black-White College.
  • Wizard Duel: Happens whenever Ki Refiners get in a fight. You can expect phoenix shaped fireballs, thrown mountain ranges, telekinetically controlled Wuxia weapons, and other bizarre Chinese mythology, Daoist and Buddhist inspired magics.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After Yu Wei's first death, it becomes Ning's goal from that point on to rescue or revive her. Every time he thinks he's reached his goal, he finds out that the goalpost has been moved again

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