DEEGKartue

Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 10 – Karmic Virtue

If they wished to leave the Sacred Immortal Realm, they had to first enter the Daolord’s estate.

Swoosh.

Ji Ning and the rest of the five transformed into streaks of light that flew into the air. Space rippled around them as they then disappeared.

Only now did these countless cultivators who had just been freed from torture, from their doom of eternal torment, finally come back to their senses. They had been too stunned by the death of that ‘lord of the devils’.

“Thank you, five Exalted Immortals, for sparing our lives!”

“Thank you, Grand Immortals, for saving us from an eternity of suffering!”

“Thank you, seniors!”

Countless cultivators fell to their knees in gratitude. Tears streamed down their faces as they cried out their praises. Aside from the hundreds of millions of cultivators who had just recently been taken prisoner, there were the countless cultivators who had been imprisoned here long ago. They had suffered endless torment, and only the hope of ascension and escape had kept them alive. However… whenever those million-plus golems noticed anyone breaking through to the late Apotheosis stage, they would immediately kill that person! Thus, every century there was just a very small number of cultivators who managed to overcome their tribulations and ascend. The rest all died miserable, tormented deaths.

Now, they finally had release.

They would all be able to survive. The boundless hatred and rage which had built up over the course of countless years began to transform into gratitude towards Ning and the rest of the five.

……

Ning’s group of five void-blinked straight to the location of the spacetime transfer array.

“These golems.” Heartlord Solewind waved his hand, easily binding the hundred-plus Elder God golems present here, then split them into five lots and gave each person a lot.

“What?”

“What’s going…”

“Does this mean…”

The tens of millions of cultivators who were bound to the stone pillars all raised their heads towards the skies, staring at Ning’s group of five. Those terrifying devils had been dealt with, as easily as that?

“From this day forth.” Heartlord Solewind swept them with his gaze as he summon his heartworld projection, smashing apart all the chains on every single cultivator. “You are no longer prisoners. You and the countless cultivators who were imprisoned in that jail were all free now. I hope you will all train hard and build up this ‘Sacred Immortal Realm’ into a place which is truly worthy of that name.”

“Freedom?” The tens of millions of cultivators were all stunned for a moment. Then, they began to tremble in excitement.

“Let’s go.” Ning’s group of five quickly departed. As far as they were concerned, helping out these mortal cultivators was nothing more than a casual act in passing. They naturally weren’t opposed to helping out.

The tens of millions of cultivators watched as those five airborne figures all disappeared. Only then did they come back to their senses and hurriedly kowtow, pressing their foreheads against the ground. “Thank you, Exalted Immortals!”

“Thank you for rescuing us, Exalted Immortals!”

“Finally, Immortals from the Heavens have come to deliver us!”

The cultivators cried out with hoarse sobs of excitement and gratitude.

……

The towering Daolord’s estate emanated an aura of faint green energy, and the estate itself seemed ethereal as well, as though it didn’t quite exist at all.

Ning’s group of five stared at it from afar quite cautiously.

“Eh?” Suddenly, a surge of strange power swept through the air and descended upon the bodies of Ning and the others. Apparently, faint layers of golden light were continuously descending upon them.

“What’s this?” Ning and the others exchanged glances.

“Karmic merit,” Solewind said softly. “What an enormous amount of karmic merit. All the karmic merit I’ve ever gained since I started cultivation isn’t as much as this.”

“This really is a lot of karmic merit,” Prince Greatjoy said. “I once battled against an evil cult and rescued more than three hundred chaosworlds from their grasp, but I still didn’t get as much karmic merit as I am right now.”

Ning was quite shocked as well.

At their level of power, the effect of karmic merit was negligible, just icing on the cake. They might have slightly better luck while adventuring, but that was it. Still… this amount of karmic merit was simply ridiculous in size and scope. If others knew that rescuing these cultivators would result in such a reward of karmic merit, it was likely that many Daolords would run around seeking opportunities to rescue people.

Once your karmic merit reached a certain level, your luck would become better and better. Although it wouldn’t be of much use to you in the Daomerge, it would still be of assistance when adventuring. In truth, however, you could run around rescuing chaosworld after chaosworld and you generally wouldn’t gain as much as one-thousandth as much karmic merit as right now.

“Earlier, we all saw how the aura of hatred above in the prison had reached utterly shocking proportions,” Solewind said. “This place had a simply ridiculous amount of hatred. It makes sense that the reward for rescuing them is a similarly ridiculous amount of karmic merit. It goes without saying that the number of cultivators who were tortured to death by them over the years was simply unimaginable. Even though they died, their ‘echoes’ sent down karmic merit to us.”

“Mm.” Ning nodded.

The cultivators they had saved were mostly captured within the past few thousand years. The earlier cultivators had almost all been tortured to death. Compared to the number of cultivators they had saved, the number that had perished was far higher.

“The Daolord’s estate…” Prince Greatjoy stared at the towering estate, hidden deep within the shadows of the faint green mist. “I feel as though it won’t be an easy place to go through. Let us first try and see if we can destroy it.”

“Mm. Worth a shot.”

“If we can destroy it, we can then hopefully destroy the core of the formation which covers this entire Sacred Immortal Realm. That would be perfect.” Ning and the others were all hoping for this outcome.

An estate which was being controlled by its master would possess incredibly strong defensive powers, but now the Daolord was dead. Ning’s group did indeed stand a good chance of destroying it.

“I’ll go first.” Ning smiled as he walked through the air towards the distant Daolord’s estate. As he moved forwards, his six mighty streaks of Dao lightning and Dao water all flooded out as well, forming an enormous Yin-Yang Sword Domain. A dark and terrifyingly powerful domain appeared around him, completely annihilating all of the faint green mist as it furiously swept towards the estate-world.

“Break for me.” Heartlord Solewind immediately summoned his heartworld projection, causing an entire world to come crashing down upon the estate.

“Shatter!” Prince Greatjoy flew over as well as he stretched out his giant golden palms. His palms were capable of unleashing the most savage attacks amongst the five. Although Ning’s own Blood Drop sword-intent was also a Supreme Dao, its advantage lay in its penetrating power. Prince Greatjoy, however, specialized in overwhelming, brutalizing power.

BOOM! BOOM!

Two enormous, heaven-covering golden palms came crashing down like a pair of titanic golden clouds. The golden palms came crashing downwards repeatedly, striking heavily upon the Daolord’s estate. The air pressure generated by the blows was so great that an enormous palm-size imprint appeared in the ground around the estate.

“GWRAAAR!” Skyfire Brightshore transformed into his true form of a flame-bathed beast. His hooves kicked at the ground as his fiery tail lashed out in an aura of absolutely power.

As for Waterlord Firesurge, he charged forwards and launched attacks from all around the estate as well.

……

The entrance to the Daolord’s estate was open, and so Ning’s Dao lightning and Dao thunder flooded straight through it, smashing through all obstacles in their path.

After causing absolute havoc for a brief period of time, it finally came to a halt.

“Eh? But the door to the estate is clearing open.” The blazing beast once more transformed into a fiery-haired youth. “Brother Darknorth’s lightning and water, as well as my lifeblood fire… and that heartworld projection of brother Solewind… it all flooded into the estate to cause damage. Why, then, is the formation covering this realm completely undisturbed?”

“Mm.” Ning raised his head to stare into the skies as well. Golden runes could still be vaguely seen high up in the air. Clearly, the enormous formation hadn’t been impacted at all.

“We probably haven’t destroyed the core of the formation yet,” Ning said. “Perhaps the core of the formation is located in some secret, hidden location inside the estate.”

“Then what should we do now?” Solewind swept the area with his gaze.

“What can we do? Go inside!” Prince Greatjoy said coldly.

“Mm.” A murderous look flashed through Firesurge’s eyes as well.

Ning and the others all felt quite cautious about this Daolord’s estate. An estate was essentially a foe’s lair! If there really was another Daolord inside… fighting within the estate would be incredibly disadvantageous to Ning and the others.

But right now… there really was no way to tell whether or not there was a Daolord inside. If a Daolord truly decided to hide inside there and refused to come out, then Ning’s group would still have to go inside the estate and wreck the formation’s core in order to leave this Sacred Immortal Realm.

“Brother Darknorth, let us join forces to set up a defensive perimeter,” Solewind said.

“Alright.” Ning nodded.

Solewind’s heartworld projection was an excellent detection and warning system, whereas Ning’s Yin-Yang Sword Domain was a Supreme Dao of defense.

For now, the group of five was guarded by a chaotic domain of sword-intent as well as countless world-shadows.

Whoosh.

Ning’s group went straight to the entrance of the Daolord’s estate. Although they had hammered against the estate for quite some time, it remained completely undamaged.

They entered the estate through the main gate.

The estate was actually quite large inside, and its internal layout was quite complicated. There were quite a few dismembered and shattered golems located inside of it as well, all destroyed by the water, lightning, flames, and other attacks which the group had unleashed.

“What a large estate.” It was built almost like a maze. Ning’s group spent a full hour wandering inside of it, jointly defeating the various formations and restrictive spells as they extensively searched the place.

……

At the deepest reaches of the Daolord’s estate, there was hovering passageway that was lined with fiery red stones.

Whooooosh. A blazing wind howled through the air above the hovering passageway.

There was a cave entrance located amongst the many boulders present in this place. Within this cave there was a black-robed Daolord who was seated in the lotus position. His aura was incredibly ancient, and he was unfathomably more powerful than the Daolord which Ning’s group had just slain. Images of Ning and the others wandering through the estate could be seen reflected off his eyes. “So these five World-level cultivators really did enter my estate! For World-level cultivators to be comparable to Daolords of the Second Step, and for five of them to appear at once… they have to have a truly incredible school behind them. Their master might be an extremely important member of the Church of Annihilation. Although they killed one of my retainers, I’d really rather not fight them unless absolutely necessary.”

“But… Master’s orders were clear. I am to guard this place diligently, and I am to slay any outsiders who invade this place.” The black-robed Daolord slowly shook his head.

Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 11 – Moksha

The black-robed Daolord sat within that fiery stone cave. Suddenly, he turned his gaze towards that levitating passageway. Deep within it, a bulky and muscular creature was crawling across the fiery stones. The creature was brandishing an enormous greataxe, chopping downwards with it time and time again. Just looking at this muscular creature, one would easily be able to tell what tremendous power this greataxe held within it. However, the greataxe was just barely able to split the blazing stones apart, and it took dozens of blows from the greataxe in order to ‘harvest’ a single piece.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The reverberations were quite weak by the time they made it to the black-robed Daolord.

“Moksha.” The black-robed Daolord called out to the creature. “Come here.”

“Yes, Master.” A rumbling voice rang out from below.

Whoosh.

A streak of light flew out from the depths of that levitating passageway, then landed within the fiery stone cave. This was a strange, incredibly muscular thing whose unclad body radiated a metallic light. Clearly, this was not a normal living creature. The creature held a black greataxe in its hands that was almost as long as he was tall, and upon entering he immediately knelt down respectfully. “Master, what is your bidding?”

The black-robed Daolord nodded. “Five World-level children have entered the Sacred Immortal Realm. Although they were merely at the World level, all of them can be said to have reached a level of power comparable to that of Daolords of the Second Step. The five of them have already entered my estate, and they are continuously advancing in this direction! I order you to go and wipe them out. Remember… no matter what, do not let them damage my ‘Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower’.”

“Moska understands,” the towering creature said respectfully.

“Then go,” the black-robed Daolord ordered.

The muscular creature instantly departed through the passageway as he continuously flew upwards. Soon, he reached the entry point to the bottommost layer of the estate.

The black-robed Daolord nodded slightly. He really didn’t care much about the death of that retainer, as the retainer had been someone who had only been able to break through thanks to a Pseudo Samsara Pill. His only real job was to assist the black-robed Daolord in torturing those mortal cultivators. Someone like the black-robed Daolord wouldn’t want to lower himself or waste his energy on tormenting mortals. He would simply order his subordinates to do it for him.

“Five absolutely incredible World-level cultivators. They most likely stand a good chance of becoming absolutely incredible Daolords. A pity.” The black-robed Daolord let out a soft sigh. “Why did you have to come here?”

……

Deep within the Daolord’s estate.

Ji Ning and the rest of the five were still advancing forwards.

“There has to be a tremendous secret deep hidden within this path,” Prince Greatjoy said. We’ve already encountered eight different restrictive seals on this path, and it took us tremendous amounts of effort to break through them. Why would they put this many seals here if this wasn’t an important place?”

“We’ve broken quite a few seals in the estate, but no foes have emerged to face us. There probably really aren’t any Daolords here,” Solewind laughed. “I hope everything will continue to be this easy. That would be just wonderful.”

“I hope that is the case as well.”

They advanced through the passageway, delving deeper and deeper through the various layers of the estate. Suddenly, an enormous stone door appeared at the end of the path before them. This stone door was covered by strange carvings which emanated a dark, sinful aura. Just looking at it made the five of them uncomfortable. In truth, they had all noticed that it seemed as though the entire estate was filled with the aura of hatred and sin, with the aura being especially pronounced in certain areas.

Crackle, crackle, crackle. Solewind’s heartworld projection and Ning’s sword-intent domain both slammed into the stone door.

Golden runes immediately appeared on the surface of the stone door and began to flow across it. The runes were incredibly powerful, and they weren’t damaged in the slightest by the attacks.

Heartlord Solewind carefully inexpected the formation which had just appeared atop the stone door. Of the five, Heartlord Solewind possessed the highest level of skill in the Dao of Formations. He spent quite a bit of time, head upraised, as he stared at the stone door.

“Do as I say,” Heartlord Solewind instructed. “Brother Ji Ning, strike out with your sword using maximum force and destroy the runes over here.”

His heartworld projection immediately caused a particular part of the runes to light up.

“Brothers Firesurge and Skyfire, the two of you shall attack these two places.” Heartlord Solewind once more left behind sparkles of light atop the stone door, this time pointing out two areas with runes at the very top and very bottom of the stone door.

“Brother Greatjoy, all you need to do is to launch full-strength blows against this door,” Solewind laughed. “Leave the rest to me.”

To use raw, brute force to breach the formations would be incredibly difficult. If you were skilled in the art of formations, things would be much easier. Even if you weren’t able to overcome the formation by yourself, if you could point out certain critical areas and then focus your efforts on those areas, it would be hundreds of times easier than simply trying to brute-force the entire thing.

“Everyone… attack!” Heartlord Solewind barked.

Swish!

Ning struck out with his sword.

The sword struck out without creating any sound, but in the instant that it stabbed against the divine runes, its might was fully unleashed along with a terrifyingly strong penetrative power. If Ning wished it, he would be able to tear space apart and enter a completely different spatial dimension. The runes were completely pierced through and ripped apart by Ning’s strike, resulting in the formation covering the stone door to begin to tremble.

In truth, a small part of such a large formation being destroyed normally wouldn’t have much of an impact. Only a critical part of the formation being destroyed would.

“Good.” Heartlord Solewind revealed a look of delight.

Ning’s sword was indeed quite terrifying. Previously, as they had been breaching one sealed barrier after another within the estate, they had encountered a particularly nettlesome barrier that not even Prince Greatjoy had been able to break. In the end, it was Ning who had stepped up and used his sword to stab through a critical part of the formation. All of them had been stunned by how terrifyingly strong Ning’s sword was.

In terms of raw, overwhelming attack power, Prince Greatjoy was the strongest of the five.

In terms of viciousness… Ning’s sword was the deadliest.

“Attack!” Skyfire Brightshore and Firesurge simultaneously attacked, the former using fire and the latter using water. These two were diametrically different types of energy, and they were equal in power. As a result, when they joined forces they resulted in an absolutely explosive amount of energy being unleashed. Skyfire had truly grown much stronger in recent years, perhaps because the twelve scrolls of the [Sutra of Eternity] was indeed an incredible technique. By now, Skyfire was just as strong as Firesurge, who had been the weakest member of the four elites of the Twelve Palaces.

“Break.” Prince Greatjoy sent his enormous golden palms crashing downwards towards the two sides of the closed stone door.

Rumble…

The sealing barrier twisted, no longer able to endure the surging power that had been brought to bear against it. With a rumbling sound, the closed stone door began to swing open as the barrier naturally broke apart.

The two sides of the stone door were smashed open by the twin palms, revealing an empty pavilion behind them.

“So we have reached the end of this passageway?” Ning and the others were all stunned. They had encountered multiple barriers on the way over and had felt certain that there would be another passageway beyond the stone doors. Who would’ve thought that it would instead be a pavilion?

Ning and the other four advanced with caution, surrounded by the heartworld projection and the sword-intent domain. They walked through the stone door and into the pavilion.

The empty pavilion was roughly thirty thousand meters in size. An extremely muscular form was seated within the pavilion. The creature was completely crimson in color, and even its eyes were blazing with fire. It didn’t look like an ordinary living creature at all.

“A golem?” Greatjoy frowned.

“What a powerful golem.” Solewind’s face tightened as well.

“The Daolord we killed was merely at the first step. Why is there such a powerful golem here?” Ning’s heart sank. They could all tell that this was nothing more than a powerful golem, but it was different from those weaker golems that had existed in the Sacred Immortal Realm. Those golems were at the Elder God level of strength at most. This one… it was at the Daolord level.

Its aura was so weighty and dense that there was no way an ordinary Daolord could match it in might.

Whoooosh. There was another stone door on the other end of the palace. That tightly sealed stone door was covered with a layer of deep green energy that radiated hatred, with the hatred so dense that furiously roaring faces would constantly appear on its surface. Unfathomable amounts of dense elemental energy were being gathered from the surrounding areas, then channel into and through the stone door.

“The hatred and malice is all gathering here? What on earth is behind that stone door?” Ning realized that they were getting very close to uncovering some of the secrets behind the Sacred Immortal Realm.

The five of them exchanged a glance, their hearts sinking. They all knew that this would most likely be the most deadly battle yet in this alternate universe… and that it was possible they might die here.

“We have entered the Archaeus region on the orders of our master. I’d like to ask for you to give way and release the five of us from this Sacred Immortal Realm,” Solewind said. “If there is anything you want from us, just tell us.”

The massive golem, seated in the lotus position, slowly raised his head and stared at Ning’s group with his fiery eyes. His lips parted in a savage smile as he rose to his feet, then stretched out his left hand. Instantly, an enormous black shield appeared within it. He then stretched out his right hand, causing an enormous greataxe to appear.

A shield in one hand, a greataxe in the other… and his aura completely exploded forth, sweeping through the entire palace and causing it to echo and thunder.

“I want…” The massive golem’s voice boomed forth, “For you all to die!”

BOOM!

The golem transformed into a streak of light as it charged straight towards Ning’s group.