DEHAHegemonicDuel

Book 37, Flamewing Godbear, Chapter 18 – Captured

If he was going to rely on the flaming passageways and their traps to capture a Hegemon, he was going to capture the strongest one. Of the twelve Hegemons, the strongest had to be Hegemon Azurefiend!

“Damn that slippery Daolord Darknorth. He must have gained an extremely detailed intelligence report regarding the Jadefire Realm; otherwise, how could he have been able to throw me off with ease so many times in a row?” Hegemon Azurefiend sat there in the lotus position in the air, two rope-type treasures coiling around him. He just quietly sat there, his senses keenly attuned.

“However… sooner or later, he’ll make a mistake,” Hegemon Azurefiend with with a cold laugh. “The flaming passageways no longer have just the original traps in them, they also have the traps set up by the other Hegemons and Emperors. One instance of bad luck and he’ll hit one of them. My chance will come them.”

Hegemon Azurefiend was extremely patient. The fact that he was willing to spend such incredible amounts of time drifting between realmverses on his adventures was testament to his patience. Even if he had to spend a thousand chaos cycles here in the flaming passageways, he’d still be more than patient enough to do it.

“Eh?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s ears twitched slightly. He opened his eyes to stare towards the front, where he soon saw a realmship carefully advancing through the air.

“There it is. The realmship.” Hegemon Azurefiend was delighted. Swoosh! He immediately transformed into a streak of light that shot after Ning. He had spent more than a hundred thousand years in these flaming passageways, and was already quite familiar with the ones in the area he was in. He knew where the ‘native’ traps were and were the traps placed by the Hegemons were, making it easy for him to chase after his foe.

“Hegemon Azurefiend!” The occupant of the realmship seemed to be badly shocked, immediately turning to flee in a different direction.

“You aren’t going anywhere!” Hegemon Azurefiend roared as he chased from behind.

The realmship continued its panicked flight. Boom! Suddenly, with a loud explosion, a large amount of boulders appeared out of nowhere and furiously began to spin and smash against everything within the reach of the trap. Although the realmship was able to endure the attacks, it was still smashed flying backwards.

“A perfect opportunity.” Hegemon Azurefiend was overjoyed upon seeing this and immediately chased over. However, the realmship quickly escaped from the confines of the trap and began to accelerate once more as it fled.

The realmship fled while the Hegemon pursued. Hegemon Azurefiend used his ropes to blaze a path for him, sweeping away all dangers. Although he furiously chased after Ning and felt quite familiar with his surroundings, he still remained quite cautious. This was one of the reasons why he was still alive despite having visited so many dangerous regions in so many realmverses.

“Perfect. Come closer.” Ning smiled merrily as he glanced backwards from within his ‘fleeing’ realmship. He knew the exact locations of all passageways, all ‘native’ mechanisms, and all Hegemon-emplaced traps. When he occasionally activated one of them by mistake, it was nothing more than a pretense!

“We’re arriving up ahead.” Ning felt quite eager… because a terrifying trap was not too far away from him. This was one of the most deadly traps located within the endless flaming passageways. The Sithe had once used it to trap cultivators, then sent them off to the prison regions. The power of this trap was so great that it could capture a Hegemon with ease. Even two or three Hegemons in a group would be caught.

However, a larger group of Hegemons meant that one Hegemon might fall into the trap while the others were still far away, due to them moving at different speeds. That would be troublesome, which was why Ning chose a single target this time.

“Time to catch a Hegemon.” Ning felt quite excited. In the past, he never would’ve dared to even imagine such a thing, but now that he was in control of the flaming passageways he did.

Swoosh! The realmship instantly flew past that dangerous mechanism, which remained unactivated. In recent years, Ning had maintained control over all of the most dangerous mechanisms and kept them in a deactivated state, not allowing them to unleash their full power. This was why the Hegemons hadn’t encountered any serious problems thus far. The ones that they did see were the ones which had been revealed long ago by others.

“Don’t even think of escaping. Your realmship is mine!” Hegemon Azurefiend furiously chased from behind, attempting to use his ropes to coil around the realmship from afar. Alas, Daolord Darknorth was simply too fast in escaping.

“And here we are. Right there.” Surrounding by the countless illusions of flaming passageways, Ning’s divine power clone had been watching this entire time from above the formation-diagram altar. It had watched as two specks of light had progressed through the passageway, the first being the realmship while the second being Hegemon Azurefiend.

“Activate!” Ning’s divine power clone instantly activated the terrifying mechanism via the formation-diagram, causing the power that had been hidden for all these years to suddenly explode forth with terrifying might.

Whoosh! Swish! Hegemon Azurefiend had been chasing after Ning at high speed, and he slammed right into the area of the mechanism.

Boom! A strange ripple of dimensional power suddenly appeared. Eight different places in that flaming passageway began to glow with light which came to form a vast, illusory cage in midair. The void cage completely trapped the charging Hegemon Azurefiend, who continued to fly forwards only to ram straight into the ‘membrane’ of the cage.

BOOM! Hegemon Azurefiend was sent staggering several steps backwards.

“Eh? What’s going on?” Hegemon Azurefiend suddenly turned pale, a look of shock and horror appearing on his face as he scanned his surroundings. He could clearly sense that he had been trapped within a void cage and see the continuously changing and transforming membranes around him.

“Break!” Hegemon Azurefiend reached out with his right hand, transforming it into a terrifyingly destructive claw that rent towards the void membrane. The void membrance made no sound at all. It simply flexed slightly like a bubble, easily deflecting his power without suffering any damage whatsoever.

Hegemon Azurefiend’s heart turned ice-cold. He had visited many places and seen many things, and so he instantly realized that even if he was ten times more powerful than he was right now, he still probably wouldn’t be able to defeat this void cage.

“How could there be a void cage here? This is impossible. I’ve traversed this passageway over ten times, and I’ve scouted out this place with my ropes right after the realmship flew past it. Neither the realmship nor my ropes activated the trap. Why did it activate as soon as I walked past it?” Hegemon Azurefiend could hardly believe it. “And I didn’t encounter it in the past either. Why did such a terrifying mechanism suddenly activate without any warning?”

It had been over a hundred thousand years. None of the Hegemons or Emperors had run into any trouble upon entering this place! If there were any particularly deadly traps here, then logically speaking some of the other Hegemons and Emperors should’ve been trapped long ago. However, there had been no word from anyone else in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance, which meant that the other Emperors were all fine.

“Why has it suddenly activated now when it wasn’t activated previously? Is there someone in control of them now?” Hegemon Azurefiend could think of no other possibilities.

Whoosh. The ‘fleeing’ realmship suddenly turned and flew back, coming to a halt outside the void cage. Two figures emerged from the realmship. One was a white-robed youth with a black sword sheath on his back, while the other was a furry, white-furred Sithe Protector.

“Daolord Darknorth.” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at the white-robed youth.

“Hegemon Azurefiend. This should be our first time actually meeting face-to-face.” Ning smiled.

“What, have you come to gloat now that I’ve fallen into this trap?” Hegemon Azurefiend said coldly.

Ning shook his head slowly. “No. I’ve come to rescue you.”

“Rescue me?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s face tightened.

“Right. I’d like to ask you a question. Would you like to live, or would you like to die?” Ning smiled as he looked at Hegemon Azurefiend.

These words stnnned Hegemon Azurefiend. He immediately called out in shock, “Y-you?! It was you?! The person controlling the mechanisms is you? I thought that some other Hegemon or major power was behind this trap. I didn’t expect it to be you, you puny little Daolord.”

As soon as he had fallen for the trap, he had calculated that it was most likely for someone to have actively unleashed thie mechanism. Otherwise, why would it have remained dormant for so long, ignoring both his ropes and the realmship but activating when he flew past? It had to be a formation that could be activated or deactivated as needed, which meant there had to be someone controlling it.

“Hmph. What price must I pay to leave this place?” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at Ning, his eyes flickering with cold light. His voice, however, remained quite calm.

“Simple. Be my retainer. I won’t ask for too long; 108,000 chaos cycles will do,” Ning said. “To a Hegemon like yourself, spending 108,000 chaos cycles wandering the outside world is nothing.”

“I… a Hegemon… serve you, a Daolord, as a retainer?” A furious look appeared in Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes as he growled, “Don’t you think you are overestimating yourself a bit much?”

“I am indeed nothing more than a mere Daolord, but your fate, exalted Hegemon, is now under my control.” Ning stared intently at Hegemon Azurefiend.


Book 37, Flamewing Godbear, Chapter 19 – Death Over Submission

“My fate is in your hands?” Hegemon Azurefiend stared past the void cage imprisoning him: “If my guess is correct, this is nothing more than an immaterial cage of barriers. It can at most capture me, not kill me. So long as I continually assault it, I’ll be able to deplete its power. I refuse to believe that a single mechanism can give birth to a permanent force-cage of such power.”

Ji Ning nodded slowly. “Impressive deductions, Hegemon. Your words were correct; if you were to fight back, this void cage wouldn’t be sustained for too long. But… didn’t you think that the Sithe would have taken this into consideration?”

“Hrm?” Hegemon Azurefiend looked at Ning.

“With but a thought, I can create a void link between this cage and the prison regions,” Ning explained. “I’ll send you off to be imprisoned there! You should know just how deadly the Jadefire Realm’s prison region is.”

Hegemon Azurefiend was a man who had seen many things. He knew that the Sithe wouldn’t be so foolish as to expect such a void cage to perpetually trap their foes; it was entirely possible that there really was a mechanism by which one could be sent through a void link off into the prison regions!

“The prison regions? The prisons are rather damaged, and the entire region as a whole has been breached. It isn’t nearly as dangerous as it once was.” Hegemon Azurefiend laughed coldly, “Given my power, with enough time I should be able to escape. Even if I’m not able to escape immediately, I’ll be able to ask other major powers for succor. You won’t be able to threaten me.”

“You are wrong. There are differences even amongst prisons. There are seven central prisons in particular,” Ning explained, “And although three of them have crumbled apart, four of them remain in perfect shape. I’ll send you into one of those four. Forget about you, not even Otherverse Lords who are trapped within would stand any chance at escape.”

Hegemon Azurefiend’s face tightened. He had read the intelligence reports regarding the Jadefire Realm and knew of the seven central prisons. Given how badly damaged the prison regions were in general, they really wouldn’t necessarily be capable of holding back an Otherverse Lord. Ning claiming otherwise was probably just a boast… but imprisoning a Hegemon was entirely possible.

“Have you decided?” Ning asked. “Being my retainer isn’t exactly embarrassing! Don’t worry, I won’t make this public. I’ll tell everyone else that the two of us are extremely close friends who have known each other forever, which is why you chose to help me.”

“And who do you think would believe that?” Hegemon Azurefiend said coldly, “Who in the world would believe that? Everyone knows I came to the Jadefire Realm because I want your realmship, and everyone knows the type of person I am. Give up the realmship and instead become friends with you, then going so far as to fight to protect you? Do you really think those Hegemons are absolute imbeciles? Even a genuine imbecile would be able to tell that I was forced to become your retainer.”

Seeing this, Ning frowned. “Then what do you propose?”

“Being a retainer for a puny Daolord like yourself would be the greatest humiliation of my life. There’s no way I would accept.” Hegemon Azurefiend shook his head, his words completely uncompromising.

Ning felt a bit troubled. He didn’t expect that the temperamental Hegemon Azurefiend would actually care so much about face that he would discard even his life.

“How about this? Ten thousand chaos cycles!” Ning said.

“Hmph.” Hegemon Azurefiend shook his head.

Ning’s gaze grew cold. “A thousand chaos cycles. This is my last offer! I only need you to serve me for a thousand chaos cycles. To a Hegemon like yourself, this is an extremely brief period of time. I’ve already shown mercy to you, considering that you came to try and steal my treasures. If you refuse even my offer of a thousand chaos cycles… hmph.”

In truth, a thousand chaos cycles really was the final offer Ning was willing to make. This was because his Primaltwin was consistently using the Autarch’s stone dais within the Azureflower Estate while under the effects of 100x temporal acceleration. Thus, a thousand chaos cycles for his true body would become equivalent to over 100,000 chaos cycles for his Primaltwin… or in other words, time for the Daomerge. Regardless of whether he succeeded or failed in his Daomerge, Hegemon Azurefiend would no longer be of much use.

“Give me an answer.” Ning looked at him.

Hegemon Azurefiend could sense the killing intentions rise in the Daolord before him, but this only caused him to laugh: “Hahaha! I never thought that I, Azurefiend, would be put in such dire straights by a Daolord.”

“I, Azurefiend, have roamed for countless ages and have lived for countless years. I’ve killed as I pleased and plundered as I pleased. Lower my head before a puny Daolord and become his retainer? I’d rather die!” Hegemon Azurefiend glared at Ning. “Plus… you aren’t even capable of killing me. Go ahead and lock me up. Go ahead and send me into the most central prisons within the Jadefire Realm! When the time comes, I’ll pay an incredible price to Realmslord Windgrace and have him personally use the Blacksun to attack the prison and break me out.”

Ning’s face tightened. Realmslord Windgrace? The Blacksun was a truly terrifying weapon the Sithe had left behind from the Dawn War! Normally, it could be used to briefly create spacetime conduit that allowed for instantaneous travel to incredibly distant places, but it also had more savage abilities. It could be used to attack! Once the accumulated energies were unleashed via the Blacksun, the power would be so great that even Otherverse Lords might perish before it.

Realmslord Windgrace was both an Otherverse Lord and in charge of the Blacksun. Thus, he possessed a transcendent status even amongst his peers in the Chaosverse.

The foundation of the Jadefire Realm had already been wrecked, causing it to be dramatically weakened, whereas the Blacksun was undamaged. If Realmslord Windgrace really did come, he’d probably be capable of breaching the core jails and rescuing Hegemon Azurefiend.

“I hear that the price needed to establish a spacetime conduit via the Blacksun is absolutely enormous,” Ning said. “None of the Hegemons or Emperors chose to make such a request in order to have a better chance at the realmship! To have Realmslord Windgrace come here in person and use the Blacksun to breach a core prison to rescue you is probably going to cost even more than just creating a spacetime conduit. Are you sure you can pay such a price?”

“I cannot.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s gaze was cold while his voice was growling: “But I’d be willing to serve him as a servant in recompense!”

“As a servant?” Ning laughed. “You’d rather be a servant to Realmslord Windgrace than be a retainer for a mere thousand chaos cycles to a Daolord like myself. It makes sense. Realmslord Windgrace is an exalted figure, while I’m nothing but a mere Daolord… but Azurefiend, are you sure he even needs a servant like you?”

“If he doesn’t want a servant like me, then in the future I’ll wander through other dangerous regions to acquire treasures and slowly repay him,” Hegemon Azurefiend said. “Based on my understanding of his temperament, he should probably accept such an offer! Even if he really isn’t willing to come rescue me, I’d rather remained trapped here within the prisons.”

“Once the Yin-Yang Samsara Wheels reach this place, you’ll perish,” Ning said.

“If I die, I die. I, Azurefiend, have roamed the Chaosverse and have seen everything there is to see. Although I do not welcome death, I welcome humiliation even less! Daolords are as puny as meaningless as ants. How dare one of you even think to have me, Azurefiend, serve you as a retainer?” Hegemon Azurefiend looked at Ning mockingly. “Laughable. Laughable!”

……

Ning stared at the icy-faced Hegemon Azurefiend from outside the cage. In his heart, he couldn’t help but sigh. His greatest worry had never been whether or not he would be able to capture a Hegemon. His greatest worry was… would he be able to convince the Hegemon to submit?

“You called me as a weak as an ant?” Ning said. “Do you really look down on Daolords that much?”

“What, do you think you are strong? All you could do was to trick and trap me thanks to your control over a few mechanisms. If it wasn’t for the terrifying traps the Sithe left behind in the Jadefire Realm, do you think you really would have the chance to boast like this before me? I’d crush you into dust with one claw.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes glowed with savage light. “All you can do is hide outside the cage and brag from a position of safety. How laughable.”

Ning shook his head. “You underestimate Daolords too much.”

“Oh? I heard you managed to force Archon Silksnow into committing suicide, right? You probably trapped him in another one of these mechanisms.” Hegemon Azurefiend truly was filled with rage towards the Daolord before him. This puny Daolord was insulting him from outside the cage! How long had it been since a Daolord had ever dared to behave like this before him?

“How about this, Azurefiend? Let’s have a little bet,” Ning said.

“A bet?” Azurefiend looked at Ning. “What bet.”

“I’ll enter the void cage and have a fight against you,” Ning said. “I’ll rely on my own real power to fight against you, and I’ll give you an hour. If you cannot beat me in that hour, you’ll have lost. You’ll have to accept the results of our wager and become my retainer!”

“You are willing to come inside to spar against me?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes lit up. He had been thoroughly infuriated ages ago, but the void cage made it so that he wasn’t able to injure Ning in the slightest. That was the only reason why he had managed to hold onto his temper and waste so much tie talking instead. Now, upon hearing that this puny Daolord was being so reckless and foolish as to come on inside, he was instantly delighted.

“Fine, I’ll take that bet! But I don’t need an hour. Just stand in front of me and rely on your own power to survive for ten seconds. Do that, and you’ll have won!” Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes turned red with bloodlust. He truly did not believe that an exalted Hegemon like him, highly-ranked even amongst other Hegemons, would be unable to annihilate a puny Daolord like Darknorth.

“Agreed. No backing out?” Ning said.

“I’d rather die than break my word! Just don’t regret dying by my hands, you brat.” Hegemon Azurefiend licked his lips, his eyes flashing with blood light.

Whoosh. With a flicker, Ning flew past the invisible walls and inside the void cage.