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Book 38, Daomerge, Chapter 36 – Easily Accomplished

“Yes, Master.” Ji Ning’s command was perfectly suited to the Flamewing God’s temperament. It immediately unleashed an earth-shaking howl as it flapped its wings, leaving behind a jagged scar in the air as it soared towards the limits of this astral world.

The black-robed Sourcewalker simply watched calmly: “The forceful response, eh?”

BOOM! The ‘membranes’ of this astral world rumbled as the charging Flamewing’s giant fleshy claws slammed into them, with the explosion filling the entire starry realm. However, this astral world remained quite stable; it didn’t even budge in the slightest. Instead, it was Flamewing who was knocked flying backwards by tens of thousands of kilometers.

“Sithe war machines truly are impressive,” Ning sent mentally. “This black-robed Sourcewalker may be far more powerful than most Hegemons, but there’s no way it can possess limitless power like you, Flamewing. Ignore all else and just launch repeated attacks. A hundred attacks, a thousand attacks, ten thousand attacks… I want to see how long the Sourcewalker can resist you!”

“Fine.” Flamewing’s confidence was soaring thanks to its master’s words, and it once more sent itself slamming into the edges of the realm.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Flamewing used all of its power to slam into the edges of the realm, moving in a fairly rhythmic manner. Seeing this, the black-robed Sourcewalker slowly shook his head.

Whoosh. The Sourcewalker willed it, and the strange energy that had covered this area of a trillion kilometers instantly dissipated, flying back into the globe in front of the Sourcewalker. The world around them once more reverted to the normal icy world.

“He gave up.” Ning felt a sense of delight.

“Don’t misunderstand. I’m not afraid of you.” The black-robed Sourcewalker’s voice boomed out, echoing through the skies: “The dimension formed by this Sithe war machine is incredibly stable and is not easily breached. I, Daoist Towerdawn, have wandered the Chaosverse for countless years and have many tricks up my sleeve. Even if I cannot kill you, it would be very easy for me to keep you trapped here! If you wish to leave this place, you must go through the tempest region. Even if no one is bothering you, it will take you a hundred million years to fly through it! If I chose to interfere, you might be able to stay alive but you’ll never be able to escape.”

Ning’s heart sank. Indeed, the only way out was to slowly fly out rather than warp through spacetime. The black-robed Sourcewalker was probably telling the truth. However, thanks to Flamewing’s power it wouldn’t be that easy for him to trap them either.

Whoosh. The realmship appeared next to the Flamewing, with Ning, Azurefiend, and Whitethaw inside of it. They didn’t dare to leave it, for fear of being ambushed.

“You talk a big game,” Azurefiend called out. “Why did you put away that Sithe weapon, then?”

“Haha…” Daoist Towerdawn actually let out a rare laugh. This caused the armored Sourcewalker to stare at him in astonishment. His big brother almost always had an icy look on his face, and he rarely laughed.

“You were able to defeat my formation with ease. I refuse to believe this Chaos Primordial learned the art of formations! That means one of you two has to be a formations expert.” Daoist Towerdawn’s gaze was cold and calm as he stared at Ning’s realmship. “That’s why I feel that there’s no need for us to fight.”

“All you want is a Daomerge Firecloud Flower, right? Those things are of no use to us at all. I want your help in breaching a formation. If my guess is correct, you need the flower for the white-robed Daolord inside the realmship, yes? So long as you help me breach that formation, I’ll gift the flower to you! Not just that; I’ll give you other Daomerge treasures as well, like the Spirit Incense-Fruit. I’ll give them all to you!”

“But big brother! The Spirit Incense-Fruit is delicious!” the armored Sourcewalker couldn’t help but interrupt. Daoist Towerdawn cast him a cold gaze, causing him to instantly shut his mouth and fall silent.

“Breach a formation?” Ning and Azurefiend were both intrigued as they considered this from within the realmship. If they could avoid a fight, they would prefer to do so. Clearly, this Sourcewalker wasn’t easy to deal with! Azurefiend sent mentally, “Darknorth, the Daomerge Firecloud Flower and the Spirit Incense-Fruit are only useful to Daolords; they aren’t all that valuable to Sourcewalkers or Eternal Emperors! He probably won’t try to cheat you.”

“This works for me. However, you must swear a lifeblood oath on this,” Ning said.

“Very well. However, I do want to let you know something; the entire Icewind Sea only holds a single Daomerge Firecloud Flower, and it is still growing. I estimate that it’ll take tens of thousands of chaos cycles before it ripens! Even if you accelerate time, you’ll only be able to accelerate it by a ratio of 1000x; otherwise, you’ll impact its growth cycle. In other words, you’ll have to wait a minimum of a few dozen chaos cycles before you can actually obtain it.”

“That’s fine.” Ning had suspected this would be possible, as Daomerge Firecloud Flowers had to be used within a thousand years of ripening. Thus, any ones he encountered were likely to be unripe. These marvelous flowers needed extremely long periods of time to grow. A few dozen chaos cycles… this was a fairly long period of time, but he needed to make other preparations for his Daomerge as well. Once the flower bloomed, he would need to immediately begin the Daomerge.

“Very well. I need you to unlock the restrictive seals covering this shield.” Daoist Towerdawn waved his hand, causing a bronze shield which was roughly nine meters long to immediately appear before him. This shield had the enormous face of a beast as its motif, and it emanated a mysterious yet dominating aura.

“This is something I came across by accident when I was wandering the borders of the Sithe homelands, but I’ve been unable to defeat the formations sealing it,” Daoist Towerdawn said.

“The Sithe homelands?” Ning and Azurefiend were both surprised.

“Yes, the homeland of the entire Sithe race,” Daoist Towerdawn said. “Don’t ask any more questions; the only task before you is for you to unlock these seals.”

……

Ning and Daoist Towerdawn both swore lifeblood oaths. Only then did Ning exit his realmship.

Whoosh. Daoist Towerdawn rapidly shrank in size from 540,000 meters to a height equivalent to Ning’s. He glanced at the armored Sourcewalker, who obediently shrank down as well.

Ning, Azurefiend, Whitethaw, and Flamewing all walked over as well.

“What cowards,” the armored Sourcewalker mumbled.

“They are simply being cautious,” Daoist Towerdawn said, then glanced at Ning and the other two. “If you can breach the restrictions covering this shield, it shall be as I swore. If not, you can forget about acquiring those treasures.”

Ning walked straight over to the shield as he said, “Don’t worry, if I can’t break it we can just keep fighting if that is what you wish. There’ll be plenty of time for that.”

“Grr…” Flamewing let out a low growl towards the two Sourcewalkers.

“Hah! You really do have a Sithe treasure here.” Ning nodded. “It is actually covered with seven layers of restrictive seals. This has to be an extremely important treasure.”

“Early on, one of my friends guessed that since it is shaped like a shield, it is probably meant for defense,” Daoist Towerdawn said. There were many types of Sithe war machines. Some were strong, some were weaker. The chains which Ning had acquired had suppressive effects and could absorb energy, while the one Daoist Towerdawn had just used was able to create a dimension of its own. Realmslord Windgrace’s ‘Blacksun’ was capable of allowing instantaneous teleportation across great distances and also had incredibly powerful attacks. The Realmslord’s single war machine was so powerful that it could influence entire sectors, making it incredibly precious.

Ning nodded, then lowered his head to carefully inspect the shield. He smiled. “Interesting. The person who set down this formation can be considered an expert, I suppose.”

The formations over the shield served to suppress and seal its power, making it quite similar to the chains which had imprisoned the Flamewing God. However, it was clearly much less complicated. The Flamewing God had been incredibly important to the Sithe; they had sent three Sithe Exalts to capture it, then had fashioned the chains which kept it imprisoned. There was no way this buckler was equivalent to a Chaos Primordial in value, and the person who created the seals over it hadn’t been at the Sithe Exalt level.

The seals over the chains that had been around the Flamewing God? Now those had been complex! If it hadn’t been for the fact that Ning had a detailed library of many Sithe formations, there was no way he would’ve been able to solve them.

He had been at a very high level of insight into the Dao of Formations, and also had many detailed guides. Despite that, he still had to spend hundreds of chaos cycles analyzing the chains before managing to succeed.

In comparison, the formations before him were far simpler. Ning had reached a high level of mastery over Sithe-style formations, and the formation before him was actually something which was written down within that library of Sithe techniques.

“No need to rush things. Let’s take it slow. So long as you can finish before the Daomerge Firecloud Flower ripens, it’ll be fine. You have dozens of chaos cycles,” Daoist Towerdawn said.

“Dozens of chaos cycles? I’m gonna take a nap, big brother. Wake me when it’s over.” The armored Sourcewalker turned, preparing to go take a nap.

“No need for all that trouble.” Ning simply reached out and gently tapped the surface of the buckler. Instantly, a unique type of Immortal energy flowed out from Ning’s finger and began to silently break through the layers of formations covering the shield. In just the blink of an eye, all seven layers of formations were instantly breached. The azure shield immediately began to emanate with a terrifying aura that seemed to have the weight of mountains. Ning himself felt as though he could use all his power but still be completely unable to budge the shield at all.

“…big brother, didn’t you say that the formations were really tough?” The armored Sourcewalker stared in shock.

Daoist Towerdawn was rather surprised as well. Moments later, an overjoyed smile appeared on his face, and he actually slapped Ning on the shoulders in a very friendly manner. This caused Ning to feel rather surprised himself.

Daoist Towerdawn said with a joyful laugh, “You aren’t bad, you little Daolord tyke! I thought it was the skinny old man standing behind you who was the one skilled in formations. When I saw that it was you, I actually lost hope. I never would’ve imagined you’d break it almost instantly! You really are incredible. Feel free to take the Daomerge Firecloud Flower and the Incense Spirit-Fruit! Haha. Oh, right. I have a few other Incense Spirit-Fruits here in my estate-treasure. I was planning to serve them to any friends who came calling, but I’ll just give them to you instead.”


Book 38, Daomerge, Chapter 37 – Fifty Chaos Cycles in the Icewind Sea

Daoist Towerdawn waved his hand as he spoke, causing a jade green box to open in front of him. Within the box was five fiery red fruits that emanated such succulent auras, Ji Ning couldn’t help but begin to drool.

“Thank you.” Ning gladly waved his hand and accepted them all. Although these fruits might of limited use to him, they would be of tremendous use to the likes of his good friend Ninedust or his master Subhuti when the time came for their Daomerge.

“No need for thanks. This is just like candy to me; the only thing it is good for is the taste. It’s only useful to you Daolords.” Daoist Towerdawn’s attitude towards Ning had clearly improved quite a bit. “Come, let me take you to the Daomerge Firecloud Flower.”

Ning’s eyes lit up. He immediately led Flamewing, Azurefiend, and Whitethaw to follow Daoist Towerdawn and the armored Sourcewalker in quickly delving deep underground.

The depths of the Icewind Sea were filled with frozen tunnels. Daoist Towerdawn quickly led Ning’s group before a spacetime formation.

“This realm of mine has many tempests within it, causing spacetime to be unstable. Even I am unable to warp through spacetime,” Daoist Towerdawn said. “That’s why I spent quite a bit of effort in setting up all these formations to stabilize spacetime in certain areas. I was able to create a total of eight stable spacetime tunnels that allow me to travel to various parts of the Icewind Sea quite quickly.”

“Prior to this, we were forced to slowly fly normally,” Azurefiend saidh with a laugh.

“Haha, when cultivators see us they are usually terrified and will flee immediately,” Daoist Towerdawn laughed. “Very few are unafraid of us. Come, let us enter the formation.”

Whoosh. The formation stabilized spacetime, creating a stable spacetime tunnel that allowed Ning’s group to be quickly transported to a different part of the Icewind Sea. Soon, Daoist Towerdawn led them to the location which held the Daomerge Firecloud Flower.

Deep within the earth, there was a freezing pool of water that glowed with azure light. At the very center of the pool was a flower that was slowly swaying. The flower had yet to bloom, but it was already tinged with a pink color. It had three leaves, and all of them were a fiery red color and seemed to be kissed by flames.

“That right there is the Daomerge Firecloud Flower.” Daoist Towerdawn pointed as he spoke: “Once the Daomerge Firecloud Flower blooms, it’ll be truly magnificent.”

“So this Daomerge Firecloud Flower is located underground?” Ning was rather startled. “Daoist Towerdawn, is it really true that there are no other Daomerge Firecloud Flowers in the Icewind Sea?” The one which Realmslord Windgrace has spoken of was located in a valley. But of course, that was a long, long time ago; that flower had long ago bloomed and been harvested. Still, Ning felt that there should be others above ground as well.

“Daomerge Firecloud Flowers are very unique, and only a place as unique as the Icewind Sea can give birth to them. More importantly, the Icewind Sea can only give birth to one at a time.” Daoist Towerdawn laughed. “Sometimes, it’ll bloom underground; other times, it’ll bloom on mountain peaks or halfway up a mountain. It can bloom anywhere in the Icewind Sea, but only one can ever exist at any point in time! This is my territory, and I know it quite well.”

“It’s true, there’s only one at any point in time,” the armored Sourcewalker agreed. “And it causes quite a disturbance when it blooms. There’s no way we’d miss the telltale signs of it. My big brother is often roaming the outside world, but I always reside here in the Icewind Sea. I’ve seen hundreds of Daomerge Firecloud Flowers bloom, and each time the process is the same.”

Ning nodded. Even if they had been able to sneak in undetected, they wouldn’t have been able to find the flower even after scouring the entire surface of the Icewind Sea. As for the underground area? The frozen underground tunnels were all incredibly winding and complex; it’d be even harder to find the flower down here, and their chances of being discovered would increase dramatically.

It seems that them being discovered early on and being forced into battle against Daolord Towerdawn was actually a good thing. It ensured they didn’t waste too much time, at least!

“It only has a bud and stem; it’ll be tens of thousands of chaos cycles before it blooms.” Daoist Towerdawn looked at Ning. “Will you set up a formation, or shall I do it for you?”

“Allow me.” Ning immediately stepped forward.

“Your formations are stronger than mine, and you are more detail-oriented as well.” Daoist Towerdawn smiled merrily as he watched from nearby. He normally always had an icy look on his face, but today he was in an exceptionally good mood. This Sithe weapon which had puzzled and frustrated him for countless aeons had finally been unsealed! He had already bound it in secret and now knew how it was used. With this weapon at his disposal, he was now significantly more powerful than he had been in the past, and his status amongst his friends and peers would probably rise a bit.

Ning carefully and attentively set up a temporal acceleration formation around the entire freezing pool. Although Daoist Towerdawn had stated that the maximum was 1000x temporal acceleration, Ning only gradually and carefully increased the temporal acceleration rate.

100x… 300x… 500x…

Ning was afraid that he might disturb the Daomerge Firecloud Flower’s growth patterns, but in the end Daoist Towerdawn was right; Ning was able to upgrade the temporal acceleration all the way to 1000x without any instability at all.

“Whew.” Ning let out a sigh of relief. The Daomerge Firecloud Flower was at hand. For now, he could think of nothing else he needed for his preparations. As far as external sources of support went, he had the Autarch’s stone dais, the Stonefire Pearl, and a Daomerge Firecloud Flower. It could be said that his preparations were perfect.

……

Ning temporarily took up residence in the Icewind Sea. Daoist Towerdawn and his brother welcomed him warmly, and eventually Ning learned that the armored Sourcewalker’s Daoist title was ‘Fireflame’. The Sourcewalker had clearly chose to live in a place like the Icewind Sea, and yet chose ‘Fireflame’ as his title. Ning really didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

Ning ended up spending more than fifty chaos cycles in the Icewind Sea! This was a extremely long period of time for Ning. His Primaltwin continued to remain within the Azureflower Estate, maintaining a 100x rate of temporal acceleration atop the Autarch’s stone dais as he meditated on one technique after another, wasting not even a single moment of time. He spent a total of over 5000 accelerated chaos cycles in training.

In truth, given Ning’s mastery over spacetime, formations, karma, and his Omega Sword Dao, it was quite easy for him to study other techniques. Even the most difficult of Daos, the Dao of Numerancy, Ning managed to learn after spending less than half the time he had needed for the Dao of Karma. This was because the Dao of Formations and the Dao of Karma both had many links to the Dao of Numerancy.

In truth, there were many Daos which overlapped with each other in important ways. For example, the Dao of Ice and the Dao of Wind! ‘Ice’ was considered part of the Dao of Water, but the Dao of Ice was a purer extension of it which would allow one to walk farther along this path.

One Dao after another… Ning reached the Archon level in many of them, allowing him to gain many new insights as to how the vast Chaosverse functioned. However, as he suspected, he was unable to gain even a single new insight into his Omega Sword Dao.

There was no technique, no cultivation path, no insights which would be of use to him in his Omega Sword Dao.

“I am making no progress whatsoever. All I can do is throw everything into the Daomerge,” Ning mused.

……

The many years he spent in the Icewind Sea served to temper his heart, making his Daoheart even purer than before. All other thoughts had fled from him; his only thoughts were of the Daomerge.

……

Ning, Daoist Towerdawn, the Flamewing God, and the others had all assembled deep underground next to the flaming pool.

“Almost. It’s going to bloom at any moment.” Daoist Towerdawn and Daoist Fireflame, the two Sourcewalkers, watched with looks of expectation in their eyes.

Ning stared intently at the flower in the middle of the pool. It was in the process of budding. Compared to before, the amount of marvelous energy gathering inside it had grown markedly more dense, almost as though it was about to explode at any moment.

Whoosh! Suddenly, without any preamble, the flower bloomed. Flaming energy swirled out around the surrounding area, forming a beautiful flaming flower.

Flaming clouds circled the area, ensconced by leaves. The flower had bloomed, releasing its beauty unto the world for all to see.

“The Firecloud Flower.” Ning murmured softly, “The Daomerge Firecloud Flower.”

“Hurry up and harvest it, Darknorth!” Daoist Towerdawn said.

Ning immediately stepped forwards and dispelled his formation, then sent his Immortal energy towards the flower. It easily covered the entire Firecloud Flower and then pulled it out by the roots. At the same time, Ning caused a jade box to manifest in front of him. The jade box opened, and Ning placed the flower into the box while setting up a temporal deceleration formation over it.

The flow of time continued to slow. Once it reached the rate of a millionth of the normal rate of time, Ning realized that the amount of energy it took to maintain the formation suddenly skyrocketed to the point where even he couldn’t endure it.

“Don’t try to force it,” Daoist Towerdawn said. “Once the Daomerge Firecloud Flower blooms, it has to be used within a thousand years. Otherwise, its marvelous energies will completely evaporate. You can cause time to slow down around it, but its energies will naturally try to resist. That’s why it’s impossible for you to completely freeze time around it.”

Ning nodded in understanding. It was impossible for anyone to completely stop the Daomerge Firecloud Flower’s energies from dissipating. If one could simply stop time around it, then it would be easy to harvest and then store Daomerge Firecloud Flowers for Daolords to use. However, at most one would be able to slow down time to a millionth the normal rate; in other words, at absolute most the flower could be preserved for roughly a billion years. No major power, no matter how mighty, would be able to accumulate a large supply of Daomerge Firecloud Flowers.”

“It’s enough. I’ll have enough time to bring it back to my homeland.” Ning smiled as he looked at Daoist Towerdawn. “Brother Towerdawn, I’ve bothered you quite a bit in recent days. It is time for us to leave.”

“The Daomerge is the greatest obstacle you cultivators must face. You must be careful. If you succeed, we’ll be able to meet again in the future,” Daoist Towerdawn said.