DESDDingDongWinterflame

Book 38, Daomerge, Chapter 21 – Of Little Use

A realmship appeared within a spatial tear outside the Jadefire Realm.

“And here we are.” Ji Ning stared at the vast blazing whirlpool of blazing flames and smiled: “Hegemon Winterflame has probably heard the news by now.”

“He definitely has.” A look of excitement was on Azurefiend’s old face, and his eyes were gleaming. “Based on my understanding of him… he’s probably scared out of his mind. He might immediately beg for mercy once you arrive, Darknorth.”

“Let’s go and take a look.” Ning was looking forward to seeing that panicked look on Hegemon Winterflame’s face. In the past, Winterflame had always behaved in an arrogant and domineering manner.

Whoosh. The realmship flew into the Jadefire Realm at high speeds, descending into the flaming passageways.

“Master.” A voice rang out from the surrounding area. This was the voice of the Emperor-class golem in control of the flaming passageways.

“Is Winterflame still in the same old position?” Ning asked.

“Master,” the voice rang out, “Hegemon Winterflame attempted to flee, but I took control over the mechanisms in accordance with your orders and nearly killed him. This frightened Hegemon Winterflame so badly that he no longer dared to flee again, and he’s very close to where he originally started.”

“He actually tried to flee?” Azurefiend grinned and said, “He finally knows the meaning of fear. He has an invulnerable form, which means that even though I am a bit stronger than him I cannot kill him… but now that we have Flamewing, killing him will be simplicity itself. If he tries to run, the mechanisms in the flaming passageways are also capable of claiming his life! Both fleeing and not-fleeing will both spell doom. Haha, I’m looking forward to seeing that look on his stupid face!”

Ning laughed as well. He also felt delighted! After they flew for a period of time, they finally saw Hegemon Winterflame. Hegemon Winterflame was seated in the lotus position in the void. He still looked as devilishly handsome as ever, but his aura was rather chaotic.

“Eh?” Hegemon Winterflame turned his head as the distant realmship approached him. He hurriedly rose to his feet.

Four figures flew out of the realmship, with the leader being the white-robed youth with a black sheath on his back. Next to him was the chubby Flamewing and Hegemon Azurefiend, with Protector Whitethaw standing behind them all.

“I greet you, Daolord Darknorth,” Hegemon Winterflame said. His attitude was very humble, and he cast Flamewing a glance as he spoke. Flamewing was chomping through some food he was holding as he glanced sideways at Winterflame as well. Winterflame couldn’t help but feel as though he himself was being devoured bit-by-bit, and his mental state grew even more chaotic.

“Hah! Look at how respectful our dear Hegemon Winterflame is being.” Azurefiend roared with laughter as he clutched his sides: “He’s being as humble as a servant! Last time we saw him, he was quite arrogant and proud, no? Winterflame, do you remember the final words you said to us when we last met?”

Hegemon Winterflame’s face was ashen as Azurefiend continued to speak: “I think you’ve forgotten, but I haven’t. I recall it all quite clearly. Watch, Winterflame!” Azurefiend waved his hand, causing an illusory image to appear next to them. This was the scene of their previous meeting, and in the illusory images Winterflame was snarling with hatred as he roared, “Let’s see if you die first or if I die first!”

Winterflame gritted his teeth.

“Enough, Azurefiend,” Ning said.

“Fine.” Azurefiend fell silent as instructed.

Winterflame relaxed slightly. Although he was completely unscrupulous, as a Hegemon he still cared about face. He felt miserable suffering such mockery from Azurefiend. Upon hearing Ning order Azurefiend to halt, he was suddenly filled with hope. Perhaps Daolord Darknorth wasn’t going to hold a grudge and would release him?

“He’s about to die soon. There’s no need to go too far.” Ning’s voice rang out once more, and Winterflame’s face instantly turned bone-white.

“DAOLORD DARKNORTH!!!” Hegemon Winterflame let out a throat-rending howl. Even Ning was badly startled by the grief and rage in Hegemon Winterflame’s voice.

“Daolord Darknorth, I was wrong! It was all my fault! I was being too arrogant and ruthless.” Hegemon Winterflame stared at Ning, then said in a begging manner, “I know I made a huge mistake. I beg you to give me a chance, Daolord Darknorth. Everyone should be given a chance. Give me one!”

“In your dreams,” Azurefiend muttered.

Hegemon Winterflame gritted his teeth. “I’m willing to be your retainer. So long as you spare my life, I’ll serve you.”

Ning just watched quietly, while Azurefiend chuckled: “Didn’t you look down at me for becoming his retainer?”

“I’d be honored to be given the chance to serve Daolord Darknorth as his retainer,” Hegemon Winterflame said hurriedly. Upon seeing that Ning appeared completely unmoved, he began to panic even further. “I’m willing to be an eternal retainer. Even if you fail your Daomerge and die, Daolord Darknorth, I’d be willing to swear an oath to follow your orders to the end of my days. Uh, I don’t mean to suggest that I hope you will fail the Daomerge, Daolord Darknorth. I obviously hope that you will succ-”

Halfway through his babbling, Ning suddenly shook his head. “Flamewing, get rid of him.”

“Haha, I was waiting for you to say that!” Flamewing let out a strange howl, transforming into his normal form of a giant blazing winged bear as he charged straight towards Hegemon Winterflame.

Hegemon Winterflame had a terrified look on his face, but moments later it was replaced by a look of savagery. He glared at the distant Ning with a hate-filled look in his eyes, then howled, “Daolord Darknorth, you’ll die too! You’ll die too!”

Riiiiiip. Flamewing destroyed everything in its path with its overwhelming power. Even though Hegemon Winterflame was able to transform into a sea of fire, he was still extinguished by the Chaos Primordial’s might. Nothing was left save a few scattered treasures.

Azurefiend shook his head when he saw this. “Darknorth, Winterflame was still a Hegemon. Taking him on as a retainer wasn’t a bad idea. I thought you’d choose to accept him in the end.”

Ning stared at the scattered treasures floating in the air. “I did briefly consider taking him on as a retainer, but… for some reason, he just disgusted me far too much. I already have the three of you; an extra Hegemon retainer really wouldn’t make much of a difference. Better to keep my surroundings clear of such filth.”

Azurefiend was speechless. He never would’ve imagined that Ning would have declined a Hegemonic retainer for a reason like this.

“Let’s go.” Ning had already made certain plans for the Three Realms. By now, Hegemon Winterflame truly was of little use to him, as Ning simply wouldn’t trust a Hegemon like Winterflame to watch over the Three Realms.

……

Hegemon Winterflame died, and his avatar perished alongside him. This news quickly spread throughout the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance.

The Hegemons and Emperors of the alliance all knew long ago that Hegemon Winterflame had been trapped within the flaming passageways. They all suspected that the killer was Daolord Darknorth, the controller of the Jadefire Realm! All of them couldn’t help but feel a lingering sense of dread towards him. They knew that Daolord Darknorth was not the benevolent, merciful type… and they secretly celebrated the fact that they handed over their treasures and had been able to leave the Jadefire Realm safely.

And so, the Hegemons and Emperors of the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance now feared a total of two people. The first was Realmslord Windgrace, while the second was the monstrously talented Daolord who had tamed the Flamewing God – Daolord Darknorth. These two people were mighty enough to cause even Hegemons to fear the approach of death.

……

Ning didn’t really care about what was happening in the outside world. His focus was on cultivation. He had to come up with those ten Archon-class techniques as soon as possible, so that he could earn the precious reward which Autarch Awakener had left behind. Even the Autarch to view that treasure as valuable and not to be casually handed over to others.

According to the estate-spirit, this treasure was the number one most helpful cultivation treasure in all the Chaosverse, and it was number one in assisting during Daomerges as well!

Ning absolutely had to acquire such a supreme treasure. The Daomerge for the Omega Dao would be incredibly difficult; even Emperor Waveshift said that he saw no hope at all for Ning in attempting it. In addition, the path of the Omega Dao was the only path available for Ning if he wished to revive Yu Wei. Only through this path would he have a chance to surpass the Autarchs and take back Yu Wei’s truesoul fragments from the prime essences of the Chaosverse.

Of course, it was highly likely that he would fail and perish… but he still had to do his absolute utmost!

……

Time flowed on.

Vastheaven Palace. Within Darknorth’s estate. Ning was seated by himself in quiet meditation atop a mountain. Next to him was a hot stove that had a flagon of wine atop it, while there was some snow on the boulder nearby.

Ning’s Primaltwin remained in secluded meditation atop the Autarch’s stone dais, while Ning’s true body lived a fairly relaxed life. This dichotomy of harsh training and relaxedness actually caused many insights to flicker through Ning’s mind. He broke through a number of bottlenecks in this way.

“I’ve finally reached the Archon level in the final Dao, the Dao of Earth.” The white-robed Ning’s eyebrows were covered in snow. He suddenly opened his eyes to stare at the nearby flagon of wine. This wine had been kept warm for an extremely long period of time, because Ning only permitted himself a single drink of wine when he finished completing a Dao. Thus, it had been countless years since he had last drank from the wine.

“Now, all ten techniques have been developed.” An eager look was in Ning’s eyes. “I wonder what sort of precious treasure Autarch Awakener has left behind for me?”


Book 38, Daomerge, Chapter 22 – Stonefire Pearl

Within the Azureflower Estate.

The black-robed Ji Ning was seated in the lotus position atop the stone dais. He had already been in this position for more than ten chaos cycles without moving at all.

“Success.” The black-robed Ning suddenly opened his eyes and smiled. He waved his hand, causing a series of jade slips to appear next to him. Ning had filled every sigle one of the jade slips with all sorts of techniques which he had devised over the course of many years. Although only ten chaos cycles had gone past in the real world, he had spent that entire period of time under 100x temporal acceleration. In other words, for him over a thousand chaos cycles had already gone by.

Ning had come up with a total of ten Archon-class techniques. These techniques were based on his Omega Sword Dao, his heartforce illusions, the Dao of Fire, the Dao of Water, the Dao of Lightning, the Dao of Space, the Dao of Formations, the Dao of Metal, the Dao of Wood, and the Dao of Earth. There were ten Daos in total.

After slaughtering Hegemon Winterflame, Ning had chosen to work in simpler Daos such as that of Metal, Wood, and Earth, so that he would more quickly acquire the treasure reward. He personally wanted to study the Dao of Time, but judging from how he had spent more than two hundred chaos cycles working on the Dao of Space, he felt likely that he would need to spend even more time on Time.

In the end, he was a sword cultivator. As a result, he was quite quick with the Dao of Metal, making his breakthrough in just twenty or so chaos cycles. He wasn’t very talented in the Dao of Wood, and so he spent more than fifty chaos cycles on it. As for the final member of the Five Elements, ‘Wood’? Thanks to the fact that he had already mastered the first four, he had actually managed to complete his mastery of it in just ten or so chaos cycles.

In just ninety ‘real’ chaos cycles (900 chaos cycles for him), he had actually managed to create three Archon-class techniques.

“Senior,” the black-robed Ning called out. The distant white-haired elder, also seated in the lotus position, slowly opened his eyes.

“Senior, you already know about my Omega Sword Dao and my illusions. Here are the other eight techniques.” Ning pointed at the eight slips levitating in the air behind him. “Please take a look at them.” The eight jade slips all floated over to the white-haired man.

“That fast?” The white-haired old man’s eyes lit up as he immediately stared at the eight slips. After analyzing them, he nodded: “Not bad. You’ve mastered all five of the Five Elements, and you actually made tremendous progress in even the Dao of Formations. You truly do have an incredibly high level of comprehension of the Dao. In truth, just judging from how quickly you were able to create your Omega Sword Dao and then reach the Fourth Step as a Daolord, I felt certain that your comprehension skills were exceptional. However, I still had to obey my master’s orders.”

“Of course.” Ning nodded. In truth, one’s comprehension skills could change. For example, even the most ‘talented’ of newborns wouldn’t be able to comprehend much. The many experiences you went through in life would mold you like metal in a forge, either breaking you or making you stronger, harder, and more dazzling. Ning’s heart had been completely focused on the Dao of the Sword, and he had experienced many exceptional things before reaching his current heights. Now that he had reached the fourteenth stance of the [Heartsword], his heart and his will were both incredibly pure, allowing him to train even more quickly than before.

“You’ve created ten techniques, which means I can give that treasure which Master left behind.” The white-haired old man waved his hand. Whoosh. The hall suddenly seemed to ripple as rays of light appeared, causing a tiny fist-sized space to appear at the very center of the room. After this tiny space appeared, one could vaguely make out two objects levitating within it.

The first object was a completely round and slick pearl. It looked to be roughly the size of an egg, and it emanated incorporeal ripples that could be seen with the naked eye. Ning could sense the waves of power sweeping across him, causing him to feel more relaxed and comfortable than he ever had before. He felt almost like a child in his mother’s embrace; that was how incredibly warm and soothing this felt.

The second object was also round, but it was covered with countless lines and runes.

“Come here.” The white-haired man waved his hand, causing both objects to float over towards him. “Darknorth.” The white-haired elder looked at Ning. “This first treasure was named by my master and the Autarchs as the ‘Stonefire Pearl’. All of them concur that it had to be a naturally-occuring treasure manifested by the Chaosverse, and that it is the number one most helpful cultivation treasure. Master focused all of his efforts on completing the Nine Chaos Seals, and so he found these types of treasures to be invaluable. As a result, he paid a fairly significant price to convince the other Autarchs to let him have it.”

Ning was shocked. So Autarch Awakener had personally used this treasure in the past?

“Let me tell you about its history.” The white-haired elder laughed. “Our story begins when the Sithe were at the prime of their power. They had yet to launch the great war against the cultivator civilizations, but my master and the others were already secretly on guard against them, keeping a vigilant eye on them at all times. One time, Master and the others suddenly sensed a hint of danger appear and so they hurriedly joined forces to go to that location. They discovered that the Sithe had captured and were escorting a strange stone lifeform who was completely covered in flames. My Master and the others did not hesitate at all; they immediately attacked! The Sithe either fled or died. As for the ‘stonefire’ lifeform? It was actually on par with my Master and the other Autarchs in might!”

“On par with Autarchs?!” Ning was amazed. “The Sithe are actually in control of creatures with such power?”

“That creature probably wasn’t a Sithe. None of us know where the Sithe found the thing and how they took control over it,” the white-haired elder said. “Master and his peers spent tens of thousands of years battling it before it finally ran out of energy and died. As soon as the strange stonefire creature died, its body crumbled apart and revealed this pearl within it.”

“This pearl has marvelous properties and is of tremendous use to cultivators when training,” the white-haired elder said. “We found a total of just two creatures which had reached this level of power. One was this stonefire creature, the other was an iceberg creature that was also controlled by the Sithe and fought for them during the Dawn War. The Autarchs killed both of these creatures. I imagine they should know more about where these creatures came from, but they’ve never discussed it with me.”

Ning sighed in amazement. Living creatures who were on par with Autarchs in power? “Can the Sithe have created them?” Ning asked.

“Impossible. They were actual living beings,” the white-haired elder.

“Autarch Awakener didn’t provide any additional information about them?” Ning asked.

“No. He did once say that with the Sithe having been annihilated, these creatures will no longer be seen ever again,” the white-haired elder said.

Ning nodded, but he was still completely puzzled. Why was it that these terrifying creatures would no longer appear now that the Sithe were gone? Ning couldn’t help but sigh to himself. In the end, he simply hadn’t visited enough places. He hadn’t even seen a fraction of what Emperor Waveshift had seen, to say nothing of the Autarchs. He knew far too little about the vast Chaosverse.

“This Stonefire Pearl is now yours.” The white-haired elder handed it over to Ning while saying, “But of course, you are not allowed to give it to others. If you die in the future, it’ll fly back to the estate and await its next destined owner.”

“Fly back?” After accepting the pearl, Ning at first felt as though it was rather cool. Soon, however, the warmth of his hand began to heat it up.

Ning sent his divine power into the pearl to investigate it. “Eh, it’s not a magic treasure?” Ning was surprised. This was just an ordinary item, not a magic treasure; how was he supposed to bind and use it?

“This is a natural treasure. All you need to do is to send a strand of your godsense into it and you’ll be able to activate it,” the white-haired elder said. “This estate also holds the stonefire creature’s corpse within it. If no one is in control of the pearl, it’ll pass through spacetime and then come back.”

“How incredible.” Ning was shocked.

“The Autarchs destroyed the stonefire creature and shattered its bodies into tiny bits, but the Stonefire Pearl would fly back towards the shattered bits of its body and quickly bring it back to life.” The white-haired elder laughed. “In the end, Master and the others had to destroy its soul and truesoul before it stopped trying to revive itself. By now, the corpse has been ensorcered by Master and remains suppressed in here, and so once you die, Darknorth, the Stonefire Pearl will come back to this place.”

Ning nodded. As soon as he had sent a strand of his godsense into the pearl, he was able to sense that it seemed to have become part of himself and had become completely one with him.

“Come in.” Ning willed the Stonefire Pearl to enter his body. A faint warmth spread throughout every part of him, and his soul and truesoul both felt incredibly at ease. When Ning attempted to meditate on the Dao of Time in this state, he immediately felt as though a wellspring of insights began to flow through his mind.

“This is incredibly useful for cultivation.” The white-haired elder smiled. “It is the number one cultivation treasure, which means it is naturally also the number one Daomerge treasure.”

Ning felt a sense of excitement in his heart. Hegemon Brightshore and the others had actively contested over Crimsonwave Temple’s fruits. Why? Because those fruits could be used to forge spirit-pills which when eaten would be of tremendous use for cultivation.

The Stonefire Pearl was the supreme cultivation treasure which had been used by Autarch Awakener himself, and the same was true for the stone dais. Now… both had been inherited by Ning.

“I’m sure you know what Master was hoping for when he left these things to you.” The white-haired elder looked at Ning.

“I understand. Autarch Awakener’s greatest wish was for the Nine Chaos Seals to be perfected,” Ning said.

“Yes. This was his greatest regret in life.”

The white-haired elder nodded, then gently waved a finger and caused the second floating sphere to fly over towards Ning as well.

Ning saw that this sphere was covered with countless runes and patterned lines which flowed across its surface. He immediately had the feeling that it was connected to the Nine Chaos Seals somehow. The white-haired elder explained, “This is the Heart of Eternity. It is covered with layers of runes, all of which must be deciphered and resolved. Darknorth, you should continuously work at solving these layers of runes. Once you’ve completely mastered all ninety-nine layers of runes which cover the Heart of Eternity, you will have reached Master’s level of insight into the Nine Chaos Seals.”

“But solving and comprehending the Heart of Eternity merely means you have reached his level in just a single aspect!” The white-haired elder looked at Ning. “My master’s hope is that someone can improve this technique to the Eternal Emperor level, which was why he named this sphere the Heart of Eternity. Learning to solve it will be of some assistance to you in the Daomerge. Although the assistance will be fairly minimal, Master left behind a final treasure within the core of the Heart of Eternity. If you can fully solve it then the treasure inside it will be yours, and I can promise you that it is just as valuable as the Stonefire Pearl.”

Ning felt both joy and sorrow. Autarch Awakener truly had spared no expense in trying to ensure that his ‘heirs’ would complete the Nine Chaos Seals. He had even gone so far as to seal away a treasure inside the Heart of Eternity! If someone wanted to acquire it, they would have to first completely deconstruct the Heart of Eternity and reach Autarch Awakener’s level of insight in the Nine Chaos Seals. This would truly require an enormous amount of effort.