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Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 21 – Retainer

“Die.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s entire body glowed with black light as a terrifying aura of destruction swept out from him. His eyes were cold and unforgiving. This was a terrifyingly deadly Hegemon! This was the true face of the mercurial-tempered Hegemon Azurefiend. Hegemon Azurefiend had no intentions of losing, which was why he revealed his true form and unleashed his most powerful, desperation attack.

Whoosh. The beast suddenly flew forwards, pouncing towards Ji Ning with claws outstretched. Ning couldn’t help but feel a sense of innate terror when faced with this terrifying pair of claw-strikes. These claws seemed to contain the power to annihilate all things before them, as if they were the source of destruction itself. They were the source, the very essence of space and matter!

This was the most powerful strike Hegemon Azurefiend had at his disposal, the trump card he had infused all the insights he had gained while wandering the countless realmverses! Even when he battled other Hegemons, he rarely displayed this ultimate attack. In battles between Hegemons, it was rare for fights to end up being to the death, which meant there was no need to go all-out like this. This time, however, was different.

This was his most powerful attack, an attack which had fused the Dao of Space and the Dao of Destruction together in a supremely terrifying attack… ‘Genesis Annihilation’! It was an attack executed with his true body!

Clang! Although Ning was unable to completely suppress the innate fear which snaked out from his heart, his Dao-heart remained calm and he was able to face this strike with all of his power. First, he used his illusory arts. Only then did he use his defensive sword-arts!

Hegemon Azurefiend’s soul and truesoul were both incomparably strong, as was his Dao-heart. Ning’s illusions were completely incapable of shaking him.

Boom! A massive explosion rang out. As Ning blocked the attack, he could sense the terrifying force behind the strike and he instantly understood the principles behind it. The power pervaded countless different spatial continuums, seeping through karma itself. Faced with such a strike, even clones and Primaltwins would perish. There was no way to hide or avoid an attack like this.

“I can’t block it!” Ning instantly exploded into countless streams of liquid water. Invulnerable form… Shadowless form!

Since he was unable to attack this attack head-on, he would deflect its power instead! As the saying goes, if you cut water with a blade the water will continue to flow. The same was true for an invulnerable body, which was constantly changing and mercurial in shape and nature. This was what allowed it to almost perfectly deflect any force applied to it. Archon Silksnow was able to perfectly deflect the power of even Hegemon Brightshore with his invulnerable form. Only an absolutely overwhelming disparity in power would be enough to breach someone’s invulnerable form.

Hegemon Azurefiend was indeed much stronger than Ning, but he clearly wasn’t strong enough to wreck Ning’s ‘invulnerable form’.

Whoosh. Ning transformed into countless streams of water that reformed into a humanoid shape off in the distance. The three-headed, six-armed Ning looked cautiously at his opponent.

“An invulnerable form?” Hegemon Azurefiend, still in his true form, stared blankly from afar. He just stood there, completely unmoving and not pressing the attack.

Ning continued to nervously inspect Hegemon Azurefiend. Upon seeing that his foe wasn’t moving, he couldn’t help but call out, “Azurefiend?”

The two battled at extreme speeds. Thus far, they had yet to finish the ten breaths of battle.

“I lost.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s voice suddenly seemed much older than it had been just a while ago, and a rather dispirited look appeared on his formerly ferocious triangular face. He returned to his skinny, elderly human form, a slightly forlorn look on his face as he said softly, “I didn’t expect that my full-power strike would only be enough to force you to reveal an invulnerable form. Based on what I know, you’ve only trained for an extremely short period of time and have focused exclusively on the Dao of the Sword. I never would’ve thought that a Daolord who focused on the Dao of the Sword would be able to acquire an invulnerable form. I lost. I have nothing more to say.”

As soon as Ning had revealed his invulnerable form, Hegemon Azurefiend had realized that it would be impossible for him to slay Ning. Ning had already reached a level of power which was on par with that of the supreme Emperors who were just barely weaker than the Hegemons themselves! Aside from the twelve Hegemons, there had been fourteen supreme Emperors who had come to the Jadefire Realm. Most of them were on the levels of Emperor Goldisle and the other leaders of the Dao Alliance. They might not be able to defeat Hegemons, but Hegemons were not capable of killing them.

When Hegemon Azurefiend had first seen Ning’s power, he hadn’t been dispirited. This was because he felt that Ning must’ve focused on the Dao of the Sword; given how briefly he had trained for, Ning shouldn’t have an invulnerable form.

Now, however, Ning had actually revealed an invulnerable form! That meant that there was no chance that he, Hegemon Azurefiend, would be able to actually kill Ning.

“Can you tell me how it is that you, a Daolord, have reached such power? You clearly train in the Dao of the Sword; why is it that you have an invulnerable form?” Hegemon Azurefiend looked at Ning. “AT least let me understand why I lost.”

“I am indeed just a Daolord, but my Dao is that of the Omega Sword Dao,” Ning explained.

“Omega Sword Dao?” Hegemon Azurefiend was puzzled. He didn’t understand.

“There are differences amongst Daos. Some Daolords have chosen the most common of Daos…” Ning didn’t hide anything, telling Azurefiend about the truth of the Omega Dao. In truth, Ning wasn’t the only person in the vast Chaosverse who had developed an Omega Dao. Despite that, there were very, very few who had reached such heights. Although on occasion a Daolord would be able to accomplish this, they would quickly fail their Daomerges and die. Their lifespans were all extremely short, and so very few even knew about them.

The vast majority of Hegemons had never even heard of ‘Omega Daos’.

“So that’s how it is. Everyone knows that there are differences amongst Daos, but I never would’ve imagined that the highest-level Dao is that of the ‘Omega Dao’. All this time, I’ve been puzzled as to why a Daolord of the Fourth Step like yourself would have reached such heights in the Dao of the Sword. You might not be at the Hegemon-level, but you are just half a step beneath that level. Now, I finally understand. So it is because of your superior Dao, your Omega Sword Dao.” Hegemon Azurefiend laughed, and his laughter caused Ning to feel shocked.

“Something wrong?” Hegemon Azurefiend looked at Ning.

“You look a lot nicer when you laugh. Why do you usually keep such an icy look on your face?” Ning asked.

“Hmph.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s face instantly turned icy once more. “Don’t get cocky with me, boy. Your Omega Sword Dao isn’t bad, and you are pretty strong. Per our wager, I’ll be your retainer… but only for a thousand chaos cycles!”

“I’ll have to trouble you to help me out in the future, brother Azurefiend.” Ning smiled.

“Hmph.” Hegemon Azurefiend let out a cold snort, then said: “Oh, right. I forgot to tell you. When you trapped me in the void cage and yammered about making me your retainer, I was so pissed off that I immediately told everyone about how you caught me. All of the Hegemons and Emperors from the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance are probably aware that you are in control of the flaming passageways by now! Hmph. That means you won’t be able to use this trap a second time.”

Ning chuckled. “That actually went without saying. A short while ago, all of the Hegemons and Emperors inside the flaming passageways stopped moving and no longer dared to enter other ones. I immediately knew that you probably had spread the word to them! But it is of no consequence. For you to become my retainer, brother Azurefiend, means that it was all worth it.”

Hegemon Azurefiend was instantly irritated again. He couldn’t even gain a verbal advantage over Darknorth. This Daolord really was a pain in the ass. Still, Hegemon Azurefiend couldn’t help but secretly chuckle as well. He was no longer feeling quite as upset and stifled as he was earlier. Previously, he had felt enraged primarily because he felt as though he was being insulted. Now that Ning had revealed his true power, Hegemon Azurefiend had lost his wager. There was nothing more for him to complain about. Finding out that Ning walked the path of the Omega Sword Dao had actually resulted in him feeling some admiration towards Ning.

He had lost his bet, and so he would temporarily become the retainer to a Daolord who walked the path of an Omega Dao. This wasn’t so bad. Dazzling Daolords like on this caliber were even rarer than Hegemons, after all.

“Go ahead and give me an oath to swear,” Hegemon Azurefiend said. “Hurry up and set up an oath. After swearing it, I’ll be your retainer for the next thousand chaos cycles.”

“Very well.” Ning felt a surge of joy in his heart.

……

“What? Daolord Darknorth is actually in control of the mechanisms and traps inside the flaming passageways of the Jadefire Realm? Hegemon Azurefiend fell into one of them?” Hegemon Dawnruler, Hegemon Everworry, Hegemon Oldgem, Hegemon Blackwood, Hegemon Winterflame… all of the Hegemons and the many Emperors were all scared silly by this.

“No wonder we weren’t able to capture him despite spending so much time here.”

“He’s actually secretly in control of the flaming passageways?”

“Is this information real? Is it perhaps a deception?”

The Hegemons and Emperors all had their own responses to this information. The Sixteen Realmverses Alliance, however, was in a state of absolute bedlam. An entire host of Hegemons and Emperors had charged into the Jadefire Realm to capture Daolord Darknorth. Everyone felt certain that he was nothing more than a fish for the fisherman to catch! Who would’ve thought that he was actually a sea monster in disguise? Now that he revealed his fangs and his claws, he stunned all sixteen of the realmverses.

If he was in control of the flaming passageways, didn’t that mean that the Hegemons and Emperors inside the flaming passageways were in serious trouble?

“I know what type of person Hegemon Azurefiend is. Although he’s temperamental, he’s extremely proud. There’s no way he’d make up a lie like this.”

“Be careful, everyone. Stay right where you are and don’t move. So long as we don’t move around, Daolord Darknorth won’t be able to use those mechanisms against us.”

“Are we supposed to just sit here forever without moving?”

The major powers were all connected to the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance in their own ways. They were naturally able to send messages to each other as well.

Suddenly…

“Greetings, Hegemons and Emperors…” a booming voice suddenly rang out through every single one of the countless flaming passageways. Ning’s divine power clone had sent its Immortal energy into the formation-diagram, causing his voice to echo through every part of every passageway.

The faces of the Hegemons and Emperors inside the flaming passageway all tightened when they heard this voice.

“I’m Daolord Darknorth, the person all of you have come here to kill.” Ning’s voice echoed sonorously through every inch of the flaming passageways. “In the past, no feuds or grudges existed between us, and I never wished to be your enemies. However… all of you have travelled all the way here from your respective realmverses, delving into the Jadefire Realm to kill me and seize my treasures. Am I suppose to just let this slide, gentlemen? Everyone in the outside world would say that I, Daolord Darknorth, am a spineless pushover. Gentlemen… what do you view as being the best solution to this?”


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 22 – Price

The Hegemons and Emperors were scattered throughout the various flaming passageways. They were all able to hear what Ji Ning said, but none of them were in a rush to respond. Instead, they began to use their Primaltwins, avatars, retainers, and various communication methods back in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance to discuss this matter amongst themselves.

“I heard Daolord Darknorth’s voice. He seems to be threatening us.”

“I heard it as well.”

“Right, I also heard him.”

“We were all able to hear him. It seems as though Daolord Darknorth’s voice has permeated every single part of the flaming passageways! This is proof that he does indeed exercise control over the flaming passageways.”

“Everyone, what do you think we should do? The flaming passageways are filled with such danger that even Hegemon Azurefiend was trapped. Any of us might fall as well. The only thing we can do seems to be stay where we are and not move at all.”

“Are we supposed to just bend over and admit defeat?”

“Don’t worry. We have so many Hegemons here, while Darknorth is nothing more than a single Daolord. He won’t dare to go too far.” The Hegemons and Emperors continued to discuss this matter amongst themselves.

……

Ning’s voice continued to echo through the flaming passageways: “Hegemons and Emperors, by now you should have already verified that I’m telling the truth.”

“Then what do you wish of us?”

“Go ahead and tell us what you want.”

The Hegemons and Emperors were all able to maintain their composure. They were all powerful lords and rulers in their own rights, after all.

“Haha, I, Daolord Darknorth, am not the wild and unbridled sort.” Ning’s laughter rang out within the ears of every single Hegemon and Emperor. “I won’t ask for too much. You’ve come here to kill me and take my treasures, and I hear that you all came via realmship. I imagine you already paid quite a price just to make it here. All you need to do is pay me the same price you paid to travel to the Flamedragon Realmverse, and I’ll permit you all to leave.”

“This bit of price might pain you a bit, but it’s not too excessive. If you are willing to pay the price, I’ll immediately let you leave. If you are unwilling to pay any price whatsoever… well, then there’ll be nothing I can do. I can’t just let you leave like this. I, Daolord Darknorth, am not someone to be abused by others without repercussion.” Ning’s voice echoed throughout every part of the flaming passageways.

This was a request which Ning had put quite a bit of thought into. Hegemon Azurefiend had already publicly revealed Ning’s abilities, making it so that all the Hegemons and Emperors would be on their guard. Some would even be temporarily immobilized, making it impossible for Ning to attack them for now. If pushed too hard, they could simply pay the price needed to ask Realmslord Windgrace to come over and rescue them one-by-one.

“Hmph. Daolord Darknorth… I’m impressed that a trifling Daolord like yourself was able to control the flaming passageways. However… now that we already know what you are capable of, you are no longer a threat to us.” Hegemon Dawnruler stood in the air within a flaming passageway: “If you are wise, you would immediately swear a lifeblood oath not to act against us and let us leave safely. That way, it can be even be said that we are on friendly terms with each other! Otherwise… if you choose to antagonize all these Hegemons and Emperors, the repercussions shall be far beyond what a trifling Daolord like yourself can endure.”

“Daolord Darknorth, you might be forgetting something.” Hegemon Winterflame said in a cold voice, “Only part of the Hegemons and Emperors are trapped within the flaming passageway! A large number have yet to arrive. Once they do get here, they will travel together and work together. There’s no way the flaming passageways will be able to withstand the combined might of that many Hegemons and Emperors working in concert. They’ll be able to rescue all of us with ease, and you’ll be faced with over twenty Hegemons and many Emperors working together to hunt you down. You won’t even have a place to run. Even the flaming passageways of the Jadefire Realm will probably be rent asunder once more!”

“Daolord Darknorth, you should know your own limits.”

“Trying to threaten all of us Hegemons and Emperors at the same time? You really are quite bold.”

Quite a few of the Hegemons and Emperors began to speak out. Clearly, they were unwilling to bow their heads before a Daolord. If they were on their own and had been captured, they probably would’ve lowered their heads, admitted defeat, and then handed over some treasures. But given how many of them were trapped here together, they felt certain that Daolord Darknorth wouldn’t dare to offend them.

“Gentlemen, you came for me and are now trapped in the flaming passageways that I control. I need but nod and all of you can depart safely… but you aren’t willing to pay any price at all for that? Do you really think that I’m someone you can so easily mistreat? Hmph. Very well, then. I’ll meet you all one-by-one.” Ning fell silent, having nothing further to say.

……

Another part of the flaming passageways. Ning and Hegemon Azurefiend were seated together within Ning’s realmship, drinking some wine together.

“Hm? Not bad.” Hegemon Azurefiend took a sniff of the wine in his glass, a relaxed look on his face. He then took a single small sip.

“How’d it go? Didn’t work, did it?” Hegemon Azurefiend smirked.

“They are all tough old bastards. They weren’t willing to pay any price at all.” Ning drank some wine, a cold light flashing through his eyes. “It seems I’ve been too nice to them. They really do think I’m a pushover.”

“So you’ve finally thought it through, eh?” Hegemon Azurefiend lidded his eyes as he continued to drink the wine.

Ning glanced at Azurefiend. The skinny, shriveled old man looked so vulgar and obscene as he enjoyed his wine, but he was actually an incredibly powerful Chaos Godbeast Hegemon who was close to Hegemon Brightshore in power! Still, Ning was in a superb mood. Now that Azurefiend was his retainer, it would be much easier for him to deal with Archon Silksnow’s final act of revenge.

“Let’s go and meet with them. Let’s visit Hegemon Dawnruler first,” Ning said.

Swoosh. The realmship transformed into a streak of light that advanced through the flaming passageways, darting through the winding paths at incredible speeds without encountering any mechanisms at all.

“I never would’ve imagined that one would be able to travel through these flaming passageways in such a smooth, unimpeded fashion. We didn’t run into any problems at all.” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at the outside, then sighed, “When I was chasing after you, it appears you intentionally ‘ran into’ a few traps. I was quite excited when I saw it, back then. It appears you were playing with me the entire time.”

“I had no choice. I wasn’t strong enough to deal with you head-on, and so I had to play a few tricks with my control over the flaming passageways. Now that I’m strong enough, there’s no need for me to continue to play hide-and-seek.” Ning sighed. “With you here, brother Azurefiend, I can finally bring a true end to this matter.”

“Mm.” Hegemon Azurefiend nodded in a self-satisfied manner, showing not one ounce of humility. “Now that I am your retainer… once word spreads, the Hegemons and Emperors will all be dissuaded from even harboring designs on your realmship.”

If a Hegemon held a realmship, the other Hegemons wouldn’t think to try and take it. This was because killing a Hegemon was simply far too difficult. Generally speaking, it would take either an Otherverse Lord or an entire host of Hegemons working together to accomplish such a feat. Kill a Hegemon who had a realmship? That would be even more difficult.

“Here we are.” Ning stared towards the front.

“Ah, that’s Dawnruler.” Azurefiend grinned as he glanced towards the front as well. “That old fellow has always been quite proud.”

Ning relaxed a bit upon seeing this. He was worried that Hegemon Azurefiend would care so much about his face that he wouldn’t cooperate. Ning’s worry was that even after becoming his retainer, Hegemon Azurefiend would feel embarrassed upon encountering other Hegemons that he would feel a bit uncomfortable and out-of-sorts. This was something Ning didn’t wish to see! In truth, however, as a Hegemon Azurefiend had an incredibly powerful Dao-heart. Since he had already come to a decision, he was going to accept it with a calm heart.

“Come, let us go out,” Azurefiend said.

“Let’s go.” Ning rose to his feet as well. Ning, Azurefiend, and Whitethaw simultaneously flew out of the realmship.

……

A golden-robed elder with three eyes was standing there, a solemn look on his face as he stared at the halted realmship. Hegemon Dawnruler was an extremely inflexible, grim, and dominating Hegemon. This was why he had immediately led the other Hegemons in immediately refusing Ning’s request for a price to be paid.

“Eh?” Hegemon Dawnruler frowned slightly when he saw three figures fly towards him from afar.

Ning and Azurefiend were shoulder-to-shoulder, while Whitethaw was slightly behind Ning.

“Azurefiend?” Hegemon Dawnruler frowned as he spoke.

“Dawnruler.” Hegemon Azurefiend said, “You already know the request which Darknorth has made. I urge you to be a good boy and accept it. That way, you’ll be able to leave safely and without any problems.”

“You are speaking on his behalf?” Hegemon Dawnruler frowned, completely mystified. “Is this the price he demanded of you? Based on my understanding of you, there’s no way you would’ve agreed to the demands of a Daolord.”

“I’ve already sworn a lifeblood oath to become Daolord Darknorth’s retainer,” Hegemon Azurefiend said. “As his retainer, I naturally must assist him whole-heartedly.”

“Y-you…” Hegemon Dawnruler’s third eye bulged out in disbelief. He had been alive for countless aeons, but he had never even heard of such a thing. He stared at Hegemon Azurefiend in disbelief. “Azurefiend, you are a Hegemon… but you’ve become a retainer to a trifling Daolord?”

Once word of this spread, it would undoubtedly cause an enormous stir in all the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance. In fact, word might spread to even more distant realmverses and otherverses!