DESDHideAndSeek

Book 37, Flamewing Godbear, Chapter 3 – Ji Ning and Silksnow

The winding, flaming corridors stretched off for countless kilometers. They had been nightmares for cultivators during the Dawn War, but now that they were damaged and were no longer actively controlled, the barriers within had been dramatically lessened in number.

The flames beneath the feet of Ji Ning and Whitethaw suddenly transformed to form a giant flaming head that was three hundred meters long. The flaming head opened its great mouth, preparing to swallow Ning and Whitethaw whole.

“Break!” Whitethaw stomped down angrily towards the ground with his white, fur-covered feet.

Boom! The furry stomp delivered a strike of inconceivable power, instantly crushing the flames below and shattering the flaming head.

Ning chuckled when he saw this: “We finally encountered a trap. This was the first one for us.”

“Don’t worry, Master. Leave these mechanisms to me.” Whitethaw’s voice boomed sonorously.

“Haha, I’m not worried at all.” Ning laughed, but he couldn’t help but sigh secretly in amazement as well. No wonder the highest-ranking Sithe had all wanted Sithe Protectors like this. Whitethahw was definitely comparable to supreme Archons in power! Even when Ning fought against it with all his might, Ning was still unable to gain any advantage at all.

And this wasn’t the most impressive thing about it. What was really impressive was the fact that the golem was meant to protct and defend. In raw power alone, it was comparable to Hegemons in might! This was the reason why Ning wasn’t able to gain any advantage even when using his Heavenbreaker stance with all his power.

Aside from possessing overwhelming power, it was also capable of soft and flexible attacks. It was capable of tying down any foe, even Hegemon-level ones. It could also stand in front of its master, helping its master face any dangers.

It must be understood that not even an actual Hegemon would necessarily be as effective as a Sithe Protector when it came to actually guarding someone.

……

Ning and Whitethaw continued to follow the passageway. Whitethaw used his absolute, overwhelming power to block and crush any of the traps they activated. In truth, these mechanisms weren’t all that powerful; they weren’t even able to force Whitethaw to enter his ‘flexible’ mode.

Whoosh. Countless flames suddenly sprang up beneath Ning’s feet, surrounding him from every direction and from above him as well. Flames were spinning everywhere, almost as though they had just been trapped in a cage of flames. The spinning flames came together to form a strange script which was clearly accumulating a surge of terrifying power.

Ning’s face tightened slightly. This was the first time since entering this place that he felt a bit of danger. Clang! Ning pulled a pair of Northbow swords from the sheath on his back, bringing them to the ready.

“Master, leave it to me!” Whitethaw let out a low roar, slamming his giant furry palms in every direction in a series of furious strikes.

Boom! Boom! Boom! It was like a wave of palm-strikes striking out everywhere. Each palm was actually slightly stronger than even Ning’s full-force Heavenbreaker stance! More than ten palm-strikes were unleashed in the blink of an eye, causing the cage of flames to start to crack and crumble. Moments later, the cage exploded violently and then completely collapsed.

The Protector lowered his hands, a stolid and straightforward look on his face as always.

“Pretty impressive.” Ning was beginning to like the golem more and more. When Daoist Bluestone had traded this golem to him as part of the deal for the Omega Sword Dao, Bluestone had said that these Sithe Protector golems were extremely rare and of slight interest to even Autarchs.

“I’ll probably have to rely on Whitethaw if I want to rescue Ninedust,” Ning mused to himself. “It is much better at facing danger than I am, after all.”

As they continued to advance from one fiery passageway into another, Ning could sense that he was gradually growing closer to Archon Silksnow.

Six days passed in the blink of an eye.

“Almost there.” Ning turned solemn. Although he had the absolute advantage in power, Archon Silksnow had proven his determination when he had chosen to risk his life and enter the Jadefire Realm. Ning wouldn’t be the slightest bit over-confident against such a crazy foe.

Ning watched carefully as he continued to walk forwards. “Over there!” Ning’s eyes narrowed as he saw the man. A few hundred million kilometers away, a skinny white-robed, white-browed man was seated in the lotus position in a tiny empty space that was surrounded by flames. His oily-green eyes were fixed upon Ning as well.

Although flames and other things were between them, to experts like them mere matter was unable to block their line of sight. Previously, they were unable to see each other because they were too far away and too many mechanisms were present. Now that they were less than a billion kilometers away from each other, they were able to see each other clearly.

“Silksnow,” Ning said as he walked forwards.

“I really do admire you.” A gravelly voice rang out in the area around Ning: “You threw yourself into the Terror Starsea and then into the Jadefire Realm, all for the sake of just a single friend! Daolord Darknorth, I already admired you for your strength. Now, I admire you for your courage as well.”

“I admire you greatly as well. You are an Eternal Emperor, but you were willing to risk it all in diving into this deathtrap. If I chose not to come, it is possible that the end result would be that you and Ninedust would both die in here,” Ning said. “For an Eternal Emperor to be willing to enter into a suicide pact with a Daolord… I’m truly awed by your madness.”

Entering the Jadefire Realm was easy. Leaving was difficult! In the past the Sithe had allowed countless cultivators to enter without impeding them, then killed them once they were inside! Thus, although Archon Silksnow had been able to survive his entrance, actually leaving alive would be a thousand times more difficult. It wouldn’t be possible to simply take the original route back, after all.

“Suicide pact? You underestimate me too much,” Archon Silksnow said with a cold smile. He had a realmship, meaning that he was much better at staying alive than other Archons.

“You drew me here for the sake of trapping me, yes?” Ning continued to walk forwards, a smile on his lips. “You aren’t strong enough to do it yourself. Your plan is probably to use some of the terrifying mechanisms within the Jadefire Realm to do it yourself. If my guess is correct, you should be surrounded by incredibly terrifying traps.”

“Indeed. I’m surrounded by terrifying traps. Tens of them. Hundreds of them!” Archon Silksnow laughed wildly, “And that’s why you should stay far, far away from me. The closer you get to me, the sooner your death will come.”

The two continued to speak from a great distance, while Archon Silksnow concealed his true thoughts and his true plan against Ning. Closer, closer… just a little bit closer… Archon Silksnow eagerly awaited Ning’s arrival. He knew that given how proud Daolord Darknorth was, there was no way he would flee without even seeing the traps.

……

Archon Silksnow had his schemes, but Ning had plans of his own. If Whitethaw hadn’t told him some of the secrets of this place, Ning would be proceeding with much greater caution. Now, however, Ning knew that so long as he didn’t fly into the air he wouldn’t be attacked by any of the truly deadly mechanisms of this place.

“Silksnow, in the end your schemes will all amount to nothing,” Ning mused. However, he still instructed Whitethaw cautiously, “Whitethaw, stay ahead of me.”

“Acknowledged.” Whitethaw led the way, while Ning followed Whitethaw from behind. He was being cautious for the added security it would provide, but also for the sake of lulling Archon Silksnow into a sense of complacency.

The distance between the two began to shrink. Eighty million kilometers. Sixty million kilometers. Fifty million kilometers. Thirty million kilometers…

“The closer, the better. That way, Daolord Darknorth will suffer even greater repercussions from the shockwave.” Archon Silksnow felt his formerly-calm heartrate begin to pick up, hammering against his chest like meteors. “Closer…”

Ten million kilometers. Eight million kilometers. Five million kilometers…

“Eh? Why isn’t he attacking me yet? Hurry up and attack!” Archon Silksnow waited eagerly. “Once he attacks, he’ll definitely hit the barrier in front of me.” If Ning didn’t attack, he would have to come up with a way to trick him into touching the barrier.

The distance between the two had shrunken down to merely a million kilometers.

Whoosh. Suddenly a wave of invisible heartforce swept out, instantly passing the distance between them and falling upon the white-browed Archon Silksnow. This was the [Unfettered Dreamlands], and a beautiful dream-world appeared before his eyes.

“I’m finally invincible! Hahaha… I’m the ruler of this realmverse! Hahahah!” Archon Silksnow was seated upon a throne. Below him were Hegemon Brightshore, Hegemon Windrain, Hegemon Netherlily, and the other major powers. They were all waiting on him subserviently, causing him to laugh with delight.

However, a moment later a look of terror appeared in his eyes. He realized that he had been trapped inside an illusion!

“Break! Break! Break!” He furiously struggled mentally, but he could sense the world around him clinging onto his mind like mud, making it hard for him to escape. He continued to struggle, and finally with a ‘pop’ he managed to break through.

He had shaken free from the [Unfettered Dreamlands], regaining his mental clarity and control over his body.


Book 37, Flamewing Godbear, Chapter 4 – Eruption

“Capture him.” As soon as Ji Ning had unleashed his heartforce illusions, he had ordered the Sithe Protector to advance.

“On it.” Whitethaw transformed into a streak of light, running through the flaming passageway at high speed. They were less than a million kilometers away, an extremely short distance to the likes of them. Whitethaw had almost instantly charged over to Archon Silksnow, his feet still firmly planted on the ground. He hadn’t flown a single time! He reached out with his great furry right hand, clawing towards Archon Silksnow. But right as he did so…

Swoosh. The blurry-eyed Archon Silksnow suddenly vanished into thin air, a strange vessel appearing in his place. This was an ancient and unadorned vessel, covered with specks of rust and decay that spoke to its great age as well as the tremendous damage it had suffered. Despite that, it was still able to move at incredible speeds. It instantly retreated at high speeds, avoiding Whitethaw’s strike with ease.

“Eh?” Ning’s face tightened. He could sense that when Whitethaw had reached out, Archon Silksnow had still been trapped by the illusions. “Is there someone else here besides Silksnow?”

Inside the fleeing realmship were two figures. The two figures looked absolutely identical; both were white-haired, white-browed copies of Archon Silksnow. One of them had a lost look on his eyes, while the other was quite clear-headed.

“Erupt!” the clear-minded Archon Silksnow commanded.

Boom! Archon Silksnow had long ago set up a masking formation to hide the terrifying trap present, as well as a few other simple formations that would be able to activate the trap. Now that Archon Silksnow actively chose to detonate his formations, they instantly erupted with their full fury! The powerful detonations instantly smashed against the truly deadly trap, causing an absolutely enormous eruption of power.

Rumble… a terrifying burst of destructive power instantly sprayed out in every direction like a dark-red wave of flames. Everything it touched was evaporated, including even spacetime and karma itself.

Although Archon Silksnow had first fled in his realmship before detonating the attack, the dark-red flames almost instantly crossed the ten million kilometers of distance and smashed against the realmship.

BOOM! Not even the realmship was unable to continue to fly steadily, with the force of the blast sending it tumbling. As a vessel meant for flying between realmverses, it was extremely valuable and generally only owned by extremely high-ranking Sithe. When Autarch Bolin had assaulted the Stone Hellephant Wall, only two of the many Sithe there had been in possession of realmships.

Autarch Bolin had taken one away, while the other had been destroyed in the fighting. However, only Autarchs were capable of destroying realmships with ease. They were built to be extremely sturdy. Thus, even though the realmship was hit with a terrifying amount of power and was sent careening through the air, it remained undamaged.

……

“Not good.” Ning sensed that terrifying wave of destructive power wash out towards him from hundreds of thousands of kilometers away. The dark-red wave of flames instantly swept through the area with such power that even Ning shuddered.

This wave of power was enough to cause even Hegemons to perish.

“Master!” Whitethaw immediately began to run towards Ning.

Just as Ning was about to defend against it, he noticed something odd. He immediately sent mentally to the Protector, “Don’t panic. It can’t hurt me.”

The massive, dark-red wave of fiery power blasted out in every direction… but it maintained a distance of roughly thirty meters from the ground. Although it blew straight past Ning, it merely swept past him and the ground of the passageway. This region of thirty meters above the ground was completely safe.

Northbow swords at the ready, Ning raised his head to stare at the dark-red wave of flames as it swept through the skies above him.

“So it’s true. As long as I continue to simply walk on the ground, I’ll be perfectly safe.” Ning grinned. “The Sithe were probably worried about misfires, as these traps don’t differentiate between friend or foe.”

“Master!” Whitehaw arrived next to Ning.

“Come, let’s go find Archon Silksnow. Don’t let him escape,” Ning barked. Swoosh! Swoosh! The two continued to run forwards across the surface of ground. Soon, they were able to see the distant realmship bathed in those dark-red flames.

“What!? That vessel remains undamaged despite suffering an attack of that magnitude?” Ning revealed a puzzled look. He carefully inspected the vessel, examining what it was made out of. It seemed to be quite similar to his own realmship part, and the resonance was coming from that direction as well.

Could it be an actual realmship? Did Archon Silksnow have an undamaged realmship!? Ning was rather stunned by the implications. Both he and Ninedust knew that Archon Silksnow probably had realmship parts of his own, as that was the only explanation for the resonance, but neither of them had even dared to imagine that the Archon might have an actual realmship part! The thing looked damaged, but it was at least serviceable. The price of the realmship was truly incalculable!

“Master, that’s a realmship! I’ve seen them before. My master wanted one, but he couldn’t afford it,” Whitethaw sent mentally. “One realmship is worth twenty of me.”

This was no joke. Whitethaw didn’t have to explain why realmships were so valuable! It must be remembered that it was extremely difficult and time-consuming for even Hegemons to travel between realmverses. Realmships, however, made the passage extremely easy and simple. Any Hegemon would be willing to pay almost any price to acquire a realmship. In fact, four or five Hegemons would be willing to join together into a consortium to buy a realmship! In reality, however, they were never for sale.

Emperor Waveshift was willing to be generous enough to offer the Crimsonwave Temple to his homeland, but he would never have been willing to hand over a realmship. Only Autarchs were wealthy enough to give those things away!

“Silksnow actually has a realmship!” Ning’s eyes turned bloodshot with excitement. “I have to get it! I have to!” Ning had originally simply been wanting to get rid of a potential future threat, but now he felt great desire for the realmship as well.

……

The realmship was sent spinning through the air by the dark-red flames, but it quickly managed to stabilize. The two bodies Archon Silksnow were both on their feet.

“I didn’t expect that Daolord Darknorth’s illusions would’ve reached such a level of power. Not even my avatar was able to resist it. It took a full second before it woke up. Even my true body was trapped for an instant!” Archon Silksnow glanced at his avatar. “How terrifying. Daolord Darknorth is improving at a terrifying pace.” His oily green eyes flashed with cold light. “I have to kill him right away.”

“Unfortunately… things went to hell. My plans were completely wrecked.” Archon Silksnow shook his head. His plan had been to let his avatar wait there by itself, while his true body was aboard the realmship and hiding within an estate-treasure carried by the avatar. He wanted to use his avatar to lure Ning in, while his true body lay in wait.

He didn’t expect that Ning would immediately use illusions to attack. When the illusions struck, both his avatar and his true body were simultaneously trapped by it! Generally speaking, if a true body was trapped by an illusion the avatar would be trapped as well. This was because avatars were weaker to illusions than true bodies were! However, the reverse wasn’t necessarily the case.

In this situation, the avatar had taken a full second before regaining consciousness. Archon Silksnow’s true body, however, had almost instantly woken up after briefly falling for the illusions. By the time Whitethaw had reached out to grab the avatar, Archon Silksnow’s true body immediately made his move.

Only one thought had been in Archon Silksnow’s mind at that time: “I absolutely cannot fight Darknorth in close combat. If I do and he traps me in his illusions, even for a heartbeat, I’ll suffer a heavy wound or even die.”

“Screw it. I’ll set the blast off now.” Archon Silksnow no longer dared to try any other tricks. He was terrified of Ning’s illusions, and so he immediately detonated the nearby trap. Given how powerful that trap was and the fact that Ning was just a few hundred thousand kilometers away, he felt that it was very likely it would be able to kill Ning!

“He’s dead, right? He has to be dead.” Archon Silksnow put away his avatar and then took control over the realmship as he turned to carefully scrutinize the area he had just fled.

Suddenly, two figures appeared. One was a youth carrying a sheath on his back, the other was a furry white creature. These two were moving in pursuit of the realmship at terrifying speeds on the ground, the flames just overhead above them.

“Daolord Darknorth?!” Archon Silksnow was shocked. “He didn’t die?!” The Archon didn’t understand it. He managed to survive the blast because of his realmship, but how did Daolord Darknorth survive? Even top-grade Eternal treasures would’ve been instantly shattered by such a blast. Even Hegemons would’ve perished!

“Flee.” This was the only thought in Archon Silksnow’s mind. He immediately controlled his realmship and sent it into a headlong flight.

“Silksnow, don’t run!” Ning let out a furious shout when he saw the realmship begin to accelerate.

By now, Silksnow didn’t dare to let Ning get close to him. The illusory art Ning had used had truly frightened him, and he was completely focused on using the realmship to throw Ning off his track.