DEST – 2-3

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Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 2 – Spatial Tempests

“It’s also possible that I’m just overthinking things,” Solewind said with a laugh.

“Mm.”

“There may be many things in the Archaeus region unknown to us.” None of them dared claim they knew everything about this place.

Did the mortals of the Archaeus region go to a Daolord’s estate-world after ascending, or did they go into some other special place? None of them were certain. Still, they had to remain vigilant. Given their current level of power, battles against Daolords were still quite risky for them.

“Let’s go,” Prince Greatjoy sent. Ji Ning and the others re-entered his flying vessel, then quietly and stealthily departed from this enormous continent and continued their journey via teleportation through the Archaeus region.

One year. Ten years. A hundred years…

The five of them continued to advance carefully. The Archaeus region truly was the core of this entire alternate universe, the place from which everything had first arisen. This place was filled with countless marvels and dangers as well as quite a few precious treasures. Ning’s group, however, didn’t dare to be too greedy. They did their best to avoid as many danger zones as they could, but they still encountered trouble on quite a few occasions.

Roughly 1308 years after they had entered the Archaeus region, they encountered an extremely powerful Daolord! They had come incredibly close to dying that time!

They had been teleporting through space using their flying vessel when all of a sudden, they discovered a green-robed Daolord had suddenly appeared a few billion kilometers up ahead of them. This Daolord was quite ugly, with white eyebrows hanging down all the way to his chest. He was leisurely strolling through the emptiness of space, but when he saw Ning’s flying vessel appear a look of murder appeared in his eyes.

That glare alone gave all five of them a sensation of tremendous danger.

“Leave right away.”

“Flee!”

“Quick!”

All five of them could sense death impending.

“Ahh!” Prince Greatjoy furiously sent his vessel into an immediate teleport. Swoosh! Right after his vessel disappeared, a sharp thread-like streak of light lashed through the empty space where the vessel had been.

“Hmph.” The green-robed Daolord’s gaze was cold as he relased his godsense to inspect the surrounding area of a trillion kilometers. “They ran quite quickly. I wonder which master they are apprenticed to.” The green-robed Daolord let out a cold snort, then walked away and disappeared from the scene.

Although that interaction had been a very brief one, Ning’s group remained terrified by the memory of it.

“That Daolord was definitely at the Verge of the Daomerge! Although Daolords are quite rare here in the Archaeus region, there’s still more of them than World-level cultivators. Many World-level cultivators have entered then exited the Archaeus region, with almost none of them actually staying here for an extended period of time! Given how vast the Archaeus region is, we have a much higher chance of running into Daolords than into other World-level cultivators.” Solewind shook his head. “Still, I never would’ve thought we would run into a Daolord just a thousand years after entering the Archaeus region. Worse, it was a shameless Daolord who immediately moved to attack us and steal our Archaeus medallions. Thank goodness brother Greatjoy was here.”

“That old bastard was very powerful. If I had been just a bit slower, we wouldn’t have been able to escape.” Prince Greatjoy also felt fear at what had nearly happened.

“It was all thanks to you, brother Greatjoy.” Ning was still petrified as well. If they had actually been forced to fight… even though Ning had those four guardian golems protecting him, there was no way he would’ve been able to defeat a Verge-level Daolord.

That near-brush with death had caused their souls and truesouls to all quiver with terror.

……

To be in a ‘relaxed’ state or to be in a ‘tense’ state where you straddled the line between life and death were two completely separate concepts.

You might spend multiple chaos cycles in a relaxed state without making any improvements, but just one or two life-and-death adventures might be enough to result in dramatic gains in strength! To live a peaceful life for countless years, or to straddle the line between life and death as you reached for greater glory and greater heights? Clearly, the majority of cultivators chose the latter.

More than 2800 years had passed since Ning’s group had entered the Archaeus region.

……

Boom!

“Charge!”

“Let’s charge through!”

Ning’s group of five were all aboard their flying vessel, using all their power to resist.

They were surrounded by countless spatial tempests, and their flying vessel was being tossed about by the spatial storms like an ordinary vessel might be tossed about by giant waves. They were completely unable to fight back as the spatial tempests pressed them forwards nonstop.

Ning’s group was still trying their best to resist, and Ning himself sent out an enormous streak of sword-light to tear a spatial tempest apart.

Firesurge sent out enormous waves of water to crash out against those spatial tempests.

Skyfire Brightshore had been growing noticeably more powerful ever since he had entered this alternate universe. He was now working alongside Firesurge, and the two were combining their skills in fire and water.

Greatjoy and Solewind were doing their best as well.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The flying vessel was still being buffeted and tossed about by the spatial tempests.

“Won’t work. We can’t charge through.” Prince Greatjoy shook his head. “The difference in power between us and these spatial tempests is too great. These spatial tempests are simply too violent. Even my control over spacetime won’t be enough to calm them.”

“Ugh.” Firesurge frowned.

“Let’s just go with the flow, then.” Solewind chuckled. “This isn’t exactly the first time we ran into something like this.”

Ning nodded as well, then laughed, “These spatial tempests won’t always maintain such a high level of strength. If we just follow the flows, eventually we’ll reach a spot where things calm down.”

The Archaeus region was filled with many dangers, and they had encountered spatial tempests on quite a few occasions by now. Although Ning, Solewind, and the others all had certain trump cards they could use, these naturally occurring phenomena really weren’t worth the cost.

They ended up following the flows of the spatial tempests for nine more months.

“The spatial tempests are actually growing stronger and stronger.” Prince Greatjoy continued to helm the flying vessel through the storms, seeking a relatively easier ‘path’ for them to traverse.

“Everyone, look over there!” Prince Greatjoy suddenly called out.

“Land.” Ning and the others turned to stare as well, only to see an utterly enormous continent hanging in the void just past the spatial tempests.

“There’s actually land here? Hopefully this continent will have actual people living on it.” Ning and the others revealed looks of delight.

A short while later, Ning and the others all descended upon the great continent. The edges of this continent were surrounded by strange whirlpools of power that continuously weakened the spatial storms that swept towards the continent. By the time they made it a few billion kilometers into the heart of the continent, things were completely calm.

“An ancient, major power has passed by this continent before.” Ning’s group advanced through a desolate desert. This place was still considered as being part of the ‘border regions’ of this continent. The environs were quite harsh and not suitable for life.

Heartlord Solewind raised his head and stared off into the distance. “I can dimly sense that this entire continent is covered by an enormous formation which is diverting the power of those spatial tempests. This formation must’ve been left behind by a major power.”

“Yes, a major power has been here.” Prince Greatjoy stared towards a place roughly a billion kilometers away. “This continent is filled with countless living beings. It is very likely that this continent holds a spacetime transfer array.”

“Haha, it’ll be much easier for us to leave if we can move through a spacetime transfer array.” Ning laughed.

“Remember that time from five hundred years ago, when we were trapped in that sea of fire and unable to escape? In the end, we discovered that there was actually a continent located deep within the sea of fire.” Skyfire Brightshore couldn’t help but reminisce about this. “That continent was also filled with many living beings, and it also had a spacetime transfer array. It even had an estate left behind by a Daolord. Thankfully, that Daolord had left long ago, and so we were able to easily enter the spacetime transfer array and reach a different area. It actually shortened our journey considerably.”

Ning and the others all nodded. By now, they had spent nearly three thousand years in the Archaeus region, and they had accumulated a great deal of experience.

The Archaeus region was filled with countless continents that were in turn filled with many living beings. Small continents were generally ten billion kilometers in size, while larger ones could be a trillion kilometers in size! There were often traces of ancient major powers having passed through these places, albeit very few of them would actually set up residence. There was no point in living alongside ordinary mortals, after all.

However, virtually every single continent with living beings on it had a spacetime transfer array!

Ning’s group, however, didn’t dare to randomly use those arrays without doing some careful investigations. They’d rather continuously teleport through the Archaeus region than accidentally run into a reclusive Daolord who was residing within one of those continents!

“I hope things work out this time,” Ning sent mentally.

“Don’t worry, Darknorth. Even if there are Daolords residing in this continent, Daolords often go into closed-door meditation sessions that last a million years or more. We’ll move in and depart immediately. There’s no way we’ll be unlucky enough to run into one,” Greatjoy chortled.

“Just be careful, everyone. Don’t randomly send out your godsense to search this place,” Solewind warned.

If you swept a region with godsense, you might be able to discover a Daolord… but that Daolord would also discover you!

……

Ning’s group of five advanced through the continent, quickly reaching a place which was bustling with life and activity.

This place was a city known as Thousand Mountains, a place where the eight major sects of the region all recruited disciples from.

In the city of Thousand Mountains resided an old freak known as ‘Old Demon Qi Xiu’. He truly was the number one expert of this region, superior to all others in the eight major sects. However, he was a very low-key figure who very few people knew about.

“Patriarch.” As the Old Demon walked out of his room and through his estate, quite a few servants and retainers would call out to him with respect when they saw him.

“Ugh. This world places enormous restrictions on my power.” The Old Demon’s gaze drifted off into the distance as he stared at the mountain ranges outside the city of Thousand Mountains. “And yet, I really just can’t bear to leave…”

“Eh?” The Old Demon’s face suddenly turned pale. Five figures had suddenly appeared next to the lake nearby him. They were Ning, Solewind, and the others.


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Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 3 – Transfer Array

Upon seeing the five, Old Demon Qixiu could sense that his very soul was beginning to shudder. He swallowed, hard, then bowed and said respectfully, “Greetings, five seniors.”

Good heavens! He stood at the very peak of power in this world. By all rights, he should’ve been invincible, and yet… why was it that these five were unfathomably more powerful than him?

“I have a few questions for you,” Heartlord Solewind said with a smile.

“Please ask, senior.” The Old Demon was quite cautious, but even he himself didn’t realize that deep within his heart, a seed of trust was beginning to blossom towards this bald, red-robed youth.

“What is the name of this continent?” Solewind asked.

“This continent is quite vast, stretching hundreds of billions of kilometers,” the Old Demon said. “Because there are so many mortals living here, we refer to this continent as the Mortal Realm.”

Solewind nodded slowly. “Has anyone ever left this ‘Mortal Realm’ and ventured off into other continents?”

“There’s only one way to do that. You’d have to activate the ancient transfer array and head to the the Sacred Immortal Realm,” the Old Demon said.

“Sacred Immortal Realm?” Solewind asked. Upon hearing this, Ji Ning, Greatjoy, Firesurge, and Skyfire all revealed smiles. They were going to be able to leave this place.

This entire continent was surrounded by spatial tempests, making it impossible for them to leave. Only by using a spatial transfer array to go to another continent would they be able to escape.

“This entire continent holds just a single transfer array within it,” the Old Demon said. “Supposedly, an incredibly long period of time ago there was a major power from the Sacred Immortal Realm who descended upon this continent who personally set up the array. There’s no way for the cultivators of our Mortal Realm to come up with such a complicated array.”

Ning and the others all laughed. Most likely, this spacetime transfer array leading to the Sacred Immortal Realm was something which had been personally established by an extremely powerful Daolord.

“Here in our Mortal Realm, the elemental energy of Heaven and Earth is very sparse. It is incredible if you can even reach the Nascent Soul stage. To reach the Apotheosis stage is even more difficult.” The Old Demon continued, “Thus, countless Nascent Soul cultivators and Apotheosis cultivators shall gather from throughout the continent and travel through the array towards the Sacred Immortal Realm. According to the Apotheosis cultivators who came back from that place, the elemental energy there is far denser than it is here in our Mortal Realm, making it easier to cultivate and easier to overcome the tribulation.”

‘Nascent Soul’, ‘Apotheosis’… these were different terms for Ki Refiners. In the Three Realms, the mortal ranks were Zifu Disciple, Wanxiang Adept, Primal Daoists, and Void-level cultivator. This represented what the most perfect Ki Refining systems in the Three Realms could accomplish.

However, in the Endless Territories and in this alternate universe there were many different mortal races that used different Ki Refining techniques which had different terms and titles.

“Where is the transfer array?” Solewind asked.

“Here is a map.” The Old Demon immediately took out his treasured map.

Solewind glanced at it while simultaneously flipping through the Old Demon’s memories, wiping away all traces of this encounter.

“Time to leave,” Solewind said. The five immediately vanished.

“What just happened?” Old Demon Qi Xiu stared at his surroundings. “Why do I have the feeling that something is off…” The Old Demon frowned but wasn’t able to comprehend what had just happened.

……

Afterwards, Ning’s group chatted with two other Apotheosis cultivators who were considered extremely powerful in this continent. Everything they said was roughly the same as what the Old Demon had said.

The five of them road atop a cloud, staring down at the lands below.

“It is true that the elemental energy in this continent is quite sparse.” Ning nodded. “It is true that mortal cultivators would find it very hard to train here.”

If there was no elemental energy at all, there would be no way to cultivate whatsoever. The elemental energy in this continent was only enough for someone to just barely reach the Primal Daoist stage. If you wished to reach the Void level and become an Earth Immortal, it would be extremely difficult. The ‘Old Demon’ which Ning’s group had questioned would’ve been considered a Void-level Earth Immortal in the Three Realms.

“It is because of the formation which covers this entire place,” Solewind said. “This formation covers everything, drawing power from the entire continent. That’s why the elemental energy in this continent is so sparse! Still, the reason this continent is protected from the spatial tempests is because of this formation.”

“The Sacred Immortal Realm should be a continent where the density of elemental energy is normal,” Firesurge said. “However… as a result, the living creatures here refer to it as the ‘Sacred Immortal Realm’.”

“When there’s a difference in density of elemental energy, it’s only normal that there one realm is viewed as higher and one realm is viewed as lower.”

Ning and the others chatted as they advanced through the clouds and moved towards the ancient transfer array. They stared at it from afar.

The ancient transfer array took up an extremely wide amount of space. The entire formation itself covered hundreds of millions of kilometers, and its core components were extremely complicated and exquisite.

“It really is a spacetime transfer array.” Ning and the others were able to recognize it at one glance.

“Ahah. Quite lively here.” Prince Greatjoy glanced downwards, then let out a surprised sigh.

“These so-called ‘Nascent Soul’ cultivators and Apotheosis cultivators really are frighteningly numerous.” Solewind let out a laugh. This was the only spacetime transfer array within the entire continent. As a result, this place naturally attracted countless Nascent Soul cultivators and Apotheosis cultivators from throughout the continent, making it very bustling. In fact, an enormous city had been erected here.

This city was filled to the brim with Nascent Soul cultivators and Apotheosis cultivators. There had to be hundreds of millions of them.

Ning couldn’t help feel secretly amazed. This continent was hundreds of billions of kilometers in size, making it much vaster than the entirety of the Three Realms. Although in quality of elemental energy it was inferior to the Three Realms, its vastness resulted in the existence of hundreds of millions of Nascent Soul cultivators and Apotheosis cultivators. Any one of them would be considered a local hegemon when scattered in any of the other places in this continent.

“Let’s enter the city.”

“Let’s go take a look.”

Ning and the others walked through the city, moving directly towards the transfer array.

“I’ve been trapped at the Nascent Soul level for far too long. The density of elemental energy in Heaven and Earth is simply too low. I failed both of my attempts at reaching Apotheosis. Once I enter the Sacred Immortal Realm, I’ll be able to reach Apotheosis. I might even have a chance at overcoming my tribulation and reaching ascension!” The various cultivators in the city were chatting amongst themselves.

“I’ve become an early-stage Apotheosis cultivator, but I’m not able to improve any further. There just isn’t enough elemental energy here. Perhaps I’ll be able to become a Celestial Immortal once I go to the Sacred Immortal Realm.”

“This array only activates once every hundred years. I have to wait sixty-one more years. This really does make me impatient.”

“We’ve waited thousands of years, my brother. What’s another few decades?”

The eyes of the countless cultivators in the city were filled with eagerness. They had already reached the end of the path they could traverse here within the ‘Mortal Realm’. Only in the Sacred Immortal Realm would they have a chance to continue their path.

But none of them realized that those five seemingly-ordinary men who just walked past them were major powers who were truly capable of virtually anything! Even those ‘Celestial Immortals’ they dreamed of becoming would be wiped out in the billions by these five cultivators.

“Once every century?” Skyfire Brightshore frowned. “This spacetime transfer array only activates once every century?”

“Each activation uses up some energy. When this spacetime transfer array was created by that ancient power, only a few chaos jewels were left behind to guide it in gathering the surrounding natural energy into itself. It takes a century for it to accumulate enough energy to be activated,” Heartlord Solewind said. “My guess is that the Sacred Immortal Realm is located extremely close to this continent, which is why the activation can be as frequent as once every century. If it was farther away, it would probably be once every thousand years.”

Ning and the others nodded. This was different from the spacetime transfer arrays of the Endless Territories; if you were willing to pay enough chaos nectar, it could be activated for you whenever you wished! This array here in the alternate universe had been created by a major power, apparently out of an act of selflessness. Of course, it was also possible that this was done by the Church of Annihilation.

“Let’s go. We’ll first find a place to wait it out. Sixty-one years from now, we’ll come back,” Solewind said.

“We have no other choices.” Skyfire felt quite resigned.

It was possible for them to pour energy into the formation and activate it by force, but… once they did so and the transfer array became active, any reclusive Daolord in either this continent or the Sacred Immortal Realm would immediately realize that something was wrong! For the array to suddenly fire off before the hundred year mark had to mean that something had happened. Thus, they had no choice but to wait patiently.

In this continent, there was a place known as ‘Wintermount’.

Ning’s group of five secluded themselves here within the mountains forests, occasionally sipping wine, fishing, and sparring. Life was quite relaxing as they waited for the spacetime transfer array to activate.

Whoosh.

A fishing pole flicked upwards, followed by a fat fish being yanked out of the surface of the water. It fell down onto the bank, still flopping furiously.

“Haha, we’ll have fish soup tonight.” Ning put the fishing pole on his back as he walked through the forests. For the past thirty-plus years, he had lived the life of an ordinary mortal.

Rumble. Rumble. Rumble. A series of sounds rang out from afar. Curious, Ning walked in that direction.

A young man dressed in simple clothes whose temples were graying was seated there, using a wooden drill to drill into a piece of wood. As the wooden drill ground away, those grinding, rumbling sounds could be heard.

“I’ve never met you before.” Ning laughed. “You new?”

“I just moved here.” The gray-templed youth raised his head to smile towards Ning.

“At such a young age, you’ve chosen to live by yourself in a desolate mountain wilderness, rather than in a city or a mountain village. How odd.” Ning hefted his fishing pole.

“Sometimes, being by yourself is better,” the young man said.

Ning couldn’t help but laugh. How intriguing.

He could tell that this youth was less than thirty years of age, but his eyes were as calm and as deep as the sea. He clearly had an extraordinary heart that was far more formidable than that of many Nascent Soul cultivators or even Apotheosis cultivators. This gave Ning a completely different way of viewing him.

“My name is Darknorth. I live just a few kilometers away from here. What’s your name?” Ning smiled.

“My name is Green Bamboo,” the youth said, continuing to use his wooden drill.


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