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Book 27, Twelve Palaces, Chapter 24 – The First Meeting

The Twelve Palaces were tightly connected to the Brightshore Imperials, and so there were spacetime transfer arrays linking the palaces to the territory of the Imperials.


Spacetime twisted around Ji Ning. Once everything went still, he swept the area with his gaze. “So this is the imperial palace?”

Although all twelve of the palaces of the Brightshore Kingdom were extremely large and covered with many formations, the true center of the kingdom remained the imperial palace! Before Ning was an utterly, breathtakingly large palace that was as white as snow, with gold, black, and blue accents covering parts of it.

Just looking at the imperial palace, Ning sensed an aura of incredible presence and might. He felt as though he was looking up at the stars themselves.

“I heard that the Imperials generally live here in the imperial palace. I wonder how many defenses the almighty Hegemon had placed around his headquarters,” Ning mused.

Ning emerged from the array and began to walk towards the palace gates of the enormous imperial palace.

There were no people before the palace at all, just two gray statues. One was of a humanoid wielding a spear, the second was of a dragon-like creature that was coiled around itself.

“Halt.” The humanoid statue suddenly spoke out in a grating voice as it stared at Ning.

“Whaaaat?!” Ning was badly startled. “Its alive?!”

He could now be considered a powerful expert. After unleashing his Yin-Yang Sword Domain, he was a match for most Daolords of the Second Step, and thus he had extremely keen senses towards life and the aura of life. He would be able to easily detect the aura of a tiny mosquito from a million kilometers away! However, his senses were clearly telling him that this statue before him was nothing more than an ordinary statue, an inert hunk of rock. How, then, was it speaking?

“Have you come to see the Hegemon?” The gray humanoid statue was almost as tall as the palace gates, and it stared down at Ning.

“Yes.” Ning nodded. Although his senses were still telling him that this statue was an inert hunk of rock, he couldn’t help but feel an inexplicable hint of fear.

“Enter after all four have arrived,” the gray humanoid statue said coldly.

Ning had no choice but to stand there and wait quietly. After enough time passed to brew a kettle of tea, the nearby spacetime transfer array once more lit up. Once the light subsided, a skinny bald youth dressed in loose red robes had appeared within it. The youth’s face was covered with strange divine red tattoos that seemed to extrude an aura of special charm. Ning only had to glance at them to feel that they were exerting an effect upon him.

“I am Solewind.” The bald, red-robed youth strolled forwards, then smiled. “Greetings, Swordlord Darknorth.”

“Heartlord Solewind.” Ning greeted the man. The Heartforce Palace had very few cultivators, and the only World-level cultivator acknowledged by the ancient pagodas was Heartlord Solewind. Ning had heard of this man long ago. This was no dabbler like Bertulu; this was a man who had truly poured all of his effort into being a Heartforce Cultivator, and his abilities were truly unfathomable.

“Swordlord Darknorth, you actually made it farther into the Silvercloud World’s great altar than I did.” Heartlord Solewind smiled in a gentle, warm fashion. “I heard that you were abducted by the almighty Hegemon to our Brightshore Kingdom roughly two thousand years ago. For you to reach such a level of power in such a short period of time… Solewind truly admires you.”

Ning was instantly speechless. The man even knew about him having been abducted by the almighty Hegemon two thousand years ago? News had certainly spread quite fast!

“No need to feel surprised, Swordlord Darknorth. It was one of my elder brothers in the Heartforce Palace who informed me of this,” Heartlord Solewind said with a laugh. “The Heartforce Palace has very few cultivators within it, and we all treat each other as we would our actual siblings. We hold nothing back from each other.”

Ning suddenly remembered that the entire Heartforce Palace held less than ten Samsara Daolords! Most of those Samsara Daolords were out wandering the primordial chaos, leaving no more than two or three who actually resided within the palace itself. Compared to the other eleven palaces, the Heartforce Palace really did have pitifully few members. Ning could fully understand how this would result in them treating each other as they would actual siblings.

“Swordlord Darknorth, if you wish you can simply address me as Solewind.” Heartlord Solewind smiled.

“Then you can address me as Darknorth, brother Solewind,” Ning said. In his heart, he couldn’t help but feel astonished. Why was it that a simple smile from Solewind caused Ning to have such a good impression of him? His voice alone was enough to make it impossible for others to hate him!


The spacetime transfer array once more lit up, and momens later a youth dressed in deep blue robes emerged. He had a cold, forbidding face, and he emanated an aura of baleful energy. As soon as he emerged he saw Ning and Solewind, and he immediately called out, “Greetings, Heartlord Solewind and Swordlord Darknorth.”

“Are you Waterlord Firesurge? No need to stand on such ceremony. You can simply address us as Solewind and Darknorth,” Heartlord Solewind said, and Ning nodded.

“I was lucky enough to be ranked number four, but I fear I’ll need your help in the future.” Although the blue-robed youth had a cold and forboding aura, his words were quite courteous and respectful. Both Solewind and Ning felt quite kindly disposed towards him.

No matter what, they were all members of the Twelve Palaces who had sworn lifeblood oaths not to attack each other. Given that they were ranked in the top four, all of them would clearly be extraordinary figures in the future. So long as they were able to survive, they would all become major powers who would shock the rest of the primordial chaos. It was natural for them to wish to befriend each other.

The three chatted idly for a time, slowly growing more familiar with each other’s personalities and traits.

Finally, the last member arrived.

This was a man dressed in black imperial robes who wore a royal crown. His skin was as clear as jade, and his eyes were as deep as the abyss between the stars. Even the likes of Ji Ning, Firesurge, and Solewind couldn’t help but mentally sigh in amazement. In terms of appearance and aura, at least, this ‘Prince Greatjoy’ was definitely number one amongst the four.

“So the three of you have already arrived? Please pardon me for having arrived late. Greatjoy feels quite ashamed at having made you wait.” Prince Greatjoy was as courteous as the stories said he was… but of course the stories also said that deep down, he was actually quite a berserk fellow.

“We just arrived a short while ago.”

“Brother Greatjoy, you ranked number one in this trial. I imagine that you are probably on par with Bertulu and Eastcult.”

The four began to casually chat amongst themselves. Although they were all quite relaxed, none of them dared to underestimate any of the other three, as they were all quite close in power. They belonged to the same general level of strength, even though there were differences with regards to how far they had made it in the Silvercloud World. If they were to get into an actual fight, it was hard to say who would win. In addition, the trial of the Silvercloud World was a trial where many sources of outside help were banned, such as Dao-seals or golems. Given how extraordinary they all were, all of them had clearly experienced tremendous strokes of karmic luck in the past!

“The Hegemon has summoned the four of you. Go on inside.” The giant humanoid statue stared down at the four tiny dots below it as it spoke in a cold voice.

“The two statues standing in front of the imperial palace are the two great guardians of the imperial palace,” Heartlord Solewind sent mentally. “I heard that long ago, during the era when the almighty Hegemon was first establishing his reputation, he led these two great guardians into battle and slew countless major powers with them.”

“Oh?” Ning, Greatjoy, and Firesurge both listened attentively.

The members of the Heartforce Palace shared a particularly close relationship with each other, and so Heartlord Solewind knew many more secrets than most members of the other palaces.


Although Ning was quite intrigued about the history of these two giant statues, he didn’t pay them too much mind as he entered the imperial palace.

Once they stepped past the gates and saw the towering palace, the four of them could sense spacetime twisting around them as they were teleported away once more.

They had been brought to a region filled with empty space with a few chaos stars sprinkled throughout it.

Ning and the others all stared at their surroundings as they appeared in this place.

“What is this place?” All four of them were rather puzzled. This region was simply too silent, as still as a pool of water. The primordial chaos should generally be filled with many types of voidstorms and chaos waves, and it would generally be filled with boundless amounts of chaos energy! However, the empty region they were in was utterly enormous and completely devoid of primordial chaos.


The void before them suddenly parted like a curtain of water as an incomparably massive behemoth suddenly appeared. This behemoth had two enormous eyes that were like blazing stares, but it gazed towards Ning and the other three in a very gentle manner. When it spoke, its voice was similarly gentle, but it echoed throughout every single inch of this region. “Greetings, my four young fellows.”

Greatjoy, Solewind, Firesurge, and Ning were all shocked.

Ning couldn’t help but think back to the scene of him and the other World-level cultivators being swallowed up by the head of an enormous behemoth, then being teleported to the Brightshore Kingdom.

“Greetings, Hegemon.” Ning and the other three all bowed respectfully. There was no need to kneel or kowtow; the Hegemon generally treated the members of the Twelve Palaces quite well.

“You four young fellows have earned a rare opportunity for yourselves,” the towering behemoth said. “You shall head out alongside a member of my Imperials known as Skyfire Brightshore, and then you shall enter the Archaeus region of an alternate universe. This region is one of the most legendary locations of this alternate universe, and it is filled with many dangers. It is also, however, filled with many opportunities. I’ve chosen the four of you because I hope that you will help my young clansman, Skyfire Brightshore, as much as you can and give him a better chance at surviving. But of course, I will reward you heavily for the services you have rendered to myself and Skyfire.”

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Book 27, Twelve Palaces, Chapter 25 – Following Master

Ji Ning and the others were all intrigued. In truth, they had all suspected long ago that the reason why the almighty Hegemon had chosen the four of them from the Twelve Palaces was to have them assist Skyfire Brightshore. However, the reason why the Twelve Palaces had been on such good terms with the Brightshore Imperials for so long was precisely because they treated each other as equals. Ning and the others were all extraordinary figures, and they wouldn’t be expected to risk their lives for the Imperials without being compensated at all.

“Once you return from the alternate universe, I’ll speak with Skyfire Brightshore. The more you helped him, the greater our gratitude shall be,” the towering behemoth said.

“Do not worry, Hegemon. We will definitely do everything we can.”

“Since we are travelling together, we shall definitely do our best to support each other.”

All of them spoke out in unison.

They all knew that since the Hegemon said he would ‘reward them heavily’, the rewards for this mission would definitely be extraordinary. The Hegemon was someone who had stood at the very top of the Endless Territories for countless years, after all. He had existed for even longer than the Brightshore Kingdom itself had existed.

A ‘heavy reward’ from someone like him was indeed more than enough to convince Ning and the others to do their absolute utmost in protecting Skyfire Brightshore in his journey to the alternate universe.

“Good.” The towering behemoth nodded slightly.


Yet another spacetime vortex appeared next to Ning’s group. Moments later, a strange beast bathed in blazing flames suddenly emerged.

“Skyfire.” The towering behemoth nodded.

“Hegemon.” The blazing beast immediately transformed into the shape of a fiery-haired youth who wore a suit of azure armor.

“It shall be the five of you who will travel to the alternate universe,” the towering behemoth said.

The fiery-haired youth swept the four with his gaze, closely scrutinizing them. He then cracked a smile. “My name is Skyfire Brightshore, but you can just call me Skyfire. I heard from the Hegemon that none of the four are weaker than I am. Once we go to the alternate universe, I’ll have to trouble you to help me out.”

Although Skyfire Brightshore was an incredibly talented member of the race of Brightshore Imperials, he was still just a new member who had been brought back just a short while ago. Ning and the others had all developed at least one Supreme Dao and were comparable to Daolords of the Second Step. Indeed, all of them were somewhat more powerful than Skyfire Brightshore. But of course, this was only true if they factored in their ‘normal’ combat power. There was no way to calculate the power of any trump cards or single-use items which they were keeping hidden up their sleeves.

“Hegemon, where is this ‘Archaeus region’ and what is this ‘alternate universe’?” Prince Greatjoy asked. He was nothing more than an honorary disciple of the almighty Hegemon, and he wasn’t truly qualified to address the Hegemon as ‘Master’. According to the almighty Hegemon’s rules, only his personal disciples were qualified to call him ‘Master’.

“The alternate universe?” The towering behemoth smiled as it saw the looks of eagerness appear on the faces of Ning and the others. “By now, all of you should have sensed that the Endless Territories have certain prime essences within it. There is a prime essence of fire, a prime essence of water, a prime essence of the sword, a prime essence of space, a prime essence of time…”

Ning and the others nodded. Everyone could sense the prime essences. However, attuning to the prime essences was only able to help one advance to the level of full mastery as a World-level cultivator. As for the more profound mysteries, the prime essences kept them bottled up internally and emanated none of them at all. Supposedly, not even Eternal Emperors could enter the prime essences and train in those mysteries. Thus, Samsara Daolords had to find and develop a Dao which suited themselves, one slow step at a time.

“The vast region which is covered by the power of the prime essences is known as a ‘universe’,” the almighty Hegemon said. “An ‘alternate universe’ naturally refers to a place which has completely different primc essences.”

“What?!” Ning and the others were all stunned. Different prime essences?

The Three Realms, the Badlands Territory, the Brightshore Kingdom… Ning had been able to sense the prime essence of the sword in all these places. The prime essence of the sword was unchanging, and the vast Endless Territories were nothing more than a part of an enormous universe! But now, it seemed as though he was going to head off into a completely different universe?

“Do not worry. The outermost layers of the prime essences of this alternate universe, such as the prime essence of water, the prime essence of time, the prime essence of the sword, etc., are all the same as ours. Only the inner layers differ,” the almighty Hegemon said. “Thus, your power shall not be impacted whatsoever.”

“Has anyone ever been to this place?” Waterlord Firesurge couldn’t help but ask.

“None.” The almighty Hegemon shook his head.

Ning and the others were instantly rendered speechless.

“Long ago, as I attuned myself to the nature of spacetime, I was able to dimly sense the traces of an alternate universe that was quite close to our own universe, and so I opened a transversal conduit between our two universe,” the towering behemoth said. “However, the transversal conduit is rather weak, because it is constantly being disrupted by the differing laws of our two universes. Thus, only those below the Daolord level of power are able to enter it.

“Thus, once you head off into this alternate universe, you absolutely must not allow yourselves to break through to the Daolord level. If you do break through, you will never be able to return. You will have to forever stay within that alternate universe,” the towering behemoth instructed.

Ning and the others nodded. So due to the different laws of the two universes, there was no way for Daolords to pass through this transversal conduit.

“However, World-level cultivators can pass through this conduit with no danger whatsoever,” the towering behemoth said. “Just a few days ago, I sent one of my World-level servants through the dimension conduit to do some exploring, then brought him back safely. Over the course of countless years, I’ve also managed to capture quite a few World-level cultivators of the alternate universe and bring them to ours.”

“Capture?” Ning and the others were secretly speechless. The almighty Hegemon was unable to go personally, but was still able to capture people?

“Thus, this transversal conduit is completely safe,” the towering behemoth said. “Given how strong you are, I trust that you will not encounter much danger when you journey through the territories of the alternate universe. The true trial will begin once you reach their Archaeus region!”

Ning and the other four listened attentively. Not even Skyfire Brightshore knew much about this ‘Archaeus region’.

“The Archaeus region is the most mysterious region in this alternate universe. It takes up an extremely vast region of space, so vast that I imagine there are very few cultivators who even know how large it truly is. Supposedly, there are many Daolords and even Eternal Emperors who seclude themselves throughout the Archaeus region.” The towering behemoth laughed. “This Archaeus region is so vast that it is most likely as large as our entire Endless Territories.”

“What?!” Ning and the others were all speechless.

They had originally thought that this Archaeus region would be some sort of secret world or location. Now, it seemed, it was a place that was almost as vast as their entire Endless Territories.

“That place is the core of that entire alternate universe, the place where the alternate universe sprang from. Countless cultivators in that universe dream of entering the Archaeus region, because everyone who manages to survive their journey through it will return completely transformed,” the towering behemoth said. “However… if you barge into the Archaeus region, you will immediately be assaulted and annihilated by the full force of the entire Archaeus region itself. You’ll be instantly reduced to dust and your truesoul vaporized.”

Ning and the others were truly at a loss for words. If the entire region was the size of the Endless Territories… how terrifying would an attack launched with the full might of that region be?

“That place is the core of the entire alternate universe, after all.” The towering behemoth continued, “Everyone who wishes to enter the place has to first bind an Archaeus medallion. After doing so, you’ll be able to enter it safely and won’t be expelled by the power of the region.”

“Archaeus medallions are extremely rare. I sent my will into the alternate universe and spread it across an extremely wide area, then kidnapped the World-level cultivators who passed through the area. It took me countless years to accumulate just a few Archaeus medallions,” the towering behemoth said. “Here are the five Archaeus medallions. Take them and bind them.”

Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh.

Five streaks of light appeared out of nowhere and flew towards Ning and the other four.

The Archaeus medallions were dark-red disc-shaped medallions that were covered with ancient, complicated runes. Ning and the others didn’t understand the runes, but could sense that they came from a long time ago, in a universe that was far, far away. They all bound the medallions.

“Hegemon.” Ning spoke out. “Will we be permitted to bring our retainers and servants into the alternate universe? Are they allowed to enter the Archaeus region?”

The others all looked at the Hegemon, because they all had retainers and servants as well.

“Anyone below the Daolord level can make use of the transversal conduit,” the almighty Hegemon said. “As for the Archaeus region… they will have to perpetually hide within your estate-world treasures, and they can’t let any of their auras leak out at all. If they reveal themselves within the Archaeus region, they’ll suffer an immediate attack from the power of the region. However, if they continuously hide without coming out they will be safe.”

Ning and the others now understood. They would not be able to leave the estate-worlds or even sent out their aura or godsense. If that was the case, there was no real point to bringing them.

“But of course, if you were able to acquire more Archaeus medallions, you could gift them to your retainers and servants. They would then be qualified to enter the Archaeus region as well,” the almighty Hegemon suddenly said. “Still, I urge you to be more low-key when you enter the Archaeus region, as it holds quite a few truly powerful Daolords.”

“Here is a star map of the alternate universe. It includes all the markers you need to travel from the transversal conduit’s exit to the Archaeus region, as well as some information regarding this universe. Remember, you are not to reveal this to others.” As the almighty Hegemon spoke, he bestowed five sets of star maps upon them.

“Understood.” Ning and the other four accepted the maps.

“Make your preparations. Three days from now, we shall meet again outside the imperial palace,” the almighty Hegemon instructed.

Ning returned to the Sword Palace, then met with World God Pillsaint and Su Youji.

“A tremendous opportunity has been made available to me. I’ll be heading to an extremely dangerous place. If you follow me, there’s a slim chance that you’ll gain some karmic fortune from it as well. But of course, when I die you will die as well,” Ning said. “Shall you follow me or will you remain here in the Sword Palace?”

“I’ll follow you, Master.” Su Youji didn’t hesitate at all.

“I’m not allowed to learn any of the techniques or secret arts of the Twelve Palaces. Of course I’ll follow you, Master!” Pillsaint agreed.

Ning nodded slowly upon seeing this. He couldn’t promise them anything. He hadn’t even visited this alternate universe before, after all.

Three days later, Ji Ning, Solewind, Firesurge, Greatjoy, and Skyfire Brightjoy all gathered together before the gates of the imperial palace.

“Everyone.” The gray humanoid statue suddenly walked towards Ning and the other four. “I shall escort the five of you to the transversal conduit.”

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