DETheAltar 20-21

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Book 27, Twelve Palaces, Chapter 20 – The Altar

Time passed quickly, and the final day of the three days the almighty Hegemon had allotted the challengers had arrived. Ji Ning and quite a few others had spent the previous day recuperating in the Azurecloud World, so as to be in peak condition when they challenged the Silvercloud World. Only a few people like Ning were able to fight for so long, after all; the majority relied on highly exhausting divine abilities that could allow them to unleash obliterating levels of power for brief moments.

On the third day, all of the remaining geniuses of the Twelve Palaces began to challenge the Silvercloud World.

“Greatjoy has come out.”

“That’s Greatjoy.”

Every person seated on the thirteen thrones, the almighty Hegemon included, was staring at one particular scene. This was the image displaying Prince Greatjoy challenging the Silvercloud World.

“So fast.”

“He’s blowing through them like rotted wood.”

“Hegemon, I feel upset each time I see Greatjoy. I really feel regretful that I wasn’t able to recruit him into our Skymetal Palace.” A handsome youth dressed in beautiful golden robes let out a sigh. “I could tell all those years ago that he had excellent potential, even though he was very weak starting off. In the end, the Spacetime Palace managed to lure him in… and then he somehow became one of your honorary disciples, Hegemon! Judging from how he is blasting through the Silvercloud World, he’s clearly become much more powerful once again.”

“Ahaha, Severtrip, jealousy won’t get you anything. Greatjoy is now a member of our Spacetime Palace.” A jade-eyed man with tousled hair let out a loud laugh.

“It is true that Greatjoy has improved quite rapidly.” The almighty Hegemon stroked his pristine white beard.

The almighty Hegemon’s accomplishments in the Dao of Spacetime allowed him to look down upon all others in the Endless Territories. In the Twelve Palaces, he was particularly close to the Spacetime Palace, and some of its dazzling geniuses would be given a chance to earn one of his legacies and become an honorary disciples! Prince Greatjoy was one of them.

The Hegemon and the twelve golden-armored lords continued to stare at the many scenes playing out in midair. Prince Greatjoy was moving farther and farther up the stairs to the altar, defeating one golem after another along the way.

Rumble…

Prince Greatjoy’s body shone with golden light as he manifested six arms and began to sweep forward with even greater power.

His palm-arts, fist-arts, finger-arts… they were all unfathomably profound and ridiculously powerful. Sometimes he moved quickly, sometimes he moved slowly, but the region of spacetime surrounding him was in a perpetual state of flux. It was extremely difficult for the golems attacking him to unleash their true power, but every single strike of Prince Greatjoy’s contained tremendous might.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

He devastated his way through the golems, his entire body have transformed into a golden color. He looked like a golden god of war, but a look of absolute, glacial calm was in his eyes.

“He’s already reached six hundred!” Daolord Thousand Waves let out a startled cry. “Given how he’s cruised his way to the six hundredth level, he might have a shot at giving Solewind a run for his money.”

The Silvercloud World was actually one enormous altar that had nine hundred levels that served as the ‘steps’ to the top of the altar. The farther up you went, the more powerful your foes would be. The distance you were able to travel was a testament to your strength!

Right now, Heartlord Solewind was ranked number one. He had made it to the 692nd step.

Ranked in second place was Saberlord Redsnow of the Saber Palace. He had made it to the 680th step.

Ranked third and fourth were members of the Saber Palace who had made it past the 600th step as well.

600 steps… this represented a certain level of power. Most of the acknowledged cultivators had already completed their attempts, but only eight had made it past the 600th step!

“Given how easy it was for him to make it past the six hundredth level, he does indeed have a shot at matching Solewind.” Lord Woodflower nodded slowly as he gave his appraisal.

“Hard to say. He makes it look easy, but he might’ve already unleashed his full power,” the nearby Daolord Yinwind retorted coldly.

“Just keep watching.” Lord Woodflower glanced sideways at him.

“Hmph.” Daolord Yinwind stared hard at the scene playing out before him. Prince Greatjoy was still steadily advancing. Starting from the six hundredth level, the golems became much more powerful and and much more numerous. In fact, there could be as many as twenty or thirty of them attacking you at the same time. However, Prince Greatjoy’s mastery over spacetime allowed him to tower over almost all World-level cultivators of the Twelve Palaces. He was able find unconceivable openings and positions, allowing him to never have to face more than three golems at one time.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

“Six hundred fifty.”

“Six hundred sixty. Six hundred seventy.”

Daolord Yinwind’s face grew uglier and uglier to behold, because Prince Greatjoy had just caused a member of the Saber Palace to be eliminated from this competition.

“Six hundred eighty! He’s still advancing.”

“Six hundred ninety!”

Prince Greatjoy’s face was starting to turn solemn, but a look of madness was in his eyes. His entire body radiated that blinding golden light, and each of his attacks contained utterly earth-shaking power. The golems were able to land an occasional attack against him, but were completely unable to harm him.

“He must have reached at least the eighth stage in the [Illusory Jade] secret art.” The youth dressed in the beautiful golden robes, Daolord Severtrip, let out a sigh when he saw this. “This secret art isn’t all that profound, but he still was able to reach the level of near-perfection in it. This is a secret art of our Dao of Metal… he really should’ve entered our Skymetal Palace.”

“He beat him.”

“He moved past Solewind.”

The farther one advanced, the more difficult each level became. Prince Greatjoy’s face was extremely solemn now. He was finding it extremely difficult to advance, with the golems doing everything they could to oppose him!

“Six hundred ninety-nine… seven hundred! He made it to level seven hundred.”

“Previously, the only members of the Twelve Palaces who made it past level seven hundred at the World level were Bertulu and Eastcult. Now, Greatjoy has joined their ranks.”

The ancient powers sighed in amazement as they saw this.

As for Prince Greatjoy, he gritted his teeth and fought like a madman. By nature, he wasn’t the type of person to easily admit defeat, and he still stubbornly fought and clawed his way forwards. He had reached exceedingly great heights in both the Dao of Spacetime and the Dao of Metal, and had also received personal guidance from the almighty Hegemon himself. Now, faced with such tremendous pressure, he actually began to slowly grow stronger and stronger.

Rumble…

Alas, with each step he took the golems became increasingly terrifying as well, and even more of them were appearing.

Boom! Boom! BOOM!

One missed strike and he was almost instantly knocked flying. Moments later, ropes tightened around him.

Defeat!

He had been defeated at the 719th step!

The ancient powers seated within the thirteen thrones couldn’t help but sigh in amazement. When they met and spoke with the most talented geniuses like Prince Greatjoy, they virtually treated those geniuses as equals, because once these geniuses made their breakthroughs they would quickly become comparable to Daolords of the Third Step. Once they engaged in a bit of training, they would quickly be able to compare to Daolords of the Fourth Step. It would be very easy for them to become major figures within the Endless Territories.

Right now, Prince Greatjoy was ranked number one after having made it to the 719th level.

Heartlord Solewind was ranked second after having made it to the 692nd level.

Ranked third was Saberlord Redsnow, level 680.

Number four was Saberlord Grief, level 668.

……

The Azurecloud World of the Daolord Cloudworld.

Ji Ning rose to his feet and walked directly towards the highest position on the island he was in. When he reached it, a spacetime vortex formed around him. Ning disappeared from the Azurecloud World.

Within the Silvercloud World.

This was a world shaped like an utterly enormous altar that had nine hundred steps to it.

“What an enormous altar.” Ning craned his neck as he stared upwards, seeing the many golems roving about. He could also hear faint booms ringing out from far ahead. “There are other cultivators here right now as well? I wonder which member of the Sword Palace is here… or perhaps it is one of the other Swordlords?”

There were so many golems within the altar that ten cultivators could challenge this world at the same time.

“Time to go.”

Ning held a pair of Eternal swords in his hands as he advanced forwards.

“GWAAAAR!” Instantly, a pitch-black golem shaped like a three-headed, four-legged beast let out a roar as it pounced towards Ning like a streak of light, moving roughly three times as fast as the speed of light! This single level was roughly as long as the entire Azurecloud World had been, but it was merely a million kilometers wide. A million kilometers might seem like a long distance, but major powers were able to traverse it with just a single step.

“Hmph.” Ning looked at the golem.

Boom! Instantly, Ning’s body radiated with lightning, water, and many other types of light. Some were dazzling, some were ruinous, some were subdued. The seven types of Dao lightning all had different auras, as did the same types of Dao water. Still, Ning was able to fully control all of them, and with but a thought Ning caused them to join together into a Heptastar Duality Formation. An enormous, dazzling, bizarre formation appeared in the air which completely covered the four-legged beast which was charging towards Ning.

Boom! Although the beast-golem let out a furious howl, it was still forced several steps backwards.

Ning was able to advance to the second level with ease. As he continued his advance, the golems became increasingly powerful. In fact, there were even a few golems that attacked from afar using magic treasures, and the effectiveness of Ning’s Hepastar Duality Formation began to lessen. Ning had to unleash his sword-arts to fight as well.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Ning’s sword-arts were quite mighty, allowing him to sweep through all obstacles.

Two hundred steps. Three hundred steps.

“Eh?” Ning’s ears suddenly pricked up. “It seems everything went silent.”

There had been another cultivator fighting on the other side of the altar. Moments ago, explosions had been ringing out unabated. Now, nothing could be heard at all.

“Woodflower, your Swordlord Wildfire has been defeated as well. He lost on the 597th step. He almost made it to the 600th!” Daolord Yinwind glanced sideways at Daolord Woodflower. “Right now, the only remaining member in your Sword Palace is that kid who just became a Swordlord a short while ago.”

Daolord Woodflower ignored Daolord Yinwind’s mockery. Instead, he stared at the scene of Ji Ning forging his way ahead.

Right now, Ji Ning was the only member of the Sword Palace who was still taking part in the challenge. All the others had already failed.


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Book 27, Twelve Palaces, Chapter 21 – Tenacity

Within the Sword Palace’s Silvercloud World.

The rest of the altar was now completely silent. Still, Ning merely made a note of it as he then continued to fight all-out against the golems on each level of the altar.

Rumble…

Boom!

Explosions rang out unabated.

His Dao water and Dao lightning were combined into a formation of tremendous power, but at this point they were having a limited amount of impact on the increasingly powerful golems. Still, for someone at Ning’s level, even a limited impact would make things much simpler.

Level four hundred!

Level five hundred!

Ning continued to advance. His most powerful technique was the [Brightmoon] sword-art, and it was guaranteed that in the long run it would always be his most powerful technique! Once he became a Daolord, he would have his own path and that path would always allow him to unleash the most power possible. By then, the other sword-arts would merely provide him with guidance and experience, helping him enhance his understanding of the Dao of the Sword. However, his greatest power would forever lie within the [Brightmoon] sword-art.

The same was true for other experts of the Dao of the Sword. Their strongest sword-arts would be the ones they created!

“Break!”

Heavenbreaker stance. Shadowless stance. Soleheart stance. Yin-Yang stance. Blood Drop stance.

The five stances of [Brightmoon]! And Ning had now infused them with the sword-intent of reincarnation, making his five stances into a continuous cycle that flowed with no weaknesses or flaws whatsoever, allowing him to unleash even more power in battle.

Of the five [Brightmoon] stances, Ning’s strongest stances were the Yin-Yang stance and the Soleheart stance. These two were both defensive techniques. Ning had put a tremendous amount of effort into his Unicorn’s Domain, making him somewhat stronger in the area of defense.

“Hey, Woodflower. That’s the kid who just became a Swordlord in your palace, right? He actually made it to the 500th level.” Daolord Severtrip suddenly called out in surprise.

“Mmhmm.” Lord Woodflower nodded, revealing a smile as he watched Ning advance nonstop.

“It is pretty impressive for him to have even made it past five hundred. It seems this ‘Darknorth’ kid has some talent. A pity that he entered the Sword Palace a bit too late,” Daolord Yinwind said, attempting to pour some cold water on their excitement.

Daolord Woodflower didn’t argue. Even he could tell that although Ning’s sword-arts were profound, they also had noticeable flaws compared to the skills of Prince Greatjoy or Saberlord Redsnow! Ji Ning’s sword-arts were average amongst the Swordlords who had been acknowledged by the ancient pagodas. It must be understood that he had only been acknowledged a mere century ago. For him to be considered ‘average’ amongst the sixty-seven most talented World-level cultivators in the kingdom was already quite impressive.

The 500th level was a fairly ‘average’ level. Many geniuses were unable to make it much farther past this level.

Ning had three heads and six arms, and he wielded a Violetjewel in each of his six arms as he fought with all his might. Lightning and torrents of water exploded through the air unabated, doing their best to slow down and affect the impending golems.

Whooooosh.

A golem suddenly transformed into an enormous wave of water that came crashing down towards Ning. Ning hurriedly used his Dao lightning and Dao water to defend, but they were quickly submerged within the enormous wave, and it continued its crashing assault.

“Yin-Yang stance.” Ning’s six swords simultaneously struck out. This was a stance meant to deal with group attacks. Ning was often forced to use the Yin-Yang stance in the Silvercloud World, because the golems would often attack in groups.

Whoooosh. Yin and Yang spun as Ning’s sword-light flew. The surrounding area seemed to have been transformed into a black hole which completely blocked all the waters of the wave.

“Kill!” After pushing through the wave, Ning continued to advance.

Five hundred fifty. Five hundred sixty. Five hundred seventy…

Ning was incredibly tenacious and durable. There was no way for him to use any divine abilities with his azureflower mist energy, but because of how steady he was he was able to stay at maximum power for a very long period of time. Other Daolord-equivalents, even ones like Prince Greatjoy, had to conserve their divine power and thus would often engage in normal combat while only occasionally exploding forth with their full power. Thus, they even brought spirit-pills, chaos jewels, and chaos nectar to replenish their depleting energy.

Ning, however, was simply too stable!

His sword-arts were similarly stable. The five stances of [Brightmoon] included all aspects of swordplay. Some swordsmen were skilled in one area and weaker in other areas; in short, they had their areas of specialties and their deficiencies. Ning, however, was skilled in every single area. He was slightly stronger in defense, but that was just in comparison. The Reincarnation sword-intent filling his sword-arts made it so that all five stances were merged together perfectly. This naturally made him even stabler.

Emperor Mirrorsnow was legendary for his tenacity. Even those who were stronger than him would find it difficult to defeat him.

“Advance!

“Over the course of countless years, numerous major powers have perished. None of those Daolords who had failed their Daomerge have been able to come back to life! An enormous price must be paid in order to bring back someone whose truesoul has already been extinguished. If I’m not strong enough, I won’t be able to beseech the almighty Hegemon and experts on his level to help me. I won’t be able to convince them that the price will be worth it.

“If I want to accomplish my goals, I have to seize every opportunity I can.”

Ning would never give up. He knew that many members of even the Brightshore Imperials had perished over the course of years, with none being brought back to life. Clearly, even if the almighty Hegemon was capable of resurrecting the dead the price would be so terrifying that he wouldn’t be willing to do it lightly.

“I’ve just started. I can’t give up so soon.” Ning’s sword-arts were slowly, subtly improving during this process. He wasn’t at a bottleneck, after all, and this sort of furious, high-pressure combat would naturally result in his sword-arts being perfected nonstop.

“Keep going. I can take at least another step forwards.” Ning could feel that the pressure was growing greater and greater.

“Eh? Is he actually…”

“Is that kid from the Sword Palace actually…”

The ancient powers seated on the thirteen thrones all stared curiously at this scene. Ning was currently battling against six golems, and it was difficult for him to advance. Every single one of the six golems possessed tremendous levels of power, and by now Ning’s Dao lightning and Dao water were of very little help to him.

“Six hundred. He actually made it to level six hundred.”

“His sword-arts actually enabled him to make it to level six hundred?”

The ancient powers were all shocked. Daolord Thousand Waves cried out in surprise, “His sword-arts are clearly quite ordinary compared to the other acknowledged World-level geniuses, but he actually managed to make it to the six hundredth level! Ji Ning already ranks in the top ten.”

As time passed, the total number who made it past level six hundred continued to grow.

On the very first day, only five had made it past that level.

By the time Prince Greatjoy made it past, more than eight had already reached this level.

And now, Ji Ning was the tenth.

It must be understood that this contest was a contest involving all the World-level geniuses of the Twelve Palaces. For Ning to be only the tenth to make it through this level meant that he was one of the elites within his group. In fact, his performance was better than that of any other member of the Sword Palace.

“Six hundred and two. Mm, that should be it.” The white-bearded Hegemon nodded slowly. “Don’t underestimate this Darknorth kid. His sword-arts might seem to be inferior to that of Greatjoy and the others, making him look ordinary, but they are extremely balanced. He’s skilled in every single aspect, and from what I understand he has gained the legacy of Mirrorsnow. Look, you can see the sword-intent of Reincarnation permeating through his sword-arts. He’s managed to link everything together perfectly, making him very strong… and with those seven types of Dao lightning and Dao water supporting him, it makes sense that he can make it past level six hundred.

“Still, he’s at his limit. He’s only persisting out of sheer tenacity and stubborness.”

The almighty Hegemon watched the scenes being displayed. Ji Ning had made it to the 602nd level, but he was clearly at a complete disadvantage when facing the eight golems on this level. Still, he continued to stubbornly hang on.

“To make it to the 602nd level is not,” the almighty Hegemon evaluated.

“Yes, not bad at all.”

“In the future, this kid just might be a match for Greatjoy.”

They all agreed with the Hegemon’s appraisal. Even Daolord Woodflower nodded in agreement, but he couldn’t help but sigh to himself. Alas, the seven Swordlords of the Sword Palace had all failed.

No one rebutted the almighty Hegemon, because they all knew how astute his vision and judgement was. He was able to completely see and understand how strong Ning was right now. If he said that this level was as far as Ning could go, that would definitely be the case.

……

The Silvercloud World. Level six hundred and two of the altar.

Tired.

Ning was so tired.

These eight golems launched combined attacks against him. Terrifying flowers of fire and water continuously rained down upon him, and some of the golems repeatedly charged into close combat against him. Every single one was just as strong as Ning, and when the six joined forces they were able to completely suppress Ning! Ning had indeed only been able to just barely hang on for this long thanks to his extremely balanced sword-arts.

He wouldn’t admit defeat lightly. Once he gave up, he would have lost. Only by persevering would there be hope.

Ning strove to learn as much as he could from this very battle, pondering on his sword-arts flaws in real time as he continuously perfected them.

Rumble…

Attacks rained down from every direction, and Ning was like a little boat that was being rocked within a stormy sea that would capsize at any moment.

Ning had no idea that the almighty Hegemon and twelve golden-armored powers were watching him. Although they had a rather good opinion of him, they felt certain that this level was Ning’s limit.

“Their attacks really are endless and omnipresent…” Although Ning’s sword-arts were slowly improving, he still felt a sense of despair. Defeat would come at any moment.


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