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Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 8 – Prison Region

“Just look at yourself,” Ji Ning grinned. “Trapped in a cage and unable to escape.” As he spoke he carefully inspected the flaming cage, hoping to find a way to break it open.

“And just what was I supposed to do? I had nowhere to go and nowhere to run. I had no choice but to hide inside here!” Ninedust laughed helplessly. “I might be trapped, but at least I avoided death. It’s kind of funny, actually… I didn’t die, but Archon Silksnow did! Darknorth, you are simply incredible. You actually forced him into committing suicide!”

Ninedust’s avatar was at Vastheaven Palace. Thus, as soon as Archon Silksnow had died Ninedust’s avatar had asked Ning’s avatar what had happened, resulting in him gaining a general idea of what had happened.

Ning chuckled. “Don’t praise me. It was mainly thanks to my golem over here.”

“To be able to command a golem of such strength is a testament to your power as well. Why don’t I have a golem like that? Archon Silksnow was alive for all those years, but he never acquired a golem like that. Why? Why did you have one instead of him? Because you are strong!” Ninedust said, seated in the lotus position inside the flame cage.

Ning had acquired this golem in a trade from Daoist Bluestone. It was precisely because Ning walked the path of the Omega Sword Dao that Daoist Bluestone had been willing to hand over such an incredibly powerful golem to trade for it. Yes, it was indeed due to Ning’s strength.

Strength was needed to acquire any and all treasures. Even if you were lucky enough to stumble across a treasure of incredible power, if you yourself weren’t strong enough you would quickly lose it to someone stronger than you.

“Everyone in the Endless Territories is talking about how Archon Silksnow is dead. It has been a long, long time since any of the lords of the Sacred Cities have perished,” Ninedust said excitedly. “I rather want to tell everyone in the Endless Territories that you forced him to commit suicide! Haha…”

“Don’t do that. What really matters right now is getting you out of there before something unexpected happens.” Ning continued to carefully examine Ninedust’s cage.

“Any ideas?” Ninedust was rather eager.

“Don’t be so impatient.” Ning scrutinized the cage while analyzing it. It looked quite ordinary, and it was easily entered… but there was no way out! Not even Hegemons would be able to escape this cage. The Ninedust Sectlord had charged into it because he didn’t know anything about it. Archon Silksnow had been alive for very long and knew that the most dangerous parts of the Jadefire Realm were its prisons, and so he didn’t dare to follow Ninedust inside.

“This cage is part of an extremely large formation,” Ning said slowly. “I can sense some of its ripples in the air. Wait a moment, I’m going to go take a look at some of the other parts.”

Swoosh. Ning flew off into the distance while following the spatial ripples, with Whitethaw immediately following behind him.

“Be careful. I’m in no rush; I have plenty of time. Don’t let yourself get trapped as well!” Ninedust called out loudly. He knew how dangerous the Jadefire Realm was and was worried about Ning’s safety.

……

Ning followed the ripples and soon reached another flaming cage in the air. This one was completely empty.

Swoosh. Swoosh. Ning continued to advance while following the ripples. Soon, he encountered yet another cage…

The cages were all formed of flames, and they scattered throughout the area in a disorderly and irregular manner. However, they seemed to be connected to each other by invisible threads.

“Eh?” Ning’s eyes narrowed. The flaming midair cage up ahead was devoid of all life, but there were some magic treasures inside of it. There was a greataxe, a suit of aromr, an estate-world, and other treasures. The greataxe was double-bladed, and a lightning-shaped scar was on its edges. It emanated an aura of power that was simply shocking; it had to be a Universe treasure.

“A Universe treasure? Generally, only Emperors can take possession of Universe treasures. Even if the Emperor was trapped here during the Dawn Wars, he should still be able to be able to stay alive…” Ning pondered. “Perhaps some of the cultivators were trapped here during the Dawn Wars were killed by the ‘Decimatus Wave’, but the Sithe didn’t have a chance to collect their treasures.”

Ning’s guess was spot-on. After enough cultivators were trapped within the many flaming cages within the Jadefire Realm, the Sithe would activate a single ‘Decimatus Wave’ to wipe them all out in one go! They would similarly sweep through the cages and collect all the treasures at one go as well.

However, what happened was that when the Jadefire Realm had been attacked and breached, the despairing Sithe had chosen to unleash one final ‘Decimatus Wave’ before dying. The treasures of the dead cultivators were naturally left within the cages.

The one who had breached the Jadefire Realm had been an exalted Autarch! There was no way someone like an Autarch would slowly pick through one prison cell after another to loot the various treasures inside. To Autarchs, such treasures were of minimal interest, and this one in particular was in a hurry to hasten off to another battlefield.

……

After spending a full day, Ning finished inspecting the entire prison region. The prison region consisted of many flame cages which were clustered together like the stars in the night sky. The cages were all linked together as part of one massive and incredibly profound formation which was divided into seven primary regions! Each of the seven regions had extremely large cells at their center, with three of them having been completely destroyed. As a result, the prison as a whole was no longer able to unleash the ‘Decimatus Wave’.

“How does it look?” Ninedust immediately asked as Ning flew back to him.

“Some of the cages in the prison area have been damaged, and three of the seven primary cages have been destroyed.” Ning looked at Ninedust. “However, the cage you are in is completely undamaged. I don’t think even a Hegemon could burst through it with raw power! As for finding its flaws… I haven’t been able to find anything yet. This prison formation is simply far too complicated.”

Ninedust couldn’t help but feel both startled and despondent.

“Ninedust, let me think on this. There’ll definitely be a way to bring you out.” Ning thought furiously. Even his Primaltwin, seated atop the Autarch’s stone dais in the second hall of the Azureflower Estate, was focusing its efforts on finding a solution.

“Darknorth, don’t try to force things. This is nothing.” Ninedust smiled. He didn’t know much about the Jadefire Realm at first, but after his avatar had met with Ning’s avatar he had learned quite a bit of detailed information regarding the Jadefire Realm from Ning. Only now did he understand how terrifying the prison region was and how dangerous his situation was.

“As you yourself said, even if Hegemon Brightshore and the others came they wouldn’t necessarily be able to breach the prison region. This was a place used to imprison cultivators during the Dawn War!” Ninedust said. “Don’t force yourself. I don’t mind be trapped here. If push comes to shove, I’ll just slowly train here and then initiate my Daomerge within this cell!”

If I succeed, I’ll be a Hegemon with an infinite lifespan. I’ll have plenty of time to slowly work away at this cell. Sooner or later, I’ll succeed,” Ninedust consoled Ning.

“The central components of the prison region have been destroyed. This cell might be undamaged, but there’s still a chance to break it open.” Ning gritted his teeth. He certainly didn’t wish for Ninedust to stay here until the time came for his Daomerge.

Time passed, one day after another. Ning spent a total of nine days in silent meditation, but still was unable to come up with any ideas.

“Master,” Whitethaw suddenly said.

“Hm?” Ning glanced towards him.

“There’s another place in the Jadefire Realm which might be of use to you in unlocking this cell,” Whitethaw said.

“What place?” Ning was delighted. “Lead the way immediately.”

“Follow me, Master.” Whitethaw immediately led the way.

……

The many cells within the prison region were scattered haphazardly, and the seven core cages were arranged in a strange pattern in seven different places. Three of them had been completely destroyed, of course.

Whitethaw led Ning in flying towards the most central region of the prison cells.

“Master.” Whitethaw pointed towards the empty area up ahead. “I was once invited over there along with my Sithe master. We entered a special space over there from where the Sithe controlled the entire Jadefire Realm.”

“Controlled the entire Jadefire Realm?” Ning revealed a look of delight. “Right! I should’ve thought of this long ago. Given how vast it is and how many flaming passageways and cells it contains, there has to be a central control mechanism. Whitespace, where is that region?”

“I’m not sure either.” Whitethaw pointed towards the front. “It should be within a three hundred meter radius up ahead. I followed my master inside, and when we entered that region I felt space twist around me. We immediately appeared inside it.”

“Oh?” Ning nodded slowly, then walked through the air towards that region while keenly scanning it.

Whoosh. His body suddenly broke apart into countless pieces as he assumed his Shadowless form, closely attuning himself to the dimensional ripples nearby.

“Ah, there are some flaws after all.” Ning quickly found the traces of the dimensional ripples and their strange cadence. His Shadowless form was able to merge into them and attune to them.

“Arise.” Ning waved a finger, causing a streak of sword-light to tear through that region by force. A dimensional tear appeared before him.


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 9 – Sixteen Realmverses Alliance

Ji Ning led Whitethaw into the dimensional tear, going through it and reaching a sealed pocket dimension. This pocket dimension merely covered an area of thirty thousand meters, and it had an enormous black altar within it. Ning and Whitethaw both descended upon the black altar.

“Master,” Whitethaw said. “The Sithe used this place to control the entire Jadefire Realm. Every part of it was under their control.”

“Oh?” Ning swept the area with his gaze. The black altar was quite large, the size of a enormous plaza. Its surface was covered with incomparably complex and marvelous vein lines, all of which came together to form an absolutely enormous flower in full bloom which was surrounded by blazing flames. The pattern of the flames continuously changed at all times, never quite seeming to duplicate a previously used pattern.

“Eh?” Ning was instantly intrigued by it. “That’s the formation-diagram,” Ning murmured softly. “The flames surrounding the outermost layer are being used to represent the pathways that can be taken out of the Jadefire Realm! The pathways are continuously changing and will never repeat… if you aren’t able to find the way out, you’ll be trapped inside forever! This is why it is so easy to enter but so hard to leave.”

“The petals… they represent the countless flaming passageways! They are filled with various traps and mechanisms that can probably be controlled through this formation diagram. As for the stamen… I can vaguely make out seven colors which must represent the countless cells of the seven prisons inside this place.” To try and rescue Ninedust, Ning had spent quite some time examining the prisons of this place in detail. Thus, as soon as he saw the formation-diagram he immediately understand what it represented.

“Master, is this of use to you?” Whitethaw immediately asked.

“Of some use, but this formation-diagram is far too complex. It seems to hold some of the mysteries of the Dao of Fire… but it also involves mysteries of the Dao of the Void. It merges the two together! But that’s just secondary. What really matters is that it represents an extremely high level of mastery of the Dao of Formations.” Ning shook his head. “The problem is, these are based off unique formations which only the Sithe know. They are completely different from the ones we cultivators use.”

It was extremely strange. Just looking at the formations, Ning could sense a dark, clammy aura sweep towards him and generate an aura of uncontrollable fear. This was a terrifying formation, a formation capable of unleashing a ‘Decimatus Wave’. In truth, even the Sithe had to rely on special techniques to assert control over this formation-diagram, and the controller didn’t understand it all that well.

The problem was, Ning didn’t know those special control techniques. That meant he would have to truly understand it and then unlock it, which would be as hard as anything.

“If I want to save Ninedust, I have to master this formation-diagram,” Ning said softly. Previously, Ning had already completely searched through the cells. He felt that the formations within the prison were simply too complex; there was no way he could make any head or tail of them at all. Everything was shrouded in mist! Now, the formation-diagram controlling everything was before him, and he was able to inspect it in detail… but this only inspired even greater despair. “The prison region…” Ning stared at the ‘stamen’ part of the prison region, increasingly aware of how complex it was.

Ning shook his head, then stared at the flames which flickered at the outermost areas of the giant formation-diagram. These represented the exits from the Jadefire Realm.

“Eh?” Ning’s eyes suddenly lit up. “These… these flames…” A light went off in Ning’s head as he thought back to something he had seen before. In the first palace of the Azureflower Estate, Autarch Awakener had gathered together countless techniques from both the cultivator civilizationas well as the Sithe. Ning had memorized all of those techniques, and one of the Sithe techniques which Autarch Awakener had retrofitted had included many different formations. Ning immediately recognized that these flames were a fairly simple variant of the recorded formation!

In truth, the Seven Flaming Hells’ formation-diagram was one of the most secret and hidden formation-diagrams of the entire Sithe race. There was no way they would publicize its internal secrets. Not even Autarch Awakener had been able to acquired detailed information about such a thing. However… Autarch Awakener had acquired many other formations from the Sithe, including some that belonged to the same ‘school’.

“Ah…” Ning began to grin openly, revealing his pearly white teeth. “Hahaha. A glimmer of hope when all hope seems lost.” Ning quickly began to sort through the details of that technique he saw, as did his Primaltwin.

In just the time needed to boil a kettle of tea, Ning was able to completely comprehend and see through the outermost layer of flames which covered the entire vast formation.

“So that’s how the exits work.” Ning casually waved his finger at one part of the flames. The flames there continued to change and twist about, but now everything was under Ning’s control.

“Freeze.” Ning’s will entered the formation-diagram, and with but a thought the flames that had been twisting and distorting freely began to move and change in accordance with Ning’s will.

Rumble… a series of images began to appear in the empty space surrounding Ning. These were illusory projections from the countless flames which represented the outer layer of the entire Jadefire Realm, including its entrances! All of the countless flames in the outmost layer were now under Ning’s complete control, including the various exits. The flames rumbled and thundered under Ning’s control as he guided them to change formations and locations. Clearly, by thoroughly understanding the outermost layers of flames, it was possible to take control of the outermost formations even if the special control techniques had not been studied.

“Congratulations, Master! Felicitations!” Whitethaw said hurriedly.

“I’m not even close to where I need to be. I’ve only taken control over the outermost layer.” Ning shook his head. “I have to control the entire thing if I want to be able to rescue Ninedust.”

“This formation-diagram is divided up into three parts. The outermost layer are the flames, the central layer includes the flower petals, and the ‘stamen’ lies at the core.” Ning stared intently at the formation-diagram. “The closer to the core we go, the more difficult it will be. That tiny little flower stamen shall be the most difficult to master of all; once I master that, I’ll have the entire formation-diagram under my control.”

“Now, I’ve defeated the outermost layer of flames. What of the flower petals?” Ning looked at the flower petals, which corresponded to the countless flaming passageways. “This is clearly going to be much more difficult…” Ning frowned.

……

Ning began to analyze the Sithe formation techniques he had available. Although his Primaltwin was assisted by the Autarch’s stone dais and was able to train incredibly quickly, the ‘flower petals’ formation was clearly thousands of times more complex and profound than the ‘writhing flames’ formation.’

Time passed on, one day after the other. Ning’s Primaltwin had temporarily brought a halt to its training in the Dao of Water as it focused completely on the Dao of Formations, specifically the branch of it pertaining to the formation-diagram of the Seven Flaming Hells.

“This ‘flower petal’ formation will take me a few hundred thousand years to comprehend.” After spending some time on it, Ning began to understand. Although Autarch Awakener had collected many Sithe formations which could be compared with each other, and although Ning was both talented and had the Autarch’s stone dais which allowed him to be in a constant prajna-like state, it would still take him hundreds of thousands of years to understand this thing.”

“Then what of the ‘flower stamen’ formation which represents the prison region? That’s the real core of the Seven Flaming Hells.” Ning stared at the ‘flower stamen’ at the very center of the enormous, beautiful blooming flower formation before him. Only by mastering that would he be able to take control over the prisons and rescue Ninedust.

The coiling flames were easy. The flower petal formation was hard. The flower stamen formation was the hardest, so much so that Ning couldn’t even estimate how long he would need to master it. One chaos cycle? Ten? Ning still wasn’t sure if that would be enough.
“Seven Flaming Hells, eh?” Ning closed his eyes and started to meditate. “One step at a time.”

……

While Ning focused on training in the Sithe’s Dao of Formations, the Endless Territories remained in a state of tumult due to Archon Silksnow’s death.

Within a vasteverworld. This was a place where countless races lived and thrived, all of them winged. They soared through the skies, the undisputed lords of this everworld.

Whoosh. A figure descended from a dimensional rift. It was a blood-robed elder who emanated the foul odor of blood as he swept the vast everworld before him with his evil gaze.

“Goldisle, my old friend,” the blood-robed elder called out, sending a stream of godsense out to encompass this entire world.

“Eh?” A streak of golden light appeared, forming into a bald, gold-furred alien. This was one of the two supreme leaders of the Dao Alliance of the Endless Territories, Emperor Goldisle. Emperor Goldisle had established this everworld for the members of his race to live in, and his avatar was permanently stationed here. Given his power and how his avatar could link into the many formations protecting his home, most likely the only ones in the Endless Territory who would dare to cause trouble here would be the Hegemons.

“Bloodcloud.” Emperor Goldisle frowned as he looked at the man.

“Brother Goldisle.” Emperor Bloodcloud smiled, which just made him look even fiercer and savager than usual. “I’ve come because there’s something I need to ask you to help me out with, brother Goldisle.”

“Need my help?” Emperor Goldisle chuckled. “What, now that Silksnow is dead, you Emperors are leaderless and rudderless. Are you frightened and wish for my protection?” In truth, Emperor Goldisle had no desire to bother with these evil men.

“Afraid? You think I would feel afraid?” Red light shone in Emperor Bloodcloud’s eyes as he growled, “I, Bloodcloud, swear on my very life itself that what I’m going to report is complete true and without falsehood…”

Emperor Goldisle was startled.

“Do you know how Silksnow actually died and why?” Bloodcloud looked at Emperor Goldisle. “I’ll explain in detail…” And so, Emperor Bloodcloud explained the entire sequence of events from start to finish.

“…So the realmship is now in Daolord Darknorth’s hands?!” An astonished look appeared in Emperor Goldisle’s eyes. “I-i-is this for real?” But he immediately fell silent; the man had just sworn a lifeblood oath in front of him! “So that’s the real reason. Silksnow actually had a realmship, and now it has actually fallen into Daolord Darknorth’s possession.” The implications of this were simply far too stunning.

A realmship! Who wouldn’t be intrigued by it, driven mad with lust for it? The combined treasures of all three Hegemons of the Flamedragon Realmverse weren’t even close to the value of a realmship. Archon Silksnow had been unspeakably lucky to aquire it, and he had been extremely low-key, ensuring that no one found out. Now that he was dead, it had fallen into Ji Ning’s hands. In truth, the reason he fell was that he was unable to escape from within all of those barriers and traps. Knowing that his death was certain, he had chosen to tell Emperor Bloodcloud all about it.

“Emperor Goldisle, I wish for you to spread this information to the other realmverses the Dao Alliance is in,” Emperor Bloodcloud is. “Make it public.”

“You—!” Emperor Goldisle’s face tightened.

“All you need to do is to make it public. I trust those Hegemons and major powers will definitely travel towards us at maximum speed, sparing no expense.” Emperor Bloodcloud smiled, a look of madness in his eyes. “Brother Goldisle, we Emperors are also members of the Dao Alliance. It should be able to help us send this information out, yes?”

“Yes.” Emperor Goldisle nodded. As the leader of the Dao Alliance, he had to follow certain rules which the Dao Alliance had long ago laid out. All Emperors of the Dao Alliance could request for him to send out messages on their behalf.

“I’ll send word of this to all sixteen of the realmverses in our alliance,” Emperor Goldisle said. “However, Darknorth is also a member of the Dao Alliance. I’ll notify him as well.”