DEWG

Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 11 – Moksha

The black-robed Daolord sat within that fiery stone cave. Suddenly, he turned his gaze towards that levitating passageway. Deep within it, a bulky and muscular creature was crawling across the fiery magma. The creature was brandishing an enormous greataxe, chopping downwards with it time and time again. Just looking at this muscular creature, one would easily be able to tell what tremendous power this greataxe held within it. However, the greataxe was just barely able to split the blazing magma apart, and it took dozens of blows from the greataxe in order to ‘harvest’ a single piece.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The reverberations were quite weak by the time they made it to the black-robed Daolord.

“Moksha.” The black-robed Daolord called out to the creature. “Come here.”

“Yes, Master.” A rumbling voice rang out from below.

Whoosh.

A streak of light flew out from the depths of that levitating passageway, then landed within the fiery stone cave. This was a strange, incredibly muscular thing whose unclad body radiated a metallic light. Clearly, this was not a normal living creature. The creature held a black greataxe in its hands that was almost as long as he was tall, and upon entering he immediately knelt down respectfully. “Master, what is your bidding?”

The black-robed Daolord nodded. “Five World-level children have entered the Sacred Immortal Realm. Although they were merely at the World level, all of them can be said to have reached a level of power comparable to that of Daolords of the Second Step. The five of them have already entered my estate, and they are continuously advancing in this direction! I order you to go and wipe them out. Remember… no matter what, do not let them damage my ‘Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower’.”

“Moska understands,” the towering creature said respectfully.

“Then go,” the black-robed Daolord ordered.

The muscular creature instantly departed through the passageway as he continuously flew upwards. Soon, he reached the entry point to the bottommost layer of the estate.

The black-robed Daolord nodded slightly. He really didn’t care much about the death of that retainer, as the retainer had been someone who had only been able to break through thanks to a Pseudo Samsara Pill. His only real job was to assist the black-robed Daolord in torturing those mortal cultivators. Someone like the black-robed Daolord wouldn’t want to lower himself or waste his energy on tormenting mortals. He would simply order his subordinates to do it for him.

“Five absolutely incredible World-level cultivators. They most likely stand a good chance of becoming absolutely incredible Daolords. A pity.” The black-robed Daolord let out a soft sigh. “Why did you have to come here?”

……

Deep within the Daolord’s estate.

Ji Ning and the rest of the five were still advancing forwards.

“There has to be a tremendous secret deep hidden within this path,” Prince Greatjoy said. We’ve already encountered eight different restrictive seals on this path, and it took us tremendous amounts of effort to break through them. Why would they put this many seals here if this wasn’t an important place?”

“We’ve broken quite a few seals in the estate, but no foes have emerged to face us. There probably really aren’t any Daolords here,” Solewind laughed. “I hope everything will continue to be this easy. That would be just wonderful.”

“I hope that is the case as well.”

They advanced through the passageway, delving deeper and deeper through the various layers of the estate. Suddenly, an enormous stone door appeared at the end of the path before them. This stone door was covered by strange carvings which emanated a dark, sinful aura. Just looking at it made the five of them uncomfortable. In truth, they had all noticed that it seemed as though the entire estate was filled with the aura of hatred and sin, with the aura being especially pronounced in certain areas.

Crackle, crackle, crackle. Solewind’s heartworld projection and Ning’s sword-intent domain both slammed into the stone door.

Golden runes immediately appeared on the surface of the stone door and began to flow across it. The runes were incredibly powerful, and they weren’t damaged in the slightest by the attacks.

Heartlord Solewind carefully inexpected the formation which had just appeared atop the stone door. Of the five, Heartlord Solewind possessed the highest level of skill in the Dao of Formations. He spent quite a bit of time, head upraised, as he stared at the stone door.

“Do as I say,” Heartlord Solewind instructed. “Brother Ji Ning, strike out with your sword using maximum force and destroy the runes over here.”

His heartworld projection immediately caused a particular part of the runes to light up.

“Brothers Firesurge and Skyfire, the two of you shall attack these two places.” Heartlord Solewind once more left behind sparkles of light atop the stone door, this time pointing out two areas with runes at the very top and very bottom of the stone door.

“Brother Greatjoy, all you need to do is to launch full-strength blows against this door,” Solewind laughed. “Leave the rest to me.”

To use raw, brute force to breach the formations would be incredibly difficult. If you were skilled in the art of formations, things would be much easier. Even if you weren’t able to overcome the formation by yourself, if you could point out certain critical areas and then focus your efforts on those areas, it would be hundreds of times easier than simply trying to brute-force the entire thing.

“Everyone… attack!” Heartlord Solewind barked.

Swish!

Ning struck out with his sword.

The sword struck out without creating any sound, but in the instant that it stabbed against the divine runes, its might was fully unleashed along with a terrifyingly strong penetrative power. If Ning wished it, he would be able to tear space apart and enter a completely different spatial dimension. The runes were completely pierced through and ripped apart by Ning’s strike, resulting in the formation covering the stone door to begin to tremble.

In truth, a small part of such a large formation being destroyed normally wouldn’t have much of an impact. Only a critical part of the formation being destroyed would.

“Good.” Heartlord Solewind revealed a look of delight.

Ning’s sword was indeed quite terrifying. Previously, as they had been breaching one sealed barrier after another within the estate, they had encountered a particularly nettlesome barrier that not even Prince Greatjoy had been able to break. In the end, it was Ning who had stepped up and used his sword to stab through a critical part of the formation. All of them had been stunned by how terrifyingly strong Ning’s sword was.

In terms of raw, overwhelming attack power, Prince Greatjoy was the strongest of the five.

In terms of viciousness… Ning’s sword was the deadliest.

“Attack!” Skyfire Brightshore and Firesurge simultaneously attacked, the former using fire and the latter using water. These two were diametrically different types of energy, and they were equal in power. As a result, when they joined forces they resulted in an absolutely explosive amount of energy being unleashed. Skyfire had truly grown much stronger in recent years, perhaps because the twelve scrolls of the [Sutra of Eternity] was indeed an incredible technique. By now, Skyfire was just as strong as Firesurge, who had been the weakest member of the four elites of the Twelve Palaces.

“Break.” Prince Greatjoy sent his enormous golden palms crashing downwards towards the two sides of the closed stone door.

Rumble…

The sealing barrier twisted, no longer able to endure the surging power that had been brought to bear against it. With a rumbling sound, the closed stone door began to swing open as the barrier naturally broke apart.

The two sides of the stone door were smashed open by the twin palms, revealing an empty pavilion behind them.

“So we have reached the end of this passageway?” Ning and the others were all stunned. They had encountered multiple barriers on the way over and had felt certain that there would be another passageway beyond the stone doors. Who would’ve thought that it would instead be a pavilion?

Ning and the other four advanced with caution, surrounded by the heartworld projection and the sword-intent domain. They walked through the stone door and into the pavilion.

The empty pavilion was roughly thirty thousand meters in size. An extremely muscular form was seated within the pavilion. The creature was completely crimson in color, and even its eyes were blazing with fire. It didn’t look like an ordinary living creature at all.

“A golem?” Greatjoy frowned.

“What a powerful golem.” Solewind’s face tightened as well.

“The Daolord we killed was merely at the first step. Why is there such a powerful golem here?” Ning’s heart sank. They could all tell that this was nothing more than a powerful golem, but it was different from those weaker golems that had existed in the Sacred Immortal Realm. Those golems were at the Elder God level of strength at most. This one… it was at the Daolord level.

Its aura was so weighty and dense that there was no way an ordinary Daolord could match it in might.

Whoooosh. There was another stone door on the other end of the palace. That tightly sealed stone door was covered with a layer of deep green energy that radiated hatred, with the hatred so dense that furiously roaring faces would constantly appear on its surface. Unfathomable amounts of dense elemental energy were being gathered from the surrounding areas, then channel into and through the stone door.

“The hatred and malice is all gathering here? What on earth is behind that stone door?” Ning realized that they were getting very close to uncovering some of the secrets behind the Sacred Immortal Realm.

The five of them exchanged a glance, their hearts sinking. They all knew that this would most likely be the most deadly battle yet in this alternate universe… and that it was possible they might die here.

“We have entered the Archaeus region on the orders of our master. I’d like to ask for you to give way and release the five of us from this Sacred Immortal Realm,” Solewind said. “If there is anything you want from us, just tell us.”

The massive golem, seated in the lotus position, slowly raised his head and stared at Ning’s group with his fiery eyes. His lips parted in a savage smile as he rose to his feet, then stretched out his left hand. Instantly, an enormous black shield appeared within it. He then stretched out his right hand, causing an enormous greataxe to appear.

A shield in one hand, a greataxe in the other… and his aura completely exploded forth, sweeping through the entire palace and causing it to echo and thunder.

“I want…” The massive golem’s voice boomed forth, “For you all to die!”

BOOM!

The golem transformed into a streak of light as it charged straight towards Ning’s group.

Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 12 – In Danger of Dying

The entire pavilion was merely thirty thousand meters in size, and thus it was completely filled by the Yin-Yang Sword Domain. Torrents of electric light and watery light transformed into enormous swords that furiously hacked at everything near them. The towering golem was assaulted by endless attacks, but it simply roared with fury as it charged towards Ning’s group. The Yin-Yang Sword Domain wasn’t able to do anything to it at all.

Whooosh. Heartlord Solewind rose high up into the air, his red robes fluttering. He actually seemed to transform into a divine bird that was bathed in flames. More and more of these flaming birds began to appear in the area around him, as well as enormous amounts of blazing lava.

“Focus.” Solewind instantly manifested a total of eighteen arms, and each arm represented a beak of a firebird as they all flew towards that golem.

“Kill!”

“Attack!”

Skyfire Brightshore and Waterlord Firesurge joined forces in a practiced manner. They had long ago grown accustomed to combination attacks, and thus they sent intertwined attacks of water and fire straight towards the golems.

As for Ning, he first used [Three Heads, Six Arms], then drew out his six divine swords. Prince Greatjoy actually manifested six arms as well, a rare sight to behold. The two of them had the most powerful attacks… and were the final ones to attack.

“GWAAAAR!” The massive golem roared furiously as it chopped horizontally with the massive black greataxe in its hand.

This chop seemed to sever the heavens from the earth itself. Ning and the others all instantly felt their hearts turn cold!

Heartlord Solewind had used his heartworld projection to manifest eighteen blazing firebirds, but they were all chopped into two pieces by this blow.

“Careful.” Skyfire Brightshore was sent flying back by the chop as well, and he furiously cried out to warn the others.

Whoooosh.

Waterlord Firesurge’s body was cleaved apart at the waist. Blood flew everywhere, and a look of shock and rage was in his eyes. And then, his entire body transformed into a flow of water that tried to flee.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Prince Greatjoy’s six enormous golden palms began to descend from the skies, striking against the edge of that greataxe and preventing it from continuing its attacks. Thanks to him, Skyfire and Firesurge were saved.

“Brother Darknorth!” Prince Greatjoy vomited out a mouthful of blood as he flew backwards, but he still managed to send an urgent mental call to Ning.

Six silent streaks of sword-light. As Prince Greatjoy tied down the greataxe, the six streaks of sword-light scraped past it and stabbed directly towards the fingers of the golem’s right hand. Ning knew very well that this was a golem which was as tough and resilient as a magical treasure! To actually destroy this golem? Not even a Daolord of the Fourth Step would be able to do this, to say nothing of Ning.

Ning’s Blood Drop stance had penetrating power, true… but it wouldn’t be able to pierce through the golem’s body by even an inch!

Thus, Ning had only one goal – to attack the finger-joints on the golem’s right hand, then seize its greataxe! Ning had been able to tell quite quickly that this golem was at an extremely high level of skill in wielding a greataxe. If Ning was able to disarm it and take the greataxe, the golem would instantly lose the majority of its power! This was similar to how if Ning himself lost his six Eternal swords he would only be able unleash 10-20% of his true power!

Crunch. Clang!

The six streaks of sword-light simultaneously stabbed into different finger-joints on the golem’s right hand. The terrifying penetrative power of the Blood Drop stance caused the fingers of the mighty golem’s right hand to involuntarily unclench just slightly, causing its grip over the greataxe to grow weak.

Ning was delighted to see this. Just as he was about to move forwards and seize the greataxe…

“Darknorth, careful!” Solewind’s voice rang out in Ning’s mind.

“Eh?!” Ning’s face turned pale, because an enormous shield was crashing towards his head with an absolutely unstoppable amount of power!

The golem smiled coldly as it sent its enormous shield spinning towards Ning. Its greatest proficiency lay in the art of using shields! It was created in order to serve as a guardian for its master in dangerous situations, so as to help buy its master some extra time. The only reason it was also quite skilled in wielding axes was because it had been assigned to work as a miner for countless years now. Still… comparatively speaking, its true expertise still lay in wielding shields.

Rumble…

When the shield came crashing down, it was as though the skies themselves were pressing down upon Ning. Even a chaos star would most likely be reduced to dust by a blow from this shield! As the shield moved closer and closer to Ning, layers of multicolored space generated by the terrifying pressure began to appear right in front of it.

There was no way for Ning to seize the greataxe. All he could do was to use his sword-arts to defend as best as he could.

BOOM!!!!

The shield slammed directly onto Ning’s six swords. Although Ning was skilled in using his longswords to defend, that meant very little when there was such an enormous disparity in power. The shield crushed through Ning’s six arms and slammed into Ning’s body. Ning felt his head grow dim as he was sent flying backwards with a boom. He almost instantly slammed into the walls of the pavilion, and blood immediately spewed out of his mouth.

The faces of Prince Greatjoy, Heartlord Solewind, Skyfire Brightshore, and Waterlord Firesurge all turned pale when they saw this. They were all completely stunned.

The strike from that shield… it was far more powerful than the strikes from the greataxe had been!

“You actually made me lose my grip over my greataxe. What a formidable sword-art! I’ll make your death a cleaner one.” The golem charged forwards, each step causing the pavilion to tremble. He continued to wield the shield in one hand and the greataxe in the other as he pounced towards Ning. Clearly, the fact that Ning had caused him to temporarily lose his grip over his greataxe had rather irritated him.

Prince Greatjoy and the others felt their hearts turn cold when they saw this. Right now, they didn’t really care about the greataxe any longer. It was that shield which had them worried.

“I, I…” Ning’s mind was still woozy, and he was only slowly regaining full consciousness.

Just now, he had been knocked completely unconscious for a brief moment. Thankfully, he had a suit of Eternal armor protecting him, and had already completely mastered the [Golden Idol] technique. That was the only reason why he had been able to survive that terrifying strike! If he had a slightly inferior protective divine ability, such as one which only made his body comparable to the toughness of an ordinary Dao weapon, he probably would’ve died from that collision.

Thankfully, Ning’s body was as tough as a top-grade Dao weapon. It wasn’t that easy to destroy.

“Dodge, brother Darknorth!” Prince Greatjoy once more struck out with his six golden palms towards the golem, and the golem once more bashed out with his shield, causing that immense level of power to once more descend upon the cultivators.

BOOOOM!

The six golden palms collided head-on with the enormous shield!

In truth, Prince Greatjoy’s palm-arts were actually quite similar in function and effect to the golem’s shield. In fact, Prince Greatjoy’s techniques actually evinced a much deeper understanding of the Dao! The problem was that the golem was simply too overwhelmingly powerful. Prince Greatjoy just barely qualified as having the physical power of a Daolord of the First Step, but this golem had the power of an apex Daolord of the Third Step! Even though its technique was rather weak, perhaps comparable to just that of a supreme World God, it would still be able to completely dominate Prince Greatjoy.

For a golem to be able to reach a level of mastery in using a shield which was comparable to that of a supreme World God was actually quite incredible. After all, golems were by nature far inferior to true cultivators in terms of being able to understand the Dao.

Bang!

Golden light radiated from every part of Prince Greatjoy’s body, making him seem as though he was made out of gold. And yet, he couldn’t help but spit out a mouthful of golden liquid as he was sent flying backwards. Still, his interception gave Ning the time he needed to fully regain consciousness.

“DIE!” The golem struck out with his greataxe once more, this time chopping towards Skyfire Brightshore and Waterlord Firesurge.

“Kill him.” Ning had come back to his senses, and a cold look was in his eyes.

Whoooosh.

A slight ripple suddenly appeared with the pavilion. The ripple was very delicated, and even Ning’s Yin-Yang Sword Domain found it difficult to detect it. However, once the ripple moved next to the golem, the golem revealed a look of shock.

Swish!

A vicious, insidious streak of sword-light suddenly appeared, avoiding both the greataxe and shield as it slashed at the golem’s head.

Rumble…

The golem couldn’t help but be knocked backwards. As it was knocked backwards, that viper-like streak of sword-light appeared once more. This time, it actually began to twist as it quickly bound the golem up in rings of sword-light, completely trussling it up.

“Get in here.” A figure wreathed in black mist suddenly appeared, causing the golem to disappear with a wave of the hand. The figure glanced at Ning. “Per Master’s orders, you are permitted to have me help you one time. Now that I have dealt with this golem, I have completed my promise.”

“Mm.” Ning was still slumped on the ground of the pavilion. He nodded.

This figure wreathed in black mist was one of the four golems which Emperor Mirrorsnow had prepared for his personal disciples… the golem known as ‘the assassin’!

Whoosh.

The assassin instantly disappeared, returning to the world of the Mirrorsnow Painting.

Within that world.

The assassin, the golden-robed emperor, the fisherman, and the swordsman were all together, staring at the shield-bearing and axe-wielding golem.

“You really moved quite quickly,” the golden-robed emperor laughed.

“This guy isn’t too bad. He can be considered to be as physically strong as an apex Daolord of the Third Step,” the assassin said coldly. “His shield-wielding techniques are weak, though, and his greataxe-wielding abilities are even weaker. Overall, he can just barely be considered as strong as a weak Daolord of the Third Step. I was the perfect counter for him in every respect. This was an easy win.”

The four of them were all comparable to apex Daolords of the Third Step. In terms of speed and power, they had actually reached the threshold of Daolords of the Fourth Step, and they all had exceedingly profound sword-arts. Although Ning had ‘defeated’ them, that was because Emperor Mirrorsnow had ordered them to only use a certain level of sword-arts! But of course, their skills were slightly inferior to that of the sword-arts of a true Daolord of the Third Step. Thus, they averaged out to be as strong as an apex Daolord of the Third Step!

Strength? Speed? Comprehension? They surpassed this new golem in every way.

……

Within the pavilion.

Ning continued to sit there on the ground. Waterlord Firesurge slowly reformed his true body out of the currents of water, while Skyfire Brightshore turned to look towards Ning. Solewind let out a long, relaxed sigh. As for Prince Greatjoy? He began to roar with laughter.

“That was close,” Solewind laughed.

“Brother Darknorth, I owe you my life.” Prince Greatjoy looked towards Ning.

Ning let out a sigh of relief as well.

That golem had brought them far, far too much pressure! In the end, they were still just a five-man group of World-level cultivators. When faced with a golem that was comparable to a Daolord of the Third Step, they were completely flattened with each class. If too much time passed, they probably would’ve lost their lives.

Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 13 – The Black-Robed Daolord

“Thanks, Darknorth.” Skyfire Brightshore and Waterlord Firesurge both looked towards Ji Ning gratefully. Just now, had Ning been just one moment too slow, the two of them would’ve perished. Of the five, the two of them were undoubtedly the weakest.

“Brother Darknorth, just now I saw a dark figure appear, capture the golem, then say something about only helping you once?” Prince Greatjoy frantically asked, “We’ve disposed of the golem, but it was probably just equivalent to a Daolord of the Third Step. There’s no way its master was the Daolord we slew earlier… which means that it is highly likely that a second Daolord resides within the estate. If we can’t even deal with his golem… we’re probably going to be in grave danger once that Daolord attacks.”

The others all understood this point as well. They had disposed of the golem and managed to stay alive, buying themselves some extra breathing time, but the danger was still there! Still… there was nothing that could be done! If there truly was an even more powerful Daolord here, there was nothing they could do except face him. This was the Daolord’s estate, after all. They were on enemy grounds.

“Yes, he can only help me once.” Ning nodded. “My master once said I can’t rely on him to deal with every danger I encounter, which is why I’ll only be assisted a single time.”

Greatjoy, Solewind, and the others all nodded. They understood this principle.

Ning didn’t reveal the fact that he had three more golems. It was best for him to be able to leave a few more trump cards up his sleeve.

“Skyfire, you are a member of the Imperials. Don’t you have any trump cards of your own? If Darknorth had been just one second slower, you would’ve been finished.” Greatjoy glanced at Skyfire. The five had completely severed this local region of spacetime from the rest of the estate, and Solewind’s heartworld projection was keeping a close watch as well. There was no way any form of godsense or heartforce would be able to spy on them.

Skyfire laughed awkwardly. “So what if I’m a Brightshore Imperial? Shortly after I joined the kingdom, I was dragged off by the Hegemon and sent here to the Archaeus region. Since the entire point of this adventure is for me to learn and grow, he naturally refused to give me any protective treasures at all. Once you have too many trump cards, an excursion like this would no longer be an ‘adventure’, it would be ‘tourism’. So… I really don’t have any trump cards at all.”

Ning and the others were truly surprised to hear this.

It was very hard for cultivators like them to acquire particularly powerful trump cards they could use. Ning himself had to become the personal disciple of Emperor Mirrorsnow before he learned that he would have four golems who could each assist him once. Most likely, the other disciples of Emperor Mirrorsnow wouldn’t divulge this fact either.

The more powerful a golem was, the more valuable it would be. A golem that was comparable to a Verge-level Daolord would be an utterly priceless treasure. Even the Sword Palace itself had only been able to acquire a few such golems over the course of countless chaos cycles! Daolord Allgod was an incredible grandmaster of artificing, but even he was only able to create a single such golem in his lifetime, one which he would never even think about selling. After all, there was simply no way one could possibly find another such golem of tremendous power and unswerving loyalty!

Emperor Mirrorsnow similarly had just a single golem of such power. In the end, he had traded it for forty golems that were comparable to apex Daolords of the Third Step which he left behind to his personal disciples.

Thus… it truly was quite rare and difficult for one to acquire truly powerful golems! Weaker golems, those which were comparable to Daolords of the First Step or Second Step, were much more common. Every single one of the twelve Daolord Cloudworlds of the Twelve Palaces had an enormous number of these golems.

As Ning and the others saw it, the person in their group who was most likely to have a truly, ridiculously powerful trump card had to be Skyfire Brightshore! After all, his backer was the almighty Hegemon, someone who could truly be described as standing at the absolute apex of the Endless Territories! Even the most casual of trump cards bestowed by the almighty Hegemon would be terrifyingly powerful. Alas… Skyfire’s response disappointed all four of them.

“Ugh. This is going to be tricky. That shieldbearer golem was roughly comparable to a Daolord of the Third Step. Those golems are very expensive. His master might very well be a Verge-level Daolord.” Prince Greatjoy was rather worried.

……

Ning sent a divine power clone to descend upon the estate-world of the Mirrorsnow Painting.

“Gentlemen.” Ning looked at the assassin, the fisherman, the golden-robed emperor, and the swordsman.

“Can you help me bind this golem?” Ning glanced at the captured shieldbearer golem. Although it was much weaker than the golems which Emperor Mirrorsnow had left behind, it still had the power of a Daolord of the Third Step and was capable of dominating Ning’s group and even killing them in a short period of time.

Alas, Ning had ‘cheated’ by releasing an even more terrifying golem… the assassin.

“Even if we helped you tie it down, you wouldn’t be able to bind it.” The golden-robed emperor shook his head. “All we can do is keep it trapped here and make sure it can’t fight back. In the end, it is still an extraordinary golem, while your Immortal energy remains at the World level. If you wish to forcibly send your energy into the golem’s body and wipe out its master’s seal… there’s no way you can do it.”

Ning nodded. He had simply hoped that the four golems might have some special tricks.

A mighty golem comparable to a Daolord of the Third Step was right in front of him, helpless and bound, but there was no way for him to bind it. It was a pity that his azureflower mist energy was unable to leave his body. Otherwise, he might’ve been able to use it to bind the golem instead.

“I have a question for you.” Ning shifted his gaze to the golem.

“Hmph.” The towering golem let out a cold snort. “Stop struggling, brat. The five of you are all going to die. You have no idea who you just pissed off.”

“Oh? And who did we just piss off?” Ning smirked.

“Hmph.” The towering golem swept the area with his gaze, his eyes blazing with fire. He let out a snicker. “There are some things which I cannot speak about… but although these golems of yours are a bit stronger than me, they aren’t that much stronger. Even if all of them helped you out, you still would have no chance at all of surviving this encounter. You won’t even be able to fight back.”

Ning laughed coldly. “Oh, so you were talking about the Daolord behind you?”

“You’ll know soon enough.” The towering golem shut his mouth, saying nothing further. There were some secrets which even he didn’t dare to divulge. He had received strict orders long ago regarding these matters, and as a golem he would never violate the orders he was given.

Ning couldn’t help but begin to worry even more. Judging from the golem’s behavior, the golem seemed to feel supremely confident in the outcome of this fight. Why? What gave it such confidence?

Were the five of them really going to die here?

Ning wasn’t that afraid, as he had a clone in the outside world which would allow him to rebuild his body. Although he would’ve lost six Eternal weapons, four powerful golems, and the seven streaks of Dao water and Dao lightning in his body… he would still be alive. The price he paid for dying here would be a heavy one, but so long as he remained alive there would always be more possibilities in the future.

But Ning had no idea as to whether or not Greatjoy, Solewind, Skyfire Brightshore, and Firesurge had clones in the outside world. There were some secrets which you simply didn’t ask or tell others.

Within the pavilion.

Although the five of them knew that the situation was dangerous, they had no way out. They had to face it.

“Break!” The five of them joined forces once more to slam open the stone doors on the other side of the pavilion.

Rumble… the stone doors began to slowly swing open.

“This…” Ning and the others all took deep breaths. The aura of hatred and resentment here had to be a thousand times greater than the aura had been in the air above the great prison. The hatred was so intense, it had liquefied into a deep green pool that was swirling in a vortex of more than a hundred ‘streams’ of hatred that circled an absolutely beautiful, enormous flower.

This flower had many black leaves. Ning counted exactly a thousand of those black leaves, and they were layered atop each other in a strange, evil, yet beautiful way.

Atop the leaves there were the soul-stirringly beautiful petals. The flower petals were multicolored and emanated an aura of intoxicating fragrance. They were truly dazzling in their beauty, and they emanated faint streams of rainbow light.

“Was all that hatred meant to nourish this flower?” Ning and the others felt their hearts tremble when they saw this sight.

The deep green streams of hatred all centered around this pool, condensing into an actual liquid form which then split off in a hundred streams which were used to nourish the flower in an extremely detail-oriented manner.

“A Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower?” Heartlord Solewind murmured these words softly.

“Aren’t those flowers supposed to be impossible to cultivate? I thought they could only grow naturally in certain environments.” Prince Greatjoy was shocked as well. Ning and the others all had heard of the awe-inspiringly famous ‘Prismatic Kiloleaf Flowers’, which were known throughout the Endless Territories. It was one of several precious ingredients that were needed to refine some truly powerful magic treasures, and it was incredibly precious. A single flower would be worth roughly a million cubes of chaos nectar.

However, based on what Ning and the others knew, these flowers could only grow in natural environments. But now, it seemed as though there was a major power who was capable of actually growing them.

“Yes. This is a Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower.” A voice suddenly rang out.

Ning and the others simultaneously turned their heads to look. They saw a streak of dark light slowly manifest in the skies, revealing an ethereal figure which slowly began to materialize into a black-robed Daolord.

The black-robed Daolord landed, staring at the Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower with a distant look in his eyes. He then turned to sweep the five of them with his gaze. “The five of you are able to match Daolords of the Second Step, despite merely being at the World level. I imagine you all have incredible backgrounds! Not even my master himself would be willing to offend the major power who undoubtedly stands behind you.”

Ning and the others all felt their hearts turned cold. The more casually this Daolord spoke, the more nervous they became. Only someone who possessed an absolutely overwhelming advantage in power would act so casually.

“If that’s the case, then why don’t you let us leave, senior? We can immediately swear oaths to never divulge any information regarding the Sacred Immortal realm to anyone,” Solewind said.

“Haven’t you noticed? Ever since you entered the Sacred Immortal Realm, all your connections to the outside world have been completely cut off.” The black-robed Daolord looked curiously at them. “The reason we set up the formation which separated this realm from the rest of the universe was to prevent anyone from leaking information about it. And now that you’ve seen the Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower… don’t you know who you’ve just offended?”

Ning and the others blinked. They really had no idea, because they weren’t from this universe.

“Given how monstrously talented you are, the sect behind you has to be an incredibly powerful one. I imagine that your sect would’ve told you about the most powerful members of the Church of Annihilation.” The black-robed Daolord was puzzled. “The only person in the entire universe who can grow these Prismatic Kiloleaf Flowers is my master, Emperor Trisilk? Don’t you know anything?”

Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 14 – Two Options to Choose

Ji Ning and the others exchanged glances, their hearts quivering.

Emperor Trisilk?

They had naturally never heard of this ‘Emperor Trisilk’ before, but even a fool could understand that he had to be an Eternal Emperor! And supposedly, he was the master of this black-robed Daolord and was the only person in this entire alternate universe who could plant Prismatic Kiloleaf Flowers. Clearly, he was not just an Eternal Emperor, he was an incredible one.

The five of us just wanted to journey through the Archaeus region. How the hell did we manage to run afoul of an Eternal Emperor?

When the black-robed Daolord saw how the faces of Ning and the others all turned pale, he couldn’t help but laugh. “It seems you now understand.”

“So what if he is an Eternal Emperor? My master slays Eternal Emperors as easily as turning over his hand,” Prince Greatjoy said coldly. “You had best let us go. Otherwise… given my master’s abilities, he’ll definitely be able to find out who killed us, even if it ends up being a bit troublesome for him! It won’t just be you who will be doomed; Emperor Trisilk himself won’t be able to withstand Master’s wrath!”

“No need to threaten me.” The black-robed Daolord smiled. “The five of you are at the World level, but talented enough to match Daolords of the Second Step. Not even my master himself has five such talented disciples under his tutelage. I find it highly likely that one of the sixteen Starkings of the Church of Annihilation stands behind the five of you. Am I right?”

Ning and the others were stunned.

They knew a bit about the Church of Annihilation. The most exalted member of the Church of Annihilation was, without a doubt, its legendary leader! Their leader was the person who unified this entire alternate universe, and he was unspeakably powerful to the point of being virtually omnipotent. Most likely, not even the almighty Hegemon would be a match for him.

Second to the leader were the twelve Starkings.

Below the Starkings were the mighty Paladins.

The ‘Nine Godstars sect’ which Ning’s group had originally encountered upon entering this alternate universe only had a single Paladin in their organization! Generally speaking, ordinary Verge-level Daolords were not qualified to be given the rank of ‘Paladin’. Only breathtakingly powerful Daolords, along with Eternal Emperors, were qualified to be called ‘Paladins’!

“As I said a while ago, not even my master would wish to offend the person who stands behind the five of you. Alas… it was your own fault for barging into the Sacred Immortal Realm. It no longer matters how powerful the person who stands behind you is.” The black-robed Daolord laughed. “In order to prevent your school and master from tracking you down… as soon as you entered my estate, I sent my subordinates to destroy the spacetime transfer arrays linking the ‘Mortal Realm’ with this ‘Sacred Immortal Realm’.”

“Ah?!” Ning and the others were stunned.

“From this day forth, that ‘Mortal Realm’ will no longer be connected to this world of ours.” The black-robed Daolord sighed. “Because of the five of you, I had to sacrifice a large continent. Alas, I had to ensure that there would be no way for your school to trace you to this place and attack me here. I decided to remove all traces of your passing right away.”

If the spacetime transfer array between the Mortal Realm and the Sacred Immortal Realm was destroyed, then even if a major power managed to track Ning’s group to the Mortal Realm, there would be no way for him to find out where the Sacred Immortal Realm was located.

“In the outside world, the only person who even knows this ‘Sacred Immortal Realm’ exists is my master.” The black-robed Daolord smiled coldly. “As for myself, I’ve been permanently assigned to this place. Without Master’s permission, even I shall never be permitted to leave. As for the formation which surrounds this realm, my master was the one who personally set it up. It ensures that this realm is completely separated from the rest of the world. Even if you have other clones outside, there will be no way you can sense where this realm is.”

“Thus… no one knows that you are here, and no one will be able to find you. As for fighting back? Hmph. My master personally set up this formation, and I’m the only person who can fully unleash its power. Not even a Verge-level Daolord who stumbles into this place would be a match for me.” The black-robed Daolord swept the five with his gaze. “However… I have decided to give you a way to survive.”

“A way to survive?” Ning and the others stared at the black-robed Daolord. They had guessed long ago that the Daolord had ulterior motives, which was why he had spoken to them for so long. If he truly wanted to kill them, he would’ve done so long ago. Why would he first let them view the Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower and ensure they felt despair at knowing they had transgressed against Emperor Trisilk?

If they truly were geniuses who belonged to this universe, they probably would’ve felt despair upon hearing Emperor Trisilk’s name.

Emperor Trisilk was a true demon who had committed towering sins, and it was his idea to use enormous amounts of hatred to nourish Prismatic Kiloleaf Flowers. Just imagine how skilled he was in sin and how steeped he was in hate, for him to be able to manipulate it so effectively? As a man who had committed many sins, he had offended many major powers over the course of his life… and yet, he was still alive. Although he was merely a Paladin of the Church of Annihilation, he truly was skilled in staying alive.

Most importantly of all… Emperor Trisilk’s true specialty lay in torture. He could torture even Daolords to the brink of insanity, causing them to choose to commit suicide or to submit to him. All of his disciples were skilled in torture as well.

“Yes, a way to survive. If you are willing to swear lifeblood oaths to serve me forever and to obey my orders as my slaves, I’ll spare you.” The black-robed Daolord stared at Ning’s group, his eyes gleaming. The five of them were all monstrously talented cultivators who could become Daolords whenever they chose. Once they became Daolords, their future potential would be limitless. It was entirely possible that all five of them would become more powerful than the black-robed Daolord himself. And, if he had them work for him as miners after they became Daolords, they would definitely be far more effective than the shieldbearer golem.

His master had given him strict orders, true… but that was to prevent any secrets from being released. If these five swore lifeblood oaths to become his slaves, then there was naturally no chance of anything going astray. Even better, with these extra subordinates helping him mine this place he would be able to finish his task much faster and thus no longer need to remain here.

“Become slaves?” The faces of all five tightened.

“Impossible,” Solewind roared angrily.

“Nothing is impossible.” The black-robed Daolord laughed. “In the face of death… everything becomes possible.”

“Change your conditions,” Solewind growled. “We would die before becoming your slaves. We can carry out tasks for you and swear to divulge no information about this place to the outside world, but there’s absolutely no way we will become your slaves.”

The smile disappeared from the black-robed Daolord’s face, only to be replaced by an icy coldness. “You only have one choice – become slaves and live, or die!”

“Let us think it over.” Solewind gritted his teeth.

The black-robed Daolord stared coldly at the five of them. “Make it fast.” As he spoke, a savage-looking serpent began to appear in the air around him. The giant serpent coiled around the black-robed Daolord as it stared coldly at Ning’s group with its emotionless reptilian eyes. Ning and the others couldn’t help but shiver when they saw this. They knew that it could probably wipe them out in a single blow.

“What should we do?” Solewind, Ning, Greatjoy, Skyfire, and Firesurge traded glances.

“The power of this formation truly is incredible. He was telling the truth. Here in the Sacred Immortal Realm, not even Verge-level Daolords would be able to defeat him.” Prince Greatjoy sent mentally, “What should we do? I have a few trump cards, but they would at most be able to deal with Daolords of the Third Step. They wouldn’t even be enough to deal with that shieldbearer golem we just fought, much less this Daolord.”

“Right.” Firesurge had an ugly look on his face as well. As for Skyfire, he didn’t say a word. He really didn’t have any trump cards at all.

The black-robed Daolord sat there leisurely next to the Prismatic Kiloleaf Flower, the enormous black serpent continuing to coil around him. He said softly, “Tell me your choice. Do you choose life… or death?”

“LIFE!” A voice suddenly rang out.

The black-robed Daolord cracked a smile as he looked at the speaker.

As for Ning, him and three others also stared at the speaker in astonishment.

It was Heartlord Solewind.

Heartlord Solewind had just crushed an odd-looking jade pendant in his hands, causing an arcane surge of terrifying power to descend.

Whooosh.

It was formless. Colorless. Shapeless.

Ning and the others couldn’t see it or sense it at all; all they could sense was that something utterly terrifying had just appeared as a wave of something washed over them. The black-robed Daolord’s smile turned stiff, and a look of utter terror appeared in his eyes. He opened his mouth as though he was about to say something… but then, all traces of life fled from his body.

The only thing left was his seated corpse, and it no longer had any trace of life in it at all. As for the terrifying serpent that hd been created by the power of the formation? It completely dissipated into nothingness.

“He died?” Ning and the other three were boggled as they stared at Heartlord Solewind.

“Ugh. Just like that, I was forced to use up the life-saving Dao-seal the Heartforce Palace bestowed up on me.” Heartlord Solewind sighed softly. “Dao-seals like that aren’t available for sale anywhere. The power of each seal is incredibly great, equivalent to the Palace Lord himself striking with 30% of his maximum power. It could easily kill even a Verge-level Daolord.”

Ning and the others were speechless.

Good heavens. A Dao-seal comparable to a 30% maximum power strike from the Palace Lord of the Palace of the Heart? The Heartforce Palace truly had very few Daolords, but it was one of the most terrifying palaces of the Twelve Palaces precisely because each of them truly were incredibly powerful. As for the Palace Lord, if he was to personally intervene even Eternal Emperors would turn pale with fright and scamper off.

A strike which contained 30% of his full power… such a blow would threaten even Eternal Emperors to a certain extent, much less ordinary Daolords.

“That Dao-seal is… a bit ridiculous.” Prince Greatjoy was stunned.

“Are you sure you are the Imperial, not him?” Firesurge glanced at Skykfire Brightshore.

“That’s just…” Skyfire Brightshore mumbled…

“Our Heartforce Palace is different from your palaces. We have very vew members, and so we truly treat every member as we would family. I naturally was given a few protective measures for this adventure.” Heartlord Solewind smiled. “A pity. I only was given two Dao-seals of this level of power.”

“You have another one?!” All four of the others were starting to grow jealous. It seemed as though the old saying, ‘less is more’, really was true. The Heartforce Palace had very few members, which was why it was incredibly kind to those few members it had.

Prince Greatjoy glanced sideways at the seated, lifeless corpse of the black-robed Daolord. The black-robed Daolord had a look of utter terror on his face, and his mouth was open. Clearly, death had descended upon him with incredible speed. He had died while still gripped by astonishment.


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