DEWGHegerumbleBegins

Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 16 – First Meeting with Winterflame

“Those other Hegemons and Emperors arrived much earlier than I did, but they accomplished nothing at all. Those fools… all they know is to try their luck in the Jadefire Realm. I really wonder if they have any brains at all.” Hegemon Winterfire shook his head and smirked.

It was normal for Hegemons to get involved in a competition for a realmship, much like how Daolords would plunder a World-level cultivators who somehow managed to acquire the fruits of Crimsonwave Temple. Amongst cultivators, if you weren’t strong enough then you didn’t deserve to hold good enough treasures.

But… Hegemons stood at the very apex of power in any major organization! They generally had their own sense of pride and cared tremendously about face. Realmships were incredibly valuable, and for them to attack with a Daolord for the sake of winning a realmship was nothing. But to go capture that Daolord’s friends and then use them to coerce him? This was absolutely shameful! Figures as exalted as Hegemons generally did not have the face to do something like this.

Slightly less elevated figures such as Archon Silksnow might well decide to carry out such shameless acts, but it was clear from Ning’s power that there was no chance for non-Hegemonic Emperors to do anything to Vastheaven Palace! In addition, even if they did make the attempt they wouldn’t necessarily succeed; could it be that Daolord Darknorth wouldn’t make any arrangements of his own?

This sort of behavior was both shameful as well as unlikely to succeed, which was why the Hegemons chose to head to Jadefire Realm rather than Vastheaven Palace. Only truly shameless and insidious figures like Hegemon Winterflame would choose such a course of action.

Hegemons generally were extremely prideful figures who cared tremendously about face, but every so often there would be an exception! Hegemon Winterflame was one such exception.

……

Within Vastheaven Palace. The brothers of Vastheaven Palace were all gathered together, drinking and eating and discussing the Dao with each other. Ning’s avatar, Ninedust’s avatar, and Emperor Solesky all sat off to one side.

Boom! Suddenly, a terrifying level of power descended upon the palace. Ning’s avatar raised its head, only to a see a snow-white silver-scaled claw descend upon them from the skies, emanating an aura of endless, invisible frost. Even spacetime had been completely frozen by the pressure, and a bone-piercing chill instantly pervaded the entire palace. This caused Ning’s face to turn completely pale.

“Someone came!” Ning shouted mentally, “Enter my estate-world for now.” As he spoke, he waved his hand. Emperor Solesky, Ninedust’s avatar, Daolord Battlemaster… none of them fought back at all, allowing Ning to draw them into his estate-world. Ning had already made preparations for this eventuality, after all.

He had attracted attention from fifteen realmverses and even some itinerant wandering Hegemons; he naturally had to make complete preparations for both Vastheaven Palace and the Three Realms. Ning had actually gone so far as to create a second avatar!

It must be remembered that Ning’s true body and his Primaltwin were each capable of maintaining a ‘peak’ avatar! Thus, he chose to create a brand new avatar to stand guard over the Three Realms as well.

Boom! The countless runes and barriers covering Vastheaven Palace began to crack and shatter as the enormous silvery-white scaled claws rent through the skies. Ning’s avatar flickered slightly as he used his Shadowless evasion-art to arrive in the air outside.

Cold energy billowed everywhere, forcing Ning to reveal himself despite his Shadowless evasion-art. Ning stood there in the air, gazing at the devilishly handsome man in the distance with alabaster skin who radiated an aura of coldness.

“So it is Hegemon Winterflame,” Ning said. “Hegemon Winterflame, why have you come to Vastheaven Palace?”

“Hmph.” Hegemon Winterflame’s eyes were fllled with cold malice. “Daolord Darknorth? So you’ve taken away all your friends and put them into your estate-world… do you really think there is nothing I can do to you now? And I think you should know exactly why I am here.”

Hegemon Winterflame let out a cold snort: “Hand over the realmship immediately and I won’t cause any trouble for you. Otherwise, your comrades are all dead.”

“The realmship is with my true body, which is at the Jadefire Realm.” Ning shook his head. “I merely have an avatar here. How am I supposed to hand over the realmship?”

“Simple. Swear a lifeblood oath to hand it over to me and I’ll immediately leave.” Hegemon Winterflame stared at Ning.

Ning raised his head slightly, glancing off into the distance towards some spacetime ripples which had just appeared, then let out a cold smile. No longer interested in wasting time on words, he said, “Keep dreaming.”

“Hm?” Hegemon Winterflame glanced backwards as well, only to see that spacetime was beginning to split apart.

“Reinforcements? No reinforcements will make it in time,” Hegemon Winterflame roared angrily. Whoosh! He manifested a ball of white fire out of nowhere, sending it sweeping through the skies. In front of the ball of white fire were a series of eight silver-scaled claws, each of which held some of the white fire as they tore towards Ning.

The surrounding world had been completely sealed and locked away, while the aura of frigidity emanating from the white faire caused even Ning’s avatar to feel amazed.

Boom! Faced with those eight silver-scaled claws and the white fire they brought, Ning felt a sense of tremendous danger. The white fire in particular was something unique to Hegemon Winterflame alone; it was known as the ‘winterflame’.

Hegemon Winterflame had been born an Aberrant special lifeform. His true form was that of a sentient ball of fire that had slowly cultivated and increased in power until it finally became a Hegemon. The ‘winterflame’ technique was unique to him, and it could be described as an unspeakably cold ball of fire. Once it touched anyone weaker than it, it would almost instantly reduce its target to ash.

“Halt!” a low, fierce growl rang out as a titanic head appeared in the distant spacetime rift. It was Hegemon Brightshore. By now, Ning was on extremely good terms with Hegemon Brightshore. He was worried about Vastheaven Palace’s safety and thus had mentioned this matter to Hegemon Brightshore.

In the past, Hegemon Brightshore hadn’t really cared if Ning died or not, but ever since Ning had revealed his true power Hegemon Brightshore had begun to view Ning as he would his own right arm.

Whoosh. The silver-scaled claws and the flames tore through everything they touched. Ning’s avatar was almost indestructibly tough, comparable to a top-grade Eternal treasure, but it was still completely torn asunder. This was the power of a Hegemon.

“You want to stop me?” A face appeared within the midair ball of flames, a cold smile on its features. “Even though Hegemon Brightshore has arrived, he was just a step too slow. I have more than enough time to kill you and then seize all of your friends in Vastheaven Palace.”

He was a Hegemon, after all; although he was weaker than Hegemon Brightshore, he didn’t fear the man.

Boom! By now, Hegemon Brightshore’s massive bulk had exited the rift. He had six curved horns on his head, and his vast body seemed to be formed from incredibly thick layers of twisted stones. He reached out with one of his pillar-shaped arms, striking out towards Hegemon Winterflame.

Hegemon Winterflame’s eight silver-scaled claws hurriedly moved back to block the attack. An enormous explosion rang out as a shockwave of indescribable power spread out more than ten billion kilometers… but outside the ten billion kilometer range, there was no damage caused whatsoever. Clearly, Hegemon Brightshore wanted to protect the mortal lifeforms here.

“Eh?” The eight silver-scaled claws were destroyed, melting back into that pool of white fire which then resolved into a humanoid shape.

“What’s going on? I wasn’t able to grab anything?” Hegemon Winterflame had a stunned look on his face. He felt certain that he had destroyed Ning’s avatar. He wanted to seize Ning’s storage treasures, but hadn’t been able to find anything at all.

“Looking for me?” Far off in the distance, light flowed together to form a humanoid figure. It was Ji Ning.

“An invulnerable form?” Hegemon Winterflame’s face tightened. “You, a cultivator of the Dao of the Sword, have mastered an invulnerable form?” He had sought out much information regarding Ning and felt certain that Ning didn’t have an invulnerable form, which was why he was so confident in his chances.

Ning couldn’t help but sigh. His true body was so powerful that not even Hegemons would necessarily be able to force him to use his invulnerable form. His avatar, however, had been forced to use it almost immediately. This was his very first time exposing it in combat!

“Not bad, Darknorth.” The towering Hegemon Brightshore reverted to human form as well, and the snow-robed old man smiled as he looked at Ning. Hegemon Brightshore really was liking Ning more and more. Now that Ning had an invulnerable form, killing him would be no easy feat at all. It was entirely possible that Ning would survive Jadefire Realm after all.

But of course, Hegemon Brightshore had no hidea that Ning had already taken partial control over the formation-diagram of the Jadefire Realm.

“Hegemon Brightshore, thank goodness you made it in time,” Ning said.

“Hmph.” Hegemon Winterflame glanced coldly at Ning, then gave Hegemon Brightshore a look as well. “You might be able to hide for a time, but you won’t be able to hide forever. You won’t be able to dodge me within Jadefire Realm.” Swoosh. Hegemon Winterflame turned and moved to depart.

“Indeed, Hegemon Winterflame. We’ll meet again in the Jadefire Realm,” Ning called out to him.

“Hmph! Quite arrogant. Very well then, we’ll meet again in the JAdefire Realm!” Hegemon Winterflame’s voice was filled with cold malice as he tore through spacetime and departed.

Ning silently watched as Hegemon Winterflame departed.

“Something wrong?” Hegemon Brightshore walked over.

“Since Hegemon Winterflame has appeared, that means the second batch of Hegemons and Emperors should have arrived,” Ning said softly. The first batch held eight Hegemons; how many would the second hold?

Given how many Hegemons were present… would he really be able to use the flaming passageways to stop them?


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 17 – Divining Danger

“More and more Hegemons are arriving from the other realmverses.” Hegemon Brightshore looked at Ji Ning. “Darknorth, have you come up with a plan to deal with them?”

“Yes.” Ning nodded.

“Let’s go, then. Accompany me back to the Brightshore Kingdom,” Hegemon Brightshore said. Ning didn’t decline. This time, Hegemon Winterflame attacked; next time, it might be an even more shameless Hegemon. In the end, his avatar was just much too wea. Without the Darknorth swords, his avatar was merely on par with Archon Silksnow. This was why he had been so easily forced to reveal his invulnerable form. A Hegemon who was willing to pay an extremely high price would be able to kill his avatar; to reside in the Brightshore Kingdom would be the safest decision.

Riiiiiip. A spacetime tear appeared in the starry cosmos, followed by Hegemon Brightshore leading Ning into the tear and disappearing without a trace.

……

The Terror Starsea. The Jadefire Realm.

Whoosh. Seven figures flew into the giant vortex of flames and entered the Jadefire Realm. These seven figures belonged to the seven Hegemons and Emperors who had accompanied Hegemon Winterflame on this journey to the Flamedragon Realmverse.

“Hegemon Blackwood, what should we do next? Should we enter separately?” a gaudily violet-robed man spoke out.

“Brother Blackwood?” the alien Hegemon, a large and muscular man, spoke out as well.

Only three of the seven were Hegemons. Clearly, they all cared quite a bit about Hegemon Blackwood’s views. This was because Hegemon Blackwood was a Hegemon who was extremely skilled in the divination arts of Numerancy! Although he was much weaker in Numerancy when compared to Emperor Waveshift, he had still reached a level where he could be considered number one in the Dao of Numerancy amongst those who still resided in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance.

As for Emperor Waveshift himself, he had long ago disappeared to parts unknown. He was doted on and shown great favor by many Otherverse Lords and other major powers, all of whom treated him with tremendous friendliness.

Generally speaking, everyone wished to befriend a major power of the Dao of Numerancy. No one was willing to offend such a figure. If you wished to try and kill him, he’d be able to divine it and flee before you even arrived. Conversely, if you encountered certain dangers or troubles you might need him to assist you in a bit of Numerancy divination.

“Let me give it a try,” the bearded Hegemon Blackwood said, adjusting the eight azure wooden planks on his back. “However, as you all know this struggle over the realmship involves numerous Hegemons as well as Sithe relics; to apply Numerancy to it shall be extremely difficult. I tried on the way over but failed each time. Now that we’ve already entered the Jadefire Realm… perhaps I shall succeed.” The closer they were to ‘reality’, the easier Numerancy was to engage in.

The other six figures didn’t dare to intervene. They watched as Hegemon Blackwood stood there, eyes closed as the eight azure wooden planks flew out from behind his black and surrounded him. They levitated there, circling around him nonstop and circulating with azure light. Countless runes appeared on their surfaces as an invisible ripple of power spread out.

In the blink of an eye, a full hour had gone by.

“Eh?” Hegemon Blackwood frowned as he opened his eyes.

“Brother Blackwood?” the alien Hegemon immediately asked.

“How did it go?” the violet-robed Hegemon asked as well.

“Don’t be impatient,” Hegemon Blackwood said. “Follow me into one of those flaming passageways. Remember, we’re going to stand in front of the passageway. We’re not going to actually go inside.” As he spoke, he flew over towards a passageway. The other six figures hurriedly followed from behind. They soon reached the nearest passageway, where they all came to a halt.

“None of you are to disturb me,” Hegemon Blackwood instructed. He then sat down in the lotus position and began to calmly focus his entire mind on Numerancy. The eight pieces of azure wood continuously swiveled around him, sometimes slow and sometimes fast, carrying a strange cadence to them.

……

As soon as Hegemon Blackwood and the others appeared, Ning was immediately made aware of it. He watched these Hegemons closely from afar.

“E? Not good. They are moving together. Wait, why are they pausing at the entrance without going any deeper inside?” Ning was puzzled. To merely be at the entranceway meant they could retreat whenever they chose; Ning’s control over the flaming passageways wouldn’t give him any power of them.

……

Hegemon Blackwood spent a total of three years engaging in Numerancy. His face was rather ashen as he finally opened his eyes, an exhausted look in his gaze.

“Blackwood?” The other six looked at Hegemon Blackwood, with the violet-robed Hegemon calling out to him.

“The dangers of the Jadefire Realm primarily reside within the prison regions and the flaming passageways. So long as we avoid the prison region, we won’t be in any danger,” Hegemon Blackwood said. “Thus… the main things for us to be concerned about are the flaming passageways! After physically entering one of them, my divinations became a bit clearer than before. There are many invisible forces disrupting my Numerancy, and those disruptions are extremely strong.”

What Hegemon Blackwood didn’t know was that Ning trained in the Omega Sword Dao. Divining anything which was related to Ning in any way was guaranteed to be a ridiculously difficult task. Given how many Hegemons were involved as well as the Sithe ruins known as the ‘Jadefire Realm’, those who didn’t have nigh-perfect mastery over the Dao of Numerancy wouldn’t be able to see anything clearly at all.

“So what’s the conclusion?” the alien Hegemon immediately asked.

“This is going to be extremely dangerous,” Hegemon Blackwood said softly. “I feel as though we are heading into a world of mist. Right now, I can only come to one vague conclusion… only if we stay together will we have a chance at being safe. Once we separate… we could very well die.”

“What?!”

“Very well die?!”

“As terrifying as that?” the other six were all shocked. Based on what they knew of this place, the Jadefire Realm was once deadly but had now fallen into disrepair. It also had no one in control of it, which meant that it shouldn’t be nearly as dangerous as it once was. To Hegemons and extremely powerful Emperors, it shouldn’t post much of a threat.

“If we separate… we might be safe, but we might also die,” Hegemon Blackwood explained. “But if we stay together, there will be almost no danger at all. Go ahead and decide; should we move together or separately? If you agree to travel alongside me, I’ll accompany you inside as a group. Otherwise, I’ll wait for the next group of Hegemons and accompany them instead.”

“Together.”

“Together, of course.” the violet-robed Hegemon and the others all immediately spoke out in unison. With Emperor Waveshift permanently ‘missing’, Hegemon Blackwood was now the number one expert of the Dao of Numerancy in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance. Moving alongside someone like him would be the safest choice.

“Should we wait for Hegemon Winterflame?” an Emperor spoke out.

“Why the hell should we?”

“Hmph, traveling alongside him is a disgrace.”

“Let’s go. Given the detour he took, he’ll be at least two centuries behind us,” Hegemon Blackwood said calmly. “I certainly don’t have the patience to wait for him.” Hegemon Blackwood was an extremely proud figure, far more prideful than even your average Hegemon. He had never held Hegemon Winterflame in any respect!

Since Hegemon Blackwood had spoken, no one else argued the matter. Whoosh. The seven Hegemons immediatey joined forces to advance through the flaming passageways together, each using their own techniques to keep everyone safe. Spacetime techniques, special treasures, secret arts… they were put on full display as they advanced.

……

“Eh? They actually have chosen to advance as a unit?” Previously, Ning had been relaxing with Whitethaw within a flaming passageway inside the Jadefire Realm, sipping some wine from inside his hidden realmship. Now, however, he could no longer relax.

“Hegemon Blackwood, eh? I didn’t expect this many major powers to get involved, or that one of them would be able to divine a correct path of action despite my Dao being that of the Omega Dao,” Ning mused. He was on good terms with Daolord Badlands and thus knew a bit about the Dao of Numerancy. The more variables that were involved, the more difficult the divination would become.

Ning trained in an Omega Dao; each time Daolord Badlands tried to engage in Numerancy divinations regarding Ning, he saw nothing but blank fogginess. It was extremely difficult.

If (for example) an Autarch was somehow involved in a matter, most likely not even Emperor Waveshift would be able to divine anything whatsoever.

“The Dao of Numerancy truly is incredible,” Ning sighed. If his foes had chosen to travel separately, they would be like meat for his butcher’s block. Now that they were moving together, there wasn’t much he could do to them.

“Since Hegemon Blackwood and the others have started to move, it’ll be time to draw in my web soon.” Ning then pondered for a moment, “Wait, not just yet. I’ll wait for Hegemon Winterflame to arrive as well.”

Hegemon Winterflame had sought to use Vastheaven Palace to threaten Ning; how could Ning let him off the hook?

Soon, after roughly 180 or so years, Hegemon Winterflame arrived at the Jadefire Realm. He randomly picked a flaming passageway, then entered it. As he did so, Ning finally put down his winecup and rose to his feet within his realmship.

“The Jadefire Realm’s flaming passageways now have a total of twelve Hegemons within them!” Ning was able to clearly track the actions and movements of all the Hegemons and Emperors. “Once I move against one of them, I’ll be exposed and the rest will be forewarned. Thus… I’ll probably only be able to actually capture one of them.”

“Which one should I choose?”

Ning suddenly grinned. “The strongest one, I suppose!”


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 18 – Captured

If he was going to rely on the flaming passageways and their traps to capture a Hegemon, he was going to capture the strongest one. Of the twelve Hegemons, the strongest had to be Hegemon Azurefiend!

“Damn that slippery Daolord Darknorth. He must have gained an extremely detailed intelligence report regarding the Jadefire Realm; otherwise, how could he have been able to throw me off with ease so many times in a row?” Hegemon Azurefiend sat there in the lotus position in the air, two rope-type treasures coiling around him. He just quietly sat there, his senses keenly attuned.

“However… sooner or later, he’ll make a mistake,” Hegemon Azurefiend with with a cold laugh. “The flaming passageways no longer have just the original traps in them, they also have the traps set up by the other Hegemons and Emperors. One instance of bad luck and he’ll hit one of them. My chance will come them.”

Hegemon Azurefiend was extremely patient. The fact that he was willing to spend such incredible amounts of time drifting between realmverses on his adventures was testament to his patience. Even if he had to spend a thousand chaos cycles here in the flaming passageways, he’d still be more than patient enough to do it.

“Eh?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s ears twitched slightly. He opened his eyes to stare towards the front, where he soon saw a realmship carefully advancing through the air.

“There it is. The realmship.” Hegemon Azurefiend was delighted. Swoosh! He immediately transformed into a streak of light that shot after Ning. He had spent more than a hundred thousand years in these flaming passageways, and was already quite familiar with the ones in the area he was in. He knew where the ‘native’ traps were and were the traps placed by the Hegemons were, making it easy for him to chase after his foe.

“Hegemon Azurefiend!” The occupant of the realmship seemed to be badly shocked, immediately turning to flee in a different direction.

“You aren’t going anywhere!” Hegemon Azurefiend roared as he chased from behind.

The realmship continued its panicked flight. Boom! Suddenly, with a loud explosion, a large amount of boulders appeared out of nowhere and furiously began to spin and smash against everything within the reach of the trap. Although the realmship was able to endure the attacks, it was still smashed flying backwards.

“A perfect opportunity.” Hegemon Azurefiend was overjoyed upon seeing this and immediately chased over. However, the realmship quickly escaped from the confines of the trap and began to accelerate once more as it fled.

The realmship fled while the Hegemon pursued. Hegemon Azurefiend used his ropes to blaze a path for him, sweeping away all dangers. Although he furiously chased after Ning and felt quite familiar with his surroundings, he still remained quite cautious. This was one of the reasons why he was still alive despite having visited so many dangerous regions in so many realmverses.

“Perfect. Come closer.” Ning smiled merrily as he glanced backwards from within his ‘fleeing’ realmship. He knew the exact locations of all passageways, all ‘native’ mechanisms, and all Hegemon-emplaced traps. When he occasionally activated one of them by mistake, it was nothing more than a pretense!

“We’re arriving up ahead.” Ning felt quite eager… because a terrifying trap was not too far away from him. This was one of the most deadly traps located within the endless flaming passageways. The Sithe had once used it to trap cultivators, then sent them off to the prison regions. The power of this trap was so great that it could capture a Hegemon with ease. Even two or three Hegemons in a group would be caught.

However, a larger group of Hegemons meant that one Hegemon might fall into the trap while the others were still far away, due to them moving at different speeds. That would be troublesome, which was why Ning chose a single target this time.

“Time to catch a Hegemon.” Ning felt quite excited. In the past, he never would’ve dared to even imagine such a thing, but now that he was in control of the flaming passageways he did.

Swoosh! The realmship instantly flew past that dangerous mechanism, which remained unactivated. In recent years, Ning had maintained control over all of the most dangerous mechanisms and kept them in a deactivated state, not allowing them to unleash their full power. This was why the Hegemons hadn’t encountered any serious problems thus far. The ones that they did see were the ones which had been revealed long ago by others.

“Don’t even think of escaping. Your realmship is mine!” Hegemon Azurefiend furiously chased from behind, attempting to use his ropes to coil around the realmship from afar. Alas, Daolord Darknorth was simply too fast in escaping.

“And here we are. Right there.” Surrounding by the countless illusions of flaming passageways, Ning’s divine power clone had been watching this entire time from above the formation-diagram altar. It had watched as two specks of light had progressed through the passageway, the first being the realmship while the second being Hegemon Azurefiend.

“Activate!” Ning’s divine power clone instantly activated the terrifying mechanism via the formation-diagram, causing the power that had been hidden for all these years to suddenly explode forth with terrifying might.

Whoosh! Swish! Hegemon Azurefiend had been chasing after Ning at high speed, and he slammed right into the area of the mechanism.

Boom! A strange ripple of dimensional power suddenly appeared. Eight different places in that flaming passageway began to glow with light which came to form a vast, illusory cage in midair. The void cage completely trapped the charging Hegemon Azurefiend, who continued to fly forwards only to ram straight into the ‘membrane’ of the cage.

BOOM! Hegemon Azurefiend was sent staggering several steps backwards.

“Eh? What’s going on?” Hegemon Azurefiend suddenly turned pale, a look of shock and horror appearing on his face as he scanned his surroundings. He could clearly sense that he had been trapped within a void cage and see the continuously changing and transforming membranes around him.

“Break!” Hegemon Azurefiend reached out with his right hand, transforming it into a terrifyingly destructive claw that rent towards the void membrane. The void membrance made no sound at all. It simply flexed slightly like a bubble, easily deflecting his power without suffering any damage whatsoever.

Hegemon Azurefiend’s heart turned ice-cold. He had visited many places and seen many things, and so he instantly realized that even if he was ten times more powerful than he was right now, he still probably wouldn’t be able to defeat this void cage.

“How could there be a void cage here? This is impossible. I’ve traversed this passageway over ten times, and I’ve scouted out this place with my ropes right after the realmship flew past it. Neither the realmship nor my ropes activated the trap. Why did it activate as soon as I walked past it?” Hegemon Azurefiend could hardly believe it. “And I didn’t encounter it in the past either. Why did such a terrifying mechanism suddenly activate without any warning?”

It had been over a hundred thousand years. None of the Hegemons or Emperors had run into any trouble upon entering this place! If there were any particularly deadly traps here, then logically speaking some of the other Hegemons and Emperors should’ve been trapped long ago. However, there had been no word from anyone else in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance, which meant that the other Emperors were all fine.

“Why has it suddenly activated now when it wasn’t activated previously? Is there someone in control of them now?” Hegemon Azurefiend could think of no other possibilities.

Whoosh. The ‘fleeing’ realmship suddenly turned and flew back, coming to a halt outside the void cage. Two figures emerged from the realmship. One was a white-robed youth with a black sword sheath on his back, while the other was a furry, white-furred Sithe Protector.

“Daolord Darknorth.” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at the white-robed youth.

“Hegemon Azurefiend. This should be our first time actually meeting face-to-face.” Ning smiled.

“What, have you come to gloat now that I’ve fallen into this trap?” Hegemon Azurefiend said coldly.

Ning shook his head slowly. “No. I’ve come to rescue you.”

“Rescue me?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s face tightened.

“Right. I’d like to ask you a question. Would you like to live, or would you like to die?” Ning smiled as he looked at Hegemon Azurefiend.

These words stnnned Hegemon Azurefiend. He immediately called out in shock, “Y-you?! It was you?! The person controlling the mechanisms is you? I thought that some other Hegemon or major power was behind this trap. I didn’t expect it to be you, you puny little Daolord.”

As soon as he had fallen for the trap, he had calculated that it was most likely for someone to have actively unleashed thie mechanism. Otherwise, why would it have remained dormant for so long, ignoring both his ropes and the realmship but activating when he flew past? It had to be a formation that could be activated or deactivated as needed, which meant there had to be someone controlling it.

“Hmph. What price must I pay to leave this place?” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at Ning, his eyes flickering with cold light. His voice, however, remained quite calm.

“Simple. Be my retainer. I won’t ask for too long; 108,000 chaos cycles will do,” Ning said. “To a Hegemon like yourself, spending 108,000 chaos cycles wandering the outside world is nothing.”

“I… a Hegemon… serve you, a Daolord, as a retainer?” A furious look appeared in Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes as he growled, “Don’t you think you are overestimating yourself a bit much?”

“I am indeed nothing more than a mere Daolord, but your fate, exalted Hegemon, is now under my control.” Ning stared intently at Hegemon Azurefiend.


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 19 – Death Over Submission

“My fate is in your hands?” Hegemon Azurefiend stared past the void cage imprisoning him: “If my guess is correct, this is nothing more than an immaterial cage of barriers. It can at most capture me, not kill me. So long as I continually assault it, I’ll be able to deplete its power. I refuse to believe that a single mechanism can give birth to a permanent force-cage of such power.”

Ji Ning nodded slowly. “Impressive deductions, Hegemon. Your words were correct; if you were to fight back, this void cage wouldn’t be sustained for too long. But… didn’t you think that the Sithe would have taken this into consideration?”

“Hrm?” Hegemon Azurefiend looked at Ning.

“With but a thought, I can create a void link between this cage and the prison regions,” Ning explained. “I’ll send you off to be imprisoned there! You should know just how deadly the Jadefire Realm’s prison region is.”

Hegemon Azurefiend was a man who had seen many things. He knew that the Sithe wouldn’t be so foolish as to expect such a void cage to perpetually trap their foes; it was entirely possible that there really was a mechanism by which one could be sent through a void link off into the prison regions!

“The prison regions? The prisons are rather damaged, and the entire region as a whole has been breached. It isn’t nearly as dangerous as it once was.” Hegemon Azurefiend laughed coldly, “Given my power, with enough time I should be able to escape. Even if I’m not able to escape immediately, I’ll be able to ask other major powers for succor. You won’t be able to threaten me.”

“You are wrong. There are differences even amongst prisons. There are seven central prisons in particular,” Ning explained, “And although three of them have crumbled apart, four of them remain in perfect shape. I’ll send you into one of those four. Forget about you, not even Otherverse Lords who are trapped within would stand any chance at escape.”

Hegemon Azurefiend’s face tightened. He had read the intelligence reports regarding the Jadefire Realm and knew of the seven central prisons. Given how badly damaged the prison regions were in general, they really wouldn’t necessarily be capable of holding back an Otherverse Lord. Ning claiming otherwise was probably just a boast… but imprisoning a Hegemon was entirely possible.

“Have you decided?” Ning asked. “Being my retainer isn’t exactly embarrassing! Don’t worry, I won’t make this public. I’ll tell everyone else that the two of us are extremely close friends who have known each other forever, which is why you chose to help me.”

“And who do you think would believe that?” Hegemon Azurefiend said coldly, “Who in the world would believe that? Everyone knows I came to the Jadefire Realm because I want your realmship, and everyone knows the type of person I am. Give up the realmship and instead become friends with you, then going so far as to fight to protect you? Do you really think those Hegemons are absolute imbeciles? Even a genuine imbecile would be able to tell that I was forced to become your retainer.”

Seeing this, Ning frowned. “Then what do you propose?”

“Being a retainer for a puny Daolord like yourself would be the greatest humiliation of my life. There’s no way I would accept.” Hegemon Azurefiend shook his head, his words completely uncompromising.

Ning felt a bit troubled. He didn’t expect that the temperamental Hegemon Azurefiend would actually care so much about face that he would discard even his life.

“How about this? Ten thousand chaos cycles!” Ning said.

“Hmph.” Hegemon Azurefiend shook his head.

Ning’s gaze grew cold. “A thousand chaos cycles. This is my last offer! I only need you to serve me for a thousand chaos cycles. To a Hegemon like yourself, this is an extremely brief period of time. I’ve already shown mercy to you, considering that you came to try and steal my treasures. If you refuse even my offer of a thousand chaos cycles… hmph.”

In truth, a thousand chaos cycles really was the final offer Ning was willing to make. This was because his Primaltwin was consistently using the Autarch’s stone dais within the Azureflower Estate while under the effects of 100x temporal acceleration. Thus, a thousand chaos cycles for his true body would become equivalent to over 100,000 chaos cycles for his Primaltwin… or in other words, time for the Daomerge. Regardless of whether he succeeded or failed in his Daomerge, Hegemon Azurefiend would no longer be of much use.

“Give me an answer.” Ning looked at him.

Hegemon Azurefiend could sense the killing intentions rise in the Daolord before him, but this only caused him to laugh: “Hahaha! I never thought that I, Azurefiend, would be put in such dire straights by a Daolord.”

“I, Azurefiend, have roamed for countless ages and have lived for countless years. I’ve killed as I pleased and plundered as I pleased. Lower my head before a puny Daolord and become his retainer? I’d rather die!” Hegemon Azurefiend glared at Ning. “Plus… you aren’t even capable of killing me. Go ahead and lock me up. Go ahead and send me into the most central prisons within the Jadefire Realm! When the time comes, I’ll pay an incredible price to Realmslord Windgrace and have him personally use the Blacksun to attack the prison and break me out.”

Ning’s face tightened. Realmslord Windgrace? The Blacksun was a truly terrifying weapon the Sithe had left behind from the Dawn War! Normally, it could be used to briefly create spacetime conduit that allowed for instantaneous travel to incredibly distant places, but it also had more savage abilities. It could be used to attack! Once the accumulated energies were unleashed via the Blacksun, the power would be so great that even Otherverse Lords might perish before it.

Realmslord Windgrace was both an Otherverse Lord and in charge of the Blacksun. Thus, he possessed a transcendent status even amongst his peers in the Chaosverse.

The foundation of the Jadefire Realm had already been wrecked, causing it to be dramatically weakened, whereas the Blacksun was undamaged. If Realmslord Windgrace really did come, he’d probably be capable of breaching the core jails and rescuing Hegemon Azurefiend.

“I hear that the price needed to establish a spacetime conduit via the Blacksun is absolutely enormous,” Ning said. “None of the Hegemons or Emperors chose to make such a request in order to have a better chance at the realmship! To have Realmslord Windgrace come here in person and use the Blacksun to breach a core prison to rescue you is probably going to cost even more than just creating a spacetime conduit. Are you sure you can pay such a price?”

“I cannot.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s gaze was cold while his voice was growling: “But I’d be willing to serve him as a servant in recompense!”

“As a servant?” Ning laughed. “You’d rather be a servant to Realmslord Windgrace than be a retainer for a mere thousand chaos cycles to a Daolord like myself. It makes sense. Realmslord Windgrace is an exalted figure, while I’m nothing but a mere Daolord… but Azurefiend, are you sure he even needs a servant like you?”

“If he doesn’t want a servant like me, then in the future I’ll wander through other dangerous regions to acquire treasures and slowly repay him,” Hegemon Azurefiend said. “Based on my understanding of his temperament, he should probably accept such an offer! Even if he really isn’t willing to come rescue me, I’d rather remained trapped here within the prisons.”

“Once the Yin-Yang Samsara Wheels reach this place, you’ll perish,” Ning said.

“If I die, I die. I, Azurefiend, have roamed the Chaosverse and have seen everything there is to see. Although I do not welcome death, I welcome humiliation even less! Daolords are as puny as meaningless as ants. How dare one of you even think to have me, Azurefiend, serve you as a retainer?” Hegemon Azurefiend looked at Ning mockingly. “Laughable. Laughable!”

……

Ning stared at the icy-faced Hegemon Azurefiend from outside the cage. In his heart, he couldn’t help but sigh. His greatest worry had never been whether or not he would be able to capture a Hegemon. His greatest worry was… would he be able to convince the Hegemon to submit?

“You called me as a weak as an ant?” Ning said. “Do you really look down on Daolords that much?”

“What, do you think you are strong? All you could do was to trick and trap me thanks to your control over a few mechanisms. If it wasn’t for the terrifying traps the Sithe left behind in the Jadefire Realm, do you think you really would have the chance to boast like this before me? I’d crush you into dust with one claw.” Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes glowed with savage light. “All you can do is hide outside the cage and brag from a position of safety. How laughable.”

Ning shook his head. “You underestimate Daolords too much.”

“Oh? I heard you managed to force Archon Silksnow into committing suicide, right? You probably trapped him in another one of these mechanisms.” Hegemon Azurefiend truly was filled with rage towards the Daolord before him. This puny Daolord was insulting him from outside the cage! How long had it been since a Daolord had ever dared to behave like this before him?

“How about this, Azurefiend? Let’s have a little bet,” Ning said.

“A bet?” Azurefiend looked at Ning. “What bet.”

“I’ll enter the void cage and have a fight against you,” Ning said. “I’ll rely on my own real power to fight against you, and I’ll give you an hour. If you cannot beat me in that hour, you’ll have lost. You’ll have to accept the results of our wager and become my retainer!”

“You are willing to come inside to spar against me?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes lit up. He had been thoroughly infuriated ages ago, but the void cage made it so that he wasn’t able to injure Ning in the slightest. That was the only reason why he had managed to hold onto his temper and waste so much tie talking instead. Now, upon hearing that this puny Daolord was being so reckless and foolish as to come on inside, he was instantly delighted.

“Fine, I’ll take that bet! But I don’t need an hour. Just stand in front of me and rely on your own power to survive for ten seconds. Do that, and you’ll have won!” Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes turned red with bloodlust. He truly did not believe that an exalted Hegemon like him, highly-ranked even amongst other Hegemons, would be unable to annihilate a puny Daolord like Darknorth.

“Agreed. No backing out?” Ning said.

“I’d rather die than break my word! Just don’t regret dying by my hands, you brat.” Hegemon Azurefiend licked his lips, his eyes flashing with blood light.

Whoosh. With a flicker, Ning flew past the invisible walls and inside the void cage.