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Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 2 – Unexpected Surprise

Ninedust had failed to dissuade Ji Ning, but he decided to temporarily reside within Vastheaven Palace. That way, he would be able to keep in constant contact with Ning and be able to report details regarding his situation. This would be helpful to Ning in Ning’s efforts to rescue him.

Within the Terror Starsea. Ning’s true body was hastening through the region, his Protector in tow. This place was far too dangerous; even Ning had to advance through it with great caution. After roughly eight hundred years, the two finally made it to the Jadefire Realm.

“We arrived.” Ning stared off into the front at the enormous, nigh-infinite vortex of fire which had appeared in the void. The flame vortex took up an enormous amount of territory. Each petal of fire was very beautiful, but filled with tremendous danger.

“Master.” Whitethaw’s eyes suddenly lit up and he spoke out.

“Yes?” Ning glanced at Whitethaw.

“I’ve been here before,” Whitethaw said.

“You’ve been here before?” Ning was delighted. He suddenly remembered that Daoist Bluestone had acquired this Sithe Protector in the Terror Starsea! Whitethaw had been charged with protecting an extremely high-status Sithe, which in turn meant it wasn’t that surprising for them to have visited the Jadefire Realm before.

“Yes.” Whitethaw nodded. “My original Sithe master was invited here before. This place which you cultivators call the ‘Jadefire Realm’ was known to the Sithe as the ‘Seven Flaming Hells’.”

“What else do you know?” Ning was overjoyed. This truly was an unexpected surprise. The more he learned about the Jadefire Realm, the easier his visit to it would be.

Whitethaw held nothing back from his new master: “This is a deathtrap which the Sithe laboriously built up. My master was merely invited here to view it, and so I only have a cursory knowledge of it! The heart of the Seven Flaming Hells are the seven core prisons within it. Those seven prisons are paramount, but there are a large number of ordinary cells as well! All of them, together, form the ‘Seven Flamehell Annihilation Formation’ which can generate a type of destructive black flames. Aside from Autarchs, virtually anyone touched by these destructive black flames will perish.”

Ning was in awe as he nodded slowly. “Those black flames… we cultivators refered to them as a wave of ‘Decimatus Flames’.”

“However, the Sithe ended up being defeated in the war. That means the Seven Flaming Hells were probably attacked and destroyed, along with its formation,” Whitethaw said. “Thus, Master, there’s no need for you to worry about the Decimatus Flames.”

Ning listened as Whitethaw continued: “Part of those prisons are damaged, but part are probably intact. If you wish to save your friend, Master, you must first find out where he is. If he’s trapped in a damaged prison, you’ll have a chance to rescue him! But if he is within an intact prison… rescuing him will be very, very difficult.”

“In addition, your enemy ‘Archon Silksnow’ is also present. Based on what you said, Master, he’s not inside the prisons. There are a large number of passageways outside the prisons,” Whitethaw said. “These many passageways are filled with many traps and barriers. The Sithe once controlled them to ensure that cultivators were unable to escape. Many died in those passageways or were blasted into a prison during the battles. My guess is that Archon Silksnow is definitely planning to use those mechanisms to trap you, Master.”

“Passageways? Prisons?” Ning nodded.

“When my original Sithe master was invited to come here, the receiving Sithe warned him never to fly within the passageways! He was only to walk on the ground. That way, even if he did run into some of the barriers, at least he wouldn’t be sent into the prisons.” Whitethaw smiled. “No matter how dangerous the situation on the ground might seem, he was not to fly at all.”

“The ground is filled with many dangerous barriers and formations, but they aren’t capable of killing Hegemons. It is precisely because of how dangerous the ground looks that many cultivators choose to fly instead, seeking to avoid those dangers.” Whitethaw continued, “But while it is true that you will encounter much fewer dangers while flying… the ones that you will encounter are lethally dangerous ones! Even Hegemons might perish.”

Ning nodded slowly. If it hadn’t been for Whitethaw telling him this, Ning would never have been able to guess at all of these secrets.

“You have to be careful, Master. I’ve only been to this place once with my original Sithe master before,” Whitethaw said, “And I’m only familiar with a few of the passageways which my Sithe master once took. As for the more important secrets of the prisons, I wasn’t privy to those.”

“You’ve told me enough. This is excellent.” Ning smiled.

Even when the Jadefire Realm was in perfect shape, so long as one walked without flying one wouldn’t encounter any dangers which could threaten Hegemons! Now that the Jadefire Realm was in bad shape, things would be even safer. Neither Archon Silksnow nor the Ninedust Sectlord had died in the passageways, after all.

“Hmph. Silksnow, so long as you stay outside the prisons, you won’t be able to threaten me no matter how you plot.” Ning felt much more relaxed, and a cold light flashed through his eyes. “I’m not going to die here, but you are.”

“Let’s go inside, Whitethaw,” Ning said. Whoosh. The two of them immediately flew into that enormous vortex of fire.

……

The enormous vortex of fire was pitch-black inside. After Ning and Whitethaw entered, they felt as though they had entered a completely different world.

“Eh?” Ning saw clusters of fiery passageways up ahead. The countless fiery passageways were all interlinked, almost like an enormous beehive.

During the Dawn War, this had been a Sithe base. The Sithe would be able to retreat here and recuperate in safety… but the cultivators who dared barge inside would all perish.

“I can sense them.” Ning stared towards a certain direction, then reached out with his right hand and pointed. “Silksnow is right over there.”

“Master, these passageways are all interlinked. You’ll be able to reach any prison from any passage,” Whitethaw said.

“If that’s the case, then we’ll choose that passageway.” Ning began to fly towards the passageway up ahead, the one which he felt would lead him towards Archon Silksnow.

……

“He’s here?” A skinny, white-haired, white-browed man was seated in the lotus position within an empty space that was merely three hundred meters in size. Archon Silksnow was able to sense that his realmship was resonating with a realmship part. A look of excitement flashed through his oily green eyes: “Daolord Darknorth actually came. Heh heh… they really are good friends.”

Although he felt that Ning would probably come, this place was still the Jadefire Realm. Not everyone would be willing to brave such great danger for the sake of a friend.

“Good. Daolord Darknorth… I might not be able to beat you, but the Sithe can.” Archon Silksnow stared towards the flames, a smile playing on his lips. “I’ll wait for you right here. Let’s see what you can do. I’m completely surrounded by lethal traps. So long as you come towards me, you’ll definitely activate them. Once you do, you are dead.”

The destruction of the Sithe had resulted in many of the barriers and mechanisms being revealed. There was no longer anyone in charge of them, which was why they could no longer remain hidden!

Archon Silksnow had chosen this region because there was a terrifyingly strong formation here. It was so mighty that just staring at it would cause one to shudder. Archon Silksnow knew that if he touched it, he would instantly perish! Thus, he carefully skirted the formation and then hid himself within the void besides it. He then set up a few formations of his own to help mask and disguise the truly dangerous one.

“I’ve already disguised the trap. There’s no way you’ll notice it at all.” Archon Silksnow revealed a smile. “You’ll definitely touch it… and even if you don’t, I’ll arrange for you to do so.”

He knew that someone like Ning would definitely be quite crafty. It wouldn’t be easy to trick him, and so he had made many plans to ensure that Ning would fall into at least one of them.

His advantage lay in the fact that he had been the first to enter the Jadefire Realm!

“Heh. You want to save your friend, eh? Heh heh heh… you are dead. Dead!” Archon Silksnow eagerly awaited Ning’s arrival. It had been a long, long time since he had felt this excited! The most dazzling Daolord in all of history was coming, someone who had destroyed the Silksnow Fiend Palace… and today, Archon Silksnow was finally going to get rid of him.

……

Whoosh. Ning flew into the passageway, then stepped onto the ground.

“Be careful, Master. As you follow the passageway, you’ll run into a fairly high number of barriers and traps.” Whitethaw was by Ning’s side, protecting him at all times.

“Alright.” Ning nodded. Ning began to carefully advance through the twisting, flaming passageways. The passageways were a thousand meters in diameter, and a number of mechanisms were clearly visible within them. Ning and Whitethaw were able to easily avoid touching them.

After walking for the time needed to boil a kettle of tea, Ning suddenly blinked. He then glanced at the nearby Whitethaw. “Whitethaw, didn’t you say there were plenty of dangers and mechanisms here?” They hadn’t encountered anything dangerous at all.

“Uh…” Whitethaw felt rather awkward. “I guess… maybe the Sithe are all dead and no one is in control… which is why there are no dangers?”

“Heh.” Ning laughed when he saw the awkward look on Whitethaw’s face. “Alright, let’s go.”

The two of them continued to traverse the passageways with ease, moving closer and closer towards Archon Silksnow.


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 3 – Ji Ning and Silksnow

The winding, flaming corridors stretched off for countless kilometers. They had been nightmares for cultivators during the Dawn War, but now that they were damaged and were no longer actively controlled, the barriers within had been dramatically lessened in number.

The flames beneath the feet of Ji Ning and Whitethaw suddenly transformed to form a giant flaming head that was three hundred meters long. The flaming head opened its great mouth, preparing to swallow Ning and Whitethaw whole.

“Break!” Whitethaw stomped down angrily towards the ground with his white, fur-covered feet.

Boom! The furry stomp delivered a strike of inconceivable power, instantly crushing the flames below and shattering the flaming head.

Ning chuckled when he saw this: “We finally encountered a trap. This was the first one for us.”

“Don’t worry, Master. Leave these mechanisms to me.” Whitethaw’s voice boomed sonorously.

“Haha, I’m not worried at all.” Ning laughed, but he couldn’t help but sigh secretly in amazement as well. No wonder the highest-ranking Sithe had all wanted Sithe Protectors like this. Whitethahw was definitely comparable to supreme Archons in power! Even when Ning fought against it with all his might, Ning was still unable to gain any advantage at all.

And this wasn’t the most impressive thing about it. What was really impressive was the fact that the golem was meant to protct and defend. In raw power alone, it was comparable to Hegemons in might! This was the reason why Ning wasn’t able to gain any advantage even when using his Heavenbreaker stance with all his power.

Aside from possessing overwhelming power, it was also capable of soft and flexible attacks. It was capable of tying down any foe, even Hegemon-level ones. It could also stand in front of its master, helping its master face any dangers.

It must be understood that not even an actual Hegemon would necessarily be as effective as a Sithe Protector when it came to actually guarding someone.

……

Ning and Whitethaw continued to follow the passageway. Whitethaw used his absolute, overwhelming power to block and crush any of the traps they activated. In truth, these mechanisms weren’t all that powerful; they weren’t even able to force Whitethaw to enter his ‘flexible’ mode.

Whoosh. Countless flames suddenly sprang up beneath Ning’s feet, surrounding him from every direction and from above him as well. Flames were spinning everywhere, almost as though they had just been trapped in a cage of flames. The spinning flames came together to form a strange script which was clearly accumulating a surge of terrifying power.

Ning’s face tightened slightly. This was the first time since entering this place that he felt a bit of danger. Clang! Ning pulled a pair of Northbow swords from the sheath on his back, bringing them to the ready.

“Master, leave it to me!” Whitethaw let out a low roar, slamming his giant furry palms in every direction in a series of furious strikes.

Boom! Boom! Boom! It was like a wave of palm-strikes striking out everywhere. Each palm was actually slightly stronger than even Ning’s full-force Heavenbreaker stance! More than ten palm-strikes were unleashed in the blink of an eye, causing the cage of flames to start to crack and crumble. Moments later, the cage exploded violently and then completely collapsed.

The Protector lowered his hands, a stolid and straightforward look on his face as always.

“Pretty impressive.” Ning was beginning to like the golem more and more. When Daoist Bluestone had traded this golem to him as part of the deal for the Omega Sword Dao, Bluestone had said that these Sithe Protector golems were extremely rare and of slight interest to even Autarchs.

“I’ll probably have to rely on Whitethaw if I want to rescue Ninedust,” Ning mused to himself. “It is much better at facing danger than I am, after all.”

As they continued to advance from one fiery passageway into another, Ning could sense that he was gradually growing closer to Archon Silksnow.

Six days passed in the blink of an eye.

“Almost there.” Ning turned solemn. Although he had the absolute advantage in power, Archon Silksnow had proven his determination when he had chosen to risk his life and enter the Jadefire Realm. Ning wouldn’t be the slightest bit over-confident against such a crazy foe.

Ning watched carefully as he continued to walk forwards. “Over there!” Ning’s eyes narrowed as he saw the man. A few hundred million kilometers away, a skinny white-robed, white-browed man was seated in the lotus position in a tiny empty space that was surrounded by flames. His oily-green eyes were fixed upon Ning as well.

Although flames and other things were between them, to experts like them mere matter was unable to block their line of sight. Previously, they were unable to see each other because they were too far away and too many mechanisms were present. Now that they were less than a billion kilometers away from each other, they were able to see each other clearly.

“Silksnow,” Ning said as he walked forwards.

“I really do admire you.” A gravelly voice rang out in the area around Ning: “You threw yourself into the Terror Starsea and then into the Jadefire Realm, all for the sake of just a single friend! Daolord Darknorth, I already admired you for your strength. Now, I admire you for your courage as well.”

“I admire you greatly as well. You are an Eternal Emperor, but you were willing to risk it all in diving into this deathtrap. If I chose not to come, it is possible that the end result would be that you and Ninedust would both die in here,” Ning said. “For an Eternal Emperor to be willing to enter into a suicide pact with a Daolord… I’m truly awed by your madness.”

Entering the Jadefire Realm was easy. Leaving was difficult! In the past the Sithe had allowed countless cultivators to enter without impeding them, then killed them once they were inside! Thus, although Archon Silksnow had been able to survive his entrance, actually leaving alive would be a thousand times more difficult. It wouldn’t be possible to simply take the original route back, after all.

“Suicide pact? You underestimate me too much,” Archon Silksnow said with a cold smile. He had a realmship, meaning that he was much better at staying alive than other Archons.

“You drew me here for the sake of trapping me, yes?” Ning continued to walk forwards, a smile on his lips. “You aren’t strong enough to do it yourself. Your plan is probably to use some of the terrifying mechanisms within the Jadefire Realm to do it yourself. If my guess is correct, you should be surrounded by incredibly terrifying traps.”

“Indeed. I’m surrounded by terrifying traps. Tens of them. Hundreds of them!” Archon Silksnow laughed wildly, “And that’s why you should stay far, far away from me. The closer you get to me, the sooner your death will come.”

The two continued to speak from a great distance, while Archon Silksnow concealed his true thoughts and his true plan against Ning. Closer, closer… just a little bit closer… Archon Silksnow eagerly awaited Ning’s arrival. He knew that given how proud Daolord Darknorth was, there was no way he would flee without even seeing the traps.

……

Archon Silksnow had his schemes, but Ning had plans of his own. If Whitethaw hadn’t told him some of the secrets of this place, Ning would be proceeding with much greater caution. Now, however, Ning knew that so long as he didn’t fly into the air he wouldn’t be attacked by any of the truly deadly mechanisms of this place.

“Silksnow, in the end your schemes will all amount to nothing,” Ning mused. However, he still instructed Whitethaw cautiously, “Whitethaw, stay ahead of me.”

“Acknowledged.” Whitethaw led the way, while Ning followed Whitethaw from behind. He was being cautious for the added security it would provide, but also for the sake of lulling Archon Silksnow into a sense of complacency.

The distance between the two began to shrink. Eighty million kilometers. Sixty million kilometers. Fifty million kilometers. Thirty million kilometers…

“The closer, the better. That way, Daolord Darknorth will suffer even greater repercussions from the shockwave.” Archon Silksnow felt his formerly-calm heartrate begin to pick up, hammering against his chest like meteors. “Closer…”

Ten million kilometers. Eight million kilometers. Five million kilometers…

“Eh? Why isn’t he attacking me yet? Hurry up and attack!” Archon Silksnow waited eagerly. “Once he attacks, he’ll definitely hit the barrier in front of me.” If Ning didn’t attack, he would have to come up with a way to trick him into touching the barrier.

The distance between the two had shrunken down to merely a million kilometers.

Whoosh. Suddenly a wave of invisible heartforce swept out, instantly passing the distance between them and falling upon the white-browed Archon Silksnow. This was the [Unfettered Dreamlands], and a beautiful dream-world appeared before his eyes.

“I’m finally invincible! Hahaha… I’m the ruler of this realmverse! Hahahah!” Archon Silksnow was seated upon a throne. Below him were Hegemon Brightshore, Hegemon Windrain, Hegemon Netherlily, and the other major powers. They were all waiting on him subserviently, causing him to laugh with delight.

However, a moment later a look of terror appeared in his eyes. He realized that he had been trapped inside an illusion!

“Break! Break! Break!” He furiously struggled mentally, but he could sense the world around him clinging onto his mind like mud, making it hard for him to escape. He continued to struggle, and finally with a ‘pop’ he managed to break through.

He had shaken free from the [Unfettered Dreamlands], regaining his mental clarity and control over his body.