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Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 14 – Bait

Since Ji Ning knew that a host of major powers was coming from the various realmverses for him, he had naturally acquired quite a bit of material and information on his foes. Hegemon Brightshore and Emperor Goldisle had been particularly helpful, introducing detailed information regarding the most famous Hegemons and extremely powerful Emperors of the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance to Ning.

Thus, when Ning ‘saw’ those nine figures appear through the formation-diagram, he was able to recognize them at one go.

“Five of these nine are Hegemons. Hegemon Oldgem and the Paragon of Swords are actually working together? They are all being extremely cautious.” Ning shook his head slowly. “Hegemon Dawnruler… Hegemon Everworry… hey, this should be Hegemon Azurefiend.”

Ning’s gaze focused upon the figure of the latter. Hegemon Azurefiend was flying carefully through the flaming passageways, his eyes glowing with cold light as he carefully scanned the area in front of him. Hegemon Azurefiend was even using a pair of rope-type magic treasures to scout the path ahead for himself.

“Supposedly, Hegemon Azurefiend is one of the several foreign Hegemons taking part in this escapade.” Ning carefully scrutinized Hegemon Azurefiend. Based on what he knew, there were differences in power between Hegemons; Hegemon Brightshore, for example, was the number one Hegemon of the Flamedragon Realmverse! Even in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance, Hegemon Brightshore was powerful enough to rank in the top five.

But of course, there was no way to rank anyone in greater detail than that, as most of the Hegemons had never actually battled each other. Rough rankings could only be based on the performance they had shown in the past, which was why Realmslord Windgrace was acknowledged to be the absolute strongest. Next came the likes of Hegemon Brightshore.

Hegemon Windrain and Hegemon Netherlily were considered fairly ‘ordinary’ Hegemons in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance.

“Hegemon Azurefiend is extremely famous! Supposedly, he was born a Chaos Godbeast and has a strange temperament. He’s extremely powerful and ranks highly even amongst Hegemons,” Ning mused. “Based on what the intelligence reports tell me, he should be even stronger than Hegemon Netherlily and Hegemon Windrain. He should be the strongest of the five Hegemons in this batch.”

In the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance, there were only a few figures capable of suppressing Hegemon Azurefiend in power! “Hegemon Azurefiend, eh?” Several thoughts flickered through Ning’s mind.

“I’ll feign weakness first. These five Hegemons only constitute a small percentage of the Hegemons who will be coming, after all. The only trump card I have up my sleeve is my control over the flaming passageways; once I reveal it, the Hegemons and Emperors who arrive later will only be even more careful. They might even all travel together. That’ll make things very troublesome for me,” Ning mused.

Only by feigning weakness could he lull his foes into underestimating him. Only then would his foes move independently on their own, as only when they felt that Ning was not a threat would they be truly concerned about competing agaist the other Hegemons. This would be of benefit to Ning.

“My control over the flaming passageways is a killer trump card. I have to save it for a moment of maximum effect. That’s my only shot at reversing the situation.” Ning’s gaze was focused on the nine illusory figures advancing through the countless passageways. Every single action they took was within his field of vision.

……

“This Jadefire Realm really is in terrible shape. A few mechanisms have appeared, but I was able to discover them all from afar.” Hegemon Azurefiend continued to fly forwards, two billion-kilometer sized ropes scouting the way up ahead for him.

“According to the legends, the Jadefire Realm was absolutely terrifying when intact. It’s very weak now. No wonder so many Emperors of the Flamedragon Realmverse were able to come in, scout the place, and then leave safely.” Hegemon Azurefiend shook his head and chuckled. He felt increasingly relaxed; things were much simpler than he had anticipated.

This place might be of danger to weaker Emperors, but he was an exalted Hegemon. How much of a danger could these damaged, unmanned traps and mechanisms possibly pose him?

“Daolord Darknorth, eh? You’ll definitely be mine. Heh heh… I’ll kill him and then take his realmship, allowing me to easily rove across the various realmverses. It won’t be as difficult as it is now.” Hegemon Azurefiend felt quite eager. He was a temperamental character, but was born liking to wander about by himself and adventure through the void.

Swoosh. Hegemon Azurefiend continued to advance at high speeds through the flaming passageways, using the many tools he had available to scout out the path ahead and avoid them with ease.

……

“This is easier than expected.” The bald, red-robed, grim-faced man strolled through the skies, his body emanating with gray light that illuminated the area ahead of him and laid bare all of the hidden dangers.

……

Each of the major powers felt as though the Jadefire Realm wasn’t as dangerous as they had thought. So long as they were careful, they would be able to advance with ease.

Time passed, one day after the other.

“Soon. Hegemon Azurefiend is the fastest; he’s about to go through the flaming passageway area and reach the prison region. It is time for me to make my own move as well. I can’t let them get into and explore the prison region.” Ning was still seated in the lotus position above the altar, but a streak of light suddenly flew out of his body, manifesting into a second ‘Ji Ning’ in the air. This was a divine power clone.

“Whitethaw, let’s go,” Ning barked.

“Alright,” Whitethaw said respectfully. Whoosh. Ning waved his hand, causing the ancient realmship to appear next to him. It was now in much better shape than it had been when Archon Silksnow had owned it. Ning and Whitethaw both entered the realmship, then quietly snuck away from the hidden region, leaving behind just the divine power clone inside.

Rumble… Ning’s divine power clone remained seated above the altar and the formation-diagram, using its Immortal energy to manipulate the formation-diagram and maintain control over things from afar.

Controlling the formation-diagram took very little power. Although this divine power clone was fairly weak, for it to use Immortal energy to control the formation-diagram was simplicity itself.

With his clone present, Ning would be constantly aware of the locations and behaviors of the nine Hegemons and Emperors.

……

Within the darkness of the void. An ancient realmship was hovering in the skies next to a flaming cage, with Ning’s true body and Whitethaw inside the realmship.

Whoosh. Ten billion kilometers up ahead, an azure-scaled figure suddenly flew out from one of the flaming passageways. This figure emanated an extremely strange aura; it didn’t seem that dominating or overbearing, but based on Ning’s intelligence reports it definitely belonged to a terrifying figure who was ranked highly even amongst other Hegemons.

“Hegemon Azurefiend!” Ning grinned. “Let’s move.” Swoosh! Ning controlled his realmship to immediately fly into a nearby flaming passageway.

“Eh?” Hegemon Azurefiend had just reached the prison region after leaving the flaming passageways when he suddenly sensed a ripple from afar. Turning his head, he immediately saw that realmship.

“The realmship!” Hegemon Azurefiend was instantly overjoyed, so excited that his eyes lit up. “Haha, I really am lucky. I actually ran into the realmship as soon as I arrived here, and it seems as though the other Hegemons haven’t discovered it yet.”

“You want to run? Heh heh…” Hegemon Azurefiend’s speed skyrocketed as he furiously chased after the fleeing realmship.

Ning sent the realmship fleeing into the flaming passageways, beginning a ‘panicked’ flight through the area. Hegemon Azurefiend naturally followed him into the flaming passageways as well from behind.

“You won’t be able to escape. You aren’t going anywhere!” Hegemon Azurefiend spoke out, his voie carrying a strange, magnetic cadence that caused the area around Ning to shimmer.

“Azurefiend, don’t try to show off such meager skill in illusions before me. Hmph.” Ning’s voice echoed within the flaming passageways as well.

“Hand the realmship over to me and I’ll spare your life. Otherwise, you are doomed!” Hegemon Azurefiend chased frantically from behind.

“You think you can doom me? Hmph. I’ll show you just how incredible a realmship truly is.” Even as Ning’s voice echoed within the flaming passageways, the realmship suddenly skyrocketed in speed. Swoosh! It instantly pulled away from Hegemon Azurefiend, throwing him off and making it so that he could do nothing but watch as Ning disappeared from his field of vision.

“T-that fast?!” Hegemon Azurefiend was briefly stunned, but his eyes then flashed with savage light. “Good. What a fine realmship.” Realmships were meant for travel. When Archon Silksnow had used it, it was in terrible shape but still far faster than Ning. Now, it had been repaired considerably and was even faster than before, allowing Ning to easily throw Hegemon Azurefiend off his trail.

……

Time flowed on. A few months after the last encounter.

“A realmship!” Hegemon Everworry had just arrived at the prison region, and his eyes lit up as he saw the distant realmship.

“Another Hegemon?!” Ning’s enraged sound rang out from within the realmship. “Hegemon Everworry… don’t you feel that you are all being too shameless?” As he spoke, he sent the realmship diving into the flaming passageway.

……

Three years later.

“The realmship is over there!” Hegemon Oldgem and the Paragon of Swords were both in hot pursuit of the realmship, which was fleeing in panic. Every so often, it would blast into certain traps that would send it spinning, but each time it was able to quickly stabilize itself and continue to flee at incredible speeds, shaking off both of them.

……

Time flowed on. All nine Emperors and Hegemons were thoroughly enraged; it was as though the only thing Daolord Darknorth could do was flee! Given how fast the realmship was, it was extremely hard for them to catch up to it.

“Daolord Darknorth is extremely familiar with the flaming passageways, allowing him to avoid many of the most dangerous mechanisms with ease. Even if he does occasionally run into one of them, his realmship is able to take the damage.” The nine Hegemons and Emperors all felt rather helpless.

Every single passageway was extremely long, and the countless passageways were filled with even more mechanisms. The Emperors had to move with care, and for now there really was no way for them to catch Ning as the latter dove here and there.

Still, they continued to waited excitedly. At least the realmship was remaining within the flaming passageways this entire time. Sooner or later, they’d catch it.

……

“Mm. For now, I’ll keep the most terrifying mechanisms of the passageways under wraps and keep them off their guard.” Ning remained quite calm from within his realmship. “I’ll keep their attention completely focused upon the flaming passageways for now. That way, so long as they avoid the prison region it’s unlikely they’ll be able to discover that hidden area.”

The reason why Ning had used himself as bait to repeatedly lure them out was because he was worried that if he just remained in hiding, the Emperors and Hegemons would begin to search the area with such care that they might scour every inch of the prison region. The hidden region was extremely difficult to locate, and Ning himself had only found it thanks to the guidance of Whitethaw… but his foes were Hegemons!

If an entire host of Hegemons chose to slowly and patiently search a region, they might one day be lucky enough to discover it. Once they did, they’d be able to take over that hidden region, at which point Ning would no longer be able to control the formation-diagram!

The chances of this happening were quite low, but Ning didn’t dare to take the risk.

“I need them to know that I’m in the flaming passageways. I need to focus their attentions on me. That way, they won’t search the prison region. Once a few more Hegemons and Emperors arrive, it’ll be time for me to make my move.” Ning was more than patient.


Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 15 – The Second Batch

Within the realmship, located inside one of the flaming passageways inside the Jadefire Realm. Ji Ning was seated inside the realmship, drinking some wine. The fragrance of the wine filled the entire vessel, while the Protector stood solemnly by his side.

“Whitethaw, sit down and have some wine?” Ning said with a relaxed smile.

“I’m a golem. I don’t need to drink wine,” Whitethaw said flatly.

Ning shook his head. “That’s where you are wrong. I don’t ‘need’ to drink wine either, but I still ‘like’ to drink wine. We still need to have hobbies, you know. Come, come! I have plenty of precious wine stored up. Have a taste of all of them.”

“No need.” Whitethaw continued to stand there by himself.

“I order you to sit down.” Ning frowned.

“Yes, Master.” Whitethaw sat down obediently.

“Drink.” Ning pointed at the wine goblet in front of him.

Whitethaw picked up the goblet and dutifully drank the wine, then frowned and said in a low voice, “I don’t like it. I tried it back when I followed my previous master, ‘Daoist Bluestone’. I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now.”

“Eh?!” Ning was truly surprised. He waved his hand, causing a hundred different wine goblets to appear before him as well as more than a hundred gourds of wine. Wine flew out from each gourd, filling each one of the goblets.

“Try them all. I refuse to believe this. Your body should’ve been constructed perfectly, including your senses. How could you have no taste for wine whatsoever? I wager Daoist Bluestone just didn’t let you try enough types, which is why you didn’t run into anything you like,” Ning said. “Drink them all up, one cup at a time.”

Whitethaw dutifully picked up one goblet after another, draining them in succession. A look of bewildered resignation was on his straightforward face. Why was this master of his forcing him to drink wine?

“All done.” Whitethaw quickly finished all of the wine. He remained quite calm.

“Again.” Ning refused to believe this. Cultivators drank wine when they had nothing better to do, and so Ning had plenty of wine on him at all times. He had acquired large reserves and stockpiles from the Daolords and Eternal Emperors he had defeated as well.

Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Ning continued to pour, while Whitethaw continued to drink. After drinking for over two hours, Whitethaw suddenly shivered when he took a sip of wine and said, “Master, this one is good! I like this one!”

“Oh?” Ning was surprised. He waved his finger, causing some liquid to fly out of a gourd of wine off in the distance and into Ning’s mouth. A pungent, sour, acidic taste instantly overfilled his mouth, followed by an absolutely foul aftertaste. It was so rancid that Ning couldn’t help but twitch, and he immediately shut his mouth and turned to stare at Whitethaw: “This one? You like this one?!”

Ning liked all types of wine. Some wine was lightly flavored but had lasting aftertastes, others had flavors that permeated the entire body. He also enjoyed wine that would plunge his body and soul into a cool state of refreshedness… but he absolutely hated sour, acidic, and incredibly pungent wine like this. Even Ning himself wasn’t sure where he had found this wine; today was the first time for him to even bring it out of storage.

“That’s absolutely disgusting.” Ning shook his head.

“It’s good!” Whitethaw stared at Ning, wide-eyed.

“…Fine. The Chaosverse truly is filled with all sorts of marvels, including golems who like to drink wine like this. And who would even create this type of wine?! Ah, forget it. Come, let’s drink together!” Ning laughed. He finally had someone to drink with him now. Life had been quite boring recently. Hide-and-seek with these Hegemons and Emperors was extremely boring. It was too simple, given that his divine power clone was in perpetual control of the flaming passageways.

“Master, do you have the feeling that something seems off?” Whitethaw quickly began to grow more loquacious as the happy feeling from the wine flooded his body.

“Something seems off?” Ning was startled. “What do you mean?”

“The Hegemons in the flaming passageways here in the Jadefire Realm aren’t working as hard as in the past in trying to hunt you down,” Whitethaw said.

Ning laughed. “Of course. It has been eighty thousand years! By now, they’ve realized that catching me will be virtually impossible. There’s no need for to chase as frantically as they would’ve in the past.”

“But they haven’t exactly relaxed either. They’ve started to set up a few small traps in the various passageways, such as masking formations that hide some of the terrifying mechanisms inherent within the passageways. They’ve actually put down a few special-purpose formations to deal with me.” Ning shook his head. “They don’t realize that all of their movements are under my observation and control.”

“Master, there are already eight Hegemons and ten other Emperors present. In the end, how many of them will have arrived in total for the sake of the realmship?” Whitethaw said, worried.

Ning nodded slowly. He felt a sense of pressure as well. 80,000 years… Hegemon Wuye and Hegemon Fogsun were both controlling realmships and thus both had delivered a first batch of Hegemons and Emperors to the Flamedragon Realmverse during this period of time. Hegemon Wuye’s first batch had included five Hegemons and four Emperors, while Hegemon Fogsun’s first batch included three Hegemons and six Emperors.

“Based on my calculations, the second batches should arrive soon,” Ning said seriously. “I hope they will separately enter the flaming passageways as well. If they do so, I’ll have a chance to stop them. My fear is that they will join forces and advance as one unit.”

Hegemons had many and varied techniques. If four or five of them worked together, even if Ning unleashed the full power of the mechanisms in the flaming passageways he still wouldn’t necessarily be able to stop all five of them!

After all, there were Hegemons who were extremely skilled in defense, so much so that they were a match for Otherverse Lords in this regard! Others specialized in speed, while still others specialized in karma. When they pooled their talents together, they would become extremely difficult to deal with.

……

120,000 years after the public revealing of the existice of the realmship. Hegemon Wuye was sending the second batch of Hegemons and Emperors over on this date.

They had arrived next to a blazing star that looked like a fiery ball of heat. A spatial tear appeared in the void next to the star, followed by a realmship blinking through and coming to a halt next to it.

“Gentlemen, we have arrived. Based on our latest information, Daolord Darknorth has remained in hiding within the Jadefire Realm this entire time, while none of the Hegemons or Emperors who have already reached the Jadefire Realm have been able to take the realmship from him. You all still stand a very good chance,” Hegemon Wuye said with a laugh.

“Regardless of who ends up with the realmship, you’ve already made a fortune in treasure from this escapade, brother Wuye,” one of the eight figures said upon flying out of the realmship.

“I borrowed this realmship from my master. I’m going to give most of the treasure to him!” Hegemon Wuye glared at him. “Not gonna waste words with you. I need to go pick up the final battle. I have a long road ahead of me.” As he spoke, he took control of the realmship and flew off into the distance.

Eight figures remained there within the void, their auras mighty. One of them, a devilishly handsome man who radiated an aura of cold insidiousness, let out a cold snort: “Everyone, you can go to the Jadefire Realm. I’ll be there shortly.” As he spoke, he took a step forwards and teleported through the air, vanishing.

“Where is Hegemon Winterflame going off to?”

“Where do you think? Given the type of person he is, he’s probably off to capture any and all of Daolord Darknorth’s friends and family.” The speaker was a bearded man dressed in simple gray robes who carried eight strange azure planks of wood on his back.

“Winterfire always does stupid shit like this.”

“Brother Blackwood, don’t worry about him. I’ll tear through spacetime and lead the way.” Of the group of eight who had just arrived, four were Hegemons, with Winterflame one of them. In truth, his status was the highest of the eight.

“Let’s go.” Hegemon Blackwood, who was the bearded man with those eight pieces of azure wooden planks on his back, nodded.

……

Whoosh. Tearing through spacetime at maximum speed, Hegemon Winterflame quickly arrived outside the Vastheaven Everworld. “Here we are.” Hegemon Winterflame stood there within the misty skies, staring at the distant Vastheaven Palace.

Hegemon Winterflame was dressed in white robes that glowed with blurry white light. His features were handsome to the point of appearing devilish, while his skin was so translucent and fine that one could almost see his blood vessels and veins. His eyes emanated an aura of terrifying coldness.

“Based on the intelligence records I acquired, Archon Silksnow probably chased someone called ‘Ninedust’ into the Jadefire Realm, then intentionally released word of this. Daolord Darknorth really did choose to ignore the danger and charge straight into the Jadefire Realm. He probably fought against Archon Silksnow inside, with Archon Silksnow eventually being defeated and force to commit suicide.” Hegemon Winterflame nodded slowly. “From this, we can tell that Daolord Darknorth is the sort of person who cares immensely about personal relationships.”

“He knew it was a trap, but for his friend’s sake he was still willing to risk his life and enter the Jadefire Realm… hmph. Headstrong, sentimental fools like him are the easiest to deal with.” Hegemon Winterflame’s eyes glowed with cold light. “The Ninedust Sectlord has probably already been rescued from the Jadefire Realm by Darknorth… and the other friends Darknorth care about all probably reside in his clan, Vastheaven Palace!”

Hegemon Winterflame stared at the distant Vastheaven Palace: “All I need to do is to abduct everyone in Vastheaven Palace. The World-level cultivators, the Daolords, the Emperors… I’ll abduct them all and force Daolord Darknorth to give me the realmship in exchange for them. Given his personality, there’s a chance he’ll accept.”