Thearch Darkstill immediately gave the order for that soldier’s clone to return.
A short while later.
“Thearch, Fuyou was stomped to death by Kuafu as he was trying to lure Kuafu away.” A report quickly came from his subordinates.
“What?” Thearch Darkstill’s face turned ugly.
For a number of Empyrean Gods to die during a time of war was nothing, but this particularly one was the only one who knew what had happened during the fight against Ji Ning. And now…he was dead. This meant that the 199 Empyrean Gods who had died in the battle against Ji Ning had died for nothing at all. No intelligence had been gained whatsoever.
“Kuafu!” Thearch Darkstill’s face was black with rage.
“Where are those four squads currently located?” Thearch Darkstill asked.
The nearby golden-robed elder immediately waved his hand, causing an image to appear in midair. This was an enormous map of the Darkstill world. There were four specks of light on the map, and the golden-robed elder pointed towards one of the specks of light that was close to the edge. “This is the squad which Kuafu is leading. Kuafu, an ancient divinity of the Three Realms, possesses truly enormous power. I heard that when those ten Golden Crows wreaked havoc upon the ancient Pangu Chaosworld, Kuafu chased after them so furiously that all ten of them were terrified by him. None of them dared to turn back and fight against him. From our fights against Kuafu’s squad, I can say for certain that Kuafu is indeed astonishingly powerful and is quite close to an Elder God in strength.” [1. Kuafu was mentioned long ago in the story via the mention of the divine ability, ‘Kuafu Sunchaser’.]
“Agreed.” Thearch Darkstill nodded.
Houyi and Kuafu were once equally famous during the Primordial Era. By now, Houyi was publicly acknowledged to be unfathomably strong and being at least at the overlord level of power. As for Kuafu, he was a bit weaker but was still quite close to the overlord level of power as well, and he was an extremely valiant warrior who was extremely skilled in combat.
“This squad here is the squad led by Human Sovereign Fuxi. This is the toughest squad to deal with. Fuxi has been able to easily see through our traps and formations, and even when he enters them he can easily break them apart from within.” The golden-robed elder continued, “That’s why we are temporarily focusing on the other three squads right now.”
“Here.” The golden-robed elder pointed at yet another speck of light. “This is the squad led by the leader of the Buddhist Sangha, Tathagata. It is just as dangerous as Fuxi’s squad is.”
“And here. This final squad is led by Daoist Jade Cauldron of the Daoist Path. Daoist Jade Cauldron possessed formidable divine abilities and has reached the fifth stage of swordforce. He definitely isn’t an easy person to deal with either.” The golden-robed figure pointed at the final speck of light as he spoke.
Thearch Darkstill frowned as he heard this. Two of the squads sent out by the Three Realms were led by overlords Tathagata and Fuxi. The other two were led by Kuafu and Daoist Jade Cauldron, who were close to the overlord level of power as well. There were multiple elite Daofathers in their teams, as well as a few ordinary Daofathers who knew certain special techniques.
Daoist Jade Cauldron was a fairly low-key figure, but he was still viewed as one of the top two figures under the command of Daoist Three Purities. He also had an extremely famous disciple of his own, the number one general of the Celestial Court during the Primordial Era…Erlang Shen, also known as Yang Jian. [2. As mentioned before, this is a famous figure from Journey to the West, someone who fought Sun Wukong to a standstill when he assaulted the Celestial Court.]
“And where is Ji Ning?” Thearch Darkstill asked.
“Sword Immortal Darknorth is here.” The golden-robed elder pointed to a corner of the map where another speck of light had appeared. “He is closest to Kuafu’s squad.”
“Oh?” Thearch Darkstill nodded.
“Thearch!” A gray-robed subordinate charged into the room, then said frantically, “Our clansman Floatstone’s squad attempted to lure Ji Ning into the Forest of Dreams, but his senses were simply too keen. As soon as the squad drew close to him, he immediately discovered them and then killed them. There’s no way to lure him away from far away, but whenever our people get close he kills them!”
Thearch Darkstill frowned. “The terrain is to our advantage, but we still aren’t able to lure him into the places we want him to go? Are his senses really that keen?”
But of course, he had no idea that Ning was now a half-step Elder God. His soul was incredibly powerful and acute!
“Have them stay away from Ji Ning for now,” Thearch Darkstill instructed. “Go.”
“Yes.” The subordinate hurriedly departed.
“Thearch.” The golden-robed elder looked towards Thearch Darkstill. “Ji Ning is not an easy person to deal with. Even our ‘Eight-Armed Warfiend Formation’ was effortlessly annihilated by him. He is at least as powerful as an elite Daofather. We can tell from this alone that he has reached the fifth stage of swordforce.”
“No.” Sovereign Thearch shook his head. “There’s many possible reasons why he was able to destroy their formation. For example, it’s possible that he’s broken through to become a True God. It’s also possible that he’s travelling with allies, that he’s brought other major powers of the Nuwa Alliance with him; it could’ve been those allies that destroyed the formation. We can’t speculate wildly before even seeing the records of that battle.”
“But not even the Eight-Armed Warfiend was able to send back any information…” The golden-robed elder felt sorrowful for their losses. “Godfiend Witherspike is commanding many different forces to deal with Tathagata, Fuxi, Kuafu, and Daoist Jade Cauldron, but we are forced to deal with Ji Ning by ourselves. Far too many members of our race have died.”
“I will go test out Ji Ning’s skills in person.” An icy gray light flashed through the eyes of Thearch Darkstill.
“Thearch, you must not!” The golden-robed elder cried out hurriedly.
“I’ll personally test him out, but I’ll do it via sending my mind to directly descend upon one of my children,” Thearch Darkstill said calmly. “Don’t worry. I won’t risk myself without a good reason.”
The golden-robed elder let out a sigh of relief.
Thearch Darkstill waved his hand. Instantly, nine mountain-sized freaks suddenly appeared in the hall next to him. There was a stone giant, an eight-legged beetle, a two-headed serpent…all of them had powerful auras on the level of a Daofather.
“I’ve spent countless years in order to rear these bugbeasts and make them become as powerful as a True God. I didn’t expect that a Sword Immortal who has trained for less than a thousand years would be capable of forcing me to use them.” Thearch Darkstill looked at the bugbeasts, and then let out friendly keening calls in response. It was as though they viewed Thearch Darkstill as their parent.
There were actually quite a few techniques in the primordial chaos that were meant for rearing bugbeasts. Strictly speaking, the [Nine Bug Solutions] which Youngflame Freak had acquired and used was actually even more profound than the technique which Thearch Darkstill used. However, Youngflame Freak was just far too weak. He was only able to make use of a tiny part of the true technique.
“When these nine children of mine fight against Ji Ning, I’ll send my mind and soul with them. Whatever they experience, I’ll experience as well. I’ll be able to get a clear sense of what Ji Ning’s skills are,” Thearch Darkstill said.
“You are going to send out all nine bugbeasts?” The golden-robed elder felt a bit of heartache. “Three should be enough, right?”
“Best to be cautious. We’ve already failed once. We cannot fail again.” Thearch Darkstill sent out his will, causing the nine bugbeasts to once more screech in response. They then soared into the air, quickly disappearing into the emptiness of space towards Ji Ning’s direction.
The distorted, scrambled spacetime in this area was of no threat to injure Ning. His soul was so powerful that he could sense which places posed a threat to him and which places were safe.
Swoosh. As he flew forward, his eyes suddenly lit up. A dazzling beautiful lake had just appeared before him, and there was a little island in the center of the lake which was filled with wild grass.
“I didn’t expect such a beautiful place to exist within a region of such chaotic spacetime.” Ning’s heartforce had spread out to cover an area of tens of thousands of kilometers, and it was rippling out in waves to scan every single inch of the region. He verified that it wasn’t a trap, then flew straight down to the island and sat down. He pulled out a flagon of wine, then leaned back and took a sip for himself.
He looked rather relaxed, but in truth Ning was trying to decide what his next step should be.
“Ever since I entered the Darkstill world, I’ve been attacked by alien Outsiders every so often. They keep on challenging me, and they are very familiar with the local environment. They seem to know exactly where I am as well.” Ning frowned. This was quite an uncomfortable feeling, to not know where the enemy was but have the enemy know exactly where he was.
There was nothing for it. The reason why the Three Realms had never launched an actual assault against the Primordial Ruinworld was in large part due to how inhospitable the environment here was. This place was very hard to invade.
“The Darkstill world isn’t even that big. So long as I visit enough places, sooner or later I’ll sense some energy ripples and be able to locate one of the other four squads.” Ning suddenly frowned and turned to look towards the distance.
“Here as well?”
“And there as well?”
Ning looked towards all eight directions from his position on the island. He could sense multiple auras approaching at high speed from different directions. He hurriedly rose to his feet, producing a Darknorth sword in his hand.
“Grwaaaar!” Accompanied by a growl, an azure beetle that had a pair of wings on its back suddenly appeared from a distorted region of spacetime that was more than ten thousand kilometers away. Its golden eyes stared fixedly towards Ning.
“Hissssss.” A giant, two-headed black serpent emerged from another part of the skies.
One bugbeast after another appeared, each of which had the aura of a True God.
Ning murmured softly to himself, “Bugbeasts?” Ning had learned multiple bugbeast-rearing techniques, both from stone steles of the prisonworld as well as from the techniques passed down by World God Northrest. There were many major powers in the primordial chaos who trained in these types of techniques. This was because major powers tended to live for a very long period of time. When they reached a bottleneck and were unable to grow stronger, they would divert a bit of their attention towards rearing powerful bugbeasts. These bugbeasts would be absolutely loyal and devoted towards them, and there was no chance of betrayal at all. They could be used to scout dangerous areas, or even block a critical blow meant for their master. There were many, many uses for such creatures.