After killing God Emperor Blacklotus the raggedy old man waved his hand, collecting the treasures which Blacklotus had left behind. He singled out the giant crystal scimitar in particular, picking it up and giving it a close look. He mumbled to himself, “Huh, this Eternal weapon isn’t bad.” Watched by all of the cultivators, the old man put the scimitar away.
The raggedy old man wasn’t the slightest bit self-conscious about looting Blacklotus’ items.
“He’s crazy powerful.”
“He squashed God Emperor Blacklotus like a bug.”
“Didn’t you hear? This senior even wishes to kill that ‘Daolord Seven Sovereigns’.” The cultivators of Fogstone felt their hearts shudder as they contemplated this. Samsara Daolords were figures that vastly surpassed them in power. However, their innate fear didn’t prevent them from also feeling gratitude and veneration towards this raggedy old man who they had just met for the first time. They all hoped that one day they might also reach his level.
The entire purpose of cultivation was to go out and see more things and experience greater things, to possess more formidable techniques and divine abilities.
“Let’s go down,” the Starlord sent.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
Thousands of figures descended from the skies. Now that nothing was around to interfere with their movements, they moved quite quickly as they descended upon the enormous nine-petal black lotus which was now bereft of all buildings. A day ago, this black lotus was a city. After being activated as a treasure, some of the buildings that lay atop it had been put away while the rest had been crushed into dust.
“Greetings, senior.” The Starlord stepped forward and bowed. “Thank you for saving us, senior.”
“Thank you for saving us, senior.” The thousands of cultivators behind him all bowed as well.
As for the surviving Elder Gods and World-level cultivators of the Blacklotus Empire, all of them were feeling rather uneasy. They didn’t even dare to try and flee, nor did they dare to go forward and speak to the Daolord. They were afraid that he’d wave his finger at them and kill them all.
“Senior.” The man dressed in white floral robes gritted his teeth, then said respectfully, “We have nothing to do with this matter. The Starlord came here to take revenge on Chaos Immortal Owlsoar, who is now already dead. We were just defending ourselves and were the weaker side until the God Emperor revealed his true power in an attempt to wipe out the Fogstone lineage…but that was him, not us. We just stayed on the sidelines and didn’t get involved at all.”
“Right right right! We didn’t get involved at all, nor were we strong enough to get involved.”
“Please show mercy, senior.”
The four remaining World-level experts and the Elder Gods all waited nervously.
The raggedy old man waved his hand dismissively. “Beat it, beat it! All of you, beat it.”
The survivors of the Blacklotus Empire were stunned for a moment, then revealed looks of joy.
“Thank you, senior.”
First, they bowed respectfully. And then…swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh! All of them flew into the skies and departed. The Starlord didn’t dare to stop them; he even withdrew the astral light that had been emanating from the planet of Fogstone. If the Daolord had granted them permission to leave, how could he possibly dare to stop them?
After waving the survivors off, the raggedy old man turned to smile at the cultivators of the Fogstone Dominion who were standing closest to him.
“He’s looking at us.”
“He’s staring at us.”
“So what if he’s smiling? He smiled when he wiped out God Emperor Blacklotus with a finger, didn’t he?”
“What are you talking about? The Daolord already said that he was on our side.”
“We have no idea who he is. He might be an ancient member of Fogstone who left long ago but made a breakthrough to become a Daolord.” Everyone present was secretly speculating, but they all knew that actually breaking through from the World level to become a Samsara Daolord was incredibly difficult. The Fogstone lineage was an ancient one, but it had only produced a fairly small number of World-level experts. For it to give birth to a Samsara Daolord was extremely unlikely, unless one of them had a stroke of absolutely tremendous luck.
The raggedy old man walked towards them.
The Starlord and the others all bowed respectfully while secretly feeling eager to find out exactly who this old man was.
“Mm.” The raggedy old man glanced at them, then turned his gaze to…Ji Ning.
“The Fogstone lineage, eh?” The raggedy old man nodded slowly, turning his gaze back to the Starlord. “Fogstone deserves to be thanked for its efforts in taking care of this young brother of mine.”
“Young brother?” The Starlord and the others were all stunned.
Ning was also stunned.
The raggedy old man winked at Ning, then sent mentally, “What is your name? Who gave you the talisman of welcome?”
Ning immediately understood.
Talisman of welcome?
The Vastheaven Palace’s talisman of welcome? This was a talisman which World God Northrest had prepared for his heir before he died. Every single formal member of Vastheaven Palace was given a single opportunity to welcome and recruit a new member into their ranks. Anyone welcomed in such a manner would be allowed to enter Vastheaven Palace with no need for any testing. Thus, the formal members of Vastheaven Palace wouldn’t casually bestow their talisman of welcome to others. They were generally extremely exacting in their standards, and some of them would never use the talisman a single time in their entire lives.
“My Daoist title is Darknorth, while my personal name is Ji Ning. This talisman of welcome was given to me by World God Northrest,” Ning sent mentally.
“Northrest?” The raggedy old man blinked, then the look in his eye changed. “Do you know how he died?” Vastheaven Palace had known of Northrest’s passing in the moment of his death. It had investigated the cause of his death but had been unable to discover anything.
“Yes.” Ning nodded.
“Let’s chat about that in a bit. Also, there’s no need for you to stay here on Fogstone any longer. Return to Vastheaven Palace with me,” the raggedy old man said. “Vastheaven Palace is much more powerful.”
“Understood,” Ning said.
The lifeblood oath he had sworn to Fogstone had been a fairly loose one, as Ning was planning all along to spend the next chaos cycle searching for Vastheaven Palace. In addition, since this raggedy old man was able to immediately recognize that Ning had a talisman of welcome, he was most likely a member of Vastheaven Palace as well. In fact, it was entirely possible that he was one of their highest ranking members! Only a fool would refuse to join such a powerful organization.
World God Northrest himself had claimed that countless cultivators dreamed of having the chance to join Vastheaven Palace.
“Who is Darknorth to you, senior?” The Starlord and the others were all stunned.
“He’s my friend and brother.” The raggedy old man nodded. “I’m going to take him back with me now. You won’t stop me, right?”
“Of course not!” The Starlord hurriedly nodded. “Darknorth just joined us a short while ago. He was quite powerful when he joined us, and so the lifeblood oath he had to swear was a fairly lax one. He’s absolutely permitted to leave.”
Immortal Abyssus and the others all looked towards Ning as well, a look of envy in their eyes.
A Samsara Daolord was addressing him as ‘brother’? Who wouldn’t want to be in his place?! They’d even be willing to be the Daolord’s retainer, to say nothing of being his brother. However, Samsara Daolords had extremely high standards. They wouldn’t just casually accept anyone as their retainer.
“There IS one thing.” The Starlord gritted his teeth. “I’d like to ask you to help me, senior.” Although he was afraid of angering this Daolord, he still forced the words out.
“What is it?” The raggedy old man smiled cheerily at him.
“Childstar!” The nearby World God Blackmist sent a furious mental message, terrified that Starlord was going to anger this powerful old man.
The Starlord lowered his head, then said respectfully, “My second uncle used an incomplete divine technique which is causing his entire body to transform into fogstone. We aren’t able to stop or reverse the process. I hope that you can intervene to rescue my second uncle, senior.”
“Oh?” The raggedy old man walked forward towards Blackmist. “This is your second uncle? Yes, he really is completely transforming into fogstone. Hmm. Don’t resist. Let me take a look.”
The raggedy old man extended a hand, pressing it against World God Blackmist’s shoulders and carefully extending his senses.
“Uh…what the hell type of divine ability is this? How unique. It is actually causing even his truesoul to transform into fogstone. If this continues, he’s going to transform into a hunk of rock.” As the raggedy old man extended his senses, he continued to mumble to himself. “But this divine ability really is quite powerful. It actually allows for one’s divine power to explode to such a level of might…quite impressive.”
“Unfortunately, you are using an incomplete version of this divine ability, resulting in your truesoul being petrified. There’s no way to reverse it. Even if you were to suddenly gain the complete, correct version right now, you still wouldn’t be able to stop it.” The raggedy old man let out a sigh. “His truesoul is undergoing an irreversible transformation. When the process is completed, he’ll lose all life and become a hunk of rock.”
“Is there nothing you can do?” The Starlord revealed a look of desperation.
“He won’t be able to hold for much longer. Less than the time needed to boil a kettle of tea.” The raggedy old man shook his head.
“Second Uncle.” The Starlord gripped World God Blackmist’s hands, his eyes reddening.
“Don’t be sad, Childstar. Quite a few of the elders and ancients of the Fogstone lineage have been forced to use the fourth stage, and all of them died in the grips of despair…” World God Blackmist looked fondly at the Starlord, almost as if he was looking at his own son. “I, however, will be dying happily. You are alive! I’ve lived for long enough. Eternity isn’t for everyone.”
“I understand.” The Starlord nodded, but he was still filled with pain.
Slowly, World God Blackmist’s skin turned grayer and grayer. Earlier, there was at least a tinge of pinkish flesh to his coloration, but now his aura grew dimmer and dimmer. And yet, a smile remained on his face.
His aura was completely extinguished.
World God Blackmist had completely transformed into a statue. However, his gaze remained gentle and calm, as though he was forever looking at a beloved child.
“Second Uncle.” The Starlord shuddered, wracked by agony.
“Brother Blackmist.” Immortal Abyssus and the others all sighed and bowed slightly.
Ning bowed respectfully as well. He felt great gratitude towards World God Blackmist, who had treated him better than anyone else on Fogstone. Blackmist had even taught him sword-arts with care. Although Blackmist’s sword-arts weren’t particularly formidable, he had truly been very diligent in guiding Ning, going so far as to allow Ning to inspect the sword-arts he himself had come up with.
Thud. Thud. Thud. The Starlord fell to his knees, kowtowing heavily as his tears stained the ground before him.
The statue didn’t move. It just stood there, continuing to stare at him with gentle warmth.
“Let’s go, let’s go. I hate seeing stuff like this happen. Ugh.” The raggedy old man shook his head and sighed. “There’s nothing I can do. His truesoul was transformed into fogstone. Let’s go, Ji Ning. Let’s go.”
“Right.” Ning nodded.
“Everyone…” Ning looked at the World-level experts and Elder Gods.
Since the Starlord was still kneeling before the statue in grief, it wasn’t appropriate for them to chat too much with Ning. Their gazes said everything that needed saying.
“Let’s go.” The raggedy elder stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ning as they both soared into the skies and disappeared.
As Ning flew away, he turned his head to look backwards, once.
He saw the Starlord on his knees, as well as the gently smiling statue of World God Blackmist.
“Fogstone…” Ning knew that he would never, ever be able to forget this place, his first home in the Badlands Territory.