The Water Curtain Home of the Badlands Court took up an area of roughly a hundred kilometers. It was a secluded, graceful place which the Badlands Court used to receive its most distinguished visitors.
The Water Curtain Home.
This was a dwelling with a garden, a palace, a study, and other buildings that were all hovering atop a great lake of water. They were connected to each other by a series of levitating wooden bridges, and a barefoot, ragged old man was currently walking alongside a white-robed youth across one of those bridges.
“Whew.” Daolord Solesky let out a sigh of relief, an emotional look on his face. “I knew Badlands would help me out. When he actually said it, though, I couldn’t help but feel rather guilty. I really hate owing favors to my old friends.”
“It’s just an avatar, big brother. You aren’t asking him to go in person. Even if he loses it, he should be able to remake it quite quickly, right?” Ji Ning was rather puzzled by this.
Daolord Solesky turned to look at Ning. “A short period of time? Do you know how a Daolord creates his avatar?”
Ning was startled. He slowly shook his head.
“When a World-level expert finds his own Dao and is about to break through to become a Samsara Daolord, he must first ensure that both his body and his soul have reached the utter apex of fullness,” Daolord Solesky said.
“The utter apex of fullness?” Ning murmured to himself.
“In other words, all of his clones must be merged into one,” Daolord Solesky said. “It doesn’t matter what type of cloning technique you might’ve learned in the past; you must merge all of your bodies into one. Of course, there are some special cases, such as the ‘Primaltwins’ which can be created by mortal cultivators. Because both the Primaltwin and the true body have undergone the Celestial Tribulation, there’s no way for them to merge together.”
He himself had a Primaltwin that was a Ki Refiner. His true body was a dual refiner, training as both a Fiendgod Body Refiner and a Ki Refiner. His true body had eighteen clones, all of which could join together because they were completely identical. However, there were significant differences between Ning’s Primaltwin and his true body. There was no way to merge them whatsoever.
“Thus, cultivators who started off as mortals essentially have two lives,” Daolord Solesky said with a laugh. “However, although more than half of high-level cultivators started off as ordinary mortals, quite a few of them don’t have Primaltwins! Some of them died, after all, over their many years of cultivation. I would say that more than 90% of Samsara Daolords only have their true body and do not have a Primaltwin.”
Ning nodded slowly.
“Look at me. I’m a Samsara Daolord, and I’m currently very far away from Vastheaven Palace. Why is it that I’m still in touch with them? It is precisely because I have my ‘avatar’ there.” Daolord Solesky looked at Ning.
“Avatars are created from magic treasures!” Daolord Solesky explained, “They are much like golems. We forge golem-bodies for ourselves, then send a strand of our soul into them and take control of them! Simply put, we essentially need to fully and perfectly merge our soul with a golem-body, then pour energy into it to upgrade it. The cost of every single avatar is greater than the cost of buying ten Eternal weapons.”
Ning was secretly speechless.
“The treasures which I gave Badlands are enough for him to make two absolutely top-tier avatars, with a bit left to spare.” Daolord Solesky let out a sigh. “But raw materials isn’t the only thing needed to ensure that an avatar body can reach maximum power. The Daolord himself will need to spend an extremely long period of time building it up.”
“In addition, each Daolord can generally only work on a single avatar at once. Each avatar only had a small amount of his soul, after all; once he stops focusing on it, it will slowly degrade in power. Generally speaking, most Daolords only have a single avatar,” Daolord Solesky explained. “I only have a single avatar myself. Because avatars are essentially bodies formed from magic treasures, my avatar is able to seamlessly and perfectly integrate into the great formation protecting Vastheaven Palace. When fused into the formation, the power of my avatar is comparable to my own power! This ensures that it is more than capable of keeping Vastheaven Palace safe.”
“In addition, when an avatar serves as the core of a defensive formation, it will ensure that the power of the formation itself will become tremendous.”
“An avatar is a core force for any organization’s defenses.” Daolord Solesky looked at Ning. “Daolord Badlands’ avatar is also capable of perfectly integrating into the formation protecting the Badlands Court. For me to ask him to send his avatar with me into the Waveshift Realm means that the Badlands Court’s defenses will be significantly weakened.”
Ning started to understand.
“The reason why he needs three years is because he needs the time to create a second, weaker avatar. In addition, this also means that his true body will have to stay at the Badlands Court and be unable to leave it!” Daolord Solesky continued, “Once his powerful avatar dies in the Waveshift Realm, he’ll immediately turn all of his efforts and attention to strengthening the second avatar.”
“He’s already prepared for his avatar’s death?” Ning was startled.
“Right.” Daolord Solesky nodded. “His avatar stands a 90% chance of death if it joins me on a trip to the Waveshift Realm. A perfect avatar that he spend countless years on is going to die, just like that. This isn’t just something that can be waved away by giving him some treasures. I owe Badlands now! If I fail in my Daomerge, then before I die I’ll do everything I can to pay him back. But right now, I must do everything I can for my Daomerge. Nothing else matters.”
Ning nodded slowly.
He had thought that an ‘avatar’ was something akin to the dharma-bodies which Lord Tathagata had in the Three Realms, a body that was created through divine abilities or secret arts. Now, it seemed, they were more like golems! They were completely different concepts.
Ning and Daolord Solesky sat down within a wooden house that was located inside the garden that was hovering above the water.
“Everything is going as I predicted. I now have the Talisman of Eternity, and Badlands will be sending his avatar to accompany me to the Waveshift Realm.” Daolord Solesky looked at Ning. “The only thing I didn’t predict was that you would be here. I won’t be able to take you to Vastheaven Palace right away. If everything goes completely and perfectly according to plan on my trip to the Waveshift Realm, I should be able to return in four or five years.”
“But if I end up trapped somewhere inside the Waveshift Realm, things will get tricky. I might be stuck there for hundreds of million years, or perhaps even as much as a hundred chaos cycles.” Daolord Solesky looked at Ning. “If I’m trapped there for an extended period of time, you’ll have to head off to Vastheaven Palace on your own.”
“Don’t worry about me, big brother.” Ning was quite confident in his abilities.
“It won’t be hard for you to break through to become a World God. Once you make your breakthrough, it’ll be much safer for you to travel off to Vastheaven Palace on your own.” Daolord Solesky waved his hand, causing a shimmering golden scroll to appear in the air before him. “This star map has a detailed route that leads from the Badlands Territory to the Vastheaven Territory. Memorize it right away.”
Ning was delighted. He immediately sent a strand of his coresense into the scroll, quickly memorizing its contents. After finishing, Ning was badly shocked by what he discovered.
What an incredible distance.
The Badlands Territory was located extremely far away from the Vastheaven Territory. The route which Daolord Solesky gave him was the simplest route possible, but it still required him to travel through a hundred and twenty-one different territories! Details regarding quite a few danger zones were also recorded on the star map. It must be understood that even the Starlord of Fogstone had only visited a few of the neighboring territories. If one wandered about randomly without a good star map, one could easily end up into a dangerous part of a foreign, unfamiliar territory.
“The star map I gave you only includes roughly three hundred or so territories worth of information.” Daolord Solesky looked at Ning, then said solemnly, “There are also quite a few other foreign territories that I didn’t note down because I’m worried that you might go astray. The Endless Territories are filled with countless dangers. A World-level expert can’t just go running around randomly. You have to follow the line I mapped out. It’ll lower the danger level significantly…but despite that, you are not to head out until you become a World-level expert.”
“Understood.” Ning nodded.
There was no such thing as true safety in the primordial chaos. It was filled with countless mysteries.
The existing maps and travel lines had been all verified and authenticated by countless generations of cultivators who had risked their very lives. These were all safe routes! If you ran around randomly without paying attention to those routes, you could easily end up trapped in a dangerous death trap.
The distance between the Badlands Territory and the Vastheaven Territory was simply too great. The route which Daolord Solesky had provided included some definitely safe locations as well as relatively safe locations. Only when Ning was strong enough would he be able to reach his destination.
“I’ll bestow a few techniques upon you as well.” Daolord Solesky waved his hand, causing a series of bamboo slips to appear on the table before Ning. “In truth, after you formally join Vastheaven Palace you’ll be given access to a large amount of techniques and secret arts. Still…the formal rites will only occur after you actually reach Vastheaven Palace. Only then will you become a true member of Vastheaven Palace.”
“You have the talisman of welcome, and so it’s not a big deal if I bestow a few techniques upon you early.”
“Master these techniques and do your best to become a World-level expert as soon as possible. If I’m not able to return, you’ll have to rely on your own power to go to Vastheaven Palace,” Daolord Solesky said.
“Yes, big brother.” Ning felt tremendously grateful. Daolord Solesky had already taken many factors into account in trying to help Ning out. It wasn’t realistic to expect him to abandon his own plans and instead shepherd Ning through more than a hundred territories, some of which weren’t even directly linked by transfer arrays. There were actually a number of dangerous regions on the way as well.
Ning spent the next three years living in the Badlands Court. He permitted his retainers, Flamefairy Su Youji and Elder God Wilddog, to come out from his estate-world and also take up residence in the Water Curtain Home for now.
During these three years, Daolord Solesky would occasionally provide Ning with a bit of guidance. He even gave some advice to the Flamefairy. As for Elder God Wilddog, his comprehension abilities were too weak. Daolord Solesky couldn’t be bothered to teach him.
Three years passed in the blink of an eye.