Ji Ning was seated atop a levitating wooden bridge, lazily fishing. A voice suddenly rang out, badly startling him. He hurriedly turned his head, realizing that an azure-robed figure had just appeared next to him.
“Ji Ning greets you, Daolord.” Ning hurriedly rose to his feet. It was Daolord Badlands! Ning’s heart clenched. After having spent more than a hundred years here at the Badlands Court, he had grown quite used to this place and become very familiar with many of its World Gods, Chaos Immortals, Elder Gods, and Ancestral Immortals. However, he had never met Daolord Badlands a second time.
He knew that Daolord Badlands rarely showed his face in the Badlands Court. Millions of years often passed without a single appearance! However, he was actually one of the more visible Daolords. Some Samsara Daolords would only reveal themselves within their own clans a single time during each chaos cycle.
When there was such an absolute disparity in power, it became hard for people to become friends and hold conversations.
“Brother Solesky asked me to pass you a message.” Daolord Badlands looked at Ning. “He probably won’t be able to make it out of there any time soon. Your return to Vastheaven Palace will be up to you.”
“He won’t be able to make it out of there any time soon?” Ning was startled. He asked nervously, “Daolord, my big brother…”
“You don’t have to worry.” Daolord Badlands smiled. “He isn’t in much danger, but both him and my avatar are going to be trapped for a while. It’ll probably take at least a million years to make it out of the formation we are currently trapped in, and there will be more dangers to come!”
Ning nodded slowly.
“Catch.” Daolord Badlands tossed a black talisman over.
Ning accepted the talisman. This talisman only had two rippling waves carved onto it. One wave looked fast while the other looked slow and calm.”
“This is the Badlands insignia,” Daolord Badlands said. “I’ve set down restrictive spells upon it, ensuring that it can only be bound once. Anyone who has the Badlands insignia is equivalent in status to a formal member of the Badlands Court. In the Badlands Territory, it’ll be of some use to you.”
“Thank you, Daolord.” Ning hurriedly expressed his gratitude.
He had naturally heard of the Badlands insignia before.
With this insignia in hand, not even figures like God Emperor Blacklotus would dare to touch him. Although his status as a disciple of Vastheaven Palace was even more incredible, Vastheaven Palace was too far away. Almost nobody in the Badlands Territory even knew what Vastheaven Palace was. In fact, not even many of the disciples of the Badlands Court knew about it.
Similarly, not many of the members of Vastheaven Palace had ever heard of the Badlands Court. The Daolords of each organization generally wouldn’t give the other members such detailed maps, for fear that they might end up running too far away and getting lost, never to be able to make it back.
But of course, the powerful Daolords of Vastheaven Palace, the Badlands Court, and other similar organizations all knew each other. Thus, many Samsara Daolords would be unwilling to attack Ning once they realized who Ning was.
Powerful World-level experts generally weren’t afraid of other World-level experts. If they weren’t able to win, they would be able to flee! They only feared Samsara Daolords…and that’s when having a powerful organization as a backer made all the difference.
However, you also had to understand what the relationship was between your enemy and your own organization. God Emperor Blacklotus had foolishly reported that he was the disciple of Daolord Seven Sovereigns, but what he didn’t know was that Daolord Seven Sovereigns was mortal enemies with Daolord Solesky…and had been so terrified by Daolord Solesky that he had fled long ago. Blacklotus reporting his affiliation only resulted in him dying even quicker.
Time passed on, day by day.
Ning continued to live within the Badlands Court. He was in no rush to go out adventuring, because he was currently growing stronger at a break-neck pace.
The Seventh Cycle of the [Starseizing Hand] had started to take form long ago. Thanks to Daolord Solesky’s guidance, it had truly come into being.
After using up a few dozen cubes worth of chaos jewels and the Heavengazer Tower, Ning had already mastered the middle portion of the [Golden Idol] as well. His body was now comparable to a top-grade Chaos treasure, the same level which World God Northrest had reached all those years ago.
These two accomplishments had been relatively simple ones.
The reason why Ning continued to live peacefully here at the Badlands Court was because he now had a completely different way of viewing the Dao of the Sword. He was improving incredibly fast and had yet to encounter a bottleneck! Generally speaking, cultivators would only go out adventuring when they had reached a bottleneck in their cultivation. Only by seeing and experiencing more things would they be able to more easily break through those bottlenecks.
“Darknorth, senior apprentice-brother Threecold is planning to pay a visit to the Azuresky Territory’s Startower region and give it a go. Anyone who wants to go with him can go seek him out. Any interest?”
“The Azuresky Territory? The Startower region?”
“Yes. It’s not too far away from our Badlands territory. The legends say that the Startower region was created when an ancient power tossed out a tower-shaped magic treasure and left it there in the primordial chaos. The tower drew in energy from the primordial chaos, creating an entire region of incredible power around itself. I hear that even Samsara Daolords will visit that place in the hopes of finding and acquiring that magic tower. Unfortunately, none of them have been able to master it to date. The treasures and techniques it contains are enough to satisfy World-level experts like us. Want to go? Senior apprentice-brother Threefrost is very powerful. If we go with him, it’ll be much safer.”
“I don’t wish to leave for now. Thank you for asking, brother Sevencolor.”
Immortal Sevencolor exchanged a few more words with Ning, then departed.
Ning couldn’t help but sigh to himself.
As the most powerful organization within the entire Badlands Territory, the Badlands Court was quite strict on accepting new disciples. New disciples had to be tremendously talented, and most were World-level experts. The Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals who made it in were all monstrously talented, and so most of the World-level experts of the Badlands Court were able to reach the level of full mastery and become master-class World Gods.
Upon reaching this level, the next breakthrough would result in them becoming Samsara Daolords!
There were many independent World-level experts in the outside world, but only a few of them would ever reach the level of full mastery. However, the vast majority of the disciples of the Badlands Court would become master-class World Gods! Thus, all of them were filled with exuberance and valor. They wished to go out and adventure, in the process discovering their own Daos and becoming Samsara Daolords.
“Almost everyone at Fogstone had given up and had chosen to live a peaceful, comfortable life. Everyone in the Badlands Court, however, is still fighting hard for their dreams.”
Ning couldn’t help but sigh.
And yet, what he didn’t understand was that in truth there were also some members of the Badlands Court who had fought long and hard, yet remained unable to break through and so had given up. They were tired. They had lost their energy, their passion, and so they chose to leave the Badlands Court and find another place where they would live in peace. Those who decided to remain in the Badlands Court were the ones who were filled with energy and motivation.
This was the real reason why so many members of the Badlands Court would often venture out into new places. Each time they did so, they would usually announce it to their peers and try to recruit others to go with them. If four of five of them joined forces, they would stand a much better chance of surviving their adventures! Brothers from the same organization were more unified and generally more trustworthy than outsiders, after all.
“I’m beginning to solve the riddle of the third stance of the [Nameless] sword-art, the Great Firmament stance.”
“I’m improving very rapidly. When I reach a bottleneck or when I master this third stance, I’ll travel to the Allgod Estate. When I do that, I’ll let everyone in the Badlands Court know and invite some of them to accompany me,” Ning mused to himself.
The Allgod Estate…
Aside from the Windsource Ruins, the only place in the entire Badlands Territory which had a copy of a Mirrorsnow Painting was the Allgod Estate.
A hundred and sixty-one years after Ning arrived at the Badlands Court.
“They are about to start a treasure auction.”
The news quickly spread throughout the entire Badlands Court, causing quite a stir.
“Master! Master!” Flamefairy Su Youji came running into the room.
“What is it?” Ning was in the middle of practicing some calligraphy and meditating on his sword-arts. He put down his quill, looking up towards Su Youji.
“I just received word of something.” Su Youji’s oval face was pink and lovely. Her eyes were very bright, and she extruded an aura of natural charm. Thus, she was quite a popular figure within the Badlands Court and made many friends. In contrast, Elder God Wilddog was always a cold, unfriendly figure. He didn’t make many friends.
“Ninety-nine years from now, the Palace Opulentia will be hosting a Treasure Auction,” Su Youji said.
“A treasure auction?” Ning’s eyes lit up.
“There will be many treasures to buy, and whoever offers the most money will take the treasures home. Many treasures which normally are never available for sale will be on display.” Su Youji was quite excited. “I heard that these auctions are only hosted ten times per chaos cycle. Each time, almost all of the World-level experts of the entire Badlands Territory will gather around it.”
“I heard that all sorts of treasure will be offered for sale, including Eternal weapons and some treasures that are even more marvelous than Eternal weapons.” Su Youji was incredibly excited. “Master, we have to go take a look.”
Ning nodded slowly.
He knew that in every single territory, including the Badlands Territory and the Vastheaven Territory, ten treasure auctions would be held during each chaos cycle! All sorts of valuable treasures would emerge for the many cultivators in that territory to bid on. These weren’t treasures that belonged to the Badlands Court or the Vastheaven Palace; rather, they were treasures delivered to this place by another mysterious organization.
The organization would send a Daolord to host each auction. Ten times per chaos cycle, the Daolord would come here to the Badlands Court and host a treasure auction. The Palace Opulentia merely loaned out their own auction grounds for this mysterious organization to use.
Any treasures that were not purchased during the auction would all be taken away at the end.
“This mysterious organization is spread throughout almost every single territory,” Ning mused to himself. “Every single territory has these auctions. Mm. I absolutely cannot miss this one. If I do, it’ll be countless years before the next one.”
“It seems I’ll need to hurry up and sell off the treasures I acquired in the Windswept Ruins. I need to prepare some money for the upcoming treasure auction.” Ning’s eyes were filled with eagerness.