“Hrm?” The almighty Hegemon sat amongst the thirteen thrones, and both his face and the faces of the twelve golden-armored powers around him tightened. The almighty Hegemon actually once more took control over the flows of time to cause the earlier scene to replay once more. Ji Ning once more flicked out his finger…
“No mistaking it. That’s the [Heartsword] sword-art.” The almighty Hegemon nodded slowly.
“Darknorth actually trains in the [Heartsword]?” Daolord Thousand Waves was somewhat speechless.
“I thought he must’ve created a new sword-stance that received the acknowledgement of the pagodas. I didn’t expect that it was actually due to him executing the [Heartsword].” The golden-armored major powers present were all rather surprised. It must be understood that there was a difference between using your own sword-arts and using someone else’s. A self-created sword-art would generally be a bit more powerful.
When Ji Ning had mastered the Reincarnation stance of the [Heartseal], he could’ve chosen to develop a sword-stance of his own that would also be acknowledged by the Sword Pagodas. However, he was in no rush to do so. Instead, he had decided to meditate on the even more difficult and profound [Nameless] sword-art. The seventh stance of the [Nameless] sword-art had an extremely powerful sword-intent, and so when Ning executed it his burst of sword-intent was acknowledged by the pagodas.
“He has merely learned the sword-arts of another.” The almighty Hegemon shook his head slightly. “Only if he reaches this level through his own power and own skills would he be considered a truly dazzling figure.”
The golden-armored powers all nodded. Long ago, a person had been able to use the [Heartsword] to reach the apex of power and become an Eternal Emperor, but that didn’t mean that Ji Ning would be able to walk the same path. In addition, Ji Ning had only gained an elementary understanding of this sword-art.
“Woodflower.” The almighty Hegemon looked at the nearby Lord Woodflower.
“Hegemon.” Lord Woodflower nodded respectfully.
“Go give that young fellow a gentle reminder,” the almighty Hegemon instructed. “In the future, when he finds his own Dao and his own path, he should merge his heartforce and his sword-arts together and pour them both into his Dao! But of course, that’s just a suggestion. His own path will of course be up to him to choose.”
“Understood.” Lord Woodflower nodded.
A distant look appeared in the Hegemon’s eyes, and he murmured softly, “When Emperor Heartsword suddenly descended upon the world, he challenged all three of us Hegemons, then wandered off into parts unknown…”
The twelve golden-armored figures all listened attentively.
Emperor Heartsword was indeed a legendary figure. He was a legend who was roughly comparable in power to the three mighty Hegemons! However, his rise to prominence was just as sudden as his disappearance. Prior to him becoming a Verge-level Daolord, he didn’t really have much of a reputation. He was a very low-key figure, and it was said that he lived the life of an ordinary commoner in a distant chaosworld.
However, once he became a Daolord of the Fourth Step, a feud resulted in him slaying more than twenty Daolords in a row, and he even completely crushed and wiped out a large enemy sect. This action had shocked the Endless Territories, resulting in his rise to fame. Shortly afterwards, he succeeded in his Daomerge and gained eternity.
After gaining eternity, he immediately went and challenged each of the other Eternal Emperors. He won every single battle! However, he didn’t kill a single one one of them.
After that, he challenged the three ancient Hegemons.
Ever since the most ancient of days, the three ancient Hegemons had stood at the very apex of the Endless Territories. No one had ever been able to shake their positions. No one knew what the results of those duels had been. When asked, Emperor Heartsword simply said one thing: “I lost.”
However, one of the three ancient Hegemons, the one belonging to the Ancient cultivators, had said something else: “His power is comparable to ours.”
This phrase guaranteed that Emperor Heartsword would become a legend! However, despite his quick rise to prominence and the many waves he had caused, he disappeared just as quickly. Despite that, most later cultivators acclaimed him as being the Eternal Emperor who was closest to the level of the three Hegemons, and his [Heartsword] style was venerated by many. Alas, he had never transmitted his [Heartsword] sword-art to any disciples. The only thing he did was leave behind a complete copy of the [Heartsword] sword-art to the Dao Alliance before he disappeared on his journey.
The [Heartsword] tome became a precious treasure of the Dao Alliance. All the copies of this tome circulating in the outside world were all fragmentary, with only the tome in the possession of the Dao Alliance being genuine. Other organizations such as the Brightshore Kingdom would never be given access to a complete [Heartsword] manual, no matter what price they offered to pay.
“His sword-arts… although he reached an extremely high level of proficiency in the Dao of the Sword, some of the most freakishly talented Daolords, the ones capable of slaying Eternal Emperors, were superior to him in that regard.” The almighty Hegemon sighed. “His strength lay in the fact that he was actually able to almost perfectly merge his power as a Heartforce Cultivator and as a Fiendgod Body Refiner. That is why he had such tremendous power.”
“Right.” The twelve golden-armored figures all nodded.
Logically speaking, Heartforce Cultivation, Fiendgod Body Refining, and Ki Refining were three completely separate paths that couldn’t merge together.
Take Bertulu as an example. In battle, he could use some illusions or use his heartworld to pressure his foes. In short, he would use heartforce as a supportive skill as he engaged in close combat!
Emperor Heartsword was different. When he used his divine abilities and struck out with his sword, he was able to unleash tremendous power. As for his heartforce, he was able to use its illusions to affect reality itself. Most importantly, he was somehow able to cause his heartforce to naturally join together with his sword. This made it so that he was able to perfectly meld his power as a Heartforce Cultivator and as a Fiendgod Refiner, causing his power to skyrocket to a terrifying level. This was why he was acclaimed by so many as the Eternal Emperor who was closest to the three Hegemons in power.
The Sword Palace.
“Congratulations, senior apprentice-brother Darknorth.”
“Senior apprentice-brother Darknorth, now that you’ve been acknowledged by the Sword Pagodas, you are the seventh Swordlord of our palace.”
Ning was in a superb mood as he entertained his fellow disciples. Suddenly, he saw a figure appear at the margins of the Forest of Sword Pagodas.
“Senior apprentice-brother Woodflower?” Ning immediately recognized him.
“Follow me, Darknorth.” Lord Woodflower sent him a mental message.
“Everyone, the Palace Lord has summoned me. Pardon me.” Ning said a few words of farewell to the cultivators nearby. They, too, had seen Lord Woodflower appear.
A short while later, Ning and Lord Woodflower were walking side by side through a mountainous forest.
“Darknorth, you have received the acknowledgement of the Sword Pagodas and become a Swordlord. Per our rules, you are permitted to go to Armaments Gorge and choose a single treasure that doesn’t cost more than a million cubes of chaos nectar,” Lord Woodflower said. “This is a special rule the Sword Palace created for the benefit of our Swordlords. Only Swordlords are given this benefit.”
Ning’s eyes lit up. No more than a million cubes? What an enormously generous offer!
It made sense. Swordlords were capable of becoming Daolords at any time, and they would be extraordinary Daolords once they made their breakthrough. They were worth the cost.
“Oh, right. Now that you are a Swordlord, there is something I must tell you.” Lord Woodflower smiled. “All of the World-level cultivators in the Twelve Palaces who have been acknowledged by their respective pagodas are preparing for a very special opportunity which has come before you.”
“A special opportunity?” Ning was puzzled.
“Right. In the end, only four World-level cultivators in the Twelve Palaces will be given this special opportunity.” Lord Woodflower looked at Ning. “This truly is a stroke of tremendous fortune for you. None of the Twelve Palaces have access to this. In all the Endless Territories, most likely only the exalted Hegemon is capable of bringing this opportunity before you. If it wasn’t for the sake of a newcomer who recently joined his clan, the almighty Hegemon definitely wouldn’t give us this chance.”
Lord Woodflower knew very well that in the Hegemon’s heart, what mattered the most was his imperial clan.
Only for the sake of his Brightshore Imperials was the almighty Hegemon was willing to make use of this opportunity! The reason why he was giving the Twelve Palaces four of the medallions was partially because they were subordinates, but also for the sake of giving that young Imperial four assistants! Although the chance to enter the Archaeus region of the alternate universe was an incredible opportunity, it was also extremely dangerous. Tremendous opportunity always came with tremendous danger.
“There should be many in the Twelve Palaces who have been acknowledged by their pagodas. Only four will have a chance?” Ning was puzzled.
“Just four.” Lord Woodflower sighed. “I’m worried that our Sword Palace won’t be able to get so much as a single slot.”
“You’ve just recently been acknowledged and haven’t spent much time in our Sword Palace, so it wouldn’t really matter if you fail. However, you should still do your best. According to what the Hegemon said, the strongest four shall be given this tremendous opportunity,” Lord Woodflower said. Frankly speaking, he really didn’t have much faith in Ning. Although Ning had been acknowledged by the Sword Pagodas, so had the other six Swordlords.
“In roughly one century, the almighty Hegemon will select the four strongest candidates,” Lord Woodflower finished.
“A century?” Ning nodded secretly. It seemed as though it was indeed time for him to make some preparations.
“Oh, right. Do you know the name of the sword-art you used to gain acknowledgement from the Sword Pagodas?” Lord Woodflower looked at Ning.
Ning shook his head. “I do not. I obtained this sword-art by accident. Because I don’t know what its true name was, I’ve been calling it the [Nameless] sword-art this entire time. Do you know its true name, senior apprentice-brother Woodflower?” Ning’s eyes became filled with an eager blaze. When Ning had executed the seventh stance, the Cosmic Heart stance, he had noticed that although it was harder to use than Emperor Mirrorsnow’s Reincarnation stance, the two were actually on the same level when it came to the profundity of their insights into the Dao of the Sword. The tough part of the Cosmic Heart stance lay in how ephemeral and unpredictable it was. One had to follow one’s own heart, allowing one’s heartforce to perfectly merge into one’s sword-stances.
Ning was quite talented in heartforce. Although his heartforce wasn’t at a very strong level, he was still able to execute the stance.
If he had been more skilled in heartforce, the power of this stance would’ve been much greater. This would have been especially true if he had reached the sixth stage of heartforce and established his own Heartworld.
“This is a sword-art which perfectly combines Heartforce Cultivation with the Dao of the Sword.” After executing this stance, Ning immediately understood what made this sword-art so valuable. He instantly grew eager to learn more.
“I do indeed know its name.” Lord Woodflower nodded. “This sword-art was created and passed down by a powerful Eternal Emperor who was nearly as strong as the Hegemon.”