The Archaeus region was the core of this entire alternate universe. According to legend, it was the place where this universe itself had originated from, and it was filled with both danger and opportunity. Every single World-level cultivator would be berserk for the chance to enter it, and even Daolords would vie for the chance.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
Five streaks of light flew into the cloudy mists at the borders of the Archaeus region, delving deeper and deeper inside.
“Can you sense it?” Skyfire Brightshore sent a rather excited mental message.
“Yes.” Firesurge nodded.
“What a unique sensation.” Heartlord Solewind nodded as well.
“It truly is quite marvelous.” Prince Greatjoy sighed in amazement.
Ning was amazed as well as he carefully attuned himself to these sensations. Ever since he had flown into the Archaeus region, he had been able to sense an invisible aura of power which completely covered the entire region. This power was the power of the Archaeus region itself. If the five of them didn’t have access to an Archaeus medallion, they probably would’ve been instantaneously crushed into dust. They could sense that this mighty power originated from some place at the very heart of the vast Archaeus region.
“That direction, there.” Skyfire Brightshore pointed towards the distance. “That’s the place we need to go to.”
“The heart of the Archaeus region.” Ning and the others all nodded.
The star maps had included a detailed path from the transversal conduit to the Archaeus region. However, after they actually entered the Archaeus region they would have to depend on their own senses to advance towards the heart of the region! The center of the Archaeus region was a place which every cultivator dreamed of entering. Perhaps the journey would result in some adventures that would test them and allow them to grow more powerful and evolve, but the center… that was the place where the true transformation would occur.
“Gentlemen, same rules as always. I’ll be the one to teleport us,” Prince Greatjoy sent mentally.
“Sorry to trouble you, brother Greatjoy.”
Ning and the others did not decline. It must be understood that the Archaeus region was most likely as large as the entire Endless Territories. To go from the border regions to its heart would probably take trillions of years if one wished to physically fly through it.
It must be remembered that Ning had long ago sworn a lifeblood oath to reach Vastheaven Palace within a single chaos cycle. Chaos cycles, however, were extremely long and were calculated in the trillions of years! Thus, Ning still had plenty of time.
Prince Greatjoy produced a flying vessel which Ning and the others then entered. Prince Greatjoy took personal control over the vessel, sending it hurtling through the Archaeus region at high speeds as he teleported again and again. Every single spatial teleportation allowed them to cover an extremely great distance. Given Prince Greatjoy’s mastery over the Dao of Spacetime, roughly a hundred teleportations would be enough to allow them to traverse a single territory.
In the ‘normal’ universe, territories were located extremely far away from each other. The distance between two territories could be a hundred times greater than the size of each territory.
“Based on what my senses are telling me… the heart of the Archaeus region is quite far away from us. If we keep teleporting like this, it’ll take us at least ten thousand years to reach it,” Prince Greatjoy said. “That is assuming, of course, that we don’t encounter any dangers. In reality, this place will be full of danger.”
“Let’s just keep advancing step by step,” Solewind said.
“We’ll fight fire with fire,” Ning laughed.
The second day after they entered the Archaeus region. They had just performed yet another spatial teleportation. When the shuttle came to a halt…
“Quick, look.” Prince Greatjoy’s face tightened.
“Eh?” Ning and the others looked over. Ning stared past a faint layer of mist and was able to see an utterly enormous continent floating in space. Although there was a barrier of mist between them, Ning was still able to see out to a distance of a billion kilometers. He instantly saw that this continent had a few figures residing within it. He was able to make out a few dozen figures in total.
“Cultivators?” Ning frowned.
“Dozens of them? Why are there so many?” Prince Greatjoy was surprised as well.
Based on what they knew, one had to have an Archaeus medallion in order to enter the Archaeus region. This was true even for weaker cultivators like Elder Gods, Ancestral Immortals, True Gods, or True Immortals. Anyone who didn’t have a medallion would be crushed by the power of the Archaeus region.
There were very, very few Archaeus medallions. They had spent a thousand years travelling through many different territories, and as a result they had come to understand just how rare these items were! Logically speaking, it should’ve been almost impossible for them to encounter large numbers of cultivators bearing Archaeus medallions because of how rare those things were and how vast the Archaeus region was. They had only expected to encounter other cultivators after they actually entered the heart of the Archaeus region.
“Something doesn’t make sense. They… they give me an odd feeling.” Heartlord Solewind shook his head slowly. “It feels as though the invisible power of the Archaeus region is protecting them, rather than oppressing them.”
“Right. That really does seem to be the case.” The others quickly noticed this as well.
They had entered bearing Archaeus medallions, and so the Archaeus region did not harm them. However… those dozens of distant figures were actually being supported and protected by the power of the Archaeus region.
“They are moving very slowly,” Ning sent mentally. “In fact, they are flying at ridiculously slow speeds. Most likely, even average Empyrean Gods and Celestial Immortals would fly much faster than them.”
The vessel slowly advanced towards the borders of that vast, levitating continent. Ning and the others all flew out of the vessel.
“Let me take a look.” Heartlord Solewind stared hard at a nearby figure who was merely three hundred million kilometers away. He sent an invisible wave of heartforce out to completely cover that figure.
“He is very weak. He’s an ordinary mortal who hasn’t even undergone the Celestial Tribulation. Strictly speaking, he would be considered at the Wanxiang level,” Heartlord Solewind said.
“A mortal?” Ning and the others were all surprised.
In the Three Realms, it was said that after surviving the Celestial Tribulation, one would be ‘no longer subject to the rules of the Three Realms and the fetters of the Five Elements’. Prior to overcoming the tribulation, one would be constrained by the rules of that world. These people were referred to as ‘mortals’ by powerful cultivators!
“Are there actually mortals who live here in the Archaeus region?” Ning and the others were all puzzled.
“Let’s take a look and see,” Heartlord Solewind said. He took a single step forwards, causing the space around him to shimmer as he teleported three hundred million kilometers and moved close to that distant mortal lifeform.
“Let’s take a look as well.” The others all teleported forwards as well.
Daoist Rainskill was riding on a magic treasure as she engaged in careful exploration. She could be considered a beautiful woman who was quite famous. In just a hundred short years, she had reached the Core Formation stage.
“I’m now in the deeprest reaches of the Western Wastes.” Daoist Rainskill was extremely cautious. “I hear that at the end of the Western Wastes lies the endless chaos storms. I’ve never seen the chaos storms before. I was lucky enough to be teleported deep into the Western Wastes… I can’t waste this chance to check it out.”
A bald man dressed in fiery robes suddenly appeared in the air directly above the marsh in front of Daoist Rainskill. Moments later, several other figures appeared as well. There was a youth dressed in deep blue robes, a white-robed youth carrying a sword on his back, a black-robed man who wore a crown on his head, and a youth with long, crimson hair. All of them looked extraordinary.
“What? They can actually teleport straight into the Western Wastes?” Daoist Rainskill was badly startled. The Western Wastes was a chaotic place that was quite close to the endless chaos storms. Space was extremely unstable here. Only the ‘Grand Cultivators’ were able to teleport in places like this.
“Rainskill pays her respects to you all, seniors.” Daoist Rainskill was extremely respectful.
“We wish to ask you some questions.” Solewind smiled.
Without even realizing it, Daoist Rainskill began to relax. In her heart, she began to view this man as person who she completed trusted. “Ask away, senior.”
“How large is this continent? How many living beings does it hold?” Solewind asked.
“This place is the Northspring Continent. It is unimaginably vast and holds countless living beings,” Daoist Rainskill said. “The number of cultivators and monsters in this place is numerous beyond count, much less mortals and ordinary beasts.”
Ning and the others exchanged looks, all rather surprised. There were actually countless living beings here?
“But this place here is the Western Wastes. Space is distorted here, making it impossible for mortals to survive in such a place. Only cultivators would dare to delve deep into this place,” Daoist Rainskill said.
“What is the highest level of cultivation in this continent?” Solewind asked.
“First, you have the Qi Condensation stage. Then, you have the Foundation stage. Next comes the Core Formation stage… and the highest stage is the ‘Tribulation’ stage,” Daoist Rainskill said.
“The highest stage is the ‘Tribulation’ stage?” Solewind followed up on this. “There are none stronger than the ‘Tribulation’ stage? What happens after the tribulation?”
“After the tribulation, you ascend, of course!” Daoist Rainskill said, “You ascend to the Immortal realm. There’s no way back from there.”
“Are there any continents aside from the Northspring Continent?” Solewind asked.
“There are. If you go through the ancient transfer arrays, you can reach some other continents,” Daoist Rainskill said. “From our Northspring Continent, we can reach an incredibly distant continent known as the Blackfiend Continent as well as a place known as the Astral Ocean. I don’t know about any other locations.”
“Alright.” Heartlord Solewind nodded slowly, then looked at the others. “Let’s go.”
Ning and the others nodded, quickly disappearing as they left this place.
“Eh?!” Daoist Rainskill felt her mind go blurry for a moment. “What the hell? I actually started to daydream in a place like this?” She had no recollection of her meeting with Ning’s group at all.
“But… I feel very comfortable right now.” Daoist Rainskill felt a very comfortable feeling permeate through her entire body.
“What?! I’ve reached the peak of the Core Formation stage? And why does it seem as though my body has been completely transformed?” Daoist Rainskill was now truly stunned. What she didn’t know was that Heartlord Solewind had given her a glance as he left, bestowing a small parting gift upon her.
As for Ning’s group, they now stood once more at the margins of this vast continent.
“I never would’ve thought that the Archaeus region can give birth to living creatures as well,” Ning mused softly.
“Any environment can potentially give birth to living beings,” Solewind sent back. “The almighty Hegemon captured quite a few cultivators from this universe but was only able to learn a few things about the Archaeus region. It makes sense that there is a great deal of information we were unaware of.”
Ning and the others nodded.
Just now, they tested out the process of teleporting some people from the estate-worlds they held. They had all brought out people who had committed tremendous sins and were viledoers. Unexpectedly, all of them were able to survive here in the Archaeus region.
“Just now, that young lady spoke of ‘ascending’ to the Immortal realm after the tribulation.” Prince Greatjoy’s eyes narrowed. “As you all know, once you overcome the tribulation you’ll escape the rules and confines of a world. That means you will no longer be protected by the Archaeus region itself. Without an Archaeus medallion, you’d be instantly crushed to death. Most likely, those ascendants all ‘ascended’ to certain estate-worlds which are probably under the control of major powers who live here in the Archaeus region. In other words… it is very likely that behind this continent is a Daolord.”
“A Daolord?” Ning and the others nodded.
In the Three Realms or other chaosworlds, those who ascended and became Immortals or Gods would still be able to come and visit the mortal lands. However, here in the Archaeus region there was no coming back from ascension. Clearly, this was all due to the power of the Archaeus region, which ensured there was no way for them to return. If they wished to survive, they would only be able to do so by living in estate-world treasures.
Ning’s group naturally wouldn’t worry about them… but Daolords were definitely worthy of their attention and concern!