The muscular man and Ji Ning advanced together into the shrine.
“Eh?” Inside the shrine, Ning saw lakes of flowing lava, next to which were strange trees that seemed to be made out of fine jade. Ning couldn’t recognize where these trees came from.
Next to the lava lakes there was an ordinary-looking stone house, and there was a figure seated in the lotus position within the house. The figure sat there without moving, and from the looks of it had been there for countless chaos cycles already.
“Master.” The muscular man walked over, then said respectfully, “I’ve chosen an honorary disciple for you.”
Ning instantly realized that the figure seated in the lotus position within the stone house was most likely a fragment of the Hegemon’s will and memories which the Hegemon had left behind prior to passing.
The seated figure suddenly opened his eyes, and his eyes shone in the darkness of the stone house like a pair of two vast transversal conduits. Ning was instantly lost within his gaze.
“My disciple… if in the future you succeed in the Daomerge and gain eternity, it is my wish that you repay the grace I shall show you today you unto the Paragon of Pills.” A voice filled with complex emotions and frustration rang out from within the stone room.
A streak of light instantly shot out of the seated figure and flew straight towards Ning. As soon as it touched Ning, it was instantly drawn straight into his body. As for the seated figure, it now seemed a bit dimmer and paler. Moments later, the door to the stone house rumbled shut.
Ning stood there, a series of images playing within his mind.
These images were of a muscular man who was training in sword-arts in his youth. It also included images of him becoming an Elder God, then a World God, then a Daolord, and finally an Eternal Emperor, as well as the many sword-arts involved…
The sword-arts started off weak, became stronger, and then completely surpassed Ning’s imagination. This Hegemon had reached his level after perfectly joining together two Supreme Daos. Although this wasn’t quite as impressive as what Ning had done, it wasn’t that far off either.
He became a dazzling figure that gained true eternity, and was then given the respectful title of ‘Hegemon’! Not even the most monstrously powerful of Daolords would dare to challenge an Eternal Emperor of such power. This was because he himself was already one of the most monstrously powerful of Daolords in his era. Now that he was an Eternal Emperor, he only became even more powerful than before.
“What a powerful sword.” Ning’s eyes were unfocused and intoxicated, and his thoughts were completely filled with images of inconceivably powerful sword-arts. Some possessed such incredible magic power that they seemed to surpass the limitations of the Dao itself.
A single strike of that sword could pass through the boundaries of spacetime and slay a foe who was a hundred territories away.
A single strike of that sword could cause spacetime itself to flow backwards, allowing the wielder to go back in time. Alas, it wasn’t able to allow individuals who had perished in the past to be brought back to life.
The Prime Reaches of the Genesis Lands of the Archaeus region of the alternate universe. This was an incredibly mysterious place, and the thirty-five Eternal Emperors who had perished here weren’t even the most important or most mysterious aspects to it.
The living Eternal Emperors didn’t care too much about the deceased ones. At most, they’d display a bit of interest in the Universe treasures. What the living Eternal Emperors truly cared about were certain mysteries that were hidden within the prime essences of the universe! They were what had allowed the master of the Church of Annihilation to rise to power, becoming the number one expert of this entire universe and unifying it under his banner.
A black gauzy figure flew through the skies, moving past the primessence chains that led from the outer reaches, then flying directly into the world of the inner reaches.
“How is that even possible?!”
“Isn’t the only way into the inner reaches through traversing the primessence chains on foot?”
There were eighteen World-level cultivators and three Daolords standing at the outer reaches end of the primessence chains. One of those World-level cultivators was Waterlord Firesurge. Firesurge had also spent quite a bit of time wandering the outer reaches, and had also benefited greatly as a result of it. He felt that he had improved significantly, and so he wanted to once more test himself against the primessence chains. Alas, although this time he made it to the nine hundred kilometer mark, he still ended up failing.
“How can someone just fly across?” Waterlord Firesurge stared in disbelief at the gauze-clad figure that had just flown past them.
When the black, gauzy figure flew past them, it was as though spacetime itself had no hold over her whatsoever. She seemed to be drifting slowly, but in reality she moved so quickly that she almost instantly disappeared from the field of vision of the Daolords and the World-level cultivators.
“World-level cultivators and Daolords must tread the primessence chains. If not, they will be drawn into the abyss below and devoured. Only Eternal Emperors would dare to ignore the primessence chains and fly straight into the world of the inner reaches.”
“Right. That had to have been an Eternal Emperor.”
“Who was that Eternal Emperor?”
The Daolords and World-level cultivators quickly were able to guess at the status of that person. Eternal Emperors were incredibly rare and few in number. It must be understood that only two of them resided within the Genesis Lands, with one being Emperor Maniseal and the other being Emperor Northtree. That lithe figure that had flown past clearly belonged to neither of them.
“Which Eternal Emperor is it, then?”
“I’ve seen many people and many things, but I truly have no idea who that was. Could it be that a Daolord has recently completed his Daomerge and become a new Eternal Emperor? But once that happens, the news would quickly spread to the entirety of the Church of Annihilation.” The Daolords and World-level cultivators continued to make their guesses, puzzled at what had just happened, but they all memorized the appearance of that black figure. They wanted to make sure that they remembered this was a person for them to never, ever offend.
The inner reaches. The thirty-five ancient corpses still lay scattered around this world.
The white-robed, silver-eyed man continued to stand there, silently inspecting the corpses of the three grandmasters of the sword. “I’m sure I sensed a special ripple just now… could it be that some of the legendary secrets of the prime essences are hidden here?”
The white-robed man carefully searched through every inch of the region. Anything involving the secrets of the prime essences was enough to drive any major power wild with lust. The Church of Annihilation was the perfect example of what it could bring. Who wouldn’t go crazy for something like that?
A gentle wind blew, and a figure appeared.
“What?!” The white-robed man was so badly shocked that even his face turned pale. “How could someone have appeared right next to me without me sensing anything at all?”
He was a Daolord of the Fourth Step, and an extremely famous one. He had once battled an Eternal Emperor for an extremely long period of time before fleeing. He was definitely strong enough to cause many other Daolords to sigh in amazement.
He slowly turned his head to stare at the nearby figure. Roughly thirty meters away stood a slender figure who was dressed in black gauzy clothes. She emanated an aura of endless coldness and purity, and she stood there as though she herself was the genesis source of this world. Everything around her seemed to naturally submit to her will! Here, she reigned supreme.
“Primordial Starqueen… the Paragon of Pills?” The white-robed man was so horrified that his heart shuddered with fear. He hurriedly fell to his knees with respect. “This junior greets you, Starqueen.”
The highest ranking member in the Church of Annihilation was its leader and master, the one who had unified this entire universe. Second to him were the sixteen Starkings.
The sixteen Starkings were all unfathomably profound individuals, but the most powerful and mysterious members amongst their ranks were the ones known as the three Primordial Starkings! The reason why they were different from the other thirteen and were titled as ‘primordial’ was because they had been alive since the very birth of this universe.
The White Emperor was the teacher of the leader of the Church of Annihilation, and he was one of the three Primordial Starkings. As for the Paragon of Pills, she was also one of the three. She was an extremely mysterious figure who moved in mysterious ways and rarely revealed herself. It was very difficult for even Eternal Emperors to have a chance to meet with her. However, most of the high-status members of this universe all knew what she looked like.
She always dressed in black gauze and had a look of perpetual iciness about her. As for her features, they were forever be masked by a formless barrier of fog. There was no way to see her true features at all.
“What just happened here…” The black-garbed figure stared at the distant corpse of the greatsword-wielding man, complex emotions in her eyes. “Why did I suddenly feel as though something momentous happened?”
“Big brother… don’t grow too impatient. Big brother, second brother, third brother… I’ll reverse the flows of spacetime and bring all of you back to life…” The black-garbed figure murmured softly to herself. She had said these words far, far too many times. Her gaze was completely focused upon the muscular, greatsword-wielding man.
Suddenly, the look on her face changed. The aura around her began to ripple and rumble as well.
It must be understood that this place was the Prime Reaches of the Genesis Lands. This was no ordinary place! Ji Ning and the various Daolords weren’t even able to fly about here, a testament to how powerful the various restrictive forces here were. And yet… just the slightest hint of startlement from the black-garbed figure was enough to cause the aura of the surrounding area to shake and rumble. All Daos were shaking, as though wishing to retreat from her.
Where I stand, all other Daos must bend the knee!
The white-robed man’s heart shook with cold fear as he saw this. She lived up to her reputation as one of the three Primordial Starkings! In fact, according to the legends the only reason why the leader of the Church of Annihilation was able to rise to power was because the three Primordial Starkings had no interest in battle or power. The legends said that in reality, the three Primordial Starkings were just as powerful as their ‘leader’.
Of course, those were just legends! The three Primordial Starkings, however, had indeed existed since the birth of this universe. This was why everyone believed that they knew the secrets held within it.
“What’s going on? Everything was fine earlier. Nothing like this was happening.” The white-robed man was puzzled.
As for the black-garbed figure, the Paragon of Pills, she stared at the treasures placed in front of the muscular man. Others, such as Daolords, might not be able to see anything, but her gaze easily pierced through the restrictive spells and allowed her to realize that a treasure was now missing from the pile.
“A treasure has disappeared? Who took it?” The Paragon turned to scan her surroundings, causing everything within the inner reaches to fall under her gaze.
“Tell me, what happened here?” The Paragon of Pills stared intently at the white-robed man.
“I…” The white-robed man truly had no idea as to what he should say.
A handsome, white-robed youth who had a longsword on his back suddenly appeared out of nowhere.