Emperor Gonflame wished to meet him? Ji Ning hesitated for a moment. He was nothing more than a World-level cultivator. There was probably only one possible reason why Emperor Gonflame wished to meet him in person…
The Paragon of Pills!
Emperor Gonflame was one of the retainers of the Paragon of Pills, while the Paragon had an extraordinarily close relationship with Ning’s deceased Hegemon master. Most likely, she could be considered his master’s wife, almost like a godmother.
“Lead the way,” Ning said.
“Follow me.” The attendant immediately led the way forwards, but in his heart he couldn’t help but feel puzzled at what the relationship was between this young World-level cultivator and his Emperor was.
The attendant led Ning forwards. A short while later, it was an Emperor-level retainer who personally led the way for Ning.
A short while later, they reached an enormous, peaceful courtyard. There were two lakes within the courtyard, one of which was filled with a blazing, lava-like liquid. As for the second lake, it was filled with a freezing liquid that was so cold as to cause the surrounding area to be blanketed in frost. Between that blazing lake and the freezing lake was an ancient, stunted-looking tree that was nonetheless large in size.
Beneath the tree, there was a table, a chair, and a man.
The fiery-haired man’s upper body was uncovered, and he sat there while weighing Ning with a judging look in his eyes.
“Emperor,” the retainer said respectfully, “Darknorth has arrived.”
“You may leave,” Emperor Gonflame instructed. The retainer immediately withdrew, leaving behind only Ning and Emperor Gonflame.
“This junior greets you, Emperor.” Ning bowed respectfully.
“No need to stand on ceremony with me, Darknorth. Come, sit.” Emperor Gonflame smiled and gestured towards the seat opposite him. Seeing this, Ning followed his gesture and sat down.
“Have a taste. The wine here was delivered to me by the various Daolords who have asked me to help them create various treasures. I don’t even know the names of half of the wine here, nor do I care. I’ve already spent countless amounts of effort researching and analyzing the properties of various materials and ingredients. I have no interest in doing the same for my food and wine as well,” Emperor Gonflame said.
Ning nodded. “I can imagine how much effort it took for you to rise to the level of being the number one artificer of this entire universe.”
“I actually happen to like being an artificer. When I followed Master, I was nothing more than one of her many disciples and retainers. I was a completely unremarkable figure.” A reminiscent look was in Emperor Gonflame’s eyes. “I was fairly slow in improving as a cultivator, but I really did like working as an artificer, and so I poured all of my efforts into this field instead. Who would’ve thought that I would end up becoming a Daolord of the Fourth Step, and then just naturally break through to become an Eternal Emperor? Only later did I realize that Master had been paying close attention to me in secret. She had helped guide me and assist me on numerous occasions without me even realizing it.”
Ning couldn’t help but secretly sigh. For Emperor Gonflame to have gained eternity was proof that if you truly devoted yourself to a particular trade or craft, you could make miracles happen! But of course, that was also only if you had a major power like the Paragon of Pills guiding your path. The Paragon was one of the three ancient Primordial Starkings who had existed since the birth of this universe, after all. Even though she didn’t spend much time or effort on artificing, she still ranked as one of the top three in this universe. For her to help guide Emperor Gonflame in this was naturally quite simple for her.
If he had just blindly studied without having such a wise teacher, it was unlikely that he would’ve been able to gain eternity!
“I noticed you as soon as you arrived here.” Emperor Gonflame looked at Ning.
“Huh?” Ning was startled.
“Mm. You weren’t overwhelmed with desire despite seeing so many treasures placed before you. In the end, you chose a lifeblood weapon.” Emperor Gonflame smiled and nodded. “Not bad. It seems you understand that in order to become a truly powerful figure, you still have to rely on your own power. To rely on strange curios and ancient artifacts… that path is a path which rarely leads to becoming truly unstoppable.”
“You are a sword cultivator. The sword cultivators who truly were the dominant forces of their era all relied on the nothing more than the sword in their hands, or perhaps the powerful secret arts they might’ve come up with,” Emperor Gonflame said.
Ning nodded, understanding what was being imparted. In the ancient library of the Sword Palace, he had seen quite a few secret arts and thus understood that many of the more powerful Daolords relied on mighty secrets arts they had developed. This was true for virtually all of the monstrously talented ones!
“The most terrifyingly powerful Daolords and Emperors all have their own unique techniques.” Emperor Gonflame sighed. “Some Daolords have such powerful abilities that even I would rather keep my distance from them. For example, there is a Daolord I know named Daolord Otherpath who used his own Dao to create a truly unearthly secret art. He managed to completely merge himself into the Wugang Sea of Glass, something which naturally formed from the primordial chaos. After mastering the Wugang Glass Form, with but a thought he can transform into the vast sea of glass and sent it surging towards you. Upon being trapped by it… even someone like me would probably perish.”
Ning was secretly speechless. Still, it made sense. Shortly after leaving the Three Realms, he had encountered Daolord Badlands. Although he was merely a Daolord of the Third Step, his Numerancy divination powers were simply too incredible. Whenever he divined that danger was near, he would immediately slink away, making it almost impossible to kill him. Even worse – if you offended him but were unable to kill him, he would be able to divine all sorts of ways to deal with you or act against your interests. This was why Daolord Badlands was actually quite a dangerous person.
“Those unearthly Daolords have all trained their own Daos to an absolute apex, giving them inconceivable amounts of power. Even worse, they all but seek out excuses to try and kill an Emperor so as to establish their reputations.” Emperor Gonflame shook his head and sighed. “Gaining eternity is no easy feat, and yet the weaker Eternal Emperors are hunted down so mercilessly that they don’t even dare to show their faces in the world.”
Ning couldn’t help but grin. The same was true in the Endless Territories. Daolord Allgod had chased Emperor Melobo across the entire universe, while Lord Dawnstar of the Saber Palace had once slain an Eternal Emperor with three blows of his saber! This was why there were so few Eternal Emperors around, with the surviving ones all figures of incredible strength. The three Hegemons of the Endless Territories were good examples, as was Emperor Mirrorsnow who was extremely skilled at staying alive. Emperor Trisilk was another figure who was also skilled at survival.
“Magic treasures, bah… one or two is enough. If you spend all your efforts on collecting magic treasures, you’ll never make it too far!” Emperor Gonflame looked at Ning. “Although I am very wary of those monstrously strong Daolords, I have to say that they have chosen the correct path. If they succeed and gain eternity, they shall become Hegemons amongst emperors. They’ll immediately be granted the position of ‘Starking’ within the Church of Annihilation, and they’ll be incredibly strong ones at that.”
Ning couldn’t help but ask curiously, “Aren’t all the Starkings of the Church of Annihilation at the Hegemon level?”
“No way. Impossible!” Emperor Gonflame shook his head. “They are simply strong Eternal Emperors who were chosen to become Starkings. If they were Hegemons, they wouldn’t be ‘chosen’ as Starkings; they simply would BE Starkings. Take Emperor Maniseal for example; I heard he’s ridiculously powerful in the Dao of Seals, but he’s still a ways off from the Hegemon level.”
“Or consider the three Primordial Starkings. They always had transcendent statuses, precisely because all three of them were Hegemons,” Emperor Gonflame said.
“Oh.” Ning nodded. So as he had expected, the Paragon of Pills was indeed a Hegemon.
“The Paragon of Pills is a truly incredible figure,” Emperor Gonflame said. “According to the legends, she was a monster even back when she was merely a Daolord, capable of killing Eternal Emperors with ease. Only after gaining eternity did she become a Hegemon! However… there are no absolutes. The legends supposedly say that a long, long time ago, she wasn’t a Hegemon. Only after training for many years as an Eternal Emperor did she reach the Hegemon level of power.”
“Emperor Maniseal, in turn, was once an unremarkable Emperor who completely focused on his Dao of Seals. By now, he’s become incredibly powerful.” Emperor Gonflame chuckled. “After you become an Emperor, you can still slowly train your way up and become increasingly powerful, and you’ll even have a shot at the Hegemon level. However… actually succeeding in this endeavor is far too difficult. Countless years have gone by, but the only person to succeed in doing so was the Paragon of Pills.”
Ning was shocked. Back in the Brightshore Kingdom, he had heard that Hegemons were only created when the most powerful of Daolords gained eternity! He never would’ve imagined that the Paragon was actually an exception to the rule. It really was an axiom that the path of cultivation was a path where there would always be a ‘final chance’ given.
Emperor Gonflame chatted with Ning for quite some time, broadening Ning’s horizons.
“Now, you want a lifeblood weapon, right?” Emperor Gonflame looked at Ning, then laughed. “That’ll be easy. This is our very first meeting, and so I’ll gift you with a lifeblood weapon as my first meeting gift to you.”
“Wonderful.” Ning revealed a look of delight.
He knew that there were differences amongst freshly-forged lifeblood weapons. Some might be incredibly heavy and would be suitable for ferocious stances such as his Heavenbreaker stance. Others might be a better fit for his Blood Drop stance or his Shadowless stance. But of course, lifeblood weapons could be continuously improved and altered. Even if the weapon didn’t start off as a good fit, as more time passed it would become a better and better fit for its master!
But a lifeblood treasure which started off as a perfect fit would naturally grow powerful even faster. For the number one grandmaster artificer in this universe to personally forge a lifeblood weapon for himself… this truly was a rare opportunity.
“Emperor, please take a look at this.” Ning immediately began to put his sword-arts on display. “My Sword Dao is composed of five separate Supreme Daos.”
As Ning put his sword-arts on display, the watching Emperor Gonflame felt a sense of tremendous shock.
“W-what… you’ve even linked them together perfectly? This is something which includes all aspects of the entire Dao of the Sword!” Emperor Gonflame stared at Ning. If this kid continues to grow and develop, he’ll definitely become not just a powerful Daolord, but one of the most monstrously powerful Daolords. He’ll probably be able to kill some weaker Eternal Emperors with just one blow from his sword.
“Emperor.” After finishing displaying his sword-arts, Ning looked towards Emperor Gonflame.
“Um…” Emperor Gonflame rubbed his chin. “Your lifeblood weapon would have to reach the apex of perfection in every single aspect. It won’t be easy to make, and it’ll require a lot of materials.”
It would only cost him around ten million cubes of chaos nectar if he wished to make a lifeblood sword for an ordinary sword cultivator, and if he wished to sell it on the open market it would probably go for around twenty or thirty million cubes. But Darknorth’s Sword Dao was a Dao which covered all types of sword-arts, a Dao which pursued true perfection. The materials alone would probably cost him thirty million cubes!
“Haha. Well, since I promised I’d forge you one, I’ll forge you one.” Emperor Gonflame laughed. “I won’t go broke from just one weapon.”
“Emperor,” Ning suddenly said, “This junior has a rather… outrageous request.”
“An outrageous request?” Emperor Gonflame laughed. “Don’t be shy. Speak.” He had just promised to give away thirty million cubes worth of precious materials. Right now, he was feeling quite generous and magnanimous.
“You’ve already seen this junior’s sword-arts. To be honest… it’d be perfect if I had six lifeblood swords. In that case, my power would multiply many times over.” Ning said hurriedly, “But of course, this junior wouldn’t dare to ask you to gift me with six… if there’s anything you need, just tell me and I will do my utmost to accomplish it. I also have some precious treasures and some chaos nectar. I definitely would never ask you to operate at a loss.”
Ning truly did deeply desire six lifeblood weapons. He wanted six, no matter what it had to cost him. Given how much face Emperor Gonflame was giving him, he’d probably offer those six weapons at a very low cost. Logically speaking, Ning felt he should be able to afford it.
“SIX?!!?” Emperor Gonflame’s eyes bulged out. “Six LIFEBLOOD weapons? Your request really is outrageous!”