Book 28, Chapter 8 - The Hope of the Cultivators

The enormous prison was divided into many different regions. Within a jail cell located in one particular corner of the prison, Ji Ning’s group of five was staring at that skinny, elderly prisoner.

“I was captured and brought to this place six hundred years ago, after I travelled through the spacetime transfer array and arrived at the Sacred Immortal Realm.” The skinny old man’s eyes were filled with a reminiscent look as he said softly, “Ever since then, I’ve been imprisoned here. I’ve suffered countless torments. Some cultivators chose to self-detonate because they were unable to endure the misery. Ugh… I really wish I could go back to the Mortal Realm.”

Ning’s group all frowned. Solewind asked, “Do you know nothing about the rest of this Sacred Immortal Realm?”

The skinny old man shook his head. “I know very little. We’ve been trapped here this entire time.”

“Do you know about the ‘master’ which these devils who torture you serve?” Solewind asked.

The skinny man trembled as a look of terror appeared in his eyes. “He… he’s the master of the devils. He’s terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. After I was imprisoned here, I saw him visit the prison on two separate occasions. He used a terrifying spell to personally torture us. Countless cultivators were simultaneously tortured at the same time. He was simply too powerful, too terrifying.”

“Twice? He visited the prison twice in the past six hundred years?” Solewind’s face tightened slightly.

“He comes quite frequently,” Prince Greatjoy growled.

“We have to be careful. Who knows when this Daolord will appear again?” Ning said solemnly. He didn’t dare to spread out his own godsense, as once he did that it would be very easy for their foe to detect them.

Prince Greatjoy suddenly frowned. “I ask you this. The ancient transfer array activates once every century, which means that an utter flood of cultivators has been sent over here over the course of many years. If the torment never comes to an end… why are so many of you still alive? If you know that life will be worse than death, and that you will be subject to perpetual agony with no way of fighting back, why are you still enduring?”

Ning and the others were intrigued. Right. When faced with overwhelming power, overwhelming despair, and the prospect of never-ending torture, why wouldn’t they choose to die? Logically speaking, most would rather commit suicide than to continue like this.

“Because we are going to get revenge,” the skinny old man growled, his eyes filled with fury and hate.

“You? How?” Prince Greatjoy was puzzled.

“If we can ascend, we can leave this place.” The skinny old man ground his teeth. “After ascending, I will become a Celestial Immortal and will be able to continue to cultivate. In the future, after I grow stronger, I’ll definitely come back and get my revenge.”

Heartlord Solewind asked, “Ascend? If you ascend, you’ll be able to escape the Sacred Immortal Realm?”

Ning and the others were all puzzled. Logically speaking, ‘ascension’ should represent ascending into an estate-world of a Daolord.

“Those who ascend can indeed escape,” the skinny old man said immediately. “Long, long ago, before our Mortal Realm even had that ancient transfer array, it was somewhat easier for cultivators to train to the late Apotheosis stage. In the Mortal Realm, there were some who were occasionally able to reach that stage, and once they did the Celestial Tribulation would soon descend upon them. After the tribulation, they would ascend to a land of Immortals.

“Later, cultivation in the Mortal Realm became more difficult. However, the ancient transfer array then appeared, and some of our ancient predecessors chose to travel through it and go to the Sacred Immortal Realm. Some of them even came back and then told their descendants and juniors that the Sacred Immortal Realm was a holy place for cultivation with incredibly dense elemental energy. As a result, successive generations of cultivators have come to this place.

“Only after entering did we realize that it was all just a trick.” The skinny old man gritted his teeth.

Ning and the other four were all extraordinary figures. They immediately understood what had happened.

Long ago, before the ‘Mortal Realm’ was discovered by that Daolord, cultivation was a much simpler path. When the enormous protective formation sprang up to protect the continent from the spatial storms around it, it naturally caused the elemental energy in the continent to grow sparse, making cultivation much more difficult. The ancient transfer array then appeared, followed by some cultivators who were soul-compelled to return from this ‘Sacred Immortal Realm’ and widely spread rumors of how wonderful it was.

It was only natural that more and more cultivators would be drawn to enter it.

“It was all a plot. In truth, in the Mortal Realm it is still possible for outstandingly talented geniuses to reach the late-stage Apotheosis level, then successfully overcome their tribulations and ascend.” The skinny elder continued, “But it truly is very, very difficult. The Mortal Realm is unfathomably vast, but only a handful of people each century can achieve their goals and ascend. That is why we all entered this Sacred Immortal Realm.”

The skinny elder shook his hea.d “Although we are imprisoned here, it is still true that elemental energy in this world is far denser than it was in ours. It isn’t too hard to reach the late-stage of the Apotheosis level. However, once those devils notice us reaching that stage, they’ll immediately strike and kill us! Thus, we have to accumulate as much power as possible. We need to build up so much power that as soon as we reach the late-stage of the Apotheosis level, the Celestial Tribulation will immediately descend. By then, those devils won’t be able to do anything to us.”

Ning and the others were quite curious.

“So as long as you cause a Celestial Tribulation, you’ll be out of danger?”

“Once the Celestial Tribulation comes, they would never dare to interfere! All they would do is stand off to one side and watch. Even if that devil lord came himself, he would just watch from afar. Anyone who succeeds in the tribulation would immediately ascend to the legendary Immortal Lands,” the skinny elder said.

……

As Ning and the others questioned him, they continued to discuss this matter amongst themselves.

Generally speaking, in places like the Three Realms the so-called ‘Celestial Tribulation’ might pose a threat to ordinary cultivators, but it definitely wouldn’t be able threaten a World-level cultivator! A World-level cultivator would be capable of annihilating the entire Three Realms; how could a mere tribulation be able to do anything to him? By the same principle, it was impossible for a Celestial Tribulation to threaten a Daolord! Even if a Celestial Tribulation did descend, a Daolord could forcibly intervene and completely destroy the tribulation.

“I have a possible answer,” Firesurge whispered. “Ever since we entered the Archaeus region, we’ve been hearing stories of ‘ascension’ from the continents that we visit. Do you think it’s possible that there’s a Daolord in every single continent? That they will all go so far as to spend time and effort setting up an estate-world to protect them?”

“What are you saying?” Solewind looked at him.

“I imagine you’ve all noticed this by now as well. After we entered the Archaeus region, we’ve been able to sense that its power permeates every inch of this region,” Firesurge said. “The only reason we aren’t crushed by it is because we bear Archaeus medallions.”

Ning and the others nodded. It was true that the power of the Archaeus region was omnipresent here.

“Then… it is entirely possible that the ‘Celestial Tribulation’ sent down upon the countless living creatures of the many continents here were all sent down by the Archaeus region itself,” Firesurge said.

“Right.”

“Right, that has to be it.”

Their eyes all instantly lit up as they came to understand this matter.

The Celestial Tribulation… it only came about as a result of the natural laws of Heaven and Earth.

In a chaosworld such as the Three Realms, the ‘laws’ in question were the laws of the chaoworld itself, and thus it was the chaosworld itself which sent down the Celestial Tribulations.

But here in the Archaeus region, those vast continents did not have any natural laws that belonged to the continents themselves. Logically speaking, there was no way for the continents themselves to send down Celestial Tribulations. Which meant… it had to be the entire Archaeus region which sent down the tribulations!

“Because the tribulations are sent by the Archaeus region itself, not even Daolords would dare to interfere. If they did, they would be punished by the power of the entire Archaeus region,” Firesurge said. The reason why someone like Ning would be able to destroy the Celestial Tribulation of the Three Realms was because he wasn’t afraid of any reprisal from the Three Realms. But a reprisal from the Archaeus region… even Eternal Emperors would fear such a thing.

The Archaeus region was the very core of this entire alternate universe! A strike from it would essentially represent a strike from the entire universe itself! Who would dare to withstand such a blow?

“It makes perfect sense.” Skyfire Brightshore nodded.

“There is a high probability that you are correct. I’d say the chances are at least 80%. But there’s another 20% probability as well… perhaps all this talk of ‘ascension’ is nothing more than a cruel lie meant to give these cultivators hope. Once they lose all hope, they probably won’t be able to keep on living,” Solewind said.

Whoosh. Ning and the other four silently emerged from that small jail cell. They continued to walk through the enormous prison, with no one able to detect them.

“GREETINGS, MASTER!”

Suddenly, every inch of the prison exploded with raucous chants. Every single one of the million-plus golems obediently knelt down, and the sound of their knees hitting the ground echoed throughout the prison.

“He’s coming.”

“The lord of the devils is coming.”

“N-no…”

“He’s come again.”

When the prisoners trapped within those countless jail cells within the prison heard the noise, they instantly became filled with terror. Each time this ‘lord of the devils’ arrived, he would bring them nightmarish torment that was even worse than what the devils were able to dispense. Everyone’s breathing became ragged and chaotic, and even the aura of hatred, resentment, and madness which permeated the place became much stronger than before.

Ning’s face turned pale, as did that of the other four.

“Hmph.” A cold snort rang out, followed by an awe-inspiringly powerful surge of heartforce that swept out and covered the entire prison. At the same time, some faint green mist began to seep towards every single cell.

But suddenly, the green mist came to an immediate halt.

Even that wave of heartforce trembled.

“Who are the five of you?!” A furious and stunned mental query rang out.

Ning’s group of five was standing there in the hallways. They were able to easily ensure the golems were unable to detect them, but there was no way for them to avoid the heartforce scan of a Daolord.




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