“Break!” Ji Ning immediately activated his [Three Heads, Six Arms]. Six Northbow swords in hands, he swept through the armored soldiers just as quickly as the Ninedust Sectlord had. The soldiers were completely incapable of stopping him at all.
The Ninedust Sectlord and Ning advanced in succession at high speed through the pathway. By comparison, Ning was actually a bit faster as the Ninedust Sectlord was being slowed down by the nine novessence arts. As Ning chased after the sectlord, he suddenly sent a mental shout, “Sectlord, I imagine the real reason you came to the Eastroad Sect was to enter this pathway!”
“Hmph.” The Ninedust Sectlord let out a cold snort from up ahead as he continued to defeat the soldiers in his path.
“I’ve been puzzled, all this time, as to why you are doing this. If you just wanted to take over the Eastroad Territory, there was no need for you to attack the Eastroad Sect itself. It takes up almost no space, after all.” Ning sent mentally, “And there’s no way anyone can notice anything unusual about this pathway from outside… but you breached the formation protecting the area around it, then headed straight for it. You certainly know some of the secrets behind it!”
The Ninedust Sectlord completely ignored Ning, but Ning was starting to understand more and more. Ning himself had only discovered this pathway after Daolord Thunderheat had guided him to it; when he had first seen the decorative ‘mountain’, he hadn’t noticed anything special about it at all. Both Daolord Thunderheat and Ning were extremely puzzled by how the Ninedust Sectlord had flown straight towards the mountain, as though he already knew everything about it.
“You won’t be able to stop me.” The Ninedust Sectlord finally spoke, his voice icy cold.
He had been scheming this ever since Daolord Eastroad had perished. He had released word of Daolord Eastroad’s death, then ambushed and slain Daolord Overgold! He had even sent the Ninedust Shrine to stand guard outside the Eastroad Everworld, and had been keeping a quiet watch on it like a hungry wolf staring at its prey. His goal had been to cause terror and panic, hoping to force the Eastroad Sect to voluntarily flee.
If the Eastroad Sect really had fled, things would be simple. Upon fleeing, the formations within the sect would have to be withdrawn… and he would be able to follow that silent call of fate as it moved away. He would immediately attack and wipe out the fleeing Eastroad Sect! But of course, if that call of fate remained immobile, he would’ve spared the Eastroad Sect and instead headed straight to the source of the call.
In the end, his true goal was the destiny which awaited him! The reason why he hadn’t been willing to fight head-on was because he was afraid that Patriarch Eastroad might’ve left behind some sort of deadly spell or technique for his heirs. In truth, his fears were well-founded; Daolord Thunderheat did indeed have a treasure capable of unleashing a deadly attack which was more powerful than the Dao-seals bestowed by Skyaxe and Soleman. The reason why Patriarch Eastroad had dared to go off adventuring was because he had left behind an incredibly powerful protective treasure in Thunderheat’s hands to protect his home. However, this was a single-use item; since Ning had offered to help out, Daolord Thunderheat naturally forebore from using it.
“I was very careful this entire time; I wanted to make sure that I didn’t drive the Eastroad Sect into a state of true desperation. Although I’m fairly certain I would be able to survive even their most frenzied attacks, I still probably would’ve been forced to pay a heavy price.” The Ninedust Sectlord felt quite smug. “Now, I’ve reached this ancestral site without suffering any injuries at all.”
“Wait, what?!” The Ninedust Sectlord’s face suddenly turned pale. He glanced backwards, only to see Ji Ning drawing closer and closer to him. “How could he be moving even faster than me?!” The Ninedust Sectlord was shocked.
This pathway had a total of thirty thousand soldiers, while the Ninedust Sectlord had already charged past twenty-six thousand of them. By now, every single soldier was vastly stronger than Patriarch Clearwind in his normal state. While the Ninedust Sectlord was still able to advance fairly quickly, he felt certain that the white-robed Daolord’s speed would begin to decline as the more powerful soldiers began to appear.
“This white-robed Daolord is much weaker than me. How is it that he’s moving even faster?” The Ninedust Sectlord couldn’t believe this.
“Hmph.” Ning continued to advance at high speed. Soon, he passed the twenty-six thousand soldier mark as well. He had spent more than ten thousand years in the Void Pathway, but he had never defeated this many warriors before.
“Ninedust Sectlord, was all this for the sake of that golden throne?” Ning sent mentally. He wanted to learn some of the secrets regarding the Void Pathway from watching the Ninedust Sectlord, as Ning himself hadn’t been able to discern much about it despite having spent so many years here.
The Ninedust Sectlord, however, seemed to ignore Ning’s question as he continued to battle, a cold smile on his face. “It seems you’ve made a breakthrough? No wonder your secret arts have improved so substantially.”
“It was all thanks to you. Our last battle allowed me to finally understand what was missing, and I’ve taken yet another step.” Ning continued to smash through all opposition with overwhelming fierceness in his three-headed, six-armed form.
“He really did make a breakthrough.” The Ninedust Sectlord couldn’t help but secretly feel regret. “He was already on par with Clevermind when he was a Daolord of the Second Step. That means that he should now be on par with me! And those damnable secret arts of his are causing me trouble at every turn.”
The Ninedust Sectlord clenched his teeth, continuing his headlong charge. His longstaff swept out with draconic might, causing a series of booms as it smashed and blasted its way through the various enemy soldiers. Unfortunately, Ning continued to move faster than him and was still closing the distance.
Twenty-eight thousand soldiers.
Twenty-nine thousand soldiers.
Both sides were now extremely close to each other.
“Not good. If this continues, he’s going to catch up to me. I have no choice but to use that forbidden art yet again. Ugh!” The Ninedust Sectlord suddenly let out a deep growl. His aura once more skyrocketed as an awesome burst of energy manifested around him. His aura was now stronger than even Daolord Kongsan’s aura had been. Auras were generally linked to divine power and Immortal energy; clearly, the Ninedust Sectlord’s divine body was far stronger than the bodies of most Daolords of the Fourth Step.
The first time he had used this forbidden art had been when he had broken through the barriers protecting the courtyard which held the entrance into the Void Pathway. Now, he did so again, and he grew noticeably more powerful as he strove to pull away from Ning.
“What’s this?” Ning was rather surprised by this. “The Ninedust Sectlord really does have quite a few tricks up his sleeves. Still… it won’t be of any use. He’s not escaping me.”
Twenty-nine thousand, five hundred… twenty-nine thousand, six hundred…
The soldiers were growing more and more powerful, and both Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord were starting to slow down and the distance between the two continued to shrink.
“The last two.” The Ninedust Sectlord let out a bellow as he charged against the final two soldiers. The two golden-armored soldiers opened their glowing golden eyes as they stared at the Ninedust Sectlord. BOOM! BOOM! They charged straight towards him as well.
The Ninedust Sectlord started to fight against the two final soldiers. He was actually unable to defeat them right away. “Why are these soldiers this powerful?!” The Ninedust Sectlord didn’t know that even Patriarch Eastroad had been forced to go all-out before just barely eeking out a victory. Now that the Ninedust Sectlord was being hampered by Ning’s nine novessence arts, it would be quite difficult for him to defeat these two final soldiers.
“Ninedust, you won’t be able to escape.” Boom! Boom! Two soldiers behind him were blasted aside as a white-robed figure charged straight for him.
“Damn.” The Ninedust Sectlord’s face was ashen. He had been forced to use his forbidden art and as a result had managed to somehow keep himself ahead of the freakishly strong white-robed Daolord, but the strength of the two final soldiers had given his enemy the chance to catch up once more.
“Fuck off!” The Ninedust Sectlord lashed out with his longstaff, striking out towards the attacking Ning in an almost whip-like blow. Thanks to his usage of that forbidden art, he was still able to unleash roughly 80% of his full power despite the encumberance of the nine novessence arts.
Whoosh! When the staff intersected with Ning’s sword-light, it was as though it had become trapped within the gravity well of a black hole and saw all of its strength pushed off to one side.
Omega Sword Dao – Soleheart!
“You won’t be able to escape!” Ning charged forwards, an array of countless streams of sword-light slashing towards the Ninedust Sectlord.
Bang! Due to Ning’s assault, the Ninedust Sectlord revealed a flaw in his defenses, resulting in one of the two soldiers landing an attack on him. The Ninedust Sectlord was actually forced to stumble five steps backwards. He was enraged to the point of lunacy, and he charged forwards again with teeth gritted.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord battled against each other while also fending off the attacks of those two soldiers. Thankfully, the two soldiers treated Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord ‘equally’, launching attacks against both! This was why the battle had entered a stalemate for now.
“It seems you must have used some sort of forbidden art,” Ning sent mentally. “Let’s see how long you can hold it.”
“If you didn’t have your own secret arts, you wouldn’t be a match for me.” The Ninedust Sectlord was furious. Even after having used his forbidden art, he was still in rather dire straits.
Ning, however, understood that there was a limit to how strong the nine novessence arts would be. He had already mastered them as a Daolord of the First Step, and back then they vastly surpassed Ning’s close-combat abilities! Although he could continue to strengthen them as his Omega Sword Dao improved, his close-combat abilities would improve far more rapidly. He was already on par with the Ninedust Sectlord in close combat, which meant that those abilities were already superior to those nine novessence arts.
In the end, all secret arts were a form of external strength! If you focused too much on secret arts and not enough on your Dao, there would be a limit to how much you could improve. Still, it was true that the influence of the nine novessence arts ensured that Ning was in an advantageous position in this battle.
The two soldiers who had been furiously assaulting Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord suddenly retreated at the same instant, voluntarily stepping back. Both Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord were stunned by this.
“They are falling back?” The Ninedust Sectlord instantly realized what was happening. A look of wild delight on his face, he charged straight towards the golden throne at the very end of the pathway.
“What?!” When Ning saw the Ninedust Sectlord furiously charge towards that golden throne, he ignored all else and the same thing.
Boom! Boom! The two figures arrived next to the golden throne at virtually the same instant.
“Weng…ba…hu…jiu…” Suddenly, an incredibly ancient and distant voice emanated from the golden globe of light. It seemed to come from the beginning of time itself, and it carried an aura of mystery and almighty power. It almost sounded like the mumbling of an ancient and powerful figure, and it caused the entire region to begin to shake. Every single part of the void around the pathway began to glow with countless strange runes, and layers of golden rippling light began to appear around the golden throne as well which swept Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord into their embrace.
“The ancestors! The ancestors!” The Ninedust Sectlord was unspeakably excited when he heard this voice. As for Ning, he was completely puzzled. He continued to keep his six Northbow swords at the ready, prepared for any danger.