“Ninedust, so this is an ancestor of the Ancient cultivators?” Upon hearing the Ninedust Sectlord’s mumbles, Ji Ning turned to look curiously at the peaceful-looking man seated in the lotus position. The man seemed to be a world unto himself, and was filled with peace and benevolence. Just looking at him, Ning felt calm and tranquil in his heart. In addition, the ancient figure gave Ning a very strange feeling, a feeling similar to the one which the Ninedust Sectlord gave him.
Perhaps this was due to the fact that members of the same race would all share certain commonalities.
When Ning had first met the Ninedust Sectlord, he had no idea that the man was an Ancient cultivator. Once he met more of them, however, he would probably be able to recognize them at a glance.
“Yes. This is one of our oldest ancestors.” The Ninedust Sectlord walked over in a reverential manner. Ning followed from behind, inspecting the man closely.
There were two deceased Hegemons. The white-robed Hegemon simply lay there on the ground, and just by moving closer to him Ning began to feel as though the world around him was twisting and distorting into hallucinations. Fortunately, his soul and his mind were both very strong, and the effect was nothing more than a natural phenomena caused by the presence of the deceased Hegemon’s body. As a result, Ning was able to endure the effect. By comparison, the Ancient cultivator seated in the lotus position was much more peaceful.
After they moved closer, the Ninedust Sectlord fell to his knees and kowtowed respectfully. “Redwater pays his respects to you, ancestor.”
There was a dark-red longstaff to the side of the Ancient ancestor, and the aura emanating from it shocked Ning. “A Universe treasure?” He had seen the broken sword in the Sword Palace of the Brightshore Kingdom, and had also encountered the deceased Sword Hegemon’s dark blue greatsword in the Genesis Lands of the alternate universe. As a result, he was able to almost instantly ascertain that the dark-red longstaff next to this Ancient ancestor was also a Universe treasure.
Whoosh. A stream of light suddenly flew out from the dark-red longstaff, transforming into a bald, black-robed youth.
“Gentlemen.” The bald, black-robed youth had a calm, peaceful gaze that seemed to hold all the stars in the night sky, and his voice echoed within the cave.
“Senior,” the Ninedust Sectlord immediately called out humbly, a hint of excitement in his eyes. This was a Universe treasure! And a longstaff at that. He himself used longstaffs!
“Senior.” Ning called out with respect as well.
Any and every Universe treasure was worthy of respect, because every single one was born after experiencing endless trials and tribulations. They were utterly supreme amongst treasures, and they would only submit to those whom they truly acknowledged. Otherwise, there was no way to control them whatsoever.
“You are the fifth and the sixth to come to this place,” the bald, black-robed youth said peacefully.
Ning was secretly stunned upon hearing this. The fifth and the sixth? When they had visited Skywind’s homeland, they had been the fourth and the fifth. It seemed as though there was another expert who had reached this place without entering Skywind’s home.
“Since you have been able to survive and reach this place, it means that you both have had a number of fortuitous encounters in your life. Before dying, Master ordained that all Ancient cultivators would have a chance to earn some rewards from him if they could pass some of his tests. If there is someone capable of passing all the tests, I would be willing to follow that person,” the youth said.
“Pass all the tests?” The Ninedust Sectlord’s eyes lit up. If he passed everything, he would gain a Universe treasure? In the past, he never would’ve even dared to imagine such a thing. It must be remembered that virtually no Eternal Emperors wielded Universe treasures, much less Daolords. Only the most ridiculously lucky of Daolords would ever have a chance to acquire a Universe treasure.
“Emperor Vulturas came to this place before. Did he fail the test?” Ning suddenly asked.
The Ninedust Sectlord was stunned. Oh, right. Patriarch Vulturas had completed his Daomerge in Skywind’s homeland. After gaining eternity, he became a major power who was second only to the Hegemons in might. Had he failed to acquire the Universe treasure as well?
“Vulturas did indeed come here. He was the only Eternal Emperor to make it here, and he gained a prize for himself.” The youth nodded. “But passing the trials requires not just power; it also requires destiny. Vulturas and I were not destined to be.”
“Dare I ask, what are the trials?” The Ninedust Sectlord was rather excited. He was willing to risk everything for this. If he was lucky, he might end up with an Eternal weapon as the prize!
“All you need to do is walk closer to Master. Master set up formations and restrictive spells in the area; once you activate them, the trials will begin,” the youth said. “The better you perform, the more gifts you shall win for yourself. I shall be the arbiter of it all.”
“Understood.” The Ninedust Sectlord immediately walked over, moving towards the peacefully seated Ancient ancestor. Suddenly, he seemed to run into an invisible barrier. A few dimensional fluctuations spread out, and he disappeared without a trace.
The youth then turned to glance at Ning. He said calmly, “You are not an Ancient cultivator. You are not permitted to earn any of my Master’s treasures.”
Ning nodded helplessly.
“I personally don’t have any bias against non-Ancient cultivators,” the black-robed youth said. “However, Master’s dying instructions were that if our side won the Dawn War, his treasures were to be left to Ancient cultivators and Ancient cultivators alone. However, if our side lost the Dawn War, then anyone would be able to win his treasures, be they Aberrants, Chaos Godbeasts, or ordinary cultivators like yourself.”
Ning was puzzled. “The Dawn War?”
“You do not know of it?” The youth asked.
“I do not.” Ning shook his head.
The youth nodded in an uncaring manner. “It was a war that caused the true downfall of the Ancient cultivators as a race. Long, long ago, the Ancient cultivators were born from the primordial chaos as the most perfect of all living beings. They unified the entire universe under their rule! Even the Chaos Godbeasts were enslaved by them, while the Aberrants were all forced to bend the knee.”
Ning nodded. He had heard of this before.
“Afterwards, as time flowed on, more and more ordinary mortal beings came to be born. Ordinary mortals expanded and propagated at incredible speeds, and thus they rose to power at an inconceivable rate. They quickly became a race that was second only to the Ancient cultivators in the endless primordial chaos, and towards the end they actually became close to a match for the Ancients.”
Ning couldn’t help but sigh. The Dao Alliance truly was formidable.
“But then, a disaster happened. This disaster was an extremely large-scale one. Many powerful cultivators in our homeland and even in distant places within the Great Dark were forced to join hands and fight back against this tribulation.”
“A tribulation?” Ning was surprised.
“Look.” The youth pointed towards the slumped humanoid figure off in the distance. “You just came out of its body. You should’ve noticed that it is different from ordinary cultivators.”
Ning nodded. Ordinary cultivators should’ve had divine power in their bodies. How could they have stone passageways, flame demons, earth devils, and strange planets?
“It was a member of our enemies, one of the most powerful of their kind,” the youth said. “If we lost that war, we would’ve been annihilated. If they lost, they would’ve been annihilated as well. This was a war of extermination, a war for survival. Both sides fought like mad, and all of us here joined forces. Back then, our five Hegemons commanded a host of Eternal Emperors to fight back against them! Even experts came from deep within the Great Dark to reinforce us… and in the end, a great battle was fought in the place now known as the Terror Starsea.”
“This battle was known as the Dawn War.”
“Back then, we Ancients had a total of three Hegemons. The Dao Alliance had one Hegemon, while the Aberrants also had one Hegemon. All of them died.” The youth continued, “An incredible number of powerful experts took part in that battle, and a steady stream of reinforcements came from within or beyond the Great Dark. The battle within the Terror Starsea was absolutely terrifying, and in the end I learned that the Dao Alliance, the Ancients, and the others resettled their homeland. This meant that the enemy had been defeated. We had won.”
“The Dawn War was a severe blow to the Ancient cultivators. They had lost all three of their Hegemons.” The bald, black-robed youth shook his head and sighed. “The Dao Alliance was actually the quickest to recover, and many of their experts eventually drifted into the endless Great Dark in search of adventure. Do not blame Master for being unwilling to share his treasures with you; he knew that you ordinary cultivators would recover far more quickly than his race would. So long as you were not completely wiped out, there would definitely come a day where you surpassed the Ancients. For him to show a bit of selfishness in caring more about his own race is normal.”
Ning nodded. It seemed as though the Endless Territories had something of a secret history to it. No wonder the Terror Starsea was such a terrifying place; it had actually been the locale of the great Dawn War.
“So the endless Great Dark also holds many experts?” Ning asked.
“Yes, of course.” The bald, black-robed youth nodded. “There are many who have spent ages drifting through the endless Great Dark, which means it holds many powerful experts indeed. However, they are far too distant from us; even if you spent a hundred thousand chaos cycles travelling, you might not be able to reach them. Generally speaking, only Eternal Emperors would ever be so bored as to embark on such a distant journey. It was only due to how vitally important the Dawn War was that our allies hastened to the Terror Starsea, where the battle was to be held. The battle against our foes was so violent that even now the Terror Starsea is filled with countless dangers. Even Hegemons might perish here, if they aren’t careful.”
“Hah. There’s no need for a Daolord like you to know too much. In short, we wiped our enemies out and all the territories now belong to us once more.” The youth let out a chuckle. “In the end, our side won the Dawn War.”
Ning nodded slowly. It seemed as though in the past, the Ancient cultivators were actually an incredibly powerful force within the Endless Territories. They had three Hegemons! Alas, those three had perished during the war.
The Dawn War represented the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The era of the Ancients and their unified rule had ended; the era of the Dao Alliance had begun.
“Senior, am I supposed to just stand here and wait?” Ning asked.
“Yes, you can just wait here. There really is nothing here for you. The only reason you were even able to come here was because you were alongside an Ancient cultivator.” The youth nodded.