Daolord Laya and the Ninedust Sectlord both looked at Ji Ning. Ning just continued to sit there, but he reached out with his right hand to gently stroke the stone incense burner in front of him. This censer truly was quite odd; it had a white half and a black half, almost as though two different incense burners, one white and one black, had somehow been merged together. The black side felt as cold as ice, while the white side filled his palm with warmth. It was this strange union of these two marvelous properties that produced that faint white fragrance.
Whoosh. Ning filled his finger with his Immortal energy, beginning the process of binding the Stone Censer of Reunion to him.
“So that’s how it is.” Ning now understood. The Stone Censer of Reunion was able to produce a fragrant scent that would cause cultivators around it to enter a state of constant epiphany. However, the fragrance would eventually be used up… but so long as you could continue to pour more Immortal energy into it, more of the fragrance would continue to be generated. In addition, the amount of Immortal energy it consumed was fairly low. However, the amount of fragrance it produced was only enough for a single cultivator to constantly use.
“No wonder my two days of cultivation caused the surrounding mist to shrink from nine meters to merely six meters.” Ning couldn’t help but sigh. This was merely the fragrance which was remaining and unused that was stored within the stone censer.
“Darknorth, are you sure that you will choose this censer?” the Ninedust Sectlord asked.
“Of course I’m certain.” Ning nodded. “A Dao-cultivating treasure like this is incredibly rare and unquestionably priceless.”
“Darknorth…” the nearby Daolord Laya looked anxiously at Ning. “Are you willing to trade it to my Starflow race? The Ancient cultivators have extremely deep roots and won’t care that much about the Stone Censer of Reunion, and so the price that we are willing to pay will definitely exceed that of the Ancient cultivators.”
“You haven’t even offered a price, but you are already claiming that your race will be able to offer more than mine?” The Ninedust Sectlord smirked.
“Gentlemen.” Ning shook his head. “For now, I have no intention of trading this away.”
Ninedust and Laya were both startled.
“It is extremely important to me as well. When the day comes that it is of no further use to me, I might be willing to trade it,” Ning said.
The Daomerge was incredibly difficult. The likes of Bertulu, Daolord Skyaxe, Ninedust, and Palace Lord Dawnstar had joined multiple Supreme Daos together; if they ever succeeded in the Daomerge, they would become Hegemons! However, Hegemons were incredibly rare. Ever since the Dawn War ended in the Terror Starsea, the Endless Territories had only had three Hegemons; no more, no less.
As for Ning and his Omega Sword Dao? It would be even more difficult for him! If he succeeded in his Daomerge, he would probably be even more powerful than a Hegemon… but were there any Eternal Emperors that were above the Hegemon level of power?
Thus far, at least, Ning had never discovered such a thing! In the alternate universe he had been in, the Hegemons were still the most powerful figures. Even the leader of the Church of Annihilation in that universe had once been inferior to the Paragon of Pills. It was only thanks to the enormous gains and good luck he had reaped in the Genesis Lands that he had skyrocketed in power to become the most powerful figure in that universe. However, the ‘Dao’ this superlative lord of the church had used to complete his Daomerge and gain eternity for himself was clearly not that powerful.
Thus far, Ning had already discovered the corpses of several Hegemons. He had never, however, discovered anyone above the Hegemon level!
Ning fully understood that if he wished to become an Eternal Emperor who was superior to even Hegemons, his path would be an incredibly difficult one. To complete the Daomerge with his Omega Sword Dao was virtually impossible.
“In the past, I had no faith at all in my abilities to complete the Daomerge. In fact, I wouldn’t even have dared claim that I felt I had even the slightest chance.” Ning stared at the stone censer in his hand. “But now that I have this Dao-cultivating treasure, my chances of completing the Daomerge have been increased significantly.”
The Northbow swords were very important to him, but the Stone Censer of Reunion… it was even more important!
Within the empty crystalline pavilion. The three Daolords all had many thoughts in their minds. Ning was filled with excitement, while Daolord Laya and the Ninedust Sectlord were filled with both regret and envy.
“Ninedust. Laya.” Ning looked at the two of them. “Have you told anyone else that I have acquired the Stone Censer of Reunion? If you have, my only option would be to leave this place immediately.”
“I have not.” The Ninedust Sectlord shook his head. “I would never do such a thing. Although the stone censer is important, it isn’t something that we Ancient cultivators would stop at nothing to acquire. Our clan already has other similar Dao-cultivating treasures. Unfortunately, I won’t have a chance to use them for quite some time. When I become a Daolord of the Fourth Step, I might be able to return to the clan and borrow it for a chaos cycle at best.”
For major clans and organizations, Dao-cultivating treasures were at a level which could be described as paramount to the entire organization. If an extremely powerful Daolord was about to attempt the Daomerge, they might loan it out for a single chaos cycle at most. Both supreme Daolords and Eternal Emperors all had need of Dao-cultivating treasures, and so it would be up to the highest-level members of an organization or a race to decide who would be able to use it.
The decision would generally be based on how to improve the strength of a race as a whole. However, these treasures would generally end up in the hands of Eternal Emperors, because Eternal Emperors were also able to slowly increase their level of strength. The Paragon of Pills herself was an example of an Eternal Emperor who managed to slowly train to the Hegemon level. In the alternate universe, another good example of an Eternal Emperor who slowly became more powerful was Emperor Maniseal; it was only after he became an Eternal Emperor that he slowly reached ever-greater heights in the Dao of Seals.
As for Daolords? Even if they were given Dao-cultivating treasures, the vast majority of them would still fail their Daomerge. In the end, Eternal Emperors made up the foundation of any race or clan! The only ones who didn’t really care about Dao-cultivating treasures were Hegemons.
“Laya?” Ninedust glanced sideways at Daolord Laya. “The Starflow race is rather lacking compared to mine. I don’t think they would necessarily have a Dao-cultivating treasure. I’ll wager that they are in desperate need of one. He might’ve already leaked the information. Hell, one of their Eternal Emperors might be on the way right now.”
“I did not.” Daolord Laya immediately shook his head. “I’m not that type of person, brother Darknorth. Don’t worry.”
“Gentlemen.” Ning looked at them. “Both of you know how tempting a target this Dao-cultivating treasure makes me. Once word spreads, I’ll never know another day of peace; in fact, I might very well die. Thus… brother Ninedust and brother Laya, I’d like to ask the two of you to swear lifeblood oaths that you will never divulge the fact that I have a Dao-cultivating treasure in my possession. You can’t even tell anyone about me having acquired a treasure from Thundersouth Palace. I know that insisting on you two swearing this lifeblood oath is a bit overbearing, but I hope you can understand the difficult straits I am in.”
Ning continued somberly, “What I can promise is that here in Thundersouth Palace, the three of us will share the usage of this stone censer. Consider this a form of compensation from me to the two of you.”
“Given how bluntly you’ve put it, Darknorth, how can I refuse?” The Ninedust Sectlord immediately swore the oath.
“This fortune belongs to you, Darknorth. In the end, it was not meant to be for our Starflow race.” Daolord Laya shook his head, then swore a lifeblood oath as well.
In truth, both of them knew that if they didn’t swear the oath, Ning would probably immediately depart from this place and might even hide this Dao-cultivating treasure somewhere. No matter what, it would be extremely difficult for the Starflow race to ever acquire it.
“Thank you.” Ning let out a sigh of relief, then came to a decision. “This stone censer is now the most important treasure I possess, far more important than even my Northbow swords! I cannot risk it being lost. Since my main body could perish at any time while out adventuring… mm. Once I get back to the Endless Territories, I’ll leave it with my Primaltwin.”
The Primaltwin was permanently stationed in the Three Realms and did not go out adventuring. It was indeed far safer to leave it there. In addition, the Primaltwin had also established its own heartworld and was now incredibly powerful. For it to use the stone censer to train in the Dao was the same as the true body using it, as their souls and truesouls were inextricably linked.
After this, the three of them began to take turns using the Stone Censer of Reunion. Every thousand years, they would alternate!
One special property of the stone censer was that there was no way to use it under the effects of accelerated time! Or, to be precise, the fragrance emitted by the censer was simply too mysterious and profound. If you used temporal acceleration, you would need the fragrance to also be increased at a much faster pace, but this would cause the power of the temporal acceleration treasure to be depleted at an enormous pace. Even if one merely tried to train at double speed, the amount of Immortal energy which would be used up would be more than one could bear.
“This Dao-cultivating treasure truly is special.” Ning and the others spent all their time slowly and honestly training in the Dao without using any temporal acceleration treasures at all. Despite that, they still trained far more quickly than they normally did.
When you were stuck at a bottleneck, you would sometimes come to a complete halt no matter how much time you spent training. When you were in a praja-state, however, you would improve far more quickly, allowing you to quickly bypass many bottlenecks.
A mere ten thousand years later. Daolord Laya had been seated in the lotus position on the prayer mat, but he suddenly rose to his feet. This puzzled both Ning and Ninedust.
“Laya, you haven’t completed your thousand year mark yet. Why have you halted?” Ning asked, puzzled.
“Even before coming to this palace, I had already reached my limit. Thanks to this Dao-cultivating treasure, my Dao has become even more perfect than before. I cannot find any way to improve it in the slightest. Given how perfect and complete it is, and given how my heart and my mind are in peak condition thanks to this Dao-cultivating treasure… I have decided to attempt my Daomerge here in Thundersouth Palace!” Daolord Laya said.
“Daomerge?” Both Ning and Ninedust were shocked. The Daomerge? This was the most terrifying tribulation which each and every Samsara Daolord would ever face.
“I’ve waited for far too long already. It is time for my Daomerge.” Daolord Laya’s voice was soft, but his eyes blazed with fiery eagerness. This would be the most dazzling moment in his long, long life.