Ji Ning and Ninedust could both understand how Daolord Laya felt right now. Cultivation was like climbing a mountain; you slowly started at the very bottom of the mountain, overcoming many difficulties before you finally reached the top. The final step you took next would determine if you rose into the heavens or fell into an endless abyss. Daolord Laya had failed his Daomerge; clearly, he had fallen into the endless abyss. His soul and truesoul had already begun to crumble, and he could already see his future death. His path of cultivation was about to come to an end. Even though he had mentally prepared himself long ago, he would still feel great pain.
“I’ve cultivated for many years, but it all ends today.” Daolord Laya shook his head, then let out a hoarse chuckle. “When I was young, I fought hard to climb to the very top. Only then did I learn how tough things were for my race. After becoming a Daolord, my every thought was consumed with taking care of my race…
“It’s been too long, and I’m far too tired. I’ve spent my entire long life in the Terror Starsea,” Daolord Laya said. “I’ve never even visited the Endless Territories.”
Daolord Laya rose to his feet, then waved his hand and put away the triangle altar.
“Brother Darknorth. Brother Ninedust.” Daolord Laya looked at the two of them. “I’m going to leave now. I plan to pay a visit to the Endless Territories and learn about it! In fact, I might even go off into the Great Dark. Before I die, I want to see as much as of the universe as I can.”
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord no longer knew what to say.
“No need to send me off.” Daolord Laya strode quickly towards the exit.
The two watched as Daolord Laya left, both filled with regret. Daolord Laya no longer cared one whit about Thundersouth Palace, electing to leave immediately. Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord, however, still did care, because the various paintings hanging on the walls of the palace represented various techniques that the lord of the palace had left behind for others.
“Thankfully, he didn’t go crazy.” The Ninedust Sectlord shook his head. “I’ve seen Verge-level Daolords go absolutely insane after they failed their Daomerge.”
“He trained since he was young and has cultivated his entire life…” Ning continued to stare in the direction Daolord Laya had left. “He trained tens of thousands of chaos cycles… but all of a sudden he failed his Daomerge and brought his cultivation path to an abrupt halt. This would be extremely disheartening for any cultivator. It makes sense for some to be mentally affected by it.”
“Hmph. There are some evil Daolords who normally keep their worst impulses in check and are afraid to act too rashly for fear of being killed by other major powers. After they fail their Daomerge and are guaranteed to perish, they become absolutely fearless and even more detestful than before.” The Ninedust Sectlord shook his head. “But of course, they’ll die in their madness.”
“I wonder what we’ll end up like when we fail our Daomerge?” The Ninedust Sectlord suddenly said.
“When we fail our Daomerge?” Ning stared blankly. Would he fail his Daomerge? Right now, there was no way for him to be sure as to how he would react.
“Maybe we’ll both succeed and gain eternity for ourselves.” Ning smiled.
“Haha. Right. We’ll gain eternity for sure.” The Ninedust Sectlord nodded. “I’ll be a Hegemon when that happens. We Ancient cultivators will have two Hegemons! Haha.”
But both of them understood that the path to eternity was an incredibly difficult one. Normally, less than one in a hundred thousand Daolords would be able to gain eternity, and virtually all of them were ordinary Daolords.
Ning and Ninedust continued to calmly train within the Thundersouth Palace of the Starflow River, and both improved quite rapidly. Finally, after spending thirty thousand years at the Thundersouth Palace, the Ninedust Sectlord made his breakthrough!
Rumble… an aura of awesome power swept out from the Ninedust Sectlord. He opened his eyes, his face wreathed with smiles. “Haha. I, Redwater, have finally broken through! A Daolord of the Fourth Step… I’ve finally become a Daolord of the Fourth Step! This has been incredibly difficult. Going from the third step to fourth step was a thousand times harder than going from the first step to the third step. Haha… I’ve finally broken through!”
“Congratulations, brother Ninedust,” the nearby Ning said.
“Yes, this is indeed worth celebrating. I was trapped at the third step for far, far too long.” The Ninedust Sectlord smiled as he looked at Ning. “It was all thanks to this Stone Censer of Reunion. If it wasn’t for it, I would’ve wasted another chaos cycle or two before making my breakthrough. I had already gained certain insights in the trial the Ancient ancestor left behind, allowing me to vault to a new level on this trip.”
“With this step you now stand at the very peak of power amongst Daolords, Ninedust,” Ning said.
Ninedust nodded, looking rather pleased. He was someone who had perfectly joined together two Supreme Daos. Now that he had reached the fourth step, he immediately stood amongst the ranks of the absolute most powerful Daolords in the world. He was on the same level as Daolord Skyaxe or Palace Lord Dawnstar. There might be differences in power due to different secret arts and different treasures, but those differences wouldn’t be too great; they were all on the same overall level of power.
The more powerful you were, the more difficult it would be to go from the third step to the fourth step. Daolord Badlands, for example, had also been trapped at the third step for a very, very long period of time.
“Darknorth, you are no longer a match for me,” Ninedust said quite smugly.
“That’s not necessarily true,” Ning replied. “Don’t forget that I’m a Heartforce Cultivator. I’ve gained some insight into the illusions of the Thundersouth Hegemon over these past few years as I’ve studied his paintings. You might not be able to fully resist my illusions now.” If he could trap his enemy in illusions for even an instant, it would have an impact on how any fight would result.
“Uh…” Ninedust blinked, then immediately said, “Hmph, I need a bit of time to solidify my foundation, as I’ve just recently made my breakthrough. Give me some more time to further strengthen my soul and your illusions won’t be able to touch me at all.”
Ninedust’s face suddenly tightened. “My Dao is now strong enough. I’ve reached the Verge of the Daomerge as soon as I reached the fourth step. I should make more preparations as well… right now, I have no confidence in my Daomerge chances whatsoever.”
Ning was startled. Right. Ninedust was now at the Verge as well.
The distant Badlands Territory. In the Badlands Everworld, there was a legendary place known throughout the Endless Territories… the Waveshift Realm! This was a realm that had been left behind by Emperor Waveshift himself. He was renowned as the number one Numerancy expert of the Endless Territories, and was far more powerful than the current Daolord Badlands. He was a mysterious man who appeared and disappeared without warning, and even the three Hegemons found it difficult to deal with him as his schemes and calculations were simply too frightening.
Emperor Waveshift had hidden valuable treasures within the Waveshift Realm. This was something he had said publicly before leaving the Endless Territories and venturing off into the endless Great Dark.
Many generations of Daolords had entered this place to try their luck, and Daolord Solesky was one of them.
The Waveshift Realm was a place that seemed to be covered by an enormous blurry barrier. The dim light of sunset covered this entire realm, and some cultivators could be seen passing by it on occasion. Most kept a very safe distance, as the Waveshift Realm was simply too dangerous.
Rumble… suddenly, a dazzling streak of green light shot out from the Waveshift Realm. This streak of light stretched out countless kilometers, streaking up into the heavens and piercing through the world-barrier protecting the entire Badlands Everworld.
Rumble… a second dazzling streak of bloody light shot out, just as wide and large as the first one. It shot out towards another direction.
Black light, violet light, azure light… a total of nine streaks of light shot out. These nine streaks of light looked almost like a peacock spreading its feathers as they shot towards different directions. They pierced through everything in their path, be it mountains or mist, but they seemed completely illusory. They caused no damage at all to anything they passed through, leaving even the grass completely untouched.
“What’s going on?”
“What is this? Is something happening?”
The Badlands Everworld was the center of the entire Badlands Territory. Countless cultivators were gathered here, and all of them were puzzled, especially the Elder Gods and True Gods. However, when they saw the light shoot out from the Waveshift Realm they all realized that this was something far beyond their level.
“What’s going on in the Waveshift Realm?”
“Is something happening?”
The Badlands Court was the paramount power within the Badlands Everworld, and its disciples all stared off in the distance.
“Husband.” A married couple was standing together in the skies, staring off into the distance. The beautiful wife turned to look at her husband, concerned.
An azure-robed Daolord Badlands was staring towards the light, a complex look on his face. He shook his head slightly. “I was too proud and rash, too certain in my Numerancy skills. Compared to Emperor Waveshift, I’m still lacking by quite a bit. I just caused a bit of a catastrophe. I don’t think there will be any way to hide this. Ugh. I only have my avatar inside, but big brother Solesky will be in trouble.”
“Caused a catastrophe?” The beautiful wife asked worriedly, “Will it impact our Badlands Court?”
“The two of us should leave the Badlands Territory for now and hide for a time. For now, let us just leave an avatar behind to watch over things,” Daolord Badlands said.
“Hide?” She had never imagined that things would be so grave that they would have to flee and hide somewhere else.