The two advanced carefully, with Ji Ning only opening the tunnels once they found a fairly safe starting point and stopping point. Every so often, they would have to rely on the black vessel to avoid a few special areas that couldn’t be traversed.
Half a month went past.
Rumble… spacetime was distorted here. Space debris filled the region, and countless dangers lurked hidden. A black vessel was paused within this field of chaotic spacetime, enduring the chaotic waves of shattered space.
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord both stared towards the front. Up ahead of them, right in the middle of that region of chaotic space, was a bluestone road that was ten million kilometers wide. For an extremely beautiful and peaceful road to suddenly appear within this region of dark, chaotic space… they could sense that this stone path had to be hiding some sort of hidden danger.
“The Dreamdust Way.” The Ninedust Sectlord said heavily, “If we wish to go back, we need to go through four danger zones, with the most dangerous one being the Starflow River! It’s so enormous that it’ll take us roughly three hundred thousand years to traverse it. The second most dangerous location will be Dreamdust Way! The final two danger zones are in the outer reaches of the Terror Starsea. Given how strong we are, the danger level it will pose us should be fairly negligible.”
Ning nodded. Dreamdust Way was located very deep within the Terror Starsea and was extremely dangerous!
“I hope we won’t be so unlucky as to die here.” The Ninedust Sectlord looked towards Ning. “Let’s go.”
“Mm.” Ning nodded. Swoosh! The black vessel immediately flew towards that bluestone pathway.
Only by passing through Dreamdust Way would they be able to reach the Starflow River. Although very dangerous, this was comparatively the ‘safest’ path for them to reach the Starflow River.
The Ninedust Sectlord held his longstaff at the ready, his eyes narrowed as he scanned his surroundings. Clearly, he was quite nervous. He said in a low voice, “Given our vessel’s flying speed, we should be able to exit Dreamdust Way in roughly a month. One month. Just one month. We need to stay on our guard this entire month.”
Ning wielded a Northbow sword in each of his two hands as he maintained a vigilant watch. He couldn’t help but smirk. “Ninedust. You almost seem nervous.”
“Can’t blame me for being nervous. The slightest miscalculation in this pla-… careful!” The Ninedust Sectlord’s face turned pale. An azure scaled beast had suddenly appeared off in the distance. This beast had a pair of armored wings and a pair of protruding golden eyes that seemed to contain a vast world within them. Whoooosh. The azure scaled beast blinked. Moments later, more than ten thousand of similar beasts appeared next to it. All of them let out shrill, ear-piercing screeches.
“Dreamdust lifeforms. Careful!” The Ninedust Sectlord was very nervous. “Only one of them is real. The rest are all illusory, but it can switch its true body with the illusory ones at will. It could be any of them.”
Ning stood there at the prow of his vessel, watching as the thousands of beasts charged towards them. A cold light suddenly flashed through his eyes.
Whoosh! An invisible ripple swept out like a wave towards the thousands of azure beasts. One beast suddenly let out a low, agonized scream. Its body trembled, then its golden eyes quickly grew dim as it silently collapsed.
The other azure scaled beasts all completely vanished in an instant, leaving behind that single fallen corpse. Moments later, the corpse began to automatically separate into countless motes of azure light which then began to flow into the bluestone path in a very natural manner.
“It died?” The Ninedust Sectlord turned to look at Ning, rather amazed. “Darknorth, w-what just happened? How did that Dreamdust creature suddenly die?”
Dreamdust lifeforms were terrifying creatures that were born from the unusual, unique Dreamdust Way environment. They were born with incredible skill over illusions, and were able to manifest many false bodies which they could ‘swap’ with their true bodies at will. Thus, battling against them was a very tiresome and troublesome task. Even if you were much more powerful than them, you might die to them if you weren’t careful.
“Heartforce,” Ning said.
“I knew it! I sensed it.” The Ninedust Sectlord was rather stunned. “You are a Heartforce Cultivator?” The Ninedust Sectlord had been keeping a careful vigil, wary of more Dreamdust lifeforms appearing. When he suddenly sensed that strange wave blast out, he naturally was able to calculate that it had most likely been heartforce! However, Ning had never before used heartforce techniques, and Heartforce Cultivators were incredibly rare.
“Haha. I told you earlier that the Hegemon of the Dao Alliance left something for me.” Ning smiled. “I became a true Heartforce Cultivator within that cave.”
“Haha…” The Ninedust Sectlord was overjoyed. “Splendid! My greatest worry with regards to Dreamdust Way was that we might actually be trapped by its illusions! That’s why we have to maintain constant vigilance… but I never imagined that you would’ve become a Heartforce Cultivator. Hahaha! To trap a powerful Heartforce Cultivator with illusions is no easy feat. I can finally relax a little bit and not be as nervous as I was earlier. Just keep an eye out on things.”
“Dreamdust lifeforms are skilled in more than just illusions; they can also create many false bodies and are strong in close combat,” Ning warned. “The legends say that the most powerful lifeforms here are comparable to Eternal Emperors in power. Even though I’ll be able to resist their illusions, I’m probably not going to be a match for them in close combat.”
“Mm.” The Ninedust Sectlord nodded.
“If push comes to shove, we’ll have to rely on our Dao-seals,” Ning said.
“No matter what, you being a Heartforce Cultivator means that we’ll have an easier time of it when dealing with illusions.” The Ninedust Sectlord said curiously, “What heartforce art did you use just now? It seemed quite incredible.”
“Heartforce Eradicator,” Ning replied. This was a heartforce art which Ning created himself after studying and modifying the heartforce legacy left behind by Daolord Featherdress. It was highly suited to him and also extremely powerful.
Daolord Featherdress was far more powerful than the current Palace Lord of the Heartforce Palace! Daolord Feather had been the number one Daolord of the Endless Territories in that era and had three supreme heartforce arts.
These arts were known as the [Heartforce Eradicator], [Dreamworld], and [Featherdress Soulthrall Song]. Daolord Featherdress had primarily relied on the [Featherdress Soulthrall Song] to become the number one Daolord of that era. The song mesmerized the soul, ensuring that even powerful Eternal Emperors would be caught by it if they weren’t careful. Even many of the most supreme of Daolords were unable to resist such a terrifying heartforce art.
Ji Ning, however, was different from Daolord Featherdress. Ning’s Dao was that of the Omega Sword Dao, an offensive Dao. Featherdress was more subtle and more guileful, and also extremely skilled in the musical arts. This was why Featherdress had been able to create the terrifying [Featherdress Soulthrall Song].
The two walked different paths and naturally had very different styles. Ning had learned just a tiny bit of the [Featherdress Soulthrall Song] and had barely managed to learn 20% of [Dreamworld], but he had mastered the extremely offensive [Heartforce Eradicator] art. He had then modified it to make it better suited to him, resulting in it becoming even more powerful.
His heartforce lashed out like a sword, eradicating the opponent’s soul and truesoul. It was an extremely dominating attack!
However, if his foe was able to endure the attack, this heartforce art would be very ineffective. In other words, it was an ‘all-or-nothing’ type of attack. Daolord Featherdress had been skilled in many areas and thus was much more dangerous. In the end, Ning simply hadn’t been training for long enough. He primarily relied on the power of his Omega Sword Dao. For him to be able to master and then retrofit the [Heartforce Eradicator] was already quite incredible.
“The name makes it sound pretty wild and dominating.” The Ninedust Sectlord said in a resigned fashion, “I had thought that the gifts the ancestor gave me would enable me to beat you. It seems I’m not a match for you anymore.”
“You really aren’t a match for me now.” Ning nodded.
“You little…” The Ninedust Sectlord glared at him. “You don’t know the meaning of ‘modesty’ at all. Just you wait. When I become a Daolord of the Fourth Step… hmph! I’ve already gained many insights during our time in the cave. It won’t take me too long to break through and become a Daolord of the Fourth Step. By then, you’ll know just how awesome I am.”
“It’s quite normal to be stuck at a bottleneck for several chaos cycles. Don’t worry, I won’t abuse you too much in the interim,” Ning teased.
The two bantered back and forth as they advanced on the black vessel. The reason why they were able to relax and banter was because they knew that illusions, at least, would not be a problem! Their only worry would be head-on encounters.
“Outsiders.” An azure beast appeared in the distance, its golden eyes filled with a murderous look. “Die.” Instantly, more than ten thousand duplicates of it appeared, with all of them charging towards the vessel. Neither Ning nor the Ninedust Sectlord could recognize the real one, as every single body could theoretically be the real one.
“Hmph.” Ning turned and swept his gaze across the beasts, his heartforce surging out like a wave. Instantly, all of the beasts vanished save for a single one that fell down dead. The corpse naturally dissipated and merged back into the bluestone road.
“Impressive, impressive. You looked at it and it died! I’m really jealous now.” The Ninedust Sectlord chortled in praise. “I wonder when and if I’ll ever become a Heartforce Cultivator. I’ll stare at people until they die! What a wonderful life that would be.”