Ji Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord both nodded.
“Our race has successive generations worth of experience regarding some of the major ruins and relic sites within the Starflow River,” Daolord Laya said. “I was preparing to head to one of them. I’ve already reached the Verge, but actually succeeding in the Daomerge… I don’t feel confident at all. That’s why I’ve come out to adventure and to temper myself in the hopes that I can increase my Daomerge chances.”
“Daomerge…” The Ninedust Sectlord sighed. “The Daomerge is far too difficult.”
“Yes, far too difficult.” Ning shook his head. Whenever the topic of the Daomerge came up, any and every Daolord would feel a sense of pressure, especially the powerful ones.
Although it was also quite difficult to advance from the first step to the second, third, and fourth steps, with a single mistake resulting in failure, this process was comparatively far more secure! For example, once Ning mastered his second-stage Omega Sword Dao he became a Daolord of the Second Step. Once he mastered the third stage of his Omega Dao, he would be able to become a Daolord of the Third Step.
The Daomerge, however, was different! The Daomerge required one to perfectly integrate and fuse all of the insights you had ever gained into your Dao. Success or failure could only be truly determined during the Daomerge itself! There was no one who could say with certainty that he or she would ‘definitely’ succeed in the Daomerge. For example, Ning only needed to gain sufficient insights into the Dao as he advanced through each step, and his chances were virtually assured in this way. The Daomerge, however… he had no idea as to what his chances of success would be.
Daolord Windsource of the Badlands Territory had in the end failed in his attempts to merge the hundred channels of his Dao together. In the future, Ning would undergo a Daomerge of his Sword Dao as well. Even someone as proud as Ning would only claim that he was sure he could become a Daolord of the Fourth Step. As for the Daomerge? Not even he felt confident in his chances.
“The more overwhelmingly powerful the Dao, the harder the Daomerge will be.” The Ninedust Sectlord shook his head and sighed. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to succeed in the future. If I chose a weaker Dao, things would’ve been much simpler for me.”
“Are you actually willing to walk the path of a weak Dao?” Ning rebutted. In his heart, however, Ning couldn’t help but sigh. His Omega Sword Dao would be even more difficult! It must be understood that people like Palace Lord Dawnstar and the Ninedust Sectlord had perfectly joined multiple Supreme Daos together; if they gained eternity, they would become Hegemons. Ning’s Omega Sword Dao was even more powerful than their Daos. If he became an Eternal Emperor, he would be more powerful than even the Hegemons, right?
But Ning had never even heard of anyone who was more powerful than the three Hegemons. It was quite apparent how difficult it would be for him to reach such heights! In the future, the difficulty of his Daomerge would vastly outstrip that of Dawnstar or Ninedust.
“Of course not! What’s the point? Even if I succeeded in the Daomerge for a weak Dao, the only thing awaiting me would be a fate of being hunted and killed by others.” The Ninedust Sectlord shook his head.
“Since the two of you are within Starflow River, it’s obvious that you are both extraordinary Daolords.” Daolord Laya nodded with praise. “I agree with both of you. As cultivators, we should always strive to be as strong as we can. Otherwise, even if we become weak Eternal Emperors we still wouldn’t have the power needed to protect our race.”
Clearly, all three of them shared the same feelings. They had all chosen the path of becoming extremely powerful Daolords.
“Besides, the higher a level of enlightenment you gain and the more profound your understanding of the Dao is, the better your Daomerge chances will be,” Daolord Laya said. “I’m preparing to head to an extremely dangerous relic site known as Thundersouth Palace. In the Starflow River area, it ranks amongst the top ten ancient ruins and supposedly has legacies left behind by Hegemons. I wonder if the two of you would willing to accompany me on that trip?”
“Thundersouth Palace? Hegemon legacies?” Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord exchanged a glance. Both of them were intrigued. What was the entire point of adventuring? It was to seek out precious sites and treasures, right? A palace left behind by a Hegemon would definitely be filled with extraordinary things.
“Is that really a good idea?” The Ninedust Sectlord said, “This place is a place which your race discovered over the course of countless years of exploring; I’m sure that it is a secret which shouldn’t be casually divulged to others. If you bring the two of us inside…”
“Don’t worry about that.” Daolord Laya laughed. “Amongst our race, the location and existence of this place is indeed a tightly-held secret. I’m already a Verge-level Daolord who is far stronger than many of my peers, which is why the Emperors of our race informed me of the exact location of Thundersouth Palace. However, our standard policy as a race has always been to provide assistance whenever possible to Daolords of the Endless Territories who venture into Starflow River. All I need to request is that the two of you promise never to divulge this secret.”
“If that’s the case…” The Ninedust Sectlord nodded.
“Then we’ll accompany you on this journey,” Ning concurred.
They had heard long ago that the members of the Starflow race had always been extremely friendly towards cultivators of the Endless Territories. If Ning or the Ninedust Sectlord really did become Eternal Emperors, they would immediately gain extremely high statuses within the Endless Territories. They would remember the ‘favor’ which the Starflow race had shown them on this day, and they would naturally take care of the Starflow race when appropriate.
“If we’re going to head there… then as always, let us all swear lifeblood oaths,” the Ninedust Sectlord said.
“Alright. We’ll swear the lifeblood oath right now. That way, we can all work together and challenge Thundersouth Palace with full confidence in each other.” Daolord Laya agreed.
Now that lifeblood oaths had been sworn, both Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord felt more confidence and faith in Daolord Laya. Even if he really had been plotting against them, now that the lifeblood oath was sworn he would immediately be devoured by it once he actually tried to take any action.
“Haha, I’ve never been so lucky before.” The Ninedust Sectlord laughed. “A random stroke of luck is delivering treasures into my hand.”
“It was destiny that led me to meet with the two of you, Darknorth, Ninedust.” Daolord Laya smiled. “Very, very few of our Verge-level Daolords go out adventuring to temper themselves. For the three of us to run into each other really is an incredible bit of karmic luck, or as I put it just now, ‘destiny’. In addition, our long-standing rules permit me to take you to certain ruins. No need to thank me, gentlemen. At most, I would ask you to remember this bit of kindness I’ve shown you today. If the two of you are able to gain eternity in the future, please help us out every so often.”
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord both nodded. Their chances of actually gaining eternity were incredibly low; if they truly did succeed, then occasionally helping out the Starflow race would be a minor matter.
Ning, the Ninedust Sectlord, and Daolord Laya rode the black vessel as it flew through Starflow River.
“Thundersouth Palace isn’t that far away. Given how fast this vessel moves, we should reach it in just over a century,” Daolord Laya said. “Thundersouth Palace is quite dangerous, but I’m very familiar with it. So long as the two of you follow me, I’m confident that we should be able to stay safe.”
“Don’t underestimate Darknorth and myself, brother Laya,” the Ninedust Sectlord said.
“Yes, you might end up needing the two of us to save your behind, brother Laya.” Ning grinned.
“Oh? I look forward to seeing your abilities,” Daolord Laya said.
The Ninedust Sectlord suddenly asked, “Oh, right. Brother Laya, I heard that the Starflow race migrated here from the Great Dark?”
Ning glanced at Daolord Laya as well. Ning himself was also quite curious about this.
“Yes.” Daolord Laya nodded. “Quite a few people know this. Long, long ago our homeland, a place known as the Peacock Lotus Realmverse, suffered an unbelievably massive war. The entire Peacock Lotus Realmverse was completely obliterated, and we were forced to flee for our lives. We drifted for many years through the Great Dark, with the first-generation Daolords of the Peacock Lotus Realmverse eventually all dying. We spent nearly a million chaos cycles drifting through the Great Dark, after all.”
“As we moved through the Great Dark, our Eternal Emperors held members of our race within their estate-worlds, giving them a place to flourish and prosper. The Eternal Emperors spent nearly a million chaos cycles drifting before finally arriving at the Endless Territories. In the end, they chose Starflow River as the place where our race would set down roots once more. Virtually all of the members of my race are now born and live in Starflow River, with only the original Eternal Emperors having actually come from the Peacock Lotus Realmverse. As for us Daolords, we know nothing of that place at all,” Daolord Laya explained.
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord were both rather stunned by this. Nearly a million chaos cycles of drifting? The Great Dark truly was far, far too vast! No wonder only Eternal Emperors would dare explore it. Such an incredibly long journey was enough to bring despair to almost any Daolord. However, even for Eternal Emperors a million chaos cycles of solitude was a terrifying prospect. Only Eternal Emperors such as Mirrorsnow who had long ago grown completely bored of the Endless Territories after having explored most of it would elect to enter the Great Dark and seek out excitement there.”
“Since we have left our homeland, propagating and surviving has been quite difficult.” Daolord Laya sighed. “The Endless Territories is under threat of destruction by the Yin-Yang Samsara Wheels. Supposedly, in the distant future even the Starflow River will be destroyed by it. When that happens, our race shall be forced to continue our wandering.”
“The Yin-Yang Samsara Wheels?” Both Ning and Ninedust sighed. Indeed, in the distant future it was almost guaranteed that all of the various organizations within the Endless Territories would be forced to go off wandering. But of course, if they didn’t succeed in their Daomerge then the two of them would never live to witness that day.
The three continued to relax and chat as they advanced through Starflow River. More than a hundred years went past in the blink of an eye.
“Thundersouth Palace is directly ahead. My race has already set up wards to hide everything in the region. Once I connect to them, we’ll be able to see Thundersouth Palace.” Daolord Laya stood at the prow of the ship as he spoke to Ning and Ninedust.