“All things and all beings are given a chance,” Ji Ning couldn’t help but rebut.
The black-robed man paused slightly. These words had indeed moved him, as they were a bedrock of faith which all cultivators believed in. There were no absolutes in the world; there was always a chance, no matter how slim.
“Hah! What you say makes sense.” Intrigued, the black-robed man turned to grin at Ning. “Then I’ll give that friend of yours a chance.”
“Truly?” Ning was delighted.
“All he has to do is capture an Emperor-class golem without relying on any outside sources of help or a Universe treasure If he can do that, I’ll let him meditate here,” the black-robed man said.
Ning was stunned upon hearing this. Capture an Emperor-class golem? All of the golems within these Sithe ruins were at least at the supreme Daolord level. It would be incredibly hard for the Ninedust Sectlord to capture one of them.
“There lies his chance and his opportunity,” the black-robed man said. “I’ve given him the chance. If he can seize it, I’ll give him the opportunity to train here. If he cannot… then there’s nothing for it. I really have no interest in ordinary, unremarkable Daolords at all.”
“Understood. Thank you, senior.” Ning didn’t dare to press his luck. He immediately said, “My friend is within my personal estate-treasure. Should I…?”
“I’ll send you out. Make some arrangements for your friend, then re-enter,” the black-robed man said.
“Acknowledged,” Ning assented.
The black-robed man waved his sleeves. Whoosh. Ning was immediately sent flying backwards as space twisted around him.
The ant-sized Ning came flying out from the mouth of that stone lion statue, regaining his normal size once he exited. The lion’s mouth, however, remained open. He would be able to re-enter whenever he chose to.
Whoosh. Ning waved his hand, allowing Ninedust to come out.
“How did it go, Darknorth?” Ninedust immediately queried Ning upon exiting, scanning the surrounding area as he did so. He was instantly stunned by what he saw. “What is this place? What’s with the rubble? Wait, I see a few statues over there; they seem absolutely incredible! Is this the secret place you were talking about? Why isn’t there anyone around here? Where are the three clan leaders?”
“Calm down and relax,” Ning said. “One question at a time. Listen to me explain.” Ning started to narrate the situation from the beginning, even telling Ninedust everything about the Autarch’s territory.
“The senior has said that if you can capture an Emperor-class golem by yourself without needing to resort to a Universe treasure or outside sources of power, he’ll let you train as well.” Ning said helplessly, “That’s the only way he’ll let you in.”
“Autarch? One Dao births many Daos? Just thinking about it is inconceivable.” Ninedust said excitedly, “Haha, I was wondering who would be incredible enough to cause this sort of damage. So it was an Autarch who ruined this place! Thank you so much, Darknorth; helping me get this slim chance was already a blessing. I’ll do my absolute best. Given my current level of power, I should still have a chance to capture one of those Emperor-class golems.”
“Right.” Ning nodded. Still, he knew that Ninedust was significantly weaker than any of the three clan leaders had been! The three clan leaders were generally able to capture Emperor-class golems in solo fights. Still, Ninedust did have advantages of his own. His Dao was far more profound than theirs had been; their attacks were extremely clumsy and straightforward. Ning was merely on par with the three clan leaders, but he had been able to easily capture three Emperor-class golems when surrounded by six. This was precisely because Ning vastly outstripped those golems in both power and insight into the Dao.
“Go ahead. Don’t worry about me. Haha, now that the three clan leaders have died, there’s no one capable of threatening me,” Ninedust said.
“Remember, don’t get too close to the core regions,” Ning said.
“Don’t worry. You have escape-type treasures, so do I.” Ninedust smirked. “And I won’t go too far; I only need to find one of the ordinary Emperor-class golems, after all.”
“Alright. You have to be careful.” After speaking, Ning walked towards the mouth of that stone lion. As he did, his body shrank in size before being drawn into the lion’s mouth.
“Alright, kid. Your friend won you a chance to earn yourself a shot at entering this place. The rest is up to you. Let’s see if you are able to capture an Emperor-class golem. The most talented of supreme Daolords are generally capable of this.” A rumbling voice rang out from the lion’s mouth. Moments later, the lion’s mouth shut.
Ninedust immediately said respectfully, “Yes, senior.” His eyes gleamed with light. He knew that this person’s words were correct; extremely talented first-tier Daolords were all capable of succeeding in this task.
The Radiant King, for example, would be able to rely on his overwhelming superiority in speed to capture an Emperor-class golem, while Palace Lord Dawnstar would be able to use his raw power. “I’ll be able to do it as well.” Ninedust immediately began to search for those Emperor-class golems who were in hiding.
Ninedust remained outside, beginning his hunt for an Emperor-class golem. As for Ning, after entering the beastworld he began to once more view the Autarch’s Daos. Ning only had a shot at memorizing these Daos because of the incredible effects of the altar, and so he had to remain inside of it. If he was anywhere else, these Daos would completely eclipse the bounds of Ning’s memorization abilities. Thus, Ning didn’t use any temporal acceleration treasure; if he entered his cottage, he would be unable to make full use of the effects of the altar.
“How absolutely incredible. Nine incredible Daos and that awesome Dao of the Claw. As a Hegemon, Autarch Bolin was able to master a total of ten Daos to the Hegemon level. No wonder he was able to become an Autarch in the end.” The more Ning learned and memorized, the more awe he felt.
The ‘impressions’ of the ten Daos began to grow clearer and clearer within his memories. What he needed to do was to perfectly engrave all of them into his mind.
Time flowed on. During the very first year, Ning was able to fully memorize the Dao of the Sword. In fact, because the Sword Dao which Autarch Bolin had devised felt similar to a fusion of the Blood Drop stance and the Soleheart stance, the memorization process caused Ning to accidentally break through to the fourth stage with his Blood Drop stance!
This was primarily because his Blood Drop stance had already made incredible gains in Crimsonwave Temple, more gains than any of the rest of the five stances of his Omega Sword Dao. In this place, the influence of the Autarch’s Daos and Sword Dao resulted in Ning shooting to the fourth stage almost immediately.
After another thirty years, Ning finished memorizing the other eight Daos as well. With that, all nine of the Hegemon-level Daos had been memorized.
Ning raised his head to look upwards, finally beginning to stare at the vast claw-stanced hand which hung in the heavens above him. This hand seemed to blot out the skies themselves and was as vast and endless as the cosmos. It was supremely exalted, a Dao which birthed many other Daos. Just staring at the palm and the Dao of the Claw, Ning was able to vaguely make out a quietly gurgling stream of water, a roaring blaze of fire, saber-light and sword-shadows, as well as the threads of karma…
The core of it remained the Dao of the Claw… but actually memorizing it was incredibly difficult for Ning.
When meditating on the Dao, one would not notice the passage of time. Ning was completely absorbed in silently meditating on the enormous claw-hand which hung in the skies above him. He continuously memorized everything he saw, not stopping for a single instant as he borrowed from the power of the altar. Not just him; even his Primaltwin and his avatar were completely focused on the memorization process. The Primaltwin used the Stone Censer of Reunion and thus was able to memorize at 30% the speed of his true body.
Clearly, this altar was purpose-designed and thus was incredibly effective in helping one memorize things.
The white-robed youth sat there within the levitating altar, those nine stone pillars slowly revolving around him. The years that passed hadn’t left behind the slightest of marks on him.
“I’ve finished memorizing it.” Ning opened his eyes. Within his mind appeared perfectly clear images of the nine Hegemon-level Daos and the awesome Autarch-level Dao of the Claw. Their forms had been fully engraved into his mind… but of course, this was just their form alone. Thus, they could only serve as guideposts!
In truth, this was already enough. Ning knew that every cultivator had a different path to follow; to have guideposts was sufficient. If he tried to force himself to master the Autarch’s Dao, it would probably actually hinder his own path.
Ning rose to his feet.
“Hahaha… just 120 million years. Your comprehension abilities aren’t bad. You managed to memorize it quite quickly.” The black-robed man suddenly appeared next to Ning.
“Ninedust…?” Ning glanced around, only to find that he was still alone.
“Your friend? He’s still outside battling against those Emperor-class golems. He looks as though he’s improved quite a bit; a few more breakthroughs and he might actually be able to capture one of them.” The black-robed man smiled. “Darknorth, per my master’s instructions, every single person who came in here to meditate will be given a treasure based on how well they performed.”
“Bestowed a treasure?” Ning’s eyes lit up.
“My master, Autarch Bolin, did this because he was worried about being defeated. As a result, he spared no expense in arranging for later generations of cultivators to rise to power,” the black-robed man said. “Go ahead into the outside world and battle against those golems the Sithe left behind. Let me see how strong you have grown. The better your performance is, the better a treasure I will give you.”
Ning began to feel rather excited.
“Go. Show me just how powerful a ‘mere’ Daolord can become,” the black-robed man said quite eagerly. After a person forcibly memorized the physical manifestation of an Autarch’s Dao, he would be able to rapidly make actual use of those insights in combat. After 120 million years of memorization, it was time for an explosive period of growth in power.
Still… as the black-robed man saw it, given how strong Daolord Darknorth was, the man was most likely extremely close to his lifespan limit. He probably wouldn’t have grown all that much.
“I’ll definitely do my absolute best,” Ning said.
Whoosh. The black-robed man waved his arm, causing a spatial ripple to surround Ning and deliver him out of this beastworld and into the Sithe ruins outside.