Ji Ning wasn’t a fool, nor was he foolishly overconfident. Although he hoped to be able to make use of this deadly battle to break through his current bottleneck, he knew that there were too many variables in play here. He might actually be able to make a breakthrough… but it was more likely that he would fail! Breaking through the bottleneck to become a Daolord of the Fourth Step was no easy task, after all. Ning’s path was that of the Omega Sword Dao; if he wanted to break through, it would be even harder than it had been for Ninedust and harder than it would be for Badlands.
He didn’t dare to completely entrust all his hopes into making a breakthrough. Thus, as soon as the spacetime disc failed he immediately asked Hegemon Brightshore for aid.
“Send word to Hegemon Brightshore. Tell him that Daolord Darknorth is willing to give him fifty of the coldflame cauldron fruits and all the remaining fruits from Crimsonwave Temple, in order to request the Hegemon to intervene and save his life. Archon Silksnow is currently trying to kill him, and he can die at any moment,” Ning instructed the servant who was in charge of maintaining contact between him and the Brightshore Kingdom.
“Yes, Master.” The servant was shocked upon hearing how grim the situation was, and he immediately sent word over to the Brightshore Kingdom.
“I hope the Hegemon will intervene,” Ning mused to himself. The Hegemon was an exalted figure who was the supreme leader of the entire Brightshore Kingdom! To the supreme figures of the Endless Territories, a Daolord really didn’t count for much, no matter how monstrously talented the Daolord was. This was because the more talented a Daolord was, the lower his chances of succeeding in the Daomerge would be. The Brightshore Kingdom had its Twelve Palaces, but in all of its years of existence none of its supreme Daolords had ever succeeded in the Daomerge. Hegemon Brightshore remained the one and only Hegemon of the Brightshore Kingdom.
Thus… Hegemons generally didn’t care about whether Daolords died or not. For them to perish while out adventuring was quite normal. They’d calmly watch as one generation of Daolords after another rose to power, followed by one generation after another perishing…
“But fifty coldflame cauldron fruits might be enough to convince the Hegemon to intervene. Although the Hegemon managed to trade for some of that fruit after our trip to Crimsonwave Temple, I don’t think he got fifty,” Ning prayed.
“Master, Master! The Hegemon sends word that he is heading towards you with my clone. However, he is going to need some time. He asks you to hold on for a bit,” the servant immediately replied.
Boom! Right at this moment, Ning had been knocked backwards with blood leaking from the corner of his lips. He couldn’t help but feel delighted upon hearing this. “Good.”
“I need to hold on for a bit. If I can hold on for a while, the Hegemon will be able to make it here,” Ning thought eagerly. He knew that since the Hegemon wasn’t sure as to where he was exactly, the Hegemon needed his servant to guide the way. That delay, combined with what a great distance the Hegemon had to traverse via tearing through spacetime, meant that the Hegemon did need some time before he could arrive.
Normally, such a short period of time was meaningless. However, Ning was in the middle of a life-and-death battle against someone who was one of the lords of the Sacred Cities. That short period of time was quite long in this situation, more than enough for Archon Silksnow to strike a hundred times.
“Arise.” Archon Silksnow’s long hair fluttered behind him as he let out a loud shout. Boom! Countless streams of saber-ki flew out from around him, forming a vast world of saber energy that crashed down upon Ning. Clearly, Archon Silksnow wished to end this battle as quickly as possible.
“Come forth!” Ning didn’t dare to hold anything back at all. Nine energy dragons immediately flew out of his body, forming the Yin-Yang Chaos Domain as his awesome heartworld projection came crashing down as well. The heartworld projection merged into the Yin-Yang Chaos Domain, then clashed straight against the surrounding world of saber-ki.
The two domains collided against each other… and the saber-ki domain was actually at a slight disadvantage. This caused Archon Silksnow to feel rather flabbergasted. He then smiled coldly: “So you have a few tricks of your own. However… you are still going to die.”
Archon Silksnow charged straight towards Ning with pure, unadulterated savagery! His six sabers executed his exceptionally brutal and valiant Dao of the Saber. Before his sabers, even spacetime was frozen and even karma was severed!
Attack! Attack! Attack!
“I have to survive. For Ninedust’s sake if nothing else, I have to survive.” Ning labored to defend himself.
Boom! Boom! Boom! The battle between the two caused the skies to darken. Archon Silksnow lived up to his reputation as one of the top three Archons. His attacks were incredibly ferocious, which only made sense; the Dao of the Saber was an offensive Dao, after all. Ning was completely unable to fight back, but when he focused completely on defense his six swords were able to form a truly airtight defense. Still, he was knocked backwards again and again.
“This Daolord Darknorth really is pretty formidable.” Archon Silksnow struck out ten times in a row, but Ning was able to endure all ten attacks. This caused Archon Silksnow to narrow his eyes. “Everyone says that Winesage is the most powerful Daolord, but it seems as though this Daolord Darknorth is actually more powerful than Winesage! I can hardly believe that there’s a Daolord capable of taking ten blows from me in a row.”
In truth, Ning was only able to accomplish this thanks to his [Heartsword] art, which had increased his strength dramatically and made his sword-arts even faster and more ferocious! Without it, Archon Silksnow probably would’ve been able to blast Ning’s six swords out of his hands and then kill Ning right away!
“He’s too resilient. If this continues, I don’t even know how many attacks it’ll take to kill him.” A cold light flashed through Archon Silksnow’s oily green eyes. “Forget it. I’ll make an exception for him and use my [Icesnow] saber-arts.”
Whoosh! Archon Silksnow’s six sabers began to move in unison. Three of them became incredibly savage and overbearing, while the other three actually became unpredictable and ephemeral, almost like the dancing of the snow. Their movements were very soft and extremely difficult to see through.
When Ning saw this, his face turned extremely pale. Although the earlier attacks were savage and powerful, they were fairly easy to block as a result. Now that Archon Silksnow was using this strange combination of savagery and softness, merging the principles of Yin and Yang together, blocking the attacks became far more difficult than before. The snow-like saber-arts didn’t have as much power behind them, but they were much more troublesome for Ning to defend against.
It was much like how the Heavenbreaker stance was much more powerful than the Blood Drop stance, but the Blood Drop stance was far superior in speed thanks to having sacrificed a degree of power. The most powerful attack wasn’t necessarily the best attack.
Clang! Clang! Slash! Slash! Swords and sabers collided nonstop. Ning was forced to use four of his swords to defend against those three sabers executing the unpredictable [Icesnow] saber-art, leaving him only two swords to defend against the other three extremely savage sabers.
BOOM! Using just two swords to defend clearly wasn’t enough. A savage burst of power rocked Ning’s entire body, causing it to tremble as he was sent flying backwards. Ning vomited out a mouthful a blood, his face ashen. His divine power was being depleted far too quickly. Ning’s hands were numb, and even his soul was beginning to feel a bit woozy. Clearly, his sword-arts weren’t able to ablate enough of his enemy’s attack power, causing his divine body to endure most of it. As a result, his injuries were now much heavier than before.
“After I became one of the Archons of the Sacred Cities, on the occasions when I acted against Daolords I always used my most powerful and overwhelming attacks to crush them directly. You are the first Daolord I wasn’t able to crush in such a manner, forcing me to use my [Icesnow] saber-arts. Normally, I’ll only use it when I battle against other Emperors. You should feel proud to die these saber-arts,” Archon Silksnow said as he once more charged forwards.
His saber-arts fell upon Ning like the snow, drifting and ephemeral.
His saber-light flashed like lightning, piercing directly into one’s heart.
These were two diametrically different types of saber-arts, making it far more difficult to defend against them.
Slash! Ning was starting to grow dizzy from the hits he was taking. His divine body found it hard to endure these attacks, and he was starting to decline from peak condition.
“No. If I let this continue, I’m going to die!” Ning understood that each time he blocked, he was walking on a fine line between life and death. In less than ten stances, he would perish to this opponent.
“If I die, I can be revived thanks to my Dao-seal… but Ninedust will be dead for sure.” A surge of indomitable will and resolve came out of Ning’s soul. This resolve was absolutely unshakable, a form of power that came from his very spirit… and Ning’s sword-arts suddenly changed.
Previously, his strikes had taken the form of mist-formed swords. All of a sudden, the mist began to condense and transform into drops of water. The countless water drops condensed into a sword that looked as though it was made out of water. The watery swords rippled with absolute beauty but emanated a mesmerizing level of might… and both the speed and power of Ning’s strikes skyrocketed.
[Heartsword], stance eleven… ‘Teardrop’.
The two forces collided. Ning was still knocked flying backwards, and he was still at a disadvantage… but this time, he didn’t spit out any blood at all. Clearly, the force of the collision was not enough to cause him any injuries.
“What?!” Archon Silksnow’s face completely changed. “The eleventh stance of the [Heartsword] art?!”
“Yes.” The distant Ning revealed a smile. “Archon Silksnow, you live up to your reputation. You recognized my technique at a single glance. This is indeed the eleventh stance of the [Heartsword] art.”
The reason why it was comparatively easier for cultivators to make breakthroughs in near-death situations was because those situations placed the soul and truesoul under enormous pressure, causing them to enter a special state that made it easier for one to have epiphanies and then make breakthroughs. Ning wasn’t just in a life-and-death situation, he was also under the pressure of being responsible for Ninedust’s survival. This made his desire to win even stronger, and those strong emotions and tremendous desire to survive caused his [Heartsword] art to finally break through.
In the instant that he made his breakthrough, he finally understood. The eleventh stance of the [Heartsword] art, the ‘Teardrop’, required incredible resolve and willpower! Long ago, Emperor Heartsword had been facing certain death for the sake of protecting those he loved. He had smiled into the face of death as tears spilled down his face… but in that instant, he had a sudden epiphany and managed to develop the eleventh stance.
Each cultivator had their own paths to take if they wished to create such profound, abstruse sword-arts. God Emperor Helong, for example, had created his [God Emperor’s Apocalypse] technique, a technique similar to the [Heartsword] art in that it perfectly merged heartforce, divine power, and Immortal energy together. It also required a terrifying amount of resolve and strong emotions, but the emotions involved had to be a feeling of benevolence and care towards all living beings.
“Only such a blazing level of determination can allow heartforce, divine power, and Immortal energy to merge together in a more perfect manner.” Ning finally understood.