The flying vessel and the strange tower were facing each other. Atop the tower were three onyx figures and three silver-robed Daolords?
“Wait, something’s wrong.” Ji Ning and Ninedust quickly noticed how something was off.
“Their auras seem off. They don’t seem like the Sithe we saw before,” Ning said softly.
“Let’s go take a look,” Ninedust said. Ning agreed, and the two began to quietly creep forwards.
As they moved closer and closer, the two were able to see the stone stele hanging right next to the flying vessel. “That stele…?” Ning and Ninedust hurriedly inspected it, quickly recognizing and reading the characters on the stone stele. The stele said:
I am Bolin.
I had five personal disciples. My fifth disciple, Bazu, was the most talented and the strongest of the five, far surpassing ordinary Hegemons. However, he was the first to die by the hands of the Sithe, and he was actually the third Hegemon to perish after the Sithe revealed their fangs and claws. In that battle, the Sithe sent out an entire regiment commanded by three of their Black Emperors to ambush and kill my disciple.
In that battle, my disciple Bazu slew a hundred and twenty-six Silver Daolords and a Black Emperor, but in the end he was surrounded and slain as well.
Although I hurried to him as fast as I could, I still arrived just a bit too late.
By now… war has begun! If our cultivator civilizations are defeated in this war, my hope is that our many worlds will continue to give birth to more and more cultivators, who can test themselves against the Silver Daolords and the Black Emperors here. That way, they can gain a sense for just how strong the Sithe are. Remember, these are just common footsoldiers of the Sithe race; they cannot be considered the true Sithe elites. You absolutely must not be overconfident against the Sithe; when you fight, you must go all-out.
The 318 nearby planets within the astral river next to us each hold a legacy within them which was left behind by one of the Hegemons who follow me. None of us know how many of them will survive this war, and it is possible that all of them will be doomed, representing an end to the cream of the crop of the cultivator civilizations and an end to a force that was built up over countless aeons. They have all left their legacies here in the hopes that our cultivator civilizations shall never fully perish.
Even if we cultivators end up losing this battle, I still believe that our worlds shall give birth to an endless stream of resistance fighters. One day, the Sithe shall be eliminated.
These are the words of Bolin!
Ning and Ninedust were stunned for quite some time after reading the characters on the stone stele. They could sense the stately yet determined fighting will which was inherent within those words; although Autarch Bolin had been in great pain upon seeing his disciple perish, when he wrote upon this stone stele he was completely focused on preserving the cultivator civilizations as a whole.
“Fortunately, we ended up winning that war,” Ning murmured.
“Yes. For Autarch Bolin to leave behind so many precautions… I really can’t imagine just how powerful the Sithe once were,” Ninedust sighed.
“The Autarch said that we can spar against these ‘Silver Daolords’ and these ‘Black Emperors’,” Ning said.
“Are they capable of fighting?” Ninedust glanced at the distant tower. “I’ll give it a try first.” As he spoke, he immediately flew over.
Once Ninedust moved closer towards the flying tower, one of the Black Emperors standing atop the tower suddenly glanced downwards and said coldly, “Go and kill that enemy.”
“Yes, Emperor!” Instantly, one of the Silver Daolords on the bottommost levels of the tower immediately acknowledged the order. His aura of power quickly expanded and grew in might as he flew towards the Ninedust Sectlord.
As for Ning, he just watched from afar. He wasn’t too worried; Ninedust was much better than him at staying alive.
Whoosh. The Silver Daolord charged straight towards Ninedust with a longspear in its hands.
“I want to see just how strong a ‘real’ Sithe Silver Daolord is!” Ninedust was eager to do battle, and he sent his longstaff towards the oncoming attack, causing a seemingly endless series of ripples to appear around it.
Boom! The tip of the spear clashed head-on against the longstaff. Ninedust immediately felt his longstaff tremble to the point where he nearly lost control of it. As for the longspear, it continued its downwards stab towards him. Slash – it stabbed Ninedust on his chest! Ninedust’s eyes widened in disbelief. With a whoosh, he transformed into a vast wave that quickly retreated backwards.
“You want to run?” The Silver Daolord pressed the attack, his longspear striking at more than a hundred times the speed of light.
Ninedust immediately transformed into water once more as he continued his hurried retreat. Slash! Slash! Slash! The Silver Daolord launched one attack after another, the tip of his longspear gleaming with incomparably sharp light. Ninedust let out a miserable cry, “I can feel the pain even through my invulnerable aquaform! This is terrifying.” While howling, he continued to flee.
“Need my help?” Ning shouted to him.
“Not yet, not yet!” Ninedust immediately replied. However, after Ninedust fled a certain distance away the Silver Daolord suddenly came to a halt. The Silver Daolord glanced coldly at Ninedust, then flew back to the tower and returned to its original position on the bottom level. Its aura of incredible power quickly dissipated as it seemed to go back to normal.
Ninedust fled over next to Ning, transforming back into human form. “Whew.” Ninedust let out a sigh of relief.
“You were beaten in just one clash?” Ning smirked.
“They were definitely much more powerful than the three clan leaders,” Ninedust said quickly. “That Silver Daolord had extremely formidable spear-arts; I imagine he was on par with me! Given that he had also undergone the Ritual Sacrificium to become a Silver Daolord, he is naturally much stronger than I am.”
“So this is what true Silver Daolords are like. Those three clan leaders were at far too low a level of insight.” Ning nodded. “Those three Black Emperors are in charge of a total of three hundred Silver Daolords… how terrifying. These Silver Daolords are all comparable to the eight Archons, the lords of the Sacred Cities. Three hundred of them working together… not even a Hegemon would be able to withstand them.” Three hundred Silver Daolords truly was a terrifyingly strong force!
“Autarch Bolin’s personal disciple, Hegemon Bazu, was quite strong; even though he was surrounded, he was able to kill 126 Silver Daolords and a Black Emperor.” Ninedust sighed in amazement.
Ning felt admiration towards Hegemon Bazu as well. During the Dawn War, both of the Hegemons of the Endless Territories had perished in order to take down that Black Emperor. Clearly, Hegemon Bazu was much more powerful than they had been… but alas, he had still died.”
“I’ll go try it as well.” Ning manifested three heads and six arms, then charged forwards with six Northbow swords at the ready.
The flying tower continued to hover there in the void. Once Ning moved closer to it, one of the Black Emperors at the top of the tower glanced down at Ning and then ordered, “Go and kill the invader.”
Instantly, the spear-wielding Silver Daolord at the very bottom of the tower acknowledged: “Yes, Emperor.” As it spoke, it flew towards Ning.
“These aren’t actual living beings; they are nothing more than simulacra.” Ning could tell that they weren’t alive, but he still couldn’t help but feel admiration for the Autarch; to be able to create simulacra of three Black Emperors and three hundred Silver Daolords was absolutely incredible. Autarchs truly were unfathomably strong! It was thanks to the leadership of the Autarchs and countless cultivators sacrificing themselves that they had been able to eliminate the Sithe in the end, albeit at enormous cost.”
“Hah!” The Silver Daolord swept out with his longspear, spinning it in a circular arc as he swept it towards Ning in an indomitable fashion.
Clang! Ning moved to dodge while gently striking out with his sword using the Omega Sword Dao – Soleheart to affect the Silver Daolord’s attacks.
Although the Silver Daolord’s attack was on par with Ninedust’s staff-arts, Ning was still slightly superior to him. However, the difference wasn’t that great, and the Silver Daolord’s other advantages more than compensated for it.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Boom! The two continued to fight, causing shockwaves to blast out in every direction which caused the void to tremble.
Ning and the Silver Daolord were evenly matched in the fight.
“Eh?” One of the Black Emperors at the top of the tower frowned. “Even after this much time has passed, he still has yet to be captured? Another one of you, go and kill him!”
“Yes, Emperor!” Instantly, a Silver Daolord wielding a pair of hatchets charged out as well, forcing Ning to slowly begin to withdraw.
“Don’t even think about fleeing!” the spear-wielding Daolord and the hatchet-wielding Daolord shouted in unison. The two had surrounded Ning and were attacking him from a pincer position. Ning was immediately at a disadvantage, but thanks to his defensive prowess and his six Northbow swords he was able to hold on. While defending, he continued to retreat at high speed.
“Eh? Another one, go.” The Black Emperor at the top of the tower issued the order yet again, causing a third Silver Daolord to charge forwards. This one bore a giant warblade on its back. However, before it managed to arrive Ning had already moved beyond the critical distance, at which point all of the Silver Daolords withdrew as well. This was something which Autarch Bolin had implemented; he had done all this to help temper and train these juniors, not kill them after all.
“What a tough challenge. If one doesn’t do the job, send two. If two can’t hack it, send three…” Ning shook his head.
“If we’re ever able to force all three hundred Silver Daolords and all three Black Emperors to attack in unison… now that would be truly something,” Ninedust said eagerly.
“Haha, that’ll have to wait for after you complete your Daomerge,” Ning said. “Oh, right. Autarch Bolin said that the 318 planets nearest to us all have legacies left behind by the various Hegemons. Let’s go take a look.”
“Right.” Ninedust was curious as well.
Swoosh! Swoosh! The two quickly flew towards the planet located closest to the stone stele.
This planet wasn’t all that large, just ten thousand kilometers in circumference. As soon as they landed atop the planet, they immediately sensed a ripple of power transmit into their minds. They could vaguely ‘see’ the mental image of a four-legged beast towering before them, its voice booming within their minds.
“I am Hegemon Thousand Rhinos, a retainer of Autarch Bolin! The war against the Sithe has already begun, and all of us Hegemons are following Autarch Bolin into battle against the Sithe. No one knows what the end result will be, and so I have left all of my insights and supreme techniques behind in this place. The cultivator civilizations shall not perish! The Sithe shall one day be exterminated!”