“How is this possible? How could his [Heartsword] art have advanced to the eleventh stance? That means he’ll reach the twelfth stance soon!”
The ‘first stage’ of the [Heartsword] art consisted of the eighth to tenth stances, while the second stage consisted of the eleventh and twelfth stances.
Ning had made consecutive breakthroughs in the ‘first stage’ back when he was in Crimsonwave Temple. Breaking through between stances within the same stage was quite fast, while breaking through from one stage to another was far more difficult. Since Ning had already reached the eleventh stance, the twelfth stance wouldn’t be too far behind.
“Daolord Darknorth’s sword-arts are extremely well-rounded and extremely durable. If he can master the twelfth stance… he’ll be on par with even me.” Archon Silksnow’s killing intent began to grow stronger.
Emperor Heartsword, even after becoming an Eternal Emperor, was only comparable to supreme Daolords when it came to his actual insights into the Dao of the Sword. He was actually weaker in this regard than the current Ning. However, thanks to his mastery of the fifteenth stance of the [Heartsword] art, he had completely eclipsed all other Archons and was second only to the Hegemons. He was known throughout the Endless Territories as the only Emperor who was comparable to Hegemons in power.
Now that Ning had mastered the eleventh stance, the power of his strikes was three times as much as it was ‘normally’. Soon, when he mastered the twelfth stance, his strikes would be comparable to six times his ‘normal’ power! How incredible would this be?
It was all thanks to this terrifying technique that Emperor Heartsword had been able to battle those who were two levels of power above him and be able to battle the three mighty Hegemons!
Boom! Boom! Boom! The two continued to battle furiously. Ning was knocked flying repeatedly, but he was able to endure the blows with ease. This was because his sword-arts were faster and fiercer than before, allowing him to completely defend against his foe’s attacks. “A hundred strikes? I can block even a thousand strikes from him. He might hold the upper hand, but if I completely focus on defense I can endure fairly easily.”
“Die, die, die!” Archon Silksnow’s oily green eyes grew colder and colder as his saber-arts fluctuated between incomparable savagery and snow-like unpredictability. Ning was completely unable to fight back at all, and with each strike he sent Ning flying away. He was completely dominating Ning, forcing Ning to focus exclusively on defense… but Archon Silksnow really was completely unable to do anything to the defense-oriented Ning.
“His defenses are completely without flaws. His sword-arts have no weaknesses whatsoever.” Archon Silksnow was extremely vexed by this; foes with perfect defensive abilities were extremely difficult to deal with. Even those more powerful than Ning would find it hard to breach his defensive sword-arts. “Am I really going to have to use one of my treasures to deal with a single Daolord?”
“Given his current level of power, not even common Hegemon-level treasures are certain to kill him. I would have to use one of my most important treasures.” Archon Silksnow felt a bit of heartache at the prospect. “I’ve only accumulated so many of them despite the passage of countless years… I was planning on using them in critical situations to defend against Hegemons.”
Archon Silksnow continued to hesitate as the two exchanged blows. Archon Silksnow was vacillating; he really didn’t want to use up his most important treasures. His more ordinary treasures such as ‘common’ Hegemonic treasures might be precious to Daolords, but Archon Silksnow had quite a few of them. However, those treasures generally only held twenty to thirty percent of the full power of a Hegemon’s strike. It wasn’t enough to kill an Archon of the Sacred Cities, nor was it enough to kill the current Ning.
While Archon Silksnow hesitated, he continued to hope that his furious barrage of attacks would be enough to kill Ning. If he could avoid using one of his life-saving treasures, he would do so; he wasn’t going to use those things up casually.
Riiiiiip. Far away, within the empty void that was beyond the area of ten billion kilometers covered by the blurry light, a tear in spacetime suddenly appeared. This tear was enormous in size, and from it emerged the enormous head of an absolutely titanic beast. The eyes on this head looked like blazing stars, and they turned to stare at the distant field of combat, locking in on both Archon Silksnow and Daolord Darknorth.
Archon Silksnow sensed this new presence, and he immediately turned to look.
“Archon Silksnow, stay your hand,” the titanic beast said in a rumbling voice.
“Hegemon Brightshore!” Archon Silksnow’s face immediately turned pale. Hegemon Brightshore had actually charged over here in person, using his true body?
Archon Silksnow had been hesitating, but a savage look immediately appeared on his face. He produced an ordinary-looking black hammer in his hands, then immediately tossed it out. The black warhammer transformed into an enormous streak of golden light which smashed straight towards the distant Ning. As it flew, the black warhammer’s light began to increase dramatically as it became golden in color.
The warhammer was dazzling to behold, and its aura alone caused Ning to feel the desire to prostrate himself before it. Ning forced down that thought, but he still felt a sense of shock in his heart. He hurriedly crushed two protective treasures, causing a barrier of water to appear around him as well as a strange river to cover him.
“Silksnow!” Hegemon Brightshore was enraged. His enormous body stretched out a single claw which tore straight through the blurry light. Boom! The barrier was completely ripped open. However… by the time he tore through it, the dazzling golden warhammer had already reached Ning.
A terrifying wave of power smashed against Ning, blasting through the river around him and shattering the watery barrier. Although Ning strove to use his Northbow swords to defend, the power of this strike vastly surpassed the strikes which Archon Silksnow had unleashed previously. Ning’s six arms were immediately torn apart, and his six Northbow swords were sent flying as the terrifying power from the strike swept through Ning’s entire body.
The power was simply too great.
“I-I… am going to die?” Ning only had enough time to turn his head to glance at the distant Hegemon Brightshore. As Ning stared at the titanic beast, his lips moved slightly. He wanted to say: “Save Ninedust.”
Alas, Ning didn’t have a chance to say a single word. His body was completely crushed into dust, leaving only a few magic treasures and his armor behind, floating in the void.
“NO! Damn you!” The blazing, star-like eyes of Hegemon Brightshore were filled with fury. He had already spoken, but Archon Silksnow had actually chosen to kill Ning right in front of him.
Riiiiiip. He had already torn straight through the blurry barrier of light. Now, the Hegemon’s claw tore straight towards Archon Silksnow.
Archon Silksnow had immediately transformed into a streak of light and flown towards Ning in the same instant that he used up one of his trump cards. He wanted to take away the treasures which Ning had left behind. He knew that Ninedust and the realmship parts were all within Ning’s estate-world treasure.
“And you actually think you are going to take the treasures as well?” This enraged Hegemon Brightshore even further. His eyes emanated an aura of blurry light which caused spacetime to congeal in the surrounding area. A wave of invisible pressure crushed down upon Archon Silksnow, causing him to dramatically slow down. As for Hegemon Brightshore’s claws, they tore straight through space itself as they reached out towards Archon Silksnow. Previously, that aura of blurry light had condensed local spacetime… but now that it had been destroyed, Hegemon Brightshore’s attacks were able to almost instantly reach the target.
“So fast! The old man really lives up to his reputation as the premier Hegemon amongst the three Hegemons in our realmverse.” Archon Silksnow hurriedly used his saber-arts to defend against that terrifying claw.
BOOM! The terrifying claw-strike came, filled with such power that it was equal in might to the black warhammer treasure which Archon Silksnow had just used. Archon Silksnow was instantly shattered into tiny pieces of snow, but that snow quickly reassembled far away into Archon Silksnow once more.
When Autarch Bolin was a Hegemon, he had trained and mastered a total of ten Hegemonic Daos! All that accumulated experience had allowed him to break through to become an Autarch. Emperors possessed endless lifespans and thus would generally train in many Daos, hoping that these other Daos might stimulate and inspire them! Emperor Silksnow himself was skilled in both the Dao of the Saber and the Dao of Snow.
He had undergone the Daomerge via his Dao of the Saber and reached the Archon level of power. Over the course of countless years, he had slowly upgraded his Dao of Snow to that same level. Clearly, he wanted to use these two Daos to inspire him and slowly train to the Hegemon level via them.
It was possible for Emperors to train and cultivate, but improving was extremely difficult. Every single person who had been alive for that long, however, had life-preserving abilities available to them. The difference in power between Archons and Hegemons was quite apparent, and in a real head-on battle the Archon would definitely perish.
However, some Archons had defensive techniques like invulnerable forms, while others were extremely skilled in other ways. For example, if one was extremely proficient in the Dao of Numerancy, one would be forewarned of danger and flee early on. Alternately, if one had an extremely formidable evasion art then one would be able to rely on it to escape and prevent even Hegemons from catching up to them and killing them.
Ning had already reached the Archon level, true… but he had merely trained in the Omega Sword Dao and didn’t have an invulnerable form. In addition, he had only been training for a very brief period of time and had not accumulated enough treasures yet. There was simply no way for him to compete against the likes of Archon Silksnow. The elder Archons had accumulated many treasures of the years, some of which could have an impact on even actual Hegemons.
“Hegemon Brightshore, are you really going to interfere over me killing a mere Daolord?” Archon Silksnow stood off in the distance. Although he was unhappy, he suppressed his anger. “You and I have both lived in the Endless Territories for countless years. These Daolords come and go; they are nothing more than passersby in our life. Daolord Darknorth angered me, so I decided to kill him; this is a minor matter. You, an exalted Hegemon, actually decided to interfere? This is a bit much, isn’t it?”
Hegemon Brightshore’s voice boomed out sonorously from afar: “Archon Silksnow, this was indeed a minor matter… but since I spoke out, you should’ve been willing to discuss things peaceably. You actually dared to kill Darknorth right in front of me!”
“This little thief was lucky enough to steal an item I needed,” Archon Silksnow said. “Hegemon Brightshore, I don’t want any of his other treasures, but I do want that little thief’s estate-world. If you are willing to give it to me, you can list any conditions you want.”
“Hmph, you killed Darknorth in front of me… and you think you’ll earn his treasures?” Hegemon Brightshore said coldly, “Fuck off. If you don’t… don’t blame me for showing no mercy.”
“You…!” Archon Silksnow had an ugly look on his face.
“I said FUCK OFF!” Hegemon Brightshore’s voice deepened even further.
“Fine. A Hegemon really is a Hegemon. I’ll accede to your request this time.” Archon Silksnow ground his teeth, then turned and disappeared within a dimensional ripple.
The reason why Archon Silksnow had chosen to kill Ning at that critical moment was partially for the sake of the realmship… but more importantly, he wanted to pull up grass by the roots! He understood that so long as Ning survived, Ning would quickly be able to master the twelfth stance of the [Heartsword] art. By then, the difference in power between the two would be very small. There was already a feud between them. If Ning failed his Daomerge, it would be guaranteed that Ning would die. If he went crazy before dying… while Archon Silksnow himself would be able to keep himself alive, the foundations of power he had spent countless aeons establishing might be completely annihilated by the maddened Ning.
If Ning succeeded in the Daomerge? Things would be even worse! Thus, he had to kill Ning right away. Taking the treasure was just a secondary benefit. Alas… the Hegemon had stopped him.
Hegemon Brightshore watched as Archon Silksnow left, neither chasing nor attacking. Killing Archon Silksnow would be no easy feat.
The Hegemon’s titanic figure blurred, transforming into a humanoid figure. He returned to his normal form of a snowy-robed, white-bearded old man with six curved horns on his head. He waved his hand, collecting the Northbow swords, estate-world, armor, and other treasures Ning had left behind. He murmured softly to himself, “These treasures actually still have an owner? Daolord Darknorth actually didn’t die… can it be that he has a Primaltwin?”
Hegemon Brightshore revealed a smile. He felt rather apologetic towards Ning for not having been able to rescue him, but now he felt much better. “He really does have a few tricks up his sleeve. Since he didn’t die… his avatar should be at Vastheaven Palace. I’ll pay it a visit.” Hegemon Brightshore took a single step forward, tearing through spacetime as he travelled towards Vastheaven Palace.