Within a hidden estate-world, there were beautiful valleys filled with fragrant flowers and birdsong. A golden-robed Ji Ning was seated in the lotus position atop the grass, and in front of the grass before him was a black-white piece of jade. This jade talisman was the ‘Lifeblood’ Dao-seal which Emperor Maniseal had once bestowed upon Ning in order to curry favor with the Paragon of Pills. However, it wasn’t one of his most valuable ones, as it was only able to revive Samsara Daolords. Next to the piece of black-white jade was a giant, mountain-sized pile of countless chaos jewels.
In the exact instant when the distant Archon Silksnow slew Ji Ning…
Rumble… the black-white jade talisman instantly lit up with dazzling light. The strand of truesoul which Ning had left behind in the talisman slowly began to rebuild itself from the talisman’s energy, almost like an infant gestating within his mother’s belly or like life taking shape within an egg. Ning’s strand of truesoul slowly began to recover and reform within that white-black jade talisman, and as more of it recovered he slowly began to gain mental clarity as well.
“Just now, I was killed… and I could sense my consciousness descend into infinite darkness. Now that I’ve come back… I feel as though I have been brought back into endless light.”
This experience of dying and coming back to life had truly and completely stunned Ning. Ning instantly gained a fresh perspective on what the nature of the Dao truly was.
Thruuuuum! Ning’s consciousness instantly began to absorb energy from the outside world. The many chaos jewels which his avatar had prepared long ago were instantly activated and their energy was drawn into Ning nonstop.
Whoooosh. As Ning began to actively drawn in energy, his body quickly began to reform around him as the black-white jade talisman disintegrated soundlessly. The figure of a white-robed youth began to coalesce in the empty air within the gorge, his body glowing with light and looking rather ethereal. However, as more time passed his body gradually began to grow increasingly solid. By the time he had absorbed more than half of the mountain of chaos jewels, his aura was completely restored and reserved once more.
The white-robed Ning descended from the skies, exchanging a glance with the golden-robed Ning. Both had joyless looks on their faces; the only expression they had was that of worry.
“My true body was reformed thanks to the Dao-seal, but brother Ninedust…” Ning was worried. “Archon Silksnow saw the Hegemon appear, but he still chose to kill me no matter the cost. He probably went after the treasures I left behind. Ninedust was hiding inside my estate-world. I hope he doesn’t end up in Archon Silksnow’s hands.”
Whoosh. With but a thought, Ning exited from this estate-world.
Outside the estate-world was Ji Ning’s residence within Vastheaven Palace.
“Master.” The fiery-robed woman seated by herself atop a distant boulder revealed a smile.
“Youji.” Ning smiled back at her.
“Master, why has your true form returned?” Su Youji was quite surprised. She had spent almost all of the past few years in Vastheaven Palace, but she generally only saw the golden-robed avatar.
Ning chuckled. “I got beaten back.”
“Who was able to beat you, Master?” Su Youji didn’t believe it. Her master was virtually invincible amongst Daolords, right?
“Haha, I’d rather not discuss such an embarrassing event in detail. Where’s Pillsaint? Still making his pills?” Ning asked.
“Yes, Pillsaint’s gone absolutely pill-crazy,” Su Youji said.
Suddenly, a spacetime ripple swept across the entire Vastheaven Palace. Su Youji didn’t notice, but Ning revealed a nervous look on his face. He was worried about Ninedust’s safety, and so he immediately bowed respectfully in the direction of the ripple. “Greetings, Hegemon.”
A pitch-black tear in spacetime appeared in front of Ning, followed by a snow-robed, white-bearded old man with six horns on his head emerging from it. When he saw Ning, he revealed a surprised look: “Darknorth, you are actually still alive?”
When Ning saw the Hegemon, he let out a sigh of relief. This was because he could sense that his weapons and treasures were all on the Hegemon; clearly, the Hegemon had picked them up for him.
“Long ago, Hegemon, you arranged for me to enter that alternate universe. I was fortunate enough to acquire a ‘Lifeblood’ Dao-seal forged by Emperor Maniseal,” Ning said. “It was all thanks to that Dao-seal that I was able to survive.”
“A Lifeblood Dao-seal from Maniseal?” Hegemon Brightshore nodded slowly. “No wonder you survived. Maniseal is an extremely arrogant and solitary figure; if you were able to attract his interest, you must have had quite the experience.”
Ning secretly muttered to himself. It had nothing to with him attracting Maniseal’s interest; in fact, he had never even met Emperor Maniseal! It was all because the man wanted to gain favor with the Paragon of Pills. That was why he had bestowed the Dao-seal upon Ning.
“Oh, right. Here are your treasures.” Hegemon Brightseal waved his hand, causing the six Northbow swords, the Hegemon armor, the estate-world, and the many other treasures to fly towards Ning. The six Northbow swords in particular began to shiver; clearly, they were extremely excited upon seeing their master again.
Ning waved his hand, accepting all of the treasures. Some he stored away and some he wore. As fo the six Northbow swords, they re-entered the sheath on his back.
Ning finally relaxed after acquiring these treasures. He had only acquired them after many dangerous adventures; if he lost them all, he really would be heartbroken. Ning could also sense that the Ninedust Sectlord was still safely within his estate-world. This caused Ning to reveal a smile.
“Thank you, Hegemon. These are the fruits from Crimsonwave Temple I promised.” Ning immediately offered a jade green gourd which was filled with all of the remaining fruits from Crimsonwave Temple.
“I cannot accept this.” Hegemon Brightshore smiled and shook his head. “You asked me to save your life, and if I had done so I would’ve accepted these fruits. But… I was just a bit too slow, and Archon Silksnow didn’t show any mercy even though I was there. I wasn’t able to save you; you saved yourself thanks to that Dao-seal, coming back to life. How can I accept?”
“These fruits are nothing more than a portion of the treasures I own,” Ning said hurriedly. “Hegemon, you sent all of my treasures over to me. They are very important, especially my lifeblood weapons! Darknorth is filled with tremendous gratitude towards you.”
“A failure is a failure.” Hegemon Brightshore shook his head. “I’m not going to be greedy over the treasures of a young fellow like yourself.”
Ning was rather speechless. Still, high-level figures generally had exceptional levels of pride. Everyone had bottom lines they would not cross without a very good reason! But of course, a sufficiently tempting treasure might be a good enough reason for them to cross their bottom line. A completely undamaged realmship, for example, would be enough to drive any Hegemon crazy. Ning, however, was just a Daolord; Hegemon Brightshore really didn’t have much interest in his items. Even if he knew that Ning had an omnigeddon bloodfruit tree, he still wouldn’t care. The verdant azuresoul might interest him slightly, but he still wouldn’t go crazy over it.
This was because one would have to first find a Chaos Primordial before one could use the verdant azuresoul to take control over it. One had to remember that even for Autarchs finding a Chaos Primordial was an incredibly difficult task, much less for someone like Hegemon Brightshore who had always resided within the Flamedragon Realmverse.
In other words… even if he knew all of the treasures Ning possessed, he still wouldn’t be so shameless as to pilfer from Ning. And of course, he had no idea that Ning had treasures like the verdant azuresoul.
“T-then…” Ning’s eyes suddenly lit up. He immediately said, “Darknorth has something to ask of you.”
“Oh?” Hegemon Brightshore looked at Ning.
“I need some precious materials.” Ning waved his hand, causing a large number of characters to immediately appear in the air next to him. The text narrated the many materials Ning needed to reach the third level of the [Sword Dao Body] technique. His previous body had been destroyed, after all. Although he had rebuilt his true body, his restored body was just his ‘ordinary’ body.
His protective divine ability? His nine novessence arts? They were all gone. He didn’t care about the nine novessence arts, as they were already getting to be a bit too weak… but the protective divine ability was still of use.
Previously, when Ning had battled against Archon Silksnow, the reason why he hadn’t died when he was getting blasted back prior to his [Heartsword] breakthrough was precisely because his protective divine ability was quite powerful! But of course, if he wanted to train to the fourth level, where his body would be comparable to a top-grade Eternal treasure, the amount of treasures he would have to expend would cause even a Hegemon some pain. Ning suspected that not even his omnigeddon bloodfruit tree would be enough.
“I remember you buying these things last time?” Hegemon Brightshore chuckled.
“I have to re-train this divine ability,” Ning said helplessly. “If I use my remaining fruits to trade for them, it should be enough, yes?”
“It is enough.” Hegemon Brightshore smiled. He was starting to like the kid more and more. He really did want to acquire those fruits, but he absolutely was not going to take advantage of Ning, a mere Daolord. The materials which Ning had requested were in fact of equal value to these fruits! However, if Ning wished to trade his fruits, he would’ve been able to trade with either the Dao Alliance or the Ancient cultivators for them… and he probably would’ve gotten a better deal. These fruits were rarer and more important to Eternal Emperors, after all.
“I’ll accept these fruits and will immediately assemble the materials. I’ll arrange for them to be sent to Vastheaven Palace within one month.” Hegemon Brightshore accepted the jade green gourd. “Also… you should keep the fact that you at Vastheaven Palace a tight secret. Do not let Archon Silksnow find out.”
“Understood,” Ning said immediately. He still was not a match for Archon Silksnow just yet.
“If he really does attack, you can immediately ask me for assistance. I’ll tear straight through spacetime and immediately arrive at Vastheaven Palace,” Hegemon Brightshore said. “Last time, I was a bit slow because I didn’t know where you were, exactly; I had to rely on your servant’s clone guiding the way for me. I’ll be much faster next time, because I can descend directly upon Vastheaven Palace. However, I’ll only intervene on your behalf once. Any other dangers you encounter, you’ll have to resolve yourself.”
“Understood.” Ning nodded. To Hegemons and Archons, Daolords really didn’t matter that much. Even though some Daolords were incredibly talented, once their lifespans ended they would almost all perish.
Hegemon Brightshore, for example, still viewed Archon Silksnow as a peer despite being far more powerful than him! But when he viewed Daolords, he viewed them as being kids. No matter how much of a fuss they kicked up, they would still just be kids. There had never been a Daolord who was qualified to treat with Hegemons and Archons as equals.
Whoosh. Hegemon Brightshore tore a hole in spacetime, then stepped into it and departed.