If he was going to rely on the flaming passageways and their traps to capture a Hegemon, he was going to capture the strongest one. Of the twelve Hegemons, the strongest had to be Hegemon Azurefiend!
“Damn that slippery Daolord Darknorth. He must have gained an extremely detailed intelligence report regarding the Jadefire Realm; otherwise, how could he have been able to throw me off with ease so many times in a row?” Hegemon Azurefiend sat there in the lotus position in the air, two rope-type treasures coiling around him. He just quietly sat there, his senses keenly attuned.
“However… sooner or later, he’ll make a mistake,” Hegemon Azurefiend with with a cold laugh. “The flaming passageways no longer have just the original traps in them, they also have the traps set up by the other Hegemons and Emperors. One instance of bad luck and he’ll hit one of them. My chance will come them.”
Hegemon Azurefiend was extremely patient. The fact that he was willing to spend such incredible amounts of time drifting between realmverses on his adventures was testament to his patience. Even if he had to spend a thousand chaos cycles here in the flaming passageways, he’d still be more than patient enough to do it.
“Eh?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s ears twitched slightly. He opened his eyes to stare towards the front, where he soon saw a realmship carefully advancing through the air.
“There it is. The realmship.” Hegemon Azurefiend was delighted. Swoosh! He immediately transformed into a streak of light that shot after Ning. He had spent more than a hundred thousand years in these flaming passageways, and was already quite familiar with the ones in the area he was in. He knew where the ‘native’ traps were and were the traps placed by the Hegemons were, making it easy for him to chase after his foe.
“Hegemon Azurefiend!” The occupant of the realmship seemed to be badly shocked, immediately turning to flee in a different direction.
“You aren’t going anywhere!” Hegemon Azurefiend roared as he chased from behind.
The realmship continued its panicked flight. Boom! Suddenly, with a loud explosion, a large amount of boulders appeared out of nowhere and furiously began to spin and smash against everything within the reach of the trap. Although the realmship was able to endure the attacks, it was still smashed flying backwards.
“A perfect opportunity.” Hegemon Azurefiend was overjoyed upon seeing this and immediately chased over. However, the realmship quickly escaped from the confines of the trap and began to accelerate once more as it fled.
The realmship fled while the Hegemon pursued. Hegemon Azurefiend used his ropes to blaze a path for him, sweeping away all dangers. Although he furiously chased after Ning and felt quite familiar with his surroundings, he still remained quite cautious. This was one of the reasons why he was still alive despite having visited so many dangerous regions in so many realmverses.
“Perfect. Come closer.” Ning smiled merrily as he glanced backwards from within his ‘fleeing’ realmship. He knew the exact locations of all passageways, all ‘native’ mechanisms, and all Hegemon-emplaced traps. When he occasionally activated one of them by mistake, it was nothing more than a pretense!
“We’re arriving up ahead.” Ning felt quite eager… because a terrifying trap was not too far away from him. This was one of the most deadly traps located within the endless flaming passageways. The Sithe had once used it to trap cultivators, then sent them off to the prison regions. The power of this trap was so great that it could capture a Hegemon with ease. Even two or three Hegemons in a group would be caught.
However, a larger group of Hegemons meant that one Hegemon might fall into the trap while the others were still far away, due to them moving at different speeds. That would be troublesome, which was why Ning chose a single target this time.
“Time to catch a Hegemon.” Ning felt quite excited. In the past, he never would’ve dared to even imagine such a thing, but now that he was in control of the flaming passageways he did.
Swoosh! The realmship instantly flew past that dangerous mechanism, which remained unactivated. In recent years, Ning had maintained control over all of the most dangerous mechanisms and kept them in a deactivated state, not allowing them to unleash their full power. This was why the Hegemons hadn’t encountered any serious problems thus far. The ones that they did see were the ones which had been revealed long ago by others.
“Don’t even think of escaping. Your realmship is mine!” Hegemon Azurefiend furiously chased from behind, attempting to use his ropes to coil around the realmship from afar. Alas, Daolord Darknorth was simply too fast in escaping.
“And here we are. Right there.” Surrounding by the countless illusions of flaming passageways, Ning’s divine power clone had been watching this entire time from above the formation-diagram altar. It had watched as two specks of light had progressed through the passageway, the first being the realmship while the second being Hegemon Azurefiend.
“Activate!” Ning’s divine power clone instantly activated the terrifying mechanism via the formation-diagram, causing the power that had been hidden for all these years to suddenly explode forth with terrifying might.
Whoosh! Swish! Hegemon Azurefiend had been chasing after Ning at high speed, and he slammed right into the area of the mechanism.
Boom! A strange ripple of dimensional power suddenly appeared. Eight different places in that flaming passageway began to glow with light which came to form a vast, illusory cage in midair. The void cage completely trapped the charging Hegemon Azurefiend, who continued to fly forwards only to ram straight into the ‘membrane’ of the cage.
BOOM! Hegemon Azurefiend was sent staggering several steps backwards.
“Eh? What’s going on?” Hegemon Azurefiend suddenly turned pale, a look of shock and horror appearing on his face as he scanned his surroundings. He could clearly sense that he had been trapped within a void cage and see the continuously changing and transforming membranes around him.
“Break!” Hegemon Azurefiend reached out with his right hand, transforming it into a terrifyingly destructive claw that rent towards the void membrane. The void membrance made no sound at all. It simply flexed slightly like a bubble, easily deflecting his power without suffering any damage whatsoever.
Hegemon Azurefiend’s heart turned ice-cold. He had visited many places and seen many things, and so he instantly realized that even if he was ten times more powerful than he was right now, he still probably wouldn’t be able to defeat this void cage.
“How could there be a void cage here? This is impossible. I’ve traversed this passageway over ten times, and I’ve scouted out this place with my ropes right after the realmship flew past it. Neither the realmship nor my ropes activated the trap. Why did it activate as soon as I walked past it?” Hegemon Azurefiend could hardly believe it. “And I didn’t encounter it in the past either. Why did such a terrifying mechanism suddenly activate without any warning?”
It had been over a hundred thousand years. None of the Hegemons or Emperors had run into any trouble upon entering this place! If there were any particularly deadly traps here, then logically speaking some of the other Hegemons and Emperors should’ve been trapped long ago. However, there had been no word from anyone else in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance, which meant that the other Emperors were all fine.
“Why has it suddenly activated now when it wasn’t activated previously? Is there someone in control of them now?” Hegemon Azurefiend could think of no other possibilities.
Whoosh. The ‘fleeing’ realmship suddenly turned and flew back, coming to a halt outside the void cage. Two figures emerged from the realmship. One was a white-robed youth with a black sword sheath on his back, while the other was a furry, white-furred Sithe Protector.
“Daolord Darknorth.” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at the white-robed youth.
“Hegemon Azurefiend. This should be our first time actually meeting face-to-face.” Ning smiled.
“What, have you come to gloat now that I’ve fallen into this trap?” Hegemon Azurefiend said coldly.
Ning shook his head slowly. “No. I’ve come to rescue you.”
“Rescue me?” Hegemon Azurefiend’s face tightened.
“Right. I’d like to ask you a question. Would you like to live, or would you like to die?” Ning smiled as he looked at Hegemon Azurefiend.
These words stnnned Hegemon Azurefiend. He immediately called out in shock, “Y-you?! It was you?! The person controlling the mechanisms is you? I thought that some other Hegemon or major power was behind this trap. I didn’t expect it to be you, you puny little Daolord.”
As soon as he had fallen for the trap, he had calculated that it was most likely for someone to have actively unleashed thie mechanism. Otherwise, why would it have remained dormant for so long, ignoring both his ropes and the realmship but activating when he flew past? It had to be a formation that could be activated or deactivated as needed, which meant there had to be someone controlling it.
“Hmph. What price must I pay to leave this place?” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at Ning, his eyes flickering with cold light. His voice, however, remained quite calm.
“Simple. Be my retainer. I won’t ask for too long; 108,000 chaos cycles will do,” Ning said. “To a Hegemon like yourself, spending 108,000 chaos cycles wandering the outside world is nothing.”
“I… a Hegemon… serve you, a Daolord, as a retainer?” A furious look appeared in Hegemon Azurefiend’s eyes as he growled, “Don’t you think you are overestimating yourself a bit much?”
“I am indeed nothing more than a mere Daolord, but your fate, exalted Hegemon, is now under my control.” Ning stared intently at Hegemon Azurefiend.