The Hegemons and Emperors were scattered throughout the various flaming passageways. They were all able to hear what Ji Ning said, but none of them were in a rush to respond. Instead, they began to use their Primaltwins, avatars, retainers, and various communication methods back in the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance to discuss this matter amongst themselves.
“I heard Daolord Darknorth’s voice. He seems to be threatening us.”
“I heard it as well.”
“Right, I also heard him.”
“We were all able to hear him. It seems as though Daolord Darknorth’s voice has permeated every single part of the flaming passageways! This is proof that he does indeed exercise control over the flaming passageways.”
“Everyone, what do you think we should do? The flaming passageways are filled with such danger that even Hegemon Azurefiend was trapped. Any of us might fall as well. The only thing we can do seems to be stay where we are and not move at all.”
“Are we supposed to just bend over and admit defeat?”
“Don’t worry. We have so many Hegemons here, while Darknorth is nothing more than a single Daolord. He won’t dare to go too far.” The Hegemons and Emperors continued to discuss this matter amongst themselves.
Ning’s voice continued to echo through the flaming passageways: “Hegemons and Emperors, by now you should have already verified that I’m telling the truth.”
“Then what do you wish of us?”
“Go ahead and tell us what you want.”
The Hegemons and Emperors were all able to maintain their composure. They were all powerful lords and rulers in their own rights, after all.
“Haha, I, Daolord Darknorth, am not the wild and unbridled sort.” Ning’s laughter rang out within the ears of every single Hegemon and Emperor. “I won’t ask for too much. You’ve come here to kill me and take my treasures, and I hear that you all came via realmship. I imagine you already paid quite a price just to make it here. All you need to do is pay me the same price you paid to travel to the Flamedragon Realmverse, and I’ll permit you all to leave.”
“This bit of price might pain you a bit, but it’s not too excessive. If you are willing to pay the price, I’ll immediately let you leave. If you are unwilling to pay any price whatsoever… well, then there’ll be nothing I can do. I can’t just let you leave like this. I, Daolord Darknorth, am not someone to be abused by others without repercussion.” Ning’s voice echoed throughout every part of the flaming passageways.
This was a request which Ning had put quite a bit of thought into. Hegemon Azurefiend had already publicly revealed Ning’s abilities, making it so that all the Hegemons and Emperors would be on their guard. Some would even be temporarily immobilized, making it impossible for Ning to attack them for now. If pushed too hard, they could simply pay the price needed to ask Realmslord Windgrace to come over and rescue them one-by-one.
“Hmph. Daolord Darknorth… I’m impressed that a trifling Daolord like yourself was able to control the flaming passageways. However… now that we already know what you are capable of, you are no longer a threat to us.” Hegemon Dawnruler stood in the air within a flaming passageway: “If you are wise, you would immediately swear a lifeblood oath not to act against us and let us leave safely. That way, it can even be said that we are on friendly terms with each other! Otherwise… if you choose to antagonize all these Hegemons and Emperors, the repercussions shall be far beyond what a trifling Daolord like yourself can endure.”
“Daolord Darknorth, you might be forgetting something.” Hegemon Winterflame said in a cold voice, “Only part of the Hegemons and Emperors are trapped within the flaming passageway! A large number have yet to arrive. Once they do get here, they will travel together and work together. There’s no way the flaming passageways will be able to withstand the combined might of that many Hegemons and Emperors working in concert. They’ll be able to rescue all of us with ease, and you’ll be faced with over twenty Hegemons and many Emperors working together to hunt you down. You won’t even have a place to run. Even the flaming passageways of the Jadefire Realm will probably be rent asunder once more!”
“Daolord Darknorth, you should know your own limits.”
“Trying to threaten all of us Hegemons and Emperors at the same time? You really are quite bold.”
Quite a few of the Hegemons and Emperors began to speak out. Clearly, they were unwilling to bow their heads before a Daolord. If they were on their own and had been captured, they probably would’ve lowered their heads, admitted defeat, and then handed over some treasures. But given how many of them were trapped here together, they felt certain that Daolord Darknorth wouldn’t dare to offend them.
“Gentlemen, you came for me and are now trapped in the flaming passageways that I control. I need but nod and all of you can depart safely… but you aren’t willing to pay any price at all for that? Do you really think that I’m someone you can so easily mistreat? Hmph. Very well, then. I’ll meet you all one-by-one.” Ning fell silent, having nothing further to say.
Another part of the flaming passageways. Ning and Hegemon Azurefiend were seated together within Ning’s realmship, drinking some wine together.
“Hm? Not bad.” Hegemon Azurefiend took a sniff of the wine in his glass, a relaxed look on his face. He then took a single small sip.
“How’d it go? Didn’t work, did it?” Hegemon Azurefiend smirked.
“They are all tough old bastards. They weren’t willing to pay any price at all.” Ning drank some wine, a cold light flashing through his eyes. “It seems I’ve been too nice to them. They really do think I’m a pushover.”
“So you’ve finally thought it through, eh?” Hegemon Azurefiend lidded his eyes as he continued to drink the wine.
Ning glanced at Azurefiend. The skinny, shriveled old man looked so vulgar and obscene as he enjoyed his wine, but he was actually an incredibly powerful Chaos Godbeast Hegemon who was close to Hegemon Brightshore in power! Still, Ning was in a superb mood. Now that Azurefiend was his retainer, it would be much easier for him to deal with Archon Silksnow’s final act of revenge.
“Let’s go and meet with them. Let’s visit Hegemon Dawnruler first,” Ning said.
Swoosh. The realmship transformed into a streak of light that advanced through the flaming passageways, darting through the winding paths at incredible speeds without encountering any mechanisms at all.
“I never would’ve imagined that one would be able to travel through these flaming passageways in such a smooth, unimpeded fashion. We didn’t run into any problems at all.” Hegemon Azurefiend stared at the outside, then sighed, “When I was chasing after you, it appears you intentionally ‘ran into’ a few traps. I was quite excited when I saw it, back then. It appears you were playing with me the entire time.”
“I had no choice. I wasn’t strong enough to deal with you head-on, and so I had to play a few tricks with my control over the flaming passageways. Now that I’m strong enough, there’s no need for me to continue to play hide-and-seek.” Ning sighed. “With you here, brother Azurefiend, I can finally bring a true end to this matter.”
“Mm.” Hegemon Azurefiend nodded in a self-satisfied manner, showing not one ounce of humility. “Now that I am your retainer… once word spreads, the Hegemons and Emperors will all be dissuaded from even harboring designs on your realmship.”
If a Hegemon held a realmship, the other Hegemons wouldn’t think to try and take it. This was because killing a Hegemon was simply far too difficult. Generally speaking, it would take either an Otherverse Lord or an entire host of Hegemons working together to accomplish such a feat. Kill a Hegemon who had a realmship? That would be even more difficult.
“Here we are.” Ning stared towards the front.
“Ah, that’s Dawnruler.” Azurefiend grinned as he glanced towards the front as well. “That old fellow has always been quite proud.”
Ning relaxed a bit upon seeing this. He was worried that Hegemon Azurefiend would care so much about his face that he wouldn’t cooperate. Ning’s worry was that even after becoming his retainer, Hegemon Azurefiend would feel embarrassed upon encountering other Hegemons that he would feel a bit uncomfortable and out-of-sorts. This was something Ning didn’t wish to see! In truth, however, as a Hegemon Azurefiend had an incredibly powerful Dao-heart. Since he had already come to a decision, he was going to accept it with a calm heart.
“Come, let us go out,” Azurefiend said.
“Let’s go.” Ning rose to his feet as well. Ning, Azurefiend, and Whitethaw simultaneously flew out of the realmship.
A golden-robed elder with three eyes was standing there, a solemn look on his face as he stared at the halted realmship. Hegemon Dawnruler was an extremely inflexible, grim, and dominating Hegemon. This was why he had immediately led the other Hegemons in immediately refusing Ning’s request for a price to be paid.
“Eh?” Hegemon Dawnruler frowned slightly when he saw three figures fly towards him from afar.
Ning and Azurefiend were shoulder-to-shoulder, while Whitethaw was slightly behind Ning.
“Azurefiend?” Hegemon Dawnruler frowned as he spoke.
“Dawnruler.” Hegemon Azurefiend said, “You already know the request which Darknorth has made. I urge you to be a good boy and accept it. That way, you’ll be able to leave safely and without any problems.”
“You are speaking on his behalf?” Hegemon Dawnruler frowned, completely mystified. “Is this the price he demanded of you? Based on my understanding of you, there’s no way you would’ve agreed to the demands of a Daolord.”
“I’ve already sworn a lifeblood oath to become Daolord Darknorth’s retainer,” Hegemon Azurefiend said. “As his retainer, I naturally must assist him whole-heartedly.”
“Y-you…” Hegemon Dawnruler’s third eye bulged out in disbelief. He had been alive for countless aeons, but he had never even heard of such a thing. He stared at Hegemon Azurefiend in disbelief. “Azurefiend, you are a Hegemon… but you’ve become a retainer to a trifling Daolord?”
Once word of this spread, it would undoubtedly cause an enormous stir in all the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance. In fact, word might spread to even more distant realmverses and otherverses!