Ji Ning led Whitethaw into the dimensional tear, going through it and reaching a sealed pocket dimension. This pocket dimension merely covered an area of thirty thousand meters, and it had an enormous black altar within it. Ning and Whitethaw both descended upon the black altar.
“Master,” Whitethaw said. “The Sithe used this place to control the entire Jadefire Realm. Every part of it was under their control.”
“Oh?” Ning swept the area with his gaze. The black altar was quite large, the size of a enormous plaza. Its surface was covered with incomparably complex and marvelous vein lines, all of which came together to form an absolutely enormous flower in full bloom which was surrounded by blazing flames. The pattern of the flames continuously changed at all times, never quite seeming to duplicate a previously used pattern.
“Eh?” Ning was instantly intrigued by it. “That’s the formation-diagram,” Ning murmured softly. “The flames surrounding the outermost layer are being used to represent the pathways that can be taken out of the Jadefire Realm! The pathways are continuously changing and will never repeat… if you aren’t able to find the way out, you’ll be trapped inside forever! This is why it is so easy to enter but so hard to leave.”
“The petals… they represent the countless flaming passageways! They are filled with various traps and mechanisms that can probably be controlled through this formation diagram. As for the stamen… I can vaguely make out seven colors which must represent the countless cells of the seven prisons inside this place.” To try and rescue Ninedust, Ning had spent quite some time examining the prisons of this place in detail. Thus, as soon as he saw the formation-diagram he immediately understand what it represented.
“Master, is this of use to you?” Whitethaw immediately asked.
“Of some use, but this formation-diagram is far too complex. It seems to hold some of the mysteries of the Dao of Fire… but it also involves mysteries of the Dao of the Void. It merges the two together! But that’s just secondary. What really matters is that it represents an extremely high level of mastery of the Dao of Formations.” Ning shook his head. “The problem is, these are based off unique formations which only the Sithe know. They are completely different from the ones we cultivators use.”
It was extremely strange. Just looking at the formations, Ning could sense a dark, clammy aura sweep towards him and generate an aura of uncontrollable fear. This was a terrifying formation, a formation capable of unleashing a ‘Decimatus Wave’. In truth, even the Sithe had to rely on special techniques to assert control over this formation-diagram, and the controller didn’t understand it all that well.
The problem was, Ning didn’t know those special control techniques. That meant he would have to truly understand it and then unlock it, which would be as hard as anything.
“If I want to save Ninedust, I have to master this formation-diagram,” Ning said softly. Previously, Ning had already completely searched through the cells. He felt that the formations within the prison were simply too complex; there was no way he could make any head or tail of them at all. Everything was shrouded in mist! Now, the formation-diagram controlling everything was before him, and he was able to inspect it in detail… but this only inspired even greater despair. “The prison region…” Ning stared at the ‘stamen’ part of the prison region, increasingly aware of how complex it was.
Ning shook his head, then stared at the flames which flickered at the outermost areas of the giant formation-diagram. These represented the exits from the Jadefire Realm.
“Eh?” Ning’s eyes suddenly lit up. “These… these flames…” A light went off in Ning’s head as he thought back to something he had seen before. In the first palace of the Azureflower Estate, Autarch Awakener had gathered together countless techniques from both the cultivator civilization as well as the Sithe. Ning had memorized all of those techniques, and one of the Sithe techniques which Autarch Awakener had retrofitted had included many different formations. Ning immediately recognized that these flames were a fairly simple variant of the recorded formation!
In truth, the Seven Flaming Hells’ formation-diagram was one of the most secret and hidden formation-diagrams of the entire Sithe race. There was no way they would publicize its internal secrets. Not even Autarch Awakener had been able to acquired detailed information about such a thing. However… Autarch Awakener had acquired many other formations from the Sithe, including some that belonged to the same ‘school’.
“Ah…” Ning began to grin openly, revealing his pearly white teeth. “Hahaha. A glimmer of hope when all hope seems lost.” Ning quickly began to sort through the details of that technique he saw, as did his Primaltwin.
In just the time needed to boil a kettle of tea, Ning was able to completely comprehend and see through the outermost layer of flames which covered the entire vast formation.
“So that’s how the exits work.” Ning casually waved his finger at one part of the flames. The flames there continued to change and twist about, but now everything was under Ning’s control.
“Freeze.” Ning’s will entered the formation-diagram, and with but a thought the flames that had been twisting and distorting freely began to move and change in accordance with Ning’s will.
Rumble… a series of images began to appear in the empty space surrounding Ning. These were illusory projections from the countless flames which represented the outer layer of the entire Jadefire Realm, including its entrances! All of the countless flames in the outmost layer were now under Ning’s complete control, including the various exits. The flames rumbled and thundered under Ning’s control as he guided them to change formations and locations. Clearly, by thoroughly understanding the outermost layers of flames, it was possible to take control of the outermost formations even if the special control techniques had not been studied.
“Congratulations, Master! Felicitations!” Whitethaw said hurriedly.
“I’m not even close to where I need to be. I’ve only taken control over the outermost layer.” Ning shook his head. “I have to control the entire thing if I want to be able to rescue Ninedust.”
“This formation-diagram is divided up into three parts. The outermost layer are the flames, the central layer includes the flower petals, and the ‘stamen’ lies at the core.” Ning stared intently at the formation-diagram. “The closer to the core we go, the more difficult it will be. That tiny little flower stamen shall be the most difficult to master of all; once I master that, I’ll have the entire formation-diagram under my control.”
“Now, I’ve defeated the outermost layer of flames. What of the flower petals?” Ning looked at the flower petals, which corresponded to the countless flaming passageways. “This is clearly going to be much more difficult…” Ning frowned.
Ning began to analyze the Sithe formation techniques he had available. Although his Primaltwin was assisted by the Autarch’s stone dais and was able to train incredibly quickly, the ‘flower petals’ formation was clearly thousands of times more complex and profound than the ‘writhing flames’ formation.’
Time passed on, one day after the other. Ning’s Primaltwin had temporarily brought a halt to its training in the Dao of Water as it focused completely on the Dao of Formations, specifically the branch of it pertaining to the formation-diagram of the Seven Flaming Hells.
“This ‘flower petal’ formation will take me a few hundred thousand years to comprehend.” After spending some time on it, Ning began to understand. Although Autarch Awakener had collected many Sithe formations which could be compared with each other, and although Ning was both talented and had the Autarch’s stone dais which allowed him to be in a constant prajna-like state, it would still take him hundreds of thousands of years to understand this thing.”
“Then what of the ‘flower stamen’ formation which represents the prison region? That’s the real core of the Seven Flaming Hells.” Ning stared at the ‘flower stamen’ at the very center of the enormous, beautiful blooming flower formation before him. Only by mastering that would he be able to take control over the prisons and rescue Ninedust.
The coiling flames were easy. The flower petal formation was hard. The flower stamen formation was the hardest, so much so that Ning couldn’t even estimate how long he would need to master it. One chaos cycle? Ten? Ning still wasn’t sure if that would be enough.
“Seven Flaming Hells, eh?” Ning closed his eyes and started to meditate. “One step at a time.”
While Ning focused on training in the Sithe’s Dao of Formations, the Endless Territories remained in a state of tumult due to Archon Silksnow’s death.
Within a vast everworld. This was a place where countless races lived and thrived, all of them winged. They soared through the skies, the undisputed lords of this everworld.
Whoosh. A figure descended from a dimensional rift. It was a blood-robed elder who emanated the foul odor of blood as he swept the vast everworld before him with his evil gaze.
“Goldisle, my old friend,” the blood-robed elder called out, sending a stream of godsense out to encompass this entire world.
“Eh?” A streak of golden light appeared, forming into a bald, gold-furred alien. This was one of the two supreme leaders of the Dao Alliance of the Endless Territories, Emperor Goldisle. Emperor Goldisle had established this everworld for the members of his race to live in, and his avatar was permanently stationed here. Given his power and how his avatar could link into the many formations protecting his home, most likely the only ones in the Endless Territory who would dare to cause trouble here would be the Hegemons.
“Bloodcloud.” Emperor Goldisle frowned as he looked at the man.
“Brother Goldisle.” Emperor Bloodcloud smiled, which just made him look even fiercer and savager than usual. “I’ve come because there’s something I need to ask you to help me out with, brother Goldisle.”
“Need my help?” Emperor Goldisle chuckled. “What, now that Silksnow is dead, you Emperors are leaderless and rudderless. Are you frightened and wish for my protection?” In truth, Emperor Goldisle had no desire to bother with these evil men.
“Afraid? You think I would feel afraid?” Red light shone in Emperor Bloodcloud’s eyes as he growled, “I, Bloodcloud, swear on my very life itself that what I’m going to report is complete true and without falsehood…”
Emperor Goldisle was startled.
“Do you know how Silksnow actually died and why?” Bloodcloud looked at Emperor Goldisle. “I’ll explain in detail…” And so, Emperor Bloodcloud explained the entire sequence of events from start to finish.
“…So the realmship is now in Daolord Darknorth’s hands?!” An astonished look appeared in Emperor Goldisle’s eyes. “I-i-is this for real?” But he immediately fell silent; the man had just sworn a lifeblood oath in front of him! “So that’s the real reason. Silksnow actually had a realmship, and now it has actually fallen into Daolord Darknorth’s possession.” The implications of this were simply far too stunning.
A realmship! Who wouldn’t be intrigued by it, driven mad with lust for it? The combined treasures of all three Hegemons of the Flamedragon Realmverse weren’t even close to the value of a realmship. Archon Silksnow had been unspeakably lucky to aquire it, and he had been extremely low-key, ensuring that no one found out. Now that he was dead, it had fallen into Ji Ning’s hands. In truth, the reason he fell was that he was unable to escape from within all of those barriers and traps. Knowing that his death was certain, he had chosen to tell Emperor Bloodcloud all about it.
“Emperor Goldisle, I wish for you to spread this information to the other realmverses the Dao Alliance is in,” Emperor Bloodcloud is. “Make it public.”
“You---!” Emperor Goldisle’s face tightened.
“All you need to do is to make it public. I trust those Hegemons and major powers will definitely travel towards us at maximum speed, sparing no expense.” Emperor Bloodcloud smiled, a look of madness in his eyes. “Brother Goldisle, we Emperors are also members of the Dao Alliance. It should be able to help us send this information out, yes?”
“Yes.” Emperor Goldisle nodded. As the leader of the Dao Alliance, he had to follow certain rules which the Dao Alliance had long ago laid out. All Emperors of the Dao Alliance could request for him to send out messages on their behalf.
“I’ll send word of this to all sixteen of the realmverses in our alliance,” Emperor Goldisle said. “However, Darknorth is also a member of the Dao Alliance. I’ll notify him as well.”