Ji Ning didn’t hesitate at all. He was completely focused on his own path… the path of the Daomerge! With regards to the Daomerge, all external sources of help were still of secondary use. In the end, his own insights were what counted for the most!
Ning was unable to make further strides with his Omega Sword Dao. Even though he occasionally gained a few insights, they were scattered rather than systemized. This was why he had decided to emulate Autarch Bolin. Back when Autarch Bolin had been a Hegemon, he had gone out of his way to train in many other Daos. As he had raised nine different Daos to the Hegemonic level, he had gained so many scattered insights into the Dao of the Claw that in the end, they had allowed him to suddenly burst through his bottleneck and reach Autarchy, becoming one of the paramount leaders of the cultivator civilizations.
“I am quite similar to how Autarch Bolin was. I’m unable to make any further advancements in my Omega Sword Dao, and it’s also quite difficult to gain even scattered insights. However, all Daos are linked together. The more I train in other Daos, the better my chances of succeeding in the Daomerge for my Omega Sword Dao.” Ning calmed his mind and began to train in other Daos.
Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth, Formations, Space, Thunder, Illusions… he was quite accomplished in all of them already. Ning’s next target was the Dao of Wind.
Amongst Daos, there were certain groupings. For example, the Five Elements were viewed as one group, while ‘Wind Earth Fire Water’ was yet another grouping. Ning found it quite simple to train in Wind, especially after having acquired the Stonefire Pearl. He needed merely a single Chaos Cycle to train the Dao of Wind to the Archon level. Time, however, was even more difficult than Space.
Time flowed on like water. Ning’s black-robed Primaltwin constantly trained, while Ning’s true body began to rove the universe alongside Azurefiend, Whitethaw, and Flamewing. He had visited fairly few places within even just the Flamedragon Realmverse, after all. There were many dangerous places he had yet to visit. By visiting more places and seeing more things, he would be stimulated and have a better chance at an epiphany.
Ning had a realmship, was at the Hegemonic level of power, and also had Flamewing for protection. He only needed to spend around eighteen chaos cycles to completely go through all of the special ‘danger zones’ of the Flamedragon Realmverse. However, he had yet to truly traverse the Terror Starsea, which was filled with far too many dangers. That had been a battlefield of the Dawn War, after all. Even Flamewing would find itself easily caught by some of the dire traps located there.
After finishing his wanderings through the danger zones of the Flamedragon Realmverse, Ning began to wander through some ordinary chaosworlds and everworlds, living amongst ordinary mortals and countless aliens. Ning viewed them all from afar and up close.
Within an ordinary chaosworld. Thirty thousand years ago, a tremendous calamity had descended upon this world, causing its denizens to suffer countless casualties. This world had lost virtually all of its experts and many of its clans, and it was now thousands of times more difficult for mortals to cultivate to become Immortals.
“Old man, what do you think you can do? You are merely at the Houtian level, while I am as well. I’m just twenty years old but still couldn’t make the cutoff. Look at how old you are! What makes you think you can succeed?” A young man dressed in brocade who was within a teahouse was laughing and teasing an older man.
“The age cutoff this time is just fifty years, and one has to have reached the Xiantian level. You don’t fit either of the two criteria,” some of the longtime customers teased the teahouse owner.
“I heard that countless unaffiliated cultivators have been gathering within Pureplume City, located at the base of the mountain which houses the Pureplume Sect. By now, there are hundreds of thousands of them present. Just a few months remain before the great ceremony… most likely, by then nearly a million cultivators will have arrived to fight over the slots.”
“A million Xiantian experts fighting over a thousand honorary disciple slots? Uh… I can count the number of Xiantian experts in our little city on two hands. It is truly unfathomable that the Pureplume Sect can attract nearly a million cultivators when it openly recruits for new disciples.”
They all shook their heads and discussed this topic eagerly.
Several figures were seated in the corner of this teahouse. One was a white-robed youth, one was a chubby man, one was a skinny old man, and another was a muscular, honest-looking man who was clearly the bodyguard. The skinny old man looked like a steward, while the chubby man had to be a retainer. As for the white-robed youth, he had to be a young master of a clan. However, judging from how they dressed they had to be quite ordinary. It seemed unlikely that they were from a major clan or family.
The four were Ning and his three followers. Ning continued to eat while listening attentively.
“Don’t go, big brother.” A young man and woman were seated at a nearby table. The maiden was lively and dressed in green robes, and she was begging the man: “Big brother, you just broke through to the Xiantian level a short while ago and are merely at the early stage of it. Didn’t you hear? Nearly a million Xiantian experts have gathered there and all of them want to enter the Pureplume Sect! Peak-level Xiantian experts might stand a chance, while late-stage Xiantian experts can at least give it a try, but you are just an early-stage Xiantian cultivator! Going will be suicide!”
“Even if I risk my life, I have to go.” The youth gritted his teeth. “If I go, at least I have a chance at one day clearing the names of our parents and clan. If I don’t go, I’ll probably never be strong enough to gain revenge, and our clan shall forever bear the infamy of those lies. Father… mother… all the seniors of the clan… none of them will be able to rest in ease.”
“Big brother…” the green-robed maiden begged, “Let’s just find a quiet little place and live a peaceful life. What’s wrong with that?”
“You want me to swallow this feud and live a peaceful life? I can’t endure it.” The youth shook his head. “Give it up, little sister. We’re already quite close to Pureplume City. We’ve already spent three years on the road, and we’re finally about to reach our destination. You know you won’t change my mind.”
The green-robed maiden gnawed at her lips. “I... I only have you left, big brother.” The youth’s eyes reddened in response.
The two of them were also in a corner, and they spoke in hushed whispers. The people next to them were unable to hear what they were saying.
“Live a good life. If I can enter the Pureplume Sect, I’ll come find you one day.” The youth rose to his feet, then walked over to Ning’s table and said, “Brother Ning, we’ve travelled together for half a month. Today, we must part ways. Today’s drinks are on me! If fate wills it, we will meet again.”
“If fate wills it, we will meet again.” Ning smiled as he lifted up his own cup. “Brother Qu, I hope you will succeed in joining the Pureplume Sect.”
“I definitely will.” The youth’s eyes shone with great determination.
“Come, let me offer you a final toast prior to our parting.” As Ning spoke, he picked up two cups of wine and offered one to the youth.
The youth was slightly startled, but he still accepted it. “Cheers.” The youth immediately raised his head and drank the wine. As he did, a faint stream of light within the wine flowed into his body, invisibly and naturally coming to nest within his sea of consciousness.
“Time to go.” The youth put down the cup of wine, then turned and left.
Ning revealed a hint of a smile as ‘brother Qu’ left. He had spent nearly twenty chaos cycles wandering through various ordinary chaosworlds, and he rarely revealed his power. He chose to act just like an ordinary mortal. Ning had met this youth previously while riding a ship alongside him. The two had shared a spirited conversation while drinking one night on the ship, and thus they had travelled together until today.
“Little sister Qu.” Ning walked over to the young maiden’s table. The young maiden’s eyes were rather red and wet.
“Big brother Ning,” the green-robed maiden said.
“Your big brother will definitely join the Pureplume Sect, and he might become one of the most incredible cultivators in their history. He’ll definitely come back and find you,” Ning said. “I want to offer you a toast as well.”
“Alright.” The green-robed maiden shared a cup with Ning as well, and once more that invisible essence of light slipped into her body via the wine.
A short while later, the green-robed maiden bade Ning farewell as she departed from the teanhouse. She was going to Pureplume City as well to watch what happened. She was worried about her big brother.
“Darknorth.” Azurefiend watched as the green-robed maiden departed, then walked over to Ning. Puzzled, he asked, “You’ve spent nearly twenty chaos cycles wandering through various ordinary worlds. You rarely show your power, and even when you do choose to help someone you merely provide them with a tiny bit of guidance. Why did you go out of your way to help these two so much? Not only did you begin an invisible process of completely transforming their bodies, you even bequeathed each of them them with a legacy.”
Ning laughed. In the past, he had merely provided a bit of guidance through karmic magic, using it to change a few mortal destinies. This time, however, he had indeed provided the two with an enormous amount of help. The help he had just provided was enough to allow these two to reach the absolute apex of this chaosworld with ease, and they would even have a chance to reach the World level.
“Haha, this is because today is the final day of my twenty chaos cycles of voyaging,” Ning said with a laugh. “Why can’t I have a bit of fun on my last day?”
“Last day?” Azurefiend, Whitethaw, and Flamewing all stared at Ning in surprise. They had spent nearly twenty chaos cycles wandering through mortal worlds. Why was today suddenly the final day?
“Yes. I’ve more or less finished my training.” Ning nodded.