A young man and woman were standing side-by-side upon the Stairway to Heaven. The stairways were incredibly vast and covered with vague sword-scars. Ji Ning had left them here in order to benefit the World-level cultivators who were selected to take part in the tournament. As for how much benefit they would gain from it, that would be up to their own comprehension abilities.
“Absolutely incredible.” The youth and the maiden were staring upwards at the sword-scars above the stairs.
“Boundless, even the sword-scars which Daolord Darknorth left behind in a casual manner are filled with unfathomable profundity. Even if we don’t manage to become apprenticed to him or the other major powers, just having viewed them here at the Stairway to Heaven means it was all worth it,” the white-robed maiden said.
The youth nodded. Both of them knew their own limits. Although they were excellent figures in the world at large, here at the Stairway to Heaven they were ranked close to the bottom. However, as they ascended the Stairway to Heaven and viewed more and more of the sword-scars they were beginning to skyrocket in power.
As the controller of the Stairway to Heaven, Ning made sure that they weren’t given ridiculously powerful opponents. Only the weakest would be washed out, while the strongest would be able to walk farther and farther. Ning wanted to make sure that the strongest wouldn’t run into each other and then be washed out early.
Time passed on, one year after another. The World-level cultivators all moved quite slowly up the Stairway to Heaven, as all of them wished to meditate on the mysteries hidden within the sword-scars. Each battle meant that they might lose and be forced to leave, and so they were all quite slow and cautious.
Ten thousand years had passed since their arrival at the Stairway to Heaven.
“Boundless, you’ve now mastered two Supreme Daos? You were faster than me!” the maiden said jubilantly.
“Muse, you were one step ahead of me in mastering the first Supreme Dao.” The youth smiled as he looked at the maiden. Everyone could easily tell how deeply they loved each other.
The two had arisen together step-by-step from the mortal world. The maiden had once been young master Boundless’ maidservant, and she had been given the name of ‘Muse’. Muse had been born with an incredible soul-physique and had been selected and taken away by an Immortal to a so-called ‘Immortal Realm’. As for young master Boundless, he continued to struggle his way through the mortal world, eventually clambering into the path of Immortal cultivation as well.
After countless battles and tempering experiences, he managed to dazzle everyone as he ascended into the Immortal realm, where he finally met his former maidservant ‘Muse’ once more. The two even had a child together! Eventually, the two ascended to the World-level almost simultaneously, and to this very day they were the only World-level cultivators their homeland had ever produced.
Muse was a Chaos Immortal, while young master Boundless was a dual refiner; both a Ki Refiner and a Fiendgod Body Refiner. As a result, both had Primaltwins which they had left behind in their homelands.
They were a pair of divine lovers, and together they departed from their homeland to wander the Chaosverse, encountering quite a few fortuitous events in the process. The story of how the legendary Daolord Darknorth was going to accept disciples on behalf of his master was an earth-shattering piece of news, resulting in them deciding to take part as well.
“I admit defeat!” Muse’s sword-formation had been overcome by her opponent. She knew that she no longer had any chance, and so she immediately and voluntarily admitted defeat.
After the battle. “Boundless, I lost. Be careful as you proceed up the Stairway. If you are unable to win, just admit defeat.” Muse could sense how the Stairway to Heaven was becoming increasingly difficult, and so she wanted to admonish her Dao-companion.
“I know.” Boundless nodded.
Half a month later, Boundless and Muse reunited at the base of the Stairway. “He was just too powerful. Not only was he an Ancient cultivator, he had even reached a higher level of comprehension than I did. I was thoroughly convinced by my defeat.” Boundless shook his head, then said helplessly, “I thought that the two of us could be considered quite talented and would attract some attention from one of the major powers watching, or perhaps a Daolord of the Fourth Step… but who would’ve thought that not a single one would reach out to us?”
“I waited for half a month at the base of the Stairway without anyone coming to meet me either.” Muse nodded.
Both were proud and talented figures, the only World-level cultivators their homeland had ever produced. They had benefited greatly from this experience, but in the end no major powers had come to take them on as disciples.
“Let’s wait for a while longer. Perhaps there will be a Daolord who takes interest in us,” Boundless said.
“Alright, let’s wait.” Muse held onto hope as well. Having a good master could make all the difference in the world. Neither Boundless nor Muse had received any guidance from a Daolord, and thus they knew almost nothing at all about the Endless Territories as a whole.
“Hey there, kids.” A voice suddenly rang out. Boundless and Muse both turned to look, rather excited and eager. Had a major power just chosen them? Who was it? Was it a Daolord of the Fourth Step, or perhaps even an Eternal Emperor? Or could it be a Hegemon… or perhaps even Daolord Darknorth? Although they knew rationally that it was unlikely someone particularly powerful had chosen them, they still clung onto their hopes and dreams.
They saw a white-robed youth walking towards them from afar. His aura was quite unique, and he didn’t give them any sense of pressure at all. He seemed quite… ordinary.
“A Daolord?” Both Boundless and Muse felt rather disappointed. It was still fairly easy to distinguish a Daolord’s aura from an Eternal Emperor’s aura. Every single Eternal Emperor emanated an aura that had the scent of ‘eternity’ about it, an aura that whispered that time had no hold over this person.
Moments later, they quickly regained their usual calm. They were still quite pleased, to tell the truth; perhaps the Daolords who chose disciples here were the weakest masters available, but at least the two of them had been chosen! If no one had chosen them at all, they really would’ve felt saddened.
“You two have superb comprehension of the sword,” Ning congratulated with a smile. Indeed, they were quite impressive.
As far as growth went, Boundless and Muse could actually be ranked in the top ten amongst the World-level cultivators who had come here and learned from the sword-scars. It must be remembered that he knew that the other powers would also be interested in taking on disciples, which was why he had merely required all of the World-level cultivators be ‘skilled in the sword’, rather than exclusively focus on the Dao of the Sword. Thus, there were (for example) some incredibly talented figures who were skilled in swordplay, but whose true forte lay in the Dao of Spacetime, in the Dao of the Saber, or even heartforce!
Of those who focused on the Dao of the Sword, Muse and Boundless had grown and improved faster than everyone else. Ning was able to tell at a glance that the two hadn’t received the proper tutelage, which was why they had improved at such a rapid pace. When Ning saw them, he felt like he saw the mirror images of himself when he had first left the Three Realms.
It was only after Ning had joined the Twelve Palaces of Brightshore that he developed a Supreme Dao, and it wasn’t until he had entered the alternate universe that he had mastered fused Supreme Daos.
In addition, Boundless and Muse were so close to each other that Ning couldn’t help but think back to the feelings he and Yu Wei had shared for each other. “What a pity,” Ning sighed to himself. If she was still alive, perhaps the two of them could adventure the Chaosverse together, just like Boundless and Muse.
“Are the two of you willing to enter my tutelage?” Ning asked.
“Senior, are you skilled in the Dao of the Sword?” Muse asked.
Ning nodded. As he did so, he caused a terrifyingly powerful aura of sword-intent to emanate from his body, an aura so strong that both Boundless and Muse felt their hearts quiver. However, they didn’t truly understand what this aura entailed. They were merely a pair of inexperienced World-level cultivators, after all; in their eyes, all Daolords of the Fourth Step were terrifyingly powerful. They only felt that Ning was terrifyingly strong, capable of wiping them out with just a fraction of his might.
Boundless and Muse exchanged a glance, then immediately knelt down: “Your disciples greet you, Master.”
“Mm.” Ning nodded. “Follow me, then.” An invisible dimensional ripple swept across the two of them. Ning took a single step forwards, shuttling through spacetime and arriving back at the place where the Hegemons and the Emperors were all gathered together.
“Congratulations, Daolord Darknorth, on having accepted some fine disciples.” The Hegemons and Emperors were all laughing and congratulating Ning as they glanced at the two young fellows standing behind them. They couldn’t help but secretly sigh at how incredibly lucky those two young fellows were! Instead of choosing more powerful cultivators, Ning had actually ended up choosing this pair of Dao-companions.
Ning returned to sit in the lotus position atop his cloud, with Hegemon Netherlily, Hegemon Windrain, and Hegemon Brightshore by his side. The four of them were seated the highest.
“B-but…” Boundless and Muse continued to stand behind Ning. They stared at the three awesome Hegemons next to them, then at the many Eternal Emperors below them. Every single person here emanated an aura of eternity. Even the most foolish of World-level cultivators would immediately understand that the many major powers standing subserviently before them were all Eternal Emperors… and so, Boundless and Muse instantly understood that they had just become apprenticed to the legendary Daolord Darknorth.
“W-we…” Boundless and Muse exchanged a glance. Both felt rather light-headed. The auras of the Hegemons and the many Eternal Emperors present were simply too oppressive.
“Master,” Boundless whispered softly.
“From this day forth, you shall be the fifth and sixth disciples under my tutelage,” Ning said.
Boundless and Muse instantly felt excited. Boundless asked, “Master, I heard you are taking on ten disciples in total?”
“No. Misinformation certainly spreads quickly.” Ning shook his head.
“All of you young fellows have been spreading all sorts of wild rumors around.” Hegemon Brightshore laughed merrily, “For this event, Darknorth is accepting disciples on behalf of his own teacher, which means those ten are technically just his junior apprentice brothers and sisters who he will teach in his teacher’s stead. As for the two of you? You are Daolord Darknorth’s personal disciples.”
Boundless and Muse turned to stare at the white-robed, white-haired old man next to them. They felt a sense of closeness and warmth radiating from him.
“Darknorth, how many disciples do you plan on selecting?” Brightshore asked. “If you are done picking, I’m going to start.”
“I’m done.” Ning nodded. “I’ll only choose these two from this event. I’ll pick ten junior apprentice-brothers and sisters at the very end.”
Although quite a few geniuses had taken part in this event, the only ones who had truly moved and intrigued Ning were Boundless and Muse. He felt as though he saw himself and Yu Wei in them, and so he had taken them on as his disciples! At Ning’s level, taking on a disciple was more a matter of personal feelings than anything else. For example, his second disciple ‘Green Bamboo’ Yang Quding had been nothing more than an ordinary mortal.
Ning didn’t keep his words private at all, allowing everyone to hear them. All the Emperors below him turned to stare towards Boundless and Muse with changed looks in their eyes. These two lucky kids! They don’t even know how lucky they are. Their master was someone who no one in all the Sixteen Realmverses Alliance would dare to offend, a peerless Daolord who caused even Hegemons to feel dread. He had set up this great tournament which covered the entire Flamedragon Realmverse… and in the end, the only two disciples he had chosen were the two of them.