“Now this is a deadly problem.” Ji Ning had just encountered the greatest obstacle within the Daomerge thus far.
Why was it that Daolords all wished for the chance to completely simulate the Daomerge? It was so that they would have sufficient experience for the real thing. A mistake in the simulated Daomerge could be fixed in the real one.
Alas, even the Daomerge Firecloud Flower could only simulate a partial Daomerge for an Omega Dao. It could only simulate the Daomerge up to the point where the bud first formed! In other words, the only real benefit it brought to Ning was that it had saved him three years worth of time; it hadn’t given him a chance to actually compensate for any mistakes or errors! And now, as a result, the completely unprepared Ning now encountered an enormous problem which he had to resolve.
“If I wish to succeed in the Daomerge for the Omega Sword Dao, I must also master the fifteenth stance of the [Heartsword] art!” After spending half a year slowly blooming his Flower of Eternity, he immediately realized this problem.
Ning had originally thought that the [Heartsword] art was just a type of special technique that combined heartforce, divine power, and Immortal energy. He didn’t believe that it had anything to do with his Omega Sword Dao… but now that he had actually initiated the Daomerge, he realized that he was wrong!
It was connected! In fact, it was connected in a very important way!
Ordinary Emperors and even Hegemons didn’t need to worry about techniques like the [Heartsword] art during their Daomerges, but Ning was different; his path was that of the Omega Sword Dao!
“The [Heartsword] art focuses on training the heart, the heart of the sword. The more sincere one’s heart is towards the sword, the more perfectly one can merge heartforce, divine power, and Immortal energy. I was only able to master the fourteenth stance of the [Heartforce] art because I realized that Yu Wei would not come back to life, and thus I came to understand the essence of ‘Remorseless Unto Death’. I poured everything into the sword without any remorse… but that isn’t enough. Although a sword-heart like this is enough to merge divine power, heartforce, and Immortal energy to a very high degree… it still isn’t enough.”
“I need a truly perfect and complete sword-heart! Only then can I also have a perfect, Eternal Omega Sword Dao.”
He only came to understand this during the Daomerge itself. The many insights he had gained into the Dao of the Sword would form the ‘body’ of his Eternal Omega Sword Dao, while his perfect sword-heart would form its ‘soul’. Only then would it be fully formed! Only then would it become a true and truly terrifying Eternal Omega Sword Dao.
This was why the [Heartsword] art was so marvelous, and why it allowed for one to merge all types of energy together, resulting in every single attack increasing explosively in might.
“There’s a limit to how long the Daomerge can take. I have to comprehend the fifteenth stance of the [Heartsword] art. If I cannot, I’ll definitely fail the Daomerge.” When Ning came to understand this, his face instantly turned pale. There wasn’t enough time! The fifteenth stance of the [Heartsword] art was incredibly difficult.
In truth, the [Heartsword] art was just a sword-focused energy-combining technique which Emperor Heartsword had created. There had been other major powers in the vast Chaosverse who had done the same. Ning didn’t really need the technique itself; what he needed to do was to truly perfect his sword-heart.
Whoosh. One technique after another flickered through Ning’s mind. These were the various similar techniques which had been created by the cultivator civilizations as well as the Sithe.
“What should I do? How should I make the breakthrough to the next level?” Although the state he was in during the Daomerge allowed breakthroughs to come much more easily, he still wasn’t able to find the key to the fifteenth stance.
“Wrong. Wrong. Wrong! The [Heartsword] art and the other techniques all came as a result of the unique hearts and minds produced by the experiences these various major powers had.” Ning’s eyes suddenly lit up. “In the end, they reached perfection… but they each walked their own paths! Every single cultivator will have different mental and spiritual experiences. If you try to force yourself to emulate their paths, you might be able to reach an extremely high level but you’ll never reach perfection.”
“This is why, despite the passage of so many chaos cycles, there has been no one save Emperor Heartsword who was able to master the fifteenth stance of the [Heartsword] art. That’s because one has to find one's own sword-heart in order to reach this stance!”
The prajna-state Ning was currently in was an extraordinary one, and he was able to quickly identify where the problem lay.
In the early stages, the [Heartsword] art might’ve allowed him to walk faster along his path, but the farther along the path Ning went, the more of an obstacle the [Heartsword] art became. Thus, he had to discard it… because it represented Emperor Heartsword’s sword-heart!
“Then what of my own sword-heart?” Ning began to reminisce about all the experiences he had undergone through countless years of cultivation, as well as the many times he had trained in the sword.
Slowly… Ning began to understand.
One day. Two days. Three days. One month. Two months. One year. Two years…
The Daomerge allowed for a Daolord to enter the most incredible and marvelous meditative state known to cultivators. This wasn’t the first time Ning had thought back to his memories and his life, but now that he was in the middle of the Daomerge the insights he gained were naturally different.
“Yes… long, long ago, I once lived a life that was without worries and carefree. That was back when my mother and father were teaching me. In the West Prefecture City of the Ji clan, I trained with them in sword-arts. I was so happy back then. I simply loved sword-arts; that was all there was to it.
“When did it all change? All kinds of different competing desires arose in my heart and in my cultivation of the sword. I sought to train in the sword to take revenge for my parents, to become famous in the Grand Xia, to kill the Godking and take my revenge, to revive Yu Wei… I entrusted all of my hopes to the sword, wishing to use it to make all of my hopes real. In doing so, my sword-heart actually became impure.”
“Even when I reached the stage of ‘Remorseless Unto Death’, my remorselessness stemmed from my emotions and my love of Yu Wei, not for the love of the sword itself. But…
“In truth, I really do love the sword as well.”
If he didn’t love the Dao of the Sword from the very depths of his being, there was no way he could’ve embarked upon the path of the Omega Sword Dao and reached his current heights. However, all of the many hopes and fears he had entrusted to the sword had resulted in his sword-heart becoming impure.
Ning suddenly thought of something which Autarch Titanos had told him: “Foolish child… sometimes, you have to learn when to let go. On the path of cultivation, excessive obsession can sometimes result in self-destruction.”
Ning had suddenly awoken to the truth. It was a true moment of epiphany! After spending three years of the Daomerge going through his many memories, he felt as though he had revisited his entire life… and as a result, he had truly awoken.
“Even if I cast aside everything, including all of my hopes and fears, I would still love the sword. I love it simply because I love it; there’s no need for any other reason. The Dao of the Sword is a vast and boundless one which allows me to experience many new things. Of course I love it. Why wouldn’t I?”
Both the white-robed Ning and the black-robed Ning opened their eyes to stare forwards.
In front of each of them, a stream of sword-light manifested. The sword-light flew out in a beautiful, natural, and transcendent way. There were no strong emotions attached to it, no grief, no sorrow, no madness… it simply flew forward, illuminating everything around it with its brilliance.
“One Sword, One World.” Ning smiled. He knew that his sword-heart had reached the level of true perfection. In fact, he now suspected that Emperor Heartsword himself must have mastered the ‘One Sword, One World’ stance during the Daomerge as well. For those who had chosen a weaker Sword Dao, simply possessing a perfect sword-heart would allow for one to succeed in the Daomerge, even if one’s Dao of the Sword was flawed!
Emperor Heartsword’s Sword Dao wasn’t a particularly impressive one, but he had a perfect sword-heart and as a result had succeeded in the Daomerge.
Ning now had a perfect sword-heart as well… but he was attempting to master an Eternal Omega Sword Dao. A perfect sword-heart was just one component!
“My sword-heart has been perfected.” Ning immediately continued to the next stage of his Daomerge, causing the Flower of Eternity to continue its blooming once more. Now that he had a perfect sword-heart, the Flower of Eternity seemed to have gained a spirit, and it rustled in his soul much like a true flower would in the outside world.
“It’s nearly been nine years.”
“The Daomerge can at most last for nine years. Daolord Darknorth’s Daomerge must be coming to an end soon.”
“I wonder if he will succeed or fail.” Within the Vastheaven Everworld, the Hegemons and the Icepeak Army were all waiting. The other Eternal Emperors, such as Daoist Bluestone, Emperor Goldisle, and Emperor Blackcloud were all waiting nervously as well.
It had indeed been nearly nine years since Ning had unleashed that wave of terrifying presence.
“Perhaps the Daomerge time limit for Omega Daos is longer than normal?” Hegemon Netherlily suggested curiously.
“Who knows?” Hegemon Brightshore shook his head.
“Let’s just wait. We’ll see a result soon,” Hegemon Windrain said.
All of the Hegemons and Emperors were waiting, as were Hegemon Azurefiend, Flamewing, Emperor Solesky, Su Youji, Pillsaint, and Ning’s disciples and fellow apprentices within Vastheaven Palace. All of them were extremely nervous.
“I’m almost out of time.” The white-robed Ning in Vastheaven Palace and the black-robed Ning in the Azureflower Estate both knew that they only had nine years for the Daomerge. The Daomerge Firecloud Flower had saved them three years of time, but they had wasted three more in perfecting the Dao-heart.
The Flower of Eternity slowly continued to bloom. There could be no mistakes at all right now.
“Time for the final push.” Ning could sense the growth of the Flower of Eternity within the Dao-tree in his body, and could also sense how his godgems had reconfigured themselves. It was time to take the final step.
In his heart, he already had a complete structure for his Eternal Omega Sword Dao. Whether or not it was the correct one could only be ascertained through actually using it in the Daomerge.
“There are no mistakes. Such a perfect Dao has to be worthy of eternity.” Ning was filled with confidence, but since he hadn’t had the chance to simulate a Daomerge he had to be absolutely correct in order to succeed. The slightest of errors would result in failure.
“I’m out of time. There’s no way to stop the Daomerge. Time for the final step!”
Ning willed it, and with a rumble his Flower of Eternity went into full bloom, revealing dazzling amounts of radiance. The godgems in his body instantly went into a brand new configuration as well.
Would the result be eternity? Or a withering?