Within the sea of the prime essences of the Chaosverse. Inside the wooden cottage.
Ji Ning and Autarch Skyfeeder were seated in the lotus position. They were going to patiently wait for the other Autarchs before talking business. While waiting, Ning began to discuss the Dao and its myriad mysteries with Autarch Skyfeeder.
Over two hours went past in the blink of an eye.
“Haha…” A thunderous laugh rang out, followed by the door swinging open and a muscular man dressed in loose green robes walking in. He had a pair of curved horns on his head, and his eyes were like an endlessly dark abyss. He emanated an aura of terrifying pressure that caused Ning to feel shocked, and his palms were quite large and thick.
“Daolord Darknorth.” The muscular man smiled when he saw Ning.
“Darknorth, this would be Autarch Ekong,” Autarch Skyfeeder introduced with a smile. “He is the only Autarch who rose from our civilization after the Dawn War against the Sithe concluded. He was incredibly talented and rose to become a Hegemon in a very short period of time. He caused quite a stir in his youth, and he has a rather special title – he is known as the Autarch of Annihilation.”
“I’m actually a fairly nice guy and I rarely kill people, but my path was that of the Destruction Daobirth Essence. That’s why I’m known as the ‘Autarch of Annihilation’,” the muscular Autarch Ekong said with a booming laugh. “You can just call me Ekong.”
“Ekong, hurry up and sit down,” Autarch Skyfeeder said. “Sit and chat with us.”
“I can’t help it! I’m so happy to meet Daolord Darknorth. Our civilization has finally given birth to a master of an Eternal Omega Dao.” Autarch Ekong sat down.
Ning couldn’t help but secretly sigh in approval. Every Autarch truly was an extraordinary figure. For example, Ning felt as though Autarch Skyfeeder was a transcendent figure that was quite unlike ordinary living beings; she was like the mother of all things who benevolently watched over all creation.
As for Autarch Ekong, he emanated a heroic aura that was tinged with a terrifying, all-encompassing dominance that whispered of a hidden potential for destruction.
“Ekong, you little drakeling! I can’t believe you actually got here faster than me.” The door swung open once more, followed by a bald, black-robed old man walking in with a smile on his face. The two fleshy antennae on his head twirled around, seemingly quite delighted.
“Old man, can you knock it off with the ‘little drakeling’ thing? Just because you started training a bit earlier than me…” Autarch Ekong said helplessly.
“It’s your own fault for calling me ‘old man’.” Autarch Titanos gave him a ‘hard’ look, then turned and beamed at Ning. “Darknorth, my young friend… we meet again.”
“Respectful greetings, Autarch Titanos.” Ning smiled.
“You’ve met?” Autarch Skyfeeder and Autarch Ekong were both surprised. Autarchs were quite hard to meet, and Ning had only trained for a fairly brief period of time. They had thought that Ning had never met with any Autarchs before.
“Yes indeed. My young friend Darknorth once asked me to help him reverse spacetime to revive his Dao-companion.” Autarch Titanos let out a sigh. “Alas… the chaosworld his Dao-companion resided within was a world that was created from the godgems left behind by ol’ Awakener after he died. In fact, it was a world created from TWO godgems that collided together. I’d probably kill myself trying to bring her back to life, and it still probably wouldn’t work.”
Skyfeeder and Ekong were both startled. As for Ning, he fell silent for a moment before letting out a chuckle: “What’s past is past.”
“Come, let me offer you a toast.” Ekong lifted up his wine cup. “I’ve had quite a few Dao-companions in the past and thus have experienced the travails involved in reversing spacetime to bring them back. Thankfully, my Dao-companions resided in a mundane chaosworld, making reviving them much easier. I was a bit luckier than you, I suppose. Let’s drink together.”
Ning lifted up his own cup and drank some of the wine.
“I didn’t expect that you would actually have a connection to Awakener, Darknorth.” Autarch Skyfeeder let out a sigh. “Awakener was tremendously talented and was actually one of the first Autarchs to rise to power. The only one remaining from the oldest days is you, old man Titanos.”
“That’s because I’m not tired of living yet!” Autarch Titanos stared at her. “But you, Skyfeeder… you’ve trained for a shorter period of time than me. Are you thinking of taking the same route which Awakener and Entropos took?”
“There are no other paths to take. That was the same conclusion they came to. However… thankfully, our civilization has finally given birth to someone like Daolord Darknorth, a master of an Eternal Omega Dao. As a result, I can relax a bit and won’t rush off to give it a try.” Autarch Skyfeeder smiled as she glanced at Ning.
Ning couldn’t help but ask, “Awakener and ‘Entropos’; who were they?”
“Two other old fellows,” Autarch Titanos chortled. “The three of us were the originals, the ones who lived the longest – Entropos, Awakener, and myself! A great deal of time passed before Skyfeeder and the others made their breakthroughs. Alas, Awakener and Entropos have already died.”
“Both of them died? How did they die?” Ning couldn’t help but ask.
Autarch Titanos, Autarch Skyfeeder, and Autarch Ekong exchanged a glance. Autarch Titanos then let out a chuckle and said, “Darknorth, my young friend, don’t be impatient. We’ll discuss this matter later, and I’m sure you’ll come to understand. This actually is connected to the reason why we need your help. Let’s wait for the other two to arrive. Actually… hah! They’ve already arrived.”
Ning and the others all turned to look towards the outside. The seams between the wooden logs were quite large, allowing one to clearly see what was going on outside. Right now, two figures were walking side-by-side towards the cottage. These were the two remaining Autarchs of the five who were meeting today.
The eight Domain Rulers and the Flamewing God continued to wait outside in the courtyard, their eyes growing wider and wider. “They just keep coming…” they mumbled breathlessly.
Every single person who came was an Autarch. Each time, the nine could sense that invisible aura of might and pressure. Even the normally brash Flamewing was now on his absolute best behavior.
“Two more Autarchs?” Flamewing and the others all stared as two figures emerged from the sea of prime essences and walked into the courtyard. The two glanced at the eight Domain Rulers and Flamewing but didn’t say a word, simply walking straight inside the cottage.
“Five Autarchs.” Flamewing muttered to itself, “What do these five Autarchs want from my master?”
“I’ve been alive for an eternity, but I’ve never seen five Autarchs together.”
“Even I have only seen three of them.”
“Five Autarchs have gathered together. How rare must this be?!” The eight Domain Rulers were all speechless. Autarchs were incredibly hard to find; even during the Dawn War against the Sithe, the Autarchs had commanded separate troops of Hegemons. Some of the eight Domain Rulers had taken part in this war, but none of them had seen all of the Autarchs.
All eight of the Domain Rulers and Flamewing stared towards that wooden cottage with curiosity. That ordinary looking cottage actually held five Autarchs and a Daolord who was the first person in the Chaosverse to master an Eternal Omega Dao. All nine of them were curious… what was being discussed inside?
Inside the room. The two final Autarchs walked in alongside each other, and Ning couldn’t help but smile when he saw them. Compared to Autarch Ekong or Autarch Titanos, Ning could be considered quite handsome. Even Autarch Skyfeeder wasn’t all that attractive… but the final two Autarchs who had just arrived were both ravishingly handsome men of empire-toppling beauty. Ning could use every single superlative in his vocabulary to describe their appearance, and it would all be completely justified.
The one on the left had white hair. He had a rather tired aura and his face was unshaven, but he was without a doubt a truly handsome man. He seemed to be walking the line between life and death; he seemed like the font of all life, but he also seemed like the final resting place of the dead. All living creatures would feel an uncontrollable sense of yearning towards him… but of course, major powers like Ning wouldn’t be affected.
As for the one on the right, he was an incomparably noble figure. He had black hair, bore a smile on his face, and seemed to be a truly perfect person. Even someone whose Dao-heart was incredibly strong like Ning couldn’t help but feel somewhat attracted to this man, who seemed to embody the very essence of beauty itself.
“This is Bolin.” Autarch Titanos pointed at the tired-looking white-haired man, then smiled: “This fellow has been ruminating on life and death, or something like that. That’s why he looks so terrible. When I first met him, he was quite a dashing and imposing figure. He’s the master of the Claw Daobirth Essence, but now he looks like this… tsk!”
“Eh?” Autarch Bolin looked at Ning, rather startled. “The two of us are actually connected by karma?”
“There is indeed some karma between us,” Ning said with a laugh. “Autarch Bolin… you don’t know me, but I actually benefited through your actions. That Chaos Primordial outside? I actually tamed it due to the verdant azuresoul you left behind in one of your beastworlds, Autarch.”
“Oh?” A hint of a smile appeared on Autarch Bolin’s face. “Yes, long ago I did in fact leave behind quite a few estate-worlds throughout the Chaosverse. I was worried that we would lose the final battle and wanted to ensure that the seeds of rebirth and resistance would be planted for our civilization. However, we ended up winning, making the estate-worlds of limited use. I stopped paying attention to them as a result. I didn’t expect that they would end up helping you out, Daolord Darknorth. It seems my work wasn’t wasted after all.”
Ning felt a sense of tremendous admiration for Autarch Bolin. Autarch Bolin clearly walked the path of the Claw Daobirth Essence, but he had reached such incredible heights in the Dao of Life that he had been able to create an entire race… the race of Aeonians!