Ji Ning, the Paragon of Pills, and Azurefiend all stared at the pocket dimensions as the streaks of sword-light pierced through them. They instantly saw that two of them held the two companions of the Paragon. One held Lord Annihilation, whose eyes were filled with murderous bloodlust. The other was filled with a gray-robed woman who had silvery hair.
Lord Annihilation raised his head to stare at the outside world, a murderous look in his eyes. The gray-robed woman turned to stare at Ning as well.
“Annihilation!” the Paragon of Pills barked coldly. “Wake up!”
Lord Annihilation’s gaze slowly returned to his normal calm. Swoosh! Swoosh! Both he and the gray-robed woman immediately flew out of their pocket dimensions.
“Thank you, Paragon of Pills. Thank you, Daolord Darknorth.” Lord Annihilation had a delighted look on his face and behaved with tremendous respect.
“What was going on just now?” Ning was rather surprised.
“Annihilation was being constantly assaulted by illusions. Every so often, he’d be drawn into a berserk state,” the Paragon said. “However, each time he would eventually regain his clarity of mind after giving vent to his rage.”
Lord Annihilation said in a rather embarrassed manner, “But the amount of time I was able to remain clear-minded was slowly shrinking. If I was trapped for a few hundred more chaos cycles, I probably would’ve completely lost myself to the madness. I only escaped that fate because you saved me, Daolord Darknorth.”
Ning continued to keep his Sword Dao Domain active, using it to scan through the secrets of that dimensional pocket. He couldn’t help but secretly sigh in amazement at what he found. The illusions had been set up in a truly intricate and marvelous way which would allow them to silently and soundlessly penetrate a prisoner’s defenses, then affect his mind. However, Ning suspected that many of the formations in this Daoguard Tower had not been personally set down by the master of the tower.
The Sithe had major powers who specialized in formations or artificing. They would mass produce these things, then auction them off. The ‘Dimensional Hallway Lock’, for example, was something which only a Sithe Exalt could create.
“Tia greets you, Daolord Darknorth.” The silvery-haired gray-robed woman flew over and bowed respectfully.
Ning knew that this woman was viewed by many as being just as ‘crazy’ as the Paragon of Pills. She often went adventuring in the Sithelands. However, she was different from the Paragon, who was more distant and cold. Hegemon Tia was calm and tranquil, as though nothing could cause a stir in her soul. She was someone who would react calmly to anything and everything. Even if she herself was about to die, she would respond with this calm equanimity.
“Master, look over there.” Azurefiend pointed towards a distant pocket dimension.
Ning, the Paragon, Tia, and Lord Annihilation all turned to look. This was a dimension filled with black mist. Inside, there was a towering mountain that had a beautiful palace located at the very peak. There were even a few servants in front of the palace.
“It seems rather lavish. I imagine that’s where the Sithe normally resided,” Ning said. “Come, let’s go take a look.” Ning’s group quickly flew through the air towards that floating pocket dimension.
The palace was quite beautiful. Some servants were busy keeping it clean, while others were standing watch. As soon as Ning’s group landed, they all bowed respectfully and called out: “Masters.” All of them, however, seemed rather puzzled.
“They are all Daolords.” The Paragon of Pills was rather startled. She asked, “You’ve never met any of us. Why do you call us ‘Masters’?”
The servants exchanged glances, rather nervous. The Paragon of Pills frowned. “You were able to become Daolords. How is it that you are this spineless?” She pointed at the old Daolord who seemed to be the most powerful. “You. Answer my question.”
The old man said respectfully, “Everyone who comes here is a ‘Master’. We are eternal servants.”
Ning stared intently at them, scrying the pasts of these servants. These Daolords all felt rather terrified when they saw Ning staring at them like this. They felt as though this white-robed Daolord was able to completely see through them. This sensation caused their hearts to quiver.
“They all used to live within the estate-world.” Ning sighed. “Afterwards, they were chosen by the Sithe to come here and serve. All of them have been trained to be incredibly obedient.”
“Since when were Daolords so easily tamed?” Azurefiend was rather surprised. Most Samsara Daolords would rather die than submit.
“Not just Daolords. Even Hegemons have been tamed.” Ning couldn’t help but sigh. When he scried the pasts of these Daolords, he was also able to see some other information regarding this palace.
“All of you, come out!” Ning barked, sending out his Sword Dao Domain to press down upon every inch of the palace. The formerly-quiet palace suddenly changed, with five figures flying out of it like streaks of light. All of them had awesome auras of power. They were all either Hegemons or Otherverse Lords, and their eyes were completely dead and devoid of all emotion.
“This is Master’s estate. How dare you trespass here?” The five figures were filled with malevolence.
“Are you… Lord Starbearer?” The Paragon of Pills was able to recognize one of the Otherverse Lords.
“Brother Skypillar?” Hegemon Azurefiend called out in shock, “Y-you… do you recognize me?”
“Azurefiend?” A red-haired man replied coldly, “Of course I recognize you. However, this is my master’s territory. Now that you have come here, you must die.”
“Kill!” All five figures quickly charged forwards, seeking to slay Ning and the others.
“Freeze!” Ning commanded softly. Instantly, four of the five charging figures were completely paralyzed by the suppressive might of Ning’s Sword Dao Domain. Only the Otherverse Lord who the Paragon had called ‘Lord Starbearer’ was able to continue his charge towards Ning, thanks to his entire body being covered by the power of his otherverse. However, Ning was able to send out incredibly powerful blows of sword-light to keep him at bay with ease.
“Azurefiend, chain him down,” Ning commanded.
“Yes, Master!” Azurefiend had been patiently waiting for a good opportunity. When he saw Ning knock down Lord Starbearer with a streak of sword-light, Azurefiend immediately attacked with all six black chains. He quickly bound Lord Starbearer in layers of chains, ensuring that he was no longer able to move at all.
“Brother Skypillar, what’s wrong with you? We journeyed together and adventured together. Have you forgotten?” Hegemon Azurefiend couldn’t believe that this good friend of his would attack him. He had wandered through many places, and Hegemon Skypillar was someone he counted amongst his life-and-death friends.
“All who offend Master must die!” the bound Hegemon Skypillar said through clenched teeth, a frenzied look on his face. As for the others… their eyes remained completely dead, but they also had berserk looks on their faces. They truly wanted to kill Ning and his team.
Ning suddenly understood what was going on. He let out a sigh. “Although they kept their memories, they’ve already lost their sense of self. They’ve been tamed and transformed into a type of special Sithe golem.”
“Golem?” The Paragon of Pills and the others didn’t understand.
“Their bodies were unchanged and they kept all their powers and memories… but they’ve completely lost their id, their ego, their sense of self. They are like golems in that they will simply do whatever their master commands. They will obey any order their master gives them,” Ning explained. “They might be ‘alive’, but in reality they are like golems. Those two stone pythons who attacked me earlier were also living creatures who were transformed into golems.”
Most golems were created via magic treasures. The Sithe, however… they were able to convert living beings into golems.
“For all intents and purposes, they died long ago.” Ning looked at the five powerful cultivators, sighing at the savage, murderous look on their faces. “Let us grant them rest at long last.”
Slash. Slash. Slash. Slash. Slash.
All five were ground to dust by Ning’s sword-light. Even Lord Starbearer was slain, due to the black chains suppressing his power and preventing him from fighting back.
A look of heart-ache and grief was on Azurefiend’s old face.
“Hegemons and Otherverse Lords can be transformed into golems?” The Paragon of Pills shook her head.
“It is extremely difficult to convert powerful creatures into golems, and the stronger their Dao-heart is the better. For these five to have been converted is a sign that their Dao-hearts simply weren’t strong enough. In addition, the conversion process requires an extremely long period of time. The process has to be slow and gradual, without the cultivators even noticing anything. If the cultivators knew that their terrifying fate was to be transformed into golems, they would probably commit suicide instead. That’s why the process has to be gradual; not the slightest bit of haste is acceptable! By the time the cultivator realizes what has happened, it is already too late,” Ning said. This was part of the information which the Autarchs had provided to him.
Lord Annihilation was greatly shocked by this. “Then when I was being repeatedly assaulted by those illusions… was that part of the taming and transforming process?”
“Most likely, yes.” Ning nodded.
“I could sense some charming spells aimed at me in my pocket dimension as well,” the Paragon of Pills said. “But I just stayed there without daring to move anywhere. It didn’t seem to affect me much.”
“Given how strong your Dao-heart is, Mistress, there is no way the Sithe would’ve been able to convert you.” Ning glanced at the palace. “I can sense that this palace holds quite a few prisoners inside. Almost all of them are Daolords who refused to obey orders, which is why they were imprisoned and tortured by that short Sithe. I can also sense that a Hegemon has been imprisoned there as well. Most likely, the taming process failed with him.”