Liu Bang took a gulp of wine and went on talking.
The thirty-six tiers of Heaven Immortal realm could be divided into four grades, one for every nine tiers—the lower grade, the middle grade, the upper grade, and the top grade. A standard planet, which had a standard number of energy veins, a standard level of natural energy, and a standard size, could provide enough resources for three to five lower-grade Heaven Immortals. But, a middle-grade Heaven Immortal needed all the energy and resources of a standard planet to grow his cultivation base at a steady pace.
And an upper-grade Heaven Immortal alone required all the natural energy and resources of more than ten standard planets. On top of that, it took a lot of rare materials to forge an upper-grade Heaven Immortal artifact, and an upper-grade Heaven Immortal pill that was effective for upper-grade Heaven Immortal could only be concocted with tens of thousands of years old spirit herbs. But, such spirit herbs were extremely rare, and they did not grow in an ordinary environment.
As for top-grade Heaven Immortals, what they needed were the natural energy and resources of a thousand standard planets; sometimes they would need to mine all the mineral veins of dozens of planets so that they could extract the precious materials required to forge their natal immortal artifacts. In outer heavenly realms, it was common that an upper-grade Heaven Immortal was forced to use only a middle-grade immortal artifact. Just like those itinerant immortals whom Wu Qi had met on Myriad Immortals Planet years ago, many were so poor that they did not even own a proper immortal artifact.
And when it came to the level of Gold Immortals, it was even scarier.
The eighteen tiers of Gold Immortal were also divided into four grades. The first, second, and third-tier Gold Immortals were collectively called top-grade Gold Immortals, and the remaining fifteen tiers were divided into lower, middle, and upper grades. If a lower-grade Gold Immortal could find an excellent immortal energy vein and set up a cave abode on top of it, then the natural energy required for his daily cultivation would not be a problem. However, the amount of resources he needed to concoct Gold Immortal pills and Gold Immortal artifacts was an astronomical figure, such that there was no way a planet could ever fulfill it.
For lower-grade Gold Immortals, the resources they needed could only be supplied by tens of thousands of planets in a galaxy.
That was the reason why there were few itinerant Gold Immortals in outer heavenly realms. Most of them had established their own sects and occupied a place for their own. Relying on their disciples, these Gold Immortals controlled the planets in one or multiple galaxies, from where they looted all the resources required for their cultivation.
It was worse when it came to top-grade Gold Immortals. A perfect example was Lady Divine Water, the master of Dark Yin True Water Palace, the sect which Lady Dark Gold Water was from. She was a seasoned first-tier Gold Immortal who was only one step away from the realm of Primordial. Her sect's direct sphere of influence extended to tens of thousands of heavenly realms, and hundreds of thousands of planets were directly under its control. On top of that, she also received an imperial mandate from the Heaven to govern a hundred thousand heavenly realms, where all immortal sects and itinerant cultivators were required to pay tribute to Dark Yin True Water Palace according to the season.
In addition to Lady Divine Water, there were eighteen other Gold Immortals in Dark Yin True Water Palace. It could be said that the nineteen Gold Immortals were cultivated from the resources of these one hundred thousand heavenly realms. Without these resources, Lady Divine Water's cultivation base could not have been greater than that of a third-tier Gold Immortal, and the number of Gold Immortals in Dark Yin True Water Palace would have to be halved.
As for those Primordial experts, they enjoyed the offerings from the Heaven and the sects they themselves had established. It was common for each of them to have a couple of personal disciples and hundreds of apprentices of Gold Immortal level, who spread out their branches in outer heavenly realms and recruited many more disciples. At least half of the various resources they collected were provided to their masters.
Everyone was desperately plundering what was needed for their cultivation, but the total amount of resources was fixed, and yet the number of immortals was constantly increasing.
Even immortals themselves were getting married and constantly producing children, not to mention those mortals with superior aptitude who had joined immortal sects. It was true that the higher the cultivation base of an immortal was, the more difficult for him to have offspring. But, as an immortal had basically an infinite life, as long as he continued to work hard, he would eventually have his own offspring, even though it might take tens or hundreds of thousands of years.
Immortals produced children, and their children produced more offspring. Just like that, their number grew. Mortals could live for no more than a hundred years, and the old ones would die after producing offspring. But, immortals would not die unless they were struck by some calamity. So, the population of immortals was ever growing, and the number of high-level immortals never stopped increasing. As a result, the demand for rare materials was growing as well.
Immortals were the most covetous people in the world. They pursued immortality, stronger power, and mighty immortal artifacts. Every immortal was desperate to improve his cultivation base and cultivation level, and was desperately gathering materials to forge himself a mighty immortal artifact. With mighty immortal artifacts and power, they could plunder more resources, so that they could have stronger power and immortal artifacts. And just like that, a vicious cycle was formed.
Wu Qi looked at Liu Bang and said with a sneer, "Oh, so you do know this is a vicious cycle, huh?"
Liu Bang gave him a glare and said, "Just hear me out!"
Since there were many immortals and few resources, everyone naturally had to fight each other for what they needed. Lower-grade immortals fought for cave adobes, middle and upper-grade immortals fought for control of one or more planets, and top-grade immortals fought for planets with rich natural energy and abundant resources. As for Gold Immortals, while working hard to improve their cultivation bases, they either devised strategies to fight for territory and worked out ways to join some Primordial Immortals' sects, or strove to obtain a good position in the Heaven.
And competition ultimately led to killing. Gold Immortals killed Gold Immortals, Heaven Immortals killed Heaven Immortals, Gold Immortals killed Heaven Immortals, and Heaven Immortals killed common cultivators. Each day, tens of thousands of cultivators in outer heavenly realms transcended heavenly tribulations and became Heaven Immortals. At the same time, countless immortals died in various competitions. Either it was for a spirit herb, a piece of ore, or something else; countless immortals drew their swords and killed each other.
Sometimes, all it took was a herb less than ten thousand years old. At first, it was only the fight between disciples of Gold Core level from two sects; then their seniors got involved; and in the end, a battle between two Gold Immortals might break out just because of an ordinary herb that was less than ten thousand years old.
On an average, there was a varying number of Heaven Immortals dying every day; and every year, there were Gold Immortals who lost their lives. The resentment they bore before they died lingered in the world; and after several eons, when the resentment of countless immortals gathered together, it would trigger the Heavenly Dao to give birth to a wisp of killing intent capable of destroying the heaven and earth. This was the so-called Apocalypse of the Heaven and Earth.
When the Apocalypse befell, even Primordial experts became as weak as pigs and dogs. Today's Great Celestial Emperor was the 3758th supreme leader of the Heaven; all previous Celestial Emperors had fallen without exception. One could imagine how horrible it was when the Apocalypse struck.
Even today's Lord Buddha, Amitabha, was the 2435th Lord Buddha of the Buddhist League. All the previous Lord Buddhas had turned to dust.
It took only a thousand years or so, with luck, for a mortal to cultivate to an immortal. If a Heaven Immortal had an excellent aptitude, a stroke of decent luck, a good enough cultivation technique, and did not lack resources, it would only take him about ten thousand years to ascend one tier of cultivation level. And, as long as there were enough resources and an excellent cultivation technique, it would take him at most twenty to thirty thousand years to ascend from second to first tier.
But, when a Heaven Immortal wished to break through into the realm of Gold Immortal, it would take him at least several to a few dozens of periods. And after becoming a Gold Immortal, it would take eons to ascend just one tier. Not only was a powerful magic power required for a Gold Immortal to break through the next tier, but he also needed a mighty Gold Immortal Artifact to help defend him against the thunder tribulation. So, in the realm of Gold Immortal, collecting materials to craft a Gold Immortal Artifact was a long and laborious task.
It was even harder for a Gold Immortal to become a Primordial Immortal. The newest Primordial Immortal in the universe broke through the realm fifty periods ago, and there had not been a new Primordial Immortal in a thousand periods before him. On an average, it took about 100 million years for a new Primordial Immortal to appear.
But, the number of Primordial Immortals who died in every Apocalypse was more than a hundred! It was even worse for those Gold Immortals, Heaven Immortals, and common cultivators, who were like ants in the eyes of those Primordial Immortals. Whenever an Apocalypse struck, the number of dead immortals and cultivators was more than a hundred times the number of stars in the sky.
When the Apocalypse struck, all the immortals were plagued by evil karma. For no reason, they would be dragged into countless fights. Even when one was dwelling in secluded cultivation, one would be attacked by someone for no apparent reason. All kinds of strange karmas tangled with one another, forcing all the immortals to kill each other, to kill everyone who was fighting with them; leaving nothing behind but rivers of blood and mountains of corpses. This was the Apocalypse of Heaven and Earth that terrified all immortals.
Sometimes when the Apocalypse was especially serious, there might even be a case where a master killed his disciples, a son killed his father, and husband and wife killed each other. Once, there was a fallen Primordial expert of the Fiend League who roared before his death, "Everything in the world can be killed! Kill all the living beings in the world, and I will be able to transcend this tribulation safely!"
Wu Qi felt his flesh creep as he listened to Liu Bang's indifferent account.
So, this was the Apocalypse of Heaven and Earth? The catastrophic event that those superior immortals had to face every once in a while?
An Apocalypse that befell every few, a dozen, or a couple dozens of eons might seem like a myth to mere mortals, but it was a real threat to immortals with an infinite lifespan. Especially for those Primordial experts who often spent at least one whole eon in every secluded cultivation, it was like a sharp blade that pressed against their chests, making them ill at ease.
Taking a deep breath, Wu Qi asked, "What are you trying to explain by saying this?"
Liu Bang gave him a look and went on slowly.