Book 28, Archaeus Region, Chapter 23 – The Inner Reaches
As soon as Ji Ning stepped onto the primessence chains, he could sense an invisible web of power wash over him. He felt as though a strange melody was playing nonstop within his sea of consciousness. Still, Ning was no ordinary World-level cultivator. He was able to easily ignore a disruptive influence on this level.
He walked forward through the chains, moving tremendously fast, and as he did the various ghosts began to flicker towards him from afar, throwing themselves at Ning. Alas, Ning’s Yin-Yang Sword Domain stretched out to encompass an area of eight hundred kilometers. As soon as the wraiths charged into his domain, they were instantly ground into nothingness. Ning’s Yin-Yang Sword Domain was capable of slaying even Daolords of the First Step, much less mere wraiths!
“Eh? The invisible power covering the primessence chains seems to be growing stronger and stronger.” Ning continuously advanced towards the inner reaches, and the sound of the melody grew increasingly loud as well. The melody was constantly distracting him, despite his best efforts. It sang of a peerlessly beautiful maiden, of endless treasures, of the ineffable Hegemon, of the warmth of family, of the undying ardor of love, of the deep, warm-blooded feelings which friends and brothers shared with each other…
It was an absolute delight. It told him that if he truly fell into the song and allowed himself to be intoxicated by it, that he would have all of these things and more.
The alluring power of the song grew stronger and stronger.
“Eight hundred kilometers. Nine hundred kilometers! He’s hit the nine hundred kilometer mark. Darknorth is way too strong.” Daolord Owlbat stared wide-eyed in shock. “He’s merely using a domain, but he’s still able to crush all of those wraiths. He hasn’t even used any actual techniques at all.”
Su Youji and the others watched nervously as well.
“He hit the nine hundred mark?” Firesurge watched quietly. Of the four geniuses of the Twelve Palaces, both Ji Ning and Greatjoy had made it past the nine hundred kilometer mark. Firesurge, however, hadn’t even made it to the eight hundred mark!
“Brother Darknorth’s sword-intent domain truly is formidable.” Prince Greatjoy smiled. “His domain alone is enough for him to defeat all of the attacking wraiths.”
The Yin-Yang Sword Domain was a Supreme Dao, after all, and this one in particular was terrifyingly strong due to it having been formed by seven types of Dao lightning and Dao water. In terms of raw power, it was only slightly weaker than the killer attacks of Greatjoy and Solewind!
In addition, the wraiths focused on attacking en masse. The Yin-Yang Sword Domain was literally developed for the express purpose of defeating massed attackers! In addition, it had been easy for all four of them to deal with the wraiths; none of them had been forced to show their true power. All four of them were comparable to Daolords of the Second Step. Clearing, the trial of the primessence chains didn’t place too heavy an emphasis on raw power; so long as you were comparable to a strong Daolord of the First Step, you’d be able to handle the wraiths.
“Nine hundred twenty. Nine hundred thirty. Nine hundred forty. Nine hundred fifty…” Su Youji counted softly to herself.
Everyone was watching with bated breath. Was yet another member of the group about to pass through the primessence chains?
Prince Greatjoy fell silent. He simply watched as Ning advanced farther than he did.
The invisible power covering the primessence chains weren’t completely focused on Ji Ning in specific. It would be more accurate to say that the primessence chains were innately filled with a mysterious power which naturally emanated outwards, resulting in them affecting Ning.
The closer Ning moved to the inner reaches, the stronger the power released by the primessence chains became.
The melody grew more and more drifting and abstruse as it sought to seduce Ning into its flows. In fact, Ning could almost see a series of illusory worlds appear before him. If he stopped fighting back against them for just a single instant, he would instantly be drawn into those illusory worlds and lose himself within them.
Nine hundred eighty. Nine hundred ninety…
Ning continued to advance. Although the illusory melody was taking a firmer and firmer grip over his mind and soul, he still continued to steadfastly defend against its intrusions. He had just a single thought in his mind – he wanted to keep focused on his goal of making it to the end of the primessence chains.
“Is he really going to make it into the inner reaches?”
“So close. So close!”
Daolord Owlbath and the others stared in astonishment, as did Prince Greatjoy and Firesurge. As for Su Youji, she was the most nervous of them all as she stared unblinkingly at the domain-ensconced white-robed youth.
Ning took one final step and broke past the bewildering force covering the primessence chains. The furious wraiths did their best to try to stop him, but they were completely unable to go through the Yin-Yang Sword Domain and touch Ning in the slightest.
“Whew.” Ning couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief when he took that final step and entered the inner reaches. He then dismissed his Yin-Yang Sword Domain.
“The Prime Reaches…” As soon as Ning stepped onto the other side, he could sense a surge of invisible power rush towards him from the ground. The surge of power warmed him, feeling almost like the embrace of a mother.
Ning was secretly speechless. Then again, the Prime Reaches was the most central location of the Genesis Lands. Even the prime essences of this universe were located here. Even the strangest of phenomena were to be expected of here.
“Congratulations, Darknorth.” Heartlord Solewind had stepped backwards to avoid the Yin-Yang Sword Domain, but he now grinned as he advanced to move next to Ning.
“That was far too close for comfort. But, I made it.” Ning smiled.
“It is incredible that you were able to make it this far, brother Darknorth. The primessence chains truly do have an incredibly strong mental alluring affect,” Solewind sighed.
The effect was indeed quite strong. Still, Ning knew that he had one particular advantage over all three of the others! Greatjoy, Solewind, and Firesurge were fairly ‘normal’ World-level cultivators. In battle, they could instantly unleash a level of power comparable to that of Daolords of the Second Step, but it was all thanks to their secret arts, divine abilities, and insights into the Dao.
In the end, their power was built off of World-level divine power and Immortal energy.
Ning, however, was different!
He had the power of the azureflower mist energy, which was equivalent to Daolord-level energy. It had nourished his soul, making it comparable to the soul of a Daolord of the First Step! As a result, it was incredibliy difficult to shake Ning’s soul and cause him to be trapped within an illusion. Ning’s mental fortitude was actually merely on par with Prince Greatjoy’s, but his soul was far stronger. As a result, he was naturally able to do what Greatjoy could not.
Skyfire Brightshore was a prince of the Brightshore Kingdom, a living being on the same level of power as the Ancient cultivators, Bertulu, or Waterwalker. They were amongst the most elite races of living creatures, giving them souls that were incredibly strong and essentially on par with Ning’s azureflower-reinforced soul.
Kilostar was another example. He had trained in the [Thousand Bodies Sutra], and so his divine body was comparable to a Daolord’s, as was his soul.
It was incredibly rare for a World-level cultivator to have a Daolord-level soul. Solewind was a Heartforce Cultivator, and so he had certain special techniques which could be used to strengthen the soul, but in the end he was still not nearly as strong in this regard as Ning and Bertulu were. As for Greatjoy and Firesurge, they were somewhat weaker in this regard as well.
“The only reason I made it through was because I have the azureflower mist energy sustaining and strengthening my soul. Heartlord Solewind, however, made it through with ease. He really lives up to his reputation as the one and only Heartlord of the Heartforce Palace,” Ning mused to himself in praise.
Ning’s gaze shifted towards the inner reaches. Previously, when he had been in the outer reaches, he could see that there was an enormous world here but was unable to make out any details at all. Now, however…
“Eh?” Ning frowned.
It was as scene of chaos and decay.
The ground was littered with enormous gouges, holes, and craters. Clearly, they had been left behind ancient powers who had battled against each other! These were marks that had been left behind by swords and sabers.
Far off in the distance, he saw a series of badly damaged mountain ranges… as well as a series of towering, massive corpses that emanated ripples of terrifying power.
“These corpses…?” Ning stared at them. Every single corpse emanated ripples of incredible power that were just as strong as the aura which Lord Woodflower had emanated.
“Are these all Eternal Emperors?” Ning mused. “It seems this place, the birthplace of the universe, is actually a battlefield. But why the hell are there so many Eternal Emperors here?”
Eternal Emperors were incredibly rare and few in number. Based on what Ning and the others had learned, this was true even here in this alternate universe. In the Endless Territories, the Brightshore Kingdom only had a few Eternal Emperors total! But here in the Prime Reaches, Ning was able to see at least twelve of this corpses which emanated auras of terrifying power. All of them had to be Eternal Emperor level corpses.
And these were only the ones he could see right now. Most likely, the Prime Reaches held far more corpses within it. No wonder so many Eternal Emperors of the Church of Annihilation had come here. No wonder the master of the Church of Annihilation had been able to skyrocket in power after entering this place.
“I, Ji Ning, am blessed to be able to be able to enter a place like this.” Ning felt a great surge of joy swell in his heart. Those ten thousand years of arduous travel and those multiple scrapes with death… right now, Ning felt as though everything was worth it.
“Skyfire is starting as well,” Solewind said.
Ning calmed himself down, turning to stare at the other end of the primessence chains.
Skyfire Brightshore had moved onto the primessence chains as well. Although his soul was comparable to Ning’s in strength, his mental fortitude was incredibly weak. In the end, he simply hadn’t experienced enough. Most likely, even an average World-level cultivator who had risen to power in the mortal world and experienced all of its trials and tribulations would have a far stronger mind and heart than he did.
In the end, Skyfire Brightshore was brought to a quick halt. He managed to move close to the five hundred kilometer mark, but in the end was forced to retreat. A look of disappointment was on his face. He hadn’t even been able to make it to the five hundred kilometer mark! Even if he was able to somehow become much mentally tougher, he probably still would have very little chance of traversing these primessence chains.