Book 29, Daolord, Chapter 2 – Star Map
Ji Ning led Su Youji to follow Lord Woodflower into the Sword Palace. The Sword Palace had quite a few cultivators within it, but of course most were black-armored Daolords.
“Swordlord Darknorth has arrived.”
“It’s Swordlord Darknorth.”
“That’s Flamefairy Su Youji standing next to him.”
“He’s been gone for roughly eighty thousand years, right? I’m surprised that Lord Woodflower is actually welcoming him back personally.”
“Eighty thousand years ago, all of the World-level geniuses of the Twelve Palaces who were acknowledged by the ancient pagodas were ordered to return, then challenged the Daolord Cloudworld. After that, Swordlord Darknorth, Prince Greatjoy, Heartlord Solewind, and Waterlord Firesurge all suddenly disappeared. I heard that they had all gained an incredible stroke of good fortune. Prince Greatjoy, Heartlord Solewind, and the others all returned together tens of thousands of years ago, as did Flamefairy Su Youji. I thought that Swordlord Darknorth must’ve died.”
The black-armored Daolords all chatted amongst themselves, while the ones closer to Ning all called out in very modest manners, “Swordlord Darknorth.”
Virtually all of the black-armored Daolords had reached that level through using Pseudo Samsara Pills. It was all but guaranteed that they would forever remain Daolords of the First Step. They thus didn’t spend much time or effort on cultivation, and instead were filled with curiosity about the latest news and going ons.
When the almighty Hegemon had chosen Ning and the others, they were quickly able to deduce what was really happening. In truth, the Hegemon didn’t really care that they knew some of the details; so long as the secret of the alternate universe was kept hidden, that was enough.
“Come on.” Lord Woodflower led Ning towards an ancient pagoda. “Su Youji, you can wait outside.”
“Understood.” Su Youji obediently stood outside the pagoda, while Ji Ning entered.
The interior of the pagoda was simple and unadorned. Deep within it, atop a stone dais, there were a series of heartlamps that were lit. Heartlamps looked quite similar to lotus flowers in shape, and they contained sparks of truesoul flames. So long as the master remained alive, these flames would never die.
There were five levels to the stone dais. There were many heartlamps on the first level, well over two thousand. The second level had far fewer lamps, just sixteen in total. The third level only had eighty-two heartlamps, the fourth level had merely thirty-five heartlamps, and the fifth level only had two heartlamps.
“This stone dais has five levels. The first level is for Daolords of the First Step, the second is for Daolords of the Second Step, and so on and so forth. The fifth level is reserved for Eternal Emperors.” Lord Woodflower looked at the two heartlamps on the fifth level, then let out a sigh. “Our Sword Palace has only given birth to a total of three Eternal Emperors. One has perished, while the other two are out adventuring…”
Ning nodded. The Sword Palace only had around a hundred ‘real’ Daolords. The reason why there were so many on the first level, with over two thousand heartlamps present, was because almost all of them were black-armored Daolords.
“Senior apprentice-brother, our Sword Palace actually has thirty-five Daolords of the Fourth Step?” Ning asked. The fourth step represented Verge-level Daolords; they definitely would be considered incredibly strong major powers.
“Think about Daolord Everstarter, who has been missing for countless chaos cycles. Do you think he is alive, or do you think he is dead?” Lord Woodflower looked at Ning. “The heartlamp remains lit because it cannot sense him, but whether or not he is actually still alive is hard to say.”
Ning nodded. For example, if he had died in an alternate universe, there would’ve been no way to sense it.
“As for Daolords of the Fourth Step who we are certain are still alive, there are twenty-two of them,” Lord Woodflower said. “The others, we simply cannot tell. Daolords of the Fourth Step are all searching for opportunities and fortunes that will assist them in their Daomerge. For the sake of their Daomerge, they will risk their lives and plunge into some truly deadly regions… and some of them will never return.”
Ning couldn’t help but sigh as well. Daolord Solesky was another example; for the sake of his Daomerge, he had chosen to brave the dangers of the Waveshift world.
“Alright. Come, set a heartlamp alight,” Lord Woodflower said. “The normal rule is that only Daolords can leave. However, you are capable of becoming a Daolord whenever you choose, and so we won’t force things. For now, we’ll temporarily keep your heartlamp on the first level.”
A dark, gloomy lotus-shaped heartlamp hovered before Ning. Ning stretched out a finger, sending out a stream of his soul into the heartlamp. Poof! The wick within the flower petals of the heartlamp instantly lit up. Ning could sense the strong connection which now existed between his truesoul and the blazing flames. It almost felt like one of his clones.
With but a thought, Ning sent the heartlamp flying to the borders of the first level of the stone dais, then set it down.
“After you become a Daolord, training will speed up significantly at first. It shouldn’t take you too long to reach the second step! Reaching the third step will take a bit more time, while reaching the fourth step will be the most difficult of all.” Lord Woodflower had a complicated look on his face as he said softly, “As for the Daomerge… it’ll be up to luck.”
Countless monstrously powerful Daolords had perished. Only a miniscule number became Eternal Emperors.
“However… failing in the Daomerge doesn’t mean that much. To be able to roam the universe freely for 108,000 chaos cycles is enough.” Lord Woodflower laughed. “If you stifle yourself and choose a weak Dao… even if you are lucky enough to become an Eternal Emperor, you’ll live in perpetual fear of being killed by one of the powerful Daolords. Even if you live forever, that just means you’ll be pitiful bug forever!”
Ning stared at the ancient, dispirited Lord Woodflower. Suddenly, he could sense a terrifying sword-intent emanate from the man’s body. Ning couldn’t help but nod.
To mortals, cultivators seemed to have unlimited lifespans; upon becoming a Celestial Immortal, it was said that your lifespan would be as long as that of the heavens themselves. However, in reality there was still a limit! Even entire chaosworlds and the heavens within them would eventually perish and be born anew. As for World-level cultivators and Daolords, they could at most live for 108,000 chaos cycles! They had to succeed in the Daomerge within this allotted time span.
If they did not complete their Daomerge, then when the time came they would perish. Thus… even the most powerful of Daolords could only live for 108,000 chaos cycles. This was why the Sword Palace had more than 80,000 powerful Daolords in its records, but only a hundred who were still alive.
Only by succeeding in the Daomerge would they gain true eternity. For the most powerful, such as the Hegemon, time flowed on in an endless stream but they remained at the very apex of the universe. The almighty Brightshore Hegemon had been alive for far longer than even the Twelve Palaces.
With the heartlamp lit, Ning left the pagoda.
Su Youji was waiting for him outside. There was actually a green-robed creature with hundreds of tentacles that served as hair and a pair of golden eyes.
“Greetings, Master.” The green-robed creature immediately knelt down and called out with respect when he saw Ning emerge.
“And you are…?” Ning was puzzled.
“This is your servant,” Lord Woodflower said. “A servant which the Brightshore Kingdom has prepared for you.”
“The Brightshore Kingdom is giving me a servant? A World-level servant?” Ning was puzzled. What was the point of giving him a World-level servant?
Lord Woodflower said, “Don’t underestimate his usefulness. He will be extremely important to you! Normally, only real Daolords of the Twelve Palaces will be given access to servants like him. Those black-armored Daolords never will. Every one of them is raised here within the Brightshore Kingdom and possesses both self-cloning abilities as well as incredibly powerful souls. Just one of his clones will accompany you, with another one remaining in the Brightshore Kingdom.”
“Senior apprentice-brother, are you saying…?” Ning was starting to understand.
“Exactly so. He’ll be used to send messages.” Lord Woodflower looked at Ning. “If you you run into trouble and need to ask for rescue, you can tell him and his clone in the Brightshore Kingdom will be able to immediately report it to us! The Brightshore Kingdom will immediately spread the word to all of the Daolords and Eternal Emperors of the kingom who are in the Endless Territories. The ones closest to you will head to you as quickly as possible!” Lord Woodflower laughed.
Ning’s eyes lit up. Absolutely incredible. To use a messenger relay of clones to ensure that the Daolords and Eternal Emperors of the Brightshore Kingdom were in constant contact was an effective way of maintaining communication.
“However, given how truly vast the Endless Territories are, generally speaking it would be difficult for an ordinary World God’s clone to be able to sense past a thousand or so territories. Thus, the Brightshore Kingdom has arranged for this one to work with you. His soul is incredibly powerful,” Lord Woodflower said.
Ning nodded in understanding. There was a limit to the distance at which a clone would be able to sense the presence of another clone. Elder God and Ancestral Immortal clones could only sense each other up to ten territories apart, whereas World-level clones would only function up to a thousand territories apart.
The so-called ‘sensing’ method was actually a type of soul resonance. Thus, the stronger the soul, the greater the distance at which the connection could be maintained! Take Ning as an example. Although he was merely at the World level, his soul was comparable to a Daolord’s! As for these World-level cultivators who had been trained by the Brightshore Kingdom, they all had clones and souls which were far more powerful than that of ordinary World-level cultivators, allowing them to sense at a great distance as well.
“It is quite rare for World-level cultivators to have clones.” Ning sighed with emotion. “Ones with such powerful souls are even more rare.”
“The Brightshore Kingdom doesn’t have that many Daolords. That’s why we can afford to do this,” Lord Woodflower said. “There’s no way the Dao Alliance, for example, could do such a thing. Still, they have methods of their own… but of course, those methods are far slower than ours.”
Ning nodded. The Brightshore Kingdom was able to transmit information at truly shocking speeds.
“When you wander through the outside world, the Brightshore Kingdom shall be the strongest shield available to you.” Lord Woodflower smiled at Ning. “And all of the Daolords of the Brightshore Kingdom have sworn oaths from the day they joined to never engage in battle against each other.”
Ning chuckled. When he had received the Sword Palace’s medallion, he had also sworn a lifeblood oath. No members of any of the Twelve Palaces could kill each other.
“The major powers of the Brightshore Kingdom are extremely unified when wandering the outside world. If you encounter other Daolords of the Brightshore Kingdom who are in danger, you should help them as well.” Lord Woodflower looked at Ning.
“Understood.” Ning nodded.
“Right. This is the star map of all territories which are known to the Brightshore Kingdom.” Lord Woodflower handed a rolled-up golden star map scroll to Ning.
Ning accepted it. Upon opening it, a look of shock instantly filled his face.
“Amazed, right? The Endless Territories are truly vast, and some of its danger zones are also truly massive. Many cannot even be fully mapped out.” Lord Woodflower let out a sigh.
Ning stared, stunned, at the star map. Good heavens. This… this was far larger than the entire star map of the alternate universe!