Book 30, Ancient Cultivator, Chapter 24 – Underground Tombstones
“Worldsplitter stones are born from the very heart of this planet. They naturally are even deeper underground than we currently are.” Daolord Inkmind looked towards Ji Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord. “Do the two of you wish to go now? Would you like to take a stroll around our underground palace and rest a bit first?”
“No need.” The Ninedust Sectlord rejected the offer.
This was the place where Patriarch Vulturas completed his Daomerge. However, the Ninedust Sectlord was an Ancient cultivator and thus knew very well that Patriarch Vulturas had seventy-two Ancient cultivator disciples. Although he was a very kind and beneficent man, he never casually transmitted the most powerful techniques he had developed to outsiders. At most, he’d transmit some of the second-class techniques he possessed… but the Ninedust Sectlord truly had no interest in those.
Just judging from the fact that Patriarch Vulturas completed his Daomerge here but was merely the second Prophet was proof that this ‘ancestral site’ was undoubtedly a terrifyingly ancient place. Most likely, it had something to do with some of the oldest legends of the Ancient cultivators. He could hardly wait to find out.
“Let’s just go down and take a look,” Ning said. He could tell that this so-called ‘sacred ground’ was still rather wary of them. Given the situation, it was best to keep a bit of distance between them.
“If that is your decision, then I’ll lead the two of you down.” Daolord Inkmind waved his hand, dispelling his Immortal energy and allowing Su Youji and Skywind to see and hear what was going on once more.
“Skywind.” Daolord Inkmind’s gaze turned towards young master Skywind. “Since you are the Prophet’s disciple, you are naturally permitted to go deeper underground as well. However, you had best not divulge anything you see or hear.”
“Understood,” young master Skywind said hurriedly. His heart was blazing with eagerness when he thought of how he was about to learn some of the deepest secrets of his homeland.
“Let’s go!” Daolord Inkmind led the way, with Ning and the others following from behind.
Whoosh. They moved through the twists and turns of an ordinary-looking corridor within the palace, quickly arriving at an unfathomably deep downwards tunnel.
They immediately flew down towards the tunnel, with Ning bringing Skywind with him. Skywind certainly didn’t have the ability necessary to oppose the Emperor’s edict! They flew deeper and deeper into the abyss, flying more than three hundred million kilometers before finally landing.
“Simply marvelous.” Ning and the others all stared at what appeared before them. This enormous cavern was filled with all types of colors and sights. The stone walls gleamed like gemstones, with some being fiery red and others being jade green or deep blue. They all emanated faint ripples of power, and as the different types of ripples coursed through them they all felt their souls at peace.
“We’ll be there in a short while.” Daolord Inkmind guided the way deftly up ahead, moving tens of thousands of kilometers with each step.
A short while later…
“What’s this?” Ning, the Ninedust Sectlord, Su Youji, and Skywind all stared at what was before them in astonishment. This enormous cavern was filled with tombstones! There had to be more than ten thousand of the things, and they stretched off into the distance.
Daolord Inkmind pointed up ahead towards the end of the cave, an area which was filled with blurry streaks of rainbow light. Vague humanoid silhouettes could be seen there. “There are flame demons outside. Countless earth devils live at the core of our planet as well, and they are just as powerful as the flame demons. However, because their natural habitat is the center of our planet, they aren’t weakened by our formations in the slightest. If you want worldsplitter stones, you’ll have to find them yourselves. You’ll have to slaughter a path through the earth devils, find the worldsplitter stones, then escape safely. If you aren’t able to escape, then we’ll erect a tomb for you here.”
Daolord Inkmind pointed towards the many tombstones, then said in a soft voice, “These belong to many of our ancestors and built up over the course of countless years. Many came here seeking worldsplitter stones but ended up perishing. We weren’t even able to recover their bodies, so we left behind tombstones for them here.”
“You spoke of earth devils?” Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord both frowned.
“How tough are they?” Ning asked.
“Tougher and stronger than the flame demons from the outlands,” Daolord Inkmind said. “Based on the experience we accumulated… although they are less nimble and agile than the flame demons, they are even tougher to deal with. Amongst my people, only Daolods of the Fourth Step are permitted to enter the depths of this abyss in search of worldsplitter stones.”
“You saw it yourselves.” Daolord Inkmind gestured at the tombstones. “All these tombs? They each represent the death of a Daolord of the Fourth Step.”
“All of them were Daolords of the Fourth Step?” Skywind, at the very back of the procession, couldn’t help but feel shocked. Daolords of the Fourth Step were incredibly rare; how was it that his homeland had produced over ten thousand of time?
“How many Daolords has this world given birth to?” Ning was astonished. “How could so many of them have died here?”
It must be remembered that the Twelve Palaces of the Brightshore Kingdom had produced less than a hundred thousand Daolords in total despite the passage of so many years.
The nearby Ninedust Sectlord said calmly, “Darknorth, no need to be so surprised. Didn’t you hear what he said? Patriarch Vulturas himself completed his Daomerge here, but he was merely the second Prophet to descend! Patriarch Vulturas completed his Daomerge countless ages ago, which meant that this planet has existed for far longer than the Aeonian race or even the Brightshore Kingdom.”
“Honestly, we don’t have that many Daolords. In each era, we only see twenty or thirty of them,” Daolord Inkmind said. “The total number is high only because of how long we’ve been around for.”
Ning was secretly amazed. The Ancient cultivators truly were the most ancient civilization of them all. The history of this ancestral site ran farther back than the history of the entire Brightshore Kingdom.
“In the end, this planet of ours is too small. The various generations of Daolords all dream of visiting the outside world, and so they’ve all delved into the underground to seek the worldsplitter stones. When each finds one, that person is able to leave this world and visit the vaster world outside.” Daolord Inkmind said softly, “Even though the underground is dangerous and many have perished, successive generations of Daolords have continued on their quest.”
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord both nodded slightly. All Daolords had incredibly determined Dao-hearts. This was true even for vile and demonic figures. If they wished to leave this place, no level of danger could stop them.
It must be understood that in the Endless Territories, the Verge-level Daolords would often venture into the Terror Starsea. Daolord Solesky had entered the incredibly dangerous Waveshift World, which had been left behind by Eternal Emperor Waveshift, the number one expert of the Dao of Numerancy. You could imagine how deadly it was!
“Given how much time has passed… although it might be difficult for this world of yours to give birth to an Eternal Emperor, I imagine it must’ve given birth to many Daolords of incredible power. I imagine some of them must have been able to acquire worldsplitter stones. Why didn’t they take out more? That way, there would be no need for the others to die.”
“Yes, we have indeed given birth to a number of incredible Daolords.” Daolord Inkmind said coldly, “However… the outlands are filled with endless flame demons and many other unknown creatures. If you don’t have the courage to venture underground to find worldsplitter stones for yourself, what right do you have to go to the outlands?”
“This is a tradition of my homeland. If you wish to leave, you must find a worldsplitter stone for yourself first. Only then can you leave.” Daolord Inkmind said calmly, “Over the course of so many years, more than ten thousand Daolords have successfully acquired worldsplitter stones and left for the outlands.”
The Ninedust Sectlord suddenly said, “Have any of the Daolords who left ever been able to return?”
Daolord Inkmind shook his head. “None!”
Ning and the Ninedust Sectlord felt stunned. Not a single one out of all those Daolords returned?
“Perhaps they were unable to find a way to contact us after they reached the vaster world outside,” Daolord Inkmind said. Ning and the others nodded. This was indeed quite possible.
They might’ve died, but they also might’ve survived but left this spacetime continuum. For example, in this region Ning and the others were unable to maintain contact with the outside world. Those who successfully left this region and entered the Endless territories. would probably also be unable to maintain contact with the ‘sacred grounds’ here.
“Even though the outlands might hold great danger, our Daolords have always wanted to give it a try. All of us are filled with curiosity towards the outlands,” Daolord Inkmind said. “Even if they aren’t able to come back, it doesn’t really matter.”
“Mm.” The Ninedust Sectlord pointed towards the rainbow-lit region at the end of the cavern. “So if we want worldsplitter stones, we should just charge straight inside?”
“No.” Daolord Inkmind shook his head as he stared at the rainbow region and the humanoid silhouettes within it. “I imagine you can see those earth devils yourself. Even from here, I can see more than three thousand of them! Based on the accumulated experiences of our Daolords, the earth devils like to drift about. Sometimes, the number of earth devils in a region will be lower than usual. If you can see less than five hundred from this position, that means they are now fairly dispersed. But of course, even then you’ll definitely encounter more than five hundred when you venture forth, as I’m merely talking about the ones visible from here.”
“If you can see less than a hundred, things will be even safer,” Daolord Inkmind said.
“A hundred? And usually how long does that take?” The Ninedust Sectlord was rather impatient.
“Generally speaking, this will happen once per chaos cycle,” Daolord Inkmind said.
“That’s far too long.” The Ninedust Sectlord shook his head. “Lower than five hundred?”
“Roughly once every million years,” Daolord Inkmind said.
“Still too long.” The Ninedust Sectlord truly wanted to charge in right away.
“If you only want to wait for lower than a thousand, ten thousand years should be enough,” Daolord Inkmind said. “But a thousand… that’ll be extremely dangerous. Only the most powerful of Daolords would have a chance of success.”
The Ninedust Sectlord turned to look at Ning. “Ten thousand years. That’s doable. What do you think, Darknorth?”
Ning nodded. “I don’t want to wait too long either. When we can see less than a thousand earth devils, we’ll enter.” Ning had only been training for a short period of time, while the Ninedust Sectlord was filled with eagerness towards the legacy of the Ancient cultivators. As a result, neither wished to tarry here too long. They had spent months surviving in the ‘outlands’; they were quite confident in their abilities to acquire the worldsplitter stones.