Book 34, The Stone Hellephant Wall, Chapter 20 – The Secret Place
“An 80% chance?” Ji Ning stared at the black-armored man. For a subordinate to dare claim an 80% chance of being correct meant that he was almost virtually certain; he had to factor in a bit of modesty, after all. “Go ahead and tell me.”
“Palace Lord, please take a look.” The black-armored man produced a scroll in his hands which he offered respectfully to Ning. Ning waved his hand, causing the scroll to fly over towards him.
Ning unfurled the scroll, which was covered with dense clusters of tiny characters. These were the last words of a free-spirited Daolord whose lifespan was coming to an end. It included some of his supreme legacies as well as the secrets he knew about.
“Eh?” Ning’s face tightened. “This Daolord actually entered the borders of a mysterious place by accident. He was almost discovered but thankfully was lucky enough to escape detection… and that place had an incredibly powerful garrison stationed there?” Ning nodded. This information the deceased Daolord had written down almost certainly referred to the secret place Ning was searching for! Aside from the three great clans, there were no other forces capable of stationing such a tremendously powerful garrison.
“So it is in a standalone dimension. No wonder my heartworld projection filled every inch of this planet but still was unable to find it.” Ning revealed a trace of a smile. He had finally found it. After two thousand years here on this planet, he had finally found information regarding the secret location.
It made sense. No matter how careful the three great clans were, a few traces would eventually slip through over the course of countless years.
“Excellent.” Ning looked at the black-armored man, then smiled. “You’ve done quite well, and I certainly need to reward you for your great accomplishment.” As Ning spoke, he waved a finger, sending a stream of light into the black-armored man’s body. The black-armored man instantly felt his sea of consciousness tremble as an enormous amount of information began to flood into him.
Ning had taken many precious items away from Sectlord Timedream and the other Daolords, including good cultivation techniques. He casually chose a decent one which would guide this man to becoming a Daolord of the Fourth Step.
Once the black-armored man came back to his senses, he was so excited he immediately fell to his knees. “Thank you, Palace Lord.”
The three great clans were so exalted precisely because they maintained an extremely strict level of control over their cultivation techniques. Lesser clans would never have access to the knowledge of the ancestors, and so they were forced to train blindly. This made becoming a Daolord extremely difficult, much less one capable of reaching the fourth step.
Now that he had this technique from Ning, not only would he become a Daolord, even his other clansmen would stand a good chance at it.
“Go,” Ning instructed. When searching for information regarding the secret place, these subordinates had sworn lifeblood oaths in advance that they were only able to divulge this information to their superiors and not to any outsiders at all.
“Ninedust.” Ning sat there atop the dais, staring into the dark night sky as he sent a mental message to Ninedust.
Whoosh. A figure manifested next to him. It was the Ninedust Sectlord. Ninedust said with some surprise, “It’s past midnight. Why did you suddenly call for me? Want to grab a drink?”
“Take a look at this.” Ning tossed the scroll to him.
Ninedust accepted it and gave it a read. A look of delight instantly appeared on his face. “Haha, we brothers have finally found this so-called ‘secret place’! But from the looks of it, the three great clans guard it very tightly.”
“The Daolord who wrote down this scroll only entered the outermost border regions by accident,” Ning said. “I believe that the three great clans must have set up layers of protective mechanisms and defenses; there’s no way an outsider would be able to easily penetrate it.”
“Agreed.” Ninedust nodded. The secret place was most likely what allowed the three great clans to rise to prominence!
“I’m planning to head out tonight to inspect this location,” Ning said. “I’ll used the Shadowless evasion art and avoid discovery as best as I can! As for you, if you wish to join me you’ll have to enter my estate-world treasure for now.”
“Of course I’m going with you. The entire reason why I’m in this world is because I’m interested in the Sithe’s local treasury,” Ninedust said hurriedly. “Those three clan leaders are at a lower level of insight than me, but they are incredibly strong in battle and have all those Emperor-class golems… how could I give up a chance to acquire such a fortune?”
“Haha, I knew you’d come. Let’s go.” As Ning spoke, he sent mental messages to his four highest-ranking subordinates to temporarily take control over Darknorth Palace.
Swoosh. Swoosh. Ning and Ninedust quietly slipped away from Darknorth Palace that very night.
Ning had scanned this world many times with his heartworld projection, and so he knew its geography very well! Now that he had that scroll, Ning was able to guess as to approximately where this place was located.
In the end, this planet was still a few billion kilometers in diameter. If Ning had been forced to search through every inch of it, ten million years wouldn’t have been enough. This place was something which even a heartworld projection was unable to discover… even if he was just a meter away from it, he probably wouldn’t be able to recognize it for what it was.
“There’s a tree roughly nine meters thick. Once you touch it, you’ll immediately be able to enter that secret place.” After pulling Ninedust into his estate-world, Ning immediately activated the Shadowless evasion art.
Whoosh. Ning silently and soundless arrived in the rough location mentioned by the Daolord. He quickly eliminated the more slender trees from consideration. He was looking for something at least nine meters thick… as Ning saw it, this so called tree which held the secret location within it probably wasn’t an actual tree, just something disguised as one. It probably would never change in appearance.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Ning silently reached out to tap one tree after the other. His fingers were very gentle, ensuring that he generated no sound at all. He ended up spending two full days within the general region.
Tap. Ning casually tepped on the trunk of yet another large and leafy green tree in front of him… but his finger went straight through it. A sucking power was suddenly applied to his entire body as well. Ning was overjoyed and didn’t seek to resist, allowing himself to be drawn inside of the great tree.
Space twisted and turned around him. He was surrounded by emptiness, with only a giant towering mountain in front of him. Ning had appeared at the base of the mountain.
“Eh?” Ning kept the Shadowless evasion art active as he carefully scanned his surroundings. “This massive mountain is actually hanging in empty space… was this done by the Sithe?” He was able to vaguely gaze through the void around him and see the forest outside. Clearly, outsiders weren’t able to discover this place but those inside were able to see who was outside at any time. In fact, just a single step was needed to leave this place and return to the forest in the outside world.
“Hmph. The garrison stationed here really is powerful.” Ning immediately saw an garrison stationed roughly a thousand kilometers away from him. This garrison had two Emperor-class golems, six Samsara Daolords, and a very large number of World-level cultivators. There was also a giant cave entrance halfway up the mountain which led deep into its heart.
The mountain cave was dark and unfathomably deep, and it was covered by layers of ancient formations that glowed with hazy light. When Ning saw the barriers, he felt a vague sense of danger from them.
“These barriers are meant to prevent people from going inside the mountain,” Ning mused “Most likely, the Sithe treasury is located within it.”
“The barriers protecting the three great clans were already quite strong. There’s no way this place isn’t just as well protected. I probably won’t be able to force my way through the barriers.” Ning knew this to be true; logically speaking, he shouldn’t be able to breach the barriers. The vague sense of danger he sensed from the barriers had already testified to that.
Forcing his way through wouldn’t work. It seemed that the only option was to play a few tricks.
“Eh?” Ning turned, his gaze falling upon an enormous tower-shaped formation next to the garrison. At his current level power, he was able to recognize it right away. “A spacetime transfer array? It seems so intricate and marvelous.”
“No wonder I kept watch over the three great clans for so many years without discovering how the three great clans entered this place. So this spacetime transfer array is directly linked to the headquarters of the three great clans.” Ning couldn’t help but shake his head. This world was a vast one; the chances of one stumbling upon this particular tree were incredibly low. Even if someone did enter, the garrison stationed here would be able to easily slaughter that person. In the event of failure, the barriers surrounding the mountain cave would prevent any entry.
However… time grinds away at all things. Eventually, there will be a leak. The Daolord who had left that scroll behind had been able to enter through a lucky streak of fortune, and he had immediately left carefully. He had only survived because his luck really was incredible.
“What should we do? How are we supposed to go inside? Going inside by force isn’t an option. It seems we will have no choice but to wait.” Ning stared at the spacetime transfer array, then secretly shook his head. “Yes, just wait.”
Waiting was a clumsy method, but sometimes the simplest methods were quite effective!
“Darknorth, did you go inside yet?” Ninedust asked from within the estate-world. A white-robed incarnation of Ning appeared next to him.
“Don’t be impatient. I’ve already entered the secret area, but I’m in the outer regions of it. The entrance leading into the heart of this region has been blocked off by a barrier. It should’ve been the three great clans who set this barrier up; I really doubt I can breach it by force.” Ning shook his head. “Our only choice for now is to wait. Once the Daolords enter the heart of the region, I might be able to come up with a way to sneak through as well.
“They really are quite carefully. They actually set up a formation of barriers inside the secret area’s passageways as well?” Ninedust was speechless.