Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 1 – Avatar
As Ji Ning began to head towards the Jadefire Realm of the Terror Starsea, his avatar sent word to Ninedust via the Palace of Ancient Truth.
“Ninedust, you are in the Jadefire Realm? I’m on my way.” This was the simple message which Ning sent.
The Palace of Ancient Truth had branches within all eight of the Sacred Cities of the Dao Alliance, and the mighty Ancients were the power behind it. Ning’s words quickly made its way to the Ancients and thus to Ninedust’s avatar.
“What?!” Ninedust was shocked. He never would’ve imagined that Darknorth would find out that he had entered the Jadefire Realm. In his heart, he couldn’t help but feel gratitude; everyone knew that the place was a deathtrap! Darknorth knew it as well, but he still rushed towards it without hesitating.
“Darknorth, I’ve been chased by Archon Silksnow into the Jadefire Realm but I never made that information public. If you’ve found out… that means it must be Archon Silksnow who spread the news. This is his plot!” Ninedust sent word back to Ning as well. “No matter what, don’t come here. Archon Silksnow is a madman. This is definitely a plot aimed at you.”
His message made it back to Ning’s avatar in Vastheaven Palace… but alas, it was of no use.
“Ugh, Darknorth is so…” Ninedust knew that he wouldn’t be able to dissuade Ning, and so his avatar within the Ancient stronghold immediately headed off to Vastheaven Palace.
Outside Vastheaven Palace.
A man dressed in fluttering gray robes emerged from a tear in space, then stared at the distant Vastheaven Palace.
“Here I am.” The gray-robed man looked weatherworn, with anxiety written on his face. “I hope I made it in time.”
The gray-robed man waved his hand, causing countless drops of rain to appear in the air. The rain sprinkled down upon every inch of Vastheaven Palace, but the power within the rain was completely blocked by the barriers protecting the palace itself. The blocked power generated ripples which immediately attracted the interest of Emperor Solesky and Ji Ning’s avatar.
“Eh?” Both emerged from the barriers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder as they stared off into the distance.
“Ha.” Ning’s avatar grinned. “You can head on back, big brother Solesky. Let me have a chat with my old friend.” Ning’s avatar then strode into the skies towards the gray-robed man.
Emperor Solesky smiled as well. He was also able to recognize who it was, as the gray-robed man had discarded his disguise and revealed his true appearance. It was indeed the Ninedust Sectlord.
“Ninedust.” Ning’s avatar walked over to stand next to the gray-robed man.
“Darknorth.” Ninedust looked at Ning, his feelings rather mixed. Although he didn’t wish for Ning to know that he was in great danger, he also felt very grateful for the way in which Ning had reacted upon finding out. This was what true brothers were like!
“I’m not too late, am I?” Ninedust asked. “Your true body hasn’t entered the Jadefire Realm yet, has it?”
“Not even close. I need to be careful when traversing the Terror Starsea. I can’t just blink about willy-nilly like here in the Flamedragon Realmverse,” Ning said with a smile. “It’ll take me at least another thousand years or so before I make it there.”
Ninedust let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness… eh?” Ninedust peered at Ning intently, rather surprised. “Why do I feel as though your aura has changed a bit?”
Although both were merely avatars, their auras were generated by their truesouls and their Daos. An evil cultivator’s very aura would become evil and malicious! Since the true body and the avatar were linked together and analogous, the aura of Ning’s avatar had indeed changed and become more powerful since last they met.
In the past, Ning was reserved and stately, like a blade that would reveal its sharpness when unleashed. Now, however, he seemed as vast and ineffable as the starry sky, but also as gentle as a drop of water. One couldn’t help but like him upon seeing him. He possessed a certain deep magnetism.
“It was caused by an illusory art I created,” Ning said.
“Illusory art?” Ninedust was surprised. “You’ve already reached such profound heights in the Dao of the Sword. How is it that an illusory art could have changed you this much?”
If one focused on illusions, one would generally gain tremendous charisma. Su Youji was a classic example of this. Ordinary cultivators who saw Su Youji would be uncontrollably intoxicated by her to the point of willingly following her as her servant. For those who had reached incredible heights in the art of illusions, their natural auras alone could seduce others without them even actively trying to do so.
Ning’s [Unfettered Dreamlands] technique was an illusory art Ning had spent over half a chaos cycle working on. He had created it with the assistance of the Autarch’s stone dais after he had delved into the many mysteries of the countless techniques he had studied. For it to have affected him was only normal.
“I was focusing on illusions recently and managed to make some progress.” Ning smiled smugly.
“Alright. Enough about your illusions.” Ninedust immediately said, “I came over here at full speed because I want you to avoid entering the Jadefire Realm. You already know that this is Archon Silksnow’s plot; why must you fall into it?”
Ning shook his head. “Plot? What sort of plot could he possibly have? Ninedust, why don’t you tell me what you think he can be plotting?”
“Don’t underestimate him. He’s crazy.” Ninedust revealed an anxious look. “I was chased by him through the Terror Starsea. I fled in panic and used up pretty much all of my treasures. When we moved past the Jadefire Realm, I gritted my teeth and dove into it to save my own skin.”
Ning nodded slowly. Faced with certain death, it only made sense that Ninedust had jumped into a deathtrap. At least that way, he had a chance, no matter how tiny. If he didn’t, he would be doomed once Archon Silksnow caught up to him.
“I thought that once I dove into it, he would be afraid to follow me inside.” Ninedust shook his head. “I was wrong. That madman actually charged in right behind me.”
“Oh?” Ning narrowed his eyes. “He went in as well? Does he have a death-wish?”
“That’s why I said he’s crazy!” Ninedust said seriously, “The Jadefire Realm is a deathtrap which the Sithe set up during the Dawn War. Even though we beat them in the end, many of our major powers died in it during the war! Even though I charged inside, if I’m careful and take my time, I should still have a chance to find an escape path and be able to leave it… but now that Arhcon Silksnow has charged inside as well, I’m forced to continue my headlong flight. I’m being forced to straight for the more dangerous-looking places inside the Jadefire Realm… but he’s still chasing me! In the end, I ended up being trapped in a place that looks like some sort of prison.”
“Prison?” Ning frowned.
“I’m not too sure myself. All I know is that I’m trapped within a small area of just thirty or so meters.” Ninedust sighed. “Thankfully, there’s no danger inside the cell for now… and Archon Silksnow didn’t dare to continue his pursuit.”
“A prison-like place, eh?” Ning frowned pensively. He was a member of the Brightshore Kingdom, after all; he had immediately set off to acquire a map of the Terror Starsea from the Brightshore Hegemon. He was planning to use treasures to trade for it, but Hegemon Brightshore had just given it for free. He now had maps from both the Hegemon and Daoist Bluestone, and as a result, he knew a bit about the Jadefire Realm. The Jadefire Realm was a deathtrap the Sithe had set up… and at its very center lay the prisons!
Quite a few major powers of the cultivator civilizations had been trapped within the Jadefire Realm. Many of them were unable to escape! Once the Sithe had trapped enough major powers, they would unleash a single ‘Decimatus Wave’ and annihilate all of the prisoners! Hegemon Brightshore’s records stated it thusly:
“The Jadefire Realm’s prisons are primarily spread across seven regions, and there are differences in them based on importance. However, the Sithe are all dead. I once scanned them from afar and found no signs of life within them… but the place is still filled with countless dangers. Although the Jadefire Realm has been badly damaged, rendering its apocalypse wave unusable, there are still many formations and barriers that are strong enough to cause even Hegemons to die.”
“The prisons?” Ning frowned. “Damn that Silksnow!” Even the ordinary prisons within the Jadefire Realm were incredibly dangerous places!
“Don’t worry, I’m fine for now,” Ninedust said hurriedly. “I’m merely restricted to a thirty-meter region. So long as I don’t touch any of the barriers, I won’t be in any danger.”
“But you are still in one of the Jadefire Realm’s prisons!” Ning was worried.
“That’s why you need to stay away, Darknorth.” Ninedust said hurriedly, “Archon Silksnow was crazy enough to charge in because he wants to use it to get rid of the two of us. He’s cast all caution to the wind. He’s already been inside for quite some time; by now, he probably knows quite a bit about that place. He has probably prepared traps for you! Once you go there, you’ll be in a new and foreign place. It’ll be easy for him to trick you.”
“I’m no fool,” Ning laughed.
“But he has the advantage!” Ninedust argued.
“Don’t worry. I’m not completely ignorant of the Jadefire Realm.” Ning shook his head. He had star maps from Daoist Bluestone and Hegemon Brightshore. As a result, he was quite familiar with the Jadefire Realm by now. “And… I’ve been wanting to get rid of him for some time now. If we just let that vile madman do as he pleases, he might end up causing some real trouble in the future. Best to get rid of him soon.”
“You…!” Ninedust was extremely anxious. “How can you…”
“It’s not like you don’t know what sort of temper I have.” Ning grinned.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to dissuade you, but I still had to try.” Ninedust felt quite resigned. “Ugh. After all that talking, I still wasn’t able to budge you in the slightest! No matter what, safety first!”
“I’m not a hot-headed kid anymore,” Ning said with a laugh. “The only way I’ll be able to save you is if I keep myself alive.”