Book 37, Flamewing God, Chapter 8 – Prison Region
“Just look at yourself,” Ji Ning grinned. “Trapped in a cage and unable to escape.” As he spoke he carefully inspected the flaming cage, hoping to find a way to break it open.
“And just what was I supposed to do? I had nowhere to go and nowhere to run. I had no choice but to hide inside here!” Ninedust laughed helplessly. “I might be trapped, but at least I avoided death. It’s kind of funny, actually… I didn’t die, but Archon Silksnow did! Darknorth, you are simply incredible. You actually forced him into committing suicide!”
Ninedust’s avatar was at Vastheaven Palace. Thus, as soon as Archon Silksnow had died Ninedust’s avatar had asked Ning’s avatar what had happened, resulting in him gaining a general idea of what had happened.
Ning chuckled. “Don’t praise me. It was mainly thanks to my golem over here.”
“To be able to command a golem of such strength is a testament to your power as well. Why don’t I have a golem like that? Archon Silksnow was alive for all those years, but he never acquired a golem like that. Why? Why did you have one instead of him? Because you are strong!” Ninedust said, seated in the lotus position inside the flame cage.
Ning had acquired this golem in a trade from Daoist Bluestone. It was precisely because Ning walked the path of the Omega Sword Dao that Daoist Bluestone had been willing to hand over such an incredibly powerful golem to trade for it. Yes, it was indeed due to Ning’s strength.
Strength was needed to acquire any and all treasures. Even if you were lucky enough to stumble across a treasure of incredible power, if you yourself weren’t strong enough you would quickly lose it to someone stronger than you.
“Everyone in the Endless Territories is talking about how Archon Silksnow is dead. It has been a long, long time since any of the lords of the Sacred Cities have perished,” Ninedust said excitedly. “I rather want to tell everyone in the Endless Territories that you forced him to commit suicide! Haha…”
“Don’t do that. What really matters right now is getting you out of there before something unexpected happens.” Ning continued to carefully examine Ninedust’s cage.
“Any ideas?” Ninedust was rather eager.
“Don’t be so impatient.” Ning scrutinized the cage while analyzing it. It looked quite ordinary, and it was easily entered… but there was no way out! Not even Hegemons would be able to escape this cage. The Ninedust Sectlord had charged into it because he didn’t know anything about it. Archon Silksnow had been alive for very long and knew that the most dangerous parts of the Jadefire Realm were its prisons, and so he didn’t dare to follow Ninedust inside.
“This cage is part of an extremely large formation,” Ning said slowly. “I can sense some of its ripples in the air. Wait a moment, I’m going to go take a look at some of the other parts.”
Swoosh. Ning flew off into the distance while following the spatial ripples, with Whitethaw immediately following behind him.
“Be careful. I’m in no rush; I have plenty of time. Don’t let yourself get trapped as well!” Ninedust called out loudly. He knew how dangerous the Jadefire Realm was and was worried about Ning’s safety.
Ning followed the ripples and soon reached another flaming cage in the air. This one was completely empty.
Swoosh. Swoosh. Ning continued to advance while following the ripples. Soon, he encountered yet another cage…
The cages were all formed of flames, and they scattered throughout the area in a disorderly and irregular manner. However, they seemed to be connected to each other by invisible threads.
“Eh?” Ning’s eyes narrowed. The flaming midair cage up ahead was devoid of all life, but there were some magic treasures inside of it. There was a greataxe, a suit of aromr, an estate-world, and other treasures. The greataxe was double-bladed, and a lightning-shaped scar was on its edges. It emanated an aura of power that was simply shocking; it had to be a Universe treasure.
“A Universe treasure? Generally, only Emperors can take possession of Universe treasures. Even if the Emperor was trapped here during the Dawn Wars, he should still be able to be able to stay alive…” Ning pondered. “Perhaps some of the cultivators were trapped here during the Dawn Wars were killed by the ‘Decimatus Wave’, but the Sithe didn’t have a chance to collect their treasures.”
Ning’s guess was spot-on. After enough cultivators were trapped within the many flaming cages within the Jadefire Realm, the Sithe would activate a single ‘Decimatus Wave’ to wipe them all out in one go! They would similarly sweep through the cages and collect all the treasures at one go as well.
However, what happened was that when the Jadefire Realm had been attacked and breached, the despairing Sithe had chosen to unleash one final ‘Decimatus Wave’ before dying. The treasures of the dead cultivators were naturally left within the cages.
The one who had breached the Jadefire Realm had been an exalted Autarch! There was no way someone like an Autarch would slowly pick through one prison cell after another to loot the various treasures inside. To Autarchs, such treasures were of minimal interest, and this one in particular was in a hurry to hasten off to another battlefield.
After spending a full day, Ning finished inspecting the entire prison region. The prison region consisted of many flame cages which were clustered together like the stars in the night sky. The cages were all linked together as part of one massive and incredibly profound formation which was divided into seven primary regions! Each of the seven regions had extremely large cells at their center, with three of them having been completely destroyed. As a result, the prison as a whole was no longer able to unleash the ‘Decimatus Wave’.
“How does it look?” Ninedust immediately asked as Ning flew back to him.
“Some of the cages in the prison area have been damaged, and three of the seven primary cages have been destroyed.” Ning looked at Ninedust. “However, the cage you are in is completely undamaged. I don’t think even a Hegemon could burst through it with raw power! As for finding its flaws… I haven’t been able to find anything yet. This prison formation is simply far too complicated.”
Ninedust couldn’t help but feel both startled and despondent.
“Ninedust, let me think on this. There’ll definitely be a way to bring you out.” Ning thought furiously. Even his Primaltwin, seated atop the Autarch’s stone dais in the second hall of the Azureflower Estate, was focusing its efforts on finding a solution.
“Darknorth, don’t try to force things. This is nothing.” Ninedust smiled. He didn’t know much about the Jadefire Realm at first, but after his avatar had met with Ning’s avatar he had learned quite a bit of detailed information regarding the Jadefire Realm from Ning. Only now did he understand how terrifying the prison region was and how dangerous his situation was.
“As you yourself said, even if Hegemon Brightshore and the others came they wouldn’t necessarily be able to breach the prison region. This was a place used to imprison cultivators during the Dawn War!” Ninedust said. “Don’t force yourself. I don’t mind be trapped here. If push comes to shove, I’ll just slowly train here and then initiate my Daomerge within this cell!”
If I succeed, I’ll be a Hegemon with an infinite lifespan. I’ll have plenty of time to slowly work away at this cell. Sooner or later, I’ll succeed,” Ninedust consoled Ning.
“The central components of the prison region have been destroyed. This cell might be undamaged, but there’s still a chance to break it open.” Ning gritted his teeth. He certainly didn’t wish for Ninedust to stay here until the time came for his Daomerge.
Time passed, one day after another. Ning spent a total of nine days in silent meditation, but still was unable to come up with any ideas.
“Master,” Whitethaw suddenly said.
“Hm?” Ning glanced towards him.
“There’s another place in the Jadefire Realm which might be of use to you in unlocking this cell,” Whitethaw said.
“What place?” Ning was delighted. “Lead the way immediately.”
“Follow me, Master.” Whitethaw immediately led the way.
The many cells within the prison region were scattered haphazardly, and the seven core cages were arranged in a strange pattern in seven different places. Three of them had been completely destroyed, of course.
Whitethaw led Ning in flying towards the most central region of the prison cells.
“Master.” Whitethaw pointed towards the empty area up ahead. “I was once invited over there along with my Sithe master. We entered a special space over there from where the Sithe controlled the entire Jadefire Realm.”
“Controlled the entire Jadefire Realm?” Ning revealed a look of delight. “Right! I should’ve thought of this long ago. Given how vast it is and how many flaming passageways and cells it contains, there has to be a central control mechanism. Whitespace, where is that region?”
“I’m not sure either.” Whitethaw pointed towards the front. “It should be within a three hundred meter radius up ahead. I followed my master inside, and when we entered that region I felt space twist around me. We immediately appeared inside it.”
“Oh?” Ning nodded slowly, then walked through the air towards that region while keenly scanning it.
Whoosh. His body suddenly broke apart into countless pieces as he assumed his Shadowless form, closely attuning himself to the dimensional ripples nearby.
“Ah, there are some flaws after all.” Ning quickly found the traces of the dimensional ripples and their strange cadence. His Shadowless form was able to merge into them and attune to them.
“Arise.” Ning waved a finger, causing a streak of sword-light to tear through that region by force. A dimensional tear appeared before him.