Book 38, Daomerge, Chapter 22 – Stonefire Pearl
Within the Azureflower Estate.
The black-robed Ji Ning was seated in the lotus position atop the stone dais. He had already been in this position for more than ten chaos cycles without moving at all.
“Success.” The black-robed Ning suddenly opened his eyes and smiled. He waved his hand, causing a series of jade slips to appear next to him. Ning had filled every sigle one of the jade slips with all sorts of techniques which he had devised over the course of many years. Although only ten chaos cycles had gone past in the real world, he had spent that entire period of time under 100x temporal acceleration. In other words, for him over a thousand chaos cycles had already gone by.
Ning had come up with a total of ten Archon-class techniques. These techniques were based on his Omega Sword Dao, his heartforce illusions, the Dao of Fire, the Dao of Water, the Dao of Thunder, the Dao of Space, the Dao of Formations, the Dao of Metal, the Dao of Wood, and the Dao of Earth. There were ten Daos in total.
After slaughtering Hegemon Winterflame, Ning had chosen to work in simpler Daos such as that of Metal, Wood, and Earth, so that he would more quickly acquire the treasure reward. He personally wanted to study the Dao of Time, but judging from how he had spent more than two hundred chaos cycles working on the Dao of Space, he felt likely that he would need to spend even more time on Time.
In the end, he was a sword cultivator. As a result, he was quite quick with the Dao of Metal, making his breakthrough in just twenty or so chaos cycles. He wasn’t very talented in the Dao of Wood, and so he spent more than fifty chaos cycles on it. As for the final member of the Five Elements, ‘Earth’? Thanks to the fact that he had already mastered the first four, he had actually managed to complete his mastery of it in just ten or so chaos cycles.
In just ninety ‘real’ chaos cycles (900 chaos cycles for him), he had actually managed to create three Archon-class techniques.
“Senior,” the black-robed Ning called out. The distant white-haired elder, also seated in the lotus position, slowly opened his eyes.
“Senior, you already know about my Omega Sword Dao and my illusions. Here are the other eight techniques.” Ning pointed at the eight slips levitating in the air behind him. “Please take a look at them.” The eight jade slips all floated over to the white-haired man.
“That fast?” The white-haired old man’s eyes lit up as he immediately stared at the eight slips. After analyzing them, he nodded: “Not bad. You’ve mastered all five of the Five Elements, and you actually made tremendous progress in even the Dao of Formations. You truly do have an incredibly high level of comprehension of the Dao. In truth, just judging from how quickly you were able to create your Omega Sword Dao and then reach the Fourth Step as a Daolord, I felt certain that your comprehension skills were exceptional. However, I still had to obey my master’s orders.”
“Of course.” Ning nodded. In truth, one’s comprehension skills could change. For example, even the most ‘talented’ of newborns wouldn’t be able to comprehend much. The many experiences you went through in life would mold you like metal in a forge, either breaking you or making you stronger, harder, and more dazzling. Ning’s heart had been completely focused on the Dao of the Sword, and he had experienced many exceptional things before reaching his current heights. Now that he had reached the fourteenth stance of the [Heartsword], his heart and his will were both incredibly pure, allowing him to train even more quickly than before.
“You’ve created ten techniques, which means I can give that treasure which Master left behind.” The white-haired old man waved his hand. Whoosh. The hall suddenly seemed to ripple as rays of light appeared, causing a tiny fist-sized space to appear at the very center of the room. After this tiny space appeared, one could vaguely make out two objects levitating within it.
The first object was a completely round and slick pearl. It looked to be roughly the size of an egg, and it emanated incorporeal ripples that could be seen with the naked eye. Ning could sense the waves of power sweeping across him, causing him to feel more relaxed and comfortable than he ever had before. He felt almost like a child in his mother’s embrace; that was how incredibly warm and soothing this felt.
The second object was also round, but it was covered with countless lines and runes.
“Come here.” The white-haired man waved his hand, causing both objects to float over towards him. “Darknorth.” The white-haired elder looked at Ning. “This first treasure was named by my master and the Autarchs as the ‘Stonefire Pearl’. All of them concur that it had to be a naturally-occuring treasure manifested by the Chaosverse, and that it is the number one most helpful cultivation treasure. Master focused all of his efforts on completing the Nine Chaos Seals, and so he found these types of treasures to be invaluable. As a result, he paid a fairly significant price to convince the other Autarchs to let him have it.”
Ning was shocked. So Autarch Awakener had personally used this treasure in the past?
“Let me tell you about its history.” The white-haired elder laughed. “Our story begins when the Sithe were at the prime of their power. They had yet to launch the great war against the cultivator civilizations, but my master and the others were already secretly on guard against them, keeping a vigilant eye on them at all times. One time, Master and the others suddenly sensed a hint of danger appear and so they hurriedly joined forces to go to that location. They discovered that the Sithe had captured and were escorting a strange stone lifeform who was completely covered in flames. My Master and the others did not hesitate at all; they immediately attacked! The Sithe either fled or died. As for the ‘stonefire’ lifeform? It was actually on par with my Master and the other Autarchs in might!”
“On par with Autarchs?!” Ning was amazed. “The Sithe are actually in control of creatures with such power?”
“That creature probably wasn’t a Sithe. None of us know where the Sithe found the thing and how they took control over it,” the white-haired elder said. “Master and his peers spent tens of thousands of years battling it before it finally ran out of energy and died. As soon as the strange stonefire creature died, its body crumbled apart and revealed this pearl within it.”
“This pearl has marvelous properties and is of tremendous use to cultivators when training,” the white-haired elder said. “We found a total of just two creatures which had reached this level of power. One was this stonefire creature, the other was an iceberg creature that was also controlled by the Sithe and fought for them during the Dawn War. The Autarchs killed both of these creatures. I imagine they should know more about where these creatures came from, but they’ve never discussed it with me.”
Ning sighed in amazement. Living creatures who were on par with Autarchs in power? “Can the Sithe have created them?” Ning asked.
“Impossible. They were actual living beings,” the white-haired elder.
“Autarch Awakener didn’t provide any additional information about them?” Ning asked.
“No. He did once say that with the Sithe having been annihilated, these creatures will no longer be seen ever again,” the white-haired elder said.
Ning nodded, but he was still completely puzzled. Why was it that these terrifying creatures would no longer appear now that the Sithe were gone? Ning couldn’t help but sigh to himself. In the end, he simply hadn’t visited enough places. He hadn’t even seen a fraction of what Emperor Waveshift had seen, to say nothing of the Autarchs. He knew far too little about the vast Chaosverse.
“This Stonefire Pearl is now yours.” The white-haired elder handed it over to Ning while saying, “But of course, you are not allowed to give it to others. If you die in the future, it’ll fly back to the estate and await its next destined owner.”
“Fly back?” After accepting the pearl, Ning at first felt as though it was rather cool. Soon, however, the warmth of his hand began to heat it up.
Ning sent his divine power into the pearl to investigate it. “Eh, it’s not a magic treasure?” Ning was surprised. This was just an ordinary item, not a magic treasure; how was he supposed to bind and use it?
“This is a natural treasure. All you need to do is to send a strand of your godsense into it and you’ll be able to activate it,” the white-haired elder said. “This estate also holds the stonefire creature’s corpse within it. If no one is in control of the pearl, it’ll pass through spacetime and then come back.”
“How incredible.” Ning was shocked.
“The Autarchs destroyed the stonefire creature and shattered its bodies into tiny bits, but the Stonefire Pearl would fly back towards the shattered bits of its body and quickly bring it back to life.” The white-haired elder laughed. “In the end, Master and the others had to destroy its soul and truesoul before it stopped trying to revive itself. By now, the corpse has been ensorcered by Master and remains suppressed in here, and so once you die, Darknorth, the Stonefire Pearl will come back to this place.”
Ning nodded. As soon as he had sent a strand of his godsense into the pearl, he was able to sense that it seemed to have become part of himself and had become completely one with him.
“Come in.” Ning willed the Stonefire Pearl to enter his body. A faint warmth spread throughout every part of him, and his soul and truesoul both felt incredibly at ease. When Ning attempted to meditate on the Dao of Time in this state, he immediately felt as though a wellspring of insights began to flow through his mind.
“This is incredibly useful for cultivation.” The white-haired elder smiled. “It is the number one cultivation treasure, which means it is naturally also the number one Daomerge treasure.”
Ning felt a sense of excitement in his heart. Hegemon Brightshore and the others had actively contested over Crimsonwave Temple’s fruits. Why? Because those fruits could be used to forge spirit-pills which when eaten would be of tremendous use for cultivation.
The Stonefire Pearl was the supreme cultivation treasure which had been used by Autarch Awakener himself, and the same was true for the stone dais. Now… both had been inherited by Ning.
“I’m sure you know what Master was hoping for when he left these things to you.” The white-haired elder looked at Ning.
“I understand. Autarch Awakener’s greatest wish was for the Nine Chaos Seals to be perfected,” Ning said.
“Yes. This was his greatest regret in life.”
The white-haired elder nodded, then gently waved a finger and caused the second floating sphere to fly over towards Ning as well.
Ning saw that this sphere was covered with countless runes and patterned lines which flowed across its surface. He immediately had the feeling that it was connected to the Nine Chaos Seals somehow. The white-haired elder explained, “This is the Heart of Eternity. It is covered with layers of runes, all of which must be deciphered and resolved. Darknorth, you should continuously work at solving these layers of runes. Once you’ve completely mastered all ninety-nine layers of runes which cover the Heart of Eternity, you will have reached Master’s level of insight into the Nine Chaos Seals.”
“But solving and comprehending the Heart of Eternity merely means you have reached his level in just a single aspect!” The white-haired elder looked at Ning. “My master’s hope is that someone can improve this technique to the Eternal Emperor level, which was why he named this sphere the Heart of Eternity. Learning to solve it will be of some assistance to you in the Daomerge. Although the assistance will be fairly minimal, Master left behind a final treasure within the core of the Heart of Eternity. If you can fully solve it then the treasure inside it will be yours, and I can promise you that it is just as valuable as the Stonefire Pearl.”
Ning felt both joy and sorrow. Autarch Awakener truly had spared no expense in trying to ensure that his ‘heirs’ would complete the Nine Chaos Seals. He had even gone so far as to seal away a treasure inside the Heart of Eternity! If someone wanted to acquire it, they would have to first completely deconstruct the Heart of Eternity and reach Autarch Awakener’s level of insight in the Nine Chaos Seals. This would truly require an enormous amount of effort.