Book 38, Daomerge, Chapter 37 – Fifty Chaos Cycles in the Icewind Sea
Daoist Towerdawn waved his hand as he spoke, causing a jade green box to open in front of him. Within the box was five fiery red fruits that emanated such succulent auras, Ji Ning couldn’t help but begin to drool.
“Thank you.” Ning gladly waved his hand and accepted them all. Although these fruits might be of limited use to him, they would be of tremendous use to the likes of his good friend Ninedust or his master Subhuti when the time came for their Daomerge.
“No need for thanks. This is just like candy to me; the only thing it is good for is the taste. It’s only useful to you Daolords.” Daoist Towerdawn’s attitude towards Ning had clearly improved quite a bit. “Come, let me take you to the Daomerge Firecloud Flower.”
Ning’s eyes lit up. He immediately led Flamewing, Azurefiend, and Whitethaw to follow Daoist Towerdawn and the armored Sourcewalker in quickly delving deep underground.
The depths of the Icewind Sea were filled with frozen tunnels. Daoist Towerdawn quickly led Ning’s group before a spacetime formation.
“This realm of mine has many tempests within it, causing spacetime to be unstable. Even I am unable to warp through spacetime,” Daoist Towerdawn said. “That’s why I spent quite a bit of effort in setting up all these formations to stabilize spacetime in certain areas. I was able to create a total of eight stable spacetime tunnels that allow me to travel to various parts of the Icewind Sea quite quickly.”
“Prior to this, we were forced to slowly fly normally,” Azurefiend said with a laugh.
“Haha, when cultivators see us they are usually terrified and will flee immediately,” Daoist Towerdawn laughed. “Very few are unafraid of us. Come, let us enter the formation.”
Whoosh. The formation stabilized spacetime, creating a stable spacetime tunnel that allowed Ning’s group to be quickly transported to a different part of the Icewind Sea. Soon, Daoist Towerdawn led them to the location which held the Daomerge Firecloud Flower.
Deep within the earth, there was a freezing pool of water that glowed with azure light. At the very center of the pool was a flower that was slowly swaying. The flower had yet to bloom, but it was already tinged with a pink color. It had three leaves, and all of them were a fiery red color and seemed to be kissed by flames.
“That right there is the Daomerge Firecloud Flower.” Daoist Towerdawn pointed as he spoke: “Once the Daomerge Firecloud Flower blooms, it’ll be truly magnificent.”
“So this Daomerge Firecloud Flower is located underground?” Ning was rather startled. “Daoist Towerdawn, is it really true that there are no other Daomerge Firecloud Flowers in the Icewind Sea?” The one which Realmslord Windgrace has spoken of was located in a valley. But of course, that was a long, long time ago; that flower had long ago bloomed and been harvested. Still, Ning felt that there should be others above ground as well.
“Daomerge Firecloud Flowers are very unique, and only a place as unique as the Icewind Sea can give birth to them. More importantly, the Icewind Sea can only give birth to one at a time.” Daoist Towerdawn laughed. “Sometimes, it’ll bloom underground; other times, it’ll bloom on mountain peaks or halfway up a mountain. It can bloom anywhere in the Icewind Sea, but only one can ever exist at any point in time! This is my territory, and I know it quite well.”
“It’s true, there’s only one at any point in time,” the armored Sourcewalker agreed. “And it causes quite a disturbance when it blooms. There’s no way we’d miss the telltale signs of it. My big brother is often roaming the outside world, but I always reside here in the Icewind Sea. I’ve seen hundreds of Daomerge Firecloud Flowers bloom, and each time the process is the same.”
Ning nodded. Even if they had been able to sneak in undetected, they wouldn’t have been able to find the flower even after scouring the entire surface of the Icewind Sea. As for the underground area? The frozen underground tunnels were all incredibly winding and complex; it’d be even harder to find the flower down here, and their chances of being discovered would increase dramatically.
It seems that them being discovered early on and being forced into battle against Daolord Towerdawn was actually a good thing. It ensured they didn’t waste too much time, at least!
“It only has a bud and stem; it’ll be tens of thousands of chaos cycles before it blooms.” Daoist Towerdawn looked at Ning. “Will you set up a formation, or shall I do it for you?”
“Allow me.” Ning immediately stepped forward.
“Your formations are stronger than mine, and you are more detail-oriented as well.” Daoist Towerdawn smiled merrily as he watched from nearby. He normally always had an icy look on his face, but today he was in an exceptionally good mood. This Sithe weapon which had puzzled and frustrated him for countless aeons had finally been unsealed! He had already bound it in secret and now knew how it was used. With this weapon at his disposal, he was now significantly more powerful than he had been in the past, and his status amongst his friends and peers would probably rise a bit.
Ning carefully and attentively set up a temporal acceleration formation around the entire freezing pool. Although Daoist Towerdawn had stated that the maximum was 1000x temporal acceleration, Ning only gradually and carefully increased the temporal acceleration rate.
100x… 300x… 500x…
Ning was afraid that he might disturb the Daomerge Firecloud Flower’s growth patterns, but in the end Daoist Towerdawn was right; Ning was able to upgrade the temporal acceleration all the way to 1000x without any instability at all.
“Whew.” Ning let out a sigh of relief. The Daomerge Firecloud Flower was at hand. For now, he could think of nothing else he needed for his preparations. As far as external sources of support went, he had the Autarch’s stone dais, the Stonefire Pearl, and a Daomerge Firecloud Flower. It could be said that his preparations were perfect.
Ning temporarily took up residence in the Icewind Sea. Daoist Towerdawn and his brother welcomed him warmly, and eventually Ning learned that the armored Sourcewalker’s Daoist title was ‘Fireflame’. The Sourcewalker had clearly chose to live in a place like the Icewind Sea, and yet chose ‘Fireflame’ as his title. Ning really didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
Ning ended up spending more than fifty chaos cycles in the Icewind Sea! This was an extremely long period of time for Ning. His Primaltwin continued to remain within the Azureflower Estate, maintaining a 100x rate of temporal acceleration atop the Autarch’s stone dais as he meditated on one technique after another, wasting not even a single moment of time. He spent a total of over 5000 accelerated chaos cycles in training.
In truth, given Ning’s mastery over spacetime, formations, karma, and his Omega Sword Dao, it was quite easy for him to study other techniques. Even the most difficult of Daos, the Dao of Numerancy, Ning managed to learn after spending less than half the time he had needed for the Dao of Karma. This was because the Dao of Formations and the Dao of Karma both had many links to the Dao of Numerancy.
In truth, there were many Daos which overlapped with each other in important ways. For example, the Dao of Ice and the Dao of Water! ‘Ice’ was considered part of the Dao of Water, but the Dao of Ice was a purer extension of it which would allow one to walk farther along this path.
One Dao after another… Ning reached the Archon level in many of them, allowing him to gain many new insights as to how the vast Chaosverse functioned. However, as he suspected, he was unable to gain even a single new insight into his Omega Sword Dao.
There was no technique, no cultivation path, no insights which would be of use to him in his Omega Sword Dao.
“I am making no progress whatsoever. All I can do is throw everything into the Daomerge,” Ning mused.
The many years he spent in the Icewind Sea served to temper his heart, making his Daoheart even purer than before. All other thoughts had fled from him; his only thoughts were of the Daomerge.
Ning, Daoist Towerdawn, the Flamewing God, and the others had all assembled deep underground next to the flaming pool.
“Almost. It’s going to bloom at any moment.” Daoist Towerdawn and Daoist Fireflame, the two Sourcewalkers, watched with looks of expectation in their eyes.
Ning stared intently at the flower in the middle of the pool. It was in the process of budding. Compared to before, the amount of marvelous energy gathering inside it had grown markedly more dense, almost as though it was about to explode at any moment.
Whoosh! Suddenly, without any preamble, the flower bloomed. Flaming energy swirled out around the surrounding area, forming a beautiful flaming flower.
Flaming clouds circled the area, ensconced by leaves. The flower had bloomed, releasing its beauty unto the world for all to see.
“The Firecloud Flower.” Ning murmured softly, “The Daomerge Firecloud Flower.”
“Hurry up and harvest it, Darknorth!” Daoist Towerdawn said.
Ning immediately stepped forwards and dispelled his formation, then sent his Immortal energy towards the flower. It easily covered the entire Firecloud Flower and then pulled it out by the roots. At the same time, Ning caused a jade box to manifest in front of him. The jade box opened, and Ning placed the flower into the box while setting up a temporal deceleration formation over it.
The flow of time continued to slow. Once it reached the rate of a millionth of the normal rate of time, Ning realized that the amount of energy it took to maintain the formation suddenly skyrocketed to the point where even he couldn’t endure it.
“Don’t try to force it,” Daoist Towerdawn said. “Once the Daomerge Firecloud Flower blooms, it has to be used within a thousand years. Otherwise, its marvelous energies will completely evaporate. You can cause time to slow down around it, but its energies will naturally try to resist. That’s why it’s impossible for you to completely freeze time around it.”
Ning nodded in understanding. It was impossible for anyone to completely stop the Daomerge Firecloud Flower’s energies from dissipating. If one could simply stop time around it, then it would be easy to harvest and then store Daomerge Firecloud Flowers for Daolords to use. However, at most one would be able to slow down time to a millionth the normal rate; in other words, at absolute most the flower could be preserved for roughly a billion years. No major power, no matter how mighty, would be able to accumulate a large supply of Daomerge Firecloud Flowers.”
“It’s enough. I’ll have enough time to bring it back to my homeland.” Ning smiled as he looked at Daoist Towerdawn. “Brother Towerdawn, I’ve bothered you quite a bit in recent days. It is time for us to leave.”
“The Daomerge is the greatest obstacle you cultivators must face. You must be careful. If you succeed, we’ll be able to meet again in the future,” Daoist Towerdawn said.