Book 40, The Five Autarchs, Chapter 1 – The Imprisoned Exalt
Spacetime around the Wellspring Sea was in a state of constant flux. It had taken even the Blazesun Ruler a full three years of travel via his warship before he had managed to pass through it. Ji Ning was at a higher level of insight than him, but it had still taken Ning a full five months before passing through the region of dangerous, distorted spacetime.
If you made a mistake when passing through a region of distorted spacetime, you could end up within a spacetime fragment and be forever unable to escape! If you were ‘lucky’, you might simply be teleported to an incredibly distant place… which might end up being a death trap.
This was why the Blazesun Ruler had felt so certain that he was the only person to discover the Blazesun Wellspring Sea. At first, he didn’t even consider the possibility that Ning would be there. It was only after his forces had searched the entire Blazesun Domain to no avail that he had thought of this place and came here to test us luck.
“Head in that direction,” Ning ordered as he used his Sword Dao domain to chop a spacetime tunnel open for the realmship to pass through.
“This Wellspring Sea truly was hidden quite well,” Hegemon Azurefiend mumbled to himself.
“I often visit the Blazesun Domain, but I’ve never even heard of this place,” Patriarch Treewind said.
They continued to advance through the twisting, changing spacetime continuum. They constantly changed directions as they advanced, and after a full month Ning suddenly called out, “Halt!”
“Master, we haven’t left yet,” Hegemon Azurefiend said.
“I’m preparing to train here for a period of time,” Ning said with a smile. “This is currently the safest place in the entire Blazesun Domain.”
“Huh?” Everyone present looked flabbergasted.
“The Wellspring Sea is like a boulder which is sitting within many currents of chaotic spacetime,” Ning said. “It doesn’t matter which way we go; we’ll still run into those streams. The Blazesun Ruler is at a lower level of insight than me; even if he came back with four other Domain Rulers, he would still just follow the pathways he is already familiar with. There’s no way he would search and scan all of the possible routes. At his current level, if he dared to do so he’d probably get lost! My guess is that the reason why he was even able to find the Wellspring Sea was because he had the warship helping him out; otherwise, he would never have been able to find this place.”
Ning’s guess was correct. The warship was even more tightly attuned to spacetime than ordinary realmships were, and it was primarily thanks to the warship that the Blazesun Ruler had been able to find the Wellspring Sea.
“They won’t be able to find me as I train here,” Ning said. “Their chances might improve if there are three or four of them, but eventually the other Domain Rulers will have to go back. There’s no way they’ll stay in the Blazesun Domain the entire time.”
Ning partially wanted a quiet place to train, but he also wanted to be cautious. Battling against the likes of the Blazesun Ruler was truly pointless for him. They were merely at the Hegemonic level of insight; their primary advantage lay in the fact that they were truly blessed with incredible gifts. Ning had only been able to destroy 5% of the Blazesun Ruler’s truesoul with a full-power strike; a battle against a Domain Ruler would literally be nothing more than Ning pitting his truesoul against the Domain Ruler’s in a war of attrition. Ning truly couldn’t be bothered to take part in something like this.
“Darknorth speaks the truth. It is best to be cautious,” Nuwa agreed.
“Yes, yes. Let’s spend some more time here.” Su Youji was similarly worried about Ning exhausting too much energy.
And so, Ning began to train within a small spacetime pocket located within the chaotic spacetime surrounding the Wellspring Sea. Every day, he was able to hear the whooshing, rumbling sound of the Wellspring Sea. Even Su Youji, who walked the path of the Dao of Fire, began to gain many insights and began to train. Ning himself continued to focus on slowly merging his Dao of Water into his Eternal Omega Sword Dao. After spending a total of 1.2 billion years, he finally completed the process and fully integrated his Dao of Water into his Sword Dao.
“Supremely kind and gentle, and filled with all the secrets of water… I suppose I can call this the Water Sword Dao.” Ning smiled as he opened his eyes. He could sense that his sword-heart was a hair more calm and peaceful than it had been in the past. This was the nature of water; it struggled against nothing and accepted everything. Thanks to the Dao of Water, his soul and truesoul were now significantly calmed and began to disintegrate much more slowly than before.
“I killed the Lonely King and the eight-armed giant, then struck out against the Blazesun Ruler. These actions caused my truesoul to disintegrate more quickly, but integrating the mysteries of the Dao of Water into my Sword Dao caused the process to slow down once again. These things actually ended up cancelling each other out. I still have roughly eight thousand chaos cycles left to me.” Ning laughed, but he knew that there was no way to make up for what he had lost during those three battles.
If he had never fought at all, then the full integration of the Dao of Water would’ve resulted in his lifespan being extended to ten thousand chaos cycles! It must be remembered that his other Daos, such as the Dao of Lightning, would be of little use to him in preserving his truesoul. Ning had the feeling that the Dao of Water was the most effective in this regard… but alas, its benefits had been cancelled out by the battles he had taken part in.
These battles had an effect akin to creating cracks on a dike. Each battle would cause those cracks to become greater and greater, hastening the day when the dike crumbled apart in its entirety.
Boom! Ning stretched out his right hand, causing a sword to manifest in the palm of his hand. This was an unadorned sword that looked extremely ordinary.
“Eh? This sword…” Nuwa, Patriarch Treewind, Azurefiend, Goodsong, and the others inside the realmship couldn’t help but feel intrigued and enticed by that sword. It looked quite ordinary, but in their hearts they couldn’t help but feel that this sword somehow embodied all the mysteries of the Dao of the Sword.
Ning smiled as he then reached out with his left hand. A second sword appeared within the palm of his left hand, but this one was covered with a layer of flowing watery light that made it seem calmer, more beautiful, and more gentle.
“On one side is the ‘pure’ Eternal Omega Sword Dao,” Ning said with a laugh, “And on the other is the Eternal Omega Sword Dao that has been infused with the mysteries of water. I suppose you can call it the Water Sword Dao. Can you sense the differences between the two?”
“The first seems purer; save for the sword, there is nothing else,” Nuwa said. “I can sense a gentle stream of water coming from the other… but it also feels like a vast, completely calm ocean.”
“Is purity better, or is infusing other mysteries better?” Patriarch Treewind couldn’t help but ask.
Ning nodded in response to the question. “In the early stages of cultivation, purity is better! But when you reach the utmost apex in purity and are unable to advance any further, that’s when you’ll need to broaden your base. Alright, I’ve already completed my task. Given that it has been 1.2 billion years, my guess is that even if the Blazesun Ruler did invite other Domain Rulers to come help him out, they’ve probably left by now after all these years of fruitless waiting. Let’s head out and go towards the place where that Sithe Exalt has been imprisoned.”
“Let’s go!” Flamewing said excitedly. Finally! It had grown bored long ago.
“I’ve never seen a Sithe Exalt either.” Azurefiend was filled with anticipation as well.
“The Sithe Exalts of legend…” Nuwa and Su Youji had never seen one of them either.
Whoosh! Thanks to Ning’s guidance, the realmship spent another three months before finally exiting the region of distorted spacetime and returning to the normal spacetime continuum. Next, Ning’s group spent another month riding the realmship before finally reaching the place where the legendary Sithe Exalt was imprisoned.
“The place where the Sithe Exalt has been imprisoned is known as the Earthfire Continent,” Patriarch Treewind explained. “Anyone who sees a Sithe Exalt will feel a sense of awe. The feeling they give us is completely different from the feeling which the Blazesun Ruler gives us.”
“Completely different?” Ning was startled. “But aren’t the Sithe Exalts on par with the Blazesun Ruler in power?”
“You’ll understand when you see him,” Patriarch Treewind said.
“The Sithe Exalts are rather pitiable creatures,” Imperator Jade Rainbow said. He shook his head and sighed. “Everyone who sees them feels sorry for them, but none of us dares to go too close to them. This is because the Sithe Exalts remain as crazed and berserk as ever. If you go too close, you might end up dead.”
As they chatted, a vast continent suddenly appeared in the void in front of them. This continent was so gigantic in size, it was impossible for them to see to the ends of it. The realmship flew into the skies above the vast continent, with Patriarch Treewind and Imperator Jade Rainbow guiding them closer and closer to the prison.
Boom! Boom! Boom!!! Even though they were still very far away, Ning was already able to vaguely hear a series of booming sounds. He was also able to see with the naked eye a hint of fiery light flickering from far away.
As the realmship flew closer and closer, the fiery light became increasingly dazzling to behold. It was actually a vast field of fiery light that stretched off to cover an area of ten billion kilometers. It was like a field of divine punishment that was crushing and suppressing a blurry figure at the very center of the field. The blurry figure was seated in the lotus position, its body emanating an aura of tremendous power that was fighting back against the endless field of fiery light.
“What?!” Ning turned pale. The vast field of fiery light clearly concentrated its power at the center, where an endless series of explosions continued to burst out against the blurry figure. The power of each explosion vastly surpassed the full-strength strikes of the Blazesun Ruler… and the aura emanating from the blurry figure was clearly superior to the Blazesun Ruler’s as well!
“Didn’t they say that the Sithe Exalt was on par with the Blazesun Ruler in power?” Ning immediately felt puzzled by this.