Book 40, The Five Autarchs, Chapter 3 – Exalt Dauber
“The rest of you can stay here. No need to get too close to him,” Ji Ning said. “I’ll go and chat with the Sithe Exalt.”
“Be careful, Daolord,” Patriarch Treewind said hurriedly. “The Sithe Exalt can attack at any moment. Even though he has been imprisoned, he can launch attacks out to a range of one million kilometers.”
The nearby Imperator Jade Rainbow said, “Treewind, not even the Blazesun Ruler is close to being a match for the Daolord, much less this imprisoned Sithe Exalt. However… Daolord, Treewind speaks the truth. It wouldn’t be worth it if you ended up in a fight against this Exalt.”
“Haha, thank you for your advice.” Ning smiled and nodded, then began to walk towards the centermost region of this field of flaming light.
Nuwa, Su Youji, and Azurefiend all watched as he left. Flamewing hesitated for a bit, in the end deciding not to follow. In its heart, it couldn’t help but feel a bit of aversion towards Sithe Exalts.
This field of flaming light had accumulated all of the fire elemental energy of the surrounding area, concentrating it into a series of terrifying attacks at the center.
“Every single one of these strikes surpasses the maximum power of the Blazesun Ruler… but the Sithe Exalt is able to endure them with ease. No matter how I inspect him, I keep on having the feeling that he should be stronger than the Blazesun Ruler… but everyone in the outside world agrees that the Blazesun Ruler is on par with Sithe Exalts in power.” Ning stared at the Exalt, his heart filled with suspicions. Suddenly, his gaze focused upon the incredibly complicated formation-diagram that covered the area of ten thousand kilometers around the seated Sithe Exalt. That formation-diagram was the center and core of this entire field of flaming light!
The exposed parts of the Sithe Exalt’s skin were also covered by identical imprints of that formation-diagram.
“Now THAT is a nasty trick!” Ning sucked in a cold breath. “The person who set up this formation-diagram vastly surpasses me in the Dao of Formation.” Ning continued to stare. “And… this formation-diagram includes the Dao of Fire, the Dao of Illusions, the Dao of Darkness, and many other instruments of torture. Many are meant to attack the soul and truesoul. In all the Chaosverse, only the Autarchs could possibly set up a formation-diagram which contains so many Daos.”
Autarchs were at the Daobirth level, where ‘one Dao births many Daos’. Autarch Bolin had reached Autarchy via the Dao of the Claw, and he had also reached Hegemony in all of the other Daos! Formations, illusions… even Daos he had never trained in; he had reached Hegemony in all of them upon gaining Autarchy! Thus, Autarchs were naturally able to employ many different Daos in setting up formation-diagrams. The person who had set up this formation had mixed the various Daos together perfectly. It seemed as though the Autarchs weren’t just the strongest cultivators in the Chaosverse, they were also the most terrifying torturers.
“How much hatred must the Autarchs hold towards them? Why is it that they continue to torment the Sithe Exalts, even after the war has come to an end?” Ning mused to himself, “And this punishment is eternal and unending… wouldn’t just killing them be easier? Why spend so much time and effort in creating these formation-diagrams?”
“Or perhaps… the Autarchs have plans of their own?” Ning mused. As he pondered this question, he continued to draw closer to the Exalt. Eight million kilometers. Five million kilometers. Three million kilometers. Two million kilometers. One million kilometers…
Ning didn’t hesitate at all as he advanced. Although he was now within the range of the Sithe Exalt’s attacks, he didn’t worry at all. Even though he had the feeling that the Sithe Exalt was more powerful than the Blazesun Ruler, Ning had outstripped the Blazesun Ruler in both power and insight into the Dao. He was probably at the Autarch level of power, and if it wasn’t for the fact that his truesoul was continuously crumbling, Ning would’ve dared to actually take an Autarch on in a sparring match. How could he possibly fear an imprisoned Sithe Exalt?
“Eh?” The Sithe Exalt, seated in the lotus position with his head lowered, finally let out a little snort. The gray armor covering his body seemed rather rusted and old. He raised his head up, the curved horns on his head looking wicked sharp as he glared intently at Ning. A rumbling sound rang out from his throat: “You actually dare to approach me?”
“Why wouldn’t I dare?” Ning continued to walk towards him, only halting when he was roughly a hundred thousand kilometers away. At this distance, the two were able to clearly see each other’s features.
“Hah! You truly are someone who has mastered an Eternal Omega Dao. Haha… I, Dauber, feel admiration towards very few members of your cultivator civilizations. You’ve just joined that list.” The Sithe Exalt stared intently at Ning, his features occasionally twitching from pain but his voice quite calm and steady. “A pity that you failed the Daomerge. Death will be coming for you soon. A true pity. You are the first member of your civilization to master an Eternal Omega Dao, but you are about to die soon.”
“Where there is life, there is death.” Ning smiled. “There’s no reason to fear death, and death is far better than what awaits you. You literally are living a life worse than death.”
“Damn you.” The Sithe Exalt let out a low growl, his eyes flickering with savage light. “Kill me, Daolord. Kill me. I know you have the power to kill me.”
“The Autarchs must have imprisoned you for a reason. Why should I interfere and cause trouble?” Ning shook his head. “Besides… the Sithe are the mortal enemies of us cultivators. I am a Daolord who has failed the Daomerge; if I was to kill you, I’d have to use up my own lifespan. There is no relationship between the two of us which would impel me to make such a sacrifice.”
The Sithe Exalt was intrigued. It seemed as though this terrifying Daolord didn’t know why he had been imprisoned.
“Graaaaaah!” The Sithe Exalt let out a short, ragged growl of pain. Clearly, he was in a great deal of agony. A short while later, he suppressed the agony and continued to speak: “We Sithe were defeated, true. This was a war of civilizations, a war to the death; either you had to die, or we would die! We lost the war, and I’m willing to accept death as being the result of that. Why must you torment me like this?!”
Ning just listened silently.
“If I, Dauber, had been free and up to my own devices, I never would’ve wanted to launch such a cruel and deadly war. There was no way to avoid this war; if you cultivators remained in power, then we Sithe would’ve perished. That is why I HAD to take part in the war. Both our sides suffered greatly in the war. Why must you feel such hatred for me? Why must you torment me so?”
“Kill me. Grant me release. I’ve had enough of this endless torment.” The Sithe Exalt Dauber stared intently at Ning, his eyes filled with anticipation.
Ning couldn’t help but feel a sudden impulse to charge over and kill the man, releasing him from his torment. However, Ning quickly regained his usual calm.
“He was actually able to affect my thoughts?” Ning glanced at the Sithe Exalt, secretly shocked. From a certain perspective, the Sithe was telling the truth. Even Ning himself felt that wiping out the enemy after winning the war was enough; there was no need to perpetually imprison and torment the survivors. However, the reason why Ning had felt that sudden impulse was primarly because the Sithe Exalt’s voice had managed to bewilder him. This Sithe Exalt had definitely reached a terrifyingly profound level in the art of bewilderment; Ning had a truly perfect sword-heart, but he had still been briefly influenced by the Exalt’s voice, even though he had quickly recovered from it.
A hint of disappointment flickered through the Sithe Exalt’s eyes. He gritted his teeth and said resentfully, “Are you really not going to grant me release?”
“The Autarchs must have imprisoned you for good reason. They are the leaders of the cultivator civilizations, and they could well have done this because of some secret they know which has a major impact on the war between our two civilizations. There’s no way I would intervene,” Ning said.
“Damnit. I was so close.” The Sithe Exalt Dauber instantly grew even more berserk and growled, “This is unfair. UNFAIR! An Eternal Omega Dao? If I had also embarked upon the path of the Omega Dao long ago, then regardless of whether I succeeded or failed I never would’ve ended up like this. My destiny would’ve been completely changed. This is utterly unfair!”
Ning could feel the deep emotions which filled the man’s roar. It was a feeling of deep and intense regret, mixed with resentment! Ning couldn’t help but mumble to himself, “So what if you had embarked upon the path of the Omega Dao? Even if you had embarked upon the path of the Omega Dao, you still would’ve taken part in this war as a member of the Sithe.”
Whoosh! Suddenly, the growling Sithe Exalt reached out with both hands. His arms expanded dramatically in size, causing even the formation-diagram imprints on them to twist and distort. As he attacked, he finally spat out a murderous, hate-filled cry: “If you don’t help me, you can go die.”
The two arms almost instantly expanded to become over a hundred thousand kilometers long. His hands were filled with tremendous power, and he reached out to tear Ning apart. As they swept out towards Ning, they were infused with such strange, profound mysteries that Ning wasn’t even able to dodge them; it seemed as though he absolutely had to face this attack head-on.
“Eh?!” Ning turned ashen, and his heart shook with shock. Ever since he had mastered an Eternal Omega Dao, he had always had a feeling that he was in complete control of his surroundings. Every so often, something would surprise him, but nothing truly caught him off-guard.
In this moment, however, Ning truly felt stunned, so stunned that his heart was shaking. Even his sword-heart had become rather unsteady. It was as though he had seen something that was completely impossible before him.
“But…” Ning had no time to think this matter over, because those two giant palms had already reached him.