Book 41, The Daoguard Tower, Chapter 1 – The Church of Annihilation
In the Brightshore Kingdom of the Flamedragon Realmverse.
Whoosh. The black-robed Primaltwin Ji Ning appeared out of nowhere in front of the imperial palace.
A snowy-robed old man had been waiting here for quite some time. It was Hegemon Brightshore.
“Darknorth,” Hegemon Brightshore said hurriedly.
“Hegemon Brightshore, what is this about? You summoned me quite hastily,” the black-robed Ning said with a smile.
“I was asked to do so by a friend.” Hegemon Brightshore smiled in a rather embarrassed manner. “I didn’t want to bother you with this request, but it involves a Hegemon who you are on very good terms with – the Paragon of Pills.”
The black-robed Ning’s pupils contracted: “The Paragon of Pills? What’s this about?”
“You have probably heard of my friend before; he’s the leader of the Church of Annihilation in that otherverse you visited,” Hegemon Brightshore said. “I can’t explain it as clearly as he can; I’ll take you over to see him.”
“I’ll go take a look then.” Ning had the vague feeling that the reason why he wouldn’t be able to continue his relaxed, wandering life for much longer was because of the Paragon of Pills and the lord of the Church of Annihilation… and that this matter was of grave import!
The higher a level of insight one reached, the more clearly one would be able to divine the tides of the future. But of course, the future was always in a state of flux; no amount of scrying was guaranteed to be accurate!
Hegemon Brightshore led Ning through a spacetime tunnel to quickly arrive at the alternate universe.
“This tunnel again, eh?” Ning glanced at the empty void around him, then at the enormous dimensional vortex. He let out a sigh. “It was me, Skyfire Brightshore, Greatjoy, Solewind, and Firesurge who went on that journey together all those years ago through this otherverse.”
“None of them have achieved as much as you,” Hegemon Brightshore said. “This is doubly true for Skyfire, who has progressed the least out of the five. We Chaos Godbeasts are, as a race, slow in cultivation.”
Ning replied, “You have your boons, and you have your banes. Some things you simply cannot force.”
Of those four friends, Skyfire, Greatjoy, and Solewind had been sincere in their friendships towards him. Ning was able to keenly sense this through the karma which tied them together. As for Firesurge… Ning was able to discover through karma that Firesurge wasn’t all that sincere, and as a result the karmic ties binding them were quite weak. When Solewind, Greatjoy, and Skyfire were ready for the Daomerge, Ning would send over some presents and help them as best he could.
However, that was as much as he could do for them. He couldn’t even guarantee that his own daughter Brightmoon would succeed in the Daomerge; all he could do was prepare the treasures which would be of use to her.
“I wonder if those three and Ninedust will succeed in the Daomerge or not,” Ning mused.
Suddenly, a figure manifested out of nowhere within the primordial chaos in front of Ning. This figure was extremely skinny and dressed in black armor, and he radiated an icy aura. This person immediately bowed respectfully towards Ning: “Annihilation pays his respects to you, Daolord Darknorth.”
The reason why this person had named his church the ‘Church of Annihilation’ was because his own Daoist title was ‘Annihilation’! This was a Daoist title he had chosen long ago, when he was young and had no idea that one of the exalted Autarchs was also known as ‘Autarch Annihilation’. In truth, this was actually a fairly common Daoist monicker. There were a number of commonly-used Daoist titles which were shared by many cultivators.
“The leader of the Church of Annihilation.” Ning nodded. “I heard of you back when I was a World-level cultivator.”
“Back then, Brightshore asked me to help out. I watched all five of you the entire time, Daolord.” Lord Annihilation immediately squeezed out a smile: “If I had known back then that you would reach such heights, I would’ve done everything in my power to befriend you back then.”
“My main goal back then was to temper Skyfire,” Hegemon Brightshore said hurriedly. “That’s why I hid the truth.”
“Don’t worry, I fully understand what you were intending and how much effort you put into it. Chaos Godbeasts are solitary by nature, but you’ve poured all of your energies into building up your clan.” Ning smiled and nodded, then glanced at Lord Annihilation. “Speak, Annihilation. Why have you sought me out… and for that matter, why have you sent a mere incarnation? You didn’t even send your avatar, much less your true body.”
After one bound an otherverse, the otherverse would become akin to a clone. An Otherverse Lord would be able to easily materialize an incarnation anywhere within the otherverse. Even Otherverse Lords would feel slighted by Lord Annihilation sending a mere incarnation to greet them, to say nothing of someone of Ning’s stature!
“Daolord, please forgive me. My true body and my avatar aren’t able to make it back. There’s nothing I can do,” Lord Annihilation explained hurriedly.
“What’s this all about, and why is it connected to the Paragon of Pills?” Ning asked. Ning felt a profound sense of fondness towards the Paragon of Pills, because she truly had treated him very well. Ning could sense that she loved him as she would a family member! Through karma, Ning had previously been able to sense that she was still alive, but was incredibly far away from him… but now, even after entering the otherverse, Ning still felt she was incredibly far away from him. This meant she clearly was no longer inside the otherverse!
For Lord Annihilation’s true body and avatar to also be absent… Ning had a bad feeling about this.
“Let me explain the situation,” Lord Annihilation said respectfully. “Daolord, I imagine you know that the Paragon of Pills has always wanted to revive her three elder ‘brothers’.”
“However… all three of them were powerful Eternal Emperors, and one of them was a Hegemon,” Lord Annihilation explained. “If they had died in the outside world, not even Autarchs would be able to reverse spacetime to revive them. Thankfully, they only died within my otherverse, but the backlash that would be generated if I tried to bring them back would probably cause the prime essences of my otherverse to collapse. Only Autarchs are strong enough to prevent this from happening and maintaining my otherverse’s stability while still reviving the three of them. My otherverse would still be badly wounded, but it would remain intact.”
Ning understood this principle. When that Sword Hegemon had died, the prime essences of the otherverse had naturally swallowed his truesoul fragments right away. There was no way to force them to ‘spit it back out’, because those truesoul fragments had already been integrated into the deepest parts of the otherverse’s core, becoming part of it. If Lord Annihilation tried to forcibly bring them back, the damage caused to the otherverse would be enough to cause its prime essences to break apart. The entire otherverse would be doomed!
Only Autarchs were capable of reviving Hegemons in an otherverse without destroying it, because they were the ones who had created the otherverses to begin with. They knew how to protect the otherverses and ensure that they were ‘merely’ injured, not destroyed.
Otherverses… in the end, they were only comparable in size and scope to a realmverse, and so the truesoul fragments of a Hegemon were incredibly important and greatly beneficial to them. The awesomely vast Chaosverse itself was naturally a different story; it was countless times larger than any realmverse, and it was so mighty that no Autarch could endure its power and bind it. Only a mythical Omega Autarch would be capable of binding the Chaosverse, whereas even ordinary Eternal Emperors were capable of binding an otherverse. The difference was enormous!
“She wanted to find an Autarch to revive the three of them,” Lord Annihilation said, “Because this was her greatest goal, her reason for cultivation.”
Ning couldn’t help but sigh. Although he had only spent a limited amount of time with her, he was able to sense how deep her feelings were towards those three men.
“Even Autarchs would have to carefully protect and safeguard my otherverse as they worked to revive the three of them. This is a very tiring and very troublesome task,” Lord Annihilation said. “And in general, Autarchs do not agree lightly to revive a Hegemon. The Paragon of Pills once did manage to contact an Autarch, but the demands the Autarch listed were so harsh that even I felt completely stupefied.”
“Harsh demands ?” Ning asked, “What were the demands?”
“He asked for treasures equivalent to a thousand realmships in value,” Lord Annihilation said.
Even Ning turned speechless upon hearing this. However, he knew what the Autarchs were thinking. Cultivation was meant to be a dangerous path; if everyone who died on this path could be brought back to life, wouldn’t it make cultivation nothing more than a game? In addition, reviving destroyed truesouls would have a negative impact on the very fabric of reality and the laws of the Chaosverse. Yes, each revival only had a small impact, but it could quickly add up. This was not a good thing, especially when invaders from a foreign Chaosverse were lying in wait.
On the other hand, if they completely refused to revive anyone, they would probably cause many cultivators to feel absolute despair… and so, they had chosen to instead exact stringent requirements for their aid. You want me to revive a Hegemon and two Emperors? Sure. Give me a thousand realmships worth of treasure.
“I’ll wager not even the Sithe have that many realmships.” Ning shook his head.
“The Paragon of Pills asked the Autarch to guide her in finding enough treasure. The Autarch told her that the Sithelands is filled with treasure; the only problem was, was she woman enough to take them?” Lord Annihilation continued, “And so, ever since she became a Hegemon she began to make repeated trips to the Sithelands. To tell you the truth, I’ve met countless cultivators, but I can count on one hand how many people are as fearless and maniacal as she is in her pursuit of Sithe treasures.”