Book 42, The Five Truncheon Chapters, Chapter 17 - The Epiphany Within the Spacetime Maze
Ji Ning did in fact feel anxious. He could sense that although he had indeed chosen the quickest path, the journey before him would be a long one and he would need to traverse over a thousand different spacetime continuums.
He had to strike at least four or five times within each spacetime continuum to break free. Some cost him seven or eight strikes! He had only been fighting for a short while but had already struck over fifty times. This was rapidly depleting his lifespan! Although Ning had expected that this would be dangerous, there was nothing he could do upon being trapped within the spacetime maze.
"I didn't have to use full power on each strike, but I really don't have many strikes left in me. My truesoul is crumbling faster and faster now. I can't predict when the final collapse will come." Ning was worried. More and more cracks had appeared upon his truesoul, hastening the day when it all came crashing down. These cracks were accumulating at an alarming rate!
Ning's lifespan was rapidly decreasing, but he didn't slow down in the slightest. He wouldn't give up until the last moment came.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Ning was within a world of rain. His sword-light cut a hole into the world, allowing him to flee this spacetime continuum.
He had always been charging forwards fearlessly, but suddenly he came to a halt and turned backwards to look into the rain.
For some strange reason… perhaps because he knew he was about to die… when Ning saw the rain, he couldn't help but think back to his father and mother. His father had personally taught him the [Raindrop Sutra] sword-arts. Later on, Ning had then understood the True Meaning of the Raindrop and embarked upon the path of the Dao…
Whoosh. The giant gaping hole behind him began to rapidly close as spacetime reached out to merge together and seal the breach. The hole began to shrink in size, and he was able to see less and less of the rain behind him.
Suddenly, Ning's entire body froze. When he saw how spacetime reached out to 'heal' that wound, he suddenly had the feeling that spacetime had a type of life and vitality of its own, as though it was a living being that was struggling to grow, develop, and heal.
"Spacetime." Ning stood there, an epiphany going off in his mind that illuminated his thoughts.
Exalt Bowenya frowned from his position at the very center of the Daoguard Tower as he stared at the small, illusory figure who stood within one of many illusory globes before him. "Why did Daolord Darknorth suddenly come to a halt in the dimensional seams? Hmph. Does he really think he'll last longer if he doesn't go into the next spacetime continuum?"
"Fuze, attack Daolord Darknorth," Exalt Bowenya instructed.
"Understood." Upon hearing the order, a Sithe Emperor who was lying in wait within the dimensional seams of the spacetime maze immediately prepared to launch an attack with the treasures within the Daoguard tower that had been assigned to him.
Ning was in the middle of a prajna-state of epiphany. When you were weak, you might be unable to control yourself upon entering such a state. In fact, you might even forget the entire world around you, including any danger you were in.
Ning, however, had reached an Autarch's level of insight. Even though he was in a prajna-state, he was able to remain somewhat aware of his surroundings.. He first accelerated time by 100x around him, then carefully continued his meditations.
Not just him; even the black-robed Primaltwin in the outside world had also entered a prajna-state.
Swish! A streak of black wind howled straight towards Ning. The meditating Ning was able to divert a bit of his attention to dealing with it, using the Water Sword Dao to form a curtain of water which protected and surrounded him.
"He's still not leaving?" Exalt Bowenya was able to watch everything from afar. When he saw that Ning remained within the dimensional seams, he immediately ordered: "Continue. Do not stop! Since he has chosen to remain within the seams, bombard him with attacks until he dies."
The black wind attacked again and again, but Ning continued to stand there without moving. If he entered a new spacetime continuum, he would have to deal with incessant attacks which would come from every direction. This black wind, however, was only able to attack roughly once every five seconds. Each time Ning used his sword-arts, he would be able to defend for roughly twenty seconds! During this period of time, Ning kept himself at an 100x temporal rate while continuing to maintain his prajna-state.
Time continued to flow on. After Ning executed the eighteenth stance from his sword-arts, his eyes suddenly lit up.
"Spacetime is alive and sentient in its own way. So this is the Spacetime Sword Dao!" Ning's heart was filled with joy.
If he had been forced to just sit in the outside world and quietly ponder the mysteries of spacetime, it truly would have taken him over ten thousand chaos cycles to understand all of this! But he was in a life-and-death state in a region where spacetime had been manipulated to an unbelievable degree. Thanks to his mastery of the Space Sword Dao and the many insights it had brought, Ning had also come to understand some of the mysteries behind this spacetime maze, which had been developed by the Sithe Lord of Chaos and was incredibly profound and abstruse.
All of this had resulted in Ning entering a prajna-state, and in doing so he had shattered through all the obstacles in his path, allowing him to break through to the next level. Oftentimes, aeons of normal cultivation wouldn't be as effective as a single moment of epiphany.
It had been a long, long time since Ning had entered a prajna-state. Generally speaking, the higher a level of insight you reached, the harder it would be for you to truly enter such a state. Back when he was young and living in the Three Realms, he had entered this state on multiple occasions. However, ever since he had become the incredible Daolord Darknorth, master of the Eternal Omega Sword Dao, he had never entered this type of state again. Although he gained the occasional insight, those were not true epiphanies.
But this time… Ning had a true epiphany!
"It seems that I, Darknorth, am not destined to die in this place. Nor are Mistress and the others." Ning revealed a smile, unable to disguise his excitement. If the Paragon of Pills had truly died here, he would forever feel ashamed of himself.
Ning suddenly flew into one of the nearby spacetime continuums.
"I thought he'd just stay there for quite some time." Exalt Bowenya smiled coldly. "This is my Daoguard Tower and my spacetime maze. He can do nothing save passively endure attacks from within my spacetime continuums, and in the end he shall die."
Within the new spacetime continuum. Everything was blurry and indistinct in this region, but the air was filled with many flowing runes that brimmed with electric power.
Ning raised his head to glance at the runes. Given his mastery over the Spacetime Sword Dao, a single glance was all it took for him to discover the secrets behind how the lightning formation was connected to this spacetime continuum.
Rumble… Ning's Sword Dao Domain spread out, quickly covering every inch of this spacetime continuum. It even reached out to penetrate spacetime itself, disrupting the lightning runes and bringing the power flowing through them to a sluggish halt. Both the lightning formation and the spacetime continuum were disrupted, making it extremely difficult for them to draw upon the power of the Daoguard Tower and then release it.
Previously, Ning's only choice was to passively endure the hits while searching for the critical points in each continuum, then breaking through them. This time, he had twisted spacetime itself to disrupt the local formations. This was a testament to how much control over spacetime the Spacetime Sword Dao granted him.
"This spacetime continuum…" Ning inspected it carefully. He was able to instantly see that there were a total of 360 nodes here, but it would take him time and careful analysis to figure out a way to break through them without using any of his own power at all.
"Daolord Darknorth… what have you done? What have you done?!" Exalt Bowenya's enraged and panicked voice rang out from far away.
How could he not be angry? He was in control of the entire Daoguard Tower, and as a result he could instantly sense that the spacetime continuum Ning was in was now unable to draw upon the power of his Daoguard Tower and no longer attacked Ning!
How had this happened? Why did the attacks come to halt? He didn't understand!
"Could it be that he is incredibly talented in the Dao of Formations and was able to deconstruct the lightning formation?" Exalt Bowenya was puzzled. "But these are all top-tier formations. Even Autarchs would find it extremely hard to breach them."
But of course, he had no idea that Ning hadn't actually deconstructed the formation itself; rather, he had severed the connection between the formation and the local spacetime continuum. Now that the formation was severed from its power source, it was naturally unable to launch any attacks.
"Daolord Darknorth!" Exalt Bowenya shouted repeatedly.
Ning completely ignored the Exalt's rants as he continued to carefully analyze the local spacetime continuum. There were now fewer and fewer runes before him, awaiting his analysis. He was already able to merely use his Sword Dao Domain to deconstruct this spacetime continuum, but he continued his studies because he wanted to learn how to best deconstruct the other continuums as well.
All of these spacetime continuums had to share certain commonalities. The more he researched one of them, the easier it would be for him to understand the others.
Finally, however, Exalt Bowenya was no longer able to hold back. "Destroy!" Whoosh. The spacetime continuum Ning was in finally began to break apart. Exalt Bowenya was in complete control over this entire spacetime maze, and as a result was able to create and destroy new spacetime continuums as he saw fit.
"Eh?" Ning blinked, then chuckled. "Exalt Bowenya… since you are so impatient, I'll hurry it up a little. I'll be seeing you soon." As he spoke he began to fly forwards, expanding his Sword Dao Domain as he flew. His domain quickly expanded to the point where it pushed against the surrounding spacetime continuums, which Ning glanced at with a relaxed smile on his face. "Every continuum within this spacetime maze is pretty much constructed in the same manner."
Just two seconds later, Ning had completely taken over and destroyed the five spacetime continuums around him, while his Sword Dao Domain expanded to an even greater size.