Book 43, Final Fate, Chapter 2 – Mistake
The avatars of Autarch Titanos and Autarch Mogg turned to stare at Ji Ning, puzzled.
“That great tree was clearly capable of exhausting me to death… so why did Bowenya immediately flee upon releasing it?” Ning added, “And when you fought against it, it showed that it was sentient and capable of rational thought. It wasn’t like those other insane prisoners. It followed Bowenya’s orders to continue assaulting me even though the two of you were destroying it. I doubt it would’ve accidentally injured Bowenya… so why did he flee?”
Autarch Mogg hesitated momentarily. “Perhaps… since this was his final trump card, he felt rather nervous because you defeated all his previous ones? As a result, he fled immediately after using it, to avoid you exceeding his expectations once more and making it impossible for him to flee.”
“Darknorth, what are you suggesting?” Autarch Titanos asked.
“There’s some sense to Autarch Mogg’s explanation,” Ning said, “But Autarchs… what you don’t realize is that after I entered the Sacred Realm, I had to first deal with a combined attack from 2,800 Hegemons and Emperors, then had to deal with two Daoguard Towers which broke free from their foundations to assault me. The Sithe were clearly willing to pay an enormous price to try and kill me. If you were Bowenya and had access to such a powerful tree-creature, how would you employed it against me?”
Ning shook his head, then continued in a low voice, “If I was Bowenya, I would’ve sent the tree to attack before the 2,800 Hegemons did. The giant tree could’ve completely surrounded the dimensional trap, giving me nowhere to run. They could’ve surrounded and killed me with ease.”
“That tree was clearly sentient and clear-minded. There was no reason to wait that long before employing it. Why sacrifice a pair of Daoguard Towers and thousands of Hegemons and Emperors before releasing it?” Ning said. “Losing that many Hegemons and Emperors… even if he would still be rewarded, the rewards would’ve been reduced.”
“Most importantly of all… in the Sacred Realm, I meditated and trained on multiple occasions for extended periods of time. In fact, I even pretended that I would rather wait for death than actually enter the Daoguard Tower. Bowenya’s response? He said that he would rather watch me die outside than take the risk of fighting me.” Ning frowned. “If he had that tree at his disposal, why would he have chosen to just watch as I died of natural causes?”
Mogg and Titanos both blinked. They didn’t know all the details of what Ning had experienced in this hidden dimension, but upon hearing this they too began to feel that something was off.
That great tree had been an intelligent, sentient being which was under orders to kill Ning no matter what. Given how powerful and obedient it was, why not use it earlier? Why flee immediately after using it, instead of continuing to watch over things from within the Daoguard Tower?
The giant tree was extremely powerful and possessed tremendous amounts of vital energy. It was perfect for dealing against a failed Daolord like Ning! Unless Bowenya was a complete fool, he should’ve known early on that the tree would be a perfect counter for ‘Daolord Darknorth’… but he refused to use it. He waited until all of his other resources were used up and until his Daoguard Tower was at the brink of collapse before using it.
He would’ve rather watched Ning train from his position within the Daoguard Tower, waiting for Ning’s truesoul to naturally collapse instead of releasing that creature. Why?
“Unless…” Ning’s eyes flashed with a cold, hard light: “Unless that tree originally wasn’t here.”
“Wasn’t here?” Autarch Mogg and Autarch Titanos both narrowed their eyes.
“It wasn’t here… which was why Bowenya was unable to do anything to me. I trained for multiple chaos cycles, and all he could do was watch! If the tree had been here this entire time, there would’ve been no reason for him not to use it,” Ning said. “He waited until I was at the verge of conquering his Daoguard Tower. He probably grew desperate, at which point he begged the Sithe commanders for help, and they sent over that tree-creature in response.”
“So where did the great tree come from?” Autarch Titanos said heavily.
“One of the formation-bases? Another hidden dimension, perhaps? Or…” An ugly look appeared on Autarch Mogg’s face: “Did it perhaps come from the Sithe heartlands?”
Mogg and Titanos shared a worried glance. The two of them had learned much of the Sithe's capabilities during the Dawn War. Creatures like the giant tree would’ve definitely been classified among the most powerful of Sithe war assets. They were even more important than Sithe Exalts!
They didn’t really want to believe it, but… it now seemed that the likeliest explanation was that it really did come from the heartland regions of the Sithelands!
“But we’ve already locked the Sithe heartlands away,” Autarch Mogg muttered irresolutely. “Even if they came out, I should’ve been able to sense something.”
“Too much time has gone past. The Sithe were probably able to devise a way to avoid the seals without us noticing,” Autarch Titanos said heavily. “They are superior to us in so many areas.”
“Darknorth, thank you for informing us.” Autarch Titanos turned to look at Ning. “We didn’t suspect a thing at all. Once the next war begins, the Sithe would’ve been able to slip out with us none the wiser. We would’ve continued to stand guard over this place while they assaulted the rest of the Chaosverse. We would’ve been caught completely flat-footed.”
“Autarchs, you only arrived at the very end to rescue me and so you didn’t know the details of what happened here. It was only when I reflected on all the things that occurred since my arrival into that hidden dimension that I realized that the way Exalt Bowenya employed the great tree made no sense at all,” Ning said. “It was my pity for the Sithe descendants that led me to realize something was wrong.”
“Mm.” Titanos and Mogg both had extremely serious looks on their faces.
“Although other explanations are possible and we can’t be completely sure that the tree-creature came from the Sithe heartlands,” Autarch Mogg said, “I’d say there is a better than 50% chance of it being the case.”
“It’s possible that our seal has been rendered useless, if it was even effective to begin with,” Autarch Titanos agreed. “It seems we need to start preparing.”
Iyerre didn’t make any ‘mistakes’ in sending the great tree to kill Ning per se, but it clashed with Bowenya’s previous words and actions. If Bowenya had access to the great tree all along, why would he have needed to turtle up for so long? Why would he rather wait and watch as Ning’s truesoul naturally broke apart, rather than use it? It didn’t add up… and that was the mistake.
Ning, Autarch Titanos, and Autarch Mogg continued to stand in midair. By now, the area in front of them was filled with an enormous amount of Emperors. There had to be over three thousand of them, and all of them were Sithe descendants! Around thirty or so were at the Hegemon level of power... Clearly, the Sithe were far superior in rearing and teaching their Emperors.
Ning looked at the group before him. “Although you are descendants of the Sithe, you are still part of our Chaosverse. The true Sithe were invaders who came here from another place. They don’t care about you at all. We won’t demand that you take part in our war against the Sithe, but you are not to assist them either. We’ll arrange for you to stay in an otherverse of your own, and you can live quiet lives there. Don’t take part in this clash of civilizations.”
“Thank you, Daolord Darknorth.” Hawkfang led the group in expressing reverent thanks.
“Thank you, Daolord.” A few others quickly followed his lead.
“Thank you, Daolord.” Finally, all of them bowed towards Ning, with many of them tearing up as they did so. They had long ago sensed that the Sithe treated them differently, and they had been discriminated against for many, many years.
“You can go now. Evacuate all the mortals from the six mortal realms,” Ning instructed. “This place isn’t safe.”
“We’ll go right now.”
“Let’s go.” The awesome army of over three thousand Hegemons and Emperors quickly flew away, beginning a large-scale evacuation of this realm. Although the six mortal realms in this dimension held many living beings, over three thousand Emperors were working together to evacuate them. They gave the mortals some time to prepare for their departure, but it still only took them just half a day before completing the evacuation process.
Ning then led the Sithe descendants in departing from the Sithelands. He brought them to an extremely distant, out-of-the-way location within the Great Dark.
Rumble… a massive otherverse suddenly appeared within the darkness.
“Go ahead and bind it, Hawkfang,” Ning said, glancing at the three thousand-plus Emperors before him. All of the Emperors were filled with excitement. If given a chance to live in peace, who would choose to serve as cannon fodder instead? This was doubly true when they would only be repaid for their sacrifices with contempt and belittlement.
“Alright.” Hawkfang’s eyes were shining brightly. He could sense that the life he had been longing for was finally at hand.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. After Hawkfang bound the otherverse to himself, the thousands of Emperors all began to fly inside it. Ning, Mogg, and Titanos all smiled at the sight.
“This is a secluded place where I once trained. If any Sithe come here, I will be alerted instantly,” Autarch Mogg said.
“Let these Sithe descendants live a peaceful life here,” Ning said.
“Once we defeat the Sithe, the entire Chaosverse will be at peace as well,” Titanos said with a smile.
All three of them were looking forward to that day.
“Gentlemen, now that everything has been taken care of, it’s time for me to depart,” Ning said.
“I’ll send you back,” Autarch Mogg volunteered.
“Haha, no need.” Ning shook his head and smiled. “I’m not exactly busy. The only thing I’m concerned with is creating a ‘Truesoul Everlasting’ technique. Although the journey back to my homeland is a long one, I’ll take this opportunity to do some sightseeing. Who knows, I might even find something which inspires me.”
“Very well.” Mogg and Titanos didn’t try to press the issue.
Ning re-entered his realmship. Azurefiend’s avatar once more began to pilot it, sending it disappearing into the Great Dark under the watchful gazes of Mogg and Titanos.