Book 24, Chapter 4 - Joining Up

Desolate Era

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“Oh?” Ji Ning was intrigued.

His own [Nameless] sword-art was something which even World God Northrest of Vastheaven Palace had been mesmerized by. Just by mastering three of its stances, one could become a World God.

This [Skystar Sword], however, needed to be fully mastered in order for one to become a World God. It seemed as though it was quite a bit inferior to the [Nameless] sword-art. Still…Ning knew very well that since the Starlord of Fogstone was willing to sell it, it probably wasn’t the best technique he truly possessed. From what Ning had heard, the Starlord of Fogstone was actually quite shockingly powerful.

“Can I ask what the price of purchase would be?” Ning asked.

“Ten cubes of chaos nectar,” the azure-armored man said.

“Ten cubes?” Ning was speechless.

A bottle of chaos nectar contained ninety-nine drops.

A thousand bottles of chaos nectar made up a cube! Ten cubes represented ten thousand bottles!

“There aren’t even many World Gods who would be willing to pay such a price. Not just anyone can learn a peerless sword-art that allows you to reach the sixth stage of swordforce.” The azure-armored man smiled.

“When I first arrived at Fogstone, my plan was to purchase a detailed star map of the region around Sevenwater Star,” Ning said.

“Come this way, please.” The azure-armored man knew that most newcomer Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals would first wish to get a better idea of the situation in the area. They soon traversed another cloud street and arrived at a quiet island that had a single pavilion atop it.

There were several female Celestial Immortals located inside the pavilion, each of whom was incomparably beautiful. There was also a truly ravishing female True Immortal who headed straight towards Ning.

“Respectful greetings to you, senior.” The female True Immortal smiled.

Ji Ning nodded.

“Bring me a star map,” the azure-armored man instructed a female Celestial Immortal.

“Yes.” The female Immortal immediately brought a furled scroll over, respectfully handing it over to the azure-armored man, who then smiled and respectfully handed it over to Ning. “Senior, this star map contains a detailed breakdown of the various powers and regions around Sevenwater Star. It only costs ten chaos jewels.”

“Very well.” Ning handed over ten chaos jewels.

Chaos gems and chaos nectar were a form of common currency, with chaos nectar having more marvelous properties but coming in smaller amounts. Chaos gems were able to contain more energy within them, with the result being that many powerful formations and golems made use of them as energy sources. Generally speaking, a single chaos jewel was considered equivalent to a drop of chaos nectar.

Whoosh. Ning sent his divine energy into the scroll. Instantly, a large amount of information was transmitted to Ning, who memorized it all.

“So not much has changed.” There were very few differences between this intelligence report and the report which the Three Realms had acquired long ago.

God Emperor Blacklotus had increased his territory and now commanded a total of sixty-one chaosworlds.

The Starlord of Fogstone still commanded ninety-six chaosworlds.

Sovereign Eastvictory’s territory had lessened and he now commanded just fifty-eight chaosworlds.

The information in this star map regarding the Badlands Territory was a bit more detailed than the information the Three Realms had, but it was still limited to just this territory. There was no information regarding any other territory, to say nothing of Vastheaven Palace.

“Mm. Judging from this, I should probably join the Starlord of Fogstone for now.” Ning made up his mind. Still, he wasn’t in a rush. He first said to the azure-armored man, “Come, lead me to see a few other places.”

“This way please, senior.” The azure-armored man was quite friendly as he guided the way forward.

After walking about for a long period of time, the azure-armored man began to secretly grumble to himself. “This senior’s been walking around forever, but the only thing he purchased was a single map. This sucks. I ran into a skinflint of an Elder God. I probably did all this work for nothing.”

Anyone who came all the way here via a spacetime transfer array generally did so with a specific purchase in mind, such as buying some of the unique products that belonged to this planet. It cost a bottle of chaos nectar to use the array, after all; anyone who was willing to pay that price to come here would generally be willing to spend even more to buy the desired items. But...this Elder God before him was clearly an exception. All he had purchased was a star map, nothing else.

“And what’s this island? It looks quite impressive.” Ning pointed to an enormous island up ahead.

“That? That island is our mustering grounds.” The azure-armored man was beginning to become a bit casual in his speech. “The Fogstone Dominion commands a total of ninety-six chaosworlds, which means we have many cultivators, quite a few of whom wish to join the Fogstone Army. Ordinary cultivators are naturally not permitted to go into the interior regions of the planet of Fogstone; only this trading region is open for all. Cultivators who wish to join our ranks have to first go to the mustering grounds and be tested before being granted entry.”

“But of course.” The azure-armored man smiled at Ning. “If you wished to join the army, it would be much simpler, senior. As an Elder God, there’s no need for you to be tested.”

He said these words quite casually, but they were true. Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals could be considered powerful experts, and to raise a new crop of them was very difficult. The Fogstone Dominion controlled many chaosworlds and had many legacies and training techniques to offer its geniuses, but it only had a few thousand Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals within its ranks, despite the passage of countless years. All organizations, including ones that were even more powerful than the Fogstone Dominion, were willing to recruit and retain Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals. Frankly speaking, the Fogstone Dominion wasn’t that powerful of an organization within the Badlands Territory.

If the azure-armored man was able to recruit an Elder God or Ancestral Immortal into their ranks, his reward would be quite considerable!

“Oh?” Ning nodded. “Let’s go take a look.”

“Uh, y-you can’t just go randomly wandering around the mustering grounds. It is an important place,” the azure-armored man said hurriedly.

“Didn’t you say…I would be able to join your army?” Ning asked.

“Senior…” The azure-armored man stared. “Senior, are you saying you wish to join the Fogstone Army?”

“Yes.” Ning nodded.

“G-g-great!” The azure-armored man was shocked and delighted. He immediately said, “The Fogstone Army is very welcoming towards Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals who have journeyed and adventured through the primordial chaos. Although you’ll be given certain restrictions, since you are an Elder God the restrictions will be quite lax. The only requirement will be for you to take part in critical battles, while you’ll be given many benefits upon signing up. You’ll get chaos nectar, treasures, and all sorts of other things.”

Ning followed the azure-armored man forward. They passed through more cloud streets as they moved towards the mustering grounds.

“Brother Mu, this is the mustering grounds.” A black-armored True God who was leaning relaxedly against a boulder while drinking some wine gave Ning a glance, then snapped at the azure-armored man, “You should lead this senior away from here.” Although Ning was an Elder God, he was still an outsider. The True God soldier really didn’t care about him at all.

“You imbecile, this senior is planning to join our Fogstone Army!” The azure-armored man hissed.

“He’s joining the Fogstone Army?” The True God’s eyes bulged out and he hurriedly jumped to his feet, his attitude markedly more respectful than before. He had acted arrogantly because he was a member of the Fogstone Army and really didn’t care about outsiders, but if this Elder God was to truly join the Fogstone Army, he would clearly become one of the core members of it. The Elder God would become one of his superiors, at which point it would be very easy for this Elder God to punish him.

“This way please, senior.” The black-armored True God hurriedly spoke with respect.

“Senior, we’ll part ways for now.” The azure-armored man smiled merrily. He was quite pleased. Today, he had just earned a bundle for himself!

“Alright.” Ning immediately followed the black-armored True God forward. As he did, he began to hear cries ringing out from afar.

“How much longer do we have to wait? We have to go through nine rounds of testing, but this is just the third round. This is so pointless.”

“If you aren’t even patient enough to wait, what makes you think you are qualified to join the Fogstone Army? My senior apprentice-brother told me that last time, the nine elimination rounds took a total of a thousand years.”

“Hey, what’s going on over there?”

“Why is that white-robed youth being led into the restricted area?”

There were quite a few True Gods and True Immortals waiting in the mustering grounds. They had come from the ninety-six chaosworlds and were taking part in the elimination trials. The nine rounds of eliminations would usually take quite a long period of time, mainly because the Elder Gods and Ancestral Immortals in charge of the trials were usually quite relaxed and lazy about them. They might end up going into seclusion for a hundred years between rounds, which was why the trials often ended up taking forever.

“Island master.” The black-robed True God immediately ran over to the side of a gray-robed elder who was fishing in a relaxed manner. “This senior wishes to join our Fogstone Army.”

The gray-robed elder put down his fishing rod, rising to his feet as he looked at Ning.

Ning looked at the gray-robed elder as well. This elder had a closed vertical eye-slit on his forehead; most likely, he was an Elder God as well. The Elder God waved his hand, dismissing the black-armored True God.

“My name is Fushe,” the gray-robed elder said. “The master of this island, the mustering grounds.”

“Darknorth,” Ning said.

“Brother Darknorth, do you truly wish to join our Fogstone Army?” The gray-robed elder asked.

“I do.” Ning nodded.

The gray-robed elder smiled. “Elder Gods do not need to go through the elimination process. They can directly join the Fogstone Army. However…even Elder Gods have different statuses within the army. There’s a great difference between an ordinary Elder God and a supreme Elder God, after all.”

Ning nodded.

“The Elder God soldiers of the Fogstone Army can be promoted based on their military accomplishments; with enough military successes, they will be promoted to very high levels. A second possibility is for them to be promoted based solely on power. If you are strong enough, you can be promoted to a high rank even if you haven’t fought in battle yet.” The gray-robed elder looked at Ning.

“Generally speaking, you have to fight against and defeat certain golems in order to prove your strength. We have three types of golem on this island; they represent ordinary Elder Gods, elite Elder Gods, and supreme Elder Gods. The golems aren’t that skillful, but beating the first golem means you have the power of an ordinary Elder God. Beating the second golem proves that you have the power of an elite Elder God. Beating the third means that you have the power of a supreme Elder God.”

“It is quite rare for new entrants to the Fogstone Army to be able to defeat the third golem. I’ve only encountered two during my tenure here as master of the island,” the gray-robed elder said with a smile.

Ning asked, “Just these three types?”

“If you are strong enough, there’s no need to even go through the golem testing. You can ask a World-level expert to come here and attest to your power.” The gray-robed figure continued, “However, there are very few figures that have transcended even supreme Elder Gods in power. Although the Fogstone Army does have a few such figures, they only became that powerful after spending quite a bit of time improving themselves after joining us. There have been none who have requested a World-level expert come and testify to their power immediately after they join our ranks.”

Ning nodded.

He had inherited the legacy of World God Northrest and was quite familiar with some of the unspoken rules of the primordial chaos. He truly did wish to establish himself here on Fogstone and receive the resources he would need in order to grow more powerful! In the future, he would go out and battle on behalf of the Fogstone Army and find a chance to slay the Mindlord. This was why Ning had decided long ago that he would shock them all upon arriving, ensuring that the World Gods of Fogstone all knew his name.

“Please invite a World-level expert to come, then.” Ning nodded.

“Invite a World…” The gray-robed figure stuttered. “W-what did you just say?” His mind went blank.

“No need to bother with the three golems,” Ning said. “I wish to invite a World-level expert to come here and attest to my strength.”

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