Chapter 1460: A Smile From the Peak!
By the time the echoing toll of the bell faded away, everyone outside of the mountain was profoundly and deeply shaken by the name Fang Mu.
“Fang Mu, who went from mortal to Immortal in ten years! The one whose Immortal Tribulation was so shocking that even the Ninth Paragon appeared? That… Fang Mu?”
“I can’t believe it’s him. After he went from mortal to Immortal in only ten years, he vanished without a trace. He hasn’t been seen at all in the sect. It’s actually him!!”
“Back then, people took him to be an incredible Chosen. Now, after twenty years, he appears again! Could it be that he had a cultivation base breakthrough and is in the Ancient Realm now!?!?”
Everyone was in an uproar as they suddenly recalled Fang Mu. All the shocking things he had done back then overlapped with what was happening now, leaving everyone completely shocked.
Even back then, there had been many people who had looked down on him. But now, such derision was pale and feeble, and couldn’t stand up at all to the tolling of the bell for the 50,000th step.
In all of the Ninth Sect, there were only about 10,000 who could reach 50,000 steps. That didn’t necessarily indicate that their cultivation bases were extremely high; the Vast Expanse Shrine tested a person’s potential and overall power. Cultivation base wasn’t really important.
In response to the tolling of the bell, Yan’er began to pant, and stare over at the Vast Expanse Shrine, mind a blank. Almost immediately, the cultivators in the area recognized her as Fang Mu’s apprentice.
One by one they began to look over, and although their expressions seemed the same as they had been moments before, deep within their eyes could be seen flickers of envy and awe. Awe of Yan’er’s Master!
Anybody could see that, considering his momentum, Fang Mu wouldn’t be stopping at 50,000 steps. As for how far he would go in the end… no one could say at the moment.
Even as the bell tolled for the 50,000th step, many cultivators who occupied the top 10,000 spots in the Ninth Sect emerged from secluded meditation and headed toward the mountain.
Before reaching the 50,000th stair, Fang Mu was on a lower level than them. But now, they could sense a threat, and thus, a stream of people began to arrive.
“Look, it’s Elder Brother Chen Zhan! He’s in the top 10,000!”
“Elder Brother Liu Yun is here!”
“It’s Elder Sister Sun Luo….” Everyone in the area was buzzing with conversation regarding the numerous extraordinary and illustrious figures from the Ninth Sect who were showing up.
As they appeared, the surrounding cultivators would back away to give them space, making them very easy to spot within the crowd.
At the same time, Meng Hao stood on the stairs on the mountain, well aware of the commotion that must be underway outside. Smiling, and not caring a bit, he immersed himself in the Baptism from the tolling of the bell. Inside of him, his cultivation base was now only a hair away from a breakthrough.
However, that was of only secondary importance. Of even greater significance was that the sealing mark of the Ninth Hex, which he had been working on from his first day in the sect, was becoming clearer and clearer.
After ten breaths of time passed, he opened his eyes and proceeded along. This time, he moved even faster than before, as if the pressure from the mountain wasn’t affecting him at all.
55,000 steps. 58,000 steps. Then, he passed 60,000, and without even a pause, he flew like the wind until he reached 62,000 steps. He whistled along, getting higher and higher. By the time the bell began to toll for the 60,000th stair, he was at the 63,000th stair. As he began to vibrate inwardly, he chuckled and increased his speed. Soon he was on the 67,000th stair, and then a huge leap took him directly to… the 70,000th stair.
It was only when he landed on that stair that the bell from the 60,000th stair ended, followed immediately by the bell for the 70,000th stair, creating a combined thirteen tolls of the bell. The entire Ninth Sect was shaken, and even the blazing suns of the sect who were in the audience wore expressions of utter astonishment.
It must be stated that when the tolling bells from the later 10,000 stairs combined, it was completely different from the combined tolling of bells in the first 10,000 set of stairs. The difference was like the difference between Heaven and Earth!
As the bell tolls combined, everyone was shaken, and not just the people in the vicinity of the mountain itself. All of the Chosen who had a spot in the top 3,000 on the Vast Expanse Shrine were astonished. Everyone began to rush over to the mountain, even Dao Realm cultivators. The only exceptions were the people in the top 100.
More people streamed over to the vicinity of the Vast Expanse Shrine, where a hubbub of conversation rose up into the sky.
“I can’t believe this Fang Mu is so inhuman! He actually connected the tolling of the bells!!”
“How did he even do it? There are 10,000 steps between the 60,000 and 70,000 mark. That level of speed is unbelievable.”
Even as the sound of shocked conversations rose up, the stone stele at the bottom of the mountain glittered with bright light. Everyone looked over with mixed expressions as the very last name, the name in the 3,000th spot, was wiped away, vanishing forever… to be replaced by another name!
The 3,000th place was now occupied by Fang Mu!
Although the name was small, and in very last place, the fact that it was even there led to a huge commotion.
Yan’er was trembling, her eyes shining with delight. When she saw her Master’s name on the stone stele, she began to dance with joy. As far as she could remember, this was the happiest moment in her life, and the most exciting, exceeding even the moment in which she had been saved by the Ninth Paragon.
By now, she had almost forgotten about Elder Brother Bi Yun.
Yan’er’s eyes shone with anticipation, and her mood soared. “Who cares about the top 3,000? My Master can definitely get into the top 100!”
At the same time, more and more people were arriving in the area. They looked at the stone stele, then up at the Vast Expanse Shrine. These were all Chosen whose names were listed on the stone stele, and their appearance on the scene caused the other cultivators in the vicinity of the mountain to become even more excited than before.
“Gu Tianyi. Shao Minghao. Guo Tenglong. Han Ruonan….”
“I can’t believe they’re all here….”
Even as everyone made shocked exclamations, a handsome young man in a green robe appeared. His expression was cold, and his appearance perfect in every aspect.
The young female disciples in the area were instantly thrown into excitement.
“Elder Brother Bi Yun!”
This young man was extremely famous in the Ninth Sect. He had climbed all of the steps on the mountain, and had even entered the Vast Expanse Shrine itself…. Bi Yun.
Even Yan’er suddenly started to feel conflicted.
Meng Hao didn’t care about what was happening outside the mountain. His expression was calm as he proceeded onward. Furthermore, his speed didn’t reduce at all. He went even faster than before!
The pressure was increasing compared to below, but to Meng Hao, it was negligible. Now, instead of taking the steps 100 at a time, it was 500!
One pace, three paces, ten paces… twenty paces!
The next spot he appeared was at the 80,000th step. The bell tolled again, and yet Meng Hao didn’t stop moving. Now, a single pace carried him 1,000 steps. Ten paces later, he was on the 90,000th step.
From there, he could look down at the entirety of the Ninth Sect and its swirling clouds. The pressure here was intense, to the point where Meng Hao was finally feeling some of its effects.
There was even a bit of sweat visible on his forehead.
“Now this is more like it,” he said, smiling. “Otherwise it would have been too simple. Meaningless really.” His eyes shone with a bright gleam. As the bell tolled, he took a deep breath, and once again increased his speed. One pace took him 2,000 steps!
He was flying upward!
Rumbling could be heard with each step. 92,000 steps. Another pace, and he was at 94,000. The Baptism from the tolling bell continued, and the fluctuations of his cultivation base grew more intense. A third pace put him at 96,000 steps.
Another step, and he was at 98,000….
Meng Hao was now only 2,000 steps from the top of the mountain. He could see the enormous tower that was the Vast Expanse Shrine, and he could see the sky stretching out above it. Below, the other mountains in the sect almost looked small. At the same time, the sealing mark of the Seal the Heavens Hex was becoming more complete.
“After these final 2,000 steps, will I qualify to enter the Vast Expanse Shrine?” His expression was calm as he lifted his foot up. When he put it down, he had crossed the final 2,000 steps, and was at the peak of the mountain!
Meng Hao’s trip from the 1st step to the 100,000th was an unprecedented miracle in the Ninth Sect. Furthermore, the total amount of time he used didn’t even exceed five incense sticks’ worth of time!
It was at this point that Fang Mu’s name rose rapidly up the stone stele. It went from 3,000th place to 2,500. Then 2,000. Then 1,000. Then 500, 400, 300, 200….
In the end, it appeared in… 100th place!
The speed with which it rose ensured that Fang Mu was now a legend!
The bell tolled, shaking Heaven and Earth. The Baptism effect on him was intense, filling his body. Also, for the first time, the group outside the mountain could actually see Meng Hao standing there outside the Vast Expanse Shrine.
He wore a long robe, which fluttered in the mountain breeze along with his hair. He seemed to have his eyes closed, and he looked every bit like an Immortal!
There was no hubbub of conversation, no cries of shock. There were only gasps as countless eyes… came to focus on that figure atop the mountain.
Meng Hao was now someone who would exist eternally within the memories of the people from the Ninth Sect.
Finally, the Baptism was over, and he opened his eyes. He looked down at the crowd which had gathered, and apparently he saw Yan’er. Even as she stood there in her excitement, Meng Hao’s gaze softened. Smiling warmly, he waved at her.
His gaze, his smile, and his wave, were things that everyone in the crowd could see. Almost instantly, all eyes shifted from Meng Hao to Yan’er.
Her face flushed a bit. This was the first time she had ever been stared at by so many people, and it caused her heart to begin to thump. At the same time, an unfamiliar emotion rose up inside of her, almost like something which had existed in a previous life that was now awakening.
A strange look could be seen in her eyes as she looked at Meng Hao, an indescribable brightness. At the same time, her heart began to pound even faster.
After a long moment, she cleared her throat. Face red, she muttered to herself, “Er, the old fogey sure doesn’t act like an old man at all. He really knows how to please the girls.”
The sun shone radiantly, and when it combined with Meng Hao’s gaze, it became…
A warmth which could pierce through to previous lives.