Chapter 1509: Following the Crowd
Meng Hao clasped hands in thanks. After a moment, he decided not to step into the spell formation. Instead, he stood off to the side, waiting.
After about an hour passed, the disciples in charge of operating the spell formation were about to completely lose patience, when a beam of light appeared in the sky off in the distance.
“It’s Elder Sister Xu!” Looks of awe and veneration appeared in the eyes of the nearby disciples, and they all clasped hands in greeting.
Meng Hao looked up at the woman in the beam of light. She wore white garments, and although she wasn’t spectacularly beautiful, was pretty and emanated an indescribable air. She seemed a bit cold, but wasn’t the completely unapproachable type.
Meng Hao looked at her, trembling. Suddenly, she slowed to a stop and looked down at him. Their gazes met.
Time seemed to stop. Xu Qing hovered there quietly, and instead of proceeding along on her way, she floated down toward the teleportation portal. The disciples from the Dao of Water Sect clasped hands respectfully as she landed in front of Meng Hao.
She looked coldly at Meng Hao, and from her expression, it seemed as if she had no connection to him whatsoever other than being a former acquaintance.
“Have you recovered?” Meng Hao asked suddenly.
“I was confused for a few days,” she replied coolly, “but I can already tell the difference between reality and illusion.”
After a moment, Meng Hao smiled and said, “Congratulations.”
With that, he turned and stepped onto the spell formation.
It was at that point that Xu Qing spoke again. “Have you been well recently?”
He turned and looked back at her. “By recently, do you mean in the Arcane Pocket Realm, or… in the Vast Expanse Cosmos?”
“You were inside the Vast Expanse Arcane Pocket Realm for a long time. Everything there was nothing more than a dream. Meng Hao, stop living in the illusion. It’s time to wake up.
“The reason I came down to speak to you is that I have some news. The will of the exalted Allheaven will soon select the ninety-ninth generation Son of Allheaven. It will happen this year, and if you become the Son of Allheaven, then perhaps things can continue between us as they were meant to. However, considering the way you’re acting now, I have the feeling that won’t happen.” She shook her head, gave him one last look, and then was gone.
Meng Hao stood in the spell formation as it activated, watching her leave. He could sense her coldness, and suddenly began to laugh. His laughter grew louder and louder as the spell formation rumbled, and then he vanished.
When he reappeared in the starry sky, he was still laughing. He laughed and laughed until the laughter turned into coughing. A glint of madness could be seen in his yes.
“Have I recovered? Chen Fan recovered. Xu Qing recovered. Everything that happened in the Vast Expanse Arcane Pocket Realm is just a dream? I don’t believe it! Why do I have this pain in my heart? She’s not Xu Qing!
“She’s not!” Meng Hao threw his head back and laughed uproariously, his eyes glowing red. At the same time, the void around him distorted as countless invisible threads formed. They began to creep toward Meng Hao, as if to take advantage of his current state to bore into his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
But then, all of a sudden, the copper mirror hanging on his chest sent a flowing current through him that was far hotter than before. It filled him, causing him to shudder and then calm down. The threads which had surrounded him then shrank back and vanished.
Meng Hao’s mood gradually stabilized, and his eyes shone with a bright light. Something definitely felt wrong. His mood had changed too suddenly after encountering Xu Qing, and now that he thought back, he realized that he had seemed out of control, as if something were attempting to influence him.
He looked around, eyes narrowed, then flashed into motion, heading toward the Vast Expanse Society.
A few days later, he was in front of a huge planet, a planet that vastly exceeded the planets of the Dao of Water Sect and the Blue Sea Sect in size.
It was covered with swirling mists, making it impossible to see its surface. However, there was a satellite planet next to the main planet, which was where the teleportation portal was located.
Meng Hao looked at the planet that was the Vast Expanse Society, and the stabbing pain in his mind caused him to shake his head. He headed to the satellite planet, then entered the teleportation portal, and was gone.
A few days later, he finally arrived… at his final destination, the Vast Expanse Arcane Pocket Realm!
It was an enormous vortex which spun endlessly, sending intense rumbling sounds echoing out in all directions. Countless asteroids floated about in the area, upon which numerous cultivators could be seen, all of whom were closely studying the vortex.
Meng Hao looked at the vortex, and his mind spun. He flew onward, toward the vortex, and quite a few people noticed him and looked over.
He ignored them, keeping his eyes fixed on the vortex itself. Panting, he flew directly toward it, not pausing for even a moment.
Soon, he could hear people calling out, but he didn’t pay them any heed. Then, even as he neared, he suddenly bounced off of an invisible barrier, a sealing power which prevented people from casually entering the vortex.
A boom echoed out as Meng Hao was rebuffed. He coughed up a mouthful of blood as he was sent flying back. When he looked up at the barrier, the vague memories inside of him sent so much pain stabbing into his mind that his face paled.
It was at this point that Meng Hao heard someone speak his name. “Meng Hao?”
The owner of the voice seemed uncertain. Meng Hao turned and saw a fat fellow, expression quizzical. When their eyes met, he smiled wryly.
“It really is you. I’m Li Fugui! Oh, right, maybe you don’t recognize me. We were good friends in the Vast Expanse Arcane Pocket Realm.” The fat man sighed and looked sympathetically at Meng Hao.
“The fact that you’ve come here shows that you still haven’t recovered. It was only recently that I myself was finally able to think clearly. I hope you can recover soon. Don’t try to get back inside, by the way. We’ve all tried, and it’s useless. The exalted Allheaven has sealed it up tight.”
Meng Hao looked at the man standing in front of him. Within his vague memories was another Fatty who looked almost exactly the same as this one.
“You’ve recovered too….” Meng Hao said, smiling bitterly.
“Yeah. Not just me. Remember Chu Yuyan, Sun Hai, and Wang Youcai? They’ve all recovered.” Even as he spoke, he turned and waved his hand. A few beams of light appeared off in the distance, as familiar figures from his vague memories flew over.
There were Wang Youcai, Sun Hai, and… Chu Yuyan.
Sighing, the three of them looked at Meng Hao, as if they were also recalling everything which had occurred within the Vast Expanse Arcane Pocket Realm. That was especially true of Chu Yuyan, whose expression was hard to read as she looked at Meng Hao. It almost seemed as if she couldn’t believe what had happened inside, as if it were impossible that she would become infatuated with Meng Hao.
“You know what?” Fatty said. “We’re all Chosen from the Hundred Sects, and I think that since we all became friends in a dream, we might as well do the same thing in the real world!” He laughed.
“All of you recovered already?” Meng Hao asked.
Sun Hai nodded his head, as did everyone else. The sympathy in their eyes was clear.
“We’ve all recovered,” Sun Hai said. “Everyone did…. You know, you should go spend some time with some of the others. After all, we all were connected by destiny within the dream. Oh right, in the illusion, Fang Yu was your sister.” Sun Hai sighed.
Meng Hao’s mind was reeling. He looked around at all of the asteroids, at the dozens of people there, and every one of the faces was familiar. In fact, one of them belonged to his older sister Fang Yu.
He saw his parents, his Master Pill Demon, Taiyang Zi, Li Ling’er, Fan Dong’er, and Zhixiang….
Head pounding, he followed Fatty around to go meet everyone, all of these people who existed in his memories. When they laid eyes on him, they sighed, and spoke emotionally of the things which had happened in the dream world.
A few days later, Meng Hao had gone to talk to everyone. Finally, he sat down on an asteroid and stared blankly at the sealed vortex. Everyone here had already recovered. Meng Hao was the only one who was still confused.
He suddenly felt very alone. The perplexity he was experiencing led him to question himself. If one person tried to convince him that what he had experienced was an illusory dream, he would never question himself. But it wasn’t a single person. It was two, three, ten, a hundred. Countless people were all telling him the same thing, and as such, he couldn’t help but question himself.
“Don’t tell me… it really was all a dream…?” he murmured.
“Of course it was,” Fatty said. He sat down next to Meng Hao on the asteroid. Taking a deep breath, he handed a flagon of alcohol over to Meng Hao. He held a flagon of his own, from which he took a long swig.
The vortex continued to spin. Although they were located somewhere far out in the starry sky, it didn’t feel any different than if they were sitting on a planet.
Meng Hao held the alcohol flagon in his hand. Instead of drinking, he sat there quietly for a while, and then began to chuckle bitterly.
“Ah well, I guess it doesn’t matter….” He said, shaking his head. At the moment, the copper mirror hanging at his chest was sending out so much heat it was burning his skin. And yet, he didn’t seem to notice. He raised the flagon up to take a drink. Because the flagon covered his eyes, he had no way to notice that everyone in the area, Fatty, Sun Hai, Wang Youcai, Chu Yuyan, Li Ling’er, Fatty, and even his parents and Pill Demon… were all looking at him, watching, waiting for him to take a drink!
And that was when something completely unexpected happened!