On that day, virtually every member of the Fang Clan saw an Azure Dragon fly out of the Medicine Pavilion in the Dao of Alchemy Division, then speed around Planet East Victory before eventually fading away.
As it vanished, motes of green light sprinkled down onto the lands of Planet East Victory, causing the entire planet to thrum with life force.
This scene caused the hearts of all the cultivators on Planet East Victory to tremble with shock.
In the Medicine Immortal Sect, Fang Yanxu saw what was happening and his expression flickered with astonishment. He gazed in the direction of the Dao of Alchemy Division and murmured after a long time, “So the legends about the eighth level are true…. The first alchemist to completely unseal the Azure Dragon of plants and vegetation, will free the dragon and enable it to nourish the lands.
“Meng Hao’s skill in the Dao of alchemy has reached an incredible level….”
Fang Shoudao took a deep breath. His eyes were wide as he watched the Azure Dragon fade away, and the nourishing motes of light fall down onto the planet. He even reached his hand out and allowed one of the glimmering lights to land onto his palm.
Simultaneously, the Dao bell appeared in midair over the ancestral mansion. Its toll echoed out into the hearts of all the members of the Fang Clan.
Then the hubbub of conversation broke out, in all areas of the Fang Clan. After experiencing the rebellion, the Fang Clan needed a joyous occasion like this to consolidate the clan and help them grow stronger.
On the eighth level of the Medicine Pavilion, Meng Hao watched as the unsealed Azure Dragon swirled around and then flew away. Next, the plants and vegetation disappeared into the numerous glittering screens which had just appeared.
Meng Hao did not immediately proceed to the next level. He sat down cross-legged and closed his eyes, mentally reviewing the 1,000,000 medicinal plants he had just seen, and committing them to memory.
After quite a bit of time passed, he opened his eyes, within which glowed an intense light. Having completed the eighth level perfectly, he looked off into the distance at… a door which had appeared!
There was no staircase, only a door, and that door led to the ninth level!
The final level!
“The Fang Clan’s Medicine Pavilion is truly a place where good fortune can be wrested away from Heaven and Earth. The transformations of plants and vegetation here have reached the pinnacle, especially on the eighth level.
“Well, I wonder what kind of test I’ll find on the ninth level?” He looked curiously at the door for a while before finally rising to his feet and walking over.
Eventually, he came to stand directly in front of it. Eyes glittering, he pushed it open and walked in without hesitation. This was the final level of the Medicine Pavilion.
As soon as he entered, he stopped in his tracks and stared around in shock.
An entire world stretched out in front of his eyes.
The sky was deep blue, and a golden sun hung in the sky, sending out radiant sunlight. Gigantic birds flew about in the sky.
Off in the distance, the ground shook under the feet of a giant, which roared as it ran.
Everything bore the appearance of ancient times. There was one particular plant, a small one, that was growing out from under a rock. It seemed ordinary and not even worth mentioning, but if you looked closely… it appeared as if, at some point in the past, the rock had crushed the plant. However, the plant had fought on, eventually pushing the rock aside and growing up from under its edges.
Meng Hao was a bit taken aback by everything. However, after only a few breaths of time passed, everything blurred. When things became clear again, he was standing in the same place he had been before. However, the mountains and lands around him had crumbled, even that rock. The little plant he had seen had also collapsed into pieces.
Yet, one of those plant pieces managed to fly up into the air and merge with some of the remnants of the shattered rock, which then spun off into the distance, where they landed in the middle of a pool of water and sank to the bottom.
Time passed. Years flew by, and it was impossible to tell how many. Gradually, another small plant grew up from within the pool of water. It looked different than the previous plant, sturdier and more resilient.
Meng Hao frowned. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was seeing, nor what it had to do with this ninth level. He continued to watch as time flashed by. Suns rose and set. The plant would wither, then grow again, a seemingly endless cycle. Finally one day, the lands were destroyed in a seismic event, and the area where the plant was growing turned into a seafloor.
Soil became sludge, completely burying the tiny plant.
More time passed. The little plant once again grew up from within the sludge. It looked different than before, as if it were some type of seaweed. It looked almost like hair as it grew longer and longer.
Later, the sea dried up, and the plant withered and eventually disappeared. Then, a tree grew up in its place. That tree became a forest, within which was a tree that seemed to be the same tiny plant from years ago.
Time flowed. Meng Hao watched as the huge tree eventually began to grow smaller. The other trees around it withered in death, but it grew stronger and stronger until, eventually, it attracted the attention of lightning.
The lightning struck it, and it dried up. In the moment that it died, a sprout appeared, which became the only green thing in the whole world, growing up out of the dead husk of the tree.
Meng Hao stared at the sprout in shock. A powerful aura gradually began to emanate from the sprout, and after much time passed, a hand appeared in the void, which slowly reached out and harvested the tiny sprout.
“Sure enough, it became a Holy medicinal plant,” said an ancient voice, the same voice that had spoken on the previous levels of the Medicine pavilion. The images Meng Hao was seeing crumbled away.
He breathed heavily as everything faded away, and he found himself standing in a medicinal plant garden, within which grew a single medicinal plant.
It was a tiny sprout, the same one whose lives Meng Hao had seen passing by in his vision.
He stared at the sprout in shock, and a thoughtful expression appeared on his face.
“Do you understand?” asked the voice.
“What is the highest realm of plants and vegetation? No one can truly answer this question. Everyone has their own explanation!
“A tiny plant from the ancient age that experienced all sorts of good fortune… Who can say whether or not that plant will become some sort of shocking holy medicinal plant?!
“All living things are mundane, and yet, all living things can also be extraordinary!
“Cultivators practice cultivation because of their desire to shed the limitations of the mortal world. They wish to be like the carp that leapt over the dragon gate…. Plants and vegetation are similar. When concocting them into medicinal pills and consuming them, one should not solely focus on strengthening themselves, but should also strive to sense the plant’s fundamental will.
“It might seem like the plant dies in the process of becoming a pill, but who can truly say whether or not this is just a rebirth into another stage of life for them?”
As the ancient voice echoed out, Meng Hao sat down cross-legged and looked at the tiny sprout. All of a sudden, he thought about the image of the first generation Patriarch incarnated as a planet.
He became a planet, from which grew countless types of plants and vegetation….
“This….” Meng Hao murmured. He felt as if he were just on the verge of grasping something profound, but he wasn’t able to put it into words. It was as if countless threads were swirling around in his head, making it impossible to find the correct train of thought.
“Reincarnation?” he said, looking up.
Almost as soon as the word left his mouth, the entire world collapsed. The fragments then formed back together, causing another shocking vision to appear.
The vision was exactly the same as what he had experienced when he first set foot into the ninth level. He saw the world of ancient times, and he saw the tiny plant growing up from under the rock.
The vision appeared to be identical, except that this time, the hand was present, as if he was now seeing the true beginning to the story.
A voice echoed out within the vision: “Stuck under a boulder, but you still want to live and grow. Well then, allow me to give you a chance at life.”
The hand then tapped the plant lightly.
The little plant swayed, then returned to normal. The hand vanished, as if it had never existed in the first place.
The vision faded away, and the void of the ninth level appeared again. The ancient voice echoed out again.
“It’s not just reincarnation, but creation! From my perspective, the pinnacle of plants and vegetation is actually creation.” After the voice finished speaking, a door appeared next to Meng Hao, a door which led to the outside.
Meng Hao maintained his silence. The little plant had been ordinary, but because it had been tapped by that finger, its entire life and fate changed. In the end, the lightning struck it, and it became a Holy medicinal plant.
That definitely was a kind of creation.
After a long time, Meng Hao rose to his feet, clasped hands, and bowed deeply.
Suddenly, the ancient voice spoke again.
“If you had the choice, would you wish to become that little plant, or would you want to become the hand?”
Meng Hao paused and looked out into the void. Voice calm, he replied, “Neither that plant nor that hand can act of their own accord. Both are controlled by something else. I would want to become… the person who commanded that hand to alter the little plant!” With that, he turned and prepared to step through the door.
Suddenly, the ancient voice in the void laughed. It was a laughter filled with happiness and praise.
“To think that… the Fang Clan has produced someone like you. Delightful! How very delightful!” As the voice echoed out, the image of a middle-aged man suddenly appeared within the void. He looked over at Meng Hao.
“For years, none of the few people who managed to enter this place made a choice like yours.
“Your reward for reaching this ninth level is that I can answer a single question for you.”
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered.
“Is there a pinnacle of skill with plants and vegetation that exceeds that of creation?” he asked.
“That’s not an easy question to answer,” the middle-aged man said slowly. “First, you must be able to understand… what the Dao is!”
“The Dao?” Meng Hao gaped.
“Why is there life? Why is there death?” The ancient voiced echoed back and forth endlessly.
“Why is there reincarnation? It’s like a circle, with the head and the tail connected, but what exactly does that mean, and is reincarnation the only explanation?
“Why are there cultivators? Why are there cultivation Realms?
“Why is there Daoist magic? Why are there divine abilities?
“How does light shine? How does darkness descend?
“Metal. Wood. Water. Fire. Earth. What are the differences between these elements?
“Fire is fire, and yet, why are there different types of heat?
“What is heat? What is cold? What does it mean when something that can only survive in the ice can be burned to death by a single drop of water?”
The ancient voice spoke with increasing speed, causing Meng Hao’s mind to tremble. Questions piled up in his mind. Each one seemed possible to answer directly, but if he actually had to answer them, he would be left speechless.
“What is the Dao?” That was the final question uttered by the ancient voice, and it left Meng Hao’s mind rumbling.
“The Essence is the Dao, the basis of everything that defies Heaven!” A bright light shone in the middle-aged man’s eyes, and he suddenly seemed very serious.
“All such unknowns are Essence. Only when you seek out the Essence, can you comprehend Heaven and Earth, understand all living things, and control everything! When you understand all transformations of Heaven and Earth, when you have defied the Heavens, when you have sealed the Earth, then what could possibly be difficult to you?!” The middle-aged man waved his hand, and Meng Hao’s mind trembled. He couldn’t stop himself from stepping into the door, and then he vanished into the void.
After he disappeared, the middle-aged man shook his head and smiled, then stepped forward into the medicinal plant garden. He sat down cross-legged and gradually transformed into a tiny sprout.
He was… the final transformation of that little plant. A tiny sprout!