“What is that thing!?” panted Meng Hao, his heart grim. With no time to even wipe the blood from his mouth, he popped a Foundation Establishment Pill into his mouth. Because of the level of his Cultivation base, the pill would not cause his body to be paralyzed. Its power instantly flushed out the coldness.
No one but Meng Hao could be so wasteful.
His body seems to transform into a flash of light as he pulled on the rope, borrowing its power to shoot even closer to the cave mouth. As of now, he was only six hundred meters away. At his heels, roughly nine meters away from him, were the black tendrils of hair and the other phantoms. Further back, twenty-five hundred meters into the cave, at the end of the floating black mass of tendrils appeared a human head!
The red rope penetrated the head between the eyebrows and then continued to stretch down into the darkness.
It was a woman’s head. The beauty of her features was difficult to describe, as if she didn’t belong in the mortal world. Her open eyes were filled with confusion and frustration, as if before her death, there were too many things that she didn’t understand, and too few answers.
To Meng Hao, six hundred meters was not very far. Given his current Cultivation base, he should be able to cross the distance in the space of a couple of breaths. But, the coldness in the cave was affecting his speed, and the relentless attacking pursuit behind him forced him to concentrate.
The hair tendrils continued to spread out, and it seemed as if it would reach Meng Hao’s feet at any moment. Meng Hao took a deep breath, then lifted his hand toward the rocky wall.
As he pushed against it, the power of his Cultivation base exploded out to activate some of the backup magical items he had placed there. Ten flying swords suddenly flew out, shooting toward the tendrils and then exploding. A boom echoed out, shaking the cave. Meng Hao shot forward, pulling fiercely on the red rope.
Outside in the valley, the seven Cultivators’ faces were pale white. Three of them spat up blood and staggered backward. The remaining four gritted their teeth and held on. Behind them, the poison beasts seemed to be losing power.
“Maybe this time there will be an incredible treasure. That’s why it’s so heavy!”
“Right. When we pulled out that Spirit Sealing rock, it was incredibly heavy….”
“Haha! We’ll pull out a similar treasure this time. Don’t be stingy with your medicinal pills. We have to pull out this treasure!” The three injured Cultivators gritted their teeth, panting. They pulled out medicinal pills and consumed them. With looks of excitement and anticipation, they once again stepped forward and pulled on the rope.
Down in the cave, Meng Hao borrowed momentum from the rope to fly another three hundred meters. The black tendrils were now a bit further away from him.
His eyes gleaming, his hand shot out toward the cave wall, to where he had hidden the talisman. It began to emit a golden light, which swirled about and then coalesced into blurry figure which was impossible to see clearly. It turned and, emanating a shocking power, charged toward the black hair and the other pursuing spirits.
As the explosion billowed out, Meng Hao leaped forward. The pursuing spirits shrieked madly, charging once again toward him. A cold look appeared in his eyes, and he said a single word.
The talisman would now serve an additional function. Another explosion ripped through the ancient cave. Borrowing the momentum of the explosion, Meng Hao surged forward. He was now only thirty meters from the cave mouth. He took hold of the red rope and pulled hard. In an instant, he shot forward thirty meters, flying out of the cave!
As he shot out of the cave, ten phantoms charged forward. However, they stopped immediately when they reached the cave mouth, shrieking, as if they dared not step outside. Their shrieks echoed out, but did not leave the valley; there seemed to be some sort of restrictive spell in place. As such, the seven struggling men outside didn’t hear it.
Meng Hao held onto the red rope, allowing it to pull him upward. He turned and looked back down at the cave. As he did, he heard the voice of a woman, filled with frustration and doubt. It also carried with it a billowing sense of grief which shook Meng Hao.
“The Dao…. What is the Dao?!”
The voice grew shrill as it spoke, causing Meng Hao’s heart to seize with pain. He drew further and further away from the valley floor, passing through layer after layer of mist, until he neared its border.
“Pull! Haha! Let’s see what treasure comes up!”
“Maybe it’s another Spirit Sealing stone. Whatever it is, we definitely will not have wasted our effort this time!”
The seven men pulled excitedly, their eyes burning with passion. And then Meng Hao emerged. Their mouths dropped open and they stared at what they had painstakingly pulled up. The red roped dropped from their hands.
They gaped, dumbstruck, their minds spinning out of control. This was something they couldn’t possibly have predicted, and it left their brains blank. They had expected a treasure, but instead had ended up with Meng Hao. They couldn’t believe their eyes.
“Dammit, what’s going on?! How can this be?!”
“That’s… that’s the outsider from before. He’s not dead after all. But, how could it be him that we pulled up?”
Their minds reeled, especially the toad geezer, who had no reaction other than to gape. As for the Cultivator who had lost the Spirit Snake, when he recognized Meng Hao, his eyes filled with rage.
“It’s that damned outsider….” he said angrily, taking a step toward Meng Hao. He couldn’t believe that he had spat up so much blood in his efforts to pull Meng Hao out of the mist. His rage billowed up.
As he walked forward, Meng Hao looked at him calmly. As he did, the man’s body suddenly began to shake and his organs felt as if they would stop working. His Cultivation base seemed as if it had lost its ability to function. The blood drained from his face, and astonishment filled his eyes. A massive pressure bore down on him, causing him to shake so violently that he thought he might fall into pieces. Meng Hao continued to look at him.
This was the crushing power caused by the vast difference in their Cultivation bases. The man knew that by merely lifting his hand, Meng Hao could explode him into a million pieces. An intense, indescribable dread welled up within him. Shaking, he coughed up blood, so scared that he didn’t even dare to take a step backward.
The six other men had already begun to feel sick to their stomach, but seeing this, seeing Meng Hao standing there like an imposing mountain, their hearts shook. They knew that this mountain could exterminate them all in an instant.
“He’s hovering in the air!!” It was at this moment that the toad geezer’s face changed. Looking at Meng Hao’s feet, he realized that this flight was not the same method used as when he and his fellows flew on their poison beasts. This was… true flight!
“A Foundation Establishment expert!” The words pounded into their hearts, causing all of the men’s expressions to change. Their faces were filled with shocked disbelief. They remembered that two years ago, he was only a ninth-level Qi Condensation Cultivator. They even had assumed him dead.
But here he was again, this time in a position vastly superior to theirs. As a Foundation Establishment expert, he could end their life at any time. Their were faces pale as they all cupped their hands and bowed deeply to him.
“The junior generation offers greetings to the elder generation…” said the seven men, their fists clasped in front of them. Dread filled their hearts as they thought about what would happen if Meng Hao suddenly turned hostile. This was especially true of the man who had lost his Spirit Snake; anxiety filled him. His body trembling, he dropped to the ground to kowtow to the expressionless Meng Hao.
Even as he dropped to his knees, Meng Hao lifted his hand and waved it forward. A flying sword appeared; it was an ordinary sword, but it contained the power of Meng Hao’s Foundation Establishment Cultivation base. It shot forward, disintegrating as it did so. The shrapnel shot down toward the Spirit Snake Cultivator.
A blood-curdling shriek rang out. He was of the ninth level of Qi Condensation, but blood showered out of his body, and he was killed instantly. His body toppled down into the mists.
The other six men stood there trembling, not daring to even flee. They kowtowed to Meng Hao, not showing any reaction whatsoever to the attack just now. Actually, the man’s death had come as no surprise. From the time that Meng Hao had first appeared until this day, he had been most venomous in expressing his hatred for him.
If Meng Hao did not eliminate him, the other six men would have found it strange. That, in turn, could have given birth to other problems.
Although Meng Hao had not been a part of the Cultivation World for a very long time, he had experienced many things in the past six years. He was not the soft-hearted scholar he once had been. When killing became necessary, he did it without hesitation.
Enmity had been created two years ago when the man had attacked him, and then had his Spirit Snake killed. The man was of the ninth level of Qi Condensation, so it was impossible to tell whether or not he would reach Foundation Establishment. Killing him now would prevent any future troubles.
From the incident with Ding Xin, Meng Hao had learned that even when attacking enemies weaker than yourself, you must be quick and thorough in the kill.
From the incident with Wang Tengfei, he had learned that even an opponent with a lower Cultivation base could harbor resentment, and pursue vengeance ruthlessly.
In these six years, Meng Hao had matured, both in his personality and in his methods of dealing with matters.