Don’t provoke me!
Meng Hao didn’t actually speak the words, but based on everything he had said, the message to all his enemies was clear:
Don’t provoke me!
If you do, be prepared to deal with the consequences!
Today, I killed one Demonic cultivator and captured 33 more. Well then… if you dare to provoke me tomorrow, then I’ll do the same thing. And if you push me even further, then I’ll flip the table over and really cause a scene.
The streams of Dao Realm divine sense faded away. Meng Hao’s first day in the Nine Seas God World was a day in which his name spread throughout the entire sect. All disciples heard about what happened, leaving them with a profound impression.
Fan Dong’er looked deeply at Meng Hao for a moment, but didn’t say anything. Her expression from earlier, in which she was rejoicing in his misfortune, was completely gone. Now, her fear of him was even more deeply rooted.
The Demonic cultivators’ hatred was still there, but Meng Hao had established his position in the sect. He still wasn’t sure why they hated him so much, but it didn’t matter; he had already secured his position. There wasn’t a single Demonic cultivator in the entire sect who would dare to make a move against him.
No one in the Immortal Realm was his match. He had castigated the Ancient Realm, and even the Dao Realm was intimidated by him. The glorious scene in which he revealed his terrifying background caused the Demonic cultivators to not only fear him, but to also be jealous of him, and to curse his arrogant and despotic display.
Ling Yunzi left with Meng Hao in tow. The rest of the cultivators gradually dispersed. When Meng Hao’s vision cleared, he was in a mountain range deep in the Nine Seas God World.
His current location was a mountain, the top half of which was covered with snow; the frigid cold was evidence of the strength of the energy of Heaven and Earth here. Despite the Nine Seas God World being at the bottom of the sea, the entire land mass was surrounded by a huge invisible shield which kept the seawater out. However, the massive pressure exerted by the Ninth Sea was still there.
At the top of the mountain was a temple, which was where Ling Yunzi was taking Meng Hao. As soon as he entered, he saw that there were two other people sitting there cross-legged.
One of them was the old woman from earlier. She wore a long gray robe, and her face was a mass of wrinkles. Her hair was long and white, and her expression archaic, as if she had existed for many, many years. Her eyes sparkled with a wisdom that seemed to indicate that she could see through the hearts of men.
Of course, Dao Realm experts were all eccentrics with vast experience and unique personalities. They could tell that Meng Hao’s previous threats had been nothing more than explanations about his background. However, he had intentionally spoken them out and then let them hang in the air suspensefully. In the end, it didn’t really matter if the Dao Realm experts fully believed him or not, the important thing was to plant seeds of doubt and fear in their minds.
Next to the old woman was an old man with an expressionless face, wearing a green robe. As he sat there cross-legged, his gaze swept over Meng Hao, seemingly sizing him up.
His eyes seemed to contain a sharpness, an ability to thoroughly probe every aspect of Meng Hao. His eyes lingered for a moment on Meng Hao’s forehead, and his eyes sparkled.
Under the old man’s gaze, Meng Hao felt his cultivation base involuntarily rotating, and all of a sudden, his forehead flickered as the Echelon mark appeared.
When the old man saw the mark, he nodded and looked away.
“Meng Hao,” said the old woman, smiling, “you can call me Granny Nine.” Her expression was kind as she spoke to Meng Hao.
“As for the Guru sitting next to me, you should refer to him as Godmaster.”
“Meng Hao offers greetings to Matriarch Granny Nine and Guru Godmaster.” Meng Hao immediately reined in all of his domineering and arrogant manner from before, and put on a very meek and charming demeanor. He even looked a bit bashful as he clasped hands and offered formal greetings.
When they saw Meng Hao’s bashful expression, Granny Nine apparently found it very amusing. She looked at Meng Hao, her gaze kind and gentle.
Next to her, Ling Yunzi’s expression was one of approval. Years ago during the Three Great Daoist Societies’ trial by fire, he had long since come to have a good impression of Meng Hao, especially his willingness to sacrifice so much for the Nine Seas God World. It had definitely left him with a deep impression.
“This is for you,” Granny Nine said with a laugh, “consider it your welcoming gift for joining the sect.” She made a grasping motion, causing a bag of holding to appear, which she sent floating over to Meng Hao.
He blinked, then accepted it and scanned it with divine sense. Immediately, his heart began to pound with excitement. The bag of holding was filled with masses of pill formulas and jade slips. There was also a huge collection of medicinal plants, many of which were extremely rare in the outside world. The value of the contents of this bag was astronomical.
Ling Yunzi chuckled and said, “We know you’re fond of alchemy, so the three of us old-timers prepared this special gift to give you upon our first meeting. Many of the items in that bag were things that we recently took a trip to acquire just for you.”
Although his words seemed straightforward, the medicinal plants were clearly a reminder to Meng Hao of how much the three of them valued him.
Meng Hao immediately bowed again, and said: “Patriarchs, I offer profound thanks for this expression of utmost generosity and kindness.”
With no hesitation whatsoever, he quickly put the bag of holding into his robe, and as he did, he saw the three old-timers shaking their heads and smiling. Even Godmaster, whose face had been expressionless, was now smiling.
“First of all,” said Granny Nine, “allow us to apologize for what happened when you first arrived in the Ninth Sea. That was a bit beyond what we had anticipated. Originally, we would have come out immediately to resolve the situation, but because of some certain unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to. We hope that you can understand.”
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever. He was not a newcomer to the world of cultivation, and had in fact practiced cultivation for many years. He had experienced many situations of mutual deception, and knew that there were just some matters that couldn’t be pursued too seriously.
He might be able to believe that she was unaware of the reaction his arrival would provoke among the Demonic Cultivator Horde, but he was also sure that the resulting conflict had caused Granny Nine and the faction she represented to suddenly have other motives.
After all, they were the primary faction in the Nine Seas God World, and clearly, they wanted to use the opportunity to put the Demonic Cultivator Horde in place. Meng Hao couldn’t really say anything about that.
It was much the same as it had been in the Fang Clan. He had been used in a similar way back then… which was fine. However, being used in such a way should come with compensation. Therefore, after receiving the bag of holding, he quickly put any feelings of ill-will to rest.
Meng Hao was sure that if events hadn’t played out the way they had, there would still have been a gift presented. However, it would most likely have contained about half of the valuable medicinal plants that it did.
Seeing Meng Hao’s obedient and charming attitude, as well as his quick wit and lack of any prying into the details of what had happened, caused the praise in Granny Nine’s eyes to grow even stronger.
“Now that you’re here in the Nine Seas God World, I’ll give you a simple rundown of the origin of the Three Great Daoist Societies,” the woman began slowly. As soon as she started talking, Meng Hao’s ears perked up. “These are things that we can tell you, but they must not be spread beyond this room.
“The Three Great Daoist Societies have existed eternally from the beginning of the Nine Mountains and Seas down to this day.
“As to how they were started, well, they were founded by none other than the three supreme Paragons!”
“The true names of those three Paragons have long since been forgotten. However, everyone referred to them as Paragon Immortal Ancient, Paragon Nine Seals, and Paragon Sea Dream!
“Paragon Immortal Ancient founded the Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite. Paragon Sea Dream founded the Nine Seas God World and the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto.
“That is the origin of the Three Great Daoist Societies. You have met Paragon Sea Dream; she is the one who placed you into the Echelon. She is also the only surviving Paragon….” Granny Nine’s voice floated out as if from ancient times, slowly lifting up the veil that covered the truth of the history of the Three Great Daoist Societies.
Meng Hao was silent for a moment. Some of these things were matters he had already guessed the truth of. However, to hear them personally out of the mouth of the Granny Nine left him quite shaken. Finally, he asked, “The Three Great Daoist Societies aren’t specific to the Ninth Mountain and Sea, are they? And what about Paragon Nine Seals? What did he create?”
“Excellent questions,” replied the woman, nodding. Her eyes shone with praise. “Each and every one of the Nine Mountains and Seas has Three Great Daoist Societies!”
Her words caused Meng Hao’s mind to spin.
“They are all called the Nine Seas God World, the Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite and the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto.
“There are nine Nine Seas God Worlds, and when they are combined… that is the TRUE Nine Seas God World!” Granny Nine’s voice was calm as she spoke.
“As for Paragon Nine Seals, nobody knows exactly what he founded. However, throughout the years, various clues have been discovered, which have led to sundry speculations and rumors….” At this point, Granny Nine stopped talking, almost as if she were still in shock and disbelief over the words she was about to speak.
The person to complete the thought was not the Granny Nine, but the expressionless old man who was called guru Godmaster. “According to the rumors,” he said, “Paragon Nine Seals created… the entire Mountain and Sea Realm!”
When Meng Hao heard this, his mind filled with crashing rumbling. The information contained in what he had heard was something completely unheard of, leaving him shaken and panting.
“Paragon Nine Seals created the Mountain and Sea Realm?” he exclaimed.
“It’s merely speculation,” Godmaster said, his archaic voice echoing out through the temple hall. “There’s no way to determine whether it’s true or not. However, Paragon Nine Seals was the leader of the three great Paragons, so perhaps… during the era of the great war, he was the only one who could accomplish such a feat, to reverse the fate of the cosmos, and to leave behind a tiny strand of incense burning as a memorial for the Immortal Realm.” His voice reverberated throughout the temple.
“It is this speculation that leads us to believe that Paragon Nine Seals’ Daoist magic was none other than the Mountain and Sea Scripture!
“Whoever can acquire the full Mountain and Sea Scripture, will be the Lord of the Mountain and Sea Realm! That person will lead us into battle against the 33 Heavens, and restore the Immortal Realm to its former glory!
“The world we live in is the Immortal Realm, the Paragon Immortal Realm which once ruled over all the 3,000 Lower Realms!” Godmaster closed his eyes to conceal the grief contained therein.
Meng Hao was breathing heavily. He had learned from his Soulsearch of Yi Fazi that the Mountain and Sea Realm was what remained of the Paragon Immortal Realm. However, to hear the story directly from the mouth of guru Godmaster was a different matter. All of a sudden, images he had gained from the Soulsearch floated up in his mind.
“It’s enough that you know just this much,” Granny Nine said softly. “It’s better that you remain unaware of some of the more complicated details….
“The mission of the Three Great Daoist Societies is to help the Echelon grow. The Echelon was begun by Paragon Sea Dream. All of the nine Mountains and Seas have cultivators who are part of the Echelon. As for the Ninth Mountain and Sea… we have the fewest members. The first was your ancestor, and the second is you.
“Your path is not limited to the Ninth Mountain and Sea, but rather, the entire Mountain and Sea Realm. Your competitors, are no longer the fellow members of your generation, but rather… members of the Echelon from throughout the Mountain and Sea Realm!
“The Echelon battles are brutal, and on many occasions, are not just between two opponents. Sometimes, the power of entire sects will back two opponents, even leading to huge inter-mountain wars!
“We are not asking you to be the most powerful member of the Echelon. Rather, we just hope… that you can maintain your spot! If you simply continue on down your path, then whatever price must be paid by the Three Great Daoist Societies of the Ninth Mountain and Sea… will be worth it!” Granny nine looked deep into Meng Hao’s eyes, her expression one of anticipation.
Meng Hao found it hard to remain calm. Although he had already guessed the truth about many of these things, his heart was still filled with incomparable waves of shock.