Fan Dong’er staggered back, her face ashen.
“He’s cheating! He must be cheating!” she thought, her eyes completely bloodshot. In this particular instance, however, her accusation was completely unfounded. While it was true that Meng Hao tended to cheat and was even prepared to do so, at the moment he really wasn’t.
His continuous fighting led to continuous advancement. As a result, his current fleshly body state was becoming increasingly powerful.
He hovered in the world of the golden gate stone stele, looking at the figures in front of him as they faded away.
Then, the void up ahead distorted, and a white-robed old man materialized.
The old man wore no mask, and he was alone. He seemed almost like the center of the entire world, and yet, no qi and blood power radiated off of him. It was almost as if he were a mortal.
However, he gave Meng Hao an incredibly enigmatic feeling. Deep down, Meng Hao also sensed an indescribable feeling of crisis that left him utterly shaken.
The old man looked at Meng Hao for a moment, and then suddenly spoke, his voice ancient and archaic.
“I am the final stage of this trial by fire,” he said coolly. “Throughout history, there have only been four people under the Dao Realm who have been able to handle my first fist strike. Of those, two were able to withstand a second. Only one could handle three strikes!
“Anyone who can defeat me will find their reward from the golden gate stone stele increased tenfold! Unfortunately… no one under the Dao Realm has ever done that.” As he spoke, he began to shine with a brilliant, golden light, as if his whole body had turned metallic.
Meng Hao’s pupils constricted. He wasn’t even able to gauge how profoundly powerful this old man was, but a sensation of danger flooded through him nonetheless. It was almost as if the person standing in front of him was not a cultivator, but some primordial wild beast!
Without even thinking about it, Meng Hao reached down toward his bag of holding.
The man looked deeply at Meng Hao and then said, “Do not attempt any other methods to achieve victory. Body cultivators grow more powerful by engaging in more battle, and making the heart invincible. If one resorts to trickery, the heart will be unstable. It might seem harmless at first, but in the end, your path will become more and more narrow, until you are unable to achieve true success in body cultivating.”
A tremor ran through Meng Hao, and he was silent for a moment, as if having experienced a moment of enlightenment. The hand he had been moving toward his bag of holding slowly stopped in place. Finally, he looked at the old man, took a deep breath, and then clasped hands and bowed. When he looked up, his eyes shone with the desire to do battle. At the same time, his body surged with a bit more energy than before.
His energy even seemed a bit purer, as if some new willpower had awoken within him.
The old man nodded, his eyes shining with approval.
“First fist, Life-Extermination Fist!” the old man said coolly. Then, he slowly lifted his hand up and clenching it tight. It seemed like an ordinary fist, except that he placed his thumb between his middle and ring fingers. It poked out just a little bit, creating a small point of invulnerability!
As he punched, it was clear that there was no magical technique involved. However, a massive wind blasted out, so icy cold that it seemed to be a wind of total annihilation. As soon as the wind began to blow, the entire world turn gray, as if the fist could extinguish all life in the entire world.
Meng Hao even felt the flame of his life force flickering on the point of extinguishing thanks to the profundity of the fist. His heart trembled, and he suddenly had the feeling that if a planet were struck by this fist, all living things on it would die!
An extermination of life!
This was the Life-Extermination Fist!
Meng Hao felt like he was suffocating in a cave of ice, and yet, his desire to do battle erupted. He formed his right hand into a fist, filling it with the power of his cultivation base, his willpower, and fleshly body power. His blood thrummed as he unleashed the fist of the Immortal Realm Paragon.
They met in midair, and when their fists slammed into each other, Meng Hao’s entire body shook violently. He coughed up a massive mouthful of blood, and was sent staggering backward 300 meters. There, he coughed up another mouthful of blood, which was pitch black.
Furthermore, as soon as the blood sprayed out of his mouth, it immediately froze solid.
Cracking sounds could be heard as a layer of ice instantly spread out to cover Meng Hao.
A moment later, Meng Hao shook, and the ice shattered. He was pale and ashen as he looked over at the old man, shaken. The destructive power of that one punch was shocking to the extreme.
Furthermore, he could even sense that the old man hadn’t used the full power of the fist.
“Extermination…” he murmured.
“The Life-Extermination Fist can exterminate all living things,” the old man said coolly. “It can destroy any creature or being. This fist strike was created for the Dao of death. By attacking with a will of death, the body cultivator can murder Gods!”
Meng Hao’s mind quivered as if struck by lightning. He took a deep breath, then closed his eyes and contemplated the meaning of the old man’s fist strike. When the old man saw this, he looked surprised, and gazed more deeply at Meng Hao. Finally, a look of praise appeared on his face.
Meanwhile, outside of the stone stele, the fact that Meng Hao withstood the first fist strike resulted in his name moving up again. Now, he was in 4th place!
Although it was only an increase of a single position, the fact that it was the top 10, or really, the top 5, ensured that the disciples of the Nine Seas God World were completely shocked.
Fan Dong’er’s face was pale white. She knew she had lost, and yet wasn’t willing to accept that. She still believed that the only way Meng Hao could reach his current ranking was if he had cheated.
Time passed. This time, four full hours passed before Meng Hao finally opened his eyes. Looking at the old man, he clasped hands and bowed deeply.
“Understand?” the old man asked.
“Kind of,” Meng Hao responded truthfully. “Well… mostly not.”
The old man laughed heartily.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Why don’t you try out my second fist strike, the Self-Immolation Fist, also known as the Bedevilment Fist!” As soon as he finished speaking, he took a step forward and raised his right hand into a fist. His thumb’s position was normal, without the special finger positioning from the Life-Extermination Fist. It looked completely like a normal fist as he punched out.
However, as the punch rocketed forth, an energy rose up from the old man that caused wild colors to flash in the sky. A massive wind kicked up that could shake heavenly bodies. The energy itself caused blood to ooze out of the corners of Meng Hao’s mouth, and he was shoved backward relentlessly, denying him any opportunity to counterattack.
That energy was the result of the old man’s willpower, a madness and obsession that was capable of paying any price to fuel the destructive power of his fist. It was a level of obsession so high that it could turn one into a Devil. Rather than an act of self-immolation, it was like a bedevilment!
The fist strike shattered the void, crushed Heaven and Earth, and… could not be reined in without shedding blood.
Blood sprayed out of Meng Hao’s mouth, and he staggered backward. He didn’t even dare to consider a counterattack; he had the intense premonition that if he did… he would be destroyed in body and spirit.
There was something fatal about the power of that fist, and yet, even as Meng Hao fell into retreat, the old man roared, “Use what you learned of the Life-Extermination Fist, otherwise… you’re dead!”
Meng Hao looked up, his eyes shot with blood, and took a deep breath. Then he clenched his fist, placing his thumb between the middle and ring fingers. Using what he had just learned about the Life-Extermination Fist, he punched out.
Beneath the power of the Bedevilment Fist, Meng Hao’s life force was flickering out. A feeling of death filled him, and yet, he used that will of death to launch the punch. It was as if something in his mind snapped, and he achieved a higher level of enlightenment. His body trembled as… he understood the true, deeper meaning of the Life-Extermination Fist!
Everything was much clearer than before.
“I understand!” His fist, which was already flying through the air, trembled slightly. Then, it surged with a mad energy that hadn’t been there before.
A huge wind sprang up, which, under the influence of his fist strike, transformed into a wind of slaughter. Everything around him iced over, and the power of extermination rose up, slamming into the Bedevilment Fist.
Blood sprayed out of his mouth, and he spun backward as violently as a kite with its string suddenly cut. Great mouthfuls of blood were vomited out, and yet his hoarse, excited voice could be heard: “Life-Extermination Fist! I understand! Life-Extermination Fist!!”
The old man smiled, returning his fist to his side as he watched Meng Hao fall and cough up more blood. However, Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed with intense focus and determination as he looked back at the old man and bowed deeply.
“Please accept my undying thanks for passing on this technique to me!” he said.
“You are not a body cultivator, and have not experienced baptism in the blood of a God,” replied the old man. “Therefore, you cannot withstand my third fist strike. Go. Wait until you have become stronger, and then come find me again. Remember, we cultivators didn’t originally practice body cultivation. The purpose of body cultivation… is to slay Gods!
“If you have an opportunity in the future to slay a God, then you can be baptised in its blood. At that time, you can acquire your own battle body!” The old man waved his hand, causing the world around Meng Hao to collapse into pieces. Meng Hao felt himself spinning, and everything turned into a blur.
At the same time, an unprecedentedly brilliant light shone from the ninth golden gate stone stele. Massive rumbling echoed out to fill the entire Nine Seas God World. All disciples of the Nine Seas God World could sense it, and especially the Dao Realm Patriarchs. All of them looked over as Meng Hao’s name rose from the 4th position… all the way to the 2nd position!
Clearly, the old man felt that Meng Hao was more qualified than the person who had previously reached 2nd place by withstanding the second fist strike!
The God World was in an uproar. All cultivators were shaking, and gasps of astonishment rang out in all directions.
“2nd place! Meng Hao reached the 2nd position on the list!!”
“Of the four celestial warriors who have eternally maintained the top positions, three were pushed aside by him!”
“He definitely deserves his positions of Chosen, Crown Prince of the Fang Clan, and joint Conclave disciple of the Three Great Daoist Societies!” As the crowds raved, Fan Dong’er’s face grew paler than ever.
Golden light shone up from the stele, and Meng Hao’s figure gradually appeared in front of all the crowds.
As soon as he materialized, he didn’t glance at anyone, not even Fan Dong’er. Instead, he turned and looked at the name which occupied the 1st position on the list. He very much wanted to know who it was that could withstand the old man’s third fist strike.
“Zong Wuya!” he murmured. 1
He might be someone from ancient times, and might not even exist in the Nine Seas God World anymore. However, Meng Hao still wanted to know his name.
Anyone who had never experienced the power of that old man’s fist strike would be eternally incapable of understanding how terrifying the Life-Extermination Fist and the Bedevilment Fist were to experts who practiced cultivation of the fleshly body.
As of this moment, Zong Wuya’s name was deeply imprinted in Meng Hao’s mind.
Zong Wuya’s name in Chinese is 纵无涯. zòng wú yá. Zong is a surname which is also a common character that has multiple meanings including “vertical, release, and jump.” Wuya means “boundless” or “limitless.” I often ask Madam Deathblade “What kind of name is this? What does it feel like?” When I asked her that question for this name she snorted coldly and said, “It sounds like an wuxia name” ↩