As soon as the voice echoed out, everything shook. Expressions of shock appeared on the faces of everyone who heard the words. It must be noted that in the Windswept Realm, the rewards given were always related to qi flow. Never before had a magical item been bestowed as a reward.
Especially not a magical item that was an Ancient treasure!!
Ancient treasures were magical items for use in the Ancient Realm. Although such objects were more common than Dao Realm treasures, they were still considered very rare. For example, as the crown Prince of the Fang Clan, Meng Hao had an Ancient treasure in the form of a jade pendant, which he could use to confirm his identity.
However, it was definitely a rare thing to encounter an Ancient treasure.
Therefore, when the words regarding a reward in the form of an Ancient treasure echoed out through the Windswept Realm, everyone who heard it was astonished. That was especially true of the Echelon cultivators, whose eyes were wide with disbelief.
After all, this entire trial by fire was focused on the Echelon, not for the purpose of them being killed, but for them to improve and develop via struggle and conflict.
Of course, it wasn’t impossible for one of them to accidentally be killed. However, the fact that Echelon cultivators had multiple lives revealed the truth of the matter.
Paragon Sea Dream did not wish for members of the Echelon to be permanently killed!
Fighting was hard to avoid, of course, and naturally, deadly situations would arise. However, the reason she gave multiple lives to the Echelon cultivators was for the express purpose of ensuring that they were not conclusively slaughtered in body and soul.
The Echelon cultivator from the First Mountain, Dao-Heaven, was aware of that, and as such, when he fought people, he didn’t go all out with deadly intent. Instead, he attempted to destroy his rivals in spirit.
He was well aware that Paragon Sea Dream didn’t approve of actually killing other Echelon cultivators. Therefore, he wouldn’t attempt to do so unless it benefited him directly, or he truly detested that person.
“The Windswept Realm seems different from the descriptions of past instances in the sect records….” Dao-Heaven murmured. He was currently in the Fourth Nation, looking up into the sky.
“So it was Dongqing who died, huh. Killed by Meng Hao…. This time, there are actually prizes for killing Echelon cultivators!
“Kill one, and be rewarded with an Ancient treasure. I wonder what the reward would be for killing two or three, or even… all of them? A Dao treasure?!” When that final sentence came out of his mouth, he began to pant, and his eyes filled with the glow of greed. Killing intent swirling around him, he threw his head back and laughed uproariously.
“Things are different this time and… I love it!” A murderous aura erupted out of him that had apparently been kept restrained for a very long time. Now that he could unleash it, he turned and headed off into the distance, bursting with killing intent.
Other Echelon cultivators watched the scene play out with flickering expressions. Ambition rose up in their hearts, but at the same time, sensations of deadly crisis arose as well. All of them began to pant.
The only exception was the middle-aged man who sat on the National Aura Mountain in the Third Nation. He smiled slightly.
“The time has come for things to begin. Unexpectedly, Meng Hao gained a bit of an advantage. However, he won’t be able to escape the coming calamity.”
As the other members of the Echelon, and the rest of the cultivators from the Mountain and Sea Realm, stood there in shock, something happened outside in the Mountain and Sea Realm. In the Ruins of Immortality was an Immortal’s cave, where a white-robed woman sat cross-legged in meditation. Next to her was Li Ling’er, who also meditated cross-legged.
All of a sudden, the white-robed woman opened her eyes, and they glowed with a murderous light.
“Imperial Lord of the Windswept Realm, how dare you!!”
As soon as the words left her mouth, her expression flickered.
In the Nine Seas God Worlds in the various Nine Seas, massive rumbling sounds like explosions could be heard. It sounded like some massive structure was collapsing, and the sound sent massive waves surging out across the Seas.
The sounds echoing out through the God Worlds provoked instant reactions from all of the Dao Realm experts, who were currently waiting patiently for the Windswept Realm to reopen.
“What’s happening? This… this….”
“I’m suddenly unable to sense the Windswept Realm!!”
Numerous cries of alarm rose up from the various God Worlds. The Nine Seas God World in the Ninth Sea was no exception. Granny Nine and the other Dao Realm Experts, including Godmaster and the two Demonic Cultivator Horde Patriarchs, all began to tremble. Finally, they couldn’t endure any longer, and blood sprayed out of their mouths.
As their eyes went wide, the pillars of light stretching up into the sky shattered, and their connection to Windswept Realm was broken.
“Impossible!!” Godmaster’s face fell. He shot to his feet and looked up into the sky. “The Windswept Realm… has been struck by some massive upheaval!! Dammit! Our connection to it was actually severed!!”
Meanwhile, out in the vast darkness of the void surrounding the Mountain and Sea Realm, the vast lands of the Windswept Realm trembled slightly. A sound like cracking or shattering echoed out as the previous orbit of the entire Realm was suddenly changed, and it began to float up toward the 33 Heavens up above. Of course, nobody in the Realm itself could sense that!
Paragon Sea Dream jumped to her feet, a murderous aura swirling around her. “Imperial Lord of the Windswept Realm, are you looking to die!?”
She waved her right hand, and her Immortal’s cave suddenly faded away. When it reappeared, shockingly, it was in the void of the Mountain and Sea Realm. Then, only after-images were left behind as it shot out of the Mountain and Sea Realm and toward the lands of the Windswept Realm.
The Echelon cultivators in the Windswept Realm were all shaken. Meng Hao’s face flickered as he saw a rift suddenly open up in the sky above. A black beam shot out, within which was a shocking battle-ax!
The battle-ax emanated a boundless killing aura, and was surrounded by swirling images of vengeful spirits, who emanated soundless shrieks. Apparently, they were bound to the battle-ax, and were incapable of leaving it to enter the cycle of reincarnation.
A shocking pressure erupted from the battle-ax, and as it descended, the lands quaked, and bright colors flashed in the sky.
This was the Ancient treasure, an item that would be considered of extremely high quality even among other Ancient treasures!
Heavenly Champion Immortal Ax!
It floated down slowly to hover in front of Meng Hao, where it emanated a slight droning sound. Meng Hao’s eyes went wide, and his throat went dry as he stared at the pitch-black ax. Finally, he took a deep breath, reached out, and grabbed it.
The instant his hand closed around the haft, an explosive power surged through him. He trembled, and his hair flew up around him. He then flew up into the air, his cultivation base surging.
He swung the ax, and a black beam of light shot out of it, slamming into the ground and cutting out a huge 9,000-meter long gash. The Seventh Nation’s National Aura Mountain was right in the middle of that gash, and was cut directly into two pieces!
Its already weakened shield was completely incapable of standing up to such power, which clearly showed… how terrifyingly powerful the ax was!
Meng Hao’s heart trembled as he sensed the incredible energy inside the battle-ax.
Yuwen Jian still sat on top of the National Aura Mountain, which had just been cut into two halves. His scalp began to tingle as he stared at the two cliffs formed by the blow. He felt like his head was about to explode, and a powerful sensation of deadly crisis rose up in him.
Several moments passed before the resulting windstorm died down. Meng Hao waved his hand, and the battle-ax disappeared. A strange light appeared in his eyes as began to think about the circumstances in which he was rewarded with the ax.
“There were two voices just now, not one!” he thought. “The first voice was the same as the voices from before. It was cold and emotionless, presumably because it was following orders. That must be the result of the naturals laws imposed on the Windswept Realm by the Mountain and Sea Realm!
“I killed an Echelon cultivator, and according to the first voice, that was some sort of criminal act. However… a moment later a second voice spoke, and actually rewarded me with a treasure!
“Is someone encouraging us Echelon cultivators to wipe each other out?” Meng Hao’s heart trembled. If his speculations were correct, then this turn of events surely had some connection to the way Jian Daozi and the others had looked at them when they first arrived in Mountain and Sea Realm, as well as the little tricks Jian Daozi had tried to pull off. Furthermore, Meng Hao had heard the others mention that the Windswept Realm was different this time than it had been before. He suddenly gasped.
“Could it be that some great catastrophe is about to strike in the Windswept Realm?” he thought.
His face darkened. At the same time, Yuwen Jian finally gained enlightenment of the 300th Essence from the World Seals. He then leapt to his feet and shouted at Meng Hao.
“Meng Hao, y-y-you… you just about cut me in half with that ax!”
His voice echoed out like thunder, interrupting Meng Hao’s train of thought.
Meng Hao looked down at Yuwen Jian and, voice cool, said, “My hand slipped, that was all. By the way, congratulations on achieving enlightenment. Oh, another thing. Didn’t you mention something about having killed Hai Dongqing once before?”
“I said that?” Yuwen Jian responded, sounding a bit guilty. However, he instantly slipped back into a rage. “Look, that’s not even important. You just about chopped me in two just now! Did you hear me? It was THIS close!! I didn’t do anything to provoke you! Your hand slipped? I almost lost my life! I’ve cowed the entire Seventh Mountain, fool! I’ve traversed mountains of daggers and seas of flames without getting killed, then I almost get killed because your hand slipped? You owe me for this….”
Meng Hao wasn’t really paying attention. “Sea of flames,” he thought. “Sea of flames…. I remember! Dao Fang! Beneath the Ancient Dao Lakes in the lands of South Heaven, the final level of the trial by fire overseen by those strange beasts, was the world of the Essence of Divine Flame….
“There was an eye of flame there which yelled something that included the name Dao Fang!!” Meng Hao’s mind trembled as he finally recalled the information he was looking for.
Instantly, his eyes widened, and a bright, intimidating gleam appeared in them.
Of course, from Yuwen Jian’s perspective, he had just said a few words, only to have Meng Hao suddenly fall silent and then stare at him threateningly. He began to tremble, and he remembered how strong Meng Hao had been when he had killed the two cultivators moments ago. Then he had ruthlessly cut down Hai Dongqing.
He also thought about how terrifying that ax was, and then Yuwen Jian’s face twitched with the realization of how impulsive it had been to berate Meng Hao the way he had. Meng Hao was clearly a jinx should never be provoked. A bead of cold sweat dripped down Yuwen Jian’s temple, and a wide smile broke out on his face. He quickly clasped hands and bowed several times.
“Hahaha! Brother Meng Hao, let’s let bygones be bygones,” he said cheerily. “I was just kidding around, brother. Even if you do chop, er, chop me in two, well… no problem. I have lives left, so if you do kill me, I’ll come back.” Then he laughed heartily.