In the instant that the bald cultivator entered the central temple region, Meng Hao opened his eyes and looked over his shoulder at the man.
The man’s gaze also came to fall upon Meng Hao, and he smiled.
It was a gentle smile, filled with seemingly boundless warmth. It caused the wounds of all the mortals down below to begin to heal. Even the cultivators trembled as they felt their qi and blood flourishing.
The man proceeded forward, smiling, to appear directly in front of Meng Hao.
“Meng Hao,” he said, “you managed to commandeer the blood crystal and flee the Third Nation. It seems you have the qualifications to be awakened. There’s no need for you to remain in this fabricated world. Come with me to see the true Heaven and Earth. Then you will understand… the truth.”
The mastiff halted in midair, growling and glaring vigilantly at the bald cultivator. There was something familiar about this man’s aura, and something terrifying and stifling.
Meng Hao’s eyes widened as he looked back silently at the man. He seemed to possess no killing intent whatsoever, and the words he had just spoken were so strange that Meng Hao was somewhat befuddled.
Down below, the mortals had ceased combat, and were looking up at the black-robed man floating there in the sky. All of sudden, people began to drop to their knees and kowtow. Soon all of the soldiers of the various Nations were on their knees.
The cultivators from the various Mountains looked on with flickering expressions. This bald cultivator filled their hearts with fear, and they could sense that he overflowed with the violence of a raging sea.
However, that ferocity also seemed to be under control. The only thing he revealed was calm.
Fan Dong’er and Bei Yu felt their hearts trembling. The exchanged a vigilant glance, and then began to back up slowly.
“I don’t want to fight with you again,” the man said, looking at Meng Hao with a sincere expression. “Therefore… just come with me. What do you say? Follow, and you will face no danger to your life. In fact, you’ll even be able to acquire some good fortune.
“Because of the matter of the blood crystal, your Dao and our Dao are now similar. What is yours, is ours. There is no difference between the two. You have no reason to fear.”
Meng Hao’s eyes widened. As soon as the man used the word ‘again,’ he realized what was going on. After looking at the man closely, his heart began to pound.
“You’re… Zong Wuya!” Meng Hao said slowly.
“What you fought before was simply my clone,” Zong Wuya said softly. “This is the real me, Junior Brother Meng Hao.”
A complex expression appeared on Meng Hao’s face. He could sense the incredible pressure of the man’s cultivation base, and knew that he couldn’t fight him. Even in the Allheaven Immortal Realm, it would still be difficult for him to contend with a Quasi-Dao expert.
Meng Hao remembered seeing Zong Wuya’s name on the golden gate stone stele in the Nine Seas God World. Before he had gained enlightenment of the third body cultivation fist strike, Zong Wuya’s name had been listed in 1st place.
Later, he had investigated a bit, only to find out that there was no Zong Wuya anywhere in the Nine Seas God World.
After a moment silence, Meng Hao said, “You came to the Windswept Realm, but never left. You decided to stay behind, just like all the other black-robed cultivators. All of you are Mountain and Sea Realm cultivators who came here throughout the years but chose to remain. Obviously you didn’t succumb to your desires. Why did you stay?”
“Some people choose to stay because they get lost in their desires,” Zong Wuya said calmly. “Others stay to pursue their obsessions. As for me, I chose to stay… because of the true Dao.”
“True Dao?” Meng Hao asked.
Zong Wuya looked at him and smiled. Then he waved his hand, causing a gentle wind to spring up. It carefully picked up everyone down on the ground below, even Fan Dong’er and Bei Yu. “I’d like to discuss the Dao with my young friend here. Ladies and gentlemen, please give us some privacy. Many thanks to you.” The wind then carried them all to a location off in the distance.
With that, Zong Wuya floated down to the ground and sat down cross-legged, then looked up at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao frowned. After a moment of thought, he floated down to sit across from Zong Wuya.
A gleam of reminiscence appeared in Zong Wuya’s eyes as he slowly said, “Meng Hao, in your opinion, what is true, and what is false?”
“True and false are like inside and out,” Meng Hao replied calmly. “Without what is true, that which is false cannot exist. However, as I mentioned to you earlier, when it comes to Daos… there is no such thing as true and false!”
“Well then, in your opinion, what is a Dao?” Zong Wuya’s expression was placid, but the reminiscence in his eyes grew even stronger as they continued to discuss the Dao.
Meng Hao didn’t need to think about the answer. He immediately responded: “The Dao is the obsession in your heart, the path that you choose to follow.”
“In that case, what is your Dao?”
“Freedom and independence!” Meng Hao said, his voice filled with decisiveness that could sever nails and chop iron.
“Freedom. Independence….” Smiling, Zong Wuya shook his head.
“What is freedom? And similarly, what is independence? Is freedom being free from all restrictions? Is independence an absence of all restraint? As you sit here in front of me, Heaven and Earth restrict you. The entire world restrains you.
“Look up, and you will see the sky. The sky weighs down on you. Beyond the Windswept Realm is the void, the Heavens. There are 33 Realms, all of them are also weighing down on you. Beyond those 33 Realms, are even more Realms and worlds. All of them are also pressing down on you.” Although Zong Wuya spoke calmly, his words were as incisive as the stabs of a sword. They even seemed to be filled with a strange power, as if every word he spoke were completely and utterly correct.
As his words entered Meng Hao’s ears, he trembled. He wasn’t sure why, but he suddenly thought back to the image painted by Shui Dongliu back on Planet South Heaven all those years ago, and had to ask himself if what existed at the top of that painting was actually the sky, or not…? 1
“What about morality and principles,” Zong Wuya continued, his wording growing more cutting. “Are they not restraints? Can you ignore them? Can you trample on them? Where does your freedom come from? Where does your independence come from?” His eyes glittered, and seemed to contain matchless wisdom.
“You are weak,” he said, staring Meng Hao in the eye. “When you meet powerful people, you have no freedom, nor any independence, not unless you are the most powerful person. However, the starry sky is wide, and the Heavens are vast. Perhaps when you think you are the most powerful person in existence, wouldn’t you always be wondering if there might be other people over the horizon who also view themselves to be at the ultimate pinnacle?”
“I–” Meng Hao was about to reply, but was cut off by Zong Wuya.
“You have an incorrect understanding of the Dao. Your freedom is not a Dao, it is an obsession of yours. And an obsession… is likewise not a Dao!”
His words echoed about, causing Meng Hao’s mind to reel.
“This is actually what I wanted to explain to you. Do you know what the true Dao is? It doesn’t matter if it’s you or other people, in all of the Mountain and Sea Realm… there is only one Dao. No matter what enlightenment or thought process goes into the Daos of others, what they pursue, are all fabricated Daos.
“Therefore, your Daoist magics and divine abilities, when faced against the true Dao that I follow, will be dispelled. That is because, when faced with what is true, fabrications will naturally fade away.”
Meng Hao was panting as he looked at Zong Wuya, as if his heart was filled with waves of shock. Meng Hao had never heard words like this spoken before, words that seemed designed to subvert everything he believed in.
Zong Wuya continued: “The life you live, your thoughts, your words, the things you have heard, the enlightenment you have achieved, are all falsehoods. None of it is real; it is all counterfeit. Meng Hao, reject the Echelon, and come experience the REAL world. I will take you, and together we will leave this place. You can contemplate the true Dao, and then you will understand… what the real world is!
“Don’t tell me you have never considered why Immortals are classified as true and false? False Immortals reach Immortal Ascension by being enlightened regarding the true Immortality of others!
“What about the Ancient Realm? It’s the same!
“And the Dao Realm…? Also the same!” Zong Wuya eyes shone with a strange light. Deep inside, that look of reminiscence grew stronger, almost as if he weren’t speaking to Meng Hao, but to himself.
It was almost as if these were words being spoken to him by someone else in the past, words that had stirred his heart, that had changed his life. Now, he was in the position occupied by whoever that person had been years ago. He was speaking shocking words to change Meng Hao’s life, and in the process… strengthening his own resolve!
“You live in a Paragon’s world, and that Paragon was not the Paragon who founded the Echelon, Sea Dream. No, he was the most powerful entity in the Paragon Immortal Realm, Paragon Nine Seals!
“You live in the world he created, and therefore, all of your enlightenment, has been regarding HIS Dao. In fact, the only Dao of the Mountain and Sea Realm is HIS Dao!
“Do you know what the end result of all this will be? I’ll tell you, Meng Hao. The end result is that all of you, every single cultivator in the Mountain and Sea Realm, are all just fuel, fuel being used to power the resurrection of Paragon Nine Seals!
“In the end… he will be resurrected, and all of you… will lose yourselves for all eternity. You will become his blood, his bones, and all the other parts of his body!
“Perhaps if you become powerful enough, you might even become one of his fingers!
“Therefore, that is why I say that all of those Daos are mere fabrications. All those Daos are falsehoods. Only if you leave this place will you ever gain enlightenment of your own Dao. Then, you can understand… what it actually feels like to acquire the true Dao. Then you will clearly understand… what the Dao is!
“Give up your fleshly body, and forsake your place in the Echelon. I will take your soul to experience the baptism of tribulation. It will wipe away that which seals you to the Mountain and Sea Realm. In the outside world, there are people who have already prepared a new fleshly body for you, a true fleshly body. Enter that fleshly body, break away from that which is fabricated, and you can become… a real person!
“Only at that time will you be qualified to truly pursue your freedom and independence.
“At that time you will see the true world. There, you will see the true starry sky, not the sun and moon which are mere materializations of Nine Seals’ eyes. The magic there is not the magic of the five elements, which are nothing more than the manifestation of Nine Seals’ five organs. The rivers and seas there are not made from Nine Seals’ blood, and it is not a Mountain and Sea Realm formed out of Nine Seals’ magical item.
“Most importantly of all, you will gain enlightenment that is NOT the Dao and will of Nine Seals, NOT the natural law of the Mountains and Seas, NOT the Dao of the Mountains and Seas!
“Meng Hao, why do you refuse to open your eyes! In the real world, the most radiant symbol is none other than the butterfly! In the real world, the lands flow with the true Dao! Gain enlightenment of the true Dao, and you can even become a Paragon!
“Leave this place with me. Come with me… to experience the true Dao.” When Zong Wuya finished speaking, his eyes were shining with even more intensity than before.
Note Challenge from Deathblade: What do you think about what Zong Wuya said? Leave your comments below before proceeding to the next chapter. IF YOU DARE!