As Meng Hao and Zong Wuya fought, the Windswept Realm continued to rise up through the void, getting ever closer to that invisible border.
The depression in the huge net grew more and more obvious; it was as if some huge, invisible hand were pushing hard into the net. In the deepest recesses of the depression, lightning crackled back and forth with increasing intensity.
Further off in the distance, the battle between the Windswept Imperial Lord and Paragon Sea Dream seemed to be heading toward a critical juncture. Sea Dream was a Paragon of past times, and had long ago sustained injuries which still hadn’t recovered, but was no pushover when going up against the Windswept Imperial Lord. In fact, the Windswept Imperial Lord’s defenses were slowly starting to crumble.
Paragon Sea Dream’s attacks caused the void to vibrate, and caused the figures behind the huge net to view the situation soberly.
“1,500,000 meters still left to go….” a voice said, murky and archaic. Currently, the Windswept Realm was moving 30,000 meters in every breath of time. It rumbled up at incredible speed, causing a sea of flames to burst out along its borders.
From a distance, it looked like a shooting star, moving relentlessly up toward the huge net, and the 33 Heavens.
Back inside the Windswept Realm, Zong Wuya was racing forward, his right hand filled with the power of the fourth fist strike that he had created. He was like a long streak of light that shot forward directly toward Meng Hao.
Meng Hao had a serious expression on his face. He could sense Zong Wuya’s obsession within that fist strike, and could also sense his sentiments about pursuing the Dao.
“Even if their body dies, they must still pursue the true Dao…. for them, it’s all in search of the Dao!
“Even if that search lasts only for a fleeting moment, even if those who search for the Dao are born in the morning and die in the evening….” Meng Hao murmured. As he watched Zong Wuya closing in, he realized that this fist… was something that he couldn’t fight back against.
It wasn’t that his cultivation base was insufficient. Instead, it was a matter of willpower, because what he was up against was not Zong Wuya’s cultivation base, but rather… his heart, which was completely focused on searching for the Dao.
If a heart like that could be defeated, then Zong Wuya wouldn’t be so obsessed with the true Dao.
Meng Hao sighed softly. After all, he didn’t believe in the supposed true Dao of the Outside world. He took a deep breath as the starstone in his left eye melted, covering his body. Instantly, the One Thought Stellar Transformation was unleashed, and Meng Hao transformed into a planet. Rumbling sounds could be heard as he shot toward Zong Wuya.
“That fist contains your will and your thoughts. I can’t defeat it, but, I can still fight YOU!” Meng Hao’s voice echoed out as he transformed into a planet, and then shot toward Zong Wuya like a meteor.
The two of them flew through the air and collided.
“What does it matter if I die while searching for the Dao!?” Zong Wuya threw his head back and laughed, slamming his fist into planet-form Meng Hao. Everything around them trembled and shook, and a massive wind sprung up that filled the entire Windswept Realm. The sea of flames caused by the friction of the Realm’s flight up into the sky grew even more intense, filling the sky, turning the whole Realm into a world of fire.
Rumbling sounds could be heard as Meng Hao’s starstone began to crack, and he was pushed backward. Eventually, the planet exploded, and Meng Hao became visible, retreating backward, blood spraying out of his mouth. He looked up at Zong Wuya with a complicated expression on his face.
Zong Wuya stood back in his original position, without having coughed up so much as a drop of blood. However, his right hand suddenly transformed into ash and then… vanished. And yet, he didn’t seem to mind. He looked up at the flames filling the sky, and the gleam of obsession could be seen in his eyes, as well as hope.
The Windswept Realm was now getting even closer to the huge net. It was now only 300,000 meters away!!
The lands of the Windswept Realm were beginning to crack and shatter; rivers dried up, and the sky was a mass of burning flames. Just beyond the flames, Meng Hao could make out that huge net off in the void, beyond which was the murkiness, and the shocking figures that waited there.
Apparently… there was no way to prevent the Windswept Realm from leaving!
In the blink of an eye, the Windswept Realm was closer than 30,000 meters. However, it was at this point that the entire Realm suddenly jerked to a halt, as if it had just run into some invisible barrier. A boom rattled out, and the lands seemed to be on the verge of complete collapse. Meng Hao and the others couldn’t prevent themselves from coughing up mouthfuls of blood.
At that distance of 30,000 meters from the net, the Windswept Realm was suddenly stopped, and seemed incapable of making it through the final stretch!
It was at this point that the Emperor’s voice rang out with anticipation and fanaticism.
“Living beings of the Windswept Realm, over countless years, you have lamented, hated, and struggled. Helpless, you have spilled your own blood and delivered forth your souls.
“Now, I call on you to return. Souls of the Windswept Realm, use my blood as the path, enter my orifices and become my spirit! COME!” His voice seemed to contain some sort of bizarre power that, as he spoke, caused blackened blood to ooze out of his eyes and ears. He began to shake violently as massive amounts of blood oozed out of all the pores in his body.
His Imperial robes quickly became robes of blood!
Even as the blood soaked him, the earth shook, the sky cracked, and the mountains shook. The dried up rivers quivered, and even the wind and flames trembled.
The entire Realm suddenly began to sway as numerous souls floated up. They bored out of the mountains, the rivers, the sky, and the flames. They came from all parts of the Windswept Realm, souls boring out of every location.
There were too many to count, and they converged from all locations, flying together into that single blood-colored vortex!
They seemed endless, infinite, and each one fairly burst with obsession, fervor, and anticipation. They poured into the vortex, which began to spin, erupting with endless soul power that then powered the vortex!
The vortex spun rapidly. Since the Windswept Realm itself couldn’t push itself that last 30,000 meters, then … the souls of the life forms which had died there throughout the countless years would pay the price to make it happen.
They would make up for that little bit of lacking power!
Meng Hao was inwardly shaken as he saw the congregated souls form into a tempest. The vortex spun rapidly, causing the Windswept Realm to tremble, and then begin to push through the final 30,000 meters.
24,000 meters. 15,000 meters! 9,000 meters!!
“33 Heavens!” cried the deaf and blind Emperor. His divine sense had long since wasted to nothing. He was like a candle on the verge of flickering out. By this point, it didn’t matter if the Windswept Realm succeeded or failed, he would die!
Of course, he didn’t care about that. As he said, he didn’t care if people called him a sinner or a saint. His actions were not for the Imperial Lord, but rather… for the Windswept Realm as a whole!
“I convinced the Imperial Lord to make a move, and you people still don’t trust me!?!?
“Well it doesn’t matter whether you believe me or not. I will offer up the Windswept Realm’s only World Essence. I beg of you, please… open the door!!” The Emperor was trembling as he raised both hands into the air. A boom could be heard as his arms exploded, sending blood spraying out in all directions. At the same time, the already cracked and ruined temple suddenly exploded into bits!
It was as if a cage had been opened, allowing that imprisoned supreme World Essence to suddenly explode out. It was a beam of light that looked very similar to the Windswept qi flow, except more radiant, filled with a bright will.
The light shot up into the sky, leaving the Windswept Realm, spanning the 9,000-meter distance and slamming into the huge net.
In that instant, the net trembled, and suddenly shone with brilliant, resplendent light. Countless lightning bolts danced, and massive roaring sounds echoed out. Massive pressure built up over the entire net, which blocked the invading World Essence from entering.
The Emperor threw his head back and laugh maniacally, whereupon his legs exploded into bits.
“Echelon cultivators of the Mountain and Sea Realm, you have benefited from the qi flow and Essences of the Windswept Realm, which I bestowed upon you. Now… it is time for you to pay back what you owe!” Even as the Emperor’s sinister and bizarre words rang out, his chest exploded, and a crystal ball flew out!
As soon as the crystal ball appeared, the three souls inside burst out. One of them was the 10th Echelon cultivator, Hai Dongqing. The other was boyish Hong Bin. The third was someone who Dao-Heaven instantly recognized; it was the Echelon cultivator from the Second Mountain, the one he had killed!
Three Echelon cultivators, whose souls everyone had presumed to be dead. All of a sudden, however, their souls appeared here!
Meng Hao was shocked, and Dao-Heaven could barely believe his eyes. As for Yuwen Jian, when he saw Hong Bin’s soul, his eyes instantly became shot with blood.
However, before anyone could take any action, ten beams of light suddenly shot out from the glowing pillar that was the World Essence!
Those ten beams of light resembled chains, and they shot forth with incredible speed and power. In fact, there was nothing anyone could do to block them as three of the chains instantly latched onto Hong Bin and the other two souls.
They immediately began to tremble and let out miserable shrieks. Flickering light emanated out from them as their Daos, their life forces, everything about them, were shackled tight and began to be absorbed.
Meng Hao and the others were shocked. In the blink of an eye, the rest of the chains flew down toward the other Echelon cultivators. Lin Cong and Han Qinglei were incapable of even dodging, and were instantly bound up. Yuwen Jian and the young Echelon cultivator from the Fifth Mountain were similarly caught. Dao-Heaven roared and tried to start fighting, but was incapable of doing anything other than being tied up.
Even Meng Hao was caught, despite doing his best to evade.
Rumbling filled the air as all of the Echelon cultivators who had taken the bait laid out by the Emperor were instantly shackled. Then, the World Essence began to suck away at them to bolster the shining light!
Screams that didn’t even sound like they came from human mouths instantly filled the air. These were Echelon cultivators, but they couldn’t even control their voices; they were no longer Chosen, they were now… power sources to strengthen the World Essence!
The Emperor’s scheme had finally come to fruition. After all… when there’s tasty bait, the fishes bite!!