A flash of concentration appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes as he looked closely at everything that was happening. The Dao Stepping Path was a critical juncture when stepping from the Ancient Realm into the Dao Realm. Despite all of his experience with cultivation, Meng Hao had never seen anyone step into the Dao before.
Guru Heavencloud had offended someone he should never have offended, and now had no choice but to challenge this path. That was his only chance at getting out of the situation alive.
Heaven and Earth rumbled, and the starry sky shook. Most of the magenta-robed cultivators in the Heavencloud Bazaar had chosen to surrender. Those who had not were easily swept over by the Fang Clan. By now, the Heavencloud Bazaar had truly become the Fang Clan Bazaar!
Guru Heavencloud himself was the only survivor. He was now charging toward the vortex at high speed. However, as he neared, countless lightning bolts converged and shot toward him.
It was a majestic sight. Shocking peals of thunder echoed out as the lightning bolts fell. If you looked closely, you would be able to see outlines of people inside the lightning bolts.
Although it was impossible to make them out clearly, they were clearly mighty…. Meng Hao’s pupils constricted the moment he saw them.
A boom rang out, and Guru Heavencloud shuddered, blood spraying out of his mouth. However, he was currently in a strange and bizarre state; natural laws and Essences swirled around him. He roared as he slammed through the lightning bolts and attempted to step into the vortex.
He knew that doing so was the first task he had to accomplish in order to step into the Dao. Although even greater dangers would arise after he did so, taking that first step was what would qualify him to take a second.
“If I step into the Dao successfully, then I’ll use the power of the Dao Realm to flee this place. I’ll go join the Ji Clan, and afterward, my enmity with the Fang Clan will be irreconcilable!
“If I fail, I won’t be able to flee. Therefore, I will stay here and slaughter as many members of the Fang Clan as I can. I’ll make sure they’re buried with me!” Guru Heavencloud’s plan was set. At the moment, he chose not to contemplate exactly why everything had turned out the way it did, nor did he consider that it was actually his own actions which had led to this series of events.
There was only one thing on his mind!
Kill Meng Hao!
All of his rancor was focused completely on Meng Hao, and whether or not he succeeded in stepping into the Dao, his main desire was that before he died, he be able to kill him.
He roared as he sailed toward the vortex. Booms rang out and lightning crashed. The speed of his charge gradually lessened.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever as he stood off in the distance, watching the scene thoughtfully.
Fang Shoudao stood next to him, eyes also focused on the vortex up in the void.
“Guru Heavencloud has been ready to step into the Dao for years now,” he said coolly as he watched Guru Heavencloud approaching the vortex. “He just never dared to take that first step. Instead, he used his situation as a form of protection…. Perhaps you could say that I’m helping him out, helping him to take that first step. Of course, there are a total of nine tribulations when stepping into the Dao. This is merely the first tribulation, the Lightning Tribulation.”
Guru Heavencloud was spattered in blood, and his aura was weakening. However, the feeling he gave off was that he would burst out with power on the verge of death. He roared, and shockingly, layers of mist and cloud formed around him, which alternated between transforming into rainwater and mist. Those were… his Essences!
As for what Essences they were, nobody could tell, since they were still in the process of brewing. However, if Guru Heavencloud stepped into the vortex and then walked the path to the end, then his Essences would fully and truly form.
How far one could tread on the path, and the final Realm one ended up in, was dependant on how many Essences one possessed. Of course, the further one walked, the higher the chances of failure.
A boom echoed out, and blood sprayed out of Guru Heavencloud’s mouth. At the critical moment, he performed a double-handed incantation gesture, then pushed down on his forehead. Immediately, his cultivation base erupted, and he grew rapidly until he was several dozen meters tall. Then, he shot onward toward the vortex. More lightning fell, and as it slammed into him, he began to shrink back down in size. Soon, he was only about thirty meters away from the vortex, and was already back to his normal height.
His eyes shone with a light of madness. Roaring, he went all-out, holding back nothing to charge forward. However, in the instant that he stepped into the vortex, a blast of mist shot out from inside. It transformed into a pike which pushed toward Guru Heavencloud. It barely poked him, but he let out a bloodcurdling scream nonetheless as he was sent tumbling backward.
“NO!!” As he fell back, countless lightning bolts descended, completely inundating him.
Fang Shoudao shook his head. “The second tribulation is coming, the Weapon Tribulation. This Heavencloud… has an unstable Dao heart. His essences are not converged, and his willpower is shaky. It’s not likely that he’ll succeed in the Weapon Tribulation.” Guru Heavencloud screamed as the mist pike continued to pursue him. The Heavens trembled, and Guru Heavencloud began to laugh with bitterness as he fought back desperately. At the same time, more mist shot out from within the vortex.
This time, the mist formed into eight sharp weapons: saber, spear, sword, halberd, axe, hatchet, hook and trident. As soon as they appeared, they joined with the pike, transforming into nine beams of light that shot toward Guru Heavencloud.
By this point, the surrounding cultivators were all coming to the same conclusion: Guru Heavencloud… was not going to succeed!
“I refuse to accept this!” he shrieked, fighting back with all his might. He refused to back down, despite the blood spraying from his mouth. With every wound that was inflicted on him, some of the mist of natural law and Essence that surrounded him would merge into his body, restoring him. However… that restoration ate away at his power of natural law and Essence, causing them to grow weaker and dissipate.
When they fully disappeared, then that would indicate… that his attempt to step into the Dao… had failed!
“The third tribulation is coming….” Fang Shoudao said, looking into the vortex.
Almost in the same moment that he spoke, shocking rumbling sounds could be heard from within the vortex, and four figures appeared.
Each of these figures wore a black suit of armor. It was impossible to see their facial features, but all of them emanated indescribably murderous auras that caused the faces of all onlookers to flicker with shock.
“The Mountain and Sea War Generals!” Fang Shoudao murmured, his eyes burning with fervor.
As Meng Hao looked at the four figures, all of a sudden, the Demon Sealing Hexing magic inside of him began to stir.
“Life Death Hexing?” he thought. Almost as soon as he noticed the connection, the four figures suddenly turned toward him. Within their helmets, their eyes suddenly flashed with a strange light.
As their gazes met, Meng Hao’s mind trembled. Suddenly, it wasn’t just the Demon Sealing Hexing magic that stirred inside of him, the Paragon’s blood inside of his Nirvana Fruit was also affected!
Gradually, he realized that there was some strange connection between himself and these four figures.
“It’s almost like… I can control them….” he murmured, shaken.
“What did you just say?” Fang Shoudao asked, looking at him with wide eyes.
In the same moment that Meng Hao was mentally shaken, Guru Heavencloud laughed shrilly, a laughter filled with desperation and madness. By now, he had also realized that he could not succeed. Stepping into the Dao was a difficult thing. To any cultivator of the great circle of the Ancient Realm, it was a deadly test that far exceeded the previous challenges of lamp extinguishing.
The Ancient Realm was a terrifying place for any cultivator to be. After reaching that Realm, they faced one deadly crisis after another. The only way to be free of such an existence was to successfully step into the Dao Realm.
“Meng Hao, all of this is your fault!!” Heavencloud raged. His bitter laughter was tinged with even more madness than before, and his eyes were bright red. As of this moment, he chose… what every person who failed to step into the Dao chose to do.
Instead of hopelessly trying to continue to break through, he sucked the remainder of his natural laws and Essences into his body, which would form his life force in the Quasi-Dao Realm!
Anyone who failed to step into the Dao, and instead became a Quasi-Dao cultivator, would have a severely limited longevity, which usually was linked to how many natural laws and Essences remained after their failure.
The more they had, the more longevity they would possess. If they had too few… then the number of years they had left could be counted on a single hand.
Laughing bitterly, Guru Heavencloud sucked his breakthrough aura back into his body, along with the surrounding mist of natural law and Essence.
As he retracted the aura, the nine mist weapons suddenly halted in place, ceasing their attack.
Guru Heavencloud’s body emitted rumbling sounds as the natural laws and Essence merged into him. Then, his power erupted, passing the great circle of the Ancient Realm and reaching… the Quasi-Dao Realm!!
He was now in a Realm which was still half a step away from the Dao Realm, and yet vastly exceeded the great circle of the Ancient Realm. After all, he still had natural laws and Essences.
Although they were incomplete, they were still shocking, to the point that… even single-essence Dao Realm experts would find it troublesome to fight him. After all… Quasi-Dao experts were people who lived without hope, and descended into madness!
They knew exactly when they would die, as did everyone around them. And thus, they were insane!
Bitter laughter echoed out as Guru Heavencloud’s body trembled and his aura changed. His life force faded away, and he was quickly surrounded by an aura of death!
His longevity was consumed by the natural laws and Essences. Assuming he didn’t use damaging divine abilities, or engage in combat, he would live at most about one hundred years. When that time passed… he would be dead in body and spirit, without the slightest remnant of his existence left in the world.
To mortals, a hundred years was an entire lifetime. But to cultivators, a hundred years would pass very quickly.
Of course, if he ended up fighting in battle, his remaining time would decrease even more quickly.
“Limited longevity! Enmities must be avenged! Grievances must be requited!” Guru Heavencloud laughed. It was a laughter more ugly than weeping. His eyes bulged, and the aura of death surrounding him grew even stronger. Madness filled his eyes as his deranged laughter echoed out in all directions, transforming into a tempest that caused all light to dim, and the Heavens to tremble. Boundless ripples spread out.
Guru Heavencloud’s energy was now greater than it ever had been in his entire life.
“Meng Hao!” he cried venomously, looking over at Meng Hao with boundless killing intent.