By the time Meng Hao turned to face the withered hand, it was only seven inches or so from his forehead, brimming with a will of destruction, as well as a boundless ancient aura.
The sky went dim, the lands were cast into darkness, and the winds stilled. The entire world seemed to be having the light and color sucked out of it by the hand, infected by its aura of death.
The withered hand’s skin had blotches and bruises on it, as though it were difficult for the blood to pump through the veins therein. A faint stench of decay emanated off of it, which filled the area.
The area around it seemed to be another world, a world in which that hand was like an Immortal Divinity. All it had to do was wave a finger, and all life could be taken away.
The hand appeared so quickly that nobody had time to react. However, this was the grand coronation of the Clan Chief. How could Fang Xiufeng and everyone else, even the ordinary clan members, not be prepared for unexpected circumstances?
After all… because of Planet South Heaven’s spell formation, even Dao Realm experts who came here had to lower themselves to the great circle of the Ancient Realm. However, Quasi-Dao cultivators… existed in the longevity-limited area between the Ancient and Dao Realms, and therefore didn’t need to reduce their cultivation bases. Planet South Heaven’s spell formation would do nothing against such people.
For example, had Fang Xiufeng failed in his attempt to step into the Dao, even if the South Heaven Death Formation didn’t approve of him, the net of destruction wouldn’t appear.
Fang Shoudao, Fang Yanxu and Fang Xiufeng all flew out to try to pull Meng Hao back. However, Meng Hao had already made a different decision. He looked coldly at the incoming hand, and then spoke the words ‘South Heaven Death Formation.’ In that instant, massive rumbling echoed out through the lands.
An indescribable aura suddenly rose up from the ground, the air, the mountains, the rivers, the seas, the plants and vegetation, from Planet South Heaven itself. The aura exploded out everywhere. It felt like a wellspring of killing intent!
As the killing intent converged, it covered over Planet South Heaven, becoming… an enormous illusory net!
It was none other than… the South Heaven Death Formation!
It seemed to appear slowly, but in actuality it happened in almost the exact same moment that Meng Hao spoke out the four words. Apparently… he could control the formation!
It was a development that left even Fang Shoudao and Fang Yanxu astonished and in a state of disbelief. Fang Xiufeng’s eyes went wide, as did the eyes of all the other members of the Fang Clan. As for the cultivators from the various sects and clans of the Ninth Mountain and Sea who had come to offer congratulations, their hearts trembled, and they gasped.
“That’s the South Heaven Death Formation?”
“What indestructible power! That formation can wipe out anything… This South Heaven Death Formation is amazing. But… why can Meng Hao summon it?”
“How could this be happening? Don’t tell me that Meng Hao can actually control the South Heaven Death Formation?!”
Right now, all minds were reeling because of the shocking events which they were witnessing. Meng Hao hovered there in midair, surrounded by the swirling killing intent of the South Heaven Death Formation. However… considering that he was at the very center of it all, it almost seemed true… that he could actually control the South Heaven Death Formation!
Being able to control the Death Formation meant that he could control Planet South Heaven! And that meant… that on Planet South Heaven, he was invincible!!
Some distance away in the Imperial palace of the Great Tang, Emperor Tang stood in the main hall, looking off into the distance. He was shocked, but after a moment of thought, he shook his head. Even back when Meng Hao had slipped into a coma, he had been able to detect that he had the approval of the South Heaven Death Formation. As far as Fang Xiufeng went, the formation was tentative about not killing him. But Meng Hao, who had been so willing to sacrifice himself for his father… gained its complete and utter approval!
It was as if Meng Hao’s actions in saving his father had moved some ancient Li Clan ancestor within the South Heaven Death Formation…. As such, the entire spell formation approved of him to the point that it would listen to his commands.
Something else happened in that same moment. In a stretch of barren mountains in the Eastern Lands, Shui Dongliu was walking up a path cut into a cliff. He suddenly stopped in place and looked up into the sky.
“People who change their destiny….” he murmured, his eyes gleaming with anticipation. Smiling, he continued on walking.
All of the cultivators in attendance at the Fang Clan’s coronation ceremony were completely shaken at what was happening up above.
The enormous illusory net covered Meng Hao, making him shine with resplendent light, as if he represented Heaven and Earth.
The withered hand was also shocked, and began to shake. Without the slightest hesitation, the hand pulled back. It even started to fade, as if it wanted to get away from Planet South Heaven as quickly as possible, and didn’t dare to get any closer to Meng Hao.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Meng Hao said coolly. He waved his hand, instantly causing the enormous illusory net to shine radiantly. The light seemed to seal everything, and a miserable scream echoed out into the air. Not too far off in the distance, the air rippled, and a figure appeared.
It was an old man wearing a long black robe. He was surrounded by an aura of death, and as soon as he appeared, the enormous net shot toward him.
Seeing the net closing in on him, the old man threw his head back and let out a piercing howl. Rumbling could be heard as the aura of death grew more explosive. He seemed to age even more, and his legs seemed to be on the verge of transforming into ash.
He was paying a heavy price to unleash incredible power with his cultivation base, which was now so powerful that Heaven and Earth flickered with light. If that were all there were to it, it might not be a big deal, but then he waved his right hand, causing a single copper coin to fly out of his sleeve.
The copper coin was bright yellow, and had a magical symbol on one side and an Eight Trigrams symbol on the other. As soon as Meng Hao saw it, his eyes widened. He wasn’t the only one. Fang Xiufeng gasped, and as for Fang Shoudao and Fang Yanxu, they had similar reactions.
“The Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree!!” Fang Shoudao said in disbelief.
That is exactly what it was… the Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree from the seventh tribulation of Dao Stepping. Normally it was a force that appeared during the tribulation, and yet here it was in plain sight. The Fang Clan recognized it, and there were people from the other sects and clans who also recognized it. Those people shot to their feet, expressions of shock on their faces. Their eyes instantly began to shine with a strange light that soon transformed into greed.
It didn’t matter whether or not the item was real or a fake; it’s mere appearance instantly shook everyone.
Although everyone could now see exactly what the old man looked like, nobody recognized him. Not a single one of the visiting cultivators from the various sects and clans knew who he was.
Fang Xiufeng frowned; the man was also a stranger to him.
That in itself was an impossibility. In the Ninth Mountain and Sea, it would be inconceivable that a cultivator could progress from the Spirit Realm all the way to the peak of the Ancient Realm in complete anonymity. Even though he had failed in transcending tribulation and ended up as a Quasi-Dao cultivator, such people were also a rarity. There simply had to be people who had previously interacted with him.
Furthermore, the people who would have had dealings with him would be people with profound cultivation bases. He simply couldn’t be a nameless, unknown figure. Besides, a Quasi-Dao expert was not the type of person that you could simply ignore or not care about.
And yet, this old man seemed to be a complete stranger to everyone. For a completely unknown Quasi-Dao cultivator to exist was strange enough, but what was even stranger was that he somehow had a Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree coin. That made him not just strange, but extremely mysterious!
Even as all eyes were focused on the Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree, Fang Xiufeng suddenly gave a cold snort. Eyes icy, he spoke in a sinister voice, “So it turns out to be old bastard Shangguan. We fought years ago in the Ruins of Immortality, and I crippled your cultivation base. How could I ever have imagined that, not only would you have come across the good fortune to restore your cultivation base, but you would also experience Dao Stepping Tribulation. Too bad you failed, and now your longevity is at its end…. Hao’er, this guy and I had an undying enmity years ago that still remains irreconcilable. Why don’t you kill him for me!?”
As soon as his voice rang out, everyone’s eyes widened in shock. However, inwardly, people began to curse. From what they could tell, Fang Xiufeng had seen the Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree, and assumed people would try to snatch it, so he made up a story to prevent that from happening.
Of course, nobody could give voice to such suspicions. After all, it appeared as if this old man really had come with the purpose of going after Fang Xiufeng.
The old man threw his head back and roared, raising both hands into the air. The copper coin that was the Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree suddenly flew through the air up toward the giant net.
The old man’s cultivation base surged with full power, creating a maelstrom of death that swept everything out of his way as he shot up toward the net, as if to escape Planet South Heaven.
As long as he could get away from Planet South Heaven, then the South Heaven Death Formation wouldn’t be able to kill him. After all, his longevity might be limited, but he actually had some secret magic that would enable him to live on a bit longer.
“Thunder and Lightning!!
“Spirit Subduing!!” In the moment that the copper coin slammed into the huge illusory net, the old man roared. He was now at the ultimate peak of what he could manage. The copper coin flashed with bright yellow light, and suddenly, the awe-inspiring image of a Mountain Ghost appeared, stretching its hands out toward the huge net. Lightning crackled around it as it roared and charged the net.
The instant they contacted each other, a massive rumbling filled Heaven and Earth. The power of lightning transformed into a 30,000-meter Lightning Dragon which tore a huge hole into the net.
The sight shocked even Meng Hao, and Emperor Tang’s pupils constricted. It wasn’t that the South Heaven Death Formation was weak, but rather… that the Mountain Ghost Lightning Decree was an item from legend, with inexhaustible power.
Most important was that although Meng Hao could control the spell formation, he wasn’t as skilled at doing so as Emperor Tang, and couldn’t unleash its full potential.
The old man roared, transforming into a beam of light that shot toward the tear in the net.
With a cold harrumph, Meng Hao lifted his right hand up toward him and made a grasping motion.
Instantly, the South Heaven Death Formation radiated scintillating light, which converged into the shape of a huge hand that crushed down toward the old man with fear-inspiring destructive power. The old man’s eyes filled with despair as he roared again, burning more of his life force to unleash greater cultivation base power to fight back against the hand.
However, he was like a moth flying into a flame. In the blink of an eye, the hand grabbed ahold of him and crushed him to death. A bloodcurdling scream echoed out as he was destroyed in body and spirit. However, in the moment before he passed into death, he suddenly let out a venomous shout.
“Fang Clan… you people… will never become an Allheaven Clan!”