He didn’t begin to answer the questions right away. He first closed his eyes, as if he were carefully considering how to answer. When his eyes opened, they shone brightly. He picked up the brush and immediately began to write down the first answer.
In the same moment that his brush touched the paper, a righteous, noble aura suddenly appeared within the city, causing colors to flash in Heaven and Earth. At the same time, in the Forbidden Palace elsewhere in the city, the emperor sat there holding a Go piece in his hand. Sitting across the game board from him was a Daoist priest, a smiling old man with the air of a transcendent being.
Suddenly, the Daoist priest’s face flickered, and he looked in the direction of the exam grounds, an expression of shock on his face.
“One of the scholars taking the Imperial examinations provoked a righteous, noble aura! Which one?”
The Daoist priest waved his finger, causing water-like ripples to spread out over the game board, which vanished, to be replaced by an image of the exam grounds. 1
The Daoist priest’s gaze shifted, causing the view to pass through the exam grounds as he searched for what he was looking for. Soon, the image focused on a single room, where Meng Hao was currently writing characters down in flowing calligraphy.
The Daoist priest looked at the emperor in amazement, and then back at Meng Hao. He smiled.
“Is that kid special or something?” the emperor asked.
“Special! Very special!” the Daoist priest replied, laughing. His eyes shone with excitement which only increased as he looked at Meng Hao.
“In all my travels through the years, this is the first time I’ve seen someone who could provoke such a righteous, noble aura. It’s been decided; from now on he’s a prized seedling for the Righteous Noble Sect!” The Daoist priest laughed heartily, then rose to his feet and strode in the direction of the exam grounds. 2
It was in almost the exact same moment that the old man in the Heavengod Society happened to scan the area with divine sense.
His divine sense was in the Dao Realm already, and had also been augmented by the Heavengod Society’s ancestral treasure, making it incredibly powerful, and increasing its range. In addition to that, he had spared no effort to boost it even further in his search. As it scanned Planet Luo River, the entire planet vibrated.
Meng Hao stopped writing for a moment, and slowly closed his eyes. He had noticed the divine sense just now. Although it hadn’t stopped specifically on him, he had the feeling that he had been detected.
“What a pity. I’m not even half done with the exam….” he murmured. He looked down at the exam paper, then smiled casually. Ignoring the matter of the divine sense, he continued writing.
Back on the Eighth Mountain, in the Heavengod Society, the cross-legged old man suddenly opened his eyes. His face was a bit pale, but he waved his sleeve nonetheless. Instantly, hundreds of thousands of jade slips flew out from the Eighth Mountain, piercing through the void to head in all directions.
The jade slips appeared in in the hands of numerous cultivators, who then heard the voice of the old man speaking in their minds: “The foreign cultivator who exterminated the Blacksoul Society is currently on Planet Luo River, taking the Imperial examinations in the capital city of the Righteous Noble State!”
The jade slips were also specifically locked onto Meng Hao’s location, so that any cultivator who held them could easily find him.
Numerous figures began to speed in the direction of Planet Luo River, all of them worried that they would be late, and that someone else would be able to apprehend the prize before them.
Somewhere in the starry sky was a young man who appeared to be around thirty years of age, striding along with his hands clasped behind his back. The starry sky trembled as he walked along. Behind him, an enormous figure could be seen that bore the semblance of Heavengod, shining with boundless light.
As the young man walked along, a jade slip shot up to him, which he grabbed. Then his eyes glittered with viciousness. Smiling, he headed directly toward Planet Luo River.
In another location, a 3,000-meter blood mist surged through the starry sky. Inside were various powerful beasts, snarling as they struggled to free themselves from the mist. Soon though, cracking sounds could be heard as their bodies collapsed, and they were absorbed into the blood mist.
Suddenly, a jade slip flew through the sky and into the blood mist. Moments later, cruel laughter rang out.
“So they finally found him… interesting, very interesting….” The blood mist changed directions and headed toward Planet Luo River.
In a stretch of the starry sky not too far away from Planet Luo River, a woman could be seen flying along. She looked like an utter barbarian, a coiled whip resting at her side and a wild look in her eyes. Suddenly, several gigantic pythons materialized around her, which then carried her in the direction of Planet Luo River.
The woman was swarthy but extremely beautiful. As she neared Planet Luo River, she suddenly whistled. The sound wasn’t very piercing, but the result was that all the snake-type creatures on Planet Luo River suddenly began to hiss loudly.
All it took was a brief moment for all of the Heavengod Alliance to be shaken into action. The first to mobilize of all were the sects on Planet Luo River itself. How could they have ever imagined that the person the entire Heavengod Alliance was searching for was on their own planet?
Planet Luo River was one of the four great planets in the Eighth Mountain and Sea. In addition to the Righteous Noble Sect, there were three other sects on the planet.
Those four sects were the overlords of Planet Luo River, and occupied very important positions within the Heavengod Alliance. Currently, all four of those sects had mobilized and were headed toward the capital city.
Bright beams of light shot through the air, and all of the snakes emerged from the forests and mountains, hissing loudly. They did nothing to harm the people, but rather, headed directly toward the capital city.
Colors flashed, the wind screamed, and the ground shook. However, Meng Hao remained in his little exam room, continuing to write down his answers. He truly wanted to finish the whole exam, and thus make peace with his failures in years past.
After about ten breaths of time passed, Meng Hao finished writing the final character. He took a deep breath and blew on the exam paper to dry the ink, then put the brush down.
“It’s too bad I can’t wait until the results come in. I definitely won’t fail this time. It’s too bad that either way, I won’t be able to become a grand official to realize my dream of being super rich….” With a silent chuckle, he stood up. At that point, a wind blew outside, and suddenly something burst into the exam grounds with speed that exceeded all normal cultivators. It was… a donkey.
As soon as the donkey entered the exam grounds, everyone stared with wide eyes. The official conducting the examination gaped in disbelief as the donkey head-butted the wall of Meng Hao’s exam room, breaking it open and bursting inside.
Meng Hao laughed and jumped onto the donkey’s back, which brayed as it crashed through the opposing wall. Then, everyone watching was thrown into an uproar as the donkey then flew up into the air.
“But… why was an Immortal taking the Imperial examinations?”
“Heavens, I can’t believe I just took the Imperial examinations with an Immortal!!” Numerous cries of astonishment echoed up into the air.
In almost the same instant that Meng Hao flew up into the air on the donkey, a bright beam of light closed in, which was none other than the Daoist priest. He had a strange look on his face; he had not received one of the jade slips and therefore didn’t know who Meng Hao was. Apparently, he didn’t care about that though, nor did he care whether or not Meng Hao was even a cultivator.
“Hey little bro, don’t go!” the Daoist priest blurted. “Fear not, I am Xu Ran from the Righteous Noble Sect. Um… are you interested in joining up?
“If you join our sect, you can have anything you want. The Righteous Noble Sect has a thousand scrolls of Daoist magic, three thousand magical techniques, and countless disciples. We’re ranked seventh in the Heavengod Alliance!
“We even occupy thirty percent of Planet Luo River. Come on and join us! After you do, you can do anything you want!”
As soon as Meng Hao heard the man’s words, his eyes went wide. However, before he could respond, countless shocking beams of light suddenly shot down from up above.
“Meng Hao!! It’s Meng Hao!”
“So it turns out he’s here! Kill him and you can have Patriarch Blacksoul as a slave for a thousand years!!”
“Kill him!” Numerous excited shouts could be heard as no less than a thousand cultivators began to converge on the area from all directions.
Meng Hao’s donkey shivered, then looked pleadingly up at him. Meng Hao chuckled and leaped off the donkey, which then turned into the meat jelly with a popping sound, and then flew into Meng Hao’s bag of holding.
“What a pity,” Meng Hao said, shaking his head. A cold smile appeared on his face, and as soon as he did, his aura suddenly changed. No longer did he look like a scholar, but instead a demonic fiend, bursting with energy. Everything rumbled as he waved his hand, causing the sky to fill with a boundless blood-colored light. A huge rift then opened up and the Blood Demon emerged, roaring as it charged the surrounding cultivators. Meng Hao’s eyes flickered with killing intent; he would show absolutely no mercy to these cultivators of the Eighth Mountain and Sea who were trying to kill him.
A flash could be seen as Meng Hao transformed into an azure roc, which blasted into the enemy cultivators like lightning. Immortal mountains descended, a violet moon flickered, and a sun began to suck in all the light in the area, then released it with explosive force. In the blink of an eye, dozens of bloodcurdling screams could be heard echoing out as enemies fell out of the sky.
Blood sprayed in all directions, falling down toward the earth in a rain of gore.
Of the surrounding cultivators, a few hundred were wearing green Daoist robes. They didn’t attack immediately, but instead began muttering, which then caused an astonishing explosive aura to build up that only they could see.
Meng Hao’s eyes flickered; he couldn’t see the aura either, but he could sense that whatever magic these people cultivated was very unique.
It appeared to be a Daoist magic as distinctive as that of the Burning Incense Stick Society that he had encountered in the Ninth Mountain and Sea. 3
In the moment that Meng Hao noticed what they were doing, the Daoist priest was suddenly thrown into a rage. He strode forward and stood in front of the several hundred cultivators, then shouted, “What do you people think you’re doing? Wreaking havoc on sect allies? You should be calling him Elder Uncle!” As soon as the words left the man’s mouth, the cultivators lurched to a stop and stared in shock. The old man leading the group stepped forward, smiled wryly at the Daoist priest, then clasped hands and bowed.
“Elder Grandfather, this man… this man is, uh, Meng Hao.”
“So what if he’s Meng Hao!?” the Daoist priest replied, glaring.
The old man hesitated for a moment, then thought about all the muddle-headed things the Daoist priest was known for doing, then quickly explained, “Meng Hao… he’s, you know, the one who exterminated the entire Blacksoul Society?”
“Exterminated the Blacksoul Society?” the Daoist priest said, spinning around and looking at Meng Hao with an even stranger look than before.
“Hahaha! As expected of my apprentice. Excellent! Wonderful! I’ve been annoyed with those bastards from the Blacksoul Society for years now. You are obviously destined to be my apprentice. You haven’t even formally paid respects to me as your master, and you’ve already solved one of my headaches for me!”
I found a cool picture of a model of how the Imperial examinations were set up in ancient China. Depending on the type of test, each test taker might have their own room, where they would take the test and even sleep overnight as necessary. Check out the picture here and the article here ↩
There is a lot of wordplay and room for interpretation with regard to the “righteous, noble aura,” and the “Righteous Noble Sect.” Without getting into too much boring detail, the “righteous, noble” characters could also be translated as “vast, overwhelming, expansive.” For reasons I won’t get into now, I chose to go with the “righteous, noble” interpretation. Furthermore, the first character is “hao” the same character from Meng Hao’s name ↩
Meng Hao fought Xie Yixian from the Burning Incense Stick Society starting in chapter 876. He used a type of magic that forced Meng Hao into an illusion ↩