In the middle of this intense standoff, the Daoist priest threw his head back and proudly brushed his sleeve.
“Disciples of the Righteous Noble Sect, hear my command!” he said in a loud voice. “Escort your Elder Uncle back to the sect!”
The disciples of the Righteous Noble Sect were shaking in their boots. They looked up at the forces arrayed against them in the sky, then back at Meng Hao and the Daoist priest, bitter smiles on their faces. After a moment of hesitation, they sighed, clasped hands to Meng Hao, and then turned to leave.
The other cultivators present, as well as the force in the starry sky, looked on as Meng Hao and the Righteous Noble Sect made their way off. The Daoist priest looked extremely pleased with himself as he quickly caught up with Meng Hao and then walked along at his side, laughing heartily.
“The Righteous Haowie. Well, what do you think? Should we switch to another Daoist name?”
Meng Hao hesitated, looking first at the Daoist priest and then all of the disciples of the Righteous Noble Sect. Finally, he sighed.
“Uh… we don’t need to switch.”
“Alright, then it’s settled!” The Daoist priest slapped Meng Hao on the shoulder.
“Senior….” Before Meng Hao could say anything else, the Daoist priest glared at him angrily. Meng Hao smiled wryly.
“Er… M-master…. Um, the Heavengod Alliance put a bounty on my head. If I go back to the Righteous Noble Sect with you, sir, I’m afraid it would be a big inconvenience….” Meng Hao was actually feeling some reservations. Originally, he had planned to simply manipulate the Righteous Noble Sect to make use of their power. However, the way the Daoist priest actually took him under his wing had moved Meng Hao, and now he was worried about dragging the whole sect into his own problems.
“Nonsense!” the Daoist Priest said, sounding completely unruffled. “The Righteous Noble Sect is the number one sect on Planet Luo River, and super famous in the Heavengod Alliance. Why should we be scared? What are we, babies? All you did was exterminate the Blacksoul Society, right? Fine, one of these days when I’m in a good mood, I’ll go exterminate a sect too. There’s no way the Heavengod Alliance will put a bounty on MY head!”
Meng Hao was struck speechless. Although what the Daoist priest said actually made sense, if Meng Hao truly became a disciple of the Righteous Noble Sect, then technically, he would also be a part of the Heavengod Alliance. In that case, everything that had happened would be considered an internal affair of the Heavengod Alliance.
If that happened, there would be a plethora of options to resolve the situation. However… Meng Hao had the feeling that things wouldn’t necessarily play out as smoothly as the Daoist priest believed.
Most important was Meng Hao’s own status… that of a cultivator foreign to the Eighth Mountain and Sea!
Time passed. They proceeded along, led by the Daoist priest to a huge monastery that consisted of three towering mountains. Located at the peak of each mountain was a statue surrounded by clusters of pagodas and buildings. Located in the middle of the three mountains was a sprawling Daoist rite temple.
Incense smoke swirled up into the air, and the sound of tolling bells could be heard. Cranes soared in the air up above, and countless Immortal creatures could be seen lazing about, clearly at peace with the local cultivators.
This was the Righteous Noble Sect. As Meng Hao looked around, he could see the powerful aura of Heaven and Earth filling the sect. Visible within that aura was a sense of uprightness that caused the entire Righteous Noble Sect to feel both ancient and honorable!
That was just what he could see at first glance. When he narrowed his eyes and looked closer, he was shocked at what else he could sense… the qi flow of the Mountain and Sea Realm!
Shockingly, the Righteous Noble Sect had some of the qi flow of the Mountain and Sea Realm. Although it wasn’t much, it indicated that this place was beloved by the Mountain and Sea Realm!
Visible on the main gate were four characters, bold and powerful. It was impossible to tell how many countless years they had existed there, but looking at them filled a person with strange feelings, as if those characters were eternal, and would never fade away.
The four characters read… Represent Heaven; Administer the Dao!
“The qi flow of the Mountains and Seas….” Meng Hao murmured as he stepped into the monastery. “A righteous, noble aura…. Represent Heaven in administering the Dao.”
Almost as soon as the disciples of the Righteous Noble Sect stepped into their sect, numerous beams of light appeared in the air up above. Those were the cultivators who had come to kill Meng Hao, and were now surrounding the Righteous Noble Sect.
Even the ten Dao Realm cultivators came and occupied ten different locations equidistant from the sect. The powerful fluctuations of their cultivation bases were extremely threatening and overbearing.
Rumbling could be heard as the righteous, noble aura within the Righteous Noble Sect churned, spreading out to cover the entire sect. The sect’s grand protective spell formation was activated, causing the entire sect to suddenly blur from the perspective of those on the outside. The only things most people could see clearly were the three huge statues atop the mountain peaks.
One of those statues held a sword, another held a scroll, and the last was dressed in a scholar’s robe, and held his hands clasped behind his back as he looked up into the sky.
When the Dao Realm experts on the outside saw those three statues, their eyes widened, and they said, “The Three Righteous Noble Saints….”
As soon as Meng Hao set foot into the sect, a powerful voice instantly echoed out.
“Bring Meng Hao to see me, now!” When the other disciples heard the voice, they immediately bowed their heads respectfully. The Daoist priest was the only one whose eyes flashed angrily as he strode toward the most prominent of the three mountain peaks.
Meng Hao followed along. The two of them hurried forward to the mountain with the statue of the scholar staring into the sky. At the foot of the statue was a temple, outside of which could be seen two young boys, sitting there cross-legged. When they saw the Daoist priest, they immediately rose to their feet and clasped hands respectfully.
The Daoist priest didn’t say anything, but instead stalked past them into the temple entrance. Meng Hao was about to follow him when he turned and said, “Master will go in alone. I want to see whether my words still count for anything in the Righteous Noble Sect!”
Meng Hao stopped in place. When he looked at the temple in front of him, he could tell that there was some terrifying entity inside, emanating fluctuations that caused enormous pressure to weigh down on him.
“Three Essences makes a Dao Lord. Four, five, and six Essences are Dao Sovereigns…. The person inside that temple is a Dao Sovereign!” Meng Hao’s pupils constricted. He had faced a 3-Essences Dao Lord, had been forced to risk his life in combat, and still had not been able to eke out a victory. If he faced a Dao Sovereign, even one with only four Essences, he would definitely lose!
Each Essence in the Dao Realm created a huge disparity. The difference between a Dao Lord and a Dao Sovereign was like the difference between Heaven and Earth. Therefore, the level of difficulty of breaking through from being a Dao Lord to become a Dao Sovereign was incredible.
Furthermore, it ensured that in the Mountain and Sea Realm, Dao Sovereigns were not common. People like that… were actually qualified to vie for the position of Mountain and Sea Lord!
Meng Hao took a deep breath, and waited silently. The two boys standing guard measured him up curiously. They hadn’t left the mountain recently, so they actually had no idea who Meng Hao was or what he had done.
Time passed, and nothing could be heard from inside the temple. After a while, the two boys couldn’t hold back from asking Meng Hao some questions. One had a look of sympathy on his face, while the other looked at him with a curious expression as he asked, “Are you Patriarch Noble Ran’s new apprentice?”
When Meng Hao nodded in response, the two boys exchanged a glance, then looked back at Meng Hao. This time both of them wore sympathetic expressions. Then they began to speak in turns:
“When I was reading the ancient records… I saw that 1,700 years ago, Patriarch Noble Ran accepted an apprentice… who died two months later!”
“1,500 years ago, he accepted another apprentice who also died after two months….”
“1,300 years ago, he took a third apprentice, who also died.”
“To date, Patriarch Noble Ran has had eight apprentices, none of whom lived past three months. All of them died, and furthermore all of them died… in very strange ways.”
“What do you mean strange?” Meng Hao asked, somewhat spooked.
“One was struck by lightning. He didn’t die from the first lightning bolt, it took dozens. After he died, the sky cleared up immediately….”
“There was one who ended up spontaneously exploding while cultivating…. Oh, and another caught fire and burned to death. Another one experienced misfortune for two whole months until suddenly a meteor fell out of the sky and crushed him to death. Well, the point is, they all died in different ways.”
Meng Hao’s eyes went wide; he almost couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He was just about to ask some more questions when the seemingly quiet temple suddenly began to emanate intense ripples, as if some dispute were underway. After enough time had passed for an incense stick to burn, the Daoist priest burst out angrily. After taking a few steps, he turned and glared back into the temple.
“You might be a Dao Sovereign, and you might be the First Patriarch of the Righteous Noble Sect, but your worldview doesn’t go past the Eighth Mountain and Sea!
“I refuse to believe that with your cultivation base, you can’t see the righteous, noble aura on this apprentice of mine!”
The temple was completely quiet. No response could be heard. The Daoist priest stamped his foot and then began to stalk off angrily. As he passed Meng Hao, he motioned to him with his eyes, which caused Meng Hao to turn solemnly and follow him away.
They left the central mountain and headed toward the mountain on the left, the one with the sword-wielding statue. At the base of that statue was another temple. After entering the temple, the Daoist priest angrily looked over his shoulder at the central mountain peak.
“Master, I think I should probably leave,” Meng Hao said slowly. He couldn’t stop thinking about the words spoken by the two boys moments ago.
“Leave? Where can you leave to?” the Daoist priest said bitingly. “The Heavengod Alliance is huge, and the teleportation portals are still sealed. If you set foot outside, hundreds of thousands of cultivators are going to try to kill you, maybe even more than that. You might have been able to exterminate the Blacksoul Society, but can you exterminate the entire Heavengod Alliance? Well, can you?!”
“Not at the moment, no,” Meng Hao replied calmly.
“Even if you could, I wouldn’t let you. If you were the kind of person to do things like that, how could I have had the face to take you as my apprentice? Besides, it’s only natural that I have a way to teleport you out of this piddling Heavengod Alliance!
“I’ve bought you two months of time, during which you’ll just stay here and try to get as many people as possible to come surround the sect. Then when the time comes, I’ll teleport you out, and things will be much safer.” The Daoist priest sighed deeply. Of course, he didn’t notice how jumpy Meng Hao got as soon as he mentioned the time frame of two months.
“It’s too bad that something like this happened right when you became my apprentice.” Suddenly, the Daoist priest seemed to go crazy. Gesticulating wildly at the people besieging the sect, he let loose a long stream of curses, after which he stamped his foot.
“Dammit. I’ve had eight apprentices throughout the years, and in the end, they all died. Now that I have a ninth, I won’t let him die no matter what.
“Righteous Haowie, the time has come for me to instruct you in the Righteous Noble Sect’s most powerful, most mysterious, most invincible Daoist magic. It’s called The Dao is in My Heart The Will is in My Eyes I Shall Possess the Mountains and Seas Seal the Heavens Incantation!” The Daoist priest’s eyes were completely bloodshot, and when he spoke the final words, Seal the Heavens Incantation, he spoke them very dramatically, one word at a time.
“If you can master that art,” he continued solemnly, “then in the future, you’ll definitely be invincible in the Mountain and Sea Realm!”
“Um… Master,” Meng Hao said tentatively, “did your last eight disciples also study the… something-something Seal the Heavens Incantation?”
“It’s not the something-something Seal the Heavens Incantation! It’s The Dao is in My Heart The Will is in My Eyes I Shall Possess the Mountains and Seas Seal the Heavens Incantation! As for your other poor Elder Brothers, of course they studied it. Each and every one of them. Unfortunately… before any of them could finish, they died.” The Daoist priest looked sad, very sad, and not the least bit of that was an act.