Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever; he didn’t seem to be surprised at all by the voice he had just heard. He turned around slowly and found the young man from the Han Clan leaning up against the bulkhead.
The young man was looking at Meng Hao with a strange gleam in his eye, almost as if he were teasing him. It was a look of derision, and at the same time, titillation. His glittering eyes almost seemed capable of piercing through Meng Hao’s garments to stare at his entire body.
In fact… as he stared, he even started to pant.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever. Although he didn’t have access to Meng Chen’s memories, his divine sense had been enveloping the ship for days now, and he knew that this young man enjoyed back door action and had even humiliated Meng Chen in the past….
“I love that look in your eye!” the young man said, panting. “I’m not waiting until tonight!” He began walking toward Meng Hao, lifting his hand up as if to grab him.
At the same time, the young man’s Dao Protector could just barely be seen behind him. Apparently, he was used to turning a blind eye to the young man’s behavior. Currently, he simply closed his eyes.
Meng Hao smiled, and although it was an icy smile, to the young man from the Han Clan, it was the most beautiful and enchanting smile he had ever seen.
“You should be happy,” the young man growled. “I usually only take people once, but you… I want you a second time!” As his hand latched onto Meng Hao’s shoulder, he licked his lips. He was just about to stick his hand into his robe when Meng Hao’s own hand shot up like lightning and grabbed the young man by the neck.
He squeezed softly, and the young man began to shake. Gaping, his face began to turn purple, and his eyes bulged, filled with an expression of disbelief and shock.
As soon as the Dao Protector saw what was happening, his face flickered. Before he could even move though, Meng Hao looked at him.
The man felt as if the Heavens were crushing down on him through that gaze. It was like the bright glow of a precious treasure, and it stabbed all the way into the man’s mind, where it became crashing lightning.
The Dao Protector didn’t even have the time to scream. He shook violently, and blood sprayed out of his mouth. He was instantly blinded, and then blood began to ooze out of his orifices. His qi passageways were shattered and his bones crushed. Then, he flopped over, twitched a few times, and rapidly withered up into ash, which then faded away. It all happened in the blink of an eye.
The only thing that remained of him was some white mist, which Meng Hao quickly absorbed.
Meng Hao’s eyes flickered. He had subconsciously drawn on the power of the fourth Nirvana Fruit with that single glance, and had not expected it to be so powerful.
The young man from the Han Clan was gaping in shock and trembling. The look in his eyes as he stared at Meng Hao was one of complete terror and astonishment, and were it not for the fact that Meng Hao’s hand was clamped onto his throat, he would be screaming.
He had always thought of himself as being quite resourceful, but in this moment of hopelessness, no amount of plans or scheming could do anything about the incredible power of the person he was facing. He simply had no way out.
If by this point he didn’t realize that the person in front of him wasn’t Meng Chen, then he didn’t deserve to think of himself as being resourceful. In fact, because of the murderous aura coming off of Meng Hao, he was actually able to guess at who he was.
The fear in the young man’s eyes betrayed his feelings, and within his eyes, a pleading look could be seen.
“There is no enmity between us, and I’m not a murderer,” Meng Hao said coolly. “I wouldn’t kill you just because you said something that offended me.” However, Meng Hao’s words didn’t make the young man feel any better, and in fact, he was even more incredibly terrified than before, and the look in his eye grew more pleading.
“You seem to be an intelligent person, so presumably you know a bit about Karma,” Meng Hao continued. “Meng Chen hated you, and I’m here to help him. Since you like back door action….” Meng Hao smiled. His hand turned into a gray blur which passed into the young man’s body. Suddenly, the young man began to sprout fur….
The fur grew thick and luxuriant… and eventually covered his entire body. In the end, he didn’t even look human any longer, but rather, more like a trembling animal. Finally, Meng Hao put him into his bag of holding… next to the parrot.
With that, Meng Hao waved his sleeve, causing all the evidence to vanish. As for the young man’s background and identity in the Han Clan, Meng Hao knew all about it but didn’t care.
He could exterminate the Heavengod Alliance’s Blacksoul Society, and then cause chaos within their borders. Why would he possibly care about some Young Lord of the Han Clan?
Actually, in terms of status, the young Han Clan cultivator didn’t come close to being as high as Meng Hao.
Waving his sleeve, Meng Hao walked back into the ship, where he sat down cross-legged in his cabin. Soon, the Young Lord of the Meng Clan discovered that the young man from the Han Clan had gone missing. However, no one worried that he was in any sort of danger; they assumed he had simply left of his own volition.
Time passed. Eventually, Meng Hao came to find out that Meng De was one of nine Young Lords of the Meng Clan, and that he was ranked toward the bottom. Although the position itself was high, the chances of him inheriting the leadership of the clan were relatively remote.
His reason for going out traveling on his own had not been because of orders from the clan. No, it had been Meng De’s idea all along. In his opinion, the cultivation resources available in the clan were insufficient. Therefore, he decided to travel to the Heavengod Alliance, purchase some goods that were restricted and not easy to find outside, then take them to some of the trading outposts in the Eighth Mountain and Sea.
He planned to use the subsequent profits to support his extravagant lifestyle.
That was why he was on this merchant ship. As for his bodyguards, like Meng Chen, they were all clan members who nobody else really cared about, who had been forced into service to Meng De.
From Meng Hao’s perspective, he was nothing more than a brainless idiot born into power. Even Fang Xi back in the Fang Clan outclassed him in all aspects. Meng Hao almost couldn’t believe that with his position as a Young Lord he was relying on these kinds of methods to try to make money.
Were Meng Hao in his situation, with status like that, he could think of countless ways to turn a profit without having to go on some trading journey.
At the same time, Meng Hao couldn’t help but feel sorry for Meng De in his idiocy.
Meng Hao had also taken advantage of his time on board to carefully Soulsearch some of the members of the Meng Clan.
He learned that his grandfather’s bloodline truly was extremely down and out; it was so bad that they had been driven out of the Meng Clan ancestral mansion, and were forced to live on the borders of the clan. Even some vassals had higher statuses than them.
Virtually everyone in the bloodline was mortal. Of the few dozen cultivators they did have, most were in the Spirit Realm. Meng Chen had been the only one with latent talent outstanding enough to make a cultivation base breakthrough. By offering worship to an ancestral object, he had been able to acquire the power of a false Immortal.
As for the rest of the Spirit Realm cultivators in the bloodline, they didn’t get picked on too much in the clan, but that was because… despite their names being on the clan genealogies, they were on the verge of being completely disowned.
To many other members of the Meng Clan, they were nothing more than servants. Actually, there was some truth to that. The several dozen Spirit Realm members of the bloodline had become very low-ranking retainers to the clan’s Young Lords and Ladies.
As for why such a powerful bloodline could fall so far in less than a thousand years, that was a question that Meng Hao could not find an answer to in the memories that he had searched. However, there was one thing he became certain of….
His grandfather’s bloodline really was nothing more than orphans and widows now. All of the Senior members of the clan were either dead, or had crippled cultivation bases, making them useless. Furthermore, when it came to males… there were very few.
If Meng Hao didn’t take Meng Chen’s place, then in another hundred years, his grandfather’s bloodline might be fully wiped out, and then… there would be no more bloodline.
The mere thought of that caused Meng Hao’s heart to twinge with pain. Even more so, it made him wonder how exactly it came to be that all the powerful experts were wiped out.
Who did such a thing!?!?
It would be very, very difficult for a bloodline like that to rise to prominence. Even Meng Hao wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it. He might be able to personally intervene to support the bloodline, and could even prop this branch of the Meng Clan up by using his Hexes to manipulate a large number of clan members to serve under this branch. However, he would surely meet resistance, and given the strength of the rest of the clan he would be forced to enact a purge by blood. If a blood purge occurred, and then another clan came along to fight the weakened Meng Clan, then it wouldn’t be impossible for the entire clan to be wiped out.
Of course, all of that was mere supposition….
Most importantly of all, Meng Hao knew that true war was coming, and that was no internal conflict within the Mountain and Sea Realm, but rather the 33 Heavens and the other two powers that were crushing down over them.
Because of that, he couldn’t stay in the Meng Clan for long. Therefore, he was now considering taking his grandfather’s bloodline away to the Fang Clan.
All of these thoughts swirled about in his mind, but as he was mulling it over he continued to observe the situation.
The ship went from one bazaar to another, selling all the goods from the Heavengod Alliance. After each transaction, Meng De excitedly squandered the profits by purchasing all sorts of things that Meng Hao felt to be completely useless.
Meng Hao watched it all coldly. His main interest at the moment was finding out whether or not the Meng Clan had been weakened so much in the Eighth Mountain and Sea that people existed who would dare to lift a hand to one of their nine Young Lords, Meng De.
If no one did, it would show that the Meng Clan was still threatening despite their fall from power. In that case, Meng Hao might be willing to resort to a blood purge to restore the position of his grandfather’s bloodline.
However, if someone did make a move… then it would show that the Meng Clan was a wilting flower. In that case, a blood purge… would only ensure the eventual destruction of his grandfather’s bloodline.
Therefore, he decided to perform a little test. In one of the bazaars, he personally walked around and flaunted some wealth. After ensuring that he had attracted some attention, he made sure everyone realized that he was with Meng De.
A few days passed, and the ship finally finished its trading route, and began to head back toward the Meng Clan. Meng Hao was in his cabin, sitting there cross-legged, when suddenly he opened his eyes. Off the distance, he saw nine black-robed men. Their faces were covered, but their eyes flickered with greed and malice.
“They’re covering their faces, which means they’re scared….” he thought. “However, they still dare to commit robbery. It seems that their fear doesn’t run too deep!”