Something else happened when four of the altars cracked, something that occurred in the Eighth Mountain and Sea, but not in the Meng Clan. Instead, it was in the Heavengod Alliance, in the very middle of the Eighth Mountain and Sea… on the Eighth Mountain!
At the very peak of that mountain was a heavenly pool, within which was a Xuanwu turtle, sitting there with its eyes closed. Next to the pond was a temple….
That was where the legendary and mysterious Lord of the Eighth Mountain and Sea resided… Heavengod!
No one other than Heavengod could set foot into that area of the mountain peak, as it was a restricted area. Currently, there was an oil lamp burning in Heavengod Temple.
That lamp burned eternally, and despite the fact that there was no wind, the flame danced, casting flickering lights about in the temple. Also visible within the temple was a huge throne, upon which sat a mysterious-looking figure.
His face was impossible to see. He wore a black robe, and his head was bowed as he sat there, completely unmoving. However, it was possible to see that this Heavengod was wearing a mask.
On that mask was an image of an intertwined turtle and snake…. 1
As one altar after another cracked in the Seventh Mountain and Sea, the figure on the throne began to twitch… almost as if he were waking up.
Each time he did, the flame in the lamp also danced.
The figure on the throne…. was the most supreme and paramount figure in the Eighth Mountain and Sea… the Mountain and Sea Lord Heavengod. There were many, many legends about this person. Some said that Heavengod came from the Han Clan. Some said that he came from the Meng Clan. There were some people who claimed that Heavengod had always existed, and did not originate in the Mountain and Sea Realm.
Regardless of any of that, in all the years, no one had ever seen the true features which lay beneath Heavengod’s mask. What people saw never changed; he always looked exactly like this.
Gradually, other rumors spread, although few people believed them because of their utter bizarreness. According to those rumors, Heavengod… had not always existed.
According to these legends… Mountain and Sea Lords did not live forever, and in fact, all of them had limited longevity. The only reason they continued to exist was because each Mountain and Sea Lord had a unique way of fooling the Heavens to continue on existing.
Supposedly, one of the methods, the one used by Heavengod of the Eighth Mountain and Sea… was the transference of their legacy. Supposedly, when Heavengod died, he would find a successor to pass on his legacy to, and thus ensure that Heavengod existed forever in a type of transmigration.
Meanwhile, back in the Eighth Mountain and Sea, on one of the Meng Clan’s continents, Meng Hao rose to his feet and bowed deeply as his grandmother entered the room.
Meng Hao had not bowed in greeting to anyone else who had entered the room, only to her.
Grandma Meng looked at him with a kind expression on her face, nodding as she sat down cross-legged in front of him. Meng Hao took a deep breath, and a look of concentration covered his face as he sat down somberly.
“Don’t be nervous,” she said quietly. “I’ve lived for a long, long time, and experienced many things. There are few hardships which I would shy away from anymore, so even if you fail, it doesn’t matter. With your two granduncles having been restored, our bloodline is already destined to rise to prominence.
“If I die, the only thing I’ll regret is that I won’t have a chance to see your Grandpa Meng again. I can sense that he hasn’t perished, and that… he isn’t very far away.” Finally, she sighed.
Meng Hao had mixed feelings, especially considering that his grandfather had gone missing while trying to save him.
“Grandma Meng, you won’t have any regrets,” he said softly. “I’m going to succeed in this, and one day, I’m going to find Grandpa Meng too!”
His grandmother chuckled, and the kindness in her eyes grew stronger.
Meng Hao took a deep breath and performed a double-handed incantation gesture. He was now very familiar with how to extract the spikes, and was very confident in his actions. He raised both hands and placed them onto his grandmother’s forehead, then unleashed the full power of his cultivation base!
Even when treating his two granduncles, he had only used thirty percent of the power of his cultivation base. Now, he was going all out. His grandmother began to tremble, and suddenly, nine areas on her body, including her forehead, began to shine with brilliant light.
Those nine areas were where the spikes were located. As soon as Meng Hao saw the glowing light, his face flickered, and he suddenly heard nine voices roaring in his ears.
“Whoever dares to touch this spell formation will die!!” Those nine voices joined together, and their words stabbed into Meng Hao’s mind as if to destroy it.
“You overestimate yourself!” he replied with a cold snort, eyes flickering with killing intent. Because he had cultivated the Dao Divinity Scripture, his divine sense was incredibly powerful. He immediately sent it out to counter the nine wills entering his mind.
He was essentially fighting the Dao Realm now, in a one-against-nine fight!
Rumbling could be heard as Meng Hao trembled. However, his two hands remained firmly in place. As his grandmother trembled, and the light grew more brilliant, the spikes began to be forced out.
It was at this point that, back in the Seventh Mountain and Sea, the nine Dao Realm experts’ faces flickered, and they went all out with every scrap of power they could muster, and yet they were completely incapable of doing anything to the person interfering with the spell formation.
“I’m familiar with all the powerful experts in the Eighth Mountain and Sea, where did this person come from?!?!”
“It must be a peak Dao Lord, someone on the verge of becoming a Dao Sovereign! Dammit!”
“Just wait and see how long he can hold out. As long as Heavengod doesn’t wake up and make a move, he won’t have an easy time breaking the altar spell formation!” Roaring, the nine Dao Realm cultivators unleashed their divine sense again in an attempt to stop Meng Hao.
Rumbling sounds emanated as they fought, separated by a vast distance, yet no one besides they themselves could hear it.
Meng Hao’s eyes flickered as he reached down and smacked the ground. The Lightning Cauldron appeared, floating above his head, pulsing with the power of lightning. In the blink of an eye, Meng Hao and his grandmother vanished from the room to reappear in an empty field a vast distance away.
Meng Hao’s grandmother had her eyes closed, and thus didn’t even notice that the teleportation had occurred. Almost as soon as they appeared, he summoned the Paragon Bridge, sending a massive power shooting out in nine different directions.
Intense rumbling sounds echoed out as nine ravines were carved deep into the earth, within which black flames burned.
“Looking to die?!” Meng Hao’s face was grim as his right hand flashed with an incantation gesture. Then he pressed down onto his grandmother’s shoulder, from within which popped out a spike.
His grandmother didn’t tremble, but the spike did. It also emanated a black mist which formed together into the face of an old man, who howled at Meng Hao. Meng Hao’s eyes went wide, and he quickly sucked in a breath. The face collapsed back into black mist, which Meng Hao then breathed in.
Then he bit down hard, and a scream could be heard. At the same time, back in the Seventh Mountain and Sea, one of the nine Dao Realm experts next to the altars suddenly coughed up a mouthful of blood.
“He consumed the divine sense I sent out!!”
It was at this point that, one by one, the other old men began to cough up blood. First a second, then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth….
Next, rumbling could be heard from the fifth altar as the stone spikes there began to shatter. The altar was trembling, and cracks spread out across its surface.
“Combine all of our power!” roared one of the nine Dao Realm experts. “Prevent the spell formation from being broken! The fifth altar is too important! It must not be broken!!” Immediately, the surrounding 100,000 cultivators performed incantation gestures, and began to murmur complex curse spells. Almost immediately, they began to shiver, and their bodies withered visibly.
Within the space of a few breaths of time, all 100,000 cultivators looked like nothing more than bags of bones. It was a huge sacrifice on their part, but the result was a shocking curse power that surged toward the altar.
In the Eighth Mountain and Sea, Meng Hao sat on the wide plain, hands flickering as he placed numerous sealing marks onto his grandmother. The entire time, she hadn’t trembled once, and had kept her eyes closed. It was a completely different scene from when he had extracted the spikes from the others.
That was because she was Meng Hao’s grandmother, and he was working as hard as possible to ensure that any pain she felt was reduced as much as possible.
As the spikes were removed, they emanated black mist, which turned into faces. Meng Hao consumed them all, until finally, eight spikes had been forced out. His expression was very serious as he placed both hands onto his grandmother’s forehead and then wrenched them backwards.
Shocking rumbling sounds could be heard, as if lightning and thunder were pounding the land. A black spot appeared on his grandmother’s forehead as the ninth spike flew out. It was accompanied by numerous illusory figures, all of them screaming as they spewed forth like an eruption.
This was the curse power converged by the sacrifice of the 100,000 cultivators, plus the rage of the final Dao Realm expert directed at anyone who would try to sever this connection’s power.
Meng Hao’s face turned grim, and he let out a cold snort. Then his right hand lifted into the air, and his eyes began to shine. Almost in the same moment that the curse power touched him, it exploded out into boundless black mist that instantly enveloped him.
However, it was also in that same moment that Meng Hao completely severed the ninth spike from his grandmother. The restrictive spell that had been placed upon her vanished, and the fifth altar in the Seventh Mountain and Sea shattered into countless pieces.
The other four had merely been cracked and fragmented, but now they also exploded, ensuring that of the original nine altars, only four remained intact!
At the same time, in the Heavengod Temple on the Eighth Mountain, the figure seated on the throne began to tremble violently. Almost imperceptibly, the mask flashed with light, as if the eyes behind that mask had opened a sliver. A terrifying pressure then radiated out from within those eyes!
Gradually, the figure’s mouth moved, and he said something that no one could hear, something said only to himself.
He said… “Hao’er!”
Meanwhile, back on the vast plain on the continent in the Meng Clan, Meng Hao was trembling. Then he threw his head back and roared, and cracking sounds rang out from inside of him. His cultivation base surged with power, and Greed’s life force began to emanate from his fourth Nirvana Fruit.
That was the moment in which his grandmother awoke. As she did, her cultivation base rocketed up, and her eyes opened to see Meng Hao and the black mist covering him.
Within the black mist, Meng Hao took a deep breath. Just as he was about to dispel the mist, he suddenly experienced a sensation of extreme danger, coming from out in the starry sky!
“Grandma Meng, I’m fine. You head back now, I just need some time to get rid of this curse.” Eyes narrowing, he suddenly teleported out into the starry sky along with the black mist.
His grandmother’s face darkened, and she fell back a few steps. Looking up into the sky toward where Meng Hao had disappeared, she didn’t even think about her own cultivation base, but instead, began to worry about Meng Hao’s safety.
If something bad happened to him, it wouldn’t matter that her cultivation base had recovered, she would feel unending guilt. Suddenly, she thought about Meng Hao’s grandfather, and she sighed.
“Just… where are you…?”
In Chinese mythology, the Xuanwu turtle is often depicted as being intertwined with a snake. See this image. P.S. If I recall correctly Patriarch Reliance was initially described as looking like this type of turtle, which is why I never found it weird that his head/face could appear in the State of Zhao above his shell