As his cold voice rang out, the black-robed young man stood up. He strode forward to stand in front of Meng Hao’s table. He stared at him coldly for a moment, then sat down.
Meng Hao’s expression was calm as he looked at the young man. He said nothing, instead raising the cup and taking another drink.
“You have a Thunderclap Leaf!” said the black-robed young man, looking at Meng Hao 1. He lifted his right hand revealing a chip of iron laying on his palm. It glinted and emitted a blackish green glow.
“This is not ordinary iron,” he continued coolly, his bearing insufferably proud. “This is a treasure of wood-iron, birthed at the moment a tree was struck by lightning. It is especially sensitive to lightning-based medicinal materials, such as the Thunderclap Leaf. So, do you want to trade your Thunderclap Leaf?” He placed the chip of iron onto the table. The movement seemed ordinary, but as his hand moved, a glow burst out from his palm, which transformed into an arc of electricity that expanded out.
The young man was at the mid Foundation Establishment stage. As the arc of electricity spread out, his Cultivation base enveloped the area, including Meng Hao.
Killing intent slowly roiled out of him. It seemed as if Meng Hao were to even say half of the word “No,” the young man would attack. His eyes glowed with coldness.
“Screw off,” said Meng Hao indifferently, taking a sip of alcohol.
The instant he said this, the black-robed young man frowned.
“I haven’t left the Black Lands for quite a few years. It seems people in the outside world have gotten really arrogant.” A cold smile twisted the corners of his mouth as he slowly began to lift up his right hand. Meng Hao raised his head and looked at him.
As soon Meng Hao’s eye met the young man, the young man’s entire body began to tremble. The hand which he had begun to lift up instantly stopped moving. He didn’t dare to lift it any further. His heart began to beat quickly. Meng Hao’s eyes were like two sharp swords which pierced his own. His heart thundered, and his head roared. His Spiritual Sense seemed unstable, and an icy coldness seemed to grow within him, causing cold sweat to cover his body.
No killing intent radiated from his eyes; instead, it was replaced by astonishment. The pressure exuded by Meng Hao had caused the black-robed youth’s body to instantly become stiff.
All of this was caused by a mere look from Meng Hao. This young man was not a Cultivator of the State of Clear Skies, but rather a savage Cultivator from the Black Lands. To him, bloody life-and-death battles were commonplace, so he had a sort of intuition when it came to matters of life and death. In this instant, he had a strong feeling that the person in front of him was not a Cultivator at the early Foundation Establishment stage, but some savage Spirit who could swallow him whole.
The intense coldness multiplied, and cold sweat dripped down his forehead. His heart beat rapidly, and he even felt as if his Cultivation base were being suppressed. His face fell, and he didn’t dare to move.
The entire time, Meng Hao looked completely calm. Even though the person in front of him had emitted a killing aura, and was at the mid Foundation Establishment stage, it wouldn’t take very long to slay him. Meng Hao put down his cup of alcohol. The a final glance at the black-robed youth one last time, he rose, flicking his sleeve and leaving the inn.
As he left, the black-robed young man’s eyes suddenly flickered. He turned to look at Meng Hao’s departing figure, his heart still fluttering with fear. A moment ago, he had been completely and utterly suppressed. It was not battle magic that had done it, but pure Spiritual Sense.
“What kind of Cultivation base does this guy actually have?” thought the black-robed youth, his face flickering. “It looks like Early Foundation Establishment, but his Spiritual Sense exceeds mine exponentially…. And although I couldn’t sense any killing intent, as soon as he looked at me, my mind began to tremble.” As Meng Hao disappeared into the distance, he suddenly stood up and began to walk after him.
“Fellow Daoist, please wait!” he blurted, “Senior, I am Lu Tao. Please, Fellow Daoist, hear me out.” He hastened forward, nearing Meng Hao. His attitude was completely different than from before.
“I’m willing to pay for that Thunderclap Leaf,” Lu Tao gushed as he approached Meng Hao. “If you can make yourself part with it, Fellow Daoist, I would be extremely grateful. Whatever you want for it, I’ll give, as long as I have it. Let’s talk it over.” The pressure exuded by Meng Hao was considerable, but the Thunderclap Leaf was very important to Lu Tao, so he really had no other choice.
Meng Hao frowned, ignoring Lu Tao and proceeding forward.
“Fellow Daoist, I beg of you. No matter how many Spirit Stones, magical items or medicinal pills, I’m willing to negotiate. If I don’t have what you want, I can think of a way to acquire it to offer in trade.” He watched as Meng Hao continued to walk off toward a relatively remote area. This caused him to be a bit nervous; he knew that he had started out on the wrong foot, so, fearful that Meng Hao might suddenly attack him, he decided not to say anything more to provoke him.
“Fellow Daoist… are you here for the Sieve Earth Pills of the Black Sieve Sect?” he asked resolutely. “Nowadays it’s not hard to get your hands on them, but to get away safely is a different matter. Fellow Daoist, if you’re willing to have a business discussion regarding parting with your treasure, I can refer you to a disciple of the Black Sieve Sect. This disciple has information about the Black Sieve Sect that outsiders could never know, it will definitely increase your chances of getting away safely with your Sieve Earth Pill.” As the words left Lu Tao’s mouth, Meng Hao continued walking. They were now in a remote, abandoned alley.
“Fellow Daoist, senior,” Lu Tao said with a forced smile. “I very much wish to acquire the Thunderclap Leaf. It’s very important to me. Is there anything you would be willing to trade for it?” His pace slowed a bit.
Meng Hao suddenly stopped and turned. He looked at Lu Tao. There was neither happiness nor anger in his expression.
“Take out your wood-iron treasure and let me see it,” said Meng Hao coolly. His eyes flashed brightly.
When Lu Tao saw Meng Hao turn, it startled him. Without a word, he produced the wood-iron treasure and offered it toward Meng Hao. The iron chip flew toward Meng Hao, who grabbed it out of the air. He sent some Spiritual Sense into it. Immediately, he was able to sense the Thunderclap Leaf within his bag of the Cosmos. It emitted an aura of lightning that the iron chip absorbed. The iron chip then began to glitter.
“So, he’s not lying,” thought Meng Hao. “But, the whole thing seems a bit too coincidental.” He now knew that Lu Tao had used the iron chip to track him down because of the Thunderclap Leaf. But given his cautious personality, he still had some doubts.
“I do happen to have a Thunderclap Leaf. If you want to trade, then you’ll need to give a clear explanation of what you plan to do with it.” He waved his right hand, tossing the wood-iron treasure back to Lu Tao.
The Thunderclap Leaf was something that Meng Hao had acquired from Patriarch Reliance. And in fact, he had acquired not just a leaf, but an entire tree. It had been protected by a restrictive spell cast by Patriarch Reliance. However, Meng Hao wasn’t sure of its exact use. All he knew was that the Lightning Flag could be used to envelop and protect the Thunderclap Leaves.
“Well….” Lu Tao hesitated a moment, looking at Meng Hao with a hint of irritation. Finally, he gritted his teeth and continued. “Senior, I have a life magic that can be refined from stone from the Lightning Fringe Mountains. In order to release its full power, I have spent the past few years searching everywhere for various Lightning-type items. However, none of them can compare to the Thunderclap Leaf. It’s just that Thunderclap Leaves are very rare, so when I sensed yours, I was too eager, and accidentally offended you.” In order to prove the reliability of his words, he pressed down on the pit of his stomach; an electric flow emerged from his mouth, which then transformed into a fist-sized rock. The rock was black, and its surface was encircled with arcs of electricity as well as tiny plant-like vines that resembled rattan.
“So, what was that you were saying about the Black Sieve Sect?” said Meng Hao coolly.
“I can help you find someone from the Black Sieve Sect,” he gushed. “They don’t usually interact with strangers. If you pay this person a little bit, you can find out the reason why the Black Sieve Sect has arranged the gathering of Cultivators.
“Fellow Daoist, if you’re willing to trade me your Thunderclap Leaf, then I can take you to a secret meeting with me tonight. There will be about seven or eight other Fellow Daoists there, along with a prestigious member of the senior generation to act as host. Not only can you trade magical items, you can also trade information.
“One of the people there is a Black Sieve Inner Sect disciple.
“Fellow Daoist, please believe me. Nowadays, the State of Clear Skies has a bunch of dragons and snakes all jumbled together. There’s good people and bad people all over the place. Cultivators from all sorts of Sects and Clans are here. Furthermore, there are many factions within the Black Sieve Sect. Of course there will be conflicts between them. Therefore, news is bound to spread. It’s normal. Of course there’s sure to be some bad information, but if all the information was fake, then no one would believe anything. So of course there will be some good information out there as well.
“You really will have to make your own judgement about that, and to trust your intuition.”
“Let me think about it for a bit,” said Meng Hao, his face the same as ever. “If I make a decision, I’ll notify you.” It was impossible for anyone to tell what he was thinking. He threw a jade slip to Lu Tao, who was about to continue to try to persuade him. Before he could, Meng Hao left the alley, walking quickly away and soon disappearing. Lu Tao had no choice but to watch him leave. But then, his eyes began to shine.
“The Constellation Priest of the The Black Lands Sect sure charges an arm and a leg, but what he said was mostly true. I really was able to sense the Thunderclap Leaf in this place…. But now that I’ve found it, I have to think of some way to get it. Of course, since I infected this guy with my Qi Parasite, he’ll never be able to get away from me!
“With the Thunderclap Leaf, I can refine the legendary Eyeless larva!” He held the jade slip in hand, his eyes glittering. Of course he hadn’t explained to Meng Hao the true details of how he planned to use the Thunderclap Leaf. Lost in thought, Lu Tao turned and left.
What he hadn’t noticed was that behind him was an invisible phantom figure, in whose hand was a flying insect about the size of a finger nail. It was trapped, unable to fly. The figure stood a short distance away from Lu Tao, looking at him coldly. As Lu Tao left, the figure followed him.
This phantom was none other than Meng Hao, who had left, but had returned shortly afterward. He was using the invisibility talisman to secretly follow Lu Tao through the dark, starry night. Occasionally Lu Tao would take out the jade slip Meng Hao had given him. His face was gloomy as he eventually reached what appeared to be an ordinary mansion within the city. He knocked three times on the door, which then automatically slid open. Ripples seemed to spread out from the door as he entered.
After enough time passed for an incense stick to burn, Meng Hao saw four or five more Cultivators approaching. It was hard to tell whether they were men or women, but they were all of the Foundation Establishment stage. One was even of the late Foundation Establishment stage. Their faces were wrapped up, and they hurried along to the mansion, using the same method as Lu Tao to gain entrance.
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered. With the twist of a finger, he crushed the bug in his palm, then ripped up the talisman that concealed him. He flicked his sleeve, changing into a new set of clothing. He donned a wide bamboo hat and then covered his face with a cloth mask. Then, he walked toward the mansion.
This chapter was sponsored by Zameel Mejia and MrJoboto
If you want a refresher about how Meng Hao took the Thunderclap Leaves, re-read Chapter 85: Ancient Demon Sealing Jade (although be aware that Patriarch Reliance calls these leaves by a different name) ↩