The pavilion was completely silent. Xu’s death was quick and clean, which caused Lu Tao’s eyes to narrow. Fear filled his heart as he looked at Meng Hao, who sat there looking quite dignified.
It wasn’t just him. The well-dressed lady gave Meng Hao a penetrating look, and in her heart, she realized that this was not a person to provoke.
The middle-aged man with the flagon of alcohol stopped drinking for a moment; his eyes narrowed and filled with a sharp look. The disguised Cultivator of the late Foundation Establishment stage slowly lifted his head to look at Meng Hao. Hesitation seemed to blossom in his heart as he tried to analyze Meng Hao’s Cultivation base.
As for the woman who was in disguise, she glanced at Meng Hao for a moment, and then looked away.
“If there are no further disturbances, then we can begin our secret meeting,” said old man Qingshan slowly. He looked at Meng Hao with a friendly expression. “All of you made contact with the Secret Trade Alliance in the State of Clear Skies. If you do business here, I can serve as a witness. You can proceed without any reservations. If any problems occur, the Secret Trade Alliance will take responsibility. Now, I would like to invite all of the Fellow Daoists to begin business.” He spoke in a tone you would use with people of the same generation. Actually, Meng Hao’s actions just now had not just caused the others to be frightened. This old man was somewhat in awe of him too.
When he finished speaking, he flicked his sleeve, and a copper furnace inlaid with eight golden dragons flew out. It landed directly in the center of the pavilion.
“Fellow Daoists,” said Lu Tao, clasping hands in salute to the others, “please allow me to go first this time.” He waved his right hand and a jade slip appeared, which then flew into the copper furnace that old man Qingshan had just placed in the middle of them all.
“This is a list of all the items I’m willing to trade today. There’s also a portrait inside. Fellow Daoists, if any of you see this person in the coming days, please send me a message with the information. I will repay you with a chunk of stone from the Lightning Fringe Mountains.” He said nothing more.
After this, the well-dressed, beautiful lady gave a slight smile and produced a jade slip. Without a word, she sent it into the copper furnace. The items she required as well as could offer for trade were all listed in the jade slip. Anyone who was interested would contact her.
This secret meeting was really just a small-scale hosted trade session. After all, most of the participants were not locals, and needed to be prudent when dealing with strangers, especially in business. Thus, the Secret Trade Alliance came to be. They would organize similar meetings throughout the Southern Domain, all presided over by a third party who could bear witness.
Soon, it was Meng Hao’s turn. He thought for a moment. He actually wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but he pulled out a jade nonetheless. After branding it with some Spiritual Sense he tossed it into the furnace. He had left a single message inside; what was the Black Sieve Sect up to, and how dangerous was their invitation?
It didn’t take long for the eight participants to place their jade slips into the furnace. Old man Qingshan lifted his right hand and flashed an incantation gesture toward the furnace. A droning sound arose, and within the furnace an intangible flame came into being. The jade slips inside began to melt, and as they did, the eight golden dragons on the surface of the copper furnace began to squirm as if they were alive. Mist poured out from them, instantly beginning to envelop everyone present.
Meng Hao’s heart flip-flopped. Although he didn’t resist, he maintained the utmost vigilance.
After the mist had completely covered him, everything grew quiet. Ahead of him, he caught sight of eight glowing globes of light; it was as if he had been separated into his own area away from everyone else. Information began to pour into his mind. There were lists of dozens of available medicinal pills, magical items, and miscellaneous goods, as well as various descriptions of items desired for purchase.
Soon, Meng Hao’s eyes began to glitter. Pulling back his Spiritual Sense, he touched one of the glowing lights. Instantly, the information from the jade slip he himself had just prepared appeared in his mind. Now he understood. After perusing the information from his own slip, his attention was drawn to the very last glowing ball.
Inside was a portrait. When he saw it, Meng Hao laughed coldly to himself.
The portrait in the jade slip was of himself. Furthermore, the desired item was a Thunderclap Leaf.
“So, in this so-called secret meeting, you can ask for anything you need. This method is pretty good. You can confidently ask or offer things that you normally couldn’t. If you strike a deal with someone, you won’t know who it was you were dealing with.
“It seems there are two others who, like myself, want information about the Black Sieve Sect.” He sat there cross-legged, waiting, sure that someone would contact him eventually. As he waited, he sent his Spiritual Sense out to examine some of the other glowing lights.
Suddenly, a white light appeared out of nowhere within the mist. Meng Hao’s eyes narrowed. He touched it, and a message appeared in his head.
“I don’t know very much about matters regarding the Black Sieve Sect, only a smattering. But what I do know is accurate. For my news, I require five hundred thousand spirit Stones.”
Meng Hao frowned. When buying information in a place like this, one had to consider whether or not the information was true. It would be hard to determine.
Just then, another white light appeared. Meng Hao took hold of it, and another message appeared in his mind.
“There are several rumors floating around regarding the Black Sieve Sect. I have some news from the Inner Sect. Whether or not it’s true, you’ll have to decide for yourself. If you want this news, you will need to pay seven hundred thousand Spirit Stones.”
“This is my first time doing business like this,” thought Meng Hao with a frown. “I don’t have any experience, and I’m not sure how to trade. Furthermore, regardless of whether the information is good, the price is very steep. I don’t have very many Spirit Stones at the moment.” Ignoring the messages, he continued to examine some of the other glowing lights. He found that many of the lights had been updated with more details, or had prices increased or reduced. Suddenly, the copper mirror within his bag of the Cosmos grew hot. A moment later, the heat disappeared.
Meng Hao gaped in shock. He pulled out the mirror and examined it closely. He couldn’t find anything all that different about it. Lost in thought, he placed it back. Then, he continued to examine the items for sale within the glowing lights.
Soon, his eyes began to shine as he gazed at one of the glowing lights. Of the multiple items inside, one stuck out to him.
“Classic of Time…..” This item stuck out to him because within the glowing light, its name was somewhat dim. It hadn’t been there before, but rather, had seemingly just appeared. It seemed that if Meng Hao’s Spiritual Sense wasn’t currently higher than that of the mid Foundation Establishment Stage, then he wouldn’t be able to see it. It appeared to be cloaked by some mysterious technique, visible only to the Spiritual Sense of the late Foundation Establishment stage.
“The Classic of Time has a total of three volumes. Together, they describe Time refinement, which can in turn produce the magical Time Sword! I’m making the first volume available here. If you’re interested, please contact me.”
Meng Hao’s eyes narrowed. As he continued to examine the information, his eyes grew brighter. At the moment, there were quite a few requests floating about regarding Foundation Establishment Pills. He ignored them, as he was completely focused on the introduction to the Classic of Time.
“…. and Time is then produced. Lives are nothing…. The magic of this sword can produce varying results…. Three of these swords can produce powerful magic, nine, an even more consummate magic, and with eighteen, Time can be slain!
“Mystical trees can be used to forge the Time Sword. Because of their ancientness, such trees contain the vicissitudes of Time. They include the Spring and Autumn tree, the Missing Breath tree, and the best of them all, the Spiritualizaion tree. If none of these three are available, the mystical Thousand Times tree can also be used….” Meng Hao’s eyes flashed. He retracted his Spiritual Sense and took a deep breath, a thoughtful look in his eyes. He was very interested in this Time Sword, because he already happened to have a Spring and Autumn tree.
A moment later, Meng Hao lifted his hand toward the glowing light. Instantly, a white glow shot out and circled around his hand. He branded a message onto it, then sent it toward the glowing light. It disappeared.
It didn’t take much time for the white glow to fly back to him. As soon as he touched it, some text appeared in his mind.
“Since you could see the information about the Classic of Time, it’s clear you have the required Cultivation base. However, I only have one of the volumes. Acquiring the other two volumes will require us to work together. There is one more person present who is willing to do so. If you wish to join us, then our chances will of course increase.
“If you plan participate in the Black Sieve Sect’s activity in this land, then you must swear a Dao oath not to reveal our information to anyone, including your Sect. Inscribe your Dao oath onto a jade slip and send it to me. With that, your share will be guaranteed.”
Meng Hao thought for a moment before his eyes shined with determination. He lifted up a jade slip and placed it between his eyebrows. After a moment, he sent it into the white light, whereupon the jade slip disappeared along with the light.
Some time passed, and Meng Hao’s eyes watched with shining eyes as several white glowing lights appeared. Scanning them with Spiritual Sense, he found the message he had been waiting for.
“One year ago, the Black Sieve Sect found a secret map. The map depicted a secret path to an ancient Blessed Land. The Black Sieve Sect has entered the place several times in the past year, but they have reached a standstill outside of a precipice. This precipice can only be entered by Foundation Establishment Cultivators.
“Those who enter must meet the demands of the Black Sieve Sect. The more objects they bring back from within, the more Sieve Earth Pills they will be given. Our meeting place is within this ancient savage land, where the shadows cast by the sun and the moon intersect.
“That is approximately ten days from now. You must quickly make your way to the Black Sieve Sect and join the group of rogue Foundation Establishment Cultivators they are gathering.”
Meng Hao frowned. As the white light disappeared, a look of deep thought appeared in his eyes.
“The information available nowadays in the State of Clear Skies is all over the place, so it’s impossible to say whether or not this information is true or false. However, most of it seems to involve some sort of ancient battleground or Blessed Land.
“It seems a lot of intelligent people have investigated and come to various similar conclusions. The State of Clear Skies belongs to the Black Sieve Sect. To say that the chaos within the nation doesn’t directly have to do with the Sect is ridiculous.
“However, that Sieve Earth Pill would definitely be of help to me….” Meng Hao had learned quite a bit about the Black Sieve Sect matter from this secret meeting. However, the more he learned, the more suspicious he became.
“I have to go,” he thought, having come to his decision. His Spiritual Sense swept over the rest of the glowing lights. He was just about to call it back when suddenly, his pupils constricted. Despite being sitting cross-legged, a strong spirit suddenly surged out of him. He stared fixedly at the same glowing light that contained the information about the Time Classic. A new item had just been listed for sale inside, a medicinal pill.
The name of the pill was “Cosmetic Cultivation Pill!”
Cosmetic Cultivation Pill. It was a common pill, and not very expensive. Among all the various pills, this was not one to catch anyone’s attention.
However, to Meng Hao, this pill contained memories from six or seven years ago. Memories of a beautiful scene underneath the moonlight.
“I never could have guessed that I would see a Cosmetic Cultivation Pill in this place,” said Meng Hao with a sigh. He payed the price for the pill, and soon a glowing white light carried it over to him. The pill landed in his hand, and when he saw it, his entire body shook with surprise.
This chapter was sponsored by AM, Nicholas Abram and Abdelkrim Ouahasna
If you forgot about the Cosmetic Cultivation Pill, you can read Chapter 12: Hello, Elder Sister Xu and Chapter 37: Water and Ink in the Evening ↩