Dawn. The plateau. Considering the months of Meng Hao’s hawking, and days of Lu Gong’s domineering, there were few Cultivators present, especially this early in the morning. There were only two or three, sitting there cross-legged.
When Meng Hao arrived, they opened their eyes, and each of them sighed inwardly, wondering when things would return to the way they had been before.
Moments later, they gaped in astonishment. Meng Hao didn’t enter the plateau, but instead sat outside, cross-legged, eyes closed. He remained there, unmoving.
This strange sight left them astonished. They looked at each other, then seemed to remember something, whereupon they began to gloat.
Time passed, and soon it was late into the morning. More and more people arrived on the plateau, and every single one noticed Meng Hao and his unusual behavior. People began to make guesses about what was going on. Everyone was so intrigued that none of them fought.
“Could it be that Elder Brother Lu’s words really worked? Meng Hao is too scared, so he doesn’t dare to hawk goods?”
“It must be. Elder Brother Lu is the number one disciple in the low level. If he tells you to beat it, then you have no choice but to beat it.”
“Who would have thought that this guy was so scared for his own skin? All he can do is bully people lower than him. Look at how arrogant he is. He thinks that just because he didn’t bring his crappy banner, Elder Brother Lu will let him off the hook.” Many of them were like this. They wouldn’t complain when being robbed by someone powerful. But if someone who looked weak and kind took their items through business, they would complain endlessly.
Lu Hong had been in power for quite a while. From his first vicious attack long ago, all the way to today, when he forced people to do business with him, everyone was helpless. And yet, they had no choice but to deal with the situation. In fact, many of them believed he had become a bit gentler recently.
Meng Hao hadn’t been in the sect for very long, and was neither very powerful nor arrogant. So even though his business was conducted gently, everyone complained relentlessly.
Meng Hao heard all of their talking, but his expression remained as neutral as always. Of course, his reason for sitting in meditation outside the Public Zone was not because he didn’t want to enter, but rather because his Cultivation base was now at the fourth level of Qi Condensation, and he couldn’t enter even if he wanted to.
In the midst of all the discussion, someone appeared at the bottom of the mountain. He wore a green robe, looked to be about thirty years old, and wore an incredibly arrogant expression. It was Lu Hong, slowly approaching, his hands clasped behind his back.
As soon as he appeared, Meng Hao’s eyes opened, and they shone brilliantly. Everyone watched as he stood up and slapped his bag of holding. A small white sword appeared. The sword aura glistened, pressing down with a cold pressure. Meng Hao charged forward, and the sword aura made a beeline for Lu Hong.
As soon as this happened, a buzz of conversation rose. Everyone was amazed at Meng Hao’s lack of fear… Was he really going to cause trouble for the number one low-level disciple Lu Hong?
“He… he’s going to battle Lu Hong!”
“They were going to fight sooner or later. Meng Hao injured Cao Yang and Lu Hong wrecked his business. This battle was unavoidable. I just never imagined Meng Hao would dare to attack like this. I think he doesn’t know his own limitations.”
“Elder Brother Lu has been at the third level for years. Meng Hao will definitely lose.”
Even as Meng Hao dashed forward, Lu Hong’s eyes glittered. He’d already planned to take Meng Hao’s head if he saw him today. And now, his opponent had dared to take the initiative. It was actually helpful. He snorted, and his body seemed to turn into a rainbow as he sped toward Meng Hao. His right hand slapped his bag of holding and a purple-colored flying sword appeared.
When the flying sword appeared, it was accompanied by a piercing whistle, and it radiated a golden purple color with a diameter of approximately 30 meters.
“It’s Elder Brother Lu’s Purple Yang sword!”
“It is! I heard he was awarded the Purple Yang sword by the Sect for some special service he did. It’s mystically sharp.”
Two people, one mountain. At the foot of the mountain, they charged each other.
Amidst a reverberating roar, Lu Hong’s expression changed and blood spurted from his mouth. He flew back several paces, staring at Meng Hao in shock.
“Fourth level of Qi Condensation!”
Meng Hao looked a bit embarrassed. He had just entered the fourth level of Qi Condensation, and his grasp of it was not firm. He could not release its full power.
He had made a simple attack, filled with ferocity. But cracks were already visible on his flying sword. His opponent’s weapon was magically sharp, and had damaged his own weapon.
Even though Meng Hao didn’t have much experience in fighting, in his half year or so hunting for wild beasts in the mountains, his reaction speed had grown. Furthermore, during his days on the plateau, he had observed many battles. Even as Lu Hong retreated backward, he moved forward, slapping his bag of holding. Another flying sword appeared next to the cracked sword. The two sword auras merged together and shot toward Lu Hong.
As he sped forward, Meng Hao’s fingers flickered and tongues of flame congealed all around him. Three paces away, a Flame Serpent appeared, as thick as his arm, about half a meter long. It twisted in the air, then emitted a roar and shot toward Lu Hong.
Looking shocked, Lu Hong spit blood from his mouth and moved backwards anxiously. His eyes flashed with anger. He knew that because he had some magical items, and Meng Hao had just entered the fourth level, the outcome of this battle was not certain. But if he could exterminate Meng Hao, it would build his prestige.
Murderous intent flickered in his eyes. His fingers danced, whereupon a globe of glistening, radiant water appeared in his hands. He threw it out, whereupon it exploded, transforming into countless Water Arrows, which then shot toward the Flame Serpent.
His fingers moved again, and the Purple Yang sword slammed into Meng Hao’s two flying swords. A booming sound rang out like iron being crushed. Meng Hao’s two flying swords crumbled into pieces, whereupon the Purple Yang sword followed the Water Arrows toward the Flame Serpent.
With an echoing roar, the Flame Serpent disappeared into a cloud of dust. The Water Arrows became a mist and the Purple Yang sword returned to Lu Hong. Its golden-purple aura did not shine quite as brightly, and a crack had appeared on its blade, but it was still as sharp as ever.
“With a fourth level Qi Condensation like that, and no good weapon, killing you isn’t going to be hard. How many times can you use your Flame Serpent art like that, considering you aren’t at the fifth level?” In his heart, Lu Hong was worried about his flying sword, but outside, he put on a broad smile. He didn’t take a single step back.
“Your sword might be incredibly sharp, but let’s see how many times you can use it. Speaking of flying swords… I have some more, too. And as for the fifth level of Qi Condensation, with all the medicinal pills Elder Sister Xu gives me, it won’t be long before I break through.” He showed no expression on his face, but inside Meng Hao was very nervous. This was his first real battle, after all. He slapped his bag of holding, and three more flying swords appeared. They shot toward Lu Hong.
Lu Hong looked worried for a moment, but he didn’t hesitate for long. He roared, and then Meng Hao’s three flying swords met his Purple Yang sword.
Bang bang bang! The three swords shattered. And yet, the Purple Yang sword’s aura had diminished by at least half. More cracks had appeared on its surface, and Lu Hong looked incredibly worried.
Before he could do anything, though, Meng Hao nonchalantly slapped his bag of holding one more time, and three more whizzing flying swords appeared. He waved his arm, and another Flame Serpent congealed into being. The onlookers were all shocked.
“Meng Hao… He… He’s put Elder Brother Lu in a really tight spot. He’s actually at the fourth level of Qi Condensation!”
“He didn’t enter the Sect very long ago, and he’s already at the fourth level of Qi Condensation. He’s definitely at the fourth level, look at how he’s dealing with Elder Brother Lu. But, how did his Cultivation training go so quickly? What did Elder Sister Xu give him to help him so much? Dammit, if I had someone like that to rely on, then maybe I would be able to progress so quickly in my Cultivation.” The crowd buzzed, their faces filling with powerful jealousy.
Lu Hong’s face changed again, and he retreated, grinding his teeth. His fingers flickered again, and another Water Globe appeared. He’d never imagined that his opponent would have so many magical items.
A boom resounded as Meng Hao’s three flying swords broke to pieces, along with the Flame Serpent. The Purple Yang sword’s aura had now grown dark. But what shocked Lu Hong the most was Meng Hao’s expressionless face as he suddenly produced three more flying swords. Another explosion rang out as the three swords broke apart. But then, the Purple Yang sword let out a plaintive cry, then crumbled to pieces.
Lu Hong’s eyes went wide, and he staggered backward, spitting out gobs of blood. He glared at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao showed no emotion whatsoever, but inside he was extremely nervous. Every single flying sword was equal to a Spirit Stone. He waved his right hand, and yet another Flame Serpent appeared, roaring and twisting through the air around him. It flew toward Lu Hong.
Meng Hao shot toward the retreating Lu Hong like a rainbow, accompanied by the Flame Serpent. Yet another flying sword appeared, and in an instant, it was a meter away from Lu Hong, its sword aura glittering with death.
“You forced me to do it!” shouted Lu Hong, his hair in disarray, his clothes spattered with blood. From the day he had entered the sect until now, he had never been in such a bad situation. His eyes burned. With a growl, he tore open his robe, revealing a jadeite bottle gourd hanging from his neck. He poured into it all of the spiritual energy he could muster.
The jadeite bottle gourd began to glow brightly, and a droning sound filled the air. In the air in front of Lu Hong, the image of a massive bottle gourd appeared, many times larger than the one hanging from his neck. It was about half the size of a person.
Actually, Lu Hong’s Cultivation base was not strong enough to fully activate the bottle ground. The flickering image seemed as if it could dissipate at any moment. Before it could finish coalescing, Lu Hong spit out a mouthful of blood and retreated backwards again, his face deathly pale. And yet he still glared at Meng Hao with frenzied, murderous anger.
Even though the bottle gourd was not complete, the pressurized spiritual energy inside caused Meng Hao’s expression to suddenly change. Then, the illusory bottle gourd emitted a thunderous roar and a thick, green beam shot from its mouth, slamming through the Flame Serpent and inundating Meng Hao.
“This is a magical item given to me by Elder Brother Wang Tengfei. It can be used when one reaches the fourth level of Qi Condensation. But you’re just looking to die, Meng Hao, so you’ve forced me to use it early, and I’ve had to pay the price. You’re definitely dead this time.” Lu Hong started to let out a wild laugh, and yet the laugh could not leave his mouth; he felt as shocked as if he had been struck by lightning. He stared in astonishment.
The green beam slammed into Meng Hao, pushing him back about ten meters. However, it was blocked by a pink shield which surrounded Meng Hao’s body. When the green beam dissipated, so did the pink shield. It shrank into a pink jade pendant which Meng Hao held in his hand. Cracks covered its surface.
He gripped the jade pendant, cold sweat dripping down his back, fear lingering in his heart. If he hadn’t taken out the jade pendant Elder Sister Xu had given him, he would have been destroyed by the fearsome power of the bottle gourd.
“What magical item is that!?” Meng Hao looked at the jadeite gourd bottle hanging from Lu Hong’s neck, who was clearly severely injured. He leaped forward and snatched the gourd bottle, immediately putting it into his bag of holding.
“That was given to me by Elder Brother Wang Tengfei! If you dare to steal it, you will have to deal with his wrath!” Lu Hong’s countenance sank, and he began to tremble. He was filled with astonishment, never having imagined that the bottle gourd would be ineffective against this opponent.
“The Sect rules state that if you take something into your hand, it is yours,” said Meng Hao. He hesitated for a moment, but then decided that the bottle gourd was too powerful. He wouldn’t give it back. Enmity had been created which would be difficult to abate. Hatred in his heart, he stared coldly at Lu Hong.
“This isn’t the Public Zone,” said Lu Hong, his eyes filled with despair and fear. Raising his voice so everyone could hear, he said, “If you dare to kill me, it will be a violation of sect rules!”
“I, Meng Hao, will not violate Sect rules. However, you said yesterday that you would cripple my Cultivation base. So today, I will do the same to you.” Looking completely calm, he raised his hand and sent a flying sword piercing into the Qi passages of Lu Hong’s dantian, smashing his Cultivation base. Then he stood there amidst Lu Hong’s miserable screams, casting fear and awe across the entire plateau.