As soon as it entered the mask, the meat jelly cried out in alarm.
“Th-th-that’s … a Yellow Springs Nine Burials Flag!! It already has three streamers! Evil! Profound evil!” Looking very stern, the meat jelly approached the gaping Li Patriarch. “Old man, it turns out you are evil incarnate! In the name of Justice, I shall convert you! You can’t be like this, it’s immoral. You won’t meet a good end this way….”
Meng Hao coughed lightly and then put the mask away. He let out a deep sigh, and his eyes glittered sharply.
“Yellow Springs Nine Burials Flag?” Lost in thought, Meng Hao was just about to fly out of the concealment of the forest, when he stopped. He hid his Cultivation base and narrowed his eyes.
His Cultivation base was at the mid Foundation Establishment stage, which meant that he could contend with Dao Children. However, he had no reason to do so. This area was the border region between the Blood Demon Sect and the Solitary Sword Sect. He must be very cautious, and not get carried away. He resolved to not forget this.
After the space of about ten breaths had passed, several colorful beams of light appeared in the sky overhead. Ten Cultivators appeared, each and every one standing on a flying sword. They all wore identical outfits, and looked very impressive and dignified. Their passage sent a roaring sound into the air.
Of the ten people, the three in the front were the most conspicuous. They wore robes of interlocking black and white. Sheathed swords were strapped to their backs, and the sword auras beneath their feet shined brightly, seemingly capable of slicing effortlessly through anything.
One of the three was a stately looking man of about forty years of age. He was at the late Foundation Establishment stage, and as he flew, his black hair whipped around him, interspersed with occasional strands of white hair.
Behind him was a young man of about thirty years of age with thin lips and a harsh expression. He had curved eyes like a red phoenix that radiated coldness. He was incredibly good looking, but seemed cold-blooded in nature. The sword under his feet issued a frigid pressure. He was at the mid Foundation Establishment stage, and seemed to be the picture of imposing power.
The last person appeared to be about twenty-seven or twenty-eight. His features were ordinary, but he radiated an air of righteousness. He was only at the early Foundation Establishment stage, but his eyes glowed brightly. He seemed to be filled with a powerful aura.
When Meng Hao caught sight of him, his mind flooded with memories. This man filled with righteousness was none other than… Meng Hao’s Elder Brother from the Reliance Sect, who had been taken away by the Solitary Sword Sect.
Years had passed. Yet here, right in front of him, was Chen Fan. He thought back to the day they had parted, and it seemed like a very, very long time ago. The Reliance Sect was no more, and the State of Zhao was gone. Meng Hao wondered if Chen Fan was still the same person he had been before. 1
He was silent as he observed the group of people. They were all disciples of the number one Sect in the Southern Domain, the Solitary Sword Sect. It wasn’t anything remarkable for the Solitary Sword Sect to appear here. After all, this area was a region of contention between the Blood Demon Sect and the Solitary Sword Sect.
Meng Hao knew about the constant friction between the two great Sects, as well as the occasional skirmishes that occurred.
Just as the group of people was about to disappear in the distance, Meng Hao’s expression flickered, and he looked back up into the sky.
Soon, he caught sight of ten beams of blood-red light whistling through the air. They were moving at top speed, kicking up a wind that buffeted the mountain forest below. Above the group of ten people were a handful of enormous creatures, flying along with them.
These ten Cultivators had grim expressions, filled with death. Killing intent circled around them and up to the beasts above them, who seemed to be feeding on it. The beasts roared and howled.
These, of course, were disciples of the Blood Demon Sect. Their speed was incredible as they passed over Meng Hao. From the direction they were heading, it seemed they were pursuing the Solitary Sword Sect Cultivators.
As they disappeared over the horizon, Meng Hao emerged from the forest. Muttering to himself, he looked at the direction the Cultivators from the two Sects had gone. Instead of flying after them, he stayed down into the cover of the trees to follow.
Meng Hao sped through the trees for the time it takes two incense sticks to burn. It was then that he heard the sounds of explosions ringing out. He increased his speed, and before long, caught sight of the Solitary Sword Sect and the Blood Demon Sect Cultivators locked in fierce magical combat. Booms echoed out, and ripples of magic spread out through the air.
To the Solitary Sword Sect people, a single sword was an instrument of death, incomparably sharp. As for the Blood Demon Sect people, their magic was ever-changing. Surprisingly, it wasn’t dominated by the color of blood; rather, they used an endless stream of techniques. The phantom beasts they controlled possessed extraordinary strength. There were only three of them, but they charged about violently, making them impossible to approach.
There were no Core Formation experts in the two groups of people. The strongest among them was of the Pseudo Core stage. The rest were all of Foundation Establishment. They fought back and forth wildly, surrounded by a bloody glow. Meng Hao watched as a few among them perished. At the moment, the Blood Demon Sect seemed to have the upper hand. Suddenly, though, the eyes of the Pseudo Core Cultivator from the Solitary Sword Sect flickered with a cold light.
“Solitary Sword Spell!” he shouted. The Solitary Sword Sect disciples, including Chen Fan, flew toward him. Their swords glittered shockingly. In the blink of an eye, the sword merged together to form a single enormous sword, three hundred meters in length. The massive sword shot toward the three phantom beasts.
An explosion rang out in all directions. The phantom beasts trembled and roared, and then one by one, disintegrated into nothing. The massive sword then transformed into hundreds of glowing sword beams, which shot toward the remaining Blood Demon Sect disciples, as well as… toward the ground, where Meng Hao stood.
Meng Hao frowned, and then leaped up into the air. He waved his right hand, causing a gale force wind to spring up. The approaching sword beams instantly broke apart into pieces.
Meng Hao’s appearance, and his quick dispatching of the sword beams, immediately attracted the attention of the surrounding Solitary Sword Cultivators. This was especially so of the harsh-looking young man of the mid Foundation Establishment stage, whose eyes radiated iciness. The sword beams that had shot toward Meng Hao just now had been under his control.
“This Blood Demon Sect villain harbors evil designs,” said the young man coolly. “Junior Brothers, hear my command. Snuff him out!” He seemed disinclined to even verify Meng Hao’s identity. His appearance here was enough for the young man to pass judgement on him.
As soon as the words came out of his mouth, the forty-year-old late Foundation Establishment Cultivator frowned. However, he didn’t intervene. The eyes of the surrounding Cultivators flickered with coldness as they charged toward Meng Hao.
At this moment, however, Chen Fan caught sight of Meng Hao. After a moment passed, his eyes filled with joy.
“Stop!” he cried, rushing forward with all the speed of the early Foundation Establishment stage. He passed the others, flying directly up to Meng Hao. “This is my Junior Brother!” he cried excitedly. “Everyone stop!”
His expression was one of intense happiness, almost trance-like, as he gazed at Meng Hao and recalled the past.
Meng Hao looked at Chen Fan and smiled. Chen Fan’s expression and words were filled with sincerity, and now Meng Hao was certain… he hadn’t changed. He was the same person he had been seven or eight years ago.
Meng Hao took a deep breath and then said, “Greetings, Elder Brother.” He clasped hands and bowed deeply.
Chen Fan laughed. He looked a bit different than he had seven or eight years ago, but his personality was the same. He stepped forward and embraced Meng Hao.
“Junior Brother Chen,” said the harsh-looking young man with a hypocritical smile. “How come I’ve never seen this Junior Brother of yours? I didn’t know the Solitary Sword Sect had a disciple such as this.” His voice was filled with sinister accusation.
Chen Fan frowned, standing protectively in front of Meng Hao. “Elder Brother Zhou, he’s not a Solitary Sword Sect disciple. He’s my Junior Brother from when I was in the Reliance Sect.”
Meng Hao didn’t say anything, and his expression was the same as ever. He wanted to see how Chen Fan would handle the situation.
“So he’s a disciple from a tiny, backwater Sect,” said Zhou, his voice sinister and yet leisurely. “He would normally be inconsequential. Yet here he is spying on us. He must take responsibility!”
The surrounding Solitary Sword Sect disciples exchanged glances, then moved backward silently. It seems this was not the first time they had seen conflict erupt between Zhou and Chen Fan.
The middle-aged Pseudo Core Cultivator sighed, looking at the two of them with an annoyed expression, and then glancing down at Meng Hao.
“Take responsibility?” said Chen Fan coolly. His eyes were cold as he stood there in front of Meng Hao. “Zhou Shanyue 2 , I would very much like to know exactly how you expect my Junior Brother to take responsibility? With me here, which one of you dares to cause problems for him!?” He slapped his bag of holding, and a small black blade appeared, about the size of a hand. It flew up to circle around his head.
Meng Hao’s expression changed to one of shock the instant he saw the blade appear. So did the faces of the surrounding Cultivators. The Pseudo Core stage man gasped.
Zhou Shanyue’s face immediately grew extremely unsightly. A look of jealousy filled his eyes as he glared at Chen Fan. His heart, however, filled with dread.
The blade emanated the fearsome power of Core Formation!
“Zhou Shanyue, I’m waiting for your response,” said Chen Fan calmly.
There were a handful of chapters in which Chen Fan appeared. Perhaps the most relevant is Chapter 34: Fame from 1,000 Years Ago, in which he befriends Meng Hao ↩
Zhou Shanyue’s name in Chinese is 周山岳 zhōu shān yuè – Zhou is a common family name. Shan means “mountain.” Yue also means “mountain” ↩