It was impossible to fly very high in this place, because the wind speed increased with altitude. Meng Hao saw one Black Sieve Sect disciple who tried to fly up directly toward the top of the tree. Before he got too high, he screamed, and his body disappeared into a haze of blood and flesh.
The wind continued to pick up. It seemed as if it were filled with sharp blades, as well as a hard-to-describe pressure that made the three thousand meter area around the tree seem like a wall.
When Meng Hao entered the area, he felt the intense pressure pushing against him. The closer he got to the tree, the thicker the spiritual energy got. Of course, he could absorb it, and the closer he got, the more quickly he did so. His eyes shone brightly.
“Moving forward must be very difficult for everyone else, but for me, this place is like a holy land of Cultivation!” He looked up at the enormous tree in front of him, which stretched thousands of meters up into the sky. “Just exactly… what kind of tree is this?” He could sense that the spiritual energy in the place was not the spiritual energy of Heaven and Earth, but rather, produced by the gigantic tree.
As all the Cultivators struggled their way toward the tree, up above the clouds in the sky, the members of the five Sects and three Clans watched on through the cloud vortex, eyes glittering.
They could see everything quite clearly.
Song Tian smiled. “Of all the heroes and Chosen of the various Sects and Clans that have come today, I wonder who will be the first to reach the tree?” The Nascent Soul eccentrics from the Sects and Clans all smiled.
“I’m afraid it’s difficult to say. I never imagined that that Song Clan’s search for a son-in-law would involve this treasured painting….”
“This tree must have been summoned by a will shard from the ancient World Tree. It was clearly painted by the ancient Daoist Grandmaster Shui Dongliu 2 when he gained enlightenment at the legendary location in which the World Tree destroyed itself. It is said that with sufficient enlightenment, the tree itself can be summoned. This is truly a precious treasure capable of summoning that which is ancient.”
Han Bei sat off to the side, observing the Nascent Soul Cultivators and their discussion. She looked for a moment at Meng Hao in the cloud vortex. Her face was calm, giving not even the slightest clue as to what she was thinking.
Li Shiqi stared at the tree created by the will shard of the World Tree, lost in thought.
The Nascent Soul Cultivator from the Black Sieve Sect was a middle-aged man. “The World Tree’s will shard is capable of releasing the legendary ancient Heaven-replacing spiritual energy,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is useless to Cultivators, and will only be an obstacle to them. However, with a suitable Cultivation base, and sufficient enlightenment, the World Tree could be placed in that world. What a truly precious treasure! Eventually, it could be possible for this treasure to help these disciples make a breakthrough in their Cultivation base.” As he gazed at the cloud vortex, his gaze lingered on Meng Hao.
He had noticed Meng Hao some time ago, of course, but had maintained his silence and done nothing.
“This tree is indeed a will shard of the World Tree. The painting is entitled Ancient Will of the World Tree. It was gifted to me by the Eighth Sea Lord of the Milky Way Sea when I was one thousand years old. I brought it out today for the purpose of helping these members of the younger generation gain enlightenment of ancient times, as well as to benefit all of you. This painting will not belong to me much longer.” Song Tian laughed, shaking his head. “I intend to give this painting as a gift to whoever is the next son-in-law of this generation of the Song Clan.”
This caused the other Nascent Soul Cultivators to stare wordlessly at the cloud vortex, their eyes shining brightly.
Suddenly, Eccentric Song, who sat several places down, laughed and said, “Patriarch, would it be appropriate for me to have a little wager with these Fellow Daoists in regards to who will reach the tree first?”
Elder Fan from the Solitary Sword Sect laughed heartily. He took a swig of alcohol and jeeringly said, “All of us will naturally bet on our own Sect’s disciples. Elder Song, who will you bet on?”
“I bet on HIM!” said Eccentric Song, lifting his arm and pointing toward the cloud vortex at…
All of the Nascent Soul Cultivators followed the line created by Eccentric Song’s fingers to look at Meng Hao. The eyes of the Nascent Soul Cultivator from the Black Sieve Sect sparkled.
The Wang Clan Nascent Soul Cultivator frowned.
Elder Fan from the Solitary Sword Sect laughed and gave Eccentric Song a meaningful look.
“Excellent, what are the stakes?” said the Nascent Soul Cultivator from the Blood Demon Sect, a withered old woman with a full head of silver hair. Her voice was raspy, like bones rubbing together. She smiled hypocritically.
“I put up this Soul Fruit!” he said. He flicked his sleeve and pressed his fingers down onto his forehead. After the space of a few breaths, the illusory image of a small, cross-legged figure emerged.
In the blink of an eye, the small figure coalesced into an object that looked like a Spirit Fruit. It emitted a delicate fragrance.
This was none other than a Soul Fruit, something that Nascent Soul Cultivators could congeal into being from their Nascent Soul, and could compare to heavenly materials and earthly treasures. Heaven and earth could produce Spirit Fruits, but to Nascent Soul Cultivators, their bodies were their own Heaven and Earth, and could naturally produce such fruits.
Soul Fruits are like good fortune from Heaven and Earth, and are the most precious treasures of Nascent Soul Cultivators.
Soul Fruits from others have replenishing powers, and to Nascent Soul Cultivators, are the most optimal source of healing and restoration.
Hearing Eccentric Song’s words caused thoughtful expressions to appear on the faces of the other Nascent Soul Cultivators. Not much time passed before all of them coalesced Soul Fruits of their own. Soon, eight of them hovered together in mid-air.
Eight Soul Fruits. To any Nascent Soul Cultivator, such stakes would be incredibly tempting. All of the Cultivators pretended not to be moved, but inwardly, they shook with excitement. They gazed through the cloud vortex at the various disciples.
Song Tian smiled and did nothing to prevent the proceedings. Of the two men sitting next to him, one was meditating with eyes closed, the other was closely watching the Cultivators in the cloud vortex, his face grim.
The Song Clan Dao Child, Song Yunshu sat calmly near Patriarch Song Tian. He said nothing, just smiled. Within his eyes flickered an intense light.
Eccentric Song seemed enlivened. His eyes shone as he gazed at Meng Hao in the cloud vortex.
“Alright, boy,” he thought, “I want to see the same skills you used that day in the State of Zhao. If you win, I’ll gift you with one of these Soul Fruits as a reward.” Because of what had happened in the State of Zhao, as well as various rumors he had heard in the Song Clan, Eccentric Song keenly anticipated Meng Hao’s performance.
As the people above placed their bets, the dozens of Cultivators down by the enormous tree continued to forge ahead. Because of the pressure pushing against them, they couldn’t move very quickly. But they continued forward nonetheless.
At the moment, the fastest of the group was Wang Tengfei. His eyes were red, and he moved forward recklessly. To him this was his only chance. If he joined the Song Clan, then he could start everything anew, and begin a new rise to prominence.
“Chu Yuyan, you slut. And you, Meng Hao! Just wait for me!” He ground his teeth as he pushed forward a few dozen meters.
After Wang Tengfei was Wang Youcai, who approached quietly. Behind him was a group of Cultivators including Chen Fan, who had taken the lead among them.
Fatty, with his entourage of protectors, moved along neither quickly nor slowly.
Meng Hao was obviously a bit behind. However, his expression was calm as he proceeded forward. Every so often, he would pause and cautiously suck in a bit of the thick spiritual energy around him.
Soon, an hour had passed. Wang Tengfei was only about thirty meters from the tree. Wang Youcai was roughly sixty meters away. Everyone else was about three hundred meters or closer. Up above in the clouds, Eccentric Song was getting nervous. Around him, the other Nascent Soul Cultivators began to smile.
Three hundred meters away, Meng Hao took a deep breath. He had been carefully absorbing spiritual energy the entire way. The effect was the same as consuming a handful of Sieve Earth Pills. Despite his caution, he was able to absorb more and more spiritual energy. Meng Hao’s eyes suddenly glittered.
“This is a rare opportunity,” he thought. “I might as well absorb all of it!” Determination filling his eyes he began to move forward. In that instant, a tremor ran through his body as he ceased to repress his four Perfect Dao Pillars. They began to rotate, and a buzzing sound echoed out within him. A massive vortex appeared around him.
The vortex instantly caused the surrounding spiritual energy to shoot toward him.
The water beneath him was whipped into a fury, and Meng Hao’s very body seemed to distort and grow blurry. Mysterious spiritual energy screamed into him, and his speed suddenly increased dramatically.
It wasn’t that he was aiming to increase his speed. However, as he moved forward, the spiritual energy grew more and more abundant. In the blink of an eye, he was not three hundred meters away from the tree, but two hundred fifty, then two hundred….
Meng Hao’s Cultivation base was gradually increasing. The outline of his fifth Dao Pillar was now completely visible and rapidly congealing.
Meng Hao started to get excited. He took a deep breath and moved forward even faster. Considering he had decided to recklessly absorb the spiritual energy, there was no reason not to absorb all of it.
This was Meng Hao’s personality. Even when he was a scholar, he had been like this. It was simply how he lived. Normally, he didn’t like to cause a scene. But sometimes causing a scene was unavoidable. When it happened, he would go all out.
His fifth Dao Pillar coalesced and his Cultivation base continued to climb. His eyes began to glow brightly, and his aura grew more and more powerful!
In the space of a few breaths, he had rocketed forward until he was only ninety meters from the tree. His sudden blazing speed was too incredible, as was his absorption of the spiritual energy. The surrounding Cultivators noticed immediately.
They saw the fear-inspiring vortex which surrounded him, and could sense him absorbing the thick spiritual energy which had been blocking them. It shot toward him at incredible speed, sending ripples throughout the entire world.
“What’s he doing….?”
“He’s… he’s absorbing the spiritual energy? That’s impossible!”
“How… how can he be doing that?”
The surrounding Cultivators looked at him with shock.
It wasn’t just them. Up in the clouds, all of the onlookers were watching the scene, their hearts filled with astonishment.
“He’s swallowing up the ancient spiritual energy!”
“What is he? What kind of Cultivation technique does he use to be able to do that!”
The eyes of the Nascent Soul Cultivators glittered like lightning as they watched Meng Hao. They were shocked to the core, never having imagined that they would see something like this.
Interestingly, even though they were Nascent Soul Cultivators who should easily be able to see a person’s Cultivation base, Meng Hao’s Dao Pillars were currently obscured from their vision.
It was as if some bizarre force were interfering, making it impossible for them to pick up even the slightest clue. The middle-aged man from the Black Sieve Sect watched thoughtfully, his eyes narrowed. He had noticed this strange obscuration of Meng Hao’s Dao Pillars even before he entered the cloud vortex.
As the alarmed Nascent Soul Cultivators watched Meng Hao’s advancement, the Song Clan Patriarch Song Tian looked at him, his eyes glowing brightly. In fact, his eyes hadn’t left Meng Hao from the beginning.
He stared wordlessly at Meng Hao in the cloud vortex, eyes flickering with surprise.
Eccentric Song laughed loudly. He also found the scene to be unbelievable, but on the other hand was incredibly happy. As his laughter rang out, Han Bei sucked in a deep breath, thinking about how Meng Hao had been able to enter the square cauldron even though the name Meng did not exist in the Nine Great Families.
Li Shiqi’s phoenix-like eyes flashed as she watched Meng Hao thoughtfully.
Down by the enormous tree, the spiritual energy roiled, causing the wild wind to grow in intensity. The wind buffeted Wang Tengfei, causing him to spin backward from thirty meters to about one hundred and twenty-five meters!
The others were blown back as well. With this reversal, Meng Hao was now the closest person to the tree, being only ninety meters away.
Wang Tengfei raised his head up and howled. He couldn’t accept such a situation. He pushed forward with all his strength. However, at that same time, Meng Hao took a deep breath and also pushed forward. He moved forward about thirty meters, and then another thirty!
In two short bursts, he was now only thirty meters away from the tree. Compared to the tree, he was like a cricket. The vortex around him swirled, causing the boundless spiritual energy in the area to suck toward him. The full shape of his fifth Dao Pillar was now visible. If he continued at this rate, he would most likely be able to complete it.
When he formed his fifth Perfect Dao Pillar, Meng Hao would definitely be… the most powerful person in the Foundation Establishment stage.
Whether it be Chosen or Dao Children, the entire Foundation Establishment stage would be like dry weeds that could be crushed beneath his feet!
The World Tree was mentioned in a few previous chapters, including Chapter 109, Chapter 158, and Chapter 160 ↩
Shui Dongliu’s name in Chinese is 水东流 shuǐ dōng liú – This is a somewhat odd name. Shui is a Chinese surname, which also means “water.” Dong means “east.” Liu means “flow.” So literally his name means “water flows east” ↩