At this moment, the Song Clan Patriarch and Eccentric Song both stared at Meng Hao. In fact, without exception, all of the Song Clan members in the cloud layer were looking at him.
The attention of the Nascent Soul Cultivators of the five Sects and three Clans were all fixed on him as well.
To garner such attention showed how famous Meng Hao now was in the Southern Domain.
Members of the Song Clan such as Song Yunshu, as well as Han Bei, Li Shiqi, Li Daoyi… everyone’s attention was focused solely on Meng Hao.
The Chosen from the various Sects and Clans, regardless of their frustration or helplessness, regardless of what thoughts were running through their heads, were looking up at Meng Hao. Wang Tengfei, Fatty, Wang Youcai, Qian Shuihen, Lu Song….
Atop the tree, at the pinnacle of this world, Meng Hao stood alone, the focus of all the heavens.
As soon as he stepped foot on the top of the tree, he felt the boundless spiritual energy in the area sucking toward him. It was definitely enough to complete his fifth Dao Pillar. Far below the top of the tree, the massive sea seemed smaller; now it looked like a mirror.
Beyond the edges of the mirror, was nothingness…. This world was not limitless. In fact, in the midst of the nothingness could be seen what appeared to be handwriting, floating there faintly.
The ancient will of the World Tree; respect its strength, remember its intentions. Painted in the spot where the World Tree destroyed itself.
It was signed with three characters. Shui Dongliu.
“Shui Dongliu… could it be that this entire world is… a painting?” Meng Hao’s eyes flickered as he stared at the words. Then he took a deep breath and allowed the spiritual energy to flow into him. The instant his fifth Dao Pillar reached ninety-percent completion, a person suddenly appeared up ahead of him!
It was an old man who had the demeanor of a transcendent being. He wore a long, gray robe, and it was impossible to tell exactly how old he was. He was clearly ancient, although was impossible to tell how many countless ages he had lived.
Meng Hao could sense no ripples emanating from the man’s Cultivation base. It seemed as if he were a mortal, not a Cultivator. And yet, considering how ancient he was, how could he possibly be mortal?
The old man looked at Meng Hao, his face calm and filled with unspeakable dignity. It seemed as if even the Heavens would flee from before him.
The old man spoke, his voice cool, “The Heavens are not the Heavens, the Earth is not the Earth. The stars are eternal, and the Dao will always be!” His words floated out gently, much the same as his hair floated gently around his body. “This place does not belong to the Heavens, nor to the Earth. This painting of the World Tree contains endlessly flowing memories. Drink of them, and the great Dao in front of you will lead you to the utmost heights. Select a path upon which to approach me.” Suddenly, nine snaking paths appeared among the twisted leaves of the tree’s crown. They all led toward the old man, who stood only a few hundred meters up ahead.
Each path led to the same destination: the old man.
The old man lifted his hand. There between his fingers was a thumb-sized pearl. “Select a path upon which to approach me, and then take the pearl. Choose wrong, and you must start over.”
The pearl was white, and seemed to contain an entire world within its depths. Looking at it, Meng Hao noticed that it was not round. For some reason, it seemed to be the shape of a cube. It was very bizarre.
Suddenly, Meng Hao could sense the three-colored Resurrection Lily inside of him being suppressed slightly.
“Nine paths. And I have to pick one….” he frowned. By this time, Wang Tengfei and the others were approaching. However, they weren’t able to step onto the treetop. It seemed that there was some invisible force that prevented more than one person from being atop the tree.
Meng Hao thought for a while as he looked over the nine paths. He had no clue how to select a path. He looked at the man up ahead, and then his eyes gleamed. The man was holding the pearl with three fingers! After thinking for another moment, Meng Hao took a deep breath and then walked forward onto the third path.
The instant his foot stepped down on the path, the world seemed to turn upside down. A roaring filled his ears, and everything grew blurry for a moment. When everything became clear, he found that he was now at the very bottom of the tree!
He was only a few hundred meters from the surface of the sea, falling downward. His mind reeled, and he forced himself to a stop. Looking up, he saw Wang Tengfei climbing up onto the top of the tree.
“I chose wrong, so I have to start over….” He frowned. Selecting a path seemed to involve little more than random guessing. How could one pick, other than going through the paths one by one?
Meng Hao muttered to himself for a moment. Then, his eyes flashed as he saw Wang Tengfei falling down from the top of the tree like a shooting star. He, too, had failed, and had to start from the beginning, at the sea beneath the tree.
Meng Hao leaped into action, heading up toward the top of the tree at top speed. In the time it takes for half an incense stick to burn, he was less than three thousand meters away from the top. During that time, he witnessed over ten Cultivators falling down toward the ocean.
Meanwhile, up in the cloud layer, the Nascent Soul Cultivators watched on with furrowed brows. Having seen everything that happened, they broke into discussions.
“Nine paths. How can one know which path to choose…? It must involve careful observation. The answer doesn’t lie in blind luck, but with that old man!”
“He is not emanating any Cultivation base ripples, and yet emanates a profound air. Perhaps the answer to the riddle is hidden in the words he spoke….”
“No wonder this test requires careful observation. There doesn’t seem to be any clear solution. For the Song Clan Dao Child to have passed the test in two tries really is worthy of admiration.”
Han Bei looked at the scene playing out on the tree. Her eyes shined with interest. After thinking for a moment, she said. “The fourth path from the left!”
Li Daoyi’s eyes flashed. Having heard that the Song Clan Dao Child passed the test in two tries, he felt a sense of competition rising within him. He slowly said, “The fourth path from the right. That path doesn’t look special. But the leaves there are somewhat thicker. Furthermore, the old man seemed to pause slightly after every fourth word he spoke!”
Li Shiqi’s eyes also flickered, but she said nothing. She was lost in thought as she stared at the nine paths.
Song Yunshu’s expression was placid, but in his heart, he sighed. He had succeeded in two tries, but in fact, it had all been a matter of luck. He actually had no idea how he had succeeded.
Patriarch Song Tian laughed but said nothing. Hearing the discussions, he shook his head and fixed his attention to the top of the tree. Meng Hao was nearing it again.
Meng Hao moved quickly, and the three thousand meters whizzed by. The only people left at the top of the tree were Fatty and others from the Golden Frost Sect. Seeing Meng Hao approach, Fatty immediately made way for him.
Meng Hao nodded. Another person up above failed, after which Meng Hao’s body flashed and appeared for a second time on the treetop. By this time, his fifth Dao Pillar was more than ninety percent complete. There wasn’t much spiritual energy left, but Meng Hao was certain it was enough to complete the Dao Pillar.
He took a deep breath as he stood there atop the tree. He gazed at the old man, then recalled his words again as he looked over the paths again. Then, he stepped forward onto the fourth path!
He had made exactly the same choice as Han Bei!
However, the moment he stepped onto it, everything turned upside down, and he was again shooting down toward the sea beneath the tree.
“I’m really starting to dislike this place!” he thought, his eyes filling with both frustration and determination.
All of the Chosen from the various Sects and Clans who had failed once were now making their second attempts. And yet, one after another, they failed, falling downward just like Meng Hao.
Meng Hao went up to try a third time.
By this time, everyone was watching with strange expressions. They were all lost in thought, trying to figure out what they had overlooked. Which path was correct?
More discussions broke out among the Nascent Soul Cultivators.
“This place is very mysterious. These kids have all had two chances each, and between the lot of them, have tried every one of the nine paths.”
“Clearly, the correct path changes. The route is not fixed. It seems that luck does have quite a bit of a role.”
Han Bei frowned, continuing to look on. She was now starting to form another opinion on which path was the correct one.
“There’s no need to get anxious, friends,” said Patriarch Song Tian. He laughed. “To find the correct path, each person most observe matters carefully. It will all depend on their Dao Heart.”
Atop the massive tree beneath the cloud vortex, Meng Hao shot back upward. He was currently about nine thousand meters from the top of the tree when suddenly his Dao Pillar reached the point where it was only a sliver away from being completed. The same phenomenon that had appeared in the Xiao Clan, once again began to occur.
His body immediately began to wither. Thankfully, there was plenty of spiritual energy in this place. The unbridled gravitational power of the Dao Pillar began to absorb all of the spiritual energy, no matter how far away it was. Each and every bit of it rushed toward Meng Hao.
His face was ruddy as he felt his Cultivation base climbing upward. He shot upward, and was soon only three thousand meters from the top. His mind began to reel.
A booming sound could be heard, and Meng Hao’s face flickered as suddenly, a golden light began to collect inside of him. His Cultivation base started rotating, causing the light to shine outward. It seemed as if it wished to eclipse the World Tree!
Amidst the golden glow, streams of magical symbols appeared. They were indistinct, but the instant they appeared, they caused the entire world to be filled with a golden color.
Up above, looks of disbelief appeared on the faces of the Nascent Soul Cultivators. One by one, they stood up. “That’s….”
“The Sublime Spirit Scripture!” said one of the other Nascent Soul Cultivators breathlessly.
This chapter was sponsored by Fan from WA