Meng Hao took a deep breath. He lifted his head and was lost in thought for some time. Within his mind swirled images from that day within the cloud vortex in the Song Clan. When he’d stood on the enormous tree looking out into the emptiness, he’d seen words written and signed by Shui Dongliu!
A long moment passed. Finally, Meng Hao sat down cross-legged on the ground to examine himself. After enough time passed for an incense stick to burn, he opened his eyes, which shone brightly. It was clear to him that the Resurrection Lily had been completely repressed by some intangible force. It seemed to be asleep, sealed.
This effect was much more powerful than that of the Spring and Autumn tree, and would give him much more time to completely dispel the poison. Taking a deep breath he carefully rolled up the painting, and then clasped hands and bowed deeply for the old man.
“Many thanks for your assistance, Elder,” he said, holding his bow for the space of ten breaths before straightening. He had no idea why this old man had appeared, or why he had been waiting, seemingly for Meng Hao himself.
“Shui Dongliu….” After another moment, Meng Hao turned and headed to examine all of the secret rooms in the Immortal’s Cave. Everything that he could take with him, he packed away. Afterward, he went to the teleportation portal. Although he hadn’t studied teleportation portals very much in the past, he had used them several times. He pulled out a spirit stone and placed it into the middle of the portal. Gleaming light shined out, and soon, the glow of teleportation surrounded Meng Hao.
A droning sound filled the air, shaking the entire mountain. The light flashed blindingly, and then disappeared. Meng Hao also disappeared without a trace.
Southern Domain. State of Eastern Emergence, Violet Fate Sect territory. In the middle of the remote mountains was a towering peak, carved into which was an Immortal’s Cave. A radiant, glittering light appeared and then slowly vanished. Meng Hao immediately walked out.
He looked back at the abandoned Immortal’s cave and the run-down teleportation portal. Not sure whether he would need to use it again one day, he committed its location to memory, then disappeared into a beam of prismatic light.
As he flew along, a rippling glow suddenly spread out in layers over his body. When it faded, his appearance had completely changed. His skin was no longer dark, but rather fair and clear. He looked much younger, perhaps sixteen or seventeen years old, and emanated a completely scholarly and refined air. He looked completely different, even somewhat soft and immature.
“I bet all the Sects and Clans in the Southern Domain are looking for me, thanks to the Sublime Spirit Scripture incident. But now, I can infiltrate the Violet Fate Sect. Be it with the goal of dispelling my poison, learning alchemy, or to master Violet Qi from the East… I absolutely must join this great Sect.” His eyes filled with resolve.
Several days later, outside the Violet Fate Sect, in a city of Cultivators.
Violet Moon was a flourishing, bustling city, a hub of activity for Cultivators in the State of Eastern Emergence. This was especially true in the seventh month of the year, when the Violet Fate Sect held its yearly Pill Auction. During that time, the city usually was filled with even more Cultivators than usual. It wasn’t just the Sects of the State of Eastern Emergence that would come, but Sects from throughout the Southern Domain. Many would teleport here just to attend the Pill Auction.
The so-called Pill Auction was a massive convention hosted by the Violet Fate Sect to auction off medicinal pills. Master alchemists from the Violet Fate Sect would offer up their best medicinal pills. Not only would they make tidy profits, but it allowed them to show off their pill concocting talent to the rest of the world.
During the Pill Auction, even the Furnace Lords of the Violet Fate Sect would sometimes participate. When that happened, it would always cause quite a stir, and attract the attention of other great Sects.
After all, Furnace Lords from the Violet Fate Sect were different than normal master alchemists. Other Sects wouldn’t be able to raise up a single one, no matter how high of a price they paid. In the entire Southern Domain, only the Violet Fate Sect could train Furnace Lords.
Half the reason the Violet Fate Sect could become one of the great Sects of the Southern Domain, was because of its alchemists. The other reason was the fragment of the Sublime Spirit Scripture which gave them the Violet Qi from the East technique.
Because of this, the Violet Fate Sect was structured into two divisions. One part of the Sect was made up by the Violet Qi Division, the other part of the Sect was made up of the East Pill Division!
The Violet Qi Division practiced Cultivation related to the Dao of magical techniques. The East Pill Division was devoted to the Dao of alchemy. The two divisions both complemented and respected each other. Because of this relationship, the Violet Fate Sect occupied its current position.
This year’s Violet Fate Sect Pill Auction would take place in only a few days, within Violet Moon City. Currently, a young scholar of about sixteen to seventeen years old stood in the public square in the city center, gazing off into the distance at a mountain. The mountain glowed with a violet light that rose up to the heavens. It turned the entire sky a violet color, and from a distance, it didn’t appear to be a mountain but actually… a colossal mountain-sized statue!
The statue depicted an old man. In front of the old man was a pill furnace shaped somewhat like a mountain, as well as an enormous scroll, both of which emanated violet-colored light. With a mere glance, anyone could tell that this place was anything but ordinary.
This was the main gate of the Violet Fate Sect!
Next to the young scholar was a skinny, middle-aged man of about thirty years of age, with shifty eyes. He sighed emotionally and said, “That’s the Founder of the Violet Fate Sect. His Daoist name was Reverend Violet East. He’s long since achieved Immortality. However, the Daoist doctrines he left behind have been built upon down until this very day. They became the foundation upon which was built one of the five great Sects of the Southern Domain, the Violet Fate Sect.”
His eyes filled with veneration, he continued, “Later generations remembered his countenance and, using a mountain as the base, carved out that statue. The pill furnace in front of him represents the East Pill Division of the Violet Fate Sect. The scroll represents the Violet Qi Division. Together, they form the majestic main gate of the Violet Fate Sect. Beyond that gate are endless mountains, all connected with suspension bridges. It forms an amazing sight that outsiders aren’t able to gaze upon. That, is the Violet Fate Sect.”
The young scholar seemed to be completely wrapped up in the man’s words. However, deep in his eyes existed a cold light.
Naturally, this young scholar was none other than Meng Hao, with his new appearance. The skinny man next to him was a guide he’d found who helped strangers familiarize themselves with the city.
“If only I could join a great Sect like this, then I would be able to live without regrets,” Meng Hao said softly, gazing at the majestic main gate. His words were filled with longing.
“That’s pretty much impossible,” laughed the skinny man. “The Violet Fate Sect rarely recruits new disciples. Even when they do, it’s usually only from the Sects and Cultivator Clans within the State of Eastern Emergence. They almost never accept outsiders. If they did, the State of Eastern Emergence would be filled with people dreaming of joining. Young friend, it’s still early. What sort of things are you interested in buying, I can take you to find them?”
“There’s no need, I already found what I was looking for.” Meng Hao laughed, then took out a Spirit Stone and handed it to the skinny man. He gave him a slight bow and then walked out of the square.
The skinny man stared at him in surprise for a moment, and then pocketed the Spirit Stone. He had led the young man around all morning, showing him all around the city but not taking him to any markets whatsoever. Putting the matter aside, he walked off. There was still a whole afternoon in which to find other customers.
Meng Hao traversed the streets surrounding the public square. Halfway down one block, he suddenly stopped and glanced over at a nearby store. It was a medicinal pill shop. On the wall inside the shop, he could see some old, dried up medicinal pills, arranged to form the outline of a pill furnace. In the middle of the image of the pill furnace was an elliptical symbol.
Within the symbol were four dried up medicinal pills.
Nothing about it looked out of the ordinary or unique. However, after catching sight of it, a smile broke out on Meng Hao’s face. He walked around the corner into an alley. When he emerged, he was wearing a wide, bamboo hat and a long robe. He strode directly into the medicinal pill shop.
The shop wasn’t large. Other than the shopkeeper, there was no one else inside.
“I want one of these pills,” said Meng Hao, pointing to one of the low-priced pills on the shelf.
The shopkeeper opened his eyes and glanced at Meng Hao, then pulled out one of the pills Meng Hao had pointed to.
“This pill is useful during the fifth level of Qi Condensation. It costs seventeen Spirit Stones.”
Meng Hao grabbed the pill without even looking at it, and with the flick of a sleeve, sent it shooting toward the image on the wall. It immediately smashed into the middle of the elliptical symbol. Now, instead of four pills, there were five.
With that, he tossed some Spirit Stones to the shopkeeper and then left.
The shopkeeper watched all of this in surprise. Then his eyes began to glitter, and he clasped hands and bowed toward Meng Hao’s back as he walked off.
Time passed. Meng Hao had been staying in Violet Moon City for two days. On the same day that the Violet Fate Sect Pill auction started, he was sitting there cross-legged in the night when suddenly he opened his eyes and retrieved a jade slip from his bag of holding. It was glowing brightly.
This particular jade slip was an invitation medallion to a secret meeting! Recorded in the jade slip was a map, marked with the same symbol that was on the wall of the shop he’d visited earlier.
Outside, the moon was rising. Meng Hao put away the jade slip, and then left.
Soon, he appeared outside the same shop as before, wearing a wide bamboo hat, and voluminous robes. Without hesitation, he walked up and knocked on the wooden door.
After three knocks, the door slowly swung open. Inside was a nothing but pitch black.
His eyes flickered. After a moment’s examination, he walked in. Ripples flowed out across the surface of the blackness, as if it were water. Meng Hao saw a bright glow, and then he was in a different place. Up ahead of him was a princely palace.
This palace looked exactly the same as the place he had visited the first time he went to one of these secret meetings 1. An old man, hands crossed and folded up within his sleeves, stood outside the palace. He looked Meng Hao over wordlessly.
Meng Hao approached, pulling out the secret meeting invitation medallion. The old man lowered his head, and Meng Hao walked past him into the palace.
He could hear the sounds of singing and dancing coming from further inside, just like the last time. Beyond some ornamental rock displays was a pavilion, within which sat four Cultivators. All of them wore masks covering their faces, making it impossible to see who they were.
This chapter was sponsored by Fan from WA, Melvin Smith, Anonymous, Quentin Niven, Atmasatriani Mannan, and Cole Hausner
The first secret meeting Meng Hao attended was in chapter 140