As Ji Hondong’s words resonated out, the sky above Meng Hao’s head began to crackle with lightning. A bolt of lightning as thick as an arm shot down with incredible speed, heading directly toward Meng Hao.
The Violet Core within him rotated rapidly, bursting forth with boundless Cultivation base power. As it surrounded Meng Hao, his right hand shot upward. Massive amounts of Violet Qi appeared above him, transforming into a curved shield.
A boom filled the air as the lightning slammed into the shield, causing it to shatter to pieces. Immediately following, a third, fourth, fifth lightning shield… a seemingly endless numbers of shields popped into place to resist the lightning. Soon the lightning bolt was as thin as a finger. Meng Hao then spit something out of his mouth, and the lightning mist appeared. It immediately swallowed up the lightning.
“Time to finish things!” said Ji Hongdong with a cold laugh. He waved the bell again, causing a chiming sound to ring out. Immediately, within the black clouds in the sky above Meng Hao, three lightning bolts intertwined with each other, seemingly on the verge of exploding down.
A gleam appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes. He had already reached a good estimation of his true battle power; he had no Core Qi, but he was definitely capable of fighting someone at the peak of the early Core Formation stage who did.
However, he would not be able to secure victory; he would only be able to match blows. Meng Hao would have had the upper hand if he was fighting anyone other than Ji Hongdong, who possessed the bloodline of the Ji Clan.
If he were at this moment to once again encounter the azure-masked Black Lands Cultivator, defeating him would be a simple matter.
Realization flickered within him. “Were I to cultivate Core Qi,” he thought, “or acquire a Perfect Core… then exterminating the early Core Formation stage would be as simple as turning over my hand!”
He calmly looked at Ji Hongdong and said, “You’re right. It’s time to finish things.” He slapped his bag of holding, and the blood-colored mask appeared in his hand.
The mask of the Blood Immortal Legacy. The minimum criteria to wear this mask was to have Cultivation base at the Core Formation stage.
Above Meng Hao, the three lightning bolts were condensing, preparing to descend upon him. Meng Hao slid the mask onto his face. As soon as it touched his skin, a tremor ran through his body.
He instantly felt indescribable pain on his face, as if the mask were adhering permanently to his skin. At the same time, everything in his field of vision began to turn blood red.
An evil viciousness suddenly appeared in his mind, replacing his intellect. A billowing killing intent shot up, as if he had been bedeviled.
One word echoed in his mind: “Kill…. Kill…. Kill….” It seemed as if it were being spoken by an innumerable host of people, some men, some women, some old, some young. There even seemed to be the voices of animals and plants. It was if all living things were speaking that one word directly into his ears.
The world in front of him grew even more deeply crimson; within the space of a single breath, everything was completely red!
Within this world of redness, he felt his Cultivation base suddenly explode; he was still of the early Core Formation stage, but in this instant, he was able to form a crimson Core Qi!
The Core Qi was incredibly dense as it appeared above Meng Hao’s head. If you studied it closely, you would be able to see that this Core Qi did not belong to Meng Hao, but rather to the Blood Immortal Legacy mask!
With the mask on his face, Meng Hao looked utterly bizarre. There was even a sinister demonic aura about him. Ji Hongdong looked at the mask; there were no facial features on it, only two eye holes, where Meng Hao’s bright red eyes could be seen!
The redness of his eyes was the same color as the Core Qi hovering above him.
His green robe was now stained with redness; it fluttered about him, making him look like some sort of Blood Devil!
“What magical item is this?” said Ji Hongong, his expression flickering. An intense feeling of danger appeared inside him as soon as Meng Hao donned the mask. He actually had not experienced many things in life, so this feeling caused his entire body to tremble. Without thinking, he rang the bell in his hand once more. Above Meng Hao, the three lightning bolts shot down.
Meng Hao laughed. The smile produced by his laugh was obscured by the mask, but the laughter itself was grating. He began to raise his right hand up toward the three incoming lightning bolts. His hand clenched into a fist, and as he did, the crimson Core Qi above him transformed into a massive fist. A rumbling roar filled the air as it shot toward the three lightning bolts.
The resulting boom shook heaven and earth. The three lightning bolts collapsed into pieces. The sky above even trembled.
Ji Hongdong’s face fell, and his eyes were filled with veins of blood. The bell in his hand suddenly rang, and he coughed up a massive mouthful of blood. His expression grew fierce, and let out a shrill howl. “Let the will of the Heavens descend! Trial by Tribulation!”
As his words rang out, the clouds in the sky above Meng Hao suddenly redoubled, layer after layer. Within the thick blackness, nine lightning bolts appeared, seemingly congealing the will of the Heavens as they prepared to strike.
An aura which seemed powerful enough to destroy all living things suddenly spread out. A look of consternation appeared on the face of Xu Qing, who stood off in the distance.
It was at this exact moment, however, that Meng Hao spoke.
His voice was hoarse, and bizarrely mesmerizing.
“Without a face….” Meng Hao only spoke three words of the Blood Immortal Legacy’s divine ability. Without a face, a single word, the flames of war unify; Sundered clouds, a bloody rain, seas that cover the sky; Capture the gods, advance the troops, fire consumes the towers; Forge all spirits and bloodlines into the 9 killing powers!
These words actually contained nine Blood Immortal divine abilities; only by wearing the mask could they be utilized. Right now, a shocking magical technique of the Ancient Doom Clan, not seen for tens of thousands of years, suddenly appeared in Meng Hao’s outstretched hand.
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, the massive amounts of Core Qi above his head suddenly began to spread out, transforming into a massive face. The face had no features whatsoever, except for two eyes; it was nothing but a sea of red!
The left eye was also completely red; shockingly, though, within the the position of the right… was Meng Hao!
As soon as the massive face appeared, it shot toward the nine descending lightning bolts.
Everything shook; even though this place was not real, it could still be rocked by frantic insanity. The nine lightning bolts immediately shattered into pieces. The black clouds in the sky began to disintegrate, and as the face collided with the spirit-punishing Heaven, it too thoroughly collapsed.
This magic of facelessness transformed into a gigantic face, with an abstruse left eye and Meng Hao in the right, with no other features. It caused Ji Hongdong’s scalp to go numb, and filled him with the intense sensation of death that inundated his body.
“You….” Ji Hongdong was about to continue speaking, but his words caught in his throat. This was because at this moment, the magic of facelessness, transformed into the enormous face, suddenly appeared directly in front of him. Meng Hao, standing in the position of the right eye, lifted his hand up and seized Ji Hongdong’s neck.
His grip cut off Ji Hongdong’s words, causing the young man’s expression to twist. He wanted to struggle, but he suddenly found that his Cultivation base was suppressed; he had no way to fight back.
His eyes filled with terror and intense dread; he could sense Meng Hao’s killing intent. Its ferocity was without equal, and yet… he just couldn’t believe that in the lands of South Heaven, someone would dare to slay someone of the bloodline of the Ji Clan.
This concept was deeply rooted in his heart. It was something that had existed within him since he was very small. At the moment, he was in a crisis, but his fear quickly disappeared, only to be replaced with grimness. He glared at Meng Hao, and a snide smile appeared on his face.
He couldn’t speak, but his eyes spoke the words: “Do you dare to kill me?” The message was immediately transmitted into Meng Hao’s heart.
He did not beg for mercy, nor did he speak any ingratiating words. In this moment of life and death, he could not forget about the dignity and nobility of the bloodline of the Ji Clan. He lifted his chin and stared coldly at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao was quiet for a moment, then hoarsely said, “I really… don’t want to kill you….” The redness in his eyes began to fade, replaced instead with that which was Meng Hao.
Hearing this, a cold smile twisted Ji Hongdong’s lips. Suddenly, Meng Hao’s right hand tightened. A popping sound could be heard, and Ji Hongdong’s eyes went wide. His neck was smashed into nothing; the power of the Blood Immortal which coursed through Meng Hao’s hand, suddenly poured into Ji Hongdong’s body. He trembled, and his body immediately began to wither. All the blood in his body congealed into his forehead; a mark of blood appeared, congealing into a collection of the bloodline of the Ji Clan, which suddenly flew out into the air!
The blood merged into the forehead of the mask that Meng Hao wore. The mask rippled, as if it were excited. Meng Hao loosened his grip, dropping Ji Hongdong’s remains.
He closed his eyes, then lifted his right hand to remove the mask. When it came off, it revealed how pale Meng Hao’s face was. The power of the mask was shocking. Were Meng Hao’s Spiritual Sense not as powerful as it was, then he would never have been able to maintain control of his own mind.
In the short period that he had wielded the power of the mask, he realized that he had lost half of a sixty-year cycle of longevity.
The price of wearing the mask was extremely high.
Meng Hao turned to Xu Qing, his face pale. Biting down on his lip, he softly said, “We’re safe now. No one will know your secret.”
Xu Qing stared blankly at Meng Hao, her eyes filling with tears. She was a simple person, but she knew the price Meng Hao had paid to protect her secret.
He had killed a Ji Clan member, and had thus provoked great calamity. In order to not implicate his Sect, he had forsaken it…. Now, he had no choice but to become a wanderer. He would never be able to return to the Southern Domain, nor would he be able to hide from the Ji Clan.
Furthermore, he was only a Core Formation Cultivator….
Xu Qing bit down on her lip, but couldn’t hold back the tears. They slid down her face, and yet, never touched the ground; Meng Hao lifted up his hand to wipe them way.
“Don’t cry,” he said, smiling. “There’s a long road ahead. Who knows when it is that we will meet again.” His face was pale as he smiled, which served only to imprint his words deeper in Xu Qing’s heart.
“I’m leaving now,” he continued. “This place will be collapsing soon.” He looked deeply into her eyes, knowing that after he turned to leave, they would be as separated as if one was alive and the other dead. Even if he made it out with his life, who knew how many years would pass before he could return.
When he was able to return, who knew if the beautiful woman who stood in front of him now, would still be the same as before.
But Meng Hao had no regrets. Ji Hongdong had to die. Be it for Xu Qing, or for himself, only Ji Hongdong’s death could assure their continued life.
Even if he hid Ji Hongdong’s body within the blood-colored mask, Meng Hao knew it would do no good against the power of the Ji Clan. In fact, the consequences might be even more severe.
Perhaps there had been a third path he could have trod; unfortunately, things had happened too quickly, and he hadn’t been able to puzzle out what that third path might have been. As far as trying to kill using Meng Hao’s identity, then live normally as Fang Mu, attempting that would show that he didn’t understand the terrifying power of the Ji Clan. That was his judgement based on everything that he had experienced.
Had he attempted to do that, then there was a ninety percent probability that the entire Violet Fate Sect would be sucked into destruction. That was a choice he refused to make.
Meng Hao turned, and as he did, he suddenly realized someone was embracing him from behind. It felt soft and warm.
“I’ll wait for you,” said Xu Qing. Her voice carried persistence. Regardless of past, present or future lives, they would be together forever.