Holy Snow City was much larger than Dongluo City, and was divided into an inner city and an outer city. The inner city belonged to the Frigid Snow Clan, whereas the outer city was for other Cultivators.
The cold climate led to frequent snowstorms. Because of this, the white, snowy scenery was something that you never saw in the southern reaches.
In the eastern section of the outer city was a row of mansions, each of which contained a Spirit Spring. Although the spiritual energy they emitted was not vast, in the Black Lands, such residences could be considered luxurious.
Each residence was self-contained, and was protected with spells to ensure that no unwanted visitors would be able to enter. Even more importantly, the protective spells were actually linked to the primary defensive spell formation of the entire Holy Snow City, making them incredibly powerful.
The people who occupied these mansions were guests of utmost importance. Of course, this was also where Meng Hao’s living quarters were arranged.
His mansion and its courtyard weren’t huge, but neither were they small. The Wild Giant currently was sitting like a small mountain, snoring gently. It would occasionally wake up, whereupon it would grab some meat from the big pile off to the side, pop it into its mouth, and swallow it down. If it ever woke up and found no meat around, it would open its eyes wide and roar.
“Meat…. Meat….” it would then say.
Whenever that happened, Meng Hao would grudgingly run out and find some meat. It didn’t take long for Meng Hao to start wondering which one of the two of them was the master….
In addition to the meat-loving Wild Giant, there was also a middle-aged man in the courtyard. A look of bitterness constantly covered his face, as if he had a bitter melon stuck in his mouth. After feeding the Wild Giant only two times, Meng Hao decided to pass on that holy task to this man.
He was none other than the Western Desert Dragoneer that Meng Hao had captured. Meng Hao had unsealed him, but had then forced him to consume a poison pill, preventing him from doing anything other than sighing and accepting his fate.
One of Meng Hao’s other requirements for the mansion had taken quite some time for Hanxue Shan to manage to comply with. Eventually, she had provided an assortment of lotus seeds, which Meng Hao catalyzed.
Now, the entire courtyard teemed with lotuses. Of course, ordinary lotuses could not grow here; these were snow lotuses.
Snow lotuses filled the courtyard with beauty. Oftentimes, Meng Hao would stare at the flowers for the entire day.
By observing their shape, he was able to sense their essence. By gaining enlightenment regarding the essence of the flower, he was able to improve his Lotus Sword Formation.
Such a life seemed strange to the Western Desert Dragoneer. However… Meng Hao eventually asked his name, as well as other information. He helped Meng Hao to understand what neo-demons were. And then, the heart of this middle-aged man named Gu La grew cold, and filled with despair.
That was because Meng Hao enjoyed studying. He liked to study blood, bones, flesh and totems. Each time he studied any of these things, it was like a nightmare for Gu La.
Meng Hao currently sat cross-legged in front of a lotus. As he studied it, information about Western Desert Dragoneers spun in his mind. “Dragoneers are split into nine ranks, with rank 9 being referred to as Grand Dragoneers. Neo-demons are also split into ranks, and they are simply bizarre creatures that lived within the Western Desert, which eventually came to be called neo-demons.
“After the ranks of 1-9 for neo-demons, is rank 10. Those are referred to as Earthly neo-demons. Rank 11 are Heavenly neo-demons, and rank 12 are… totems!” A strange light shone in Meng Hao’s eyes. Now that he had learned more about neo-demons, his understanding of the totems of the Western Desert was more complete. He was no longer completely ignorant.
According to the legends in the Western Desert, the totems of every tribe originated from rank 12 neo-demons, which could also be considered Heavenly neo-demons. Only neo-demons of such a high rank could become totems. After they did, then blood from their descendants could be used to draw totem tattoos. It was in this manner that totems were passed down from generation to generation.
A large tribe would have many totems. A small, weak tribe might only have one.
That was the origin of totems. You could say that all of the variety of different totems existed because way back somewhere in time, a rank 12 neo-demon had appeared.
“Just how powerful is a rank 12 neo-demon?” thought Meng Hao. There was no way for him to know, nor could Gu La explain clearly. He could only say that they were extremely powerful; as for the details, few people actually knew.
In the Western Desert, many Cultivators practiced totem cultivation. But the only people who could actually control neo-demons were Dragoneers!
In addition to studying totems, Meng Hao also continued to acrue enlightenment regarding the magical symbols in the Celestial soil. He almost did it by second nature. If he wasn’t engaged in some other research, he would spend his free time outside, trying to gain more enlightenment.
Soon, he had been in Holy Snow City for several days. However, the Frigid Snow Clan had not once mentioned the matter of the Frigid Snow Larva. In fact, they had also not mentioned anything about the concocting services he was supposed to perform. As the days passed, no one came to visit him. He was alone inside the mansion, almost as if they had forgotten him.
He wasn’t in a hurry. After his display of power in the battle several days ago, he was sure that the Frigid Snow Clan had plans to use him in some capacity. Someone would come to call on him eventually.
Furthermore, as the conflict escalated, especially when it reached the final stages, Meng Hao was sure that his poisons would only become more and more useful. He was the guest and they were the host, which would never change; however, as the guest became more powerful, the host would naturally be forced to yield some.
Therefore, Meng Hao enjoyed the flowers, studied totems, and gained enlightenment of Celestial soil.
Meanwhile, deep within the heart of the inner city of Holy Snow City, the old woman sat cross-legged with three others in the Frigid Snow Clan’s main temple hall. In front of them burned an oil lamp, which danced about in the cold wind, casting flickering shadows about the temple hall.
Those four people were the four Grand Elders of the Frigid Snow Clan. All had Nascent Soul Cultivation bases, and wielded much power in their capacity as administrators of the city.
One of the four was a gray-haired old man with a moon-shaped mark on his forehead. The mark glittered as he spoke. “I still disagree with Third Elder’s suggestion. Matters pertaining to Frigid Snow Larvae are very serious. Currently, there are only two that will be able to reach the larva stage. How could we possibly give one to an outsider!?”
These four had already been discussing the matter of Meng Hao for quite some time.
“I concur with Second Elder,” said a middle-aged man coldly. He had a grim expression on his face. “First of all, we don’t even know where that poison expert Cultivator is from. His Cultivation base is merely at the Core Formation stage, and yet he dares to boastingly demand a Frigid Snow Larva?! Most likely, he sees that Holy Snow City is teetering on the verge of collapse, so he figured he would come and try to extort things from us. In my opinion, we should just go kill him as a warning to others!”
“Look, we’ve been discussing this matter for a while now,” said the old woman. “Whatever this man’s objectives, for him to arrive at this particular time is obviously suspicious. However, in the battle a few days ago, he displayed powers that drew even my attention. Can we really shut the door in the face of such an ally? If we do, who else would dare come to our aid? Fourth Elder, you say that we don’t know where he’s from. But isn’t everyone in the Black Lands a Rogue Cultivator? How could he even prove where he came from?
“Furthermore, I already gave my word. I won’t go back on it. If his poisons aren’t effective, then it won’t matter. But if they help to assure victory, then the Frigid Snow Larva will be his!” Her voice was calm but powerful.
The main temple hall was silent for a while. The only Elder who hadn’t spoken so far was First Elder. He had white hair and ancient features. He was short and stooped, almost like a midget. Finally, he opened his eyes.
Immediately, they shone with a bright glow, causing the main temple hall to instantly grow brighter. It even seemed to suppress the light emanating from the oil lamp.
The instant he began to speak, all three of the other Elders, even the old woman, bowed their heads.
“Very well,” he said. “You three have been debating the subject for quite a while now. Before we make any decisions, let’s wait until Sir Zhou can identify the poison in that blood!”
Time passed by. Four hours later, footsteps could suddenly be heard in the temple hall. The four Elders lifted their heads to see an old man approaching. He wore a long black robe, and his face was filled with an expression of pride. As he walked toward them, he was followed cautiously by two young women. Their eyes glowed with fervent respect, as if a single word from this man could cause them to do anything.
As the old man entered the temple hall, Second, Third and Fourth Elders all rose to their feet, smiles filling their faces.
“Sir Zhou,” they said in greeting.
“Greetings, Fellow Daoists,” said Sir Zhou in a cool tone. His expression was haughty, as it usually was. His features were not ancient; instead, his face shone with a healthy glow. Arrogance seemed to radiate off of him. Obviously, he was used to occupying a lofty position, or at least, was used to people flattering him.
Were Meng Hao present, he would be incredibly shocked. He would recognize this old man. It was none other than East Pill Division Furnace Lord Zhou Dekun, who had been captured and taken to the Black Lands!
Despite their rocky start, Meng Hao had eventually developed a good relationship with old man Zhou, and the two of them eventually became good friends. He had taken Meng Hao to visit quite a few Cultivator Clans, where they had been waited upon hand and foot like royalty. The look on the man’s face right now was similar to how it had been back then.
His capture had worried Meng Hao, to the extent that after arriving in the Black Lands, he’d made some enquiries. However, no information had ever turned up. He had always assumed that Zhou Dekun was being tormented in some unknown location in the Black Lands….
However, it seemed that in all aspects, Zhou Dekun was even better off now than before. His aged appearance from before had been replaced by a ruddy glow. From the respectful, shy glances being given to him by the two young girls, it was clear that old man Zhou was like an old tree that had suddenly blossomed. Blossomed again and again….
“Sir Zhou, how goes the poison research?” said the First Elder with a smile. He remained seated cross-legged, but his expression was one of courtesy. He spoke to him as if he were an equal, despite the fact that Zhou Dekun was only of the late Foundation Establishment stage.
“Considering the level of my Dao of alchemy,” responded Zhou Dekun proudly, “there are only two people under Heaven who can exceed me. One is my Master, whom you all know of, Grandmaster Pill Demon! The other is my Junior Brother Fang Mu. Other than these two, I dare anyone to claim to be above me!” He waved his hand, wherein appeared a jade bottle.
“This poisoned blood you gave me is definitely extraordinary. It took several days of thorough research before I was able to completely understand it. In any other location, this person could be considered a Chosen of Heaven. However, in my view, he’s little more than a master alchemist. I could disintegrate his poison with a single breath! This man should know that the Dao of poison is not so simple of a subject. When it comes to the elite of the Dao of alchemy, there is only one person in the world whom I admire. That is none other than my Junior Brother Fang Mu. When his Bedevilment Pill appeared, the name of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron rose up. He could be considered the Patriarch of all poisons in existence!” He ended his speech with his jaw set proudly. Clearly, Zhou Dekun was implying that if his Junior Brother was so incredible, then his own power could only be imagined.
Serious and courteous expressions covered the faces of Elders, with the exception of the First Elder. Behind him, the two young girls gazed at him with looks of adoration.
This chapter was sponsored by Karen Nguyen, Pedro Pulido, ultramilkman, and Rudolph Arreola