“You know, I heard Grandmaster Pill Cauldron has no beloved,” said Meng Hao teasingly as he looked at Hanxue Shan. “You never know, you might have a chance!”
Hanxue Shan turned her head to look at Meng Hao. She had a slight smile on her young face, which she quickly covered up.
“Look, I’m pretty close with Grandmaster Pill Cauldron,” he continued, smiling as he crouched down next to her. “If I make the introduction for you, it will probably help quite a bit.” The cold wind blew across his face and caused his hair to lift up, revealing his distinct profile. Beneath the moon like this, the slight darkness of his skin was not visible. There was something distinctly handsome about him, and also something slightly strange.
Hanxue Shan couldn’t keep a straight face. She laughed, giving Meng Hao a sidelong glance. Her eyes shone in a way that seemed to indicate her mood was lifting, and the despondency which had filled her the past few days was passing.
“It’s not like YOU’RE Grandmaster Pill Cauldron!” she said with a laugh. Then, she intentionally straightened her face again, as if she were enduring great suffering. She continued, her tone not exactly polite: “You’ve never even been to the Southern Domain, how could you possibly be familiar with him?”
Meng Hao scratched his head, then laughed as he sat down next to her atop the pile of broken rocks. Ruins and rubble surrounded the two of them, and the snow fluttered down from above. The cold wind whimpered as it blew past.
Meng Hao cleared his throat and allowed an unfathomable expression to fill his face, something he’d picked up from Zhou Dekun. “You don’t understand. Even though I’ve never met Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, we’re both Grandmasters of the Dao of alchemy, and have long since been friends in spirit. After you get to the Violet Fate Sect, when you see Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, ask him if he remembers the person he saw in the snowstorm that year.” He looked up into the sky with a look of reminiscence. It would have looked very realistic if not for the fact that he was looking at Hanxue Shan out of the corner of his eye.
Hanxue Shan covered her smile with her hand, looking at Meng Hao with her beautiful eyes. Seeing his expression, she couldn’t hold back her laughter any longer. When she laughed, it sounded like bells. The depression in her heart seemed to be dissolving.
“Alright, alright,” she said with a laugh. “After I get to the Violet Fate Sect, when I see Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, I’ll ask him exactly that.” Then winked and continued in a crafty tone, “I think I should probably add some information, though. I’ll remind him of something that person said in the snowstorm that year. He said, ‘Every time it snows, think of me.’”
“That sounds a little bit flirty….” said Meng Hao, coughing lightly. He laughed. “That’s fine, though. Ordinary people can’t understand the relationship between myself and Grandmaster Pill Cauldron.”
Hanxue Shan laughed again. “In Holy Snow City, that’s what two people who care about each other say when they part.” She laughed again, then rubbed her chest and straightened up.
“Alright, then, I forgive you,” laughed Meng Hao. He gathered together some snow from the ground and held it in his hand, watching it as it melted. It seemed the melting of the snow caused memories to rise up within him; he suddenly thought back to the Violet Fate Sect. The images of all the people he knew there began to flit through his mind.
“I wonder if they’re all okay….” he thought, looking off in the direction of the Southern Domain.
Seeing the manner in which he had picked up the snow, Hanxue Shan continued in a low voice, “Actually, I only admire Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, that’s all. The things I told you before weren’t really true. All I really want is a pill that he personally concocted.” Seeing Meng Hao smiling, her eyes turned hard and she earnestly added, “Just one pill would leave me completely satisfied.”
Meng Hao shook his head with a smile. He looked at her, so delicate and innocent, and then muttered something to himself. Finally, he retrieved a medicinal pill from his bag of holding. It was a Foundation Establishment Day pill that he had concocted some time ago. The quality of the pill wasn’t bad; it contained more than eighty percent medicinal strength.
“I’d like to offer you this pill as a gift,” he said. After a moment’s thought, he used his fingernail to carve the character “Snow 雪” onto its surface. Then he handed it out to her. “This medicinal pill is more valuable than one concocted by Grandmaster Pill Cauldron. The reason is not because of the pill itself, but rather, because it was concocted by me.” He smiled.
Hanxue Shan thought for a moment and then took the pill. She held it in her hand and looked down at it. She was about to say something when Meng Hao suddenly stood up.
“If you run into any problems in the Violet Fate Sect,” he said, “you can use that medicinal pill to gain an audience with Grandmaster Pill Demon. After he sees it, he will resolve whatever situation you’re in.” Meng Hao smiled as he spoke, but his voice contained hints of melancholy. As for Hanxue Shan, her eyes went wide. His words gave her the unconscious feeling that he was being intentionally mysterious.
“If Grandmaster Pill Demon asks about me….” before he could finish, Hanxue Shan suddenly interrupted.
“I’ll tell him that whenever it snows, you think of him.”
Meng Hao was taken aback. He could only imagine the expression that would appear on his Master’s face were he to hear such words. He couldn’t help but laugh out loud, a laughter that contained happiness. There was something beautiful about it, although no one could possibly understand what it meant except he himself.
Continuing to laugh, Meng Hao descended from the pile of rubble and began to walk off.
However, before he could take three steps, his expression suddenly flickered. Immediately, he dashed back, grabbed Hanxue Shan, and then Bloodburst Flashed away.
The instant he disappeared, a noiseless beam of mysterious light shot through the night to land in the exact position they had just been standing in. An explosion ripped through the air, causing the ground to tremble. The pile of rubble where Meng Hao and Hanxue Shan had just been standing on was transformed into nothing but ash drifting on the wind.
Some distance away, Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed coldly as he looked at beam after beam of light approaching from far away. Without hesitation, he held Hanxue Shan in his arms and retreated backward.
The rest of the Frigid Snow Clan members were instantly roused from sleep. The four Grand Elders, Hanxue Bao, and the more than two hundred Cultivators all leaped out of their beds.
“So, you want to wipe out the Frigid Snow Clan to the last man!” said Hanxue Bao wrathfully. His Cultivation base had fallen, and he was no longer an eminently powerful expert of the Spirit Severing stage. Now, he could only wield the power of the late Nascent Soul stage. As he spoke, he stamped his foot down onto the ground.
The ground rumbled, and cracks spread out in all directions. The earth showered up as a Thorn Rampart shield emerged. The shocking thorns spread out in all direction, and a massive roaring sound filled the air.
As the Thorn Rampart appeared, nearly a thousand Cultivators came into view outside in the snow. Among this group of a thousand, there were eight who seemed far more shocking than the others. No snow touched their bodies; even as it neared them, it was destroyed.
These eight were Nascent Soul Cultivators. Six of them were from the Western Desert, the remaining two being from the Black Lands Palace. It seemed this deadly attack on the Frigid Snow Clan was being led by the Western Desert.
The exterminating power of a Spirit Severing Cultivator wasn’t a threat that faded from people’s minds after only a few days. These people obviously dared to attack the Frigid Snow Clan because they knew its true circumstances.
Booms filled the air. The thousand Cultivators along with the eight Nascent Soul Cultivators employed magical techniques and divine abilities, constantly attacking the Thorn Rampart.
The ground quaked, and the Frigid Snow Clan Cultivators’ faces flickered as they stood there silently.
“No wonder they came so quickly,” said Hanxue Bao, his cold gaze coming to rest somewhere off in the distance, upon something no one else could see. “They’re benefiting from the augury of the Western Desert’s Constellation Tribe!”
Meng Hao approached, holding Hanxue Shan protectively. As he did, he heard Hanxue Bao’s words, whereupon he looked out past the thorns into the snowstorm outside. A moment passed, and then he blinked his right eye seven times. Immediately his view of the world changed. Everything became black and white. At the same time, out in the snowstorm, Meng Hao caught sight of a figure that he hadn’t been able to see before.
It was a man wearing a white robe with a hood that obscured his face. Ripples were emanating out from his hands and floating in front of him was a black bowl, within which churned turbid waters. It seemed to be some sort of magic.
The instant that Meng Hao looked over, it seemed the white-robed man sensed it. He looked up and directly at Meng Hao. Meng Hao’s heart trembled. What he saw were eyes with two pupils.
He felt something clawing at his heart, whereupon he immediately ended the technique he had been using. His vision of the world went back to normal.
“Do you see him too?” said Hanxue Bao, looking over at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao nodded seriously.
“The Constellation Tribe is one of the three great Tribes of the Western Desert. They excel at augury, and believe that all the stars in the night sky are Demons.”
As soon as he finished speaking, a rumbling sound could be heard. Outside the Thorn Rampart, three giants appeared in the snowstorm. Each one was over one hundred and fifty meters tall, and caused the ground to shake as they moved. They held enormous cudgels in their hands as they charged forward.
Up above in the sky, piercing shrieks could be heard as multiple Flood Dragons appeared.
Further off in the distance, glowing war chariots could be seen charging forward. Magic swirled around the eight Nascent Soul Cultivators, along with magical items.
“Ignore the outside world! Focus on activating the spell!” As Hanxue Bao’s powerful voice echoed out, the four Frigid Snow Clan Grand Elders, as well as the other Clan members, lowered their heads to look at the spell beneath them.
The Thorn Rampart shook and began to crumble. It seemed it wouldn’t be able to stand up against a combined attack like this for very long.
A sigh escaped the mouth of Hanxue Bao. He waved his right hand, catalyzing another Thorn Rampart seed, which grew out to fortify their defenses.
“It’s too bad that Constellation Tribe member is here. He’s really suppressing the power of the Thorn Rampart.” Anxiety seeped onto Hanxue Bao’s face. However, it was at this moment that a bright glow suddenly emanated out from below.
“It’s activating! Patriarch, the spell is activating!!” Frantic, joyful cries rose up from the Frigid Snow Clan members.
Meng Hao looked back and saw the glow of the spell in the ground growing stronger and emitting a bright glow. From the look of it, it would fully activate in quite a short time.
The Frigid Snow Clan members were starting to get excited. However, it was at this time that suddenly a huge boom filled the air. Everyone’s attention was drawn off into the distance. All of the magical techniques and items of the enemy were being drawn together to form into a massive glow of extermination that resembled a star. It was with indescribable speed that it shot forward, slamming into the Thorn Rampart and smashing it into pieces.
Hanxue Bao let out a growling roar. He lifted his right hand into the air, causing the Thorn Rampart to reform once again. He shot forward, flashing an incantation signal and then waving his arm. A tempest shot forward, roaring toward the star of extermination, slamming into it and destroying it. Blood sprayed from Hanxue Bao’s mouth, and he staggered backward, his face listless.
“Patriarch!!” Grief and indignation appeared on the faces of the Frigid Snow Clan members. Hanxue Shan gnawed on her lower lip, her face pale. After everything she had experienced, she was no longer afraid, just concerned.
Meng Hao said nothing. He looked at the dawn light spreading out, and the Western Desert Cultivators. A strange glow appeared in his eyes as he looked off into the distance.
“If my calculations are correct, any moment now….” His heart began to thump as he saw a soaring fog appear off in the distance.
“Have faith in the Lord Fifth, gain eternal life…. Three circles to the left, then three to the right. Shake those butts!” When the faint voice drifted across the air, a strange smile broke out on Meng Hao’s face. It continued to grow stronger until he started laughing.
This chapter was sponsored by Paul Venesky, ปาณัสม์ ธารไพศาลสมุทร, Teemu Joensuu, and Stanley Bertumen