Several days later, in the border region between the Black Lands and the Western Desert, green-robed Meng Hao sat cross-legged atop the Wild Giant, which roared as it sped forward.
In the Wild Giant’s hand was a Western Desert Cultivator, his face awash with grief and indignation; this was none other than Gu La.
During the collapse of the city, he and the Wild Giant had been buried inside of the Heavenly Pit created by the magic of the black-robed Cultivator. The magic had disappeared, but the Wild Giant and Gu La had remained buried within.
If Meng Hao hadn’t remembered them, he and the Wild Giant would never again have been able to see the light of day.
The parrot was perched on Meng Hao’s shoulder, the meat jelly was, once again, attached to its ankle in the form of a bell. The parrot’s face was as wildly arrogant as ever. It proudly looked up into the sky, occasionally sighing with emotion and regret.
What it regretted was that Meng Hao had left the five thousand Cultivators of the Church of the Golden Light back in the Black Lands, in the former Dongluo City.
Wrapped around the Wild Giant was a vine. The vine was somewhat listless, and thorns would occasionally protrude from its surface and then sink back in. According to his previous idea, Meng Hao had the vine consume the Thorn Rampart seed he had acquired. Unfortunately, that made it temporarily impossible to control. At the moment, it seemed to be on the verge of death. It would definitely need some time to recover and completely absorb the abilities of the Thorn Rampart.
“The Black Lands is in complete chaos,” he said softly. He had been sitting perched on the Wild Giant for several days now as they traveled through the Black Lands. He had made quite a few inquiries, and now knew that after the fall of Holy Snow City, the only remaining city in the former United Nine had finally capitulated and joined the Black Lands Palace.
After a few days of hesitation, Meng Hao had decided to arrange for the Church of the Golden Light to do the same. The general course of events had already been determined, and to struggle against it was useless. Doing so would only result in being crushed and destroyed.
On the surface, it seemed as if the Black Lands Palace had unified the Black Lands. However, the truth of the matter was that the true great turmoil was just beginning.
Seven powerful Tribes from the Western Desert had openly entered the Black Lands, and seemed intent on completely transforming the place. Everywhere they passed was left in ruins.
Meng Hao muttered to himself, and his facial expression flickered as he looked off into the distance. He immediately sent out his will, causing the Wild Giant to stop moving. In the blink of an eye, it began to glow with a yellowish-brown light as it transformed into what looked like a hill.
This shape-changing art was a natural ability of Wild Giants. Even a Nascent Soul Cultivator would have to spend some effort to identify it now.
After enough time passed for half an incense stick to burn, piercing cries could be heard from off in the distance. A patch of black clouds soared through the sky, in the middle of which were several condors. Their eyes were red, and they emitted a putrid odor. They were surrounded by a mist of decay as they flew through the air.
Down below, a veritable sea of beasts caused the ground to shake as they ran along. Behind the sea of beasts sped several thousand Western Desert Cultivators.
A huge banner whipped about in the air above. The banner was emblazoned with the mark of their Tribe, an image of a skull, pale white and emanating an aura of death. This was one of the Western Desert Tribes which was invading the Black Lands.
After the Tribe disappeared off into the distance, the hill shape began to slowly transform back into the Wild Giant and Meng Hao. Meng Hao looked off toward the horizon and frowned.
“That’s the fourth Tribe so far,” he thought. This was indeed the fourth Tribe he had encountered in the recent days. “Is it because the Black Lands is part of the Western Desert, and that’s why Tribes are coming to occupy the area?” Meng Hao’s frown deepened. Something didn’t seem right about the whole thing. The passing members of the Tribe had looks of relief on their faces, which made Meng Hao question the situation even more.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter if there’s something fishy with these Western Desert Tribes. At the moment, I can’t go back to the Southern Domain, and the Black Lands is simply too small and in too much chaos. It’s not suitable for cultivation right now. The only place I can go to for the moment is the Western Desert.” He lifted up his head and looked off in that direction.
“The Western Desert. That’s my destination!” Having declined the offer made by the Frigid Snow Clan, Meng Hao was now convinced of where he should go next. Only in the Western Desert would he be able to continue his research into totems, and finalize his theory regarding the five elements. He would use pill concocting techniques to concoct his own Five-Colored Nascent Soul.
No one had ever gone down such a path before!
“Metal, wood, water, fire, earth. I need five totems, one for each of the five elements. That will be the foundation, just like the medicinal plants you need to prepare before concocting a medicinal pill!
“Unfortunately, the difference between Western Desert and Southern Domain cultivation is too obvious. They use the power of totems, the resulting aura of which is completely different. One glance, and they will recognize me.” A ponderous look appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes. Some of the most important aspects of Western Desert cultivation would be very difficult for a Southern Domain Cultivator to uncover. If he wanted to research totems, the best way would be to infiltrate the Western Desert under the guise of a Western Desert Cultivator.
He consulted with the meat jelly about this, but after helping him transcend the Tribulation, it was completely worn out. According to its explanation, it needed to rest for some time before it could provide any more assistance to the wicked and immoral Meng Hao.
Meng Hao even played his trump card and mentioned three bullies, which caused the meat jelly to tremble with excitement. However, tears also covered its face, as if it had seen some precious treasure, only to have it taken away.
Meng Hao sat there silently as the Wild Giant proceeded forward. However, a moment later, his eyes suddenly glittered and filled with determination.
“It seems that I really do need to work with Yan Song after all. He said before that he had a way around this aura problem. If he really has been working on this matter for years, then presumably, he is trustworthy.” His eyes flashed and filled with determination. 1
“With my current Cultivation base, along with the Bloodburst Flash and the Lotus Sword Formation, there is some distance between myself and the early Nascent Soul stage. However, if an early Nascent Soul stage Cultivator wanted to kill me, it wouldn’t be an easy task. If you add in the blood-colored mask… then I can definitely battle the early Nascent Soul stage!” He produced Yan Song’s wood slip and transmitted some Spiritual Sense into it. After that, he patted the Wild Giant on the head. It roared and then changed directions according to Meng Hao’s instructions.
Several days later….
In the border region between the Black Lands and the Western Desert is a region with endless mountain chains. In the middle of a dense forest was a stream with flowing waters that let off a silver glow. During the nighttime, this glow was particularly conspicuous to anyone who was able to use a particular method of rotating the Cultivation base.
Currently, Yan Song sat next to the little stream, smiling at the two middle-aged men in front of him.
Both men had Cultivation bases at the early Nascent Soul stage. One wore a long blue robe, the other, a black gown. Along with Yan Song, they formed a triangle as they all sat there cross-legged.
“Fellow Daoist Yan, when will we begin?”
“No need to be anxious, Fellow Daoist Wang. There are still two other Fellow Daoists en route. Based on my calculations, they should be here within two days. When they arrive, we can begin.” 2
“Fellow Daoist Yan,” said the black-robed Cultivator in a cool voice, “you should consider this matter carefully. Every additional person will indeed increase the chances of success, but will also mean dividing the rewards even more.”
“Fellow Daoist Mo Li, don’t worry,” said Yan Song with a smile. “I’ve thoroughly researched our destination. I’m absolutely certain that the Spirit Severing Pill can be split between five people.
“I truly hope you are telling the truth, Fellow Daoist Yan,” said the Cultivator in the blue robe, the one named Wang. He laughed, but the threat in his words was clear.
Yan Song also laughed. His voice cool, he replied, “Fellow Daoist Wang, you saw the wood slip with your own eyes, and can make your own decisions. If you don’t trust me, then even if I tried to convince you, you wouldn’t stay.”
The Wang Cultivator gave a cold harrumph, but didn’t say anything in response.
The moon soon appeared, causing the three people to look up. Suddenly, off in the distance, a prismatic beam of light could be seen streaking through the darkness. Moments later, an old man appeared next to the three Cultivators.
This man’s Cultivation base was at the early Nascent Soul stage, and clearly at the peak, placing him above Yan Song and the others.
“Patriarch Transmutation, Li Tian!” said the Wang Cultivator, his eyes narrowing. A serious expression filled his eyes.
The black-robed Cultivator next to him, the one surnamed Mo, also had a grave look on his face as he narrowed his eyes.
The old man Li Tian calmly glanced over the two of them and then smiled. It was a sinister smile, filled with coldness.
“So Fellow Daoist Wang and Fellow Daoist Li are here. When we last parted, years ago, the both of you were already so intimate. Now it seems you’ve gotten even closer? When will I be able to toast you at your wedding feast?” His voice was grating, and his eyes radiated condescension.
When they heard his words, the two men’s faces didn’t change in the slightest. It seemed they were used to the man speaking in such a fashion.
“You have always paled in comparison to us, Fellow Daoist Li,” responded the Cultivator named Wang. “Throughout your years of Cultivation, it’s hard to say how many female disciples from various Sects you’ve ruined. You don’t even dare to step half a foot into the Southern Domain nowadays. You’re like a stray dog, constantly on the run. I guess you must enjoy that type of life, Fellow Daoist Li.” He feared Li Tian in his heart, but his words were incisive nonetheless.
Li Tian’s eyes glittered with coldness. He gave a gruff laugh but said nothing more.
Seeing that the three of them would speak no more, Yan Song cleared his throat.
“Fellow Daoist Li is a trustworthy person,” he said with a laugh, clasping hands. “On this journey into the Western Desert, all Fellow Daoists must work together.”
“Very well,” said Li Tian in a jarring voice that sounded like iron rubbing on stone.
Yan Song smiled and was about to say something else when suddenly, old man Li Tian’s face flickered and he turned his head.
Even as his voice was sounding out, a beam of blood-colored light streaked through the forest toward them. Within an instant, it was a dozen or so meters away from the group.
The appearance of this newcomer was too sudden. Yan Song, Wang, and Mo didn’t even sense anything until Li Tian said something. It was at that point that suddenly they realized something was amiss.
Almost the same instant that the newcomer appeared, Li Tian gave a cold snort. He immediately lifted his right hand to perform an incantation. Black strands of Qi swirled out to form a black crane. Emitting a piercing cry, it shot directly toward the blood-colored figure.
“Without a face,” said the blood-colored figure, waving its right hand. Instantly, an enormous face appeared. The face was indistinct but emanated shocking power. When the black crane slammed into it, it suddenly looked angry, and a booming sound echoed out.
The roaring sound caused Li Tian’s face to twist. Coldness still radiated out of his eyes, but now, within that coldness existed fear.
This chapter was sponsored by Garvin Desouza, Adam Cully, Anon, Daniel Dean, and Caleb Gleason
1.Yan Song is the alchemist from the Eastern Lands who came looking for Zhou Dekun in chapter 361. Later in chapter 370, he invited Meng Hao to go on a quest to find a Spirit Severing Pill ↩
2.Just to be clear, the surname Wang here is 汪, spoken with the first tone, different from the Wang of the Wang Clan 王 ↩