Meng Hao’s words caused the surrounding Nascent Soul Cultivators of the Crow Divinity Tribe to sit thoughtfully for a moment before cold glows appeared in their eyes, and then killing intent. This was especially true of Elder Sun, who licked his lips, his eyes glinting viciously.
Meng Hao closed his eyes and then pointed his finger down towards the ground. Instantly, Demonic Qi shot up from the plain, swirling around to form a figure. This was none other than Meng Hao’s Demonic Incarnation.
The illusory figure contained Meng Hao’s Spiritual Sense. It flickered as a black cloak suddenly wrapped around it, turning it into a black-cloaked man.
The black-cloaked man floated there in the air, his facial features indistinguishable. Meng Hao’s voice suddenly spoke out from within the hood: “The Tribe as a whole, as well as my true self, will not move. I’ll send this clone ahead to that alliance.”
The surrounding Nascent Soul Cultivators nodded. Regarding Meng Hao’s bizarre divine abilities, they were already used to them. To them, it was simply how things should be.
The black-cloaked figure turned to Elder Sun. “You’ve traveled through this area before, Elder Sun. Why don’t you accompany me on this little expedition?”
Elder Sun took a deep breath as he rose to his feet and then bowed.
The Greatfather of the Crow Divinity Tribe also rose to his feet. He produced a bag of holding which he handed over to Meng Hao. This bag of holding contained a portion of the Tribe’s Spirit Stones and other resources.
Meng Hao’s black-cloaked Demonic Incarnation turned and flew off into the sky, followed by Elder Sun. In the blink of an eye, they turned into beams of colorful light that shot off into the distance.
After the Demonic Incarnation left, Meng Hao, who was still seated there cross-legged, opened his eyes.
“We’ll rest and reorganize here for a few days,” said Meng Hao coolly. “Afterwards, whether we engage in business or war will depend on the will of the Tribe.” Considering his position within the Tribe, his words actually counted as the voice of the Tribe.
The surrounding Nascent Soul Cultivators nodded, and the Crow Divinity Tribe began to station themselves in the area. This would be their first period of prolonged rest during the entire migration.
Meanwhile, Meng Hao’s black-cloaked Demonic Incarnation flew through the air of the Western Desert Central region, along with Elder Sun.
They moved at high speed, occasionally employing minor teleportation as they headed directly toward the alliance of Tribes.
A few days later, Meng Hao asked, “Elder Sun, do you have any former acquaintances in this area?” He’d come to find that Elder Sun seemed very familiar with the region. Occasionally the man would look around at the scenery with what appeared to be a wistful expression.
Elder Sun chuckled. “To be honest with you, exalted Sacred Ancient, I actually made a few enemies in this area some years ago. They chased me around, trying to kill me, which is how I came to be more familiar with the area.” Elder Sun was skinny and wizened, and had a mustache shaped like the character 八. On the left side of his face was a scar that stretched all the way down to his neck, making his appearance especially sinister.
Meng Hao nodded, and declined to make further inquiries. The two of them continued to fly through the air in beams of colorful light.
Time flashed by. They were able to move with incredible speed, traveling in ten days what it would take the flying machine one month.
Actually, it took that long because of Elder Sun. Were Meng Hao traveling alone using his Demonic Incarnation, it would only take five days.
One day, an area appeared up ahead on the plain. More than ten thousand tents were arranged in concentric rings around a city. They were densely packed in special patterns that made it look like a spell formation with protective powers.
The more than ten thousand tents were organized into groups that made up eight different patterns like sealing marks, which of course represented the eight different Tribes which formed the alliance.
The city was located in the very center. From his position up in the air, Meng Hao could see quite a few Cultivators coming and going. The whole scene was quite lively.
When Meng Hao and Elder Sun were about three thousand meters away, the voice of an old man suddenly called out from the direction of the allied Tribes.
“Welcome to the Eight Branch Alliance. We are an alliance formed by eight different Tribes, and are camping in this area for five months. During that time, flying is prohibited for three thousand meters in all directions. Fellow Daoists, if you have come to do business, then you are welcome here.”
Even as the words could be heard, an old man suddenly appeared in front of Meng Hao and Elder Sun. On his face could be seen some blotchy, brown marks. He looked over Meng Hao and Elder Sun and then continued, “I am Ou Yunzi. Fellow Daoists, you don’t look familiar. I’m curious as to where you might have come from.” After examining Elder Sun, his eyes came to rest on Meng Hao, whereupon his pupils constricted.
Ou Yunzi was at the early Nascent Soul stage, so the fact that he could not see the Cultivation base of this black-cloaked man caused his heart to fill with vigilance.
Seeing that Meng Hao did not plan to speak, Elder Sun laughingly clasped hands and said, “I am Sun Dahai. Our Tribe is migrating from the Western Desert North region, and are passing through the area. We heard that the Eight Branch Alliance built a city in the area, and thus decided to come trade for a few necessary items.” 1
Ou Yunzi’s eyes shifted away from Sun Dahai to look behind him and Meng Hao, where of course there was nothing. His expression ordinary, he suddenly smiled.
“The Eight Branch Alliance welcomes all Fellow Daoists who wish to engage in business. Welcome, both of you!” With a laugh, he turned and gestured welcomingly. The three of them descended to the ground and began to walk toward the Eight Branch Alliance.
“That fact that you managed to migrate from the Western Desert North region all the way to here indicates that your Tribe is definitely extraordinary, Fellow Daoist Sun.”
“Ai, there were many twists and turns along the way, and we experienced many things. But, let’s not talk about that. Fellow Daoist Ou, from the look of things, your Eight Branch Alliance seems highly likely to be able to enter the Black Lands. I offer you my congratulations.”
“Thank you for your auspicious words, Fellow Daoist Sun. May I inquire, what sort of items are you looking to acquire?”
“Oh, nothing special. Just some odds and ends, although if there are any neo-demon hordes for sale, that would be excellent.”
Laughing and smiling, Sun Dahai continued to chat vaguely with Ou Yunzi as they walked along.
The entire time, Meng Hao remained silent, allowing Sun Dahai and Ou Yunzi to feel each other out.
When they reached the border of the allied Tribes, Ou Yunzi smiled and clasped hands and watched as Sun Dahai and Meng Hao entered the city. Afterwards, a dour look appeared on his face.
Suddenly, a man’s voice could be heard: “Brother Ou, is there something fishy about those two?”
The air rippled next to Ou Yunzi as a man and a woman appeared. Both were middle-aged. The man wore a long scholar’s robe and the woman was dressed in a Lady’s gown. 2
Ou Yunzi glanced over at the two and then slowly said, “They say that they came from the North region. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about that Cultivator named Sun. As for the black-cloaked man next to him, I couldn’t see the level of his Cultivation base. Furthermore, his aura was cold and dark.
“In order to forestall any mishaps, I suggest we allow them to be on their way of their own accord and…” Before Ou Yunzi could finish, he was interrupted rather impolitely.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” said the woman in the Lady’s gown. “He couldn’t possibly be a Spirit Severing Patriarch. Even if he’s of the late Nascent Soul stage, he’s only one person. The net has already been cast out. When it comes time to draw it in, no mishaps will occur. Fellow Daoist Ou, there’s no need to worry.”
The scholarly looking man laughed, and his eyes flickered coldly. “He’s only one trifling person. Brother Ou, there’s no need to take him to heart. We will let the net remain cast a few more days, and then, according to the agreement reached by the Elders, we will draw it in. If those two really came from the North region, along with their Tribe, then we’ll be able to catch quite a big fish!”
The man laughed, and the woman continued, “When the time comes to draw in the net, their Tribe will be revealed, and will become resources for our Eight Branch Alliance. Then, our months of rest here will not have been in vain.
“All of it will just count as bad fortune for them! They won’t be able to blame anyone but themselves!” With that, the man and woman departed.
Ou Yunzi frowned. After a long moment, he shook his head. “Maybe I really am just thinking too much into it.” With that, he turned and disappeared.
After entering the city, Meng Hao and Sun Dahai split up. Sun Dahai had practiced Cultivation for many years, and was experienced and astute. He was adept in making discreet inquiries and collecting news, so Meng Hao decided to stroll about the city alone. When he saw all the people, and the proliferation of various shops and stores, he was astonished.
This place was quite large, and although you couldn’t say that it had everything, there was quite a variety of things to purchase, from neo-demon hordes, to powerful solitary neo-demons, even a quite a bit of rather shoddy medicinal pills. There were even flying magical items.
Unfortunately, there were no prices listed, only indications that these items could be purchased through auction. Even still, Meng Hao was able to get a feel for the majesty of the city. There were many Cultivators; it seemed the city could hold nearly ten thousand people, making the place quite bustling.
As he walked, Meng Hao’s pupils suddenly constricted as he noticed what appeared at first to be a simple structure, but was actually a luxurious shop. This shop happened to specialize in totems!
Different Tribes had different totem branding methods, and this place happened to sell a variety of such methods for a variety of prices. This shop instantly caught Meng Hao’s attention.
After careful examination, he found that most were relatively cheap, and were only designed for functionality, not for providing Cultivation base breakthrough.
After looking around for a while, he felt that he understood the city a lot better. About two hours later, he had managed to stroll through about half of the city, when suddenly, he stopped in place.
He had just sensed a bit of Demonic Qi coming from a shop nearby. After looking over, he was able to identify which shop; it was a place that sold totemic Sacred Ancients!
Perhaps a better way to say it was that these were incredibly powerful neo-demons that could be turned into totems!
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered, and he was just about to enter the shop when suddenly a man appeared in front of him. He was dressed like a scholar; this was none other than the man who had been speaking with Ou Yunzi earlier.
The man laughed and blocked Meng Hao’s way.
“Fellow Daoist, the things in this shop will be up for auction in seven days. If you want them, you can purchase them at that time.”
Meng Hao looked at the man with cold, glittering eyes. Without a word, he turned and walked away.
The middle-aged scholar’s pupils constricted. When Meng Hao had looked at him, the man had used Divine Sense to try to feel Meng Hao out. However, all the Divine Sense could make out regarding the black-cloaked man was rippling nothingness. It couldn’t pierce inside, not even the slightest bit.
“That man is very strange…” said the scholar, his eyes narrowing.
Meng Hao’s expression didn’t change as he walked through the city. However, deep within his cloak, his eyes gleamed with coldness.
“This place is pretty interesting. It seems almost everything is purchasable only at the auction…. Everything seems ordinary, but if you think about it carefully….”
1.Sun Dahai’s name in Chinese is 孙大海 – sūn dà hǎi. Sun is a surname. Dahai means “ocean.” ↩
2.Specifically, she is described as wearing the kind of casual garment that royal concubines or princesses would wear. Here are some pictures ↩