“Different combinations of five elements will have different manifestations….” thought Meng Hao, having gained new enlightenment. He looked up at the pale-faced bandit Tribe experts and totemic Sacred Ancients. They wanted to kill him, but were now surrounded and cut off by countless neo-demons, and were severely weakened.
They really had no way to get to him. They were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of neo-demons. They couldn’t even reach Meng Hao, let alone… kill him.
“We’re defeated….” said one of the old experts bitterly. As of now, they knew they had lost and knew that Meng Hao fundamentally could not be killed.
Meng Hao was not an impulsive person, and despite his sudden increase in battle prowess, he would still act cautiously. They knew that he would only allow one of them to attack at a time, and would not presumptuously try to take them all on at the same time.
Facing up against an enemy like this caused these bandit alliance experts to be filled with a sensation of powerlessness.
As soon as the old man’s words echoed out, the scattered bandit Tribe members down below on the ground slowly began to give up. They ceased fighting back, and stood there silently.
Of the original 200,000 Tribe members, not even twenty percent remained. This battle had not been won single-handedly by Meng Hao. Rather, the unstoppable crushing power of the 800,000 neo-demons he wielded was a force capable of causing any enemy force to be moved.
Now that he had defeated the bandit alliance, Meng Hao did not continue to contain or slaughter them. He allowed the broken remnants of the Tribes to leave the battlefield. As they disappeared off into the surrounding plains, Meng Hao led the Crow Divinity Tribe, the Church of the Golden Light, the great Black Dragon Tribe and 800,000 neo-demons forward to stand in front of Blackgate Fort. He lifted his head up to look at the battlement up above.
“The Crow Divinity Tribe has arrived with a Demon Spirit!” he said slowly, his voice echoing out into the Black Lands!
Xu Bai stood next to Meng Hao. He looked up at the enormous gate leading into the Black Lands, took a deep breath, and said, “The great Black Dragon Tribe has arrived with a Demon Spirit!”
There was a brief moment of silence, after which…
An enormous rumbling could be heard as Blackgate Fort’s huge gate… slowly began to open!
As the gate opened, the crowds on top of the battlement looked down. Virtually all of the gazes swept over the people down below and came to rest on Meng Hao.
Conversations immediately began to spread out.
“It seems that from now on, the Black Lands is going to be a bit more lively than before.”
“This Meng Hao has an extraordinary Cultivation base and bizarre divine abilities. His totems are even more shocking. He can even slay late Nascent Soul stage Cultivators. He will definitely rise to even more prominence in the future here in the Black Lands!”
“The Western Desert Apocalypse has reached its culmination. It won’t be long before we will be able to see the sea from Blackgate Fort…. The Crow Divinity Tribe and the great Black Dragon Tribe slaughtered their way here from the Western Desert. They are the only two Tribes that actually gained entrance to the Black Lands this way with a Demon Spirit. Very unusual….”
Hearing their conversations caused Luo Chong to roll his eyes. He occasionally looked back down into the crowd of people below at Meng Hao. As for what he was thinking, it was impossible to tell.
Zhou Dekun’s expression was one of excitement as he looked down at Meng Hao, a wide smile splitting his face.
Duo Lan was frowning at first, but quickly caused her face to relax. She continued to look deeply at Meng Hao.
Next to her, Zhang Wenzu was smiling. Shaking his head, he said, “Five elements totems, combined together…. An interesting idea. Unfortunately, it’s only temporary. It won’t be long before it floats away like a rootless lily pad. He’s definitely not Chosen material.
“When I meet him in the future here in the Black Lands, I’ll have to help him understand why combining the five elements is nothing more than a joke.” He smiled.
At the moment, the massive rumbling continued to sound out as the gate finished opening completely to reveal an opening that looked like a door, roughly three hundred meters wide. Sunlight poured out from within. On the other side was the Black Lands. It was as if this door was the separating point between two worlds.
Xu Bai took a deep breath and then turned to Meng Hao. Clasping hands, he bowed deeply. “Brother Meng,” he said, “words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for your kindness. The alliance between the two of us will never change! For now, I, Xu Bai, will lead my Tribe into the Black Lands. After we have time to reorganize, then the two of us can find some time to chat!”
Meng Hao laughed and nodded in response, but didn’t say anything.
With that, Xu Bai led the thousands of members of his great Tribe toward Blackgate Fort. They quickly disappeared inside and entered into the Black Lands.
As the Black Dragon Tribe made their way in, Meng Hao looked back at the members of the Crow Divinity Tribe behind him.
After a long moment, his gaze finally came to rest on the members who had once been part of the Five Tribes. There were only a few hundred left. Wu Chen and Wu Ling were among them.
There was also the Greatfather who had burned his life force all those years ago. He was now very old, with not much longevity left.
Meng Hao looked at them. They looked back. No words were exchanged. After all the years spent together, they knew Meng Hao quite well. Within the silence was a deep melancholy.
After a long moment, Meng Hao smiled.
He looked at the few hundred former members of the five Crow Divinity Tribes, as well as the other Tribe members they had picked up along their journey. His voice warm and amiable, he said, “At long last I have led you here. Now, I deliver your hope to you.”
He had traveled with these people for many years, had fought by their side to reach this point. At long last, they had reached their destination, the great gate which led into the Black Lands.
The gate had been opened, and was just waiting for them to walk through it.
“You may continue to practice cultivation with my totems,” he continued. “In addition, I have branded the other totemic Sacred Ancients that we acquired so that the Crow Divinity Tribe may form totems from them.
“My vines… have recovered. I will give them to you as a protector and guard.” He waved his hand, causing a Thorn Rampart Vine seed to appear. He quickly branded it with a mission.
Protect the Crow Divinity Tribe!
After that, he gave the vine seed to the Crow Divinity Tribe Greatfather. The old man looked silently at Meng Hao and thought back to all the scenes from years past, and to what Meng Hao had said about giving hope to the Tribe.
All of the things that had happened flashed through his mind, causing his vision to blur somewhat as he looked at Meng Hao.
“Starting today,” said Meng Hao softly, “the Church of the Golden Light will be part of the Crow Divinity Tribe. From now on… the Tribe will not be called Crow Divinity, but rather, the Golden Crow Clan!” The members of the Crow Divinity Tribe began to tremble. It was hard to say who did it first, but they all began to drop to their knees and kowtow to Meng Hao.
No one spoke. However, the tears in their eyes and the looks on their familiar faces made clear their deep respect, fanaticism, and gratitude for Meng Hao.
Meng Hao looked at them and smiled. It was a smile that said, “The time has come to part.”
He turned and looked at Gu La. “Gu La…. Henceforth, you are free. Before releasing you, though, I must say that I truly hope you remain as a member of the Golden Crow Clan, to be their Dragoneer.”
Gu La trembled as he dropped to his knees and stared at Meng Hao in a daze. On the long road of travel, his past grievances had long since vanished. He wore a strange expression at the moment, one filled with reluctance to part ways. After a moment, he lowered his head and voiced his agreement.
“I give you the Wild Giant,” continued Meng Hao. “Treat it well.” Meng Hao looked over at the Wild Giant. Throughout the years, it had been injured over and over again, and its body was now covered with scars. Despite that, it was mighty. It looked at Meng Hao with a blank expression, as if it didn’t quite understand everything that was going on.
“As for these 800,000 neo-demons, I will not take any of them with me. I give them to all of you, to form the backbone of the Golden Crow Clan’s battle prowess. I will personally brand all of them so that you don’t need to control them. They will be here to protect the Golden Crow Clan.” With that, he waved his right hand. Immediately, 800,000 neo-demons roared a shocking roar. Each one of them looked at Meng Hao, as if they were communicating with him….
Grievous whines could be heard from Big Hairy and the others, as if they were unwilling to separate.
Meng Hao looked at the Greenwood Wolves with a soft smile. He thought back to all the years ago when he had joined the five Crow Divinity Tribes, and had first laid eyes on the five Greenwood Wolf pups.
He could still remember their plaintive yips after going hungry for a whole night.
He thought about how he ran out into the mountain forest to find food for them.
“You’ve grown up now,” he said softly. “You don’t need to follow me any more…. Where I’m going… the five of you can’t go.”
Their mournful howls seemed to cause the surrounding members of the Golden Crow Clan to be roused from their prostration. They raised their heads to look at Meng Hao with expressions of grief.
“Exalted Sacred Ancient, please, do not leave the Golden Crow Clan….”
“Exalted Sacred Ancient, can’t you stay with us in the Black Lands?”
“Without you, exalted Sacred Ancient, we would have long since perished on the way here. Sacred Ancient, the Golden Crow Clan will forever remember your kindness!”
Hearing the all their words caused Meng Hao to stand there silently for a long moment. Finally, he shook his head and looked at them earnestly.
“There is no need for you to thank me,” he said quietly. “Everything I did was to pay a debt of gratitude to the Golden Crow and the great tree. It was also my way of making an apology. Perhaps… this is Karma.” He waved his hand, causing one of the Demon Spirits he had sealed to fly over into the hands of the Greatfather.
“Take it and enter in the Black Lands!” He gave a deep look to the Golden Crow Clan, then glanced at the Black Lands. He knew that the remaining Demon Spirit he possessed would soon lead to conflicts. Deciding not to remain behind any longer, he turned his back on the Black Lands and strode off. Taking advantage of the temporary five elements combination, he quickly shot off into the distance and disappeared.
“Beloved concubine,” said the parrot, in a fair imitation of Meng Hao, “You stay behind here to recover from your wounds. Please take care of the Church of the Golden Light for me. Lord Fifth… will come back for you.” Looking both sad and arrogant, it flapped its wings as it shot off into the distance to follow Meng Hao.
“Haha! Freedom, bitches! My beloved concubine is too protective. I can’t deal with that. Finally I’m free…. Ah, the smell of freedom! How lovely!”
“Exalted Sacred Ancient!” As Meng Hao left, all of the members of the Golden Crow Clan turned and once again prostrated themselves toward him. After a long time passed, they slowly rose to their feet. Filled with melancholy, unsure of the future, they took their 800,000 neo-demons and entered the Black Lands.
Meng Hao’s departure caused the faces of crowds on the battlement above to be filled with shock. Zhang Wenzu’s pupils constricted. He suddenly realized that his judgement of Meng Hao had been completely off.
“Where is he going…?”
Duo Lan was shocked. Zhou Dekun stared with wide eyes.
Far off in the distance, Meng Hao proceeded onward. His expression was calm, his entire bearing completely different than it had been before.
“If I hadn’t chosen to go to the five Crow Divinity Tribes that year, the Golden Crow could have lived for another thousand years. My arrival was the sowing of Karma. The reaping of that Karma was the death of the Golden Crow. However, that reaping was another sowing. Because the Golden Crow perished, the Crow Divinity Tribes declined, and narrowly escaped being exterminated. They were nearly wiped away in the Apocalypse. That was a reaping of Karma.
“Sowing contains reaping, reaping contains sowing. Everything that happened before was all sowing. Karma was reaped after I led the Crow Divinity Tribe out of the north all the way to the Black Lands.
“It is similar to repaying kindnesses. The kindness is the sowing of Karma, and the repayment is the reaping of it!
“Karma is about cause and effect. I… understand now.” As he traveled along, his eyes began to glow with enlightenment. It was as if he could see the faint Karma threads attached to all living things!
Laughing, Meng Hao slapped his bag of holding to produce the Ji Clan fishing rod. As he cast it out, within his heart floated the sense of the Karma of all living things.
This chapter was sponsored by Brandy-Lee Dennis, Jerry Hou, LB, Aaron Stoute, Omar Hamad, Sebastian Weiß and Anonymous