The ground quaked, and the gray color had faded by ten percent!
Up in midair, the four Northern Reaches Dao Seeking experts were in the midst of magical combat with Patriarch Song and the others. When they saw the color changing down below, they were astonished.
“Dammit! How could he be so inhuman? He used his own body as the vessel to absorb ten percent of the curse power!!”
Meng Hao trembled as the curse power filled him. His flesh and blood constantly withered, and his Eternal stratum continuously restored him. Within a brief span, this cycle had already been repeated innumerable times.
It was an even more brutal sight than what had occurred when Meng Hao stood outside the Blood Demon Sect’s shield while fighting the four allied powers.
Blood oozed constantly out of the sides of his mouth, and even his eyes leaked black, viscous blood. His face was as pale as a corpse, and yet his hands remained planted firmly on the ground. The Blood Demon Grand Magic spun rapidly as it sucked the curse power from the ground.
His second true self was also trembling as he used all the strength he could muster to raise the gravitational force of Meng Hao’s Blood Demon Grand Magic to a shocking level.
The entire island was surrounded by a gray whirlwind, which emitted shocking rumbling sounds as it rotated, covering the entire lake and spreading out into surrounding areas. The endless curse power that had spread off into the distance was gradually sucked into the Blood Demon Grand Magic, and then into Meng Hao’s body.
The intensity of the pain that stabbed through him was impossible to describe. The cycle of withering and recovery seemed like the most vicious and painful torture imaginable. Soon, Meng Hao’s hair couldn’t be restored, and was no longer black. Instead, it was gray, and turning whiter by the moment.
“Have to go even faster!” thought Meng Hao. He gritted his teeth and then spat up a huge mouthful of blood. His body swayed back and forth, but his ten fingers were firmly planted on the ground as he sucked in curse power at an incredible speed.
The color of the curse was changing throughout the entire Southern Domain. In a short moment, Meng Hao seemed to have been reincarnated a hundred times. It was almost like his body didn’t belong to him any more; only his will remained as steadfast as ever.
Up in the sky, the four Dao Seeking experts from the Northern Reaches were completely astonished, and couldn’t help but gasp. They could scarcely believe what they were seeing.
The fact that someone could do this, could use their own body to resist the Hellwither Nineruins curse, and even absorb it, was beyond their imaginations. In fact, had any one of them been in that position, it would have been impossible for them to do the same.
From their perspective, Meng Hao was taking a huge, suicidal risk.
“Crazy! That guy’s crazy!”
“How could he not be crazy!? Today is his wedding day, and now it’s turned into a funeral!”
“He’ll die for sure. There’s no way his body can take it! He’ll turn into a pool of blood that will be an even more noxious curse!”
As for the hundreds of thousands of cultivators who had come to participate in the wedding celebration, their bodies were still slowly withering. Although Meng Hao was frenziedly attempting to absorb the curse, as long as the curse was still there, everyone would still be under its effects.
One face after another grew pale and aged. At the same time, Xu Qing… was trembling. She looked like a flower that would completely wilt at any moment.
Meng Hao’s heart was filled with a grief and indignation that was like a pent-up breath of frustration which could not be exhaled. It surged through his body, and his eyes turned red. Within his mind, a single thought revolved….
He had to do everything he could to absorb the entire curse!
However… it was apparent that ability of his body to recover from the curse was slowly lessening. In fact, his skin was already beginning to shrivel and parch. His Eternal stratum, even were it stronger than it already was, would be incapable of infinite recovery.
“There really isn’t anything truly Eternal in this world….” Meng Hao thought as blood flowed out from his mouth. He knew this, and knew that his Eternal stratum would be incapable of sustaining him in perpetuity. However, as before… he chose to continue to absorb the curse.
The color faded even more.
Not much time had passed, and he had already absorbed forty percent of the Hellwither Nineruins curse. As a result, he was filled with unspeakable pain.
His teeth were loosening in his jaw, and his skin was growing old. His bones were softening, and blood oozed out of his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. And yet to Meng Hao… none of that mattered!
He looked over at Xu Qing and took a deep breath. There was a vast amount of curse power built up in him already, to the point that the Eternal stratum couldn’t dispel it. His vital organs were now beginning to wither and rot.
At this point, Xu Qing’s eyelashes fluttered and she… opened her eyes.
She looked at Meng Hao and didn’t have the energy to speak. However, anxiety, deep concern, and anguish could be seen in her eyes. It was an expression that broke Meng Hao’s heart.
The wedding ceremony… had only been half completed.
Now, everything was gray… and the color of blood!
It should have been the happiest day of his life, but now… it was turning into a tragedy.
Meng Hao laughed. He lifted his head up to the sky and laughed. That laughter sounded maniacal, enraged, filled with intense discontent. Rumbling sounds could be heard from beneath his palms. His body was already nearly completely withered by the curse, and yet he continued to absorb it.
The ground changed color again.
Boundless curse power rumbled toward him. Meng Hao was a black hole at the center of the windstorm, absorbing everything.
Blood poured out of his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. His skin was tearing, and he was now sitting in the middle of a pool of blood. The accumulation of curse power within him was reaching a peak.
The Hellwither Nineruins curse contained incredible powers of withering. It withered the land, and also caused the cultivation bases of all the cultivators born in that land to wither. Now, that power was building up inside of Meng Hao. The Eternal stratum could not wipe it away, causing Meng Hao to tremble violently.
It was at this point that Meng Hao suddenly made unexpected progress. After all, he cultivated the Withering Flame Demon Magic True Self Dao. Within those seven characters was the ‘withering’ character!
As of this moment, he gained complete enlightenment of withering!
With the complete understanding of the ‘withering’ character, Meng Hao’s body rumbled, and the curse power within him began to shrink. It condensed into his blood vessels, his soul, his flesh, and transformed into… a ‘withering’ character divine ability!
At that moment, Meng Hao sucked in a deep breath as the Withering Character Incantation combined with the Blood Immortal Divine Ability. In combination with the frenzied assistance of the second true self, massive rumbling sounds filled the air.
The color of the curse throughout all the Southern Domain changed once again. Everything shook, and the four Northern Reaches peak Dao Seeking experts up above were further shocked.
“His body… his body is actually at Dao Seeking!!”
“There’s something strange about the technique he cultivates. This guy… this guy’s body can constantly regenerate!”
“He can actually absorb the withering power of the curse!!”
The four men only continued to be more and more astonished. In fact, even Patriarch Song and the others could hardly believe what they were seeing. The only one who wasn’t surprised was Pill Demon. He looked sadly at Meng Hao, as well as the lands below.
He was Meng Hao’s master, and he knew why Meng Hao was risking everything. Today was his wedding day, and his wife was on the same island he was.
“Unless he absorbs one hundred percent, the effects can’t be completely reversed….” murmured Pill Demon.
When Meng Hao absorbed sixty percent of the curse, the withering effect on the surrounding hundreds of thousands of cultivators was visibly reduced. Although they were still trembling, the effects of the curse seemed to have eased up a bit. When they opened their eyes, what they saw… was Meng Hao, coughing up blood, his body slowly dissolving.
Sixty percent… was not enough!
Meng Hao produced the lightning cauldron and attempted to pour the curse power into it, but it didn’t work. The lightning cauldron and the curse were two completely different things. He thought about using the Wooden Time Swords to afflict the curse with the passage of time, but doing that would also affect the curse power in the bodies of the Southern Domain cultivators.
Once the Time power activated, it might end things… but it would also cause the destructive power of the curse to be inflicted faster.
He thought of many other options, but none could resolve the problem.
The only thing left to do was to continue to absorb the curse power. He once again sent the Withering Character Incantation into operation. Once again the land rumbled, and the color changed.
The Withering Character Incantation was reaching its limit. With seventy percent of the curse power absorbed, even it was incapable of absorbing more.
Meng Hao had truly reached his limit.
His Eternal stratum was on the verge of fading away. His body couldn’t handle any more withering from the curse. He was ancient now.
Tears rolled down Xu Qing’s face.
The four peak Dao Seeking cultivators from the Northern Reaches had already been completely shaken by Meng Hao. However, now they could see that he had reached his limit, and they heaved sighs of relief.
“It’s over. He’s reached his limit. He can’t absorb any more!”
“He absorbed seventy percent of the curse power and yet didn’t die. The power of withering even seems to exist within him! As far as I can tell, this guy… is the number one figure in the entire Southern Domain!”
“To destroy the Southern Domain we must first destroy him! Damnation! There’s only thirty percent of the curse power remaining!”
Back on the island, Meng Hao saw the tears on Xu Qing’s face, and it seemed as if the entire world went completely silent.
He looked at her, and his life force ignited. His cultivation base exploded with power. The mark on his hand that had appeared in the past appeared once again.
He raised his head up and laughed. It was a shrill laughter that echoed out. Meng Hao was burning everything he had in one mad, desperate attempt to absorb more curse power.
“NO!” Xu Qing cried weakly, trembling. The moment she cried out was the same moment that Meng Hao made his final, crazed attempt.
The ground trembled and the color changed again, growing more faded.
After eighty percent of the curse power entered his body, Meng Hao attempted to absorb all the way to ninety. But then, his body trembled and he coughed up a huge mouthful of blood. Some sort of massive power pushed back against his palms, and he was sent tumbling backward. Blood sprayed out. He was now… incapable of absorbing any more curse power.
“Impossible!!” thought the four Northern Reaches peak Dao Seeking experts.
Without Meng Hao to absorb it, the remaining twenty percent of the curse power suddenly exploded out to inundate the hundreds of thousands of cultivators…. Their cultivation bases surged with all the power they could summon as they fought back. The result was… the curse power was reduced by another ten percent.
As of now, ninety percent of the curse power had been wiped away. Only ten percent was left behind. That ten percent seemed to erupt with unprecedented power. The hundreds of thousands of cultivators all coughed up blood.
However, there was an intense, murderous look in the eyes of each and every one. To these cultivators, the remaining ten percent of the curse power was no catastrophe. It was something they could bear. Furthermore, there was little weakening to their cultivation bases.
One by one, they stood up, and in their eyes was monstrous killing intent. In that moment, wild colors flashed in the sky, and the clouds churned. The four peak Dao Seeking experts from the Northern Reaches felt their scalps going numb. They were completely shaken.
It was only Xu Qing, still clothed in her red wedding dress… who coughed up blood and continued to grow weaker. Because of her body’s unique situation, even the ten percent of the curse power that remained could be fatal to her.
She suddenly began to topple over. Meng Hao, around whom swirled black wisps of death aura, immediately lurched forward and caught her in his arms. Filled with grief and rage, he carried her off into the distance, far from the raging war that was about to erupt.
He had saved the entire Southern Domain, but couldn’t save his wife. In his insanity, Meng Hao began to laugh with grief. Laughter that sounded like weeping echoed out across the lands.
This chapter was sponsored by Isaac, Christopher Choi, Quang Tran, Nazmul, Daniel Antoniuk, Pedro, Sven Salberg, Rawlric Sumner, Cole Hausner, Martin Jensen, Hal, Richard, Thomas Dixon, Dominic Samson, Avijit Wadhawan, John Rufino Aguilar, Griff-And-Or, Kari Yi, Budescu Ionut, Dan Gabber, Thomas, Potkeny, Nils Müller, Davis Won, Kenneth McCarty, Nich, Patrascu Gabi, David Jeltema III, Fiber Optic, Joseph, Andreas Asselman, ONI_Ghost, and Arkanth