The sects were shaken, and even the Ji Clan simply looked on from the sidelines. Not a single group from the Eastern Lands made a move. Some of the newcomers, upon passing through the Eastern Lands, were shaken by the draconic qi of the Great Tang. A few even looked a bit greedy and headed in that direction. However, as soon as they neared, the Great Tang’s ninety-five golden dragons roared, and those people exploded into hazes of blood.
That, of course, shocked all of the outsiders; even Fan Dong’er’s eyes widened.
After that incident, no one dared to even get near the Great Tang, but steered clear as they headed toward the mountain range that was their destination.
During all the commotion, two figures could be seen lurking in one of the mortal cities that existed in the vast Eastern Lands. They sat there slurping noodles and looking around with shifty eyes.
The mortals could not see all the beams of light that whistled through the air up above, but these two men could. In fact, they were looking at them quite closely, studying them in detail. They noted the location of their bags of holding, as well as any pendants or jewelry they wore.
“It’s too bad none of them have fur or feathers!” said one of the two, a young man. He shook his head and then slurped up a mouthful of broth. “Pay attention, Little Third. These people are definitely easy marks!
“In the days to come, we’re going to eat and drink to our fill, all thanks to these fat sheep, ripe for the plucking. Come come. Let’s pick one of them.”
Next to the young man was a fat man who suddenly pointed up into the air. “I pick him! One look and I can tell he’s a bad person. Immoral and completely shameless! He is obviously steeped in wicked deeds! Lord Third MUST convert him!”
The person he pointed at was a young man with an arrogant expression on his face. He wore silks and satins, and was surrounded by an entourage of attendants. He even wore a violet crown, making him look extremely powerful and extraordinary.
“Him? Alright. Now, use the method I taught you to turn into a hot babe.” The fat man’s young companion looked at the target with a wily glint as the two of them vanished.
Back in the deep mountains, Meng Hao sat cross-legged in the temple. His eyes suddenly snapped open, and he looked up into the sky.
“The time has come to begin the tempering that father talked about….” he murmured.
“The Immortal Ancient Daoist Rites Temple is a test. If I can pass it, and keep the bronze lantern from being extinguished, then a genuine Immortal Meridian will form in my body!
“I also want to see exactly how awesome these Chosen from outside of South Heaven actually are.” A bashful smile appeared as he thought about all the black-peeled pills he had arranged outside of the temple.
He closed his eyes and continued to wait.
Time passed. A few days later, many Chosen of the Ninth Mountain and Sea were now gathered outside the mountain range, studying the place from afar. Their expressions were somber; in their view, this place was full of mysteries. As they neared, they realized that the airspace up above was restricted, and as they proceeded onwards the restrictions on their movement grew even stronger. There were fatal dangers hidden around every corner that would lead to calamitous results at the slightest inattention.
Of course, anyone who came to this place had made some advanced preparations. The various sects and clans split up and spread out, choosing different routes as they made their way into the mountain range.
Some disciples among the crowd had grim looks on their faces. Apparently something had happened to them in the past few days that had nearly driven them mad. Whatever it was, they weren’t willing to talk to anyone about it, and could only grit their teeth and endure their frustration as they followed the other clans and sects into the mountains.
There were quite a few such disciples, several dozen in fact.
The holy Fang Clan, the Three Great Clans, the Three Great Daoist Societies, the Three Churches and Six Sects, and the Five Great Holy Lands, had all sent people here, with the exception of the Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite. In total, there were over a thousand people entering the mountains, clutching magical items in their hands as they attempted to be the first to make their way into the unsealed Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite Temple.
It didn’t take long for the mountains to begin to echo with the sound of magical techniques being employed. Soon, the restrictions in the air above made flight impossible for everyone. Of course, they were prepared for this. However, injuries and deaths still occurred. Nonetheless, as a whole, the group made its way ever closer to Meng Hao.
“The real contest isn’t on the road, but at the actual Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite Temple itself!”
“Whoever gets inside first will have the best chance at getting the Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite Medallion!”
“Other than the medallion, the Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite Temples always have Dao Projections passing down Daos. There will definitely be chances to get divine abilities and Daoist magics!”
“I’ll kill anyone who tries to compete with me!”
The Chosen of the various sects and clans proceeded forward with glittering eyes.
One of the Five Great Holy Lands was Mount Sun. According to the legends, the mountain had actually been magically transformed from a sun that had fallen out of the sky. All of the people in that area had experienced a sort of baptism, and were blessed with a special bloodline. That was how the Mount Sun Holy Land came to be.
When Lord Ji fought the Heavens, Mount Sun offered powerful support. Therefore, in later days Ji Tian conferred on Mount Sun the status of Holy Land.
There were a few dozen cultivators from Mount Sun in the group that had come to Planet South Heaven. The most impressive of all of them was a young man who was named Taiyang Zi 1. He wore a golden robe that made him look like an actual sun, and radiated intense heat that caused the land around him to burst into flames wherever he went. Quite a few fellow clan members accompanied him, as well as some elder Dao Protectors.
This powerful group charged forward at top speed, and were one of the first to get close to the temple itself.
Eventually, they found themselves in a valley. One of the clan members that was in the lead checked the surroundings and determined that it was free of any obstruction. However, as soon as they set foot inside, a huge explosion rippled out, and a black light shot into the air. The Mount Sun cultivator who was caught up in the blackness screamed miserably and coughed up a mouthful of blood as his body was tossed backwards. At the same time, seven or eight additional explosions could be heard echoing out through the mountains in quick succession. More bloodcurdling screams echoed out.
This gave rise to instant shock on the part of everyone.
Taiyang Zi’s eyes flickered with a serious expression. Everyone exchanged glances, then proceeded forward even more cautiously than before. All of the forces that had come to South Heaven were the same.
Among the Fang Clan cultivators, Fang Donghan’s face was grim, and blood oozed out of the corners of his mouth. He was the one who had just been injured by stepping in the wrong place. If he hadn’t leapt to the side as quickly as he had, he would barely be alive.
In another area, one of the Li Clan cultivators wasn’t so lucky, and was torn to pieces, destroyed in body and spirit. This filled the other Li Clan members’ hearts with horror.
The Ji Clan was moving very quickly, until one of their clan members made a misstep and was ripped to shreds….
Explosions rang out among the sects and churches, followed by bellows of rage.
All of these things were caused by the power of the restrictive spells that only grew stronger and more numerous as they neared the temple. Meng Hao himself had faced dangerous situations several times on his journey to the place, but with the help of the Immortal Ancient Daoist Medallion, had been able to avoid most of them with ease.
By now, Meng Hao could hear the explosions from his position inside the temple hall. He knew that this was a struggle over good fortune, and that hostilities were certain to occur. He took a deep breath, and the desire to do battle gleamed in his eyes. Finally, he stood up and poured some more of his blood into the oil lamp. It was something he had to do on virtually a daily basis, lest the flame flicker out.
Next, he left his second true self sitting cross-legged in the temple hall and walked out into the courtyard. When he reached the main gate and was just about to push it open, he paused, then headed back to the door that led into the temple hall. There, he dug a few holes and carefully placed some of the black-peeled medicinal pills inside. Satisfied with the results, he walked outside of the courtyard gate and sat down cross-legged.
It was time to wait for everyone to arrive!
“If there’s going to be a battle, then I’ll fight to my heart’s content!” he thought. He steadied his breathing, and as he did, the glow of a great Dao began to emanate off of him. There were no distracting thoughts in his head; only the increasingly strong desire to do battle.
His current state formed something of a resonance with his surroundings. All of a sudden, he saw images of cultivators fighting a decisive battle in the ancient Daoist rite temple.
As of this moment, Meng Hao almost didn’t seem to belong to the current world. He was back in ancient times, and was inundated by its aura. His entire person emanated an archaic air.
Coupled with his tattered gray garments, he seemed to be a part of the ancient temple which lay behind him. Anyone who looked at him would have a hard time telling whether or not he was from the modern age, or ancient times.
Several hours passed, during which time explosions rang out constantly. On a few occasions, seven or eight explosions could be heard at exactly the same time, causing the ground to tremble.
Because of all these things, the pace of the powerful clan members and Chosen of the various sects had slowed down to a crawl. Further, the closer they got to the temple, the fewer available paths existed, until there was only one left. Of the over one thousand people who had come, many were dead or severely injured. The survivors now looked at the tiny path that led up into the distance. Nobody seemed willing to go first.
“The fact that there are restrictive spells in this place isn’t surprising. However, a mere step activates the explosive devices under the ground. For some reason, they don’t seem like restrictive spells to me!”
“Is it possible that someone buried these things here on purpose?”
“From the looks of it, that’s exactly the case. That means that the person who buried these things must be up ahead!”
“Dammit! How pernicious! How many of those things did he set up…?”
“I don’t care who did it, when we get to the temple, he’s dead!”
As more people joined the crowd, more and more enraged curses could be heard.
Finally, Taiyang Zi of Mount Sun snorted coldly and stepped forward. His body shone with brilliant light, and his expression was indifferent. Quite a few people looked over.
“Of course they aren’t restrictive spells,” he said coolly. “They are black-peeled medicinal pills!” With that, he extended his hand. A bright glow appeared in his palm, within which was a black-peeled medicinal pill.
“I happened to dig this pill up from a location further back. There is a chaotic qi inside of it, very unstable. It’s obvious that someone buried them here on purpose.”
At this point, Zhao Yifan from the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto coolly said, “Ladies and gentlemen, these black-peeled pills do indeed contain extremely unstable chaotic qi, and it is certain that the path up ahead is riddled with pills just like this one. Why don’t we all join forces to clear the way?”
As a representative of one of the Three Great Daoist Societies, his words carried a lot of weight.
“The chaotic qi in that medicinal pill is very dense,” said Fan Dong’er from the Nine Seas God World. Her voice was calm and pleasing to the ear, and when the Chosen of the other sects heard her words, they exchanged glances and then began to nod.
Since everyone was in agreement, people began to produce magical items. Ripples that resembled a great Dao flowed out, and a sound like the roaring of dragons and phoenixes could be heard. Beams of light intersected, and the ripples merged together to become a powerful force that surged ahead across the ground. As it passed, it seemed to scrape away the ground itself, cutting out a path about a meter deep.
Figures shot forward as the Chosen employed all the speed they could muster to follow the path toward the temple that could be seen at its end!
When they arrived, they saw a figure sitting cross-legged outside the temple wearing a tattered robe. He emanated an ancient aura, and seemed as archaic as the temple itself. Within the temple behind him could be seen the manifestation of an ancient Daoist rite temple, leaving everyone completely shocked.
The cross-legged man opened his eyes, and he almost seemed to be looking out at ancient times. When he spoke, his voice echoed out, bolstered by an archaic aura.
“I’ve been waiting for you….”
Everyone gasped and stopped in their tracks.
Taiyang Zi’s name in Chinese is 太阳子 tài yáng zǐ. “Taiyang” literally means “sun.” Zi means “son” or “child.” Therefore, his name could also be translated “Sun Child” or “Sun of the Son,” or something similar. However, it’s literally his name, not a title, so I’m going with Taiyang Zi ↩