Outside in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, everyone was watching Meng Hao and discussing his progress.
“Maybe he’ll outdo Wang Youcai from earlier. Or who knows, maybe he won’t match up!”
“There’s no way he’ll come in behind Wang Youcai. From ancient times until now, less than a hundred people have ever gained enlightenment from more than 90 Immortal Ruins!”
“You can tell that this Fang Mu has terrifying divine sense and incredible willpower. The final creation of his divine ability will truly be a test of his intuition!”
In the palace in the starry sky, each and every one of the various Patriarchs were also staring fixedly at the screen that represented Meng Hao’s area.
While everyone paid such close attention to the screens, Meng Hao was standing atop a towering cliff. His eyes opened, and his expression was blank like before. Then he headed off into another direction.
Nearby the cliff were the ruins of an archaic temple. This was the 97th Immortal ruin he had gained enlightenment from, which then caused another dot of light to appear on his screen in the outside world. That immediately sent everyone into an uproar.
“97 Immortal ruins! This Fang Mu defies the Heavens!”
“I can’t wait to see whether or not he can create an even more Heaven-defying divine ability!”
“It’s not guaranteed. Of all the people who have done a similar thing, only Sir Fan followed up with a peerless divine ability!”
As for all the other people who were going about the trial by fire in the same way as Meng Hao, the person with the next greatest amount of Immortal ruins under their belt only had 83!
That was the young man in the mask. Had Meng Hao not participated in the trial by fire, he would definitely have been the complete center of attention in the previous stages, and would now be in first place.
Meng Hao’s appearance on the scene cast him in the shadows.
Currently, he had no idea what was going on outside his own world. His expression was one of determination as he gritted his teeth and continued onward. He left the 83rd Immortal ruin and then began to search for another.
As more time passed, they made slower and slower progress. It took a few days before Meng Hao finally regained his senses in the 97th Immortal Ruin. After sitting there cross-legged for some time, he slowly rose to his feet and made his way to a different location, a deep crater.
Glittering light could be seen deep within the crater, as if, years in the past, a meteor had smashed down here.
This was not a location that just anyone could find. Anyone who did find it would find it difficult to endure the pressure. Only Meng Hao, with his incredible divine sense and shocking willpower, was able to descend into the crater and then sit down cross-legged.
“98!” The crowds in the outside world were shocked, and the Patriarchs in the starry sky palace looked on with glittering eyes.
“After this, there’s only one more, and that will be all 99!”
“From ancient times until now, no one in the Spirit Realm has ever gained enlightenment from so many Immortal ruins on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking!”
“Who exactly is this Fang Mu?! Where is he from? If he can really pull it off, his fame will shake all of the Ninth Mountain!” The outside world was abuzz, but the palace in the starry sky was dead silent.
All of the Patriarchs from the various sects were paying close attention, and none of them were speaking.
As for the other competitors in the trial by fire, no one was paying attention to any of them. Even the masked young man, who had just reached the 88th Immortal ruin, was behind Meng Hao, who was clearly in first place.
Five days passed!
Meng Hao slowly opened his eyes. He looked exhausted, and even more blank than before. This time, he had teetered on the edge of not awakening. The crater was filled with chunks and fragments of stone, each one of which emitted different auras, which had combined together to transform into an ancient vortex that influenced the mind.
It was as if he had been experiencing a Daoist magic that came straight from an ancient era. Someone had waved a hand, and a star up above was crushed down into a meteor, which then slammed into the ground.
The massive blow had cracked the land, and shattered some of the heavenly bodies up above. In that instant, Meng Hao had felt as if his own divine sense were being ripped to shreds. It was only by virtue of his intense willpower that he was able to claw his way back to lucidity.
“More and more difficult….” he thought. “I’ve already gained enlightenment from 98 Immortal ruins. According to what Ling Yunzi said, there are a total of 99 Immortal ruins, and after that, an intact Immortal pavilion!
“But, after sending my divine sense out, I can sense the final Immortal ruin, but not any Immortal pavilion.
“Unfortunately, even with my divine sense, I’m only able to sense the general direction of that final Immortal ruin, and not anything specific about it. However, I have a premonition that it… is very dangerous!” After a moment, he stood up and walked silently out of the crater. After that, he stood on the edge of the crater, thinking.
He was currently hesitating about whether to continue onward, or just make his divine ability right here. By this point, he already had some ideas about what type of divine ability he wanted to create.
After a moment, his eyes shone with decisiveness. He was not the type of person to back down easily. Even if the danger was great, he was stubborn. Were that not the case, he would not have been able to travel the long path from being a scholar to possessing eighty percent of the power of a true Immortal!
“The more powerful the divine ability, the more stone steles will descend. And I need stone steles!” Meng Hao took a deep breath, ceased any thoughts of hesitation, then headed off in the direction of the 99th Immortal ruin, as indicated by his divine sense.
Although he didn’t know the specific location, Meng Hao was confident that he would be able to find it. He just needed to expend a little bit of time.
One day. Two days. Three days….
The palace in the starry sky was completely silent as the Patriarchs of the various sects looked on.
Then, an archaic voice echoed out within the palace. This person had not spoken at all yet, nor had he attempted to solicit recruits. It was an old man from the Kunlun Society.
“Can he find the 99th Immortal ruin? Actually, I’m very curious about something. This 99th ruin which is shared by all three Ancient Roads… what exactly does it look like?
“Fellow Daoists of the Three Great Daoist Societies, could you quell my curiosity?”
Were it any other sect that inquired about the matter, the Three Great Daoist Societies would pay no heed to the question. But the Kunlun Society was different. The three Patriarchs from the Three Great Daoist Societies exchanged glances, after which the old man from the Nine Seas God World spoke up.
“According to the legends, during the great war, the three exalted Paragons united all of the Immortal Ancient Doyens. They extracted all of the Immortal qi from the world and sacrificed it to a boundless spirit, which was the fallen… Pāramitā Heaven-Trampling Foundation!” 1
These words provoked a collective gasp from all of the Patriarchs. Looks of astonishment appeared on their faces, and some of them even rose to their feet.
“The legendary Pāramitā Foundation?”
The Kunlun Society elder’s eyes went wide. He said nothing, but from his expression, he was clearly shaken.
Time passed, and Meng Hao continued to search for the 99th Immortal ruin. More people created divine abilities on the three Ancient Roads. There were also people who failed, and chose to give up.
Seven days later, there were only seven people on the three Ancient Roads who had yet to create a divine ability!
Those seven people were now the subject of intense scrutiny. Everyone was watching to see what would happen. There was one person on the Ancient Road of the Nascent Soul, two people on the Ancient Road of Spirit Severing, and the remaining four were on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking.
One of them was the young man in the mask, another was the cultivator with the mosquitos.
“If anybody in this trial by fire can exceed twenty stone steles, it’s one of these seven!”
“See that one, with 90 Immortal ruins? His name is Li Yan, that cultivator with the mask. He’s yet another that has gained enlightenment of 90!!” 2
“This is really incredible. Now there’s a second person in this trial by fire who has acquired enlightenment from 90 Immortal ruins!”
There were many cries of shock in the crowds in the outside world as quite a few people began to pay attention to the masked young man, Li Yan. As for the Patriarchs in the starry sky palace, they too would occasionally glance away from Meng Hao to look at the masked young man’s screen.
Currently, Meng Hao was making his way through the world, following the direction of his divine sense as he searched for the 99th Immortal ruin. He had already searched for seven days, and felt certain that he had thoroughly explored all of the areas indicated by his divine sense. Despite that, he still hadn’t found the ruin.
“Just… where is it?” Suddenly, Meng Hao stopped in place. Frowning, he looked around silently, and then simply closed his eyes. He sent his divine sense out again, and could vaguely sense that there were Immortal ruins up ahead of him. When he opened his eyes, he saw nothing.
Muttering to himself, he closed his eyes again. Then, without opening his eyes, he began to walk forward. It was using this method that he proceeded on for about two hours until, suddenly, his body trembled.
He did not open his eyes, and yet, was able to see something incredible with his divine sense, right there in front of him.
He saw… nine bridges! 3
Nine incredibly shocking bridges that seemed to rise above the heavens. The sight of these bridges was unmatchably astonishing as they rose up into the air, each one higher than the one before it. They formed something that almost looked like a staircase, linking up into the boundless starry sky.
As he examined the bridges with his divine sense, Meng Hao gradually got the feeling that if someone could tread these nine bridges all the way to their end, then that person would definitely become matchlessly powerful.
Meng Hao’s body was trembling; there was an indescribable pressure radiating out from the bridges, something that seemed capable of crushing him in an instant. Right now, it wasn’t being sent out at full force, but rather, simply swirling around the bridges.
Even still, Meng Hao coughed up a mouthful of blood and staggered backward several paces. He had the intense sensation that these nine bridges were actually incomplete. Were they intact, then even looking at them would destroy him in body and spirit.
“What exactly are these bridges?!?!” he gasped, not daring to open his eyes. He carefully observed with his divine sense, and began to experience a vision.
He saw illusory images of things that had happened countless years in the past. He saw a figure that looked like a sun attempting to tread on the bridges. However, before he could get past the first bridge, he shattered into countless pieces.
He saw an old man with white hair, who radiated boundless coldness. He stepped onto the first bridge, then the second….
As he proceeded higher and higher, he became more and more powerful. In the end, all the colors in the sky and the land faded. The ninth bridge began to tremble, as if it couldn’t stand up to the old man’s steps.
The old man reached the end and stood atop the final bridge. Then he turned, and Meng Hao was able to clearly see his eyes. In that instant, Meng Hao’s mind filled with roaring.
Blood sprayed from his mouth, and he once again staggered back. When he lifted his head back up, he unhesitatingly opened his eyes.
As soon as his eyes opened, the nine bridges vanished. The air up ahead of him was absolutely empty, devoid of any object.
“This place is the location of the 99th Immortal ruin!” Meng Hao was panting, and his eyes glowed with a strange light. He wiped the blood from his mouth, sat down cross-legged, and rotated his cultivation base to begin healing his injuries.
It was at this point that, in the outside world, 99 dots of light appeared on the screen which represented him in the outside world!
Here is some more information about Pāramitā. Also, I translated Pāramitā as “resurrection” in the Resurrection Lily. When I first researched the Resurrection Lily, I came across references to Pāramitā in connection to the lily. It could have been translated Pāramitā Flower or Pāramitā Lily. However, the “Pāramitā Lily” is a real flower which (in real life) is sometimes called a resurrection lily, because of how the dead flowers once again bloom in summer. In any case, to forestall any confusion, the Pāramitā referenced here does not have a connection to the Resurrection Lily, and I think in this situation, Pāramitā is definitely the more accurate translation ↩
Li Yan’s name in Chinese is 离炎 lí yán – Li means, among other things, “depart.” Yan means “flame” or “scorching” ↩
This is not the first time nine bridges have been mentioned in the story. Check out chapter 437 ↩