The crowds outside in the Ninth Mountain and Sea were staring with wide eyes and slack jaws. Their minds were completely and utterly blank.
“He gained enlightenment from 99 Immortal ruins, created two grand divine abilities, and caused a total of forty-eight stone steles to descend….”
“Never before has something like this happened, and perhaps it never will again….”
“Which Daoist Society… will he choose to join?!”
As the discussions raged, Meng Hao stood there, filling everyone with unprecedented shock.
That was especially true of the Chosen of the various sects. By now, the name Fang Mu was deeply rooted in their hearts, and to them, he was clearly the most powerful opponent they would ever face.
“His energy… is that of a true Immortal!” The Patriarchs up in the starry sky palace were all panting, and their eyes shone with light.
“Earlier he was clearly not a true Immortal. Could it be that after creating that shocking Paragon magic, he actually became a true Immortal?!”
“There was a legend in ancient times that creating Paragon magic would transform the cultivation base. It seems that legend is accurate!”
“No, he’s still not a true Immortal. He has the energy of a true Immortal, but lacks the Immortal root!”
As the other Patriarchs discussed the matter, the hope in the eyes of the three old men from the Three Great Daoist Societies grew even more intense. They did not speak, but they were all looking at Meng Hao. More specifically, they were looking at the area surrounding Meng Hao.
It was at this point that the old man from the Kunlun Society suddenly said, “This Fang Mu has already created a Paragon magic. Logically speaking, he should now appear on the altar on the Ancient Road.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the old men from the Three Great Daoist Societies narrowed their eyes.
By now, the forty-eight stone steles around Meng Hao had vanished completely. It was then that, all of a sudden, an ancient pavilion suddenly materialized directly in front of Meng Hao.
It was richly ornamented, and brimming with Immortal will. This was no ruin; it floated up above in the air, surrounded by green stone slabs and exotic plants. Its marvelous appearance made it seem like the only thing in existence.
Immortal qi swirled around it, letting off an ancient will, and a feeling of holiness. It was as if this place had at one time been a Holy Land.
The pavilion was decorated with carved black jade, and emanated intense pressure. It was the same feeling Meng Hao had gotten when looking at the nine bridges. In front of the pavilion was an enormous boulder, upon which two characters were written in calligraphy as flamboyant as flying dragons and dancing phoenixes.
The two characters were blood red, and shone with intense light. When Meng Hao read them, he could hear roars that truly sounded like they came from real dragons and phoenixes.
As for the crowds outside in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, they couldn’t see what was happening clearly, because the vortex screen depicting Meng Hao had suddenly gone blurry.
People began to cry out in shock.
“What just happened?”
“All of a sudden, we can’t see the screen!!”
Back in the starry sky palace, the Patriarchs from the Three Great Daoist Societies slowly rose to their feet. The other Patriarchs were staring in shock; they couldn’t see the images on the screen either. Apparently, the Immortal pavilion blocked the view of anyone on the outside.
The Patriarchs from the Three Great Daoist Societies had very serious looks on their faces as they looked at each other and then transmitted three sentences amongst themselves.
“He actually found it! Activate the spell formation and unleash the Heavenly communication magic!”
“I never imagined that, after all these tens of thousands of years of trials by fire, this day would finally arrive!”
“Throughout the years, our Three Great Daoist Societies have tried every means possible, but have been unable to even lay eyes on it, let alone acquire the legendary item within. According to our previous calculations, only people in the Spirit Realm can actually find the Immortal pavilion!”
Although no one could hear the three Patriarchs’ words, the old man from the Kunlun Society narrowed his eyes. After a moment of contemplation, his face suddenly lit up.
“So, it turns out that the Three Great Daoist Societies have repeatedly held this trial by fire throughout the ages, not just to recruit disciples, but for another purpose!”
Other Patriarchs apparently recalled something in particular and, from their expressions, seemed shaken. Despite their cultivation bases and abilities of concentration, they were still panting and trembling.
“Fellow Daoists from the Three Great Daoist Societies, this matter….”
The person who responded was the old man from the Nine Seas God World.
“This is a private affair of our Three Great Daoist Societies,” he said, his eyes shining with a strange light. “It has nothing to do with you, Ladies and Gentlemen. In a moment, the trial by fire will continue!”
Meanwhile, Meng Hao was looking at the Immortal pavilion. It had appeared in front of him quite suddenly, apparently in response to his creation of the Paragon magic.
“Ling Yunzi said that there were 99 Immortal ruins as well as an intact Immortal pavilion. Could it be that this pavilion is… the very one I was looking for before, but couldn’t find?” His eyes went wide.
After a moment of thought, he was about to step forward when, quite abruptly, an ancient voice was transmitted into his mind.
“Fang Mu, I am Ling Yunzi of the Nine Seas God World. I represent all of the Three Great Daoist Societies to pass a message to you. Use whatever means necessary to enter the Immortal pavilion and bring out a Feng Shui compass that rests inside. If you do, the Three Great Daoist Societies are willing to give you any reward you wish. As long as it is within our power to accomplish, we will do it!”
Meng Hao’s eyes flickered, and he didn’t respond. However, he did stop in place, and a look of hesitation appeared on his face.
“There is no need to worry about any danger,” Ling Yunzi continued. “The Immortal pagoda appeared because of your good fortune, and I am personally unable to appear there at all; if I were to appear there, it would cause the pavilion to immediately vanish. As for you, there will be no danger to you when you go inside.”
Meng Hao hesitated for another moment before a gleam of determination appeared, and he hurried forward toward the Immortal pavilion.
No one in the outside world could see what was happening on the screens. However, the Patriarchs from the Three Great Daoist Societies were panting, and their eyes shone with a strange gleam.
They could not enter the world Meng Hao was in either, and could only remain on the outside. They had waited for many years for this particular opportunity.
As Meng Hao neared the Immortal pavilion, the pressure grew more and more intense. However, for some strange reason, while the pressure would have prevented any other person from getting close, it actually dissipated for Meng Hao, making a sort of personal path for him to walk.
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered. He sensed no danger, so he slowly walked up to the Immortal pavilion and stood in front of it. Then he took a deep breath as he lifted his hand and pushed on the front door.
Absolutely no sound could be heard as the door opened. However, the instant it did, boundless light shone out from inside, blinding light that completely enveloped Meng Hao and then spread out in all directions outside of the pavilion. After a moment, Ling Yunzi let out a miserable shriek. As it turned out, he had actually been following Meng Hao in an attempt to personally enter the Immortal pavilion.
However, the light instantly forced him back. Blood oozed out of his eyes, ears, nose and mouth, almost as if he had been cursed. Filled with fear and shock, he immediately shot backward and then left the world, lest he be killed.
Now, Meng Hao was the only person in the vicinity of the Immortal pavilion. He stood there in the light, completely unharmed, until the glow slowly faded away. He looked blankly at the pavilion in front of him, then took a deep breath.
“What is this place…?” he murmured. Inside of the Immortal pavilion, he could now see numerous shelves, which, shockingly, were completely filled with all sorts of magical items.
There was a whip that was surrounded by a dragon-like mist of swirling smoke. It appeared to have been constructed from sinew and tendons, and it emanated a shocking pressure, as if it had been refined from a true dragon. There was an ancient mirror, covered with cloudy mist. From the look of it, there was some living being sealed inside of it.
There was a crimson eye that, although shut, gave Meng Hao a shocking feeling when he looked at it.
There was a cauldron that rested atop a toad, which it seemed the cauldron was suppressing.
Further away was a long, green spear, with a spearhead carved from bone. When Meng Hao looked more closely at the wood that made up the shaft, his mind reeled. He recognized that wood! It was from… the World Tree! 1
There was a broadsword, stained with black, wet blood. That blood seemed to still contain a consciousness and was emitting shocking howls.
In addition to those items, there was also a Feng Shui compass. For the most part, it was ordinary in appearance. However, a white crystal was inset into the very middle of the compass. The crystal emanated a gentle glow that caused the entire Feng Shui compass to appear extraordinary.
From the look of it, the white crystal could be removed from the center of the compass, as if the compass had merely been created to allow the crystal to emanate its power.
There were many magical items of all sorts, the use of many of which Meng Hao was unable to determine. The whip was one of the more bizarre items, but actually any of them would cause a huge stir if they showed up in the outside world.
In addition to all the magical items, there was also a desk in the Immortal pavilion, upon which were some bamboo slips, as well as various other writing utensils.
Meng Hao took a deep breath, and his eyes shone with brilliant light as he took a step forward, entering the Immortal pavilion. As soon as he stepped foot inside, the door shut behind him.
Simultaneously, an ice-cold voice suddenly echoed out.
“In compliance with the last will and testament of the Three Great Paragons, anyone with a Spirit Realm cultivation base who creates Paragon magic may enter the Warrior Pavilion and select a treasure.”
Meng Hao looked around, but couldn’t see anyone except for himself in the Immortal pavilion. The voice that had just spoken was cold and detached, seemingly emotionless. After it spoke that single sentence, it said nothing further.
Meng Hao hesitated for a moment, then began to look around at the various precious treasures, his heart thumping eagerly.
He actually wished he could take all of the magical items in sight, but after gazing about for a bit, his eyes came to rest on the Feng Shui compass.
“That must be the Feng Shui compass the Three Great Daoist Societies want me to get for them,” he thought, his eyes flickering. After looking at the Feng Shui compass for a moment, he began to mutter to himself.
“The Three Great Daoist Societies’ trial by fire has an additional purpose, which is to get someone to come in here and retrieve this item for them. If I don’t comply with their wishes, I fear my future will be fraught with grim possibilities after I leave this place.” He wasn’t quite willing to go along with their request, but after a moment of consideration, he looked at the Feng Shui compass with glittering eyes. Then he stepped forward and picked it up.
In the moment he lifted up the Feng Shui compass, he also retrieved a flying sword from his bag of holding and vigorously went to work trying to pry the white crystal out.
“You people think you can profit at my expense!? Never!” Gritting his teeth, he shoved down on the sword until a popping sound rang out and the crystal flew out from its spot in the center of the Feng Shui compass. Meng Hao grabbed it, then smiled as he carefully put it away in his bag of holding.
Then he looked over the Feng Shui compass again. It actually looked perfect. After ensuring that there were no scratches on it, he cleared his throat and looked around at all the magical items.
“Although that voice said I could only take one treasure, it didn’t say anything about repercussions for taking another. I might as well try.” His heart began to beat even faster as he walked over to the spear. He reached his hand out, but almost as soon as his hand was about to grab it, a powerful force of expulsion pushed back at him.
The cold voice once again rang out inside the Immortal pavilion.
“This item is not connected to you by destiny. You have already taken a treasure. You may leave now.”
“Not connected by destiny?” thought Meng Hao. “Destiny is like the cause and effect of Karma. So does that mean that I have no Karma connecting me to these magical items?” A strange light gleamed in his eyes, and he suddenly cleared his throat. It was at this moment that the Seventh Demon Sealing Hex, the magic of Karmic Hexing, was suddenly unleashed.
Here’s a brief recap of the World Tree. It was first described (apocryphally) in chapter 109, when Meng Hao bought the Spring and Autumn Tree at auction. It was also mentioned in chapter 158 when Meng Hao had a vision about the origin of the Lightning Cauldron. In the Song Clan search for a son-in-law, the competitors entered a painting that depicted the World Tree, which was also when Meng Hao met Shui Dongliu. That arc started in chapter 194, and the World Tree is mentioned there as well as in subsequent chapters, all the way until chapter 199. In chapter 208, Shui Dongliu mentioned the World Tree when he speaks to Meng Hao. In chapter 392, Meng Hao made up a story about the World Tree to impress the people of the Crow Divinity tribes. In chapter 821, Li Ling’er used a magical technique that summoned an illusory World Tree ↩