Chapter 60: Undispellable Death Aura
The capital city drew further and further away. A long time passed, during which time Meng Hao pushed down the feeling of fear that quivered in his heart. He frowned, scanning his body. It had withered; while before he had been somewhat slim, he was now somewhat emaciated.
That problem was secondary to what really alarmed Meng Hao. His body continuously emanated strands of black mist, as if it were burning. It continued to come out of him, no matter how much he tried to wave it away. It floated high up into the air, making it possible for anyone around to determine his location.
“My body stopped withering, but this weird black aura just won’t stop. It’s really making me stand out too much….” He flew forward as fast as possible, trying to find a place to hide within the mountains. After the black mist finished dissipating, he would come out again.
Two hours later, he sat angrily in the remote mountains. After sealing himself up in an Immortal’s Cave, he’d found out that the black mist could pass through some material objects.
“Dammit, how long will this mist last?” He gnashed his teeth, not daring to stop anywhere. If he did, the mist would gather together above him and become easily visible. Anyone who saw it would definitely think there was some sort of treasured item nearby.
Meng Hao frowned, pushing deeper into the mountains. He kept moving forward as fast as possible. When his spiritual energy ran out, he would consume a medicinal pill. It was only in this fashion that he could prevent the black aura from gathering together. It wasn’t as easy to see when it was spread thin, although it still floated up visibly into the sky.
Seven days passed. Meng Hao was frightened as well as exhausted, having had no chance to rest. The damnable mist was black during the day, then glowed white during the night.
After the seventh day, he could tell that the amount of mist dissipating from his body had grown weaker. In his best estimation, it would take approximately one month for it to disperse completely.
He didn’t dare to stay in the mountains for too long, as he might attract attention. He wasn’t sure whether or not the Violet Fate Sect disciples had actually left. So, he had no choice but to just keep moving forward.
On one particular day, he sat cross-legged on the treasured fan, soaring through a forest. Suddenly, he lifted his head up, his eyes flickering. He could see four shapes speeding in his direction from a distance away.
With a frown, he stopped flying and dropped to the ground. He slapped his bag of holding and a flying sword appeared. It shot toward an old tree, chopping a hole in it into which Meng Hao entered.
He had attempted this method before and found that the mist would not pass outside of the tree. However, after the space of about ten breaths, the tree would wither up.
He had done this several times in the past week in order to avoid the detection of other Cultivators.
Sitting inside the hole in the tree, he waited for the four people to go away. Unfortunately, instead of passing by, they stopped nearby and began to look around carefully. One of them was a young man in a violet robe. His face was expressionless as he leaped to the top of a tree, the power of his Cultivation base radiating out. In his hand he held a white pearl.
The black aura which had been emanating out from Meng Hao was instantly sucked into the white pearl, whereupon it began to turn black.
Meng Hao’s heart began to thump when he saw this.
The group of people was made up of three men and one woman. The woman wore a long skirt and was rather beautiful. A mysterious look gleamed in her eyes, a look that others might describe as demonic. “Come to speak of it, it really is strange,” she said. “This thick death aura has appeared a lot recently in the mountains.”
The two men standing next to her frowned as they gazed around the forest.
“Regardless of what’s causing it, we should leave once we finish absorbing the aura,” said one of the men, sounding a bit nervous. “Whatever is causing it is something very strange. It’s probably better if we don’t find out what it is.”
“What are you afraid of?” said the woman with a smile. She gave a charming look to the violet-robed young man, her eyes shining with charm. “With Elder Brother Yan here, we’re safe from any danger. He’s an Inner Sect disciple of the eighth level of Qi Condensation. He can prevent any disasters from occurring. And who knows, maybe we might even have a bit of good fortune.”
The young man with the pearl was of the eighth level of Qi Condensation, and was obviously the leader. The others were all at the sixth level.
It didn’t take very long for the pearl to absorb all of the black aura. The pearl itself was now pitch black, and didn’t seem as if it could even absorb any more. Meng Hao sat there watching, lost in thought.
“Let’s go,” said the man named Yan. He flicked his wide sleeve, and the four of them began to make their way off. As this happened, Meng Hao frowned. They were taking too long, and he had run out of time. The black aura was just now beginning to seep out from the top of the tree.
As soon as it appeared, the man named Yan turned and looked at it, his eyes flashing.
Meng Hao sighed, and then burst out from within the tree. He flicked his sleeve and sped off as fast as possible.
His appearance surprised the four people, as did the black aura emanating from him. The man named Yan stared at him.
“Fellow Daoist, please stay behind a moment,” he called out. His hands flashed in incantation signs, and instantly, a black wind sprang up which formed into the shape of a hideous, grinning skull. It opened its jaw and shot toward Meng Hao.
He had asked for Meng Hao to stop. But this skull carried the full power of his eighth level of Qi Condensation. It moved as swift as lightning, with incredible power.
At the same time, the two other men and the woman, their eyes glittering, attacked. Two flying swords and a jade bracelet transformed into beams of light which shot straight toward Meng Hao. The woman’s jade bracelet let out a buzzing sound as it flew through the air, expanding in size as it prepared to smash him.
Meng Hao frowned. He hadn’t been in a good mood before, having been frustrated to the extreme by the black aura. At the moment, these people had arisen a strong killing spirit within him. He let out a cold snort.
His right hand lifted up, and a roaring Flame Python appeared, twenty or thirty meters long. It shot toward the four incoming magical items, radiating blistering heat.
A boom shook the air. The jade bracelet shattered and the two flying swords melted away. The skull dissipated because of the collision. The Flame Python let out a wail and then vanished.
“Eighth level of Qi Condensation!” said the woman. The two men next to her gasped, their expressions intent. The Cultivator surnamed Yan took a step forward, staring at Meng Hao.
“I am Yan Ziguo, disciple of the Cold Wind Sect,” he said coolly, his eyes flashing like lightning. “Fellow Daoist, you don’t need to be in such a hurry to leave. Could you please explain the thick death aura emanating from your body?” Meng Hao was at the eighth level of Qi Condensation, but so was Yan Ziguo, so he spoke in a voice as cold as ever.
Meng Hao returned his cold stare, and didn’t say anything. He slapped his bag of holding, and in a flash, the treasured fan appeared. He shot away at high speed. Yan Ziguo looked at the fan in astonishment.
“A magic item which grants flight. He’s not of the Foundation Establishment stage, so he can only glide. He’ll be back on the ground shortly.” Yan Ziguo’s heart began to beat faster. The fan was a magical item that only disciples of the ninth level of Qi Condensation might get within his sect. With a cold harrumph, he charged off in pursuit. The other three hesitated for a moment, then followed him.
“Dammit!” said Meng Hao, his eyes growing even colder. His opponent had seen the power of his Cultivation base, as well as his use of magic, both of which were clearly warnings. And yet he still pursued. Meng Hao felt extremely annoyed.
His hand moved in incantation patterns, and then he pointed back at the four pursuers. Instantly, four beams of light shot out, four of the feathers from the fan. They cut through the air like flying swords, heading straight for the four people behind him.
Yan Ziguo narrowed his eyes and smacked his bag of holding. A small wooden shield appeared, about the size of his palm. It quickly expanded to the size of a head as it flew forward to meet the feather. A violent boom sounded out as they slammed into each other.
As for the other three, looks of shock appeared on their faces and they scrambled to produce magical items. Amidst the ensuing explosions, they spat blood out from their mouths and retreated, looking terrified.
Those three feathers weren’t damaged at all. Meng Hao waved his finger, and they shot back toward Yan Ziguo.
Yan Ziguo’s face twisted and he opened his mouth with a howl. A green mist suddenly emitted from his pores, forming a dense fog which circulated around him, turning into a giant green skull. It flew directly toward the three incoming feathers.
Banging sounds rang out, and the skull collapsed. The three feathers no longer glowed, and were now twisted and warped. They flew back to Meng Hao.
“I’m warning you,” said Meng Hao coldly, his eyes flashing, “if you keep pestering me….” Without finishing his sentence, he turned and disappeared into the distance, his body transforming into a prismatic beam.
Yan Ziguo didn’t pursue. He glared at Meng Hao’s retreating form, his hands trembling slightly within his sleeves. Meng Hao was a stranger to him. And yet this stranger had just casually forced him to use a life-saving art.
“That fan is not just a flight-bestowing treasure, but a powerful weapon!” he said to himself, his heart pounding. He turned to look at his three bedraggled companions. “Have any of you heard of someone from the State of Zhao who is at the eighth level of Qi Condensation and has a treasured fan?”
“Someone so young who is at the eighth level of Qi Condensation would surely have made a name for himself here,” said one of the other Cold Wind Sect disciples. “But I can’t think of anyone among the three great Sects who matches his description.”
“Who is he? He can’t be a Cultivator from the State of Zhao, can he?” Yan Ziguo frowned, even more interested in Meng Hao’s treasured fan.
“Elder Brother Yan,” said the female disciple, sounding hesitant. “I remember someone mentioned a treasured fan about a month ago. It was Elder Brother Sun Hua from the Winding Stream Sect. He said that some disciples from the Southern Domain’s Violet Fate Sect made a trade with a Reliance Sect disciple named Meng Hao. One of the items was a feather fan.”
Yan Ziguo looked shocked. He slapped his bag of holding, and a jade slip appeared in his hand. This was an item distributed to Inner Sect disciples. Inside was a depiction of Meng Hao, sealed with orders that anyone encountering him were to feel him out to get an idea of how strong he was.
The orders were several months old, so Yan Ziguo had mostly forgotten about them. Scanning the jade slip, he looked closely at the picture of Meng Hao’s face and, sure enough, it was the same as the person he had just encountered.
“So it’s him!” said Yan Ziguo, his eyes gleaming. His mouth twisted into a cold smile. He was just about to say something when suddenly, the ground trembled and the sky above turned crimson. Something shocking was happening not too far away in the Southern Domain, and the side-effects were spreading out to cover the entire area.