Chapter 68: Milky Way City
After the battle at the North Sea, and his rebirth in the depths of the lake, the death aura had been completely dispelled. As he walked through the wind and snow, not a sliver of it emanated out.
The fact that the black aura, which had encircled him for more than a month, was now gone, made Meng Hao’s pace a bit more leisurely as he moved through the snowfall.
Snow fell more and more heavily, making seem as if this was the year’s last and heaviest snowstorm. The snowflakes appeared to be pushed along by the incoming season, falling out of the sky as fast as possible.
The snow covered him, until he finally reached the cave in Mount Daqing that he had been taken from years before. He sat cross-legged, looking out at the world of snow and listening to the cry of the wind.
Snowfall blocked the night sky, making it impossible to see the stars. The only things visible were the endless sheets of snow which covered the landscape.
A small bonfire burned in front of Meng Hao, illuminating the surroundings with flickering firelight. The light fell onto his face as he sat there thinking.
Nearly four years had passed.
It was almost four years since he had joined the Reliance Sect. He had started out as a youth and had grown into a young man; he was now twenty years of age.
For a long time, Meng Hao sat there, looking down at his hands. They were clean, without a spot of dirt on them. But Meng Hao knew without a doubt that they were stained with blood.
He had killed many times in the past four years. At first, it had caused him much mental tribulation. Now, though you couldn’t say he was numb to it, at least he had come to accept it. He had adapted. It was as if some invisible force of heaven and earth had changed his spirit, his fate, and his future.
“What will I become in the end….” Meng Hao looked out at the snow outside of the cave, but it contained no answers.
Time passed by slowly, and soon dawn approached. Everything was pitch black. The only thing present was the whimpering of the wind and the frigid snow. The bonfire in front of Meng Hao slowly burned out, and the cave was consumed by darkness.
Meng Hao sat there in the dark, and a sense of deep loneliness filled his heart. The feeling grew stronger and stronger until it seemed as if it would consume him.
“Father, mother, where are you….” His voice was soft as he thought of his parents. He missed them so much.
“Fatty, what are you doing right now?” Meng Hao sighed as an image appeared in his mind of Fatty filing away at his teeth.
“Elder Sister Xu, Elder Brother Chen, you are in the Southern Domain… that’s great….” He looked out at the dark night outside the cave, and it was almost as if he could see the Southern Domain. An absentminded expression filled his face.
“Reading hundreds of books is like travelling ten thousand roads…. One day I will leave the State of Zhao and go to the Southern Domain.” A look of determination appeared in his eyes. The State of Zhao was on the very edge of the Southern Domain. The middle of the Southern Domain was very, very far away.
He remembered the map he had seen of the lands of South Heaven. There was a vast wilderness between the State of Zhao and the core of the Southern Domain, as well as several countries.
Given the current level of his Cultivation base, if he tried to travel by soaring, it would take an incredibly long time.
“If only I could become a Foundation Establishment stage Cultivator!” A fire seemed to burn in his eyes, a fire that contained a fierce longing. It was a longing to be able to fly in the sky, and a thirst to reach the Foundation Establishment stage.
“Reaching Foundation Establishment is being a true Cultivator. Then, my longevity will be extended to one hundred and fifty years.” The concept of extended life was a distant reality to Meng Hao. Usually, people wish for a longer life only when they get older. As of now, Meng Hao didn’t really care about that; what he was most concerned with was continuing to live on and not be in danger.
Unless one wants to live an average life, one must accept the limitations of one’s Cultivation base and latent talent, and fight on.
Meng Hao breathed deeply and looked out as dawn broke over the world. He pulled out Ding Xin’s bag of holding and looked over its contents. His eyes began to glitter.
“He really was the disciple of a great Sect. Even though he hadn’t reached the Foundation Establishment stage, he was filthy rich.” There were seven or eight thousand Spirit Stones inside, as well as the black, wooden bow.
When he pulled the bow out, his entire body felt cold. When he pulled back on the bowstring, it felt as if the spiritual energy of heaven and earth were being pulled into it.
Inside the bag of holding were several hundred black arrows, each one carved with strange markings. He collected them up. In addition to the Spirit Stones and treasured items, there were some pill bottles, assorted message plaques, and other random items.
Most of the pill bottles were empty. However, one small bottle caught Meng Hao’s attention. It was sealed, but when he heard the sound of the pill rattling around inside, his heart thumped. He broke the seal, whereupon a thick, fragrant odor buffeted his face. The entire cave was instantly filled with a medicinal aroma.
This aroma seemed even stronger than that of a Heavenly Spirit Pill. It seemed to be even stronger than Meng Hao’s most powerful pill, the Plateau Charging Pill. In fact, there was really no way to even compare them. It would be like trying to compare a firefly with a full moon. As far as Meng Hao could tell, one was like a tiny sapling, the other like a mighty tree.
“This is….” Meng Hao’s eyes shone, and he began to breathe quickly. He turned the bottle over and dropped the medicinal pill onto his palm. It was about the size of his thumbnail, and the color of amber. It emanated a powerful fragrance as well as a feeling of boundless spiritual energy. With a simple glance, you could tell this was no ordinary item.
He stared at the pill for a moment, then tapped his bag of holding, retrieving the ancient Pill-name jade slip he had purchased at the Hundred Treasures Pavilion. There were more cracks on its surface than before, although Meng Hao didn’t seem to care. Pressing the jade slip against his forehead, he poured spiritual energy into it.
A moment later, the ancient jade split into pieces, collapsing into ash. Meng Hao opened his eyes. They glowed with powerful excitement.
“A Foundation Establishment Pill! It’s a Foundation Establishment Pill! It’s hard to even determine how much it’s worth!” Palpitating with eagerness, he clutched the pill against his chest. His heart raced, and it took quite some time before he could calm down.
This Foundation Establishment Pill was one of the reasons Ding Xin just couldn’t believe that he would die. It had been made by his master and then gifted to him. Considering that he was at the ninth level of Qi condensation, if he came across a bit of good fortune in his travels, then he might be able to break through to the Foundation Establishment stage. He had kept it on his person so that he could have it handy when that critical juncture arrived.
Even in a great Sect in the Southern Domain, a Foundation Establishment Pill was not common. It was even less common for them to be distributed to disciples. The requirements to acquire one were very high. Even if more than the usual amount of pills were available, the supply would still fall short of the demand. Most people could not establish a Foundation with only one pill. Usually two or three were required. Some people with only average latent talent but the support of Sect Elders, might be able to break through with five pills.
Foundation Establishment Pills were truly treasured. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that two of the medicinal plants required to concoct the pill only grew in the Three Danger Zones in the Southern Domain.
Ding Xin had an exceptional master, which gave him a special position within the Violet Fate Sect. When he had reached the ninth level of Qi Condensation, his master had bestowed him with the Foundation Establishment Pill. If he failed in breaking through to the next stage, when he returned to the Sect, his master would not hesitate to give him another.
Meng Hao opened his hand and looked more closely at the Foundation Establishment pill. It was then that he noticed a strange seal on its surface.
The seal bore the image of a demonic face. It was expressionless, solemn, and imparted the feeling that the face was looking at you. Meng Hao’s heart thumped. Upon further observation, he determined that the seal did not have any mystical properties. It was simply carved onto the surface of the pill, almost like a logo.
Meng Hao hesitated for a while, then clenched his teeth and put the pill away. Outside, the snowfall was growing lighter, and the rising sun was just becoming visible. He stepped onto the treasured fan and flew out into the cold.
“If I want to break through from the eighth level of Qi Condensation to the ninth, I will need more Spirit Stones. What I have now… it’s just not enough. I’m going to need to go sell some things to get more. Eyes glittering, he slapped his bag of holding and produced a jade slip, which he pushed up against his forehead.
This was a jade slip from the Cold Wind Sect, a map that depicted several of the Cultivator Cities within the State of Zhao. Meng Hao saw Eastern Refinement City, but he had no desire to go back there. He needed to go somewhere far away from there, to a place not controlled by the three great Sects, a place where the Cultivators would be more random.
“Milky Way City,” Meng Hao muttered to himself. Having made his decision, he raised his head, eyes flashing, and soared ahead as fast as the wind.
In the direction of the Milky Way Sea was an area protected by protective spells, a place that mortals could not even see, within which was a city.
Its walls were black, and were patrolled by cold-faced, black-robed Cultivators. They stared out at the people coming in and out of the city.
Milky Way City hadn’t existed before three hundred years ago. At that time, an eccentric with a Cultivation base at the Core Formation stage had appeared. His magical power and items were shocking. He had established this city, then gone into secluded meditation. Three hundred years later, no one knew if he was still alive, or dead. It actually didn’t really matter. Either he had extended his longevity, or had begun to form his Nascent Soul.
Currently, the city was controlled by his descendants. As for Patriarch Milky Way, he had never had poor a relationship with the three great sects of the State of Zhao. That, coupled with the relaxed rules of the city, had made it grow into the bustling place it was, filled with people of all sorts.
One day, a person appeared outside of Milky Way City. He wore a black robe, and his face was covered by the wide bamboo hat on his head. It was impossible to distinguish his features, although his body seemed to be a bit pudgy.
His getup looked strange, but didn’t attract any attention at all in Milky Way City. After all, this place was a jumble of all sorts of strange people. There were more than a few who didn’t want others to know who they were or what they were up to.
Of course, this person was none other than Meng Hao.
He had made up his mind to sell some of his magical items and medicinal pills. So, he had disguised himself and come to this place. He strolled in through the city gates, looking around. As he did, his eyes narrowed. He immediately lowered his head, and, putting on a nonchalant air, entered a shop.