Chapter 71: Dong Hu
In the remote wilderness not too far from Mount Daqing, Meng Hao sat in the Immortal’s Cave, his body shaking. Sweat poured off of him, soaking him as he emanated an intense heat. This in turn produced a thick mist that circulated around the cave, filling it with the aroma of sweat.
Meng Hao’s entire body was bright red, and it felt as if an immense fire were raging inside of him that would soon wither up his flesh and blood and turn him into a pile of ash. At the moment, his body was completely stiff, incapable of the slightest movement.
Actually, this is one of the detriments of consuming a Foundation Establishment Pill. After swallowing it, the body becomes immovable. Until the power of the pill is disseminated, it wouldn’t matter if there was a flood or a storm, or if a person stood in front of you with a sword, ready to stab you through, you wouldn’t be able to move a muscle. This is why Cultivators are incredibly careful when selecting the area where they will consume a Foundation Establishment Pill.
After all, if one encountered an enemy while suffering from the side-effect of the astounding pill, death would be the result.
Meng Hao was the first person to ever consume a Foundation Establishment Pill while in the eighth level of Qi Condensation. Furthermore, this pill had been concocted by a Grandmaster.
But, he had no other choice. It was just too difficult to break through the bottleneck of the eighth level of Qi condensation without the aid of either some stroke of good fortune, or special medicinal pills.
The Plateau Charging Pills had not been effective, so now the only thing he had left were the Foundation Establishment pills. Of course, he didn’t dare use too many at once. They were incredibly powerful, and his body was not. Consuming them was actually gambling with his own life.
By now, Meng Hao felt quite certain he knew why this eighth level bottleneck was so difficult to break through. It definitely had something to do with his years of consuming so many Demonic Cores. Despite his rebirth in the North Sea, the Demonic power within his bones could not be dispelled easily.
Because of this reason, the blockage caused by the bottleneck was thicker than that experienced by the average person. Of course, there were also advantages to this situation. Once he broke through the bottleneck, he would explode into the middle of the ninth level of Qi Condensation. Furthermore, his body, although it seemed weak, was now much tougher than it had been during his scholar days. The change was slow, but sure.
This change had not been brought about by his Cultivation, but rather because of the Demonic power within his body, as well as the Demonic Core in his Core sea.
Days and days passed. Soon two months had gone by, during which time Meng Hao had continued to consume his scant supply of Foundation Establishment Pills. Just now, he had fully absorbed the power of a pill. Suddenly, he opened his eyes. He could move again! He felt a roaring within himself, along with a severe pain, as if various parts of his body were being ripped apart. He spit out a mouthful of black blood.
As he spit out the blood, his eyes grew dim, as if he were about to lose consciousness. Instead he bit his tongue, forcing himself to stay awake. He rotated his Cultivation base as it shot toward the ninth level of Qi Condensation.
A look of determination filled his eyes. Gathering together the explosive spiritual power within him, he pushed forward.
In an instant, the spiritual energy charged ahead, filling his head with a roaring like thunder. He felt as if his body were about to explode. Then suddenly, it felt as if the spiritual energy had opened up a new realm inside him. Instantly, he felt a wonderful sensation, difficult to describe. It was a tingling feeling, as if someone were caressing him with countless feathers.
He immersed himself in the feeling, and a long time passed before he opened his eyes. They glowed dazzlingly. It was as if the darkness of the cave were being split by brilliant lightning bolts.
Meng Hao took a deep breath, and the spiritual energy of the cave seemed to be sucked into him strand by strand. Then it left him, and massive amounts of filth extruded from his pores. His body grew lighter, his eyes brighter.
The boundless Core sea inside him was twice its previous size, as if you couldn’t see from one side to the other. The golden water billowed and roared. Deep within, the Demonic Core rested, unmoving, sending out massive amounts of spiritual energy, making the golden light even more dazzling, filling Meng Hao’s body. He almost felt like lifting his head up and letting out a long, loud cry.
“The ninth level of Qi Condensation! I, Meng Hao, have finally reached the ninth level! My next step will be Foundation Establishment!” His eyes filled with exuberance, he took several deep breaths.
“With the Sublime Spirit Scripture, I can establish a Flawless Foundation, far superior to a Cracked or Fractured Foundation.” He stood up, filled with confidence and hope regarding the future.
He looked forward to traveling to the Southern Domain and seeing the lands there. He looked forward even more so to the day when he could reach Foundation Establishment. He wondered what it would be like to have a Flawless Foundation. What would other Cultivators think when they ran into him then?
Of course, having not reached Foundation Establishment, he didn’t understand how rare a Flawless Foundation was. Despite his ignorance, he still looked forward with eager anticipation.
He flicked his sleeve, and a fist-sized Water Globe appeared. It stretched out, forming a sheet of water the size of his body. He walked forward, through the water. When he came out on the other side, the filth that covered him was gone, and instead, a fragrant aroma drifted off of him.
The door of the Immortal’s Cave shattered. It was midday outside, and the season had long since changed. Meng Hao walked out to feel a hot, dry wind on his face. His entire body felt relaxed and fresh.
“When I reach Foundation Establishment, I will finally be able to achieve true flight.” He looked up at the blue sky and his smile grew wider and wider. He walked forward a bit, then hopped onto his treasured fan and sped along.
He was flying along some distance away from Mount Daqing when he suddenly caught sight of someone racing in his direction. This person was moving as fast as possible, and was being chased by a large, vicious looking man.
The person being chased was pale-faced, but had hard eyes. He wasn’t very tall, and rather skinny, appearing to be about thirteen or fourteen years old. Despite this, his Cultivation base was at the fifth level of Qi Condensation.
He was being chased by a cultivator of the sixth level of Qi Condensation. The man wore a tattered aqua-blue robe and it seemed as if he had been wounded. Murder roiled within his furious eyes.
“It doesn’t matter where you try to run, Dong Hu. If you give me the pearl, considering my status in the Upright Evening Sect, I can leave you with your life. Otherwise, you’re dead!” The big man raised his right hand, and a frigid glow appeared which solidified into a Full Moon Scimitar. He tossed it spinning toward the youth.
The youth was none other than one of Meng Hao’s group who Elder Sister Xu had taken to the Reliance Sect, Little Tiger. (TL Note: The character “Hu” in the name “Dong Hu” means “tiger”)
After the dissolution of the Sect, he had been swept away and then disappeared. Meng Hao floated above, looking down at Little Tiger.
Little Tiger’s face was pale, but killing intent flickered within his hard eyes. He waved his sleeves, whereupon several beams of cold light shot out, glittering arrows. Based on their gleam they seemed to be coated with poison. The arrows shot toward the big man.
He laughed, waving his sleeve, which caused a wind to spring up and brush the arrows away. His hand flickered in incantation patterns, causing his scimitar to shoot toward Little Tiger. It was upon him in the blink of an eye. Little Tiger’s bloodshot eyes spun. Suddenly, an aqua-blue pearl appeared in his hand. It was partly transparent, and was filled with layers of curling clouds. A stream of clouds erupted from within the pearl, coalescing into a vague figure, which shot toward the scimitar.
When they collided, a bang rang out, and the scimitar collapsed into pieces, as did the vague figure.
The big man coughed up some blood, and the greed in his eyes grew stronger. He continued his pursuit.
The blood drained from Little Tiger’s face. It seemed the attack just now had been quite difficult to pull off. He staggered forward, running a few paces before tumbling to the ground.
“You can’t escape!” laughed the big man viciously, quickly approaching Little Hu, whose eyes filled with desperation. Off in the distance, Meng Hao sighed, looking back at the scene. Finally, he lifted a finger on his right hand, causing a furious wind to spring up in the forest. The crushing pressure of the ninth level of Qi Condensation instantly enveloped the big man. Trembling, he looked up in shock to see Meng Hao floating down toward him.
Simultaneously, Little Tiger, who was still on the ground, pulled a poisoned dagger out of his sleeve. He leaped up with surprising speed, and the dagger flashed. At the exact moment in which the big man was surprised by Meng Hao, the dagger slashed through his neck.
He let out a miserable cry as blood showered everywhere, covering Little Tiger. Little Tiger was still weak and exhausted, but falling down just now had actually been a trick. When the man approached with his guard down, he had planned to make his move.
The big man collapsed to the ground, twitching. He tried to cover the gash in his neck, but blood flowed out in vast quantities. Within moments, he was dead. His eyes stared blankly off into the distance.
Little Tiger took a few steps away, looking back at Meng Hao, seeming ready to flee at any moment. Then he felt the power of Meng Hao’s Cultivation base, and his body began to tremble.
Meng Hao didn’t say anything. He walked over and stood over the corpse, examining it. Then he looked at the obviously nervous Little Tiger, staring at him silently.
Little Tiger didn’t say anything either. He just looked at Meng Hao, a complicated expression in his eyes.
A long moment passed, after which Meng Hao opened his mouth. “It was because of this pearl that you killed Wang Youcai,” he said calmly. An imperceptible look in his eye revealed that he was bluffing, but Little Tiger didn’t see it.
Instead, Little Tiger stood there silently, refusing to speak. He was short, with dark skin and a skinny frame. His clothes were dilapidated, and he was obviously in a difficult position. He almost looked like a beggar. But the coldness he had just exhibited when killing the man just now seemed to make everything obvious.
Meng Hao looked at him for a while, before shaking his head. He let out a sigh, and turned to leave.
Just as he did this, however, a look of hesitation appeared in Little Tiger’s eyes. He suddenly spoke, his voice hoarse and filled with nervousness.
“Elder… Elder Brother Meng, are you going to Mount Daqing to save everyone?”
Meng Hao halted in his tracks and looked back at Little Tiger. “What are you talking about?” he said, his voice low.
This chapter was sponsored by Morten Stakemeier, Jack Bullock, Mitchell Kutchuk and Marius Wittmann