Chapter 76: Beyond Flawlessness
The two wooden swords circled around, emitting a shocking sword aura. They sped toward Shangguan Xiu’s head, one from the left, one from the right, carrying Meng Hao’s killing intent with them. This time, it was clear that Shangguan Xiu would not be able to evade.
“There is something more precious than a Flawless Foundation,” shrieked Shangguan Xiu in a piercing voice. “It’s something that in the Southern Domain, in fact in all the four continents, is a hundred thousand times more rare than your tenth level of Qi Condensation. I’m talking about a Perfect Foundation!! Meng Hao, you….” Then Meng Hao’s two swords stabbed into his head, sending fountains of blood in all directions.
Shangguan Xiu died instantly. He had not lived past one hundred years, but rather, had died feeling infinite grievance.
His non-reconciliation to death was due to his great plans, and due to the fact that he was in the middle of establishing his Foundation. But then his head exploded, and his body dropped down off of Mount Daqing and splashed into the river below. His aspirations, and his body, floated away into the distance.
Meng Hao snatched his dark green bag of holding as he fell. He didn’t look at it, but instead tucked it into his robe.
He panted. Despite having reached the tenth level of Qi Condensation, he had just wielded the two wooden swords to slay someone who was on the verge of reaching Foundation Establishment. He now felt extremely drained.
He watched Shangguan Xiu’s body disappear in the distance, and then turned and hopped onto a wooden sword. His body transformed into a beam of light, and he shot down the mountain to where Little Tiger lay unconscious.
The boy’s face was as pale as death, and his eyes were tightly shut. His aura was like gossamer threads, and his life force flickered like a tiny flame that could be extinguished at any moment.
Meng Hao looked at Little Tiger thoughtfully, and then glanced at the pearl which floated in the air next to him. The power of the pearl was shocking to the extreme, and was truly a treasure. Its power could even be compared to that of the copper mirror.
“To duplicate it would cost an astronomical amount of Spirit Stones… what a pity.” Meng Hao sighed and looked up into the sky.
He’d known from the beginning that the pearl was linked to Little Tiger’s life force. If he stole it, then Little Tiger would die.
“You entrusted me with your life. How could I, Meng Hao, act the villain? If I did, it would plague my conscience for the rest of my days. I would never be able to think clearly, and my days of Cultivating would come to an end.” His eyes glittering, he flicked his sleeve, and tapped Little Tiger’s forehead.
Little Tiger’s body spasmed, then his eyes snapped open. He was instantly on guard, getting to his feet and retreating backward several paces. He glanced at the pearl in Meng Hao’s hands, and his body began to shiver slightly. A look of despair crept into his eyes.
Meng Hao lifted the pearl with a finger, causing it to shoot straight toward Little Tiger, who snatched it out of the air. A complex expression filled his face, and he stared at Meng Hao blankly.
“Many thanks for your assistance. This treasure is astonishing. You need to be cautious and take care of yourself.” As soon as the pearl left his hand, Meng Hao’s body began to grow weaker. The telltale signs of the tenth level of Qi Condensation began to disappear. As his Cultivation base dropped, the spiritual energy of heaven and earth which had just been cut off from him, slowly began to return.
The unbridled gravitational force within his body slowly vanished.
Meng Hao didn’t regret his decision. There were some things that he just couldn’t do. He refused to defy his own conscience in such a way.
The Blood Globe that Shangguan Xiu had used to threaten the lives of the people of the three counties was instantly smashed between Meng Hao’s fingers. It transformed into a vast amount of Blood Qi, which floated back toward the three counties.
As far as the common people went, all they knew was that for the past two months, they had felt somewhat dizzy, and now were much more clear headed. They also felt a bit weak. This was because, unbeknownst to them, their longevity had been damaged, and close to five years had been taken from the life spans.
Meng Hao could see this, but there was nothing he could do except sigh to himself. He flicked his sleeve and made to leave.
“Elder Brother Meng,” said Little Tiger, “Shangguan Xiu….”
“There is no such person in the world anymore.” He didn’t look back, just continued off into the distance. The battle here would definitely attract the attention of the three great Sects. And Meng Hao could guess why they had permitted Shangguan Xiu to cast this massive spell here; it was because of Meng Hao. Shangguan Xiu wanted his bag of holding, and the three Great Sects wanted him. At the moment, he had no way to deal with the situation. The only thing he could do was go somewhere remote to hide and think for a while.
Little Tiger didn’t say anything more. He watched Meng Hao leaving, and then a look of determination filled his eyes.
“Meng Hao, you didn’t covet my most valuable treasure. I, Dong Hu, am not a good person. But you can rest easy. In this life, I will never do anything to let you down.” He turned, casting his vision into the town far off in the distance. He caught sight of his father and mother, and a gentle look filled his eyes. Then the warmth vanished. Lowering his head, he quickly made his way off into the distance.
At that exact moment, the sky filled with countless beams of prismatic light. In the lead was none other than Liu Daoyun from the Cold Wind Sect.
“Meng Hao, you won’t escape this time!”
Meng Hao frowned, turning into a flash of light as he sped off into the distance. He used the last remaining vestiges of the power of the tenth level of Qi Condensation to instantly put a vast distance between himself and the pursuers. Far off in the distance, he had caught sight of more disciples of the three great Sects, and among them had been Foundation Establishment Cultivators and Core Formation Eccentrics. They had obviously been unwilling to show up themselves, and had instead sent some lower level disciples over to check things out. But now that Meng Hao’s presence had been confirmed, they would surely make appearances.
“Shangguan Xiu was backed by Milky Way City. It seems that power was not small…. The three great Sects must have stayed away because that was their agreement. When they felt the battle magic disappear, then they could approach. Shangguan Xiu had his secrets, and didn’t want people to see what was happening. He was even careful about the people from Milky Way City. He didn’t let them know his true purposes either.”
He left Mount Daqing, passing the North Sea and crossing the wide wilderness, heading in the direction of the Reliance Sect.
About half way through the wilderness, in a random mountain range, Meng Hao sped along at top speed, an indistinct expression on his face. As he raced along he would occasionally look down at a piece of turtle shell which he held in his hand. This was an item he had taken out of Shangguan Xiu’s bag of holding.
It was about the size of his palm, and its edges were rough. Obviously it had been broken off from a larger turtle shell.
It surface was inscribed with rows and rows of small characters. They were difficult to make out. Only by infusing his eyes with spiritual energy was he able to read them clearly.
“In the Cultivation world, it is possible to achieve the so-called… Perfect Foundation!” Meng Hao gasped.
On the surface of the turtle shell were two medicinal pill recipes. One was for a Perfect Foundation Pill, the other was for a Perfect Gold Core Pill.
“The turtle shell spells it out clearly. The Foundation Establishment stage doesn’t just have three types, the Flawless, Cracked and Fractured. There is a fourth type, the Perfect Foundation. It’s extremely rare, being seen only one ten thousand cases….” Meng Hao breathed rapidly, staring down at the turtle shell and thinking back to what Shangguan Xiu had said before he died. Now he understood his opponent’s regret at being forced to ascend to Foundation Establishment after being poisoned. And now he understood the raging hatred in Shangguan Xiu’s eyes.
Meng Hao contemplated things silently. He had read a lot about Foundation Establishment back in the Magic Pavilion of the Reliance Sect.
In Foundation Establishment, Dao pillars would come to being within the Core Lake. Because Foundation Establishment increased one’s longevity, it was categorized as stealing good fortune and defying the Heavens. As a result, the Dao pillars could never be perfect, but would always contain cracks. This was in accordance with the Dao of the Heavens. It could be summed up in the expression, “you get some, you lose some” or perhaps “when something comes in, something goes out.” It was part of the cycle of heaven and earth, and was permitted to exist.
Foundation Establishment consisted of early, mid and late sub-stages. In total, nine Dao pillars would appear. If each pillar had one crack, it meant a total of nine cracks would appear. This is what is referred to as a Flawless Foundation. A Flawless Foundation contained the least amount of cracks, and leaked the least amount of spiritual energy. After long periods of breathing exercises, the body would become incredibly powerful, much more so than other Foundations.
In the modern Cultivation world, this was the most powerful Foundation type. The special methods to achieve it could only be found amidst the clues in the great classic scriptures, for example the Qi Condensation manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture. Such secrets could lead to horrific bloodbaths. In fact… that was why the Reliance Sect had been disbanded.
Without such a scripture, the only way to have a chance at establishing a Flawless Foundation was to have incredible latent talent or outstanding good fortune. Most often, it was a Chosen who could piece together the clues to do so.
If an additional crack appeared on each of the Dao Pillars, this was called a Cracked Foundation. Although this type of Foundation was weaker than a Flawless Foundation, it could not be looked down upon. Usually, only disciples of the great Sects were able to achieve it.
Last, of course, was the Fractured Foundation. This was when, after reaching late Foundation Establishment, more than eighteen cracks existed on the Dao pillars, which is too much. This Foundation could be considered nearly shattered. In terms of both Cultivation speed as well as battle prowess, both were much weaker. With this type of Foundation, the chances of forming a Core were much lower.
Meng Hao thought about all of this and then looked down at the turtle shell. According to the description here, by concocting and consuming a Perfect Foundation Pill, there was a high probability of establishing a Perfect Foundation. In this case, no cracks whatsoever would appear. This was a type of Cultivation that defied the Heavens, and was a path that could not be returned from.
Because this Foundation was not permitted by the Heavens, it would provoke Tribulation Lightning. True success required defiance of the Heavens. In this respect, it was similar to the tenth level of Qi Condensation.
“From what Shangguan Xiu said, it seems the tenth level of Qi Condensation is not tolerated by the Heavens. Apparently, establishing a Perfect Foundation is the same….”
“If you have a Fractured Foundation and then consume this pill, you have a ten percent chance of establishing a Perfect Foundation. With a Cracked Foundation, you have a thirty percent chance, and with a Flawless Foundation, a sixty percent chance. The pill repairs the cracks, enabling you to establish a Perfect Foundation. But… you have to be particular about when you consume the pill. The sooner you take it after Foundation Establishment, the better. If too much time passes, the effectiveness will be reduced. And it takes two months to concoct the Perfect Foundation Pill.” Meng Hao’s heart raced as he sped along.
“No wonder Shangguan Xiu wanted to join the Reliance Sect… Just like Wang Tengfei, he wanted a chance to get the Qi Condensation Manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture! After establishing a Flawless Foundation, his chances would be much higher… It’s also no wonder he disappeared on the day the Sect was disbanded. With secrets like this on his person, he didn’t dare to show his face…” Meng Hao clutched the turtle shell tightly in hand, continuing to race forward.
In addition to the turtle shell, Shangguan Xiu’s bag of holding also contained a small pill furnace fashioned from translucent green crystal, about the size of a hand. He also had large quantities of medicinal plants, all of them placed in jade boxes. There were hundreds of different types.
Many of the medicinal plants were unfamiliar to Meng Hao, but thankfully, there was also a jade slip in the bag of holding with complete records regarding identification methods for all of the plants. Perusing this, Meng Hao grew more and more excited.