Chapter 100: Blade against Flawlessness
When Meng Hao sent out his Spiritual Sense, he started to get the feeling that he was cut off from heaven and earth. He was familiar with this sensation; it was the same type of feeling he got when he was in the tenth level of Qi Condensation, or the thirteenth. Although now, the feeling was even stronger, as if the Heavens did not tolerate his Cultivation at all. And yet, along with the disapproval, he felt the strength of a different state. It seemed as if despite the fact that the Heavens did not tolerate it, and this state was rejected by all creation… it fought back, and because of that, was even more powerful.
That resistance came, not from Meng Hao, but from the Dao Pillar and the spiritual energy inside of him!
After feeling the resistance of the Heavens, Meng Hao quickly determined its source…. not a bit of the spiritual energy of heaven and earth he had absorbed into his body escaped back out. Furthermore, none could be absorbed in. No cycle could be created with heaven and earth, which was not permitted!
At the same time, because the spiritual energy was not emitting from him, he was able to vaguely make out some strange, immaterial vestiges. Were he able to grab ahold of them, he would instantly become even more powerful.
These vestiges were not permitted by the Heavens, so only Cultivators who were rejected could see them and gain enlightenment regarding them.
Although Meng Hao wasn’t aware of it, in the Cultivation world, these vestiges were called Dao Taboos! Every Cultivator who reached the Foundation Establishment stage could sense them.
At the same moment as Meng Hao began to sense the Dao Taboos, something shook his body. A cracking sound rang out as a fissure appeared on his Dao Pillar. When this happened, Meng Hao coughed up a mouthful of blood, and he was ripped out of that special state.
Vast amounts of spiritual energy poured out of the crack in the Dao Pillar. Meng Hao was powerless to stop it from happening; his body was once again connected to heaven and earth.
Although the spiritual energy rushing out of him could not really compare to the amount he had absorbed, he was now back in a cycle with heaven and earth. The strange vestiges he had just been able to sense were no longer there. He was no longer rejected by the heaven and earth, but had been accepted, and was now part of them.
A flash of weakness appeared in his heart. Meng Hao lifted his head, his vision piercing through to the outside of the Immortal’s cave. As he looked at the sky outside, his eyes shone with an unprecedented brightness.
This was a Flawless Foundation with one crack. In this aspect, Meng Hao was actually better than most. With a Cracked Foundation, he would be much weaker, and with a Fractured Foundation, there would be even more cracks, and he would be significantly less powerful.
“As long as there is a crack,” murmured Meng Hao, “it is not perfect, and thus, the Heavens can accept it…” His eyes shined brightly.
“Because the Dao Pillars have cracks, no matter what level I reach in my Cultivation, there will always be absorption and diffusion. Do I cultivate in this way for myself… or for the Heavens?” Meng Hao was silent for a while. The question was really too profound for a Foundation Establishment Cultivator to be able to contemplate.
However, since Meng Hao had studied the Qi Condensation Manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture, and because he knew of the method to achieve a Perfect Foundation, he contemplated matters that normally only someone of the Spirit Severing Stage could comprehend.
The moment that Meng Hao reached the Foundation Establishment stage, it was late at night outside. The seven Cultivators outside watched the spiritual energy churning back and forth, and then looked toward where Meng Hao was within the valley.
“Why is all the spiritual energy being sucked in that direction?” Muttering like this, the seven of them rushed forward. However, as they approached, they were forced to come to a halt, their bodies trembling. Their spiritual energy felt unstable, as if it might be ripped out of their body at any moment. They stood there in shock, uncertain of what exactly was happening.
To these people, Foundation Establishment was something very remote. They couldn’t possibly imagine that someone had reached that stage in this very valley.
In their shock, they didn’t dare to proceed further. They stood there, making various speculations, eventually coming to the conclusion that something strange was happening because of the valley itself. Because they couldn’t approach, guessing was the best thing they could do. There was no way to prove or disprove anything.
“I can sense that there is some immense power in the valley,” said the toad geezer, taking in a deep breath and narrowing his eyes. “It’s something that far, far exceeds us.”
“Too bad we can’t get any closer. Just what happened, exactly? I feel like if I approach any further, the spiritual energy within my body will get sucked out….”
“There have been a lot of strange things happening to the spiritual energy over the past two years. Now another thing is happening….” The seven of them exchanged glances, then grew silent, their hearts filled with various speculations.
Meanwhile, within the cave, Meng Hao lifted his head up, his eyes shining. If he hadn’t been able to glimpse the Perfect Foundation at all, then it wouldn’t have mattered. But, having felt it briefly, only to have it taken away and his power reduced, made him desire it even more intensely.
“The Perfect Foundation….” His eyes flickered and he stood up. He flicked his sleeve, and the mist in front of him rippled, then coalesced into a small flag, which came to rest in his hand. He glanced at it, the spat out some spiritual energy, which covered over it, turning it into a black beam of light which entered his mouth.
During Qi Condensation, Meng Hao could only passively use the flag. But now that he was in Foundation Establishment, he could refine and wield it in even more ways.
Looking pleased, Meng Hao took a moment to feel himself out. His eyes glittered.
“With the Qi Condensation Manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture, a second Core sea can be formed. When the second Core sea moves from Qi Condensation to Foundation Establishment, it can improve the quality of one’s Foundation Establishment. For me, though it won’t really make much of a difference. However…. I might as well do it, just in case.” His eyes shining, he sat back down cross-legged and visualized the Qi Condensation Manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture. Several hours later, his eyes snapped open. A roaring sound filled his body. Looking inside of himself, he saw that outside of his Dao Pillar was a new area, a vast golden sea. This was Meng Hao’s second Core sea.
Having completed this task, he raised hand. The large rock which had sealed his Immortal’s Cave exploded into pieces, which then turned into ash. Meng Hao shot outside, turning into a blur of light that shot into the air. He came to a stop, floating in mid-air.
He looked back at the Immortal’s Cave, a smile on his face. Back when he was in the Qi Condensation stage, if he lifted his finger the way he had just now, it would have been incapable of shattering rock. But as of now, it was a simple matter to do so.
“The gap between Qi Condensation and Foundation Establishment is like the difference between the sky and the land,” said Meng Hao to himself. “It really is true. However, I should be even more powerful. Sadly, my Dao Pillar was cracked by an invisible blade… that is the life of a Cultivator. There is nothing to be done about it. However, if I can repair the Dao Pillar, then I can establish a Perfect Foundation. To do that, I must first concoct a Perfect Foundation Pill. My biggest question, though, is… what is this symbol…?” His gaze had fallen onto his right hand. There, on the back of his hand, was a strange, glowing magical symbol which was slowly fading. It didn’t exist on his skin, but rather, inside of him. Looking at it, Meng Hao got the feeling that it had existed in there for a very long time.
This was the first time he had seen it, and he had no idea why it had appeared along with Foundation Establishment.
The symbol faded away, and Meng Hao frowned. It didn’t give him any feeling of danger. In fact, it seemed somewhat familiar. He thought about it for a while, but couldn’t come up with any clues as to its nature. He put it aside in his mind and then looked around.
He was surrounded by mist, which completely covered his body and would completely conceal him from any onlookers. At the moment, he hovered in mid-air, but he knew that if he wished, he could fly by simply moving forward.
Having completely set aside the matter of the strange symbol, Meng Hao began to consider why flight is not possible in the Qi Condensation stage. “True flight is not possible during Qi Condensation because the body doesn’t contain enough spiritual energy. Therefore, the body cannot be supported in the air. Flight is only capable with assistance from magical items. However, the spiritual energy within the body during the Foundation Establishment stage is more than a hundred times that of the Qi Condensation stage. Because so much spiritual energy has been coalesced into a Dao Pillar, the body can be supported in the air, and can actually fly.”
“There are a total of nine Dao Pillars which appear throughout the Foundation Establishment stage. Three pillars signify the peak of the beginning level, six pillars are the peak of the middle level, and nine pillars complete the circle. Right now, I have one pillar….” Meng Hao looked at the mist filling the area, and his eyes flickered. His body turned into a prismatic beam as he shot further downward into the valley.
“This place provoked a reaction from the Demon Sealing Jade all those years ago. Back then, my Cultivation base wasn’t powerful enough to make it safe to search for some answers. But now…. I need to be careful, but I think my latent talent and power are enough to go look for some clues.” Eyes shining, he shot through the mist. The two wooden swords appeared, whistling as they circled about around him.
Now that he was at Foundation Establishment, the two swords felt somewhat different. However, he didn’t take the time to examine them closely. Instead, he shot down through the mist, intent on determining what this place really was.
After Meng Hao had proceeded about three hundred meters down the valley, the Demon Sealing Jade within his bag of holding started to glow. Meng Hao took it out and held it in his hand. He slowed down a bit, but continued to move downward.
As he descended, the mist grew thicker and colder. It seemed somewhat sinister in nature, but Meng Hao was no longer of the Qi Condensation stage. If he was, his body may not have been able to withstand temperature.
After moving along for the time it takes half an incense stick to burn, it grew painfully cold, so much so that it felt like blades on his skin. Finally, he made out what appeared to be the bottom of the valley.
There was no vegetation here, only endless mist. Strewn about on the valley floor were the bones of various birds and beasts. Everything was quiet. Meng Hao looked around cautiously. He would not act rashly, but instead take the time to examine his surroundings. Finally, his eyes glittered as they fell upon the only part of the valley that didn’t seem to have any mist in it.
It was… the mouth of a cave, roughly nine meters wide!
The edges of the cave mouth were formed of thick earth which seemed to be frozen over. It was impossible to tell how deep the cave was; it stretched back into inky blackness. Icy coldness poured out from the cave, which then turned into mist.
Stretching back into the cave, off to the edge, was a dark red rope. Other than this, there was nothing else.
At this point, the Demon Sealing Jade in Meng Hao’s hand glowed even more brightly. It seemed as if something was calling for it to enter the mysterious, endless cave. Who knew what was hiding inside?
Meng Hao hesitated for a moment, looking at the cave. After a moment, he smacked his bag of holding. A flying sword appeared. It turned into a beam of light as it shot toward the cave and then disappeared inside. Meng Hao concentrated, listening carefully. Soon, a sound rang out like that of metal hitting stone. Meng Hao’s expression changed.
“This ancient cave appears to be about twenty-five hundred meters deep.” He walked forward, stopping at the mouth of the cave. He hesitated for a moment, then looked at the brightly glowing jade slip in his hand. Determination appeared on his face. He slapped his bag of holding, causing several items to appear. The black net flew out, along with seven or eight feathers. Even with the wooden swords circulating around him, though, he felt a bit nervous. He bit his tongue, and the Lightning Flag flew out, turning into a flickering, lightning-filled mist that surrounded his body. Surrounded by his various magical items, Meng Hao entered the cave.
On this 100th chapter, I give special thanks to RWX for all the support and encouragement!