Chapter 142: Black Sieve Sect
As Meng Hao’s body trembled within the mist, his eyes began to emit a powerful glow. Even his breathing grew rapid. His Cultivation base rotated rapidly, causing the mist to seethe.
Meng Hao didn’t notice any of that, though. He was staring intently at the Cosmetic Cultivation Pill and something that was etched onto its side: a mountain.
The mountain had obviously been etched by someone’s hand, not with magic. This was not a famous type of medicinal pill. It was ordinary. The etching was sentimental….
The mountain depicted was something that people outside of the Reliance Sect wouldn’t know about. It was the East Mountain of the Reliance Sect!
The shape of that mountain had been branded into Meng Hao’s mind, and he recognized it immediately.
Who would possibly have placed this image of a mountain onto this Cosmetic Cultivation Pill, which would then show up in the State of Clear Skies…? A clear image suddenly appeared in Meng Hao’s mind.
It was a beautiful, cold woman wearing white clothing. She had brought Meng Hao into the Cultivation World. Under the moon, she had glanced back at him…. Xu Qing.
Elder Sister Xu.
Meng Hao could not prove conclusively that this Cosmetic Cultivation Pill was the one he had given to Elder Sister Xu as a gift. But his intuition was telling him that it was.
He held up the pill in his hand, slowly closing his fist over it. He sat there quietly. Beneath the wide bamboo hat, a storm began to brew on his face.
“If she never used this pill, and even took it with her to the Black Sieve Sect, then… why is it here now? What has happened to her in the Black Sieve Sect? This is a picture of the East Mountain. Does she miss… the Reliance Sect, or does she miss a person…?
“What does this picture of the East Mountain mean? Did she give this pill to someone? Or did she sell it? The person I was just interacting with could not have been her.”
He loosened his grip and looked again at the etching on the side of the pill. His heart suddenly filled with a strong desire to see Elder Sister Xu. Deep inside, the answers to his questions existed already.
“Elder Sister Xu….” A sharp look glowed in his eyes and he took a deep breath. This pill told him that if she didn’t sell or give away the pill, then the only other possibility was….
He felt a stab of pain in his heart, and his eyesight grew blurry. In his mind was the image of Elder Sister Xu from all those years ago. So long ago. He slowly put the Cosmetic Cultivation Pill into his bag of the Cosmos.
“The Black Sieve Sect…. And then there’s this Classic of Time….” Meng Hao slowly lifted his head, staring at the glowing lights in front of him. This was not a place where he could attack; it was impossible to tell what would happen if he did anything impulsive. He didn’t want to beat the grass and startle the snake, thus putting his enemy on guard.
He thought for a bit more, and then his eyes filled with determination. His mind was now made up; he would definitely go to the Black Sieve Sect.
Meng Hao was in no mood to participate in the rest of the secret meeting. He kept thinking about the image of Elder Sister Xu from all those years ago. When the meeting finally came to an end, he let out a light sigh. The mist around him dissipated. Old man Qingshan nodded to the group and waved his hand. Then he turned and left. Those who remained in the pavilion didn’t stick around to talk. One by one, they disappeared, randomly being teleported away. Such methods were making the Secret Trade Alliance more and more popular.
When Meng Hao reappeared, it was outside the gate of another mansion within the city.
This location was halfway across the city from the place where he’d followed Lu Tao to. Meng Hao had already ascertained that the palace he’d been in was not located within the city at all. The place he’d followed Lu Tao to was merely an entranceway.
He walked down the moonlit street, looking up into the sky. His long, lonely shadow stretched out on the ground, seemingly filled with bleakness.
The moon above was the same, but the location was different. It seemed like years had passed since the previous day. Looking back in time, it seemed as if he had no place to call home.
He sighed and walked onwards.
He continued to walk until the sun rose, and then walking until he left this city of Cultivators. Finally, his body transformed into a prismatic beam which shot through the State of Clear Skies toward the Black Sieve Sect!
Several days later.
The Black Sieve Sect was located in the east of the State of Clear Skies, in the middle of the Hundred Thousand Mountains. Its main gate was vast and mighty. Its majesty would strike awe into the heart of any Cultivator who looked upon it.
The Hundred Thousand Mountains surrounding it served as a foil to the ninety-nine mountains within their center. Above these ninety-nine mountains floated a massive mountain, upturned to create something that was almost a continent. On its underside, willows draped down, some a few dozen meters long, others hundreds. Clouds curled up around this massive land, giving it a truly celestial feeling.
Richly ornamented buildings, pagodas and temples covered it. Beneath it, the ninety-nine mountains were all connected with colorful arching bridges. It was unsurprisingly beautiful.
Gurgling water dripped off of the ragged rocks on the bottom of the floating mountain, making this Sect a place of indescribable beauty. The faint sound of bells filled the air, creating an incredibly serene air.
The highest peak of the floating mountain seemed to stretch up to the Heavens. It was there that for generations had existed an enormous incense burner. Three massive burning joss sticks stood up straight within the incense burner. They seemed inextinguishable, as if their fragrance would last throughout all eternity. Their smoke rose up into the sky to eventually be transformed by the wind into wisps like willow branches, and then dispersed.
These were the lands of the Black Sieve Sect.
In fact, if the Black Sieve Sect wanted to, it could claim the surrounding Hundred Thousand Mountains as part of the Sect. After all, it was one of the five great sects of the Southern Domain. Its Dao Reserves were profound, and its Sect techniques tens of thousands of years old.
The spiritual energy here was very thick. In fact, the spiritual energy in the surrounding Hundred Thousand Mountains was thicker by far than any of the Spirit mountains within the State of Zhao. Any single mountain here had spiritual energy thicker than the valley where Meng Hao had reached Foundation Establishment.
This was especially true within the Thousand Mountains; there existed spiritual energy so thick that even the mortals who lived in the region had increased longevity. From birth, they breathed in the spiritual energy, and didn’t need to practice Cultivation to increase their lifespans.
Within the Hundred Mountains, it was even more astonishing.
A young man stood outside the Hundred Thousand Mountains. He wore a black robe, and his face was filled with a lofty and proud look. “The Hundred Mountains of the Black Sieve Sect,” he said coolly, “is where only qualified members of the Inner Sect may practice Cultivation. In fact, the Thousand Mountains are far superior to many so-called Spirit mountains in the world.”
Standing around him were five Cultivators, all of them gazing at the Black Sieve Sect. Each one wore different clothing, and had obviously come from different areas. One in their midst wore a scholar’s robe. His skin was a bit dark, but he had a scholarly and refined disposition. It was none other than Meng Hao.
“The Ten Thousand Mountains are for guests. However, my advice to you, Fellow Daoists, is to not lightly tread into mountains other than the one assigned to you.” The young man smiled as he looked at the five of them. “There are many fierce beasts sealed in the area. Furthermore, there are certain mountains which are reserved for special use, and are guarded by Inner Sect disciples. If you charge into one of those areas, you might not come out alive.”
The young man smiled as his gaze passed over them.
“Fellow Daoists, you all responded to the call of the Black Sieve Sect. Now that you are here, you are guests of the Sect. You will stay within the Ten Thousand Mountains, one person to a mountain. Everything you need to practice Cultivation has been prepared for you. Upon entering your mountain, a disciple from the Black Sieve Sect Pill Mountain will deliver a Sieve Earth Pill to you.
“This pill is a welcoming gift. However, I, Zheng, must remind you, taking the pill, entering the mountain, and signing your fingerprint signifies that you are entering an agreement. If you renege on your promise, or secretly leave, then you will be punished by the Black Sieve Sect.” With a smile, he cupped hands and bowed.
Nearby, five Black Sieve Outer Sect disciples waited to receive them.
“Seems fair,” said one of the five Cultivators, an old man in a gray robe. The others voiced their agreement. Meng Hao said nothing as he gazed off into the endless mountains.
“Very well then. Fellow Daoists, you should not have very long to wait until we begin. Quite a few others have arrived already.” The young man smiled and bowed again.
Within Meng Hao’s group of five was a middle-aged man with a sallow face. “How many Fellow Daoists of the Foundation Establishment stage have come already?” he asked suddenly.
“Not counting you ladies and gentlemen, there are already ninety seven.” The young man surnamed Zhen nodded, then turned, transforming into a beam of light that shot off into the distance.
“Fellow Daoists, please follow us. We will take you to your respective mountains.” The group of five young disciples, who obviously were from the Outer Sect, cupped hands and saluted respectfully, then led the way.
The person leading Meng Hao was a young woman of about twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age. Her Cultivation base was at the seventh level of Qi Condensation. She was pretty, and had an intelligent air to her.
“Senior, please, follow me,” she said softly. Although Meng Hao’s skin was a bit dark, he was cultured and refined. He had the air of a scholar, which wasn’t common among Cultivators. This caused the young woman to take more than a few glances at him.
What was especially alluring was his clear eyes, deep within which seemed to glint a bit of Demonic power. For a young, impressionable girl like her, being gazed at by Meng Hao made her blush.
“Senior…” she said, lowering her head.
“Lead on,” he said with a slight smile. Seeing her reminded him of the Reliance Sect, and of Xu Qing. He looked off at the endless mountains of the Black Sieve Sect, and stubborness glinted within his eyes.
The young girl led Meng Hao to a tall, emerald green mountain. On its top was a residence and a courtyard. Rattan vines wrapped around everything, and a limestone path wound its way around the mountain. The wind blew, causing the spiritual power to curl up and about. The entire scene would cause anyone’s spirits to rise.
Upon reaching the courtyard, Meng Hao produced a pearl head-ornament from the bag of holding he’d acquired from the man named Xu, at the secret meeting. He gave it to the young girl, then sent her off. She left, her face flushed, glancing back repeatedly at Meng Hao. Her heart seemed to be quite abuzz.
Soon, the sky began to darken. As night approached, everything was silent. The only thing that could be heard was the chirping of insects which drifted in from outside. Meng Hao sat cross-legged on the second floor of the building, meditating. Suddenly, his eyes opened.
It was at this moment that the silence outside was suddenly broken by a blood-curdling scream. It sounded like the struggles of someone in the throes of death. The silence was ripped to pieces as the screaming filled the air.