Chapter 143: Ghost in the Night
Meng Hao stood in front of the second-floor window. The moon hung in the sky. Off in the distance, he could see a mountain covered with rippling spells that looked like a fine gauze.
The miserable cry was coming from that mountain. At the moment, multiple figures could be seen flying up from various surrounding mountains to see what was happening.
Soon, several prismatic beams shot toward the mountain. Not long after, the ripples in the spells faded away, and everything returned to how it had been moments before. Everything was quiet.
Meng Hao frowned, and his eyes flashed. He remembered that mountain from which the scream had emanated was the same mountain that the sallow-faced man had gone to earlier that day. Having seen the figures emerge and fly toward the mountain, Meng Hao was about to go investigate, but then paused suddenly.
His face flickered as he looked down at his bag of the Cosmos. He slapped it, and the Demon Sealing Jade flew out, which he grabbed.
It shimmered, emanating a mysterious glow. A very strange feeling rose up in Meng Hao’s heart. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, but it seemed as if there were some invisible Qi prickling at his heart.
Thoughtfully, he took out the jade piece left by the Eighth Demon Sealer and placed it in his palm.
The archaic voice of the Eighth Demon Sealer rang out in his mind. “Some spirits in the cycle of reincarnation avoid burial. Their Qi seems Demonic, and yet not. They are above living creatures, but infected with the tens of thousands of variations of the mortal world. The Qi is serene. Consumed by bones and spirit, they can lead the way to the path. If you encounter such Qi, you must seal it!”
Meng Hao thought for a moment, and eventually decided not to leave. He stood next to the window, casting his Spiritual Sense out toward the direction where the bloodcurdling scream had come from. The first thing he heard was quarreling voices.
“This is the sixth fellow Daoist to die. If the Black Sieve Sect doesn’t provide an explanation right now, then we will leave!”
“That’s right. We responded to your call for the sake of a Sieve Earth Pill. If people were dying in battle, then very well; but recently people have been dying miserable deaths in the middle of the night! Then you seal the area up and don’t allow anyone to investigate. It’s very strange! Of course we have questions!”
There were about ten Cultivators near the mountain, staring coldly at the Black Sieve Sect Cultivators who were preventing them from investigating the scene of the death.
In the distance, no small amount of Cultivators had flown out from their respective mountains and were watching from a distance. They said nothing, but all of them were exuding the power of their Cultivation bases. A great pressure rose up, transforming into a sort of voiceless revolt.
The Black Sieve Sect disciples’ faces all turned very unsightly. It was at this moment, however, that a gravely voice suddenly sounded out.
“The Sect will offer an explanation within three days.” As the voice rang out, an old man wearing a wide Daoist robe appeared. The pressure exuded by his body caused the surrounding Cultivators’ faces to change.
The Black Sieve Sect disciples all bowed.
“Greetings, Elder Chen.”
The old man strode forward. He stood below them at the foot of the mountain, and yet the Foundation Establishment Cultivators floating in the air above him were all silent. Many of them offered respectful bows. They obviously knew who this old man was.
Meng Hao stood at the window, his expression the same as ever. However, a slight frown slowly appeared. The old man was an Elder of the Black Sieve Sect, and his Cultivation base was not at the Foundation Establishment stage, but Core Formation.
His gaze swept over the gathering of people. When he spoke, his voice wasn’t very loud, and yet it filled the minds of everyone in the area. “I very much appreciate that you all were able to come to the Black Sieve Sect. In regards to the killings that have occurred in the past days, I too am quite furious regarding this matter. Within three days, I will slay the killer with my own hand.”
“With Elder Chen present, we are much more at ease. Thank you, senior, for administering justice.” The Foundation Cultivators bowed one by one and then returned to their respective mountains. An Elder of the Black Sieve Sect had appeared; although he hadn’t offered an explanation, how could they possibly continue to argue about the matter?
Soon, everything was quiet again. Elder Chen departed, as did most of the Black Sieve Sect disciples. The mountain from which the scream had sounded out was also quiet. No one was willing to make further attempts to go investigate.
Looking pensive, Meng Hao returned to sit cross-legged and meditate. Within his mind echoed the words of the Eighth Demon Sealer.
“There’s something strange going on in the Black Sieve Sect….” Meng Hao’s eyes opened, filled with an intense glow. The prickly Qi that he felt seemed to be growing thicker.
He lowered his head for a moment, thinking. Then he took out the Blood Immortal Legacy mask. Sending his Spiritual Sense inside, he saw the Li Clan Patriarch, enveloped by Meng Hao’s blood mist. He seemed to be growing weaker lately. He no longer cried out like he had before; he didn’t seem to have the strength.
“What do you know about the Black Sieve Sect?” Meng Hao asked through Spiritual Sense. He’d always found the old man’s Blood Spirit identity to be somewhat strange. The feeling was even stronger when he thought of Li Daoyi.
“I know dog farts, you little son of a b*tch,” said the Li Clan Patriarch, his hoarse voice full of venom. “If you had any skill at all, you…”
Before he could finish speaking, Meng Hao calmly cut his finger and used a drop of blood to surround the old man in more blood mist. A miserable cry could be heard, and then Meng Hao retracted his Spiritual Sense. He asked no more questions, instead putting away the mask.
Meanwhile, underneath the Black Sieve Sect’s Ten Thousand Mountains, was an enormous network of limestone caves, like a giant labyrinth. Deep in its recesses was a tall platform adorned with burning torches. The dancing torchlight filled the place with flickering shadows.
Atop the platform, three old Cultivators sat cross-legged. Their bodies were withered, and as they sat there, they almost looked dead. A strong Death Qi swirled around them. And yet, their eyes were open, and gleamed with ancient, nether-worldly light.
Their figures seemed to twist and warp, as if they existed somewhere between the physical and the corporeal, and not completely within the world.
Situated in the middle of them was a hide. It appeared to be made from the skin of some wild beast. Its edges were tattered, and on its surface was some sort of map.
The hide map appeared to be slowly wriggling. Standing atop it was the phantom image of a man, who at the moment was letting out a soundless scream. It looked like the ghost of a middle-aged man, his face sallow. This was one of the five people who had arrived with Meng Hao.
His body started to get blurry, and soon disappeared. When it did, the edges of the hide slowly expanded a little, and the hide became a bit more glossy. It was a scene that anyone observing would find incredibly strange.
Some time passed, and then one of the old people spoke in a hoarse, scraping voice: “Under the moonlight tomorrow, it will consume another person. Then we can begin.”
“This time, we must succeed, no matter what. We must…! We must acquire that legendary item. Not just for us, but for the Patriarchs. Then we can all awaken. We will no longer have to conceal ourselves in this realm of darkness, this empty place with no land to step foot upon.”
“There still aren’t enough Foundation Establishment pups out there. We spread the news far and wide, but the Sects and Clans aren’t easily fooled. Hmph.”
“It can’t be helped. These Foundation Establishment pups are just a part of the whole. With everything else we’ve prepared, we will definitely succeed this time.” The sound of their voices slowly faded away. Soon the only movement was that of the wriggling hide, placed in between them like some sort of object of worship.
The night passed uneventfully, and soon dawn broke. Meng Hao opened his eyes from meditation. Outside his residence, he saw a beam of multicolored light approaching. It turned into a woman wearing a black gown. She was tall and slender, with fair skin and beautiful hair that draped over her shoulders. She slowed as she approached, coming to a stop outside Meng Hao’s residence.
“Disciple Han Bei 1 of Black Sieve Sect Pill Mountain has been dispatched to deliver you a Sieve Earth Pill,” she said. “Fellow Daoist, can you please come out?” She had an intelligent voice and a smile as beautiful as a flower in bloom. Her presence seemed to make everything brighter. Her eyes were alluring, her smile white and lovely. She wore a long, emerald-green gown, trimmed with violet embroidery. Overall, she had an otherworldly look.
Meng Hao emerged, and they sat at a table.
She looked at Meng Hao, her smile unchanging. As she did, her eyes seemed to grow brighter, although whether this was done consciously or subconsciously was impossible to tell.
“Fellow Daoist, may I ask your honored name?” she asked with a slight smile. Her voice was as pleasant as the call of a lark. Listening to it could be described as a pleasure.
“Meng Hao,” he replied coolly, making no attempt to conceal his identity. Looking at the woman in front of her, he could tell that her Cultivation base was extraordinary. It seemed to be at the early Foundation Establishment stage.
“Meng….” Han Bei looked at him in shock for a moment. She studied his face and then laughed. “So, you are Fellow Daoist Meng. This here is a contract. Would you please mark it with your thumbprint? Then I can give you your Sieve Earth Pill. Afterward, if you follow all the requirements laid out by the Sect, then you will get a second.” She lifted her delicate hand. Around her wrist was an emerald green bracelet. A glow flashed off of it, and within her hands appeared a paper scroll. She handed it to Meng Hao.
His expression the same as ever, he looked at her bracelet for a long moment, then accepted the scroll. He looked it over, then lifted his right thumb and left a mark on the paper.
Han Bei gazed at him the entire time. After he placed his thumbprint on the paper, she produced a jade box the size of a hand and placed it off to the side.
“Here is your Sieve Earth Pill. Please note, the pill cannot be consumed during the daytime. After all, its full name is Moon Sieve Mother Earth Pill. When you consume it, it will drink in the moonlight.” She smiled, then rose to her feet to take her leave.
Before she could depart, Meng Hao suddenly said, “Have we met before?”
His words caused her to stare at him in shock.
“I don’t recall ever seeing you before, Fellow Daoist Meng.”
“My mistake,” he said. “I took you for someone else.” He frowned as if he were thinking deeply. Han Bei laughed. With a final nod, she transformed into a beam of light and departed. As she left, her smile turned into a thoughtful look.
Meng Hao picked up the jade box containing the Sieve Earth Pill. After heading back into his residence, he opened it. Inside was a medicinal pill about the size of an infant’s hand. It was white, and wrapped in a wax seal. Despite that, a thick medicinal aroma wafted off of it, as well as rippling spiritual energy.
“Actually, one of these pills is enough for me. But, I can’t casually consume it. I need to test it out to see if it’s real or fake.” He put the jade box away, then closed his eyes and continued to meditate.
Time slipped by, and soon it was late at night. The moon hung brightly in the sky, and everything was quiet. Outside of Meng Hao’s mountain, however, a shadowy figure appeared noiselessly. It was very strange in appearance, like a rippling piece of hide. A closer look revealed that the person’s features were none other than the sallow-faced middle-aged man who had passed away.
His eyes shone. He looked around at the surrounding mountains, then selected Meng Hao’s. His body flashed, and he floated up toward Meng Hao’s residence.
As he approached the residence at the top of the mountain, Meng Hao, who was sitting cross-legged meditating, suddenly lifted his head. His eyes glittered brightly.
- Han Bei’s name in Chinese is 韩贝 hán bèi – Han is a common surname. Bei means “shell” ↩