Chapter 145: An Ancient Mountain Path
“Patriarch Violet Sieve!”
“I never imagined that the person leading us would be the Black Sieve Sect’s Nascent Soul eccentric Patriarch Violet Sieve. They say his killing aura is incredible! Years ago when he was forming his Nascent Soul, his name rocked the Southern Domain. Once he wiped out three Sects in an single night!”
“According to the rumors, the Black Sieve Sect has already entered that danger zone five times. Each time they leave behind people to stay on guard. Today is the sixth time. Even still, look at how many people they’ve mustered! This Sect is so powerful! No wonder they’re one of the five great Sects of the Southern Domain.”
Meng Hao heard the talk around him and also felt the pressure exuded by the violet-robed old man. But his vision was focused further back, on the enormous, nine thousand meter wide yellow Feng Shui compass which was flying in his direction. Standing atop it, amidst hundreds of Cultivators, was a woman.
She wore a long, black gown, and her face was pale white, almost bloodless. This made her already chilly disposition even icier. However… looking at her, Meng Hao got the sense that in truth, she was actually just covering up her fragile heart.
“Elder Sister Xu…” he murmured as he looked at her. Finally he could rest a bit at ease. Now, they weren’t so very far away from each other. And yet, despite being so close to each other, they were still worlds apart….
It was at this point that Meng Hao frowned. He noticed that standing next to Elder Sister Xu was a pretty woman with a coquettish air and a sneer in her eyes. It seemed as if she were criticizing Elder Sister Xu, who then lowered her head as if she didn’t dare to speak. Her face grew even paler.
A cold glow appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes.
Along with Elder Sister Xu, there were several hundred disciples on top of the massive Feng Shui compass. Their Cultivation bases were varied, but it was obvious that they were ordinary disciples, not Chosen of the Sect.
Also on the Feng Shui compass was a gigantic pitch-black statue of a bare-chested man with wings growing out of his back. The wings were half spread open, giving the statue a very peculiar look.
Even more strange was that a very tall hat was perched atop the statue’s head, which seemed very out of place.
If that were all there was to it, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But upon further inspection with his extraordinary Spiritual Sense, Meng Hao noticed that the statue was not entirely lifeless: it was breathing!
With every breath, it sucked in a bit of Qi from the hundreds of Black Sieve Sect disciples who stood around it.
Meng Hao’s eyes narrowed. Many of the disciples on the Feng Shui compass looked in very high spirits; they obviously had no idea what the statue was doing.
On the ten-sided violet Feng Shui compass was a refined and elegant young man. He stood up with a smile and spoke to the group of rogue Cultivators, including Meng Hao. “Fellow Daoists, I presume many of you know me. I am Xie Jie 1 of the Black Sieve Sect.”
Meng Hao recognized the voice as the one who had spoken moments before.
“I think quite a few Fellow Daoists have some speculations regarding our trip today,” he said with a smile. “I will explain further once we are on our way! Please, follow me!” The violet Feng Shui compass upon which he stood suddenly expanded in size until it was three thousand meters wide, and then flew toward them.
Meng Hao and the other rogue Foundation Establishment Cultivators all seemed to be thinking different things. However, one by one, they began to fly, transforming into beams of light and shooting toward the violet Feng Shui Compass.
Among the roughly one hundred rogue Cultivators, most were at the early Foundation Establishment stage, like Meng Hao. There were eighteen of the mid Foundation Establishment stage, and as far as the late Foundation Establishment stage, there were only three.
Of those three, one was the old man whom Meng Hao had arrived with. Another was a fierce-looking man who wore white robes and let off a ghastly air. He had no beard, and even his Adam’s apple was very small. However, he was surrounded by a desolate killing aura.
The last was a woman. Her features were plain, and she was somewhat overweight. However, her late Foundation Establishment Cultivation base rippled, causing everyone around her to treat her very politely. The three of them joined Xie Jie on his Feng Shui Compass. Xie Jie treated them much more respectfully than he did the others, leading them off to the side with him.
At the same time, Meng Hao looked around at the rogue Foundation Establishment Cultivators and caught sight of Lu Tao over in the corner, along with the richly-dressed woman from the secret meeting.
There was another person who caught Meng Hao’s attention; this person appeared to be at the early Foundation Establishment stage, and milled about innocuously in the midst of the crowd. Meng Hao’s eyes passed over him at first; it was a hard to describe the Qi that caught his attention. It was like the stench which might roll off of a rotting corpse.
No one else seemed to notice, but after a while, Meng Hao thought about the information from the Demon Sealing Jade. He also thought back to the prickly Qi he had sensed in the Black Sieve Sect.
The Feng Shui compass began to vibrate beneath their feet and then shot forward. Together with the other Black Sieve Sect Feng Shui compasses, they transformed into colorful beams of light as they sped through the air.
The direction they were heading turned out to be the Hundred Mountains of the Black Sieve Sect.
Meng Hao stood there quietly, unmoving. Anyone who looked at him saw a Cultivation base at the early Foundation Establishment stage. He stood in the middle of all the Cultivators. Other than Lu Tao, no one seemed to notice him. Elder Sister Xu didn’t notice him either. Her face was covered with a bitter expression, as if she was pondering her own future.
As the Feng Shui compasses neared the middle of the Hundred Mountains, the tendrils of smoke rising up from the massive incense burner began to twist in the air above the Sect. Layer upon layer, they twisted together to form an enormous ring of smoke.
As the smoke ring formed, the space in the middle began to ripple. Meng Hao watched as the lead Feng Shui compass entered into the smoke ring and then disappeared. His eyes flickered as the violet Feng Shui compass he stood on entered the ring.
Soon all of the Feng Shui compasses and Cultivators had entered, whereupon the smoke ring disappeared and the Black Sieve Sect returned to its normal state. Outside of the Hundred Mountains, a shield appeared. Shields also sprung up around the Thousand Mountains and the Hundred Thousand Mountains. The entire Sect was now sealed up tight; no one could leave or enter.
About the same time that the Black Sieve Sect sealed itself, Divine Sense from multiple locations began to sweep about the State of Clear Skies. This was Divine Sense from various Sects and Clans within the Southern Domain, come to investigate what was happening within the Black Sieve Sect.
Because of different agreements that they had with the Black Sieve Sect, they couldn’t interfere.
Back on the Feng Shui compass, Xie Jie’s voice rang out: “Fellow Daoists, there’s no reason to be alarmed. This is one of the Black Sieve Sect’s most valuable treasures, the Heaven Forged Furnace. In ancient times, it was inscribed with void-penetrating runes that turn it into a teleportation portal.
“As to where the teleportation portal leads to, I’m afraid none of you are familiar with it. Even I myself don’t really know….” The teleportation just now had caused a buzz of conversation to arise, but after hearing Xie Jie’s words, everyone quieted back down.
Meng Hao looked around coldly. They seemed to be surrounded by blackness interspersed with points of light that looked like stars. Everything around them was empty, without the least bit of light. Only the glow emitted by the Feng Shui compasses illuminated the people on them.
Ahead, one Feng Shui compass after another flew along. Most of the Black Sieve Sect disciples were sitting cross-legged meditating. Only the group of Chosen on the violet Feng Shui compass was staring out into the blackness.
Further away, the three Core Formation eccentrics seemed to be discussing something amongst themselves with Divine thought. And then, there was the most powerful person of all, Patriarch Violet Sieve, who sat motionless meditating, his eyes closed.
Elder Sister Xu was sitting silently in the midst of the several hundred Black Sieve Sect disciples. The statue in their midst seemed as if it were about to melt into the blackness of this dark world. Ghost images resonated out from it, adding to its bizarreness.
On Xie Jie’s Feng Shui compass, one of the three late Foundation Establishment Cultivators, an old man in a gray robe, frowned and said, “Fellow Daoist Xie, you said you’ve been to this place a few times before. Yet, you don’t know how to describe where we’re going….?”
Xie Jie seemed to hesitate in thought for a moment and then looked around for a moment. “Well,” he said, “I do know a bit about the path we’re traveling. As Fellow Daoist Tu surmised, this is a path that Cultivators in ancient times would use to travel to the stars to collect foreign Spirit lineages. It is a path between Mountains!” The surrounding Cultivators stared in astonishment at him and, then looked around them, seemingly intent on fixing everything around them into the memories.
“It’s not a true path between Mountains,” said Xie Jie, looking around contentedly at the shocked looks on the faces of the rogue Foundation Establishment Cultivators. “Only Immortals can tread that path. This is just a subsidiary branch, like one of the hundreds of streams which flow into the Milky Way. That having been said, it’s still a path we should not be able to walk, which is why we need the power of the Heaven Forged Furnace of the Black Sieve Sect. It can protect us as we travel the path.”
It turned out that this was not a true path between Mountains, but only a branch of one. Even still, to open it required the power of a great Sect; an ordinary Sect wouldn’t be able to.
Xie Jie’s eyes swept over the crowd and came to rest on Meng Hao. He frowned a bit, then said, “Ah, you must be Fellow Daoist Meng. Please, come sit over here.” He had actually taken notice of Meng Hao much earlier. Before departing earlier in the day, the three Core Formation Patriarchs had personally charged him with the task of keeping an eye on Meng Hao.
He wasn’t sure why, and didn’t understand why three Core Formation Patriarchs would pay attention to a trifling early Foundation Establishment stage rogue Cultivator. He smiled at Meng Hao, but this smile was not genuine. He had no goodwill toward Meng Hao and had called his name simply to sow discord among the other Cultivators. Perhaps in this way he could get some clues about Meng Hao.
Exactly as he had anticipated, his words caused the surrounding rogue Cultivators to look over at Meng Hao. Many of them stared.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever, as if he didn’t care in the least. He’d known that his actions the other night would arouse some sort of attention. It was unavoidable. So hearing Xie Jie’s words, he nodded slightly.
“I’m fine where I am,” he said. “My Cultivation base is weak, so it wouldn’t be suitable for me to sit amongst such powerful figures.”
Of course, the three Core Formation eccentrics who were communicating with Divine thought up ahead noticed this. They didn’t interfere. They weren’t sure what extraordinary abilities Meng Hao possessed. This was why the Black Sieve Sect Leader had issued special instructions to pay attention to Meng Hao.
Xie Jie smiled lightly and was about to say something else, when suddenly the Feng Shui compass shook, and suddenly stopped moving. The Feng Shui compasses up ahead also stopped. The magical light emitted by the compasses instantly went out.
The faces of the three Core Formation eccentrics changed. The eminently powerful Patriarch Violet Sieve opened his eyes for the first time. They shone with both dignity and caution.
An archaic voice suddenly echoed out in the minds of all the Cultivators. “Everyone quiet!” It was as if an intangible seal had been placed on all of them, preventing them from speaking.
Within the silent darkness around them suddenly appeared a beautiful, five-colored glowing light. In front of them appeared an enormous jellyfish, tens of thousands of meters large. Its countless tentacles swayed gently, and its semi-transparent body slowly rippled. Its glow shone down into the eyes of the onlookers.
Within the body of the jellyfish, everyone was able to see a rotting corpse. It appeared to have been half digested by the jellyfish.
This chapter was sponsored by Quentin Nivon, Danh Tran, Dainius Gliebus and Joshua Marsh
- Xie Jie’s name in Chinese is 谢杰 xiè jié – Xie is a surname, and also the word for “thanks.” Jie means “outstanding” or “heroic” ↩