Chapter 161: Ultimate Vexation Appears!
It wasn’t just Xie Jie whose attention turned to Meng Hao. Xu Youdao and the gray-robed Cultivator also gave him deep, meaningful looks.
His expression was calm, but inwardly, his mind flashed with understanding. Now he knew why everyone had looked at him so strangely when they had entered the large Cauldron.
The Nine Great Names didn’t include Meng, so once he entered, they must all have reached the conclusion that he was using an assumed name.
Even he was a bit uncertain regarding this revelation. He looked through the sheets of lightning toward the nine massive statues. Sure enough, amongst them could be found faces similar to Xu Youdao, the gray-robed Cultivator, and even Xie Jie.
These statues depicted their ancestors. They had surnames which could be traced back to ancient times, Clans which some people called the Nine Great Families.
“Am I of the Nine Great Families…?” Meng Hao asked himself. Moments later, a smile appeared on his face, although it was a bit cold. He was sure that he was not of the Nine Great Families.
He had remembered how upon entering the enormous cauldron, the copper mirror had grown hot within the bag of the Cosmos. If that was all, it wouldn’t be enough evidence to prove anything. But Meng Hao had also suddenly recalled how the mirror had grown hot during the secret meeting, when Han Bei had produced the information regarding the first volume of the Classic of Time.
“Han Bei must have prepared for this day for a long time,” he thought, “and it wasn’t just one secret meeting she attended. The information she sent out was not restricted just to late Foundation Stage Cultivators, but more importantly, to only bloodline members of the Nine Great Families.” With all this scattered information, he came to the conclusion that it must have something to do with the copper mirror.
“Just what is this mirror exactly? It can agitate the auras of wild beasts to explode, it has an astonishing power of duplication, and apparently has helped me achieve my goals by using underhanded means. Even though I’m not of the Nine Great Families, I was still able to enter this place. All these various thoughts flashed through Meng Hao’s mind in quick succession. Only a moment or two passed between Xie Jie’s question and Meng Hao’s response.
“Whether or not the Nine Great Families include Meng, I don’t really know,” he said coolly. “But the fact that I entered the cauldron and made it to this point raises a very important issue.” The look on his face made it very clear what he was thinking.
Xie Jie’s eyes flickered, and he furrowed his brow. Meng Hao’s words left him speechless. The words were a defense in themselves, even though he neither admitted nor denied anything; or perhaps he had done both. Xie Jie looked at him for a long moment.
The response had been clear; Meng Hao didn’t know. But maybe the reason he was here was because he was indeed of the Nine Great Families.
“Fellow Daoist Meng provided you with his answer,” said Han Bei calmly. “Elder Brother Xie, I know that you have some Green Cloaking Pills on your person that the Sect Leader gave you specifically for use in this place. I know this already, there’s no need for you to confirm or deny it.”
Xie Jie was quiet for a moment. He looked around at the lightning, his face somber. Then he slapped the top of his head and spit out a small green pill the size of a fingernail. As soon as it flew out, it exploded, sending large amounts of green Qi out in all directions. As it did, the lightning began to grow slightly transparent, as if they were being cloaked.
The five of them continued onward several hundreds of meters, with Xu Youdao and the gray-robed Cultivator taking the lead.
A hundred meters later, Xie Jie, his face grim, said, “I only have three Green Cloaking Pills!” He spat out another pill, and they raced forward amidst the indistinct lightning.
With the power of the two Green Cloaking Pills, they were able to reach the location of the nine statues. The statues were awe-inspiring, as was the cauldron in their center, which seemed as if it could contain the Heavens.
An ancient aura circled about the area, brushing against their faces and making them feel as if they had traveled back to a primordial time. It was like they could feel the boundlessness of that era.
Han Bei was incapable of concealing the excitement within her eyes. She panted as she looked up at the statue of her ancestor. Next to her, Xu Youdao, the gray-cloaked man, and even Xie Jie stood by silently, all of them gazing at the statues of their respective ancestors.
Meng Hao had no way to comprehend what was going through their minds. His face was the calmest of the bunch as he looked at the statues one by one. Finally his gaze fell upon the circular cauldron that represented the heavens.
Even as he looked at the cauldron, something in his peripheral vision caught his attention. Something was moving on one of the statues. Meng Hao’s eyes immediately darted over, and then opened wide.
There, upon the shoulder of the statue that resembled the gray-cloaked Cultivator, some dust had fallen away to reveal something. It was square, and looked gelatinous and somewhat elastic, like a slab of meat jelly.
It was pure and white, and after looking upon it, the first reaction of most people would be to try to eat it. The object sat on the statue’s shoulder, wriggling a bit, causing more dust to fall down. Meng Hao stared, eyes wide, mouth agape. The thing seemed to be alive! Suddenly, it flew off of the statue’s shoulder and onto its head. Then it leaped up into the air. A crack appeared on the surface of the meat jelly, which opened up into an enormous mouth. Instantly, the lightning in the sky crackled. Ten lightning bolts fell down directly onto the meat jelly.
It chewed for a bit, then stopped, as if it were digesting the lightning. Meng Hao gaped in astonishment as it dropped to the ground and then hop, hop, hopped over to land on the circular cauldron. It remained there motionless.
It wasn’t just Meng Hao who saw this happen. The noise caused by the lightning and the meat jelly was incredible, causing Han Bei and the others to all look over. Han Bei’s eyes narrowed, whereas Xie Jie’s opened wider. He gasped, and the two of them exchanged a shocked, knowing glance.
The gray-robed Cultivator suddenly said, “That must be what the Black Sieve Sect needs the Hundred Spirits Tower for. They want to drag out Ultimate Vexation.” A mysterious look appeared in his eyes. Within his pupils appeared magical symbols as he attempted to gain information. This had nothing to do with his Cultivation base, but something specific to his eyes.
Before Han Bei and Xie Jie could say anything, the meat jelly suddenly jumped up. The face of an old man, his eyes closed, magically appeared on its surface. His nose twitched, and his eyes opened. They appeared to be filled with frustration. The meat jelly suddenly flew up and shot toward the exit of the square cauldron. But then it stopped in mid-air, as if it were hesitating. It floated there for a moment and consumed more lightning.
Seeing this, the eyes of the five Cultivators gleamed.
“Why is this thing called Ultimate Vexation?” Meng Hao suddenly asked of the gray-robed Cultivator.
“Even I don’t know,” was the reply. “I haven’t been able uncover any information about its origin. The Black Sieve Sect has likely spent much more time researching it. The little I do know is that as long as it has existed, it has been called Ultimate Vexation.”
“I couldn’t care less what that thing is called,” said Xu Youdao. “Half an hour has already passed. If Fellow Daoist Han can’t retrieve the rest of the Classic of Time soon, then our whole trip here will have been a waste!”
Without a word, Han Bei sat down cross-legged beneath the statue of her ancestor. Her hands made incantation gestures, and her ancient jade began to emit a greenish glow as it rotated around her. Meng Hao’s eyes glittered and he stepped a bit closer to her.
Everything around them was relatively quiet. Only the claps of thunder roared out. Time passed, the space of roughly one hundred breaths. Han Bei’s eyes suddenly opened, and the sound of incantation words floated from her mouth. Xu Youdao, the gray-robed Cultivator, and Xie Jie all stood around, as vigilant as ever.
Suddenly, the sound of Han Bei’s incantation ceased, and she spat out a mouthful of blood onto the ancient jade. It emitted a blinding green light and flew toward the hands of the statue.
It didn’t move incredibly fast, and actually wobbled back and forth a bit in the air as it moved. The blood drained from Han Bei’s face, as if she were having trouble controlling it. As the jade neared the statue, the two scripture scrolls in the statue’s hands began to glow brightly. Cracks appeared on their surfaces, and a boom echoed out. Suddenly, two pieces of jade exploded out from within the two scrolls.
Everyone clearly saw this happen, and though they might have their suspicions as to what was happening, it was obvious that two pieces of jade were flying away from the exploded scripture scrolls. Whistling sounds echoed out from them as they shot out.
The two jade pieces flew out, seemingly completely out of control, not controlled by anything or anyone. They seemed to be shooting out in an attempt to leave the square cauldron.
Before they could go very far, though, they were grabbed by the greenish glow emanated from Han Bei’s ancient jade. It was as if they were all connected somehow. The two escaping pieces of jade suddenly stopped in mid air; they began to shake, as if they were struggling. A loud buzzing sound emanated out from them.
Han Bei coughed up some blood, and immediately seemed to grow listless. Exhaustion covered her face, and suddenly, her ancient piece of jade slipped out of her control and fell toward the ground.
In that instant, the other two pieces of jade suddenly began to fly off into the distance. It was very sudden, and there was no time for anyone to think. Xu Youdao’s eyes flickered, and his body shot up into the air as he flew toward one of the jade pieces. The gray-robed man’s eyes narrowed, but he too stepped up and shot forward, a green beam of light that shot toward the second jade piece. As for Xie Jie, he flew up and toward the original jade piece, a look of suspicion on his face.
“No fighting, Fellow Daoists,” cried Han Bei. “Great tribulation will come on anyone not of my bloodline who touches those items! I have a method to bring together the three ancient pieces of jade.” She coughed up some more blood.
I found a lot of different articles about various varieties of meat jelly. Here is one relatively general article. From what I understand, most meat jellies in China are made from pork. In any case, the ingredients of meat jellies are not very important to the story. Check out the picture to get an idea of what it’s supposed to look like.
At the end of this chapter, Er Gen challenges the audience to guess the meaning of the name “Ultimate Vexation”