Chapter 180: Shan Ling
Chen Fan looked at Meng Hao and laughed heartily. Hearts filled with happiness, he and Meng Hao transformed into beams of prismatic light that shot off toward the other Solitary Sword Sect disciples.
When the man named Li saw Meng Hao approaching with Chen Fan, he frowned.
“My Junior Brother is acquainted with my Master and wishes to visit him,” said Chen Fan coolly in explanation. “He will accompany us back to the Sect.”
The man named Li said nothing. He simply turned and transformed into a colorful beam that shot up into the sky.
“Little Junior Brother, after we get to the Sect, I’ll go implore Master to take you as a disciple. Then we can be fellow Brothers of the Solitary Sword Sect. It shouldn’t be a very big deal. I’ve never asked anything of Master, so there’s an eighty to ninety percent chance he’ll agree. Of course, I expect he’ll only accept you as a novitiate. However, his Cultivation Base is at the Nascent Soul stage, so being one of his novitiates is still a high position within the Solitary Sword Sect.” It seemed Chen Fan already had Meng Hao’s future planned out meticulously.
Meng Hao hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Elder Brother, for the moment, I don’t think that’s necessary. I actually have some matters I need to take care of.”
“Little Junior Brother!” said Chen Fan, his expression suddenly very solemn. “I understand that you don’t want to join another Sect. I felt the same way back then. I only wanted to be a member of a single Sect for my entire life. However… we are Cultivators. Our Sect is the foundation of everything, especially in the Southern Domain. Anyone who is not a member of a Sect is a rogue Cultivator. Regardless of Cultivation base level, rogue Cultivators make progress only with great difficulty. Years can be wasted, and the results can be in vain.
“You need to listen to me in this matter. The Solitary Sword Sect is the number one Sect in the Southern Domain. It’s Dao Reserves are incredibly profound. It’s a place where both of us can grow up.”
Meng Hao didn’t respond.
As they traveled, Chen Fan continued to give him advice, all the way until afternoon of the next day. Eventually, the Solitary Sword Sect’s main gate appeared up ahead. Finally, Meng Hao nodded.
Chen Fan’s smile grew wider as he gazed at Meng Hao with the kind warmth of a member of the elder generation looking at a junior. Although he wasn’t very much older than Meng Hao, in his eyes, Meng Hao was still that young scholar who had just joined the Sect.
The Solitary Sword Sect was comprised of an enormous mountain, visible from far off in the distance. This mountain was the number one mountain in the entire Southern Domain, a hundred times larger than any other mountain.
The name of this mountain was… Solitary Dao Mountain!
Floating above it in the sky was another mountain that seemed to be a mirror image of it. From a distance, they made an outline like that of an hourglass. Anyone who caught sight of it for the first time would surely be shocked.
The name of the second mountain was… Solitary Sword Mountain!
The mountains were so large that it was almost impossible to look from one end to the other in a single glance. Meng Hao had never seen mountains as large as this in his entire life. He couldn’t help but tremble inwardly at the sight of them.
If it were only these two mountains, then it wouldn’t be a very big deal. But… in the center the two mountains was a massive sword, piercing through them into the ground!
The hilt of the sword protruded above the mountains and stretched up into the sky.
Boundless rays of morning sunlight filled the area, giving it a truly celestial feeling.
Meng Hao took a deep breath. Having laid eyes on the Black Sieve Sect and the Solitary Sword Sect, he had now seen two of the great Sects of the Southern Domain. The Black Sieve Sect was undeniably influential. The dread caused by their power would cause anyone to bow before them.
However, the Solitary Sword Sect’s sheer, raw might didn’t cause others to bow before them, but to fear them!
“I wonder what the other great Sects look like…” thought Meng Hao to himself as he gazed at the Solitary Sword Sect.
The group of people flew along quickly. As they approached Solitary Dao Mountain, they reached an area that was protected by a beautiful field of colorful light. Up ahead, the man named Li looked back coldly at Meng Hao and then gave a cold snort. With that, his disappeared into the light.
Meng Hao watched coolly as he left. In his estimation, the man was someone who couldn’t really see to the heart of things. If Chen Fan hadn’t stopped him earlier, the man would either have been injured or killed. It all would have depended on Meng Hao’s mood.
“Don’t worry,” said Chen Fan, clearly worried for Meng Hao. “Once Master accepts you as a novitiate, then Elder Brother Li won’t dare to bother you.” He gave a comforting smile, and then pulled Meng Hao in through the colorful field of light. He pulled out a glowing jade slip. The light swirled up around the two of them. It flickered, and then they disappeared.
When they reappeared, they were at the foot of Solitary Dao Mountain. The air was filled with the scent of blooming flowers and the sounds of birds singing. Gurgling streams could be seen. There were quite a few Solitary Sword Sect disciples going to and fro. When they saw Chen Fan, each and every one gave him respectful salutes.
Chen Fan led Meng Hao to the courtyard of a house. “Little Junior Brother,” he said, “you wait for me here. I’m going to go pay my respects to the Elders. After that, I’ll go look for Master. I probably won’t return until after nightfall. You rest a bit here, or go walk around if you’d like. Don’t go too far, though. When I get back, we can stay up all night chatting.” He clasped Meng Hao’s shoulder, and then turned and flew off in a beam of colorful light.
Meng Hao watched him depart, then looked around at his surroundings. He opened the gate of the courtyard and entered the house. It was decorated tastefully, although not extravagantly. Everything emanated refinement. This was especially true of the vast collection of scrolls. Meng Hao selected one of the ancient texts and sat down cross-legged to examine it.
After some time passed, he put the ancient scroll down, and a thoughtful look gleamed in his eyes.
“Maybe I should join the Solitary Sword Sect…” he thought, his brow furrowed. It wasn’t his first choice. However, the Black Sieve Sect surely wouldn’t just let go the matter of the meat jelly. Entering the Solitary Sword Sect might not be a bad choice.
His eyes glittered stubbornly at the thought of the Violet Fate Sect. Dispelling his poison wasn’t the only reason he wished to do so. “I’m still inclined toward the Violet Fate Sect,” he thought. “I really want to learn Violet Qi from the East…” With that technique, he could form a Violet Core, which was the pinnacle of Core Formation.
“Furthermore, I need to study alchemy. I can’t rely on others to do it for me every time I need a pill concocted. That’s especially true of the Perfect Core Pill….” Meng Hao sat there for some time lost in thought. Soon, evening began to fall. Sunlight streamed in from outside. Meng Hao took a deep breath and, seeing that Chen Fan hadn’t returned, decided to step outside of the house for a bit to look at Solitary Dao Mountain.
The setting sun shone onto the mountain, giving it a somewhat hazy appearance. Mist began to rise up around the mountain, and as Meng Hao looked closer, his eyes narrowed.
He suddenly caught sight of a woman wearing a blue-green garment, floating down a path on Solitary Dao Mountain.
The appearance of this woman made the haziness of the surroundings suddenly seem clear. The sound of people dropping to their knees and prostrating themselves to her could be heard.
“It’s Elder Sister Shan Ling.” 1
“It’s really Elder Sister Shan Ling. I’ve heard that on the ninth day of every month, at dusk, she descends the mountain to collect dewdrops…”
“Greetings, Elder Sister Shan Ling.”
The sound of voices drifted down to Meng Hao. He watched as the woman slowly floated down the mountain, and his heart trembled as suddenly, the voice of the Demon Sealing Jade sounded out in his head.
“A stone of the Ninth Mountain descended and became a new mountain (山.) The mountain (山) has a spirit (灵,) and the spirit (灵) is demonic. Its will is not of this world. If you encounter it… allow it to transform magically if it is good. Seal and exterminate it if it is violent. Make your choice after careful consideration.”
The sound echoed out in Meng Hao’s mind. He stood there silently for a moment recovering his composure. He was used to the bizarreness of the Demon Sealing Jade. He looked at the woman, and his eyes shone with a strange light.
Quite a large group of Cultivators had flown over and were bowing to the woman and offering respectful words. One of them was none other than the middle-aged man named Li, who bowed toward her politely.
The moment that Meng Hao’s gaze fell upon the woman, she looked down at him and seemed to pause in mid-air. A sharp look filled her eyes as she looked at him.
Their gazes locked for the space of a few breaths. The woman’s brow furrowed slightly, and then she looked away and continued off into the distance. She left, but the man named Li seemed to have taken notice of the look that had passed between the two of them.
He had also noticed Shan Ling’s furrowed brow. He gave a cold harrumph, and then his body flashed, and he shot down toward Meng Hao.
This aroused the attention of the surrounding Solitary Sword Sect disciples. In the blink of an eye, the man named Li arrived to float above the courtyard where Meng Hao stood. He looked down, a cold gleam in his eyes.
“You again!” he said coldly. “First you overestimate your strength, and then you dare to be disrespectful to the Solitary Sword Sect’s Elder Sister Shan Ling! Just what is your purpose in coming here?!” This caused many of the surrounding disciples to look at Meng Hao.
“Who is this guy?”
“He looks a bit familiar, but I don’t think I’ve seen him before….”
“I remember him. That’s the guest who Elder Brother Chen brought with him earlier this afternoon. I wonder what Elder Brother Li wants with him?”
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever as he looked up at the haughty Li character.
“What exactly do you mean, your excellency?” said Meng Hao coolly.
“Whatever your purpose here, you’re in the Solitary Sword Sect. Considering your actions here, I think I need to take your Elder Brother’s place in teaching you a lesson.” He obviously wasn’t interested in providing any sort of education to Meng Hao. Meng Hao had left him with a bad impression originally, and when combined with the Shan Ling’s frown, caused him to be filled with ill feelings. He lifted his right hand, whereupon the power of the great circle of Foundation Establishment exploded out.
“Ridiculous,” said Meng Hao coolly. The Li man’s hand descended, and the illusory image of a large sword appeared. It descended toward Meng Hao, bursting with the power of the great circle of Foundation Establishment.
Meng Hao’s eyes flashed coldly, and he lifted his own hand. He didn’t have any good feelings toward this person, after all. However, before he could actually do anything, a small black dagger shot toward them and slammed into the Li man’s phantom sword.
A boom rattled out, and the phantom sword disintegrated. The Li man’s face flashed as Chen Fan shot toward them in a beam of colorful light.
“Elder Brother Li, you continue to harass my Junior Brother. With a Cultivation base at the Pseudo Core stage, must you really cause me to lose so much face? I’m one of the Seven Solitary Sword Sons. Just who the hell do you think you are?”
- Shan Ling’s name in Chinese is 山灵 shān líng. Shan means “mountain.” Ling means “spirit” ↩