Book 2: Cutting into the Southern Domain
Chapter 96: Demonic Jade in a Mountain Valley
There’s no need to explain what Foundation Establishment means to Cultivators. It is a world-shaking transformation which includes an extension of longevity. Of course, longevity means life, and the lives of Foundation Establishment Cultivators are much more fulfilling than those of the Qi Condensation stage.
There are injuries which will kill someone of the Qi Condensation stage, but can only hurt a powerful Foundation Establishment expert.
Meng Hao walked through the verdant mountains outside the edge of what had once been the State of Zhao, leaving behind the land that had once been his home. He headed toward the Southern Domain.
Even though the State of Zhao had technically been part of the Southern Domain, it was very remote, far, far away from the Southern Domain’s center. Given his current Cultivation base, if he went on foot, it could take years to get there.
However, Meng Hao wasn’t in a rush. Though he headed in the direction of the Southern Domain, what he was most concerned about at the moment was how to break through to Foundation Establishment and become a powerful expert.
Thinking about how previously, there had only been a few dozen Foundation Establishment Cultivators in the entire State of Zhao, Meng Hao itched with anticipation. He longed to reach Foundation Establishment and then be able to fly through the sky.
“Who knows what dangers I will face in the Southern Domain. Plus, I still have to dispel this poison. I can only do that if I have a more powerful Cultivation base….” Meng Hao’s eyes glittered. He knew that with the Qi Cultivation Manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture, he could establish a Flawless Foundation. That was rare enough in itself, but Meng Hao also possessed Shangguan Xiu’s secret formula to create a Perfect Foundation Pill!
He already had most of the ingredients. With the items he’d obtained from Patriarch Reliance’s Immortal’s Cave, as well as the copper mirror, he was confident that he could gather together everything necessary to concoct the pill. If he succeeded, he would have a Perfect Foundation which currently only existed in legends in the Cultivation world.
“I wonder… how powerful is a Perfect Foundation?” His eyes shined as he sped forward.
Three months later, Meng Hao was far from where the State of Zhao had previously existed. He had passed through another nation of mortals and was now within a vast wilderness. He hadn’t seen signs of life for quite some time.
Lonely mountains stretched out as far as the eye could see. They seemed endless. During the day, the sounds of various wild animals could be heard, and the deep blue sky stretched boundlessly. At night, the sky was filled with the soft light of the multitudinous stars and gentle moon, the sight of which enchanted the heart.
Meng Hao stood on a mountain peak, looking out at the world. Its beauty filled his heart, causing it to swell. He started to walk down the mountain.
“Reading ten thousand books, travelling ten thousand roads. It’s hard to say how many tens of thousands of kilometers I’ve travelled so far. Mountains fill the horizon. Everything I’ve seen and heard fills my heart like an ever-growing sea.” His eyes shone brightly.
“In selecting the location for Foundation Establishment, the best thing to do is pick a place with outstanding spiritual energy. That will improve my chances of success. Meng Hao knew that establishing his Foundation would be difficult. Currently, he sped about attempting to find a suitable location. Time passed, another three months.
Meng Hao had now been wandering for six months. During that period of time, he did not practice Cultivation. Having completed the great circle of Qi Condensation, he didn’t need to. His heart was calm; deep inside, he knew that he could begin to establish his Foundation at any time he wished.
“For the highest probability of succeeding in establishing my Foundation, I must select a location with dense spiritual energy,” muttered Meng Hao. “That will reduce the chances of making any mistakes.” As he travelled, he would avoid any wild beasts he saw and didn’t instigate any bloody slaughters. The poison in his body had already flared up twice in the past half year. Each time it did, his body was wracked with intense pain, as if a myriad of ants were gnawing at his innards. The first time it had happened, he’d tumbled out of the sky, a three-colored mist seeping out of his body. He had sat with clenched teeth for three days before the pain subsided. Both times the poison had flared up, large amounts of stinking black liquid had oozed out of his body. Any vegetation it touched instantly decayed.
Upon further research he came to the determination that most of the poison had actually been expelled by his body during the flare-ups. Only the poison from the three-colored poison pill remained.
During the half-year, Meng Hao took time to practice with the treasures he had acquired from Patriarch Reliance, for example the Lightning Flag. As of now, he could use it much more effectively than the six months before. Now, he could use it to create a mist thirty meters in diameter. If any creatures approached it, it would shoot lightning bolts at it. Its power was greater than that of Foundation Establishment. He had gotten into the habit of using it to protect himself whenever he rested.
As for the good luck charm, Meng Hao couldn’t find any apparent use for the item.
Another month passed. In front of Meng Hao, a series of mountainous valleys appeared. They were filled with suspension bridges. People wearing rough hemp garments and headgear walked to and fro upon the bridges carrying large wicker baskets on their backs.
Seeing this, Meng Hao’s eyes narrowed. This place was a wilderness, with no signs of habitation anywhere. And yet, suddenly some mortals had appeared.
Their clothing looked different from that worn in the State of Zhao. Meng Hao looked them over, muttering to himself, and was about to leave when suddenly his eyes flickered. He turned to look at one of the seven valleys.
After a moment, the flying sword he was standing on flashed, carrying him directly toward the valley. As he approached, a thick wave of spiritual energy billowed out and hit him in the face. His eyes gleamed. This was the most dense accumulation of spiritual energy that he had seen in the past six months.
The valley was extremely deep and long. Looking down at it from mid-air, Meng Hao couldn’t even see its bottom. The only thing he could see was the dense spiritual energy, which roiled out from the deep within the valley. The spiritual energy caused all the living things nearby to grow abundantly and gave the place an otherworldly look.
“There’s even more spiritual energy here than there was on the East Mountain of the Reliance Sect.” Meng Hao looked down at the misty valley in amazement. It was at this moment that the mist in the valley suddenly roiled. Within Meng Hao’s bag of holding, the Demon Sealing Jade quivered. His eyes flickering, he took out the jade slip.
As soon as he pulled it out, a roaring sound filled his head, and a text appeared in his mind.
“An understanding from ancient times, the smelting of a demon, severed by the hand of a of a Demon Sealer. Such a pity; an inch of joss ash upon which descendants can prostrate.”
The text appeared suddenly, and then disappeared just as quickly, fading into Meng Hao’s mind. Everything returned to normal, but Meng Hao’s eyes shined brightly. He gazed down at the mist within the valley, then back at the Demon Sealing Jade.
“Severed by the hand of a Demon Sealer… The Demon Sealing Sect. The ancient jade. A demon… What secrets does this Demon Sealing Jade contain…?” Meng Hao lifted his head up and looked around. It turned out that many of the mortals on the suspension bridges had caught sight of him. Looks of terror appeared on their faces. One by one, they dropped to their knees and began to kowtow to him.
Suddenly, a piercing whistling sound emerged from one of the other valleys. Two beams of colorful light appeared. Two enormous condors flew out, upon the back of each stood a person.
Each person looked to be about forty years old. They wore robes of complexly interlaced blue and green fabric. Their faces were somewhat dark, and they were very skinny. One of the men had a dark greenish-blue snake coiled around his arm. The little snake’s eyes were ghastly, and when it flicked its forked tongue out, a thin mist blew out of his mouth.
The other man had a centipede on his shoulder, slowly rocking back and forth. It was about a foot long, and very colorful, obviously extremely poisonous.
Of the two men, one was of the ninth level of Qi Condensation, the other was at the peak of the eighth level. They did not look very friendly. They came to a stop about nine hundred meters away from Meng Hao, looking him over with cold eyes.
Meng Hao’s expression was as calm as ever. He put away the Demon Sealing Jade and looked at them. He had seen more than one Cultivator in the State of Zhao with Cultivation bases similar to these people.
As they looked him over, another piercing whistle sounded out. From another of the valleys, a winged, purple toad flew out. It carried a mist along with it as it flew; it seemed this toad had a Cultivation base of the Qi Condensation stage. Sitting cross-legged on its back was an old man.
The old man wore a garment of interlaced red and yellow. His face was painted with totemic symbols that formed a sort of mask. He looked very fierce as he flew out to join the other two in measuring up Meng Hao.
The old man’s Cultivation base was extraordinary. He was at the peak of the ninth level of Qi Condensation. Seeing him, the expressions on the faces of the other two changed.
The old man gazed at Meng Hao, frowning as he tried to assess his Cultivation base. “I am the Chief of Spirit Toad Village,” he said. “If you’re just passing through, Fellow Daoist, please continue onward. Outside Cultivators are not welcome here.”
Meng Hao’s expression was as calm as ever. The thick spiritual energy here was what he had been searching out for the past half year. If he left, it was impossible to say how long he would have to search to find another similar location.
Normally, he would just forget it and move on, but the strange reaction of the Demon Sealing Jade had piqued his interest. He had no desire to leave.
He said nothing. His right hand flickered in an incantation gesture, and one flying sword after another flew out, instantly forming a sword rain of over one hundred flying swords. They spun around, creating a vortex that began to expand outward in all directions.
The expressions of the old man on the toad, as well as the others, instantly changed. Meng Hao pointed down toward one of the valleys, and the swords shot forth. Banging sounds rang out as they slammed into a cliff face and carved out a simple Immortal’s Cave.
“Please allow me to hole up here for a few months,” said Meng Hao coolly. Not giving them another look, he shot toward the Immortal’s Cave.
The frightening image of the hundred or more flying swords caused the toad geezer frown. The other two Cultivators looked hesitant.
The man with the snake coiled around his arm glared at Meng Hao as he made to enter the Immortal’s Cave. He lifted his arm up, and the Spirit Snake turned into a black blur as it flew toward Meng Hao.
As it approached, a dark, cold look appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes.