Chapter 97: Cultivation Breakthrough in a Mountain Valley
Before Meng Hao could even make a move, the dark bluish-green Spirit Snake was already about thirty meters away from him. Suddenly, it stopped in mid-air and let out a shrill shriek, as if it could sense something terrible on Meng Hao’s person. It began to tremble, then shot backward in retreat, not daring to come even a bit closer.
Suddenly, a three-colored mist emerged from the top of Meng Hao’s head. It transformed into a demonic face with an enigmatic expression of both weeping and laughter. It spun around Meng Hao’s head, then let out an intangible shriek which shot toward the Spirit Snake.
The Spirit Snake let out a miserable cry when the intangible shriek slammed into it. Its body instantly began to rot. It transformed into a coagulation of blood which then splashed to the ground. Upon seeing this, the old man’s expression changed. The two other Cultivators gasped, looks of astonishment on their faces.
Meng Hao also looked on in astonishment, his heart thumping.
The three-colored mist was the poison in his body; it had flared up twice in the past half year, but this was the first time it had taken on a magical form and emerged from his body of its own volition. The poison was clearly incredibly mysterious; it could sense other poisons and wouldn’t permit them near, as if this host belonged to it alone.
Over the past months, Meng Hao had come to be convinced that during the previous two outbreaks of poison, the other two poisons from the three great Sects had been completely expelled.
It seemed they were not as powerful as the three-colored poison, and had been forced out of his body by it. Seeing the death of the Spirit Snake enabled Meng Hao to finally understand how powerful Lord Revelation’s three-colored poison really was.
Of course, the three people he faced didn’t know anything about that. They looked down at Meng Hao, fear written on their faces. The Cultivator who had just lost his Spirit Snake shot backward at high speed, blood seeping out of his mouth. He looked at Meng Hao with astonished fear.
“So, the Fellow Daoist also practices Poison Cultivation….” The old man on the toad, who was at the ninth level of Qi Condensation, stood and saluted Meng Hao respectfully. “Since that is the case, please feel free to stay here. But, there is something strange about this valley. It has thick spiritual energy, and every full moon, the mist erupts and fills the entire valley.” His eyes flashed as he spoke.
“Thanks for the warning,” said Meng Hao, his face expressionless. His body flickered, and he entered the Immortal’s Cave. A large stone he had carved out fell in place to seal the cave shut.
Outside, everything was quiet. The toad geezer’s eyes flashed as he looked at the other two men. They were all silent for a moment. Then, they patted their respective Spirit beasts and flew off toward another of the valleys. There, four more Cultivators were gathered.
All of them were at the eighth level of Qi Condensation and wore long gowns of interlaced green and blue. They sat on an enormous black boulder, which pulsed with a dim light. When the light appeared, the boulder seemed to become somewhat transparent. Inside could be glimpsed the skeleton of a two-headed bird.
When the toad geezer and the others arrived, the four men opened their eyes.
“That outsider is a Poison Cultivator,” said the man who had lost the Spirit Snake, his voice filled with hatred. Venomous rage radiated from his eyes. “I’m not sure how much he saw, but he refused to leave.”
“This complicates things…” said one of the four men sitting cross-legged, frowning. He was a pale-faced middle-aged man. “What is the level of his Cultivation base?”
“The peak of the ninth level of Qi Condensation!” said the toad geezer calmly. He wasn’t mistaken: although Meng Hao could easily pass into the thirteenth level of Qi Condensation, when he did, he was cut off from heaven and earth. Therefore, he usually remained at the peak of the ninth level.
“His Cultivation base is very refined, but if we attack together, he’ll be dead for sure,” said the Cultivator who had lost his Spirit Snake. “If we let him stay here, he’ll figure out what’s going on. He might not have any suspicions now, but the next full moon is in half a month. When it comes time to pull out the red rope, he’ll definitely know what’s happening. He’s a Poison Cultivator, how could he not be interested? I say, let’s attack together and exterminate him.”
Some of the others seemed to hesitate. After all, Meng Hao was at the peak of the ninth level. At the moment, only the toad geezer was strong enough to stand up to him. None of the others were powerful enough. If they all fought together, they might be able to win, but some of them would most likely die. Hesitating, they looked at the toad geezer.
“We don’t need to do anything. I told him that strange things happen in the valley on the full moon. Most likely he will go to see for himself. We won’t need to attack. The miasma that accompanies the red rope will kill him. If he doesn’t come out… well, the miasma covers everything anyway. Either way, he’s dead! Our ancestral Spirit Mountain Three Villages cannot be looked upon by outsiders. Any who do so… must die.” His eyes gleamed as he spoke. The other six people nodded their heads.
Meanwhile, Meng Hao sat down cross-legged in the Immortal’s cave. The dense spiritual energy surrounding him caused his Cultivation base to thrum. As he began doing breathing exercises, his boundless Core sea seemed to begin to consolidate.
He breathed deeply, lifting his head and looking at the large stone which he’d used to seal the Immortal’s Cave. His eyes flashed, and the two wooden swords appeared, hovering at his side. He lifted his right hand and waved it in the air. A talisman appeared, floating in front of him. He sent it to hang on the large rock.
This talisman had been acquired from Wang Tengfei. He wasn’t sure how powerful it was, and had never used it. But considering that he’d taken it from Wang Tengfei, it couldn’t be a common item.
“It seems these people have some secrets they don’t want outsiders to know about. If they leave me alone, then I’ll leave them alone. But if they disturb my Cultivation….” Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed. His expression was calm as he pulled Shangguan Xiu’s turtle shell out of his bag of holding, the one that contained the details about the Perfect Foundation. He looked at it, frowning.
“To concoct a Perfect Foundation Pill, I need a pill furnace,” murmured Meng Hao to himself. “I got that from Shangguan Xiu. But it also requires a bit of skill in alchemy. Without such skill, the chances of a misstep are much higher. These medicinal plants are extremely valuable. If I made a mistake, I could duplicate more plants, but the cost would be exorbitant.” He had no skill in alchemy, which was somewhat frustrating.
After some time passed, Meng Hao pulled out the various plants required to make the minor pills which were part of the ingredient list. Then he produced the copper mirror and began to duplicate some of them. A few hours later, he had spent a huge amount of Spirit Stones. Despite having a mountain of Spirit Stones, if he kept going at this pace, he would once again be destitute.
“These are just minor pills…. Concocting the Perfect Foundation Pill has two major steps. The first step is to concoct seven different minor pills, each of which has a unique function. The second step is to take those seven pills and melt them together to concoct the Perfect Foundation Pill. If I’m missing even one minor pill, I have no way to succeed! Of the seven minor pills, Shangguan Xiu had concocted two. Now five remain…. I’ve never concocted pills before, what happens if I have to try dozens of times to succeed? If that happens, then I definitely won’t have enough Spirit Stones. That could even affect my ability to reach Foundation Establishment. Alchemy… If I can develop enough skill in alchemy, then I shouldn’t have any problems.” Meng Hao frowned as he studied some basic Milky Way City alchemy techniques. Unfortunately, trying to teach yourself such techniques is not easy, and can take a very long time. Furthermore, some of the techniques were not common. Many master alchemists had secret techniques that weren’t told to outsiders. Such techniques were often closely guarded Sect secrets.
“The best method would be to concoct the Perfect Foundation Pill first, then establish the Foundation. In that way, there would be no need for haste in concocting the pill. That was the route taken by Shangguan Xiu. But…” His eyes glittered. “That method seems suitable, but if I don’t reach Foundation Establishment, I would have to face too many dangers. That is why Shangguan Xiu ended up dying. Otherwise, I would never have been able to kill him. Therefore this method… cannot be used!” He was silent for a moment, and then his eyes filled with determination.
“Regardless of anything, I must first reach Foundation Establishment. If I can concoct the Perfect Foundation Pill later, then it won’t be too late. The Perfect Foundation Pill can repair the cracks in the Dao Pillars made by the Heavens. Therefore… a Flawless Foundation is fine!” Meng Hao gritted his teeth. Despite his intense desire to concoct the Perfect Foundation pill, it was not practical to do so right now.
“I can only enter the Southern Domain if I have first reached Foundation Establishment. Then I can figure out a way to dispel this poison. As a Qi Condensation Cultivator, that is virtually impossible.” Having made up his mind, he didn’t waste any more time thinking. He put away the turtle shell and the medicinal plants, then pulled out a Foundation Establishment Pill and began to duplicate it.
He was of the great circle of Qi Condensation, and was feeling very confident in his ability to break through to Foundation Establishment. However, to play it safe, he decided to use the power of the Foundation Establishment Pill.
Looking down at the five Foundation Establishment Pills in front of him, he took a breath and slapped his bag of holding. A small flag flew out. Lightning curled around it as it flew through the air. Meng Hao flickered some incantation gestures, and the flag stabbed into the ground without any assistance from Meng Hao’s Cultivation base. It sucked in some of the surrounding spiritual energy, then transformed into a fog which enveloped the Immortal’s Cave. It spread out thirty meters in all directions, surrounding Meng Hao.
“After consuming a Foundation Establishment Pill, my body will turn stiff and I won’t be able to move.” He eyed the mist created by the little flag. “With the Lightning Flag here, though, I will be protected. No one will be able to disturb me. Considering the current level of my Cultivation base, the paralysis will be relatively short in duration.”
Of the treasures he had acquired from Patriarch Reliance, the Demon Sealing Jade was the most mysterious. But his favorite, other than the mountain of Spirit Stones, was this little flag. As for the good luck charm, he still hadn’t been able to figure out anything about it. He would study it further after he reached Foundation Establishment.
Taking a deep breath, he picked up a pill and put it into his mouth. It dissolved instantly, and boundless spiritual energy shook his body. He trembled. It was not his first time consuming a Foundation Establishment Pill. But every time he did, he felt as if he was a tiny boat floating amidst massive, crashing waves. A roaring sound filled his head. He continued to rotate his Cultivation base.
Boundless spiritual energy flowed through Meng Hao, pouring into his Core sea, causing it to roar and churn. The Demonic Core within him suddenly seemed as if it were about to turn into a Dao Pillar.
Once the Dao Pillar appeared, Meng Hao would have broken through from Qi Condensation and crossed the threshold into the true realm of Cultivation… Foundation Establishment.
Once in the Foundation Establishment stage, he would never again be mortal. He would truly be upon the path of Cultivation, and would never again be a part of the mortal world. To fall back would indicate that he didn’t deserve to exist in the Cultivation world!
He would be a boat sailing against the current.
It can be summed up by the phrase, “Move forward, or you’ll fall behind.”