Chapter 320: Igniting the Alchemic Flame
Meng Hao’s heart trembled as his eyes snapped open. He pulled his fingers back from the ground; he felt as if some incredible force had battered him out of the strange state he was in just now.
His eyes glittered as he raised his head, allowing his gaze to pass through the rock walls of the Immortal’s cave to look toward the field of rocky rubble.
“So it’s another enemy of the Ji Clan. However, this person seems different from the square cauldron in the ancient Blessed Land. The fact that he noticed me shows that his will is still here!” After collecting his thoughts, Meng Hao rose and left the Immortal’s cave. Moments later he emerged from the fissure in the small mountain.
It was midday, and the sun burned brightly overhead, baking the land until it seemed it would bubble with grease. After leaving the mountain, Meng Hao looked in the direction of the field of rubble. After a moment of thought, he flicked the sleeve of his robe and shot off toward it.
It didn’t take long before he floated in mid-air above the field of rubble, looking down at it. It wasn’t a very large area, perhaps several dozen kilometers wide in either direction. The entire area was strewn with bizarrely shaped rocks, some of which were more than half sunken into the soil. Some, on the other hand, lay on the surface of the ground.
It gave off a very bleak air, as if each and every stone in this place had been here for ages.
Meng Hao didn’t get too close, choosing instead to remain up in the air. However after some time passed, he still had no idea what this place was. It seemed completely ordinary. Maintaining his attitude of vigilance, he sent out his Spiritual Sense to investigate further, but yet again came up empty handed.
“Of course,” thought Meng Hao. “This is exactly how you would expect it to be. Outsiders wouldn’t be able to notice anything unusual, not even me. If I hadn’t been in that unusual state, I would never have sensed anything strange here.” He decided not to rashly proceed forward, instead choosing to turn and leave.
Absolutely nothing happened as he left.
Back in the Immortal’s cave, he thought back to the powerful, archaic voice which had pierced into his mind, and the bone-deep rancor it had expressed regarding the Ji Clan.
“Heavens of Ji….” thought Meng Hao. After all of his experiences, his curiosity had been suppressed for far too long. However, he knew that in the Cultivation world, each step can be fraught with peril; a lack of caution can lead to mistakes that can never be righted.
Therefore, after thinking for a bit longer about the archaic voice, he decided to ignore it until he had a more powerful Cultivation base. At the moment, he was only at the early Core Formation stage, and as such, the situation was just too risky. Even though this person claimed to be an enemy of the Ji Clan, that didn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t harm Meng Hao.
“With the help of this Demonic Qi, my Spiritual Sense can be amplified by several times…. Who knows the extent to which I can cultivate the art of Righteous Bestowal? I wonder if I can combine my will with the Qi to produce an Incarnation of myself?” Giving no more thought to the powerful voice, Meng Hao focused his attention onto the art of Righteous Bestowal. His first test of the art had left him with the sense that this technique was definitely beyond ordinary.
“I wonder if it might have something to do with cultivating the Dao Divinity Scripture, and how it made my Spiritual Sense far beyond that of any Cultivator of my same level.” Meng Hao continued to analyze the matter calmly. Eventually the sky outside began to turn dark, and Meng Hao closed his eyes. Enlightenment regarding the art of Righteous Bestowal swirled within his head. He had the feeling that this technique was something extremely important to him.
A month passed, during which time Meng Hao never opened his eyes. One day, he sensed ten or more Cultivators outside of the Immortal’s cave.
They wore deferential expressions, and were kowtowing just outside the cave. Each of them possessed some of the violet-green soil, and two of their number were the Foundation Establishment Cultivators from before.
During the past month, they had returned a few times. Each time, Meng Hao dispelled some of their poison, to the point where it was more than half gone. He had even bestowed them with medicinal pills. They had long since forgotten their other two Fellow Daoist friends who had been killed. In order to earn even more medicinal pills, they had recruited others they knew, and the group had formed a small-scale power base.
A few in the group had harboured ill intentions. However, after the ground shook and fierce tentacles burst out to rip them to shreds and eat them, anyone else with similar thoughts put them to rest.
When you added in the fact that Meng Hao gave out real medicinal pills as rewards, which to these Cultivators were extremely rare, it arose a zealous fanaticism among them.
In addition, the fact that Meng Hao’s Cultivation base was deeply unfathomable to them also had something to do with it.
As for Huang Daxian, even though his Cultivation base wasn’t very high, he held a special position within the group. At the moment, he stood outside of the Immortal’s cave looking complacently out over the group of people. The meat jelly was perched on his head and the colorful parrot on his shoulder.
“I shall impart to you the words of the Patriarch,” he said. “You did well, and this is your reward.” He produced a small bottle, from within which he distributed a tiny medicinal pill to everyone present. As the Cultivators received their medicinal pill, their faces lit with excitement and they immediately consumed the pills.
Meng Hao didn’t have a lot of low level medicinal pills such as these in his bag of holding. Seeing the increase in the number of people during his month of secluded meditation, he had taken a single medicinal pill and refined it into dozens of smaller pills.
Even still, to these Cultivators, something like that was like a precious treasure, as different from the medicinal elixirs they usually consumed as Heaven was from the Earth.
It was thus not difficult to understand why the area around Meng Hao’s Immortal’s cave attracted a dozen or more Cultivators in one short month, all of them willing to join the group.
In fact, they had settled in the area, constructing simple houses that surrounded the Immortal’s cave and the small mountain. Eventually the mountain itself came to be a sort of holy ground….
Meng Hao had never anticipated that something like this would happen. However, this small-scale power base was providing him with more and more of the soil that he needed.
Because of this soil, Meng Hao ignored everything else. Based on his experience, the Cultivators who took up residence here were doing it not just for the sake of the medicinal pills, but also for protection.
Meng Hao was a formidable person, and although these people hadn’t seen much directly, the ferocity of the vines had been personally witnessed by quite a few eyes. People were able to draw the connection between the two; whoever was able to raise something like the vines must be terribly frightening.
Therefore, they believed this place to be safe.
In the Black Lands, safety was an invaluable treasure.
Actually, at one point during the month, a group of a dozen or so Cultivators belonging to a different local power group showed up. They desired to slay Meng Hao and take his medicinal pills by force. A single cold snort echoed out from within the Immortal’s cave, causing Heaven and Earth to shake, and instantly killing half of the group.
The other half coughed up blood and sustained serious injuries. The most powerful of their number was a Pseudo Core Formation expert. His shock was extreme, and he immediately retreated five kilometers. However, at that point he suddenly lost control of his own body; a powerful force bound him up and dragged him back. After seeing this, other Cultivators immediately swore fealty.
Shocked, even the Pseudo Core Cultivator gave in and became a member of Meng Hao’s group.
On one particular day, Meng Hao sat cross-legged in his Immortal’s cave, a strange light shining in his eyes. Within his pupils, something appeared like a burning fire. This was none other than the East Pill Division’s Everburning Flame legacy.
“Feed it with your Core, ignite the Everburning Flame. With this flame, the Spirit Summoning Incantation can be used, and a great path of the Dao of alchemy can be opened.” Meng Hao took a deep breath and closed his eyes. As he did, tongues of flame appeared on his Violet Core.
They appeared weak, but they did not burn out, and as they flickered there, they gradually grew stronger.
At the exact moment in which Meng Hao ignited his alchemic flame, off in the Southern Domain, within the East Pill Division of the Violet Fate Sect, Pill Demon sat in the limestone cave next to the Everburning Flame, his face devoid of blood.
“So you ignited the Everburning Flame, huh…? Good. With the legacy of the flame passed on, if I, your Master, end up returning to the dust, then I can smile on his way to the underworld.” Pill Demon smiled, a smile filled with kindness, and even more exhaustion. Clearly, he still hadn’t recovered from his battle with Ji Fang.
Pill Demon lifted his head to look at the East Pill Everburning Flame, and memories seemed to flicker within his eyes. “So long as this flame before me is not extinguished, then neither shall I be!”
More time passed, three months. In his Immortal’s cave in the small mountain in the Black Lands, Meng Hao was thoroughly engrossed in stoking the alchemic flame. No flame burned on his body, but a broiling heat surrounded him. His skin was as pale as before, but the Violet Core within him was now a ball of fire, burning oh so slowly.
This was none other than Meng Hao’s alchemic flame!
Three more days passed, and when Meng Hao opened his eyes, flames flickered within. They quickly disappeared, and as they did, Meng Hao turned his head to look toward the Southern Domain.
“These three months were like a dream,” he thought. “I dreamed of the look of kindness and praise on Master’s face.” As his alchemic flame had kindled brighter during the months, he could sense his Cultivation base growing stronger. He was now definitely at the peak of the early Core Formation stage.
After some time passed, he sent his Spiritual Sense sweeping about, and instantly gaped in shock.
He could see that the area surrounding his Immortal’s Cave was inhabited by dozens and dozens of Cultivators. Most were of the Qi Condensation stage, and six or seven were of the Foundation Establishment stage!
This was no longer a small-scale power, but a medium-scale power. They surrounded the small mountain in all directions; neatly arranged houses had been constructed, and the entire place was quite bustling.
Huang Daxian was now at the ninth level of Qi Condensation, close to Foundation Establishment. With a Foundation Establishment pill, it would not be difficult for him to break through.
That, of course, would require a stroke of luck, or perhaps assistance from totemic power. In the Black Lands, totemic tattoos were a common sight, just like the ones he had seen on those Foundation Establishment Cultivators earlier.
Now Meng Hao understood. Cultivators here who wanted to enter Foundation Establishment, but who did not have a Foundation Establishment Pill, had no other choice than to use totemic power to increase their chances of doing so.
Meng Hao had observed a bit of totem cultivation, and had even made some inquiries about it. The initial process didn’t seem difficult. Apparently, you simply had to kill some creature, then use its life blood to inscribe an image onto your body. Then, you would be able to wield totemic power.
Such a method seemed problematic. However, Meng Hao didn’t understand totemic arts too well, so it was difficult for him to analyze the specifics.