Chapter 333: Conning the Whole Way
One million Spirit Stones appeared; brilliant sunlight reflected off of them, creating a radiant glow. This afternoon in this part of the Black Lands, a crazed frenzy rose up among hundreds of Cultivators.
This was especially true of the Cultivators in the very back, who had come along to watch the excitement. Their eyes went red as they immediately used every technique they knew to increase their speed, scattering in all directions to grab Spirit Stones.
The people from the Han River Sect were the closest. The pock faced old man hesitated for a moment; something didn’t seem right to him. He thought back to the auction, and how Meng Hao had apparently been short on Spirit Stones. However, it was impossible to tell whether the Spirit Stones were illusory or real. Seeing how the disciples surrounding him were all breathing heavily, he gritted his teeth, abandoned the chase, and went after the Spirit Stones. His sleeve flicked as he tried to gather together as many as possible.
The other Han River Sect disciples charged forth madly. The disciples from the other two Sects immediately began to struggle for supremacy in taking the Spirit Stones. It only took a moment for hundreds of Cultivators to be flitting about in all directions after Spirit Stones. Soon, they began to fight and plunder.
“Dammit, that’s my Spirit Stone!”
“The guy who robbed the auction tossed out these Spirit Stones to save his own skin! They don’t belong to anybody. First come first serve!”
The sound of explosions echoed out. One million Spirit Stones seemed like a lot, but considering hundreds of Cultivators were fighting over them, they were divided up very quickly. It was without hesitation that the Cultivators tossed them into their bags of holding.
Suddenly, their excited, complacent thoughts changed, and they looked off in the direction Meng Hao had fled.
In their opinion, for him to have thrown out a million Spirit Stones just to buy some time, indicated that he must have even more Spirit Stones on his person.
A strange light appeared in the eyes of the Han River Sect Cultivators. They had snatched up the most Spirit Stones of all, perhaps more than two hundred thousand. The expression on the face of the pockmarked old man indicated that he was determined to win. He knew the Spirit Stones weren’t fake; after snatching them up, he had carefully examined one. With a hearty laugh, he shot in pursuit of Meng Hao, his disciples in tow.
Almost all of the other Cultivators in the area did the same. There were a few who hesitated, worried that something untoward would happen if they were too greedy. Some even considered leaving; after all, everyone had gotten some Spirit Stones, which meant that everyone had profited at least some. Some people were surreptitiously examining their bags of holding to count exactly how many Spirit Stones they’d acquired.
It was then that a flabbergasted gasp could be heard.
“Huh? Where are the Spirit Stones? I just took about ten thousand, where did they go?”
“Mine are gone too! What’s going on…?”
Others who overheard such remarks immediately looked down to check their own bags of holding, whereupon their faces instantly fell.
“My Spirit Stones are gone! Impossible! I stole at least eight thousand just now!!”
“Something fishy is going on….”
A buzz rose up, mixed with miserable cries. As they checked their bags of holding, the faces of all the Cultivators grew deathly pale. Some of the Cultivators even began to shake, and veins began to pop out on their faces. Intense rage and insanity poured out from their eyes.
“My magical items are gone!!”
“Dammit, my medicinal elixir! There’s none left at all in my bag of holding!!”
“Ahhhhhh! My bag of holding has nothing in it! What’s going on!? It’s totally empty! Even the magical item I just bought at the auction is gone!”
As word spread, the miserable cries grew even louder. The pock faced old man from the Han River Sect flickered as he looked down to his own bag of holding. Then, his face went as gray as ash; he lifted his head up to the sky and let out a desolate howl.
His body shook, and smoke began to rise up from the top of his head. Veins of blood shot through his eyes, which radiated vicious frenzy. How could he not go crazy? His heart virtually dripped with blood, as if someone had literally ripped it open.
His bag had originally contained hundreds of thousands of Spirit Stones, which had apparently vanished into thin air. All of his medicinal elixir, magical items, medicinal pills… everything was gone, even the random odds and ends he had collected inside.
His bag of holding had been thoroughly cleaned out. He was now completely empty handed.
His savings of many years, half of the wealth of the Han River Sect, had all been on his person. Now, however… it was gone.
The pock faced Patriarch howled. Behind him, the Patriarch from one of the other great Sects was shaking and howling madly. His bag of holding was equally empty.
The bags of holding of all the hundreds of Cultivators were completely empty. Someone had inexplicably removed their contents, leaving behind not a sound or hint of how it had occurred….
“That Heaven-damned bandit! I won’t rest until he’s dead!” These words came out even before Patriarch Pockmarks could say anything similar. They came from a rubicund old man whose entire body was quivering. The insanity in his eyes outmatched that of Patriarch Pockmarks’. This was the Patriarch from one of the other Clans.
The source of his madness was the fact that just before the auction, he had filled his bag of holding with a million Spirit Stones. That was the price he had demanded from the Dongluo Clan to join them.
In addition to the Spirit Stones, there had been magical techniques from the Dongluo Clan, which he had long thirsted for. Now, though… they were all gone. How could he not go mad?
These Black Lands Cultivators weren’t stupid. If they couldn’t figure out that Meng Hao was the culprit, then their years of Cultivation had been spent in vain. And the root of the problem was those Spirit Stones….
Hundreds of Cultivators were now in a rage. Their eyes were red, and they used all the power they could muster to shoot at top speed after Meng Hao.
Revenge must be had! However, there was no sign of Meng Hao. Fearing that he would escape completely, the hundreds of Cultivators used a variety of methods to call upon friends.
Some arranged for people up ahead to block Meng Hao. Others contacted people from other power groups or Sects up ahead, requesting either direct assistance, or to borrow jade slips or Spirit Stones.
Of course, none of them realized that Meng Hao hadn’t actually conned them; the parrot had. However, it didn’t matter. Meng Hao and the parrot had both done such things many times in the past.
When you think about how many people Meng Hao had conned throughout his time in the Cultivation world, well, you could say that he had conned people the whole way….
As a tiny example, there was a certain group of discarnate souls back in the Black Sieve Sect who Meng Hao could send into instant misery if he felt like it…. 1
As Meng Hao whistled through the air, the meat jelly reclined lazily on top of his head, looking quite arrogant.
“This is wrong….” It coughed up dozens of magical items.
“This is immoral….” It burped up a vast quantity of Spirit Stones.
“This is too wicked….” In the blink of an eye, it spat up mouthful after mouthful of bottles of medicinal elixir and hundreds of jade slips.
“You two are going to turn me into an evildoer….” With a sigh, the meat jelly coughed up some more items.
Meng Hao stuffed the belongings of hundreds of Cultivators into his bag of the Cosmos. Only it was large enough to contain so many things.
Seeing such a vast collection of items caused Meng Hao’s mouth and tongue to go dry. The sight of more than a million Spirit Stones caused his eyes to shine. Then there were the jade slips, which surely contained a vast array of information. As for the magical items, none of them particularly caught Meng Hao’s attention. However, if he sold them, he would be able to make a heap of Spirit Stones.
Then there was the random collection of other items, one of which happened to catch Meng Hao’s eye. It was a book, plated in something that looked like gold. It consisted of three pages, and three illustrations.
The first illustration depicted ten swords arranged so that their tips pointed outward to form something that looked like a lotus flower.
The second illustration depicted one hundred swords, formed together to make ten lotus flowers which were arranged into a large ring.
The third illustration depicted one thousand swords arranged into one hundred lotus flowers, creating a massive formation. They circled around each other, forming ten layers which all seemed to be revolving in different directions. The mere sight of it was dazzling.
“A sword formation?” thought Meng Hao. He glanced at it for a moment, then put it aside. He continued flying on, heart thumping. He really had struck it rich this time, having stolen the wealth of hundreds of Cultivators.
“It’s too bad….” he was just whispering this sentence in his heart, when the parrot next to him let out a sigh and spoke out loud exactly what he was thinking.
“It’s too bad there weren’t very many people,” said the parrot. “If there were more, then this transaction would have truly been profitable.”
“Don’t even think of trying to get me to do it again!” blubbered the meat jelly. With a pop, it again transformed into a bell and attached itself to the parrot’s foot.
Meng Hao looked at the parrot, and the parrot looked back at him. One man, one bird. In this instant, seeing the light in each other’s eyes caused them both to experience the feeling of mutual friendship.
“From now on, you are Lord Fifth’s master!” said the parrot, its voice sincere.
“In the future, I’ll find some more fur and feathers for you.”
After exchanging these words, the man and bird looked down at the meat jelly bell. The meat jelly quivered and opened its eyes, as if it had just felt something very cold. After opening its eyes, it saw Meng Hao staring off into the sky, and the parrot looking down at the earth below.
“You’re both evildoers….” said the meat jelly loudly.
“Wow, the weather is great today,” said Meng Hao, looking up at the beautiful white clouds, seemingly entranced, as if he’d never seen them before.
“Eee!” said the parrot, looking down at the ground with an expression of rapture. “The flowers down there are beautiful! They almost look like they’re covered with feathers!”
Soon, three days had passed. Meng Hao proceeded onward at top speed the entire time. Behind him, the hundreds of Cultivators stretched out in a line as they pursued him, based on the level of their Cultivation base.
Their eyes were filled with killing intent. Their hatred for him had not quite reached the point where they refused to live under the same sky with him, but it was close.
Black Lands Cultivators were used to living in constant danger, and as such, usually keep most of their belongings in their bags of holding. That was especially the case… when going to an auction.
You could even say that it was at the very moment when their bags of holding were fullest that they met Meng Hao. As such, their hatred toward him was incredibly intense.
This was especially true of the three great Sects. The Patriarch Rubicund was the most frenzied of them all. He had taken the lead position in the group. After him was Patriarch Pockmarks. Their eyes billowed with venomous killing intent as they glared ahead toward Meng Hao. They couldn’t wait to tear him to pieces and eat him alive.
“Little bastard, I’ll hunt you to the ends of the earth if I have to. You’re dead!” screamed Patriarch Rubicund, gnashing his teeth as he thought of his Spirit Stones. His heart bled.
This chapter was sponsored by Damien Sarazin, Alec Robertson, Dwipa Harimurti, and Brett Flowers