Chapter 653: Demons Stir in the Third Ring
Meng Hao watched the scene playing out with the boy, who was obviously himself. And yet, as he searched through his mind, no memory such as this existed. He remembered that night, and he remembered the violet-colored wind, as well what seemed to be countless bizarre voices.
That was the night his dad and mom went missing. He remembered waking up fuzzily, not quite able to remember what had happened. The only thing he remembered… was that his garment had been torn.
When he saw what was happening in the vision, it felt like lightning was striking through his mind.
Then he saw the spectral hand reaching out toward the boy. In that moment, a man appeared behind the boy. He gave a cold snort as he gripped the spectral hand between his fingers and then snapped it off.
The spectral hand disintegrated into powder, and a bloodcurdling scream could be heard. A ghostly figure flew off into the violet fog.
The boy was alarmed, but then he turned his head, and a look of joy appeared on his face. Tears rolling down his cheeks, he rushed into the arms of the man.
“Dad… where did you go? I couldn’t find you. I…”
The man did not pursue the ghostly figure. He knelt in front of the boy, his face filled with both love and doubt. Gazing at the boy, he reached out and tousled his hair.
He was silent for a long moment before he spoke out in a soft voice, “Don’t cry, Hao’er. Mom and dad have to go away for a while. We’ll all see each other again one day.”
As soon as he heard the words, the boy reached out and grabbed the man’s robe tightly. “Where are you going? I don’t want you to go….”
The man didn’t say anything. He patted the boy’s head, and then, after another long moment passed, said, “The Eastern Lands.”
His expression was filled with intense love, and also pain. Then he reached out to touch the boy. His hand flickered with a glowing light, and the boy’s eyes closed and he fell asleep.
The man held the boy in his arms as he turned and walked back into the house. He gently placed the boy down onto the bed, then stood there watching him. Time passed, and he finally sighed.
Meng Hao was able to see the man’s profile, outlined by the lamplight. He was handsome and dignified, and looked both familiar and yet also strange. Looking at him caused Meng Hao’s heart to begin to pound.
After another long moment, the man leaned down and kissed the boy on the top of the head. When he raised back up, his expression was one of both pain and farewell. He left the house, and walked off into the violet wind and fog. He left Yunjie County, left Mount Daqing, and disappeared.
As the vision ended, a tremor ran through Meng Hao’s body and he regained clarity. He stood on the deck of the ship. The only thing around them was storm winds. There were no white strands of hair, no Underworld Ship. There was only the Stormwind Divide.
Everyone else on the boat was asleep.
The surroundings were quiet. Meng Hao looked around, then sat down cross-legged and stared off into the distance, somewhat in a daze.
After a bit of time, the three old men awoke. Then, one by one, so did the others. They looked at Meng Hao with a mixture of dread and gratefulness. Meng Hao didn’t speak, so of course, neither did they dare to say a single word.
It was in this manner that the ship continued on its voyage for several more months. Eventually, amidst the silence, it neared the end of the Stormwind Divide.
The entire time, Meng Hao never rose to his feet. When they encountered symbol spirits, he didn’t even look at them. He only stared out in front of the ship; no one had any idea what he was thinking.
After the months passed, and the boat reached the end of the Stormwind Divide, a dock could be seen through the darkness, their final destination.
Meng Hao stood up and sent his Divine Sense to spread over the entire ship, and the people on it. This was a minor magical technique that he had picked up in the Demon Immortal Pagoda, a Daoist magic that would erase any trace of him from the minds of these people. After that, he flew out to disappear into the storm winds.
About ten breaths of time after Meng Hao vanished, everyone on the ship regained their senses. They looked a bit confused, but after a moment, the ship reached the dock. At that point, they seemed to break through some invisible barrier. The previous blackness gave way to a sudden burst of intense light.
It was sunlight shining down onto the sea and the waves. The group on the boat inhaled the salt air, and they knew… that they were now in the Third Ring!
Even as exclamations of joy rang out from the ship, Meng Hao emerged alone from within the Stormwind Divide. He stood on the surface of the sea, looking up at the sun.
“Whether that vision was real or not, the Eastern Lands… are definitely where I need to go!
“After I resolve this crisis with the 10th Wang Clan Patriarch, then I’ll definitely be heading to the Eastern Lands!
“I’ll visit the Great Tang, I’ll visit Chang’an, and I’ll fulfill my childhood dream….” He looked off toward the east, wishing that his Cultivation base was sufficient to be able to see the Eastern Lands right now, no matter how far away it was.
“Maybe I can find some clues about dad and mom, and what happened that year. What was the violet wind and violet fog, and what did it have to do with me…?
“And also…” He lowered his head and looked down at the back of his hand. Every time he had a Cultivation base breakthrough into a new stage, there was the symbol that appeared there.
That mark had been with him for a long time, and if he couldn’t come to understand what it meant, he would feel as if he had wasted all his years of cultivation.
“It’s not like I didn’t notice how strange Fang Yu was acting all those years ago…. Am I just unwilling to accept the truth?” In his thoughtfulness, a rare bit of weakness could be seen in his eyes. Finally, he sighed and pushed all the thoughts down into the bottom of his heart.
He suddenly felt very lonely. It was the type of loneliness where you look around and wonder where your home is. He had practiced cultivation for hundreds of years, but right now, had no friends to keep him company.
Such thinking caused the weakness in his eyes to grow a bit stronger.
“Is this cultivation? A path… that a person must stick to alone?” He closed his eyes for a long moment. When he opened them, no weakness was visible. Instead, there was the unswerving determination that usually resided therein.
Meng Hao took a deep breath and looked around, a sharp gleam in his eyes.
Everything around looked almost the same as the Fourth Ring. However, Meng Hao could sense that much more Demonic Qi flowed through the Third Ring.
No one else would be able to detect it, but as a Demon Sealer, Meng Hao could naturally sense it.
What Meng Hao didn’t know was that in this very moment, countless eyes suddenly opened on the seafloor of the Third Ring. All of them stared up in his direction.
In the deepest part of the sea, the undercurrents swirled, and it seemed as if a tempest were forming. Countless red eyes emanated intense desire, as if they had finally seen hope for the first time.
Up above on the surface of the waters, Meng Hao muttered to himself for a moment and then sped off. After flying for the time it takes an incense stick to burn, he suddenly frowned. The sea up ahead of him suddenly exploded up as a giant tentacle shot out from the water toward him.
It moved with such incredible speed that it looked like nothing more than a shadow. It almost looked like a flaming whip as it ripped through the air.
It was an attack that contained power similar to the Nascent Soul stage. Meng Hao gave a cold snort, then waved his hand toward the incoming tentacle and made a grasping motion. The tentacle stopped in mid-air just a few feet in front of him, almost as if it had been seized by some enormous, invisible hand.
The tentacle was completely black, and covered with countless suction disks. It squirmed and wriggled, seemingly struggling to free itself. It was sickening to look at, and if you followed it to its source, you could see what appeared to be an enormous creature in the churning waters below.
At the same time, whooshing sounds could be heard as more than ten additional tentacles burst out from the water toward Meng Hao. He watched on with a cold gleam in his eyes, then clutched out with his right hand and pulled.
The sea exploded under the incredible power of Meng Hao’s hand as an enormous, three hundred meter long cuttlefish was wrenched up out of the waters to hover in mid-air.
Meng Hao relaxed his hand, and then took a step forward. He instantly disappeared, only to reappear directly in front of the cuttlefish. His right hand formed into a fist which he then struck out. A massive boom could be heard as the cuttlefish directly exploded into countless pieces that then rained down onto the surface of the sea.
Within the shredded meat and flesh was a bluish crystalline object about the size of a finger. As soon as Meng Hao saw it, he grabbed it. When it touched his palm, it let off a gentle glow, along with the ripples of spiritual power.
“This looks like a mid-grade Spirit Stone. It must be a Demon heart.” After examining it for a while, he put it away into his bag of holding, then began to make his way off. However, it was then that he frowned. He sent his Divine Sense out, and immediately, his face sank.
Within the range of his Divine Sense, he could sense more than twenty different kinds of Sea Demons in the area. All of them were speeding along through the sea in his direction.
Each one emitted violent auras, as well as intense avarice. They seemed to view themselves as hunters and him as the prey.
“Is this why the Third Ring is so dangerous?” he thought, his brow furrowed. With that, he waved his hand toward the sea down below. Instantly, the surface of the sea rumbled and sank down, forming into what looked like a crater, roughly three hundred meters wide. With another wave of his hand, Meng Hao caused the crater to begin to rotate.
The rotation caused a huge roaring sound to lift up into the sky. It almost looked like a black hole was forming in the water. Great waves surged about, revealing seven or eight vicious Sea Demons.
These Sea Demons didn’t have very high Cultivation bases; all were roughly at the early Nascent Soul stage, and a few even were in the Core Formation stage. They looked at Meng Hao with red eyes and vicious greed. It seemed that they couldn’t wait to consume Meng Hao, as if even taking a single bite of him would give them some type of enlightenment.
Their gazes caused Meng Hao to be filled with a sensation of disgust. He almost felt as if he were being looked at by the 10th Wang Clan Patriarch.
Coldness flickered in his eyes, and he made a cold snort as the fingers of his right hand slowly clenched into a fist.
At the same time, the vortex in the sea slowly constricted, tightening down and closing. The seawater instantly turned red with blood, and miserable howls could be heard. When Meng Hao opened his fist, the waters spread back out and the vortex resumed spinning.
A moment later, Meng Hao waved his sleeve, causing more than twenty Demon hearts to fly up from the reddened water. He put them into his bag of holding, then transformed into a beam of light that shot off into the distance.
The only thing that was left behind was the blood, which slowly dissolved into the seawater. Everything was calm and peaceful.