Chapter 728: Second Level!
The gold-colored beast that had attacked Meng Hao was clearly far more powerful than the one that had been dispatched against Lu Bai.
Despite that, it almost died. Were it not for the intervention of the deep-gold overseer, it would surely have been destroyed.
However, Meng Hao was also only capable of throwing this one punch!
That strike had contained all the power he had just absorbed. At the moment, his body was returning to normal. Although his aura was quite a bit weaker, there was no one who would dare to look down on him.
The five Golden Frost Sect cultivators were thoroughly shaken.
“He’s… even stronger than before!!”
“Don’t tell me that golden vortex appeared because he was just enlightened?! Or, was he simply holding back before?!?!”
The five men exchanged glances, and each could see how shocked the others were. If they were to fight Meng Hao, and he used the golden vortex, then even in their puppet form, they would still be… completely defeated!
Gu Tianxiang from the Solitary Sword Sect had a face filled with shock. His eyes were wide, and his heart trembled. “He’s clearly only at the Second Severing level, but that Blood Demon Grand Magic… it’s simply… simply terrifying!!”
He was a powerful expert from the Solitary Sword Sect, and had previously viewed himself as quite knowledgeable regarding the Blood Demon Sect. As of now, though, he realized that the magic of the Blood Demon Sect was beyond imagination.
The deep-gold overseer was also shocked, and could do nothing but stare wordlessly at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever as he slowly walked forward. When he reached the flame portal, he stepped in without hesitation.
On the other side of the flame portal was what seemed to be a completely different world. As soon as Meng Hao entered, he saw Lu Bai off in the distance, coughing up blood as he tumbled backward like a kite with its string cut. The black dragon in front of him was returning to its usual lifeless state.
This world was a world of fire. A sea of flames stretched out in all directions, from within which emerged an enormous, towering altar. The altar was colossal, hundreds of thousands of meters tall, arranged into nine levels.
Just now, Lu Bai had met defeat on the third floor, and was ejected, blood spraying from his mouth. He hovered in mid-air, his face pale. He looked back and saw Meng Hao, and his eyes began to shine with a bright glow as well as complex thoughts.
“So, you’re here,” he said as he floated down to the ground. Paying Meng Hao no more heed, he sat down cross-legged and began to meditate.
Meng Hao looked up at the enormous altar stretching up out of the sea of flames. For some reason, he got an odd feeling about this place. For some reason, he felt more relaxed, as if some intangible shackles had been removed from him. His mind felt clearer.
“Foreigner!” said an ancient voice, which echoed out from up above. Looking up, Meng Hao was shocked to see a white, humanoid beast, another overseer.
It hovered up above at what seemed to be the very top of the world, emitting absolutely no cultivation base aura whatsoever.
It looked down at Meng Hao and said, “You have passed the first level, which is your good fortune. If you pass the second level, you will be qualified to leave this place and can also receive a treasured item of our clan.
“This is a life-or-death trial by fire, the result of the treaty with our benefactor long ago. Any foreigner who enters, regardless of which clan they come from, may participate in the trial by fire.
“Step across the flames and onto the altar of nine floors. Defeat the enemy you find on each floor, and you may pass to the following floor!
“You may employ any magical technique, any divine ability, any means or method you wish!
“You have three chances. If you suffer defeat on your third attempt… you will be blotted out of existence.”
When the white-colored overseer finished speaking, it closed its eyes and said nothing further.
Meng Hao took a deep breath and then immediately sat down cross-legged to meditate. After fine-tuning his cultivation base for a day, he opened his eyes and stepped out over the sea of flames.
In that instant, Lu Bai opened his eyes and looked at Meng Hao.
“Be careful of the third floor,” he said slowly. “There, you will find a copy of yourself.”
Meng Hao stopped for a moment, looked at Lu Bai, and nodded. Then, he flew across the sea of flames and stepped onto the first floor of the altar. As soon as he did, he saw a human-shaped statue, which immediately melted and transformed into a young man wearing an azure robe.
The young man’s eyes were listless at first, but when Meng Hao looked at them, they suddenly began to shine with a brilliant light.
“That kid from earlier got past me by a fluke. You… won’t be so lucky.” Even as he spoke, he lifted his hand up into the air and then pointed forward. Behind him, a single, black bee appeared. Immediately, ghost images sprang up around it. In the blink of an eye, Meng Hao was facing over ten thousand bees.
Buzzing sounds could be heard as the bees shot toward Meng Hao. The young man’s fingers flickered in an incantation, and he pointed out again. This time, shockingly, more than ten thousand centipedes appeared.
“A Dragoneer?” thought Meng Hao, shocked. Everything that was happening seemed very familiar. In the Western Desert, Dragoneer cultivators attacked in much the same fashion. Meng Hao didn’t immediately respond, but rather backed up a bit and looked the situation over. After a moment, he realized… this was not Dragoneer magic, but overall, it was very similar.
As for Meng Hao, when it came to the Dao of Dragoneering, he was once a Grand Dragoneer of the Western Desert. In fact, it could be said that he was the most powerful Grand Dragoneer of his generation.
Meng Hao’s face was the same as ever as the bees and centipedes closed in. He performed an incantation gesture to employ Dragoneer magic. His divine sense rolled out, and the bees and centipedes immediately stopped short.
They looked a bit confused, and as for the young man, his face filled with shock.
At the same time, Meng Hao pointed out, causing the Black White Pearls and the Ninth Mountain to appear. Roaring sounds filled the air as they crushed down. Meng Hao shot forward with incredible speed to appear directly in front of the young man. He waved his right hand, and the Blood Demon Grand Magic appeared.
The shocking golden vortex appeared, as well as a golden hand that grabbed ahold of the young man. Immediately, his body began to wither as his qi and blood were absorbed. It only took a moment for him to completely collapse.
After collapsing, the young man reappeared in another location. He looked deeply at Meng Hao for a moment before coolly saying, “I am merely a Dharma Clone created by a strand of qi. However, you were able to rout me, which is something no one has ever done before. You… have passed.”
Meng Hao frowned slightly. He had not absorbed very much qi and blood, and he was still unable to see the young man’s cultivation base. Without another word, he flashed toward the second floor.
As soon as he stepped foot onto the second floor, an incredible power surged toward him.
Meng Hao’s face flickered and he raised his hand and pushed it straight out in front of him.
Rumbling filled the air as an incredible surge of energy bore down on him. Meng Hao trembled, and his face flickered as he retreated at full speed.
He looked up to see a giant minotaur, looking back at him with an expression of surprise. “At the very least,” thought Meng Hao, “he also has Dao Seeking fleshy body power. It also seems like the attack just now was casual! How did Lu Bai get past this part?”
“Hahaha!” the minotaur laughed maliciously. “Excellent! Excellent! Finally somebody with some real power has arrived! That brat with the Time powers was much weaker than this!” The minotaur’s muscles bulged as he stamped his foot into the ground and charged at Meng Hao.
“Don’t let me down, now!” he roared. “That brat from before was a complete hassle! That secret Time art he used was strange and difficult to deal with. Fighting that fool wasn’t fun at all! He pestered me to the max until I finally let him past. But you…. I like you, punk!”
The minotaur punched out with explosive Dao Seeking power, causing Meng Hao’s face to flicker. He rotated his cultivation base and immediately sent out his own punch.
A massive, astonishing roar rippled out, and Meng Hao’s face went even paler. He was now in full retreat; the minotaur lifted his head back and laughed heartily.
“Excellent! Excellent!” he said, charging toward Meng Hao once again at full speed.
Meng Hao’s eyes widened.
“He’s using more power this time!!” he thought, and the desire to fight gleamed in his eyes. Power surged throughout his fleshly body, and he once again counterattacked, adding the power of vibration into his attack.
The two massive powers collided, and Meng Hao coughed up a mouthful of blood as he was sent tumbling backward. As for the minotaur, his body vibrated, and the ground beneath his feet cracked and split. When he looked up, his eyes shone with a bright light.
“This is awesome! Awesome! You’re not bad at all, brat. Come come, allow Grandpa Minotaur to smash you to death!” With a hearty laugh, he charged again.
Meng Hao’s face flickered, and his entire body was shaking and numb. In contrast, his opponent didn’t seem to be even slightly hurt. In fact… Meng Hao could sense that the thing’s fleshly body was actually growing increasingly powerful.
“I can’t compete with him in terms of physical strength!” thought Meng Hao, his eyes flashing. As the minotaur bore down on him, he performed a minor teleportation to evade.
“Why are you running away!?” fumed the minotaur, charging him once again. Meng Hao performed another minor teleportation, leaving the minotaur enraged.
“Dammit! You’re pissing me off as much as that other guy!” roared the minotaur. He suddenly stamped his right foot onto the ground, unleashing an incredible boom. The air distorted, making it impossible for Meng Hao to teleport. He quickly performed an incantation and then pointed out.
“Blood Demon Grand Magic!”
Immediately, the golden vortex appeared around the minotaur, who was immediately stuck in place. As his fleshly body began to wither away, his eyes bulged, and he howled, “What kind of crappy magic is this!?”
With that, power seemed to explode from within him, surging out to fight back against the vortex. For the first time ever… the vortex collapsed.
Meng Hao’s face fell and he shot backward in retreat. The minotaur laughed maniacally and then unleashed another punch.
Meng Hao was barely able to dodge it, and yet was still forced to cough up a mouthful of blood. He retreated again, a thousand ideas flitting through his mind.
“Extraordinary strength, an incredibly tough body, can lock down teleportation in the area, and even the Blood Demon Grand Magic is useless against him…. What do I do?!” Meng Hao fell back constantly, and was wounded constantly. Blood sprayed from his mouth, and the minotaur continued to get more and more excited as he battled on.
“If I could absorb his fleshly body, then I would definitely turn this around and win! But he simply shook off the Blood Demon Grand Magic vortex…. Wait….” Meng Hao’s eyes glittered.
“Hold on a second. The Blood Demon Grand Magic first binds, then absorbs. That’s why it requires such a huge vortex. That means its power is spread out. If I focus the vortex on the smallest area possible, and don’t attempt to absorb everything, but instead only do a quick absorption….” Meng Hao’s mind was now thinking incredibly clearly. Enlightenment had come suddenly, right in the midst of battle. At the same time, the minotaur was yet again almost on top of him.
Meng Hao had no time for further consideration. He waved his hand, and again the Blood Demon Grand Magic appeared. However, it was not a large-scale version, but rather, a vortex the size of the inside of his palm.
The vortex spun rapidly in his palm, fusing into his hand to such a degree that it seemed to replace his palm print.
“Well, it’s go time. Will it work?!”
Even as the minotaur closed in, Meng Hao shot forward, extending his palm out in a strike.
“Blood and Qi stratum!”
Here’s a picture of some promotional art from the ISSTH web game of a “minotaur”
This chapter was sponsored by Mohamed Amro Beseiso and Bjorn Jeune