Chapter 841: The Ancient Road of Trial by Fire is Opened!
“The next time we meet,” murmured Meng Hao, “it will be out in the starry sky.” The departure of Pill Demon, Chu Yuyan, and the others, was too sudden, and left him feeling empty.
He thought back to his hundreds of years of cultivation, and it seemed like there many people who had ended up departing, and were no longer in the lands of South Heaven.
Patriarch Reliance was gone. Xu Qing was gone. Pill Demon was gone. Chu Yuyan was gone….
Thankfully, Fatty, Chen Fan, and the others were still there. There were some people Meng Hao wasn’t sure about; the 10th Wang Clan Patriarch for example, Han Bei from the former Black Sieve Sect, and of course Dong Hu, who had joined the Reliance Sect at the same time as him.
Meng Hao sighed. He did not leave the Southern Domain along with his father. Instead, he went to the Golden Frost Sect. He and Fatty drank together. Fatty sent his more than one hundred beloved concubines away, and he and Meng Hao sat on top of a mountain, drinking and talking about the past.
They talked about the State of Zhao, and about Yunjie County. They talked about the Reliance Sect, and everything that had happened there. Eventually, evening fell, and the stars slowly came out. It was impossible to tell how much exactly they had drunk.
“I’m going to join the disciple recruitment event held by the Three Great Daoist Societies of the Ninth Mountain and Sea!” declared Fatty, tossing aside his alcohol flagon and looking determinedly over at Meng Hao. “I don’t want to be stuck in the lands of South Heaven for the rest of my life. I want to go out into the starry sky!”
Meng Hao looked back at Fatty. He himself had heard from Zhixiang about the Three Great Daoist Societies’ disciple recruitment trial by fire. News about the matter had now spread throughout the entire Ninth Mountain and Sea, even here to Planet South Heaven.
Fatty gazed at Meng Hao with an expression of determination.
“You don’t need to say anything,” Fatty continued. “I know that you won’t stay in the lands of South Heaven for much longer either. Your path exists in the starry sky. Well, we’re brothers, so if you go, then I won’t stay behind! I’m going to give it a shot!”
Meng Hao didn’t respond at first. He simply lifted his wine flagon and took a drink, looked at Fatty, and smiled.
Then he said, “Considering those teeth of yours, you’ll definitely get some good fortune!”
Fatty laughed uproariously, then grabbed a flying sword and began to file at his teeth. The two of them laughed together, and then continued to chat until the sky turned bright. Meng Hao stayed with Fatty for a few days before leaving. The next stop on his journey through the Southern Domain was to visit Chen Fan.
Chen Fan sat as he always did, next to the mountain boulder. Meng Hao meditated silently next to him. Chen Fan no longer drank alcohol, but the stubble of a beard was still visible on his chin. An abstruse gleam could be seen deep in his eyes, but most of his time was spent gazing at the boulder, as if he were immersed in memories.
Meng Hao didn’t interrupt him, but rather sat next to him for an entire night.
When the sky grew bright and the time had come for Meng Hao to leave, Chen Fan suddenly said, “I’ve decided to go to the trial by fire held by the Three Great Daoist Societies.”
Meng Hao nodded and left.
His next stop was the Blood Demon Sect. He saw Wang Youcai, who, much like Fatty and Chen Fan, was interested in the trial by fire.
He also decided to participate, to take a chance for his future.
Meng Hao didn’t see Patriarch Blood Demon. Outside of Patriarch Blood Demon’s Immortal’s cave, Meng Hao could sense a dense aura of death. He stood there for a long time before finally clasping hands and bowing deeply.
“Senior, I will never forget your kindness in helping me to Sever the Devil and Seek the Dao!” He bowed again.
The aura of death was the same as ever as Meng Hao finally turned to leave. Off in the distance, he could see the valley where he and Xu Qing had spent their final days together, as well as the location where they had been married.
It was a mountain, on one side of which were the beautiful memories of Xu Qing, on the other side of which was carnage and battle. That was where he and Xu Qing had been married.
As he gazed at the location, Meng Hao suddenly felt very lonely. After staring for a long moment, he finally left.
Now, he wasn’t sure where to go in these sprawling lands. All he could do was look up into the starry sky.
“Perhaps it’s time for me to leave as well.”
Two months passed in the blink of an eye. Meng Hao went to the Milky Way Sea, to the Western Desert, to the Northern Reaches, and finally to the Eastern Lands. Eventually, the day came when the sky began to rumble, and the music of a great Dao spread out in all directions. Three enormous, multi-colored vortexes appeared in the sky.
The three vortexes’ rotation caused a sound to echo out that could be heard by all cultivators in the lands of South Heaven. Be they in the Western Desert or the Southern Domain, in the Northern Reaches or the Eastern Lands, in that instant they could all see the three bizarre vortexes up above.
They looked like they were up in the sky, but actually, they existed in everyone’s eyes.
Regardless of where the cultivators were located, as long as their cultivation bases met the requirements, and they had the desire to seek the Dao and find good fortune, then all they had to do was take a step forward and enter the vortex.
At the same time the vortexes appeared, an archaic voice echoed out from within them. Everything trembled, and no natural law could prevent the voice from echoing out as if from ancient times, striking fear into the hearts of all.
“The trial by fire was founded by the Three Great Daoist Societies, the Five Great Holy Lands, and the Three Churches and Six Sects!
“Anyone in the Ninth Mountain and Sea may participate, regardless of background, regardless of age, as long as the cultivation base requirement is met!
“The three vortexes are for the Nascent Soul stage, the Spirit Severing stage, and the Dao Seeking stage!
“First, walk upon the Ancient Road. The ten thousand people who reach the end the fastest will be able to participate in the honorable trial by fire!
“Of those ten thousand people, seven thousand will be from the Nascent Soul stage, two thousand from Spirit Severing, and one thousand from Dao Seeking! Cultivators of the Ninth Mountain and Sea…. let the trial by fire begin!”
Planet South Heaven trembled. Everyone knew that the enormous disciple recruitment trial by fire held by the Three Great Daoist Societies… was now underway!
Countless cultivators were prepared to participate. Their blood boiled at the possible good fortune in front of them. Without becoming Immortal, it was impossible to tread through the starry sky. Therefore, if they could seize this opportunity, they could have a meteoric rise, and be like a fish leaping from the sea into the heavens.
Simultaneously, similar vortexes appeared on Planet North Reed, Planet East Victory and Planet West Felicity, along with an identical voice with identical words. It was the same in the Ninth Sea and the Ninth Mountain. Throughout all locations in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, the voice echoed out, and three vortexes appeared.
The Ninth Mountain and Sea was completely abuzz, and countless cultivators were filled with determination, and hearts that wished to search for the Dao. They flew up toward the vortexes from innumerable locations.
More than ten thousand people flew up from the lands of South Heaven alone. Most were Nascent Soul cultivators, who flew into the Nascent Soul vortex to tread the Ancient Road of the Nascent Soul. There were a smaller group who flew into the Spirit Severing vortex.
The smallest group was that which walked… the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking.
If you looked at the Ninth Mountain and Sea as a whole, it was really impossible to tell how many people tread the Ancient Roads.
This was a grand event for the entire Ninth Mountain and Sea, so the Three Great Daoist Societies, the Five Great Holy Lands and the Three Churches and Six Sects all sent people to stand guard over the three Ancient Roads.
These three roads had a long history. They might be called Ancient Roads, but in truth, they comprised an ancient set of crumbled ruins within the Ninth Mountain and Sea. Within those ruins existed uncountable good fortune, and they had supposedly existed longer than the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
In truth, the three roads were only a small portion of the larger set of ruins that the Three Great Daoist Societies exercised control over. The fact that the roads were opening now aroused ambitions in countless hearts in the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
This was especially true because… these ruins were called the Ruins of Immortality, and in the past, people had discovered Immortality Illumination Vines there. That was what had changed the entire structure of true Immortality in the Ninth Mountain and Sea. Furthermore, the other eight great Mountains and Seas had similar ruins in them.
Most areas inside of the ruins were restricted areas. This was especially true in the depths of the ruins. If you entered those places, you would almost certainly die. Throughout countless years, only the most powerful of experts had ever dared to travel into the depths of the Ruins of Immortality, and virtually no one had ever emerged alive.
Rumor had it that Lord Li had traveled into the depths of the ruins, but as for what had happened there, no one knew. They only knew that the Dharma Clone he had left behind issued the Dharmic decree regarding returning fate to the Heavens.
It was because of that Dharmic decree that, in following days, Lord Ji replaced the Heavens, which in turn drew the support of most of the powers within the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
There was another rumor that in the great Nine Mountains and Seas, regardless of which Mountain or Sea, anyone who could gain enlightenment regarding the secrets of the Ruins of Immortality, would become the Overlord of all the Nine Mountains and Seas.
Although this was a generally acknowledged point, no one could actually accomplish it, not even Kṣitigarbha, the Lord of the Fourth Mountain and Sea.
Now that the trial by fire had begun, countless figures vanished into the three vortexes. Fatty, Chen Fan, Wang Youcai, and others all decided to take a chance to try to get some good fortune.
As for Meng Hao, he sat cross-legged underneath a towering tree in the Fang Clan of the Eastern Lands, looking up at the three enormous vortexes. After sitting there quietly for a moment looking at the flashing vortexes, a strange light gleamed in his eyes.
“You have the Immortal Ancient Dao Medallion, so if you want to join the Immortal Ancient Daoist Rite, then you don’t have to participate in the trial by fire.” The voice came from Meng Hao’s father, Fang Xiufeng, who strolled up from behind him. He stood behind Meng Hao and continued, “Furthermore, there is always the danger of perishing in the trial by fire. Aren’t you scared of that?”
“Other than the chance to join one of the Three Great Daoist Societies, is there any other good fortune to be had?” asked Meng Hao.
“Of course there is!” replied his father. “If you get first place, then you can acquire a precious treasure. Considering the resources at the Three Great Daoist Societies’ disposal, even I would be excited at the prospect of getting a magical item from them.
“Furthermore, father can tell you another secret. In addition to the founders of the Three Great Daoist Societies, the founders of the Four Great Clans, the Five Holy Lands, and the three Churches and Six Sects… all previously walked the Ancient Roads of the Ruins of Immortality!
“It was there that they acquired the unimaginable good fortune that allowed them to found their various clans and sects.
“It was the same with the Fang Clan Ancestor. That was where he acquired the bloodline that has ensured that the Fang Clan stands tall in the Ninth Mountain and Sea. That, of course, is…. the Fang Clan’s Four Lives Awakening!”
“Dad, did you go there?” asked Meng Hao.
Fang Xiufeng didn’t respond at first. After a long moment, he shook his head.
“Originally, your mother and I planned to wait for you to grow up, then we planned to take a trip there.”
When he looked at his father, Meng Hao could sense that some amount of regret existed in his heart. He glanced back up at the three vortexes, and then a gleam of determination appeared in his eyes.
“Dad, I want to go.”
“If you want to go, then go. We cultivators should never be afraid of dying!” Fang Xiufeng looked at Meng Hao, and the love in his eyes was clear, as was the look of encouragement.
“At the end of the Ancient Road are the arena matches. Actually… I hope that you do participate in this event!
“Do you know why your father’s name is known throughout the Ninth Mountain and Sea, and is even known in other Mountains and Seas? That’s because even when I was in the Spirit Realm, I never shrank from a fight with anyone in the same stage as me. I fought and killed my way to the place I am now. I passed up all the members of my same generation, suppressed them, and seized destiny. That is how to become powerful!
“Never forget, the word cultivation 修行 is made of two characters, 修 which implies studying and practice, and 行 which implies action. It is not enough to just have 修, the studying and learning. You must also have 行, action…. You must always strive forward; that is the way to reach the pinnacle of power!”
Meng Hao coughed dryly, and a bashful smile appeared on his face.
“Dad, I can’t really identify with your path. I think… getting all of the Chosen in the Ninth Mountain and Sea to owe me money is the ideal way.”
Fang Xiufeng’s jaw dropped as Meng Hao chuckled and then flew into the air. His body flashed as he flew toward the Dao Seeking vortex. He took a deep breath, and without any further hesitation, entered.