Chapter 624: Lofty Aspirations!
As the archaic voice from the Reincarnation Mountain echoed out, the entire mountain filled with a roaring sound. As the black smoke rose up into the air, an enormous, burning incense stick flew out from the mountain. It stood straight up in mid-air, surrounded by mist.
The incense burned slowly, emitting a smoke that fused with the mist around it so that few would be able to tell the difference between the two. It made it impossible to tell if the mist was concealed within the smoke, or the smoke gave rise to the mist.
The archaic voice once again echoed out into the silence. “If you have not provided an answer by the time the incense burns out, then the fire of the Reincarnation Mountain will not give up even half a portion of light.”
After that, the world was silent. Meng Hao stood in a daze, looking at the Reincarnation Mountain. He could see the black smoke and the dense flames spewing out of the mouth of the volcano. It made it seem as if the entire world was made of smoke and fire.
The sky had room for ten portions of light. He had acquired seven from the Frost Soil Demon Mountain and the Blood Demon Mountain. Right now, the remaining three portions were covered by the fire and smoke. Everything was dim and hazy….
Especially shocking was that the haziness affected the other seven portions of light up in the sky. At a glance, everything seemed to be covered with smoke. Trying to look up at the two Holy Lands was like trying to look at flowers in the fog, or at the moon in troubled waters.
“If I were in his place, what would I do?” thought Meng Hao. The Reincarnation Mountain did not require bowing, but rather, the heart and the mind. It required the essence of the person, something that could not be worn away by the passage of time.
Ke Jiusi watched on thoughtfully. Long ago, he had earned the same qualifications as Meng Hao. However, when facing the Reincarnation Mountain, he had only been able acquire two portions of light. That had left him with a sky filled with eight portions of light. In the end, he had failed to reach the Holy Lands.
As he watched Meng Hao now, he was reminded of himself all those years ago, when he had awoken to find the Demon Immortal Sect in ruins, and himself alone.
True spirit Night’s pupils constricted as it stared at Meng Hao. It knew that of the nine bows and three mountains of the Second Heaven, the Reincarnation Mountain was the most difficult! That was because… this mountain asked first regarding the heart, second regarding the Dao, and third regarding reincarnation!
“What will his answer be?” thought Night. According to its determination, Meng Hao was not the person it and Lord Li were waiting for. He was not destined to be the successor. However, Night was very curious as to what Meng Hao would say in response to the question from the Reincarnation Mountain.
As of this point, true spirit Night and Ke Jiusi had both noticed something, although they didn’t seem to care. Far off in the distance, a figure had appeared in the air, and was gazing at Meng Hao.
It was a woman, somewhat flirtatious in appearance, and extremely beautiful. It was, of course… Zhixiang!
Everyone from South Heaven had left. Only Meng Hao and Zhixiang remained behind!
In contrast to Meng Hao, the reason Zhixiang hadn’t left was because she had no intention of returning to Planet South Heaven. Were it not for Meng Hao suddenly acquiring legacy qualifications, she would have long since left.
She looked over at Meng Hao and the third Demon Mountain, her expression one of both blankness and complex emotions.
“The augury of the almighty members of the Sect, which came at the expense of generations of accumulated skill, indicated that the successor of Lord Li would rise up from Planet East Victory. Only a few people within the Sect know of this.
“Meng Hao comes from Planet South Heaven. He is not the person decreed by fate to be the successor.” Zhixiang let out a soft, inward sigh.
A moment later, Meng Hao’s eyes glittered.
“There are many possible answers to the question posed by the Reincarnation Mountain,” he thought. “Many theories could be proposed. If I assumed the identity of that slave of the Reincarnation Mountain, then I would have many choices in front of me.” Hundreds of ideas flitted through Meng Hao’s mind. After all, he was a scholar, and he still vividly remembered the Imperial Examinations he had attended in the State of Zhao, despite the fact that they had occurred hundreds of years ago.
Subconsciously, he analyzed the clues provided by the words given him.
After a few dozen breaths of time passed, his eyes began to glitter brightly. He opened his mouth to speak, but then was shocked to discover that he was incapable of speaking out the answer he had formulated.
It was as if as of this moment, his mouth had been sealed up, and he was a mute!
Meng Hao’s mind trembled as he looked at the Reincarnation Mountain.
Ke Jiusi looked at Meng Hao and then slowly said, “Reincarnation Mountain asks three questions, and then seals your mouth. Any answer which does not conform to your soul, cannot be uttered. This first question is asked of your heart.
“Open your mind and heart. Search your soul. Find the true answer within you, and you will be able to speak it out. You are searching for your heart, your nature, your self.” A profound look flickered within Ke Jiusi’s eyes.
Meng Hao was silent for a bit longer. He looked at the incense stick, and saw that it was already one third burned out. His eyes filled with a complicated look, and then he closed them.
Everything was quiet….
“There was a withered slave on this mountain who said that life is pain,” thought Meng Hao. “He wished to free himself from the sea of bitterness. That sea is like an inescapable flame that can burn everything. Afterward, he called this place Withering Flame, and made a solemn vow that he would eradicate the sea of bitterness. He would ensure that all living things no longer experience bitterness, but rather, freedom!
“That was his choice. Perhaps that person was none other than one of the illustrious three Greater Demons of the Ninth Mountain and Sea, Withering Flame Demon!
“I don’t know how the other two Greater Demons of these Demon Mountains appeared, but as for Reincarnation Mountain, if even a single slave could become a Greater Demon… then this mountain is a defiance of the Heavens!” Meng Hao took a deep breath and then calmed himself inwardly.
“If I were him… facing the sea of bitterness, what would I do?” Meng Hao murmured. “Would I do the same as him, vow to eradicate the sea of bitterness? Or… would I make a different choice?” He gradually forgot that he was in the Demon Immortal Sect. He forgot everything as he immersed himself in his mind and heart, as he sank himself into his own soul.
He whispered to himself, seeking for the true answer within the depths of his own self.
Suddenly, a vision appeared to him. Within the vision, he was one of the slaves on Reincarnation Mountain. He climbed the mountain constantly, struggling to reach the summit and the pit of flames. Finally, he jumped in to be burned up by the flames and the molten rock inside.
When he opened his eyes again, he was at the bottom of the mountain, where he once again began to stride the same path as before. Over and over again, this happened, an endless cycle.
“He was right, but also wrong,” murmured Meng Hao.
“This could be viewed as a sea of bitterness, but also… not. If you believe everything to be bitterness, then it is. If you believe that everything is not bitterness, then it is not.
“Leaping into the pit of fire represents death. Reappearance at the bottom of the volcano represents birth. The climb up the mountain represents the process of life….
“I would not swear to eradicate this place. Nor would I sink myself into cowardliness. What I have… is the determination to set my foot where I wish to set it. I control my own fate. I may not be able to control my own birth, but I can decide how I die.
“And the final destination will definitely NOT be the pit at the top of the volcano.” Although he had been murmuring, Meng Hao’s voice actually echoed through the entire Demon Immortal Sect, even though he didn’t realize it.
As his voice echoed about, Meng Hao’s vision changed. His incarnation as a withered slave no longer conformed to the cycle. It did not leap into the fiery pit, but rather, stood outside of the volcano. Unlike the other withered slaves around him, he looked up into the sky, his expression no longer blank, but rather, awash with emotion.
It was as if… he had awakened. It was as if a black and white painting had suddenly been splashed with color.
He turned his back on the fiery pit and began to stride away from the mountain. He allowed himself to drop into the abyss, running counter to the fiery pit…. Finally, a smile appeared on his face.
“The path of life does not just run from the bottom of a mountain to its top….” he said lightly. In his mind, his incarnation as a withered slave fell off of Reincarnation Mountain. He did not turn to look back, but rather strode off into the distance.
Behind him, the countless other people on Reincarnation Mountain continued to repeat the same actions they did day after day. As for him, he drew further and further away from the mountain….
“If you believe it to be a sea of bitterness, then a sea of bitterness it is. If you believe it to simply be scenery on the path of life, then scenery it is…. The sea of bitterness never ends, but the scenery does.
“That is my answer.”
Meng Hao opened his eyes.
In that instant, he heard his own voice echoing out around him.
Ke Jiusi was shaken inwardly as he looked at Meng Hao. Meng Hao’s answer far exceeded what he could have anticipated. He had assumed Meng Hao would chose to eradicate the sea of bitterness, and then be reborn.
“If he does not die prematurely,” thought Ke Jiusi, “then the possibilities for his future are incalculable!” The shock in his eyes gradually turned into admiration. “His Cultivation base is nowhere close to mine, but his heart… is far bigger!”
Even more astonished was true spirit Night. It stared at Meng Hao, its mind roaring. Echoing in its mind were Meng Hao’s words: “The sea of bitterness never ends, but the scenery does.”
“Such a choice seems simple,” thought Night, “but if you analyze it carefully… his ambition far exceeds that of others! The makeup of his inner being is infinitely large!
“To him, the sea of bitterness can be likened to scenery on the path of life! The further he travels, the more scenery he will encounter!
“Reincarnation examines of the heart. It inquires of one’s essence, one’s nature and one’s self. His answer cannot be false. This man’s will… although spoken lightly, can shake the Heavens!”
Off in the distance, Zhixiang was breathing heavily. She had long since come to the conclusion that Meng Hao was beyond ordinary. But now that she had personally heard the expression of his heart, she suddenly realized that she had underestimated him.
“His choice represents his heart. It doesn’t matter if you talk about South Heaven or the Ninth Mountain and Sea, if he can survive, then all of this here will be a mere rest stop on his journey.
“As he strides forward, everything in existence will be forced to do nothing more than watch him walk off into the distance….”
As of now, no more mist or fire was visible coming out of Reincarnation Mountain. Even the incense stick had ceased burning. Everything was incredibly quiet.
Meng Hao looked at Reincarnation Mountain, and it seemed as if the mountain were looking back at him.
After the space of a few breaths, a shocking roaring sound could be heard that split Heaven and Earth. Everything began to quake and tremble.
“I shall bestow favor upon him with high aspirations!” said the grim, ancient voice. The voice words echoed out in all directions, a clear approval of Meng Hao.
At the same time, endless flames shot up into the sky, illuminating the firmament. Before, there were seven portions of light, but now, the light expanded as one more portion was added.
The entire sky was brightly lit by the eight portions of light which seemed to connect directly to the Third Heaven. The two Holy Lands were becoming increasingly clear.
There was also an incredible natural power that erupted from within the Reincarnation Mountain and then shot toward Meng Hao.
His body shook as his Cultivation base began to climb.
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