Chapter 899: Difficult To Distinguish Between Enmity and Benevolence
“That thing?” said Fang Xi, staring with wide eyes at the meat jelly. The meat jelly suddenly stopped talking and looked at Fang Xi. Both of them seemed to be somewhat at a loss at first, but soon, bright glows appeared in both of their eyes.
“Killing intent!” gasped Meng Hao, backing up as he sensed the aura building between the meat jelly and Fang Xi.
“So, finally a worthy opponent!” said the meat jelly, leaping up into the air and landing next to Fang Xi, an expression of unprecedented solemnity on its face.
“It seems I’ve met my match!” replied Fang Xi, having sensed the energy within the meat jelly. It was an explosive energy that only he could sense, and from it, he knew that the meat jelly could continue a conversation for days on end.
“It seems I need to warm up a bit first,” said the meat jelly, clearing its throat. “Ahem. Look kid, Lord Third is going to tell you a story that took place three three three three three… well anyway, countless three years ago. This was back in the early days of Heaven and Earth….”
“Cut the crap! All you know is three? Three three three three three. What a disgrace!” Fang Xi hadn’t even begun speaking when all of a sudden, the parrot flew out from Meng Hao’s bag of holding. It landed on a nearby tree branch and looked at Fang Xi with a look of disdain.
“Kid, don’t listen to his jabbering,” said the parrot. “You study with Lord Fifth. Look at my mouth, is it sharp or not? From that, you should be able to imagine how sharp-tongued I am!”
Meng Hao quickly left the courtyard and fled into the Immortal’s cave itself. In his opinion, the battlefield occupied by the meat jelly, the parrot and Fang Xi, was a place he shouldn’t remain in. He had already experienced some of Fang Xi’s gift of the tongue on the way here. He had talked the entire way, telling stories from the day he was one year old all the way to the present, and tales from the founding of the Fang Clan all the way to modern times. When he had run out of conversation topics, he had then begun to introduce the different members of the Fang Clan to Meng Hao.
Of course, it wasn’t an introduction made in person, just his own opinions….
Inside his residence, Meng Hao looked around and saw extreme luxury. Even the furniture was made of spirit stones, which caused his eyes to grow wide.
“The Fang Clan… is really rich! And I’m the eldest grandson! Yet… I’m so poor….” Sighing at the injustice of it all, he waved his hands, causing all of the spirit stone furniture to be sucked into his bag of holding.
The once luxurious residence was now simple and stark, and as he looked around, he felt much better. Finally, he sat down cross-legged on the ground, his eyes glittering.
“Father wanted me to get my Nirvana Fruits. It goes without saying that reason is because he wants me to rise to prominence in the Fang Clan….
“It won’t be incredibly difficult to do that, but as for the Nirvana Fruits… the Fang Clan… will they actually be able to give them to me?” Frowning, Meng Hao considered the ambush he had experienced on the way here, and how they had tried to kill him, and his eyes glowed with coldness.
“I wonder if Fang Wei’s branch of the clan sent the assassins….” Meng Hao had learned of how the clan’s direct bloodline was currently in a very poor situation. On the other hand, Fang Wei’s branch of the clan was on the rise. Not only did they have the support of many of the clan Elders, but they had even occupied some of the ancestral mansion. Some branches of the clan remained neutral, but for the most part, Fang Wei’s branch had completely eclipsed the direct bloodline.
“The Grand Elder was acting strange,” Meng Hao thought. “He seemed kind, but in my opinion, it was just an act.” He smiled coldly. Other people all assumed that he had been taken care of by his father and mother from the time he was young. They believed that, although his life had not been what it might have been had he stayed in the Fang Clan, surely he had not experienced the twists and turns of a dangerous life.
The truth of the matter was that from the age of seven onward, Meng Hao had been completely alone. In the mortal world, he had struggled hard during his youth, and had developed a spirit of independence. Then he had entered the cultivation world, and had experienced many things, and had survived numerous deadly crises. Step by step, he had advanced through life to reach his current situation. The help he had received from his parents had been scant, to say the least.
Although he might not be a perfect judge of character, he rarely made mistakes when sizing people up. He had quite a bit of experience in contending with others, and naturally, had become quite good at it.
“In two days, they will most likely not give me the Nirvana Fruits. They’ll come up with some excuse that I won’t be able to dispute, and then delay the matter….
“Of course, me returning to the clan has probably caused a huge headache for whoever it was that was trying to have me killed. However… the higher my position within the Fang Clan, the more afraid they will be to do anything to me.”
After some more thought, his eyes flickered, and he opened the bag of holding that contained his cultivation resources from the Fang Clan. After looking it over, he couldn’t help but take a deep breath.
There were a hundred bottles of medicinal pills, 1,000,000 spirit stones, and one hundred magic manuals. Although there were no Daoist magics, there were many powerful divine abilities. As for the Fang Clan’s most powerful Daoist magics, of course there were none.
That was something else Meng Hao had learned from Fang Xi. Not even Fang Wei could have access to those core Daoist magics, not without performing deeds of merit. Such deeds were considered contributions to the Fang Clan.
The more deeds of merit one performed, the more rewards could be acquired.
It was a rule that applied to all of the Fang Clan; not even the Grand Elder could violate it.
“I get one thousand merit points every month based on my status in the clan alone. Unfortunately, that’s simply not enough to enable me to get some of those core Daoist magics.” Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed as he pulled out a jade slip which listed the names and properties of countless medicinal pills, Daoist magics, and other magical items.
All of these things were items that could be purchased with merit points.
There were many that caused Meng Hao’s heart to thump after seeing them.
“There are many ways to earn merit points. The most common way is to complete some of the various trials by fire that are publicly announced throughout the clan. Different trials by fire can earn you different amounts of merit points.”
At the same time that Meng Hao was studying the jade slip, Fang Wei’s father and grandfather were seated cross-legged in a temple in the eastern section of the ancestral mansion.
Fang Wei’s father was named Fang Xiushan. Frowning, he looked at his own father and said, “Dad, I can’t believe that brat has returned….” [1. Fang Xiushan’s name in Chinese is 方秀山 fāng xiù shān. Xiu means ‘elegant’ or ‘handsome.’ Shan means ‘mountain.’ It’s very similar to Fang Xiufeng’s name. The Xiu in both names is the same, which makes sense since they are of the same generation. The final character in Fang Xiushan means ‘mountain’ whereas the final character in Fang Xiufeng’s name means ‘(mountain) peak’ or ‘summit.’ The final character in Fang Xiufeng’s name actually has the ‘mountain’ component as part of the character. Look at the two names side by side and you will see what I mean. In the final character of Fang Xiufeng’s name, you can see the mountain squished on the left side of the character. Fang Xiushan 方秀山. Fang Xiufeng 方秀峰]
“It doesn’t matter,” the old man replied coolly. “I’ve already taken care of the matter.” A sinister gleam appeared in his eyes. “If he had returned and kept a low profile, it wouldn’t have mattered. But since he has decided to act so high and mighty, he’s already placed himself half a step into the Yellow Springs.
“Make sure Wei’er focuses on his cultivation. He’s a Chosen of the Fang Clan, and the Patriarch of our bloodline has high hopes for him. Don’t let him get distracted.”
“Dad, there’s no need for you to worry about that. Wei’er has true willpower. He won’t be rattled by that son of a bitch.” Fang Xiushan smiled.
“The direct bloodline is rapidly declining,” said the old man confidently, his eyes flickering as if with fire. “Fang Hehai has been missing for years, and although his life force flame has not been extinguished, if he were capable of returning, he would have long since done so. [1. Fang Hehai’s name in Chinese is 方贺海 fāng hè hǎi - He means “congratulate.” Hai means “sea”]
“His son Fang Xiufeng agreed to guard Planet South Heaven for 100,000 years for his crippled son. All of that has doomed the direct bloodline to fall!
“It has also ensured that our bloodline will once again become the next lords of the Fang Clan, and the new direct bloodline!
“Years ago, Fang Hehai suppressed me, and his son Fang Xiufeng suppressed you. In this generation, our Wei’er will definitely rise to prominence. That insignificant Fang Hao will be nothing more than a mere stepping stone to him.” The old man flicked his sleeve.
Time passed. For two days, Meng Hao did not leave his residence. He sat there meditating, doing breathing exercises to absorb Immortal qi. Those two days were like an entire month spent on Planet South Heaven. Being able to practice cultivation like this was of great benefit to Meng Hao.
He pulled out the heart of his second true self and began to nourish it with the Immortal qi near his villa.
It was about noontime when Meng Hao opened his eyes from his trance to slap his bag of holding and produce a jade slip that was glowing brightly. He quickly scanned it with divine sense.
“Hao’er, come to the main temple.” It was the voice of the Grand Elder, and in response, Meng Hao smiled coldly. He put the jade slip away and walked out of the residence. The first thing he saw in the courtyard was Fang Xi. He had dark circles under his eyes, and his aura was incredibly weak.
The meat jelly and the parrot were currently taking turns bombing him indiscriminately with various arguments.
As soon as Fang Xi saw Meng Hao, he hurried to his feet and looked over at Meng Hao with an expression of both madness and veneration.
“Coz, you’re incredible,” he called out. “Having these two following you day in and day out, and living to tell the tale, it must be so hard. Coz, don’t worry. I’ll definitely learn the ways of a sharp tongue!” Fang Xi gritted his teeth with resolve.
A strange expression could be seen on Meng Hao’s face, and he cleared his throat, unsure of exactly what to say. Then he saw the determination in Fang Xi’s eyes, and he patted his shoulder and left the courtyard.
“Speech is endowed by Heaven, but requires tempering,” he thought. “If he can endure the training provided by the meat jelly and the parrot, then he will eventually gain the long-windedness of the meat jelly, and the acidic speech of the parrot.” Clearing his throat again, he hurried toward the main temple.
The ancestral mansion was huge, and flight was prohibited there. It took Meng Hao two full hours to stroll all the way to the temple. When he got there, he could see tens of thousands of clan members, as well as the Grand Elder, filling the area, seated cross-legged.
As soon as he saw Meng Hao, the Grand Elder’s face broke out in a kind smile, and he nodded his head.
“Hao’er, your Immortal’s cave is some distance away. How about this, I’ll give you a command medallion that gives you special privileges in the ancestral mansion. Other than some specially restricted areas, you will now be able to fly wherever you wish.” With a smile, he handed Meng Hao a violet jade slip. When the onlookers saw this happening, they gaped in shock and jealousy.
Normally speaking, only Elders were permitted to fly inside the ancestral mansion. Of the members of the Junior generation, only Fang Wei had the honor of being able to do so. Now, Meng Hao did too.
Meng Hao accepted the jade slip. If he didn’t trust his own judgement, then it would seem for all intents and purposes that the Grand Elder really did like him a lot. Considering his position as Grand Elder, it appeared as if what he was doing was not only a true kindness, but at the same time, just and even-handed. He was doing his best to follow the clan’s rules.
“Today, many clan members have gathered to bear witness to an important event!” the Grand Elder proclaimed.
“Years ago, Hao’er became weak with illness. His Seventh Year Tribulation caused many clan members to worry greatly about him. As for me, when I saw a young lad like him enduring such incredible suffering, it also pained my heart.
“Thankfully, the Immortals are blessing the Fang Clan, and an Outsider came, providing us with a way to deal with the problem. Fang Xiufeng and his wife took the child away, leaving the Nirvana Fruits behind with the clan.”
Meng Hao stood in front of the Grand Elder, staring in shock. From the way the old man was speaking, and the expression on his face, it didn’t seem at all like he was going to delay the matter; rather, it looked like he was really going to hand the Nirvana Fruits over.
“Don’t tell me I was overthinking things…?” thought Meng Hao.
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