Chapter 48: Eccentric Song and Wu Dingqiu [1. Eccentric Song's surname in Chinese is 宋 Sòng. It has no real meaning. It is the same "Song" as the Song Dynasty. Wu Dingqiu's name in Chinese is 吴丁秋 wú dīng qiū. Wu is a common family name. Ding is the fourth heavenly stem. Qiu means Autumn]
Thunder rolled out in the evening sky. Rosy clouds drifted about, and the autumn wind rustled, picking up the fallen leaves and sending them floating. It should have been a beautiful, rainy autumn evening, but the peacefulness was interrupted by two figures who occasionally dropped to the ground, but then immediately shot back up into the air. They soared along, engaged in a life-and-death pursuit.
Meng Hao was in front, his eyes glistening. After reaching the seventh level of Qi Condensation, he could maintain top speed on his flying sword for the time it takes half an incense stick to burn. At that rate, he could not shake off Shangguan Xiu.
After some time passed, he was forced to drop to the ground, run as fast as possible for a while, and then resume gliding.
Shangguan Xiu pursued him doggedly. He knew that he couldn’t let him escape; if he did, Meng Hao could easily hide somewhere in the massive State of Zhao, and that would be very troublesome.
At the moment, he was extremely confident. A critical juncture had arrived. He knew that Meng Hao possessed some treasured item. He wasn’t exactly sure what it did, but he was determined to acquire it.
“Meng Hao, you can’t escape me! My aim has always been the Southern Domain. The only reason I haven’t ascended to the Foundation Establishment stage yet is because I didn't want to. You’re like an ant to me! You will be my stepping stone into Foundation Establishment!” Shangguan Xiu was of the ninth level of Qi Condensation. Even though he was very close to breaking through to the Foundation Establishment stage, his level of power was still far from that level. That having been said, even though Meng Hao was in the same stage as him, their Cultivation bases were still two levels apart. This meant that not only was Shangguan Xiu faster, but because of his status as an Elder in the Reliance Sect, he’d had access to higher level magical items.
The talisman whistled through the air, propelling him forward with extraordinary power. He flicked his wide sleeve, snapping a jade slip. A green mist shot out, which coagulated into a green bottle, about half the height of an average person. It shot toward Meng Hao.
Meng Hao’s eyes flickered and he slapped his bag of holding. Ten flying swords appeared, shooting toward the magical bottle. As soon as they collided, the ten flying swords exploded into pieces, which mushroomed out in all directions. The bottle shattered, but Shangguan Xiu simply increased his speed and leaped over the cloud, intent on decreasing the distance between him and Meng Hao.
At that moment, Meng Hao suddenly turned, his hands flickering in incantation patterns. Wind Blades appeared, three of them. However, they didn’t shoot toward Shangguan Xiu, but instead flew in circular patterns, faster and faster, creating a gravitational force which pulled in the shattered remnants of his flying swords. Soon, they had formed a spinning vortex.
A booming sound rang out, but Meng Hao didn’t look back. The vortex behind Shangguan Xiu suddenly exploded, sending shrapnel shooting out. Shangguan Xiu was knocked forward, shredding much of his clothing. His eyes burned with fury.
“So you’ve reached the seventh level of Qi Condensation!” Shangguan Xiu glared as Meng Hao sped off into the distance. He continued his pursuit, albeit more cautiously. He knew that Meng Hao was incredibly crafty, and could not be underestimated. He must use all his power.
When he thought about the technique Meng Hao had just used, gathering the fragmented pieces of the swords together, Shangguan Xiu was a bit taken aback. If Meng Hao’s Cultivation base were higher, then the attack just now, while it might not have killed him, would have seriously injured him.
“He’s so young, yet so sinister. Exploding the swords was just a diversion. Dammit!” He increased his speed, turning into a ray of light as he pursued Meng Hao.
Two people shot through the evening as the sky grew dark. The bright moon looked down, its gaze illuminating them.
Meng Hao’s face was grim. He consumed some Demonic Cores. Even though the North Sea had shown him the Dao, and he had broken through to the next level, his current situation did not bode well. He was at the seventh level of Qi Condensation, but had no way to lose his pursuer. He was in somewhat of a crisis.
“There will come a day when I will slay this man!” thought Meng Hao. As he considered the inexplicable enmity between them, he came to the realisation that it was all because of his opponent’s greed. Over and over again. It was extremely annoying.
Looking back at Shangguan Xiu, Meng Hao gritted his teeth. As his flying sword sputtered out of power, he leaped to the ground, racing toward the wild mountains. He was heading, not toward the Reliance Sect, but rather the east of Mount Daqing, where a chain of mountains rose and fell off toward the flatlands and the capital city of the State of Zhao.
The mountains here were numerous, even more so than the regions around the Reliance Sect. This mountain chain was the largest in the State of Zhao, and had come to be known as the State Shield Mountain range. From a distance, you couldn’t see past them, and in the night, they rose up like the undulating spine of a slumbering dragon, emanating a lofty air.
Meng Hao lowered his head, speeding deep into the State Shield Mountains. This was not the first time he had fled for his life in the past three years. From his experience that year on the black mountain, Meng Hao knew how to seize opportunities. He flew as fast as he could, heading deeper and deeper into the mountains.
Shangguan Xiu did not slow in his pursuit. No matter where Meng Hao went, he would follow. His mind was set; he would kill Meng Hao and take his treasures. And yet he knew he didn’t have much time. The medicinal plant that he had been growing was ripe and ready to be harvested. If he was too slow, it would wither, which would wreck his future plans.
In his estimation, it should take more than one or two days to take care of Meng Hao. That much of a delay was acceptable. So without hesitation, he continued into the barren mountains in pursuit.
About five hundred kilometers away from the point where Meng Hao and Shangguan Xiu entered the State of Zhao’s State Shield Mountains, there arose a lofty mountain.
The mountain’s peak pierced the clouds, and was visible from a vast distance away. Everything from half-way up the mountain all the way to its peak was covered with white snow. It was huge, much bigger than any of the surrounding mountains, and its very top seemed to emanate rays of light that covered the mountain like flowing water.
Next to this mountain was another mountain, whose top appeared to have been sliced off, forming a round, plateau-like platform. Assembled on the platform were nearly a hundred Cultivators wearing long, white robes.
They were young, the youngest of the group being eleven or twelve years old, the oldest, seventeen or eighteen. There were boys and girls, and all of them wore expressions of keen anticipation. Some of them seemed to be keeping their Cultivation base concealed, and their faces looked proud and unyielding.
Some of the group were at the seventh or eighth level of Qi Condensation, and a few were even at the ninth. The weakest were at the fifth or sixth levels. There was no Sect in the State of Zhao who had disciples like this. Clearly, whoever had gathered this group of youths was a major Sect from the Southern Domain.
Their clothing was all uniform, and they radiated an imposing air, as if they had the power to affect everything around them. Some of them had outstanding latent talent, and all of them were filled with vigor. Clearly, they belonged in the Cultivation world.
“These are some of my Outer Sect disciples,” said a voice with a complacent laugh. “What do you think, Eccentric Song?” At the front of the group, near the edge of the platform, two old men sat cross-legged, a Go board spread out between them. The person who had laughed was one of these old men. He had white hair, wore a white robe, and had the demeanor of a transcendent being.
His eyes flashed like lightning and were filled with pride. He continued to laugh.
Sitting across from him was Eccentric Song, wearing a long black robe that seemed to shimmer with iridescence. His long gray hair hung in disarray, and he wore an enigmatic smile on his face.
“Excellent, excellent. Your Violet Fate Sect is definitely worthy to be called one of the five Great Sects of the Southern Domain. There are clearly some promising subjects among your Outer Sect Disciples, Wu Dingqiu.” Eccentric Song smiled, and a cold wind seemed to spring up. The onlooking disciples’ minds seemed to shiver.
“Very well, let us carry out our wager,” said the white-robed man with a smile, his eyes flashing. His hand made a snatching motion, and suddenly a large stone appeared, about the size of a human head. It slammed down onto the ground next to him.
It was dark and opaque, and yet a black glow could be seen flickering inside it. A multitude of flickering twinkles could be seen within, as if it were composed of a vast number of gems.
“This is what I’m putting up, a Heaven Crystal!” The white-robed man’s eyes sparkled as he looked at Eccentric Song.
“No problem,” said Eccentric Song, flicking his sleeve. “This is the Star Fragment you’ve had your eye on.” A large lump of iron appeared, about the size of a fist. It emanated a black glow, as if it could swallow up everything in sight. It was clearly anything but ordinary. “See the flag on the peak of the mountain? If your disciples can topple that flag, then you win. But, if your Violet Fate Sect disciples aren’t skilled enough to ascend the mountain, then your Heaven Crystal is mine.” He laughed contentedly.
“Fear not,” said the white-robed man with a confident sneer. “My disciples can definitely snap your paltry flagpole. They will also clear the mountain of all its treasures and slay all the Demonic beasts you’ve raised. Don’t go back on your word when that happens!”
“I have roamed heaven and earth for four hundred years and have never gone back on my word. Yes, I have filled this mountain with many treasures and Spirit Stones, as well as numerous unique Spirit beasts that I have carefully raised. But mark my words, once the mountain is opened, anyone under the Foundation Establishment stage can enter, for seven days. This includes your Violet Fate Sect disciples, as well as disciples of any other Sect. Anyone!
“Anyone with skill can acquire the treasures. Even if someone comes along who can clear them all out, I won’t even so much as frown, let alone go back on my word. If I do, then I’m not surnamed Song!” Eccentric Song spoke all these words with head held high, looking unyielding, his voice decisive.
“However, anyone without skill who does not acquire treasures, and cannot ascend to the top of the mountain, will become food for my Spirit beasts. This is simply their destiny.” Having said this, his smile grew even colder, and his eyes filled with a sneer.
“All of my Violet Fate Sect disciples are outstanding among their peers,” said Wu Dingqiu with a glare, his voice booming out. “Clearing out your mountain will be as easy for them as turning over a hand.”
“For a hundred kilometres surrounding my treasure mountain, Spirit Beasts roam freely. I’ve fertilized the land with soil from the bottom of the Eastern Sea, which hasn’t seen the light of day for ten thousand years. I even transported the top of Mount Tian Shan from the Southern Domain to be this mountain’s highest peak, spending an entire sixty-year cycle refining it and assimilating it into mountain. There is nothing like it in the world. Each Spirit beast here is an exquisite specimen personally acquired by myself. They are fiendish and unusual, Mutated beasts that I painstakingly collected from everywhere under heaven! I think the hundred or so disciples you have brought are not enough food for my Spirit beasts!” Eccentric Song glared, slowly rubbing his beard.
This is a series of 5 special chapters sponsored by Jon Alle, Jingping Lai, Erik Gordon, Christian Dela Cruz, Sai Pakalapat, Marco Pacheco Dera, Chris Sherman, Sheela Mugan, Tjandra Johannes, Deep Bhattacharya, Allen Porter, Daniel Delaney, Steven Melendez, Abdul azim Nasyirah Diyana, and Austin Minett
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