Meng Hao had thought long and hard about whether it was true that the starry sky of the Vast Expanse had only ever had three Transcendors. The answer to that question came to him when he saw Jin Yunshan.
Perhaps the actual number of people who had Transcended wasn’t important. The key was that those three particular Transcendors had destroyed fingers of Allheaven, and were thus the perfect examples of what it meant to Transcend.
As Meng Hao looked at those three figures, he suddenly realized that there were other people like them, deeper within the Universe....
He knew by now that his true destination was that very Universe. That was the world of the Transcendors, a place where they could search for that which existed beyond the Ancestor Realm.
The path of cultivation went on and on forever. It was like the Dao, boundless. It was like the Dharma, limitless. It was like magic, neverending....
Meng Hao had learned that from Allheaven, and he could only imagine how incredibly powerful and terrifying Allheaven must have been back in his prime.
“It isn’t time to leave yet,” he thought, continuing to peer into the depths of the Universe. After a long, long moment passed, he sighed. The truth was that his connection to the starry sky of the Mountains and Seas had already grown very weak. And yet, he couldn’t simply sever that connection. He had to break the curse of Allheaven, and return the soul seeds of everyone he knew back into the cycle of reincarnation.
Smiling, he gave a farewell nod to the depths of the Universe, and then turned and headed back into the starry sky of the Mountains and Seas. Soon, he was back in that unfamiliar home of his, in the Mountain and Sea Realm, on the Ninth Mountain. When he reached the ice mountain where all of the soul seeds were stored, he looked over at the two coffins.
One of them contained Xu Qing, who was in a deep sleep, and the other contained the butterfly, which almost seemed alive.
He looked at them quietly, then sat down cross-legged. He seemed desolate, lonely, and yet filled with determination and focus.
“I know the way,” he murmured softly. “I just need time....” With that, he closed his eyes and sank into meditation.
The only way to break the curse of Allheaven... was to become Allheaven!
Allheaven was dead, but in that very moment before he ceased to exist, Meng Hao had merged with him. In that moment, he got what he needed, the seed of a memory.
Perhaps it would be better to call it a discarnate will, something that he would slowly feed until it grew whole....
Meng Hao’s face was very calm as he sat there quietly, allowing time to pass. He was absolutely motionless, his will completely retracted from the starry sky. He completely ignored everything around him, paying it no heed.
Time flowed by. 30,000 years....
Within the starry sky of the Mountains and Seas, generations upon generations of cultivators came and went. War broke out over and over again between the Mountain and Sea Realm and the Vast Expanse School. The old lizard returned to the dust. Next was the huge head, and the termite. Eventually, even the enormous flower wilted and died.
The parrot and meat jelly seemed to have unlimited longevity, and yet even they were showing signs of age. Eventually, they took to traveling out in the starry sky, leaving behind one legend after another in their own unique style....
The Church of Lord Third appeared, and then the School of Lord Fifth. Things had been boring and dull for many years in the starry sky, but now new and amusing legends were spread.
Another 30,000 years passed. The parrot returned, looking very tired and old. Meng Hao glanced over at it for a moment, then sealed it into an ice coffin he had prepared.
The meat jelly drifted about in loneliness for a few thousand years before returning. It sat with Meng Hao, talking incessantly for a while before finally joining the parrot.
When Meng Hao broke the curse, he would call them back.... Guyiding Tri-Rain and Patriarch Reliance had held on all the way down to this point, but they were reaching their limit. With Meng Hao’s help, they entered an even deeper state of sleep, which would help them endure for even longer.
Meng Hao looked over at the ice coffin containing the parrot and meat jelly, and suddenly realized that his final connections to the world were almost gone.
He was now completely and utterly alone. There he sat on the Ninth Mountain, meditating, alone.
100,000 years went by. Drastic changes occurred in the starry sky. Jin Yunshan’s appointed time of confinement passed, and he emerged. Once again, he led the Vast Expanse School to sweep across the starry sky, although he didn't dare to even get near the Mountain and Sea Realm.
Despite that, he became a figure of respect and veneration among all cultivators. Time passed. After another 100,000 years, Jin Yunshan was getting bored. He still hadn't reached full Transcendence, and thus, was still subject to the effects of the curse. Eventually, he decided to do as Meng Hao had suggested, to leave this starry sky and travel out into the Universe.
Before departing, he went to the Mountain and Sea Realm, where he stood outside the Ninth Mountain and looked up toward the peak. Eventually, he clasped hands and bowed deeply.
He was the last person within the starry sky who could be considered an old friend of Meng Hao. His departure indicated that not a single person within the starry sky remembered who Meng Hao was.
Or perhaps it was he that had come to forget the starry sky of the Mountains and Seas. No one could say for sure what the truth was.
100,000 years. 200,000 years. 300,000 years. 400,000 years....
Eventually, 1,000,000 years passed. Powers rose and fell within the starry sky of the Mountains and Seas. Powerful experts were born and died. There was even someone who reached the same level as Jin Yunshan.
It was a woman, someone with spectacular latent talent. Unfortunately, she was never able to Transcend in soul.
She led an army against the Vast Expanse School, which had stood as the peak sect for a million years. It fell, becoming a thing of the past. Now, the only thing which had existed since ancient times was the Mountain and Sea Realm.
It almost seemed foreordained that nothing connected to Meng Hao would be able to last for all eternity. Not even the Mountain and Sea Realm. After another 1,000,000 years passed, another powerful Transcendor appeared, who attacked the Mountain and Sea Realm.
There was a huge war, which the Mountain and Sea Realm managed to win, and yet at great cost. The casualties were enormous.
Years went by. The Mountain and Sea Realm came to be something of a symbol. Every 1,000,000 years, someone would step half way into Transcendence, and would try to take it. Sometimes more than one person would make that step. On one occasion, there were three.
All of them set their sights on the Mountain and Sea Realm. All of them were completely convinced that it was only by means of the Mountain and Sea Realm that they could elevate their souls and reach full Transcendence.
However, none of the successive attacking Transcendors ever managed to destroy it. That happened after 50,000,000 years passed, and the Mountain and Sea Realm rotted from the inside as it descended into civil war.
Schisms arose among the cultivators there, and eventually many of them left to wander the starry sky. Gradually, the Mountain and Sea Realm fell into ruin. In the end, it hovered there alone in the starry sky, broken, fading away into time. The First Mountain and Sea vanished, then the second. Eventually, the only thing that remained was the Ninth Mountain and Ninth Sea.
By the time that happened, Meng Hao had been secluded in meditation for... 100,000,000 years.
That year, something catastrophic occurred within the starry sky. It was something completely and utterly mysterious in nature, a wind of destruction that blew across everything, taking all life with it....
It was the end of an epoch.
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