Chapter 245: Back To the Black Sieve Sect
Meng Hao didn’t really want to go, but the command jade slip had been issued, and he had no good reason to refuse. Furthermore… he owed a lot of medicinal pills to the Sect. All of his debts were in the official records, and although he didn’t have to pay up immediately, sooner or later, he would.
If he didn’t, then his access to medicinal plants would be restricted. Therefore, this trip outside the Sect would serve more than one purpose. Not only would he be able to gain experience, but he would could reduce some of his debt to the Sect.
“For Fang Mu, a trip to the Black Sieve Sect… is a great opportunity!” Determination glittered in Meng Hao’s eyes. His decision to go to the Black Sieve Sect having been made, the image of Elder Sister Xu appeared in his mind.
He also thought of Han Bei, as well as Zhou Jie, and all of the events which had occurred that year connected to the Black Sieve Sect. [1. Han Bei is the beautiful, conniving Conclave disciple who last appeared in Chapter 192. Zhou Jie is the Dao Child whose life Meng Hao spared in the final chapter of book 2, Chapter 204]
“This time, I will be traveling in the Southern Domain as a Furnace Lord of the Violet Fate Sect.” Chuckling, Meng Hao flicked his sleeve to gather together the various items he would take with him. Then, jade slip in hand, he left his Immortal’s Cave.
Several days later.
“Grandmaster Zhou, Grandmaster Fang, this is a Black Sieve Fruit, which we grow here in the Black Sieve Sect. The flavor is as delectable as fine wine, and they are usually only given to Sect Elders.”
Somewhere outside of the Violet Fate Sect, a massive black airship shot through the air at top speed. It was crewed by several hundred Black Sieve Sect disciples, all of whom had extraordinary Cultivation bases within the Foundation Establishment stage.
There was one disciple of the Core Formation stage, the Alchemy Protector dispatched by the Black Sieve Sect to guard over the Violet Fate Sect disciples. He sat with them in the center of the airship, smiling, concealing the thoughtfulness which exist in his mind. In front of him was a white-haired old man in a black and purple robe; he seemed to emanate the Dao, and pure transcendence. Next to the old man was a handsome, fair-skinned young man.
The old man’s expression was that of indifference mixed with austerity. His Cultivation base was at the late Foundation Establishment stage. This was none other than Furnace Lord Zhou, whom Meng Hao had debated in the valley one month before.
The young man next to him emanated the faint scent of medicinal plants. He looked less like a Cultivator than a scholar. Naturally, this was none other than Meng Hao.
In addition to the Core Formation Cultivator, the Black Sieve Sect had also dispatched a young man who appeared to be a bit over thirty years of age. He wore a long bluish-black robe and seemed to abound in profundity and knowledge. He sat wordlessly off to the side, looking somewhat taciturn. When Meng Hao had caught sight of him for the first time several days ago, he had felt shock in his heart.
This was Zhou Jie!
Dao Child of the Black Sieve Sect!
This was the same person Meng Hao had battled years ago, a battle of the peak of Foundation Establishment! In that battle, Zhou Jie had lost. His open and upright actions had earned Meng Hao’s respect, and he had spared his life. [2. The battle between Meng Hao and Zhou Jie started in chapter 202]
Meng Hao hadn’t seen him for five years, and now, something about him seemed different. Meng Hao couldn’t quite tell what it was, but it left him with a very bizarre feeling.
Such thoughts swirled in his heart, but were not revealed on his face. After hearing the words of the Core Formation Cultivator, Meng Hao was still considering how to respond, when old man Zhou reached out to take one of the Black Sieve Fruits.
“What an extraordinary fruit,” he said coolly. “It would be best used as a medicinal ingredient. I won’t waste it by eating it.” He glanced at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao didn’t say anything. With a smile, he accepted the Black Sieve Fruit and then placed it in his bag of holding. Inwardly, he sighed. How could he possibly have imagined that the Violet Fate Sect would send him out with old man Zhou? Zhou was responsible for giving lectures regarding the Dao of alchemy, whereas he would be in charge of pill concocting.
For the entire time they had been on the airship, Zhou hadn’t given Meng Hao anything but dirty looks. Of course, the people from Black Sieve Sect had picked up on this.
The Core Formation Cultivator had a wide smile on his face, but inwardly had some doubts. “This Furnace Lord Zhou Dekun is famous and deeply qualified. He’s one of the top Furnace Lords, and his frequent visits to the Black Sieve Sect show how much the Violet Fate Sect respects us. However, this Fang Mu…. After asking around, I found that he finagled his way to Furnace Lord half a year ago. He’s really nothing more than a master alchemist.” Of course, the man would never allow any expression onto his face which would indicate he was looking down on Fang Mu. However, he did treat old man Zhou with a higher level of respect. [3. Zhou Dekun’s name in Chinese is 周德坤 zhōu dé kūn - Zhou is a common surname. De means “morals” or “virtue.” Kun is one of the Eight Trigrams which represents Earth and has a variety of other meanings]
He laughed loudly. “If you’d like, Grandmaster Zhou,” he said, his voice kind, “I can entreat the Sect Leader to provide both of you with even more Black Sieve Fruits.”
Off to the side, Zhou Jie sat taciturnly. He hadn’t said a single word the entire time. In this respect, he was somewhat like Meng Hao, who wasn’t in the mood for conversation. Furthermore, it seemed to please old man Zhou that he was left to handle all the formalities.
The four people sat there, only two engaging in conversation, their expressions cheerful. Old man Zhou seemed very proud of himself. “This time,” he told himself, “I’ll show this pup how formidable I truly am.”
Time passed. The airship traveled quickly, and even made use of several teleportation portals. A few days later, the Hundred Thousand Mountains of the Black Sieve Sect appeared off in the distance.
Meng Hao had spent most of the time in secluded meditation. No one had dared to interrupt him; the Black Sieve Sect disciples all gave him looks filled with utmost respect.
As for Zhou, his actions were quite the opposite of Meng Hao’s. He engaged in bombastic discussions with the Core Formation Cultivator, flagrantly displaying his profound and awe-inspiring understanding of the Dao of alchemy.
Meng Hao didn’t mind, nor did he care about the way old man Zhou seemed to loathe him. Despite his loathing, he didn’t dare to ridicule Meng Hao like he had before. In fact, his debate with Meng Hao had left him fearful at heart.
This was Meng Hao’s first time to appear in front of outsiders as an alchemist. Observing the respect with which others treated him because of his position, he was even more reassured that he had made the right decision in joining the Violet Fate Sect.
Of course, if the people here found out that he was actually Meng Hao, then their killing intent would billow to the heavens. Whenever he heard the stories people told about Meng Hao, he would sigh inwardly.
“As of now, I’m truly a part of the Southern Domain. Five years ago, I was just an outsider.” He stood at the bow of the airship, lost in thought, staring off at the Black Sieve Sect, which was slowly growing closer and closer.
The Hundred Thousand Mountains stretched out seemingly without end. Black smoke from the gigantic incense burner rose up into the sky. The Black Sieve Sect seemed to be filled with a mysterious, incredible power.
The Black Sieve Sect disciple’s faces emanated a pride that seemed to stem from their bones, birthed by their endless mountains and the smoke which rose to the heavens.
Zhou and the Core Formation Cultivator strolled up, chatting. When Zhou saw Meng Hao, he snorted. They were fellow Sect members, and whatever ill feelings they had toward each other shouldn’t be overtly revealed to outsiders. Therefore, he only snorted, but didn’t say anything else, joining Meng Hao to look out at the Black Sieve Sect.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Meng Hao had come to help the Black Sieve Sect. However, the circumstances this time were vastly different. As soon as the airship approached the Hundred Thousand Mountains, the sound of bells filled the air.
Six peals rang out, attracting the attention of hundreds of thousands of Black Sieve Sect disciples. Actually, none of them knew what was happening, but soon, inquiries were made and news began to spread.
The Black Sieve Sect had invited Furnace Lords from the Violet Fate Sect for a visit.
Soon, Meng Hao caught sight of dozens of beams of light flying out from the Black Sieve Sect, followed by hundreds of Conclave disciples.
Among the Conclave disciples was Han Bei. She had a strange expression on her face when she looked at Meng Hao. Meng Hao had made inquiries earlier about Elder Sister Xu, and had discovered that she had already become a Conclave disciple. However, she was not among the group that approached now.
Laughter rang out, followed by a clear, powerful voice from the group of Cultivators in the lead, who were all of the Core Formation stage. One was even of the Nascent Soul stage! “Greetings Grandmaster Zhou and Grandmaster Fang! Welcome to the Black Sieve Sect!”
The Nascent Soul Cultivator was no stranger to Meng Hao. He was none other than… Patriarch Violet Sieve! [4. Patriarch Violet Sieve was in charge of the mission to get Ultimate Vexation. He last appeared in chapter 166]
He was also the person who has just spoken!
When enemies meet, eyes will usually turn red, and killing intent will explode out. Instead, Patriarch Violet Sieve’s face was filled with a smile. He expressed no arrogance because of his Nascent Soul Cultivation base, but rather utmost respect for the two alchemists.
Meng Hao’s expression was solemn. He quickly stepped forward, a respectful look on his face. Almost at the same time, old man Zhou also walked forward. Together, they clasped hands and greeted Patriarch Violet Sieve.
For the Black Sieve Sect to dispatch a Nascent Soul Cultivator to receive them was an extreme honor. As representatives of the Violet Fate Sect, Meng Hao and old man Zhou could certainly not commit a breach of etiquette.
“Grandmaster Zhou,” said Patriarch Violet Sieve, “you are one of the highest ranked Furnace Lords. Your rise to Violet Furnace Lord is surely just around the corner. Your esteemed presence in the Black Sieve Sect has added glitter to our humble abode.” He laughed heartily, smiling at Zhou, and then turned his attention to Meng Hao. “Grandmaster Fang, you are the youngest of the Furnace Lords of the Violet Fate Sect. Your fame is spreading throughout the Southern Domain, and I’ve long since heard your name. Seeing you today, I am now assured that you are a hero amongst commoners.”
Patriarch Violet Sieve's words were spoken well. Although he inwardly cared more about old man Zhou, he did not show any disregard for Meng Hao. The Core Formation Cultivators who surrounded him clasped hands and saluted Meng Hao and old man Zhou. None of them showed even the slightest trace of arrogance, only utmost courtesy.
After some pleasantries were exchanged, one of the Core Formation Cultivators called over the Conclave disciples and introduced them to Meng Hao and old man Zhou. A slight smile appeared on Meng Hao’s face as he nodded to the various disciples one after another.
“My respects, Grandmaster Zhou, Grandmaster Fang!”
“Greetings, Grandmaster Zhou, Grandmaster Fang.” Normally, these Conclave disciples would have lofty and proud demeanors in front of outside Cultivators. But today, their expressions were filled with respect. The fame of Furnace Lords was enough to awe anyone.
The title of Grandmaster by which they were called was simply honorary, of course, as neither of them were true Grandmasters.
Old man Zhou smiled toward the Black Sieve Sect’s Conclave disciples. Considering his age, all that was required of him was a slight nod. However, when he noticed that Meng Hao was doing the same, an irritated feeling arose in his heart.
When Han Bei was introduced, Meng Hao looked at her with a smile. He hadn’t seen her for five years. If anything, she was more beautiful. Her figure was curvaceous , her face alluring, and as she stood there, it seemed as if rainbows would lose their color if they neared her. She was uniquely gorgeous.
“Han Bei extends greetings to Grandmaster Zhou and Grandmaster Fang,” she said, her voice soft and velvety. Such a voice seemed capable of making the heart itch.
Meng Hao smiled and nodded, and was just about to glance over to the next person, when suddenly, a voice rang out in his mind. It had been a long time since the Demon Sealing Jade had spoken to him.
“Discarnate souls possess the body, desiring to return from the afterlife, a technique of quickening. Demons under the vault of the Heavens shall be incinerated; ashes shall fly. Seal them, and the sun of the seventh month shall be concealed; help them, and the blood of the Demon Sealer can fuse with its will!”
This chapter was sponsored by Caleb Gleason