Meng Hao was no longer a novice in the Cultivation world. He now understood a lot more about the Dao Children and Chosen of the Sects and Clans. Although his understanding wasn’t absolutely correct in terms of every single detail, he now had a general understanding of what a Dao Child was and what a Chosen was.
Actually, ‘Dao Child’ and ‘Chosen’ were merely titles, an indication of approval and status. Such approval was evidence of that person’s ability to maintain their strength within the Sect. It was also proof to the outside world as to the future good prospects of the Sect itself.
If a Sect had many Chosen, it would be possible to predict that it would experience incredible growth in the future.
Regarding Dao Children, that was a title given to the most illustrious of any given stage of Cultivation within a Sect or Clan. They would represent the Sect or Clan when it came to dealing with most affairs on the outside.
Every Sect and Clan would have three Dao Children and no more; a Foundation Establishment Dao Child, a Core Formation Dao Child, and a Nascent Soul Dao Child.
There could only be one Dao Child in any given stage, and because of their special status, Sects and Clans would usually dispatch powerful Dao Protectors along with such individuals when they ventured outside.
In the outside world, Dao Children were incredibly impressive, even famous. They had a status that would cause all other Cultivators to be endlessly envious.
However, when a Dao Child entered a new stage, then it meant two Dao Children existed, which would result in brutal competition. Generally speaking, unless the original Dao Child of that particular stage ceded their position, it would be difficult for the newcomer to maintain their status. Because of this reality, Dao Children were proud and arrogant when in the outside world. However, within the Sect or Clan, they had to tread as carefully as if they were walking on thin ice.
If a Dao Child wanted to maintain their status, they would constantly be forced to take advantage of Cultivation resources from other Cultivators. They might even need to rely on the power and influence of other experts within the Sect to improve their Cultivation base and become more powerful. That was the only way to maintain their position above other members of their generation, and perhaps even exceed their predecessors.
Regarding Chosen, the competition was even more ruthless. The grandeur of their status in the outside world was second only to that of Dao Children, and they received more and better resources from their Clan or Sect. At the same time, they had to deal with the possibility of being stripped of their title due to falling behind in the rankings or not advancing fast enough in their Cultivation. Also, they had to compete with other experts of the same stage for resources.
Because of all of that, Chosen also found themselves treading on thin ice, and had no other choice but to work as hard as possible to grow more powerful.
Naturally, all Sects and Clans had different rules. However, the general situation was always one of competition. Of course, killing was strictly prohibited.
Wang Lihai was, of course, a Dao Child of one of the three great Clans of the Southern Domain, the Wang Clan. He was a patient person, and didn’t make a practice of showing off in his cultivation. Back when rumors of his demise were circulating in the Southern Domain, he was the Foundation Establishment Dao Child of the Wang Clan. Upon reaching Core Formation, he actually lost his status. However, after patiently waiting for many years, he suddenly made his comeback, defeating the Wang Clan’s Nascent Soul Dao Child in a single blow. When he reclaimed the position of Dao Child, it caused quite a commotion in the Southern Domain.
Currently, Meng Hao held a jade slip in his hand. The moment he had decided to intervene in the situation, he had pulled out this very jade slip to make a record of everything that was happening. He looked over Wang Lihai and thought back to the events outside the ancient Dao Geyser, when he had challenged this very same Wang Clan Dao Child. He actually looked much the same as he had back then, except that the feeling of time on his body was much stronger.
When Meng Hao looked at him, Wang Lihai’s mind trembled, and he felt jittery with fear. Were it not for his iron will, he would have already lost control of himself.
His pupils constricted as he stared at Meng Hao. His heart felt anything but calm. He now recognized who Meng Hao was, and he also thought back to their battle all those years ago. A battle he had lost.
Of the three times in his life that he had lost a fight, that was the first. It was also one of the reasons he had been so persistent in his practice of cultivation over the years. Before, he had viewed himself as powerful enough to sweep over anyone in the same stage as him. He thought that he was at the pinnacle, above even the other Dao Children in the Southern Domain, the number one person.
But now that he saw Meng Hao, and felt the power of his Cultivation base, Wang Lihai’s mind began to spin.
His pride crumbled. His self-confidence felt as if it were being crushed. He took a deep breath, then clasped hands and bowed to Meng Hao.
“It’s been years, Elder Brother Meng. You look as dignified as ever.”
Off to the side, Han Bei, although she had regained some of her composure, was still breathing heavily. Images of past encounters with Meng Hao floated in her mind. Their initial encounter, their meeting in the Song Clan when they had almost touched faces. There were other things too, all of which made it impossible for her to stay completely calm.
Meng Hao stood there, his long, green robes rippling like water. His expression was one of indifference as he looked at Wang Lihai, and then nodded.
“Since we’re old friends, I’ll allow you to take your leave,” he said calmly.
Han Bei breathed in deeply. She clasped hands, bowed, and then looked Meng Hao deep in the eyes. Her expression was one of shrewdness, and her eyes flickered with beauty.
“Elder Brother Meng, we’ve just met and you’re already sending us away?” she placed her hand over her mouth as she chuckled. “You really don’t want to chat about old times with me? Very well, then. I’ll take my leave.” Completely ignoring Zhao Fang and Wang Lihai, she turned and flew up into the air like a beautiful swallow.
“Elder Brother Meng, the news about Fellow Daoist Zhao’s Tribe finding the location of this corpse had already spread far and wide. Even if the two of us leave, it’s hard to say whether or not others will come.” The softness of her voice seemed to indicate that she had completely recovered from her shock from earlier. As she began to fly off into the distance, she added another thought.
“One more thing, Elder Brother Meng,” she said, her voice filled with a strange tone. “I have a final gift I’d like to give you. I’m not too sure who else came here from the Southern Domain. However, there was one person who came with me. That is... Xu Qing.” Chuckling, she disappeared off into the distance.
Meng Hao seemed surprised, but didn’t say anything. He looked back at Wang Lihai.
Wang Lihai stared at Meng Hao, and as their gazes met, Wang Lihai’s eyes suddenly flickered with the desire to do battle.
He took a step forward, and his aura exploded up. He looked at Meng Hao, clasped hands and bowed. “Elder Brother Meng, considering your words, I naturally rescind any claim on this place. However, multiple sixty-year cycles have passed since our match that year. Since we happen to have run into each other again here, Elder Brother Meng, I hope you can give me some pointers!” With that, his aura shot up with even more intensity.
Meng Hao frowned. Time was limited, and he didn’t have much to spare. Almost the same moment in which Wang Lihai expressed himself, Meng Hao flicked his wide sleeve and took a step forward. The incredible pressure of the great cycle of the Nascent Soul stage instantly shoved down onto Wang Lihai.
Wang Lihai instantly fell back seven or eight steps, his face pale. With a final deep look at Meng Hao, he turned and left.
Meng Hao watched Wang Lihai leave. The man had left quite an impression on him, this Wang Clan Dao Child.
“My First Anima puts me an entire phase above someone in the late Nascent Soul stage,” mused Meng Hao thoughtfully. “His face paled, that was it. No blood. It seems Wang Lihai’s battle prowess is actually equivalent to someone of the great circle.” Finally he turned to look at Zhao Fang.
Zhao Fang immediately began to get nervous. He knew how fearsome Meng Hao was; after all, he could hold his own against Patriarch Huyan. Could it be possible that the tiger, having driven away the wolf, would now eat the man?
Stepping back a few paces, Zhao Fang began to speak, choosing his words carefully. “Senior Meng, many thanks for your kindness in saving me. I of the younger generation will definitely report this matter to the Patriarch. He will assuredly reward you handsomely, senior.” Of course he didn’t dare to refer to Meng Hao as ‘Elder Brother,’ and thus chose a more respectful form of address.
Meng Hao understood the meaning behind Zhao Fang’s words. However, considering that Meng Hao had abandoned the Inner Sect disciple provided to him by Fang Yu, he certainly wouldn’t be interested in the corpse here, even if it was slightly higher in status. “I promised Patriarch Cloud Sky to take care of you as best I could. It seems I’ve already accomplished that task. This place isn’t safe. If you chose to stay here, you need to prepare to defend your own life.”
Zhao Fang hesitated for a moment, and then steeled himself. “Many thanks for your concern, senior. I know my limits, and the Patriarch also helped me to make some special preparations….”
Meng Hao look at Zhao Fang for a moment, which made Zhao Fang feel even more nervous.
Meng Hao finally nodded. “I can’t stay here. If that’s your decision, then do your best to take care of yourself.” With that, he put away the jade slip. Within was a complete record of everything that had happened, which he would provide later to Patriarch Cloud Sky as proof of what had occurred.
Paying no more attention to Zhao Fang, Meng Hao turned and made his way off.
Seeing that Meng Hao had truly left, Zhao Fang breathed a sigh of relief. He looked around the area cautiously, and a bit hesitantly. Finally, he clenched his jaw and decided not to leave. He would stick to his original plan and methods to conceal himself near the corpse and wait nervously for time to pass.
Meng Hao continued on without pause toward the fourth peak. Han Bei’s words continued to echo out in his head. A warm light suddenly appeared in his eyes.
“Is Xu Qing really here too…?” Meng Hao looked around thoughtfully at the Demon Immortal Sect and then increased his speed.
Several hours later, the third day was almost gone. There were now only four hours left until the First Plane closed. It was at this point that Meng Hao reached the foot of the fourth mountain.
He looked up toward the towering mountain in front of him. It was huge, so big that he couldn’t see the top. He was like a tiny insect, completely insignificant. However a brilliant light glowed in his eyes. He took a deep breath and then began to ascend the mountain.
Most of the locations within the First Plane of the Primordial Demon Immortal Plane contained restrictive spells. Simply touching one would give birth to deadly danger. As he ascended the mountain, Meng Hao encountered many such an area, forcing him to take a meandering route. More than two hours later, he finally caught sight of the peak of the mountain.
“I still have one hour left….” he said. He was currently standing on a crag that jut out from the side of the mountain, looking up at the peak. He suddenly felt a bit of hesitation. Time was almost up, and as of now, he wasn’t sure if he had made the right choice.
If it was the wrong choice, everything was for naught. Before leaving the corpse of Xu Long, he had attempted to physically bring the corpse with him. However, he had quickly discovered that the corpse was apparently locked in place permanently. Nothing he did could move it even a bit.
“What’s mine is mine completely. I won’t accept things from others even if begged. At the very least, I won’t have any regrets.” He let out a casual laugh, and then stopped worrying about matters of gain or loss. He used his last hour to continue on toward the top of the mountain. As he moved, he looked around at the ruins, taking in all the former grandeur of the Demon Immortal Sect.
Because he wasn’t worried about winning or losing, he no longer felt nervous, and took his time. By the time he reached the top of the fourth peak, there were only one hundred breaths of time left!
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