A tremor ran through Meng Hao. He turned around and looked at the misty figure behind him. His eyes were bloodshot, and he was on the verge of insanity, albeit a silent insanity.
“Do you remember me?” The misty figure gradually grew clear to reveal an old man. He looked ordinary, and yet, within the ordinariness was an indescribably extraordinary disposition.
“Senior Shui Dongliu?” said Meng Hao, trembling. Of course, he instantly recognized that this man was Shui Dongliu. [1. Here is a brief refresher about Shui Dongliu. He was introduced in chapters 194 and 197 during the Song Clan search for a son-in-law. He helped Meng Hao seal the Resurrection Lily into a painting in chapter 208. Er Gen joked about him in the interlude after chapter 222. He made a super brief appearance in chapter 383, when Meng Hao refined the Eyeless Larva. He prevented Ji Nineteen from severing Meng Hao’s Karma in chapter 425]
Shui Dongliu. Whoever existed in his memory could not be destroyed by the Karmic Severing of the Ji Clan.
“The Perfect stratum is great and all, but it’s only a foundation. The ignorant masses think that the Perfect Foundation is the most supreme. It comes from the three classic scriptures, and can qualify you to become a Doyen!
“But! As far as I’m concerned, the Perfect stratum is like a leafy branch. It spreads throughout your body and eventually blooms with flowers that turn into Dao Fruit. That fruit is the key to being truly supreme!
“You may have lost your foundation, but the Dao Fruit is still there. Why are you acting like what you lost was the important part?!”
Meng Hao was startled, and his mind filled with an intense roaring. “Dao Fruit?!”
“Of course, Dao Fruit,” replied Shui Dongliu coolly. “The whole purpose of the Perfect stratum is to solidify the Dao Fruit of Perfection!
“That Dao Fruit of Perfection is none other than the Supreme stratum. And yet, that stratum also counts for little!” He swished his sleeve.
“Above the Supreme stratum is the Eternal!
“That is the true pinnacle of these strata. Shattered, Fractured, Flawless, Perfect, Dao Fruit, Eternal. These are the six great strata of any stage of cultivation. You only reached Perfect. [2. I believe “Shattered” is what I translated as “Cracked” in the early chapters. Better late than never to fix it, so I’m calling the lowest stratum “Shattered.” Earlier chapters will be edited at some point]
“To achieve the Dao Fruit, you need to sever your Perfection!
“As for the Eternal… you already meet the requirements; someone even severed your Perfection for you already. Why is your heart… still imprisoned? Why… don’t you just go ahead with your Second Severing?” Shui Dongliu’s voice echoed like thunder in Meng Hao’s ears, giving rise to enormous waves within his mind.
Meng Hao’s brain reeled, his body shook, and an unprecedentedly bright light shone in his eyes. Shui Dongliu’s words thoroughly crushed all traces of his muddlement. It was as if in the darkest of nights, a ray of bright light suddenly pierced through the blackness of his world.
“Dao Fruit…. Dao Fruit….” thought Meng Hao, panting. “Sever Perfection, achieve Dao Fruit!
“The 10th Wang Clan Patriarch took away my Perfect Foundation. However, that Perfection… completely preoccupied my heart! Therefore, this time, I will Sever… my heart!
“Sever away the Perfection in my heart!
“When I had my cultivation base, I could sever it. Without a cultivation base… who is to say that… I can’t still Sever it!?
“Spirit Severing. Spirit Severing. What is Severed is the spirit. What is Severed is the heart. This… is my second blade of Spirit Severing!
“Sever away the Perfect stratum. Sever the past. Carve out my Perfect Dao Fruit!” A boom could be heard in Meng Hao’s mind as he gained enlightenment. Although he clearly possessed no cultivation base, a billowing aura shot towards the sky.
Within that aura appeared Heavenly transformations, roiling clouds, and seething winds. Shockingly, precursors of the descent of a great Dao's reverberated out, something he had previously experienced in the Milky Way Sea.
In that instant, the sky above all regions of the Southern Domain exploded into motion. Winds surged, lightning cracked, thunder boomed. Every expert in the Southern Domain was shocked, and countless people looked up into the sky in amazement.
At the same time, in the starry sky outside of Planet South Heaven, from inside the Ninth Mountain, a shocking will suddenly appeared. It swept out over the Ninth Mountain and Sea, after which it zeroed in on the lands of South Heaven.
This was the will of the great Dao of the Ninth Mountain and Sea! It was the natural law of Heaven and Earth, the basis upon which the Ninth Mountain and Sea operated.
This will itself was also a great Dao! Its appearance filled the sky of South Heaven with a boundless light. Even the Ji Clan’s Immortality Bestowal Dais outside of Planet South Heaven was shaken, and ceased functioning.
In the lands of South Heaven, the Ji Clan elders, as well as countless powerful experts from other sects and clans, fell to their knees in shock and began to kowtow.
In the sky above South Heaven, the will of the Ninth Mountain and Sea suddenly solidified into a blade that shot down toward Meng Hao in the Rebirth Cave.
This descending will far exceeded the first blade of his First Severing. All of the lands of South Heaven were shaken.
The Heavens opened up, revealing the heavenly bodies. Countless rivers of stars glittered and shined, seemingly prepared to bear witness to what was happening.
In the Rebirth Cave, a blade appeared in front of Meng Hao. This was his Spirit Severing blade, floating there in front of his head, glowing with shocking light.
Hair in disarray, he lifted his head up and roared: “SEVER!”
As his voice echoed out, the great Dao blade descended, slicing into the Rebirth Cave, fusing into the blade above Meng Hao’s head, then slashing into the top of his head.
As soon as the blade touched Meng Hao’s head, it sliced through him all the way to the ground. His body looked as if it had been cut in two.
Shattering sounds could be heard, not from his body, but from the fetters inside him, the shackles created by his reluctance to accept the loss of the Perfect stratum!
All such restraints were completely Severed!
Meng Hao instantly began to shake violently. Then, he experienced a sensation of relaxation, an incredible calm that filled his entire body. It felt as if moments before, the weight of an entire mountain was crushing down on him. Then, that mountain disappeared.
At the same time, shockingly, an image of a fruit appeared on his forehead, emanating a glow like that of a magical item.
This was… a Dao Fruit!
It was made up of countless magical symbols, and looked perfect in every aspect.
The 10th Wang Clan Patriarch could steal away Meng Hao’s Dao Foundation, but he could not take away his Dao Fruit. The Dao Fruit belonged solely to Meng Hao, and could not be taken away by anyone.
In the moment that the Dao Fruit appeared, a cultivation base suddenly exploded out in Meng Hao. First it was Qi Condensation, then Foundation Establishment, then Core Formation, and after that, Nascent Soul.
After the peak of Nascent Soul, Meng Hao’s desire for freedom and independence caused his First Severing to reappear.
His cultivation base was completely restored!
Tribulation can also be good fortune!
Meng Hao’s energy was like a multicolored beam of light. His optimism for what would happen after severing the Perfect stratum caused his body to tremble again. An even more powerful cultivation base aura suddenly spread out from his body.
This was a Second Severing cultivation base!
“Dao Fruit Paragon!” A strange light gleamed in Meng Hao’s eyes, and he began to breathe heavily. His fleshly body returned to the Heaven-defying state it had reached because of the art of Fleshly Sanctification. Furthermore, because of the indescribable boundless life force imparted to him by Da Nu, it was even more powerful than before.
“Dao Fruit is good,” said Shui Dongliu levelly, “but since you qualify for the Eternal, why don’t you sit down and try to gain enlightenment!” He flicked his sleeve, causing Meng Hao instantly drop cross-legged to the ground. “Ask yourself, what is the Eternal?!”
“What is the Eternal?” The question echoed out in Meng Hao’s mind.
The Eyeless Larva was eternal. If the larva was not destroyed, the silk could never be broken. If the silk was never broken, the larva could not be destroyed!
That was an eternal cycle!
The Soul Divergence Incantation was eternal. An undying soul could be created. Once that happened, the cycle of reincarnation of Heaven and Earth could not destroy it. Even if you died, years later, your flesh and blood would be born again.
“The Eternal is something that exists eternally within me. No living thing in Heaven and Earth can do anything to take it away from me. Even the will of Heaven and Earth itself would be incapable of wresting away the Eternal which belongs to me!
“The Eternal is a type of determination, an overbearing attitude!
“What is mine, belongs to me alone!” Meng Hao suddenly looked up at Shui Dongliu.
“Did you figure it out?” said Shui Dongliu, looking at him.
“Yes!” In the instant in which he replied, a rumbling sound filled his body. The Dao Fruit shattered into pieces, causing countless magical symbols to scatter about. They filled his entire body, then fused into his cultivation base, his flesh, and his soul.
At the same time, the Soul Divergence Incantation began to rotate in Meng Hao’s mind. After only a single rotation, Meng Hao suddenly understood the true meaning of the incantation.
It was a supreme Daoist Magic that could lead people to an understanding of the Eternal stratum!
To cultivate the Soul Divergence Incantation, one needed to experience death, to have incredible willpower and unusual good fortune, and most importantly, to experience hanging onto life by a thread, a razor’s edge between life and death where a single misstep would lead to either truly perishing or failing to cultivate this magic.
As for Meng Hao, the reason he could gain enlightenment was because of the Eyeless Larva. Its thread of life and death had thoroughly entwined his soul so that it could not depart. His soul had been alive while his fleshly body was dead.
In that space between life and death, Meng Hao’s soul… earned the qualifications for the Eternal!
All those years ago, the coffin prepared for Ke Jiusi by Ke Yunhai served just such a function. That was how Ke Jiusi ended up succeeding in cultivating the Soul Divergence Incantation.
Meng Hao trembled as the magical symbols penetrated every part of his body. Because of the fusing of these symbols into him, although his cultivation base was only at the Second Severing level, his level… was that of the Eternal!
He was no longer Perfect, but rather, far above Perfect, in the Eternal stratum!
The Eternal stratum! What’s mine is mine, and no one can steal it from me!
Meng Hao rose to his feet. His energy surged with power. Because of the Eternal stratum, his Second Severing cultivation base could far exceed the gap between it and the Third Severing. In fact, in combination with his Fleshly Body, he was now… the number one person beneath Dao Seeking!
Meng Hao turned to Shui Dongliu, clasped hands, and bowed deeply.
“Senior, many thanks for your kindness in pointing out the correct path!”
Shui Dongliu looked at him for a moment and then said, “There’s no need to thank me…. I only hope that from now on, you don’t hold any grudges against the Wang Clan. If you wish, you can kill the person who stole your Dao Foundation, but not others. Don’t be a monster who kills those who haven’t provoked you.
“Now, go. You have something bothering you, I won’t keep you any longer.”
Meng Hao stared back at him, then nodded silently. He clasped hands and bowed again, then turned and shot out of the cave like an unsheathed sword, radiating intense killing intent.
Shui Dongliu watched Meng Hao leave, then, after a long moment, turned and walked back into the depths of the Rebirth Cave. To people like Choumen Tai and Da Nu, the Rebirth Cave wasn’t very big. But to Shui Dongliu, it was limitless.
He walked and walked until finally he reached a room carved from stone.
The stone room was empty except for a half-painted canvas.
The painting depicted a countryside village. A white-haired old man stood there with his hands clasped behind his back, looking off into the distance. Next to him was a boy who appeared to be pleading for something. In return, the man shook his head.
Shui Dongliu looked at the painting, and a look of reminiscence appeared in his eyes. Finally, he closed his eyes.
In that instant, the old painter sitting cross-legged in the Eastern Lands suddenly opened his eyes. He smiled at the rich man standing in front of them, and then cleared his throat.
“My mental journey went well. Now, let me start that painting for you.”
This chapter was sponsored by Rafael RamirezPrevious Chapter Next Chapter