Chapter 754: The Tale of Chen Fan
The Lightning Cauldron crushed the Sword Dragon amidst incredible rumbling sounds, then struck the Solitary Sword Sect’s spell formation head on.
Ripples spread out through the air, and from the perspective of cultivators on the outside, the Solitary Sword Sect distorted and looked as though it might be ripped apart at any moment. Inside the sect, the three Patriarchs trembled and coughed up blood.
As for the tens of thousands of Solitary Sword Sect disciples, they also trembled, and their faces were pale as they spit up mouthfuls of blood.
“Second Spell Formation!!” cried Sir Jian, his voice echoing throughout the sect. Immediately, tens of thousands of disciples produced medicinal pills to consume.
They knew deep in their hearts that this battle would determine whether the Solitary Sword Sect survived or was destroyed. If their spell formation could hold, then they would be able to continue on sealed in their mountain. If it could not hold… then that meant the Solitary Sword Sect would be wiped away from the Southern Domain.
Of course, there was also the possibility of surrender.
As the forces of the Solitary Sword Sect unleashed the full scope of their power, countless sword beams appeared from within the ground, the mountains, and the buildings; from every corner of the sect.
There were more than 100,000 of them, and they flew out to circulate around the entire sect, like a tempest. As the tempest raged, the swords began to merge together, forming the shocking image… of a gigantic greatsword!
It was more than 30,000 meters long, and the entire Solitary Sword Sect fit inside of it. It was essentially a sword-shaped shield.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever as he gestured out into the air. The Lightning Cauldron shrank down and returned to him. When it touched down onto his palm, he was instantly surrounded by lightning.
“Break that formation!” he said coolly. The Golden Frost Sect Patriarch and the 3rd Li Clan Patriarch immediately charged ahead. As they neared the sword shield, they waved their hands, causing peak Dao Seeking cultivation base power to explode out. Booms echoed as tens of thousands of Blood Demon Sect disciples also sent out attacks. Divine abilities and magical techniques descended like rainfall, slamming into the Solitary Sword Sect’s grand spell formation.
Meng Hao sent his thoughts out to control his second true self, who suddenly appeared along with the Wooden Time Sword, and then immediately shot into the fray.
The combined power of tens of thousands of cultivators, which included three peak Dao Seeking cultivation bases, slammed into the spell formation. Instantly, the Solitary Sword Sect’s greatsword shuddered, and then began to crack.
Meng Hao hovered in midair, watching the scene coldly.
Booms filled the air for an entire hour, after which the Solitary Sword Sect’s greatsword could not hold out any longer. Many of the swords which made up the sword formation began to collapse. Once the spell formation was no longer complete, its demise could only hasten.
In the end, a huge explosion occurred, in which the spell formation was breached. The flying swords were shattered, sending shrapnel flying about. The Solitary Sword Sect’s grand spell formation now had a huge gap torn into it, visible through which was the true Solitary Sword Sect. Tens of thousands of pale-faced disciples could be seen, as well as the three despairing Spirit Severing Patriarchs.
Meng Hao’s second true self entered the gap. Eyes flashing, he stretched his hands out to the left and right, causing cracking sounds to echo about. The gap was torn even larger, until the spell formation was completely destroyed.
At the same time, the Blood Demon Sect disciples charged in like a cloud of blood, ready to slaughter the entire Solitary Sword Sect.
In their despair, the Solitary Sword Sect disciples could not even muster the will to resist. It was impossible to say who did it first, but they all began to drop to their knees and kowtow.
“Surrender! I want to surrender!”
Of the three ashen-faced Spirit Severing experts, two laughed bitterly and were just about to voice their own surrender, when suddenly, Sir Jian’s eyes flickered. He quickly performed a minor teleportation, reappearing some distance off next to the middle-aged man with no sword and a flagon of alcohol.
As soon as he reappeared, his hand snaked out and latched onto the top of the man’s head. Sir Jian’s eyes filled with insanity and savagery.
“MENG HAO!!” he screamed. “This is your Elder Brother from the Reliance Sect, Chen Fan. I know he’s your close friend, so if you dare to make a single move, I’ll kill him, even if it means I die too!”
This development caused the Blood Demon Sect disciples to stop in their tracks and look coldly over at Sir Jian. Even the Solitary Sword Sect disciples gaped in shock. None of them looked happy in the least bit and, in fact, their faces went as pale as death.
This was especially true of the two other Spirit Severing Patriarchs, who were completely caught off guard. They knew that they were no match for the Blood Demon Sect. Their failed attempt to fight back moments ago was clear evidence of that.
Surrender was their only option!
And yet, Sir Jian suddenly pulled this trick, dragging the entire Solitary Sword Sect along with him in provoking the jinx Meng Hao. The two Patriarchs’ faces instantly fell.
“Sir Jian, you must not do this!!”
“Sir Jian, you….”
Sir Jian’s expression grew even more vicious. He glared down at Chen Fan’s head for a moment, then back toward the Blood Demon Sect forces, and Meng Hao.
“Meng Hao, give me the Solitary Sword Sect’s Immortal Puppet! All I want is the Immortal Puppet. Once I have it in hand, I won’t harm a hair on Chen Fan’s head!”
When Meng Hao first laid eyes on Chen Fan again back at the Ancient Dao Lakes, he could tell that he was in a bad situation. He had wanted to help, but could tell that Chen Fan was already dead inside. He had actually come to the Solitary Sword Sect this day for two purposes. One was vengeance for the Blood Demon Sect. The other was his concern for Chen Fan.
“Are you insane?” replied Meng Hao, his face grim.
“So what if I’m insane!?” Sir Jian roared back, his eyes bloodshot. “I just want the Immortal Puppet. Hand it over, and I’ll let him go!”
Chen Fan’s face was pale as he looked over at Meng Hao. He said nothing, but he was smiling. It was the same smile he had worn when he had reunited with Meng Hao all those years ago in the Southern Domain. [1. It was in chapter 179 that Chen Fan and Meng Hao met up again for the first time after parting ways in the Reliance Sect]
“Junior Brother, you’ve grown up….” That was what he had said all those years ago. Now, he wore the same smile, and Meng Hao could almost sense the same high-spirited Senior Brother he remembered from the Reliance Sect, the same Chen Fan who was so focused on pursuing the Dao.
Seemingly in a flash, hundreds of years had passed, and Chen Fan had changed. The one thing that remained were the emotions forged between them back in the Reliance Sect.
“Meng Hao,” said Sir Jian, his eyes filled with maliciousness, “you might be high and mighty now, but your Elder Brother’s life has been filled with bitterness!” When he saw the grim look on Meng Hao’s face, he relaxed a bit. At first, he was worried Meng Hao wouldn’t care about whether Chen Fan lived or died. Hoping to foster further pity on the part of Meng Hao, he coldly continued.
“This Chen Fan was once a Chosen in the Solitary Sword Sect, and was even one of the Seven Swords. Unfortunately… he should never have fallen in love with Shan Ling!
“Shan Ling was the incarnation of a mountain boulder, and other than the legacy precious treasure, she was the most important treasured item in the Solitary Sword Sect!
“She was not permitted to foster emotions or desires of the flesh! Were she to do so, she would no longer be a spirit, and would separate from the boulder. That would affect the fate of the entire Solitary Sword Sect! After all… according to legend, that stone came from the Ninth Mountain!”
As Sir Jian spoke, Meng Hao recalled the first time he had come to the Solitary Sword Sect, and the beautiful woman he had seen floating down the mountain. [2. Shan Ling was introduced in chapter 180. Her name literally means “Mountain Spirit”]
“Chen Fan violated sect rules. He fled with the boulder, altering fate and absconding with Shan Ling. In the end, the Solitary Sword Sect captured them…. Then, because of Chen Fan, his master….”
“Enough!” roared Chen Fan. His eyes snapped open, and they were shot with blood.
Meng Hao’s heart trembled. He had known Chen Fan for years, and this was the first time he had seen him so emotional. There was pain in his eyes, even madness, the type that made Meng Hao recall his own state when he caught sight of Xu Qing’s discarnate soul back in the Black Sieve Sect.
“Enough?” said Sir Jian. “How is it enough? When it came time for the fury of the sect to fall upon you, your master took your place. His cultivation base was crippled, and he was reduced to a mortal, which was how he died.
“As for you, if Shan Ling hadn't threatened to destroy herself and the boulder…. Well, in the end, she made an arrangement with the sect to spend the rest of eternity as a boulder, never to awaken, all to save your measly little life!”
“ENOUGH! No more….” Chen Fan was trembling, and tears poured down his cheeks. Although his expression was one of intense pain, he smiled bitterly. His eyes seemed to grow more and more dispirited.
He would never, ever be able to forget how his master stood in front of him, bowed his head to the sect, and said, “He is my apprentice. I will accept responsibility for his mistake.”
He had watched wide-eyed as his master’s cultivation base was crippled. The man who had once been a powerful Nascent Soul expert, became an old man, a mortal. Until the day he died, his master did not complain a single time. On the contrary, he was as warm and gentle as ever. Unfortunately, that only caused Chen Fan’s pain to increase, a feeling that was enough to drive him to insanity.
His master’s son hated Chen Fan with a passion, which was yet another thing that made him wish he could simply die. [1. Chen Fan’s master was introduced in chapter 41, when he took Chen Fan to the Solitary Sword Sect. Later, we met his son Zhou Shanyue in chapter 178. It was eventually revealed that Chen Fan had a precious treasure gifted to him by his master, and that the son felt it belonged to him. Later, Zhou Shanyue and his friend were conned by Meng Hao in the events around chapter 184]
Chen Fan was filled with hatred. He hated that he was powerless to change any of the things that had happened, and he hated the Solitary Sword Sect for being too callous.
He wanted to die.
And yet… he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
The only thing left to do was drink. In his drunken dreams, he could return to the wonderful times of the past.
He had let his master down. He had let Shan Ling down. He had let anyone who had anything to do with him down.
Meng Hao stood there, taciturn. Now that he understood what had happened to Chen Fan, he realized how someone who had once been so high-spirited and full of mettle, could sink into such a depression.
“Enough…” murmured Chen Fan bitterly, bowing his head.. “I beg of you, please… enough…. Please….”
Sir Jian laughed coldly. “Were it not for Shan Ling’s actions, do you really think you could have committed such a heinous crime and gotten away with nothing more than a shattered Nascent Soul? Do you think the only price to pay would have been the inability to break through to the next stage of cultivation?
“Your existence is nothing but a tool the sect can use to influence Shan Ling. Unfortunately… the war with the Blood Demon Sect changed things too unexpectedly.” Sir Jian then looked at Meng Hao. “Only the Patriarch knew how to control the boulder. Otherwise, you would never have been able to break through our spell formation so easily.” Seeing that Meng Hao seemed to be more and more focused on his words, Sir Jian began to believe that his control of the situation was growing. He looked back at Chen Fan.
“You singlehandedly drove your Master to his death and ruined your beloved. And yet you still say ‘enough?’”
“SHUT THE HELL UP!” roared Meng Hao. His voice echoed like thunder, and his eyes flashed with killing intent. His words caused Sir Jian’s pupils to constrict, and his heart to seize. He immediately began to squeeze down with his right hand.
However, it was at this exact moment that the Lightning Cauldron in Meng Hao’s hand flashed.
Form Displacement Transposition!
What changed positions was not Sir Jian, but rather, Chen Fan!
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