Meng Hao’s mind seemed to be reeling. Zong Wuya’s voice apparently contained some sort of bizarre power, something that could interfere with Meng Hao’s mental faculties, leaving him panting. Zong Wuya’s words were mesmerizing, and he seemed powerless to extricate himself.
“The true Dao....” he murmured, his expression blank. He seemed to be at a complete loss, as if he had lost all powers of reasoning and judgement. It was as if one part of him was filled with everything he knew about the Mountain and Sea Realm, while at the same time, everything he believed had been turned on end by Zong Wuya.
Two trains of thought seemed to run through his mind, and they were currently battling back and forth.
Meng Hao trembled, panting, his eyes shot with blood.
"Come with me," Zong Wuya said. "Our plan is already underway, and nobody can stop us.... Come with me, and we can go to the true world. With new fleshly bodies, we can thoroughly awaken.
“Then you will understand that everything I've told you... is true. Then you will truly be able to feel... the existence of the true Dao.”
Although some people could see Meng Hao and Zong Wuya chatting, no one could hear the words being spoken. Zong Wuya had ensured that all the sound was blocked.
It was at this point that a large group of black-robed men appeared, flying toward them from the direction of the Third Nation. Zong Wuya gave them a look, and they immediately stopped in place at the border. They hovered there waiting, none of them taking even a single move forward.
Meng Hao looked up at Zong Wuya. It seemed like a struggle, but he managed to say, “I need some time to think.”
“I understand that you can't make a decision about something like this in such a short time,” Zong Wuya said softly. “Well, I’ve explained the truth to you. The decision is yours to make....” He looked at Meng Hao, and deep in his eyes were complicated emotions, and hope, although no one would be able to detect those things. Perhaps what he hoped for was that Meng Hao would be like him, that he would pursue the true Dao. Or perhaps he was thinking something else....
Only he himself knew.
“I’ll give you some time to think. However, during that time, you are not to leave the region of the central temple itself. Meng Hao... please do take care of yourself.” With a final piercing look at Meng Hao, he turned back toward the Third Nation.
Meng Hao stared in shock, not quite able to wrap his mind around Zong Wuya’s actions, or why he had left just like that.
As Zong Wuya turned and floated up into the air, his gaze happened to pass across the border connecting the Sixth Nation and the central temple region. His gaze casually lingered for a moment on one particular soldier in the Sixth Nation’s army. That soldier was trembling, seemingly having forgotten all about the desperate fighting.
Zong Wuya looked away and sighed. Once again, the complicated emotions, and the hope, rose up in his eyes.
As he made his way off, he murmured, “Meng Hao, what decision will you make...?”
Meng Hao watched him leaving, and when he saw Zong Wuya look over, he automatically looked over toward the Sixth Nation as well. However, he saw nothing unusual. Before Zong Wuya could get too far away, Meng Hao suddenly called after him, “What if... everything that YOU believe is true, is actually false?”
Zong Wuya didn't stop moving. He continued onward, responding in a calm voice, “Without looking into the matter, the answer will never be revealed. I’m a cultivator, and the purpose of my life is to pursue the true Dao. It doesn’t matter if I fail or succeed. Either way, my heart will be at peace!”
Meng Hao’s heart trembled as he watched Zong Wuya pass over the border into the Third Nation. He waved his hand, and the other black-robed men all bowed their heads and followed him back into the Third Nation.
Meng Hao had a strange expression on his face. He sat there quietly for a long time. Zong Wuya’s words continued to echo in his mind, and yet, they were incapable of truly affecting his thoughts. In the very beginning, he had been slightly affected, but after that, everything had been an act on his part.
The things Zong Wuya had said seemed like the truth, and virtually any other cultivator who heard them would likely feel as if their entire world had been overturned. But Meng Hao... was the Ninth Generation Demon Sealer!
He was the true successor of Paragon Nine Seals, and also the future Lord of the Mountain and Sea Realm.
His understanding of the Mountain and Sea Realm actually exceeded Zong Wuya’s. The Mountain and Sea Realm was not Paragon Nine Seals’ body, but rather, one of his magical treasures. Furthermore, everything that Zong Wuya had described as being an illusion, was in fact real.
Also, when Zong Wuya mentioned butterflies having something to do with the supposed ‘real’ world, Meng Hao couldn’t help but recall the vision he had experienced in which he saw nine butterflies dragging a land mass. [1. Meng Hao saw a vision of the butterflies and the land mass in chapter 819. Actually, the original release of the chapter had a slight mistranslation regarding that part, but it’s been fixed.]
“Give up my current fleshly body and go to the supposed real world to get a new one? Gain enlightenment of the true Dao? It sounds really incredible, but... it’s completely preposterous!
“It's a pack of lies, just like the lies used to incite the 3,000 Lower Realms into rebellion. That was why they joined forces to topple the Paragon Immortal Realm!
“Perhaps the words they used were even the same… the true Dao....
“Or, perhaps that saying is another one of the traps of the Windswept Realm to incite one’s desires!” Meng Hao’s eyes glittered.
“However, Zong Wuya was being very obvious that he deliberately gave me time to think. It even seemed like he was doing it on purpose.... But why?” When it came to true or false Daos, Meng Hao was by no means at a loss. His Dao heart was steadfast, and any talk about fabricated or true Daos was simply a matter of the perspective of the person speaking.
Such talk was a method of inciting rebellion in the 3,000 Lower Realms of long ago. It was something to confuse and bewilder the cultivators from the Mountain and Sea Realm who came to the Windswept Realm. Perhaps others might believe such talk, but Meng Hao... would not!
The reason he wouldn't believe it was not only because he was the future Lord of the Mountain and Sea Realm, or his vision of the nine butterflies dragging a land mass. There was another reason. The supposed true Dao that Zong Wuya spoke of, the true Dao which could dispel fabricated Daos... was completely destroyed by Meng Hao when he was an Allheaven Immortal.
The supposed true Dao could do nothing to shake the Allheaven Immortal Realm; if it were the actual 'true’ Dao as Zong Wuya described, then how could that be explained away?
Meng Hao was not confused in the slightest about any of these things. The only thing that confused him was Zong Wuya’s attitude.
What he actually felt towards Meng Hao was a complete mystery.
“Now that I think about it, only when the Blood Mastiff flew out from the renegade spirit chamber did the person on the Third Nation’s National Aura Mountain that Zong Wuya called Emperor sense that the renegade spirit had been possessed....
“Something is off about that....” He began to pant, and his eyes glittered as he recalled all the details.
“The Emperor on the National Aura Mountain sensed that someone trespassed into that chamber.... That was the first thing Zong Wuya said!” Meng Hao murmured inwardly. Suddenly a tremor ran through him. Then he thought back to how bursting out of the crater with the mastiff felt like breaking out of some sort of seal.
“Seal... there was a seal in place, and when the mastiff flew out, the seal was broken. That’s when the Emperor on the National Aura Mountain could sense that there was a change to the renegade spirit....
“In other words, the fact that he sensed nothing before then indicates that someone didn't want him to know!
“And that person, the person who put the seal in place... was Zong Wuya!!” Meng Hao looked toward the Third Nation, panting. All of a sudden, he put all the pieces together.
“He’s helping me!” he thought, shaking inwardly.
“He chased after me, and his cultivation base is clearly far greater than mine. And yet he didn't attack me, but instead, talked about illusions and the true Dao. Then he even gave me time to think about the matter.
“It would be more accurate to say that he didn't give me time to think, but rather, that he gave me time to recover from my injuries!
“Besides, his arguments about the fabricated and the true Daos could actually... have been made in a completely different fashion. There was no reason to just blatantly state those things out loud. He could easily have used a more subtle approach. That would have been a much more effective way to sway the listener.
"But he didn't do that. He just said things out plain and simple. Furthermore, he spoke in a way that deliberately revealed the flaws in his argument....”
Meng Hao took a deep breath. He suddenly flew up into the air, following the exact same path Zong Wuya had taken moments ago. He made sure to do things exactly as Zong Wuya had done, both in his flight trajectory and his posture and body movement. He also turned to look back at the Sixth Nation in exactly the same way.
From this vantage point, he could see the central temple area, as well as the Sixth Nation’s army, and the soldier Zong Wuya had looked at. The soldier wore a thoughtful expression, like that which might appear when contemplating enlightenment.
It was as if this person had heard the words exchanged between Meng Hao and Zong Wuya, and was now contemplating them and, at the same time, coming to a similar conclusion as Meng Hao.
Almost in the same moment that Meng Hao looked at the soldier, the soldier looked up, and their gazes met.
Meng Hao found himself staring at a pair of beautiful eyes. They seemed to contain heavenly bodies, even a starry sky. Anyone who looked into those eyes would want to be lost in them, and to never return.
When their gazes met, Meng Hao’s mind reeled. He quickly blinked his left eye several times in quick succession, utilizing his Celestial Vision technique. He rotated his cultivation base, and his perception of the world changed. The soldier’s appearance also changed; an illusion was dispelled, and the soldier suddenly looked like a young woman.
She wore a white robe and had skin like snow. She was spectacularly beautiful, with a sweet, charming smile and stunning features.
A moment later, the image of the woman vanished, to be replaced by that of the soldier. The soldier seemed shocked to have been noticed by Meng Hao. She blinked, thought for a moment, and then began to walk over.
No one noticed her passage, almost as if they couldn’t even see her. Not even the other cultivators could detect her. It was as if to Fan Dong’er and the others, this soldier didn't even exist.
“I was just thinking about whether or not I should finally introduce myself, Elder Brother Meng, considering the circumstances....
“But since you sensed me, then I guess it would be appropriate to do it here.” As the soldier approached, her appearance changed yet again, turning into the same beautiful young woman he had seen with his Celestial Vision.
She covered her smile with a hand, and looked at him with sparkling eyes. She seemed completely beyond ordinary, as if she had stepped out from a celestial realm. Her snow-white skin and exquisite features didn’t even seem human. A white robe covered a lithe body, a body that could cause any man who saw it to drool with desire. Because of her, all living things in the area seemed to fade and darken.
Meng Hao was dazzled, but he recovered quickly. A moment later, his eyes flashed like lightning as he gave the young woman an icy stare.
“I've been waiting for you for quite some time, Fellow Daoist Xue’er,” he said coolly. A flash could be seen as he flew down to the ground and calmly watched her approach.
The mastiff remained behind him. It could also sense the woman’s existence, and it stared at her with brutal, icy eyes.
The young woman looked deeply at Meng Hao. In response to him immediately addressing her by name, she simply smiled, seemingly haven taken no offense.
Her seemingly cavalier attitude caused Meng Hao’s eyes to widen.
“It seems you’ve been shadowing me for quite a while,” he said coolly.
His previous words had only provoked a slight smile from her, but this statement caused her to stop in her tracks. She looked at Meng Hao with a trace of a lively glint in her eyes, her expression gradually turning serious.
“A mere glance at my reaction led you to such a conclusion?” she said softly. “It seems I've underestimated you, Elder Brother Meng.” With that, she clasped hands and bowed.
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