Meng Hao had finished collecting debts from the Five Great Holy Lands, the Three Churches and Six Sects. He had visited his old friends and completed his Paragon Bridge. Now, the only debts left were among the Three Great Clans.
Of course, as far as the Li Clan was concerned, Meng Hao felt a bit embarrassed to go there. That left... only the Song and Wang Clans!
“Song Luodan and Wang Mu. Once I collect your debts, then I’ll leave the Ninth Mountain and Sea!” He flew out of the Ruins of Immortality, eyes flickering as he headed toward an asteroid teleportation portal. Actually, deep in his heart, there was still one other place he wanted to visit, right before he left.
Planet North Reed was far larger than Planet South Heaven. It was even larger than Planet East Victory. From a distance, it looked like an enormous blue sphere. Shockingly, it was orbited by three other smaller planetoids.
Those three planetoids housed the Three Great Clans, and even Planet North Reed itself was divided amongst those clans.
All of the sects and schools here were auxiliary branches of those very clans.
Currently, Meng Hao was walking out of a flickering teleportation portal on one of Planet North Reed’s three planetoids, the one that belonged to the Song Clan.
As soon as he appeared, he found himself facing several hundred disciples of the Song Clan. Apparently, they had been waiting for him. Almost as soon as he appeared, one of the Song Clan disciples stepped forward with a bag of holding.
“Our Clan Prince said that all of the extortion money he owes you is here!” the Song Clan cultivator said angrily. Then he threw the bag toward Meng Hao.
Meng Hao blinked in response to the way the Song Clan was handling the matter. He was aware that word had spread throughout the Ninth Mountain and Sea about him going around collecting debt. It was something that clearly would not endear him to others, so the Song Clan handed over the balance of the debt immediately in order to shoo him away.
But Meng Hao didn't care, so long as he got his money. After scanning the bag of holding with divine sense to confirm the amount inside was correct, he turned to leave. His destination was not the teleportation portal, but rather, the starry sky, and beyond that, the Wang Clan!
Currently, the teleportation portal behind him was flashing continuously as one cultivator after another showed up to watch the scene of Meng Hao collecting debt. However, what was happening now was actually fairly boring. They had hoped to see Meng Hao collecting his debts through force, not just this lukewarm scene of him accepting the money without ado.
Meanwhile, Song Luodan sat on a mountain peak some distance away, watching the events unfold via a secret magic. When he saw that everything was ending, he let out a sigh of relief. Although he felt truly wronged in the whole matter, there was nothing he could do about it. If he could settle his debt with the miserly Meng Hao and make him leave, that was all the better.
However, just as Meng Hao was about to leave, the Song Clan cultivator who had given him the bag of holding, apparently disgusted with what was happening, sarcastically said, “Our Clan Prince said that the Heavens see everything we do. If you go around extorting people like this, you’ll get your comeuppance sooner or later!”
The other Song Clan cultivators gaped in shock. Off in the distance, Song Luodan’s jaw dropped, and he shot to his feet, rage building up in his face. He was willing to swear an oath that he had never said such words.
He was familiar with Meng Hao’s personality, and he knew that uttering words like that would turn the situation into a disaster!
“Dammit!!” he thought, instantly flying off of the top of the mountain. He couldn’t just sit around and watch what was happening; he had to go give Meng Hao an explanation. In order to raise the money he needed to pay back Meng Hao, he had borrowed from virtually every willing party in the sect. In fact, he had even taken out a loan from the sect itself. If all of that was destroyed because of a single sentence, he would be reduced to tears.
Just before Meng Hao left, right before he flew up into the air, he heard the words being spoken and then looked back at the Song Clan cultivator. He also noticed the surrounding rogue cultivators who had come to watch the show, who were all looking on excitedly. There were even some who seemed to want to thank the Song Clan cultivator for speaking up.
“Well, now, isn’t this interesting?” Meng Hao said, smiling. The other members of the Song Clan were trembling, and when they saw him smiling, they edged backward, beads of sweat popping out on their foreheads. “Based on what I know about Song Luodan, he isn’t that stupid. He would either grit his teeth and hand over the money, or grit his teeth and refuse.
“Whatever his choice , he wouldn't say something like that. It seems... Song Luodan’s position within the Song Clan has become a bit unstable. Well, that doesn’t matter. Since he and I are friends, I might be able to help him out a bit.” His smile grew more radiant, and even a bit bashful and embarrassed.
His smile and his words caused the faces of the surrounding Song Clan cultivators to flicker.
“That's what the Prince told me to--”
“Song Luodan, get out here!” Meng Hao said suddenly, his voice rumbling like thunder, echoing throughout the entire planetoid.
Almost as soon as the words left his mouth, Song Luodan appeared, flashing in his direction as fast as lightning. As soon as he arrived, he waved his sleeve, causing a wild wind to spring up and wrap around the clan member who had spoken moments ago. The man was immediately sent flying off into the distance, blood spraying out of his mouth, clearly seriously injured.
“Fudge,” he roared. “How dare you try to frame me! Men, arrest him!” The surrounding Song Clan cultivators immediately flew out and grabbed ahold of the man.
Not even taking the time to ask the man who had given the orders for him to speak, Song Luodan spun and looked at Meng Hao, face grim and heart filled with bitterness. He suddenly regretted his earlier decision to try to save face by not meeting Meng Hao in person. If he had, then what had occurred moments ago would never have happened.
Meng Hao looked at Song Luodan with an enigmatic smile, waiting for him to speak.
“I never said that!” Song Luodan grated stiffly.
“I know,” Meng Hao said with a smile. “Actually, since we're acquainted, why don’t I help you out with this situation? I’ll do it for a great price.”
Song Luodan was about to refuse, but then, his eyes glittered. “How much do you want?”
“Double what was in the bag of holding you just gave me.”
“You’re ruthless! Fine. His name is Song Luoshen, Chosen of the direct bloodline of the Song Clan. He’s trying to steal the position of Dao Child from me. Don’t kill him! Just ruin his reputation!”
Meng Hao chuckled, and then suddenly called out in a voice like thunder, “Song Luoshen! You owe me money! Time to pay me back!”
His voice seemed to contain Heavenly might as it echoed out through the planetoid, causing countless mountains to tremble. A coldly-spoken response drifted in from off in the distance.
“Fellow Daoist Meng, I don’t remember owing you anything. The person who owes you money is Song Luodan.”
“If I say you owe me, then you owe me!” Even as he spoke, Meng Hao took a step forward. His body flickered, and he reappeared off in the distance, where he launched a punch into the ground. Immediately, the land collapsed, and a figure flew out.
It was a young man, handsome, but with narrow eyes. Originally, those eyes had been glittering with venomous coldness, but now, they were bright with alarm at the sight of Meng Hao’s display of domineering might.
“Fellow Daoist Meng, what are you trying to do!?!?” the young man roared. He urgently backed up, and at the same time, dozens of beams of light began to fly out from within the Song Clan. Those would be the powerful experts in charge of guarding the area.
By now, all of the various sects and clans had gotten the news about the way Meng Hao went about collecting debt. The Song Clan didn’t want to be any further entangled with him; they simply wanted to get him to leave as quickly as possible.
However, these people had been ordered to stand guard in the area just in case something unexpected happened. Now that they saw Meng Hao making a move, they showed their faces.
“Meng Hao, you’ve been paid what you were owed, what are you trying to do!?” Roaring shouts could be heard as the dozens of beams of light closed in to protect the young man from being attacked by Meng Hao.
“Song Luodan already paid me,” he replied coolly, “but this Song Luoshen hasn’t.” He waved his right hand, causing a wild wind to spring up and envelop the group. Even as their minds were shaken, Meng Hao strode forward toward Song Luoshen.
“I don’t owe you money!!” Song Luoshen cried. He was already filled with regret at trying to use Meng Hao to weaken Song Luodan. However, regret was now useless. As he shot backward, he crushed a jade slip, requesting assistance from the Clan Elders.
“You don’t deserve to owe me money, and yet you try to incite a conflict between me and Song Luodan? What a flimsy plan! I really don’t understand how someone with an intellect like yours could possibly cause Song Luodan to feel threatened.” Shaking his head, Meng Hao waved his hand toward Song Luoshen, then made a grasping motion, which caused Song Luoshen to fly toward him, trembling.
“Patriarch, save me!!” Song Luoshen screamed. Meng Hao suddenly clenched his left hand into a fist and then punched out into the air next to him with the God-Slaying Fist!
That punch caused the air to collapse. A muffled grunt could be heard as an emaciated, grim-faced old man appeared. He had been attempting to save Song Luoshen, but hadn't been fast enough. He could now do nothing but watch as Meng Hao grabbed onto Song Luoshen.
“Meng Hao,” he said in a dark tone, “don’t push things too far. The Song Clan doesn’t want to make you an enemy, but you can't be so excessive!” This man was emanating the aura of the Dao Realm. He was obviously one of the Dao Realm Patriarchs of the Song Clan.
Even as he spoke, another Dao Realm aura began to emanate out from the planetoid. Although no one appeared, the aura locked down onto Meng Hao.
Further off on Planet North Reed, another even more terrifying Dao Realm Aura seemed to focus its attention on what was happening.
“The struggles over the position of Song Clan Dao Child have nothing to do with me. However, Song Luoshen clearly plotted against me, and for that, he shall pay the price.” Meng Hao held Song Luoshen in hand and looked steadily at the emaciated old man, completely ignoring his Dao Realm Aura.
The old man glared angrily at Song Luoshen. It was only now that he realized that Song Luoshen had actually taken the initiative to scheme against Meng Hao, and he cursed him for his foolishness. The entire Song Clan had tacitly approved of the way Song Luodan had collected the money he needed to pay Meng Hao, and when those efforts had fallen short the clan itself had been willing to loan him money. It was easy to see from this that generally speaking, the Song Clan had no desire whatsoever to provoke Meng Hao.
But now, this idiot had gone and done exactly that. From the emaciated old man’s perspective, Song Luoshen was simply incurably moronic. If it weren’t for the fact that his bloodline was uniquely important to the safety of the clan, he would ignore the matter.
“We will definitely compensate you for this matter,” the old man said slowly. Meng Hao smiled and release Song Luoshen. He was just about to speak when, all of a sudden, a tremor ran through him, and he stared blankly over the old man’s shoulder.
The old man’s eyes widened, and he turned around, but didn't see anything. As he frowned, he could sense Meng Hao’s eyes narrowing.
Meng Hao began to pant. Moments ago, he had seen something very bizarre behind the old man. It was a man in a black robe, with long white hair, strolling along through the void.
He had a shocking murderous aura. It was... none other than the man who had walked out of the Paragon magic in the Windswept Realm... the Paragon!
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