Meng Hao ignored the reverence being offered by the cultivators from the Seventh Mountain and Sea. He turned and vanished, killing no one. The fact that they had all been so shocked by the sudden appearance of an Outsider was very telling.
However, there had been some whose eyes had revealed looks of devotion, although they had pretended to be surprised. As for those people, a moment later their heads all exploded, and they were killed in body and spirit.
The survivors looked around in shock, then slowly dispersed. None of them went back to the battlefields in the Heavengod Alliance. To them, seeing Marquis Lu turn into an Outsider was a huge shock. Because of the seed of hatred toward Outsiders which had been planted in their hearts, they began to speculate as to the implications of what had occurred.
When Meng Hao reappeared, he was far off in the distance, where he yet again coughed up a mouthful of blood. The Paragon’s divine sense had once again burst out within him, breaking past its suppression. The Dao Divinity Scripture then began to operate madly, consuming the divine sense. Meng Hao gritted his teeth as blood spurted out of his wounds, and his body hovered on the brink of collapse.
He then struggled to perform a teleportation, reappearing on an asteroid some distance away. He quickly bored his way into the heart of the asteroid, where he sat down cross-legged, closed his eyes, and began to meditate.
Before slipping into deep meditation, he quickly set up layer upon layer of restrictive spells around himself. If anyone had been watching, they would have even seen the asteroid distort, and then seemingly vanish. In reality, it had merely been cloaked.
No one would be able to detect the asteroid or Meng Hao unless they had a cultivation base and divine sense superior to his.
Seven days passed by rather quickly. During that time, Meng Hao experienced numerous near-death encounters. His body almost collapsed several times, and was barely held together by his Eternal stratum, as well as the consumption of medicinal pills.
He became quite gaunt, until he was almost nothing more than skin and bones. However, his eyes shone brightly, the reason being that during the seven days, his divine sense grew vastly more powerful!
In fact, by now, it had experienced threefold growth compared to before!
Such explosive growth in divine sense enabled Meng Hao to be much more confident regarding the use of his cultivation base, and also helped him to understand his divine abilities and magical techniques much better. Not only was he able to control and use them better, but, more importantly, the increase in divine sense led him to the position... where extinguishing the Soul Lamps of the Ancient Realm was now a distinct possibility!
After the seven days passed, Meng Hao opened his eyes. His body was no longer hovering on the brink of collapse. He was weak, and yet, the flame of his life force now burned hotter than ever, and was much more stable.
“Finally, it's all been consumed,” he said slowly, eyes shining with intense brightness. “My divine sense is now thirty percent that of the divine sense of a Paragon....”
A smile twisted his face as he waved his sleeve, causing 33 Soul Lamps to suddenly appear around him.
After examining them for a moment, he gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. Rotating his cultivation base, he began to heal himself; because of the increase in his divine sense, his Eternal stratum was now much more powerful, which made him recover even faster.
This time, it only took a single day to recover from his gaunt state. Now, his cultivation base and his fleshly body were completely recovered to their peak state, as was his soul and divine sense.
Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at his first Soul Lamp. That lamp was at its peak, and was the first of the lot to have ceased absorbing the energy of Heaven and Earth
Meng Hao studied the lamp for a while, and the decisiveness in his eyes slowly began to turn into hesitation. After a while though, the decisiveness returned, and he made his decision.
He would... extinguish his first Soul Lamp, and experience that reversal of life and death that occurred along with the extinguishing of Soul Lamps.
“I have to extinguish these Soul Lamps eventually anyway. I'm now unprecedentedly powerful in terms of my fleshly body and my divine sense. Furthermore, I can tell that power of one’s divine sense and the strength of one's soul are critical factors in extinguishing Soul Lamps.
“At the same time, I can test out... if extinguishing the first Soul Lamp will have some effect on the other Soul Lamps’ capacity to absorb the energy of Heaven and Earth.” Meng Hao eyed the first Soul Lamp, then clenched his jaw and unhesitatingly waved his hand in the direction of the lamp.
The first Soul Lamp immediately began to sway back and forth, and the flame inside began to flicker, as if it could be extinguished at any moment. That effect was the result, not of Meng Hao’s actual waving of the hand, but rather, the fact that all his willpower was focused on extinguishing the lamp.
Only when one’s will and body are aligned, can the lamps be extinguished!
“Extinguish!” he said softly. As the words left his mouth, the flame of the first Soul Lamp... winked out!
In the moment it was extinguished, Meng Hao trembled. The Soul Lamp was absorbed into his soul, and also connected to his blood, as if it had become part of his very life. In that moment, though, the shadow of death completely covered him.
Meng Hao began to shiver as the flame of his life force rapidly darkened. His vitality waned, on the verge of winking out, and his cultivation base couldn't rotate. Even the power of his divine sense was difficult to operate, and his thoughts began to fade.
An aura of death gradually began to emanate out from him, growing stronger and stronger. His soul also withered, and his fleshly body seemed to decay.
It was a strange sight; Meng Hao seemed to be hovering on the verge of death, his aura becoming weaker and weaker.
If anyone could observe him in that moment, that is what they would see.
The truth of the matter, though, was that although Meng Hao’s eyes were shut, he was looking at... a different world. The inside of the asteroid was completely gray, and in fact, everything that he could see was also gray.
He rose to his feet and was shocked to find that his body remained in the same position as before, sitting there cross-legged. What had risen up was apparently his soul, which was in the process of dispersing.
He stepped forward and looked back at his fleshly body sitting there in meditation. He could see that his body was withering, and that his blood was wasting away. He saw the thick aura of death, and realized that his soul was dispersing. All of that made Meng Hao feel as if he were right at death’s door.
“So this is what it's like to extinguish the Soul Lamps of the Ancient Realm....” he murmured. It was back in the Fang Clan that he had learned about extinguishing Soul Lamps. What he had learned was that every Ancient Realm cultivator experienced something different in the moment of extinguishing. Not only every person, but every single lamp was different.
However, throughout all the years, a certain general set of rules become clear to cultivators.
“My extinguishing of Soul Lamps in the Ancient Realm will be comprised of the Seven Desolations!” he murmured, eyes shining.
“Every five lamps brings one Desolation. Few people experience the Fourth Desolation, and even rarer is the Fifth Desolation. Some people only experience the Third Desolation.... The further along you get, the more dangerous they become....
“The First Desolation is also called the Desolation of Delusion....
“Well then, this must be the Desolation of Delusion.” Meng Hao walked back, sat down cross-legged in the same position as his fleshly body, and attempted to re-connect his soul.
However, nothing worked. It was as if his body were rejecting his soul. Meng Hao frowned, then stood up again. His fleshly body was even more withered than before, causing his expression to turn grim. He suddenly flickered into motion, appearing outside of the asteroid. When he looked around, he saw nothing but endless fog, swirling and churning. Everything was completely silent.
“The Desolation of Delusion,” he murmured, “The Desolation of Delusion.... Where does the ‘delusion’ part come in...?” He turned to look back in the direction of the asteroid, and suddenly realized that the asteroid had changed. It was now a huge, crimson heart, thumping and writhing. Countless faces could be seen on its surface, all of them howling at Meng Hao. Furthermore, those faces... looked familiar.
They were all the people he had killed in his life.
He looked coldly at the faces, and began to back up slowly. In that instant, a huge hand appeared, covered with blood-colored scales. It shot out from within the heart, rumbling toward him as it sought to crush him, causing everything in the area to shatter.
Its power caused the surrounding fog to writhe, and as it stretched out, it was joined by a vicious voice that echoed out from inside the heart.
“Meng Hao... I’ve been waiting for a long time.... Didn't I say that when the time came to extinguish your Soul Lamps, I would come back!?” The roar echoed out in all directions, and the heart began to shrink. In the blink of an eye, it shattered, disappearing along with the hand.
However, the cold voice continued to echo out.
“I've erased the projection of your fleshly body. You’ll never find the path back now. You’re stuck here. Soon, your fleshly body will wither up completely, and your blood will run dry. Your divine sense will vanish, and your soul... will dissipate within this place.”
Meng Hao’s face darkened, and he waved his sleeve. Instantly, the shattered pieces of the heart which had been flying about stopped falling down.
“The Desolation of Delusion is this entire place….” he thought. “A desolate, illusory world which appears after extinguishing the first Soul Lamp. My soul was pulled in here, and if I can't get it back into my fleshly body before my body withers up, then I’ll definitely die. Whoever thought that the extinguishing of the first Soul Lamp would be like this?
“If I hadn’t consumed that divine sense from the 33 Heavens’ Paragon, then this might have been a bit of a difficult situation. But now....” Meng Hao laughed coldly. After all, despite being only a soul, his divine sense was still there. Suddenly, that divine sense exploded out, sweeping around him in all directions.
In the blink of an eye, his divine sense spread out to cover an area the size of what his previous divine sense could reach at its very limit. To him, however that was merely thirty percent of his total divine sense.
“Again!” he said, sending his divine sense sweeping out even further in all directions, sending out boundless ripples that caused the fog to seethe.
“Gotcha!” he said, eyes glittering. Astonishingly, he had just caught sight of an asteroid off in the fog, an asteroid which was the location of his fleshly body.
“Impossible!!” someone roared madly from within the fog. It was the same voice that had spoken just now, which was also the same voice he had heard during his Ancient Tribulation.
Chapter 1289: Extinguishing the First Lamp!
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