Chapter 1308: Searching For The Present Life!
Meng Hao was looking at the statue, and yet his eyes were blank, lacking even the slightest spark of focus. He had experienced 10,000 cycles of destruction by fire from Heaven, cycles which had contained innumerable years.
If you took one of those cycles and split it into 10,000 parts, then perhaps the amount of time he had lived in the Mountain and Sea Realm wouldn’t even count as one of those parts. To him, it was almost as if... the Mountain and Sea Realm were illusory, and everything he had experienced in the world of cycles was the real life.
What was real? What was unreal? He knew, and yet could not distinguish clearly between the two.
Meng Hao was as confused as ever, his eyes were completely without focus. Everything about him was still wrapped up within that world, unable to return. Before, he had believed that he understood the Real-Unreal Hexing, but apparently, that was of no assistance to him now.
If nothing interfered, Meng Hao might sit there cross-legged until his fleshly body withered and his soul faded away. Then, he would be completely and utterly dead.
Because... he could not find what was real within the unreal.
He would remain lost in the sands of time, unable to find his present life.
Days passed, and his body began to slowly wither. His complexion grew pale and old, and his life force began to fade. His eyes remained as blank as ever.
Seven days later, he looked like little more than skin and bones. His soul was beginning to disperse, and his life force was growing weaker by the moment. He was like an oil lamp just on the verge of going out forever.
Half a month passed.... The flame in that oil lamp was sputtering, as if it would wink out at any moment. Although it still burned, it was growing weaker. Eventually, on the twentieth day after Meng Hao returned, the flame of his life force went out.
And yet, in that moment in which death loomed, Meng Hao’s body suddenly shivered. As the flame went out, a gleam of struggle appeared in his eyes.
That struggle was very, very weak, and yet it caused the flame of his life force to spark slightly. Then, the struggling increased. A sound rang out inside of Meng Hao, a roaring that caused his body to sway gently. Veins of blood seeped into his eyes; he was awakening!!
The struggle lasted for three more days. During that time, he never stopped trembling. The flame of his life force continued to burn, and his soul began to boil. His eyes gradually grew more and more focused.
Three more days passed. It had now been a total of twenty-seven days since Meng Hao returned. Gradually, sound emerged from his mouth, shaky and unclear, and yet, it was clearly his voice.
“I... am... Meng... Hao!”
He began repeating the same thing over and over. Clearly, it was a strain. He was only saying four words, and yet it caused his entire body to shake violently. Soon, as he repeated the words, they grew clearer and more distinct!
“I... am... Meng Hao!
“I... am Meng Hao!”
In the end, he could finally say all of the words in succession.
“I am Meng Hao!!”
In that moment, his mind filled with rumbling sounds. It was like Heavenly thunder that caused his entire world to tremble. At long last, a spark of focus could be seen within his eyes.
That spark indicated that his consciousness... had returned!
When that happened, the statue of Lord Li remained exactly the same as before, and yet somehow, his smile seemed to contain approval. The magical symbols above the statue’s hands suddenly flew toward Meng Hao and then merged into his forehead.
The first to enter him was the Second Generation Demon Sealer’s Hexing magic, the Real-Unreal Hexing!
As it merged into him, his entire body was filled with rumbling sounds.
“This is the real and the unreal. Find the unreal within the real, find the real within the unreal. When you can do that, then you... have acquired the Second Demon Sealing Hex!
“Within the countless years of illusory life, you managed to find that drop of reality in an ocean of the unreal. Henceforth, the Real-Unreal Hexing... will pose no confusion for you!”
Rumbling filled the magical symbol as the state of his consciousness grew stronger. Then he began to pant as the second magical symbol merged into his forehead.
“This is my Hexing magic, which I have come to call... Present-Ancient Hexing!
“Time is incalculable. Heaven and Earth are limitless. Gain enlightenment of the years which have passed since ancient times. Observe the Heavens being destroyed. Experience catastrophe after catastrophe. Return to the ancient to seek the present....
“You have done this, and thus you qualify to acquire my Third Demon Sealing Hex!
“There is one huge regret I have in my life, and that is... I was not destined to combine the nine hexes. In the past, I was able to deduce that at some time in the future, the Ninth Generation Demon Sealer would be able to converge the fate of the entire League of Demon Sealers, to reverse victory into defeat, to gain enlightenment of all of the other eight hexes, and then create the Ninth Hex....
“That person... would be someone even I would look up to... the ultimate pinnacle!
“Nine Hexing magics, beyond compare in all the Heavens!”
The regret-filled voice echoed out in Meng Hao’s mind and body like thunder, although he was the only one who could hear it. His body was no longer trembling, and his eyes were open. And yet somehow, as he looked up, it almost looked like... he was opening his eyes again!
His opened eyes were now completely clear and focused. Within his mind, memories of the Ninth Mountain and Sea, the Eighth Mountain and Sea, and the Mountain and Sea Realm suddenly exploded out. They grew more and more profound, filling him, until the boundless time of that other Heaven and Earth were gradually suppressed. Soon, his old memories were his everything!
Meng Hao said nothing. He simply felt the six Hexing magic symbols that floated in his mind. They were the Eighth, Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, Third, and Second Hexing magics!
Now, all he lacked were the Fourth and First Hexes!
Once he gathered those two great Hexing magics, then he would be able to create... that which was fully of him, the final Ninth Hex!
After a long moment passed, Meng Hao looked at the statue of Lord Li, then slowly rose to his feet. Mixed emotions could be seen in his eyes, including sorrow and reminiscence.
“Lord Li, Third Generation Demon Sealer,” he murmured. “How incredible....” This had been one of the most challenging experiences of his entire life. Although it might have seemed a simple thing, the level of difficulty involved was something only he could understand.
It was something more terrifying than death. Death... was merely an end. However, losing oneself, forgetting everything you cared about, everything that mattered to you, was something that could be counted as the most bitter torment for a cultivator.
Similarly, being lost in an illusory world, and being unable to find true life, could be considered a profound form of grief.
“The real and the unreal. The present and the ancient.... I understand now,” Meng Hao said softly as he looked at the statue of Lord Li. Finally, he raised his hand and waved it out in front of him.
Instantly, the pitch-black illusory world around him shattered, transforming into innumerable fragments. At the same time, the statue of Lord Li also collapsed into bits and pieces!
A huge boom rang out as the entire world fell apart.
However, after it shattered, things didn't dissolve into a haze. Instead... a yellow sky appeared, with black clouds and white land. Off in the distance, the statue was still visible.
Strangely, a magical symbol floated above the statue’s right hand, and yet its left hand... was completely empty. That magical symbol was actually the entire sky up above!
Now it was clear what was truly real!
The second world which he had experienced... had been illusory and unreal!
Rumbling could be heard as Lord Li’s smile, while seemingly unchanging, seemed to suddenly contain profound surprise, and then praise.
“You understand,” said a voice, echoing out softly throughout the world.
In that instant, the magical symbol floating above the right hand vanished, as did the magical symbol up above in the sky. They both transformed into beams of light which shot down toward Meng Hao and merged into him.
Meng Hao didn’t dodge or evade. He allowed the two glowing magical symbols to approach, merge into him, and then cause the Second and Third Hexes within him to become absolutely complete!
All of a sudden, it occurred to Meng Hao to ask a question. “If I hadn’t seen what was unreal about that second world, and instead left through the door after returning, what would I have seen?”
“I don't know,” the voice replied softly. Although it seemed weak, the reality was that it was coming from very, very far away.
As the voice got further and further away, the boundless life force mist on the statue’s forehead flew down toward Meng Hao, enveloping him, nourishing his body.
It only took a moment for him to recover from his withered state. His soul was more powerful, and his divine sense experienced additional growth. Now, his divine sense was not forty percent of that of a Paragon, but rather fifty percent.
In the briefest of instants, he reached his ultimate peak!
However, Meng Hao wasn’t paying attention to those physical transformations. Instead, he was pondering the question he had just asked. After a while, he chuckled hoarsely as he realized that there was no explanation. Since that was the case, there was no point in continuing to seek an answer.
He clasped hands and bowed once more, then turned. However, he didn’t leave yet. Instead, he summoned his 33 Soul Lamps, which began to swirl around him.
Meng Hao looked at his second Soul Lamp. His voice cool, he said, “Extinguishing Soul Lamps in the Ancient Realm consists of Seven Desolations.... The First Desolation is that of the illusory. For me, that shouldn't pose any problem now. I should be able to extinguish all of the first five lamps... as easily as flipping over my hand!”
“Second lamp, extinguish!” The instant the words left his mouth, his second Soul Lamp winked out, as if it had been blown out with an invisible breath of air!
Green smoke appeared, and before anything illusory could even appear, Meng Hao breathed it in through his nose. Rumbling filled his mind and body.
His cultivation base exploded up, his divine sense increased, and his fleshly body grew stronger. Although it wasn’t a complete redoubling, he was still growing much stronger.
A windstorm sprang up around him, raging through the world, even as his eyes came to fall upon his third Soul Lamp.
“Third lamp, extinguish!”
His third lamp went out, and the First Desolation of delusion began. However, because of his new ability to find the real within the unreal, and the unreal within the real, to return from the ancient and seek the present... this Desolation collapsed with a single blow!
From ancient times until now, when Allheaven Dao Immortals extinguished Soul Lamps, they involved one shocking battle after another, and required extreme caution. There had never been a situation like Meng Hao’s, in which he completely crushed the Desolations. They were like rotten logs which could be smashed instantly!
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