The entire Mountain and Sea Realm was transforming. Although one might initially assume that such a huge transformation would happen slowly, it was actually visible to the naked eye! As such, one could well imagine how rapidly the transformation took place!
The change was happening at a speed which all cultivators could perceive, and yet did not cause any sense of unease or disorientation. Originally, the Mountain and Sea Realm was laid out in a horizontal line, from the First Mountain and Sea all the way to the Ninth. It was like a giant laying there, with the sun and moon orbiting the entire Realm.
But now, that giant... was slowly standing up!
The First Mountain was rising high up into the starry sky, as was the First Sea. Even as intense rumbling sounds echoed out, the cultivators of the Mountain and Sea Realm adhered to Paragon Sea Dream’s orders. Under the leadership of the various Mountain and Sea Lords, the occupants of the mortal worlds were all transported to the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
The Mountain and Sea Realm buzzed with activity, and was changing by the moment.
There was no time for Xu Qing to reunite with Meng Hao. She had put on an extraordinary display of her command of strategy and tactics, and as such, was whisked away by Paragon Sea Dream. She, along with Li Ling’er, were appointed by Sea Dream as the Two Great Holy Daughters of the Mountain and Sea Realm.
Meng Hao sent the Paragon puppet high up into the starry sky, and tasked it with standing guard against any early incursions by the 32 Heavens. At the same time, it sent divine will out through the entire Mountain and Sea Realm, constantly exerting a slight pressure to cow any potential double-crossers.
After all, despite the awakening of the spirit of the people, when it came to ultimate survival, there were some cultivators, and even some entire sects and clans, who weren’t completely loyal. They didn't understand what it meant for all the eggs to be lost when the nest was overturned. They wanted to preserve their strength either to join everyone else in a comeback or, if things looked bad, to surrender and attempt to somehow impress the 32 Heavens.
Of course, with the Paragon puppet there, such double-crossers didn’t dare to take any action.
Everyone in the entire Mountain and Sea Realm was at work, busily preparing for war. Time was of the essence, and unless something unexpected happened, they had at most three months....
Unexpectedly, Meng Hao experienced a rare situation in which he was left with nothing pertinent to do, so he strolled amidst the starry sky, watching the Mountain and Sea Realm transform. The First Mountain and Sea led the rise as the Mountain and Sea Realm slowly transformed from a horizontal layout to a vertical one. At the moment, that left it tilted at an angle.
“It starting to look... a bit unfamiliar,” Meng Hao thought reticently. Finally, he sighed. He had known for a long time that war was coming. However, to him and all the other cultivators of the Mountain and Sea Realm, that war had arrived too suddenly.
It had started with the sudden outbreak of violence between the Seventh and Eighth Mountains and Seas. Then came the conflict between the Fifth and Sixth Mountains and Seas. After that was the decision to start the fighting the 33 Heavens ahead of schedule. That decision had been the right one, and yet it didn’t change the suddenness of it all.
Meng Hao felt somewhat blank inside, even uncertain about the future. However, he couldn't give voice to such doubts. He couldn't allow anyone to see anything except staunch confidence and faith.
Sadly, the truth of the matter was that... he wasn't confident.
Wherever he went, the cultivators who saw him clasped hands and bowed, looks of deep reverence in their eyes no matter which Mountain and Sea they came from.
Meng Hao now symbolized the spirit of the Mountain and Sea Realm cultivators. To many people, he also symbolized hope.
Meng Hao put aside the pressure he felt, allowing a faint, self-assured smile to appear on his face. He would nod at people and then proceed along. He passed through the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Mountains and Seas. Finally... he ended up in the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
This was his first time back since he had left, oh so long ago. Looking out at the Ninth Mountain and Sea, his heart finally grew calm. However, there were still many things left for him to accomplish.
“Chu Yuyan’s soul....” he thought, pain stabbing at his heart. As he walked through the starry sky, there was really no other place that he wanted to go to other than home.
Planet South Heaven.
There were vast numbers of cultivators garrisoned on Planet South Heaven now. Because of their connection to Meng Hao, the Fang Clan was well known not just in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, but throughout the Mountain and Sea Realm. Everyone was aware that Meng Hao was the Crown Prince of the Fang Clan.
Meng Hao’s return caused a big stir. The entire Fang Clan emerged to receive him, and a ceremony was held that surpassed the kind which would be held for even a Clan Chief. Only Patriarchs received such treatment.
Of course, it wasn’t just the Fang Clan that went out to receive Meng Hao. All of the sects and clans on Planet South Heaven made appearances. Even the Emperor of the Great Tang could be seen.
As soon as Meng Hao appeared outside of Planet South Heaven, he saw tens of millions of cultivators lined up to welcome him. The looks on their faces were those of excitement, enthusiasm, and worship.
In almost the same instant that he appeared, tens of millions of cultivators clasped hands and bowed deeply.
“We offer respectful greetings upon the return of the Crown Prince!”
“Respectful greetings upon your return, Crown Prince!”
“Crown Prince, the divine abilities you unleashed in the battle with the 1st Heaven are without parallel!!”
Ever since Meng Hao destroyed the 1st Heaven and enslaved the Outsider Paragon, the Mountain and Sea Realm cultivators had come to view him... as a Crown Prince, not just of the Fang Clan, but of the entire Mountain and Sea Realm.
As their voices boomed out, Meng Hao looked over the group, and eventually his gaze came to fall on a separate group of people who stood behind everyone else, within the actual borders of the planet.
There, he saw his father, his mother, his sister, and the familiar faces of the Chosen he had interacted with in the past.
Meng Hao saw his father smiling, a smile of excitement and pride. He saw the kindness in his mother’s face, as well as pride that only a mother could feel.
Meng Hao looked back at the cultivators congregated outside of Planet South Heaven, then clasped his hands and bowed deeply to them.
“What I did in the battle with the 1st Heaven is what any other Mountain and Sea cultivator would have done. I alone cannot determine the outcome of this war. If we want to win, we of the Mountains and Seas must fight together!”
Due to how powerful of a warrior he was in battle, Meng Hao didn’t need to add any extra power to his voice. The words alone radiated passion and ardor.
It was when the fighting broke out with the 1st Heaven that Meng Hao came to understand that he no longer had the luxury of thinking about only himself. He had a responsibility to bear, and that responsibility had already begun to weigh down on him.
As his words echoed out, the tens of millions of cultivators outside of Planet South Heaven once again clasped hands and bowed. Meng Hao proceeded forward, and they parted to create a path for him.
Everyone watched as he strode forward and then entered Planet South Heaven. As Meng Hao looked at his father and mother, and the various Patriarchs, he suddenly felt as if the powerful spirit that had driven him in battle had somehow transformed into a deep exhaustion which threatened to overwhelm him.
Home. The place where it was truly possible to relax....
Meng Hao stepped up to his father and mother, then dropped to his knees and kowtowed.
“Dad, mom... I'm back.”
Countless cultivators looked on as Meng Li stepped forward and lifted Meng Hao to his feet. She looked at him for a moment, a flicker pain in her eyes, and then pulled him into a warm embrace.
It was at that point that a huge cheer rose up from Planet South Heaven. In the hearts of the Mountain and Sea cultivators, Meng Hao was a supreme being. However, in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, and especially among the cultivators on Planet South Heaven, he was something beyond that. He was… THEIR Meng Hao!
Meng Hao was back!
Planet South Heaven was shaken, as was the entire Ninth Mountain and Sea. In the following half month, countless cultivators came to visit Planet South Heaven in the hopes of meeting Meng Hao. As for Meng Hao, he did his best to meet with as many as he could.
Although he was exhausted and only wished to rest, he couldn’t disappoint the cultivators of the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
When Meng Li realized what a strain it was putting on him, she erupted like a thunderclap, and refused to let any visitors through the front gate. Fang Xiufeng then began to stand in for Meng Hao to receive the guests, after which the crowds waned.
At long last, Meng Hao had some personal time. He was able to spend some time with his mother and sister, to truly enjoy the happiness of being with family.
He did not meditate, nor did he practice cultivation. He didn’t even leave the Fang Clan to visit all the places he was familiar with on Planet South Heaven. He stayed in the ancestral mansion, slowly allowing his heart to grow calm.
He was only now coming to realize that the way the cultivators of the Mountain and Sea Realm viewed him had changed. Fan Dong’er and all the other Chosen he knew treated him... differently.
Occasionally, even his father would look at him with a reverence in his eyes that had never been there before. It left Meng Hao feeling somewhat bitter, and even sad.
And then there was his sister. When they were both young, she had promised that she would always protect him. And yet, she had also changed. She loved him more than ever, but when she looked at him, he could see the awe in her eyes. [1. Fang Yu was first described as promising to protect Meng Hao in chapter 800, and those words were repeated in the following chapter]
There almost wasn’t a need to even mention Sun Hai. He had long since come to revere Meng Hao, but now, he looked at him, not just with reverence, but with fanatical zealotry.
His mother was the only one who didn’t seem to have changed. To her, it didn’t matter what Realm Meng Hao was in; even if he was a Paragon, he would always be her son.
As he spent time with his family, he would sometimes look off into the distance, where he knew Xu Qing was. Occasionally, he would ponder the matter of Chu Yuyan’s soul....
As for everyone else he knew, it wasn’t that he didn't want to see them. Rather, in this moment of incredible crisis for the Mountain and Sea Realm, he simply didn’t have the mental energy to think about too many things at one time.
Meng Hao got the feeling that he was changing. He was becoming quieter, and even spirit stones somehow didn't seem as important to him as they had in the past. Now, his thoughts were occupied more and more by the Mountain and Sea Realm....
“If I could have my way,” he thought, “I would live in an era in which there was no war....” Sighing, he felt more tired than ever.
Another half month passed. The Mountain and Sea Realm Siege Mode was completely activated. The First Mountain and Sea was at the apex, with the First Sea being in the highest position, followed by the First Mountain. After that was the Second Sea and the Second Mountain....
The entire Mountain and Sea Realm had risen up like a giant that propped up Heaven and Earth!
The sun and moon no longer orbited around the Realm, but were motionless in guard positions on either side. Although that left certain parts of the Mountain and Sea Realm in perpetual day, and other parts in perpetual night, in this critical moment, that wasn't something that people worried about.
At the same time, the vast numbers of mortals who lived in the Mountain and Sea Realm had been transported to the Ninth Mountain and Sea, which was now... the most important place in the entire Realm!
In the instant that the Mountain and Sea Realm Siege Mode was completely activated, the will of the Mountain and Sea Realm spoke out into the minds of all cultivators, seemingly emotionless.
“My interference with the 32 Heavens cannot be maintained for much longer. In a month and a half... they... will come.”
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