Chapter 1399: The Butterfly Flies!
Shui Dongliu self-detonated to block the path of the enemy, all to buy just a bit of time for the butterfly, to help Meng Hao successfully lead the Realm to survival. When it came to his choices and actions, no one could judge whether they were completely right or wrong, or whether in the grand scheme of things he had done good or evil.
The only thing that remained behind were complicated thoughts and emotions.
Everyone stood there silently as the butterfly sped out into the Vast Expanse.
Meng Hao was still unconscious, as he had been ever since the final moments in the tunnel. He could not stay in the world which existed inside the butterfly. When the others tried to take him inside, the butterfly began to tremble as if it were about to disperse. Therefore, they were forced to leave him outside, atop the body of the butterfly itself.
Sea Dream, Ksitigarbha, and everyone else remained in his vicinity as Dharma Protectors. There were two other figures near him, a Daoist couple. It was none other than Fang Xiufeng and Meng Li.
They didn’t look the least bit incorporeal. They were as solid as if they were real, and they sat next to Meng Hao, looking softly at their Hao’er. In their eyes, Meng Hao would always be their little baby.
“Hao’er, we didn't leave. Wake up and you can see us....”
The others around Meng Hao looked at his parents with expressions of deep respect. Even Paragon Sea Dream had clasped hands and bowed deeply to them when they had appeared.
Everyone knew that the butterfly itself belonged to the Fang Clan, and that the two souls propelling the wings were none other than this husband and wife.
They had not died, but had been reborn into a new, eternal form of life.
The butterfly was still flapping its wings, carrying its group of homeless wanderers off into the Vast Expanse.
Behind them was the Immortal God Continent, giving chase at top speed, drawing ever closer. In a different direction out in the Vast Expanse was another land mass, deathly silent, being pulled along by several huge butterflies. That land mass was currently changing its course to head toward Meng Hao’s location.
Meng Hao was dreaming. Within that dream, there was endless lightning and thunder. He heard laughter and weeping that seemed to rip everything asunder. As the lightning crashed around him, black veins could be seen snaking across his body. Something else was visible, a distinct symbol.
A Hexing magic!
A Hexing magic of the League of Demon Sealers!
Meng Hao had already mastered the Second through Eighth Hexes. Now, he was surrounded by lightning that apparently came from Shui Dongliu’s First Hex, which was in the process of fusing into him, enabling him to gain enlightenment of the First Demon Sealing Hex, the Beginning-Ending Hex!
All living things are affected by the cause and effect of Karma, by life and death. All things have a beginning and an end!
In addition to the Hexing magic, Meng Hao was surrounded by a vast sea. That sea was like a cultivation base, filling his world with enormous crashing waves that he was actually able to absorb.
His cultivation base was rising unceasingly, and his mind was seething with countless Daoist magics which were capable of rocking all creation, of altering the Heavens.
It was hard to say how much time passed before the lightning within that world faded. When it finally happened, Meng Hao closed his eyes and sank down into the depths of the cultivation base sea. Within those depths were nine tiny mountains, between which were eight seas that remained unfused with the cultivation base sea.
Meng Hao settled cross-legged amidst the nine mountains and eight seas, eyes closed in meditation. He appeared to be seeking enlightenment; his face was occasionally twisted with struggle, occasionally blank with confusion, occasionally beaming with joy. There were constant changes, and at the same time, the sea around him was gradually shrinking down.
The surrounding nine mountains and eight seas seemed to be connecting to Meng Hao in some mysterious fashion, and were even shaking in concert with his heartbeat.
Eight complex symbols gradually appeared on his forehead. The last of those symbols was only half complete, and still in the process of growing. These were Meng Hao’s Hexing magics. When that last symbol was complete, it would indicate that Meng Hao could wield all eight generations of Hexing magic!
The rest of the symbols all had varying levels of Essence aura emanating off of them, as if they might burst forth with Essence aura at any time.
Surrounding Meng Hao were 33 Soul Lamps, of which 18 were burning and 15 were extinguished. Of the 18 burning Soul Lamps, one was the Prime Lamp; were it to be destroyed, it would result in Meng Hao’s death!
All of a sudden, one of the 18 Soul Lamps suddenly went out.
As more time passed, more of the lamps were extinguished. Each time that happened, black smoke would rise up and pour into Meng Hao’s body.
His cultivation base, his aura, and his fleshly body all experienced incredible growth!
The good fortune from Shui Dongliu was doing just as he had intended: it was transforming Meng Hao into a consummate peak expert!
Although the process was somewhat slow, and might last a long time, it was a process that would not stop!
At the same time, the Immortal God Continent was closing in on the butterfly. There, Paragon Sea Dream looked at Meng Hao for a long moment, and then finally made a decision.
She rose to her feet, looked out at the Vast Expanse with an expression of sadness, and then softly murmured, “Everyone from that generation... has gone. Now, it’s my turn, the most useless of them all.
“I can sense the Devil Realm up ahead, and the Immortal God Realm chasing us.
“I am the most good-for-nothing of the Paragons. My cultivation base isn't sufficient, and my skill in strategy is lacking. I've been able to do very, very little....” She stood there for a moment silently.
“I watched the Mountain and Sea Realm be destroyed, and I watched her appear. I watched as the butterfly soared out into the starry sky, and now I watch as the enemy pursues us. What else can I do...?
“I've lived a long time in this life of mine, and yet still, I'm useless. The only thing I ever had was my plan with the Echelon. Well, now is the time to accomplish my purpose with that plan!
“The hope of the Mountain and Sea Realm lies, not with me, but with him.” She turned her head to look at the unconscious Meng Hao. Then, her eyes flickered with determination, and she reached her hand out and pointed at one of the butterfly wings.
The gesture instantly caused two people to vanish from within the world of the butterfly wing. They were the only two remaining Echelon cultivators other than Meng Hao, and a moment later, they reappeared in front of Sea Dream.
One of them was the Echelon cultivator from the First Mountain, Dao-Heaven! The other was the Seventh Mountain’s Echelon cultivator, Yuwen Jian!
They had not yet recovered from the injuries they had sustained in the war, but as soon as they appeared and realized where they were, they looked over at Meng Hao, and then clasped hands and bowed to Paragon Sea Dream.
She looked at them silently for a moment, then softly said, “Are you two ready?”
Dao-Heaven and Yuwen Jian had looks of staunch determination on their faces as they nodded deeply. They had already lost everything. Their homes. Their clans. As for friends, they only had a few left. All that truly remained in their hearts was a throbbing hatred.
“Well then,” Sea Dream continued, “it's time to execute the Echelon mission.... I worked on this plan for many, many years, the only strategy I ever came up with. In a moment, I will unleash a reincarnation magic, which will be fed by your life forces. I will send one of you to the Immortal God Continent, and the other to the Devil Realm!
“There, you will be like seeds planted to overthrow the enemy. Your futures will be bleak, and you might even die in the process. There is an even greater likelihood that my plan has no hope of succeeding at all, and that you will be able to do nothing to topple either of those two great powers.”
Sea Dream closed her eyes and murmured to herself, “However... it’s still worth trying.” With that, her eyes sparkled; she slowly extended her right hand and tapped Yuwen Jian’s forehead. His body began to tremble, and the Echelon mark on his forehead radiated scintillating light that cascaded around him. It gradually covered his entire body until Yuwen Jian... transformed into ash!
Then he disappeared!
The strand of his soul which was left was propelled by means of Paragon Sea Dream’s life force Essence out into the Vast Expanse. There, it would look for a path to reincarnation, a way... to find its way through the void to the Devil Realm.
“Let my memories guide you. Let my life force be your path. Take power from my cultivation base to enter the cycle of reincarnation. I... was part of the great catastrophe that struck the Paragon Immortal Realm. Back then, I managed to leave a mark in the Devil Realm.... Go, Echelon cultivator!”
Rumbling sounds echoed out as Yuwen Jian’s soul vanished into the Vast Expanse, following a strange path to enter the reincarnation cycle of the Devil Realm. The magical technique being used was something beyond description. However, this was truly Paragon Sea Dream’s sole plan. Even the scheme with Windswept had been arranged by Shui Dongliu, and had not been carried out by herself.
Dao-Heaven's eyes flickered with bright light. Then, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
In almost that same moment, the Echelon mark on his forehead began to shine, surrounding his body with light. Then, he vanished from the butterfly.
After accomplishing these things, Paragon Sea Dream coughed up a mouthful of blood and seemed to wither. She had already been burning her life force back in the fight for the Mountain and Sea Realm, and had accomplished her plan only by means of sacrificing some of her Essence. Now, she was like an oil lamp on the verge of sputtering out.
“Finally, it’s my turn.” Smiling, she waved her sleeve and took a step forward to appear out in the Vast Expanse, off of the surface of the butterfly. There, she stretched both arms out wide, causing rumbling sounds to echo out from inside of her. At the same time, an invisible fire began to burn away at her.
There wasn’t the slightest bit of hesitation in her actions. She knew that her soul would disperse, that she would not enter the cycle of reincarnation, and that her Dao foundation would be destroyed. Even still, she took every scrap of power that she had, every bit of life force, and burned it hard and fast.
In that moment, she once again looked like she had when she was young. Her body trembled as shocking fluctuations emanated out, transforming into a destructive vortex around her.
She was not choosing to self-detonate. Instead, she was burning all her remaining cultivation base to become divine sense power that spread out in all directions!
She was using her death to find a direction for the Mountain and Sea Realm and the butterfly to travel in, a direction where safety would exist for later generations!
She was a Paragon, always and forever!
Perhaps she didn't have the ultimate cultivation base, and perhaps she wasn’t the most capable. But the sun and the moon and all the Heavens could bear witness that her heart belonged to the Mountain and Sea Realm!
Rumbling could be heard as her divine sense spread out, backed by the burning of her cultivation base and life force. It spread out into the boundless expanse, seeking, searching everywhere for the slightest chance of survival for the Mountain and Sea Realm.
She could sense the ever-nearing Immortal God Continent, and the approach of the Devil Realm. As her divine sense continued to spread out unceasingly, her body withered rapidly. In the end, she began to fall apart. Her legs transformed into motes of light that began to dissipate.
And yet, she didn't give up. All to find hope for the Mountain and Sea Realm....
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