Chapter 1417: Who Cares If You Know!?
In the same moment that the pillar of light rose up off of the planet and out into the Vast Expanse, there were three areas on Planet Vast Expanse itself where heart-pounding fluctuations were emanating out.
The first location was a garden that looked like a celestial paradise. In one particular valley was a lake, next to which a young man sat cross-legged, wearing a long golden robe. He looked up, and as he did, his previously ordinary pupils suddenly distorted into oval shapes.
“Yet again someone descends. Is it really so easy for these kids of the younger generation to find the Patriarch’s necropolis?!
“If the method for Transcendence were so simple, then after all these countless years, wouldn’t there be more than just four or five people who have succeeded?”
The second location was far, far away from the first. It was an ice cave, filled with fluttering snow. A woman stood there silently, looking up into the Heavens, and the pillar of light. Her eyes seemed to contain reminiscence, as well as other mixed emotions. After a moment, it all transformed into a light sigh.
“I have no desire to search for the Patriarch's necropolis, nor to Transcend. I only wish... to return home.”
Gradually, the woman disappeared behind the masses of snowflakes.
Coincidentally, the third location was almost the opposite of the second. It was a scorching desert, where a violet sandstorm raged. If one looked closely, it would be possible to make out the vague image of a person walking through that sandstorm.
When the pillar of light rose up, that person looked up, and then began to cackle shrilly.
“Ah, another. I wonder who it is this time?”
The lands of Planet Vast Expanse quaked as the pillar of light sent wild ripples out into the sky. It was hard to say whether or not it was because of Meng Hao’s Vast Expanse Dao Body, but many beings within the Vast Expanse were now paying close attention to what was happening.
It was at this point that a figure suddenly appeared within the pillar of light. It was a discarnate soul whose fleshly body was crumbling around it. Apparently, the soul was struggling to make its way down.
Apparently there were invisible barriers blocking its way, and as the soul descended, it began to disperse. However, in the very center of the soul was a violet eye, which emanated an air of madness, and continued to follow the pillar of light toward Planet Vast Expanse!
During the process, more of the soul dispersed, but at the same time, it increased its speed. Gradually, thunderous booms began to echo out from within the pillar of light.
Soon the soul was quite close to Planet Vast Expanse. However, at that point it seemed to run into some incredibly powerful obstacle, and the soul began to fully disperse. An unyielding roar echoed out, and then, eight figures appeared in the area surrounding the soul.
Closer inspection would reveal that those eight figures were none other than the Sect Leader and the other seven 9-Essences Paragons. They unleashed massive power to break the barrier down, causing the violet eye to gleam with excitement as they then escorted it down toward Planet Vast Expanse.
They moved with incredible speed, destroying any and all barriers which appeared. By the time the group actually reached Planet Vast Expanse, the soul had dispersed, leaving behind nothing but the eye.
The eye radiated madness, but also pain. It was covered with countless cracks and crevices, and was hovering on the verge of collapse. Apparently, the other eight Paragons could do nothing about that other than increase their speed and usher the eye toward the fleshly body they had prepared for it.
At the same time, the cultivators on Planet Vast Expanse saw what was happening, and their minds were filled with utter shock.
The sounds of scriptures being chanted by the cultivators of the Vast Expanse School seemed to contain a strange power which filled the area, which fused into the pillar of light and helped the eye to resist the collapse.
Rumbling echoed out as the violet eye reached Planet Vast Expanse, passed down through the lands into the inner planet, and then appeared in the air above the ninth altar, where Meng Hao lay stretched out.
By this point, the eye was almost completely covered with cracks, and seemed as if it might collapse at any moment. However, it was in that very moment that it slammed into Meng Hao’s forehead and began to bore into him.
When the eye finally merged into Meng Hao, the Paragons on the other eight altars all reacted in the same way.
“Success!!” they cried, opening their eyes and laughing coldly.
The only one who didn't respond in that way was the Sect Leader, who snorted coldly as his eyes opened.
“Fellow Daoists,” he said coolly, “activate the Soulseal Formation. Help the Ninth Paragon suppress the discarnate soul in that body!” He waved his hand and then pointed toward Meng Hao laying there on the ninth altar.
The other seven Paragons didn't seem surprised at all by the Sect Leader’s command, almost as if they had been prepared for this. Chuckling coldly, they simultaneously unleashed cultivation base power, sending ripples out in all directions. With the Sect Leader taking the lead, they combined their power to form a sealing mark which descended onto Meng Hao.
Inside the bronze lamp, Meng Hao’s soul had been preparing to attack the violet eye as soon as it entered. But then his face fell, and he looked around to find a barrier trapping his soul and preventing it from emerging.
It was at this point that the Sect Leader began to speak.
“Fellow Daoist, I don’t care who you are, but it's safe to assume you’re Meng Hao from the Mountain and Sea Realm. Although I can’t tell where your discarnate soul is hiding, nor do I have any proof of its actual existence...
“I still believe that your arrival was far too coincidental!
“You just so happened to come in the exact moment when we needed a corpse?
“Perhaps it really was a coincidence. Perhaps it was even a coincidence that you consumed a vast amount of precious materials belonging to the Vast Expanse School. However, it strikes me that there’s too little of your soul left, and it put up too little of a struggle. This, of course, might just be a coincidence due to the severe injuries you sustained, which caused you to be so weak.
“It’s possible that you heard my discussions with my fellow sect members here, and that was why you never revealed any traces of your presence. Of course, there is another possibility, and that is that your soul truly has dispersed in all aspects.
“However, the presence of so many coincidences all at the same time is too suspicious. Perhaps I’m being a bit paranoid, but I believe that there is a high likelihood that your soul has not, in fact, dispersed!
“You have been waiting for this very moment to wipe out the Vast Expanse School's Ninth Paragon, and take his place!
“Therefore, we came prepared. That ninth altar you are on also serves as a suppressor of souls, and is effective on any soul that does not cultivate the magic of the Vast Expanse School!
“Regardless of whether or not you are still there inside your body, and regardless of whether or not I'm paranoid, now that the seal has been activated, I can rest at ease.” As the old Sect Leader’s voice echoed out, the combined effort of the eight Paragons caused the power of the Soulseal Formation to crush down. That in turn allowed the violet eye to take root inside of Meng Hao, to spread tendril-like soul strands throughout his body.
At the same time, a violet mark could be seen on his forehead. It began to open up, taking control of everything, revealing... a violet eye!
Almost as soon as it appeared, a fierce gleam could be seen in the eye. Then, it closed, and even more soul strands went into Meng Hao, filling his qi passageways, his heart, his mind, his everything.
Inside the bronze lamp, Meng Hao’s soul frowned. He watched coldly as all of this happened, and could feel the effects of the soul sealing carried out by the Sect Leader and the others.
“So, they were ready for me,” he thought, eyes flickering. However, he didn't seem very surprised. After all, people who practiced cultivation all the way to the 9-Essences level were sure to be extraordinary in terms of wisdom and foresight.
“Well, in that case... I’ll just have to go with my backup plan. If it turns out I can’t erase this other soul, then I’ll... consume it!”
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered as the bronze lamp suddenly flared with light and then... a crack opened up on its surface. In the instant that the crack appeared, the soul strands of the Ninth Paragon tried to force their way in. Meanwhile, the faces of the Sect Leader and the other Paragons flickered.
Although they had had their suspicions, they hadn’t dared to make a determination as to whether or not Meng Hao was truly still in his body. After all, the most rigorous inspections hadn’t turned up the slightest evidence of that.
But now that the bronze lamp had opened up a bit, and the soul strands of the Ninth Paragon shot toward it, the eight Paragons could sense what was happening.
“So, he really is still around!” Cold, grim expressions appeared on their faces, and they sent their divine sense pouring toward Meng Hao's body to help the Ninth Paragon suppress Meng Hao’s soul.
However, before their streams of divine sense could enter Meng Hao’s body, the bronze lamp flashed, and a power of expulsion erupted out, blocking the eight streams of divine sense outside of the body!
Their faces fell. As for Meng Hao, he now had a bit of extra time. His soul unhesitatingly shot out toward the soul strands belonging to the Ninth Paragon. Instantly, the two intertwined, and began to try to consume each other.
At the same time, Meng Hao’s Demonic qi erupted out, and his soul transformed. The multifariousness of the Demon caused his own soul to be indistinguishably mixed with the soul strands. That in turn caused his ability to consume them to increase dramatically!
The soul strands could sense the incredible danger, and tried to fight back. However, it was impossible to tell which were which!
The Sect Leader and the other eight Paragons had grim faces as they looked on. They could sense that the souls of Meng Hao and the Ninth Paragon were intermixed, but there was nothing they could do to intervene.
“How could this be happening!?!?”
“Dammit!!” Gleams of rage appeared in their eyes. The Sect Leader looked extremely grim, and yet, couldn’t help but sigh with a bit of admiration.
“No wonder this Meng Hao was able to tangle with the Immortal God Continent and the Devil Realm.... He used his own body as bait for our Vast Expanse School. He set up a sinister scheme, and even anticipated that he would be discovered by us. I was simply too self-confident.
“This is a battle between souls, and one will end up consuming the other. We cannot interfere. Victory will be decided by which among their souls is the strongest.”
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