Chapter 1419: Putting Down Roots!
Whether or not he was really the Ninth Paragon didn't matter. The Sect Leader of the Vast Expanse School, as well as the other 9-Essences Paragons, had never actually met the Ninth Paragon, so naturally, there were no feelings of friendship between them.
The only reason they needed him was to help with their plan. Furthermore, the most important thing was the Dao eye, which would be of incredible usefulness to them.
That was why they had hoped that the incoming Ninth Paragon would be even stronger in terms of cultivation base.
Now, regardless of whether or not the person they were looking at was Meng Hao or the Ninth Paragon, he had the Dao eye. With that, nothing else really mattered.
If he was the Ninth Paragon, then things were well and good. If he wasn’t, then he would have to act like him!
The Sect Leader knew that, and thus he sighed. The other 9-Essences Paragons also knew, and so reacted with mixed feelings.
Meng Hao was aware of that fact as well. That was why he hadn’t been surprised at all by the killing intent he saw when he opened his eyes. And that was also why he had opened the Dao eye on his forehead.
When that Dao eye appeared, all danger faded away!
Believe me? Fine! Don’t want to believe me…? You have no choice!
As he stood there on the ninth altar, looking at the Sect Leader and the other Paragons, he smiled. It was a warm smile, devoid of the coldness from earlier. Then he clasped hands and bowed to the others.
“Many thanks to you, Fellow Daoists. I will do my best to help with the Vast Expanse School’s plan.” His smile and his words spoke to his current attitude.
In response, the Sect Leader’s eyes flickered, and he laughed again. “Come, come, you’ve just arrived, and therefore don't know much about our Vast Expanse School. Allow me to introduce everyone.”
With that, the Sect Leader jovially introduced the other seven Paragons.
One of them was the old man in the violet-gold robe who had purchased Meng Hao’s corpse. His name was Shangguan Hong, and as he smiled and clasped hands to Meng Hao, a profound gleam could be seen in his eyes. [1. Shangguan Hong’s name in Chinese is 上官宏 shàngguān hóng. Shangguan is an uncommon two-character Chinese surname. Hong means “grand” or “magnificent”]
Meng Hao smiled broadly in return, and seemed to have missed the look in the man’s eyes. After all the formal greetings were done, the Sect Leader arranged for Meng Hao to be escorted to the temple on the half-planet which had been arranged ahead of time for the Ninth Paragon.
After Meng Hao left, the smiles on the faces of the Sect Leader and the other 9-Essences Paragons turned grim. They remained standing on the altars, silently watching Meng Hao disappear into the distance.
After a long moment passed, Shangguan Hong cleared his throat and said, “Well... that’s it?”
Complex expressions could be seen on the faces of the others.
“There’s no evidence. No way to prove whether or not he really is the Ninth Paragon....”
“Not necessarily. But what would be the point in it? Whether he is or isn’t doesn’t matter. If he’s not, and prefers to maintain a cover, it doesn't hurt us. If we expose him as a fraud, though, it could harm our own interests.”
“Hmph. I can’t believe we wasted all those resources to end up like this. Maybe we should contact the Vast Expanse Society and have someone else sent down....”
“We spent far too many years accumulating all of those resources. It’s not possible to rebuild the collection any time soon. Besides, if the Vast Expanse Society learned of this matter, who knows how they might deal with us.”
After a bit of discussion, everyone quieted down and looked over at the Sect Leader.
He closed his eyes for a few moments, and when they opened, they were shining brightly.
“As long as he helps us carry out the plan, then it doesn’t matter who he is, he counts as the Ninth Paragon. Going forward, keep this matter between us.” Having finished speaking, he turned and headed back to the turtle shell above the sea of flames to continue his watch.
After he left, he left single sentence floating behind him. “Notify the sect, spread word, and prepare for the ceremony to officially welcome the Ninth Paragon.”
The other seven Paragons exchanged faint smiles. Strange gleams were buried deep in their eyes. Even after meeting Meng Hao and measuring him up, none of them felt any hatred toward him, or desire to kill him. In fact, they even admired him a bit.
“The ultimate figure of an entire Realm, someone who has tangled with both the Immortal God Realm and the Devil Realm. If he was able to make a comeback after dying... then he can't be underestimated, nor should he be provoked.”
“How crafty and vicious. And also decisive. If he had made the slightest mistake, a huge battle would have erupted.”
“And yet he managed to hit the nail on the head with that Dao eye. In the end, he basically put himself in an unassailable position.”
“You all might think he is Meng Hao, but in my opinion, the Ninth Paragon would have done just the same.” Some of the Paragons sighed, and others smiled. After exchanging a few more words, they dispersed.
Everything slowly went back to normal in the starry sky of the half-planet.
A Vast Expanse School disciple respectfully led Meng Hao to the palace which had been set aside for the Ninth Paragon.
The palace encompassed an area of 300,000 meters, taking up almost an entire plain on the north side of the half-planet. It even had special secluded meditation facilities just for the Ninth patriarch. At first glance, it looked like a vast city.
It was spectacular to behold, complete with mountains, rivers, numerous lakes, and countless buildings. It was like a celestial garden, and at the very center was a towering pagoda, beneath which was an austere temple.
The pagoda was so high it seemed to touch the clouds. From a distance, it was possible to see that there were nine cities like this on the half-planet, which of course corresponded to the nine Paragons of the Vast Expanse School.
Just outside of the city was a placard with calligraphy as flamboyant as dancing dragons and swirling phoenixes.
This was where Meng Hao was to live. The city was inhabited by 100,000 disciples who served as his guard force. Among their number were three Imperial Lords, seven Dao Sovereigns, dozens of Dao Lords, and over a hundred ordinary Dao Realm experts. The rest were either in the Ancient or Immortal realms.
That group in and of itself was enough to leave Meng Hao completely shaken, and gave him a hint as to the resources at the disposal of the Vast Expanse School.
In addition to the 100,000 guards were other members of their clans, as well as other ordinary disciples. All in all, the population of the city as a whole was well over a million.
At the moment, Meng Hao was seated cross-legged within the temple. Ten individuals stood there respectfully in front of him. These were none other than the three Imperial Lords and seven 6-Essences Dao Sovereigns.
There was something interesting about the Imperial Lords. Meng Hao wasn't sure how many Imperial Lords the Vast Expanse School had in total, nor how the considerations were made in their assignments. In any case, the Imperial Lords assigned as his guard were all women.
The three of them were all spectacularly beautiful. As cultivators who had reached the Dao Realm, that was no surprise. With the exception of people with odd perversions, all cultivators grew to be exceedingly good-looking by the time they had reached this level, regardless of how ugly they might have been previously. As for these three, they all seemed to be natural beauties, far beyond the ordinary.
If it were only the Imperial Lords who were women, it might not have been something unusual. However, all seven of the 6-Essences Dao Sovereigns were also women. Meng Hao couldn’t help but be a bit surprised at that. It wasn’t until he searched through the memories of the Ninth Paragon that he found the answer.
Back in the Vast Expanse Society, outside of the Vast Expanse, the Ninth Paragon had been fond of cultivating magic that required male and female cultivators. The more female vessels he had to drain, and the higher their cultivation bases, the more exciting he found the process.
Obviously, the Paragons from the Vast Expanse School were aware of that, and had made special arrangements. However, as of now, all of those special arrangements were somewhat meaningless.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever as he sat there in the temple, twirling a jade slip through his fingers. Within that jade slip were 100,000 souls, which ensured that Meng Hao had no need to use his cultivation base to keep all of his guards under control. With a single thought, he could kill all 100,000 of them.
“This Vast Expanse School is quite interesting,” he murmured to himself. He looked up at the ten women in front of him, and most especially the three Imperial Lords.
Of those three, one seemed cold and icy to an extraordinary degree. Based on what Meng Hao knew about cultivation, he guessed that her personality had been affected by the techniques she cultivated, which were surely based on ice and coldness.
Another of the women had a warm smile on her face, and looked at Meng Hao with awe and respect. Earlier, she had been the one to explain to Meng Hao all of his powers within the sect, and also how the sect was organized into its various factions.
The third of the Imperial Lords had a stony face and seemed very somber. However, deep within her eyes was a revulsion for Meng Hao. Clearly, she was not happy at all at being assigned this position by the sect.
As for the seven 6-Essences Dao Sovereigns, most of them looked nervous. To them, he was the Ninth Paragon, someone far, far above them, and someone whose words were to be taken as commands.
“Alright, keep going,” Meng Hao said coolly, smiling at the warm Imperial Lord.
She nodded and continued her explanation. “In addition to the 100,000 guards and 1,000,000 ordinary disciples, your excellency has a considerable section of land to the far north, set aside for raising starbeasts.
“Also upon our holy planet are 10,000,000 spirit fields under your control, tended by over 100,000,000 spirit peasants. In addition to that is a vein of Earthflame, which is one of the three ultimate alchemic resources on Planet Vast Expanse. The medicinal pills and magical items it produces account for thirty percent of the total yield for the Vast Expanse School.” The Imperial Lord smiled at Meng Hao. When she spoke, her voice was like the the call of songbirds.
“You also possess a continent on the surface of Planet Vast Expanse, your majesty, which is known as the Vast Expanse Ninth Sect. That is where your Dao palace is located, and is also one of the temple complexes of the Vast Expanse School. There are hundreds of millions of disciples there, not to mention countless mortals.
“You are the ultimate authority within the Ninth Sect, and not even the other Paragons can interfere with your orders there. Even the exalted Sect Leader must request your permission before calling upon the resources there.
“In addition, of the 3,000,000 cities on the surface of Planet Vast Expanse, you exercise control over 300,000. You also control 131 businesses, including famous establishments like the Grand Banquet Pavilion, Celestial Benevolence Hall, and the 10,000 Treasures Mansion. In total, the branches of all the business you own number in the millions.
“Then there are your holdings off of Planet Vast Expanse. They include 97 cultivator clans and 64 land masses. Those are only the things which can be numbered. You have countless other interests which are too vast to calculate.”
“Among your direct subordinates are five 8-Essences Paragons and ten 7-Essences Paragons, stationed in various locations. As of now... they are all en route back here to pay their respects to you.”
After hearing the woman’s explanations, Meng Hao felt a bit out of sorts. He could never in his wildest imaginations have guessed that the Vast Expanse School’s Ninth Paragon... would be given so much wealth.
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