“Vast Expanse... Dao Body....” No one could hear the murmuring voice except for Meng Hao. Even as the voice brushed against him, his murderous aura exploded out into a vortex which swept the ghosts away from Su Yi and Xin Yue.
However, there were simply too many of the ghosts, so many that Meng Hao’s scalp was numb. As they closed in on him, he reached out, grabbed Su Yi and Xin Yue, and shot toward the Sect Leader.
Even as he sped into motion, he looked around and saw that more figures were appearing in the countless buildings which made up the city, figures which were even more powerful than those he had already seen. There was one path that had no ghosts on it at all, and further off in the distance, far far away, Meng Hao spotted an enormous altar which rose high up into the sky!
The altar was so enormous that it was clearly visible despite being a huge distance away. Looking at it more closely, it appeared to be hovering in the void above the first land mass.
The number of ghosts on the first land mass was so large it was impossible to count. Further off, the other eight land masses were difficult to make out clearly.
Gradually, Meng Hao realized that on the ninth land mass, the land mass furthest away from him, there was a huge throne, upon which sat a person!
That person’s gaze pierced through the boundless starry sky to fall upon him. Apparently… this was the person who had spoken the words ‘Vast Expanse Dao Body’ moments ago. Now, it began to speak again.
“The catastrophe comes. Peak of the Vast Expanse. You are the end....
“Allheaven fears the Immortal.... [1. This is the same Allheaven as in Allheaven Immortal, Allheaven Dao Immortal, Allheaven Clan, etc. It’s been a long time since the term was introduced, so I’m going to repeat the explanation of what it means. "Allheaven" 罗天 could be transliterated as "Luotian," and is a concept from real Daoist mythology. Among all the various heavens that exist, it is the absolute highest heaven. Luo 罗 is a character which can be translated a lot of ways, but in this situation basically means "net." The idea is that this heaven stretches out to cover over all the other heavens like a net. However, instead of calling it Net Heaven (sounds like a bad internet cafe or perhaps a fishing shop), I will use "Allheaven." Incidentally, I've also translated the character luo 罗 as "sieve" in the past, most notably in the name of the Black Sieve Sect"]
“You... have finally come....” As the voice echoed out, the ghosts seemed to go even crazier. At the same time, the bronze lamp within him began to flicker.
It all happened in the briefest of instants. As Meng Hao retreated from the ghosts, he could sense madness within them, and yet, they didn’t seem malevolent. Somehow, they seemed anxious. Now was not the time to ponder the matter. As his murderous aura shoved the ghosts away, he closed his third eye. In that moment, everything vanished, although he could still sense an incredible coldness building up in the area.
“Let’s go!” said the Sect Leader. Everyone began to move, although things were so chaotic, it was impossible to tell exactly which direction they were going. As they sped along, the cold aura behind them continued to grow.
However, because Meng Hao had closed his third eye, the ghosts apparently couldn’t detect their presence. After an hour, they emerged from the coldness, their expressions grim. As for Su Yi and Xin Yue, they looked guilty as they followed along silently behind Meng Hao.
Other Paragons immediately gave voice to their fury.
“Dammit, what were you doing? Do you know how much danger we were in just now!?”
“How reckless! You nearly scared us to death!!” Although they couldn’t actually see the ghosts, they understood that they had all just experienced a brush with death. Had the cold aura overwhelmed them, they would never have escaped, and would have remained within it forever.
Meng Hao didn’t offer any explanation, but he did clasp hands and bow to everyone.
Considering his cold disposition up to this point, the fact that Meng Hao made such a gesture caused the faces of most of the other Paragons to soften. However, their expressions were still somewhat grim; the group was now on an unknown and incorrect path.
All of them knew the potential consequences of taking an incorrect path.
Meng Hao’s apologetic clasping of hands was enough to silence most of the other Paragons. However, the Sixth Paragon let out a cold harrumph. “All brawn and no brains! You should have let those two subordinates of yours just die! Saving them got us lost. They deserved to die!”
Normally speaking, he would never have spoken in such a way after the battle he had just experienced with Meng Hao. But now that Meng Hao had earned the ire of the entire group, it was like throwing fuel onto the fire.
“That’s right, Old Ninth,” chimed in the Eight Paragon, his voice cold. “Simply clasping hands in apology isn’t enough. This is a big matter! You got us all lost, and you know what a dangerous position that puts us in!”
The words uttered by these two caused the other Paragons to frown.
The Sect Leader looked over at Meng Hao with furrowed brow.
Meng Hao looked back at him and said, “Many thanks for your assistance back there, Sect Leader.”
Actually, the Sect Leader hadn’t provided him with much assistance at all, but Meng Hao could tell his attitude in the matter. The fact that he had turned back at all spoke volumes. Furthermore, the other Paragons, with the exception of the Sixth, had all been moving to help him. He wouldn’t forget that, and it served to increase his good will toward the Vast Expanse School in general.
“What did you see just now?” the Sect Leader asked.
“A Ghost City,” Meng Hao replied. “This entire place is a city, with the asteroids being buildings. We were surrounded by endless hordes of ghosts. This place... is a Ghost City that is invisible to the eyes of the living.”
Having heard this, the Sect Leader suddenly reached out and made a grasping motion. A rift opened up, and a profoundly ancient jade slip appeared, which he handed over to Meng Hao.
“Take a look. Is that the city you saw?!”
Meng Hao took the jade slip and scanned it. An image appeared in his mind, the vague image of a city that he instantly recognized as the Ghost City he had seen!
When the Sect Leader heard that, a strange expression could be seen on his face. Looking somewhat excited, he asked, “Did you happen to notice a path...?”
Meng Hao thought back to everything he had seen, and recalled that one particular path which was devoid of ghosts. He nodded.
The Sect Leader looked around quietly for a moment at the asteroids, mixed emotions on his face. Finally, he spoke to the group as a whole, his voice little more than a murmur.
“The legends say that long, long ago, this place was a city, a city so huge that the nine land masses were only the central part of the city itself.
“Back then, it was known as the City of Saints.
“One day, the city disappeared overnight. Virtually everyone died.... Countless lives, countless cultivators, countless beings, all dead.... Their deaths were very bizarre and mysterious, and happened in complete silence.
“Only Patriarch Vast Expanse and a few other people survived. They left together, after which the Vast Expanse Society came to exist outside of the Vast Expanse.
“Years later, Patriarch Vast Expanse returned, and chose to turn this place into his necropolis.
“According to most legends, he eventually perished here. Of course, other rumors state that he didn't die, but rather, stayed behind alive to accompany the bones of his companions from the past. Supposedly, countless years passed, after which he departed, leaving behind the method for Transcendence.
“In all the legends, the starry sky looked different back then. Supposedly, when the grieving Patriarch Vast Expanse buried his companions, he transformed the starry sky into the Vast Expanse, for the purpose of accompanying his friends in death.
“The city you saw was the former City of Saints.... Old Ninth, please lead us along the path you saw. That is the way to get to the necropolis.” He sighed after recounting the story to the group. Most of the people present had heard the stories before, but this was Meng Hao’s first time. After a moment of silence, he thought of the world of the Ghost City, and of the figure he had seen on the ninth land mass.
Finally, he nodded and turned to look off into the distance. Then, he led the way, with everyone following as he headed off into the void.
At first, he had to choose his way carefully and with much thought. But about two hours later, he began to pick up speed. No more strange incidents or deaths occurred, making it seem certain that no ghosts were on the path they traveled.
The Sixth and Eighth Paragons didn't look very happy, but as for all of the other Paragons, their eyes glowed with excitement. Soon, they were getting very close to the first land mass.
However, it was at this point that, all of a sudden, a cold aura suddenly appeared. Everyone could sense it, and before anyone could even react, it increased in intensity by a hundredfold, then a thousandfold, then ten-thousandfold and even more.
As boundless, icy coldness surrounded them, several aura streams appeared that struck fear into the heart of even Meng Hao, and caused the Sect Leader’s face to fall.
Meng Hao stopped in place, as did everyone behind him.
“Nice job, Meng Hao!!” yelled the Sixth Paragon. Not bothering with matters of face, he directly spoke Meng Hao’s name.
The Eighth Paragon frowned and glared at Meng Hao, eyes flickering with killing intent. “Dammit, you’re not leading the way, you’re sending us to our deaths!”
The other Paragons’ faces were grim and icy, and they began to rotate their cultivation bases.
“Enough!” the Sect Leader roared. Inwardly, he was sighing; the mission was a failure. Furthermore, even retreating would likely result in injury and loss, especially to the 8-Essences Paragons, who would survive only if they were lucky.
The coldness which had risen up caused everyone’s hearts to thump. The Sect Leader sighed bitterly.
“The plan is cancelled. Let’s fight our way out. We’ll recover and rebuild resources to come back another time.” With that, he prepared to leave. The Sixth and Eighth Paragons glared spitefully at Meng Hao, and Shangguan Hong and the other Paragons sighed.
But then, Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed, and he suddenly said, “Hold on a moment!”
The Sixth Paragon spun in place, glared at Meng Hao, and smiled coldly. “What are you going to do? Don't tell me you want to stop us from leaving. What, you want us to stick around here to be killed? Meng Hao, your heart is twisted and evil. Do you really think we weren’t aware that you consumed the Ninth Paragon?”
“Shut your mouth,” the Sect Leader barked. “Old Ninth, forget about the matter. I should have explained things in more detail ahead of time. We can come back again another time.” Although the Sect Leader was irritated at this turn of events, he still tried to keep things civil.
Meng Hao ignored the Sixth Paragon. “No, listen, I have the feeling... that these ghost harbor no ill will toward me.”
Even as he spoke, his third eyes opened.
At the same time, the Sixth Paragon howled, “I can't believe you still dare to open your Dao-- wait, what...?”
Before he could even get through half of his sentence, the rest of his words stuck in his throat. His eyes went wide as he looked around.
He could sense that, as of this moment, the coldness... was actually emanating a sensation of... subservience!! The powerful entities therein that filled him with such fear, were actually... acknowledging allegiance!!
He wasn’t the only one who realized this. All of the Paragons could pick up on the clues. Expressions of disbelief appeared on their faces. As for Meng Hao, when he looked around at the world, he saw innumerable ghosts, all of them dropping to their knees to kowtow!
And they were kowtowing to him!
It was like watching a wave run across the surface of the sea as countless ghosts dropped down onto their knees....
What a shocking turn of events!
Their previous madness had contained no killing intent, and their rush toward Meng Hao had not been because they wished him harm. Instead, they could sense on him... the aura of their grand leader.
Chapter 1424: The Ghost Masses Offer Worship!
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