Chapter 1448: A Year....
It would be easier to find a phoenix feather or a qilin horn than to find someone in the Vast Expanse School who knew about what exactly had happened in the necropolis. The group which went inside sustained serious casualties: numerous 8-Essences Paragons were killed, and the Sixth and Eighth Paragons also died.
To the Vast Expanse School, that was a huge loss. However, to the individuals who survived, the benefits were immense!
8-Essences Paragons, 9-Essences Paragons, and even the handful of peak 9-Essences Paragons all spent time on the Transcendence Dais, and gained different levels of enlightenment regarding their future path. Although the paths ahead of them were not clear, their time in the necropolis ensured that the mistiness which covered them was lifted to some degree. Each and every individual believed that if they were given the opportunity to seek further enlightenment, then... the impossibility of reaching Transcendence... might change into a distinct possibility.
Although the benefits to the 8-Essences Paragons were not as great as those received by the 9-Essences experts, they were still significant. There were even some who were already gaining an understanding of their ninth Essence, and who would surely advance by leaps and bounds.
It was possible to say that, although the Vast Expanse School had experienced significant losses, the benefits to those who had survived were worth it. All of them went into secluded meditation as soon as they returned.
Meng Hao sat in his secluded meditation temple, his expression calm. He thought back to everything which had occurred in the necropolis, and his face gradually filled with a cold, unyielding expression.
He refused to give in to the idea that he could not form the Ninth Hex.
“Allheaven fears the Immortal, and his power is of the same origin as my Demonic power. This matter... is bizarre, to say the least.” After a moment of silence, his eyes glittered, and he smiled coldly.
“I can’t use this body of mine to form the Ninth Hex. If I try, I will fail.... The Ninth Hex would transform me, causing the foundation of the Immortal to appear again, and allow me to tread that path once more.
“The thing is, I don’t care whether or not I’m the Immortal. I just care about getting stronger. Immortal? Fine. Demon? Great. I don’t care, as long as I can get that ninth Essence, as long as I can extinguish the bronze lamp, as long as I can Transcend!” His eyes shone with a thoughtful gleam. If he couldn't personally form the Ninth Hex, then he had to find some way to get someone else to help do it for him!
“Who would have thought that turning the Seal the Heavens Incantation into the Ninth Hex would cause Immortal transformation.... I suppose I could pick something else for the Ninth Hex. Maybe that would work....” He frowned.
“But that would be such a waste.” He sighed, and then suddenly, his eyes glittered as a strange idea popped up into his mind.
“Hmm....” His eyes flickered even more brightly, until he suddenly rose to his feet and began to pace back and forth in the temple. After a moment, he stopped in place.
“If this body is not suitable to form the Ninth Hex, then... what if I create a clone without any Demonic power? He would have almost no connection to me at all. Perhaps that clone could form the Ninth Hex!!
“If a Demon cannot form the Ninth Hex, then maybe an Immortal... can successfully make the Seal the Heavens Hex!
“If the clone succeeds, and my true self merges with the clone, then... I will still get the Ninth Hex in the end!” Meng Hao’s eyes began to shine brightly.
“Although it might be a bit difficult, at least I have a direction!
“The Seal the Heavens Hex incites Immortal meridians. In that case, if my clone has a pure Immortal body, then its chances for success would increase exponentially.” The more he thought about it, the more feasible it seemed.
“This clone’s mission... will be to finish the Ninth Hex!” His eyes gleamed with determination as he thought back to all of the various cloning magics he possessed. One of them was the True Self Dao, and he also had a magical technique from Shui Dongliu’s legacy.
However, none of those cloning methods could do the job perfectly. He needed a clone with no Demonic power, that could gain enlightenment of the Ninth Hex, and that he could then re-absorb.
“It won’t work unless... that clone is truly me. Even if my true self dies, the clone can live on. That type of clone would be truly independent, and yet would still be something that could merge back with me!” With that, he reached up and pressed down onto his forehead.
Rumbling filled his mind as suddenly... three Nirvana Fruits appeared!
As the Nirvana Fruits hovered in front of him, emitting dazzling light, Meng Hao smiled.
“Seventh Year Tribulation.... If Shui Dongliu could come up with that elaborate plan for the Mountains and Seas all because of the strange factors within the Fang Clan bloodline, then naturally, I can do something similar!
“My clone will be different than any other type of clone. And that is because... he will be... my fourth life!!” At this point, he closed his eyes, causing their shining brightness to disappear.
Back on Planet East Victory, his Seventh Year Tribulation had caused him to wither up, and in the process, produce a Nirvana Fruit. That had occurred twice. In the seventh year of his second life, he had withered up again, and in the process of beginning his third life, produced a second Nirvana Fruit.
In that third life, his parents had accompanied him to Planet South Heaven, where he began his whirlwind of a life, a life that had led up to this very day.
Now, he wanted to forcibly begin... his fourth life. However, he wouldn’t do it with his true self, but rather, a clone. His third life and his fourth life would both exist simultaneously!
It was a situation in which the roots would be the same, but the branches would be different. Fusing would also be no problem, because the bodies would be fundamentally exactly the same! At the same time, his fourth life would be a complete separation from his third life, ensuring that no Demonic power existed on the clone.
“I can use that clone to seek enlightenment of the Ninth Hex!” He took a deep breath and sat down cross-legged. Then, he pushed down on his forehead again. Rumbling sounds began to echo out as he used his Nirvana Fruits to form the body of his fourth life.
The divine ability involved required time. As Meng Hao sat there, eyes closed, life force streamed out of the Nirvana Fruits and converged upon his forehead, where it gradually began to grow stronger.
It was only a bit of life force, like a brewing seed.
Time passed. A year went by, during which time the Sect Leader sent word to Meng Hao that the preparations to go into the necropolis again required an additional, undetermined length of time.
Although Meng Hao was anxious to get back into the necropolis, the brewing clone also needed time.
Another year passed.
Meng Hao's clone was in a constant state of growth, and was rapidly reaching the point when it could begin to live his fourth life.
There in front of Meng Hao, a blurry figure could be seen. It was impossible to make out the facial features clearly, but its aura was completely different from Meng Hao’s. However, Meng Hao could sense that there was some connection between the two of them, a connection that would be extremely difficult to sever.
“Three years of refining. This clone will live my fourth life. The root is the same, but the branches are different. He doesn’t have an iota of Demonic power.... Before he turns seven, I will send him into the mortal world to experience life. Seven years later, his memories will awaken. When that happens, I will be him, and he will be me. However no one else will be able to detect the connection between us, our shared root. At that time, my clone can begin to cultivate the Ninth Hex!
“I can’t rush things. The Ninth Hex is critical for me being able to Transcend!” Meng Hao looked at the blurry figure in front of him, then waved his hand. The figure transformed into a beam of light which flew out at top speed. Flying along with it was a red beam of light which, upon closer examination, could be seen to contain a tiny mastiff.
The light flew out of the half planet’s starry sky and onto Planet Vast Expanse itself. Somewhere in the land mass that belonged to Meng Hao, it vanished.
He didn’t deign to do anything to hide the matter. After all, the only people who could detect it would be the handful of people in the peak of the 9-Essences level. None of them who were watching would pay much attention to such a thing.
To them, Meng Hao was a lunatic. And lunatics... were people to be avoided. That was especially true of this particular lunatic, who was invincible within the necropolis, and could not be provoked.
Jin Yunshan and Sha Jiudong both felt that way. As for the mysterious Immortal Bai Wuchen, she kept herself separate from worldly affairs, and had no interest in matters like that.
Deep beneath the surface of the half-planet, the Sect Leader sat on the turtle shell above the sea of flames. A profound gleam appeared in his eyes, the glow of augury. After a moment passed, he slowly lowered his head.
“What divine ability was that? How come I can't see it clearly? This Ninth Paragon is wrapped up in too many secrets.
“Well, those things are all trivial anyway.” The Sect Leader smiled, then closed his eyes. Meng Hao was now more important than ever, considering how things had gone in the necropolis. His battle prowess placed him among the Potentates, and the Sect Leader didn’t want to incur his displeasure by being overly curious.
In the year that passed, things were quiet in the Vast Expanse School. Although Meng Hao’s subordinates continued to expand his power and influence on the outside, on Planet Vast Expanse itself, everything was peaceful, and no major incidents occurred.
All of the most powerful experts were in secluded meditation.
Something else happened during that year. In the starry sky of the Vast Expanse, a young man appeared. He wore a green robe and had long white hair, and was accompanied by a gentle-looking woman. They entered the Vast Expanse from the outside, and came to a stop at a location near the Immortal God Continent. As soon as they entered, the Vast Expanse began to seethe, and threatening rumbling sounds began to echo out. Some unknown force within the Vast Expanse immediately began to try to expel the white-haired young man. Apparently, if the man were to attempt to stay here, then the entire Vast Expanse would spare no effort to eject him with all its might. [1. Yes, the clues so far seem to point to this guy being Wang Lin]
He looked at the Immortal God Continent, and mixed emotions played out on his face. After a while, he sighed. The woman standing next to him seemed unable to endure the sight, and closed her eyes.
“I severed that finger all those years ago, and starting then, it became very difficult to enter this Vast Expanse. There are so many memories tied up with that land mass. It's a good thing... it's all in the past now. Those people aren't who they used to be anyway. What use is it for them to call to me...?” The young man sighed.
“Severing that finger evoked such hatred against me... bone-deep hatred!
“As for the Fellow Daoist still wrapped up with that same hatred... once he Transcends, he’ll understand everything.” The white-haired young man turned. Along with the woman, he left the Vast Expanse, after which the expelling force which had risen up slowly faded away.
Another thing happened in that year. Outside of Planet Vast Expanse was a cultivator clan which was said to have existed since ancient times. The person who had led them in their recent comeback was a female Chosen, and during that year, she joined the Vast Expanse School. After being accepted into the Sect Leader’s division, the Sect Leader himself appeared, which was rare. Looking at her surname, he asked her what her given name was.
The woman smiled and replied. “Bei. Disciple Han Bei at your service.”
The final event which occurred during that year occurred on the border of the ninth land mass of Planet Vast Expanse. There, a small forested mountain could be seen, beneath which flowed a river. A middle-aged scholar was sitting next to that river, reading a book. Suddenly, he looked up and saw a sleeping baby floating along above the surface of the river.
The baby had a wooden tablet lying on his chest, with a name written on it. Fang Mu. Within the baby’s hand was a fruit that seemed to be made of gold or jade, and yet wasn’t. An aura like that of reincarnation could be detected, as well as the Dao of Nirvana. Next to the baby was a little dog, which was happily licking the baby’s cheek.
The water parted for the baby, and fish leaped up excitedly. The sunlight didn't dare to strike the baby too harshly, and the countless beasts which peeked out from within the trees of the forest wouldn’t harm a hair on his head.
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