Chapter 1453: Enjoy Yourself, Prince!
Few people knew exactly how many Immortal meridians Meng Hao’s clone opened after his Immortal Tribulation. He didn’t go on to make a big show of things, but instead, went back into secluded meditation to practice cultivation.
However, his heart was very unsettled because of the matter of Chu Yuyan.
“Han Bei planned things out years and years in advance. She fused her own life soul with Chu Yuyan, creating a symbiosis.... Excellent leverage.” After a long moment, he sighed.
It took three days for him to settle his mind and heart. Afterward, he left for a time, and when he returned, he had the mastiff with him. Then, both of them went into meditative trances, continuing their cultivation in seclusion.
Time passed. Another ten years went by in the blink of an eye. During that time, Meng Hao’s clone didn’t leave the Ninth Sect. He stayed confined in meditation.
Because he stayed out of the public eye, no one knew the level of his cultivation base, or his progress. After the ten years passed, no Tribulation Lightning descended, so people stopped worrying about whether or not he was Chosen, and in fact many people even forgot about him. Those who did remember him did so with scorn.
He had no friends, nor any dealings with anyone. He remained in his subdivision of the Ninth Sect, focused completely on cultivation. To remain completely separated from the sect was an uncommon thing. Only people with a special status could do something like that. After all, Fang Mu was nothing more than an Inner Sect disciple.
However... the Ninth Sect belonged to Meng Hao. All it took was a single word from his true self to that one particular Dao Sovereign, indicating that Fang Mu was important and wasn’t to be disturbed, and the matter was handled.
Because of that, no one bothered his clone during those ten years. The only company he had was the mastiff.
Actually, Meng Hao’s true self spent those ten years in much the same way. He focused completely on gaining full enlightenment of all his Hexing Essences. With such a deep focus only on cultivation, his twenty years of work left him significantly more powerful than when he had entered the necropolis.
Preparations for the second trip into the necropolis were still being made by the Sect Leader. Apparently, he wanted to be completely and utterly prepared. Obviously, he was completely intent on reaching the second land mass in this trip.
During the ten years, news spread that Han Bei had broken through from the Immortal Realm. Now that she was in the Ancient Realm, she was no longer a Holy Daughter-designate. Somehow, she manipulated her way into becoming one of the Vast Expanse School’s nine Holy Daughters.
The Sect Leader, despite being wrapped up in preparations for the necropolis, found time to provide some assistance and advice to Han Bei, who was very important to him.
As for exactly what went on, Meng Hao didn’t pay close attention.
Another year passed, whereupon Meng Hao’s clone emerged from secluded meditation and left the Ninth Sect. No one interfered with him; most people only had a vague impression of who he was.
Both he and the mastiff transformed into beams of light that shot off into the distance. A few days later, they appeared in a small town in the mortal world.
It wasn’t very large, but it was a bustling place. The streets were packed with people who scurried about doing all sorts of things. Meng Hao walked slowly through the town, wearing a green robe and looking every bit the scholar. Eventually, he came to a stop in front of the house of an average family.
A warm look could be seen in his eyes as he looked at a group of youngsters playing outside the main gate. One of them was an eleven-year-old girl, who wore a shy smile on her face as she played with her companions.
His gaze seemed to stretch back hundreds of years into the past, recalling numerous events which had occurred once upon a time. It was currently autumn, and a crisp wind sent fallen leaves tumbling down the street. The setting sun was deep red color, filling the world with its warmth, and casting Meng Hao’s shadow long and far across the ground....
The girl suddenly sensed that she was being watched, and she looked up at Meng Hao. She seemed a bit scared, and quickly averted her eyes. A moment passed, and he was still looking at her, making her even more frightened. She whispered something to her friends, then ran back into her house.
Meng Hao laughed spontaneously, then took a deep breath, his eyes gleaming with reminiscence.
“In your last life, I owed you....” he said softly. “In this life, I’ll pay that debt.” Straightening his clothes, he walked up to the house and knocked on the gate. After a long moment, the gate opened, and he entered.
There was no need for complicated formalities. On Planet Vast Expanse, even mortals were aware of the existence of Immortal beings, and treated them with the utmost respect and veneration.
Meng Hao mentioned that he wished to take this girl, whose name was Yan’er, as an apprentice. He demonstrated some magical techniques to the girl's parents, who didn't hesitate for even a moment to give their assent. They looked very excited.
A few days later, Meng Hao left, followed by a sad-looking girl, and the mastiff.
After a while, she couldn’t hold back from asking, “Master... you... you really aren’t a fraud?”
In response to her question, Meng Hao bopped her on the top of her head with his palm. It hurt a little, but before she could say anything, her body was suddenly lifted up into the air. Wind blasted into her face, and when she looked down, she saw vast lands stretching out in all directions. Everything grew smaller and smaller, and her eyes grew wider and wider.
After some time passed, she saw a boundless stretch of mountains, covered by countless buildings and structures. It was none other than... the Ninth Sect.
Suddenly, Meng Hao’s soft voice could be heard in her ears, “From now on, you are the apprentice of Fang Mu. The one and only apprentice.”
From that day on, a girl lived in Fang Mu’s secluded meditation facilities in his subdivision of the Ninth Sect. With her there, things were no longer so peaceful and quiet.
She was naturally gifted when it came to cultivation, but most of that seemed focused on alchemy. Meng Hao also spent time teaching her other cultivation methods, as well as some of his own alchemy techniques.
The girl’s personality was very different from Meng Hao's. She enjoyed exploring the Ninth Sect, and liked making friends. Soon, just about everyone in the subdivision knew that the Fang Mu, who had put on such a spectacular display about ten years ago, had taken on an apprentice.
Seven years passed. By now, it had been eighteen years since Fang Mu’s Immortal Tribulation, and it was also the year that his apprentice Yan’er turned eighteen.
She was a slender and elegant teenager. As she matured, she became more and more beautiful, and soon began to distinguish herself among the other female disciples of the sect. Because of her natural gift for cultivation, especially when it came to alchemy, she was already in late Foundation Establishment, just half a step away from Core Formation.
Her Dao of alchemy was boundless and profound, enough to shake even some of the Elders of the subdivision.
Because of all of that, quite a few male disciples began to pursue the young Yan’er. Of course, her personality was a bit more like a boy’s; she was definitely not the graceful and subdued type. The only time she would pout and act like a girl was in front of Meng Hao.
“Master, can I go, please? I’ve... I’ve been waiting for this day forever!
“Master, look, don't worry. Nothing’s going to happen. Lots of my Elder Brothers and Sisters from the sect are going to be there. We’ll all be going together.”
Yan’er was currently standing in front of Meng Hao making a request. She started out begging, but in the end, when he simply sat there in meditation, ignoring her, she started to get a bit irritated. “Aiya! You old fogey! Are you gonna let me go or not!?”
“How impudent!” Meng Hao said, opening his eyes to glare at her. Yan’er had become somewhat of a headache in recent years. In the beginning, she had treated him with awe and reverence. But that attitude had slowly faded away until it was now gone.
Yan’er was clearly not afraid of her Master’s glare. Smiling broadly, she hurried over and started to massage his shoulders. Eyes wide, she quietly began to plead again, in a very sweet and fawning voice.
“Master, everybody's saying that it's not just people from our subdivision who will be going to the bazaar. The whole sect will be there. In fact, people from the other continents will be coming too. The Vast Expanse School’s First Sect, Second Sect, I mean, basically all of the nine sects are going to be there.
“It’s going to be so exciting! Elder Brother Bi Yun is also going.... I heard that his name is in the top 100 of the Vast Expanse Shrine....” When Yan’er mentioned Elder Brother Bi Yun, her eyes suddenly grew very bright.
Meng Hao frowned, then sighed, aware that the reason his apprentice wanted to go to the bazaar was not merely the simple task of buying medicinal plants. Like most female disciples, she viewed the Chosen members of the sect with awe. Bi Yun, who was one of the blazing suns of the Ninth Sect, was a good example.
Unable to deal with her coaxing and prodding, he finally nodded and said, “Fine, fine, go ahead.”
Yan’er was immediately delighted, and even leaned forward and hugged him. Seeing her so delighted, Meng Hao's gaze softened a bit, and he thought about Chu Yuyan.
In his last life, he had owed Chu Yuyan a debt of emotion. Unfortunately, in this life, his heart was already dead, and all he could give her was the relationship of a Master and apprentice.
Yan’er left. The next day at dawn, she was in very high spirits as she met up with some of the other disciples of the subdivision, after which they all left together toward the grand bazaar which was held every few years on the ninth continent.
Meng Hao stayed in secluded meditation. His cultivation base was at a critical juncture, and he could make a breakthrough into the Ancient Realm at almost any time. Although he had remained in the Immortal Realm for quite some time, causing many people to forget about him, the reason was because of something that no one but him was aware of. When he had opened his Immortal meridians, he actually exceeded the number previously reached by his true self, placing him at a terrifying level that nobody had ever reached before, not even in ancient times.
That was why his progress in the Immortal Realm had been so slow.
“Because of my successive breakthroughs, the Ninth Hex is getting closer to completion. However, why is it that what I used to believe was perfect in the past, now seems somewhat incomplete...?” Frowning, he proceeded with his cultivation.
Even as he was focusing on cultivation, Yan’er and her Elder Brothers and Sisters had left the Ninth Sect and run into a group of disciples from the Eighth Sect.
There were a dozen or so of them, all in the Immortal Realm. One of them was a handsome young man wearing very extravagant clothing. His friends clustered around him, and yet, within his eyes could be seen a licentious gleam. He seemed like nothing more than a carefree young man, but the truth was that he had a unique position within the Eighth Sect. That was especially evident considering that he was being shadowed by a middle-aged cultivator who was obviously his Dao Protector. The man made it seem as if his cultivation base were in the Immortal Realm, but he was actually a powerful Dao Realm expert.
Almost as soon as the two groups met, the young man took note of Yan’er, and his eyes shone with both excitement and nefariousness.
“What a wonderful looking cultivation vessel....” he said, grinning. His Dao Protector also smiled. He was well aware of the proclivities of this young Prince of his clan. Furthermore, the young man had a very high and important standing within the Eighth Sect, and even within the Vast Expanse School as a whole, there were few people who could compare. However, the Dao Protector was also careful; whenever the Prince took a liking to a girl, he would always check her background. If he discovered any girl who had connections in the sect, he would advise the young man to abandon any pursuit. However, when it came to ordinary disciples, there were plenty of ways to make sure that no problems resulted. [1. The term “cultivation vessel” came up before with the original Ninth Paragon. It’s a term from real Daoist sexual cultivation practices, which you can read about here. Check out section 2.5 for more information on how women are referred to as “vessels” or “crucibles”]
The Dao Protector pulled out a jade slip, examined it for a moment, then relaxed.
“Her background is known, and she has no connections,” he said. “She joined the sect a few years ago as the apprentice of someone named Fang Mu. Fang Mu went from being mortal to Immortal in only ten years, and made somewhat of a stir at that time. However, even he doesn't have any connections. He’s a small-time figure, nothing more than an Inner Sect disciple from a subdivision of the Ninth Sect.
“Enjoy yourself, Prince!”
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