Meng Hao stood there silently.
When he saw Chu Yuyan’s soul, he had decided to pay the debt he owed her by means of a Master and apprentice relationship. But now he wasn't sure if that was the right decision.
He couldn’t pretend to hold any feelings in his heart other than his thirst for revenge for the Mountain and Sea Realm. He desired the Mountain and Sea Butterfly, and desired to unearth the secrets which were buried within the starry sky of the Vast Expanse.
The only thing he wanted for Chu Yuyan was to protect her, and to give her... the best of everything.
He had no desire to see her hurt, and only wanted her to be happy.
Therefore, he stood there silently, which in turn caused Yan’er to start to get nervous. She gnawed on her lip, wondering if she had said or done something wrong. Unsure of what to do, she also just stood there, looking at Meng Hao, the seemingly young old man....
Meng Hao was a bit in a daze. Time passed. Soon it was dawn. A few days ago, some disciples had challenged the Vast Expanse Shrine, and although no one made it into the top 10, the Ninth Sect Chosen who occupied the 13th and 17th places were supplanted. That in turn caused conflicts to break out between the Ninth Sect disciples and the disciples from the other sects. As a result, an even larger group of disciples from the Ninth Sect came to Meng Hao’s mountain, to ask him to do something.
“Eldest Brother, please come down from your mountain!!”
“Eldest Brother, come down from the mountain....”
“Eldest Brother... please come down!!” More and more such calls filled the air. There were tens of thousands of disciples gathered around Meng Hao's mountain, all hoping to catch a glimpse of him, that dazzling figure from ten years ago. They had come here in good faith, filled with ardor and hope.
In recent days, increasing numbers of slanderous and salacious rumors about Fang Mu had been spread, until everyone in the Vast Expanse School was talking about them. Despite that, the disciples of the Ninth Sect did not waver in their devotion to him. They felt insulted and enraged, and they only hoped that their Eldest Brother... would make a vicious counter-attack.
As their voices grew louder, Yan’er bowed her head, looking more upset than before. But then Meng Hao's absentmindedness faded away, and he looked softly at her. He reached out and, just as he had when she was a child, he bopped her head.
“Alright,” he said, smiling.
Her eyes widened as she looked up at him. Then she saw his smile, and it was like looking at the bright, blue sky. Her eyes began to shine, and she began to jump up and down in excitement.
“Master, Master!” she exclaimed excitedly. “I know exactly what you should do. Why don’t you go back to the Vast Expanse Shrine and summon the Tenth Heaven again?” She was hoping that such an act would be a powerful blow against the cultivators from the other sects.
“What would be the point in that?” Meng Hao asked, shaking his head. Then he swished his sleeve and began to walk down the mountain.
Yan’er followed on his heels. “What do you mean? What are you going to do, Master?”
In the years that had passed, Yan’er had grown much more mature. In public, she was a responsible adult who could take charge. But in front of Meng Hao, she was like a little girl.
Meng Hao didn’t answer her question. After stepping off the mountain, the crowd of tens of thousands of disciples outside saw him, and instantly exploded in excitement. At once, a huge cheer echoed out.
As for the cultivators from the other sects, they had originally assumed that this day would be like all the others, in which Fang Mu remained hidden away. But then they saw who had just emerged, and their hearts trembled.
Meng Hao’s fame was such that, despite the passage of ten years, he was just as impressive as before. The disciples from the other sects felt their minds spinning, and they began to pant. Without any hesitation, they produced jade slips which they used to inform the other top Chosen from their various sects of what was happening.
Within moments, the news of Meng Hao coming down from the mountain spread like a blast of wind through the Ninth Sect. Countless disciples from the Ninth Sect, after ten years of stifling pressure, were thrown into excitement. After ten long years, many of them had begun to grumble inwardly at Meng Hao, but now that vanished, and they all dropped what they were doing and flew out to see him.
“Eldest Brother came down off the mountain?”
“Eldest Brother left the mountain!!”
“Hahaha! The day has finally arrived! Eldest Brother came down from the mountain, and now he's going to crush everyone!”
More and more people began rushing toward the area from all directions. The crowd quickly grew from tens of thousands to a hundred thousand. Then a million. Then several million....
Beams of light shot toward Meng Hao's mountain in seemingly endless fashion.
The Chosen from the other sects that weren’t in the area were also notified via jade slip, and began to pant, their eyes shining brightly. For ten years they had been provoking the Ninth Sect. For ten years they had been trying... to force Meng Hao to do something. That was the only chance they had to potentially destroy the legend that he had created.
“Fang Mu! He's finally come off the mountain!” In the location in the Ninth Sect which had been occupied by the First Sect, a gray-haired young man could be seen. He took a deep breath, and his eyes began to shine brightly. More and more people emerged, clustering around him as he flew up into the sky.
In the location where the Second Sect had set up camp, a woman could be seen. She rose to her feet, looking like she wanted to fight. Blood boiling, she shot up into the air. “After ten years of waiting, you’d better not disappoint me, Fang Mu!”
Chosen from all of the outside sects were in an uproar. All of them wanted to go out and challenge Meng Hao to a fight immediately.
“Ten years ago you created a legend. Now that ten years have passed, I'm going to destroy that legend!”
“I worked myself to the bone for ten years, and now I'm completely prepared. I’m definitely going to surpass Fang Mu!”
“Everyone says that Fang Mu is injured. This time is definitely my opportunity to shine!”
The entire Ninth Sect was boiling. Countless cultivators were gathering around Meng Hao’s mountain as he stood there, looking out at the crowds with a light smile. Finally, he clasped hands and bowed deeply to everyone.
Before he could say anything, everyone shouted out, “Eldest Brother!”
The sound of their voices was like a shockwave that caused the Heavens to shake.
Yan’er stood next to Meng Hao, glowing with excitement.
Meng Hao looked around at the crowds, and the Chosen from the other sects, who stood a bit further away. Smiling, he said, “Yan’er, you just asked me what I’m going to do...? I'm going to take you sightseeing!”
When Yan’er heard that, she looked surprised. But before she could respond, Meng Hao waved his sleeve and flew up into the air. Instantly, his voice rang out for all to hear.
“Fellow Daoists,” he said, eyes glittering, “please come with me to the Eighth Sect. The Seventh Sect. The Sixth Sect.... In fact, we will go all the way to the First Sect. I'm curious to see what their Vast Expanse Shrines look like.” This was his gift to Yan’er, and also a breakthrough he had to make after taking his Soul Lamps to the pinnacle.
In response to his words, the disciples of the Ninth Sect went quiet, but then, they let out a Heaven-shaking, Earth-shattering roar.
Everyone was screaming and hollering in excitement. Even the Ninth Sect’s 7-Essences Paragon chuckled as he looked on from his position on his mountain.
“Well, if that’s your plan, then allow me to help out a bit,” he murmured. “These kids have been bottled up for far too long as it is.” Shaking his head, the Paragon smiled and waved his hand. Instantly, massive rumbling could be heard as a gigantic spell formation appeared.
Teleportation power began to emanate out, and Meng Hao flashed into motion, shooting toward the portal. Yan’er followed close behind, bolstered by the power of Meng Hao’s cultivation base.
At the same time, the excited disciples of the Ninth Sect took to flight toward the portal. The disciples from the other sects stared in shock for a moment, their faces a bit ashen after the words Meng Hao had just uttered. However, they also took to flight toward the spell formation.
Rumbling echoed out as the teleportation power activated. Everything shook, and the group vanished. When they reappeared, they were on the eighth continent, above the Eighth Sect.
The sudden arrival of so many people shook the whole Eighth Sect. Eighth Sect disciples looked up in surprise as Meng Hao addressed the Eighth Sect.
“I am Fang Mu of the Ninth Sect. I've come today to challenge the Eighth Sect’s Vast Expanse Shrine!”
Even as his voice continued to echo back and forth, and before any of the disciples of the Eighth Sect had a chance to react, Meng Hao and Yan’er flew toward the Vast Expanse Shrine. The Eighth Sect had no means or method to stop them. After all, Chosen from all the other sects had challenged the Ninth Sect’s Vast Expanse Shrine on countless occasions over the last ten years.
Yan’er followed Meng Hao excitedly through the crowds of countless Eighth Sect disciples as he headed directly toward their Vast Expanse Shrine. Soon, they were standing at the foot of the mountain.
Meng Hao looked over at Yan’er and said, “Yan’er, would you like to come with me?"
Yan’er’s jaw dropped, and her heart began to pound so hard she felt like she was hyperventilating. She simply stood there, in a daze. She had merely said she wanted to see her Master standing on top of a mountain. She had never even guessed that he would bring her here. But then she remembered how he had just said he would take her sightseeing.
“I... I...” she stammered.
“Don’t want to go?” he asked.
“I do!!” she cried, worried that he might not take her after all.
He laughed heartily, then turned and began to walk toward the Vast Expanse Shrine. Yan’er followed. With his protection, even a place as dangerous as a dragon’s pool or a tiger’s den would be safe for her!
As Meng Hao led Yan’er up to the Eighth Sect’s Vast Expanse Shrine, over a hundred million disciples from the Ninth Sect began to cheer. As for the disciples of the Eighth Sect, they didn't look very happy. Soon, the sound of a tolling bell could be heard. It rang once. Twice. Three times. Four times... it didn't stop!
As the bell tolled, Meng Hao took Yan’er up the mountain. 10,000 steps. 30,000 steps. 70,000 steps. 90,000 steps.... All the way to 100,000 steps!
The Vast Expanse Shrine rumbled as the First Heaven was summoned. Then the Second Heaven. And the Third Heaven.... It was like the same scene that had played out ten years ago, something so incredible it was difficult to put into words. Everyone was thoroughly shocked as, in the time it takes a single incense stick to burn... all ten Heavens were summoned!
Bells tolled in all the sects. The world was shaken. Meng Hao stood with Yan’er atop the Tenth Heaven, and the mountain breeze stirred their hair as they looked out at the clouds. As for the Baptism of the tolling bells, the benefit to Yan’er was beyond description.
However, she didn’t care about any such good fortune. Her face was flushed as she stood next to her Master, looking out at Heaven and Earth. The feeling left her intoxicated.
“Yan’er,” he said softly, “look at the clouds, the mountains, the sky, and the land. Remember this image. However grand your vision is, that is how grand your future can be. It is also how grand... your heart can be.
“We cultivators cultivate, not the body, but the heart!”
Chapter 1479: Stepping On All the Sects’ Shrines!
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