Chapter 1482: Looking Back at This Life!
That year, Yan’er faced her Ancient Tribulation.
That day was one of utmost importance to Meng Hao as well. He personally set up the relevant spell formations, and arranged for the energy of Heaven and Earth in the Ninth Sect to act as Dharma Protector. Several days later, when the Ancient Tribulation finally concluded, he breathed a sigh of relief.
He watched Yan’er pass her Ancient Tribulation, watched her ignite her Soul Lamps, and then watched her close her eyes in meditation to begin breathing exercises. The whole time, his gaze was soft and kind. To mortals, she wouldn’t be considered young, but to cultivators in the Ancient Realm, she was like a girl. The passage of time left no scars upon her. She only continued to grow more beautiful, and at the same time, mature. To other members of the sect, she was truly a Chosen, someone who knew how to conduct herself properly and with decorum, someone everyone enjoyed being around.
It was only around Meng Hao that she would pout and act like a coquettish little girl.
Meng Hao could tell that Chu Yuyan’s aura was growing stronger and stronger on her. Sometimes, he couldn’t even tell the difference between the two.
That was especially true as he watched her doing breathing exercises after passing her Ancient Tribulation. Many memories flitted through his mind.
In her last life, Chu Yuyan had never passed through the Immortal Realm. But in this life, with Meng Hao’s help, she was reaching the highest pinnacles.
Furthermore, regardless of whether her name was Chu Yuyan or Yan’er, she had earned a place in his heart for all eternity.
“It’s about time for me to let go, too....” he murmured.
A few days later, Yan’er opened her eyes and glanced over at Meng Hao. From the look in his eyes, she seemed to understand what was about to happen. She loathed the idea of parting with him, but it had been years since she came to understand the choice he would eventually make. Today, there was something deep within his eyes that explained everything.
“Master....” she said, her voice quavering.
“You’re in the Ancient Realm now,” he said softly. “You understand how to go about extinguishing your Soul Lamps, right?
“If there are any areas you don’t understand, now is the time to ask me.
“Before the Ancient Realm, cultivators can receive assistance from others. In fact, such assistance can make things much easier. However, starting with the Ancient Realm, you’ll have to rely completely upon yourself.
“Never forget what I told you before. We cultivators cultivate, not the body, but the heart.”
Tears welled up in Yan’er’s eyes, and then began to stream down her cheeks. She was trembling. “Master....”
“I’ve prepared nine jade slips for you. Each one of them contains some of the power of my divine sense.... If you encounter a dangerous situation, you can be protected.” By this point, Meng Hao’s clone was extremely close to the Dao Realm, and he could even draw upon some of the power of his true self.
As such, the nine jade slips held some of his true self's divine sense power, and would be able to keep Yan’er safe wherever she went on Planet Vast Expanse.
“I’ve also prepared seven volumes of Dao treatises, which contain all of the magical techniques and divine abilities I’ve learned in my life.
“There are also 100,000 medicinal pills which I concocted especially for you. That should ensure your path of cultivation is a smooth one.
“As for magical items, I never did build up a huge collection, but what I did gain, I’m leaving to you.
“There are also Immortal jades and spirit stones. In the past, I used to be extremely attracted to them, but now that I think back, it just makes me sigh. I'm leaving everything to you.”
“Master, I don’t want any of that, I just want....” She trailed off, tears flowing down her face. She was afraid, terrified even. Although it had been ten years since she realized what her Master planned to do, she still wasn’t ready for it to actually happen.
“Because of the fame I have built up,” Meng Hao continued, “no one will dare to bully you while you’re in the Ninth Sect. Everyone here will take care of you. I’ve also paid a visit to the Paragon to ask him to watch out for you.
“I might not be here, but I’ve made various other preparations to keep you safe, for example the mastiff, who will continue to accompany you.”
Anxiety erupted within Yan’er. “No, I don’t want that. I don’t care, Master, I--”
“Yan’er!” he growled.
A tremor ran through her. In her entire life, she couldn't remember a single time when her Master had been strict with her. This was the first time. Even more tears flowed down her face.
“You’ve grown up,” he said softly. Then he reached out and bopped her head.
She subconsciously bowed her head, weeping.
He shook his head. “Come on,” he said. “I want to take you somewhere.” As he turned to leave, she rose to her feet, wiped the tears off her cheeks, and followed. For the first time in thirteen years, Master and apprentice left the Ninth Sect.
They traveled to the border region of the ninth continent, where they found a river, next to which was a village. They arrived around evening, when smoke was rising lazily from the chimneys of the houses. Meng Hao caught sight of the house where he had lived as a child in this life. It had long since changed ownership; the scholar who had found him in the river had passed away many years ago.
However, the old man who had cared for him was still alive. He had ended up marrying the village widow, and both of them were now completely ancient, with numerous children and grandchildren.
When Meng Hao saw the old man, he thought back to many warm memories from this life, and a slight smile touched his face.
Yan’er stood quietly at his side. She said nothing, but she could sense the tender feelings in her Master’s heart.
They left around dawn. Meng Hao didn’t actually meet with the old man in person. However, he left behind numerous age-prolonging, longevity-enhancing medicinal pills, as well as jade slips which would protect the man and his bloodline for generations to come.
It wasn’t long after Meng Hao left that the old man yawned and walked out of his room. When he looked down, he saw all the items that Meng Hao had left, and his jaw dropped. After some contemplation, he shivered and looked up into the Heavens. Finally, he smiled.
“Haowie, you came back...?” He chuckled as he recalled the young boy from so many years ago.
A few days later, Meng Hao stood at the very top of the Vast Expanse Shrine, where he clasped hands to the Heavens.
“I am Fang Mu, from the Ninth Sect of the Vast Expanse School. I desire to walk the Transcendence Path. Paragon, please open the portal!”
As his voice echoed out, the Paragon first gaped in confusion, then began to reel in shock. A buzz filled the Ninth Sect as countless disciples flew toward the mountain peak upon which rose the Vast Expanse Shrine. There, they saw Meng Hao standing at the peak, and Yan’er standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up at him.
“He’s... going to walk the Transcendence Path....”
“Indeed. The Transcendence Path is exactly the type of place for a Chosen like him!” The other Chosen in the Ninth Sect sighed, mixed emotions playing out on their faces.
People had long since speculated that he might do something just like this. The truth was that Ancient Realm cultivators weren’t prohibited from walking the Transcendence Path. However, it was usually done only by unique Chosen with special qualifications.
As for Meng Hao, if he didn't qualify to be Chosen, then no one in the Vast Expanse School did.
Naturally, he was qualified to walk the Transcendence Path.
Yan’er stood there silently, looking up at her Master atop the mountain. Her eyes gleamed with determination, and she took a deep breath, telling herself that she had to be strong. Yet, she couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down her cheeks.
Meng Hao’s voice was still echoing out when the voice of the 7-Essences Paragon responded from within the Ninth Sect.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely!” Meng Hao replied, his voice filled with a decisiveness that could sever nails and chop iron.
Moments later, an intense rumbling sound filled Heaven and Earth, as if someone were working a type of grand magic. It sounded like the sky itself were being ripped open. Everything shook as an enormous rift appeared up above.
The rift shone with a seven-colored glow, dazzling and radiant. The light then transformed into a staircase, which descended from above and came to a stop directly in front of Meng Hao. He looked up at the staircase, and could see that within the rift in the sky was another world.
It was at this point that an ancient voice echoed out: “The sect rules of the Vast Expanse School state that any disciple who enters the Transcendence Path must leave behind a Soul Lamp. If the lamp shines, the cultivator lives. If the lamp is extinguished... the cultivator has died.”
The countless disciples in the area looked on silently.
Meng Hao waved his sleeve, causing a stream of soul fire to fly out from his forehead. The soul fire swirled through the air, transforming into the shape of a Soul Lamp.
This particular Soul Lamp was different from his collection of Ancient Realm Soul Lamps. It was formed from his own soul fire, and would indicate to the outside world whether or not he was still alive. Based on the state of that flame, people outside would know the state he was in as he walked the Transcendence Path.
What people did to the flame on the outside, however, wouldn’t affect Meng Hao. He waved his hand, sending the soul fire lamp over to Yan’er.
“Place that in my secluded meditation facilities,” he said, smiling. With that, he took a deep breath, stepping forward onto the staircase and speeding upward toward the rift.
As he rose higher into the sky, the Ninth Sect’s 7-Essences Paragon spoke into his ear. “Fang Mu, there are many things in life which can’t be forced. If you reach a point where you can’t go onward, you must turn back....”
Just when Meng Hao was about to step into the rift and enter that most ancient Transcendence Path, Yan’er suddenly called out in a loud voice.
“Master, do you... do you remember back when you told me the story of Chu Yuyan? You promised that if I wanted to hear the rest of the story, that you would tell it to me.”
Meng Hao stopped and looked back down at the mountains below, and at Yan’er, standing there in the crowd. “I remember,” he said, smiling softly. “Do you want to hear it now?”
She trembled, tears pouring down her face. “No, not now,” she replied. “Master, can you tell me the rest of the story when you get back...?”
The idea of parting with her Master hurt so much that it felt like her heart was being crushed.
“Of course,” he replied, nodding. With that he turned, took a deep breath... and stepped into the rift, onto... the Transcendence Path.
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