Chapter 1491: Xu Liuyun [1. This surname Xu is the same as Xu Qing’s surname. Liu means “to leave behind” and yun means “cloud”]
During the last snowfall of winter on the fourth continent, the curtain opened on the sixth life of Meng Hao’s clone.
He was born into the prosperous Xu Clan, which owned lots of land and property in the region, and controlled numerous profitable businesses. Most of their income came from agricultural interests.
They lived in one of the large cities in the empire of the mortal world, which was situated next to a trade canal. They were fabulously wealthy.
A child born into a clan like that was destined to live a life free from adversity, and to always have everything he needed and wanted.
Thankfully, in this life, Meng Hao’s clone was not a silkpants like he was in his fourth life. He grew up into an intelligent young man who was quite prominent even as a youth. Soon, he began to assist his father in managing the family companies.
As time passed, and he grew older, he came to be in charge of all of the family’s business interests. He ran things well, but at the same time, began to develop a certain ferocity. It was a fierceness manifested, not toward his fellow clan members, but toward his business opponents.
He excelled at hostile takeovers, and soon all of the other businesses in the entire city had been swallowed up by his clan. Of course, an accomplishment like that couldn’t be made without a bit of killing. Soon, the hands of the clone’s sixth life came to be stained with blood.
Such methods were contrary to how his father preferred to do things, and in fact, went against the entire clan. However, he didn’t take such matters very seriously. He did things how he wanted to, and by the age of thirty, the Xu Clan had come to be the richest in the area!
Eventually, he came to realize that he should support the scholars and intellectuals among his clan, so he founded a college. As time passed, his support of the scholar class allowed him to influence the imperial court.
Soon, his plotting extended his network to encompass even the warrior class in the empire.
He married, but felt no attachment to his wife. It had been done as a form of business alliance, with the hope of sending the clan’s influence soaring to an even higher level.
And that was exactly what it did. By the time he was forty, the clan businesses were the most successful in all the lands. Over time, he expanded into many types of trade, and yet in the end, their foundation was always agriculture.
Under his leadership, the clan moved to the Imperial City, where they became the official Imperial merchants.
As the Imperial merchants, it was impossible for anyone to compete with them in terms of profits. Of course, in addition to the material benefits, there were other advantages to their new status.
By the age of forty-five, Xu Liuyun had reached the absolute pinnacle of his life. Numerous clan members had become officials within the current dynasty, and many of the scholars he had supported were now members of the government.
His entire clan had soared to incredible heights. Most people would likely be content to just enjoy the fruits of such labor. At first, he felt a bit confused about what to do next, but then, he realized that a storm was brewing.
That storm came in the form of a famine that had just taken grip on the land.
That winter, Xu Liuyun stood in a courtyard in the clan estates, looking at the snow falling out of the sky. Behind him were a few dozen members of the clan, standing there silently. Some of them were members of the Imperial court, some controlled powerful businesses within the Imperial City, and others were direct bloodline descendants of the clan who had been sent out to control other interests in other parts of the empire. There were even some powerful warriors present.
These were the people who controlled the power in the clan, and although it couldn’t be said that their reach stretched throughout the entire empire, they weren’t very far off from that.
Any one of them could be considered extremely prominent. And yet, as they looked at the man standing in front of them, their hearts were filled with reverence and awe. He was a man who, in the space of a few dozen years, had created an incredible storm of events.
Although he wasn’t well-acclaimed in the Imperial court, and was even looked down upon by the emperor, the prime minister, and many others, the important members of the clan all knew... the terrifying power he wielded when it came to wealth and profit.
After a long moment passed, the sixth life of Meng Hao’s clone, the man known to all as Xu Liuyun, finally spoke.
“This is an opportunity,” he said. “Perhaps the Xu Clan can take the next step, and actually come to control the entire empire. Of course, there is also the possibility... that we will be wiped out.” After another long moment, his eyes glittered with ferocity.
“Execute the operation!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, all of the Xu Clan's power, both within and without the Imperial City, was focused on one task. And that was... barricading off all of their farmlands from the public, in the middle of the famine!
It was a concept that, from the very beginning, seemed soaked in blood. Barricading farmlands in the middle of a famine carried the implication of driving up the price of grain goods to exorbitant levels, to the point where many people would be forced to sell their own properties to pay for food.
It would likely lead to many deaths because of starvation. Families and clans would be destroyed. However, among the ranks of the noble clans, the Xu Clan would have an incredible opportunity.
In order to carry out the plan, the Xu Clan used all of the wealth it had accumulated over the past decades. They plotted, created alliances, and killed enemies. In the end, several months after the famine ended... they controlled so much land that their power within the empire was almost without rival.
They had their own private army, and vast swaths of land, bought and paid for with blood.
By paying out numerous gifts, they managed to appease the noble class. The complicated scheming required caused more than a few gray hairs to appear on Xu Liuyun’s head, and yet his mind never ceased to plan and plot.
The peace that followed lasted for fifteen years, during which time Xu Liuyun didn't make much of a stir. That made people less suspicious of him, and gave him a chance to quietly expand the interests of the clan.
One year, when he was sixty, he once again stood in a courtyard watching the snow fall. Behind him, hundreds of clan members stood quietly. Anyone who knew the identities and statuses of these people would be shocked; they were people who could shake the entire empire.
“This is an opportunity....” Xu Liuyun said, his voice hoarse. These were the same words he had spoken fifteen years ago. After a long moment, he nodded.
The nod of his head sparked a war of succession. Ten years passed by in a flash. The successor he had backed in the war became the emperor, and married a daughter of the Xu Clan. The young emperor even viewed Xu Liuyun as his foster father.
Virtually the entire Imperial court was loyal to him, even the prime minister. His word carried more weight with the army than an Imperial edict.
By this point, he had just as much power as he had had in his second life. Although it wasn’t as obvious as it had been during that life, since he now operated in secret, his cold, calculating eyes could look down on the entire empire.
During this life, he had been heartless and unethical. He had no children, and yet, at the age of seventy, there was not a single person who dared speak to him without subconsciously bowing their heads.
Five more years passed, and his body began to decline. Eventually, he lapsed into a coma. Chaos was fermenting in the clan, and there were certain members who were itching to fight for control.
A year later, during the winter, he awoke from the coma. An old servant supported him with his arm as he stood in a courtyard, watching the snow fall. This was the third time in his life that he had been faced with an important decision.
“After I die, the clan will be thrown into unrest. After it passes... there may not be a Xu Clan in the empire any more.” He knew that the reason for all of that was because he had no male heir.
“The only option is... to take control of the empire. Use the power of the empire to quell the clan turmoil. That way, any chaos will exist, not just in the Xu Clan, but in the empire as a whole. The result will still be favorable for in the end, though. As for the Xu Clan, it won’t matter who gains control, at least the clan will continue on.”
Xu Liuyun, the sixth life of Meng Hao’s clone, stood there silently. This time, he spent much more time deliberating than he had on the previous two occasions. A long, long time passed. Finally, he sighed, thinking about all of the blood that had been spilt to carry out his first plan, and acquire all of that land.
In the end, he chose not to attempt to overthrow the empire. Looking older than he ever had, he gazed at the falling snow, the final snowfall of winter, and closed his eyes. Gradually, his aura faded away.
The day after he died, the Xu Clan was thrown into chaos, and that chaos caused the entire empire to be shaken. Soon, the emperor intervened. Over the course of the following months, virtually the entire clan was slaughtered.
Eventually the emperor, who was now a middle-aged man, received a message that the final remaining members of the Xu Clan had returned to the city they had come from, by the canal. They were back in their original ancestral mansion. The glory they had built up over the past hundred years was like a flower in a mirror, or the moon reflected on the waters of a lake.
This was Meng Hao's sixth life.... His arrival rocketed the Xu Clan up to the pinnacle of grandeur, and upon his departure, he took that grandeur with him. It was as if time had flowed in reverse, returning the Xu Clan to its original state.
When his sixth life ended, the sixth sealing mark was complete. Meng Hao’s clone entered reincarnation and began his seventh life.
During those hundred years, Yan’er traveled among the continents, visiting the mortal worlds, searching for the aura of her Master.
She was completely and utterly convinced that she would be able to find his reincarnation.
If she couldn’t find him in one life, she would look for him the life after that, and the one after that... until she found him.
Meng Hao’s true self was still sitting cross-legged on the flower out in the starry sky of the Vast Expanse, meditating as he waited for the flower to bloom.
The flower bud appeared to be just on the verge of opening up.
As for the Sect Leader and the other top experts of the Vast Expanse School, they were once again back in the necropolis, intent on opening the way to the ninth land mass. Although they weren't completely confident, they had to try. If they failed, they would try again, and again after that. They were focused and filled with anticipation as they began their journey.
At the same time, the Ninth Sect continued to expand, growing larger and larger. By this point, their forces were vast, and included numerous powerful experts. They subdued one Realm and world after another.
That was when Meng Hao’s seventh life began on the third continent.
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