Chapter 1203: Old Friends
After leaving the Paleo-Immortal Mausoleum, Meng Hao flew through the starry sky, thinking about the old days in the Reliance Sect. After a while, he turned and headed toward another asteroid and another teleportation portal.
This time, his destination was the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto!
He was not going there to collect money either, but to see an old friend. His Elder Brother Chen Fan had joined the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto years ago!
Meng Hao was not unfamiliar with the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto. Although he had never been there, since he was the joint disciple of the Three Great Daoist Societies, then technically speaking, the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto was also his sect.
As soon as he arrived, the sound of tolling bells rang out through the sect. The Dao Realm Patriarchs came out to see him, and Meng Hao was taken to offer respects to the Sect Leader and the Patriarchs and explain the purpose of his visit.
When he finally saw Chen Fan, he looked different than before. Last time, he had seemed middle-aged, but now he looked old, with grayish-white hair and a placid expression. His cultivation base was in the Immortal Realm.
Although he wasn’t very well known among the disciples of the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto, the Elder Generation felt that he had unlimited potential!
Chen Fan sat in meditation. Wherever he went, he took a huge boulder with him, within which could be seen the faint image of a woman.
One of the Dao Realm Patriarchs of the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto stood next to Meng Hao, explaining. “He converges his love and transforms the love into a sword, a sword that can pierce the Heavens!
“The sword of your Elder Brother here is not merciless, and does not sever love. His memories of the past have filled his heart to the point where they have become his sword. His love… allows him to cultivate the Dao of the Heart-Sword!
“His latent talent is well suited to such a Dao. If he can step into the Ancient Realm within the next hundred years, then he will definitely be another Chosen of the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto!” The praise in his eyes as he looked at Chen Fan was impossible to conceal.
Chen Fan’s eyes slowly opened as he looked first at the sword laid across his knees, then up at Meng Hao. A smile appeared on his face.
It was the same smile Meng Hao remembered from the Reliance Sect, and the Solitary Sword Sect. It was a warm, caring smile, although now it seemed much more ancient.
“Little Junior Brother,” he said. As soon as those three words left his mouth, Meng Hao’s heart surged with emotion, as he remembered all the things that had happened in the past.
“Elder Brother…” Meng Hao said softly. As he walked over toward Chen Fan, the Dao Realm Patriarch smiled slightly, then turned and left, leaving Meng Hao in Chen Fan’s care.
Meng Hao first clasped hands and bowed in greeting to the boulder. He knew that the woman in that boulder was his Eldest Brother’s true love, and that she had eventually come to be Chen Fan’s entire life.
In my life, I will only love one person. I fell in love with you when you were alive. And after you died, that feeling became a memory…. If you live, I will spend my whole life with you. If you die, then I will accompany the memory of you for my whole life.
That was Chen Fan.
His naivety and obsession was why the Solitary Sword Sect chose to take him from the Reliance Sect in the first place. Back then, he didn’t hesitate at all to make his decision. If the sect was going to be destroyed, then he would choose… to die along with it.
He was naïve and obsessed. That… was Chen Fan!
Chen Fan’s expression was the same as ever as he watched Meng Hao offer formal greetings to the boulder. Since Meng Hao was his little Junior Brother, then Meng Hao was also Junior Brother to his wife as well.
Years ago, he had constantly worried about this Junior Brother of his. But then, he had watched him flourish, one step at a time, and that made him very happy. He had always hoped that Meng Hao would continue to improve, and that one day, he would reach the true pinnacle.
“On the path of cultivation,” Chen Fan said softly, “it doesn’t matter if you talk about your own heart, or the Dao. The most important thing is to be steadfast.”
Meng Hao nodded, then sat down cross-legged in front of Chen Fan. It felt just like it had back in the year they had met. Now, Meng Hao possessed a cultivation base that stood on equal footing with the Dao Realm. However, in the presence of his Elder Brother, he was still… the same little Junior Brother he had always been.
That was how it would be for their entire lives.
He told Chen Fan about his plan to leave the Ninth Mountain and Sea, to find Xu Qing and bring her back.
“I am aware of the purpose of your visit,” Chen Fan said quietly. “We are cultivators, and our lifespans are long. Heaven and Earth are large, and it’s a good thing to visit new places, and travel new paths…. There is no need to worry about us here in the Ninth Mountain and Sea. We all have our own different paths.
“You have to trust Li Fugui and myself, just as we trust you. All of our dreams… will come true eventually!” He looked over at the rock, and the faint image of the woman inside.
“Elder Brother…. If it ever becomes possible for me to do so, I will definitely… help you resurrect sister-in-law Shan Ling!” Meng Hao said softly. It was his first time he had ever said such a thing. Although he had been able to keep his promise to Han Shan, considering the level of his cultivation base, there was no way for him to resurrect someone who had been dead for so long.
“You’re thinking too hard on it,” Chen Fan said, chuckling. His eyes shone with a soft light. “To me, she’s always here.”
Meng Hao stared at Chen Fan in shock.
“When your Dao is the heart, then if you have something in your heart, it exists. If you don’t have it in your heart, it doesn’t exist.” Chen Fan waved his right hand, and something like a Domain appeared. It wasn’t very large, only about nine meters wide.
However, now that that nine-meter Domain existed, Meng Hao could see that the woman in the boulder was opening her eyes. Her life force seemed to be restored, and suddenly… she walked out from within the boulder and sat down next to Chen Fan. She looked at Meng Hao, smiling as she leaned up against Chen Fan’s shoulder.
“This….” Meng Hao said, taking a deep breath. This Daoist magic first gave him the sensation that he was looking at an illusion. However, as he examined the woman closely, she actually didn’t seem like an illusion at all.
Chen Fan looked deeply into Meng Hao’s eyes and said, “She might seem artificial to you, but to me, she is very real…. Sometimes the difference between what is artificial and what is real depends on different perspectives and different hearts.”
Meng Hao’s heart trembled as if he had just gained some sort of enlightenment. He closed his eyes and began to meditate. Three days later, he opened his eyes again. Rising to his feet, he clasped hands and bowed to Chen Fan.
“Many thanks for your advice, Eldest Brother,” he said. Although his cultivation base far exceeded that of Chen Fan’s, Chen Fan’s circumstances made him serendipitously proficient with the Dao of the real and the artificial. That was the reason that he cultivated the Heart-Sword, and was one of the reasons why the Sublime Flow Sword Grotto viewed him with such importance.
“Go. Bring Junior Sister Xu Qing back. I haven’t seen her in a long time, and I miss her.” Chen Fan’s eyes glowed with encouragement. Meng Hao took a deep breath, nodded, and took his leave.
His next destination was the Moonset Lake, one of the Five Great Holy Lands. In many ways, the place was not as beautiful as the name would have it sound. Meng Hao had never had much dealings with the sect, but he was aware that the techniques of the Moonset Lake were similar to the Dao of the Devils!
When the moon hangs high in the sky, it might be nighttime, but there is still light. However, after the moon sets, when the sun has not yet risen, there is no darker time of night.
That was the meaning of the name Moonset Lake!
Wang Youcai fit in well. He was fundamentally a ruthless person; he treated others ruthlessly, and… he treated himself even more so. In order to further his cultivation and create his own technique, to see further than he had ever been able to see… he had dug out his own eyes.
The ruthlessness of that act had caught the attention of the Elders of Moonset Lake, and was what prompted them to take him in and help him grow and develop.
Although most people assumed he lived in a world of complete darkness, there was something that nobody knew. Wang Youcai could actually see things very vividly.
The divine ability he created remained eternally fixed inside his mind. From then on, he could actually see everything, even though he had no eyes.
After arriving at Moonset Lake, his ferocity and ruthlessness were even more evident. After going through some fierce battles, both with members of his sect and with others, he had earned the nickname Devil-Eyed Killer.
The word ‘Devil’ was a term of respect. The word ‘eye’ was a reference to the two empty eye sockets on his face. And the word ‘killer’… represented how he slaughtered his enemies!
When Meng Hao came and said that he wished to visit Wang Youcai, the disciple assigned to receive visitors looked at him with a flickering expression. Apparently, in Moonset Lake, Wang Youcai’s name was even more awe-inspiring than Meng Hao’s.
And that was despite the fact that Wang Youcai was still only an Immortal!
When he was taken to Wang Youcai, he found him sitting cross-legged next to a black pond. Vicious-looking faces floated in and out of the water, swirling around Wang Youcai as they consumed parts of his flesh.
“Long time no see, Meng Hao,” he said in a grating voice. He lifted his head up, staring at Meng Hao with his two vacant eye sockets.
Meng Hao looked at him and sighed.
After a moment of silence, Wang Youcai slowly said, “There’s no reason to sigh. Everything comes with a price.”
The faces around him continued to tear at his flesh, and yet he didn’t even frown. Apparently, he was used to this.
“These are all the people I’ve killed, whose souls I extracted. I allow them to chew on me day and night. It is only in this way that I can feel their hatred, and thus, see the colorful world around me.”
Meng Hao looked at Wang Youcai and sighed inwardly. The four young men who had been taken from Mount Daqing all those years ago included himself, Fatty, Wang Youcai, and Dong Hu…. Fatty had the most carefree life, and Wang Youcai was the most vicious. As for Dong Hu, although had been missing for many years, Meng Hao had the feeling that… he was somewhere out there, shaking things up violently.
Meng Hao meditated with Wang Youcai for an entire night. The following day, he stood and turned to go, when Wang Youcai suddenly said, “Meng Hao… we’re friends, right…?”
Meng Hao looked back at him and replied, “We were friends in the past, we’re friends now, and we’ll be friends in the future.”
Wang Youcai laughed. It was grating, but not ear-piercing. This was the same bumbling young man from back on Mount Daqing, who thought that because he was the oldest, he had to take care of his friends.
“Meng Hao, you must become as strong as you can, and quickly…. The moon has set, and the sun has not risen…. The dark of night has come… and it’s impossible to say how long it will last.
“I have seen, and I can feel, that soon… great chaos… will strike!”
Meng Hao shivered. Although he knew exactly what was being referred to, he had never imagined that Wang Youcai would too. He gazed at him deeply for a long moment, then left.
Slowly, he faded away into the distance, leaving Moonset Lake behind.