Chapter 57: Was it Worth it?
Meng Hao felt quite conflicted. He stood on the treasured fan he had just acquired, using as much spiritual power as he could muster to flee at top speed. He feared that if he was even the least bit slow, he would be attacked and robbed.
“First I offended Eccentric Song,” sighed Meng Hao, “and then the Violet Fate Sect… But it’s not my fault, they forced me to trade.” In his mind, he was innocent. At the time, he had no choice but to trade the spear…. Sighing repeatedly, he pushed himself to go faster, getting closer and closer to the State Shield Mountain range.
“I need to find a place to hide for a while. If someone catches up with me, I’ll be in great danger…” Meng Hao frowned. The power of the treasured fan faded, and he dropped to the ground, tucking the fan away and starting to run.
“When will I be able to reach Foundation Establishment? Then I’ll be able to really fly!”
Two days passed, during which time Meng Hao didn’t rest at all. He just kept running, thinking about how he hadn’t rested at all since Shangguan Xiu began to chase him on Mount Daqing. But he had no choice. The thought of what would happen if he didn’t was too ghastly to contemplate.
Meanwhile, deep in the State Shield Mountain chain, atop the plateau next to the treasure mountain, Wu Dingqiu held up a Go piece, smiling broadly. After thinking for no less than one hour, he slowly put the piece onto the board.
Eccentric Song’s face was like iron. With a cold snort, he slammed a piece down onto the board.
“Eccentric Song, your Cultivation base is so refined. You shouldn’t allow yourself to be in such a mood.” Wu Dingqiu stroked his beard and laughed. He looked as calm as a cool wind. “Cultivators of our generation should be able to settle our Qi and calm our minds. Even with mountains crumbling around us, our expressions shouldn’t change. But look at you! Are you really so ill-at-ease because of some nobody from the junior generation?”
“If our positions were switched, you would be the same,” said Eccentric Song sourly.
“Absolutely not! If I, Wu, were in this position, I would only offer praise, and would certainly not feel anger. In the Violet Fate Sect, we cultivate our disposition, and would not allow something like this to arouse our anger. No offense, Eccentric Song, but as far as this type of cultivation goes, you really have something to learn from the Violet Fate Sect.” Wu Dingqiu laughed, obviously quite pleased with himself.
“How about this,” he continued. “After we finish this game of Go, you can come with me to the Violet Fate Sect. I will allow you to peruse our Moral Cultivation Manual, and then you will understand what it means to settle the Qi and calm the mind.” Wu Dingqiu’s smile was so wide that wrinkles appeared on his face.
Eccentric Song harrumphed, refusing to respond and simply looking off into the distance. Wu Dingqiu’s smile grew stronger, and he too looked off into the distance. Shortly, two figures could be seen racing toward them through the forest. It was Qian Shuihen and Lu Song. They gripped an iron spear between the two of them as they made a beeline for the plateau. They were followed by a small group of other Violet Fate Sect disciples.
Qian Shuihen and Lu Song stepped foot onto the plateau and both began to speak at the same time.
“Greetings, Elder Wu. Disciple has accomplished the task. I have acquired the treasured item through trade.”
“Greetings, Elder Wu, fortunately, I have not failed in my mission. I was able to trade for the spear.”
Eccentric Song’s face was grim as Wu Dingqiu’s laughter rang out.
“Excellent. Good job, you two.” He laughed. “I will take it upon myself to promote both of you to the Inner Sect. You didn’t cause any problems for that kid, did you?”
“I am pleased to report that we made a fair trade,” said Qian Shuihen hastily. Next to him, Lu Song nodded fervently, looking excited. “We didn’t cause any problems for him.”
“Eccentric Song, come, let’s take a look at this treasured, divine spear.” Wu Dingqiu laughed. He flicked his sleeve, and the iron spear flew toward him.
The instant it touched his hand, Wu Dingqiu’s expression changed. His eyes flashed as he examined the spear closer. Grim-faced Eccentric Song also took a close look, whereupon, his eyes began to shine. He stared open mouthed, then suddenly smiled.
Wu Dingqiu’s expression grew more and more unsightly. No matter from which aspect he looked at the spear, it was ordinary in nature. Refusing to believe that it was true, he pointed the spear at a random Demonic beast further down the mountain. The creature didn’t even notice.
The expression on his face was unsightly to the extreme. He slowly raised his head, looking coldly at Qian Shuihen and Lu Song.
When they saw the look in Wu Dingqiu’s eyes, their excitement faded, and they began to tremble. Blank expressions filled their eyes.
“What did you trade for this spear?” asked Wu Dingqiu, one word at a time.
Looking nervous, Qian Shuihen said, “Disciple gave two thousand Spirit Stones, seven Earthly Spirit Pills, one of the Sect’s Hellfighting Spikes, and… and a Plateau Charging Pill.”
Wu Dingqiu’s face grew dark.
Next, Lu Song spoke: “Disciple gave one thousand, five hundred Spirit Stones, three Heavenly Spirit Pills, a treasured fan, and a magical pill.”
Eccentric Song burst out laughing. It was the laughter of release, as if all of his pent up depression from the past few days had suddenly disappeared.
Wu Dingqiu was mad enough, but when he heard the price the two disciples had paid, along with Eccentric Song’s peals of laughter, his rage exploded. He suddenly let out a furious roar. “Good-for-nothing fools! This iron spear is a fake!”
It echoed out like thunder, shattering the Go board. Cracks appeared on the surface of the mountain beneath his feet. Qian Shuihen and Lu Song tumbled to the ground, blood spraying out of their mouths.Their heads spun as Wu Dingqiu’s single word echoed in their hearts.
“Fake…” They were stunned.
This word thundered out in all directions along with his roar, filling nearly half of the entire State Shield Mountain range and reaching even Eastern Refinement City.
It eventually reached the ears of Sun Hua, filling him with confusion. After a moment, his expression changed, and a look of shock filled his face.
“The spear was a fake?” He looked at his companions, and looks of realization appeared on their faces as well.
“It couldn’t be that the iron spear that was a fake, could it…?”
Inside the Hundred Treasures Pavilion, Qiao Ling was in the midst of introducing a magical item to a Cultivator when she heard the noise outside. Amazed, she thought back to Meng Hao’s iron spear, and a strange look appeared on her face.
Next to the pill furnace, the middle-aged man opened his eyes, and they flickered with a mocking expression. Without a word, he closed them again.
Far away from the plateau in the State Shield Mountains, Meng Hao lowered his head and ran even faster.
Eccentric Song’s splitting laughter undulated throughout the mountains. Wu Dingqiu’s face couldn’t look more horrible. He, an Elder of the Violet Fate Sect, had been hoodwinked by a Cultivator of the Qi Condensation stage. Even though it didn’t directly involve him, he would definitely lose face when word spread.
He wanted to track Meng Hao down immediately. He turned to look at Qian Shuihen and Lu Song, who stood there terrified. He was disgusted, but in his heart he sighed. These disciples had spent all their days within the Sect, and didn’t have any experience dealing with outsiders. They were flowers raised indoors, inexperienced and incapable of dealing with schemes.
With a cold harrumph, he tossed the iron spear to the ground and took a few steps forward, casting his senses about in search of Meng Hao. But then, Eccentric Song stepped forward to block his way, laughing complacently.
“Fellow Daoist Wu, please don’t lose your temper,” he said. “Your Violet Fate Sect stresses the need to settle the Qi and calm the mind, to cultivating one’s disposition. Don’t allow a small matter like this to arouse your ire. When it comes to this type of cultivation, you should really do a bit more research into your Sect’s Moral Cultivation Manual.” Eccentric Song laughed heartily. Earlier, he had been prevented from leaving no matter what he said, so of course now he would do the same thing to Wu Dingqiu.
“You…” Wu Dingqiu’s face grew dark, and he stared fixedly at Eccentric Song. But he didn’t say anything.
“You broke the Go board, so now we can’t finish,” said Eccentric Song with a smile. “How about this: You were going to take me to your Violet Fate Sect, right? Well, let’s go! We can chat and play Go for a few months.” The depression had faded completely from his heart. Seeing Wu Dingqiu like this made him incredibly happy. As far as the treasures Meng Hao had taken, he didn’t care anymore. What was most important to him was the look of outrage and insult on Wu Dingqiu’s face.
He pulled at Wu Dingqiu, clearly having no intention of allowing him to resist.
Wu Dingqiu’s heart was filled with gloom. He glared at Eccentric Song, then let out a long sigh. He knew that the man wouldn’t let him pursue Meng Hao. He stamped his foot angrily, then allowed Eccentric Song to pull him up into the air.
“You useless imbeciles won’t be able to keep up,” said Wu Dingqiu, looking down at trembling Qian Shuihen and Lu Song. “The Inner Sect promotion is a failure. Return to the Sect and immediately go into secluded meditation!” The other disciples watched on, pale-faced.
“Damn you, Meng Hao,” said Lu Song, lowering his head, his face twisted with rage. “I will never forget this, you shameless bastard!” He ground his teeth when he recalled Meng Hao’s bashful expression, and it looked as if his eyes might erupt with flames. He had never met anyone so impudent in his entire life. The spear was obviously a fake. His face filled with pain when he thought of how much he had paid for it. When he thought about the lost chance to enter the Inner Sect, he was so angry that he almost spat up blood.
“Shameless! Despicable!” said Qian Shuihen, thinking about his precious items. He picked up the iron spear. “Meng Hao, you are a complete scoundrel!” As he thought about the failure of the Inner Sect promotion, he really seemed about to go crazy. And then he thought about all the medicinal pills and magical items, and his hatred for Meng Hao ascended to skies.
The two of them looked at each other, sharing a look of pain.
“We will place this spear up inside the Sect to remind us that we must kill Meng Hao!”
Fierce killing intent filled their eyes, and yet, the trial by fire was over, and they were required to return to the Sect. Their rancor and murderous thoughts could only be concealed in their hearts, never to be erased.
Meanwhile, Meng Hao was both scared witless and also felt that he was being accused wrongly. Sighing, he increased his speed, running as fast as he could for seven days straight. Eventually he found an Immortal’s cave in the deep mountains. Exhausted, he sat down cross-legged and began to meditate and do breathing exercises.
“Was it worth it…?” he sighed to himself. He was tired from the days of running, but had simply been too frightened of being caught. Now, he was on his last legs.
Two days later at dawn, he opened his eyes and began running again. For half a month, he didn’t dare to let anyone see him. Finally, deep in the remote mountains, when he felt it was safe, he used a flying sword to carve out a cave, then sealed himself inside to meditate.