After several days of banqueting, the Three Great Daoist Societies left, as did all of the other various sects and clans. The matter of the wedding contract with the Li Clan wasn’t resolved. Fang Shoudao wouldn’t waver in the matter, however, and continued to press for time.
Over the course of a few days, Fang Shoudao summoned Meng Hao on multiple occasions, but Meng Hao was in a different position than he had been. He wasn’t just any young lord of the clan, he was now a blazing sun.
Therefore, he completely ignored Fang Shoudao, putting the matter off by focusing on cultivating the Nirvana Fruits.
Three days later, as he sat in secluded meditation in his residence, Fang Shoudao came for a personal visit. As soon as he entered the courtyard, he sent his aura out, and Meng Hao immediately opened his eyes.
It was in that moment that Fang Shoudao appeared in front of him. His face was grave as he looked Meng Hao over. Then he let out a long sigh and sat down cross-legged.
Meng Hao sat in place quietly, not saying a word.
“She’s really that important to you?” Fang Shoudao asked slowly, looking at Meng Hao. Meng Hao was actually extremely important to Fang Shoudao, so important that Meng Hao didn’t even realize the extent of it.
To Fang Shoudao, the most crucial matter at hand was ensuring that the Fang Clan was able to survive over the next thousand years.
After that, he wanted to help Meng Hao grow and mature. That was one reason why he didn’t refuse the Three Great Daoist Societies’ proposal. He believed that in the Three Great Daoist Societies, Meng Hao would definitely acquire better cultivation magic than he could in the Fang Clan.
As for the clan’s financial predicament, that was something in which he had not deceived Meng Hao.
“She’s my wife,” Meng Hao replied, his voice soft, his head bowed.
After a moment of silence, Fang Shoudao spoke. Although he didn’t sound somber like he had when negotiating prices with Meng Hao, his tone of voice and his expression seemed far more serious and intense than they had at that time.
“Can’t you just let her go? You’re the Crown Prince of the Fang Clan. Just forget about her.
“If you can’t let go of her forever,” he said quietly, “then how about for just a thousand years? If you don’t like the Li Clan lass, then you don’t have to pay attention to her at all. All the clan wants is an alliance. It’s the same with the Li Clan. They just want an alliance.
“The marriage is just a formality.”
Meng Hao looked up at Fang Shoudao for a moment, then slapped his bag of holding to produce the Ancient Realm precious treasure that was his Crown Prince command medallion. He rubbed it for a moment before carefully placing it down in front of Fang Shoudao.
Fang Shoudao’s eyes widened, and waves of rage began to surge out inside of him. He looked at Meng Hao, his expression one of pain.
“In your heart, is that girl really more important than the entire clan?” The disappointment on Fang Shoudao’s face was clear. This was true disappointment, not an act like before.
“I don’t remember much about my early life on Planet East Victory,” he murmured. “What I do remember from my childhood is that my dad and mom left. I have a memory of searching for them in the fog, crying because I couldn’t find them.
“After I grew up, I took the Imperial examinations over and over again. Back then, my dream was to be rich when I grew up.
“Eventually I ran into her, and I joined a sect. That was how came to be part of the cultivation world.
“She’s actually my Senior Sister from that sect.” After that, Meng Hao told Fang Shoudao everything about Xu Qing. He recounted all the stories and all the details that he could remember.
“Patriarch, there was one time in which I died. She ruined her own longevity, just to save me….
“When we got married, it was a Red Wedding, soaked in blood….
“I promised her that I would find her in reincarnation.” As his voice echoed out, filled with the sensation of memories, Fang Shoudao’s face gradually softened. He looked at Meng Hao for a long moment, then sighed.
“It’s just a formality,” he said, closing his eyes. “Why do you have to be like this?!”
“To the clan, it might just be a formality,” Meng Hao replied calmly. “But to me, it would be a betrayal. Patriarch, please appoint someone else as the Crown Prince. The Li Clan doesn’t want a beloved partner for Li Ling’er. All they want is an alliance. It doesn’t matter who it is. Anyone could be a match for her. Why does it have to be me? So please, just appoint someone else. It would be the perfect solution for the clan.”
Fang Shoudao maintained his silence. After a long moment, he rose to his feet and swished his sleeve. He did not take the Crown Prince command medallion, but instead sent it floating back into Meng Hao’s palm.
“In three months, the Three Great Daoist Societies will come for you. I’ve already prepared 1,500,000,000 spirit stones for you to take with you to use in your cultivation. I wasn’t going to tell you about this originally, but considering you can’t accept the marriage, well… do you dare to make a little wager with me?
“If you win, then I’ll take responsibility to cancel the marriage contract!
“But if you lose, then you can’t reject the arrangements made by the clan, and you’ll go through with the formalities!”
Meng Hao stood there silently.
“Hao’er,” Fang Shoudao continued with a sigh, “if your grandfather was still here in the clan, he would definitely persuade you for me….” Fang Shoudao thought of Meng Hao’s grandfather, who was actually the person that he had most favored among the junior generations. In fact, in his view, Meng Hao’s grandfather would have eventually become the clan’s third Dao Realm expert!
A tremor ran through Meng Hao as he recalled the vague image of his grandfather, an image he would never be able to forget.
Meng Hao’s parents had left to guard Planet South Heaven for 100,000 years. As for his grandfather, he had gone to search for an Outsider to ask for help. The Outsider came, but his grandfather had gone missing, and had never made contact with the clan again.
Feeling quite bitter, Meng Hao looked up at Fang Shoudao.
“What’s the bet!?”
“Before the Three Great Daoist Societies arrive, do everything you can to earn 1,500,000,000 spirit stones. Immortal jade doesn’t count. If you can do that, from then on the clan won’t require that you do anything you don’t want to.
“You must not resort to trickery, theft, or borrowing. I won’t interfere either.”
Meng Hao stared in shock for a moment. Then, he lowered his head and made some calculations. When he looked back up, his expression was calm again. Gazing at Fang Shoudao with a slightly pained expression, he nodded.
Fang Shoudao said nothing further. He stood up, turned, and vanished.
After he left, Meng Hao began to breathe heavily. A thousand ideas were running through his head. He knew that he was a member of the clan, and that it was impossible to sever that blood connection. His parents, his grandfather, and his other relatives would not agree to him severing ties with the Fang Clan.
Furthermore… the clan had not given Meng Hao any reason to do anything that would violate the rules.
If there was a wager, he would win it!
“Three months…. 1,500,000,000 spirit stones.” Although he wasn’t aware of it, a bashful expression had appeared on his face at some point. As far as he was concerned, winning that bet… wouldn’t be difficult at all.
He put away the Crown Prince command medallion and stood up. Then he turned into a beam of prismatic light that shot away to find Fang Xi.
Two days later, word began to spread throughout the Fang Clan. It didn’t take long before all the clan members were talking about the same thing.
“Did you hear? The Crown Prince is going to challenge the Medicine Pavilion!! Last time, he got through six levels with perfect marks! The Dao bell even rang!”
“Last time he challenged the Medicine Pavilion, he got to the seventh level, where he grafted 75,000 types of medicinal plants!”
“Everyone is saying that this time, the Crown Prince is definitely going to charge all the way to the tenth level!!”
The news quickly spread, until everyone in the clan had heard about it. All of them were inwardly shaken. Lately, Meng Hao was the like the sun at high noon within the clan, and was the focus of all attention.
Everything he said or did was noticed. Besides, the glory he had already achieved in the Dao of Alchemy Division was well known. Now that he was going to be heading back there, everyone in the clan was filled with anticipation.
That anticipation reached a peak on one particular morning at dawn, when Meng Hao flew out of his residence and headed toward the Dao of Alchemy Division, his Immortal Realm Paragon cultivation base surging with power.
He was followed by numerous members of the Fang Clan, who all wanted to witness the spectacle.
More and more people started to tag along. By the time he reached the Dao of Alchemy Division, huge amounts of Fang Clan cultivators were there, filling the sky as he headed toward the Medicine Pavilion.
The alchemists and apprentice alchemists of the Dao of Alchemy Division were all very excited as they joined in the procession.
The entire Dao of Alchemy Division was abuzz. Countless beams of colorful light shot through the air as Meng Hao landed outside of the Medicine Pavilion. He looked at the huge stone stele next to the entrance, and his eyes glittered. The same two old men who stood guard outside opened their eyes. When they saw Meng Hao, they slowly rose to their feet, clasped hands, and bowed.
“Greetings, Crown Prince,” they said in unison.
Meng Hao nodded, and without further word, stepped into the Medicine Pavilion.
As he did, the entire area was packed with clan members, all of whom were waiting to watch. Fang Xi was in the crowd. He quickly sent word out via jade slip, and a moment later, roughly 10,000 clan members rose up in various positions and began to cry out.
“The Crown Prince is challenging the Medicine Pavilion! This is a grand event in the Fang Clan, and it is an honor for anyone to be able to bear witness. I personally wish to offer 100 spirit stones as a congratulatory gift! If anyone else is willing to offer a similar gift, please place it into this bag of holding!”
“That’s right! I don’t have a lot of spirit stones, but I’m willing to give fifty as a gift of congratulations to the Crown Prince!”
“Of course this is how things should work! The Crown Prince is challenging the Medicine Pavilion. As fellow clan members, it’s only natural that we should offer gifts of congratulations! Here’s 100 spirit stones!”
As the calls rang out, more people produced spirit stones to place in the bags of holding. Others hesitated, but then increasing numbers began to do the same thing.
Very soon, a terrifying amount of spirit stones had built up within the bags of holding.
When Fang Shoudao saw what was happening, he stared in shock for a moment and then smacked his forehead. His expression immediately changed.
“Dammit! How could I have forgotten…. I remember hearing about how Meng Hao charged people in the Dao of Alchemy Division to hear his lectures about plants and vegetation!” Then Fang Shoudao thought about the rewards posted for the three Holy medicinal pills, and a feeling of alarm built up in his heart.
Those three medicinal pills included first, the Skypalace Sunspirit Pill, which Meng Hao had already concocted. The second was the Sea Cleaving Heaven Defying Pill, the reward for which was 1,000,000,000 spirit stones….
The third was the Heavenly Thought Pill. The incredible reward for concocting that pill was to become the Lord of the Dao of Alchemy Division. All of a sudden, Fang Shoudao gasped. After a long moment, he managed to recover his senses, and realized that this time, he had been conned by Meng Hao.
“You little hoodlum!” he thought, laughing bitterly. However, his eyes quickly glittered.
“However, he didn’t choose to go concoct the pills,” he murmured, “but instead, to challenge the Medicine Pavilion. That indicates that he’s not completely confident in his concocting abilities…. In that case, I haven’t necessarily lost the bet….” However, he still was a bit worried, so he suddenly vanished. When he reappeared, he was in the Medicine Immortal Sect, where he went to consult with Fang Yanxu.
Not too long after, he left the Medicine Immortal Sect, and his face was very calm. Based on what Fang Yanxu told him, he was now confident in what would happen.
“Not even Fang Yanxu can concoct the Heavenly Thought Pill. As for the Sea Cleaving Heaven Defying Pill, it’s equally difficult. The little hoodlum definitely can’t concoct them relying on his own skill alone. I told him that I wouldn’t interfere, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use other methods.”
Fang Shoudao appeared to be very pleased, and looked more like a crafty old fox than ever.