The Mooneater slowly faded away into the sky of the Ruins of Immortality. Meng Hao hovered in midair, the energy of the Immortal Emperor slowly receding. Eventually, the Nirvana Fruit emerged from his forehead, which he then put into his bag of holding. He also placed numerous restrictive spells onto Su Yan, sealing her so that he could throw her into his bag of holding as well.
Before she disappeared, a cold smile could be seen on her face. However, the shock and other complex emotions in her eyes could not be concealed.
Meng Hao ignored that, however. Next, he turned to face the parrot and Li Ling’er.
Li Ling’er subconsciously avoided his gaze. Her past impressions of Meng Hao still remained in her mind, and currently, her heart was filled with conflicting emotions, including confusion.
She was very certain that, in the past, she had hated him to the bone. That was especially the case considering how he had humiliated her. When she had learned that it had been arranged for the two of them to be married, her initial reaction had been that she would rather die.
She hadn’t been able to even imagine how to handle being paired with Meng Hao as a beloved partner. To her, it would have been like a living nightmare.
Therefore, she had chosen to flee the marriage. Of course, she had never expected that she would end up being rescued by the very person she was fleeing.
Meng Hao could sense the conflict inside of Li Ling’er, and he looked away with a light sigh. He knew that she should have been back in the Li Clan at a time like this. The fact that he found her being pursued by Yi Fazi clearly indicated that she had left her clan.
It was easy to guess why. Considering the imminent marriage alliance, the fact that Li Ling’er had left her clan indicated that she had chosen to flee, just like he had. There was no other conclusion that he could come to.
It was at this point that the parrot cleared its throat. “Haowie, why are you butting into other people’s affairs?” it said, sounding as wise and proud as he could. “That was Lord Fifth’s beloved concubine! Lord Fifth wasn’t afraid of it! It was just my way of getting it to come out of its shell.
“Well, now that you made it go away…. Ai. Well, forget about it. Just never mind. I guess it just goes to show that there was no destiny between us.”
Currently, the five hundred black beetles were swirling around in the air around Meng Hao, and the drone of their wings echoed out in all directions. Because of that, Meng Hao still gave off the feeling that he was someone that shouldn’t be provoked, despite the fact that he no longer emanated the energy of the Immortal Emperor.
Each and every one of the insects in the small army had a Ghost Eye on its back, which emanated a sinister coldness. The bugs themselves had cold, emotionless eyes, causing a harsh aura to slowly exude.
Even an Ancient Realm expert would feel fear when looking upon these black beetles.
Meng Hao glanced back at Li Ling’er and asked, “So, that old turtle left already?”
Before Li Ling’er could answer, the bell-form meat jelly attached to the Parrot’s ankle suddenly roared, “That old bastard is completely immoral! Evil to the max! It deserves a horrible death! Lord Third solemnly swears an oath to convert it! That damnable old bastard of a turtle actually had the nerve to toss me aside and run off by himself!!
“I, Lord Third, was a fool to take pity on it earlier, and give it so much advice. Grrr! Lord Third is so pissed off! That thing is shameless! Misguided! A complete bully!!” As the meat jelly raged, it was clear that it was infuriated at Patriarch Reliance, and even felt that it had been subjected to a great injustice.
Hearing the meat jelly raging, the parrot then chimed in: “That’s totally right! That bastard pushed things too far. Dammit!” However, the parrot went a bit further, going on to make a declaration of a further aspiration. “Next time I see it, Lord Fifth is going to make sure it knows how awesome I am! I’m gonna turn it into one of my beloved concubines!”
Ignoring the two buffoons, Meng Hao’s body flickered as he moved to a nearby black beetle and sat down cross-legged. After glancing around, he looked back at Li Ling’er and then cleared his throat.
“Fellow Daoist Li,” he said, “I think there have been some misunderstandings between us in the past….”
Li Ling’er looked up at him. The word ‘misunderstanding’ caused her to think about many things, especially Meng Hao’s multiple usages of his palm. When she thought about that, she still felt humiliated and angry. She could almost sense a lingering numbness and pain in her buttocks.
“However, I did rescue you, right?” Meng Hao continued. “Although, you still owe me some money….”
Li Ling’er frowned. “That’s because you forced me to write a promissory note!” she said, word by word.
“Right, right. Well, the process isn’t important. We’re talking about Karma, so you definitely owe me money.” When he saw the look on Li Ling’er’s face in response to this, Meng Hao quickly added, “But don’t worry. You don’t need to pay me back anymore!”
Based on Meng Hao’s personality, it took quite a bit of effort for him to force those words out.
“Look, neither of us have it easy in life, so why make things harder for each other? Our clans want an alliance, and they’re willing to sacrifice us to get it. It seems obvious that the only reason we ran into each other here is because we’re both trying to get away from that marriage.
“In that respect, I think we’re both in the same boat!” A bright glow appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes as he continued, “Look, I rescued you. I also happen to know that I’m quite handsome, and a lot of girls like me. For example, take that wench that I captured earlier. She made a move on me too, but I turned her down. Then she tried to do all sorts of evil things to me. Stuff like that can’t be forgiven!” Meng Hao said, without even a hint of shame coloring his face. It was a good thing Su Yan couldn’t hear what he was saying, otherwise she would have been so angry that blood would have sprayed out of her mouth like a fountain.
“Although…” he continued somberly, “Fellow Daoist Li, you must not under any circumstances continue to misinterpret my feelings. Trust me, nothing’s going to happen between the two of us. I have absolutely no intention of pursuing you! Besides, I’m already married. The two of us… just aren’t suited for each other.”
In response to these words, the parrot stared, the meat jelly blinked, and Li Ling’er gaped in shock. She had never, ever seen someone praise themselves with such a straight face.
“YOU!” she cried, eyes wide.
“Seriously,” he said, taking a careful step backward. “We’re not suited for each other. Fellow Daoist Li, I know that the image of me surging with energy earlier definitely left you with a deep impression of me. However, you really need to control yourself. Don’t let yourself fall for me!
“Women must learn to conduct themselves with dignity in life. The two of… just aren’t meant to be.”
“Don’t worry, Meng Hao!!” Li Ling’er growled through clenched teeth. “If I had to choose between you and a pig, I would chose the pig!”
“You really mean it??” said Meng Hao, his eyes shining brightly.
“You…. Meng Hao, I, Li Ling’er, always follow through on my word!” Li Ling’er was feeling very vexed. Meng Hao was making it seem like she couldn’t wait to marry him. That was even more the case when, in response to her words just now, Meng Hao appeared to be sighing with relief. That caused Li Ling’er’s rage to flare even hotter.
Meng Hao then let out a hearty laugh. Smiling, he waved a finger at a nearby black beetle.
“Fellow Daoist Li, now that our misunderstandings have been straightened out, I’d like to express my condolences. Come come, have a seat on this bug. I’ll escort you safely out of the Ruins of Immortality.”
When Li Ling’er heard this, her fury burned uncontrollably, and she looked at Meng Hao with gritted teeth and said, “Condolences? Meng Hao, are you even able to talk without being crass? What the hell do you mean, ‘condolences’? Don’t tell me you actually believe that I, Li Ling’er, thought of you as the love of my life or something? You think that you refusing me necessitates condolences?”
Meng Hao scratched his head and sighed, his expression one of helplessness.
“Very well, then, I rescind my condolences.”
“What do you mean you rescind your condolences!?!?” Li Ling’er felt like she was about to go crazy.
“No condolences!” he replied quickly. “Even though I refused your expression of love, even though I crushed all the good feelings you had toward me. Even though from now on, all you’ll be able to do is gaze at me silently from a distance. Despite all that, I really offer no condolences! Alright? Happy?”
Li Ling’er threw her head back and howled. She gripped her hair in both hands and tugged it hard. It was almost like it was impossible to talk to Meng Hao without going absolutely crazy.
Trembling, she thought about everything that had happened since she had left the clan, and the grief that welled up from her heart caused tears to flow out. She said nothing further. She simply sat down on the beetle’s back, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Meng Hao didn’t say anything more either. The parrot and meat jelly looked at each other, then began to whisper back and forth. Occasionally, they would look over at Meng Hao and Li Ling’er, and the meat jelly’s expression would be one of puzzlement. In contrast, the parrot’s was one of worldy-wise understanding as it apparently explained certain matters to the meat jelly.
The meat jelly nodded its head several times empathetically.
Everything quieted down. The black beetles buzzed along as Meng Hao escorted Li Ling’er off into the distance. Because of the beetles, their journey through the Ruins of Immortality went along with few hitches. Meng Hao would look around occasionally and, based on his past experiences in the Ruins of Immortality, was able to gradually lead them out from the depths of the ruins, and toward their border.
Several days later, the broken remnants of the Ruins of Immortality grew more and more sparse. Not far off in the distance, the border was visible, and beyond that, a sea.
It was not a true sea, but rather, a body of dense mists that grew so thick that they eventually sank downward, forming into a sea of mist. Meng Hao was able to sense that at its very depths, the mist was so thick that there might actually be a true sea there.
This place… was none other than the Ninth Sea!
Meng Hao’s eyes glowed brightly as he stood up on the black beetle’s back. The entire army of beetles didn’t slow down a bit; they continued to speed along, getting closer and closer to the border.
However, it was at this point that, all of a sudden, a person appeared out of thin air up ahead.
It was a woman, wearing a white robe, and when she stepped out of the void, it seemed as if the entire Ruins of Immortality went dark. It was like the whole world, including all the light of the stars, was gathered on her person. Even the Ninth Sea off in the distance went still.
This woman seemed to be matchlessly supreme, as if in front of her, even natural law would cease to operate.
She hovered there quietly, looking at Meng Hao.
As soon as he laid eyes on the woman, Meng Hao’s mind rumbled. He instantly sent a message to the black beetles to stop moving. However, he didn’t actually need to do so: all of them were trembling, and didn’t dare to approach the woman.
“Meng Hao offers greetings, Senior!” he said, quivering, clasping his hands and bowing very deeply. This woman was the same one who had placed him in the Echelon… the female Paragon!
In that instant, the parrot ducked its head like it was trying to hide, and it looked scared. The meat jelly was uncharacteristically silent, and didn’t even open its mouth.
Li Ling’er could sense the terrifying aura emanating out from the white-robed woman, and immediately stood up and gave a curtseying bow.
The woman’s gaze passed from Meng Hao and Li Ling’er to come to rest on the meat jelly. “I recently recalled a matter from the past…. Do you still remember me?”
The meat jelly quivered.
“NO!” When it responded, its voice was archaic but light. When it spoke, Meng Hao couldn’t help but think that something was wrong. He had never, ever heard the garrulous meat jelly only speak a single word.