As soon as Meng Hao asked the question, both Granny Nine and Ling Yunzi smiled. As for Godmaster, he simply sat there silently with his eyes closed.
“And here I thought you were going to leave without asking,” the woman said with a smile.
The person to respond to the question, however, was not Granny Nine, but rather, Ling Yunzi.
“At first,” he said, “even we weren’t aware of what caused the situation. After some checking, we came to find out that it was your aura which caused everything.”
“My aura?” asked Meng Hao, his eyes widening. He instantly discarded more than half of his previous speculations.
Ling Yunzi didn’t immediately provide an explanation, but instead, began to describe Demonic cultivators: “Demonic cultivators are a unique type of life form. They are not cultivators, and yet, they are also not Demons. They originally evolved because of the unique environment of the Ninth Sea; they are transmogrified life forms.
“They seem like cultivators, but are not. They also seem like Demons, but are not. Because of that, they call themselves… Demonic cultivators!
“Demonic cultivators like this can only be found in the seas of the Mountain and Sea Realm. As for the sea beasts you encountered out in the Ninth Sea, they simply have not completely transmogrified, and are not quite sentient. However, give them enough time, and they all have the potential to become Demonic cultivators.
“The Demonic cultivators call themselves a horde, and are extremely xenophobic. Although they are physically different from the sea beasts, they consider themselves to be all part of the same horde. Even the other sea beasts which have not yet awakened to sentience are still viewed as family.
“If you harm one of their family members, even a single one, then they will be able to sense that from your aura.
“In fact, many of them have bloodline connections to other sea beasts. Because of this, it’s not hard to imagine why, in reality, the rulers of the Ninth Sea are not cultivators, but them.”
As Meng Hao listened, his jaw slowly dropped and his eyes went wide. He had considered virtually all possibilities, and yet nothing he had thought of… had anything remotely to do with this.
The truth of the matter was far, far less complicated than anything he had come up with. It wasn’t about the League of Demon Sealers, or the black-colored spirit-immortal stones, or some long-standing enmity with the Fang Clan, or some situation in which he threatened someone’s power.
Meng Hao smiled wryly as he realized the truth of the matter.
“Once they become Demonic cultivators,” continued Ling Yunzi, “They are actually not very different from cultivators. In fact, in many aspects, they are more powerful than us. In their cultivation, they can achieve Immortal Ascension, can enter the Ancient Realm, and can step into the Dao Realm.
“Throughout the years, many Demonic cultivators have left this area and gone out to other locations in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, even to other planets. There, they reproduced, giving birth to countless successive generations of their kind. Unfortunately, though, it is only in the Ninth Sea that the beasts can gain sentience and then become Demonic cultivators. In other locations, such a thing is impossible.
“Regardless of that, however, the sea beasts in the oceans of the other planets are all descended from the Ninth Sea. As such, they are all fellow horde members, and many of them are even related by blood.” When Ling Yunzi saw Meng Hao’s wry smile, a strange expression appeared on his face. He and the other two old-timers hadn’t expected a reaction like this.
“I understand,” said Meng Hao, sighing.
“All seafood under heaven is one big family….” he said, musing about how unfair the whole situation was for him. He was now certain that all of the countless sea beasts he had killed back in the Milky Way Sea on Planet South Heaven were definitely fellow horde members of the Demonic cultivators here. But how could he possibly have known back then that this would be the result?
Although the sea beasts were separated by a huge distance, and even multiple generations, and were obviously much weaker than the Demonic cultivators here, it was impossible for them to change their blood. If he had, like the average cultivator, only killed a few in the occasional random encounter, it most likely wouldn’t have caused any stir in the Ninth Sea or the Nine Seas God World.
Demonic cultivators were like ordinary cultivators. They wouldn’t start a blood feud because of a handful of non-sentient fellow horde members. But Meng Hao… had not just killed a few random sea creatures. He had killed almost all of the sea beasts in the Milky Way Sea. To the Demonic cultivators, that was almost like a genocide of an entire branch of one of their bloodlines.
Even he wasn’t sure how many Demon hearts he had acquired back then.
It wasn’t even possible to count how many sea beasts had died because of him. However many, it was enough to completely and utterly contaminate him with an indescribable aura. It was easy to imagine the reaction of the Demonic cultivators to anyone who showed up in the Ninth Sea with an aura like that.
Meng Hao was now feeling somewhat depressed. Were it some other reason, he could probably figure out a way to change things. After all, this was the Ninth Sea, and he had no desire to have blood enmity with the Demonic cultivators.
This was a matter of aura… and the ability of the fellow horde members to sense each other. In their view, Meng Hao’s hands were soaked in blood, and it was something he couldn’t do anything about.
“Can the aura be covered over?” he asked.
“Unfortunately, this type of aura cannot be concealed,” replied Ling Yunzi, sighing.
“The only thing you can do is be extra careful. Try not to leave the sect. Unfortunately, it is something we could never have predicted. How could we ever have imagined that you would be infected with an aura as strong as this?” Ling Yunzi was also feeling a bit down.
“The true masters of the Ninth Sea are the Demonic cultivators,” Granny Nine said slowly. “Although the Nine Seas God World holds sway here, if you trace things back to the beginning, we essentially forced our way in.
“However, legend has it that the whole reason the Demonic cultivators could achieve sentience to begin with has to do with Paragon Sea Dream. Because of that, we have coexisted throughout the years and have come to accept each other. Furthermore, the Demonic Cultivator Horde is a faction of the Nine Seas God World, both here in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, and in the other Nine Seas God Worlds in the other Mountains and Seas.
“Don’t let yourself worry about it too much. The Demonic Cultivator Horde is a part of the Nine Seas God World, and as such, must adhere to the rules of the sect. Everything… is done for the Echelon.
“Therefore, you can simply view this matter as another trial by fire.”
Meng Hao sighed. All he could do now was nod his head, clasp hands, and bow. Then he turned and left the temple hall. As he walked out and stood there atop the mountain, a cold wind sprang up. He looked off into the distance and, from this elevation, could see most of the Nine Seas God World.
“Well, might as well not worry about it. I can’t resolve the problem, so it’s not worth stewing over.” He pulled out the jade slip key from his bag of holding and scanned it with divine sense. Immediately a map of the Ninth Sea God World appeared.
After perusing the map, he found the Immortal’s cave the three old timers had arranged for him. It was near the central district, between two mountain ranges.
He put the jade slip away, took a step forward, and then transformed into a brilliant beam of light that shot rumbling through the air toward his Immortal’s cave. As he sped through the air, he encountered various disciples of the Nine Seas God World.
If they were cultivators, they would raise an eyebrow, clearly having recognized who he was. If they were Demonic cultivators, then as soon as they saw him, they visibly restrained themselves, their eyes shining with intense hatred and killing intent.
Meng Hao simply kept his gaze fixed straight ahead as he sped along. He went faster and faster, and after about an hour, arrived in the region of his Immortal’s cave. When he looked around, the first things that stood out were two mountain ranges that looked like dragons, stretching out far and wide.
In the middle of the mountains was a huge cliff that seemed to have been formed by a seismic upheaval. Water flowed over the edge of the cliff, transforming into a towering waterfall.
Rumbling rose up from the base of the waterfall, along with massive quantities of water vapor that spread out in all directions, causing a curtain of mist to obscure the area. The water at the bottom formed a crystalline, blue pool. The energy of Heaven and Earth was very strong in the area.
Next to the pool of water was a two-story residence.
The entire area was filled with the fragrance of flowers and the singing of birds. It was like a celestial garden, filled with exotic plants and flowers, whose fragrance filled the canyon-like area surrounding the pool of water.
Cliffs rose up on all sides like impassable obstacles. Even though his place was almost in the center of the Nine Seas God World, it was secluded and peaceful.
Furthermore, considering that the residence was built into the cliff face, it was easy to imagine that it was far larger than its outward appearance. In fact, deep inside the cliff there would definitely be chambers carved into the stone.
As soon as Meng Hao laid eyes on it, he was thoroughly pleased.
His body flashed as he flew down past the waterfall and landed next to the pool of water. Numerous animals in the area were startled, and scattered in all directions. The grass and plants swayed gently at the disturbance, causing a fragrant aroma to fill the air. The sound of the falling waterfall instantly lifted Meng Hao’s spirits.
“This place is great!” he thought, looking around contentedly. He walked over to the residence and looked around with increasing satisfaction, then let out a light, “Eee?” He raised his right hand and performed an incantation gesture, then pointed out. His gesture caused a wind to spring up toward a stone stele located in front of the residence.
When the wind touched the stele, it shuddered. Next, a glowing shield sprang up to cover the entire area. The sky up above was sealed off, and the waterfall was interrupted.
No more water fell down, and water began to build up on the shield. Soon, it looked like a second pool of water, floating in the air up above.
The sides of this new pool were formed by the cliff faces, and its bottom was the shield. When he saw it, Meng Hao’s eyes shone brightly as he realized that this was the ultimate location for secluded meditation.
It was completely cut off from the world, and also, totally safe.
In the same moment that Meng Hao was looking around contentedly at his Immortal’s cave in the Nine Seas God World, far far away, something happened in the starry sky. That place… was not located in the Mountain and Sea Realm. Furthermore, it was a location outside of the 33 Heavens. It was located… in a different starry sky.
Visible was a projection of an ancient land mass. It was so enormous that it was impossible to describe, and it hung there in the void, emanating constant and endless pressure.
Within this projected world was… a huge coffin, as well as nine beautiful, colorful butterflies.
Surrounding the coffin was an endless sea of people, all prostrating themselves in worship.
In front of the crowds of people were three young women who were indescribably beautiful. Their eyes were filled with both hope and reminiscence as they looked at the coffin, and then down at the land beneath their feet.
In front of the three young women was an old man wearing a black robe. At his back was the illusory image of an ancient tree. Currently, his two hands were held aloft, and he was shouting loudly up into the air. It sounded like some sort of curse, although it was impossible to hear exactly what he was saying.
It didn’t take long, however, for a mass of black mist to appear in front of him. It roiled and seethed, emanating a strong aura of death.
“I found it… almost. If it is used just one more time, I’ll be able to locate it!” After a long moment, the old man coughed up a mouthful of blood, and his body seemed to wither. The tree behind him also withered, as if he had just spent a huge amount of life force to speak those words.
It wasn’t just him who paid the price to speak the words. Everyone in the sea of people around him also spit up mouthfuls of blood. The nine butterflies trembled, and of the four wings they each possessed, two fell off.
In another location within the same void in which that world projection existed, was yet another boundlessly majestic projection of a world.
Within that world existed a huge statue of a man!
In that world, there were nine suns!!
At the foot of the statue was a young man wearing a white robe. If you looked closely, you would see… that he looked exactly like the statue!!
He shook his head and smiled.
“Mother was right. Those who are reborn are always more eager than those who have already returned.” 1