Chapter 372: An old Acquaintance
The sound of pickaxes. .h.i.tting rock echoed through the dark, hot caves.
Meng Hao looked around, clearly displeased at the endless discomfort and risk this environment offered. He had been brought here with many cultivators, and most had died. Not even ten percent of them were left now... The majority had died to exhaustion, and the unlucky few transformed into strange fire demons that had to be killed shortly afterward by their own colleagues.
His body felt heavy. But Meng Hao still tided through the exhaustion and kept breaking the Blood Rocks.
Day in and day out, they were forced to mine and gather blood rocks. Then place it in mining carts, that would carry it outside. The idea of trying to escape never crossed the minds of any of the cultivators here - since the whole mine was guarded by Ascendant Cultivators. The mere thought of trying to escape them was tantamount to contemplating suicide.
Today, Meng Hao was tasked with mining in one of the deepest parts of the cave. It was a job only he had been tasked with. Not because he could do it, but because of all the people here, Meng Hao seemed the most resistant to the baleful Fire Qi permeating the area.
As he was mining all alone, someone coughed, and that caught Meng Hao by surprise.
He turned saw a man in full length black robes.
"On it's you…" Meng Hao said.
"You still remember this old man!", the man spoke rather jubilantly.
"I knew you were a strange one from the day we first met. What are you doing here? Or rather, how did you even manage to come all the way down here, without being detected," Meng Hao asked.
"Well, you could say that I have something special," the man in black robes said.
This caused Meng Hao to instinctively rub a spot on his chest. Covered underneath his robes was a small bell that not even the guards deemed worthy of confiscating.
"You still have that, very good, keep it with you, it should come in handy pretty soon," the man in black robes suggested.
"Who are you?" asked Meng Hao.
"You don't need to know that right now. Also, I would advise you to start mining there, for now. You never know when one can find blessing within a curse," the man in black winked. While Meng Hao was looking straight at him, he could see the black-robed man slowly starting to disappear from sight. As if the world itself was denying his very existence…
Meng Hao turned to where the man in a black robe had pointed. There didn't seem to be any Blood Stones there, it was a simple-looking block of rock. Having nothing better to do, Meng Hao decided to give it a go, and struck down with his pickaxe…
"Still, this is very confusing. When only the powerful ent.i.ties of the Prime Elements are able to go to the beyond…why was Du Shen trying to go there when he himself didn't have the right," I asked.
"Du Shen… She spoke of him a few times…" Yu Yu said.
"Really? Do you know anything about him?" I asked.
"If she finds out I revealed this to you, she'll have our hide for it…", Yu Yu sighed.
"You seem to have some juicy gossip," I grinned.
"Yes, very… Deadly gossip even, so promise me you'll keep this to yourself!", she said.
"Right, will do, just tell me…", I said eager to discover something, anything, that could help me with the upcoming Poison G.o.d trials.
"Okay, so before her highness met her current husband… She actually had a thing for Du Shen. Since he was one of the greatest minds of his time, a powerful cultivator, rich beyond belief, and had great influence and ability throughout the Vast Expanse. They worked on many matters together. He used her ability to mend and control Soul power to make many ingenious trinkets. And she gave him everything. But he betrayed her one day," she said.
I frowned, "How come? Though I can't deny the fact that the Poison G.o.d is not benevolent, he hardly strikes me as the 'traitor' type," I said.
"Well, I wouldn't know about that, but do you remember the Incense Pot the Fire King's army had?" She asked.
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"Right, it traps souls inside it for refinement and consumption, pretty nasty stuff. That project was actually something Du Shen asked her highness to make, though he said that he wanted to use it to harness the poisonous energies from his home planet, but it ended up being used to harness souls after he got the pot from her," she said.
"Hopefully, we'll see about that tomorrow. I want to ask, what happened to the Purple Cloud Palace?"
"It's safe and sound with me," I said, "If you want it, I can give it back to you right now," I said.
She shook her head, "I don't feel like I deserve it yet. I'll receive it from you later. Also, I've heard that you already reached Pseudo Ascendant,"
"Something like that, but I don't feel any different," I said as I stood up, "I've been wanting to give you something that will help with your cultivation."
I picked out a small vial from my holding bag and handed it to her.
She took it, and opened the bottle revealing a sweet scent. And she had the reaction I was expecting.
"Just take it, I have more. Hopefully, this will help you in your cultivation. I'll be heading off,"
"You're a very kind man Shen Bao," she said.
"Am I now…" I grinned, "It's still not enough to repay your kindness in taking me into the Purple Cloud."
"You already repaid that debt with interest, so I'm really thankful," she said.
"I'm glad you liked it, anyway, I should be heading out to rest, tomorrow should be interesting," I said.
"You can rest here if you wish, I won't disturb you," she said.
I thought about it for a moment then shook my head, "I'll have to go, see you again soon," I said and she removed the ice from the paG.o.da's door.
As I left, I marveled at the effulgence of the moonlight permeating the ice paG.o.da, a most memorable scene indeed.
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