Shi Hao and the others stood atop the ruins of the Heaven Mending Pavilion for a long time. They finally delivered revenge to their great enemies. However, while feeling joy, everyone also felt endless sorrow.
The great sect of the past was now a place where weeds grew and wild hares scuttled about. Dead trees towered in the air, and the sound of crows rang through the air in a bleak and withered manner.
"People have to move forward. The old Heaven Mending Pavilion has already been destroyed, but a new one will replace the old and everything will turn for the better. I believe that the deceased elders' souls would feel gratified." Someone said.
Everyone gazed into the distance. There were many people who were cleaning up the scattered rocks, weeds, and debris. The construction had started a long time ago. They were going to rebuild the monastery gate and reconstruct Heaven Mending Pavilion.
After paying their respects, burning some paper, and scattering some wine, everyone left this place.
Shi Hao entertained them at the imperial capital and showed them the hospitality of a host. He also reserved a place for them to stay.
Two days later, the Nine-Headed Lion brought the Flame Crow, Sable, Rainbow Luan and the others to see him. This could also be considered an early send off, because they didn't know when he was going to ascend into the heavens.
Shi Hao was lost in his thoughts. He thought about all the various things he encountered. All types of feelings welled up from laughter to bitterness. Did it come from his unwillingness to leave?
"This fellow Shi Hao, back then, was extremely dishonest when he went to the Heaven Mending pavilion to participate in their entrance selection, making several elders' veins pop in anger and their beards to almost disappear from their angry clawing." Xia Youyu smiled and said.
"Don't say anymore." Xiao Tian became nervous, because the topic was shifting over to him. Even now, when he thought of the power of those hammers, he would go mad!
"Haha… the times of sincere youth, what great memories! It is worth recalling." The war goddess roared with laughter. Her golden battle clothes shone, and her beautiful appearance carried signs of drunkenness. Her eyes seemed rather lost.
"There are some things better left unremembered," muttered the Nine-Headed Lion. It thought of the first time it encountered Shi Hao.
It was even more unfortunate than Xiao Tian, being chased around and beaten by a nine-year-old brat that shouted noisily about eating roasted lion heads. He even wanted to make it a mount. Just thinking about it made it shed tears.
"All of you say that little big bro was quite naughty, but why do I feel like he is quite sincere and honest?" Qingfeng interrupted.
A few people immediately spat out the wine in their mouths and continuously coughed. They truly didn't agree with this statement.
"It's still Qingfeng that understands me!" Shi Hao laughed loudly.
How thick is his skin to be able to say this… Everyone shot him a look of disdain.
Dazhuang, Ermeng, Pihou, Huzi, Snot baby and the others came as well. Some were studying how to command soldiers, some experiencing the mortal world, others were here to cultivate. They were all invited over tonight.
"These are the childhood companions I grew up with." Shi Hao introduced. He felt deep affection towards his childhood companions.
Everyone knew that Shi Hao was gathering everyone here like this in hopes that they would become acquainted and help each other out in the future.
"Little Hao, is the higher realms that great? Do you really want to go that badly?" Dazhuang felt a bit emotional.
When he brought up this subject, everyone became quiet. This gathering might be the last time they ever met. Man and heaven were forever separated, and it was hard to connect the two realms.
"The road of cultivation is a path where one has to continue forging ahead in the face of hardships and danger. I want to jump out from this well and give the outside world a look," Shi Hao said softly.
In reality, there were other reasons too. When he saw how the giants of the higher realm descended and treated the eight regions like medicine fields and pastures, it made him feel a raging flame within his heart that was about to surge outwards. He wanted to jump out of this place. There will be a day when he would change all of this!
He also wanted to chase after the Willow Deity's footsteps and see it.
"Leaving is good too. This is a cage, a place where the higher realms imprisoned their criminals and great vicious existences. The higher realms is the true world where one wouldn't be shackled up and where one could possess true freedom," said Xia Youyu.
"Freedom is only in the mind. There are struggles everywhere." The old guard Peng Nine sighed from the distance.
"I will come back. There will be a day when I'll come to see you guys," Shi Hao said.
"Don't take too long, as time is ruthless. If you wait until you stand at the top of the world and turn back then, there might not be much left along your path," said the war goddess. Her sparkling white and charming face revealed a rare sentimental emotion.
Shi Hao became vigilant and earnestly nodded his head.
Once he left, it might be many years before he returned. There were too many things he was reluctant to leave, but he had to depart from this place. However, he didn't want to find out after coming back in the future that his old friends had long left the world, and that there were only cold winds and the crying of crows left to greet him.
Time is without pity. If one earnestly devoted themself to cultivation, many things would disappear and be forgotten. When one tried to recall them again, all the people and things of the olden days might already no longer exist.
"Little Hao, we really can't bear to see you go. If you head for the higher realms, we'll be separated like men and heaven! When we grow old, you will still be a young immortal…" Ermeng said, his face turning a bit red.
Those from Stone Village were quite simple and down to earth. These were companions he grew up with, comrades who he stole from the nests of vicious birds and captured mountain beasts with. Their emotions were deep, and there were too many things that left them feeling reluctant to part.
"Don't feel sad. I will definitely return." Shi Hao promised.
"It'll be hard for you to come down once you go up." Xia Youyu sighed slightly. Her eyes flickered about. She touched cups with Shi Hao and said softly, "We don't want you to leave either and wish to see you rebuild the sect to its former glory."
"This is a gathering, so everyone should be happy! Let's all raise our cups. There will definitely be a day when we all meet again!" Shi Hao said.
Light ding sounds could be heard. Wine splashed outwards. Everyone touched cups and shared drinks.
"Can we meet once more before you leave?" Someone said.
"Alright!" Shi Hao earnestly nodded and seriously agreed.
It was because he also felt reluctant inside, and he was also quite worried. He feared that this meeting would become the last one, for who could be certain of what the future held?
The higher realms was a place of endless races and heavenly talents. Geniuses came forth in large numbers and exceptional talents rose up. It was a place with too many powerful individuals. Even if he went up, he still might be submerged underneath.
Where there were people, there were rivers and lakes. Where there were rivers and lakes, there was gratitude and grudges.
He felt that the higher realms sounded beautiful and magnificent fairyland, but the battles there might be even more terrifying. That would definitely be an extraordinary stage where heaven warping geniuses clashed.
Shi Hao promised that when he was truly going to leave, he would meet everyone again and carry out one final farewell.
Everyone was drunk, filled with joys and sorrows. Their minds were filled with complex emotions as they departed from Stone Country Capital.
The next morning, the multicolored clouds of sunrise shone resplendently. Golden splendor shone brilliantly.
Shi Hao opened his eyes. His eyes began to shine, putting away all of the disappointment and reluctance he felt. He began to burst with life again, his dao heart firm and unwavering.
Since he had stepped onto the path of cultivation, there were things to be gained and things to leave behind. He couldn't allow his momentary shift in mood to affect his path. He was going to rise up and advance bravely on his own path of great dao.
"Will turning back someday in the future be worth it?" He asked himself softly.
"At the very least, I can't regret it now!" His voice became resolute.
He summoned Peng Nine and asked about his progress and impressions in guiding Qingfeng.
"He is an excellent successor. Intelligent, kind hearted, and a person of great character." Peng Nine replied.
Qingfeng's innate talent was quite high. Regardless of whether it was in the cultivation of precious techniques or in learning the matters of Stone Country, he showed great intelligence.
However, when he heard this assessment, he began to mutter to himself irresolutely. He shook his head and said, "It is precisely because he is too kind that I am worried. Qingfeng's nature leans towards a more gentle and weak side. I fear that he would be indecisive and bring harm onto himself due to not acting fierce enough.
Peng Nine nodded and said, "This can be nurtured. One's nature decides their fate, while fate can be changed. He is still young, so his nature's flexibility is quite high."
Shi Hao wanted to hand over the position of emperor to Qingfeng, because it was Qingfeng who suffered in his place while imprisoned in the second ancestral land. Because of that, he really wanted him to become the Stone Emperor.
However, he didn't want to make Qingfeng carry a great responsibility either. He wanted him to be able to be happy, peaceful, and do what he wanted to. This made him feel like making him the emperor was rather contradictory, so he didn't know how to deal with this.
In the end, he didn't make a decision and instead asked Peng Nine, "How is his cultivation going?"
"He is currently learning Stone Country's clan protecting divine ability, the Suan Ni precious technique. His progress isn't bad." Peng Nine said.
"Let's not talk about everything else. I'll lend him a hand in cultivation first," said Shi Hao.
He called Qingfeng over and brought out a lightning fruit. This was the best wondrous medicine in accompanying lightning cultivation. The fruit contained innate lightning symbols.
However, this fruit had not matured, so its power couldn't be compared to that of a true lightning fruit. In addition, there was deathly energy of deities contained inside of it that would refine a person to death. If one forcefully devoured it, they would undoubtedly die.
In reality, even an existence that had its divine flame ignited would find it hard to refine and face the risk of dying.
What was rather fortunate was that Shi Hao's supreme being bone was extraordinary and the natural divine might could dissolve the deathly energy. As such, he was going to help Qingfeng.
Lightning interweaved. Qingfeng almost faced a crisis as soon as he took in a fingernail sized piece of the fruit. The power of this lightning was explosive as expected.
Shi Hao protected him at his side, operating the Suan Ni's precious technique to neutralize it, allowing this type of divine power and foundation to enter his flesh, and for its symbols to engrave themselves onto his bones.
This was an extremely long process. After all, Qingfeng wasn't Shi Hao. His cultivation was much weaker, so even with Shi Hao protecting him at his side, it was still a slow process.
Several days later, Qinfeng released a long roar. When he moved about, lightning danced about with great brilliance.
This wasn't a type of precious technique to be displayed, but rather a type of instinct. When he moved his hand, a large amount of lightning would appear to slaughter an enemy.
"Excellent, with this as your foundation while cultivating the Suan Ni's precious techniques, you will produce twice the effect with half the work. In the future, you might be able to break through the limit of the lightning dao." Shi Hao nodded.
Then, he left towards a palace park.
This was where Qin Hao resided. They rarely met lately, and ever since he came to Stone Country, he didn't speak much. There were many things weighing down on his mind.
Shi Hao wanted to ask him whether or not he cultivated lightning techniques. If he had, he would give him one of the lightning fruits as well.
However, Qin Hao had unexpectedly left, leaving behind a letter saying that he returned to the mysterious region's Immortal Mountain.
Shi Hao frowned, feeling quite uneasy. After all, he had just brought Qin Hao out from there. How would the Qin Clan feel?
He brought the Black Tortoise with him and activated the ancestral altar to break through space. Of course, it couldn't directly cross regions, so they still needed to break through the boundary between regions.
They hurried on their way, and eventually, Shi Hao arrived in Immortal Mountain. He turned into a mosquito with the seventy-two transformations, and by relying on the divine striking stone's knowledge of formations, he advanced.
"Yi, that altar is shining!" The divine striking stone cried out in alarm.
In the depths of Immortal Mountain was an altar that had been rearranged. It could connect to the higher realms. It was nurturing the supreme precious bone in Qin Hao's body.
They found that out back then when Shi Hao and the little pagoda caused chaos here.
"Older brother, you came." Qin Hao seemed to have sensed something and opened his eyes. His spiritual senses were extremely sharp.
The main reason was because Shi Hao formed a human body after coming and didn't hide his aura. "I came to see you."
"You have your path, and I have mine. You should leave. I won't return to Stone Country," said Qin Hao.
Shi Hao looked at the formation and the altar, feeling a bit uneasy inside. It could still establish a connection with the higher realms?