Chapter 1493: Wait Until I Grow Up....
Meng Hao’s clone began his eighth life on the second continent.
Apparently, he really did have some special connection to snow. Each of his lives began in the snow, and this life was no exception. In the final snowfall of winter on the second continent, a baby was born into a mountain stronghold. His crying upon birth was loud and clear.
His father was a mountain bandit, the second in charge of the stronghold. As for the leader of the bandits… it was his mother.
The first time that seven-year-old Li Hao ever yelled at his parents, he cried: “I want to be a bandit too!”
In response, his mother spanked him for three days straight.
He had an older brother who was also an excellent bandit, and was quite renowned within the stronghold. His brother eventually won the approval of his parents, and was named the Young Lord of the stronghold.
As Li Hao grew up, his parents continuously presented him with servant girls to keep him company. Gradually, he came to understand what his mission in life was. He needed to provide grandchildren to his parents, to ensure that the offspring of the Li Clan would forever exist in Heaven and Earth.
It was a glorious mission, but also came with a lot of pressure. And yet... that was how his parents raised him. Every time he accomplished one of his missions, he could see how envious his older brother was.
His mission, and the looks given him by his brother, left Li Hao feeling very pleased. The harder he worked at it, the more his goal in life changed from that which he had stated at seven years of age.
“I don’t want to be a bandit. I'm going to make sure that the offspring of the Li Clan fill the entire empire! In a hundred years, the Li Clan is going to be one of the biggest parts of empire!
“In a hundred years, everyone in the Empire is going to feel like they’re related!”
His declaration stunned his parents and left his older brother shaken. In fact, everyone in the entire stronghold was completely astonished.
Li Hao quite enjoyed the expressions on their faces, and came to view his mission as extremely important. From that day on, he began to work whole-heartedly. He began to do a lot of research, and closely studied certain popular, illustrated reading materials....
His own physical training, combined with the efforts of the servant girls, ensured that his skills only continued to become more refined. By the time he was twenty years old, he had already sired 59 children.
At that point, he stood at the peak of the mountain, looking up into the Heavens, tears of pride streaming down his face.
He felt like he was a roc, a roc who was being held back by being cooped up in the mountain stronghold. In order to accomplish the mission he had originally set out to accomplish, he chose to leave the stronghold and travel the lands.
His parents thought it was a crazy idea, and his brother... actually looked at him with fear. However, he didn't care about any of that. In his mind, his family just didn’t understand his mission in life.
“You people just don’t get it. One person... can change the world. Of course, the condition is that he has to be a man. A strapping, energetic man. And that man is none other than me... Li Hao!”
That night, he left the stronghold. Wrapped up in his ideals, he climbed down the mountain, and made his way out into the world. Experiencing the wide world really opened his eyes, and he felt as if his mission were more important than ever. In fact, he felt that every day that passed was a wasted opportunity.
He started in a village near the foot of the mountain. Thankfully, he was handsome, and had a very charming pair of eyes, allowing him to successfully accomplish his mission in the village.
How could he ever have imagined, though, that fully accomplishing his mission would be so difficult? Twenty years passed. He was now forty, and had encountered numerous difficulties. People had even tried to kill him. It was with great difficulty that he managed to sire 107 children.
Feeling just as energetic as ever, he decided to leave the village and go to... the next village.
“It’s fine,” he told himself. “Villages are small, but my dreams are big.” In the second village, he used every method at his disposal, spending all of the wealth he had accumulated in the past twenty years to get him through yet another twenty years. By that time, he had sired his 178th child in the second village.
He was moved to tears by that fact, and yet, despite being sixty years old, gritted his teeth and took all of his grown children, and even the grandchildren, in a campaign to even more distant lands.
The first destination... was the third village in this mountain range, almost ten kilometers away.
Li Hao was feeling more pleased with himself this time. He had been indoctrinating his children and grandchildren with his ideals. After all, he had long since come to the conclusion that he wouldn't be able to accomplish his mission on his own. However, with their help, he would surely be able to reach the glorious heights which he sought.
He and his sons and grandsons only spent three years in the third village before they occupied its entirety. It was then that Li Hao could laugh heartily and, instead of traveling out himself, send his sons and grandsons out into the rest of the country.
One after another, his sons and grandsons carried out his ideals, and his mission, out from the village into other locations. Ten years passed. Every year, another one of his descendents would grow up, and would be sent out.
After another ten years passed, Li Hao was more than eighty years old, and his descendants could be found in every business and vocation throughout the empire. As for exactly how many descendants he had, not even he knew. However, in his mind, tens of thousands was good enough.
He was happy with his life, and yet he continued to live for another fifteen years. When he was one hundred years old, the clan that Li Hao had founded had reached a shocking size. There were hundreds of thousands of members, and if they all joined together at the same time, they could count as a small country.
At the moment, they were spread throughout all of the lands, but that made it all the more terrifying.
Although he was a bit lonely in his old age, when the snow began to fall one winter, and his life came to an end, he was content and proud.
“I lived an extraordinary life, and I changed the future of an empire, of the world even. I alone... changed everything.” Li Hao laughed three times, and then closed his eyes and passed away.
Meng Hao’s true self was aware of all of this, and would most definitely have gone back to Planet Vast Expanse to stop it from happening, were he not stuck next to the flower.
He could never have imagined that after seven relatively normal lives, his clone’s eighth life would have been spent doing something so absurd. Thankfully, the bodies left behind by his clones after reincarnation had no connection to Meng Hao himself.
Bodies did not reincarnate, only souls.
After the conclusion of the absurd eighth life, the memories were sealed, and the clone began his ninth life on the first continent. Meng Hao’s true self was a bit worried about what would happen in this final life.
After a bit of contemplation, he decided not to interfere. He could sense that the clone’s final life was just beginning to unfold. However, it was in that moment that his expression suddenly flickered, and he shot to his feet in surprise.
He had just sensed that the ninth life was completely different from the second through eighth lives. Those lives had been experienced by the soul passing through reincarnation. The bodies had not been Meng Hao’s, only the souls.
However, as the ninth life began, Meng Hao could sense that this ninth life was exactly the same as the clone's first life. Unexpectedly... this life was somehow made from Meng Hao’s own blood. Instead of saying that this was his clone’s ninth life, it would be more appropriate to say that it was his actual clone!
The soul was his, and the blood was his. This was something completely different from before. Apparently, after his clone’ body passed away into meditation on the Transcendence Path and his soul went through years upon years of reincarnation, his original body was somehow reconstituted in this ninth life. This was the similar to how the infant Fang Mu that had floated down the river, formed from Meng Hao himself, was actually the same person as Meng Hao.
Meng Hao was both shocked and nervous because of this development.
However, that mere fact alone was not what left him most shaken. The biggest twist was that this clone’s ninth life felt different from anything that had happened before. He could barely sense its existence, as though the connection between the two of them was extremely faint. Meng Hao’s true self couldn’t see exactly what events were playing out in the clone’s ninth life.
“The ninth life is the most important, the most critical. That must be the explanation for this strange development....” Having reached this understanding, he didn’t feel much better. He was just about to head back toward the Vast Expanse School, when suddenly, the enormous flower began to bloom!
As it did, the aura of the final copper mirror shard began to spread out. Meng Hao’s true self took a deep breath.
“I won’t interfere with the clone. I’ll let things play out as normal. Perhaps interfering would lead to negative consequences. Plus, if I don’t get this copper mirror shard right now, then who knows how much longer I’ll have to wait.” With that, his eyes flickered with augury calculations. Without any further hesitation, he flickered into motion, heading into the enormous flower.
So far, he hadn’t interfered at all in his clone’s lives, and therefore, he would do the same for the final life; he would remain completely hands-off!
Meanwhile, in the first continent, in the capital city....
The capital city was large, and had a sizeable population, but was located in a relatively remote region. Snow fell and the wind blew as a husband and wife emerged from a temple after having prayed to be blessed with a child.
They had been married for many years, but had never conceived any children. Over the years, they had come to the temple on a few occasions to piously pray for offspring. They were starting to reach their later years, and were getting anxious about the matter. They had even consulted doctors about the situation, but no solution had been provided.
After leaving the temple, they headed back home, stewing in their anxiety. However, as they were walking along, they were surprised to hear the sound of a baby crying. Looking over, they saw an infant lying on the ground at the foot of a wall.
They quickly picked the baby up and looked around, but saw no one. Their hearts went out to the child, but after looking at him more closely, they realized the truth. Someone had abandoned the child in embarrassment because he had been born blind.
After a bit of thought, they decided to take the baby home with them. To them, this child was like a gift from the Heavens.
The boy would never see the light of day; he would live in a world of darkness. And yet, they chose to become his parents. They gave him the name Little Treasure, and began to raise him in an environment of warmth and love.
Little Treasure didn't realize that he was different from everyone else. He thought... that the world was simply black.
He thought that everyone was like him. He didn’t even understand... what eyes were.
The Heavens had taken away his vision, had prevented him from seeing the world. However, he had been blessed with nimble hands, and a quiet, clever personality.
His parents loved him dearly from the very beginning. They held him when he walked, even until he was four or five years old.
His life was happy, and in fact, he thought that he must be the happiest person in the world.
When he felt the warmth of the sun on his face, he would ask, “Dad, mom! What's so warm?”
“That’s sunlight from the sun.”
“It’s a huge ball of fire up in the sky....”
“Can I touch it? How did you find out about it?”
“.... Little Treasure, you... the Heavens have their eyes closed, so you can’t see. Just wait... wait until you grow up, then you’ll be able to see.”
When he heard the birds singing, he would ask, “What’s that sound?”
“Mom, what do birds look like?”
“They have wings, so they can fly in the sky....”
“Oh, okay. Once I grow up, I’ll be able to see them, right? When you were kids, you couldn’t see anything either, right mom, right dad? I get it.”
To hear such words from his little mouth caused stabs of pain to fill his parents’ hearts. They would hug him, and would cry silently.
The child was unaware of their pain. He was as happy as ever, blessed even. Furthermore, he held a keen anticipation for being able to eventually grow up.
One day he heard some neighbor kids making fun of him for being blind, although he didn't know what the word meant.
That night, when his mom was rocking him to sleep, he asked, “Mom, what does it mean to be blind?”
Suddenly, he felt his mother shiver, and could sense that she had begun crying. He reached up and gently wiped the tears away.
“Don’t cry, mom...” he said softly. “I won’t ask that question ever again.” And for the rest of his life, he never did.
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