Although the sight of the twenty-two-colored flame was very exciting to Bai Xiaochun, it also caused his mood to sink as he thought back to the last time he had seen such a flame, back in the Heavenspan Realm, when Bai Hao saved his life.
By igniting himself, he had created a flame that surpassed the very limits of the world around him….
Although Bai Xiaochun knew that he was innately skilled when it came to flame conjuring, he didn’t come close to his own apprentice. Without Bai Hao, Bai Xiaochun may have been able to reach his current level on his own, but it would have taken much longer, and come at a far greater cost.
Because of Bai Hao’s genius, Bai Xiaochun’s advancement in the art of flame conjuring had been incredibly smooth. Furthermore, Bai Hao’s skill had been the key to snatching Bai Xiaochun out of the jaws of death.
When it came to his apprentice, Bai Xiaochun felt much guilt, as well as profound pain. Whenever he thought of him, he couldn’t help but think back to everything that had occurred in the Wildlands, and how they had relied on each other to survive.
“Hao’er,” he murmured in a voice that only he could hear, “it won’t be long now. Master is definitely going to resurrect you by means of the flame!” He looked down at the mark on the back of his hand, and after a long moment passed, left the damaged fan, completely wrapped up in his memories.
He was not the carefree and happy-go-lucky Bai Xiaochun that he had been in the past. He carried great weight on his shoulders now. And then there were the events that had played out in the imperial palace. The Vile-Prince had viciously humiliated the people of the Heavenspan Realm, and the Arch-Emperor himself, right in front of Bai Xiaochun. And Bai Xiaochun could not feign indifference to the Arch-Emperor’s defeated and yet victorious gaze as he named him successor.
“Strength. And cultivation base!” After returning to his private chamber in the embassy in Vile-Emperor City, he immediately sat down cross-legged, arranged his spoils from this trip to the fan, and began to work on his cultivation.
Although the spirit automaton had claimed that he would only interfere in one of the following levels, Bai Xiaochun didn’t completely trust him. Besides, even without interference, the levels would only continue to get more difficult. He was already at the ninetieth, which meant that he only had ten more to go before achieving true success.
Failure was not an option!
The only thing he could do now was take the rewards he had earned at the ends of the levels, the various medicinal pills and other items, and use them to advance his cultivation base.
That was the only way he could win in the end!
If he succeeded, the ultimate reward would be stupendous beyond imagination. And that became a great motivating factor.
Half a month passed, which he spent entirely focused on his cultivation. Thanks to the rewards he had earned from the damaged fan, his cultivation base continued to advance, pushing him ever closer to the peak of the mid Celestial Realm.
Eventually, two people arrived at the embassy, both women. One of them was tall, slender, and particularly beautiful, with a celestial cultivation base. Bai Xiaochun almost immediately detected her presence.
“Gongsun Wan’er?” Bai Xiaochun opened his eyes and sent some divine sense out to check out the situation. Immediately, he caught sight of a young woman standing next to Gongsun Wan’er, and a tremor passed through him.
“Xiaomei!!” he blurted. Vanishing, he reappeared right in front of Gongsun Wan’er and Hou Xiaomei, whose cultivation base was now in the Deva Realm.
Hou Xiaomei had long since been an apprentice of Gongsun Wan’er, and had been in seclusion ever since Bai Xiaochun had arrived in the Eternal Immortal Domains!
They hadn't seen each other for many years, and Hou Xiaomei looked somewhat different. Perhaps it was because of the technique she cultivated, but she was now even more eye-catching than before. There was also a frigid aura to her that resembled Gongsun Wan’er’s. Despite that, as soon as she laid eyes on Bai Xiaochun, her eyes lit up with a smile of excitement and happiness.
There was a warmth in her gaze that had always been there, and it was now even more intense than it had been back in the Heavenspan Realm.
When that warmth combined with the frigid coldness she had now, it made her even more bewitchingly attractive than ever.
“Big Bro Xiaochun!” Her eyes seemed red as if with tears as she looked at him. He was very different to her from before, older and more mature. Although other people might not be able to tell, to her, he looked like another person altogether than the Bai Xiaochun she remembered from the Ovens back in the Spirit Stream Sect.
She knew the reason for all of it. Her Master had explained everything after she came out of seclusion. It had been difficult for Hou Xiaomei to accept; although she seemed strong on the outside, she was actually very sensitive. But in the end, she had no choice.
Upon hearing that Bai Xiaochun was in Vile-Emperor City, her heart began to pound with strange emotions. And before she could even ask it, Gongsun Wan’er brought her here.
Once she saw him in front of her, the rest of the world disappeared, and time slowed down. As she stepped forward and slowly wrapped her arms around him, he looked down and embraced her.
They said nothing. It was as if, during all the years that they had been apart, they had simply been waiting to reunite, and hold each other in their arms.
Mixed emotions flickered in Gongsun Wan’er’s eyes as she looked on. Then she backed up to give them a slight bit of privacy.
Bai Xiaochun noticed that, and his eyes flickered to meet hers. They shone with gratitude, thankfulness for how she had taken care of Hou Xiaomei, and appreciation for bringing her here now.
The truth was that Gongsun Wan’er had feared Bai Xiaochun might do something drastic after the events in the imperial palace. Therefore, she had brought Hou Xiaomei here in the hopes of bringing him a bit of consolation.
Bai Xiaochun knew that Hou Xiaomei would be much safer with Gongsun Wan’er than she would with him. But for the moment, he lowered his head and began to whisper softly into her ear, telling her about everything that had happened since their separation.
Soon, evening had fallen, and the time had come for Hou Xiaomei to leave with Gongsun Wan'er.
Looking into Hou Xiaomei’s eyes, Bai Xiaochun quietly said, “Wait for me, Xiaomei…. I’ll take you away with me soon… very soon!”
Hou Xiaomei was not the ditzy girl she had been in the past. Whether it was her personal experiences on Heavenspan Island, or the things that Gongsun Wan’er had told her later, she was very well aware that Bai Xiaochun couldn’t afford to have people near him who could be used against him, or who might hold him back.
Although she didn’t want to leave him, she knew she had to. Tears welling up in her eyes, she kissed him on the lips, then turned to leave.
As she departed, Bai Xiaochun savored the warmth of her kiss, and her lingering fragrance. Moments passed, and his eyes began to shine with determination!
“Strength. And cultivation base!!” After returning to his private chamber, he vanished and reappeared on the damaged fan, where he began to challenge the levels again. They were all very difficult, to the point where he failed numerous times before passing them.
There was no need for the spirit automaton to interfere. Furthermore, he had interfered too many times in the past, and currently was not even close to matching up to Bai Xiaochun in terms of authority.
The automaton had said he would only interfere once, and the truth was that, because of his waning authority, he truly could not do so more than once in the last ten levels!
Days slipped by. Bai Xiaochun was completely absorbed in challenging the levels. Whenever he was forced to rest for a bit, he would take advantage of the time to research twenty-three-colored flame.
In this manner, half a year passed.
During that time, the Vile-Prince kept a very low profile, and didn’t cause problems for Bai Xiaochun. Because of the incident in the imperial palace, most of the other celestials were warier of Bai Xiaochun than ever, and resolved never to offend him if at all possible. After all, the Vile-Prince had already openly shown his hostility. Therefore, all they needed to do was wait and watch the sparks fly whenever their inevitable showdown occurred.
Most relevant in the entire situation was that the Vile-Emperor had apparently reached a critical moment in cultivating a certain Daoist magic, and had gone into protracted secluded meditation. There was something different about this session of seclusion. The Vile-Emperor had left orders explicitly stating that unless a matter that pertained to the possible fall of the entire Vile-Emperor Dynasty occurred, he was not to be disturbed.
And thus, Vile-Emperor City quieted down. However, to those who were in the know, it seemed like the quiet that came before a storm of monumental proportions!Previous Chapter Next Chapter