“What do I do, what do I do!?” Days passed, and Bai Xiaochun was still sitting in the main square on the damaged fan, looking anxiously at the spot to enter the hundredth level.
Despair ate at his heart, despair at the fact that he had no chance at passing the hundredth level.
“This is ridiculous! How are you supposed to pass the hundredth level when it's so hard!? You definitely have to be an archaean…. But then again, even an archaean would probably be killed…. And yet, here I am….” He tugged at his hair, his eyes bloodshot and growing increasingly crimson. Eventually, he slapped his bag of holding to summon a few jugs of alcohol, and began to drink.
He drank for three days straight….
He hemmed and hawed, occasionally pacing back and forth, occasionally sitting there dejectedly. At a certain point, the spirit automaton showed up, sat down in front of him, and joined him in sighing. Whenever he stood up as if to make another attempt at a challenge, the spirit automaton would say something along the lines of, “Even I’m not sure why the exalted sovereign did things this way. I've been wanting a new master for a long time, you know. You have no idea what it's been like to see so many people die in such horrific and painful fashion.”
Sometimes he would tell stories.
“I remember one time when someone came along with an incredible fleshly body, and terrifying powers of regeneration. I definitely thought that he would become my new master. But guess what happened? Bam! The sovereign smashed him into a bloody pulp. Oh, the humanity!”
The more Bai Xiaochun heard such stories, the jumpier he got.
“It was truly horrific. Blood was splashing everywhere, and then there was this sort of popping sound as his head exploded….”
The spirit automaton’s sighs echoed about constantly as he gave very serious advice.
“You know, Bai Xiaochun, I was really hoping that we might end up becoming friends after all of the squabbling. But from the bottom of my heart, I urge you not to throw your life away. That would be meaningless…. I’m actually starting to get the feeling that the sovereign doesn’t want me to have a new master. The old fart!
“Ah, whatever. The most important thing is that you stay alive. You might not be able to pass the hundredth level, but at least you have some authority with the fan. We can work together! Don’t worry, I’ll help you do whatever you need.”
After three days, Bai Xiaochun was fairly drunk, and the spirit automaton was jabbering about how terrifying the hundredth level was. Suddenly, Bai Xiaochun put his alcohol jug down and looked over at the spirit automaton.
“Since when did you become so considerate?” he asked.
“I’ve always been this way!” the spirit automaton replied in dead earnest. Sounding like the epitome of righteousness, he said, “You think I was doing all that just to make things hard for you? Wrong! I was trying to save you! I don’t want the old fart to get his way and kill you! I want you to live! That way I’ll have someone to chat with…. You have no idea what it's like to be me. I've been here for so many tens of thousands of years that I've already lost track of time. It’s so lonely….” He sighed again, a bitter look in his eyes as he stared off into the distance, but at the same time, peered cautiously at Bai Xiaochun out of the corner of his eye.
Bai Xiaochun, tipsy, looked over at the spirit automaton, and realized that something definitely seemed suspicious. Suddenly, he shot to his feet, and then pretended to let out a stream of uproarious laughter.
“You’re trying to pull a fast one!” he said. “You don’t want me to go into the hundredth level, do you?!”
Startled, the spirit automaton leapt to his feet.
“I'm not lying! You absolutely, positively must not go into that level! I don't want you to die!”
Upon seeing the spirit automaton’s reaction, Bai Xiaochun’s eyes glittered, more suspicious than ever. Snorting coldly, he began to walk toward the fan rib.
“I see through your little scheme!” he said loudly, picking up his pace as he headed forward.
The spirit automaton was so nervous that he was about to cry. Scrambling after Bai Xiaochun, he bitterly said, “You have to believe me! Don’t do this! I don't want to lose you…. Arrghhh! Why won’t you trust me!? I have your best interests at heart!”
The more the spirit automaton babbled, the more suspicious Bai Xiaochun got. He also kept moving faster until he was right outside of the hundredth level. There, he lifted up his foot as if to step into the level.
Turning, he glared and said, “Tell me the truth, you little automaton. The level's fake, isn’t it!?”
The spirit automaton’s heart seized momentarily, and he stood there blankly, looking as if he might start crying at any moment.
When Bai Xiaochun saw how he was standing there seemingly at a loss for words, his mood instantly improved. Stepping down, he vanished, to reappear within the hundredth level. Everything happened exactly the same as before, with shocking energy filling the area, as well as a destructive, murderous aura.
The sudden pressure sobered him up significantly, whereupon he shivered in fear and began to wail inwardly.
“Was the spirit automaton really comforting me? Or is he actually trying to get me killed? Dammit! I'm not really going to be stymied by the last level, am I?” Feeling like he was going crazy, he watched as the projection of the sovereign approached, causing the entire world to tremble.
“Challenger, are you ready?!”
As the world trembled, Bai Xiaochun’s eyes turned completely bloodshot. He knew that if he chickened out again, not only would it be much harder for him to reach the Archaean Realm, but it would also be highly unlikely that anyone would become the rightful owner of the fan.
He had worked very hard to reach this point. And all the while, the cultivators from the Heavenspan Realm were suffering. Thinking back to what had happened in the imperial palace, he suddenly threw caution to the wind and shouted, “Bring it on!!”
Pulling out the turtle-wok, which had returned to him of its own accord after the previous level, he put it on his head.
“I'm ready, fool!!”
The sovereign’s eyes flickered as he looked at Bai Xiaochun, and then extended his hand. Bai Xiaochun immediately unleashed the full power of his cultivation base and fleshly body, and prepared to fight back against the sovereign. However, it was in completely unexpected fashion that the sovereign merely reached out and bopped the turtle-wok.
And then… there was no tempest. There was no surge of energy. There were no fluctuations. After bopping the turtle wok, a very serious expression overtook the sovereign’s face, and he nodded.
“Well, since you’re ready, then you pass. Congratulations! You are my successor. Many years have passed since the war of the starry sky, and this projection of mine is already growing very weak. The time has come to leave. Treat Xiao Chi well. I hope that, as my successor, you can tread the path that I never walked to the end. Remember my name…. I was a sovereign of the Immortal World. Zhou Chen!”
The projection of the sovereign smiled faintly at him, then turned, floated up into the sky, and faded away into nothing….
Bai Xiaochun stood there in a bit of a daze, the turtle-wok still perched on his head. The sovereign was gone, but for some reason, he felt like he was in a dream. It seemed completely unreal. He even looked around a bit, and then down at himself to make sure he was real.
After confirming that he was in fact standing there, he felt even more confused.
“Huh? I passed, just like that? I won?” Feeling very uncertain about the whole thing, he cautiously left the level and returned to the fan rib. As he did, countless fluctuating streams of bright light shot up from the fan and flowed directly toward him!
As they fused with him, his fluctuations of control over the fan erupted out in all directions.
The two sets of fluctuations instantly formed some sort of resonance, causing all of the levels in the fan ribs to unlock, and filling him with the sensation that a single thought on his part could control the entire fan!
Chest heaving, he finally came to the realization that… he really had passed the hundredth level!
If he wanted, he could change the direction the fan flew in! It was under his complete control! His heart surged with nearly uncontrollable excitement at all of the powers of the fan that he now had at his disposal.
“The little automaton really was trying to pull a fast one!”
All of a sudden, he shouted in a loud voice, “Alright, little automaton, get the hell out here! Lord Bai wants to talk!!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter