In the days preceding Song Junwan’s arrival outside his immortal's cave, Bai Xiaochun had pondered what to do regarding her request. He knew that after she emerged from seclusion, she would come looking for him, to ask for his help during the trial by fire for the position of blood master. For many days, she hadn’t come.
Just when he was trying to decide whether or not to take the initiative to go see her, he heard her voice. At that point, his eyes glittered, and he cleared his throat. Instead of immediately opening the door of the immortal's cave, he decided to take advantage of the situation to make her wait outside, thus increasing his own perceived value.
In truth, he wasn’t sure which decision was correct. After all, if he didn’t join her, he could take advantage of her absence to attempt to sneak into her immortal's cave and acquire the relic of eternal indestructibility. If he succeeded, then it would definitely be unnecessary for him to participate in the trial by fire.
However, that option was also inherently dangerous, so dangerous that it was hard to decide if it was a better choice than the trial by fire.
Even as he sat there thinking, the door of his immortal's cave swished open quietly, and Song Junwan stepped inside.
“You!!” Bai Xiaochun was so startled he jumped up and walked backward a few steps. His immortal's cave was protected by a defensive spell formation, and yet Song Junwan had somehow entered despite it.
She smiled enigmatically as she looked Bai Xiaochun up and down, almost as if her gaze could pierce into his heart. “I'm the grand elder of Middle Peak, and I currently stand in for the blood master here. I control every blade of grass and every rock. If I want to go into an immortal's cave, nobody can do a thing to stop me.
“Besides, why would Junior Brother Nightcrypt refuse to let me into his immortal's cave? Instead of making you say the words, I just decided to take the initiative.” With that, she sat down in a stone chair and rested her chin on her palm.
Although her gaze wasn’t seductive, there was something enticing about it, something that tugged at Bai Xiaochun’s heart in shocking fashion. His expression turned somber, and he growled, “Is becoming the blood master really that important to you?”
Song Junwan looked back at him quietly for a moment, then nodded.
“For many years, the Song Clan has administered Middle Peak, and generations of blood masters have all been Chosen from our clan. But this time around, things changed.
“Our patriarch made a deal with Patriarch Limitless, and one of the conditions was that the slut Xuemei would have a chance to compete for the position of blood master. In exchange, we got information about Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment.
“Unfortunately, Song Que failed to live up to expectations, and didn’t reach Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment. Even worse was that the slut Xuemei unexpectedly reached nine Tideflows. As of this point, Que’er is no match for her. Therefore, I am the only person left who has a chance at becoming blood master!
“And that is why I need your help. With you as one of my Dharma protectors, I think I have a hope of actually succeeding!” With that, Song Junwan waited for Bai Xiaochun’s response.
Bai Xiaochun didn’t say anything at first. After hearing about the details of Xuemei’s involvement, everything made a lot more sense. However, he still felt that the competition for the position would be very dangerous. A long moment passed, and Song Junwan continued, “I wouldn’t ask you to help me if it wouldn’t benefit you as well. Considering that you’re already a bloodstreak elder, if I succeed, I will strongly recommend you to be the next grand elder!”
For some reason, she blushed slightly, and the charming seductiveness in her eyes seemed to intensify. It was almost like she were casting her vixen-like claws into Bai Xiaochun in an attempt to drag him in.
Bai Xiaochun coughed lightly and averted his gaze. Inside, he was still trying to decide what would be best. If he didn’t participate in the trial by fire, there was always the chance that he could secretly acquire the relic of eternal indestructibility. Although making that attempt would be a big risk, participating in the trial by fire would be equally risky.
In one situation, he would have almost no control over how things played out. In the other, he would have a bit of control. In one scenario, here was a high chance of success despite the danger. In the other, the chances of success weren’t as high, but were still good.
It took some time, but he made his choice. Gritting his teeth inwardly, he looked at Song Junwan and said, “If you want to become blood master, then of course I’ll help you. However, I’d like to know a bit about the trial by fire. How exactly does the process work? How do you become a blood master?”
He had already decided that, even though he would attempt to help Song Junwan, his own safety was paramount. Perhaps by being careful, he could reduce the dangerous elements.
Song Junwan was already glowing with excitement. Eyes shining, she looked at Bai Xiaochun, a smile growing on her face that she covered with her hand. Expression softening, she said, “To many people, the details of this trial by fire are a big secret. But I won’t hide anything from you. To begin with, I have to be clear: in every trial by fire, death is a common thing.” Although Bai Xiaochun had been prepared for news like this, it didn’t stop his heart from suddenly beginning to pound. Every time he heard the word 'death,’ he would get anxious.
“One reason for that is that the trial by fire isn’t held in the outside world, but rather, in the world beneath our feet....” Although she was speaking quietly, he words struck Bai Xiaochun like lightning.
“Beneath our feet?” Stunned, Bai Xiaochun looked down at the ground. It only took a moment for it to dawn on him what she meant, whereupon his eyes widened, and he gasped.
Song Junwan smiled at his reaction. “Back when you first arrived at the Blood Stream Sect, you noticed how the sect itself resembles an enormous hand, right?
“The Blood Stream Sect really is built on top of a huge hand. That hand belongs to a giant that is submerged beneath the surface of the Heavenspan River. Over the years, the various techniques of the Blood Stream Sect were all created after studying the hand.
“We also came to call the giant our Blood Ancestor!” A passionate, worshipful gleam appeared in Song Junwan’s eyes, as if the matter she was discussing was the most important thing in the world. She wasn’t the only person who would view the subject in this way; virtually everyone in the Blood Stream Sect did.
Bai Xiaochun blinked, but didn’t say anything in response.
“The Blood Ancestor was a giant, but just like us, possessed flesh and blood, a skeleton, as well as the five yin organs and six yang organs....
“Anyone who wants to become a blood master must gain the approval of the Blood Ancestor. That approval comes in the form of crystals, which grow in the organs of the Blood Ancestor. On Middle Peak’s Blood Master Temple, there is an entrance that leads to the interior of Middle Peak itself. By following the blood vessels inside the finger, we can enter the body of the Blood Ancestor.
“Each of the mountain peaks corresponds with one of the five yin organs, with Middle Peak connecting to the heart. The blood crystals there are the goal. The first person to get the blood crystal wins the approval of Middle Peak, and can call upon the power of the blood qi of the entire peak. They will gain the ability to suppress the cultivation bases of all cultivators there, and even more impressive, raise all cultivators’ battle prowess! That is a blood master!”
Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath. He was more shocked than ever by what he was learning. Although he had understood a bit about blood masters, as of now, he realized how truly high of a position they occupied.
The difference between a mountain peak with a blood master and a mountain peak without one was so vast that it couldn’t be put into words!
“I heard a story once....” Bai Xiaochun said.
“You mean the legend of the Blood Devil?” Song Junwan replied immediately, smiling. Bai Xiaochun nodded.
“That legend stems from conclusions reached over generations of research by the patriarchs. They all believe that somewhere in the Blood Ancestor’s body is a legacy blood crystal!
“Whoever gets that legacy won’t become a blood master, but rather, the Blood Devil, a position far higher than the blood masters. In fact, that position is even above the patriarchs. Because the Blood Stream Sect practices spirit blood cultivation, if the Blood Devil appears, speculation states that a single thought on his part could reduce the cultivation bases of the entire sect by fifty percent, from the Outer Sect all the way to the patriarchs!
“At the same time, a single thought on his part could increase the battle prowess of the entire sect by thirty percent! Simply describing a person like that as the Blood Devil isn't quite sufficient, so another term exists, a term known only to a select few in the sect. In fact, only the patriarchs of the top clans in the sect are aware of it....
“Blood Lord!” She spoke the words softly, but they seemed to contain great power.
“But legends are just that. Legends. Throughout the years, generations of patriarchs have searched through the body of the Blood Ancestor. Despite having searched most of the locations, they haven’t found any legacy.
“I hope that one day while I'm still alive, I’ll be able to see the Blood Lord rise up. Even the patriarchs are well aware that once the Blood Lord comes, he will either lead the Blood Stream Sect to unheard-of glory, or drag it down into ruin.... Because of that, some of the patriarchs hope the Blood Lord never comes. As for my Song Clan patriarch, he is not among that group.”
Song Junwan smiled. “But enough about legends. Let’s talk about the trial by fire itself.
“Your main purpose in coming along is to help me get the blood crystal. The most important factors leading up to that point are battle prowess and speed. Along with the other Dharma protectors, you must protect me, and help me beat Xuemei to the heart cavity!
“As long as I can get to the heart cavity first, that blood crystal will be mine!” Song Junwan’s eyes gleamed with self-confidence.
“How many Dharma protectors will there be?” Bai Xiaochun asked.
“Both Xuemei and I can bring up to twenty Dharma protectors.” Song Junwan replied placidly.
“That many!?” Bai Xiaochun said, a bit shocked. “What if one of the Dharma protectors gets to the heart cavity before you?”
“Theoretically speaking, any of the Dharma protectors could become a blood master. All they would have to do would be to get to the heart cavity first, take the blood crystal, and absorb it.”
Bai Xiaochun blinked. If what Song Junwan said was true, then how could she prevent that very scenario from playing out? Presumably, she would have some method of retaining control other than being very particular about which Dharma protectors she selected.
Song Junwan chuckled lightly, but didn’t offer any further detailed explanation. Much as Bai Xiaochun had suspected, both she and Xuemei both had methods of retaining control, special command medallions given them by their respective patriarchs.
Only someone with the command medallion would actually be able to enter the heart cavity.
After a moment of contemplation, Bai Xiaochun gritted his teeth and looked down at the ground. He wasn't interested in fighting to get the blood master title. After all, he wasn’t even a real disciple of the Blood Stream Sect.
He just wanted to get into the grand elder’s immortal's cave. Therefore, he needed to help Song Junwan become blood master, so that he could become grand elder. That would solve all the problems perfectly.
Bai Xiaochun had already been in the Blood Stream Sect for years now, and at long last, his goal was in sight!
With that, he looked up and said, “I’ll be there tomorrow morning at Blood Master Temple!”
Song Junwan took a deep breath and looked at Bai Xiaochun, her eyes glittering. Covering a smile with her hand, she took a step forward, then leaned forward and spoke into his ear, her lips nearly touching him, her warm breath caressing the side of his face.
“If you become grand elder, there are many things that could happen between us....”
Suddenly, her face flushed, as if she weren’t sure why she had suddenly spoken those words. With a final piercing look at Bai Xiaochun, she glided away.Previous Chapter Next Chapter