“I even heard that a lot of the top 100 Starry Sky Dao Polarity Superstars could have reached the Nascent Soul stage years ago, but have been suppressing themselves just so that they could join this soul-hunting expedition!” Beaming with delight, Xu Baocai continued to explain everything he’d learned.
The more Bai Xiaochun heard, the grimmer his expression got. In the end, he felt deeply conflicted about the whole trial by fire.
Finally, he made a decision. “I definitely can’t go,” he thought. “Absolutely not!!”
Suddenly, Xu Baocai’s face lit up as if he had just remembered something. Looking shocked and incredulous, he said, “Oh right, there’s something else you definitely don’t know about, Junior Patriarch, something huge. Heavens! Even I had never heard a whisper about this. It was only after word of the trial by fire began to spread that I caught wind of it.
“Junior Patriarch, did you know that the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect is a lot bigger than you ever imagined? That’s right. What you see around us here is not the entirety of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. There are other parts of the sect that are located within the Great Wall!!” Even Xu Baocai was still shaking from this shocking news, despite having heard it some time ago.
“The Great Wall?” Bai Xiaochun said, a look of shock appearing on his face.
“That’s right,” Xu Baocai said. Throwing his arms above his head to emphasize his words, he continued, “The Great Wall!! We are in the eastern Heavenspan River, and between us and the northern Heavenspan River is a huge area devoid of spiritual energy. The closer you are to the Heavenspan River, the stronger the spiritual energy, but the further you go out into the uncivilized areas, the weaker it gets. There are some areas that are technically part of the Wildlands, but that the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect has paid a heavy price to permanently occupy!
“That’s where three cities have been built!
“The first city is the one closest to the Heavenspan Sea, where the spiritual energy is the strongest. The second is further in, where the spiritual energy is weak, and the third city is so deep into the Wildlands that there isn’t any spiritual energy at all!
“The third city has a huge wall stretching out from it to surround everything. It's a heaven-shaking, earth-shattering Great Wall that contains the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect inside of it, and is manned by the most elite army of cultivators there is. According to what I’ve heard, they’re called the Hall of Steel Veins!
“I also heard that the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect isn’t the only sect that controls the Great Wall. All of the four riversource sects on the Heavenspan Sea defend one portion of it!
“The four sections of the Great Wall all connect eventually, creating a huge circle that protects the Heavenspan Sea, and all the sects too!
“Everything outside the Great Wall is the true Wildlands!! According to what I heard, everyone who takes part in the soul-hunting expedition has to actually go outside of the Great Wall, on more than one occasion....” As he talked, and brought together all of the various bits of information he had learned, Xu Baocai’s expression slowly changed as he realized that, clearly, this Great Wall was separating two opposing forces!
His voice gradually faded away, and his pupils constricted.
“You get it now, don’t you?” Bai Xiaochun said, scowling a bit as he looked at Xu Baocai.
“It can’t be like that, can it?” Xu Baocai said quietly. “Maybe the area outside the Great Wall is just really dangerous. That's why they built it, to keep out the danger? Or maybe to keep all the souls from getting inside?” Xu Baocai was feeling more and more like there was something mysterious going on, and he shivered, almost like an instinctual reaction to piecing together some puzzle.
Not daring to think about the subject too deeply, Xu Baocai left in somewhat of a daze. As for Bai Xiaochun, he was scowling on the verge of tears. Based on the sensation of danger he was feeling, he knew that he had to think of a way to make sure he didn't go on the soul-hunting expedition. And yet, before he could, the orders of the sect leader and the peak lords spread out to all of the disciples.
“All Starry Sky Dao Polarity Superstars in the top 1,000 are required to join the soul-hunting expedition. It will last for ten years, during which time you must go outside of the Great Wall at least three times! After the ten years are up, you may return to the sect headquarters!”
Almost immediately, Bai Xiaochun was filled with a sense of foreboding.
“I'm finished,” he moaned. “Kaput....” After all, this was not the River-Defying Sect, where he had so much sway with the patriarchs. He had only just reached the violet portion of the rainbow, and made a name for himself. As far as he could tell, he had no options available.
“This mission is going to be way too dangerous! The Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect’s so-called Great Wall is obviously there to keep out, not just the souls, but the traitors....” After much thought, he decided to go to Chen Manyao’s immortal's cave to see if he could get some answers.
Chen Manyao didn't seem surprised at all to see him. After inviting him inside, they sat down, and an enigmatic smile appeared on her face.
Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat and said, “So, um, Manyao, do you think I’ve treated you well here in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect? You still haven’t fulfilled that one promise from early on.”
Chen Manyao covered her mouth and chuckled lightly. She was beautiful to begin with, but whenever she laughed or smiled, she seemed even more attractive.
“Don’t worry, Junior Patriarch. Even in the Wildlands outside of the Great Wall, you’ll be safe as long as you’re careful. Furthermore, this trip will definitely be an opportunity for good fortune. You never know. You might even end up with a deva soul. Although, if you’re really worried, you could always join our side.”
Bai Xiaochun sighed. Avoiding the topic she had brought up, he said. “Ah come on, how many deva souls can there be in the world? After all the years that have passed, surely any that did exist have already been found.”
“There are some things you probably don't understand completely, Junior Patriarch. The Wildlands are special. The Underworld River there contains a huge amount of souls. Throughout all the countless years that have passed since the Heavenspan Realm came to exist, all the souls which have died end up in that river, and build up in the Wildlands. Even if there were fewer deva souls than there are, there would still be some!”
“They build up?” he murmured, a look of shock appearing on his face.
“I don’t know the details, and in fact, I don’t even know why it happens that way. But what I do know is that the Wildlands has been building up souls for years and years.” Chen Manyao seemed very earnest in her words.
“There isn’t any spiritual energy in the Wildlands,” Bai Xiaochun pointed out, “so how do the people there practice cultivation?”
“There is no spiritual energy,” Chen Manyao said softly. “But there are plenty of souls. Hunt them, absorb them, and that is how you can practice cultivation!”
After a long moment passed, Chen Manyao once again brought up the subject of Bai Xiaochun joining the Wildlanders. This time, Bai Xiaochun didn’t refuse outright. He thought about it for a bit, then turned and left.
As he walked along the paths of Sky Quarter Rainbow, he heaved sighs left and right. His intuition was telling him that this soul-hunting expedition was going to be very dangerous. And yet, there was nothing he could do to get out of it. Therefore, he had no choice but to accept his fate. Face grim, he flew back to his immortal's cave.
Along the way, quite a few cultivators noticed him and called out respectful greetings. However, he was no longer in the mood to revel in their attention. Evening was falling, and the light of the setting sun reflecting off of the golden waters of the Heavenspan Sea made for quite a beautiful scene. Bai Xiaochun looked out at it, then sighed, thinking about how he already had a deva soul. If he really ran out of options, he could always find a safe place inside the Great Wall to hide for ten years, then come back to the sect, trade it for a set of deva beast souls, and then step into the Nascent Soul stage.
Feeling sorry for himself, and still wrestling with what decision to make, he walked up to his immortal's cave and prepared to enter. However, just before stepping inside, he stopped and looked up, and his eyes flashed.
Unexpectedly, someone was waiting for him inside of his immortal's cave!
He immediately drew upon the power of his cultivation base, waving his finger to cause the front door to swing open, revealing a young woman, standing there with her back to him!
As soon as he saw her back, a tremor ran through him, and he began to breathe heavily.
As soon as the words escaped his lips, the young woman slowly turned, revealing a face that shocked Bai Xiaochun down to the core!
“Xiaochun....” she said softly, her eyes glistening.
“Du Lingfei!” he said. He had often thought about what it would be like to see Du Lingfei again. As of this moment, he realized that it was not as shocking of an event as he had imagined. Although it had come like bolt out of the blue, deep in his heart, he had long since prepared for their reunion.
His eyes flickered with complicated emotions as a quiet moment passed. All of a sudden, he thought about how the Sky Quarter peak lord had treated him, and how Feng Youde had taken him under his wing. During the entire time he had been in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, it had always seemed like someone was out there, secretly watching out for him. Although he had had his various speculations, now that he saw Du Lingfei standing there, everything made complete sense.
Her expression complex and filled with melancholy, she said, “Xiaochun, I'm sorry for--”
“Was that you in the Blood Stream Sect!?” he interrupted, speaking his words slowly and with force.
“Yes!” she replied without the slightest hesitation.
Staring at her, he continued with more questions. “Were you an agent of some sort? Why? What were you doing in the Spirit Stream Sect and the Blood Stream Sect? And what are you doing here?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter