Bai Xiaochun raced down the tunnel, unaware of what was happening behind him in the square. Eventually, when he was far enough away that he couldn’t detect even a bit of the sweet aroma, he finally slowed down and then checked his surroundings.
Convinced he was far enough away from the square, he put Zhao Long and Master God-Diviner down, both of whom were unconscious. Master God-Diviner seemed in better shape than Zhao Long, who was currently biting down on a chunk of bloody flesh.
Bai Xiaochun removed the chunk of flesh and put a medicinal pill in Zhao Long’s mouth, and then did the same for Master God-Diviner. Then he bopped them both on the top of the head.
The two of them shivered, and then slowly opened their eyes. They looked up in confusion at Bai Xiaochun with his mask on, and then looked around to try to determine their location. Finally, they recalled what had occurred in the square, and both of them began to retch. Zhao Long even curled up into the fetal position.
Upon recovery, Master God-Diviner looked at Bai Xiaochun with an expression of gratitude. Clasping hands, he bowed and said, “Many thanks for your kindness in rescuing us, Fellow Daoist!!”
He was well aware that, considering how terrifying the situation had been, without someone there to rescue him, he might have ended up eating himself to death.
The residual fear still had him trembling.
After Zhao Long managed to stop vomiting, he looked at Bai Xiaochun with clasped hands and then bowed deeply. Although Bai Xiaochun looked like a soul cultivator, he was still profoundly thankful.
“This place is very dangerous,” Bai Xiaochun said. “You two take care of yourselves.” By now, he felt physically and emotionally exhausted. From the moment he had entered this labyrinth, he had been fighting with cultivators or running from terrifying entities, and it was getting very hard to handle. Whether it was the red hats or the blood-soaked buns, they all left Bai Xiaochun feeling very threatened. Sighing, he gave Master God-Diviner and Zhao Long some medicinal pills and paper talismans, then left.
He chose not to take them with him; if his identity were revealed, it would place them all in great danger. Besides, he had the feeling that going around in this place on his own was much safer.
After he left, Master God-Diviner and Zhao Long exchanged a silent glance, then looked down thoughtfully at the medicinal pills and paper talismans they had been given. Then they talked for a bit, which led them to the decision of joining forces.
A few more days went by. Bai Xiaochun made his way through the labyrinth as cautiously as ever. Unfortunately, after leaving the square with the blood-soaked buns, he was just as lost as ever.
Gritting his teeth, he used the same method as before to try to figure out where exactly he was. However, the more time that passed, the more his fear mounted. Before long, he reached a point where he hadn't seen anyone else for a full two days.
The entire labyrinth seemed filled with nothing other than corpses, and his heart was wound as tight as a taut bowstring.
“Something weird is going on. Don’t tell me that more than 100,000 people are all dead?” The thought left him feeling completely stifled. He had no idea where he was heading, and couldn’t find the exit. He couldn’t leave marks on the walls to keep track of where he'd been, and actually had the feeling he was going in circles. On top of it all, he now felt like he was alone. He was so jumpy about everything that he wasn’t even thinking about his mask and disguise.
Another day passed. He had decided to pick up speed, and yet, still hadn’t encountered anyone else. His terror grew.
Then he thought of the person who had landed him in his mess, and gnashed his teeth. “Damn that Chen Hetian! I served the Great Wall well, and this is how you repay me!?!?”
It was in that moment of rage when Bai Xiaochun suddenly heard the sound of whistling air. Apparently, someone was heading in his direction at top speed. Considering it had been days since he'd seen anyone else, he was actually delighted.
However, at the same time, he maintained full vigilance, backing up and keeping his eye on the intersection up ahead.
At the same time, the whistling sound stopped, as if whoever it was on the other side of the corner had also detected the presence of another.
Bai Xiaochun had no idea who was around that corner; it could be a person or a ghost for all he knew. Whoever it was, they seemed equally befuddled about Bai Xiaochun. For a very long moment, nothing happened as the two of them stood there silently, the tension mounting.
Finally, Bai Xiaochun took in a quiet breath and pulled a flying sword out. With the wave of a sleeve, he drew upon his control power to send it flying toward the intersection. Meanwhile, a black shaft of light flew out from the other side of the corner.
Within that black shaft of light was a soul arrow which slammed into Bai Xiaochun’s flying sword, shattering it to pieces. A moment later, the soul arrow was right in front of Bai Xiaochun, forcing him to summon a huge cauldron to block its path.
Even as the resulting boom shook the area, Bai Xiaochun suddenly laughed.
As soon as he saw that soul arrow, he recognized the type of arrow it was, and thought of the bow which shot it, and of Zhou Yixing! He actually didn’t know Zhou Yixing’s name, but he did remember the star sigil on his forehead. Because the character ‘star 星’ rhymed perfectly with the character ‘gorilla 猩,’ he decided to make up his own name.
“So, it's you! Mr. Gorilla!!”
Now that he was sure that he was dealing with a person, and not some freakish entity, his spirits were lifted immediately. Rushing forward, he burst into the intersection in almost the same moment that Zhou Yixing emerged.
When Zhou Yixing saw Bai Xiaochun, his expression flickered. He had been jumpy with fear lately himself. Although the bizarre entities in the labyrinth weren't completely impossible to escape from, without his star sigil, Zhou Yixing would likely have been killed long ago.
At the moment, he seemed to be in bad condition. His hair was disheveled, and his bag of holding was running low on magical items. Worse, his star sigil was fading away from being used so many times. Once it ran out, the only way to get a new one would be to return to his clan and kowtow in front of the ancestral shrine for 49 years.
As far as he was concerned, the main reason he was on the verge of losing his star sigil was Bai Xiaochun. Before encountering him, everything in the labyrinth had gone well, but afterward, he had been plagued with bad luck.
Never could he have imagined that after days without seeing anyone, the first person he would encounter would be Bai Xiaochun!
“You’re the gorilla, Bai Xiaochun!” he shouted. “Everyone in your family is a gorilla!”
Actually, he wasn't completely sure who this person was, but was convinced that he had to be Bai Xiaochun. Even as Bai Xiaochun neared, Zhou Yixing lifted his greatbow and unleashed a rapid succession of nine soul arrows.
In response, Bai Xiaochun laughed and opened his Eternal Parasol, easily blocking all of the soul arrows before closing in on Zhou Yixing.
Zhou Yixing immediately noticed the nine designs on the Eternal Parasol, and recalled that before, it only had eight. His eyes turned red, and he let out a bellow of rage.
It didn’t take much speculation on his part to reach the conclusion that his own nine-colored flame had been used to perform another spirit enhancement. The fact that Bai Xiaochun had succeeded with the spirit enhancement on the first time seemed like a complete stroke of luck, and further incensed Zhou Yixing.
“No need to get angry, Mr. Gorilla. Just tell me what your name is!” Closing the Eternal Parasol, he performing an incantation gesture and waved his hand, sending frigid qi blasting out to form a hail of ice spikes which sped toward Zhou Yixing.
The truth was that Bai Xiaochun was very happy to have encountered Zhou Yixing, and was not inclined to kill him, not after spending so many days alone. He had even begun to regret leaving Master God-Diviner and Zhao Long behind, so any familiar face at all was like a blessing.
“I'm Zhou Yixing 周一星, you moron!” he roared, leaping back to avoid the ice spikes, and simultaneously performing a double-handed incantation gesture that caused numerous vengeful soul to burst out from inside of him. The souls quickly merged together into a magical symbol, which then erupted with soul fire as it moved forward to meet the ice spikes.
Rumbling sounds echoed out as the ice spikes shattered, releasing a shockwave that Zhou Yixing took advantage of to retreat. At the same time, he shot out a succession of eighteen soul arrows!
“Time to die!!” he screamed.
Without his Eternal Parasol, Bai Xiaochun would have had a hard time dealing with Zhou Yixing’s bow, which also had received a ninefold spirit enhancement. But things were different now.
“Zhou Yixing 周一猩? You mean the xing for gorilla? So you really are a gorilla! Hahaha!” Bai Xiaochun snapped open the Eternal Parasol and yet again blocked the soul arrows, then unleashed his frigid qi to send out a volley of ice spikes.
His plan was to capture Zhou Yixing alive, and then hopefully extract some necromancer secrets from him. Even better, if he ran into some powerful enemy, he could toss him out as bait or cannon fodder....Previous Chapter Next Chapter
In this chapter I tried to convey the wordplay regarding the two different characters pronounced "xīng" without using footnotes. I think it came across, please let me know if it didn't. In Chinese it's pretty funny, similar to how you could joke with a guy named Harry by calling him Hairy.