Bai Xiaochun hovered there panting, his mind reeling and his heart racing. Never could he have imagined that something like this would happen. It was true that he was shocked by how dangerous the trial by fire had turned out to be, but this new development surpassed anything and everything in terms of how astonishing it was.
The truth was that… this copper coin left him completely and utterly flabbergasted, to the ultimate degree!
Even after a very long moment passed, he wasn’t even close to calming down. Eventually, he made a beckoning gesture with his right hand, causing the copper coin to fly up into his palm. Then he looked at it closely, during which time his expression flickered with a variety of thoughts.
“How is this even possible…?” he murmured. The copper coin that rested in his palm was none other than… the copper coin which had once belonged to Master God-Diviner!!
Engraved on the surface of the coin was his very name! Master God-Diviner!
Bai Xiaochun clearly remembered the moment in which Master God-Diviner lost this coin, and how he had howled in grief….
As his fingers closed around the coin, he began to shiver uncontrollably, and think back to the moment when he, Master God-Diviner, and Song Que had been traversing the Deadmire. They had been sucked onto the strange bone galleon, whereupon Bai Xiaochun suggested to Master God-Diviner that he perform a divination to figure out how to escape. Master God-Diviner had pulled out this very copper coin, but had dropped it, whereupon it fell into a crack on the deck of the ghost galleon….
Even after descending into the lower decks of the galleon, Bai Xiaochun had never seen the coin again. It had vanished without a trace.
But now… here in this trial by fire, he found it!
Shivering and shaking, he looked up into the sky, feeling as cold as ice.
“What is this place…?” he thought, swallowing hard as he looked at the murky, leaden sky. All of a sudden, an idea popped into his head, an idea which, as he continued to think about it, caused his face to drain of blood.
“Don’t tell me that this trial by fire… is actually located… inside of that bone galleon?!?!” Mind reeling, he tried to convince himself that it couldn’t be possible. After all, Heavenspan Island with its trial by fire, and the Deadmire with its bone galleon, were two different locations.
No matter how he tried to reconcile it, it seemed impossible to connect the two together. How could the bone galleon and the trial by fire possibly be linked?
But… the presence of the copper coin seemed to indicate otherwise!
“If this place is part of that bone galleon, then that could explain why the Celestial sent the cultivators from the four rivers here to find an exit. It would also explain that extremely jarring teleportation we experienced.” The more he pondered the subject, the more alarmed he became, and the more he came to be convinced that there was a monumental secret tied up within this trial by fire.
But what was the secret?!
The truth was that he actually didn’t want to know. He couldn’t ever forget what he had seen on deck 3 of that bone galleon: a vanity, with… a faceless, one-armed ghostess sitting in front of it!
“It’s a good thing I had Great-Grandpa Gravekeeper’s command medallion to protect me!” He absentmindedly rubbed his bag of holding, where that very same command medallion still resided. At that point, he breathed a sigh of relief. However, the thought of the ghostess still caused his hair to stand on end.
“Maybe I'm overthinking things….” he thought, scowling on the verge of tears. However, it was at this point that he remembered seeing the bone galleon later on in the Deadmire, and realizing that it clearly had more than three decks….
At that point, his fear grew more intense, and he looked up at the sky again, expression that of disbelief.
“Don’t tell me… that we’re below deck 3?” Not wanting to sit around thinking about the matter, he hurried onward. And yet, he couldn’t clear his thoughts.
“It must be a coincidence…. Wait, hold on. If this is really the bone galleon, and the copper coin fell down through a hole in the deck, then that hole should still be there. If I can’t find any hole, then… then it means I’m just thinking too much into it….” Taking a deep breath, he cautiously flew straight up into the sky.
Feeling so nervous he almost couldn’t breathe, he continued upward, higher and higher.
He didn’t move too quickly, and kept his divine sense spread out around him at all times to look for danger. At the same time, he searched for any holes or rifts that would indicate a passage to another location.
However, after searching about for some time, he didn’t find any such rift in the murky sky. Gradually, he began to relax a bit.
“Hahaha! I knew it was just a coincidence!” Forcing a smile onto his face, he continued to search back and forth for a bit, but didn’t find any evidence to support his theory. Even that couldn’t fully dispel his suspicions, though.
“Maybe it’s a different coin. Or maybe someone found it and brought it here.” Neither option seemed very likely. However, he didn’t have any other evidence to work with. So after a bit more thought, he decided that the best thing would be to go see what was happening in the desert.
Having made up his mind, he took a deep breath and began to fly toward the desert. But then, a tremor ran through him, and his eyes widened.
Face falling, he craned his neck to look at a certain spot up ahead in the sky!!
Although that spot seemed ordinary in nature, when scanning it closely with divine sense… a rift was clearly visible!!
It wasn't very large, and it actually flickered in and out of existence. Without getting very close to it, and examining it with powerful divine sense, it wouldn't be visible. In fact, to Nascent Soul cultivators, it wouldn’t be detectable at all.
Only a powerful deva expert like Bai Xiaochun, who was closely searching the area, would ever notice it.
“There really is a hole….” he thought, his heart starting to pound. He looked at the rift, and then looked down toward the general area where he had discovered the copper coin. After making a quick calculation, he threw the coin down in the same trajectory he guessed it would have fallen if it emerged from the rift. Sure enough, it landed only a few meters away from its original location….
His mind began to spin even more violently.
“It really is the bone galleon!!” he shrieked. To him, that rift was like a fiendish monster. After all, the bizarre nature of the bone galleon had left a deep and terrifying impression on him.
Whether it was the three ghost faces on the flags on the deck of the ship, the mural on deck 1, or the skeletons and rocking chair on deck 2, they all left him trembling in fear….
There was also how Song Que and Master God-Diviner had lost their minds, and the most nerve-wracking thing of all… the ghostly mother on deck 3!!
Bai Xiaochun was absolutely certain that, without the gravekeeper’s command medallion, he would have most certainly died on the bone galleon.
“The thing about accepting a new apprentice was a complete smokescreen. The Celestial obviously had some other reasons for bringing the cultivators of the four rivers here to help him find the exit. He obviously couldn’t get onto the bone galleon by going into the Deadmire, thus the use of teleportation. Furthermore, he apparently didn’t dare to just come here by himself….
“All the evidence points to the conclusion that… he wants something inside the bone galleon, and is using the lower-level cultivators to get it!! In turn, that means… that the Celestial has been in the trial by fire all along!!” Shivering, he thought back to the young man who had been traveling with Du Lingfei.
“Back when I slapped that guy across the side of the head, I could tell that he didn't feel like a demigod….” Sweat began to pour down his face. “I actually slapped the Celestial….
“Wait, if the Celestial is here… then that means Gongsun Wan’er is probably here too!” The only person Bai Xiaochun feared more than the Celestial was Gongsun Wan’er. All of a sudden, he had no desire whatsoever to get out of the desert. He needed to find Big Fatty Zhang and his other friends, and then hide somewhere until the dust settled.
Even as he came to this conclusion, a mysterious and sinister voice suddenly echoed out from the rift he had just discovered.
“Now that you're here, why don’t you come in and look around…. After all, this isn’t your first time aboard.”
Bai Xiaochun let out a yelp of shock, then began to stammer, “This is a misunderstanding. That’s all, a misunderstanding…. Um… I took a wrong turn….”Previous Chapter Next Chapter