Not only was the voice somber, but it was the weighty type that would apparently not tolerate the slightest bit of disobedience. Anyone who heard that voice would instantly feel shaken inwardly.
Even as the voice echoed out, a middle-aged man appeared, clad in a long black robe. A moment ago, he had been some distance away, but a single step brought him to stand right in front of Bai Xiaochun, blocking his path forward.
“Huh?” Bai Xiaochun said, his eyes going wide. Whoever this man was, he moved incredibly quickly, so quickly that before his words had finished entering Bai Xiaochun’s ears, the man was already standing right there in his line of sight.
He was handsome, with long black hair that made him quite dashing despite the fact that he seemed to be middle-aged. There was also something profound about him, as though his gaze contained the starry sky itself. A mere look at him left Bai Xiaochun shaken.
Although his clothing seemed casually selected, the way he stood there made him seem as if he were fused with heaven and earth. He was not quite at the level of a deva in that regard, but seemed capable of reaching that level at any time. It was as if he could draw upon the energy of heaven and earth and transform it into boundless battle prowess.
He was not in the Deva Realm, but neither was he in the great circle of the Nascent Soul stage. He had reached a point where he could understand some of the magical laws of heaven and earth, which meant that he… was in the quasi-Deva Realm!!
Bai Xiaochun suddenly felt as if his breathing were stifled, and he couldn’t even speak.
Although what had occurred so far takes a bit of time to describe, all of it happened in the time it takes to say a short sentence. When Li Hongming saw who was now standing there, his expression turned profoundly solemn, and his eyes began to shine with fervor. Clasping hands, he bowed extremely deeply.
Bai Xiaochun’s heart immediately flip-flopped as he realized who this man was. Considering that Li Hongming had called him General, it meant that he was obviously... the commanding general of the Skin Flayers!
Bai Xiaochun immediately clasped hands and bowed.
The black-robed man looked calmly at Bai Xiaochun and then said, “I just asked you if you really want to enlist with the Skin Flayers.”
Bai Xiaochun immediately regretted what he had just said. Seeing the black-robed general staring at him, he started to get nervous, and stammered, “Um... w-well I don't....”
Before he could finish speaking, the black-robed man’s eyes began to shine aggressively.
“Hmm?” A murderous aura suddenly exploded off of him, transforming into wave-like ripples of rage that threatened to capsize the tiny rowboat that was Bai Xiaochun. “Think your answer through clearly before you give it.”
Despite how calmly he spoke, the man’s words echoed like thunder in Bai Xiaochun’s mind.
Bai Xiaochun felt an indescribable pressure weighing down on him, leaving him both trembling and literally on the verge of tears. His eyes were red, and he suddenly had the feeling that if he didn’t agree to enlist, then he might be struck down dead on the spot.
Swallowing hard, he said, “Um... I'm a hostage... it’s kind of a sensitive position....”
“Hostage?” Looking surprised, the man waved his right hand, causing a jade slip to appear in his palm. After examining some information inside, he looked up in thought for a moment.
Bai Xiaochun’s heart was pounding with anxiety. He was completely convinced that he must not stay by the Great Wall; it was far too dangerous, and if he didn't leave, he would likely lose his poor little life. However, because of what was happening right now, his emotions were quickly devolving into complete despair.
After a long moment of silence, the black-robed man put away the jade slip and said, “That doesn’t matter. Since you wish to stay here, then I can resolve the issue of you being a hostage. Very well, the matter is settled. From this day on, you are a soldier in the Skin Flayers!”
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes went wide, and seeing that the black-robed man was already turning to leave, he quickly cried, “I'm a chosen! I’m in the top ten of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Superstars! I'm free to do whatever I--”
“Chosen?” the man said, not even bothering to look back, his voice ringing with decisiveness that could sever nails and chop iron. “That’s even better!”
Anger rising, Bai Xiaochun cried, “I... I don’t want to enlist! I take back what I said, alright?”
“Taking it back won’t do any good. You’ve been conscripted. Term of service: ten years.” The man stopped walking and then extended his right hand, within which appeared a violet command medallion, emblazoned with the terrifying, murderous sigil of the Skin Flayers.
“As a general of one of the five legions here at the Great Wall, I have the power to conscript anyone I want. Those were some nice medicinal pills you used yesterday, and will be of great use here. Let me put it his way, Bai Xiaochun: you’re staying here... whether you want to or not!”
Flicking his sleeve, he looked over at Li Hongming.
“Sir!?” Li Hongming replied loudly.
“Get him his uniform and then take him to the Armory!” With that, the man left, completely ignoring how Bai Xiaochun was reacting to all of this.
Bai Xiaochun felt like weeping, but no tears would come. That was even more the case considering that as the black-robed man had spoken moments ago, a few dozen cultivators had appeared in the area, bristling with murderous auras. They were the type who had obviously fought in countless military campaigns, and had done so much killing that their eyes glowed red. The mere fact that they were looking at Bai Xiaochun left him jumpy.
Clearly, if he refused to comply with the orders, they would not let him leave alive!
Bai Xiaochun was both furious, and also filled with regret. He knew that all of this was the result of him trying to show off a bit....
“If I could take it all back,” he thought, scowling on the verge of tears, “I would never have jumped out into the limelight....” Then, he looked at the back of the black-robed man as he headed off into the distance, and decided to throw caution to the wind.
“General!” he shouted at the top of his lungs.
His words echoed out like thunder, causing the eyes of the surrounding cultivators to grow even sharper than before. Li Hongming was clearly getting anxious, worried that Bai Xiaochun might do something to offend Bai Lin. He well knew that Bai Lin was the type of person who could slaughter both savages and cultivators without batting an eyelid. His rules for the Skin Flayers’ legion were very strict, and thus, Li Hongming quickly tried to give Bai Xiaochun a meaningful look.
Meanwhile, Bai Lin stopped in place for a second time.
“What do you want?!” he said, turning around slowly, his eyes as cold as ice.
Bai Xiaochun immediately shivered as though he had suddenly been dropped into the dead of winter. He wasn’t the only one to have such a feeling. Li Hongming and the other cultivators were suddenly trembling in their boots.
Dejected by how terrifying the man’s gaze was, Bai Xiaochun lowered his voice and said, “If you want to conscript me into the Skin Flayers, that’s fine. But you haven’t told me what my salary will be!”
Li Hongming gasped in response. He knew that Bai Lin was a moody person, and if Bai Xiaochun provoked him in the wrong way, it wouldn’t matter what his background was. If Bai Lin wanted Bai Xiaochun dead, then nobody in Great Wall City could stop him.
“You’ll serve for ten years,” Bai Lin said coldly. “Each year, your salary will be five times what you get in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect! As for other rewards, you can acquire them using battle credit!” With that, he turned to leave.
“General!!” Bai Xiaochun shouted.
This time, Li Hongming was wailing inwardly at how brazen Bai Xiaochun was acting. Li Hongming himself would never dare to open his mouth a second time, were he in Bai Xiaochun’s shoes.
The other surrounding cultivators all felt the same. From what they could tell, this Bai Xiaochun... really had some balls.
As for Bai Lin, his murderous aura suddenly intensified by multiple levels. His hair began to fly around in the air as his aura raged out, causing brightly-colored lights to flash in heaven and earth. As of this point, he looked like a god of death as he stared wordlessly at Bai Xiaochun, making the entire area seem more and more cold. The entire Skin Flayers’ district was now completely and utterly silent.
Bai Xiaochun was trembling. The truth was that he didn't really want to yell out, but at the same time, he had the feeling that if he didn’t make some demands now, he wouldn’t get another chance later. Therefore, he steeled himself and said, “I had two Dao protectors, both of them dear friends.... They were in charge of keeping me safe. Um... I’d really hate to be stuck here all alone, is there any way you could send for them?”
Had Song Que or Master God-Diviner been there to hear his words, they would immediately have coughed up mouthfuls of blood, and instantly begun to curse him. To join the army that defended the Great Wall was like a death sentence, and anyone with sense would refuse to do so.... Furthermore, there was no way that either of them could have imagined that after fleeing again, Bai Xiaochun would be trying to get them back....
However, neither Bai Lin nor Li Hongming knew Bai Xiaochun very well, so to them, his words carried a different meaning. From what they could tell, Bai Xiaochun was worried that if he stayed at Great Wall City, his Dao protectors would probably go through a lot of trouble going around searching for him. Thus, in his attempt to care for them, he was asking that they join him.
The fact that, despite being under such pressure and facing Bai Lin’s murderous aura, Bai Xiaochun would still make such a request showed how much he valued friendship and loyalty.
Bai Lin’s expression immediately softened a bit.
“I'm afraid that’s not possible....” he said. “However... I can promise that if you gain enough battle credit, then you can go find your two friends and conscript them yourself!" With that, Bai Lin flickered into motion and disappeared, not giving Bai Xiaochun any more chances to say anything else.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Second try uploading this chapter for the new site. Still lots of kinks to work out and features to add. Meme available here.
There is a "sneak peek" function but I have yet to play with it and see how it works. Will do so later.