Some distance away from the town, the deva who had just made such an impressive showing was currently flying through the air over Crosspeak Prefecture.
“This is all the fault of those vermin from the Heavenspan Realm!” he muttered.
He was the youngest deva in Crosspeak Prefecture, a fact of which he was very proud, arrogant even. Considering that he had already made such achievements, it seemed likely that his future prospects were considerable.
Although reaching the Demigod Realm might not be realistic, he was confident that he would eventually get to the great circle of the Deva Realm.
“Why don’t the Heavenspan people just hand themselves over to be slaves? Why resist? What’s the point of struggling?!” The man chuckled, thinking back to the search for Heavenspan cultivators which had already gone on over the past half year or so in Crosspeak Prefecture. A flicker of scorn passed through his eyes.
“From what I heard, the legacy of the Arch-Emperor Dynasty was never passed on. They had some guy called the Celestial? How dare he call himself that without ever having reached the Mahayana Realm! And what about that Arch-Ancestor?” The man shook his head arrogantly.
“Although, people with the blood of the Heavenspan Realm are supposedly really good at spirit enhancement…. That’s pretty amazing.” At this point, his eyes began to burn with anticipation. After all, the rewards offered by the Vile-Emperor were quite attractive. Pushing forward with greater speed, he thought, “The best would be to capture one of the Heavenspan devas….”
Even as his heart surged with excitement, the air around him suddenly distorted. It happened so quickly that he had no time to react. A hand suddenly appeared out of nowhere, which then reached out and grabbed him by the neck!
“You--” The man’s eyes went wide, filling with terror and shock as he realized that he was powerless to struggle against this hand. In fact, he could sense that all the hand needed to do was squeeze down a bit, and he would be crushed out of existence.
“Demigod!?!?” He didn’t even have time to transmit a message before that very power he feared erupted into him. However, it didn’t kill him, it merely shoved him into unconsciousness. Then, he was dragged away by the hand, vanishing without a trace.
From the moment the hand appeared until both of them were gone, only a brief moment passed. No evidence was left behind of what had occurred, not even a tiny energy fluctuation.
Back in the temple, a cold, grim expression could be seen on Bai Xiaochun’s face as he sat there against the wall. A moment later, the giant Ghost King entered, his expression equally grave, a limp deva held in his hand the same way he might hold a chicken.
After walking over to Bai Xiaochun, he dumped the deva down onto the ground. The deva shivered and opened his eyes. After looking around and seeing Bai Xiaochun and the Giant Ghost King, he began to pant.
“Who are you people?!?!” he blurted, his mind and heart battered by waves of shock as he realized that his cultivation base was sealed, making him little more than a mortal. As for the old man who had captured him, he had his cultivation base fluctuations masked to a certain degree, but the deva could tell that he was no ordinary demigod!
The pressure the deva felt when looking at him was even more terrifying than those of Crosspeak Prefecture’s preceptor, the demigod Master Dust-Origin!
Then he looked over at Bai Xiaochun, sitting off to the side with a blank face. When Bai Xiaochun looked back at him, he sensed something intangible stabbing into him, causing his head to spin, and shaking him down to the depths of his being. It was as if that gaze contained divine sense which could peer at every aspect of him, inside and out. At this point, the deva cultivator felt ten times more shaken than he had before.
“C-cel… celes… celestial…!” he stammered. Years ago, he had accompanied the demigod preceptor to visit the celestial who presided over the third immortal domain, and back then, he had experienced this same feeling.
It was as if the person sitting in front of him wasn’t a cultivator, but rather, a god!!
As of this moment, he had no need to ask who this person was….
“You’re… Arch-Ancestor Bai Xiaochun!” he said in a quavering voice. He had now fully resolved to not do anything to resist.
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes flickered with cold light and killing intent. The fact that this person knew who he was would actually make certain matters easier to handle.
Narrowing his eyes, the Giant Ghost King said, “Where are you from?!”
Knowing who Bai Xiaochun was, the deva could already begin to speculate who this old man was that kept him company, although he couldn’t be certain. In any case, considering that he was a demigod, there was no way to conceal anything from him. The deva knew that if he didn’t talk quickly enough, the man would have plenty of ways of making him talk.
When he saw Bai Xiaochun frown in response to what he had just said, his heart began to pound, and he added, “Junior’s name is Li Hai. I am a subordinate of the preceptor of Crosspeak Prefecture, the seventeenth prefecture of the third immortal domain of the Vile-Emperor Dynasty.
“There are a total of six celestials in the Vile-Emperor Dynasty, who rotate leadership of the second and third immortal domains. Currently overseeing the third immortal domain is Celestial Ghostmother.”
In response to the man’s words, Bai Xiaochun’s eyes narrowed, and the Giant Ghost King’s heart began to pound. Both of them were familiar with the name Ghostmother. The huge fight between the gravekeeper and Gongsun Wan’er in the Wildlands was something the Giant Ghost King could never forget.
“Ghostmother?” Bai Xiaochun asked. “Not Celestial Virūpākṣa?”
The divine abilities and Daoist magics of Ghostmother were of the same line of cultivation as the Giant Ghost King’s. Despite how down-and-out both he and Bai Xiaochun had been during the past several months, they had still come to know a lot about the third immortal domain. For example, the celestial in charge of it should not have been Ghostmother, but someone with the Daoist name of Virūpākṣa, which meant all-seeing.
Upon hearing different information from this Li Hai, the Giant Ghost King frowned, walked over, and clamped his hand down onto the top of the man’s head. Instead of wasting time speaking, he decided to simply resort to a soulsearch.
Screams erupted from Li Hai, but none of them went beyond the confines of the temple. He twitched, blood oozing out of his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. It wasn’t that he didn’t think to end the pain by self-detonating, but rather, he couldn’t. In much the same fashion as the numerous Heavenspan cultivators that he himself had soulsearched in recent days, he eventually began to lose consciousness.
Eventually, the Giant Ghost King removed his hand, whereupon Li Hai coughed up a mouthful of blood and then flopped down onto his back, dead.
“Any information about Hou Xiaomei, Big Fatty Zhang, or any of the others?” Bai Xiaochun asked quietly.
“No. I just know that Ghostmother took over for Celestial Virūpākṣa last month.” The Giant Ghost King actually didn't know Hou Xiaomei or Big Fatty Zhang, but hadn’t seen any information about them in Li Hai’s mind.
“Ghostmother is in charge now. She has seventeen demigod preceptors, who in turn oversee seventeen prefectures here in the third immortal domain. Every preceptor has numerous devas under their command….
“The Vile-Emperor has ordered a full-scale manhunt to track down everyone from the Heavenspan Realm, and Ghostmother is going all out to scour the third immortal domain.
“They’re even trying to bring in all the corpses….
“One reason for the search is that the Vile-Emperor Dynasty wants to bolster their own forces. But even more importantly… they figured out that we people from the Heavenspan Realm have something special about us. We have a type of Daoist magic that no one from the Vile-Emperor Dynasty or the Saint-Emperor Dynasty can match. And that is… spirit enhancement!
“Only Heavenspan cultivators can perform spirit enhancements. No amount of research by cultivators from either of the other two dynasties provide any help in that regard. The only way it can be accomplished is with Heavenspan blood!
“Therefore, all three of the immortal domains controlled by the Vile-Emperor Dynasty are being searched, and it’s the same in the Saint-Emperor Dynasty. The main difference is that the Vile-Emperor Dynasty is openly revealing their intent to enslave the Heavenspan cultivators. The Saint-Emperor Dynasty is at least proclaiming a desire to offer help.” Having finished his analysis from the soulsearch, the Giant Ghost King looked at Bai Xiaochun with sparkling eyes.
“Xiaochun, the time has come to stop sitting around wasting time!”
1. The “real life” Virūpākṣa is (ironically) one of the four heavenly kings of Buddhism.