Bai Xiaochun felt like his ears were itching in frustration. He was determined to wolf down as many lotus seeds as he could, and yet, despite pondering the issue for an entire night, had nothing to show for it.
He had no interest in attending the second lotus banquet. Instead, he strolled along the edge of the lotus leaf, looking at the seed pods that floated on the lake’s surface, as well as those which were further down in the water, and had yet to rise.
“This Saint-Emperor Dynasty is way too rich,” he muttered to himself, his eyes bloodshot. “I can’t believe they just keep dragonfish and lotus seeds sitting around in this heavenly pond of theirs….
“You can see them… but you can’t eat them….” If he were capable of beating the three celestials in a fight, and the Saint-Emperor too, he would just have dived into the water and started grabbing seeds.
His desire only grew stronger as time passed. After the destruction of the Heavenspan Realm, and his arrival in the Eternal Lands, he had come to realize more than ever that getting stronger was the only way to achieve his goals.
It was going to take a lot to achieve a cultivation base breakthrough in these unfamiliar Eternal Lands. It would have been one thing if he had a lot of time on his hands, but right now, time was not something he had the luxury of wasting.
A few days passed in which his anxiety fermented, and the lotus banquets continued. All of his energy was focused on trying to figure out how to get more lotus seeds, to the point where he spent every day walking along the edges of the lotus leaves.
A lot of people noticed this behavior of his. But most people were wrapped up in thoughts about the lotus banquets. Besides, lotus seeds were not dragonfish, and everyone assumed it would be impossible for him to secretly harvest some.
Furthermore, the Saint-Emperor was no longer in secluded meditation. He was there every day, presiding over the lotus banquets. Because of that, the court officials who could guess what Bai Xiaochun was thinking didn’t really give it much weight.
“We have rules in the Saint-Emperor Dynasty. Nobody, no matter how important they are, would ever think of taking an immortal lotus seed without permission. Anyone who did… would be breaking a very important rule!” Many a cold laugh echoed within the hearts of the people of the Saint-Emperor Dynasty.
Of course, they all knew that Bai Xiaochun was important to the Saint-Emperor. But even if he were more important than he already was, there were certain lines that could not be crossed. Bai Xiaochun had escaped any real punishment in the heavenly dragonfish incident both because of his usefulness to the Saint-Emperor Dynasty, and also because of the fact that he had been very careful. Because of that, the Saint-Emperor Dynasty chose to simply let the matter slide.
But the lotus seeds were inanimate objects that could not fly into Bai Xiaochun’s hands of their own accord. The only way for him to get them would be to outright steal them!
And if he did that, he would be doomed, no questions asked!
Because of all of these things, most of the aristocracy didn’t put too much thought into the matter.
With the exception of Heavenly Marquis Liu.
He had noticed Bai Xiaochun’s odd behavior in recent days, and it immediately put him on guard. Filled with excitement, he began to surveil Bai Xiaochun even more closely than usual. Back when he had first been appointed parole captain, he had been very enthusiastic about monitoring Bai Xiaochun. But after a few months went by in which Bai Xiaochun behaved well, Heavenly Marquis Liu had begun to get nervous that nothing more would happen.
“You’re as crafty as a rat, Bai Xiaochun. But you won’t be able to evade my discerning eyes!” When it came to monitoring Bai Xiaochun, Heavenly Marquis Liu couldn’t see what happened inside of his blessed land, but as soon as he went out into the open, he could watch him secretly from the shadows.
Another three days passed. The officials proudly continued to attend the lotus banquets, and Heavenly Marquis Liu maintained full vigilance. Bai Xiaochun eventually became aware that Heavenly Marquis Liu was shadowing him. But around the same time, he came up with a plan that he was fairly certain would succeed.
“This is the only way I can do it!” he thought. From that point on, he didn’t go to the heavenly pond to look at the lotus pods anymore. He remained in his blessed land, where Heavenly Marquis Liu couldn’t see him. There, he performed an incantation gesture to seal the area, and then settled down cross-legged to meditate.
Outside, Heavenly Marquis Liu found a good spot nearby to stake out Bai Xiaochun’s blessed land, where he remained, eyes glued to the immortal's cave for several days in a row.
He was so excited about what was to come that he didn't even get tired. He was absolutely sure that whatever evil plan Bai Xiaochun had come up with was about to be carried out…
“All I have to do is catch him in the act, and it will count as a huge service to the dynasty!” The mere thought got him more excited, and he poured all of his energy into making sure that Bai Xiaochun didn’t get a chance to harm even a single lotus seed.
“I don't care what your plan is. I know you’re after the lotus seeds. And with me watching you so closely, you’ll never be able to get them without being spotted!”
Eventually, Heavenly Marquis Liu was getting antsy with excitement, whereas Bai Xiaochun was still sitting there meditating. For several hours, he didn’t even move, until finally, night fell. At that point, he surreptitiously sent some divine sense into his bag of holding.
“Get out here, little turtle!” he said. However, there was no response. After the destruction of the Heavenspan Realm, Bai Xiaochun hadn’t seen the turtle, but was absolutely convinced that he was in his bag of holding. The end of the world would definitely not hurt him.
Impatient, Bai Xiaochun yet again called out with his divine sense. “Enough with the act! Get the hell out here!”
He snorted coldly, and yet, there was still no reaction. “Not gonna come out, huh? Fine. Fine, let’s settle accounts….”
Another long moment passed.
“You’re really not there?” he said, surprised. Shaking his head, he sighed. “Well, that's too bad. I guess he won’t have a chance at this treasure….”
Perhaps it was the word ‘treasure’ itself, which was too enticing. As soon as he spoke it, he got a reaction from inside his bag of holding.
“Treasure? What treasure?” The little turtle's voice was faint in his mind, as though he had been sleeping, and just woken up. However, it only took a moment for it to get back to normal
“Alright, little Xiaochun, you tell Lord Turtle what treasure you’ve found immediately!” At this point, the little turtle’s head popped out of Bai Xiaochun’s bag of holding. Before Bai Xiaochun could even respond, he sniffed the air, and his eyes lit up.
“Aha! Lord Turtle has detected the aroma of treasure!! Dammit! I didn’t realize that all that blood I lost made me a lot less sensitive to treasure!!” Eyes widening with excitement, the little turtle prepare to burst into motion. Before he could, Bai Xiaochun grabbed him and shoved him back into the bag of holding.
“Keep your voice down!” he said urgently via divine sense. “We’re being watched!” In response, a spark of killing intent appeared in the little turtle’s eyes.
“Who? Who is watching the mighty Lord Turtle?! Who dares to try to steal Lord Turtle’s treasure?!”
Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat and said, “It's this guy named Liu Yong! He’s staking us out right now! He's the one who wants to steal our treasure!”
“How dare he! Lord Turtle will beat him to death!!” The little turtle hated nothing in life more than people who stole treasure from him.
“Hold on, we can worry about that later. Little turtle, look at how many lotus seed pods are in that heavenly pond out there. There are too many to count, and each one… is like an immortal pill!
“You sneak out there and keep yourself hidden. We split things 30/70. I get the 70. After all, I'm the one who came across this treasure. Plus, I’ll help cover for you!”
This was Bai Xiaochun’s plan. Since the lotus seeds were inanimate objects that lacked any intelligence whatsoever, all he had to do was figure out a way to get them.
However, because of who he was, and how many people were suspicious of him and watching him, he would get the stealthy little turtle to do his work for him. It was the perfect plan.
The most difficult part was coming to an agreement on the split. He and the turtle haggled for a bit, and eventually agreed to split everything 50/50. Then, the little turtle blurred into motion, vanishing from the bag of holding and leaving the blessed land.
Despite how closely Heavenly Marquis Liu was keeping watch, he didn’t even notice the turtle speed past him. Some distance away, the little turtle looked back proudly at Heavenly Marquis Liu there in his hiding place. Then he suddenly began to burrow down into the ground. Before long, he was in front of one of the underwater seed pods, which he sniffed at a bit before opening his mouth and taking a big bite. After chewing it up, his eyes glittered.
“So, little Xiaochun wasn’t lying. Crispy and delicious!” Licking his lips, he ate the entire seed pod. After that, he realized he needed to be more careful, and began to go around carefully extracting seeds without damaging the pods.
Before long, he was back in the blessed land, where he proudly threw eight lotus seeds over to Bai Xiaochun.
“Eat up!” he said. Then he burped. Clearly, he had stuffed himself before coming back….
The lotus seeds were very small, about the size of a fingernail. However, as soon as Bai Xiaochun laid eyes on them, his eyes lit up. Grabbing them, he stuffed them into his mouth.
Although they weren’t as strong as the one he had been gifted earlier, when they melted into his mouth, they gave birth to a huge blast of heat that roared through him.