Bai Xiaochun had a very fulfilling life in the following days. Preventing people from passing the levels, and thus protecting his personal wealth, made him come to the conclusion that it had definitely been worth it to come to this damaged fan.
Furthermore, the fact that he really could prevent people from passing the levels seemed to indicate that he truly was the owner of the fan.
Such thoughts, and the anticipation that came along with them, kept him in very high spirits. Even better was that nobody knew what was going on. The dismal look he kept on his face, and his constant sighs, were a thing of habit now.
Another half a month passed by. Bai Xiaochun was simply counting the days until the time limit passed. However, that was when Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua, who up to this point had almost completely ignored him, came for a talk.
They showed up so suddenly that he was startled. However, he kept his facial expression smooth. Heart pounding, he tried to discern if the other two celestials had picked up on any clues about what was happening…. That didn’t seem likely, though, as Gu Tianjun’s expression was as grim as it always was, whereas Sima Yunhua was smiling.
After shooing away any nearby cultivators, Sima Yunhua looked Bai Xiaochun up and down and then said, “Fellow Daoist Bai, we noticed that you’ve been stuck on the seventh level for two months now, and were wondering if you’d be interested in working out a deal?”
In response, Bai Xiaochun’s eyes narrowed.
Sima Yunhua didn’t take offense. In fact, his smile grew broader as he went on to offer further explanation.
“Fellow Daoist Bai, you must have heard that Celestial Virūpākṣa, Prince Ur-Demon and Reverend Devourer have disappeared!”
Those words caused Bai Xiaochun’s heart to begin to pound. For one thing, he knew exactly where those three celestials were. However, there seemed to be some hidden implication in Sima Yunhua’s words that he wasn't picking up on.
Glaring a bit to cover up his guilty conscience, he coldly said, “Fellow Daoist Sima, if you have something you want to say, just say it!”
“Please, don’t misunderstand me, Fellow Daoist Bai,” Sima Yunhua replied, smiling just like before. “I bear no ill intentions. Fellow Daoist Bai, you’re originally from the Heavenspan Realm, but right now, we all represent the Saint-Emperor Dynasty.
“Regarding the situation with Celestial Virūpākṣa, Reverend Devourer and Prince Ur-Demon, well, I won’t keep anything from you. Fellow Daoist Gu and I already looked into the matter a while ago. Based on the clues we discovered… we are certain that the other three celestials found a loophole that let them enter the challenge levels together, and join forces to pass them!” Sima Yunhua spoke his words with much confidence, and then waited to see how Bai Xiaochun would react.
Bai Xiaochun quickly put a confused and suspicious expression on his face.
“Most likely,” Sima Yunhua continued, “the three of them are either stuck in one of the higher levels, or… have used another trick to get into a different part of the damaged fan!
“Either way, the time limit is rapidly approaching. We only have about a month left. If the three of us don’t join forces right now, then I’m afraid none of us will have a shot at the good fortune available!” By this point, Sima Yunhua was not smiling anymore, but rather, spoke in a very serious tone.
“I spent a considerable bit of time trying to figure out what loophole Celestial Virūpākṣa discovered. At long last, I’m confident that I can do the same thing. I can definitely get the three of us into the same level!
“As you may know, Fellow Daoist Gu and I are both in the eighteenth level. We've been stuck there for a while, unable to make any progress. And thus, we’ve come to ask for your help, Fellow Daoist Bai!
“We can help you past the seventh level, as well as all the levels after that. Then, once we get to the eighteenth level, the three of us can go all out for the rest of the month that’s left!” Back when Bai Xiaochun was a demigod, Sima Yunhua would never have directly asked him for help like this, nor told him the truth of matters. But now, Bai Xiaochun was a celestial, and although none of them had worked together before, it was obvious to Sima Yunhua that Bai Xiaochun was no weakling.
Clearly, he felt that it was important to tell the truth to someone he planned to work with, and therefore, revealed all of the details up front. Then, he waited to see what Bai Xiaochun would decide.
He was very confident that Bai Xiaochun would agree. In fact, after discussing the matter with Gu Tianjun, he was absolutely sure that Bai Xiaochun had no reason to refuse. After all, Bai Xiaochun was stuck in the seventh level, which had nothing to do with his cultivation base. It was a maze, and therefore, was difficult to pass through without a set strategy.
If Bai Xiaochun agreed to the proposal, then he would at least get to the eighteenth level without any problems. And considering he would be working with Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua, it was very possible they would get farther.
As far as Gu Tianjun and Sima Yunhua were concerned, they would be the ones offering help up front. Therefore, they didn’t see any reason why Bai Xiaochun should refuse.
Bai Xiaochun sat there quietly for a moment. From Sima Yunhua’s perspective, it seemed he must be thinking about the possible benefits. However, what he was really thinking about was the frustrations that would come if he refused.
“These guys are just looking to cause trouble, aren’t they? Just let me stay in the seventh level! Then, when the month is up, the fan will be mine. Why’d they have to come looking to team up…?
“And I can’t really refuse, can I? That wouldn’t really make sense, and would only serve to rouse their suspicions. And considering how smart they are, they might start guessing what's really going on, and that could be a problem.” Although he didn’t really want to accept the offer, he knew that he couldn’t refuse.
“How do we split the rewards from the seventh to seventeenth levels?” he asked coldly. “And what about the rewards after that?!”
When Sima Yunhua heard this question, he smiled.
“Fellow Daoist Bai, you can keep the rewards for all of the levels you pass on your own. Once we start working together, we’ll just split things evenly! Do you agree, Fellow Daoist Gu?” With that, Sima Yunhua looked over at Gu Tianjun. As for Bai Xiaochun, he was not feeling very happy about the arrangement, but didn’t let that show as he also looked at Gu Tianjun.
Gu Tianjun said nothing in response. He merely snorted and nodded.
Sima Yunhua seemed very pleased to have achieved his goal, and was also convinced that Bai Xiaochun wouldn’t regret joining them. And even if he did regret it, Sima Yunhua had ways of convincing him to change his mind.
Having no further compunctions, Sima Yunhua quickly told Bai Xiaochun the secret to passing the seventh level.
“You destroy the maze?” Bai Xiaochun said, stunned. The truth was that he hadn’t even thought about the seventh level lately. However, after hearing Sima Yunhua’s explanation, and thinking about it for a bit, he realized that it did seem like a good method. And it also explained why Celestial Virūpākṣa had passed the level so quickly; that conformed fully with his personality.
He couldn't find the exit, so he broke one open.
Of course, only a celestial cultivation base could be used to do that. Demigod cultivation bases wouldn't be able to.
Smiling, Sima Yunhua went on to explain how to pass through all of the rest of the levels from the eighth to the seventeenth. In fact, from how quickly he spoke, it seemed he was much more anxious that Bai Xiaochun get through them than Bai Xiaochun himself was….
Considering the power Bai Xiaochun had to control the levels, he could tell that Sima Yunhua was not holding anything back. In the end, although he still didn’t really want to, he had no choice but to rise to his feet and head toward the seventh level.
However, he still did his best to kill as much time as possible. There was a whole month left, so therefore, every extra day he could buy was important.
And yet, Bai Xiaochun had underestimated how anxious Sima Yunhua and Gu Tianjun were. After three days passed in which he had only gotten as far as the eleventh level, the other two celestials lost their patience, and used a special secret magic to offer direct assistance.
Bai Xiaochun actually didn’t need to do anything. With their secret magic, the level was vanquished like an ice cube crushed by a hammer. Bai Xiaochun wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry as, in the shortest of times, he reached the seventeenth level in a single day.
Rewards in hand, he looked around blinking.
“Those two bastards really have it out for me, don't they?” he thought, maintaining full vigilance. If Sima Yunhua weren’t so anxious, he would never have done things so blatantly. But Bai Xiaochun had just been going too slow. At that speed, it would have taken him half a month to get to the seventeenth level.
“This guy plays it too safe….” Sima Yunhua thought. “But even so, once he gets into the eighteenth level….” Although he was snorting coldly inside, his expression was one of enthusiastic friendliness.
“Fellow Daoist Bai, I know you're a bit suspicious about all of this, but I’m being very honest. I really don’t think we can get past the eighteenth level unless we work together. Plus, the clock is ticking. Therefore, why don’t we go into the level immediately?”