“What are you so worked up for!?” Bai Xiaochun barked, glaring. The servant shivered, then took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself down.
As far as Bai Xiaochun was concerned, this wasn’t a big deal at all. Whether or not the Vile-Emperor Dynasty and the Saint-Emperor Dynasty went to war had nothing to do with him. Besides, it didn’t seem likely to him that the two dynasties would actually launch a full-scale war anytime soon.
If there was nothing else to worry about, perhaps they would. But the enormous sovereign visible in the sky was no mere myth. In a situation like that, why would the two dynasties possibly go to war with each other?
Besides, four prefectures had already been lost in the north of the second immortal domain, so if the final northern prefecture went too, why would anyone be surprised? Perhaps it was the fact that it had been a long time since any of the prefectures in question had changed hands that had people so wound up.
The truth was that his analysis of the matter was quickly proven correct. Celestial Ghostmother simply occupied that final prefecture, and didn’t make any other hostile moves, much less start a war. In fact, she didn’t even kill anyone. The demigod in charge of the prefecture, as well as many of the cultivators under his command, were summarily deported to the Saint-Emperor Dynasty.
“What is Gongsun Wan’er doing over here?” Bai Xiaochun thought. Matters of war didn't interest him, but he was definitely curious about what Gongsun Wan’er was up to. Whenever he thought about the fact that Ghostmother was actually Gongsun Wan’er, he felt very pleased with himself. And he couldn’t help but wonder how angry the Vile-Emperor must have been to find out what had happened.
Technically, Ghostmother and Gongsun Wan’er were one and the same, but not in all respects. Ghostmother was loyal to the Vile-Emperor, and was vicious and merciless. As for Gongsun Wan’er, she was also vicious and merciless, but considering everything that had gone on, she was much more closely connected to Bai Xiaochun.
“Why do I feel like I’ve heard about this prefecture before…?” Bai Xiaochun thought carefully about the matter before he realized the connection, and it caused him to laugh.
“That was where Marquis Zi Lin was stationed, wasn’t it?” Marquis Zi Lin had indeed been the preceptor of the last northern prefecture. After the incident at the city gate, Bai Xiaochun had been somewhat interested in his fate. A few days after he had been forced to kneel, Celestial Aged Spirit finally ordered him to leave the capital city.
From that, Bai Xiaochun could see Celestial Aged Spirit’s attitude in the matter. Although it seemed like he was respecting Bai Xiaochun’s feelings, that wasn’t really the case. Furthermore, Marquis Zi Lin’s hatred of Bai Xiaochun only continued to deepen.
As for the demigods in the other prefectures, they joined with their compatriot in hating him. It was something that couldn't be changed easily.
Bai Xiaochun was aware of all of this, and although he wasn’t too happy about it, he didn’t feel that it was appropriate to do anything. As far as he was concerned, he was the type of person who did monumental things. How could he possibly lower himself to the point of quibbling over minor grudges?
“Hmph. Back when I was a government official in the Wildlands, there were some people who called me the Venomous Magistrate!” Flicking his sleeve proudly, he ignored the matter and went back into his private chamber to continue his cultivation.
After a few days of tension due to the matter of that one northern prefecture, the people in the second immortal domain seemed to accept the matter, and things calmed down.
One afternoon as Bai Xiaochun was meditating in his private chamber, his transmission jade slip vibrated. After taking it out and scanning it with divine sense, his face lit up. Hurrying out of the chamber, he headed to the main entrance of his mansion, where he saw someone familiar, standing there tall and straight. It was the Giant Ghost King!
“Giant Ghost, old pal!” Bai Xiaochun said, laughing heartily. He quickly rushed over and embraced him. He had sent a message to the Giant Ghost King as soon as he arrived in the capital city, and although the Giant Ghost King had been very happy to hear from him, he had replied that he was unable to come visit. The prefecture he presided over was quite some distance away, and considering his responsibilities there, it wasn’t an easy thing to travel. Afterward, Bai Xiaochun had devoted himself to practicing cultivation with his command medallion, and hadn’t paid much attention to the passage of time.
He was obviously very pleased to see the Giant Ghost King, but the Giant Ghost King didn’t seem to respond the same way. After a long moment of hesitation, he forced a smile onto his face. Surprisingly, he didn’t correct Bai Xiaochun’s form of address. After all, in the past, he would often glare at Bai Xiaochun when he called him ‘old pal’, and then remind him that he was his father-in-law.
Bai Xiaochun quickly picked up on the awkwardness, but didn’t say anything. Grabbing the Giant Ghost King by the arm, he dragged him into the main hall, where the two of them sat down and were served some wonderful alcohol and fruit by the servants. After shooing the servants away, Bai Xiaochun raised his cup to the Giant Ghost King and said, “Father-in-law, allow your humble son-in-law to offer a toast. To your health!”
Hearing Bai Xiaochun address him in this way softened the Giant Ghost King’s heart to some degree. After offering some good-natured cursing, he accepted, and they drank together.
And thus they continued to drink and recall old times. At one point, they began to talk about the little village back in the Vile-Emperor Dynasty where they had reunited, and that one particular widow. Laughing, the Giant Ghost King went on to point out how, after being assigned a prefecture to manage, he was almost like an emperor himself. They drank and chatted some more, until eventually the Giant Ghost King thumped himself on the chest and said, “Let me tell you, Bai Xiaochun. Over in Godsifter Prefecture, your father-in-law is the top dog. All of the beautiful women have fallen in love with me!”
Bai Xiaochun rolled his eyes a bit, as if he didn’t believe the Giant Ghost King. However, he didn’t say anything, and just took a drink. The Giant Ghost King was not happy at this, and went on to angrily describe everything he had done in Godsifter Prefecture in very exaggerated and melodramatic fashion.
Bai Xiaochun tossed in the occasional sarcastic remark, provoking quite a few scolding taunts in return. Eventually, Bai Xiaochun began to tell his stories about Saint-Emperor City, starting with his fishing exploits, then moving on to the lotus seeds and then the seed pods. Finally, he finished with the lotus roots….
Although the Giant Ghost King had heard the stories from afar, to hear them right out of Bai Xiaochun’s mouth caused him to slap the table in amazement on numerous occasions. More than ever, he was convinced that it didn't matter where Bai Xiaochun ended up, he always became a calamitous god of calamity….
They drank deep into the night, at which point they had both gone through most of their good stories. During the course of the conversation, it had become obvious to Bai Xiaochun that the Giant Ghost King wasn’t in good shape. It was almost as if he had suffered some great blow of some sort. Lowering his voice, he quietly said, “My dear father-in-law. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? Is someone bullying you?”
The Giant Ghost King didn’t respond at first. He lifted his alcohol jug and swished it around to see how much was left, then downed it all. Finally, he took a deep breath and, his eyes bloodshot, viciously slapped his hand down onto the table.
“Complete and utter bullying!
“If Celestial Aged Spirit wants to imprison all of the Heavenspan cultivators he finds, so be it. I’m no match for him in a fight anyway.
“If he wants to completely ignore Godsifter Prefecture, so be it!
“He’s basically hinted that I'm supposed to be isolated from the other prefectures. And every time I'm summoned for official audiences, he always berates me left and right. Fine, so be it!
“But that bastard has gone too far this time!
“That moron Marquis Zi Lin lost the northernmost prefecture, and instead of getting punished for it, he was sent over to my Godsifter Prefecture. Fine. So be it!
“But fudge! That Celestial Aged Spirit went and appointed Marquis Zi Lin as the preceptor of Godsifter Prefecture! What the hell? What gives him the right to demote me from preceptor and force me to be Marquis Zi Lin’s assistant?!
“I put my heart and soul into running Godsifter Prefecture. I was going to make it the foundation of the new Heavenspan Realm! But now all that work is for nothing….” The Giant Ghost King chuckled bitterly, his hands clenching into fists as he told the story. Originally, he hadn’t planned to tell Bai Xiaochun the news, but now that Bai Xiaochun was a celestial, he had a very strong foundation. Furthermore, in this immortal domain, he had as much authority as Celestial Aged Spirit.
Bai Xiaochun would eventually hear about the matter, and the Giant Ghost King didn’t want that to cause more problems. However, after being prompted by Bai Xiaochun, the Giant Ghost King couldn’t keep his bitterness locked inside.
After the Giant Ghost King finished speaking, Bai Xiaochun stood there, motionless. Not even his cup of alcohol moved an inch. However, his eyes began to shine so brightly that they seemed to catch on fire.
Startled, the Giant Ghost King said, “Hey, don’t do anything rash, Xiaochun.”
He already regretted telling Bai Xiaochun the truth.
Bai Xiaochun shook his head, then turned to look in the direction of Celestial Aged Spirit’s residence. Gradually, the fire in his eyes turned into an extremely grim expression.
“If I don’t do something about this, father-in-law, then you can only imagine what will happen for the people of Heavenspan in the Saint-Emperor Dynasty. Things will only get worse and worse.
“This is bullying, plain and in the open. How could I possibly turn a deaf ear to it?”