Face falling, Bai Xiaochun watched Bai Lin leave, then turned to look at Li Hongming.
An odd half-smile appeared on Li Hongming's face as he looked back. Laughing lightly, he said, "Congratulations on attracting the attention of the general, Xiaochun. It's a big honor to have someone like him personally recruit you and vouch for you. In all the years that I've been in the army, I've only seen that happen to three people. You're the fourth."
Bai Xiaochun immediately began to grumble to himself that he didn't want to become the fourth person to be personally conscripted by the general. However, he had no choice but to accept his fate, and thus, left with Li Hongming.
As the side gate got further and further away, he couldn't help but feel like he had lost his freedom, his control over his life, and his chance to pursue his dreams....
"Why did things have to turn out this way...?" he thought, sighing continuously. Complaining inwardly the entire time, he followed along as Li Hongming took him to get his uniform, which was a suit of black armor. After changing into the armor, Bai Xiaochun realized that he looked quite heroic, and yet, that didn't make him feel any better than before.
As they walked along, Li Hongming excitedly told him about the history of the Skin Flayers. Bai Xiaochun listened morosely as they head toward the location Bai Lin had indicated for him to be taken, the Armory.
What was referred to as the Armory was a well-guarded area filled with numerous courtyard residences. Despite being a colonel, even Li Hongming was inspected thoroughly before being allowed inside.
"The Armory is one of the most important locations in the Skin Flayers district. The only people who are allowed to live in this area are the grandmasters who concoct medicine, create paper talismans, and forge weapons and armor.
"Xiaochun," Li Hongming said with a sigh, "the general really did take a liking to you!" Bai Xiaochun immediately sensed that the Armory was somewhat different than the other areas outside. Not only was it more peaceful and quiet, but there was also somewhat of an accumulation of spiritual power.
Something else that was strange was that all the cultivators in the Armory seemed very arrogant. As Li Hongming proceeded along, he would clasp hands in salute, and yet they all completely ignored him in response.
Seeing Li Hongming being given the cold shoulder made Bai Xiaochun a bit angry.
"What's so amazing about these people?!" he asked.
Li Hongming laughed and replied, "Xiaochun, they're all grandmasters. They're the people who make the tools we require to fight in battle. That's just the way things are."
At that point, they stopped outside of the seventh building in the Armory.
"Xiaochun, this is as far as I can take you. From now on, we're fellow comrades-in-arms. If you need help with any issue, just let me know." After a few more words of advice, he turned and left.
Bai Xiaochun sadly watched Li Hongming leave, then turned and stepped into the building which had been prepared for him. It was thousands of meters across, and other than a three-story structure at one end, was mostly just a large courtyard neatly paved with green spirit stone slabs. Considering that Great Wall City as a whole was virtually devoid of spiritual energy, that made this location a wonderful place for any cultivator.
Although Bai Xiaochun didn't really want to be stuck in Great Wall City, he had to admit that this residence wasn't too bad. He even saw a lovely little lake off to the side.
Lakes were a rarity near the Great Wall, and any that did exist were filled with black water. Therefore, to see a lake like this one with cool, clear waters instantly left him feeling relaxed.
"Ah well, I might as well just follow orders." Sighing, he walked over and sat down next to the lake, contemplating what was to come in the future. At that point, he noticed that there were three golden carp swimming back and forth in front of him. They had long whiskers that indicated they had lived quite a long time, and most shocking of all was that they were partially translucent. Clearly, they were not mortal-tier creatures, and were the type of creatures that could be used as ingredients in medicinal creations.
"These dragonfishes must have lived for at least a sixty-year-cycle. That's pretty rare. They're the main ingredient for Fishdragon Pills." After watching the fish for a bit, he decided to go for a walk through the Armory. Soon he realized that all of the buildings had numbers on them, and the smaller the numbers were, the larger the buildings. Furthermore, the locations of the larger buildings were also better.
He was in building 7, which was one of the best buildings in the entire Armory. After examining the building records, he looked over at the little lake that now belonged to him and murmured, "According to the records, there should be a whole school of dragonfish. Why are there only three?" Before he had time to think about the matter, his expression suddenly flickered as he looked over at a nearby wall. There, a figure was flying through the air, using some unknown method to circumvent the defensive spells and enter right into his courtyard.
It was a gaunt old man with an arrogant expression on his face, and a cultivation base in the late Core Formation stage. As soon as he entered the courtyard, he noticed Bai Xiaochun, whereupon his eyes flickered in surprise. However, instead of saying anything, he simply walked over to the edge of the lake and, in plain view of Bai Xiaochun, reached into the water and grabbed one of the dragonfish. Then he turned to leave.
Bai Xiaochun was stunned at how condescending the man was acting. Clearly, Bai Xiaochun was standing right there, yet the man pretended not to see him and then went so far as to grab one of his treasured fish.
Bai Xiaochun had already been feeling depressed about being here, but now, his anger sparked.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing!?" he barked.
"Concocting medicine," the old man replied, not even bothering to stop.
"If the general wants to bully me, that's fine. But you think you can bully me too?!" As Bai Xiaochun's anger burned, his eyes shone with icy light. Reaching out, he made a grasping motion, simultaneously opening his third eye and sending violet light pouring out. The shocked old man attempted to flee, but was too late. In the blink of an eye, the dragonfish he had taken was snatched by Bai Xiaochun and thrown back into the lake.
As of this moment, Bai Xiaochun realized that there really were less dragonfish in the lake than there should have been. Obviously, the others had been stolen, and likely, all by this old man.
A very unsightly expression could be seen on the old man's face as he backed up a few steps. Glaring at Bai Xiaochun, he chuckled coldly and said, "I've been living in building 8 for years, and have never seen anyone as brazen as you. The dragonfish from building 7 are mine for the taking. As for you, you trifling child, do you really think you can act so wildly in my presence?!"
Bai Xiaochun had already been irritated to begin with, and the man's words only served to increase his irritation.
"Pipe down!" he said, taking a step forward. Instantly, cracking sounds could be heard as frigid coldness spread out in all directions, causing layers of ice to build up everywhere. Then, he performed something like a minor teleportation, placing him directly in front of the old man.
The old man's expression flickered, and before he could even think of fleeing, Bai Xiaochun punched out with the Living Mountain Incantation. A force like an entire mountain slammed into the old man, who tumbled backward several hundred meters, blood spraying out of his mouth.
"Screw off! From now on, all the dragonfish in this place are surnamed Bai!"
Although the old man's eyes flickered with venomous hatred, he didn't press the issue, and simply turned and left.
Driving away the condescending old man lifted Bai Xiaochun's mood quite a bit, so he sat down next to the lake to meditate. Before long, evening had arrived.
As the colors in the sky changed, Bai Xiaochun was just about to rise to his feet when he suddenly turned to look up into a different direction. A moment later, a few beams of light appeared, moving with lightning-like speed toward Bai Xiaochun.
Three figures approached, and in the lead was Bai Lin, clad in a black suit of armor, his face completely expressionless.
Behind him were two old men with murderous auras and Nascent Soul cultivation bases, both of whom were clearly sizing up Bai Xiaochun curiously.
Bai Xiaochun immediately stood up and said, "Greetings, General."
"Have you gotten used to the environment in the Armory yet?" Bai Lin asked.
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, then carefully responded, "It's alright, just a bit quiet, that's all."
Having heard this, Bai Lin looked at one of the old men and said, "Lin Tao, arrange for some handmaidens to care for Bai Xiaochun's daily needs."
The old man nodded, pulling out a jade slip to send out some orders.
Bai Xiaochun was a bit taken aback at how quickly his needs were being cared for. Just as he was considering what else he should say, Bai Lin looked down at the clear waters of the lake for a moment, then up into the sky.
"The Great Wall has existed for many years," he said. "In fact, it's older than the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect itself. Do you know how many cultivators have been stationed in this city over the years, how many have fought here against the Wildlands...?
"Too many. The five legions of the Hall of Steel Veins have only been garrisoned here for the past 10,000 years or so.
"Generations come. Generations go. People perish. People leave. But the Great Wall remains.
"Although there is a bit of rivalry between the five legions, overall, relations are good. We live up to our various areas of responsibility, guard the wall, and prevent the Wildlanders from invading."