Song Que chuckled coldly, convinced that this time, he would soon be crushing Bai Xiaochun ten times over. He could even visualize himself stomping Bai Xiaochun underfoot and forcing him to beg for mercy.
"You dare to call yourself my uncle?! Well this time I'm going to make you call me grandfather!" The thought of Bai Xiaochun groveling mournfully filled Song Que's vicious heart with pleasant warmth.
Of course, he had received absolutely no news about Bai Xiaochun's escapades in Great Wall City. After his three years in isolation from the world, he had rushed directly back toward the Great Wall, with no way of knowing how much things had changed.
It was with a heart surging with pride that Song Que finally arrived at the Great Wall and laid eyes on the enormous spell formation shield. Of course, before he and his group could even get close to the shield, cold gazes filled with killing intent locked onto them.
Then, an icy voice rang out from the wall.
"Who goes there?!"
Song Que's expression flickered, and he suppressed the arrogance in his heart as he stopped in place. No matter how incredible he thought himself outside the wall, now that he was back here, he didn't dare to do anything rash.
After all, he was absolutely not in a place to be able to provoke the five legions. Behind him, his two companions stopped in place, their faces ashen.
Clasping hands respectfully, Song Que called out, "Sir, I am your humble servant Song Que. These two friends of mine are fellow disciples of the sect. We are returning from running missions on the outside, and would like to request entrance into Great Wall City."
The person who had spoken from the wall moments ago was none other than Zhao Long, who happened to be on duty at the moment. Of course, he was a member of the Skin Flayers' 3rd Corps, and one of Bai Xiaochun's private guards. Considering that Bai Xiaochun was in secluded meditation at the moment, most matters relating to the 3rd Corps were handled by him and the ten colonels.
Zhao Long looked Song Que and his companions over, and after a moment, his gaze softened. After all, he was aware that Bai Xiaochun came from the sect headquarters, as did these chosen, and that it was possible they could all know each other. Waving his hand, he sent some cultivators flying out to retrieve the group's identity medallions and excursion permits for inspection.
Zhao Long himself looked over the medallions, using a special technique to confirm that there was nothing suspicious about them. Then he checked the jade slips that were the excursion permits, which were required of any cultivator who left the wall. Whenever a cultivator went outside, the soldiers of whichever legion was on duty at the time would stamp the permit. Upon return, if the soldiers of a different legion were on duty, then the permit would need to be sent to the original legion for verification.
However, Zhao Long could tell at a glance that their verification stamps were from the 3rd Corps of the Skin Flayers. The only difference was that they had been issued during the command of the previous major general. According to the rules and customs of the five legions, whenever a new major general took command, new verification stamps would need to be created.
Zhao Long looked up and said, "Your identity medallions are authentic. However, let me remind you that once you enter the city, the spell formation will lock onto your identity medallion. If your true identity does not match up with the information in the medallion, if you are an impersonator or have been possessed, then you will be instantly killed in body and soul!"
Song Que and his companions were a bit taken aback, but after exchanging glances and nodding, they proceeded forward. This was the first time for any of the three of them to return to Great Wall City after going outside, and therefore it was impossible for them to avoid being nervous. After all, it was impossible to say how many cold, murderous gazes atop the wall were fixed on them.
Soon, they were passing through the spell formation. Rippling fluctuations appeared that scanned them thoroughly, then slowly faded away. After that, they found themselves standing there beneath the wall.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Song Que looked up at the figures atop the wall, and was suddenly struck with the impulse to join the five legions.
After the many spectacular things he had accomplished on the outside, joining the five legions didn't seem like a bad choice, or anything particularly difficult.
Seeing that the group had passed through the spell formation with no problems, Zhao Long smiled faintly and then issued orders for the side door to be opened. When the group actually entered the door, they found Zhao Long waiting for them on the other side.
Clasping hands in greetings, Zhao Long smiled and said, "That inspection was a necessary formality, Fellow Daoists, I hope you weren't offended."
A moment later, his gaze came to rest on Song Que, who was clearly the most exceptional of the group, and who he deemed worthy to try to recruit.
Song Que smiled in response. He could tell that Zhao Long seemed to be singling him out, and it already felt wonderful. Obviously, Zhao Long was no ordinary soldier, so Song Que clasped hands respectfully and then began to chat amiably. Before long, they even exchanged names.
Now that they knew each other a bit better, Zhao Long said, "Brother Song, are you interested in joining the Skin Flayers?"
"Um...." Although Song Que was actually very pleased to be asked this question, he put a look of hesitation onto his face.
From what Zhao Long could tell, Song Que was quite a talented individual, and therefore, he had decided to try to recruit him for Bai Xiaochun. Facial expression warm, he said, "Don't worry, you don't need to make a decision right away. Take some time to think about it, and tell me your answer later. By the way, the three of you will need to update your excursion permit stamps.
"Your current stamp was issued by our 3rd Corps, but a new major general recently took command. The three of you will need to come with me to the garrison to update your stamps."
"A new major general?!" Song Que exclaimed. His two companions exchanged a shocked glance. Although they weren't very familiar with the Great Wall, they knew that major generals were extremely important people, and that such a change in command didn't happen every day!
Song Que didn't dare to do anything rash. Of course, he would go so far as to chat casually with Zhao Long, but when it came to a major general, he wouldn't do anything even remotely offensive. He was well aware that the cultivators of the five legions, who lived their lives to defend the Great Wall, were the most terrifying of individuals. That was especially true of their major generals, all of whom were exalted figures who could shake heaven and earth.
Even though Song Que viewed himself as chosen, in front of a major general, he would be like a bug. The mere thought of what it must be like to be a major general caused him to sigh.
"I wonder if I, Song Que, might one day have a chance to reach a lofty position like that of major general." Although such thoughts left him slightly discouraged, he forced himself to be optimistic, and also reminded himself that although he might not have come back as mighty as a major general, he was still vastly beyond anyone else in his generation. He was also looking very much forward to encountering Bai Xiaochun, whom he would instantly stomp underfoot. When that happened, he would make sure Bai Xiaochun knew what a real chosen was like!
Such thoughts made his heart blossom with delight, and he almost couldn't wait to finish handling the formalities regarding his excursion permit so that he could go find Bai Xiaochun!
He immediately nodded to Zhao Long, as did his companions, and moments later, the three of them were heading to the garrison of the 3rd Corps.
Along the way, Song Que thought about asking for more details about the major general, but then decided not to. Instead, he gave a meaningful look to his female companion. The two of them had been working together for quite some time, and therefore, she immediately picked up on the hint and took it upon herself to make some inquiries.
"Who exactly is the new major general?" she asked.
"You don't know?" Zhao Long said. Chuckling, he continued, "Well, I don't want to say too much. Who knows, maybe you and the major general already know each other."
With that, the conversation topic was ended, and Song Que and his companions were left more curious than before.
As Song Que and his companions were having their stamps updated, Bai Xiaochun happened to reach a critical moment in his cultivation. After absorbing all of the precious materials, his eyes gleamed with determination as he gritted his teeth and felt the power of the energy flowing through his qi passageways.
The rippling fluctuations turned into mighty waves that raged up to the top of his head, transforming into something like a heavenly water dragon that then shot through the final qi passageway in his head.
No one but Bai Xiaochun could hear the intense sounds battering his mind. At the same time, he began to tremble violently, and even heard cracking sounds entering his ears.
It was almost as if a door had been opened by the intense life force, whereupon Bai Xiaochun let out a roar and performed a double-handed incantation gesture. Instantly, more precious materials were crushed and then breathed in through his mouth.
As the final qi passageway in his head shattered, allowing the life force to rage freely through his entire body, he suddenly sensed something like a seal or weight pressing down on him with mountain-like force. It actually felt quite uncomfortable.
It was almost like something completely suppressing him. Although he had never been able to detect this specific pressure before, it now pervaded his consciousness. Furthermore, it was something the likes of which he had sensed twice before in the past, when working with the Undying Skin and Undying Heavenly King.
As of this moment, he had made contact with… "The third shackle!"