An enigmatic smile could be seen on Bai Lin’s face, evidence of his approval of the reminder Bai Xiaochun had offered just now. After all, there were some things that weren’t appropriate for Bai Lin to directly say himself. Looking at the major generals, he nodded.
“All of you have seen those black pillars of light,” he said. “As I'm sure many of you have already deduced, there have been some dramatic developments regarding the necropolis in that direction.
“By this point, the necropolis has completely collapsed, revealing an entrance within an entrance, a path that leads to a shocking labyrinth.
“Outside of the entrance is a stone stele, upon which is a line of text that clearly indicates a deva soul exists inside the labyrinth!”
No one responded. As for Bai Xiaochun, his heart skipped a beat. Moments ago, he had finally been calming down, only to suddenly be as tense as a taut bowstring. Although he had guessed that the deva soul would be connected to the necropolis, he had hoped it wouldn’t be the case. He couldn’t help but think that this entire scenario had all begun with him collecting souls in that pit, and that made him very nervous.
“Senior Chen Hetian has issued orders. Tomorrow evening, a group of 30,000 soldiers will be heading into the labyrinth, with him leading them! Of course, the security of the Great Wall is paramount, so in terms of who will be going, Senior Chen will consider the matter carefully, and announce the roster later tonight.
“I’ll be going along as well, but not to enter the labyrinth. The other generals and I will lead armies to encamp in the area and guard against any sneak attacks from the Wildlands. Even the true spirit from the pagoda will be present.
“All of you go back to your corps and make whatever preparations are necessary. Whichever Skin Flayer manages to bring back that deva soul for me will earn a handsome reward for whatever major general leads their corps!”
Bai Xiaochun heart was pounding. He didn't care about the deva soul at all; he only cared about his poor little life.
The fact that such a large group was being selected to go into the labyrinth only increased his nervousness. The mere thought of how terrifying that evil ghost was, and the fact that the Wildlands had a huge bounty on his head, caused his heart to leap up into his throat in fear that he might be sent along.
“Considering how important this whole thing is,” he thought, “and how low my cultivation base is, they probably won’t send me, right?” That made him feel a bit better.
Trying to sound as serious as possible, he looked at Bai Lin and said, “General, this whole thing seems a bit strange. There’s a labyrinth with a stone stele that outright says there’s a deva soul inside? It seems pretty likely to me that this is just a big trap set up by the Wildlands!”
After Bai Xiaochun was finished speaking, another of the major generals spoke up. “Sir, I was thinking the same thing. Besides, even if one of us Skin Flayers manages to get our hands on the deva soul, if Senior Chen feels like taking it away, well.... And another thing, General. Can this information really be trusted?!”
Bai Lin smiled faintly. “We generals already discussed these very matters with Senior Chen. Actually, Senior Chen secretly took a trip to the labyrinth himself already, and confirmed that it is no trap. As for the other matter, the generals have already made a formal agreement with him to make sure nothing like what you’ve mentioned will happen....
“We agreed to let him pick which 30,000 individuals will go into the labyrinth, and he agreed that whoever gets the deva soul will receive his personal protection and approval!
“As for whether or not the basic information can be trusted, Senior Chen revealed the truth to us in our meeting....
“The news came directly from his apprentice Zhao Tianjiao, and his daughter Chen Yueshan. They were on their way back from a mission in the Wildlands when the first pillar of light appeared. That was when he sent them into the necropolis to investigate the place!
“Unfortunately, their current situation is unknown, and in fact, we’re not even sure if they’re alive. Presumably, they are trapped somewhere in the labyrinth, and can’t make contact. Supposedly, the labyrinth is enormous, and definitely impossible for any one person to search thoroughly. That is one reason why Senior Chen is taking 30,000 people with him. In addition to the matter of the deva soul, there is another important purpose to the mission; to find Zhao Tianjiao and Chen Yueshan, and escort them out safely.” When Bai Xiaochun heard this, his heart immediately trembled.
“Elder Brother Zhao....” Bai Xiaochun recalled how horrifying the gigantic evil ghost had been, and then thought about how Zhao Tianjiao and Chen Yueshan were missing. Then he began to pant in anxiety.
Soon, the meeting with the major generals concluded, and Bai Lin dismissed them. Bai Xiaochun was very worried. On the one hand, it was possible that Zhao Tianjiao was in trouble, and on the other hand, he feared being selected to go into the labyrinth.
“With so many people going in to look for Elder Brother Zhao and Elder Sister Chen, they should be fine. So I really, really hope they don’t pick me.” After sighing all the way back to the garrison, he sat in his quarters, brooding.
“They’d better not pick me to go into that labyrinth. As soon as the Wildlanders see me they’ll definitely go crazy. Plus, considering how far away from the Great Wall that place is, there might even be cultivators from the five legions who get greedy for the bounty!” The mere thought of the wild reward Mistress Red-Dust had put up for his head, and how numerous cultivators from the five legions had turned to look at him in that moment, caused his heart to grow cold with dread. But then he thought about how Zhao Tianjiao and Chen Yueshan were basically in trouble because of a situation he had caused, and he grew even more anxious.
Before long, the light of dawn filled the sky. However, Bai Xiaochun wasn’t in the mood to go out and do anything. Instead, he stayed inside to fret and pray about the roster.
Meanwhile, Chen Hetian sat grim-faced in the pagoda beneath the huge eye, his mood one of anxiety and regret. After all, if he hadn’t sent his apprentice and daughter into the necropolis, events wouldn’t be playing out the way they were.
His daughter and apprentice had gone through a dangerous mission in the Wildlands, and were coming back safely when he ordered them into further danger. The mere thought of it caused his heart to prickle with pain. Thankfully, his daughter’s life slip was still intact. Furthermore, he had given her a handful of precious treasures to protect herself. Therefore, he wasn’t completely overwhelmed with worry.
He had only agreed to let the two of them go out into the Wildlands after careful consideration and deliberation. He had been worried about them the entire time, and only relaxed a bit when he found that they were on their way back safely.
Never could he have imagined that things would turn out like they did.
He hadn’t revealed the entire truth of the situation to Bai Lin and the generals. Zhao Tianjiao and Chen Yueshan had been in the middle of fleeing from some Wildlands soul cultivators when they stumbled into a restrictive spell that unleashed the eight pillars of light. Only then, when the mountains were crumbling and the earth was shaking violently, did the entrance to the labyrinth appear.
Furthermore, a gravitational force had appeared, which sucked everyone inside. Zhao Tianjiao had only been able to send one quick message out before being cut off, words filled with terror and alarm: “This labyrinth is a land of ghosts! It opens in the evening and closes in the morning....”
“The labyrinth is a land of ghosts....” Chen Hetian had murmured. After the Wildlands army retreated, he vanished for a few hours, which was when he personally went to the location of the labyrinth.
He had even tentatively entered. However, once inside, he realized that not only was the place huge, but there was also something about it that rapidly suppressed his divine sense down to a very limited state. Clearly, there was no way that he alone would be able to search for and find his daughter and apprentice.
Plus, in the short time he had been inside, he had seen things which caused fear to rise up even in him. However, the realization that his daughter and apprentice could be killed at any moment filled Chen Hetian with immense anxiety.
Thus, he had made his agreement with Bai Lin and the other generals. Considering the level of Chen Hetian’s cultivation base, he didn’t care too much about a deva soul. Therefore, for the sake of his daughter and apprentice, he recruited the help of the legions to search the labyrinth.
If he had been in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect instead of the Great Wall, he could have mustered 3,000,000 cultivators with ease. But he was dealing with the five legions of the Hall of Steel Veins, which answered to the demigod patriarch. When it came to the security of the Great Wall, 30,000 cultivators wasn’t a small number. But the wall could still be manned in their absence, and therefore, a deal had been reached.
Currently, Chen Hetian held a jade slip, within which were the records regarding all of the cultivators in the five legions. Included in the information was a detailed description of each cultivator’s cultivation base, as well as what skills and techniques they were adept with.
As Chen Hetian browsed through the records, he selected one cultivator after another to join the mission.
Most of the cultivators he selected were in the Core Formation stage, skilled with the use of divine sense, and very quick.
He also selected some Nascent Soul cultivators, but was limited in the total number he could pick, and was thus being very choosy.
Before long, the list of 30,000 was almost complete, which was when Chen Hetian’s divine sense locked down onto one name in particular.
“Bai Xiaochun....” he muttered. Bai Xiaochun had only joined the Skin Flayers because of a chance series of events, and had only been a member for a few years. To cultivators, that was a fairly short period of time, and yet, there were plenty of records regarding his accomplishments, many of which came from when he had been unexpectedly sucked out onto the battlefield.
For one thing, he was noted for his incredible speed.