Chen Hetian paused when he got to Bai Xiaochun’s name. Bai Xiaochun had become very important to the Great Wall in the short time since he had joined the Skin Flayers, and Chen Hetian knew that. Furthermore, he was aware of the close friendship between him and Zhao Tianjiao.
Of course, when evening fell, it wouldn’t just be Chen Hetian and 30,000 cultivators showing up outside the labyrinth. There would be a host of Wildlands savages and soul cultivators....
Deva souls were just as precious to the Wildlanders, who could use them to add extra power to their secret magics. Because of that, Chen Hetian was worried about the Wildlanders contending for the deva soul.
However, of even more concern was the fact that the more soul cultivators and savages who entered the labyrinth, the more likely they would be to encounter his apprentice and daughter.
Therefore, Chen Hetian wanted someone in the labyrinth whom the Wildlanders would be especially drawn to, upon whom they could focus their killing intent. He wanted someone who the Wildlanders would specifically want to track down....
And there was no one who met those requirements more perfectly than Bai Xiaochun.... The Wildlanders hated Bai Xiaochun with a vengeance, and the instant they saw him, would definitely try to chase him down and kill him. After all, the reward on his head was for a complete set of five elements deva beast souls, which was something no one in the Wildlands could remain ambivalent about.
For all intents and purposes, any Wildlander who went into the labyrinth without very specific orders to the contrary would most likely choose to try to hunt down and kill Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun’s mere presence would attract the attention of all the Wildlands forces. Not only would that make things safer for other Great Wall cultivators, but it would increase their chances of getting the deva soul.
“Bai Xiaochun....” Chen Hetian murmured, his eyes glittering. The truth was that the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect had long since been working on a way to crack the secret of the Soul Convergence Pill.
Such pills were far too important to the sect to be controlled by any one person. Of course, Bai Xiaochun had also been kept in the dark, to prevent any frustration or defiance on his part.
The sect had almost reached the point of determining the medicine formula, and as for the exploding pill furnaces, the sect had also begun to come up with their own methods of reproducing the effects. Because of all of that, whether it was to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect or Chen Hetian himself, Bai Xiaochun wasn’t of much value anymore.
If the current situation hadn’t come about, Chen Hetian would have continued to use him as before. But now, with the lives of his apprentice and daughter on the line, he was more than willing to sacrifice Bai Xiaochun if it meant getting the slightest advantage.
With such thoughts on his mind, Chen Hetian unhesitatingly added Bai Xiaochun’s name to the list!
By the time the sun was high in the sky, Chen Hetian had completed the 30,000-name-long list. He was already nervous. After all, the labyrinth would be opening up later in the evening.
After sending the name list into the huge eye, he called upon his authority to notify all of the cultivators who would be marching toward the labyrinth. One by one, the identity medallions of the cultivators in the five legions began to vibrate as the news came in.
“This mission is going to be dangerous, but rewards come only with risk!”
“There’s a deva soul in that labyrinth! Heh heh. There are definitely going to be soul cultivators too, and they all have terrifying spirit enhanced weapons. If I can get one, then all of this will be worth it even if I don’t get that deva soul!”
Different reactions could be seen on the faces of the various cultivators in the five legions who received orders to join the mission. Many were very excited at the chance to join a deva on an important assignment. Some were frowning at the thought of how dangerous things would likely be. However, they were cultivators of the five legions, and therefore, they refrained from complaining.
After all, at the bottom of the order was a line of text which explained that anyone who refused to go on the mission would be treated as a deserter!
And at the Great Wall, deserters were put to death!
As everyone else received their orders, Bai Xiaochun was sitting in his quarters, trembling as he looked at his identity medallion. After looking at the message, he shrieked loudly as the blood drained from his face.
“Deserter!? Deserters are punished with death by a thousand cuts.... I don’t want to go!!”
Leaping to his feet, he stared at the identity medallion so hard that his vision began to fade. He felt like he was a lamb who had walked right into the jaws of a tiger, and the sense of profound danger he felt inundated every scrap of his flesh and blood. Terrified, he immediately transmitted a message to Bai Lin.
After a long moment passed, Bai Lin responded.
“Senior Chen has made his decision. I tried to fight him on the point, but he refused to budge. I'm sorry, Xiaochun, nothing can be done about it.”
Bai Xiaochun’s heart immediately went very cold, and his gaze filled with rage as he stared at his identity medallion.
“I've performed great services for the Great Wall! I'm a major general!” Bai Xiaochun was extremely angry, and refused to believe that Chen Hetian was unaware of the lengths the Wildlanders would go to try to kill him if he went outside of the Great Wall. In fact, within that labyrinth, it wouldn’t be surprising if five legions cultivators gave in to the temptation to try to kill him.
Furthermore, there was almost nothing he could do to defend himself. If he went, it wouldn’t just be extremely dangerous, it would be almost like a death sentence!
Despite all of that, Chen Hetian had intentionally selected him to go, and had refused Bai Lin’s request to make a change. Clearly, Chen Hetian was doing all of this on purpose.
“He must intend to use me as bait to distract the Wildlanders....” Bai Xiaochun thought, his eyes glinting red with anger, and his blood pumping wildly. Certain that his analysis was correct, his rage continued to mount. To him, it felt as painful as if someone were standing behind him, poking a sabre into his back to force him to jump into a fiery pit. He almost couldn’t breathe.
“If I don’t go, I’ll be punished with death by a thousand cuts. Plus, the River-Defying Sect would be implicated. I'm not simply being put into extreme danger, I’m being sentenced to death....
“I've been defending the Great Wall for years now! I've earned countless battle credit. And this is how the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect treats me!?” Bai Xiaochun was so angry that he balled his hands into fists, his face turning red and blue veins bulging out on his neck. Then, after a long moment, he began to chuckle bitterly
There were no options. It was either a literal death penalty or a figurative death sentence, and therefore, he had no choice other than to pick the latter.
“They must have already cracked the secrets of my Soul Convergence Pill.” There was nothing he could do about that. By this point, he was physically trembling, although it wasn’t from fear, but rather, fury!
The incident with the Fantasy Pills back in Sky City had been a clue about how the sect tended to treat him, but he had never imagined that after everything that happened later, he would reach a point like this.
After struggling to get himself under control, he chuckled bitterly and began to pack his belongings. Since he had no choice in the matter, the only thing he could do was make sure he was as prepared as possible to keep on living.
He took out the Eternal Parasol and his eight-colored fuel. Originally, he had hoped to use the eight-colored flame at some other time in the future, but now, he didn’t hesitate to use it to perform a spirit enhancement on the parasol.
After placing the parasol into the turtle-wok, eight dazzling silver designs appeared!
He did nothing to cover them up. After all his years at the Great Wall, he had seen Wildlands soul cultivators in battle who wielded magical items with multiple spirit enhancements on numerous occasions. From what he could tell, the spirit enhancement techniques in the Heavenspan River were different from those in the Wildlands.
He had long been curious about that, and had even asked Bai Lin about it, but the only answer he had been given was that it had something to do with necromancers. Bai Lin was hesitant to give any information beyond that.
Bai Xiaochun’s own enquiries had also indicated that the answer had something to do with necromancers, but had uncovered little else, and he had been forced to simply forget about trying to get an answer.
After performing an eightfold spirit enhancement on the Eternal Parasol, he made similar preparations with his medicinal pills, armor, and magical items, performing spirit enhancements on as many as he could.
At one point, both Master God-Diviner and Zhao Long came to inform him that they had been selected for the mission. Zhao Long took the news in stride, but Master God-Diviner was terrified, and begged Bai Xiaochun to try to get him off the list.
“Junior Patriarch, save me! I just got here! This... this isn’t fair!!”
Roughly 800 members of the 3rd Corps had been selected to go on the mission, Song Que included.
All of them were completely taken aback to hear that Bai Xiaochun was also included. Master God-Diviner was especially dumbfounded, and eventually just left with a bitter smile on his face. Obviously, if Bai Xiaochun couldn’t get out of the mission, then there was no hope for anyone else to be exempted.
After sending everyone away, Bai Xiaochun sighed and headed to the pagoda in the middle of the city, where he spent all of his battle credit to purchase paper talismans, as well as spirit alcohol that could be used to restore spiritual power.
Only with sufficient spiritual power could he protect himself within the labyrinth. As for the 800 other members of the 3rd Corps, although he was responsible for their safety, considering the limited time involved, he did what he could to help them, but it wasn’t much.
Soon, it was only two hours away from evening. That was when Chen Hetian emerged from the pagoda and summoned the 30,000 cultivators who had been selected for the mission, then waved his hand and shot out beyond the wall.
Worried that the group would travel too slowly, he performed an incantation gesture, causing a mass of clouds to build up that quickly carried the 30,000 cultivators across the lands. Because of that, it only took about two hours to reach the entrance of the labyrinth.
Bai Xiaochun was there in the crowd, glaring furiously at Chen Hetian. However, considering the level of the man’s cultivation base, Bai Xiaochun knew that he could only sigh helplessly about the situation. However, that didn’t prevent him from swearing an oath.
“You just wait until I become a demigod, you old fossil! Then I’ll get my revenge in full!”