Along the way, Bai Xiaochun had considered putting his mask on. However, it wasn’t very convenient to do so with so many people around, so all he could do was scowl and maintain his place within the crowd.
Currently, he was wrapped up in thoughts about how to keep himself safe. However, up to this point, he hadn’t come up with any new ideas. The only thing he could think to do was try to find an opportunity inside the labyrinth to put on his mask and change his identity.
“That’s my only option....” he thought sullenly, his expression grim.
While Chen Hetian was leading his group of 30,000 cultivators toward the nine black pillars of light and the labyrinth beneath them, the Wildlands forces were doing the same.
After all, when compared to a deva soul, the war was of little consequence. The fighting had gone on for countless years, and the Great Wall had held strong over and over again.
Unfortunately for the Wildlanders, deva souls were as rare as phoenix feathers or qilin horns. Therefore, whenever one appeared, it became the most important aspect of anything. As with the Great Wall, they had their misgivings about whether or not the labyrinth was some sort of trap. However, when it came to Mistress Red-Dust, she had immediately come to certain speculations regarding the place, even when the first black pillar of light had appeared.
Later, when the single beam turned into nine, her speculations had been confirmed as being true!
“It is almost completely without question that this is one of the ten sepulchers of the second-generation arch-emperor!” Mistress Red-Dust had been visibly moved by the sight of the nine black pillars of light, and they immediately caused her to recall a bit of history that her father had related to her.
Before the rebellion led by the Celestial from Heavenspan Island, the realm was not called the lands of Heavenspan, but rather, the lands of the arch-emperor. Furthermore, there were actually two emperors who ruled in those lands. One was the arch-emperor, and the other was the hell-emperor.
The arch-emperor presided over the Ancestor River, and the hell-emperor presided over the Underworld River! The Ancestor River was none other than the modern-day Heavenspan River!
One of the emperors presided over the living, the other presided over the dead!
One was the ultimate entity in the world, the other was the ultimate expression of the faith of its people!
Before the second-generation arch-emperor’s longevity ended, he drew upon the energy of all living things in heaven and earth to construct ten sepulchers. The first sepulcher was the actual location of his remains, and would remain eternally unopened. However, the other nine sepulchers contained various funerary objects left behind after his death, as well as numerous legacies.
His entire purpose in leaving behind the sepulchers was in case one of his later descendants ended up facing a powerful enemy. In such a situation, they could rely on the sepulchers to gain the power to fight back. Of course, the sepulchers were protected by restrictive spells that made them impossible for people to search for and find.
The location of the sepulchers had been passed down from one arch-emperor to the next over several generations, and were kept top secret. However, something unexpected happened during the reign of the fifth-generation arch-emperor!
He died a sudden and unexpected death, without the opportunity to pass on all of his secrets. Because of that, the location of the second-generation arch-emperor’s sepulchers became an unsolvable mystery.
It was during the reign of the ninth-generation arch-emperor that Heavenspan rose to prominence. All the lands rebelled, and the rulers of the world changed. The battered and broken survivors of the arch-emperor’s bloodline fled into the Wildlands, and the sepulchers of the second-generation arch-emperor became little more than legend.
Mistress Red-Dust was deeply excited about the possibility of the labyrinth being one of the sepulchers of the second-generation arch-emperor. “Each sepulcher would be surrounded by dozens of caves, each of which would contain the remains of deva-level beasts. There would also be a stone stele with details regarding the trial by fire inside. Other than one of the sepulchers of the second-generation arch-emperor, I can’t think of any other location that would directly offer a deva soul as a reward!”
She didn’t tell anyone about what she knew, but at the same time, was relatively certain that few people in the world had even heard about the second-generation arch-emperor. Of course, the mere mention of a deva soul was enough to stir all of the local Wildlands soul cultivators into a frenzy, and to avoid suspicion, she did nothing to prevent them from taking action.
In fact, having so many soul cultivators along exploring the labyrinth at the same time as her would make it easier for her to cover up her true intentions, and make her way through the maze.
And that was what led to all of the soul cultivators and savages in the area rushing at top speed toward the labyrinth.
Many of them had never fought on the battlefield, and did not belong to any of the major powers of the Wildlands. They were essentially rogue cultivators, and they were showing up in droves.
Currently, the sky was growing dark as evening approached, and numerous such figures were starting to show up outside of the labyrinth’s entrance. At the moment, it was too early for the labyrinth to be open, and therefore, the new arrivals either stuck together in groups of three to five people, or waited alone off to the side.
As evening grew nearer, rumbling sounds filled the air from the direction of the Great Wall as 30,000 beams of light appeared. The commotion instantly drew the attention of the Wildlands soul cultivators and savages, whose eyes began to glitter with killing intent.
The buzz of conversation soon rose up.
“The rebel cultivators!”
“Hmph! Rebel cultivators from the Great Wall! And a big group of them!”
“Yeah, so what? This is the Wildlands, and we’re the Holy People!”
However, despite the Great Wall having sent a large group, they were actually outnumbered by the Wildlands soul cultivators, of whom there were at least 100,000.
Chen Hetian was in the lead of the group of 30,000, and as they neared and saw the cold stares being leveled at them, he snorted.
The sound of that snort immediately slammed like thunder into the ears of the Wildlanders, many of whom couldn’t hide their shock as they realized who was in the lead of the Great Wall cultivators.
However, Chen Hetian wasn’t interested in starting a fight. He could sense Mistress Red-Dust’s aura locked onto him, and was also aware that, just like himself, she was interested in entering the labyrinth.
Therefore, other than his cold snort, Chen Hetian did nothing to the surrounding Wildlanders, not even look at them. He just remained there outside the entrance, waiting for evening to fall.
Bai Xiaochun was trying to keep himself hidden within the army of 30,000, and was hoping that none of the soul cultivators would recognize him. He even edged his way through the crowd until he was concealed behind a tall, burly man. Then, by peering through the spaces between the man’s arms, he took a look at the area up ahead, which was riddled with pits and craters. It actually didn’t look very much at all like it had the last time he was here.
In the very middle was the largest of pits, which was covered with a shimmering gray shield of light. Apparently, the place was closed, and no one could enter it.
Just outside of that pit was a 30-meter-tall stone stele which radiated a sensation of ancient time, as if it had existed in place for countless years on end.
Lines of text could be seen on the stone stele which were too small to read with the naked eye. However, by boosting the vision with one’s cultivation base, they would become quite clear.
“Beneath the labyrinth is a realm of trials by fire. Travel through the labyrinth, and pass one of the trials by fire. Whoever takes 1st place will acquire a deva soul!” After reading the text rather quickly, Bai Xiaochun didn't pay it any more attention. After all, the main thing he was concerned about was protecting his poor little life.
In fact, he even bowed his head and tried to tune out the muttered conversations of the Wildlanders. After all, the gazes of those Wildlanders who turned in his direction made him feel very uneasy.
“They can’t see me,” he told himself. “They can’t see me....” He even turned to the side a bit to make it harder for people to notice him.
However, there were just too many soul cultivators and savages present, and they were congregated in almost every direction possible. Furthermore, more were showing up every moment. Despite the fact that Bai Xiaochun was trying to hide in the crowd, that crowd of 30,000 were completely eye-catching, and all of the soul cultivators and savages were eyeing them. Even if Bai Xiaochun had been able to hide in a better way, he couldn’t make himself invisible. It was only inevitable that people would find him, and even if he used cursory methods to disguise himself, they would have been able to detect his aura.
The only way to evade detection would have been to put on his mask. However, there were too many people around, and besides, old three-eyes would definitely have spread word that he had an appearance-changing ability. Then he would have been in even more danger than before. The best thing to do was to wait for the right moment inside the labyrinth to put on his mask!
Even as he was shrinking down in an attempt to keep hidden, one of the soul cultivators off in the distance happened to catch sight of his profile.
Almost instantly, the young man’s eyes went wide. Pointing in Bai Xiaochun’s direction, he shouted, “Devil Bai! I just saw Devil Bai!!”
The explosive volume of his voice ensured that all of the soul cultivators in the area heard him. Jaws dropping, they all turned in the direction he was pointing.
Inwardly, Bai Xiaochun was howling in grief. Moments ago, he had felt that he was doing a very good job of hiding himself, and could never have imagined that someone would so viciously call out his name.
Numerous gazes fell upon him, as sharp as swords, and although not everyone could see his face clearly, there were plenty who could!
“It’s Devil Bai! I can only see his back, but that’s definitely him. Hahaha! I can’t believe Devil Bai is here!”
“It’s really him!!”