Bai Xiaochun whipped his head around with lightning speed, and gave no advance warning that he would do so. However, he didn’t see anything attached to his back. He even reached up with his hand and felt around to make sure there was nothing there, before breathing a sigh of relief.
“Alright, good. There’s nothing on my back.” Even still, he was very nervous about the whole situation. The soul cultivator from moments ago was the first person he had encountered recently who had seemed conscious. And yet, the fact that he still had a paper person on his back was very telling, and was also quite confusing to Bai Xiaochun.
After glancing around, he wasn't quite sure what to do. Finally, he gritted his teeth and picked a new direction to head in.
He continued to encounter more cultivators, almost as if they had been gathering in this area. That would explain why he had gone for so long without seeing anyone. However, almost everyone he encountered had a blank expression and a paper person on their back.
Those who were lucid were often fleeing madly through the tunnels, or even thrashing about as they tried to grab at their backs. Others were ripping their clothing off. However, nothing anybody did could stop the paper people from sticking to them....
Everything that was happening had Bai Xiaochun jumping at his own shadow, and constantly looking over his shoulder. Occasionally, he would encounter locations with magical nodes on the ground, upon which lay paper people, apparently absorbing energy.
Bai Xiaochun was slowly slipping into a panic, and resorted to increasingly higher speed. He tried to skirt around any areas that had paper people, and eventually noticed that he was encountering fewer and fewer cultivators. However, for some reason, everything seemed to be getting more frightening and more cold, to the point where his hair started to stand on end. Finally, he stopped and picked a different direction.
However, the next day, Bai Xiaochun was startled to discover that no matter which direction he picked, the sinister coldness only continued to grow stronger.
“Don’t come after me....” he muttered, scowling on the verge of tears. Heart burning with anxiety, he rotated his cultivation base to push the sinister coldness away from him.
However, despite reducing its effects a bit, he couldn’t prevent it from touching him.... One day as he was rushing nervously through the tunnels, he caught sight of a pile of corpses!
There were more than a thousand of them, and without exception, they all had paper people on them!
The paper people appeared to be either sleeping or absorbing energy from the corpses. In fact, many of the corpses had more than one paper person on them, with some having as many as seven or eight....
What caused Bai Xiaochun’s eyes to go wider than anything else was one gray-robed necromancer who had dozens of paper people wrapped around him and absorbing his energy.
The necromancer wasn’t dead, and apparently, was still aware of what was happening. However, his eyes were completely filled with despair. Shuddering with fear, Bai Xiaochun murmured, “This place must be a paper person hive!!”
From what he could tell, there were at least two thousand paper people in the area!
“They can’t see me. They can’t see me....” Fearful of attracting their attention, and worrying that he was disturbing their mealtime, he quietly began to tiptoe backward.
However, before he could take even five steps, one of the dozens of paper people on the necromancer looked up, almost as if it had smelled something. Sniffing the air, it turned to look at Bai Xiaochun, and then its eyes began to shine with strange light.
Bai Xiaochun was nearly scared out of his mind, and stopped moving. Swallowing hard, he looked back at the paper person, and then slowly raised his finger to his lips and said sshhh.
The paper person seemed surprised, and a moment later, lowered its head. Relieved, Bai Xiaochun was just preparing to back up again, when all of a sudden another of the paper people looked up at him.
Tears welling up in his eyes, he said, “I didn’t mean to disturb you guys. Eat up, alright? I’ll... I’ll just take off now. Sshhh....” However, before he could continue to back up, the paper people that were looking at him suddenly began to let out a round ear-piercing shrieks.
It was a sound that could batter at the soul itself, and by the time the second round of shrieks filled the air, all two thousand of the paper people in the area had looked up, and many of them were flying toward Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun was almost scared witless. Screaming, he turned and fled for his life.
“You people don't play fair! I... I saw one of your friends earlier, and when he asked me to sshhh I didn’t break his cover....”
Soon, Bai Xiaochun had disappeared into one of the nearby tunnels, being chased by two thousand paper people. After everything went silent, the area with the corpses suddenly went very quiet, and a bit later, a mist began to build up.
The mist covered the corpses, which then started withering up rapidly. In the blink of an eye, they became nothing more than ash.
Not even their bags of holding or magical items could stand up to the mist, and were soon gone. Then, the mist began to converge upon itself, wriggling and twitching as it formed into a humanoid shape.
As the shape took form, it became a young woman, extraordinarily beautiful, the smile on her face covered by a hand. If anyone had been present to witness that smile, they would have been struck cold with terror from how bizarre it was.
She had long black hair, and a curvaceous figure that her ocean-blue robe could do nothing to conceal. She was none other than Gongsun Wan’er!
As of this point, the second pupil in each of her eyes had a figure visible within it, the face of a young girl, who was also smiling.
“Don’t be scared, big bro. They’re just playing hide-and-seek with you, that's all....” Despite the softness of her voice, her expression was ice cold as she took a step forward, dissolving yet again into a mist that spread out in all directions.
Somewhere off in the distance, Bai Xiaochun was shrieking and sweating as he fled from the two thousand paper people. No matter how fast he went, they stuck with him. It was almost as if there was some strange connection between them and him that enabled them to match his speed.
Bai Xiaochun was nearly convulsing with fear as he barreled down the tunnels, downing one bottle of spirit alcohol after another. He kept up top speed for more than an hour, and yet to this despair, found that even after that time, he hadn’t managed to shake a single paper person.
None of his divine abilities or magical techniques did anything to help. His frigid domain didn't affect the paper people, and although his Eternal Parasol was strong enough to stave off one or two at a time, there were too many overall.
Plus, if he slowed down at all, they would rush toward him without stopping.
The idea of being buried in a pile of two thousand paper people, all of whom wanted to suck him dry until he was a pile of bones, left him shivering in terror.
“I didn’t do anything to offend you people? What are you chasing me for?!”
He even thought about using his Waterswamp Kingdom to see if it could take out some of the paper people, but it cost far too much spiritual power to use, which meant he needed to save it for only the most critical of moments.
After all, the amount of spiritual power it took to use the Waterswamp Kingdom one time was enough to keep him moving at top speed for a full day.
“Dammit! Alright, I’ll keep running for two more hours, and if the paper people are still chasing me, then I’ll try out my Waterswamp Kingdom!” Gritting his teeth, he continued to move along at top speed.
An hour flew by, and Bai Xiaochun was feeling more hopeless than ever. He hadn’t run into a single other person, and was dejected to find that the paper people didn’t ever seem to get tired. He felt like he was about to go mad, and was just thinking about using the Waterswamp Kingdom when he noticed a young man flying toward him. As the young man got closer, it was clear that he was trembling. And then he saw the two thousand paper people behind Bai Xiaochun, which caused him to gasp, and then turn to flee in the other direction.
However, despite how quickly this newcomer reacted, Bai Xiaochun still managed to get a look at his face.
First, he was shocked, and then, delighted! “Zhou Yixing!”