Because Bai Xiaochun was mostly out of sight inside the paper ball, and also because Zhou Yixing had to focus on moving ahead, he didn’t see what had just happened. He was excited, only occasionally looking back to see how much the paper ball had shrunk.
By this point, the ball had already shrunk from its previous size of 30 meters down to about half of that.
In addition, Bai Xiaochun was slowing down, as if he were about to succumb to exhaustion. Zhou Yixing could even hear him let out a howl of seeming despair.
“Your comeuppance is at hand, Bai Xiaochun!” Feeling almost completely free from care or worry, Zhou Yixing laughed loudly and pondered how all of this had been carefully planned out and executed by none other than himself.
“When I want someone dead, that person wouldn’t dare to try and stay alive!” Laughing, he looked back at Bai Xiaochun slowing down, the paper ball having shrunk down to roughly 9 meters. By this point, Zhou Yixing was confident enough to stop in place to watch Bai Xiaochun be reduced to a desiccated corpse.
“Zhou Yixing!” Inside the paper ball, Bai Xiaochun was looking quite flustered. No matter how he yelled out in anger, his speed continued to drop, until he couldn’t even move forward. Of course, his struggles pleased Zhou Yixing to no end, who was now staring fixedly to watch the final result.
“Yell all you want,” he said with a chuckle. “Even if you yell your throat out, nobody will come to save you!” Zhou Yixing was pleased as punch at how little effort he was now expending. As for the shield surrounding Bai Xiaochun, it was now so small that it was impossible to catch even a glimpse of him inside of all the paper!
It was a critical moment in which Zhou Yixing nervously watched what was happening, and was even visualizing what would happen next. In his mind, the paper ball would soon break through the shield, and Bai Xiaochun would scream miserably as he was destroyed in body and soul.
Not only could he keep a record of everything that was happening, but he would be able to take Bai Xiaochun’s bag of holding in the end. Then he could draw upon the final bit of teleportation power in his star sigil, and go get his reward of a full set of five elements deva beast souls!
Even as he excitedly contemplated that outcome, he saw the paper ball collapse, causing him to crane his neck forward to observe the outcome....
In the exact same moment that the ball collapsed, a huge clump of paper talismans suddenly flew out into the air, a development which occurred so quickly that Zhou Yixing could never have reacted in time. In the blink of an eye, all of the paper talismans landed on the ground right in front of him.
Zhou Yixing’s jaw dropped, and before he could do anything, the paper talismans exploded, causing numerous shield layers to spring up around him.
The talismans were defensive in nature, and quickly spread out to surround Zhou Yixing. At the same time, all of the paper people near Bai Xiaochun suddenly turned over to look in Zhou Yixing’s direction. Completely ignoring Bai Xiaochun, their eyes lit up with madness as they pounced onto the shields surrounding Zhou Yixing!
All of these things take some time to describe, but from the moment the shield around Bai Xiaochun collapsed until the paper talismans landed in front of Zhou Yixing and the paper people pounced, only two breaths of time had passed.
Zhou Yixing’s face fell, and his mind began to spin. Things were turning out exactly the opposite of how he had imagined. Screaming, he tried to back up, but it was too late. The paper people moved so quickly that in the following moment, Zhou Yixing found himself in exactly the same situation Bai Xiaochun had just been in.
“Bai Xiaochun!!” he bellowed in rage, his heart quivering with regret and madness. “Shameless! Completely shameless!! You will not die a good death, Bai Xiaochun!!”
Meanwhile, Bai Xiaochun was fleeing madly. The situation he had just been in was far too dangerous for his liking. Now that Zhou Yixing had replaced him, he forgot about his desire to get his bow and fled without hesitation.
“My poor little life is worth way more than that bow. I guess Zhou Yixing still counts as my lucky star!” When he looked over his shoulder at the shrinking paper ball, he worried that the paper people might still notice him and give chase, so he tried to get as far away as possible.
Meanwhile, Zhou Yixing was inside the paper ball, looking around in sullen fury as the paper people got closer and closer to him. Soon, tears began to leak out of the corners of his eyes.
At the moment, he had no time to ponder how Bai Xiaochun was the bane of his existence. Instead, he reached up and pushed down onto his forehead.
Rumbling sounds then echoed out as starlight filled the area, and the power of teleportation erupted. When the starlight faded away, Zhou Yixing was nowhere to be seen. Within a few moments, the paper people had completely devoured all of the shields, whereupon they scattered and began to search the area. When they found nothing, they drifted off into different random directions.
In a tunnel somewhere else in the labyrinth, starlight glimmered, and Zhou Yixing stepped out, coughing up blood. He did nothing to hold it back, leaning up against the wall as blood spilled out from inside of him. Then he chuckled bitterly.
As for the star sigil on his forehead, it gradually grew dimmer, until finally, it crumbled into ash and blew away....
“My star sigil is gone....” he lamented. As he thought back to everything which had occurred with Bai Xiaochun, he felt more than ever that he was the bane of his existence. More tears began to pour down his cheeks. “I'm not going to try to kill him. I hope... I hope I never see him again for the rest of my life!!!”
In that moment, Zhou Yixing seemed to age significantly. He had been wounded both physically and mentally, and was even starting to question the purpose of his own life....
In sharp contrast to Zhou Yixing’s bitter grief, Bai Xiaochun was in extremely high spirits. He felt like he had just survived a major tribulation, and had finally secured safety for his poor little life.
He wasn’t even angry about Zhou Yixing’s previous treachery. After all, without Zhou Yixing there, he might not be alive right now.
He had even gone to the lengths of sacrificing himself to save Bai Xiaochun.
“Ah whatever. If we're connected by destiny, Brother Zhou, then you’ll probably make it out alive yourself. I hope we have a chance to meet again one day.” Relishing the thought of what might happen then, Bai Xiaochun hurried along his way.
However, as he walked through the tunnels, he started getting the feeling that something was off. He suddenly whipped around to check his back, but didn’t see anything. Reaching over his shoulder, he fumbled around with his hand, but couldn’t feel anything.
Unsure of whether he was just imagining things, he kept going. Eventually, he noticed a Great Wall cultivator approaching from the other direction looking very nervous, as if he had just survived some dangerous ordeal.
When their eyes met, Bai Xiaochun could instantly see that the man was terrified....
A moment later, the cultivator bowed his head and stepped to the side to allow Bai Xiaochun to pass. Bai Xiaochun was thinking of asking the cultivator some questions, but quickly dismissed the idea when he realized the man had a paper person on his back.
Bai Xiaochun immediately sped up, flying past the cultivator. Some distance away, he looked over his shoulder to find the cultivator rushing toward him aggressively. But then, the man suddenly stopped in place and nodded in terror....
Seeing that Bai Xiaochun had noticed him, he shrieked and fled.
Bai Xiaochun was at first taken aback, but then he thought back to when he had seen one of the paper people on someone else’s back. That paper person had said sshhh, and he had nodded in response....
The nod of the cultivator just now had seemed very similar, and at that point, Bai Xiaochun’s terror began to mount....
“There’s no way I have a paper person on my back....” he thought, his mind spinning. Face turning ashen, he looked over his shoulder over and over again until his neck hurt. However, he didn't see anything. Unfortunately, divine sense was suppressed in the labyrinth, making it impossible to use it to scan himself. Even reaching around with his hands didn’t reveal anything....
Finally, he decided to pull out his copper mirror, but still couldn’t see anything on his back.
He proceeded onward, filled with suspicions. As time went on, his expression turned more and more unsightly, until he was absolutely certain that there was something on his back.
Scared out of his mind, and hair standing on end, he breathed, “There’s... there’s something on my back!”