Bai Xiaochun had never harbored even the slightest intention of doing what Gongsun Wan’er told him to. As far as he was concerned, only an idiot would have sat there obediently waiting for her to come back.
“Think I’m a moron? That I'm just gonna sit around waiting?” As he fled nervously, he pondered how quickly she had trusted that he would do what she said.... “Well, all’s fair in both love and war. Whatever. It's not like I’ll be around to find out what happens later anyway.”
Although he wasn’t sure of exactly what was going on, or what the girl was thinking, he continued to flee at top speed. As usual, he used his simplistic method of sticking to the right to try to find the exit.
A few days passed, over which he didn’t encounter anyone, and hadn’t run into any bizarre situations either. Because of that, he picked up speed, and eventually, the path of his movement as outlined in the jade slip became clearer. Eventually, he stopped and examined the would-be map.
Then he looked around at his surroundings for a moment. Although he couldn’t be absolutely sure, after examining the jade slip, he was fairly certain... that he had passed through this area before.
“So, this place is a big circle.... The labyrinth is made up of a whole bunch of massive, interconnecting concentric rings....
“What I have been assuming is the right-hand wall is actually the left-hand wall in other locations. They’re the same wall!
“In that case, there are two possibilities. The first is that all of the rings in the labyrinth are never-ending dead-ends, and only one of the rings has the exit!
“The other possibility is that none of the rings have an exit, and that the exit... is in some other location.” Bai Xiaochun rubbed his forehead and sighed. Despite how long he had been in the labyrinth, he had no idea whether or not anyone else had found the exit. Although it was a huge and complicated place, there were plenty of amazing geniuses among cultivators, so just because he hadn’t solved the puzzle didn’t mean no one else had.
Muttering a bit, he looked at the jade slip for a bit longer, then headed down a path that headed left, continuing to track his progress as he went along. Whenever he encountered a place that he thought he had passed before, he would pick a different path. However, the entire time, he generally continued to go to the right.
“I have to find a spot where this ring connects to the next ring.... It's got to be around here somewhere!” Gritting his teeth, he proceeded to search.
“There’s no guarantee that this method will find me the exit, but as long as nobody interferes and gets me lost again, I think it has a good chance of succeeding!”
Half a month later, Bai Xiaochun was looking a bit haggard. However, he had long since found a way into the next ring, and had also confirmed that it was also a never-ending dead end.
However, he didn’t give up looking for a way to the next ring.
As time crawled by, bad luck seemed to be further away than ever, and good luck seemed just around the corner. Another month passed by. By this point, Bai Xiaochun’s jade slip was filled with a complicated outline of the various paths he had traveled. As he moved along, he was constantly absorbed in studying the unfolding map. Eventually, he stopped in place and looked up to find that ahead of him was a wide-open square!
The square did not contain any candles or blood-soaked buns. Right in the middle of it was an altar with a glowing door atop it.
As soon as he saw that door, his heart swelled with excitement.
“Finally! I finally found it!!” Bai Xiaochun took a few moments to calm himself down. Furthermore, he didn’t just blindly charge toward the door. He took a moment to examine his surroundings, and after confirming that there wasn’t anything overtly dangerous, he began to slowly make his way forward. Soon, he was at the end of the tunnel and right at the border of the square, where he looked at the shining door and began to laugh loudly.
“What kind of crappy labyrinth is this anyway? With the snap of a finger, I, Bai Xiaochun brought this place to the verge of becoming ash. Now, with a bit of thought on my part, I’ll finish the job and breeze through the exit.” Feeling very proud of himself, he flew toward the altar and the glowing door.
There was no rumbling or any other sound as he flew inside and disappeared.
His vision swam, and when it grew clear, he looked around and instantly began to tremble. In fact, he couldn’t even breathe.
There didn’t appear to be any ground in this place, just an empty void. Stretching out in all directions were numerous glowing spheres of starlight, well over a thousand of them.
Within each globe of starlight was a person. There were ordinary cultivators, soul cultivators and savage giants, all of them sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed, as if in meditation. Occasionally, the expressions on their faces would change. Some would grit their teeth, some would look elated. All sorts of different emotions could be seen.
Bai Xiaochun actually recognized many of the people in the spheres as people from both the Great Wall and the Wildlands who had gathered outside the labyrinth.
“It seems that more than a thousand other people got to the end of the labyrinth before me.” After looking around for only a moment, he saw Chen Hetian, Zhao Tianjiao and Chen Yueshan.
Among those from the Wildlands, he spotted a woman in a long red gown... Mistress Red-Dust!
Mistress Red-Dust’s glowing sphere was very eye-catching, sending dazzling light out in all directions, making it much brighter than any of the other spheres.
Not even the light of a hundred of the other glowing spheres would come close to hers.
After examining the situation a bit more closely, Bai Xiaochun realized that he was also surrounded by a glowing sphere of starlight, and that he was just another amongst the group of more than one thousand people floating within this starry sky.
In the middle of all the stars, floating there right in the boundless void, was a shocking, soul-stirring stone stele of enormous size!
Bai Xiaochun wasn't even able to tell exactly how large it was. It had words written on its surface describing the rules of the trials by fire here. Furthermore, each glowing sphere was connected to the stone stele by a faintly shimmering thread!
Bai Xiaochun trembled inwardly at the sight of this second stone stele, which looked similar to the first one outside the labyrinth. Based on the description written on the stone, passing a trial by fire here was the way to leave the labyrinth, and whoever took first place would acquire the deva soul.
By this point, Bai Xiaochun realized that he had definitely reached the end of the labyrinth, and entered the realm of the trials by fire.
“Deva souls are great and all, but my poor little life is most important. This place seems pretty safe, so I think the best thing will be to wait for someone else to get the deva soul, and then just leave....” With that, he reached out with both hands to touch the glowing sphere that surrounded him, to see if it was possible to emerge from within it. Unfortunately, the sphere itself was an unbreakable barrier that was impossible to pass.
That actually made him very happy.
“Seems I was right. This place is great! Hahaha! If I can’t get out, then other people probably can’t get in. We can all just sit around in harmony!” He was quite pleased with how fair and considerate this realm of trials by fire was.
Even as he reveled in his delight, he noticed some starlight off in the distance forming into a glowing sphere. Inside, a shadowy figure appeared who quickly became distinct.
Zhou Yixing looked very excited at having been able to find the exit. Just like Bai Xiaochun had, he looked around at his surroundings and almost immediately noticed the shocking stone stele. After a bit of time passed... he saw Bai Xiaochun.
When their gazes met, Zhou Yixing’s eyes went wide.
As for Bai Xiaochun, he laughed heartily. Apparently, Zhou Yixing really was Bai Xiaochun’s lucky star. Not only had he luckily escaped death, but he had also found the exit. Even though Bai Xiaochun wasn't sure if Zhou Yixing could hear him, he waved his hand enthusiastically and called out a greeting.
Zhou Yixing’s face twitched as he glared at Bai Xiaochun. Then he gritted his teeth and turned away, worried that if he kept looking at Bai Xiaochun, more bad luck might come his way....
After seeing Zhou Yixing look away, Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat and rubbed his nose, then looked around, feeling a bit bored.
“These people are taking forever! It’s just a trial by fire, right? Hurry up and finish!” Yawning, he looked back at the stone stele to see if he could figure out what was taking so long.