Everything was happening too quickly. Whether it was Zhou Yixing or his pursuers, none of them even had a chance to react before the entire mountain in front of them erupted like a volcano.
The way the mountain collapsed, even to the point where lava was streaming out of it, made them feel as if they were suddenly facing some vicious monster. Shrieking, everyone began to back up.
Thankfully, the flame and lava didn’t shoot out very far, and soon began to fade away. Zhou Yixing had been blackened a bit, and that was even after he had shot backward at full speed for fear of being incinerated.
Everyone was completely shocked, and all hearts began to pound in astonishment.
It was then that an enraged voice echoed out from within the remaining sea of flames.
“How dare you people!! I can’t believe you would actually interrupt my flame conjuring!!” Even as the fury of the words continued to float in the air, the last of the fire faded away, and Bai Xiaochun appeared, a very unsightly expression on his face as he strode forward.
His robes were in tatters, but the rage in his heart couldn’t have been more intense. He had been absolutely convinced that he was about to succeed, and was sure that the only reason he had failed was because he had been interrupted.
As soon as his bloodshot eyes caught sight of the savages and soul cultivators, Bai Xiaochun slapped his bag of holding to produce a seven-colored flame.
“A master necromancer!!” As soon as the savages saw the seven-colored flame, they began to instinctively tremble and pant in fear.
As for the two soul cultivators, they were in the great circle of Foundation Establishment, but even they were staring at Bai Xiaochun with pale-faced astonishment.
They knew that seven-colored flame was the hallmark of master necromancers, and that people such as that were the type who could gather large groups of soul cultivator followers. Furthermore, it was now obvious that the person they were chasing must be the follower of this master necromancer.
Not only had they tried to kill the follower of a master necromancer, but they had interrupted that very master necromancer when he was conjuring flame.... The two soul cultivators, who were already sweating profusely, then noticed how bloodshot Bai Xiaochun’s eyes were, and that he was clearly enraged. Immediately, they clasped hands and bowed deeply.
“Please quell your anger, Master Necromancer....”
“We really didn't know that you were here conjuring flame, Master Necromancer. Please, quell your anger. We... we can offer compensation!” After hearing the soul cultivators’ trembling words, and seeing them bowing, the savages behind them all dropped down to kowtow.
When Bai Xiaochun saw all of that, his fury began to subside. After all, the interference during the critical moment of flame conjuring was not the main reason his eleven-colored flame had failed. The biggest fault lay in his lack of control.
Although he had solved all the previous problems he had encountered, a new problem had suddenly arisen, which led to the explosion moments ago that had shocked even him.
“There were obviously some internal instabilities. But there were instabilities before, and never such an explosion....” Muttering thoughtfully to himself, he pondered the situation in search of an answer. Meanwhile, the two panicked soul cultivators offered profuse apologies. However, then they considered the crisis their tribe was facing, and suddenly exchanged a glance.
“Grandmaster,” one of them said, “now that your immortal's cave is destroyed, could it be that you are temporarily without a place of residence? If so, why not come to our tribe to rest up a bit?”
Bai Xiaochun glanced back at the destroyed mountain cave, and then nodded. What he needed right now was exactly that; a quiet place to analyze the problem with the eleven-colored flame.
Considering how the soul cultivators and the savages were treating him, Bai Xiaochun finally understood what kind of a position necromancers occupied in the Wildlands. It was definitely beyond anything he had imagined before.
Off to the side, Zhou Yixing was stewing in his own anger. After all, he had mentioned that he was a master necromancer, and yet the savages and soul cultivators had refused to believe him.
Soon, the soul cultivators and savages were cautiously leading Bai Xiaochun back to their tribe. It wasn’t a very large tribe, with only about a thousand members, who made their home in one of the local mountain valleys.
The tribe was fortified, but in a very primitive fashion, with immortal's caves dug into the sides of the mountains. Bai Xiaochun was immediately treated as an honored guest, and was personally give an immortal's cave that had previously belonged to one of the two soul cultivators. Even better, they constantly provided him tribute in the form of vengeful souls.
There were other forms of compensation as well. Yet again, Bai Xiaochun was struck by how important necromancers were in the Wildlands. Whenever he ran into any of the savage giants, they looked at him with a mixture of fear and respect. Bai Xiaochun was quite sure that if he asked them to, they would do anything he wanted.
As for the two soul cultivators, they clearly respected and feared him, but at the same time, wanted something of him, although they seemed hesitant to speak of it openly.
Everyone assumed that Zhou Yixing was one of Bai Xiaochun’s followers, and therefore, they also treated him with great respect, and gave him handsome compensation, although not quite to the same level as Bai Xiaochun.
After being in the tribe for only about half a month, his daily usage of souls ensured that the two soul cultivators couldn’t prevent from gritting their teeth when they handed them over. Finally, Bai Xiaochun started to feel bad about it.
The next time they came to deliver souls, he sighed and said, “Alright, spit it out. What do you want my help with?”
The two soul cultivators couldn’t conceal their excitement. They had been holding back this entire time, so now that Bai Xiaochun took the initiative to bring up the subject, they exchanged a glance and then revealed the truth.
Two months before, the hell-emperor had issued a proclamation indicating that he would be selecting a successor to receive his legacy. Very demanding qualifications had been put in place for the successor, and virtually everyone in the Wildlands was going mad to prepare, including people in the city of the kings, as well as the necromancer clans.
There was a cultivation base limitation for those who could compete to become the successor, and for many, that meant that a vast quantity of soul medicine was needed to improve their cultivation base. As a result, the three great clans that lived under the control of Giant Ghost City were going all out in their preparations, which included issuing strict orders to the tribes in their respective areas of influence to provide large amounts of soul medicine. Any tribe who couldn’t meet the requirement would face potential execution.
Because of an event which had occurred recently, the Blackmountain Tribe was particularly weak, and was temporarily incapable of producing any soul medicine. As a result, they had come up with three ways to solve the problem: sell other products produced in their tribe; find a necromancer to help them; or resort to banditry to try to get soul medicine.
They were currently utilizing all three different options to try to escape from this disaster....
Bai Xiaochun found the whole explanation a bit confusing. However, Zhou Yixing’s eyes went wide. In fact, the news that the hell-emperor was looking for a successor caused his eyes to shine with unprecedented brightness.
Bai Xiaochun maintained a neutral expression, and managed to casually ask for some more details in a way that didn’t reveal his lack of understanding. Of course, Zhou Yixing was so excited about the whole matter that he didn’t notice that at all, and proceeded to tell Bai Xiaochun everything he knew.
It was only at this point that Bai Xiaochun finally came to understand that, in addition to the arch-emperor from the imperial city, there was also a hell-emperor in the Wildlands!
There was a legend about the hell-emperor which stated that after the first generation arch-emperor died, his soul didn’t vanish, but instead, became the Underworld River. It went on to control the aspect of death in the world, and was the spirit of the Underworld River. That was the origin of the hell-emperor!
From generation to generation, the faith of the people ruled by the arch-emperor would bolster the hell-emperor’s strength. In fact, over the years, the savages had been influenced by the soul cultivators to the point where they also began to exercise faith in the hell-emperor.
Essentially, the arch-emperor was a physical leader who everyone could see, whereas the hell-emperor was a symbolic luminary!
Also according to legend, the hell-emperor’s palace existed deep within the Underworld River, which was where the hell-emperor resided. Occasionally, he would send emissaries out into the world of the living, people who were always treated with the utmost respect, even by the reigning arch-emperor.
Two months before, the Underworld River had appeared above the imperial city, and a stone stele descended with a Dharmic decree. According to that decree, a successor was to be chosen within one sixty-year-cycle, a successor who could become the next generation hell-emperor!
The Wildlands were fully shaken; after all, this was the first time in countless years that there had ever even been mention of the hell-emperor choosing a successor.
All of the clans, marquis, and lords in the imperial city, as well as the powerful forces in the four kingly cities and even other influential groups, were profoundly moved. Everyone wanted the hell-emperor’s successor to come from their group!
Two prerequisites had to be met to be a potential successor: First, to have a Nascent Soul cultivation base. Second, to officially acquire candidacy qualifications!