“Am I still me...?” Bai Xiaochun thought. Even he could tell that he had changed in a fear-inspiring and dangerous way. “There’s a deva patriarch here! I... I can’t believe I'm actually attempting to steal a deva soul right out of the tiger’s mouth....”
He rubbed his eyes a bit, but no tears came away. He really was at the point where he wished he could cry, but there were no tears to shed. Inwardly, he sighed.
There was no question that a younger version of himself wouldn’t have entered this place even upon the threat of being beaten to death. Yet... here he was, taking the initiative.
“It’s all the fault of Mistress Red-Dust and Chen Hetian! They’re forcing me to do this.... Dammit, when I get angry, I frighten even myself!” No matter how he sighed, though, there were no other options available. Settling his thoughts, he tried to make himself look even more taciturn as he headed into the city.
“The Bai Clan is one of the three great necromancer clans attached to Giant Ghost City. Of course they have a protective spell formation.... It’s hard to say whether or not the spell formation will check whether people have the blood of the clan in their veins. And it’s also hard to say whether or not my mask will be able to deceive it if it does.... I'm guessing it can.” Bai Xiaochun proceeded forward nervously, prepared to flee in an instant if necessary.
More and more gazes seemed to pass over him, until he was roughly 300 meters away from the city entrance. At that point, the extremely lifelike dragonsnake statues opened their eyes and looked in his direction!
Their sinister gazes were coupled with a terrifying aura that left Bai Xiaochun certain that if they decided he wasn’t a member of the Bai Clan, and tried to enter uninvited, that he would be struck with lightning-like destructive power.
Bai Xiaochun stood there thoughtfully for a few breaths’ worth of time, then walked forward, entering the perimeter of the clan spell formation. Almost immediately, Bai Hao’s identity medallion in his bag of holding began to glow with a soft light. At the same time, his mask unleashed imperceptible fluctuations that completely fooled the spell formation, ensuring that it believed him to be Bai Hao, and not Bai Xiaochun!
As soon as he entered the perimeter of the spell formation, the gazes which had been resting on him vanished, and the eyes of the statues grew dark. Then, a creaking sound could be heard as the huge main gate slowly opened.
A middle-aged man walked out who was in the great circle of Qi Condensation. He had his hands tucked into the opposite sleeves of his robe, and was extremely gaunt. Eyes anything but kind, he frowned as he looked Bai Xiaochun up and down.
Bai Xiaochun was finally relaxing a bit now that he had passed the first step of entering the Bai Clan. Steeling himself, he headed toward the main gate.
However, the middle-aged man quickly stepped in front of him, scorn written on his face as he coolly said, “Well, you’re back, Young Master Bai Hao. Did you forget the madam's orders? Bastard sons are only allowed to enter through the side door! I can’t believe you triggered the clan spell formation and even forced the dragonsnake gate open! You’ve obviously forgotten your place! This gate is not for the likes of you to enter.”
Bai Xiaochun looked over at the man with a slight frown. He had been aware that Bai Hao wasn’t well-liked in the clan, but would never have guessed that even a lowly gatekeeper would treat him with such scorn. That indicated there was more to Bai Hao’s low standing in the clan than Bai Xiaochun understood.
“This is blatant humiliation,” he thought.
When the sharpness of Bai Xiaochun’s gaze stabbed into the gatekeeper’s eyes, his mind trembled. It felt as if an intense coldness had suddenly gripped his mind and dragged him into the dead of winter. Shocked, he didn’t dare to keep looking into Bai Xiaochun’s eyes, and even subconsciously stepped out of the way to make room.
Bai Xiaochun walked past, his face expressionless. It was only after he entered the gate and walked off that the gatekeeper recovered.
“How could Bai Hao’s gaze be so intense?” he muttered. “It wasn’t like that before!”
After entering the clan itself, Bai Xiaochun began to simply stroll around. The place was large, but it was a clan, so there weren’t things like stores and shops. There were only mansions belonging to the various bloodlines of the clan. Everything was luxuriously decorated, complete with ornamental rocks and trees. Members of the clan walked about here and there, and some flew about overhead. Overall, it was a bustling place.
Before he could get very far, a young woman dressed like a servant appeared up ahead, walking toward him as she talked with a friend. When she saw Bai Xiaochun, her eyes flashed with scorn, and she snorted coldly.
“Is anyone even awake at the Department of Visitor Affairs? Apparently, they’ll let any cretin through the gates!” With that, she walked past.
Bai Xiaochun was just about to glare back at her angrily, but restrained himself.
“Just deal with it,” he thought. “After all, I'm not really Bai Hao.” Taking a deep breath, he looked over his shoulder at the servant girl and then continued on his way. As he explored the city, he encountered quite a few servants, all of whom seemed surprised to see him. However, each one had looks of scorn and disdain in their eyes as well.
Many of their looks seemed too exaggerated to be sincere, as if they were merely putting on a show. Others didn’t seem intentional at all, but rather, instinctive reactions, as if they truly found him disgusting, or even dirty.
Bai Xiaochun had a hard time not losing his temper, but he continued to remind himself of his purpose in coming here.
“Just deal with it!” he thought, gritting his teeth. After looking around for a while, he still had no idea where Bai Hao lived, and obviously, he couldn’t just ask people. The more time passed, the more he became aware of what Bai Hao’s life must have been like. Although he had been prepared to be treated poorly, he had never imagined it would be this bad.
“What exactly is the reason for it all...?” he thought. At one point as he was walking along, an old man walked out of a temple up ahead. His clothing seemed of better quality than everyone else Bai Xiaochun had seen so far, and he had a Foundation Establishment cultivation base. Clearly, he was no clan member, but rather, someone who had been hired to serve as a valet.
As he walked out, hands clasped behind his back, he prepared to leave, when suddenly he spotted Bai Xiaochun. Then, his eyes widened with surprise before turning extremely grim.
“Bai Hao! Have you forgotten your place!? This isn’t a place you can just come visit anytime you want! What gall you have! How dare you disregard clan rules!” From the way the old man’s eyes flashed, and from the impoliteness of his tone, it almost seemed like he was scolding a servant.
Up til this point, Bai Xiaochun had simply endured all the dirty looks people had given him. But the fact that this old man actually went so far as to rebuke him caused Bai Xiaochun's anger to rise. However, before he could do anything, the voice of a young woman rang out.
“Valet Chen, this is the Bai Clan, and no matter what your position, you are no member of our clan! What gives a servant like you the right to act so disrespectfully!?” At this point, a beautiful young woman appeared, hovering in midair. She had an icy expression and a profound cultivation base in the great circle of Foundation Establishment.
Bai Xiaochun looked up at her and simultaneously suppressed his rising anger.
The old man’s face fell, and his eyes even flickered with a bit of fear. Ducking his head, he clasped hands respectfully toward the young woman.
“Greetings, Fifth Young Lady. That was just a slip of the tongue by an old servant. However, the clan chief really did establish a rule that bastards are not allowed into the inner residence district unless summoned....”
The young woman glanced at Bai Xiaochun, sighed, and then turned her attention back to the old man. “It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. You may not be so disrespectful to a member of the clan.”
With that, she shook her head and flew off into the distance.
“Of course, of course,” the old man said. However, after she was gone, he looked back at Bai Xiaochun with disgust.
“You’ll escape punishment today because the fifth young lady showed up. Get the hell back to the north district. If I see you around here again, I’ll report you to the clan chief!” With a cold snort, he flicked his sleeve and walked off.
Bai Xiaochun felt like he was about to explode. From the moment he had entered the Bai Clan, he had been forced to endure and endure. If things kept going on this way, he wasn't sure if he could keep up the act of being Bai Hao.
“How did Bai Hao even deal with all this? What would be the point of staying around in a clan like this?! Even if he wasn't well-liked, it shouldn’t be this extreme. There must be more to the story!
“Well, whatever. I’m not Bai Hao, so I guess I’ll just have to deal with it until I get that deva soul.” Gritting his teeth and doing his best to suppress his anger, he turned and headed north. It was at that point that he noticed a seven-story pagoda in the middle of a sprawling group of mansions.