Bai Xiaochun stood there looking quietly at Bai Qi. For some reason, he wasn’t angry at how he had wiped away Bai Hao’s name from the stone stele, and presumably, the stone steles for spirit enhancement and soul medicine.
In fact, there wasn't even a need for Bai Xiaochun to ponder the matter. He instantly realized that news about him supposedly cheating would fill the entire clan.
The fact that Bai Qi had taken the initiative to wipe out Bai Hao’s rankings without even investigating the matter was extremely telling. This was Bai Hao’s older brother, and clearly, he treated him just as coldly as the stories had indicated he would.
“He didn’t even give me a chance to explain....” Bai Xiaochun thought with a sigh. He wasn’t angry, just sad for Bai Hao.
“Well, considering that this is how Madam Cai and Bai Qi treat Bai Hao, I can be fairly certain of his father’s attitude....” As he stood there quietly, Bai Qi’s voice could once again be heard.
“Because of the status father and I hold in the clan, most others would feel uncomfortable chiding you, Bai Hao. But not me. You’re a bastard son, and have no right to put your name on the clan’s ranking steles.
“As your older brother, I’d always hoped you would be able to make a name for yourself, and actually came here to congratulate you. Unfortunately, though, you turned out to be nothing more than a huge disappointment.” Shaking his head, Bai Qi turned to the crowd and clasped hands. “Fellow clan members, I, Bai Qi, would like to apologize to all of you for what Bai Hao has done.”
After bowing deeply, he ignored Bai Xiaochun, turned, and became a bright beam of light that shot off into the distance.
Bai Xiaochun stood there silently, feeling all of the gazes upon him. After a moment passed, he smiled faintly, then turned and walked away.
“It seems I underestimated Bai Qi. Apparently he can do a bit of scheming.” After returning to his hut in the north district, he sat down cross-legged to think.
“Well, this was a fishing expedition, that’s all, and my line has been tossed out. Bai Qi can erase Bai Hao’s name from the rankings, but he can’t make everyone forget what happened. Right now, I should probably give the killer a chance to make a move.” He considered going out for a walk immediately, but after looking up to check the time, he decided to close his eyes and work on his Undying Live Forever Technique instead.
As evening fell, an afterimage appeared as a clone stepped out from Bai Xiaochun, who quickly headed outside of the clan.
Simultaneously, Bai Xiaochun’s true self masked his own aura; unless someone opened the door of his hut and stepped inside, they would have no way of knowing he was there.
Outside of the Bai Clan, his fire clone sped along with an expressionless face, making sure to keep his cultivation base at the Foundation Establishment level as he headed in the direction of Giant Ghost City.
Before much time passed, his expression flickered, and he stopped in place. Turning, he saw a beam of light shooting toward him at top speed.
Within the beam of light was a black-robed man who fairly burst with a murderous aura. A wicked grin covered his face, and his eyes flickered with killing intent. Surrounding him was a cloud of vengeful souls, and soul fluctuations that instantly identified him as a necromancer.
This was the very same man whom Bai Xiaochun had spotted talking to Madam Cai in the pagoda when he first arrived at the clan.
“I’ve been waiting for you for a while now,” Bai Xiaochun said loudly. “It’s about time you showed up.”
When the man in black saw Bai Xiaochun standing there as if he were waiting, he seemed surprised. The truth was that he had been waiting this entire time for a chance to get at Bai Hao, but hadn’t dared to make a move inside the clan itself. Eventually, the enraged Madam Cai had finally convinced him to do just that, and had even guaranteed his safety. However, just when he had been about to attack Bai Hao inside the clan, to his surprise, he discovered that he had left.
At first, he had been delighted, and had immediately given chase. But now, when he saw the frigid look in Bai Xiaochun’s eyes, and heard his words, he suddenly felt strangely shocked.
Bai Xiaochun waved his finger at the man, which caused frigid qi to spring up all around him.
Before the man in black could react, he was completely surrounded, causing his face to fall. He wanted to flee, but quickly realized that he was frozen in place.
“Impossible!” he shrieked, looking like he had just seen a ghost. His mind was reeling, filled with an intense sensation of imminent crisis. Biting his tongue and spitting blood out of his mouth, he caused the souls he had brought with him to all detonate.
However, that wasn’t all he did. His goal was to break free from the frigid qi, and because he didn’t trust the power of the soul detonations to do that on their own, he also resorted to detonating part of his own body!
A boom rang out as his lower half exploded, sending his upper torso speeding backward, face pale and filled with intense terror.
“You’re not Bai Hao!!” Trembling, the man in black prepared to flee. However, that was when Bai Xiaochun took a step forward, appearing directly in front of him. Reaching out, he placed his hand on top of the screaming man’s head.
“Fellow Daoist, please forgi--” Before he could finish, his body went stiff, and his eyes bulged out. His mind began to reel, and the last thing he heard was Bai Xiaochun saying one word.
The majority of cultivators had soulsearching techniques of one sort or another. Most such techniques didn’t even count as divine abilities. They were simply ways of sending divine sense into the mind of another person and rifling through their memories in domineering fashion. Although there were certain tricks and methods that differed between techniques, most of them were used as a way to prevent the target’s soul from being harmed in the process.
Unfortunately for the man in black, Bai Xiaochun wasn’t adept with soulsearching, and didn’t possess any tricks or special methods. Furthermore, he wasn’t doing the soulsearch for himself, but rather, for the sake of Bai Hao.
As the clone soulsearched the man in black, various scenes became visible to his true self back in the Bai Clan.
“Your name is Xu Hai.... Ah, so that’s what happened.... It really was Madam Cai.... When Bai Hao publicly revealed that he had reached Foundation Establishment, she arranged for dozens of assassins to go after him. Bai Hao was only in early Foundation Establishment, but was no fool. He was ready, and fought back tenaciously as they chased him. He even used multi-colored flame.... In the end, he evaded most of the assassins, and even killed some of them....” Bai Xiaochun was shaken by what he saw in the memories of the man in black, especially the casual way in which Bai Hao wielded his multi-colored flame!
Bai Xiaochun could also tell that the black-robed man had been equally shocked. After all, he was only a master necromancer, without a deep understanding of the things he had been seeing. However, Bai Xiaochun was different.
“What he did, it was....” He took a deep breath, taken aback at how extraordinary Bai Hao had been, and also profoundly sad at how things had ended for him. “What a pity that in the end, his cultivation base was just too weak. He was hit with this man’s Exterminating Soulbrand, and then teleported away, his heart and blood vessels in ruins....”
In the end, Bai Xiaochun was certain that Bai Hao had been killed, not just because of his cultivation base breakthrough, but because of his skill with flame conjuring.
“Madam Cai, huh. So, she's the one who has Bai Hao’s research notes.” Another afterimage appeared as Bai Xiaochun’s water clone stepped out. Without the slightest hesitation, he left the hut, keeping all cultivation base fluctuations hidden as he headed toward the pagoda where Bai Xiaochun had first seen Madam Cai.
Given the current level of Bai Xiaochun’s divine sense, not even Nascent Soul cultivators would be able to detect him unless they tried extremely hard. Only a deva patriarch would be able to. However, the clan’s deva patriarch wouldn’t have his divine sense out in the clan at all times, nor would he be constantly paying attention to every minor thing that happened.
Bai Xiaochun’s water clone crept along through the night until he was near the pagoda. Keeping his aura carefully concealed, he made his way toward Madam Cai’s mansion!
Just when the water clone was about to start searching for Bai Hao’s notes, his expression flickered, and he stopped in place, looking into the mansion at one particular room where Madam Cai and Bai Qi were having a conversation!
“Qi’er,” Madam Cai said, sounding a bit anxious, “you need to spend more time studying that son of a bitch Bai Hao’s notes. Once you master the ability to conjure eleven-colored flame, the patriarch will value you even more than he does already.
“Only then will he agree to open the ancestral land for you!
“The ancestral land is where the Bai Clan’s only deva soul is housed. Once the ancestral land is opened, anyone in the clan can enter, and although technically speaking any of them could get the deva soul... if the patriarch agrees that it should go to you, then everything will be a formality. The auxiliary bloodlines will have nothing to say about the matter, and you’ll be able to get the deva soul.
“Once you have that deva soul, you can trade it for a full set of five elements deva beast souls, and then form your Nascent Soul! Our clan is huge, and many people have their eyes on that set of deva beast souls. Not even your father could get it for you!” With that, Madam Cai went on to offer further exhortations on the subject.