"Among all the answers I have heard today, your answer is the most difficult to analyze and assess. It is also the answer that I find most pleasing!
"Well done, Bai Hao, very well done!" From the delighted laughter that echoed out of the grand elder's mouth, everyone present could tell how much he approved of Bai Hao.
From now on, Bai Hao would obviously have a much different standing than before. Bai Qi could only grit his teeth, and as for the clan chief, his expression turned grimmer and grimmer. Various thoughts existed within the hearts of all the clan members as the grand elder swished his sleeve and said, "Bai Hao, I have an official residence that, while not the best place to practice the necromantic arts, is still quite satisfactory. I hereby bequeath that residence to you for use in your cultivation. I hope that you can progress to the Core Formation stage quickly."
The grand elder was actually a bit disappointed by the fact that Bai Hao was not yet in the Core Formation stage. If he were, even if it was the early stage, he would officially take him under his wing, regardless of how much the clan chief objected.
Unfortunately, Bai Hao's cultivation base was only in early Foundation Establishment, which was too weak. Therefore, he gifted him with an official residence, which would not only sow good will with him, but would also help him probe the clan chief's intentions.
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, and then looked up in thought. As far as he was concerned, an official residence wouldn't really do him any good, and in fact, he was even considering simply asking for some vengeful souls as compensation instead. However, it was at that point that the clan chief spoke out in an icy voice.
"That would be far too much of an imposition, Grand Elder. I can obviously provide for this son of mine on my own."
He spoke with decisiveness that could sever nails and chop iron, his voice filled with discontent and anger that sent the grand elder into silence. Obviously, there was little he could say on the subject.
Bai Xiaochun clasped hands and said, "Many thanks, Grand Elder." Then he cast a glance at the clan chief.
"Just can't bear to see anything go Bai Hao's way, huh?" he thought with a cold chuckle. "Well, I didn't want that official residence anyway. I want a deva soul! When the ancestral land gets opened tomorrow, you can just sit there and watch me take your clan's deva soul away from right under your nose!"
"The ceremony is concluded!" the clan chief said loudly. As far as he was concerned, this ancestral sacrifice ceremony made him feel like he'd swallowed a mosquito. Waving his sleeve, he transformed into a beam of light that shot off into the distance.
The grand elder from the Hall of Justice watched him leave, then sighed inwardly. Bai Hao had a precarious position in the clan, which was quite a pity. Looking over at him, he gave an encouraging nod.
"Since your father has other plans, Bai Hao, I won't interfere. However, if you ever have any questions about cultivation, you can come to me any time to get some advice." With that, the grand elder left, as did the other clan elders. Bai Xiaochun watched them leave. So far, the grand elder from the Hall of Justice was one of the few people in the clan who he actually had a good impression of.
"He knows that Bai Hao is a bastard son, and that his father doesn't like him. Despite that, he still expressed his good will. Clearly, he's offering Bai Hao a bit of protection. Well, in that case, I should represent Bai Hao to take advantage of that protection."
Now that the ceremony was over, Bai Xiaochun left. His arrival had been ignored by everyone, but his departure was the exact opposite. As of this point, everyone was paying attention to him. However, Bai Xiaochun didn't care.
His time dealing with all this pressure in the Bai Clan was coming to an end....
"Tomorrow is when everything will be made clear!" With that, he flew beneath the evening sky all the way back to the north district.
Virtually no one in the Bai Clan was able to sleep soundly that night. Bai Hao's sudden rise to prominence had them all feeling completely shaken. Bai Qi's fury, Madam Cai's mad screams, the clan chief's grim silence; these were images that would forever be imprinted on the hearts of all members of the clan.
Besides all that, the clan's ancestral land would be opened in the morning. Those who would be entering the ancestral land had one more night to prepare. Even the fifth young lady, who didn't particularly want to join the competition, sat in meditation to get herself into top condition. After all, in addition to the deva soul, there would be other rewards available, some of which would be of particular use to her.
Obviously, Bai Lei was aiming for the deva soul. Bai Qi was his direct competitor, and although he knew it wasn't likely that he would succeed, he was still itching to give it a shot.
And then there was Bai Qi. He planned to take all of the rage which had built up in his heart and vent it by killing Bai Hao in the ancestral land. He spent the entire night on breathing exercises, getting himself in the optimal condition to fight.
"The ancestral land is going to be your graveyard! Even if you beg to be exempt from going in, I'll make sure you have no choice in the matter. I’ll drag you in myself if I have to!"
While everyone else in the Bai Clan made their final preparations, Bai Xiaochun took advantage of the darkness of night and the powers of his mask to slip undetected through the clan and plant murdersoul spikes in numerous locations.
He had long since scouted out the clan and picked which locations were optimal to sabotage. Now, on the final night before the opening of the ancestral land, he carried out his plan.
Of course, all he did was put the murdersoul spikes in place. His plan was to wait until the right moment, and then detonate all of them simultaneously to completely shake the Bai Clan's defensive spell formation.
The night passed uneventfully....
Eventually, it was the deepest part of the night, when dawn was just around the corner. At that point, Bai Xiaochun's eyes opened, and they glowed like blazing swords as he looked around at his hut.
Although he hadn't been in the Bai Clan for very long, after everything he had experienced, he had come to a very clear understanding of what Bai Hao's life had been like.
"If your spirit is out there, Bai Hao," he murmured, "I hope you know about everything that's happened since your death. Perhaps you would even wish to put the people responsible to death. Well, although your Master doesn't usually participate in fighting and killing, this time, that's exactly what I feel like doing. And I'm going to do it for you."
Soon, bells tolled in the clan, indicating that the ancestral land was about to be opened!
As the bells tolled nine times, numerous clan members flew into the air and headed toward the stone gate outside the ancestral shrine hall in the central district.
Bai Xiaochun joined them, and before long, he was standing there by the stone gate. The instant he showed up, many eyes turned in his direction.
"I can’t believe Bai Hao actually showed up...."
"Couldn't he see yesterday that Bai Qi wants him dead? If I were him, I would definitely just give up on the opportunities of the ancestral land...."
"Guess he's got a death wish, the overconfident little bastard!"
"Hmph. Well, he couldn't give up even if he wanted to!"
There were already a few hundred people gathered outside the ancestral shrine hall, most of them in the Foundation Establishment stage, with only a dozen or so being in Core Formation. All of them were engaged in hushed conversations.
Bai Qi was there, and as soon as he saw Bai Xiaochun arrive, he looked over with cold eyes and open killing intent.
The fifth young lady and Bai Lei were in the crowd as well, and seemed surprised that he had come.
Bai Xiaochun pretended not to hear all the discussions around him, and seemed completely and utterly calm as he looked at the stone gate.
A bit more time passed, and more people showed up, although most of them had come to observe, not participate. When they saw Bai Xiaochun standing there, more discussions broke out.
The representatives from the two other clans and the emissary from Giant Ghost City were also there. Eventually, the grand elder from the Hall of Justice showed up, and when he saw Bai Xiaochun, his eyes widened, and then his face settled into a frown.
Before the grand elder could say anything, though, the clan chief shot through the air and came to a stop in the air above the gate. Almost immediately, the discussions in the area ceased.
"So, the unfilial bastard showed up after all," he thought, looking down icily at Bai Xiaochun. Whenever the ancestral land was opened, all cultivators in Foundation Establishment and Core Formation were supposed to go in. However, anyone who didn’t wish to could simply report in at the shrine hall, and would generally not be forced to enter.
Actually, it was common for clan members to submit requests to be exempt from entering the ancestral land. Such requests were almost always granted. In fact, the clan chief had long since planned to approve of all such requests, with the exception of Bai Hao's.
And yet, no such a request had ever come in. Although that had made his little plan somewhat pointless, the fact that Bai Hao was here waiting left him chuckling coldly in his heart.
"So, looking to die, huh? Well, then at least I don't have to put family interests aside and kill you myself!" Turning his attention to the stone gate, he performed an incantation gesture and then waved his finger. That in turn touched the clan's spell formation, which caused the stone gate to begin shining with brilliant light. Gradually, it was possible to see a passageway opening up.
An ancient aura escaped, causing a powerful wind to sweep across everything in the area.
"The ancestral land is officially opened!" the clan chief said somberly. "After everyone has entered, the gate will close of its own accord, and will only open after someone acquires the deva soul. Once you enter, your own destinies will determine what good fortune you acquire. The ancestral land is not free from danger; it is a trial by fire, and throughout the years, fatalities have been known to occur, as all of you know! Now, enter the ancestral land!"