As the group of three got closer to the ancestral mountain, the pressure weighing down on them increased. It was the type of pressure that would have a significant effect on any Foundation Establishment cultivator; only Core Formation experts would be able to ignore it.
Obviously, the summit of the mountain was where the pressure was strongest, and based on Bai Xiaochun's calculations, it would only be possible for someone in late Core Formation to get that far.
However, in consideration of how he was weaker, the fifth young lady took the lead, using the power of her own cultivation base to reduce the pressure on Bai Xiaochun. Moved, Bai Xiaochun followed along, simultaneously engaging in some casual conversation with both her and Bai Lei.
Before long, they were at the foot of the mountain. There were numerous paths that led up, and they picked one. As they began to climb, the pressure intensified. Occasionally, they would pass other Foundation Establishment clan members, all of whom were sweating profusely and being very careful to avoid the dangerous restrictive spells.
With the fifth young lady's help, Bai Xiaochun was able to move much faster than any of the other Foundation Establishment cultivators.... Of course, even without her help, the pressure wouldn’t have fazed him. Not even the pressure at the summit would have been a huge deal, let alone the pressure further down.
Because of how kind the fifth young lady was being, Bai Xiaochun tried his best to pretend that he was having difficulty with the pressure, even going so far as to gasp and wheeze occasionally.
After all, people outside of the ancestral land were watching, and therefore, Bai Xiaochun had no choice but to proceed with his act. Occasionally, though, he would look over at Bai Qi and his group speeding toward the summit. Eyes sparkling, Bai Xiaochun tried to calculate how long it would take for him to reach the top.
When Bai Lei noticed who he was looking at, his eyes flickered, and he lowered his voice and said, “Junior Brother Hao, you listen to me... that Bai Qi is someone you can't afford to provoke.”
Bai Xiaochun looked over at him. Plastering a look of anger onto his face, he said, “Well it's not like he’s actually going to kill me, right?!”
Bai Lei sighed. “Don’t you get it, Junior Brother Hao? The clan arranged for Bai Qi to get this deva soul, and that shows how much the patriarch favors him. If you keep pulling stunts like you did yesterday, I’m afraid... you will get yourself killed.”
Bai Lei had a serious expression on his face, but inwardly, he was chuckling. Although Bai Hao had uttered some sharp words the day before, as far as Bai Lei was concerned, he was still just a child.
“You listen to me, alright?” he continued. “From now on, stick close to the grand elder from the Hall of Justice. With him on your side, Bai Qi won’t make a move against you, at least not casually....”
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, and then gritted his teeth defiantly.
Off to the side, the fifth young lady listened, a slight frown on her face. Although Bai Lei’s words seemed to be uttered out of concern, to her, it seemed more like he was trying to take advantage of the conflict between Bai Hao and Bai Qi for his own benefit. However, now was not the time to point that out. Sighing, she pondered how everyone in the Bai Clan seemed to have their own agenda, and how everyone was always fighting and bickering.
It was really exhausting to live in an environment like that, which was one of the reasons she didn’t feel very at home in this place. Sighing, she looked over at Bai Hao with compassion and sadness. It was bad enough that he had such a lowly standing in the clan, but now, just when he had finally managed to prove himself to some extent, someone came along to try to manipulate him.
Seeing that Bai Lei was about to continue speaking, she jumped in and said, “Hey, look at that halo over there, Bai Hao. See the bracelet inside…? It’s a magical item that’s well suited to you!”
Bai Xiaochun looked over at a nearby boulder, upon which was a green bracelet. The fluctuations rolling off of it weren’t very strong, but would clearly be useful to someone in early Foundation Establishment.
In the same moment that he looked over at it, the fifth young lady performed an incantation gesture and waved her finger, causing a beam of green light to fly out. As the beam neared the boulder, a protective shield of light suddenly sprang into being.
The green beam of light pierced through the shield, wrapped around the bracelet, and then dragged it back into the fifth young lady’s hand. After looking it over, she handed it to Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun took the bracelet, looked up at the fifth young lady with her kind gaze, then clasped hands and bowed.
“Thank you, Fifth Young Lady.”
“Take it. You need every bit of protection you can get. In our clan... you can’t trust anybody.” Looking melancholy, she shook her head and then continued along the path.
Bai Lei frowned, not very pleased that the fifth young lady had interrupted him. However, considering her high status, he knew that she would eventually be married off to someone important outside the clan. Likely, she would achieve an even higher standing in the future, and therefore, he pretended that nothing had happened, and just continued to chat randomly.
The fifth young lady obviously wasn’t in a very good mood, and only occasionally responded to Bai Lei’s banter. However, whenever they encountered items useful for Foundation Establishment cultivators, she would take them and give them to Bai Xiaochun.
Two hours later, Bai Xiaochun had acquired about eight magical items, a few thousand souls, and even some soul medicine.
He was quite moved by all of this. The fifth young lady was now the second person in the Bai Clan to have taken a liking to him. Most importantly, she wasn’t trying to get anything out of him. She was simply treating him like family, out of compassion.
Another thing he noticed was that there were items available on the mountain that the fifth young lady actually wished to acquire, but could not because of the level of her cultivation base.
Bai Lei took the initiative to get a few things that he wanted, then apparently felt a bit embarrassed and got a few things to hand over to Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun accepted everything silently, and the group proceeded along for about an hour. By this point, they were about halfway up the mountain, which was when Bai Qi actually reached the summit. His journey up the mountain had gone very smoothly, with almost nothing causing any problems for him or getting in his way.
“The deva soul was put here for me!” he told himself. “It's mine!” The reason why Bai Qi had such an easy time going up the mountain was because he knew exactly how to deal with all of the restrictive spells on the way up. His father had provided him with that information, and therefore, Bai Qi didn’t need to waste almost any of his cultivation base power to get to the summit.
From his current position, he could see the altar, and the earth-type deva soul on top of it. Eyes shining with anticipation, he shifted his gaze from the soul, to the restrictive spell protecting it.
Now that he was here, all he had to do was walk over and take what was his!
“This is the last restrictive spell, and also the most powerful. Only someone with the strongest and purest blood can get through... thankfully, I came prepared! Once I get that deva soul, then I can go and kill Bai Hao!”
Chuckling coldly, Bai Qi sliced a cut open on his index finger and then spattered some blood onto the restrictive spell. At the same time, he patted his bag of holding, producing a jade bottle that he crushed... causing a drop of blood to appear!
That blood came from the deva patriarch, and was incredibly pure.
When Bai Qi reached the summit and began to deal with the restrictive spell, many of the other clan members on the mountain looked up with complex emotions. Although most of them were frustrated and jealous, there was nothing they could do.
Outside of the ancestral land, the clan members who had gathered to watch the event saw what was happening, and various serious expressions could be seen on their faces. The clan chief smiled broadly, whereas the clan elders looked on indifferently. After all, they had all agreed to this matter, and knew that the supposed trial by fire was mostly just for show.
Originally, Madam Cai should have been in custody and being punished, but for some reason she was now in the crowd, excitedly watching the scene play out.
The person paying the closest attention to Bai Qi, though, was Bai Xiaochun. Now that he saw Bai Qi dealing with the restrictive spell, he stopped in place to think for a moment.
Then he turned to look at the fifth young lady, and suddenly, seemed to be bursting with energy. His eyes shone far more brightly than before, and for some reason, he seemed taller and stronger. It was as if, moments ago, he had been a tiny hill, but was now a towering mountain peak!! Conversely, the ancestral mountain he was standing on was now like a tiny hill compared to him! The air around him even began to distort as something like a black hole formed!
“Thank you for watching out for me, Fifth Young Lady,” he said. “I’d like to pay you back for your kindness. If you agree, then tell me what things you want from the mountain, and I’ll get them for you. Take your pick.”
The sudden change to Bai Xiaochun happened so quickly that neither the fifth young lady nor Bai Lei were able to react.
“You....” Bai Lei’s eyes widened, and his heart began to pound. For some reason, Bai Xiaochun seemed like one of the clan’s grand elders right now, completely shocking. In fact, when their eyes met, Bai Lei felt his mind spinning.
The fifth young lady was panting, completely taken aback by what Bai Xiaochun had just said.
Bai Xiaochun looked at her and once again said, “Well, Fifth Young Lady, take your pick!”
All of a sudden, the fifth young lady seemed to realize what was going on. Shivering, and eyes shining, she suddenly laughed.
“If you can get anything on this mountain for me... then what are you waiting for?! Take it all!”
Bai Xiaochun looked at her deeply, then threw his head back and laughed. “You got it!”