Meanwhile, back in the Bai Clan, silence prevailed. In the recent days, the matter of Bai Hao had become something of a crisis.
Because of all the rumors spreading in the area, the entire clan was feeling unstable. Bai Hao had turned traitor, killed Bai Qi, stolen the deva soul, captured the clan chief, and killed many of the direct bloodline clan members who had chased after him.
Everyone in the clan was left with pounding hearts, especially in the higher echelons of leadership. Different people had different opinions, and many of the auxiliary bloodlines were using the matter to denounce the direct bloodline.
“Bai Hao is the true qilin son of the Bai Clan. You direct bloodline people forced him to turn traitor!!”
“He's a true chosen of the heavens! If he were still in the clan, he could break into the Nascent Soul stage and lead our clan to new heights!”
Talk like this grew more common. The more glory Bai Hao earned for himself, the uglier things got for the direct bloodline, and the more they wanted to kill him. Unfortunately, there was currently nothing they could do about that.
Considering that he had already killed some of the mid Nascent Soul clan elders, what could anyone else do? Some of the clan elders who were in the late Nascent Soul stage went out to try to capture him, but none of them succeeded. The direct bloodline... was being completely routed.
The grand elders of the Hall of Justice and the Hall of Corrections were not part of the direct bloodline, and although they had followed the orders of the patriarch to send people out to search for Bai Hao, it was obvious that any failure to catch him... was really the fault of the direct bloodline.
When Madam Cai looked around at the situation in the clan, she felt bitterness and despair in her heart. In the past, it would have been impossible for her to even imagine that a nobody like Bai Hao would end up causing such a commotion.
Her son had been killed and her husband taken captive, and it left her heart feeling like it was being ripped apart. At the same time, her venomous hatred for Bai Hao had reached indescribable proportions.
If it weren’t for the fact that there was a deva patriarch in the clan, fighting would have already broken out. Therefore, all of the conflict was happening behind the scenes.
Most importantly, the deva patriarch hadn’t yet stated his opinion on the matter. The auxiliary bloodlines... were all waiting to see who the deva patriarch would side with. That would be very telling. However, at the moment, the deva patriarch was not interested in paying attention to what was happening within the clan.
In fact, he didn’t even really care that the clan chief had been captured. As long as the clan itself still stood, he was content. Worst case scenario, he would have to select a new clan chief.
Right, the main thing on his mind was Bai Hao!!
“What a bunch of good-for-nothing fools! I can’t believe the whole clan has been mobilized, and even then they can't bring Bai Hao back!” A look of determination appeared in the patriarch’s eyes as he sat there in his subterranean chamber.
“I can’t keep waiting. If things go on too much longer, and the giant ghost king interferes, then I will have lost an important opportunity.... I guess I just need to risk it!” Gritting his teeth, he rose to his feet.
Something profound and unfathomable could be seen in his eyes as he looked around at the green flames of the seven flickering candles around him. After a moment passed, he took a deep breath, and then stepped forward.
That single step caused a wind to spring up in the chamber around him. The flames of the seven candles danced, and then began to wink out....
Without any hesitation, the patriarch stepped beyond the spell formation created by the candles, whereupon all of the flames... vanished!
At that point, cracking sounds could be heard from inside the patriarch, almost like bones grating against each other. Then, all traces of withering on his body vanished, and he became a middle-aged man.
Shocking cultivation base fluctuations rumbled out, and his eyes flashed as if with lighting. The way he stood there made him seem like he was the representative of the will of the heavens.
“My Seven Life-Locking Candles can lock my longevity in place and help me live a bit longer.... Unfortunately, I can only use them once in my lifetime. Bai Hao... you had better not disappoint me!” Eyes shining with profound maliciousness, he tore a rift open in the air in front of him, stepped through it, and vanished.
In that same instant, a peal of thunder shook the sky above the Bai Clan....
Quite some distance away from the Bai Clan, Bai Xiaochun was speeding through the air. He had killed quite a few members of the Bai Clan recently, although it was not because he had taken the initiative to attack them, but rather, because they had insisted on surrounding him and ambushing him.
When Bai Xiaochun fought back, he struck to kill. He had even killed three clan elders so far. By this point, he was almost at the border of the region considered Giant Ghost City territory.
At the moment, his face was bright red, and as he flew along, he performed constant double-handed incantation gestures, and would then slap his hands down onto himself. This was a secret magic he had picked up in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, useful for expelling sealing marks.
By using the power of his own qi and blood, he was able to remove all sealing marks from inside of himself, and although it worked well, the power of the seals themselves was a critical factor. If they were weak, they could be dispelled easily, but if they were powerful, it could take years or even longer.
Another factor was the strength of one's own qi and blood.
Thankfully, Bai Xiaochun had particularly strong qi and blood. After several days of utilizing this secret magic, it was having an effect. At a certain point very close to the border of Giant Ghost City, he suddenly stopped in place and coughed up a mouthful of blood.
This particular batch of blood wasn't red, but rather, brown. As soon as it was ejected from within his mouth, it swirled through the air to form a head, with the face of the Bai Clan’s deva patriarch. The face stared malevolently at Bai Xiaochun for a moment before fading away.
Bai Xiaochun wiped the remaining blood from his lips and let out a long sigh. At long last, he felt completely free and clear.
“At least I finally got that damned sealing mark out of me!” Feeling much more relaxed, and even enlivened, he began moving again.
“Four hours at the most, and I’ll be out in the desert. Out there... the Bai Clan will never be able to find me now that I’ve gotten rid of the sealing mark!”
As he moved along, he pulled Bai Hao’s notes out of his bag of holding and began to study them. These notes were Bai Hao’s life’s work, complete with his augury technique, as well as detailed information about souls and multi-colored flame.
Bai Xiaochun had studied the information frequently over the past few days, and had benefited significantly every time he did. At the same time, he sighed constantly about the fact that Bai Hao had been killed.
“The kid had incredible talents. If he had lived, then as my apprentice, he could have directly helped me with his augury. With his help, I wouldn’t have needed to go anywhere to figure out the formulas. We could have done it together.” Sighing, he picked up speed.
About the time that Bai Xiaochun was finally removing the sealing mark from within him, there was an ordinary Nascent Soul cultivator flying through the air some distance away on a soulship. Suddenly, the old man’s face fell, and he stopped moving.
That old man was one of the direct bloodline members in the late Nascent Soul stage who had been chasing after him. He was the last member of the direct bloodline who had any hope of actually catching up to Bai Xiaochun. Moments ago, the divine will seal that had enabled him to track Bai Xiaochun had suddenly vanished.
The Wildlands was a huge place, so without that sealing mark, it would be virtually impossible to find Bai Xiaochun. The old man flew as quickly as possible in the direction he had been moving, but had no hope that Bai Hao would be so stupid as to just sit there waiting around.
Before long, the old Nascent Soul cultivator reached the last spot he knew the sealing mark had been, only to look around and find nothing. Furthermore, there was no indication which direction his quarry had taken.
“To the west is the desert. To the north is the Ageless Frigid River. To the east is the imperial city.... Which way would Bai Hao have gone…?”
Further away, the deva patriarch was flying through the air, his expression extremely grim.
“It doesn’t matter that you erased my sealing mark. Devas... can do things beyond your imagination! There is nowhere you could possibly run to that I couldn’t find you!” His right hand flashed with an incantation gesture, and he waved his finger, causing his body to age visibly, but at the same time, creating ripples in the air in front of him, ripples which rapidly coalesced into the shape of a screen.
Within the screen, a vast wasteland was visible, into which the deva patriarch stepped. A moment later, he was actually within the wasteland, where he once again used the same method. And then again...
By the third time, the image he summoned revealed Bai Xiaochun, speeding along!
“Not slow at all... really looks like you live up to expectations!” Grinning, the patriarch stepped into the screen!