“I really ought to take some time to explore Giant Ghost City a bit too....” Now that he had a prison guard's command medallion, leaving Devil Penitentiary was easy. He emerged from the stone turtle’s left eye, whereupon the medallion shone with a soft light that protected him from the black waters of the moat.
Before long he was out of the moat, and basking in the afternoon sunlight. Giant Ghost City was bustling like usual, with a good number of people about even on the streets near the moat.
The splash of the water as he emerged attracted the attention of quite a few nearby soul cultivators, and as soon as they laid eyes on him, they realized where he must have just come from.
“He’s from Devil Penitentiary....”
Virtually all soul cultivators in Giant Ghost City were terrified of Devil Penitentiary, so as soon as they saw Bai Xiaochun, they lowered their voices and averted their gazes.
There even happened to be some city guards on patrol nearby, and as soon as they saw him and realized who he was, they simply pretended to have not noticed him, and hurried away.
“Wow, I never realized people from Devil Penitentiary have such a high standing!” Although he had heard some rumors before about how people viewed Devil Penitentiary, to experience it firsthand as a prison guard was very different.
“I guess becoming a guard really was a good thing!” Clearing his throat, he began to make his way down the street, simultaneously sending a message to Zhou Yixing to come meet up. Then he began to look around for somewhere to buy vengeful souls.
Zhou Yixing actually wasn’t very far away, but since flight was prohibited within the city limits, he was forced to hurry along on foot toward Bai Xiaochun.
As Bai Xiaochun waited for Zhou Yixing to find him, he walked along and took note of several shops that sold vengeful souls. Some were large and luxurious, while others were smaller and more specialized. However, after asking around a bit, he was saddened to find that all of the shops were running very low on supply. In fact, none of them were actually selling vengeful souls, only buying them.
After checking seven or eight shops and finding that it was the same with all of them, Bai Xiaochun started to get nervous. After all, he had come out with the specific purpose of buying some souls.
“What’s going on? Why do all the shops that specialize in selling vengeful souls not even have any souls to sell?” With that, he headed to another street, where he checked in with another seven or eight shops. To his shock, he found that it was the same with all of them.
Finally, in one of the larger shops, he grabbed a salesperson by the arm and asked, “How come none of you have any souls for sale? What’s the deal?”
“How should I know?” the salesman replied with a glare. “We’re out of stock! What are you grabbing me for? What, are you gonna try to take my soul or something?”
This salesman had worked in Giant Ghost City for many years, and had come to have quite an eye for customers. He could tell by looking at Bai Xiaochun, and also from the way he asked his question, that he was a new arrival. Completely uninterested in dealing with a newcomer, the salesman gave him another glare and then prepared to rebuke him a bit more.
Irritated by the man’s attitude, Bai Xiaochun thought about how the city guards had reacted upon seeing him fly out of the moat earlier, and quickly pulled out his Devil Penitentiary prison guard’s command medallion.
“Do you have the guts to say that again?!” he asked angrily, holding the medallion right in front of the man’s face.
At first, the salesperson seemed irritated, but when he realized that a Devil Penitentiary command medallion was being flashed in his face, he gasped. Scalp tingling madly, he shivered, and then plastered a huge smile onto his face.
Considering that he had been in Giant Ghost City for many years, he obviously knew that people from Devil Penitentiary were among those who should never be offended. Devil Penitentiary was a place that even ghosts and gods were afraid of. The guards there were known to be vicious fiends, not to mention the inquisitors, who were brutal and cruel to the extreme.
“Please forgive me, exalted one! The truth is that none of the shops in Giant Ghost City have souls right now. We’re completely sold out....”
“Sold out?” Bai Xiaochun said with a frown, his anger beginning to fade.
“Yes, that’s right. The three great clans have been hoarding souls recently, presumably because of the matter of the hell-emperor’s successor.... If you have an urgent need, exalted one, we do have a few random souls here at the shop, just not very many.” Clasping hands nervously, the salesman hurried behind the counter and into the back of the shop to gather a few of the random souls that were available. Clearly, he didn’t want to offend this person from Devil Penitentiary, and just wanted him to be on his way as quickly as possible.
“How domineering!” Bai Xiaochun thought. “I can’t believe they bought all the souls just because of some hell-emperor successor thing.” Never could he have imagined that the as-yet distant matter of the hell-emperor’s successor would already start to negatively influence him.
Considering that flame conjuring would require more and more souls, the fact that Giant Ghost City was almost completely sold out could make things very troublesome.
“What am I supposed to do now? The three great clans are way out of line here! I guess I should have cleaned out the Bai Clan even more than I did.” Sighing, he realized he had to rest all of his hopes on Zhou Yixing, and whatever vengeful souls he had managed to get his hands on with the information Bai Xiaochun had sent him from the interrogated prisoners.
Even as Bai Xiaochun was pondering the situation, the salesman returned from the back of the shop with a soulhoarding pagoda in hand. Bowing and scraping, he said, “Exalted one, here are about 100,000 souls. It's really everything we have left.”
Bai Xiaochun scanned the soulhoarding pagoda, and confirmed that it contained far from the amount he was looking for. However, it was better than nothing. Nodding his head, he was just about to pay for the souls when a bored-sounding voice echoed out from the entrance of the shop.
“I’ll take those souls.” Two young men strolled into the shop, dressed in expensive clothing that seemed to be woven from spirit silk. Their robes glittered like magical treasures, and if one looked closely enough, it would be possible to see designs on them indicating that they had received sevenfold spirit enhancements.
In the Wildlands, spirit enhancements were more common, but the success rates were the same as back in the lands of Heavenspan. The higher the level of the spirit enhancement, the more likely it was that it would fail.
A failure would lead to the complete destruction of the item and the ingredients, and that meant that any item which had numerous spirit enhancements represented heaven-defying good luck.
Both of the young men were in the great circle of Foundation Establishment, and from their magical clothing, it was easy to tell that they were no ordinary cultivators. They were flanked by eight middle-aged soul cultivators, most of whom were in Foundation Establishment. However, two of them clearly had Core Formation cultivation bases!
Considering that the entire group of eight carried themselves like servants, it made the two young men stand out in even more grand fashion.
Bai Xiaochun eyed the clothing on the two young men, and could hear the stifled gasps coming from the other people in the shop. A look appeared on the salesman’s face that seemed even more polite than the look he had given Bai Xiaochun earlier. Rushing over, he said, “Well met, Prince Chen, Prince Cai.”
“Give me those souls,” said one of the young men, the one whom the salesman had addressed as Prince Cai. Although the young man had spoken in a relatively calm voice, from the look in his eye, he clearly viewed himself to be vastly superior to Bai Xiaochun. One of his servants immediately stepped forward with a bag of holding to take the soulhoarding pagoda.
Of course, there was no way Bai Xiaochun would simply agree to that.
“Slow down, there,” he said angrily. “I'm buying those souls!”
The two young men looked at him coldly, and could quickly see that he had a Core Formation cultivation base. However, they didn't seem to care about that, nor did they notice that he was Bai Hao from the Bai Clan.
“We’ll pay double,” Prince Cai said. With that, he and Prince Chen simply turned and walked out, clearly bored.
Bai Xiaochun was already feeling quite humiliated, especially considering that the salesman had just glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, clearly delighted to be able to watch this scene play out. Anger rising, Bai Xiaochun took a step forward and loudly declared, “I’ll pay triple!”
Outside, Prince Cai didn’t even turn around before replying, “I’ll pay ten times the original price!”
These two young men were direct bloodline clan members of the Chen and Cai Clan, and were responsible for coming to clear out the souls of the various shops in Giant Ghost City. Although 100,000 wasn’t a very large number when it came to souls, their clan elders’ instructions had been very clear. They had to get as many souls as possible!
Bai Xiaochun was getting angrier. To him, it felt as if someone had slapped him across the face with a pile of money! Just when he was about to continue speaking, his transmission jade slip in his bag of holding began to vibrate. After scanning it with some divine sense, he heard an anxious message from Zhou Yixing.
“Master, I'm just east of the teleportation portal! Someone’s trying to kill me and steal all the souls I got for you. Help!!!”