Now that Bai Xiaochun was back in Devil Penitentiary, it didn’t matter what was happening outside. He quickly returned to his quarters, and after waiting a few days to make sure there were no repercussions from the recent events, he finally breathed a sigh of relief.
“Turns out being a prison guard is very useful. Although the best thing for now would be to avoid any attention. I won’t go out unless absolutely necessary.” Patting his bag of holding excitedly, he couldn’t help but muse that his plan had been very brilliantly executed. “The three great clans rob me, I rob them back! As the old saying goes, proper behavior is based on reciprocity! It’s a basic principle of heaven and earth!”
In the days which followed, he went on patrol with Squad 9 and continued to work on the formula for fourteen-colored flame. Time passed. One day, he finally went back into the cellblock alone.
Cellblock D was usually a loud and busy place. Whenever the guards weren’t present, the gray-robed prisoners and the prisoners in the skulls alike would both do whatever they felt like doing.
Even when the guards were present, most of the prisoners ignored them. However, the instant Bai Xiaochun entered the cellblock, everything quieted down.
As soon as he appeared, he clasped his hands behind his back and grandly announced, “I'm on duty today, so you’d all best behave.”
His words caused the gray-robed prisoners to tremble in terror. Many of the prisoners in the skull cells raised their eyebrows in fear.
“It’s that damned Dark Inquisitor Bai!”
“This guy is vicious and merciless. I’ll never forget the tragic day he interrogated Old Devil Zhou....”
As for the prisoners who had actually been interrogated by Bai Xiaochun at some point in the past, they trembled visibly, and their eyes shone with terror.
All of Cellblock D went silent, and as Bai Xiaochun passed by, not a single person made the slightest sound. After all, he had become very famous recently. Not a single one of the long-time prisoners in Cellblock D had escaped interrogation at his hands.
Most terrifying of all was how mysterious his interrogation methods were. Because of the smoke he used, no one could see clearly what went on. However, people could most definitely hear the terrified screams that emanated out from the smoke, and would never be able to forget them.
Now that Bai Xiaochun was back, the prisoners were all acting very cautiously. None of them wanted to offend him and thus cause problems for themselves. Therefore, they all smiled ingratiatingly, and a crowd of gray-robed prisoners clustered around him to accompany him.
Bai Xiaochun lifted his chin up a bit and enjoyed the awed gazes that were focused on him, musing about how no matter where he went, he always soared to the highest heights.
“I’m just too remarkable,” he thought. “Well, it’s not like that was my goal. I should really be keeping a low profile.” After a while, he waved his hand to dismiss the gray-robed prisoners, then strolled about for a while on his own. Eventually, he found himself in the remote location where he had worked on his flame conjuring before, where he sat down cross-legged.
“This place is perfect. Plenty of room to conjure flame.” Nodding in satisfaction, he set up some restrictive spells, then waved his hand to send out a cloud of smoke. Then, he closed his eyes to meditate.
After reviewing everything he knew about fourteen-colored flame, he opened his eyes and smacked his bag of holding to summon his soulhoarding pagoda. Then, a very serious expression overtook his face as he began to work on conjuring fourteen-colored flame.
As the souls poured out into the open, he performed a double-handed incantation gesture and then waved his fingers. Immediately, the souls began to shoot toward his palm, where they formed a flame. It started with one color, to which he rapidly added more colors. Before long, he had a thirteen-colored flame, and was moving on to the fourteenth color.
“I’m feeling very confident in being able to succeed with fourteen-colored flame. All I need to do is make a few adjustments to handle some random issues.... I'd say I should be able to get it to work within five tries!”
Immediately, souls began to stream toward his hand, pouring into the fire.
Within moments, another color appeared, the fourteenth. But then, Bai Xiaochun’s expression flickered as the flame suddenly winked out.
Frowning, he looked at his hand, and then produced another batch of vengeful souls to make another try. Nine days passed in quick succession.
During those nine days, he made four attempts, all of which were failures. However, he didn’t let that disappoint him. He had plenty of souls to work with, and each failure led him to deeper understanding. It was on his tenth day inside the cellblock that he sat there cross-legged, his eyes bloodshot and his hair in disarray, but his expression that of excitement.
“I've resolved all of the issues. This time, I should succeed at making fourteen-colored flame!
“That will put me at the peak of the terrestrial necromancer rank! If I can make fifteen-colored flame, then I’ll be... a celestial necromancer!” His heart swelled with anticipation; he had been in the Wildlands for quite some time now, and understood quite a bit about necromancers. Obviously, even the great clans viewed celestial necromancers as extremely powerful and important.
Beyond that was the earthly rank, which was even more rare. They had incredibly high positions; perhaps not as high as the heavenly kings, but definitely beyond devas.
Eyes sparkling, he took a deep breath and calmed himself. Everything went very smoothly; he started with one-colored flame and worked all the way up to thirteen colors without stopping. Then, he flicked his sleeve, causing a huge group of vengeful souls to fly out. Finally, he let out a shout, and sent the thirteen-colored flame spreading out into a sea of fire.
The souls began to pour into the thirteen-colored fire, a process which took less time than it takes half an incense stick to burn. It was at that point that a fourteenth color appeared!
His heart pounded with excitement, but his hand remained very stable as he sent his divine sense out to control matters. The fourteen-colored fire slowly began to shrink down, during which time his attention was completely focused on the task at hand.
An hour later, he carefully closed his hand into a fist, causing the sea of fire to disappear inside!
Heart leaping inside of him, he slowly opened up his hand, revealing a scintillating, fourteen-colored tongue of flame!
A light shone out that seemed to surpass everything around it, accompanied by terrifying heat.
Although fourteen-colored flame wouldn’t be enough to threaten a deva, it was powerful enough to destroy most types of Nascent Soul cultivators!
“It worked! I finally did it!” He laughed out loud with joy. “Next up is fifteen-colored flame. That’s definitely going to be very hard. But if I get it to work, then I’ll be a celestial necromancer. Although, fire like that won’t do me much good unless I increase my battle prowess first....” Suppressing his excitement, he put the fourteen-colored flame away, and then counted how many souls he had left.
“If I perform fourteenfold spirit enhancements on all of the things I possess... then even though I’m not at the Nascent Soul level yet, my battle prowess would still be very high.” The mere thought of that got him excited. After all, he had always been very focused on equipping himself to the max.
Without the slightest hesitation, he decided that he should perform a spirit enhancement. However, before he could even pull out his turtle-wok, he suddenly thought of something. “Wait, there are too many eyes here... even with my mist to conceal myself, I should really be as careful as possible. My wok is a true treasure, and I can’t let anyone see it. Low profile. Low profile! I have to be careful out here in the Wildlands. I can’t make a big scene!”
With that, he waved his hand, dispelling the mist and transforming into a beam of light that shot back toward the entrance of the cellblock.
As he was leaving, there happened to be an old man sitting cross-legged in one of the skull cells off some distance away. He had a red birthmark on his face, and appeared to be like the other prisoners in every aspect. However, as Bai Xiaochun left, he looked up, and a mysterious gleam could be seen in his eyes.
“It wasn’t that long ago that he succeeded with thirteen-colored flame,” he murmured to himself, “and now he can actually conjure fourteen-colored flame.... This kid is quite interesting.” Because Bai Xiaochun had been working in a relatively remote corner, and had set up restrictive spells and his obscuring mist, no one noticed that he had conjured fourteen-colored flame. No one except for this old man.
Moments later, the old man closed his eyes.