Having reached this point in his train of thought, Bai Xiaochun got more excited than ever. By now, the moon hung in the night sky outside as he flew out of the giant ghost statue, feeling very pleased at his recent successes.
“I never asked to be so outstanding. But I guess there’s just no other way. It must be the will of the heavens.... First, I was destined to be the glorious junior patriarch of the River-Defying Sect. Then I became a major general at the Great Wall. And now, here in the Wildlands, I'm yet again achieving a monolithic rise to prominence!” Feeling a bit annoyed about how outstanding he was, he shook his head and did nothing to conceal his feeling of pride.
In the past, Bai Xiaochun had been able to fly in the city because he was a prison guard. However, he had never felt completely comfortable doing so. After all, if he had run into a patrol of city guards, they could have forced him down to the ground if they felt like it.
But now, the patrolling guards all looked at him with extreme respect, and even clasped hands in greeting before clustering around him protectively.
Although Bai Xiaochun was initially taken aback, he quickly warmed to the arrangement. Clearing his throat, he took out a jade slip which he studied very quickly, and then clasped his hands behind his back and headed off in the direction of the mansion the heavenly marquis had gifted him.
It was located in the inner city, and had once been a secondary home to that heavenly marquis. It was rather large, with ornamental rocks, as well as streams and ponds. There was a spell formation protecting it, making it very quiet and peaceful. There were already servants waiting there for him, who immediately offered respectful greetings.
Bai Xiaochun was very, very pleased with all of the arrangements, and couldn’t help but sigh in contentment as he entered the mansion.
The night passed uneventfully. Bai Xiaochun didn’t immediately merge with the metal-type deva soul. That fifth deva soul was of incredible importance; merging with it would end with him stepping into the Nascent Soul stage, which meant that he wanted to do it when in secluded meditation.
However, now was obviously not the time for a session of secluded meditation. For one thing, it was the following day that the official announcement was made regarding Bai Xiaochun’s appointment to majordomo. The news spread like wildfire, leading to widespread astonishment.
“Majordomo.... I can’t believe Bai Hao was actually appointed to be majordomo!!”
“We’ve never had a majordomo in Giant Ghost City before....”
“Majordomo. Majordomo.... On the one hand, that could imply that he's in charge of everything in the city. But on the other hand, it could also imply that he's in charge of nothing.... It’s like something between a real appointment and an honorary one. His true power will depend on his favor with the king. And at the moment, Bai Hao... has the king's complete favor!”
Even as everyone in the city began to ponder what true powers came with the position of majordomo, Bai Xiaochun was pondering whether or not he should go out and bask in his newfound glory a bit. Before he could, though, people began showing up to offer formal greetings.
It started with the four heavenly marquises, and then turned into an endless stream of soul cultivators. Virtually all of the groups and organizations in the city sent people to him.
All of them came bearing gifts, which Bai Xiaochun accepted with great shock and surprise. The sight of so many gifts left him speechless, and at the same time, radiant with happiness.
The most impressive of the gifts was the very mansion in which he now lived. The heavenly marquis who had given it to him was named Chen Hai. He was a rather fat man whose face was always covered with a radiant smile when he saw Bai Xiaochun. Apparently, the man didn’t care at all about matters of cultivation base or status; he was being very sincere and welcoming.
Of course, with Bai Xiaochun’s sudden rise in status, Zhou Yixing and Li Feng also benefited greatly. That was especially true of Zhou Yixing, who had provided vital services to Bai Xiaochun.
Now that Bai Xiaochun was back in all his glory, Zhou Yixing hurried over excitedly to offer greetings. Bai Xiaochun knew that he had been through difficult times recently, and therefore encouraged him to take advantage of the situation to set up his own power structure within the city.
Zhou Yixing left excited and beaming with contentment. He wasted no time in using the fact that he was backed by Bai Xiaochun to start recruiting his own group of loyalists.
A few days later, the stream of visitors began to thin out, and Bai Xiaochun finally had the time to go for a walk in the city. Wherever he went, the soul cultivators would greet him with immense respect, causing him to excitedly stroll about in every corner of the city that he could find.
“Well met, Majordomo Bai.”
“Greetings, Majordomo Bai.”
“Look, it’s Majordomo Bai....”
The more people he heard talking about Majordomo Bai, the more he strutted about and basked in the glory. In a manner that was very reminiscent of the Spirit Stream Sect, he would sometimes clear his throat to draw the attention of people to alert them that Majordomo Bai had arrived.
Bai Xiaochun was completely intoxicated by the attention he was receiving. In fact, he even decided to go visit Devil Penitentiary....
Although Warden Li Xu wasn’t very happy about it, he had no choice but to offer respectful greetings, and then lead Bai Xiaochun on an inspection of the prison.... As for Bai Xiaochun, he loved the reversal of roles, and made sure to point out many important areas of concern as they went through the facilities.
The four deputy wardens and four dark inquisitors all clustered around him, feeling somewhat dazzled. It was almost hard for them to wrap their minds around the fact that this person had started out as a guard, then become a prisoner, and was now a majordomo....
Most stunned of all was Deputy Warden Sun Peng from Cellblock D. However, Bai Xiaochun was the type of person who remembered his old friends, and heaped quite a bit of praise onto Cellblock D. Sun Peng was soon flush with excitement.
Of everyone in the prison, it was the guards from Squad 9 whom Bai Xiaochun was most fond of. He even called the captain out by name to escort him. It was a huge honor that got the entire squad very excited.
Sighing, he said, “I really have a lot of good memories in Devil Penitentiary. This was once my home, and the place where my feelings run the deepest....”
Everyone seemed moved by his words. Soon, the group had arrived in Cellblock D itself, where they stopped in front of his old quarters. At that point, a look of reminiscence appeared on his face.
“A mere look at this place and I almost want to give up my current position and go back to being a guard!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, everyone hurriedly encouraged him not to do such a thing.
“Majordomo, sir, you absolutely mustn’t do anything of the sort. There are myriad affairs of state for you to deal with. With your position, you are responsible for the prosperity of all of Giant Ghost City!”
“That’s right, Majordomo. The prison guards of Giant Ghost City can’t do without their majordomo!”
After hearing all of their persuasive words, Bai Xiaochun sighed a bit helplessly.
“Ah, whatever,” he said. “Now that all of you put it that way, I guess I have no choice but to give up on my dream. Everything I do, I do for his highness the king! Everything I do, I do for Giant Ghost City!”
Solemn expressions overtook the faces of everyone present, and it was even possible to see teardrops glistening in more than a few eyes.
Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat. Worried that his reveling in success had pushed things too far... he decided to wrap up the inspection tour. Just when he was about to leave, he looked over at Li Xu, who had worn a very odd, borderline unsightly expression this entire time.
During the whole tour, Li Xu’s expression hadn’t changed at all, a fact that Bai Xiaochun wasn't too pleased about. Looking a bit irritated, he said, “Li Xu, I have to offer a word of criticism. In his highness the king’s moment of danger, I was the only one around to keep him safe. Where exactly were you at that time?”
After a moment of silence, Li Xu gritted his teeth and said, “That day... I, went to see Duke Deathcrier....”
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes suddenly turned very cold as he stared at Li Xu and said, “In his highness the king’s moment of danger, you went to Duke Deathcrier? Are those the actions of a true loyalist, Li Xu?”
Li Xu’s face fell. He could see how cold Bai Xiaochun’s eyes were, and realized that he had erred in his comportment earlier. Bai Xiaochun obviously wasn’t irritated by his facial expression, but by his general refusal to perk up. Realizing that he had offended Bai Xiaochun, and cognizant of Bai Xiaochun's current status, Li Xu immediately felt deep regret. Clasping hands respectfully, he began to offer further explanations.
Bai Xiaochun wasn’t the type to hold endless grudges, and didn’t bear any deep-seated ill will toward Li Xu. Therefore, to see him acting like this in front of a crowd actually left Bai Xiaochun feeling a bit uncomfortable. Seeing that the man had learned his lesson, and was now being a bit humble, he nodded faintly and then finished with the inspection.
Over the following few days, Bai Xiaochun spent all of his time strolling about the city to bask in glory. Of course, he couldn't forget how the three great clans, and especially the Bai Clan, had worked so hard to see him dead.
He was not the type to seek revenge over the smallest grievance, but considering he had power at his disposal, the thought of what the three great clans had done left him feeling quite angry. However, the giant ghost king seemed to have different plans. Other than killing the Cai Clan patriarch, and keeping the Bai and Chen Clan patriarchs captive, he didn't seem to have any plans to deal with the clans themselves.
After a few days, Bai Xiaochun started to lose patience, and hinted to the people in the city who were particularly loyal to him that it was time to put the three great clans in their place!
A few more days went by. The giant ghost king eventually summoned Bai Xiaochun and rebuked him for simply strutting around all day and doing nothing. Afterward, Bai Xiaochun sulked back to his mansion and went into secluded meditation. Sighing, he pulled out his deva soul and began to cultivate.
It wasn’t that he had forgotten about cultivation. It was just that, now that he was Majordomo Bai, he couldn’t help but revel in his new position. After all, he had been forced to keep a low profile in Giant Ghost City for so long, that the chance to swagger a bit in the open was too much to refuse.
The past days of seeing Bai Xiaochun using his connections to intimidate everyone in the city left the giant ghost king with a much clearer understanding of his personality.
“The wily little fox. Sometimes he seems like a profound schemer capable of the most vicious tactics. But other times he’s more like a kid....” The giant ghost king shook his head. By this point, he actually felt much more comfortable about having Bai Xiaochun around. Although he was a bit frustrating sometimes, that was only because he enjoyed attention. Overall, he wasn’t the type of person who would betray others. Besides, everything that he was enjoying now had resulted because of kindness from the giant ghost king.
As for how he had secretly begun to act aggressively toward the three great clans, the giant ghost king didn't really care about that at all. It was a minor matter as far as he was concerned.
“However, he’s definitely too lazy when it comes to practicing cultivation. Without some pressure, he won't even go into meditation. He obviously likes to enjoy life.” Even the giant ghost king wasn’t aware of the fact that, after bringing Bai Xiaochun back to Giant Ghost City, he had begun to treat him differently than others....
Meanwhile, in Bai Xiaochun’s secluded meditation chamber, he was suppressing all of his pride at his new appointment. His eyes began to grow calm as he looked at the deva soul in his hand.
“This is the last deva soul I need.... Merge with it, and my five elements deva souls set will be complete.... At that point, I will be able to break through!” Eyes shining with excitement, he took the deva soul... and pushed it into his chest.
Almost instantly, his aura began to condense in on itself, and his cultivation base began to rotate rapidly. A familiar feeling rose up inside him, making it feel almost as if he were being split into pieces.
Even as he sat there cross-legged, afterimages appeared around him. At the moment, it looked like his true self was sitting there with four other versions of himself in the same spot. Time passed.... Slowly but surely... a fifth afterimage appeared, until it was completely clear!
Rumbling sounds filled his mind as he performed a double-handed incantation gesture, then waved his hands through the air.
“Emerge, my clones!”
Five clones walked out, surrounding his true self. As they did, incredible pressure weighed down on all six versions of Bai Xiaochun.
All of his clones were in the great circle of Core Formation, and together, they could rock early Nascent Soul stage cultivators!
Although he still didn’t have his Heaven-Dao Nascent Soul yet, he was already capable of unleashing heaven-shaking, earth-shattering power.
“Next... is the Heaven-Dao Nascent Soul stage!” he thought, his eyes shining brightly.