All spiritual energy in heaven and earth came from the Heavenspan River basin. Considering how far away they currently were in the Wildlands, there was no spiritual energy at all in the area.
It was this simple fact that forced Wildlanders to change their fundamental nature and resort to soul medicine to practice their cultivation. It was only because of the endless supply of vengeful souls around them that they could do without spiritual power. But nothing was absolute!
There were some things in the world that, at least in small measure, could produce spiritual energy similar to that found in the Heavenspan River basin. This spiritjade statue was just such an item.
Everything within 3,000 meters of it existed in an area of spiritual energy that rivaled that within the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. Even Bai Xiaochun couldn’t help but be excited by the statue as he stood there in front of it. His cultivation base was like parched land that suddenly felt sweet rainfall. It was a wonderful feeling that caused his mind to tremble, and his eyes to shine brightly.
“A legitimate treasure!!” Bai Xiaochun could immediately tell that this spiritjade statue… was the true reserve power of the Cai Clan. The deathly grim countenances of the clan chief and the grand elder immediately got him feeling very excited.
“I hit it big this time….” he thought. Waving his sleeve, he collected the spiritjade statue into his bag of holding. As soon as it was inside, the spiritual energy in the area vanished. All sorts of expressions appeared on the faces of the Cai Clan cultivators.
None of them could remain calm. Although they had never been aware that a precious treasure such as the spiritjade statue had existed in their clan, they could immediately see how important it was. Except, that statute didn’t belong to the Cai Clan any longer….
And yet, when it came to the survival of their clan as a whole, there was really no question that it was best to part with it….
With that, he turned to gaze at the pile of other items which had built up earlier. Then he sighed and looked at the clan chief.
“Ai, your Cai Clan really is full of treasures,” Bai Xiaochun said. “I really can’t study them all in a short period of time.”
The clan chief was cursing up a storm in his heart. He could see that, not only was this Bai Hao robbing the Cai Clan dry, but he was also waiting for the Cai Clan to give him their blessing!!
Of course, the clan chief didn’t dare to point that out. Plastering a smile onto his face that looked worse than the worst grimace, he forced himself to say, “Oh, don’t worry, Majordomo Bai. Please take your time studying all of these treasures. Our Cai Clan would be honored if you would be willing to take them home with you for further study. We don’t need them at--”
A broad smile immediately appeared on Bai Xiaochun’s face. Swishing his sleeve, he loudly said, “Well, since you insist, Clan Chief Cai, I won’t refuse your gracious offer. I’ll definitely take my time judging the quality of all of these items. Men! Take this stuff away!”
The soul cultivators who had accompanied Bai Xiaochun in as bodyguards exchanged quizzical glances before hurrying forward to collect the items up.
As the clan chief watched all of his clan’s reserve savings being taken away, he forced his rage back down into his throat and smiled bitterly.
Laughing heartily, Bai Xiaochun clasped hands to the clan chief. “Very well then, I’ll be off now. No need to see me out!”
Beaming, he then turned and swaggered off.
Of course, although he had explicitly stated that he didn’t expect them to see him off, the clan chief sighed and begrudgingly hurried forward to accompany him as he left.
As for the Nascent Soul bodyguards, they clustered around him closely as he left through the main gate. Back outside, Chen Hai was waiting for him, looking like the picture of loyalty. As soon as he caught sight of Bai Xiaochun safe and sound, he hurried forward, simultaneously glaring coldly at the Cai Clan cultivators. Obviously, he was ready to destroy the entire clan at a single word from Bai Xiaochun.
Although it all seemed a bit melodramatic, Bai Xiaochun was very pleased by the performance. At this point, he turned and clasped the clan chief warmly on the shoulder. Smiling, he said, “Clan Chief Cai, you’ve been far too kind. There’s really no need to see me off. If I have time in the future, I’ll definitely come back to chat with you a bit.”
Feeling more proud of himself than ever, he turned and flew up into the air, followed by Chen Hai and the other soul cultivators. Under the anxious watch of the Cai Clan, the entire group then flew off into the distance.
After they left, the clan chief finally took all the anger that had been building up in him and released it in a maddened howl. The other clan members who had come out with him all stood there silently.
The grand elder sighed and seemed to age visibly. “Just forget about it,” he said. “They took our reserve savings, but by capitulating, we avoided being completely wiped out.”
Of course, the events which had played out could not be kept secret. Word spread almost immediately to the other organizations in Giant Ghost City, leading to widespread shock and fear. Furthermore, many people began to look in the direction of the other two great clans.
Clearly, things weren’t over yet. The Cai Clan had been viciously cut down a notch, and next… would come the Chen and Bai Clans. Perhaps the Chen Clan might get off lightly, but when it came to the Bai Clan….
“I'm afraid the Bai Clan is finished!” That was what most of the in-the-know people in the city were thinking.
Meanwhile, Bai Xiaochun brimmed with righteousness as he led the 20,000 soul cultivators along toward the Chen Clan. Along the way, his transmission jade slip buzzed several times, prompting him to pull it out and return messages.
When Chen Hai saw that, he considered asking what was going on, but then decided that he needed to be circumspect. “Majordomo Bai, news about the Cai Clan is already spreading. Presumably the Chen Clan will be prepared. Do you think we should pick up the pace?”
“Oh, no, it doesn’t matter. I've long since planned things out. In fact, why don't we slow down a bit.” Bai Xiaochun didn’t offer any other explanation than that. Taking his transmission jade slip out again, he sent another message, then continued slowly on his way to the Chen Clan.
Of course, the Chen Clan really had made advance preparations. In fact, the Chen Clan patriarch had formed an emergency backup plan before the rebellion even began. Those orders had been followed, and the Chen Clan’s valuable resources had already been moved out of the clan by various means and dispersed all over the map to random tribes of savage giants. Many members of the clan had gone along with the goods to keep them safe.
Although those tribes weren’t openly connected to the Chen Clan, their loyalty had been earned secretly over the course of many years.
After hearing about what had gone on at the Cai Clan, the members of the Chen Clan were all extremely nervous. In the Chen Clan’s ancestral palace, the clan chief was meeting with all the clan elders, and the entire group was grim-faced and anxious.
“Things shouldn’t get too bad. After finding out that the patriarch is in custody and not dead, we immediately began to disperse the clan and hide all of our reserve savings….”
“Yes. The clan members who left covered their tracks well, making it impossible to track them down after the fact…. By now, they should all have reached the various savage tribes that were their destinations….”
“Although, don’t you think we might be shooting ourselves in the foot…? The fact that the giant ghost king didn’t exterminate us shows that he has plans for us. He might just want to weaken us a bit by taking away our reserve savings…. If he finds out we've sent them away….”
It was through gritted teeth that the clan chief responded, “Hmph! Our patriarch is alive and in custody, which puts us in a completely different position than the Cai Clan. We're not going to just sit around and wait to be executed!”
It was the clan chief who had been the staunchest supporter of the plan of dispersing the clan’s reserve savings. Although he had also questioned the wisdom of the tactic, he had felt there was no other option than to go through with the original plan.
It was even as the clan chief and clan elders discussed the matter nervously that a whistling sound pierced through the air. Faces flickering with various emotions, the group rushed out of the hall and looked up into the sky to see something that looked like a black cloud. It was… an army of 20,000 soul cultivators.
With what seemed like practiced ease, they fanned out to surround the clan, leaving a path through which Bai Xiaochun swaggered in through the main gate. Next to him was Chen Hai, who bristled with open killing intent as he glared at the Chen Clan cultivators.
Even as Bai Xiaochun landed and entered the Chen Clan, something else was happening some distance away in the territory controlled by the giant ghost king. At the foot of a mountain which was home to a savage tribe, a small army of a few thousand soul cultivators had gathered, led by Zhou Yixing and Li Feng.
Zhou Yixing held a jade slip in his hand, and had a very cold gleam in his eye as he turned to look at Li Feng, who stood next to him.
“Brother Li, the majordomo has given the go-ahead. This task has fallen to the two of us to accomplish.”
“The Chen Clan thinks they can smuggle their stores to safety!?” Li Feng said. “Not if I have anything to say about it!” His heart was pounding with grand aspirations. After Bai Xiaochun’s meteoric rise to the position of majordomo, the lives of both Li Feng and Zhou Yixing had changed dramatically. After conferring with each other and realizing how different things were for them, they came to the conclusion that there was no need for infighting. That was especially true considering how big and complicated a place like Giant Ghost City was. Clearly, joining forces was the best way for the both of them to advance by leaps and bounds. As of this moment, Li Feng laughed heartily as he and Zhou Yixing led thousands of their own men toward the savage tribe on their mountain.
Under the command of Zhou Yixing and Li Feng, the soul cultivators began to fight their way into the tribe.
Immediately, the Chen Clan cultivators who had gone into hiding here began to fight back with desperate looks on their faces. After the fighting went on for a bit, a voice suddenly rang out from a tent in the middle of the tribe.
“The Chen Clan treasure is right here!”
Delighted, Zhou Yixing was the first to rush over into the tent. Li Feng, not thinking much about the matter, also hurried over. However, as soon as Li Feng entered the tent, it was to his shock that three people attacked him. And one of them was none other than Zhou Yixing!
Li Feng face fell as he blurted, “Zhou Yixing, you--”
But before he could even do anything, he was hit by a devastating killing blow. His voice was drowned out by Zhou Yixing’s battlecry, and within moments, his chest caved in and his heart shattered!
As he lay there dying, his mouth moved as though he wished to talk, and yet, no words came out.
Zhou Yixing squatted down next to him, then leaned over and whispered something into his ear that only the two of them could hear. “I had to kill you. For my future.”
Then he slammed his hand down onto the top of Li Feng’s head, killing him instantly!
With that, Zhou Yixing looked over at the two soul cultivators who had helped him, and solemnly reinforced his promise of riches and glory to come. They knew they had performed a great service for Zhou Yixing in his efforts to rise in the world, and that from now on, they were his men.
Before long, the Chen Clan cultivators in the savage tribe were defeated, and the reserve treasures rooted out. Similar scenes played out in other savage tribes in the region of Giant Ghost City, and before long, all of the treasures that the Chen Clan had smuggled out of their clan were found.
There was so much treasure that anyone who looked at it was struck mute. However, no one would ever dare to covet that which belonged to Majordomo Bai. In fact, when Zhou Yixing saw it, he didn’t even bat an eyelid. He simply directed all of his forces to start heading in the direction of the Chen Clan.
On the way, they happened to pass by the Jungle of Lost Souls, whereupon Zhou Yixing’s eyes flashed with cold light, and he came up with a reason to slaughter one of the savage tribes in the area. Coincidentally, the two soul cultivators who had helped him kill Li Feng died in the fighting.
“Finally, there are no holes left! Fudge. I'm not doing this for him, I’m doing it for me!” Zhou Yixing had done everything he could to erase the evidence connecting himself to the labyrinth and the events which had played out there. Of course, all of his actions up to this point had been according to his own plan, not Bai Xiaochun’s. And just as he had said, it was to protect himself.
Although the giant ghost king didn't suspect that Bai Hao was Bai Xiaochun, Zhou Yixing was privy to too many clues. He had long since come to suspect the truth, and when the matter of Bai Xiaochun reaching the Nascent Soul stage occurred, he had been completely convinced. Although he could think of some benefits to revealing the truth about him, he had instead chosen to bet everything on sticking with him! As for what would happen in the future, only time would tell!