“Oh, I didn’t do anything…!” Bai Xiaochun said, looking like the picture of innocence. Inside, he was feeling extremely pleased with himself, and couldn’t have been happier. The Giant Ghost King had screwed him, and therefore he had screwed him right back…. Therefore, the more shocked the Giant Ghost King looked right now, the more worth it it all was.
“Although, you know how loyal and devoted I am to you, Your Highness, and how much I worry about you constantly. That, coupled with how well you’ve treated me over the years, left me no choice other than to put my life in the greatest danger, to go through countless trials and tribulations, to be spattered head to toe with blood, to come perilously close to the gates of hell, to reject all fear of suffering, of exhaustion, and even death for you. Because of all the favor you have shown me, I subdued all of them!” He slapped his chest to emphasize his words, making it look like he was the type of person who would live or die for the Giant Ghost King, and would face death without blinking for him.
“You… you ‘subdued’ them all?” The Giant Ghost King almost felt like fainting. In the short time in which they had just been conversing, a dozen more messages had come into his transmission jade slip.
Looking very impassioned, Bai Xiaochun loudly continued, “Yeah, I subdued every last one of them. The other three demigod heavenly kings were planning to blackmail you, right? They even sent people to try to steal what was yours! Therefore, I kidnapped all of their children and chosen, and brought them here, just for you, Your Highness. And now, you can take them into custody!
“Come, come, let me introduce you to everyone, Your Highness. We’ll start with the Junior Champion King from War Champion City!” Getting more excited, he smacked his bag of holding to bring out the gasping Junior Champion King.
The Junior Champion King was currently little more than skin and bones, and his life force had been seriously damaged. He seemed to be struggling on the verge of death.
“And here’s Prince Zhou Hong from Nine Serenities City.” With that, he produced Zhou Hong….
“Oh, and this one here is, wait, what did they call him? Oh right. Little Wolfgod!
“And this is Li Tiansheng.
“And here’s Miao Lin’er. She’s pretty incredible, and is actually much more suitable for you than Mrs. Chen. I brought her here especially for you, Your Highness.” With that, he cast a very knowing wink at the Giant Ghost King.
“Right, there’s also Princess Xu Shan from Spirit Advent City. This girl is a bit of a nutjob. What a pity.
“Oh, this guy. I think he's pretty special, actually. I heard people calling him second prince. I guess he must have a pretty high status. You definitely need to make good use of him, Your Highness. It took a lot out of me to kidnap him.” Clearly in very high spirits, Bai Xiaochun went on to patiently introduce everyone to the Giant Ghost King as he pulled them out of his bag of holding one by one. Before long, the Giant Ghost King was as flabbergasted as a wooden chicken as he watched more than a hundred people fill his palace hall.
Virtually all of them were skinny and emaciated, some of them so weak that they simply lay on the floor, unmoving….
“It was all for you, Your Highness, that I captured these people and brought them here!” Looking like he was ready to go through hell or high water for the king, Bai Xiaochun clasped hands and bowed deeply.
The Giant Ghost King felt like his mind was being struck by countless lightning bolts. However, considering the level of his cultivation base and willpower, after sitting there in a daze for a moment, he managed to recover. By this point, he realized what had occurred, and understood why he was getting so many messages via jade slip. He also felt like he was slipping into a nightmare….
In all of his complicating plotting and scheming, the one thing he hadn’t accounted for was how powerful Bai Xiaochun actually was. He was so strong that he had kidnapped all of these people…. The sight of Bai Xiaochun solemnly producing all of the chosen caused bitter laughter to rise up in the heart of the Giant Ghost King, and his face even began to twitch.
“I underestimated this Bai Hao,” he thought. “First, he kidnapped his father. Then he kidnapped me. He’s obviously addicted to kidnapping. I can’t believe that in one fell swoop… he kidnapped over a hundred people.
“This sly bugger was obviously pissed off, and believes that I screwed him over. Therefore, he used this method to screw me back…. Furthermore, he didn't kill anyone. No matter how you look at it, it really is a meritorious service….” His heart was pounding, and he could feel a massive headache coming on. Obviously, this was a very important matter, and it was clear that Bai Xiaochun was intentionally doing it to cause problems for him.
Under any other circumstances, it might not have mattered. But the Giant Ghost King had also broken the rules regarding the Necromancer Kettle. He had wanted to keep things low key, to forestall any problems. Never could he have imagined that something like this would unexpectedly occur….
The three heavenly kings, and the vast majority of the nobility and aristocracy, would definitely use this opportunity to cause problems for him. Furthermore, he was in a very precarious position. If he simply let all of the captives go, it would send the message that the supposedly majestic Giant Ghost King was actually scared. But not releasing the captives wasn’t an option either. He was a demigod, and one of the four heavenly kings, but he couldn't tackle all of the Wildlands at the same time.
Despite feeling extremely annoyed, there wasn’t anything he could do at the moment. Ultimately, he was in the wrong in this matter. He had been the one to screw Bai Xiaochun over, and had even made plans that would have ensured success even if he died.
If Bai Xiaochun had ended up dying, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. But here he was alive, and despite how vicious the Giant Ghost King was in general, when he thought about their history together, and the fact that he was a demigod king, if he went and bit the hand that fed him, his reputation would suffer irreparable damage.
Most importantly, Bai Xiaochun hadn’t killed anyone, a shrewd and ruthless move that left the Giant Ghost King with almost no wiggle room. Had he killed all the other chosen, it would have been a simple matter to deal with. The Giant Ghost King could have put all the onus on Bai Xiaochun. But instead, Bai Xiaochun had delivered everyone to him alive. No matter what action the Giant Ghost King took, he would be in a very difficult situation.
“This Bai Hao is completely ruthless!” The Giant Ghost King looked over the crowd of emaciated chosen in the hall, and noticed how their life force had been damaged. Clearly, that was a method Bai Xiaochun was using to make sure the Giant Ghost King didn’t just casually let all the captives free.
“If I do let them go, it’s going to cost me dearly….” he thought with a long sigh. Then he looked over at Bai Xiaochun with a bitter smile. He had to admit that Bai Xiaochun had played his hand perfectly. When he thought about the price he would have to pay to calm everyone down, he was so depressed that his internal organs hurt.
Of course, Bai Xiaochun was actually feeling very nervous. This matter of screwing over the Giant Ghost King wasn’t a conspiracy, it was an open attack! Therefore, he had to be very careful not to push the Giant Ghost King past his bottom line. Seeing that the man was sighing bitterly, Bai Xiaochun realized that his revenge had been had. Blinking a few times, he said, “Your humble servant will take his leave now. When it comes time for the spirit banquet, Your Highness… I’ll be back.”
The Giant Ghost King glared back at him and waved his hand. “What spirit banquet!? There’s no spirit banquet! Get the hell out of here!”
“How stingy….” Bai Xiaochun thought. Rubbing his nose a bit in embarrassment, he reluctantly turned and left the royal palace. Once he was out in the open, his face lit up with joy, and he became a beam of light that shot toward his residence.
As soon as he was back home, he went into his secluded meditation chamber, where he sat down cross-legged, took a deep breath, and then looked at his bag of holding.
There was still one person in there that he hadn’t handed over to the king. It was none other than… Chen Manyao.
“I think there’s a 50/50 chance that Chen Manyao has figured out who I am. So what am I supposed to do…?” All of the wonderful feelings that had come from successfully screwing over the Giant Ghost King disappeared, replaced by a frown.
He thought about bringing her out to just talk the matter over, but wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do. After all, there was still the possibility that she didn’t know who he was. In that case, if he tried to openly discuss things with her, it would only be giving her more chances to do just that.
And yet, not bringing her out left him in a bit of a deadlock. He really wasn't sure what to do….
“Ah, whatever. I’ll just put the matter out of mind and do some meditating.” Burying the matter in his heart, he thought back to everything which had occurred in the Necromancer Kettle, and as he did, his eyes began to shine brightly.
“My Heaven-Dao Nascent Soul really is shockingly effective. With all of the five elements backing it, I can basically crush any other cultivator in the same level as me….
“Without my Heaven-Dao Nascent Soul, it would have been really difficult to kidnap all of those people….” Pursing his lips to suppress his laughter, he examined the five-colored glow coming off of his nascent soul, and his enthusiasm grew deeper.
“Hahaha! I'm so strong already….” As of this moment, he felt more than ever that all the work he had put into forming his Heaven-Dao Nascent Soul had been worth it.
Then he thought back to the events of the Necromancer Kettle, and how he had used the Eternal Parasol to absorb the life force of so many cultivators. Although he hadn’t absorbed Xu Shan’s life force, he had surreptitiously done so to the dozen or so captives she had given him. As a result, his Undying Bones were now in the eighth stratum of the Tempered Bones level.
“The eighth stratum!” Although his cultivation of the Undying Bones seemed to be going slow in some respects, he was actually going more quickly than he had with the other parts of the Undying Codex. Furthermore, it was propelling him to almost unbelievable heights.
“Once I break through to the ninth stratum, my Undying Emperor’s Fist will double in power!!
“Compared to all my cultivation progress though, the most important thing I got in the Necromancer Kettle… was my apprentice! I got… Bai Hao’s soul!” Eyes shining brightly, he looked into the soulhoarding pagoda in his bag of holding, within which was a solitary vengeful soul…. Bai Hao!
Eyes flickering with various memories, he murmured, “It's time to restore your mind, my apprentice!”