“Huh?” Bai Xiaochun said, stunned. He really never could have imagined that after his angry outburst, the Giant Ghost King would say something like this…. “Uh… you… you have a daughter? And you want to give me her hand in marriage?”
Bai Xiaochun almost felt like he was going to faint. Although he had heard that the Giant Ghost King had a daughter, she was a fairly mysterious person who didn’t live in Giant Ghost City. From a very young age, she had lived in Arch-Emperor City.
“This way, the two of us will be family from now on.” The Giant Ghost King’s eyes sparkled as he measured Bai Xiaochun up and down again. The more he thought about this idea of his, the more he liked it. This Bai Hao had a politically correct family background and education, and truly was outstanding. Even more important, his way of thinking lined up with the Giant Ghost King’s.
As far as the Giant Ghost King was concerned, he was the ideal son-in-law, with the only exception being his relatively weak cultivation base. However, that last part was actually a positive, considering that it meant his daughter would be able to keep him in line easily.
“This Bai Hao has a lot of potential,” he thought. “With a single drop of my soul-blood, he unleashed a demigod-level attack. From that, you can see that he’s made a lot of cultivation progress that no one is aware of….” That got the Giant Ghost King thinking about even more benefits to the arrangement.
“Uh… Your Highness, this is an important matter that shouldn’t be arranged carelessly.” Bai Xiaochun was feeling very nervous. As he looked at the Giant Ghost King, he imagined what he would look like if he were a bit younger, and a woman, and the mere thought caused his scalp to tingle on the verge of exploding. Too ugly!
“What,” the Giant Ghost King said, “think she’s not good enough for you? Hmph…. Don't even bother trying to compare my Zhou Zimo to Chen Manyao. Her talents surpass Chen Manyao’s so much that you can't even mention the two in the same sentence. Once you see her in person, you’ll know what I mean. Besides, unless I personally arranged the marriage, she would never agree to be your wife.” Glaring angrily, the Giant Ghost King waved his hand and said, “Hurry up and give me Chen Manyao. The matter’s settled as of here and now!”
Bai Xiaochun moaned bitterly in his heart. He was out of ideas. If he didn’t produce Chen Manyao right now, the Giant Ghost King would likely start to get suspicious. Therefore, he had no other option than to gamble and hope that either Chen Manyao hadn’t recognized him, or if she had, that she would keep it a secret for old-time’s sake.
With that, he pulled the unconscious Chen Manyao out of his bag of holding and handed her over.
The Giant Ghost King examined her for a moment. Although he had heard that she was beautiful, this was his first time seeing her, and it caused a strange expression to appear in his eyes. All of a sudden, he understood why Bai Xiaochun had been so staunch in his refusal to hand her over.
“Wow, she really is a beauty,” he thought. Clearing his throat, he glared at Bai Xiaochun again, then swished his sleeve to gather up Chen Manyao.
“Alright, things are settled. Tomorrow, you’ll head to Arch-Emperor City via the teleportation portal. Find my daughter in the Giant Ghost Legion. She's the sergeant major there, so you can start out by helping her with her duties there. As for romantic feelings, they will build up between the two of you naturally.”
“Huh? What’s the rush? Um… I….” Bai Xiaochun really had no interest in this Zhou Zimo. Grimacing, he considered refusing, but it was too late. Before he could say a thing, the Giant Ghost King had issued official orders!
“Mo'er sent me a request recently, asking me to send someone to be her assistant. It seems to me that you’re the best man for the job. Things are settled. You leave the city tomorrow! Oh, by the way, Mo'er wants to become strong and powerful on her own merit, so not many people know who she actually is. As for the nobility who do know, there’s a tacit understanding to keep things a secret. Don’t go and stir up trouble!” With that, he turned and vanished.
Bai Xiaochun was scowling on the verge of tears. He didn’t want to marry this Sergeant Major Zhou Zimo whom he didn’t even know. Besides, he was already a major general! As if a sergeant major could compare to that….
As far as the Giant Ghost Legion was concerned, Bai Xiaochun remembered capturing a soul cultivator by the Great Wall who had claimed to be the apprentice of one of the Giant Ghost King’s marquises. It was a bit strange. Why would someone from Giant Ghost City have been all the way on the other side of the Wildlands? However, considering the insurrection that had taken place, perhaps that man had been dispatched by one of the rebel heavenly marquises to handle some personal matter.
Of course, Bai Xiaochun had no desire at all to go to Arch-Emperor City. The place seemed far too dangerous. That was especially true considering that he wasn’t sure if Chen Manyao knew who he was. If she did, then he could be sending himself right to his own grave.
And there was more… he had kidnapped many of the heirs apparent and other important chosen who came from Arch-Emperor City. If he went to the city now, he would be like a lamb walking into the tiger’s den….
And yet, refusing to go wasn't an option. The Giant Ghost King had made his stance clear. Bai Xiaochun had thrown a tantrum already, and if he tried to do the same thing again… then it really would harm his relationship with the king. If that happened, then he would be in a bad position even in Giant Ghost City.
“How did things end up like this?!” he thought, tugging at his hair. At this point, Bai Hao floated out of his bag of holding, a look of complete and utter amazement on his face. Just now, he hadn’t dared to reveal even the tiniest scrap of his aura to the Giant Ghost King, but had been able to hear the conversation perfectly clearly. And as a result, he was left sighing in shock at how brave and daring his Master was.
Of course, he wasn’t aware of the fact that Bai Xiaochun’s mask would make it virtually impossible for anyone to detect his presence, so his extreme caution hadn’t been necessary.
“Master, I've heard some things about the Giant Ghost King’s daughter. She’s a very mysterious figure who left Giant Ghost City long ago to further her cultivation….” With that, he went on to explain everything he knew.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t much. In the end, Bai Xiaochun sighed and continued to ponder the matter. In the end, there was nothing he could do. Eventually, he trudged out of his meditation chamber and went out to make some inquiries of his own.
Most of his questions had to do with Arch-Emperor City, the others being about the Giant Ghost King’s daughter. After returning, he sat there grimacing and gnashing his teeth.
“Arch-Emperor City is a terrifying place! I absolutely can’t go there! Worst case scenario, I can leave Giant Ghost City and find a place to hide for a bit….”
Night passed. By evening of the following day, Bai Xiaochun knew that he couldn’t dawdle any longer. He didn't dare to use the teleportation portal, so he came up with an excuse to request the use of a giant ghost battleship to go to Arch-Emperor City. His current plan was to disappear along the way and hide out for a while before returning. If enough time passed, then perhaps the Giant Ghost King would finally understand how he truly felt.
In terms of the giant ghost battleship, he had long since had his eye on them, and knew that they were wonderful treasures. This was actually the perfect opportunity to take one out for a spin. At least, that was his explanation.
Unfortunately, the Giant Ghost King was one step ahead of him. It was with an enigmatic smile that he approved Bai Xiaochun’s request for the giant ghost battleship, and then gave orders for Duke Deathcrier to help him pilot the ship, and also protect him along his journey.
Duke Deathcrier was a bit confused about why Bai Xiaochun wasn't just using the teleportation portal, but considering that the orders came from the Giant Ghost King, he didn’t question them. Soon, Duke Deathcrier was piloting the giant ghost battleship away from Giant Ghost City, with Bai Xiaochun standing there on the deck with a blank look on his face.
Bai Xiaochun wanted to cry, but no tears would come. As for Duke Deathcrier, he had a somewhat grim expression, and completely ignored Bai Xiaochun.
As of this point, it was obvious that his plan had been seen through by the Giant Ghost King, and he had no option other than to continue on to Arch-Emperor City.
“Duke Deathcrier is a deva, so with him piloting the giant ghost battleship, the journey will take about three months.” Bai Xiaochun looked down at the jade slip he held in his hand, which contained a detailed map. Giant Ghost City was actually relatively close to Arch-Emperor City, as opposed to Nine Serenities City, which was much further away. If Duke Deathcrier had piloted the giant ghost battleship from there, it would take a full year to make the journey.
Of course, if Bai Xiaochun piloted the ship, the journey would be even longer. Plus, it was a journey that would have been fraught with danger without a deva present.
He had no choice but to accept his fate. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he contemplated all of the information he had gathered about Arch-Emperor City.
The Arch-Emperor Dynasty was organized with the Arch-Emperor at the top, followed by the Grand Heavenmaster, and then the four heavenly kings. Underneath the kings were the ten heavenly dukes, and 108 heavenly marquises!
Each of the heavenly kings had ten heavenly marquises in their home cities, but no heavenly dukes. Duke Deathcrier and his contemporaries were only earthly dukes. Although they ranked above the heavenly marquises, they were far below the heavenly dukes.
The ten heavenly dukes were the most powerful devas in the Wildlands, all of them being in the great circle of the Deva Realm. They actually counted as one of the reserve powers of Arch-Emperor City. As for the heavenly marquises, there were 68 of them who lived permanently within Arch-Emperor City itself.
Arch-Emperor City was by far the largest city in the Wildlands, and was also meticulously organized. Floating in the sky above the main city itself was the imperial palace.
The imperial palace had four main gates, which defended the four cardinal directions.
After the Grand Heavenmaster seized control of the Son of Heaven, it was an easy thing for the four heavenly kings to stay away from the city. However, the Grand Heavenmaster had ordered that their armies remained garrisoned in the region of Arch-Emperor City, ready to follow any orders they were given.
The army encamped west of the city was the Giant Ghost Legion, the commanding officer of which was the Giant Ghost King’s daughter, Zhou Zimo.
Bai Xiaochun hadn’t been able to get much information about Zhou Zimo back in Giant Ghost City. All he knew was that she didn't get along very well with the Giant Ghost King, and had long since left the city to practice cultivation on her own. As for how her relationship with her father was now that she had risen to the rank of sergeant major, it was impossible to tell.
“This Zhou Zimo obviously is a bit of a rebel. Hmmmphh! How could silly little girls like that understand how to lead an army!? As a magnificent major general, I guess I’ll just have to go show her how it's done!” He sighed, feeling quite bitter.
He hadn't had enough time to gather much more information than that. Although Duke Deathcrier probably knew some information, he didn’t seem too pleased about being forced to take Bai Xiaochun on this long journey, and completely ignored the questions he asked.