The surrounding soul cultivators were now starting to feel a bit hesitant. After all, Bai Xiaochun’s words just now had revealed a lot more about the overall situation, and all the information was coming too abruptly. First, they had learned that their sergeant major was the daughter of his highness the king. And now they learned that the king had arranged for her to marry someone, only to find that she didn’t accept the arrangement.
For her to refuse was one thing, but it was quite another for her to try to confine Bai Hao to the camp. The source of friction was now very clear.
“Is that really what the sergeant major is trying to do?”
“Seems to me this Bai Hao is actually in the right! If she refuses to accept the arrangement, she should just let him go….”
Such were the types of words that people murmured inwardly. At the same time, the overall hostility toward Bai Xiaochun began to weaken.
Bai Xiaochun was pleased to see that his tactic was working, and began to consider what to say next. On the one hand, he couldn’t go too far in pissing off Mistress Red-Dust, but on the other hand, he couldn’t allow himself to come off too weak. His entire goal was to make a smooth exit from the camp.
However, before he could say anything else, Mistress Red-Dust’s voice erupted from the red command tent, filled with icy cold killing intent.
“I can try.”
Her voice was like a cruel and vicious whip, the strike of which caused all of the soul cultivators in the Giant Ghost Legion to unleash the power of their cultivation bases. Instantly, indescribable pressure descended from all corners onto Bai Xiaochun’s area.
Bai Xiaochun’s heart immediately began to race. He could feel, not just Mistress Red-Dust’s cultivation base, but the cultivation bases of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Furthermore, this was Arch-Emperor City, the most important location within the Wildlands. Bai Xiaochun was shaking inwardly, shocked at how unreasonable this Mistress Red-Dust was being. In fact, she and her father seemed completely muleheaded…. All he wanted to do was leave, and she wasn’t going to let him?
“Don’t tell me she's trying to goad me into making a break for it? And then she’ll use that as an excuse to kill me? If things played out that way, then I'm afraid even his highness the king wouldn’t be able to complain.” His eyes widened, and his demeanor on the outside seemed just as stubborn as before. But inside, he was considering that he might need to just give in and spend a bit of time in the army camp. After all, as the saying went… a wise man knows when to back down when the odds are against him!
Even as he stood there trying to decide what to do, the Giant Ghost King finally responded to the repeated messages he had been sending. He first offered a few words of comfort, and then said that it was all a big misunderstanding, and that he would talk things over with his daughter.
Having received the response, Bai Xiaochun finally felt a bit more at ease, and decided that he couldn’t let an ounce of fear show.
“It was fairly recently that three heavenly kings and numerous nobles and aristocrats from the imperial city all tried to set a trap for me in the Necromancer Kettle, the purpose being to prevent me from getting the ghost king fruit. I went in alone and captured all of the heirs apparent and chosen, including the Junior Champion King, heir apparent of the War Champion King, Prince Zhou Hong, heir of the Nine Serenities King, and Spirit Advent City’s Princess Xu Shan…. I even did the same to the second prince! I completely dominated the Necromancer Kettle, and nobody could dare say a thing about it!
“Back in his highness the king’s decay period, the deva patriarchs of the Chen, Bai and Cai Clans all tried to chase me down and kill both me and his highness the king. They were joined by a host of Nascent Soul experts, and yet with me to protect the king, he made it safely to the end of his decay period! I escaped every deadly situation I faced in Giant Ghost City, and not even three devas could do anything about me!
“If you don’t like me and want to kill me, Zhou Zimo, then say the word. There’s no need for this disgraceful attempt to humiliate me. And there’s even less need to try to keep me locked up in this camp. I, Bai Hao, am a force to be reckoned with wherever I go. In the big wide world out there, I am like a fish that can become a dragon at any moment. When I flap my wings, I soar to the highest heavens and beyond! Under no circumstances will I allow myself to be the subject of bullying!” His words echoed out like thunder for everyone in the camp to hear, and made it clear that he was the type of person who was not to be trifled with.
Inside of the red command tent, Mistress Red-Dust could be seen frowning. The truth was that she really did want to see Bai Hao dead, but couldn’t really do that because of her father. One reason for it all was the fact that the matter had been arranged without her knowledge, and another was the fact that she didn’t believe that a lowly person like this deserved to have her father’s ear.
However, when it came to the arranged marriage, there was actually a reason why she did want to keep Bai Hao around.
Whether it was in terms of her beauty or her powerful cultivation base, she was one of the blazing suns of the Wildlands, and was the subject of pursuit by countless handsome elites. Of course, she completely ignored the advances of nearly every single one of them. There were only two that she would have a hard time refusing, one being the grand prince, and the other being the Grand Heavenmaster’s highest ranking apprentice, Ouyang Song.
They were also devas, and had very high positions. Despite the fact that she didn’t really like them, she wasn’t in a position to reject them outright. Therefore, if she kept Bai Hao around, she would have a good excuse to avoid them. Plus, if fights broke out between the men, Bai Hao would probably get killed, and she wouldn’t have to do anything.
Her original plan had been to simply intimidate him and then force him to stay in the camp. Never could she have imagined that the seemingly weak and timid Bai Hao would be able to ignore all of the pressure weighing down on him and even fight back with biting words. In fact, not only were his words biting, they contained so much truth that there was nothing she could say in response.
Besides, her father the Giant Ghost King had just sent her a message. First, he had offered some consoling words, and then had said some nice things about Bai Hao. He had also discreetly explained the matter about the restrictive spell.
At this point, Mistress Red-Dust sighed. After communicating back and forth with her father quickly, the two of them came to an agreement. Bai Hao had to stay in the army camp, but only for three months. After that, he would be free to go.
During that time, she would guarantee that nothing untoward happened to him.
Mistress Red-Dust’s secret hope for that plan was that, during the three months, all of the elites who were pursuing her in the imperial city would come to hear that her father had officially arranged for a Daoist partner for her. Although they would realize that she wasn’t happy about the situation, when Bai Hao went back to Giant Ghost City three months later, he would take the hatred of her suitors with him. In the end, she would have the perfect shield to keep them at bay.
Dealing with matters related to his daughter’s romantic relationships was a big headache for the Giant Ghost King. After comforting her, he sent some appeasing words to Bai Xiaochun, and then washed his hands of the matter.
When all was said and done, Bai Xiaochun realized that he really didn’t have any choice in the matter. After all, of the two people he was dealing with, one was a deva and the other was a demigod.
“Trying to use me as a shield, huh? Like father, like daughter. Scoundrels both!”
With the matter resolved, Mistress Red-Dust reigned in her killing intent, and dissipated the pressure weighing down on the army camp. As for Bai Xiaochun, he sighed and followed the female guard to his quarters.
He was placed in a relatively remote location, which he didn’t mind at all. Once inside, he sat down cross-legged and sighed despondently about the situation.
“I, Bai Xiaochun, am a majestic major general. I even fought Mistress Red-Dust once. But thanks to a freak combination of factors, I ended up in the Wildlands as Mistress Red-Dust’s Daoist partner, and her shield….
“How did things end up like this? And then there’s that Giant Ghost King, the villain. He and Mistress Red-Dust are both scoundrels…. I guess there are just too many bad people in this world, and that pure, honest people like myself are just destined to be at a disadvantage.” Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Bai Xiaochun mused that although he wasn’t their match in terms of cultivation base, when it came to morals, he definitely occupied vastly higher ground.
“Well, at least in terms of my safety, the fact that the restrictive spell is still in place will keep Mistress Red-Dust in check to some extent. She definitely won’t let me get killed. Three months…. Fudge! I’ll just hang in there. It's only three months, right?!” Gritting his teeth, he contemplated the fact that he just wasn’t strong enough. He really needed to get more powerful so that he could just ignore Mistress Red-Dust if he felt like it. That way he could come and go as he pleased.
“I need to conjure some flame!” With that, his eyes began to shine brightly, and he decided that for the next three months, he would keep his head down and avoid provoking anyone. He wouldn't leave the army camp; instead he would conjure a sixteen-colored flame and use it to improve his cultivation base. He needed battle prowess that could put devas in their place.
“Hmph. You just wait until I can handle devas. The first one I’ll cut down to size will be Granny Red-Dust!” With that, he produced a soulhoarding pagoda from his bag of holding. It wasn’t very large, and in fact, contained only a single soul.
It was none other than Bai Hao in soul form. He sat there frowning as he performed auguries regarding the formula for eighteen-colored flame. Sensing that Bai Xiaochun was looking at him, he looked out of the soulhoarding pagoda.
“How is the formula coming along, my little apprentice?” Bai Xiaochun said, a warm smile on his face.
Bai Hao looked quite exhausted. Rising to his feet, he said, “I'm still not quite there, Master. In order to complete the formula for eighteen-colored flame, I have to create something out of nothing. It’s extremely difficult. I think it’s going to take much longer than anything before it. However, I came up with an idea. Perhaps multiple tongues of seventeen-colored flame could be combined and transformed into an eighteen-colored flame…. In fact, I was even thinking that the transformation could occur when they were in the sea of fire state. Then, after the eighteenth color appeared, the sea could be made back into a true flame!”
“Well, no need to be anxious, Hao’er,” Bai Xiaochun replied. “Make sure to keep well-rested. Master is planning to conjure a sixteen-colored flame right now, why don’t you assist me? Plus, I’d love to hear any suggestions you have as you watch.” Bai Xiaochun knew that Bai Hao’s genius in flame conjuring far surpassed his own, although he wasn’t very familiar with sixteen-colored flame. If Bai Xiaochun wanted to be able to conjure sixteen-colored flame with the greatest speed possible, the best way to do that would be to take advantage of Bai Hao’s genius. Furthermore, Bai Xiaochun also wondered if the fact that Bai Hao was now a ghost cultivator would be of some help.
Waving his hand, he set some restrictive spells up and produced a large amount of vengeful souls. Then he used the formula for sixteen-colored flame which he had acquired by shaking down the clans in Giant Ghost City. He had studied the formula quite thoroughly, but still had some questions about it that could only be resolved by actually working with the formula.
Seeing that Bai Xiaochun was about to begin, Bai Hao hesitated and then said, “Master, once you get past fifteen-colored flame, the success rates get much lower. Furthermore, there will be more instabilities; if you’re not very careful, unexpected consequences can occur. Perhaps you should do a bit more research first, Master. Besides, we aren’t exactly in the ideal location to do flame conjuring….”
Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat and confidently said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. This place is perfect. Trust me, Master has a lot of experience in this kind of thing.”
Although Bai Hao still had his reservations, Bai Xiaochun seemed very confident. Perhaps his Master had researched the formula more than he realized. Therefore, Bai Hao suppressed his anxiety and watched closely as Bai Xiaochun began working.