Back outside of Arch-Emperor City, right next to where the Giant Ghost Legion was garrisoned, Mistress Red-Dust was staring at Bai Xiaochun, still radiating the pressure of a deva. Her will continued to transform the heaven and earth that surrounded Bai Xiaochun, as if a mere thought on her part could cause everything to tremble violently.
Most Nascent Soul cultivators would collapse under such pressure. As for Bai Xiaochun, it hadn’t bothered him at first, but as the pressure built up, it reached the point where he realized he couldn’t back down at all, otherwise he would be crushed.
“That fist strike of mine is pretty frightening. What a pity I'm only in the eighth stratum of the Tempered Bones level. If I could reach the ninth stratum, it would be twice as powerful. At that point, I would be able to make her cough up blood with it. That will be my true trump card! If I could reach the ninth stratum of the Powered Bones level, it would be three times as powerful!”
With such thoughts on his mind, he felt more courageous than ever, and glared back unblinking at Mistress Red-Dust.
Silence reigned in the area.
The powerful soul cultivators of the Giant Ghost Legion were completely shocked, and almost couldn’t believe what they had witnessed. It was with very mixed feelings that they continued to watch Bai Xiaochun.
The fist strike he had unleashed was truly astonishing. The fact that someone with a Nascent Soul cultivation base could fight with a deva was unprecedented. Although he hadn’t been able to outshine her, he was clearly in the position of being able to completely dominate ordinary Nascent Soul experts.
Beyond that, after delivering the blow, he simply hovered there in the air, seemingly ready to keep fighting at the same level as before. Domineering veins of steel seemed to throb within him, as well as a battle spirit that caused the entire crowd to instantly admire him.
They all lived in a world where power was respected, and a powerful expert like Bai Xiaochun would definitely earn that respect no matter where he went.
After seeing how the look in the eyes of the audience was changing, Bai Xiaochun’s spirit soared even further, and he continued to glare straight at Mistress Red-Dust.
“Staring contest, huh? Back when I was in Core Formation, nobody was my match. Now that I'm even more powerful than before, there’s no way you can intimidate me that way!” As such thoughts raced through his head, his impressive demeanor grew even more prominent.
After a long moment passed, Mistress Red-Dust took a deep breath and looked away. She had said earlier that if he could survive a single attack, he could leave. That had been her agreement with the Giant Ghost King, and she had to stick to her word.
“Don't ever let me see your face again!” A profound glint passed through her eyes as she turned and vanished back into the army camp. The rest of the soul cultivators exchanged glances and then quietly followed her. Before long, everyone was back in the camp, and Bai Xiaochun was left by himself outside.
After watching Mistress Red-Dust leave, he wiped the sweat from his brow and heaved a long sigh. Using that fist strike at ninety percent had completely drained him. Although he could have squeezed a bit more power out with his cultivation base, he knew that there were plenty of powerful experts in the vicinity of Arch-Emperor City, and not all of them would be heroes. There were some things he would be powerless to defend himself against, and therefore, he didn’t want to reveal the full extent of his abilities.
However, fighting like that also limited him in many ways. Now that Mistress Red-Dust was actually leaving, he finally breathed a sigh of relief. Simply too many preposterous things had occurred during this trip to Arch-Emperor City.
“How did it all end up like this…?” he thought bitterly. Thankfully, he was now free from the Giant Ghost Legion, which was a good thing as far as he was concerned. Shaking his head, he turned to leave.
However, the world was a big place, and Bai Xiaochun was immediately unsure of exactly where he should go.
“Plus, my cultivation base isn’t very high. Otherwise, I could simply cross the Wildlands on my own and get back to the River-Defying Sect.” He looked nervously at Arch-Emperor City off in the distance, and then in the direction of Giant Ghost City. After some thought, he produced a transmission jade slip and contacted the Giant Ghost King.
“Your Highness, Arch-Emperor City is way too dangerous. What do you say we just forget about the whole marriage thing? Um… could you send someone to get me? I want to get back to Giant Ghost City, and you, sir….”
As for the Giant Ghost King, he was very annoyed by everything that had occurred. Never could he have guessed that sending Bai Hao to the Giant Ghost Legion would turn out like this. It was supposed to have been a wonderful event, and yet, nothing had turned out as expected.
Whether it was the fact that his daughter refused to cooperate, or the disasters which had occurred, it all had him stamping his feet in frustration. Then he saw another message come in from Bai Xiaochun, and felt an even bigger headache coming on.
Glaring at the transmission jade slip, he sent a reply. “Bai Hao, the marriage agreement is already official. We can't go back now. You need to go over and apologize to Zimo immediately. Just explain everything, and then stay close to her afterward.”
As soon as Bai Xiaochun got the response, he simply gave up trying to be diplomatic. He staunchly refused, and then once again suggested that he return to Giant Ghost City. That got the Giant Ghost King very pissed off.
“No, you can't come back to Giant Ghost City, not unless it's as husband and wife! Go and apologize to Zimo. Beg for her forgiveness if you have to! What, you can’t even handle a single woman? I'm done helping out, so don’t bother me about this anymore!” With that, he severed the connection. When Bai Xiaochun immediately tried to reestablish communication, the Giant Ghost King simply ignored the jade slip and pretended he hadn’t noticed the new message.
“This father and daughter are both scoundrels! Rotten to the core!” Bai Xiaochun was feeling very depressed, and definitely had no desire to go see Mistress Red-Dust. Furthermore, she had said the same about him.
“The world is such a big place. Could it really be that there is no safe harbor for Bai Xiaochun in it?” Considering that he had no giant ghost battleship, nor any way to use the teleportation portal, that meant that he had to give up any hope of getting back to Giant Ghost City.
Sighing, he looked again at Arch-Emperor City off in the distance. Although he really didn’t want to go there, at the moment he didn’t seem to have any other choice. Besides, evening was falling, and if he delayed, it was possible he could end up stuck outside for the night.
“I remember back when I shook down the three great clans, one of the things I got was the deed to a shop in Arch-Emperor City….” Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he patted his bag of holding to produce a jade slip. Sure enough, branded inside the slip was the official deed to a place in the city. At this point, his mood started to brighten.
“Ah, whatever. I’ll just hole up in that shop for a while and make sure not to cause any trouble. I’ll focus on cultivation, and then figure a way to get myself out of the Wildlands.” Shaking his head, he headed toward Arch-Emperor City.
However, it was in that very moment that Bai Hao suddenly popped out of his soulhoarding pagoda in the bag of holding, where he had gone to hide after events started to heat up. At the moment, he was looking at his Master with undisguised admiration, and he even clasped hands and bowed deeply.
“Apprentice misunderstood you earlier, Master. Just now, I was dazzled by your techniques. Amazing, simply amazing!”
“Huh?” Bai Xiaochun said, a bit taken aback. Despite thinking for a moment, he couldn’t imagine what mistake his apprentice might have made to suddenly speak in such a way.
“There’s no need to be humble, Master. Apprentice understands. You caused those two disasters on purpose, all to get the sergeant major of the Giant Ghost Legion to kick us out of the army camp!” The reverent admiration on Bai Hao’s face was clear. Although he felt his Master’s actions to have been a bit crude, he also found them truly thought-provoking.
“Uhh….” Bai Xiaochun said, blinking a few times. Clearly, Bai Hao didn’t truly understand Bai Xiaochun that much. Contrary to everything Bai Hao had just said, it was only a freak combination of factors that led to the current outcome. However, Bai Xiaochun had to admit that everything had played out well, and after looking up in thought for a moment, he cleared his throat, swished his sleeve, and stuck his chin up.
“Hahaha! So even you noticed. Not bad. Not bad at all, my little apprentice. Although your powers of understanding are only middling at best, perhaps if you pay close attention going forward, you can make some progress. After all, Master’s all-encompassing abilities are such that a single step forward is the same as ten thousand. Nothing in heaven and earth can compare to me!”
Bai Xiaochun’s high and mighty pride was actually somewhat self-defeating. When Bai Hao saw it, he suddenly began to question whether or not his previous assessment had been correct.
Continuing to boast, Bai Xiaochun headed into Arch-Emperor City. The city was enormous, and well-guarded at every corner and intersection. He even had to undergo a formal interview before being allowed in the gates, and pay a tax of soul medicine. Thankfully, he had a lot of soul medicine in his bag of holding. By the time he got into the city, it was evening, and yet, the city was just as packed and lively as any other time of the day.
Once inside, he pulled out the jade slip with the deed in it, and used it to find his way through the winding streets of the city. The sights and sounds along the way left him shocked. Arch-Emperor City was a very rich place. The streets were paved with green jade, and there even seemed to be a bit of spiritual energy about….
Shops of all types imaginable lined the streets, offering everything from vengeful souls to magical items to Heavenspan River water.
Among the crowds on the street, Bai Xiaochun saw countless powerful experts, as well as savage giants, who were required to shrink down to a smaller size when in the city.
Most eye-opening of all to him was how many of the structures in Arch-Emperor City glowed with bright, magical light. Because of that, even during the dark of night, the city shone, bright and dazzling.
It took two hours for him to locate the shop, by which time night had truly fallen. There, in a relatively out-of-the-way part of the city, he found the location of the shop in the deed.
It was a spirit enhancement shop.