Business got better and better, to the point where people would line up outside the shop before the doors opened in the morning. Roughly half would come for the spirit enhancements, the other half to purchase high-grade soul medicine.
The benefits of high-grade soul medicine to soul cultivators was almost impossible to put into words. Furthermore, The Number One Spirit Enhancement Shop Under Heaven had all sorts of soul medicines available, to the point where most people were shocked by the variety in stock.
The shop’s popularity grew on a daily basis. Within two months, it had become a top-tier name in Borough 89, and was even the subject of conversation in some of the surrounding boroughs.
Although profits didn’t literally increase every day, it was close. As far as the intake of vengeful souls was concerned, Bai Xiaochun was extremely pleased. As long as things kept going on the way they were, he would be completely set in terms of the souls he needed to work on flame conjuring.
Bai Hao was also very pleased with everything. Although maintaining his role as Bai Xiaochun’s soul slave meant he had to pretend to be stiff and rigid around people, he was still very happy. Whether it was in life or in death, he had almost always been on his own, and had thirsted to interact with people like he was now.
Now that the shop was so popular, he was dealing with lots of customers every day. Although that only involved a bit of basic communication, it was still wonderful as far as he was concerned.
Of course, for the shop to suddenly be incredibly popular incited a bit of jealousy among other nearby shops. Such shops were feeling the pressure, and some of them even tried to cause problems.
However, Bai Hao managed to smooth things out with most of them. He was the type of person who was willing to back down in certain areas as long as business wasn’t affected too negatively.
At first, Bai Xiaochun didn't even notice what was happening. However, as more people came trying to cause trouble, he started to get irritated. That was especially true considering his own cultivation base and status.
“I'm a mighty major general from the Great Wall, and the majordomo of Giant Ghost City. Plus, the Giant Ghost Legion’s sergeant major is my Daoist partner. Fudge! I kidnapped the Giant Ghost King, as well as over a hundred noble and aristocratic chosen in the Necromancer Kettle. I'm just trying to run an honest business here, and I never went around bullying anybody! And now these shrimps dare to come try to push me around?!”
That evening when he closed up shop, he snorted and said to Bai Hao, “Apprentice, starting tomorrow, if anybody comes looking for trouble, you call me, and I’ll take care of them.”
He had been paying attention over the past few days, and had confirmed that most of the people who came to stir up trouble were Nascent Soul and Core Formation cultivators. Because of that, Bai Xiaochun wasn't worried about the situation at all.
Bai Hao could only smile wryly at his Master’s displeasure. However, after thinking about the matter for a bit, he decided to offer some advice.
“Master, why don’t we wait until the shop is more well-established in the area? Business is doing good, and… well, it would probably be better not to make waves. Don't worry, I’ll handle anything that comes up.” The truth was that Bai Hao was actually a bit worried about how good his Master was at causing problems. The mere thought of how everything had played out in the Giant Ghost Legion had him very nervous, not to mention all of the rumors he had heard back in Giant Ghost City. The way that his Master always seem to feel that he was being wronged left Bai Hao unsure of whether to laugh or cry.
In response to Bai Hao’s advice, Bai Xiaochun’s eyes widened into a glare. “Are you kidding? Do you think your Master is the type to just grin and bear it?!”
Sighing inwardly, Bai Hao decided to call on the one trump card he hadn’t used so far. “Master, we're all alone in the imperial city, and nobody here could be considered friends. Plus, remember how you captured all of those chosen? They all live here…. Why don’t we just let things go for a bit? The fewer major issues we have to worry about the better.”
Apparently, his tactic worked. Bai Xiaochun’s face fell as he thought about the bitter state all of those chosen had ended up in. If he were back in Giant Ghost City, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. But now he was in their territory, and immediately started to feel a bit guilty about everything. However, he didn't let that show on his face. Laughing heartily, he clasped Bai Hao on the shoulder.
Eyes gleaming with praise, and without the least bit of embarrassment, he said, “Master was just kidding around! Not bad. Not bad at all, my apprentice. Your cautious personality shows through again. Reminds me of myself back in the day. What you just said couldn’t have been more correct. In fact, it was actually exactly what I was thinking.”
Seeing that Bai Xiaochun had given up his previous idea, Bai Hao sighed in relief, and didn’t even think about trying to call his Master out. Instead, he merely smiled and continued to chat.
And so the days continued to pass. During the day, Bai Hao would take orders from customers, and Bai Xiaochun would spend more time working on sixteen-colored flame.
In the evenings, Bai Xiaochun would perform the spirit enhancements on all of the magical items from earlier in the day, and would then do more research. Another half a month went by. At long last, it was with Bai Hao’s help that he finally perfected the formula for sixteen-colored flame.
At that point, he began to make preparations to actually conjure the flame. Worried about accidents occurring, he spared no cost to purchase some restrictive spell formations. Considering how well-off he was, he even went so far as to buy a soul formation that could be used to defend an entire clan. Using all of those various formations, he set up his flame conjuring workstation to be as impregnable as the mightiest castle. Only then did he begin to work.
Bai Hao needed no instructions about what to do. He immediately closed the shop and refused to take any more spirit enhancement orders. Then he prepared himself to be fully devoted to assisting Bai Xiaochun in the flame conjuring.
Unfortunately, things didn't go well at first. Despite all of the research, and all of the help from Bai Hao, failure after failure occurred. Thankfully, he had plenty of vengeful souls to rely on. After an entire month went by, he waved his hand, and the fifteen-colored flame in front of him consumed enough vengeful souls that a sixteenth color appeared.
Although he was immediately excited, he kept his feelings under control. Settling his qi and clearing his mind, he kept the sea of fire under control as he slowly brought it back together in his palm. He closed his fingers into a fist, then slowly opened them back up to reveal… a sixteen-colored flame!!
“It worked!!” he said, laughing heartily, his heart pounding with excitement. It had taken the better part of a year, and countless vengeful souls, plus major input from Bai Hao, to finally succeed in this conjuring. For any other person, it would have been impossible to succeed in dozens of years, let alone the amount of time he had spent.
As for Bai Hao, he was exhausted, but equally delighted. Furthermore, he was well-enough acquainted with his Master to realize that he liked to be praised, and thus quickly launched into some flattery.
Bai Xiaochun laughed heartily, then started to do some more tests. His success rate wasn’t particularly high, only about twelve to fourteen percent, which he wasn’t very happy about. And yet, that was the best he could do.
“Ah, whatever. I have plenty of vengeful souls. Although I went through quite a bit, at least I mastered the technique.” After thinking about it for a bit longer, he decided that he didn’t need to be too picky. Furthermore, after some contemplation, he decided that, for the time being, he wouldn’t perform another spirit enhancement on his nascent soul.
Although it would increase his cultivation base, it would also attract a lot of attention in the Wildlands. If such coincidences kept happening over and over, it could arouse too much suspicion.
“I’ll wait until I can conjure eighteen-colored flame, or maybe even something higher than that. Then I’ll enhance my nascent soul all in one shot, and achieve a major cultivation base breakthrough.” Having made his decision, he recuperated for a bit, then started researching seventeen-colored flame. Meanwhile, Bai Hao had opened the shop again. Needless to say, after being closed for a month, business boomed as soon as the doors were opened.
As time passed, business only improved. Bai Hao was very content to run the shop, which warmed Bai Xiaochun’s heart. Then he mused that, just as he had always thought, he really was a genius who rose to prominence wherever he went. Sighing, he reveled in the calm life they were now living. He felt like some sort of mysterious, divine being who was in hiding in the mortal world. The only thing he regretted was that he didn’t have any life force with which to cultivate his Undying Bones.
Unfortunately, as the saying went, the tree might long for peace, but the wind will never cease. The fact that Bai Xiaochun’s shop was becoming so famous had indeed attracted some attention.
In the central district of Arch-Emperor City, in Borough 9, there was a rather luxurious building in which several dozen people were gathered.
They were all good-looking individuals with profound cultivation bases. The weakest among them was in the mid Nascent Soul stage, with some being in the great circle. Anybody familiar with the nobility in the city would recognize these people as the heirs apparent and chosen from the various noble and aristocratic families.
One of them was Little Wolfgod, and another was Li Tiansheng. Miao Lin’er was also present.
All of them had grim expressions as they sat waiting for someone to speak first. As it turned out, Little Wolfgod took the initiative.
“Well, you all know that the damned Bai Hao is here in Arch-Emperor City. If he had stuck to the Giant Ghost Legion, it might have been one thing. But instead, he completely looked down on us and went and started a spirit enhancement shop in Borough 89!”
All of these people hated Bai Xiaochun to an indescribable degree. The events of the Necromancer Kettle had become a humiliating nightmare to all of them. Bai Xiaochun had captured them and drained their life force until they were like human raisins, and as a result, every single one of these chosen wished to see him dead.
“I heard that he was kicked out of the Giant Ghost Legion!”
“Yeah, that’s right!”