“This Bai Hao is shameless to the ultimate degree, and completely notorious. In Giant Ghost City, he’s known for being morally degenerate, a wife stealer and a property thief. He's the worst that society has to offer!”
“After the incident, I asked around, and heard that he’s a reviler of his own clan, and even killed his own father and brother. He also arranged for his foster mother to be killed. Everyone in Giant Ghost City lived desperate lives because of him. Wherever he goes, people end up in a terrible situation. One can only imagine what disasters he will cause now that he’s in Arch-Emperor City!”
“How can the Giant Ghost King like a person like that!?”
“Hmph! Well, as long as the Giant Ghost Legion doesn’t do anything to protect him, then we have to pay him back for the humiliation of the Necromancer Kettle!!”
As everyone in the group took their turn to speak, curses flowed out of their mouths. And yet, considering how powerful Bai Xiaochun was, and who he had backing him, they were forced to admit that they couldn't easily take action.
Not all of the chosen who were present had gone to the Necromancer Kettle, though, and when they heard the stories being told, they couldn’t help but be curious.
Eventually, a young man in pink robes took the floor and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I think you’re all being a bit too cautious. I admit that this Bai Hao is strong, but this is not the Necromancer Kettle, this is Arch-Emperor City. This is where we are the strongest!”
By the time he had finished speaking, almost everyone present had turned to look in his direction.
Li Tiansheng rose to his feet, clasped hands and said, “Brother Chen, if you have a way to fix this situation, then I would be more than happy to offer a gift in thanks.”
“That’s right. Bai Hao has never met you, Brother Chen. If you can take care of him, then I, Little Wolfgod, will definitely owe you a favor!”
“Fellow Daoist Chen Xiong, you always exceed all expectations. Would you please take the initiative to do something?”
Some people seemed angry, some depressed, and some thankful. The last to speak was Miao Lin’er, who looked at the pink-robed Chen Xiong with such glistening eyes that he couldn’t help but cock an eyebrow. “Brother Chen, could you please help me out here?”
“Well,” Chen Xiong said, “I’ll have to do things within the bounds of the law. Killing him wouldn’t be easy. But I can drive him out of Arch-Emperor City as easily as I could turn over my hand.” He emphasized his words by smacking his fan down onto the counter next to him. His eyes shone with intense confidence.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as long as all of you can donate some soul medicine to the cause, then within a month, I will definitely get him out of the imperial city!”
The eyes of the various chosen glittered brightly, and not another word was spoken.
The night passed uneventfully. The following morning at dawn, seven or eight people were already lined up outside of The Number One Spirit Enhancement Shop Under Heaven, waiting for the doors to open so that they could drop off items to receive spirit enhancements.
Soon, Bai Hao opened the doors, and the waiting customers hurried in. Bai Hao received them as he usually did, taking his time to accept the spirit enhancement orders.
Bai Xiaochun lounged behind the counter, occasionally looking over at the customers, but focusing most of his mental attention on the formula for seventeen-colored flame.
Before long, the morning was almost over. Bai Hao took care of the constant stream of soul cultivators, and things were going so smoothly that Bai Xiaochun eventually yawned and started to think about going out for a stroll.
However, that was when a young man in a long pink robe entered the shop, cooling himself with a fan as he walked. The fluctuations of a late Nascent Soul cultivation base rolled off of him, leaving all of the customers in the shop feeling shaken. Of course, he was none other than Chen Xiong.
He was a very impressive figure, and to top it off, was flanked by two old men with profound cultivation bases, apparently Dao protectors of some sort.
“The Number One Spirit Enhancement Shop Under Heaven? How bombastic!” Based on his words, all of the customers in the shop could immediately tell that Chen Xiong had come looking for trouble.
As Bai Hao sighed and hurried over to take care of the matter, Bai Xiaochun remained behind the counter. When he looked up at Chen Xiong, there was something familiar about him. “I'm pretty sure he looks like one of the chosen that I saw in the Necromancer Kettle.”
Even as Bai Xiaochun was preparing to speak, Chen Xiong waved his sleeve, sending out a blast of wind out that knocked Bai Hao to the side.
Bai Xiaochun’s face suddenly turned grim, and he vanished from behind the counter. When he reappeared, he was next to Bai Hao, protectively sending the wind away from him. However, Bai Hao’s face was pale, and he looked a bit more blurry than usual. Clearly, Chen Xiong had waved his sleeve with quite a bit of force.
To see Bai Hao weakened in such a way sparked Bai Xiaochun’s anger, and he turned to look at Chen Xiong with an ice-cold expression.
“If you have something to say, just say it. There’s no need to start shoving people around.”
Chen Xiong was a bit shaken by Bai Xiaochun’s icy gaze, and he immediately thought back to all the stories people had been telling. Suddenly, his heart began to pound, and he seemed a bit less impressive than before. However, now was not the time to back down.
“I’ve never relied on force to bully others!” he stated. “Your shop is open, right? And you’re supposedly the number one spirit enhancement shop under heaven? Well I'm here to get a spirit enhancement! And yet, to my surprise, you aren’t taking orders?! Are you intentionally looking down on me?”
As Chen Xiong’s words rang out, it caused even people outside of the shop to look inside curiously to see what would happen.
A cold smile broke out on Bai Xiaochun’s face, and yet before he could say anything in response, Bai Hao grabbed his forearm. Bai Hao could immediately tell that this person was different from the others who had come recently looking for trouble.
As for Bai Xiaochun, he took a deep breath and thought back to what he and his apprentice had discussed. Then he reminded himself that he wasn’t back in Giant Ghost City, and that the best thing to do was suck it up.
“What do you want enhanced?” he said in a hard voice.
When Chen Xiong saw that Bai Xiaochun was willing to compromise, his eyes glittered, and a cold smile spread out across his face. Slapping his bag of holding, he produced a violet jade pendant that was surrounded by a dense, violet mist. Unexpectedly, the image of a howling flood dragon could be seen within that mist! With the wave of a hand, Chen Xiong sent the pendant flying over to Bai Xiaochun in a beam of violet light.
Most shocking of all was that the pendant had ten silver designs on it!
The crowd immediately began to comment on what they were seeing.
“That jade pendant has the soul of a flood dragon sealed inside of it! Soul treasures like that are very difficult to perform spirit enhancements on!!”
“It already has a tenfold spirit enhancement! Performing an eleventh… would completely change the fundamental nature of the magical item! Furthermore, it would be extremely difficult to succeed!”
“I'm afraid that not even a terrestrial necromancer would dare to attempt that spirit enhancement. The chances of failure are just too great.”
Bai Xiaochun’s mind raced, and then he quickly plastered a look onto his face that made him seem flustered and exasperated. He even glared a bit at Chen Xiong.
Chen Xiong smiled faintly; the tumult of the crowd was exactly what he had expected would happen. Furthermore, the look on the face of this person who had struck such fear into the hearts of the other noble and aristocratic chosen left Chen Xiong feeling very pleased with himself. A snide look appeared in his eyes as he coolly said, “Just enhance that jade pendant. However, it's very expensive, so don’t even think about ruining it!”
Bai Xiaochun flicked his sleeve and contemplated how to put this person in his place. “The cost for my services is based on how many spirit enhancements the item has already received!”
Chen Xiong smiled in response, then tossed over a soulhoarding pagoda.
“The soul medicine in this pagoda will cover the cost. Well, get to work! And by the way, if you ruin my item… Then you’ll compensate me in full measure! However, if you succeed, then I’ll pay you ten times your normal price!”
Everyone in the audience was shocked. The prices charged in this shop for spirit enhancements were already high. The fact that the price for this item would be ten times the normal price was shocking to the extreme. And yet, even more shocking was the price that would be paid in the case of a failure.
“Now this is a bet….”
"He has to compensate him if he fails, but if he succeeds, then he’ll reap a huge reward!”
“The bet seems fair to me…. Let’s just see whether or not the shop owner agrees.”
Chen Xiong stood there with a cold smile on his face. He had promised to get Bai Xiaochun out of Arch-Emperor City within a month, and was naturally confident in being able to do so. Although the jade pendant didn’t look particularly impressive, it was actually a gift from the imperial clan, and as such, he could name virtually any price he wanted as its value.
Even if this Bai Hao succeeded, he could then demand to have another spirit enhancement performed. At some point, he would definitely fail, at which point Chen Xiong could start to cause some real problems.
Chen Xiong was an insidious fellow, and had worded things very well. Although it was clearly a bet, he hadn’t worded it in a way that would make it a formal wager. He had also said it in a way that didn’t give Bai Xiaochun any room to maneuver.
Even if Bai Xiaochun refused, he would return the next day with another challenge. And he would also have his followers come with similar challenges. Before long, he would definitely win.
If Bai Xiaochun continuously refused to accept the challenges, it would be difficult for him to stay in business, which would also count as a win. None of this counted as bullying with force. After all, in the world of spirit enhancement, the issue of failure rates meant that compensation was always an issue. Besides, the fact that he had offered a reward of ten times the original cost meant that not even the Giant Ghost King would be able to complain about the arrangement.
Most importantly, this was only the first step in his plan. There was also a second step, and a third. With all of this combined, Chen Xiong was absolutely confident in being able to win.