The number Bai Xiaochun had just spoken left Chen Xiong teetering on the verge of passing out. Gasps could be heard among the other soul cultivators looking on. After all, there was a huge difference between a fourteenfold spirit enhancement and a fifteenfold one.
Fifteenfold spirit enhancements brought with them the power of a deva, and could help cultivators who were in the great circle of the Nascent Soul stage to gain enlightenment of heaven and earth. Spirit enhanced treasures like that were incredibly valuable, and usually were possessed only by clans who specialized in spirit enhancement, or the powerful noble or aristocratic clans. Treasures like that which did exist would rarely be brought out into the open.
Such items were not common at all, especially because the success rates with high-level spirit enhancements were so low. One needed only look at the fact that the Giant Ghost King, upon rewarding Bai Xiaochun and simultaneously entrusting him with an extremely important mission in the Necromancer Kettle, only gave him a sixteenfold spirit enhanced spear.
The reason for that was not because he was being stingy. Rather, it was because items with fifteenfold spirit enhancements or higher were just too rare. Besides, most were only suitable for use by devas.
Because of their rarity, it would be difficult for anyone to say with certainty how much soul medicine it would be worth to raise something from a fourteenfold to a fifteenfold spirit enhancement. Bai Xiaochun’s quote of more than 80,000,000 portions of soul medicine seemed dramatic, but everyone present realized that if he succeeded, the resulting item would be of great help to anyone wishing to rise to the level of a deva!
In the Wildlands, people became devas by means of magical items with fifteen or more spirit enhancements. By gaining enlightenment of heaven and earth with such items, they could become one with all creation.
“Take your time and think about it,” Bai Xiaochun said sincerely. “Look, if you’re still not happy, then considering that you offered to pay ten times my quote, then I guess you already owe me… Eee? about 80,000,000. So, are we finished here…?” With that, he looked at Chen Xiong with a look of sincere compassion.
When Bai Hao was reminded of the matter of "ten times” the original quote, he sighed. From what he could tell, the miscalculation of the bill had already lost them more than 60,000,000 portions of soul medicine….
As for Chen Xiong, he shouted, “Shut the hell up!!”
His eyes were so bloodshot that they almost looked like pools of blood. Tone mocking, he continued, “I'm not happy! Do the next enhancement, alright? Do it!! I refuse to believe that you can succeed at a fifteenfold enhancement!!”
The two old men flanking him had long since grown completely ashen. Terrified, they even attempted to interfere and give Chen Xiong some advice.
“Get out of my face!” he yelled at them. “The bet is still on, Bai Hao!” He really had no choice but to keep betting. If he did, then he still had a shot at winning. But if he gave up right now, the price he would have to pay would be impossible to accept.
Bai Xiaochun gave Chen Xiong a long, level look, then took the jade pendant into the back room without another word. Countless gazes and countless streams of divine sense were locked onto him. Everyone was jumpy with excitement, wondering what would happen in the following moments. However, no one could observe what went on in the back room. There was a scintillating restrictive spell that blocked all sight and divine sense, as well as another barrier that was almost impossible to penetrate.
Of course, the barrier was actually created by the powers of Bai Xiaochun’s mask, and was created in a way that only a demigod would be able to pierce through to see what was beyond. And yet, anyone who did pierce through it would only see what appeared to be Bai Xiaochun going about a spirit enhancement in the ordinary fashion.
Bai Xiaochun had set it up this way intentionally to dispel any suspicions on the part of the most powerful experts.
Bai Xiaochun had always planned to rely on the mask as his most powerful line of defense. By now, there were too many soul cultivators gathering outside to count, even filling the air to the point where it cast Borough 89 into shadow.
Everyone was talking, creating a din of conversation that filled the area.
“This Bai Hao is definitely a celestial necromancer. Furthermore, he’s probably at the peak of the celestial necromancer rank!”
“Celestial necromancers all have special methods that they use to increase their success rates. However, going from a fourteen to fifteenfold spirit enhancement is really, really difficult. Success all depends on luck!”
“The truth is that this bet is no longer about necromantic skill. It's really just about luck….”
“Well, whatever happens, The Number One Spirit Enhancement Shop Under Heaven is definitely going to be popular after this. It might not be completely famous, but it will definitely be known throughout Arch-Emperor City!”
As everyone talked about the matter, Chen Xiong stood there trembling, his face devoid of blood and his mind a complete blank. Things had already progressed to the point where he wasn’t sure he could handle it, and might collapse.
“How could this be happening…? My plan was perfect…. How could he be succeeding every single time? I had so much soul medicine built up! It should have been enough. But then he went and refused to fail even once! Well, this time he’ll definitely fail, and when he does, I’ll have finally won!”
Time passed, and more people gathered outside of the shop. Nobody seemed even the least bit impatient. It was common knowledge that going from a fourteen to a fifteenfold spirit enhancement took a lot of time, and therefore, all gazes and all streams of divine sense were fixed on the door to the back room.
Bai Hao floated off to the side, face expressionless, but sighing in his heart at how easily his Master started feuds, and at the same time, counterstruck with deadly force….
Chen Xiong appeared to be in sore straights, so much so that Bai Hao even felt sorry for him. But then he thought, “Well, you could have kept things between the two of us, but you had to go and offend my Master….”
Two hours passed, and Bai Xiaochun still hadn’t emerged. Of course, the truth was that he was actually inside the back room doing some breathing exercises, and not even thinking about spirit enhancement. Six hours later, he expelled a mouthful of impure vital energy, then opened his eyes.
“That should be enough time,” he thought, shaking his head. “I really didn't want to screw you over, but I had no choice. You kept pushing me to do more spirit enhancements. You insisted! Well, when I make a move, I frighten even myself.”
Marveling at how pure and benevolent he was, he finally started to work on the spirit enhancement. Before long, he had a jade pendant with five golden designs on it. It pulsed with the energy of a deva, and the flood dragon inside of it looked incredibly realistic, to the point where it almost appeared to be a deva soul.
“What a lovely treasure!” he thought, moved. After looking at it closely, he realized it would be a simple thing to unleash a shadowy flood dragon from within the pendant, and that it would be monumentally powerful.
After fiddling around with the pendant for a bit, he finally rose to his feet and took a deep breath. Then, he forced himself to look tired and drained, and even made sure that his forehead was dripping with sweat. Finally, he trudged out of the back room looking very ashen-faced.
As soon as he appeared, all eyes and all streams of divine sense focused on him, and especially on his hand. When everyone saw the jade pendant, the first reaction was silence.
But then, everyone erupted into a commotion that could shake heaven and earth.
“Heavens… this… this….”
“Fifteenfold!! I can sense the aura of a deva on it!!”
“He did it! I can’t believe he really did it! A fifteenfold spirit enhanced magical item!!” Countless eyes began to shine with greed.
“If a fifteenfold spirit enhanced item like that went up for auction, it would bring in an astronomical price! And this Grandmaster Bai enhanced it all on his own!!” The exclamations turned into a small-scale sound wave that caused much of Arch-Emperor City to tremble. As for Chen Xiong, he could barely speak.
“Impossible… impossible… it’s not real….” he muttered, staggering backward in despairing daze.
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times and then said, “Look, didn’t I just try to persuade you not to do another enhancement? But you wouldn’t listen. Ah, whatever. I'm a soft-hearted kind of guy. How about I give you a discount? Let’s just make it a nice round number. 80,000,000 portions of soul medicine…. Ai. Wait, no. You said that if you were happy, you would give ten times the original price. So that makes 800,000,000….” Looking sincerely at the flabbergasted Chen Xiong, he continued, “You absolutely, positively must not ask for another enhancement…. You listen to me, alright…? Keep your cool!”
Off to the side, Bai Hao was feeling very odd. By now, he could see that his Master had intentionally miscalculated the bill earlier to lay a trap. How could he not have seen it himself? All of a sudden, his Master seemed even more profound and enigmatic than ever, and on top of that, completely unpredictable.
Blood sprayed out of Chen Xiong’s mouth as his heart was gripped with regret. “Bai Hao!! You conned me! You miscalculated that bill on purpose!! You tricked me!!”
He had originally planned to simply back out of the bet, but after Bai Xiaochun miscalculated the bill, he decided to keep going. Considering how things had turned out though, it seemed obvious that his opponent had been playing him all along. With that, he spun on his heel and prepared to make a run for it. There was absolutely no way he could continue the bet; the stakes were just too high. And that didn’t just count for him; not even his entire clan could sustain such losses. The mere thought of 800,000,000 portions of soul medicine filled his heart with such fear that the only thing he could think to do was leave.
“I conned you?” Bai Xiaochun shot back. “What’s that supposed to mean? Hey, get back here! You owe me some soul medicine! How dare you try to renege on your debt!!” Bai Xiaochun truly had no idea what he meant, and even started to think back to make sure he had calculated everything correctly. The truth was that he really had accidentally calculated the bill wrong. And now, the sight of his opponent preparing to flee instantly caused his expression to turn grim. After all, he had sincerely tried to persuade him to stop. And yet, not only had the pink-robed young man demanded to keep going, he had then hurled false accusations about miscalculating the bill. It was really outrageous.
“I absolutely hate cheaters!" Bai Xiaochun roared. With that, he took a step forward. Of course, Chen Xiong’s two Dao protectors had sensed that things were heating up, and immediately moved to block the way. But when they made contact with Bai Xiaochun, blood sprayed out of their mouths, and they tumbled backward. As for Bai Xiaochun, he barreled forward at top speed to appear right in front of Chen Xiong. Then he reached his hand back and prepared to slap him across the face.