Although the chaos had been brought under control, there was no way that the angered soul cultivators would simply disperse. Their gazes flitted back and forth between Bai Xiaochun and the ruined shops of Sima Tao and Sun Yifan. Clearly, if Bai Xiaochun hadn’t been there to interfere, the mob would still be attacking those two shops.
Despite feeling nervous and a bit guilty, Bai Xiaochun shouted, “Listen to me, everyone. I, Bai Hao, guarantee that I will get you the explanation you deserve!”
“Fellow Daoist Bai, we are not at fault today. It's them! Sima Tao and Sun Yifan!”
“That’s right! Those two shameless fellows sold us counterfeit soul medicine! The embarrassment we have endured today must be avenged!!”
“It’s good that you’re here, Fellow Daoist Bai. We’ll follow your lead as you resolve this issue!”
The soul cultivators all knew that although the riot hadn't affected a very large area, this was Arch-Emperor City, and if things went on for too long, the city guard would definitely arrive at some point.
Although they were all furious at Sima Tao and Sun Yifan, they gritted their teeth and forced themselves to remain calm. Some of them even wondered why the city guard hadn’t arrived already.
After all, every borough was overseen by a contingent of city guards, who were responsible for keeping the peace. However, not a single city guard was visible.
“Don't worry, everyone. I, Bai Hao, as well as the other Fellow Daoists at my side, will ensure that you get your explanation!” He even thumped his chest in emphasis. The other shop owners and employees who were with him acted similarly.
Seeing that the crowd had calmed down left Bai Xiaochun feeling quite relieved. He had worried that things had gone overboard, and that it would result in misfortune. But now, he was the one the crowd expected to render judgement, something he found to be outrageously ironic.
With that, he called out, “Fellow Daoist Sima! Fellow Daoist Sun! Please come out for a chat!”
In response, Sima Tao and Sun Yifan emerged from the rubble of their shops, unsightly expressions on their faces. Although they both had profound cultivation bases, there had simply been too many enraged and maddened soul cultivators to deal with. Before either of them had even been able to react, their shops were destroyed. Therefore, not only were both of them angry, but they also cast piercing glances at Bai Xiaochun.
“Bai Hao,” Sima Tao said, “the soul medicine they’re talking about has clearly been tampered with. Give me even one portion, and I’ll bring the truth to light!”
“As for who the true culprit is,” Sun Yifan said coldly, “we’ll figure out soon enough, and announce it for everyone to hear!”
These two necromancers had been brought there to put Bai Hao in check. Therefore, this turn of events left them feeling very unsettled. At the same time, they couldn’t help but harbor some suspicion that Bai Xiaochun was actually the one behind it all.
And yet, if that was true, they still couldn't imagine how he had managed to alter the soul medicine in the way he had.
However he had tampered with it, there was no way he could have done it without leaving evidence. They were both sure that they could find the clues. After exchanging a glance, they both confirmed their mutual intention to drag things out until Zhou Hong arrived.
In fact, they had both contacted Zhou Hong as soon as the incident began. He was the reason the city guard hadn’t appeared; considering how things had gotten out of hand so quickly, he didn’t want to get implicated.
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, mostly in admiration of his apprentice’s intellect. After all, everything he was doing right now was according to Bai Hao’s plan. In the heat of the moment, he had been given no other choice than to go with that plan, and now that he was seeing the results, it caused his eyes to shine.
He had quickly gone from being in the passive position to being completely in charge of the situation. Furthermore, he was now in a position to decide the fate of the reputations of Sima Tao and Sun Yifan, all with a single word.
Having reached this point in his train of thought, his heart began to pound with excitement. However, he kept a very somber expression on his face.
“Fellow Daoists, the two of you are necromancers, and therefore… I believe you! There’s no way that soul medicine concocted by necromancers such as you two would cause such outrageous side-effects!”
Sima Tao and Sun Yifan were clearly shocked by how firmly Bai Xiaochun seemed to be standing by their side, and both of them immediately felt as if something fishy were going on.
The other soul cultivators in the area began to stir, and even shout out angrily.
“What do you mean by that, Fellow Daoist Bai?!”
“You believe them!? What, you think we’re stirring up trouble for no reason?!”
Bai Xiaochun immediately waved his hand to interrupt the shouts of the crowd.
“I also believe the rest of you!” he said loudly. “You wouldn’t have come here for no reason at all. Please, allow me to tell you how I truly feel. Although I know how things ended up, I don't know why they happened. All of you say that you consumed soul medicine concocted by these two grandmasters, which was what led to the various incidents. Does anyone have one of those portions of soul medicine that I could examine?”
His words seemed to pacify the crowd for the moment. Then, a middle-aged cultivator snorted coldly and tossed out a portion of high-grade soul medicine.
Bai Xiaochun caught it in his hand and then peered down to examine it. After a moment passed, he frowned and looked up at Sima Tao and Sun Yifan.
“Fellow Daoists, the two of you definitely outrank me in terms of necromancy. Pray forgive my ignorance, but I really can’t see any signs of tampering.” With that, he handed the soul medicine over to Sima Tao.
Snorting coldly in his heart, Sima Tao took the soul medicine. He had heard earlier that the cause of the disaster was his own soul medicine, but hadn’t been able to get his hands on one of the offending portions.
After taking it, his eyes shone as he began to examine it closely. However, as the moments ticked by, his eyes widened, and his heart began to pound. He even performed an incantation gesture, drawing upon the power of his cultivation base to perform a very thorough investigation. After all of that, though, he was unable to identify any problem areas. Soon, beads of sweat began to pop out on his forehead.
Furthermore, he could tell that this soul medicine really was the work of his own hand. No matter how he looked at it, he couldn't find any traces of tampering. Slowly, he began to pant, and his heart began to quiver with a sensation of profound foreboding.
Sima Tao’s behavior was also getting Sun Yifan nervous. In the end, he grabbed the soul medicine and used his own methods to examine it. Soon, his face turned just as ashen as Sima Tao’s, and a look of incredulity could be seen in his eyes.
“Impossible!” Sun Yifan thought. “This soul medicine really was concocted by Sima Tao! But I don’t see anything wrong with it! There’s plenty of soul power inside, and it seems completely stable…. Don’t tell me that this is just an ordinary portion of soul medicine, and they’re intentionally using it to try to fool us?”
Having reached this point in his train of thought, Sun Yifan prepared to speak, and yet, was beaten to the punch by Bai Xiaochun.
“Fellow Daoists, I wasn’t able to find anything wrong with that portion of soul medicine, nor find any traces that it's counterfeit. In fact, I suspect that it is just an ordinary portion of medicine. I think we need to perform a test!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, Sun Yifan chimed in. “That’s right. This medicine is definitely not counterfeit!”
Sima Tao’s eyes glittered. He refused to believe that a portion of soul medicine that he had concocted could be tampered with without him being able to tell. The only person who could possibly do something like that would be an earthly necromancer. And yet, if an earthly necromancer really wanted to cause problems for him… he wouldn’t need to do it in such a complicated way. An earthly necromancer could have him expelled from Arch-Emperor City with a single word.
With such thoughts on his mind, he looked at the soul medicine again, and then pointed at one of his shop clerks, a young man he had brought with him from Nine Serenities City.
“You test it!”
The clerk hesitated for a short moment, then walked forward and took the soul medicine. After taking a deep breath, he sat down cross-legged and then began to absorb the soul power from the medicine through his palm.
With so many people watching him closely, there was no way he could pull a fast one in this situation. Everyone simply waited to see what would happen. Before long, the clerk opened his eyes, and the soul medicine was completely absorbed. As he rose to his feet, he seemed completely normal, leading Sima Tao to breathe a sigh of relief. Then he opened his mouth to speak when, all of a sudden, a loud phhhhhhrt erupted into the open, followed by a cloud of foul gas.
All of the soul cultivators present who had been affected earlier immediately erupted into howls of rage.
“So that soul medicine is defective! What were you just about to say, huh Sima Tao?!”
“Sun Yifan, you and he are both completely out of line!!”
“Impossible!” Sima Tao blurted, his face draining of blood as he staggered backward. “This is impossible! I checked it myself. There were no problems….” However, he was at a complete loss as to how to defend himself.
Sun Yifan was physically shaking, and knew that the game was up. He and Sima Tao had been thoroughly defeated: their soul medicine really was defective!!
Bai Xiaochun shook his head silently, seemingly at a loss for words. As for the other shop owners and clerks, they all began to sigh.
The shouting from the crowd began to grow more intense.
“Alright, Sima Tao and Sun Yifan. We have proof now. You’d better compensate us for all of this!”
“Give us our compensation, otherwise, we won’t let you go even if you call for help from the Arch-Emperor!!”
“Once this story gets out, everyone in the Wildlands is going to know that Sima Tao and Sun Yifan are knaves through and through!”
Sima Tao and Sun Yifan were so nervous they were sweating rivers, when, all of a sudden, a grim voice cut through the shouting of the crowd.
“I, Zhou Hong, will provide the compensation!”