Bai Xiaochun’s comportment immediately caused Sun Yifan and Sima Tao to hesitate, and even exchange glances. Although it seemed like he was simply trying to put on a brave front, they were now more on guard than before. The truth was that Simao Tao had actually held back a bit of the truth. Both he and Sun Yifan could achieve success rates of nearly seventeen percent!
In fact, if they got lucky they could sometimes reach twenty percent! However, that was the limit for a celestial necromancer when working with sixteen-colored flame. The only exception would be… if they managed to improve the formula they worked with!
But doing something like that was incredibly difficult. All necromancers in the Wildlands knew that even earthly necromancers who tried to alter flame conjuring formulas would have to spend a huge amount of time and energy to do so, and even then might not succeed.
After all, the current formulas had been derived by constant refining and augmentation from generation to generation. Countless tests and confirmations ensured that the current formulas were the most reliable.
Considering all of that, Sima Tao and Sun Yifan calmed themselves, and immediately called for help to set up a competition arena in front of the three shops.
It wasn’t a large arena, and had just enough space for the three of them to do their work. In that short time, however, so many soul cultivators showed up that there were now row upon row of them waiting to watch what would happen.
There were even people floating in the air to observe. By now, there were definitely more than 100,000 people present, with more beams of light appeared every moment. The city guard was shocked, and immediately dispatched a few hundred people to make sure that order was kept.
Zhou Hong was present, of course, as were Little Wolfgod, Li Tiansheng, Miao Lin’er, and even the second prince. Virtually all of the chosen that Bai Xiaochun had kidnapped in the Necromancer Kettle had arrived.
There were also other chosen and heirs to the noble and aristocratic houses, people like Chen Xiong who hadn’t been in the Necromancer Kettle. Everybody came to watch and comment on Bai Xiaochun’s performance.
This competition was already sizing up to be much bigger than the previous one. Not only was the audience larger, but the fact that there were so many chosen present got everyone else in the audience even more excited.
Chen Manyao was also there, alone in the crowd and away from the second prince and the other chosen. She stood there by herself, quietly watching Bai Xiaochun.
To see so many people crowded together watching him made Bai Xiaochun a little nervous. Although he was capable of a thirty percent success rate with sixteen-colored flame, that still didn't leave him completely confident. And yet, there was nothing else he could do.
“Too bad we can't compete in fifteen-colored flame!” he thought. Although he wasn’t feeling very confident, he had to brace himself and hope that Sima Tao and Sun Yifan weren’t capable of much more than fifteen percent or so.
Bai Xiaochun’s visible nervousness caused Sima Tao and Sun Yifan to feel more relaxed than ever. They sat cross-legged on either side of him, meditating to settle their qi and clear their minds.
Before long, the audience started to quiet down. Zhou Hong hovered in the air above them, eyes flashing. After casting a brief glance at Bai Xiaochun, he loudly announced, “It is a great honor to have been invited here today by Grandmaster Sima and Grandmaster Sun, to preside over this competition of flame conjuring. Very well, enough with the introductions. Let the competition… begin!”
As his words rang out, countless eyes came to focus on the competition area, and the three necromancers sitting there.
The eyes of both Sima Tao and Sun Yifan snapped open, and without the slightest hesitation, they casually performed double-handed incantation gestures, causing soulhoarding pagodas to fly out of their bags of holding. Then, with the wave of a finger, they each summoned hordes of vengeful souls.
Neither of them delayed in the least bit. They began their conjuring work, creating something from nothing as they started with one-colored flame, which would be the foundation upon which they worked all the way up to sixteen-colored flame!
They were clearly both very familiar with the process. They were both celestial necromancers with significant skill sets, and that was fully on display right here. Both of them had suffered severe blows to their reputation recently, and knew that this wager was critical to repairing some of that damage. Therefore, neither of them held back at all.
Within the space of a few breaths of time, both of them closed their fingers down, then almost simultaneously, opened them again to reveal tongues of one-colored flame.
Of course, Bai Xiaochun had also produced his soulhoarding pagoda as soon as Zhou Hong officially began the competition, and he was no slower than Sun Yifan and Sima Tao! In the end… all three of them produced a tongue of one-colored flame at the same time!
Everyone watching the competition was stunned.
“It only took them a few breaths’ of time to produce a one-colored flame!!”
“They clearly deserve to be called grandmasters, and definitely deserve to be celestial necromancers!!”
Neither Sun Yifan nor Sima Tao revealed any reaction to what had just occurred. They knew that since this Bai Hao was in the celestial rank, he must be very familiar with the process of conjuring one-colored flame. Were he not, then he wouldn’t deserve to be their opponent.
Soon, all three of them were at work again, producing two-, three-, four-… all the way to ten-colored flame!
The entire time, they all seemed to be racing neck and neck. The fact that they were all keeping the same pace was a bit worrisome to Sun Yifan and Sima Tao, and yet, at the moment, all it did was cause their hearts to tremble slightly.
Next came eleven-, twelve-, and thirteen-colored flame. When Sun Yifan and Sima Tao saw that Bai Xiaochun was still keeping pace, serious expressions appeared in their eyes.
Everyone in the audience watched with bated breath, their hearts pounding. It wasn’t that the onlookers had never seen people conjuring flame before. In fact, many in the audience were necromancers themselves.
However… it was not an everyday occasion to be able to see celestial necromancers conjuring flame…. Considering that most earthly necromancers were wanderers who nobody ever encountered, that meant that celestial necromancers were the ostensible peak of the necromancy world.
“Celestial necromancers… are terrifying! They went from one- to thirteen-colored flame with ease. And the speed! Furthermore, all three of them seemed to be on almost exactly the same level!”
“Heh. These three are definitely not ordinary celestial necromancers. They're all at the very peak of their rank!”
“I feel like my eyes have been opened! Just watching them work is beneficial… I’ve already resolved a few areas I had problems with in the past.”
Bai Xiaochun ignored all of the discussions. He was now completely immersed in the flame conjuring, and sparing no effort in the process. Usually, he preferred to have all of the variables under control when he worked, but this time, he had no such luxury. The only thing he could do was maintain complete focus in the hopes that he wouldn’t lose.
Sun Yifan and Sima Tao were equally focused on their work, and completely ignored the crowd. Currently, they were now working on fourteen-colored flame, and couldn't afford any distractions.
Moments later, it was for the first time that the audience saw… a difference between the three necromancers!
Although the methods used by Sun Yifan and Sima Tao varied slightly, they were mostly the same, and followed the prescribed pattern everyone was used to. Sima Tao followed the soul ratios precisely, and Sun Yifan mostly ignored the sea of fire, and focused on feeding the souls into it.
Occasionally, ripples of multi-colored light would glow off of them, which came from the flame conjuring secret magics that they employed to increase their speed. However, Bai Xiaochun’s method of conjuring fourteen-colored flame was completely different.
He used the thirteen-colored flame to consume all of the tens of thousands of vengeful souls in one moment, which caused gasps to rise up in the audience.
“Bai Hao’s conjuring methods are unprecedented!!”
“He fed tens of thousands of vengeful souls into the fire at once! Isn’t he worried that the tongue of flame will collapse?!”
However, it was to everyone’s wide-eyed shock that, not only did Bai Xiaochun’s flame not destabilize, but it actually grew stronger. Furthermore, because of how he fed all the souls in at once, his speed greatly surpassed the secret magics used by Sun Yifan and Sima Tao!
This time, the three necromancers didn’t all finish at the same time. However, the disparity wasn’t very dramatic; they all finished within roughly ten breaths of time of each other.
After the fourteen-colored flame appeared, Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath to calm himself. Not even bothering to look around, he continued with his work, sending vast amounts of vengeful souls out to be consumed by the sea of fire. Gradually, his fourteen-colored flame rose to the level of a fifteen-colored flame!
After Bai Xiaochun’s flame appeared, Sun Yifan and Sima Tao succeeded as well. By this point, the pressure was on the other two necromancers, as they had to admit that Bai Xiaochun’s abilities in flame conjuring were unique and shocking.
Expressions flickering as they contemplated what was at stake, they exchanged a glance. However, that was when they found to their shock that Bai Xiaochun hadn’t stopped; he was going on directly to sixteen-colored flame!
“This Bai Hao is too young and inexperienced. That’s not the way to go about conjuring. You need to get plenty of fifteen-colored flames built up, that way your chances of success will increase.”
“We’re definitely going to win.”
Exchanging a smile, Sun Yifan and Sima Tao felt more confident than ever.