The Grand Heavenmaster’s expression had returned to normal, and it was impossible to tell what he was thinking. Looking at Bai Xiaochun, he coolly said, “Tell me your idea.”
Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath, and then began to explain.
“Grand Heavenmaster, I can give you an opportunity to have all of the nobility and aristocracy show for themselves how they feel!
“Your humble servant is not perceptive enough to tell what those wily old foxes are thinking. But you, Grand Heavenmaster, can likely discern that from both their wording and the fluctuations of their divine souls.”
At this point, Bai Xiaochun’s idea had come together. Eyebrows dancing up and down, he continued, “Your humble servant’s plan is the type that will shake heaven and earth to the point where ghosts and gods will weep! It's simply amazing! Call it a deadly move, if you’d like, something that can pierce through the hearts of men!” He even thumped himself on the chest to emphasize his words. Then he waited for the Grand Heavenmaster to ask him to explain the plan in detail.
However, after a long moment passed, the Grand Heavenmaster’s expression was still placid. Eventually, Bai Xiaochun started to feel a bit awkward. Clearing his throat, he shook his head and kept on speaking.
“To employ this deadly move of mine, it’s important that all of the nobility and aristocracy be present. In fact, the Arch-Emperor also needs to be there. Grand Heavenmaster, is there any upcoming event or ceremony that everyone will need to attend?” Heart pounding in anticipation, he looked at the Grand Heavenmaster.
The Grand Heavenmaster peered back at him for a moment before his eyes widened.
“Next month, we have the ancestral sacrifices! Since you’re so confident, we can try out your so-called deadly move then, and see what happens.” The Grand Heavenmaster didn’t ask for any more details about the plan. He flicked his sleeve, causing Bai Xiaochun’s vision to swim for a moment. When things became clear, he was outside of the imperial palace.
“He didn’t even ask any details…? Don’t tell me he thinks I'm just grandstanding or something?” Looking back in the direction of Heavenmaster Hall, he snorted coldly in his heart.
“When Bai Xiaochun makes a move, he frightens even himself! Ah, whatever. When the time comes, I’ll show the Grand Heavenmaster and everybody else exactly how terrifying I am!” Brimming with confidence, he began to review his plan, and before long, could visualize a whole series of scenes involving what would happen. He could hardly wait. He even laughed aloud at the mere thought of the wonderful things to come. Feeling splendid, he led his 1,000 corpse troopers back to the Inspections Manor.
Back at the manor, he summoned Zhou Yixing over to give a debriefing. Then he assigned a location in the Inspections Manor to him, and went into his own hall to meditate.
At the moment, he had no time or energy to spend on Song Que. He was fully focused on his upcoming plan. In fact, as soon as the door of his hall closed, he called Bai Hao out of his soulhoarding pagoda and began to explain the plan to him in full detail.
As Bai Hao listened, his eyes grew wider and wider. In the end, he gasped.
“Master… did you really think up this plan?” he asked, sounding a bit uncertain.
Bai Xiaochun was actually very pleased with Bai Hao’s reaction.
“Of course Master thought it up!” he said, thumping himself on the chest. “What do you think? Awesome, huh?!”
“This plan… is ruthless!” Bai Hao replied with heartfelt admiration. “Especially considering that the Arch-Emperor will be there. I bet the nobility and aristocracy are going to go crazy…. Of course, the key to it all lies, not in the plan itself, but in how perceptive the Grand Heavenmaster is.” With that, he and Bai Xiaochun worked together for a bit to perfect the plan even more. In the end, Bai Xiaochun was very pleased with it all.
“Time just moves too slowly sometimes. I wish the sacrifices were being held tomorrow!” Although he was feeling very excited, he managed to calm down eventually. Considering that he had just taken care of the heavenly marquises from the Li and Chen Clans, he knew that the city in general would be in a bit of an uproar. Obviously, now wasn’t the time to go about making any further trouble. Therefore, he decided to go into secluded meditation for the next month.
Back during the competition with Sun Yifan and Sima Tao, he had reached the Flame Harmony realm and gained much enlightenment of seventeen-colored flame. He had also made further advancement because of subsequent tests. Therefore, during his month of secluded meditation, he spent time to make even more progress.
The month went by very quickly. During that time, panic built within Arch-Emperor City. The fact that the Grand Heavenmaster had arrested Heavenly Marquis Chen and Heavenly Marquis Li, and that their clans had been shaken down, was shocking news to say the least.
All of the heavenly marquises in the city were nervous, and even the heavenly dukes were feeling the pressure. It was as if all of them could smell the reek of blood wafting through the streams of time from that original occasion in which the inspections commissioner had wreaked havoc.
Although all of them had been prepared for something to happen after Bai Xiaochun was appointed as the inspections commissioner, none of them could have guessed that it would happen so soon!
The Grand Heavenmaster had moved with lightning-like decisiveness. Four hours. Four hours was all it took for two heavenly marquises to be implicated, and two entire clans to be shaken down and then imprisoned.
The name of Bai Hao rocked Arch-Emperor City as violently as a windstorm. In fact, to many people in the know, it was obvious that the city had completely changed since he had arrived.
“This Bai Hao… is a star of calamity that brings disaster with him….”
“Ruthless! I was there when Bai Hao shook down those two clans, and let me tell you, he took everything, down to the grass!”
“Well, you can’t blame Bai Hao. There was always friction between him and the aristocracy. Eventually it reached the point where only one party could come out on top.”
All sorts of talk spread, not just in Arch-Emperor City, but in the Wildlands in general. The news even reached the cities belonging to the four heavenly kings.
All of the chosen who had butted heads with Bai Xiaochun in the Necromancer Kettle were trembling in fear. The tragic fate of Li Tiansheng had them all on edge. Furthermore, their clans all instituted severe restrictions on them, forbidding them from going out into the city. Everyone knew that although they could secretly plot against Bai Xiaochun, they couldn’t make any open moves against him.
Most of the parties involved all felt bad for each other, and were acting with full vigilance. At the same time, their desire to kill Bai Xiaochun grew more and more intense.
Furthermore, because no one dared to offend the Grand Heavenmaster, all of their killing intent came to be focused fully on Bai Xiaochun. Normally, the nobility and aristocracy were always at each other’s throats, but at the moment, they were all part of a strange alliance.
It didn’t matter whether or not they were truly loyal to the Arch-Emperor. The fact that two heavenly marquises had been taken out had them all nervous to the extreme. Although some parties hoped that going to offer greetings to the Grand Heavenmaster would help, many of them were trying to figure out a way to have Bai Xiaochun killed.
Unfortunately for those people, he stayed out of sight for an entire month. The people who wanted him dead couldn't very well storm the Inspections Manor, and therefore, they could only watch time go by as the day of ancestral sacrifices neared.
Everyone in the Wildlands took the matter of ancestral sacrifices very seriously. Whether it was the clans or the tribes, that day was a day of grand ceremony for the entire Arch-Emperor Dynasty.
The Arch-Emperor was always present for such sacrifices, and that was an important factor, even though he was a mere puppet. Furthermore, unless there were some unforeseen circumstances, all of the nobility and aristocracy had to show up as well.
The only major players who wouldn’t be present were the four heavenly kings. They wouldn't come to Arch-Emperor City unless some sort of heaven-shaking, earth-shattering event occurred.
Of course the reason for that… was their very delicate relationship with the Grand Heavenmaster. Although things seemed to be calm between the heavenly kings and the Grand Heavenmaster, if the heavenly kings ever came to Arch-Emperor City, and something went wrong, the implications could be very severe.
Instead of coming personally, they would usually send their heirs apparent to represent them.
The person to whom the sacrifices were offered… was none other than the first generation Arch-Emperor. It didn’t matter how many years had passed since his time, to the people of the Arch-Emperor Dynasty, that very first Arch-Emperor was the most ultimate of entities.
Apparently, the ancestral sacrifices also had some connection to the Hell-Emperor. After all, whenever the sacrifices were carried out, heaven and earth would be split open to reveal the Underworld River inside of a massive vortex.
The vortex would cover all of Arch-Emperor City, and would be filled with countless souls which would descend onto the city for the benefit of the people, who could simply reach out to take them.
According to the legends, a deva soul had once descended in such a fashion. Furthermore, it wasn’t just the nobility and aristocracy of the Arch-Emperor Dynasty who would participate in the event; the common people could do so as well.
Of course, although the nobility and aristocracy would reach out and take the souls, most didn't focus too much on that part of the event. To them, it was merely a good omen.
When the day came to offer the sacrifices, all of Arch-Emperor City was filled with a very somber air. Families emerged from their houses and dropped to their knees on the street to kowtow to the heavens. At the same time, bells tolled in the imperial palace, filling the city with their sound.
The heavenly marquises and heavenly dukes all donned their most formal attire and headed to the main square in the imperial palace, tranquil expressions on their faces the entire time….
That was when Bai Xiaochun emerged from secluded meditation. As he did, it was impossible for him to conceal the expression of excitement and anticipation that appeared on his face as he looked up at the city in the sky.
“I finally succeeded with seventeen-colored flame. And now, it’s time for the ancestral sacrifices….” Sighing, he flew up into the air, followed by 1,000 corpse troopers.