As the bells tolled, the streets of Arch-Emperor City filled with a sea of people. It was the same up above, too, with countless figures flying up to the imperial palace.
The city guard was out in full force to keep order and make sure that nothing unexpected happened on this day of ancestral sacrifice.
Of course, there was little chance of something like that; the city guard carried out their duties with the utmost loyalty. In fact, the area near the Inspections Manor was especially heavily guarded.
The matter with the two heavenly marquises the previous month had been monumental. The new inspections commissioner had made a huge splash, and was the target of almost universal animosity in the dynasty. If any mishaps occurred regarding him, it could affect the ancestral sacrifices, and that was something the city guard couldn’t let happen.
Even as the city guard paid special attention to keep the Inspections Manor safe, Bai Xiaochun flew up from inside of it, surrounded by a thousand corpse troopers.
As he did, the nearby nobles and aristocrats noticed, and many gazes came to be fixed on him. They all contained mixed emotions, with everything from hatred to fear.
When Bai Xiaochun sensed so many people looking at him, he cleared his throat, clasped his hands behind his back, and stuck his chin up. He even glared back at the people who looked at him with hateful expressions, making it look like he wasn’t afraid of anything in the world.
His haughty expression said it all: If you’ve got what it takes, then bring it on!
And that was the truth! He had the backing of the Grand Heavenmaster, as well as 1,000 corpse troopers. That meant that Bai Xiaochun could stare down the heavenly dukes if he wanted to, much less the heavenly marquises.
When the noble and aristocratic cultivators flying in the air sensed Bai Xiaochun’s attitude, they frowned, then looked fearfully at his corpse troopers before returning their focus to the imperial palace and flying onward.
“What a bunch of wusses. All shaking in their boots at the sight of the inspections commissioner!” Feeling very pleased, he continued to swagger his way slowly onward toward the imperial palace.
Of course, it wasn’t just the nobility and aristocracy flying through the air who noticed Bai Xiaochun. The common people down below in the city, countless soul cultivators and savage giants, all watched Bai Xiaochun flying upward.
“Inspections Commissioner Bai Hao!”
“That’s him! Last month, he shook down the clans of two heavenly marquises….”
“Nobody’s seen him for a month, but now that it's time for the ancestral sacrifices, here he is. He’s definitely going to cause another scene….”
In response to the buzz of conversation, the city guards in the area grew more vigilant. Although they didn’t flock to surround Bai Xiaochun, they did look around with killing intent, ready to leap to intervene if anything unexpected happened.
Feeling very well protected, Bai Xiaochun continued onward with keen anticipation of what was to come. The mere thought of his plans for the ancestral sacrifices had him so excited he could hardly control himself.
“My month of secluded meditation was very productive. I finally succeeded with seventeen-colored flame… and Hao’er made significant progress in his auguries of eighteen-colored flame. I bet it won’t be long before the formula for eighteen-colored flame is complete.
“Once I have that formula, and succeed in conjuring that flame… then I’ll finally be an earthly necromancer!” Having reached this point in his train of thought, he shivered in anticipation. At the moment, it seemed as if the sky were the limit, and it was truly a wonderful feeling.
“There are only three earthly necromancers in all of the Wildlands. If I succeed, then I’ll be the fourth!” In the Wildlands, earthly necromancers were so rare that their position was roughly the same as the heavenly dukes!
In fact, in some ways, they actually surpassed the heavenly dukes. As long as such a person didn’t betray the Wildlands, they could do anything they pleased. They could even commit grave offences that were normally punished with the death penalty, but be exempt because of their position!
After all… there were dozens of devas in the Wildlands, but there were only three earthly necromancers!
“But that’s only secondary. The most important thing is that if I can conjure eighteen-colored flame, then that means I could perform spirit enhancements on my nascent soul! In one fell swoop, I could push my cultivation base all the way to the late Nascent Soul stage!!” Such thoughts made Bai Xiaochun even more excited. After all, he was currently in the mid Nascent Soul stage, but could defeat half-devas in battle. If he reached the late Nascent Soul stage… then he could most likely win against a true deva!
“Even if I can’t, well, just wait until I’m in the great circle. Then I’ll definitely be able to defeat devas!” Bai Xiaochun couldn’t have been in higher spirits. He even picked up speed as he headed toward the imperial palace. He and his corpse troopers were bright beams of light that shot toward the east gate of the palace.
As he approached, a middle-aged man could be seen off in the distance. He was threatening without being angry, dressed in a long golden robe embroidered with images of suns, moons, and clouds. Overall, he looked extremely impressive.
Furthermore, whenever people passed him by, they would respectfully clasp hands and bow in greeting.
That man was none other than one of the ten heavenly dukes, Chen Haosong!
He wasn’t standing there alone. Next to him was a tall, well-built man wearing an official robe embroidered with a golden python. From his burly frame, it was possible to tell that he possessed extraordinary fleshly body power, and yet, he stood respectfully a full pace behind Chen Haosong.
As soon as Bai Xiaochun caught sight of Chen Haosong, he snorted coldly in his heart. As for Chen Haosong, a cold gleam passed through his eyes, along with an expression of revulsion that he did nothing to conceal.
Bai Xiaochun had seen the burly man before as well. He closely resembled Zhao Dongshan, and was in fact one of the senior members of Zhao Dongshan’s clan. He was not an ordinary heavenly marquis, but rather, one of the nine extremely powerful heavenly marquises who had ganged up on Bai Xiaochun!
The burly man glanced at Bai Xiaochun, and then laughed coldly.
“The ancestral sacrifices are for heavenly dukes and heavenly marquises,” he said in a booming voice. “What is this trash doing here?”
His voice was so loud that all of the assembled nobility and aristocracy near the east gate could hear him quite clearly.
None of those people had a very good impression of Bai Xiaochun, so they immediately broke out into scornful glances as they looked over at him.
Bai Xiaochun’s anger flared, and he glared back at them. Considering that he had the full support of the Grand Heavenmaster, he wasn’t scared of these people at all. In fact, he immediately pointed at the burly man.
“This person has disrespected the Grand Heavenmaster! Arrest him!” His 1,000 corpse troopers immediately looked up, and then 100 of them charged toward the burly man.
Never could this man have guessed that Bai Xiaochun would dare to take action here, at the east gate of the imperial palace, on the day of the ancestral sacrifices. Expression flickering, he was just about to back up when Chen Haosong interrupted with a cold snort.
“Enough with the melodrama!” he said, taking a step forward.
His voice echoed with explosive might, causing the advancing corpse troopers to tremble visibly, and then lurch to a stop, as if they had been sealed in place.
At the same time, Chen Haosong’s foot landed, and explosive energy surged out from him. A windstorm immediately kicked up, grabbing the 100 corpse troopers and hurling them back toward Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes widened into a deeper glare, and he was just about to say something when Chen Haosong spoke.
“Zhao Xionglin is a heavenly marquis, and is within his rights to berate you! If you won’t bow your head and accept it, fine, but how dare you go and slander--”
“The Grand Heavenmaster himself appointed me as the inspections commissioner!” Bai Xiaochun interrupted loudly, sticking his chin up. “He expressly ordered me to participate in the ancestral sacrifices. For Zhao Xionglin to speak so rudely, and even berate me, is equivalent to him countermanding the decrees of the Grand Heavenmaster! For me to say that he is showing disrespect is actually letting him off the hook lightly!”
“You!!” Zhao Xionglin blurted angrily. Although he had heard that this Bai Hao was relatively sharp-tongued, he had never imagined that he could so easily twist matters to make it seem like Zhao Xionglin himself was insulting the Grand Heavenmaster.
“Is that all you can say? ‘You’? If you’ve got what it takes, then see if you can fight all 1,000 of my corpse troopers! If 1,000 is too much, then how about 100? Pick any 100 you like, and see if you don’t end up dying by my hands!” As Bai Xiaochun spoke, the murderous aura coming from his 1,000 corpse troopers grew even more intense.
“How shameless!” Zhao Xionglin growled through gritted teeth. Although he was one of the strongest among the heavenly marquises, there was no way he could defeat 100 corpse troopers in a fight, much less 1,000. The corpse troopers didn’t fear death at all, and had the toughest bodies imaginable. When they attacked, they caused blood to splash, and didn’t stop until the battle was over.