The thousands of people gathered outside of the hall clasped hands in formal greeting, their voices ringing out to shake heaven and earth.
Inside the hall, the second prince and the other members of the imperial clan didn’t dare to reveal a trace of defiance, and also offered formal greetings.
Only the Arch-Emperor himself didn’t join in. His hands tightened onto the arms of the dragon throne for a moment, but then relaxed.
As for Bai Xiaochun, he was measuring up both the Arch-Emperor and the Grand Heavenmaster.
“So, this is the Arch-Emperor?” he murmured to himself. “Doesn’t seem like much when compared to the Grand Heavenmaster.”
The echo of the voices lasted for a moment before fading away. As for the Grand Heavenmaster, he sat on his throne, face completely expressionless, seemingly there only to observe the ancestral sacrifices, and not inclined to speak at all.
The Arch-Emperor let the moment stretch out for a bit, then looked at the two stooped, sinister old men, and nodded slightly.
Having been given this vague order from the Arch-Emperor, the two old men exchanged a glance, and both of them could see in the other’s eyes that they were fearful of the Grand Heavenmaster’s reaction. After a moment, one of them turned to face the square outside of the hall and began to recite the sacrificial invocation. As his words echoed out, they seemed to contain a bizarre resonance which caused the clouds up above to churn into the form of a vortex.
As the vortex spun and grew larger, the enormous dragon from earlier vanished.
The strange portents didn’t provoke a reaction from the crowd, as though they had been expecting all of this. However, it was Bai Xiaochun’s first time witnessing the event, and he couldn’t help but stare in shock. Gradually, the vortex grew so large that it covered all of Arch-Emperor City.
As it did, it was possible to see something inside of the vortex, an enormous river….
Bai Xiaochun held his breath in shock as he realized that the river inside the vortex was emanating a powerful aura of death….
“The Underworld River!” he murmured. By this point, despite the fact that Bai Xiaochun was all the way up in the sky in the imperial palace, he could actually hear the droning sound of the common people down in Arch-Emperor City, offering expressions of worship and praise.
Because the vortex was so enormous, it was possible to see the Underworld River very clearly, even the flowing water which made it up.
The aura of death which flowed out of the vortex gradually filled the entire area, leaving Bai Xiaochun feeling quite shaken. It was a very shocking sight. It almost looked as though an enormous eye had opened up, allowing everyone to peer through it to view the Underworld River. At the same time, it was as if that eye were looking out at all creation in the outside world.
It was a very strange sensation, the likes of which Bai Xiaochun had never experienced before.
Even as Bai Xiaochun stared in shock, the old man finished the sacrificial invocation. As he uttered the concluding words, he waved his sleeve.
“Let the ceremony begin!”
His words rang out like the sounding of a bell, and as they did, shocking rumbling sounds could be heard from the vortex. It was almost as if an enormous, invisible hand had slapped the Underworld River, causing a huge wave to rise up. It was a frothy wave composed of countless souls… which then poured through the vortex!
It was in spectacular and magnificent fashion that a rain of souls began to pour down!
Endless numbers of souls began to fall onto Arch-Emperor City…. They covered everything, and most importantly of all, they all seemed to be sleeping! Even if a deva soul appeared, it would also be in a state of slumber, and could be grabbed by whatever hands were lucky enough to reach it!
A cheer rose up from Arch-Emperor City as the excited commoners sprang into action, hoping to benefit from the favor offered during the ancestral sacrifices.
The guards in the imperial palace reached out to grab falling souls, as did Mistress Red-Dust and the other powerful people like her.
The heavenly dukes, heavenly marquises, and even the government officials all did the same. Of course, to them, in this collecting of souls during the ancestral sacrifices, what was most important was not the number of souls harvested, but the type. Anyone who managed to get a deva soul would be benefiting from an incredibly good omen.
However, deva souls didn’t always appear during the ancestral sacrifices, only every so often.
The scene playing out caused Bai Xiaochun to gasp. He looked around with a strange light gleaming in his eyes, and even anticipation; now was the time for him to carry out his plan. Afterward, it was likely that the nobility and aristocracy would hate him even more than they already did.
“Well, I can’t worry about all that. They never liked me to begin with. Even if I didn’t go through with this plan, they would eventually make another move against me.” Gritting his teeth, he leaped into the air, trembling with both excitement and nervousness.
When Bai Xiaochun took to motion, the Grand Heavenmaster’s eyes opened just a crack to look at him.
It only took a moment after Bai Xiaochun flew up into the air that he reached out and grabbed one of the descending souls!
It was a Foundation Establishment-level soul….
As soon as his hand closed around it, his eyes went wide, and he gasped. An expression of disbelief filled his face, but it quickly turned to joy. He even threw his head back and laughed uproariously.
“Heavens! I can’t believe I actually got a soul like this!!”
His laughter was loud enough to begin with, but he actually amplified it with some cultivation base power, which attracted quite a bit of attention. Before anyone could see clearly what had happened, though, he flew back down toward the area of the main hall in the imperial palace.
It was with lightning-like speed that he landed back in the square, right in the same location of honor as Mistress Red-Dust and the other heirs of the heavenly kings. It was there that he spoke out in a voice that crashed like heavenly thunder.
“Many thanks to you, Your Majesty! Your humble servant Bai Hao managed to snatch a deva soul!” With that, he thrust the Foundation Establishment soul high up into the air for everyone to see clearly.
Because of how loudly and suddenly he had spoken, virtually all of the nobility and aristocracy in the square all looked over at him. As for Mistress Red-Dust, she was the closest, and when she heard his words and saw the soul he was holding, her expression flickered.
“What are you doing, Bai Hao!?” Mistress Red-Dust said in a berating tone. “Get back to your place!” Off to the side, Zhou Hong looked on with wide eyes. As for the Junior Champion King and the heir apparent from Spirit Advent City, they were all stunned by what they were seeing.
The soul Bai Xiaochun was holding was clearly a Foundation Establishment-level soul, and not a deva soul….
They weren’t the only ones to react in such a way. Chen Haosong and the heavenly dukes were all completely taken aback. However, within moments, their gazes turned as sharp as blades, and the same thought ran through all their minds.
“Could it be that he wants to force the emperor to abdicate?!”
The heavenly marquises began to react as well, and were clearly flustered. No one had any idea what exactly was going to happen next.
“A deva soul?”
“That’s not a deva soul….”
“Is Bai Hao an idiot or something?”
Discussion began to spread within the square. As for Zhao Xionglin, he clearly didn’t see that something fishy was going on, and loudly said, “Did your eyes fall out, Bai Hao? That’s a Foundation Establishment-level soul, not a deva soul! If you think that’s a deva soul, then you’ve obviously gone crazy! Why don’t you just say it’s a demigod soul!?”
Mocking laughter could be heard among the crowd, but Bai Xiaochun ignored it. His gaze was fixed solely on the Dragon Throne, and the Arch-Emperor.
As for the imperial princes and princesses, various expressions could be seen on their faces. Among them was the second prince, who knew Bai Xiaochun a bit better than the others. He couldn’t help but look over, alarm written on his face.
“What is he doing? Don’t tell me he’s going to try to get father to bow his head in submission?!”
The Arch-Emperor sat there on his throne, his eyes shining brightly as he stared at Bai Xiaochun.
Although Bai Xiaochun seemed excited, he was actually profoundly nervous, and the Arch-Emperor’s shining eyes had his heart pounding. However, before he could say anything, one of the two stooped, sinister old men spoke in a voice that thrummed with killing intent.
“What gall you have! That’s obviously a Foundation Establishment-level soul! How dare you try to deceive His Majesty!” Even as the old man spoke, he stepped forward in Bai Xiaochun’s direction, and the aura of a deva exploded out.
He was attacking with full force, clearly intending to kill Bai Xiaochun in one move, drawing on full force and full speed to cut him down on the spot!