The earthly necromancer who had risen up in Miao Lin’er’s clan had long since perished. However, before that, he had been spectacularly famous, and had only been half a step away from becoming a heavenly necromancer. Before his death, he had managed to create a magical device linked to the bloodline of the clan, which made it impossible for anyone outside of the clan to acquire their formula for eighteen- or nineteen-colored flame. Not even a demigod would be able to acquire them without their consent.
Therefore, the good fortunes of the clan continued even after the death of that earthly necromancer. Although they had experienced something of a decline, they still had their reserve savings. Furthermore, Miao Lin’er’s grandfather was already at the peak of the celestial rank.
His main goal was to rise from the celestial rank to the earthly rank, and then restore the glory which had been brought to the clan by that earlier earthly necromancer. Their clan would shake the Wildlands, and would have a position higher than the clans with heavenly marquises and dukes. They would actually be on the same standing as the Grand Heavenmaster.
Unfortunately, their clan’s method for reaching the earthly necromancer rank was unique, and required a very intelligent soul to use as the primary ingredient. Only in that way could the requisite flame spark be created! Because of that, and because of the technique cultivated by the clan as a whole, they were particularly sensitive to the fluctuations of souls.
Unfortunately, intelligent souls were a rarity. Although their clan had managed to produce some throughout the years, none of them were perfect. Without a soul that met all the standards, any attempts to make eighteen-colored flame would be useless.
After Miao Lin’er noticed something different about the soul-form Bai Hao, she had immediately notified her grandfather. That prompted the clan to do more careful tests, whereupon it was confirmed that Bai Hao was exactly the type of soul they needed to make their flame spark!
Were it not for Bai Xiaochun himself, Miao Lin’er’s clan would already have made a move and snatched Bai Hao. Later, Bai Xiaochun skyrocketed to the position of inspections commissioner, and shook everything under heaven. At that point, they didn’t dare to provoke him, and simply bided their time.
But now… they saw the perfect opportunity. Although they still feared Bai Xiaochun, their desire to have an earthly necromancer pushed them to make a decision. They spared no cost to propose an alliance with thirteen other clans within Arch-Emperor City. They had showered them with gifts and even offered to swear a Dao oath to make it happen. With the full power of the alliance focused together, they were sure… that they could spirit Bai Hao away without leaving a trace of evidence!
At this point in the meeting, Miao Lin’er felt more confident than ever.
Some time passed, during which the thirteen shadowy figures took more time to think. Then, one by one, they swore Dao oaths and placed them into the bone slips, formalizing the alliance.
Miao Lin’er smiled a beautiful smile, then clasped hands and bowed.
“Excellent. The next time that soul appears, we’ll make our move! According to the strategy put in place by my grandfather, we will plan for the worst-case scenario. After we have the soul, our clan members will scatter and go into hiding in your thirteen clans. Three months later, my grandfather will be able to conjure the flame spark! And now, I’ll take my leave.”
With that, she gave a curtseying bow, turned, and glided out of the private chamber. Actually, Miao Lin’er was of the opinion that her grandfather was being too careful in all of this. Not even she had any idea where he would go into hiding after the clan dispersed. She didn't even know who the thirteen clans were that she had just been speaking to.
“Well, as long as grandfather is confident in being able to prevent the other clans from backstabbing us, then I guess we should be fine.” Although she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around what her grandfather was thinking, she was sure that Bai Xiaochun’s days were numbered, and that he would soon be dead.
Half a month flew by in the briefest of moments. Bai Xiaochun was now only a short step away from successfully conjuring an eighteen-colored flame!
His speed in progress was thanks in part to the extravagant wastage of resources, but also because Bai Xiaochun had begun to apply Bai Hao’s theories to the formulas of everything from fifteen-colored flame and above. That made things go even more smoothly.
Most importantly, he had already succeeded with a very faint eighteen-colored flame during the competition with Sun Yifan and Sima Tao. Because of that, he was able to save a huge amount of time!
“This time, I'm definitely going to succeed!” he thought excitedly, his hair in disarray and his eyes bloodshot. He had hardly rested at all during the past several months, but he was still in extremely high spirits.
“It has to work! I’ve wasted virtually all of the resources from all of those clans…. After this current attempt, I’ll only have enough for two more tries….” During the recent period of intense work, Bai Hao and Zhou Yixing had been very busy selling items from Bai Xiaochun's bag of holding and using the profits to get more souls. In fact, both of them were currently outside, gathering the ingredients he needed for his final batches.
Bai Xiaochun took a very deep breath, closed his eyes, and then settled his qi and cleared his mind. After a long moment passed, he slapped his bag of holding and produced ten seventeen-colored flames.
Immediately, his hands flew out to either side, flashing with incantation gestures. At this point, all of his concentration was focused on the ten tongues of seventeen-colored flame, as he oh so slowly began to merge them together!
He had already attempted to do this on several occasions, and was quite familiar with the process. Gradually, the ten tongues of flame transformed into a sea of fire.
Incredible levels of heat rolled off of it, although it was contained within a 300-meter area. Anything beyond that wasn’t affected at all.
That was a trick Bai Xiaochun had come up with during his many sessions of practice!
“And now, it's time to start compressing it….” He unleashed the power of his cultivation base, and focused his divine sense. Nothing else in the world mattered to him in this moment; he was completely focused on compressing that seventeen-colored sea of fire.
His secluded meditation facilities shook as the power being exerted onto the seventeen-colored sea of fire caused it to start shrinking down. From 300 meters, down to 270 meters. Then 240 meters, 210 meters, 180 meters….
And it kept going!
Beads of sweat popped out on Bai Xiaochun’s forehead, and he began to pant from the exertion. The fluctuations of his divine sense were somewhat disorderly, and yet, the sea of fire continued to shrink down. Soon it was 150 meters. Then 120 meters, 90 meters….
“This was where I failed so many times before….” He thought, working hard to maintain full focus. Soon, the sea of fire had shrunk down to 60 meters!
And things weren’t over yet! 45 meters. 30 meters. 15 meters!
By this point, the seventeen-colored sea of fire seemed like the sovereign of all types of fire! Intense rumbling sounds echoed out, and the fire leaped and danced as though it didn’t wish to be constrained.
However, all of the explosive activity was limited to that 15-meter area. As the shrinking continued, shocking transformations were beginning to occur. The fire began to burn hotter, and the seventeen different colors inside of it were beginning to overlap. It was a dazzling sight that not even Bai Xiaochun’s divine sense could make out clearly.
Furthermore, as the seventeen different colors flickered, it was possible to see… another color!!
“This is the last, critical moment!” he murmured excitedly. According to the formula, it was within the 15-meter area that the eighteenth color would appear. It was in that all-important juncture that, despite how his vision swam, he had to locate that additional color!
When he located it, he would have to lock his divine sense on it, causing that color to expand, to grow, to become… the eighteenth color!
At that point, he could make a portion of eighteen-colored soul medicine, or, if he compressed the flame all the way down, an eighteen-colored flame!
He would only have one chance, and if he failed… the flame would vanish.
The smaller the sea of fire got, the more slowly the colors would flicker, which would make it easier to spot and lock onto the new color. Unfortunately, he needed to exert more force to do that, which meant that the chances of dangerous instabilities were even greater!
This was another point where he had often failed in the past.
“I can’t fail again….” Forcing his breathing under control, he stared at the 15-meter sea of fire and tried as hard as he could to locate the additional color. Unfortunately, every time he sent his divine sense deep into the fire, it was rebuffed.
Time passed, and he was beginning to lose focus.
“I’ll compress it more!” he said with full determination. At this point, he abandoned his search efforts, and began to push the flame down to a smaller size. It was now 12 meters across, and the flickering of the colors was growing slower.