The Grand Heavenmaster looked away from Bai Xiaochun and coolly said, “We’ll discuss your request in a moment.”
When the bearded man heard that, he held his tongue and looked over at Chen Haosong.
Heavenmaster Hall was very quiet. At this point, Bai Xiaochun looked up, took a deep breath, and prepared to speak. However, the Grand Heavenmaster didn't let him.
Looking over at Chen Haosong, he said, “Heavenly Duke Chen, did you also come to speak about the Great Wall?”
Chen Haosong’s expression was the same as ever as he took a few steps forward, clasped hands and bowed.
“Grand Heavenmaster, the situation at the Great Wall is urgent. The slightest unexpected circumstance there would have grave ramifications in the Wildlands. I also believe that we should beef up the defenses. We need to send more soul cultivators and more necromancers to hold the line!
“However, an effort like that would require much soul medicine and other resources. Grand Heavenmaster, would you please consider granting permission for this? Furthermore, I would also be willing to go to the front lines to supervise the war effort!” With that, he clasped hands and bowed again.
Considering that two heavenly dukes were essentially offering the same advice, even the Grand Heavenmaster would need to take it seriously.
“How much in terms of resources?”
Without the slightest hesitation, Chen Haosong said, “8,000,000,000 portions of soul medicine, as well as roughly 1,000,000,000 other items necessary for routine cultivation and spell formation construction. With those resources, I am confident in being able to prevent the Heavenspan River cultivators from taking even a single step into the Wildlands!”
No expression could be seen on the face of the Grand Heavenmaster, although he happened to be tapping the arm of his throne with his index finger. Inwardly, he was feeling very angry. The amount of resources being requested to shore up the defensive lines was much more than usual.
And yet, there was little the Grand Heavenmaster could do about that. Even though much of the aristocracy was loyal to him, everyone had their own personal ambitions, and wanted to further the glory and honor of their clan. That was why war efforts always involved significant expenditure, and also one reason that the Grand Heavenmaster couldn’t outright forbid the clans from accumulating wealth.
Again, Heavenmaster Hall fell into silence. Nobody spoke. Even Bai Xiaochun could tell what the Grand Heavenmaster was thinking, that the resources being requested were vast. On any other occasion, he would have been shocked to hear such numbers, but right now, he was so worried about Bai Hao that he didn't have time to think about the matter. Furthermore, every moment that ticked by meant more danger for his apprentice.
However, he could also tell that, to the Grand Heavenmaster, the matters at hand were more important than requests from himself. He couldn’t just interrupt. In fact, doing so would most likely make things worse.
He could only hope that the current discussion would be wrapped up as quickly as possible, after which he could ask for the Grand Heavenmaster’s help.
Countless thoughts ran through Bai Xiaochun’s mind, and because of his worry and anxiety, he didn’t even notice that the Grand Heavenmaster had turned to look at him.
The Grand Heavenmaster could tell that Bai Xiaochun was very anxious, and that he clearly had some important matter he wished to discuss. At this point, his eyes glittered, and an expression of displeasure appeared on his face.
“From the moment you arrived, Bai Hao, it was clear that you had some urgent matter on your mind. Could it be that the Inspections Manor has come up with some important new evidence?”
Shaken, Chen Haosong and everyone else in the room looked over at Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun could hardly breathe as he stood there and looked back at the Grand Heavenmaster. The clear displeasure in the Grand Heavenmaster’s gaze shattered any notions within Bai Xiaochun that the the man wasn’t interested in discarding him. Heart trembling, he decided that since things were bad, he would just have to hope to get lucky.
“Grand Heavenmaster, this matter doesn’t have to do with the Inspections Manor. Your humble ser--”
Before he could say anything further, the Grand Heavenmaster waved his hand to interrupt. “Since it’s not an Inspections Manor matter, then keep it to yourself.”
His words struck Bai Xiaochun like lightning, causing his mind to reel. What little bit of hope had existed in his heart was washed away with bitterness. Although he had long since come to suspect that the Grand Heavenmaster’s attitude had changed, to have that suspicion confirmed still caused him to shiver inwardly.
“If you want to get rid of me, fine, but you don’t have to be so obvious about it….” At this point, it was clear that he wouldn’t be getting any help from the Grand Heavenmaster in the matter of Bai Hao’s disappearance.
As for the two heavenly dukes present, their eyes flickered in response to the Grand Heavenmaster’s words, and Chen Haosong even smiled coldly.
From what he could tell, the Grand Heavenmaster was sending a clear message here that his previous tool was about to be discarded.
Various expressions could be seen on the faces of the six heavenly marquises, and all of them were chuckling coldly in their hearts. From what they could tell, it was obvious that this Bao Hao was about to be discarded, which would be cause of rejoicing for all of the nobility and aristocracy.
They were all very familiar with the Grand Heavenmaster, and knew that Bai Xiaochun was now like a rowboat in a stormy sea, who could capsize and sink at any moment.
What was occurring right now only provided more evidence of that very fact.
“Bai Hao’s days are definitely numbered!”
“It seems he will suffer a much different fate than the last inspections commissioner, Hei Ming…. Let’s see if he knows his place. If he's smart, he’ll simply resign, and hope that the Grand Heavenmaster gives him a chance to live. If he continues to serve as the inspections commissioner, then he’ll definitely end up dead!”
“Hmph. Even if he does resign, the Grand Heavenmaster won’t just let him go. He’s offended too many people. Everybody wants him dead! Without the inspections commissioner title to protect him, he’ll be killed beyond the shadow of a doubt!”
Everyone in the hall was thinking something different, but all of them were looking at the situation with coldness. Although Bai Xiaochun couldn’t see it in their eyes, he knew their general attitude.
He was having trouble breathing smoothly, and his eyes were completely bloodshot. Anxiety and worry regarding Bai Hao had completely consumed him. It was only made worse by thoughts of what would happen if his identity were revealed. And then there was the sudden change in the Grand Heavenmaster’s stance.
Furthermore, it seemed obvious that news of what had just happened would rapidly spread through Arch-Emperor City. Soon, all of the nobility and aristocracy would know. Before long, their fear of him would diminish, and they would begin to test and challenge him. It wouldn’t take long before he would have no way to make it out of the situation alive.
By now, it was obvious why people had felt confident enough to make a move on Bai Hao. Obviously, they had guessed that the Grand Heavenmaster planned to get rid of his inspections commissioner.
If he didn’t do something about the situation, then when the people who had taken Bai Hao learned of it, whatever fear they still felt would vanish. Bai Hao’s situation would be more hopeless than ever, and Bai Xiaochun would be in extreme danger.
If he wanted to save Bai Hao, he had to stabilize his position. He needed even more power than before. Only then could he strike fear into the hearts of Bai Hao’s captors, and at the same time, use his newfound power to get the clues he needed!
Everything revolved around the Grand Heavenmaster. No matter how he did it, he had to convince the Grand Heavenmaster not to get rid of him. And more than that, he needed to make himself more important!
Only then would he have a chance!
“You people are forcing me to do this!” he thought, gritting his teeth as he stood there trembling. At this point, he had to throw caution to the wind. He had to flip the table over! It was now time to follow the plan Bai Hao himself had come up with when Bai Xiaochun had first been appointed to be the inspections commissioner!
Bai Hao had come up with the plan based on speculations regarding what the Grand Heavenmaster would eventually do. Now, the Grand Heavenmaster was doing just that. In the past, Bai Xiaochun had felt the plan to be too ruthless.
After all, whatever killing intent the nobility and aristocracy felt toward him right now was only temporary, and would likely fade as the years went by. But if he went through with Bai Hao’s plan, then the nobles and aristocrats would hate him for the rest of their lives. It would be a hatred that seeped down into their bones, and even their souls!
That was why he had always hesitated to go through with it. But right now, he needed to be more important to the Grand Heavenmaster than ever. And he had to find Bai Hao! And since he couldn’t do it by himself, he needed the help of a benefactor. The Grand Heavenmaster! Furthermore, he needed the help of numerous people throughout the Arch-Emperor Dynasty, people who would act as his agents among all of the various clans.
He needed to know about everything that happened in all of the clans. Only then could his investigation produce the results he needed, and reveal the party who had captured Bai Hao!
Having reached this point in his train of thought, he took a deep breath. Eyes bloodshot, he took a step forward in the direction of the Grand Heavenmaster. Clasping hands and bowing deeply, he spoke in the coldest, most sinister of voices.
“Grand Heavenmaster, your humble servant came here today because I have a plan. A plan to solve all of your problems!”