The Underworld River Restricted Area was one of a few restricted areas in the Wildlands…. The reason such areas came to be called ‘restricted’ was that ordinary soul cultivators would have a difficult time even getting into them, and if they succeeded in that effort, would most likely die as a result. The only way to safely traverse such areas was with special command medallions.
Not surprisingly, the Underworld River Restricted Area actually contained a river. During the day, it looked like nothing more than an ordinary, dried up riverbed. However, after midnight passed… the Underworld River would manifest, flowing through the area for some distance before disappearing off into the night.
Thus, the area came to be a restricted area. After all, the Underworld River was normally illusory, and would only appear in the world of men under special circumstances or using special techniques.
But in this area, the Underworld River would naturally appear every night after midnight!
Of course, all of the Wildlands’ restricted areas had unique objects which would appear. Such objects were used in the Arch-Emperor Dynasty both for cultivation purposes, and also as a means of repairing the enormous magical device that was Arch-Emperor City.
For example, in the Underworld River Restricted Area, there were underworld rainbows which would appear over the river at night. They were illusory, and also temporary, but by using special techniques, it was possible to harvest them.
Because of this general state of affairs, the restricted areas were encamped by military forces from Arch-Emperor City year-round. As for the Underworld River Restricted Area, there was a brigade of 3,000 men garrisoned there.
The most powerful of the soldiers was in the great circle of the Nascent Soul stage. He was not a heavenly marquis, but rather, one of the Grand Heavenmaster’s private guards. Most of the other soul cultivators were in the Core Formation stage.
Although it might seem like a stretch to say that these 3,000 could protect Bai Xiaochun, the truth was that since they reported directly to the Grand Heavenmaster, they were more powerful than they appeared based on cultivation base alone. Although there were definitely members of the nobility and aristocracy who would secretly make a move against Bai Xiaochun, not even the four heavenly kings would casually cross the Grand Heavenmaster.
Wiping out that force would be equivalent to declaring war on the Grand Heavenmaster.
As for the brigade’s general mission, it was simply to harvest underworld rainbows.
Bai Xiaochun and Zhou Yixing spent a few days traveling to the Underworld River Restricted Area. Bai Xiaochun wasn’t in a hurry, and proceeded along at a steady pace in the heavenly airship. Although the landscape in the Wildlands was barren and bleak, that didn’t dampen Bai Xiaochun’s mood at all. In fact, he took time to visit many of the necromancer clans along the way, and they would always shower him with gifts. Overall, it was a lovely trip.
When they finally reached the Underworld River Restricted Area, it was evening. The 3,000 soldiers stationed there had been notified that he would be arriving, and were waiting in ranks to receive him.
There were five men standing out in front of the brigade, all of whom were Nascent Soul experts. One of them was a middle-aged man, who was none other than the colonel in command of the brigade. Standing a pace behind him were the four other Nascent Soul experts, two of whom were in the late stage, and two in the mid stage.
They were already well-informed as to who Bai Xiaochun was. They knew that he was not only an earthly necromancer, but he was also the type of person who could shake all of the Wildlands with a single stamp of his foot.
Furthermore, because they were from the Grand Heavenmaster’s private guard, and had received special orders from him to do anything that Bai Xiaochun said, none of them hesitated for even a moment to treat him with the utmost respect.
As the group waited, Bai Xiaochun's heavenly airship appeared off in the distance and then floated toward them through the air. When it came to a stop, Zhou Yixing flew out, landed on the ground, and then looked around vigilantly, the way that a loyal attendant would. When his gaze came to rest on the brigade of 3,000 men, he looked surprised.
After studying the situation more closely to ensure that there were no hidden dangers, he took a few steps backward, then turned to the heavenly airship and clasped hands.
“Grandmaster Bai, your presence is requested!” he said in a loud voice. The colonel of the brigade hesitated for only a moment before clasping hands and calling out in similar fashion. Afterward, the entire brigade gave voice to the same words.
“Grandmaster Bai, your presence is requested!”
At that point, Bai Xiaochun appeared up above on the deck of the heavenly airship, his hands clasped behind his back. After giving an approving glance at Zhou Yixing, he flew out and landed in front of the 3,000-man brigade.
“I am your humble servant Wu Dao,” the colonel said. “Greetings, Grandmaster Bai! If you have any requests, then your humble servant will do anything and everything possible to see them fulfilled!” With that, Colonel Wu Dao clasped hands and bowed even more deeply than before.
Bai Xiaochun felt wonderful about how everything was playing out. Laughing heartily, he hurried forward to pull the colonel up from his bow.
“There’s no need for all that, Fellow Daoist Wu,” he said with a sincere smile. “I actually have a very weak cultivation base! The Grand Heavenmaster sent me here to work on my necromancy, and I'm sure that I'm going to need a lot of help from you in the days to come!” This was just how Bai Xiaochun was. When people treated him courteously, he would treat them even more courteously in return.
Of course, Wu Dao responded by looking even more respectful and awestruck than before. Inwardly, he was actually a bit impressed with this Grandmaster Bai. Despite being an earthly necromancer, he wasn’t arrogant at all. The colonel could immediately tell that there was more to him than met the eye. He had first mentioned his own weakness, then brought up the Grand Heavenmaster, and had then gone on to imply that he was only here to work on necromancy, and not stay long-term. That went to show that he wasn’t interested in usurping the colonel’s position or power.
Actually, even Wu Dao himself didn't feel that the force he commanded was worth much, therefore he was very pleased to be treated in such a way.
Bai Xiaochun had already succeeded at making a good impression. The soldiers quickly clustered around him and led him toward the military base in the Underworld River Restricted Area.
After all the formalities were taken care of, Wu Dao gave Bai Xiaochun the best residence, as well as a detailed explanation about everything to do with the Underworld River Restricted Area. Eventually, evening began to fall, whereupon he handed over two command medallions and then took his leave.
Bai Xiaochun’s residence was not out in the open; it was enclosed by high walls. That, coupled with the fact that it was in the middle of a military base, made it seem particularly safe and secure.
Furthermore, it didn’t consist of just a single room, but rather, a main room and two side rooms.
Bai Xiaochun was very pleased. After Wu Dao left, Zhou Yixing set up some spell formations to secure the area. Then he reported in to Bai Xiaochun.
“Wu Dao was telling the truth, milord,” he said, keeping his voice down. “Every night at midnight, the Underworld River manifests here. When that happens, you can only get close to the river itself if you have a special command medallion.
“Supposedly, this location isn’t the source of the Underworld River, but it’s still a powerful convergence between life and death. That’s why the Underworld River appears here. In fact, it’s the only place in all of the Wildlands where the river will manifest naturally.
“Because of its unique properties, this area is a perfect place for necromancers to seek enlightenment. Whenever the Underworld River manifests, countless souls will appear, which can be harvested using special methods. Of course, there is danger involved, as one might expect.” All of these things had been told to Bai Xiaochun by Wu Dao. However, Zhou Yixing had used his own special ways of verifying the information to make sure it was true.
Bai Xiaochun nodded. He was already feeling a lot more relaxed now that he was away from the maelstrom that was Arch-Emperor City. No longer did he have to constantly worry about how to deal with the aristocracy, nor did he have to be on guard all the time. Although he didn’t have his corpse trooper army to rely on, he was still in high spirits.
After a moment passed, Zhou Yixing lowered his voice even more and said, “Milord, um, what about Song Que…?”
Bai Xiaochun smacked himself on the forehead when he realized that he had once again forgotten about Song Que. Back when they had left the city, he had instructed Zhou Yixing to put Song Que in a bag of holding to take along, but in the months since then, he hadn’t released him into the open even once.
“What a bad uncle I’ve been!” he thought guiltily. He immediately told Zhou Yixing to bring Song Que out of the bag of holding. When he appeared in the open, he looked a bit pale, and was even gasping for breath. Being stuck in a bag of holding for so many months had almost suffocated him. After getting his bearings, he glared resentfully at Bai Xiaochun.
In response, Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat in embarrassment and then reached out to tousle Song Que’s hair. Although this felt very strange to Song Que, he didn't dare to dodge out of the way.
Actually, he had come to realize that, from the moment he had arrived in the Inspections Manor, this Bai Hao had actually treated him quite well. Not only had he given him cultivation resources, as well as a measure of safety, but he had also allowed him quite a bit of freedom.
After all the time that had passed, he had mostly recovered from his previous ordeals. In fact, his cultivation base had even progressed some. He was even convinced that, although he had not yet surpassed Bai Xiaochun, as long as he continued to follow this Bai Hao and benefit from the cultivation resources he provided, it was entirely likely that he soon would.
“Hmph! Even if I can’t surpass Bai Xiaochun right away, I'm definitely in a much better position than he is. He might be well-known, but he’s obviously scurrying around like a mouse, running from everybody and scared to even show his face! In fact, if he does show his face, he’ll definitely be killed within the blink of an eye!” All of a sudden, Song Que came to the conclusion that meeting this Bai Hao had been a stroke of good luck. Even if he was being treated somewhat like a pet, it was worth it, and he would do everything he could to stick with Bai Hao.
“A pet? So be it. This is the Wildlands, and nobody knows who I am anyway…. Hmph! Maybe I'm a pet, but at least I'm the pet of an earthly necromancer! Bai Xiaochun doesn’t even qualify to be a pet right now!” Comforting himself in this way, he pushed his head up a bit farther so that Bai Xiaochun could tousle his hair a bit more deeply….