Time became a blur as several months passed. The better part of a year had now passed since Bai Xiaochun came to the Underworld River Restricted Area, and most of that time, he and his apprentice had been completely immersed in their flame conjuring research. In fact, neither of them really had any idea how much time had passed.
During the day, they would discuss nineteen-colored flame, and during the evening, they would hurry over to the bank of the Underworld River to continue their discussion in the presence of the gravekeeper, making sure to emphasize all of the difficult areas they had been unable to resolve earlier.
Sometimes the gravekeeper wouldn’t help them with a certain issue. But when that happened, they would continue to chatter about the matter until he gave in and offered some advice.
Both Bai Xiaochun and Bai Hao experienced an increase in their flame conjuring skill, and also grew more confident when it came to nineteen-colored flame. That was especially true of Bai Hao, who knew that he was just on the verge of producing the formula.
As for Bai Xiaochun, he was so immersed in the process that… he knew that as soon as the formula appeared, he would be able to conjure a nineteen-colored flame immediately!
In the past, Bai Xiaochun could never have imagined that he would reach the point of being able to conjure nineteen-colored flame so quickly after mastering eighteen-colored flame. Despite his strong faith in Bai Hao, he had assumed the process would take years.
Nineteen-colored flame was even more rare than eighteen-colored flame. In fact, it was possible to say that while eighteen-colored flame might occasionally be seen at huge auctions in the Wildlands, as for nineteen-colored flame… it only came around once in a hundred years!
For all intents and purposes, nineteen-colored flame was a thing of the past. Any such flames which currently existed would have been conjured by previous generations of earthly necromancers and then hidden away like buried treasure.
Currently, there were only three people in the Wildlands who could conjure eighteen-colored flame. Of those three, two were actually stuck at that level, with only one of them ever having succeed with nineteen-colored flame!
From this it was possible to see how incredibly rare nineteen-colored flames were!
If Bai Xiaochun succeeded, and word spread out into the Wildlands, it would cause a major stir. In fact, it might even cause a greater stir than when he had reached the earthly rank. That mere thought got him even more excited than before.
After all, never before in history had an earthly necromancer made progress as quickly as Bai Xiaochun right now!
However, he wasn't really thinking about such things at the moment, nor did he have time to feel pleased with himself. He was completely focused on nineteen-colored flame, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
By now, Zhou Yixing, Wu Dao, and the others present were used to seeing Bai Xiaochun muttering to himself on the banks of the Underworld River. Occasionally, people would go eavesdrop, but all they would hear was talk of nineteen-colored flame, most of which was unintelligible even to necromancers such as Zhou Yixing.
Thanks to Bai Xiaochun’s mask, Wu Dao didn’t even notice Bai Hao. The better part of a year passed, and talk of Bai Xiaochun’s escapades within Arch-Emperor City was finally starting to die down.
Of course, all it took was for someone to mention necromancers, or heavenly marquises and dukes, or for someone to say the name of Bai Hao, and it would be easy to see how much he had shaken the city.
During the time which passed, there were certain people in Arch-Emperor City who continued to scheme against him. After all, their hatred for him was not something that would easily dissipate because of a bit of time passing.
That was especially true because… the Grand Heavenmaster continued to enforce the Proclamation of Universal Grace throughout the Wildlands. Slowly but surely, things were stabilizing. Unless something very drastic happened… it would only take a few more years for the very structure of the Arch-Emperor Dynasty to completely change!
No one could say for sure whether that change would be a good thing for the dynasty, or a bad thing. Although the influential clans had seemingly been dismembered, the truth was that the constant struggles of the bastard children and the common people showed… that the Wildlands’ overall battle prowess was as formidable as ever.
There were some people, for example those from the direct bloodlines of important clans, who were becoming more desperate than ever to do something to Bai Xiaochun. However… whenever they tried to send people into the Underworld River Restricted Area, those people went missing!
Not even Wu Dao and his men were aware of that fact. They didn’t even know people had infiltrated the area. If they didn’t know, there was even less need to mention Zhou Yixing or even Bai Xiaochun. No one had any idea how many people had come to the Underworld River Restricted Area to harm Bai Xiaochun, only to vanish.
That was quite a shock to the people who had been plotting against him, and soon none of them dared to do anything further.
No one disturbed Bai Xiaochun as he worked on his flame conjuring. Several more months went by. One night, a look of excitement lit up Bai Hao's face.
Bai Xiaochun was also so excited he was trembling.
“It worked!! Master, we did it!! We created the formula for nineteen-colored flame!! This formula belongs to you and you alone, Master. Even with the formula, no one else would be able to conjure this type of nineteen-colored flame. It's yours, Master!”
Not only was Bai Xiaochun excited, he also knew that the past year had been one of drastic progress in flame conjuring skill. And of course, the main reason for it all was the help of the gravekeeper.
“Many thanks, Great-Grandpa Gravekeeper!” he said, bowing deeply. Bai Hao also excitedly clasped hands and bowed to the gravekeeper.
The gravekeeper sat there, face expressionless as he continued to fish.
Of course, Bai Xiaochun and Bai Hao were used to that. Bursting with excitement, they continued to discuss the finer details of nineteen-colored flame for a bit. Then Bai Xiaochun calmed himself and prepared… to actually conjure a nineteen-colored flame, right there next to the Underworld River!!
There was no tribulation that came with nineteen-colored flame!
That was something that the gravekeeper had explained recently, and which Bai Xiaochun didn’t doubt at all. Besides, even if some sort of tribulation came, he was sure that it wouldn't count for crap with the gravekeeper there….
It was with complete and utter confidence that Bai Xiaochun went on to begin conjuring nineteen-colored flame. Eyes glittering, he performed a double-handed incantation gesture to produce a vast quantity of fifteen-colored flame.
These flames had been conjured during his research and study during the past year or so with Bai Hao. As for other necessary ingredients… although he had ceased to be the inspections commissioner after rising to the earthly rank, and had thus been incapable of performing shakedowns, he had still been showered with gifts by well-wishers.
Everyone from Sima Tao to Sun Yifan had come, as well as many other outstanding individuals. Therefore, when the time had come to leave Arch-Emperor City, he did so with no less wealth than he had accumulated after all the shakedowns.
Beyond that was everything he had been given by the clans he had visited when taking the heavenly airship trip. It was really impossible to count how much he had built up before actually arriving at the Underworld River Restricted Area.
And that was what he would rely on to build up to a nineteen-colored flame. He settled his qi and cleared his mind, then began to slowly work with the fifteen-colored flames….
His process was completely innovative. He was taking an entirely new path to get to nineteen-colored flame, to the point where he even used new methods to conjure the sixteen- and seventeen-colored flames. Before long, he actually had ten tongues of seventeen-colored flame hovering around him, which he then began to compress.
When he merged the flames together, creating a huge sea of fire, immense pressure began to weigh down on him. However, he clearly knew exactly what he was doing. He casually compressed the sea of fire down to a size of 15 meters. The flames began to flicker, and yet, that was exactly what he had been expecting. Furthermore… eighty percent of them were made up of the eighteenth color!
It almost wasn’t even necessary to look at them. Bai Xiaochun sent some divine sense out, and the flickering of the flames didn’t bother him at all. Almost instantly, he found the eighteenth color, and then reached out and grabbed it.
The sea of fire began to shrink down into his palm, after which he opened his fingers, revealing a full eighteen-colored flame.
After breathing a sigh of relief, he marveled at how smoothly it had gone, then threw his head back and laughed heartily. He now felt more confident than ever about conjuring nineteen-colored flame!