“Zhou Yixing has been my follower for years now. Since I'm leaving, I’ll need to make sure he's taken care of.
“And then there’s Song Que. Since I'm his uncle, I have no choice but to take him with me.
“And what about the Giant Ghost King…?” He wanted to go say his goodbyes to the Giant Ghost King, but the thought of Mistress Red-Dust made his head swell with frustration. After some thought about the matter, he sighed.
“Ah, whatever. I'm going to see my sweetie again later anyway.
“I brought a reign of terror to the Wildlands that lasted for many years. Now it's time to leave… and there’s no need to make it a solemn occasion.”
Shaking his head, he clasped his hands behind his back and contemplated how it actually made him a lot more mysterious to vanish without a trace. Enjoying his ability to revel in his success, he sent a message to Zhou Yixing, telling him to come to the Underworld River Restricted Area.
Zhou Yixing was currently holed up in Giant Ghost City, and when he got the message, his jaw dropped, and his heart began to race. He was suddenly struck with the premonition that Bai Xiaochun… was going to leave.
Obviously, now that Bai Xiaochun’s apprentice had become the Hell-Emperor, he was going to go home. And the fact that he was asking Zhou Yixing to come see him beforehand was very telling.
Zhou Yixing’s excitement began to build. He felt more than ever that his decision all those years ago had definitely been the best decision he had ever made!
Filled with anticipation, he tossed Song Que into his bag of holding and then hurried off in the direction of the Underworld River Restricted Area.
While Bai Xiaochun waited for Zhou Yixing, he sat down on the bank of the river and thought back to everything he had done in the Wildlands. Then started reminiscing about the River-Defying Sect, and before long, he felt his heart tugging him in the direction of home.
Eventually, it was midnight, and vast quantities of mist appeared, as well as an intense aura. The Underworld River… once again became visible, seething and churning right there in front of Bai Xiaochun.
For the first time, Bai Xiaochun actually felt some connection to the Underworld River water. He could just barely sense the aura of his disciple, which then began to grow stronger and stronger. A moment later, Bai Hao materialized right in front of him.
He wore an imperial crown, and imperial robes, but in every other way, looked just like he always had. An emotional look could be seen in his eyes, as well as a gleam of respect. As soon as he appeared in front of Bai Xiaochun, he clasped hands and bowed.
Bai Xiaochun could see that his apprentice’s feelings toward him had not change just because he had become the Hell-Emperor. He wasn't surprised at all that his apprentice had shown up, and in fact, would have been surprised if he didn’t.
“What does it feel like to be the Hell-Emperor?” he asked, smiling broadly.
“I have a lot to learn from Senior Gravekeeper,” Bai Hao replied softly. It was clear in his eyes that he already missed Bai Xiaochun. “I’m still not able to unleash the divine abilities of the Underworld River yet, and--”
Before he could say anything else, Bai Xiaochun waved his hand dismissively and interrupted, “Make sure to treat Great-Grandpa Gravekeeper with the same respect you treat me. Pay good attention to what he teaches you, that way you can learn to be a good Hell-Emperor. Unfortunately, Master has to leave. Otherwise I would pass on some more of my special divine abilities to you.”
He sighed, already realizing how much he missed his apprentice.
Bai Hao stood there silently for a moment, his mind filled with all sorts of memories of the things he and his Master had done. However, he knew that his Master was from the Heavenspan River region, and that getting back home to his sect had been his goal all along.
“Master,” he said in a serious tone, “you need to be careful on your way back…. The Heavenspan River region is a very different place. I’ll do my best to master the Underworld River divine abilities, and before long, I’ll be able to send my mind anywhere in the world!”
Bai Xiaochun laughed heartily. The two of them chatted a bit more. Obviously, the moment of departure was coming. Bai Xiaochun spent most of the time exhorting Bai Hao to become a good Hell-Emperor. As for Bai Hao, he was obviously worried that the trip back to the Heavenspan River region wasn’t going to be safe, and offered a lot of advice about what to do.
It was just like old times when they would work on various problems and issues together. After a bit of time passed, Bai Hao suddenly said, “Master, remember Zhao Xionglin and Liu Yong? And that Chen Haosong? They treated you disrespectfully on multiple occasions. I’ll definitely make sure they regret that!
“And as for… Sect Mother Xu Shan, and Sect Mother Chen Manyao, and Sect Mother Zhou Zimo… I’ll watch out for them for you. If anybody dares to harbor any evil intentions, I’ll take action immediately!
“Apprentice will also take good care of the Giant Ghost King.
“About those chosen like Zhou Hong, well, they provoked you over and over, Master! Don’t worry, I won’t let them get away with what they did!” Bai Hao had clearly paid very close attention to everyone who had either caused problems for his Master, or who had treated him with kindness.
Most other Masters in the world would remind their apprentices of the old saying a great man does not bear petty grudges. But Bai Xiaochun was actually very pleased by what he was hearing, and his eyes gleamed with approval.
“Excellent. Don’t let any of those people off the hook easily! And don’t forget that codger the Nine Serenities King. Make sure to find an opportunity to give him a good thrashing!” Master and apprentice went on to have a long discussion about how to teach all of these people a lesson. In the end, Bai Xiaochun was very pleased, and couldn’t help but marvel at how well his apprentice understood him.
“Oh right, Master, I almost forgot. With the power of the Underworld River that I have at my disposal, and with the advice of Senior Gravekeeper, I’ve already created the formulas for twenty- and twenty-one-colored flame!” Although he spoke the words casually, the truth was that one of the reasons he hadn’t mastered the Underworld River divine abilities yet was that he had been spending so much time using the Underworld River power to work on those flame formulas.
He had produced both formulas in only a month!
“Unfortunately, it seems that twenty-one-colored flame is the limit. I'm not sure why, and I think you won’t be able to tell for sure until after you actually conjure that flame. As for twenty-two colored flame, even Senior Gravekeeper didn’t have anything to say about it. Twenty-two colored flame is just too difficult for me right now. Hopefully you can give me some more time to work on it.” Bai Hao made a grasping gesture, and a jade slip materialized out of thin air.
Bai Xiaochun was shaken. Considering how high his skill in flame conjuring already was, he knew that things got more difficult as they went along. The fact that Bai Hao had been able to create these two formulas in such a short time meant that he must have expended significant effort.
A warm look could be seen in his eyes as he accepted the jade slip and then looked at his apprentice.
“How thoughtful of you, Hao’er!” he said softly.
Bai Hao was very pleased with these words. Although he had become the Hell-Emperor, in his heart, everything was just like before. A kind word of approval from Bai Xiaochun was enough to make him very happy.
“Master, it’s still early. Since nobody understands twenty-colored flame better than me right now, let’s take advantage of this opportunity to conjure it together. What do you say?”
After a moment of thought, Bai Xiaochun nodded. Right there on the banks of the Underworld River, Master and apprentice worked on their last flame conjuring together. Everything went very smoothly. After all, they had been thinking about this type of flame for a very long time. And now that Bai Hao commanded the Underworld River, he had plenty of souls at his disposal.
In only a few days’ time, Bai Xiaochun successfully conjured a twenty-colored flame, which caused bright light to fill the sky, and the lands to shake.
Twenty-colored flame was the highest level for earthly necromancers. In the current Arch-Emperor Dynasty, there was only one other necromancer who could conjure it. With Bai Xiaochun able to do so, there were now two!
If he pushed past this level and conjured a twenty-one-colored flame, then he would become a legendary, never-before-seen… heavenly necromancer!
According to the legends, if one could use a twenty-one-colored flame to perform a spirit enhancement on a nascent soul, one could immediately break through to the Deva Realm. Of course, it was just a legend. No one had done it successfully.
Filled with excitement, Bai Xiaochun went on to work on a twenty-one-colored flame.
However, twenty-one-colored flame was very difficult. Even with the formula and Bai Hao’s help, Bai Xiaochun could do nothing more than start to get familiar with the process. Success was not something that could be had in a few short days.
In order to make sure that his Master could continue to work on flame conjuring after leaving the Wildlands, Bai Hao hid the fact that he was gritting his teeth from effort, and finally called upon the Underworld River divine abilities he knew. He summoned a mind-boggling number of souls from inside, which he gave to Bai Xiaochun to use in flame conjuring.
Even Bai Xiaochun gasped at the number of souls. As long as he didn't fail too many times, he definitely had enough to eventually conjure a twenty-one-colored flame.
It was at just about this time that Zhou Yixing finally showed up.