Even as Bai Xiaochun attempted to flee, a powerful gravitational force emerged from the rift.
It didn’t affect the air, or the ground below, or anything else in the entire world. Neither did it emit fluctuations that would be noticed by anyone else.
However… it did exert massive force on Bai Xiaochun, so much so that it felt as if his soul and cultivation base would be ripped out of him!
He could struggle against it, and perhaps escape, but in the process, his soul would be torn away from him and swallowed up by the rift!
To Bai Xiaochun’s horror, he found that it was the same with his cultivation base, and even his blood. In fact, as he struggled, blood began to ooze out of his pores and fly through the air toward the rift.
It seemed like he might be torn to pieces at any moment. At the same time, though, the sinister, female voice continued to speak into his ear, describing what she clearly envisioned to be a most wonderful image.
“Stop struggling. Let me absorb your divine soul, and your blood… and eventually, the only thing left behind will be a skeleton….
“Save me some effort. Help me turn you into a most delectable feast….”
Bai Xiaochun screamed inwardly as he suddenly visualized… himself, with his divine soul sucked away, his cultivation base gone, bereft of blood, flesh, internal organs, and even his head…. The only thing left behind was a skeleton which crashed down onto the ground, held in place only because it was made of Undying Bones….
Years later, a passerby would be overjoyed to find such a precious treasure, and would turn his skeleton into medicinal pills, or a magical item, or perhaps even a skeleton puppet….
“Nooo….” Slowly, his mind went blank because of the intense gravitational force. Soon, the power reached a point that defied imagination, and in despair, he stopped struggling. At that point, he became of streak of bright light that shot into the rift.
With Bai Xiaochun gone, the rift closed up and disappeared. The entire time, nobody noticed what had occurred, neither Du Lingfei nor the young man with her, both of whom were trying to break through the shield of light in the desert.
Also near that shield was Hou Xiaomei, her eyes gleaming with anticipation, but her brow slightly furrowed as she looked off in the direction of the swamp. A moment later, the shield in the desert trembled as though it might collapse, and Hou Xiaomei looked over at it, the anticipation in her eyes growing more intense.
“At long last… I can return…. I wouldn’t be doing this unless there were no other choice, Ghostmother…. I very much look forward to the joy on your face when you see me again….”
As the shield shook violently back in the desert, Bai Xiaochun’s vision was finally growing clear, revealing a very familiar scene….
He was in a room that looked very much like a lady’s bedchamber….
There was a bed covered in dust and cobwebs, a vanity, and a cracked mirror….
A scream escaped his lips, and he spun to leave, only to find that there was no exit in sight….
Seated at the vanity was a woman in a long, red gown. Her back was to him as she combed her hair and softly sang that familiar, spine-tingling song….
Tears of terror threatened to spill out of Bai Xiaochun’s eyes….
“What do I do, what do I do…!?” he thought. He felt like his scalp was about to explode, and wished for nothing more than to escape. And yet, there didn’t seem to be any way to do that. Without any hesitation, he pulled out the gravekeeper’s command medallion and gripped it tight in his hands.
“Don’t eat me, Big Sis….” he blurted in a quavering voice. Not quite sure of what to say, he began to babble a bit. “Uh… do you know the gravekeeper? He’s my Master! You and I are probably on the same team….
“Oh, right. There are some people outside who mean you harm, Big Sis. Why don’t you go check the situation out? No need to worry about me…. I didn't want to come here. You… you dragged me here, Big Sis….”
It was at this point that the woman’s shoulder moved, as though she were about to turn and look at him.
“Don’t look back!” he shrieked. “Just… don't look back. If you have anything to say, you can--”
In the middle of his sentence, the woman stopped singing. Continuing to comb her hair, she quietly said, “This is your first time here.”
“Huh?” he replied. Then, he began to nod his head vigorously. “Um, if you say it’s my first time here, Big Sis, then of course it’s my first time….”
“Now that you’re here,” the woman said, her voice undulating in bizarre fashion, “I can’t help but wonder what you’re thinking about as you stand there….”
A look of confused surprise appeared on Bai Xiaochun’s face. “Wait, first time? No, this is my second time. And you’re the one who brought me here!”
“Nobody brought you here…. And your two friends are still right above us.” She waved her finger at the mirror, causing an image of the bone galleon’s deck 2 to appear. There, Song Que and Master God-Diviner stood on either side of the rocking chair, completely unmoving, blank looks on their faces.
The image, combined with the woman’s words, struck Bai Xiaochun like a thunderbolt, causing him to gasp.
“Impossible! How could this be happening…? I left this place. I went back to the River-Defying Sect. I went back to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. I… I was in a trial by fire. That’s how I got here….” Not only did he not trust the woman’s words, he refused to believe that everything that had happened after he left the bone galleon, including the events in the River-Defying Sect and the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, were all mere fantasies….
And yet, there was something strange about the woman’s voice which made it almost impossible to control his mind, and forced him to start thinking about the past.
As he did that, he unknowingly began to relax his grip on the command medallion….
“You never left….” the woman continued in her bizarre voice. Her shoulder trembled, and she slowly began to turn her head. However, she didn't stop combing her hair. In fact, she started combing it faster and faster….
She almost seemed to want to rip the hair out of her head! It was a bizarre scene that left Bai Xiaochun feeling profoundly shocked, but at the same time, somewhat blank.
“Anyone who looks at my face will descend into a fantasy of their own making…. This really is your first time here. However, it is not your first time… seeing my face.” As she spoke, her head continued to turn. Within moments… she would be facing him directly!
Bai Xiaochun’s face was completely blank, and he was shivering. As he descended into chaotic memories, his grip on the command medallion loosened!
The command medallion dropped to the ground, and the woman turned completely around! Her face was featureless, to the point where it almost looked like a blank sheet of white paper!!
But then a slit spread out on her face, which opened into something like a bizarre mouth. Then she lunged toward Bai Xiaochun as if to swallow him.
In that moment… Bai Xiaochun suddenly stooped down and picked up the command medallion. When he looked up, his expression wasn’t blank at all, and he was shoving the command medallion out toward the mouth!
“Since you're scared of this thing, let’s see if you dare to eat it!” Everything from moments before had been an act! He had decided to throw caution to the wind and create an opportunity for himself!