As Bai Xiaochun’s weak voice echoed out, he oh-so-slowly struggled to his feet, moving for the first time in an entire month.
Of course, he was feeling more proud of himself than ever. During his month of lying there motionless, the repeated lightning strikes had advanced his cultivation base significantly.
Were it not for the fact that he had long since determined to plot against the ghost face, he would have stood up and started walking around much earlier.
When the ghost face heard Bai Xiaochun talking, he let out a bellow of rage.
“You tricked me!!” he shouted, his mind spinning on the verge of insanity. If he had possessed a fleshly body, he would definitely have been coughing up blood by now. He truly couldn’t understand how Bai Xiaochun could lay there for an entire month, and yet not die. Infuriated, he completely ignored the lightning to rush toward Bai Xiaochun.
In the face of the enraged ghost face, Bai Xiaochun began to back up.
“That’s right, I tricked you, you old ghost!!” he said proudly. He began to pick up speed, moving even faster than before. Not only did the lightning bolts that struck seem to not hurt him at all, they actually served to bolster his speed.
“You… you….” The ghost face was completely shaken that Bai Xiaochun wasn’t harmed at all. However, there was no time at the moment to contemplate why that was. As of this moment, he had made his decision: he would not chase Bai Xiaochun. He would flee!
“Dammit,” he thought, “how can this guy be so uncanny?!?!” Regret and hatred mingled in the ghost face’s heart, rising to an incredible degree. Obviously, he could not tangle with Bai Xiaochun in the thundercloud region. At the moment, he had already slipped down to the demigod level, which meant that going further into the lightning would put him in great danger.
And based on previous encounters, he knew that despite the fact that Bai Xiaochun was only a deva, it would require an all-out effort to kill him.
“Don’t even think about running, you old ghost,” Bai Xiaochun hollered. “Come on, let’s fight it out to the bitter end!” Of course, he didn’t actually approach the ghost face. Instead, he unleashed the power of his Heavenspan Dharma Eye, sending a beam of violet light out to grab him.
The ghost face trembled for a moment, quickly recovering, but unable to avoid the lightning bolts which filled the area. In that brief moment of pause, he was struck by dozens of them.
Despite how powerful he was, that many lightning bolts provoked a miserable shriek before he began to flee in rage. But how could Bai Xiaochun let an opportunity like this pass? The backlash from using his Heavenspan Dharma Eye caused him to cough up blood, but his Undying Blood was already at work. Within moments, he was recovered, and back at work!
The ghost face lurched to a brief halt yet again, and this time, more than a hundred shocking lightning bolts crashed into him. His screams shook heaven and earth, and even caused the sky to go dim.
“I'm gonna kill you! Kill you, you hear?!?! I’ll skin you alive! I’ll eat your flesh! I’ll suck the marrow from your bones!!” The ghost face trembled as his life force was rapidly drained away. Finally, he howled, paying a steep price to break up into ten thousand separate streams of black smoke that fled in all directions.
That finally broke him free of the Heavenspan Dharma Eye. However, despite being in the form of ten thousand separate streams of black smoke, he still couldn't avoid the destructive lightning. Having no other options, he simply tried to get out of the thundercloud region as quickly as possible!
“Well aren’t you fast! Hmph!” Bai Xiaochun wasn’t very happy, but had no other tricks up his sleeve at the moment. He could only watch as the more than ten thousand streams of black smoke escaped the thundercloud region, then formed back together into the laughing-crying ghost face.
At this point, Bai Xiaochun came to the conclusion that he finally had the upper hand. Looking at the ghost face off in the distance, his battle spirit surged, and he decided to imitate how the gravekeeper had spoken during the standoff with the Celestial. Pointing directly at the ghost face, he coolly said, “Do you have the guts to come in here, old ghost? Why don’t you and I fight a spectacular battle to the death?!”
The laughing-crying ghost face was so angry he was about to explode. However, he didn’t have the courage to enter that sea of lightning. In the brief interchange just now, he had lost about ten percent of his total life force!
It had taken countless years to build up that life force, and here it was being drained away in the blink of an eye.
“Shut your damn mouth, Bai Xiaochun. Do you have the guts to come out?!” From the way the ghost face was cursing at Bai Xiaochun, it was obvious how mad he was.
“I’ll be here as long as this lightning is!” Bai Xiaochun replied coolly, emphasizing his words with the flick of his sleeve.
“You….” The ghost face very nearly descended into insanity because of those words alone. He truly had never encountered anyone this shameless, and he was almost unable to hold back from rushing in to try to kill Bai Xiaochun, regardless of the cost.
Unfortunately, he simply couldn’t afford to lose that much life force, and therefore, he had to endure the deadlock with gritted teeth.
“If you even come close to having what it takes, Bai Xiaochun, then come out and fight me. I’ll definitely kill you!!” With that, the ghost face spun angrily, worried that he might give in to impulse if he stuck around locking horns with Bai Xiaochun.
“If you've got any skill, you spineless ghost, then come in here and fight!” With that, Bai Xiaochun flicked his sleeve, stuck his chin up, and sighed deeply. “With the flick of a sleeve, I, Bai Xiaochun, caused this demigod ghost to flee at the sight of me.”
When the ghost face heard that, he gritted his teeth in fury, but reminded himself that he couldn’t let himself be goaded, and continued to depart at top speed.
And thus, the thundercloud region became the line of demarcation…. One party wouldn’t enter it, and the other wouldn’t leave it….
Bai Xiaochun was very pleased with that. Feeling wonderful, he began to speed further into the depths of the thundercloud area, absorbing lightning every step of the way.
Eventually, he reached the very center of the region, where there was so much lightning that it was almost impossible to see clearly. There, he sat down cross-legged, and began to work on his cultivation.
“One of these days I'm going to show that old ghost a thing or two!” Snorting coldly, he closed his eyes and began to meditate.
The lightning here contained both life force and the energy of heaven and earth. To Bai Xiaochun, it was even more beneficial than the lightning in the Nine Heavens Cloud Lightning Sect, and caused his cultivation base to make constant progress. In addition, his Undying Blood was getting very close to the fifty percent level.
As for the ghost face, he left and cooled down a bit. Then he spent some more time trying to think of a way to take control of the magical item. However, in the end, he could only sigh and dispel such thoughts.
“What’s done is done! The only thing I can do now is get out of here and try to take control of it from the outside!” Eyes glittering, he went about trying to determine if the magical item had an exit.
Time passed. A year flew by.
During that time, Bai Xiaochun was completely focused on cultivation. It wasn’t that he was particularly interested in cultivation at the moment, but rather, that he had nothing else to do. And considering that he didn’t dare to leave the thundercloud region, he was basically stuck with cultivation as his only option.
The laughing-crying ghost face continued to descend into madness. He had come to the realization that there was no exit, and no way out, no matter what he did.
Now that he realized he was trapped, his mood only got worse. If that were all there were to the situation, it might not have been a big deal. After all, he was confident that he would be able to get out sooner or later.
However… he soon realized that his cultivation base was slowly being suppressed. By now, he had slipped from having demigod battle prowess, all the way down to the quasi-demigod level. To his anxiety, he realized that it was likely the spirit automaton of the magical item that was doing this to him. And worse… this was only the beginning. As time went on, the limitations would grow more severe.
“How could this be happening!?!?!?” he howled in panicked rage. All of a sudden he realized that his luck had taken a turn for the worse from the moment he encountered Bai Xiaochun….
Meanwhile, neither the ghost face nor Bai Xiaochun had any way to know that while they were trapped in the world of the magical item, things were happening out in the lands of Heavenspan. The Celestial had issued orders that the four riversource sects, as well as the sects from the Middle and Lower Reaches… begin to prepare for war!!
10,000 years had passed since the last great war with the Wildlands, and the time had come for another one to begin!
This time, the Great Wall had collapsed, and the Deadmire was no longer what it used to be. It was easy to imagine… how deadly and destructive this war would be!