Chapter 264: Disaster Brewing....
Bai Xiaochun's eyes widened as he stepped forward and grabbed the golden leaf. Other than its unusual color, there didn't seem to be anything special about it.
As for the turtle shell, it was deathly still, and radiated an air of complete and utter ancientness. However, it didn't seem at all like the eternal and indestructible relic that Bai Xiaochun had been expecting.
"Where's the relic of eternal indestructibility?" he exclaimed. Then he began to search around madly for anything else in the area. However, other than the turtle shell and the golden leaf, there was nothing present.
At one point, he bit down on the golden leaf, but it was so hard his teeth almost broke. Obviously, it wasn't intended to be eaten. Bai Xiaochun was starting to go crazy. His eyes were bloodshot, and he was starting to wonder if he had been played. He quickly produced the soul of imposter Nightcrypt.
"Dammit, tell me the secret of eternal indestructibility!!" Bai Xiaochun raged. "The only things here are this leaf and this turtle shell. They're completely useless!!"
Imposter Nightcrypt's soul stared around blankly, clearly flummoxed. "This is impossible! The mysterious sect definitely said it was here...."
Bai Xiaochun was feeling more and more like he had been played. When he thought about all the toil and suffering he had put into this mission, even risking his own life, only to come here and find nothing, he felt more wronged than he ever had in his entire life.
He searched around a bit more, but to his increasing despair, found nothing. In the end, he stared down at the turtle shell. Of course, he loved turtles, but this turtle shell was tiny, much tinier than even his turtle-wok.
"Don't tell me the relic of eternal indestructibility is this turtle shell? But what is it supposed to do...?" Bai Xiaochun was about ready to cry. Sighing and scowling, he finally put the turtle shell and the golden leaf into his bag of holding, and then walked out through the glowing door. Looking down at the hole he had excavated in the floor of the immortal's cave, he scowled, and then began to fill it in. Some time later, after making sure everything looked exactly as it had before he arrived, he trudged away.
Outside the immortal's cave, he sighed, then looked up into the sky. To him, it felt as if the world had just played a huge trick on him.
"All of my toil and suffering....
"Things got so dangerous I almost died....
"I... I..." Feeling incensed, he returned to Blood Master Temple, then pulled out the golden leaf and the turtle shell and studied them a bit. Eventually, he realized that the golden leaf was extremely durable, and apparently, impossible to tear apart.
However, other than that, it didn't seem special. He suspected that the leaf must contain some technique hidden inside of it, but even after opening his Heavenspan Dharma Eye, he couldn't see anything.
As for the turtle shell, it seemed dead, completely dried out, albeit relatively sturdy. Once upon a time, a living turtle had existed inside the shell, but now, that turtle was nothing more than a corpse.
Bai Xiaochun didn't rest that night. By the next morning, his eyes were bloodshot, and he finally decided to give up on his research. He let out a sigh filled with grief and discontentment.
Imposter Nightcrypt's soul was so scared that he didn't dare to utter a peep, fearful that Bai Xiaochun might flip out and kill him. However, he couldn't help but feel wronged in the whole matter; he hadn't been telling lies!
As he sank into despair, Bai Xiaochun realized that he had no desire to remain in the Blood Stream Sect any longer. Sighing continuously, he began to think of a reason to leave. However, even as he did, a beam of light shot up from each of the other three mountain peaks.
Within those three beams of light were the three other blood masters. When they arrived on Middle Peak, their expressions were casual and relaxed, and apparently they had come simply to chat. Bai Xiaochun couldn't help but wonder what their real purpose was, but he humored them. For a bit of time, they simply talked about random things.
Finally, the blood master from Lesser Marsh Peak couldn't restrain himself from getting to the point.
"Nightcrypt," he said. "The three of us have been given some top-secret information. Bai Xiaochun, the Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment expert from the Spirit Stream Sect, has not been in secluded meditation for the past few years. He actually left the sect some years ago to gain experience. Some people even suspect that he entered Blood Stream Sect territory! Whether or not that information is correct, we can't be completely sure. However, even the chance that it might be true means that we could have an opportunity to kill Bai Xiaochun!"
Bai Xiaochun's heart was already pounding, but he didn't let any of that emotion show on his face.
Tone solemn, the blood master continued, "All of us blood masters swore an oath to the patriarchs that we would hunt down and kill Bai Xiaochun. We would exterminate the young successor of the Spirit Stream Sect, their Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment expert!
"In our cultivation, we have to cut down Chosen like that. Kill them, steal their good fortune, and use that to realize our own Dao!
"We swore a formal oath as blood masters, and since you're a blood master now too, we all need to stand as one! Since the oath has our names on it, then naturally, it should have yours as well!"
The blood masters from Corpse Peak and Nameless Peak nodded solemnly. From the way they were looking at him, it seemed they wouldn't leave until he agreed.
Bai Xiaochun was already trembling in fear because of what he'd heard. Obviously, these people had sworn an oath, and yet failed to live up to it, and now they were trying to drag him into their little cabal....
He thought about refusing, but could tell that they wouldn't let him off the hook easily. Even as he hesitated, the Corpse Peak blood master produced a jade slip from his bag of holding.
"This is the oath we swore to the patriarchs. We had to make a special request to bring it here today. All you have to do is place your mark upon it, that's all." With that, he handed the jade slip over to Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun eyes widened when he realized how well-prepared the group was. Inwardly, he cursed about how outrageous these blood masters were, forcing him to swear an oath to kill himself....
The more he thought about it, the worse it sounded. That was especially true when he examined the jade slip and saw that, in addition to the substantial reward that was being offered upon Bai Xiaochun's death, there was also a punishment for failure. That punishment involved being confined to the sect's Abysmal Defile.
Bai Xiaochun had heard of the Abysmal Defile before. It was a deep ravine filled with wind and fire, a place where cultivation felt like pure torture. Ordinary people couldn't even survive the place.
When he saw that, he felt more nervous than ever. As Bai Xiaochun, he hadn't done anything to these three blood masters. What right did they have to make things so hard for him, to risk such incredible punishment in their attempt to kill him?
Seeing the fierce looks in their eyes, he gritted his teeth and put his mark onto the jade slip. Inwardly, he was chuckling coldly. "You people might as well abandon any hope of ever succeeding. Even with me in your little cabal, you'll be waiting forever!"
When they saw Bai Xiaochun put his name on the oath, they all smiled and relaxed a bit. The truth was that this agreement had been a huge headache for them. Back when they had first sworn the oath, they had been attempting to take the lead among the other cultivators in the sect. However, after all the years that had passed, they still hadn't accomplished their mission. Now that Middle Peak had its blood master, they all agreed that they had to get the fourth blood master into their group no matter the cost. After all, an addition person to help would be the ideal situation.
"I might only have been promoted to blood master recently," Bai Xiaochun said, sounding very serious, "but this is a serious matter. We need to turn up some clues immediately. Since Bai Xiaochun is supposedly in Blood Stream Sect territory, then how about this... I'll go search for him right away! If I turn anything up, I'll send you three a message instantly. Then we can all attack together to take Bai Xiaochun down!"
As soon as the other three blood masters heard his suggestion, their expressions brightened, and they exchanged meaningful glances. Then, all of them declared their own intentions of going out to search for Bai Xiaochun. As soon as anyone found new information, they would notify the others. Feeling very pleased, they all left.
Bai Xiaochun chuckled coldly inside, then began to pack his things in preparation for departure.
Some time later, he left the gates of the sect, and then turned to look back, his eyes filled with sighs and other mixed emotions.
The truth was that even he wasn't sure exactly how he felt about the Blood Stream Sect.
"It would be great if this war could be avoided somehow...." he murmured to himself. With that, he turned to look in the direction of Xuemei's immortal's cave on Ancestor Peak.
"The choice is yours," he said with a sigh. Then he turned and flew off in a beam of light.
Before he had gone very far, he suddenly realized that he already missed the Blood Stream Sect. He thought back to everything which had occurred there, and couldn't help but look over his shoulder one more time at the sect.
"I might not ever come back here again in my entire life...." Even as he hovered there looking back at the sect, his eyes suddenly went wide with shock.
Something was happening on Nameless Peak! A black cloud was rising up into the air, a huge mist filled with countless gargoyles. The gargoyles were exploding into action, howling at the tops of their lungs in voices that could shake heaven and earth.
"Down with the Blood Stream Sect! We will be free! We will be our own masters!"
"Cultivators of Nameless Peak, you have oppressed us gargoyles for too long! We refuse to submit to you! Today is the day we rebel against the Blood Stream Sect!"
The shrill cries of the gargoyles erupted out to shake the entire Blood Stream Sect. That was especially true of the cultivators on Nameless Peak, who were utterly shocked. The gargoyles which had previously been under their command were suddenly completely ignoring their orders.
Even some of the oldest gargoyles were joining in, and they seemed the most enraged of all. There was one gargoyle who appeared to be their leader, and was located in the very center of the army.
That particular gargoyle suddenly launched into a speech, his voice loud and piercing.
"Fellow Gargoyles, the time has come to attack! Fear not, my master has already become a blood master, someone powerful enough to shake the world. Today is the day that we gargoyles rise to prominence! We will shake off the manacles placed upon us by Nameless Peak! Today, we fight for our freedom!!"
Bai Xiaochun gasped as he realized who the leader of the gargoyles was. It was none other than Shadow, the gargoyle he had fed medicinal dregs to when he had been concocting medicine on Nameless Peak. Back then, the gargoyle had been meek and subservient, but now, it seemed completely arrogant and despotic. His words immediately caused Bai Xiaochun to shiver.
Swallowing hard, beads of sweat popping out on his forehead, Bai Xiaochun quickly turned and made his way off into the distance, fearful that after the gargoyle insurrection was put down, the Blood Stream Sect would look for him to settle accounts.
"Dammit! I was wondering why nothing strange happened when I concocted medicine on Nameless Peak.... It turns out the disaster was brewing this entire time...." Looking like he might cry at any moment, he left behind the raging howls of the gargoyles and the cold snorts of the patriarchs. He fled for his life.