Book 1 Chapter 18: Bai Yunfei's plan
In the hall of the stronghold, Han Xiao was sitting in a chair with a solemn expression. Under the illumination of the lights in the hall, his face looked somewhat ferocious and terrifying. A group of bandits guarding outside the entrance hall all held their breath for fear that they would annoy their chieftain and become a target for him to vent his anger on.
This battle tonight had resulted in the death of the only remaining hallmaster and ordinary bandit casualties of nearly one hundred! However, when Han Xiao had arrived, he could not even see clearly what the enemy looked like.
"Damn it! Damn it! Who are they actually?! That man who killed Xiao Chen, the spear in his hands is definitely a soul item! And not low-level at that! High human-tier... or is it an earth-tier soul item? Destroying my Blackwood Stronghold in three days from now?... Such insolence!" In his fury, Han Xiao smacked his palm down and the newly changed chair under him was gloriously relieved of its duties once again.
Soul items, made from the cores of soul beasts or special materials which contained the force of natural elements, were powerful weapons.
Soul items were divided into three tiers, heaven, earth and human. Each tier was in turn divided into three classes, high, middle and low. Even low human-tier soul items, the lowliest soul items, were godlike things in the eyes of the common people. Despite being the chieftain of the Blackwood Stronghold, Han Xiao had only one low human-tier soul item called 'Goldsilk Soul Armor', which had been awarded to him by his school. He really could not imagine the class and tier of the crimson spear used by the killer of Han Xiao.
Vice-Chieftain Yang Tian also had a rather unsightly expression, but he was much calmer. Only after Han Xiao's fury had subsided somewhat did he say: "Chieftain, please calm down quickly. I'd like to repeat myself: We must not throw ourselves into disarray, otherwise we'll fall for the enemy's trickery..."
"Oh? What are your opinions?" Han Xiao knew that he was indeed less resourceful than this vice-chieftain. There had been many times when Yang Tian had played the role of counselor in the stronghold.
"Firstly, I can confirm one thing, that is, the enemy are definitely not very strong, or else they would have already gone up and attacked us directly. I guess it's very likely they don't have someone more powerful than a Soul Warrior among them.
"Besides, the intention of the two men on the mountain tonight was very obvious too. It was a scare tactic! Not us, they wanted to frighten those ordinary people under us. To these people, soul cultivators are extremely powerful beings. Seeing with their own eyes a normally lofty hallmaster killed like that was an unexpected shock to them. Plus, that man said those words in the end. I think... within the next several days, there will most probably be some unforeseen events happening in the stronghold."
"You mean... some will flee from the stronghold?"
"Are they stupid? Those men are waiting at the foot of the mountain. How can they come out without getting killed?"
"If they think that they'll definitely die by staying here, some will be willing to give it a try. After all, what that man said in the end was 'anyone who stays on the mountain will die', in other words, 'anyone who leaves the stronghold can live'. This should be what they think..."
"Humph! If someone dares to defect from the stronghold, we won't need to wait for the enemy to go up the mountain, 'cause I will snap his neck before that!"
"The 'execute one to warn a hundred' method is best used when only a small part have made up their minds to run away and the majority are still hesitating about whether to run away or not. For the next several days, let's tell our trusted men to pay more attention to what those subordinates will do..." Yang Tian's expression was rather frustrated. This plan of the enemy was really too wicked. They had yet to officially go up the mountain to attack, but they had already caused disunity in the stronghold.
"That man said they will definitely destroy the stronghold in three days from now. Can we believe his words?" Han Xiao asked in a hurry after remembering a problem.
"Of course we can't. It's just a ploy to unnerve us. But... we can't rule out the possibility of it being a ploy within a ploy. They may kill their way up the mountain in three days from now... But if we only pay attention to this 'three days from now' deadline, it's very likely they'll launch a sneak attack on us before that. Alas... It's very obvious the enemy have achieved their goal! Now, because we can be attacked anytime, we have no choice but to be concerned and vigilant all day long."
"Then what should we do?" Hearing him say so, Han Xiao was also somewhat flustered inside.
"There's no other way. We can't take our men and rush down from the mountain because they most probably are already waiting for us in ambush. So, we have no choice but to strengthen the defense on the mountain and be ready to fight the enemy anytime..."
"Damn it! When has our Blackwood Stronghold ever been so useless?... You also said they very likely don't have someone as strong as a Soul Warrior. Why don't I just personally take everyone in the stronghold and rush down from the mountain? It doesn't matter if there's an ambush or not, I'll just destroy them with my sheer power!"
"You absolutely can't do that! If you're a bit careless, the Blackwood Stronghold will really be exterminated. Plus... have you forgotten the soul weapon that man used to kill Xiao Chen? That spear is definitely not low-grade. To soul cultivators below the Soul Sprite stage, killing someone of a higher level with a powerful soul item is not difficult at all. Are you sure that low human-tier Goldsilk Soul Armor of yours can withstand that spear's blade?"
Han Xiao felt silent. The Goldsilk Soul Armor granted to him by the school naturally was impenetrable to normal weapons, but as soon as he thought about how Xiao Chen had been shattered into pieces by that spear, he felt a chill in his heart. He... did not dare to gamble!
"Then just do as you said. At least tonight they won't make another move, right? All of you can go now..."
Han Xiao stood up in a dejected manner and walked out of the hall, heading for his own room. An almost inaudible sigh then came from afar.
"Could it be... my Blackwood Stronghold will be destroyed in such a baffling manner...?"
... ... ... ...
At the foot of Mt. Blackwood, Bai Yunfei and Li Chengfeng were sitting in a grove treating the wounds on their bodies.
"This battle was really satisfying! Those inhuman bandits who normally looked at us like we were ants they could kill whenever they like were killed by me with ease stroke after stroke... If I had possessed this power earlier, if I had possessed this power earlier... My dad, my mom, my older sister, also Uncle Zhou next door, village chief Uncle Li and everybody else..." Li Chengfeng mumbled to himself while leaning on a tree looking into the sky through the gaps between the leaves, "Now that I have the power, I'm going to... exterminate all bandits! Kill them all..."
"Are you okay, Chengfeng? You..." Bai Yunfei, who was on one side of him, could not help calling him upon seeing him become more and more unusual as he talked.
Li Chengfeng stopped talking to himself, massaged his head a bit then smiled at Bai Yunfei, saying: "I know what you're are worrying about, but rest assured, I won't lose myself. Those bandits all deserve to die. I'm just taking revenge for myself and those who died. There's no other goal. I won't become a murderous demon..."
Bai Yunfei let out a sigh of relief, saying: "Yeah, they all deserve to die. If we let them go, they will make even more innocent people suffer to the fullest. When I first encountered them, I wasn't so determined as you were, but now... we'll definitely destroy them completely!"
"Right, aren't you about to reach the middle Soul Personage stage? That spear-wielding bandit who fought you before was much weaker than you, why did you fight him for so long? Only to wait for that chieftain's arrival to strike fear into him?" Li Chengfeng could not help asking doubtfully upon recalling the last battle.
"That's one thing. The most important thing is, didn't you say he was also a spear user? Though I practiced my spear techniques to a decent level, I had too little real combat experience. A spear user like him was hard to come by so naturally I had to fight him for as long as possible to learn from him."
"Oh... I really can't understand you. You still call yourself weak? The power of your Fire-tipped Spear is enough to make up for the deficiencies in your techniques, right?"
"That's only true when dealing with the enemies we've encountered so far. In the world of soul cultivators, we are still very, very weak..." As he said, Bai Yunfei could not help thinking about that casual look Zhang Yang's father Zhang Zhenshan had given him. The Soul Sprite stage was a height he simply could not reach at the moment, let alone the stage of the mysterious old man who had given him the interspatial ring.
"Right, what did you mean when shouting those words in the end? Are we going to attack the stronghold in three days from now?"
"Of course not. I just fooled them..."
"... ... ... ..."
"Ha ha, it's just a little ploy to make it even more convenient for us to get into action later." Bai Yunfei continued laughingly while looking up the mountain. "If I guess correctly, in two days from now, some bandits will probably go down from the mountain to run away. Regardless of whether that chieftain will take any suppression measure to stop this, it won't be a disadvantage to us."
"Then... if some really run away from the mountain, will we let them go?"
"What? You're willing to let them go?"
"Of course not! These inhuman scoundrels, if we let any of them go, they will become a scourge."
"Then that's the end of it. If someone really goes down from the mountain, we'll kill him."
"... ... ... ..."
"Alright, let's take turns to rest. In the next several days, we'll have to intensify our training. Both you and I have fast practice speeds. I believe it won't take long for me to break through to the middle Soul Personage stage and for you to reach the late Soul Apprentice stage as well. By then, the time will be ripe, and we'll destroy this bandit den at one stroke!"