Chapter 270: Thoughtful
The way he heard it, his Elder Brother sect leader was saying that even if the Spirit Stream Sect lost the war, there was still a way for him to keep on living.
Perhaps because of his Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment cultivation base, he was already part of a select group of people who would remain safe. However, if he managed to cut down blood masters in battle, then it would ensure that his rank in the sect rose even higher!
"You just got back," Zheng Yuandong said slowly, "so go pay your respects to our Master. Then rest a bit. As for the arrangements for the battlefield, you've been placed into the fourth wave...."
Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath. Clasping hands formally to Zheng Yuandong, he didn't immediately leave, but instead asked about Li Qinghou. Li Qinghou hadn't offered him much of an explanation before going into seclusion, and back then, Bai Xiaochun had assumed it was nothing more than an ordinary session of meditation. Never could he have imagined that he was actually trying to break through to Core Formation. That was no simple task.
"Your Uncle Li has already reached Core Formation," Zheng Yuandong said with a smile. "He's now in the legacy echelon. He's currently in recovery, and should come out any day now."
Eyes flashing with excitement, Bai Xiaochun clasped hands and then rushed away.
After leaving the hall, Bai Xiaochun went to pay his respects to the portrait of his Master. Then he returned to his own immortal's cave on Mount Daoseed. Bruiser was waiting there for him, and immediately ran up and started tumbling around at his feet.
"Did you recognize me last time I was here?" Bai Xiaochun asked, petting Bruiser a few times.
Bruiser nodded and then let out a few yips.
"So, what did you think? Is your dad awesome or what? I went completely wild in the Blood Stream Sect. Nobody there ever dared to provoke me." Bai Xiaochun was feeling very pleased with himself as he bragged about his accomplishments. However, it was then that he realized that Bruiser had matured even more. Shockingly, his cultivation base was on the verge of reaching late Foundation Establishment. Bai Xiaochun immediately felt sour inside.
"Your cultivation is going a bit too quickly, isn't it?" he said. It didn't seem fair. He had worked long and hard to reach mid Foundation Establishment, and had even risked his own life. All Bruiser had to do was fool around all day, and he got the same result.
Bruiser appeared to be very proud of himself. Looking at Bai Xiaochun, he made some barking sounds that no one else would be able to comprehend, but Bai Xiaochun, having raised him, could understand. Bai Xiaochun's eyes went wide, and he gasped.
"The peak lord of Irispetal Peak fed you medicinal pills every day!? The founding patriarch frequently came to adjust your qi passageways? The old dragon came and let you drink his life blood?
"What? You went to the arcane pocket realm? Y-y-you...." Bai Xiaochun's eyes went wide as he glared jealously at Bruiser.
"Okay, tell me the truth. Did you go steal any bras while I was gone?"
Bruiser howled softly in response. The two of them chatted back and forth until evening fell. However, worried that Bruiser's cultivation base might eventually exceed his own, Bai Xiaochun finally called an end to the chatting and sat down to meditate and work on his Violet Qi Heavenspan Incantation.
Over the course of the following days, quite a few people came to visit, but after that, things quieted down.
After spending time reminiscing with so many acquaintances, Bai Xiaochun came to realize that the Spirit Stream Sect had changed while he'd been gone.
Back before he'd left, everyone was focused primarily on their cultivation. Although there were some conflicts and rivalries, it was always possible to hear people chatting happily. Everyone had always seemed relaxed. But now, silence seemed to prevail, and pressure seemed to constantly weigh down on the sect.
A storm was coming, the war, and all of the disciples were wrapped up in preparing for it.
Thankfully, because of that pressure and seriousness, the killing intent of the cultivators grew more intense. The survival of their sect was on the line, and however deep the cultivators sank into the pressure, that was how explosive their performance would be on the battlefield.
The Spirit Stream Sect was stronger now than it had ever been!
Virtually all of the items in the market outside the sect had been purchased. Furthermore, because so many disciples were buying things, prices had climbed.
That was especially true of spirit medicine, paper talismans, and other items designed for warfare. As far as magical items went, they eventually sold out completely. And when it came to the disciples from Violet Cauldron Peak who could perform spirit enhancements, they were constantly busy, and the lines only continued to grow longer.
Quite a few people started coming to Bai Xiaochun to ask for medicine concocting services. Even though they knew that terrifying things could result, they still wanted his help.
The more Bai Xiaochun came to understand the situation in the Spirit Stream Sect, the more his mood sank, and the more often he frowned. Currently, he was sitting on a boulder near his immortal's cave, a vantagepoint that allowed him to see the entire sect.
He could see all of the familiar mountains, the rushing Heavenspan River, and couldn't stop wondering what the result of all the fighting would be....
"The Middle Reaches, and the Sky River Court...." he murmured. The chance to take over the position occupied by the Sky River Court was something that could arouse an indescribable thirst among sects of the Lower Reaches.
"Is it really worth it...?" he said, sighing. From the bottom of his heart, he truly hoped that the two sects wouldn't actually go to war. Perhaps other people thought of the Blood Stream Sect as a vicious, brutal, and devilish sect. But as far as Bai Xiaochun was concerned, they had treated him well.
Even as Bai Xiaochun sighed, a soft voice spoke out behind him.
"Maybe the Sky River Court isn't worth it in and of itself. But the patriarchs' hope of breaking through to the next level is involved. Plus, the sect itself would then have a chance to grow even stronger. Once all of the other current disciples have access to the spiritual energy of the Middle Reaches, it would only take a few dozen years or so for them to rapidly increase their cultivation bases. When you consider all that, it changes the story, doesn't it?"
Taken by surprise, Bai Xiaochun turned to look over his shoulder, and saw someone standing there in a long green robe, pulsing with powerful energy, and smiling. It was Li Qinghou.
Li Qinghou looked very different from how Bai Xiaochun remembered him. He seemed more reserved and more dignified, and as Bai Xiaochun looked at him, he got the sense that there was an enormous vortex inside of him, something that, if it were unleashed, could shake heaven and earth in enigmatic ways.
Bai Xiaochun had never even sensed such fluctuations from the prime elders. Eyes widening, he shouted, "Uncle Li!!"
With that, he leapt to his feet and rushed over to hug Li Qinghou.
Li Qinghou laughed and tousled his hair.
"Yeah, you've grown up quite a bit, haven't you?" In Li Qinghou's eyes, Bai Xiaochun would always be that young boy who had lit an incense stick thirteen times on top of a mountain.
Li Qinghou's words almost caused tears to well up in Bai Xiaochun's eyes. Back in the Blood Stream Sect, he had been forced to hide his identity, but had never forgot about Li Qinghou and his kindness.
After returning to the Spirit Stream Sect, he had been worried that something went wrong in Li Qinghou's secluded meditation. However, now that he could see that he truly had reached Core Formation, it filled him with incredible excitement, even more excitement than if he had just concocted a high-level medicinal pill.
"Xiaochun, the war is not as simple as you might imagine." Li Qinghou sat down, and Bai Xiaochun sat down next to him. "In addition to everything I just mentioned, don't forget about the reserve powers at the sect's command. When it comes to having control over the Lower Reaches, and the glory that would come with it, there are many factors involved.
"The war between the Profound Stream Sect and the Pill Stream Sect is reaching a conclusion. The Pill Stream Sect has suffered major losses, and more than half of their disciples have already defected to the Profound Stream Sect. Although the Profound Stream Sect has also suffered significant losses, they're already in the process of recovering. The Pill Stream Sect has retreated to their sect headquarters, and it won't be long now before the two sects become one, and they'll be even more powerful than before.
"At this point, the Profound Stream Sect has two problems. One, they have to completely defeat the Pill Stream Sect. Two, they have to reorganize their sect and smooth out any internal conflicts. At the moment, the Profound Stream Sect is at its weakest, and has no choice but to press the Pill Stream Sect hard to defeat it. As for the Blood Stream Sect, they have been delaying in the hopes that the Spirit Stream Sect will meet their demands and allow the sect to be sealed."
Bai Xiaochun hesitated for a moment, trying to decide if he bring up a certain topic. "Do we really have to fight? Isn't there some other way?"
"Don't think too deeply into things," Li Qinghou replied softly. "This war is really unavoidable. Any sect that aspires to get to the Middle Reaches will have to go to war eventually. If we don't fight now, if we compromise, we will be bringing certain disaster down on ourselves in the future. We will wheeze and gasp our way to death over a thousand years. Does that really compare to going out in a blaze of glory in battle?!
"We can't prevent the war from happening, and neither can the Blood Stream Sect. There is no other option. If we claim to have given up on the opportunity to better our own sect, people won't believe us. Even oaths sworn between the sects will be worth little.
"The only way to end things without war would be for both sects to somehow come to trust each other in this moment of deadly crisis.
"However, it doesn't seem likely that such a thing could occur." Li Qinghou shook his head and looked over at Bai Xiaochun.
"Don't think too much into it. Remember, you stay behind me when the time comes to fight. I fear that many people are going to die...." Li Qinghou sighed softly, then rose to his feet. Seeing that Bai Xiaochun seemed to be lost in thought, he reached down and clasped his shoulder.
"Come on, let's go. I want to take you to see someone from the Senior generation. My own Master!"
Bai Xiaochun looked up in surprise. This was his first time hearing anything about Li Qinghou having a Master. From what he knew, the only person who could be a Master to Li Qinghou would have to at least be a prime elder, or perhaps even one of the five patriarchs.
After taking a moment to compose himself, he followed Li Qinghou off of Mount Daoseed. As they rose higher, Bai Xiaochun was surprised to find that Li Qinghou was actually flying up into the air behind Mount Daoseed.
There didn't seem to be anything behind Mount Daoseed except the flowing waters of the Heavenspan River.