Chapter 353: The So-Called Wildlands!
The flush on Chen Manyao's face deepened. At the moment, she almost felt like she was standing there naked in front of Bai Xiaochun. Stepping back, she angrily said, "Elder Brother Bai...."
Bai Xiaochun shook his head, his eyes shining intimidatingly. "Very amusing. Unfortunately, your acting skills aren't up to par, Chen Manyao. You gave me a handkerchief for absolutely no reason! You asked me to come at the third watch, without any explanation!
"I sat around for an entire month, and you never sent me a message.... Chen Manyao, do you really think that the junior patriarch of the sect has the intelligence of a three-year-old child? Or did you take me for one of those idiots who nearly passes out as soon as he sees a pretty woman?! Did you secretly arrange for that whole love letter situation, all to give yourself a chance to launch a sneak attack during the chaos?!"
Every word Bai Xiaochun spoke was as cold as ice, and in the end, he unleashed the power of his Heaven-Dao Gold Core cultivation base, causing intense pressure to weigh down. A powerful wind even swept through the area, causing Chen Manyao's face to fall, and her knees to tremble.
After all, she was only in the Foundation Establishment stage!
Bai Xiaochun clasped his hands behind his back and stuck his chin up. He looked more somber than ever, with a powerfully murderous aura and a gaze as sharp as a blade. "I didn't really need to come here, but as the junior patriarch, how could I not notice all the clues? Naturally, I had no other choice than to come and see what your true purpose in all of this is!"
Chen Manyao started backing up. "Elder Brother Bai, I..."
Before she could continue, Bai Xiaochun's eyes flashed with cold light, and he waved his hand, sending a dagger-shaped horn flying out to hover above him, which instantly began to radiate the pressure of a precious treasure. In combination with the Heaven-Dao Gold Core cultivation base fluctuations, it caused an intensely murderous air to begin to crush down onto Chen Manyao.
That dagger-shaped horn was none other than Bai Xiaochun's Renegade Dragon Horn!
"Don't move even a muscle," he said casually. "You have three chances to explain yourself properly, and what you just said counts as one of those chances. Don't forget that, as the junior patriarch, I have the authority to execute any disciple I wish."
Although he spoke the words as if he were having an ordinary conversation, he had actually pushed the big toe of his left foot down into the ground, and had prepared it to unleash explosive force. If anything happened, he would instantly leave the area.
His Landscape of Nine Provinces was also ready to be used at a moment's notice.
Chen Manyao stopped moving, and gave Bai Xiaochun a deep look. She didn't fail to notice that Bai Xiaochun had stopped right on the edge of the spell formation she'd set up. Clearly, he had come well-prepared.
For the first time, fear of Bai Xiaochun was beginning to take hold in her heart. Finally, she chuckled, and dropped the bashful act she had put on from before. Now, a mysterious light gleamed in her eyes.
Smiling, she said, "No wonder those old fogies care so much about you.... Bai Xiaochun, I bear you no ill will. Of that I can swear an oath. The reason I wanted you to come here was so that you could meet a certain person!"
"You still have one chance left!" Bai Xiaochun said coolly. The Renegade Dragon Horn hovering above him began to emit a cold light.
Chen Manyao's face twitched. After a moment of silence, she gritted her teeth and said, "Nightcrypt. Mask. Bai Xiaochun. Mysterious group. Spy. Relic of eternal indestructibility!"
A grim expression overtook Bai Xiaochun's face, and his eyes widened. Mind reeling, he didn't hesitate for even a moment to send the Renegade Dragon Horn flying forward toward Chen Manyao. At the same time, he pushed down with his big toe, causing rumbling sounds to echo out as he shot backward. Simultaneously, he produced the Landscape of Nine Provinces.
Currently, his heart was pounding. Although he had noticed that there was something suspicious about Chen Manyao, never could he have imagined that she actually worked for that same mysterious group he'd been in contact with for so long!
In the exact same moment that he took action, a black vortex appeared on Chen Manyao's forehead, from within which shot streams of black energy that wrapped up the Renegade Dragon Horn. Despite the fact that the horn was backed by Bai Xiaochun's Gold Core power, it instantly lurched to a stop.
At the same time, an ancient voice echoed out from within the black strands.
"Fellow Daoist, please just trust me this once. I had no choice but to use this method to make contact. I even revealed the secret identity of my apprentice Yao'er. I'm willing to risk her life to get the chance to talk with you. Please, can't you just trust me!?!?
"You can leave at any time you wish. Just let me say a few things. If you don't like what you hear, I won't try to stop you from leaving!!" Even as the words echoed out, the black strands formed together into the vague image of an old man. Within that old man's eyes could be seen complex emotions, profound secrets, and even more surprising, respect and politeness toward Bai Xiaochun!
Bai Xiaochun forced his breathing under control. By this point, he was high up in the air. Furthermore, the fluctuations rolling out from the area had been noticed by others in the River-Defying Sect, and some of the nearby cultivators on patrol flew over, including a late Core Formation elder.
"Junior Patriarch, what's wrong?"
"What happened?!" The patrolling cultivators looked around suspiciously, and yet strangely, didn't seem to notice the old man formed from black strands of energy. The only thing they could see was Bai Xiaochun, hovering there in midair, cultivation base power rippling out from him.
Everything down below was invisible to them.
The old man quickly said, "The only way for anyone to see or even detect me would be if a Deva Realm expert were in the River-Defying Sect. However, you are not within the cloaked area, so they can see you!"
Of course, Bai Xiaochun was the only one who heard him speaking.
Bai Xiaochun's face was grim as he first looked over at the suspicious cultivators who'd flown over, then looked back down at the image of the old man.
Seeing Bai Xiaochun's reticence, the old man hurriedly continued, "The lands of Heavenspan are vast. The Heavenspan Sea is in the middle, and four great rivers spread out in the four directions from that sea. Those are the eastern, western, southern and northern cultivation worlds!"
"Each of the four major rivers splits up into four smaller rivers, which in turn become four streams. Beyond the streams are countless deltas that stretch further than the imagination can process. Although it seems like the spiritual energy of the Heavenspan Rivers is infinite, the truth is that when compared with the lands of Heavenspan as a whole, that spiritual energy is negligible. In fact, it's not even enough to fill half of the realm!
"The rest of the lands of Heavenspan are places that the spiritual energy of the Heavenspan Rivers don't touch, places that have come to be known as the Wildlands!" As soon as Bai Xiaochun heard the man's explanation, his mind began to spin.
In the past, he had wondered about this very subject. The only explanation he had ever been given was that the places without the aura of the Heavenspan River were restricted areas where cultivators couldn't survive!
The words being spoken crashed like thunder in his mind. Based on what he could tell, it didn't seem like this old man was lying.
Tone serious, the old man continued, "By way of illustration, the areas with the spiritual energy of the Heavenspan River, the four major rivers and the riversource sects, are like the countries that exist in the mortal world. As for the people who live in the Wildlands, we are like defectors or even rebels!
"I am from the Wildlands, and the Blood Stream Sect's Blood Ancestor also came from the Wildlands!
"It is only because of some unique matters pertaining to Karma that the Blood Ancestor's corpse stayed in the Heavenspan River!"
Bai Xiaochun's pupils constricted. He had long wondered why the mysterious organization was so interested in the relic of eternal indestructibility that was located on the Blood Ancestor. Based on the old man's explanation, it now started to make more sense.
"We don't really need the relic of eternal indestructibility. If you want it, then go ahead and keep it. The reason for my change in attitude, and the reason I'm telling these things to you, is that because of the legacy of the Blood Ancestor, you have become the second generation Blood Ancestor!
"In the final analysis, you have sown Karma with us in the Wildlands!" The old man was already starting to calm down. As long as Bai Xiaochun didn't immediately leave, he would have his chance to explain things, and maybe even discuss matters.
What he feared the most was that Bai Xiaochun would do the same thing he'd done before, and refuse to even listen to him.
"I tried to communicate with you via the mask, but you were too cautious. Therefore, I took a great risk, and expended significant resources, to have Yao'er enact the plan to get you over here!
"I represent an alliance of cities within the Wildlands, and we hope to keep in contact with you long-term. An arrangement like that would benefit you because we have agents in virtually all of the sects in all the four major rivers. We can provide you help in many ways, and we can also keep you informed about anything important happening in the world!
"However, you would also need to do things for us...." With that, the old man clasped hands and bowed deeply to Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun was completely shaken, and was almost on the verge of leaving. However, he couldn't find fault with anything the old man had said, and in fact, many of his own questions had been answered. It was also true that revealing Chen Manyao's secret identity was in fact a show of good faith.
That was especially true considering that the old man had even admitted to setting up the situation with the love letters. It seemed that the old man was willing to explain the answer to any question he had.
Having reached this point in his train of thought, Bai Xiaochun turned his attention to the patrolling cultivators, who, having checked the area and found nothing amiss, were looking at him hesitantly.
"You may take your leave," he said, "all of you. I just had a bad feeling a few moments ago. Sorry for the trouble." With that, he clasped hands and bowed to them.
The Gold Core elder looked deeply at Bai Xiaochun for a moment, but didn't ask any further questions. Nodding, he led his men off.
Soon, everything was quiet again.
"So," Bai Xiaochun suddenly said, "you can answer any question that I have?"