Chapter 66: Going Through Hell or High Water for the Sect
After traveling through the jungle for a bit, Bai Xiaochun started noticing clues that told the story of what had occurred. He quickly became convinced that his suppositions were correct. After emerging from the nameless mountains, he pushed on at top speed for several days until he was back in the Fallenstar Mountains, where he discovered the ruins of the Luochen Clan. "It seems Du Lingfei and Hou Yunfei really did get word back to the sect." When he thought back to the bitter events he had lived through, he sighed, then turned and leaped back up onto the Windskiff. Sitting down cross-legged, he set it whooshing off into the distance.
"Back to the sect!" he declared, eyes shining with anticipation. Then he realized that he most certainly had performed meritorious service for the sect, and would surely be handsomely rewarded when he got back.
That got him even more excited. As he traveled along, he turned his attention to his bag of holding. As he sifted through and organized all of the other bags of holding he had collected from the Luochen Clan cultivators, he found quite a few random items inside, as well as spirit stones.
In one bag of holding, although he had forgotten who it had originally belonged to, he found the most valuable of all the items. It was a seed, roughly the size of a human fist. It pulsed, almost like a beating heart, as though it contained something alive. However, the beating was growing weaker and weaker.
After a bit of thought, Bai Xiaochun's skill with plants and vegetation led him to a shocking conclusion. This was a valuable and legendary Spirit Seed, which had supposedly become extinct long ago. It was known as a Beastbirth Seed!
According to the legends, if it absorbed another spirit creature's quintessence, it would be able to naturally reproduce that very same spirit creature. To those powerful beasts which had difficulty reproducing, Beastbirth Seeds like this were virtually priceless.
It was the same for cultivators who had powerful spirit creature pets. Cultivators like that all thirsted to possess successive generations of their powerful spirit creatures. Unfortunately, they were usually limited to a single pet, which meant that Beastbirth Seeds were incredibly valuable to them.
It was impossible to say how the enemy Luochen Clan cultivator had come to possess such a valuable item. Presumably, it was some type of good fortune that person had come across. After all, the Luochen Clan had been located in the Fallenstar Mountains, a place... of boundless mysteries.
After some more thought, Bai Xiaochun came to the conclusion that whichever Luochen Clan cultivator discovered the Beastbirth Seed likely didn't know what it was, which would explain why it hadn't been maintained properly.
Along the way, Bai Xiaochun picked up some wood which was infused with spiritual energy. After carving it into a little box, he carefully placed the Beastbirth Seed into it, where upon the seed's life force fluctuations gradually stabilized.
Bai Xiaochun put the wooden box away and took a deep breath. Then, he sent the Windskiff speeding over the horizon, following the same path they had originally taken, to make his way closer and closer to the Spirit Stream Sect.
A month passed by quickly enough. On the original trip, they hadn't possessed very many spirit stones, and thus had only used the Windskiff at night. But now, Bai Xiaochun's bag of holding was bulging with spirit stones, and he wasn't worried at all about wasting them. Therefore, it only took a month before the Spirit Stream Sect's south bank gate came into view.
"It's been more than half a year since I left. Finally, I'm back." Bai Xiaochun stood atop the Windskiff, hair whipping in the wind, looking every bit like a powerful master. However, he suddenly decided that it was the wrong image, and quickly changed back into the dilapidated, blood-stained Outer Sect disciple's robe that he had worn during his desperate battle with the Luochen Clan.
Now he looked like someone who had been willing to fight to the death for the sect. Upon his return, the bloodstains on his garments, and the various places where the cloth had been ripped and punctured, would bear clear witness to the dangerous crises he had faced.
Feeling very pleased, he sent the Windskiff even closer to the sect. However, just when he was about to cross the border, an invisible barrier appeared, sending the Windskiff bouncing backward.
"Huh?" he thought. The force of the rebound almost knocked him off the Windskiff.
It was at this point that a beam of light suddenly shot toward him from the main gate. A young man appeared, expression placid as he looked at Bai Xiaochun.
"Unknown Fellow Daoist, what brings you to the Spirit Stream Sect?" Even as the words left his mouth, he looked at the Windskiff, and then at Bai Xiaochun's clothes, and his brow furrowed. "You have a Spirit Stream Sect Windskiff, and you're wearing the robes of an Outer Sect disciple? Plus the main gate of the spirit Stream Sect prevented you from entering?! Who are you?!"
The young man's eyes glittered coldly as he performed an incantation gesture with his right hand. Instantly, his cultivation base surged with the fluctuations of the eighth level of Qi Condensation.
Bai Xiaochun backed up, looking at the shield in confusion.
"Elder Brother," he said, "what's going on? Why can't I enter the sect? I'm Outer Sect disciple Bai Xiaochun from Fragrant Cloud Peak!"
The young man frowned, and just when he was about to say something, he started in surprise.
"Wait, you're Bai Xiaochun?" The more he studied Bai Xiaochun, the more familiar he looked. He had attended Bai Xiaochun's funeral service, in which his portrait had been on display above his gravestone. At tremor ran through the young man, and when he realized that Bai Xiaochun's garments were stained with blood, he gasped. "You're... you're not dead?!?!"
"I'm not dead at all!" Even as Bai Xiaochun stared in surprise, the young man excitedly pulled out a jade slip and sent a message back to the sect.
As the news about Bai Xiaochun was being sent back, Li Qinghou was in secluded meditation on Fragrant Cloud Peak. Suddenly, his eyes opened, and a tremor ran through him.
At the same time, the news was passed to the Sect Leader, whose jaw dropped. He immediately sent a stream of divine sense out to the main gate of the south bank, and when he saw Bai Xiaochun, he was first shocked, then delighted. He immediately began to send notifications out into the sect.
It only took a few breaths of time for gasps of disbelief to begin to rise up. The collective sound was so loud that it was even faintly audible outside of the main gate. Furthermore, bells began to toll.
"Bai Xiaochun? Didn't he die? How could he be alive?!?!"
Countless people began to fly out from within the sect. Somewhat surprisingly, the very first in line was Hou Yunfei. When he emerged from the main gate and saw Bai Xiaochun, an expression of disbelief appeared on his face. After the deadly chase they had both participated in, he never wanted to believe that Bai Xiaochun was actually dead. However, deep in his heart, he was sure that no disciple could have been made it out of such a bitter situation.
Now, he was so excited he began to cry.
"Junior Brother Bai!!" he cried. Laughing, he rushed forward and embraced Bai Xiaochun.
"Elder Brother Hou...." Bai Xiaochun replied, blinking. By this point, he realized that the sect had thought him to be dead. He looked at Hou Yunfei, eyes brimming with happiness.
"Come on, let's get back to the sect!" Hou Yunfei said excitedly. He grabbed Bai Xiaochun and immediately headed back through the main gate. With Hou Yunfei there, Bai Xiaochun could now enter the sect. As for the young man from earlier, he followed along, clearly shaken. He had personally participated in the extermination of the Luochen Clan, and had seen the evidence of the battle fought by Bai Xiaochun, including the mangled corpses of the Luochen Clan cultivators. To see that Bai Xiaochun had returned alive left him deeply astonished.
Almost as soon as Bai Xiaochun walked through the front gate, more people began to rush toward him from all directions.
"Ninth Fatty?!" Big Fatty Zhang, Third Fatty Hei, and the other Fatty Elder Brothers from the servants district were so happy they were shaking. That was especially true of Big Fatty Zhang, who gave Bai Xiaochun a big bear hug, tears streaming down his face.
Bai Xiaochun was moved. Seeing how many people were crowding around him, he suddenly felt as if everything he'd done really had been worth it.
Then, a beam of light flew over, which was Li Qinghou, who had an incredulous look on his face as he looked at Bai Xiaochun. In his hands was a bag, within which were all the bloodstained scraps of clothing he had gathered up when searching for Bai Xiaochun.
He more than anyone understood the grave and deadly peril Bai Xiaochun had faced.
Bai Xiaochun hurried forward, clasping hands and bowing to Li Qinghou. "Greetings, Peak Lord!"
Li Qinghou was normally a very calm person, but right now he couldn't stop himself from trembling. Reaching out, he placed his hand on Bai Xiaochun's head and said, "I'm just glad you're alive," Li Qinghou said. "Just glad you're alive."
"This is my home!" Bai Xiaochun said, puffing his chest out. "I'm willing to go through hell or high water for the sect!" Then he waved his sleeve, deliberately revealing the numerous blood-stained holes in it.
People continued to stream over from all three of the south bank's mountain peaks. Everyone wanted to see Bai Xiaochun, and when they saw his dilapidated, blood-stained clothing, they were shocked.
That was especially true when people began to spread the words he had just spoken. Everyone was shaken, and when they looked at Bai Xiaochun, in their hearts they felt... that he was a true sect Chosen.
As the crowd built, the weeping voice of a young woman could be heard. It was none other than Du Lingfei. She had spent the recent days awash with tears, to the point where she had even lost weight. When she heard people saying that Bai Xiaochun had returned, her mind began to thrum, and she instantly dropped everything and raced over.
When she actually laid eyes on Bai Xiaochun, even more tears began to flow. She hurried over and wrapped her arms around him, crying and laughing and the same time. She almost didn't seem to dare to believe that what she was seeing was true. In response, Bai Xiaochun felt a warm sensation in his heart.
His hands almost began to move in the direction of certain bulging areas of her clothing, but then he remembered that there were lots of people watching, and he held back.
"It's like I said, Elder Sister Du," he said coolly, lifting his chin, "if I, Bai Xiaochun, have only one breath of air left, I would never let anyone harm you." As the sappy words left his mouth, he seemed like he was looking down on the entire world.
However, Du Lingfei went a bit limp, and deep within her eyes, the hidden emotions therein turned even sweeter than before.
People from the Hall of Justice were also there, led by Ouyang Jie. When he saw Bai Xiaochun, he looked shocked for a moment, but then profoundly pleased. That was especially true when he saw Bai Xiaochun's tattered state, and then heard the words he had just spoken to Li Qinghou, upon which he nodded his head.
"Bai Xiaochun, I am Ouyang Jie from the Hall of Justice."
When Bai Xiaochun heard the words 'Hall of Justice', his heart thumped, but then he thought back to the incredible service he had performed. Chest puffed out just like before, he clasped hands respectfully to Ouyang Jie.
Ouyang Jie rarely smiled, but he was smiling now as he said, "Why don't you come back with me to see the Sect Leader and talk about what happened with the Luochen Clan?"
He waved his finger in Bai Xiaochun's direction, causing a spirit fog to appear beneath his feet, which sent him flying off into the distance with Ouyang Jie.
Li Qinghou looked profoundly glad as he transformed into a beam of light that also shot away with them.
As for all the other disciples, they watched Bai Xiaochun leave, and most heaved surprised sighs, and began to discuss the matter amongst themselves as they dispersed. Of course, the news about Bai Xiaochun being alive spread rapidly.
Eventually, virtually everyone in the Spirit Stream Sect came to know of the matter. Most people were very happy, but back in his Immortal's cave, Qian Dajin was shaking, and a look of terror could be seen on his face.
"Dammit, I can't believe he's not dead!! How could he have escaped from such deadly pursuit!?
"He probably doesn't know that I'm the one who arranged for him to go on that mission though.... Right? There's no way he could know...." Various expressions flashed across Qian Dajin's face. Finally, he sighed, thinking about all the possible bad things that could happen.