The sound of Bai Xiaochun's screams undulated through the air beneath the third peak, catching the astonished attention of numerous servants. All of them could clearly see Bai Xiaochun, black wok on his back, wearing several layers of clothing, running at breakneck speed through the servants' district. He looked like a fat, round ball.
From a distance, it was difficult to actually make out Bai Xiaochun himself, but you would definitely see the black wok, which made him look almost like a beetle as he flew along.
Then there were the eight meat cleavers that hung from his belt, which clashed and clanked as he fled.
"Murder!" he hollered as he ran, picking up speed. "Someone save me! I don't want to die...."
Xu Baocai was hot on his tail, face ashen, eyes gleaming ferociously and heart filled with both anxiety and rage.
Chasing Bai Xiaochun this way was catching quite a bit of attention from the servants, and Xu Baocai was worried that the Honor Guard might notice. The nervousness in his heart continued to grow.
"Quit screeching, dammit!" Xu Baocai raged. "Quiet down! What are you screaming for? Shut UP!" Gritting his teeth, he performed a double-handed incantation gesture, causing the wooden sword to flicker with light and then shoot toward the fleeing Bai Xiaochun.
A clang rang out as the wooden sword slammed into Bai Xiaochun's black wok. As the noise echoed out, Bai Xiaochun continued running as if nothing had happened.
Xu Baocai gnashed his teeth. The big wok on Bai Xiaochun's back covered nearly half of his body, making it very difficult to hit him. However, feeling that he had little other choice, Xu Baocai continued to give chase.
And so they raced through the servants' district, Bai Xiaochun leading the way, Xu Baocai running behind him.
"This guy is pretty fast, even with that wok on his back!" thought Xu Baocai, huffing and puffing as he fell further behind in the chase. His cultivation base was at the second level of Qi Condensation, and he was running as hard as he could. However, Bai Xiaochun was running with the passion of a rabbit whose tail had been stepped on. No matter what Xu Baocai did, he couldn't catch up.
More horrifying was that he was starting to get tired, and yet hadn't even laid a finger on his opponent. In contrast, Bai Xiaochun didn't seem to be the least bit tired at all, and was also screaming like a pig at the slaughterhouse.
Soon, Bai Xiaochun caught sight of the little path leading to the Ovens, and his eyes glittered with excitement. He suddenly felt as though he were arriving home, and the sensation was so moving that he almost cried.
"Elder Brother, save me!" he cried. "He's trying to murder me!" A trail of dust rose into the air behind him as he ran toward the Ovens at breakneck speed. Big Fatty Zhang and the others heard his screaming and hurried out, shocked expressions on their faces.
"Elder Brother, save me! Xu Baocai is trying to kill me! My poor little life is on the line!" Bai Xiaochun quickly scrambled behind Big Fatty Zhang.
Big Fatty Zhang's eyes gleamed with a ferocious light as he looked around vigilantly, but he saw no one.
"Xu Baocai?" he asked. It was at this point that Xu Baocai finally appeared, huffing and puffing as he ran down the path toward the Ovens.
When Bai Xiaochun realized how far behind Xu Baocai was, a quizzical expression appeared on his face.
"Eee? Why is he running so slow?"
Big Fatty Zhang looked at Bai Xiaochun, and then back at the panting Xu Baocai. The motion caused the fat on his face to quiver a bit.
Xu Baocai had expended a lot of effort in the chase, so as he neared the Ovens and then heard what Bai Xiaochun said, he was filled with so much rage that he felt like he was about to explode. With a roar, he waved his right hand, sending his wooden sword stabbing toward a nearby tree.
A bang could be heard, and the tree quivered as the sword pierced through it, leaving behind a gaping hole.
"Bai Xiaochun," he cried, "our differences are irreconcilable!" His eyes were completely bloodshot as he glared at Bai Xiaochun, and then the hulking Big Fatty Zhang. Finally, he turned angrily and began to stalk off back down the path.
Bai Xiaochun's heart was pounding as he looked at the hole in the tree. Then he looked back at the fuming Xu Baocai, and swallowed hard as an uneasy feeling rose up in his heart.
Big Fatty Zhang looked at Xu Baocai's retreating figure, and his eyes flickered with a sinister gleam. Then he patted Bai Xiaochun on the shoulder.
"Don't worry, Ninth Junior Brother. Xu Baocai might have some good connections in the sect, but if he dares show his face here again, we Elder Brothers will cut off one of his legs!" Almost as soon as the words left his mouth, though, his tone changed. "Although, it would probably be best if you didn't leave the Ovens, Ninth Junior Brother. You're looking a bit skinny, I think I should fatten you up a bit. After all, Elder Zhou is celebrating his decade-birthday in a few days."
Bai Xiaochun nodded his head absentmindedly as he stared at the hole Xu Baocai's wooden sword had left in the tree.
He then followed his Elder Brothers back into the Ovens. Later, he sat in his room, brooding and feeling more uneasy than ever. The fact that his opponent could send a wooden sword through a tree meant that if it had hit him, he would definitely be a corpse now.
"This isn't gonna work, not unless I plan on staying inside the Ovens for the rest of my life. What if he catches me next time I go out...?" Bai Xiaochun just couldn't stop thinking about the venomous look Xu Baocai had cast his way before leaving.
"I came here to live forever, not to die...." The feeling of insecurity and anxiety caused Bai Xiaochun's eyes to slowly become shot with blood. After a long moment passed, he gritted his teeth.
"Fudge! I'm gonna do it! I'm gonna go all-out! I'm gonna go so all-out that I'll terrify myself, let alone everyone else!" His eyes were now completely bloodshot. Instead of saying that Bai Xiaochun was the type of person who was afraid of dying, it would be more accurate to say that he was simply insecure. The ordeal he had just gone through had only served to stoke his determination.
"I'm gonna practice cultivation! I'm gonna get stronger!!" Bai Xiaochun's breath came in ragged pants as he made his decision. He pulled out the Violet Qi Cauldron Control Art bamboo scroll, opened it up to the second illustration, and then immediately began to practice cultivation.
He might be afraid of dying, but he was also viciously persistent. Were he not, he would never have been able to light that stick of incense thirteen times throughout the years, despite the threat of the lightning.
Grinning with vicious determination, he assumed the posture in the second illustration, tenaciously maintaining the pose. Before, he had only been able to last for about ten breaths of time, but this time, he actually lasted for fifteen.
He ended up wracked with pain, forehead dripping with great drops of sweat. However, the vicious gleam in his eye didn't fade. Soon, he was able to last for twenty breaths of time, then thirty. The small stream that was the qi vessel in his body was now ten percent complete. Gasping for breath, vision fading to black, he finally rested for a moment, then started cultivating again.
The night passed relatively uneventfully. Soon it was the next day. And the day after that. And yet another day.... Eventually fifteen days went by. Other than eating and visiting the restroom, Bai Xiaochun never left his room. To someone who had just begun the practice of cultivation, such tediousness was usually difficult to endure. However, Bai Xiaochun didn't even come close to giving up.
Big Fatty Zhang and the others were shocked by his relentless practice of cultivation. It must be stated that cultivating the Violet Qi Cauldron Control Art was no easy task. In principle, it was relatively simple. However, the postures that had to be maintained to reach the various levels all led to unimaginable pain, and therefore required incredible perseverance. Normally speaking, the servants in the sect would give up after only a few days of trying to cultivate it.
Therefore, when Big Fatty Zhang and the others saw Bai Xiaochun continue to cultivate it for more than half a month, they felt like they were observing an entirely different person than the one they had met a few months ago.
His clothes grew wrinkled, his hair became disheveled, his eyes were completely bloodshot. He seemed completely bedraggled, and at the same time, completely focused. Regardless of the pain he felt, he never gave up.
Another thing that happened was that he began to lose some of the fat he had built up. At the same time, the spirit pressure he radiated increased by more than fifty percent. He was now very close to the great circle of the first level of Qi Condensation.
Apparently, all of the precious materials he had eaten had built up in his fat. By practicing cultivation in the way he was, it was forcing those items to materialize as part of his cultivation base. It also ended up making his body tougher than the average person.
"Ninth Junior Brother, why don't you take a break? You've been practicing cultivation nonstop for more than half a month." Big Fatty Zhang and the others tried to persuade him to stop. However, when he looked up at them, they saw a gleam of determination in his eyes that left them shaken.
Time passed. Soon, Bai Xiaochun had been practicing cultivation like mad for a full month. Big Fatty Zhang and the others were shocked. In fact, Big Fatty Zhang even said, "he's not cultivating, he's killing himself!"
By this point in his cultivation, Bai Xiaochun could hold the pose in the second illustration for longer than 100 breaths of time. Soon, he reached 150 breaths of time. The spiritual energy inside of him was not a small stream any more. It was far, far larger than that.
Another month passed. Big Fatty Zhang and the others trembled in fear, worried that Bai Xiaochun really was killing himself from working too hard. Even as they were working up a plan to go get rid of Xu Baocai, a huge rumbling could be heard coming from Bai Xiaochun's hut.
As the sound echoed about, the spirit pressure of the second level of Qi Condensation erupted out from the hut, spreading for dozens of meters in all directions. As soon as Big Fatty Zhang and the others sensed it, they looked up with expressions of shock.
"Little Junior Brother has broken through!"
"The second level of Qi Condensation! He hasn't even partaken of the Ovens' snack arrangement for more than half a year, and he's already reached the second level of Qi Condensation! That's pretty rare!"
"It took me a whole year to reach the second level of Qi Condensation...." Even as they were making exclamations of shock, a crash could be heard as Bai Xiaochun's door opened, and he burst out, looking exhausted and disheveled. However, his eyes were glittering brightly.
Big Fatty Zhang and the others were just about to hurry over to offer congratulations when Bai Xiaochun flashed through the air and nimbly landed on the bamboo fence that surrounded the Ovens. He clasped his hands behind his back and tilted his head up proudly, looking off into the distance with a profound gleam in his eyes. He looked every bit like a proud, lonesome hero.
Big Fatty Zhang and the others exchanged dismayed glances.
"What is he standing there for? He looks so weird...."
"Did little Junior Brother... get possessed or something?"
Almost as soon as they looked over at Bai Xiaochun and his odd appearance, they heard his voice echoing out, sounding proud and wise.
"Xu Baocai is a consummate Chosen among the servants of the Spirit Stream Sect, matchlessly vicious, and famous far and wide. His cultivation base is even in the terrifying second level of Qi Condensation. However, my cultivation base is also in the second level of Qi Condensation. A fight between us will be an even match. It will likely be a fight talked about in all the lands, a battle that will shake the entire sect. However, it must be fought, no matter how much blood and gore flows, no matter how many bones are shattered and tendons... wait a second. No, this battle is far, far too important. I have to keep practicing cultivation!"
Having finished speaking, Bai Xiaochun looked around for a moment, then flicked his sleeve and returned to his room. The door slammed shut behind him as he began another session of secluded meditation. Big Fatty Zhang and the others swallowed hard, and exchanged glances. Finally, Third Fatty Hei said, "Don't tell me we gave Junior Brother some spoiled food?"
Second Fatty Huang shivered and replied, "Oh no! This is bad! Junior Brother is drunk on spiritual energy! He's gone crazy from cultivation.... We mustn't provoke him now!"