As soon as he realized that Xu Baocai was coming, Bai Xiaochun shot to his feet.
"Well, he came sooner than expected...." he thought, his eyes flickering with hesitation. Although he had done everything he could to prepare in the last half-year or so, he still didn't feel ready. As far as he was concerned, the best option would have been to go into the conflict in the fourth level of Qi Condensation. Only then would he have felt safe.
Seeing that Xu Baocai had come with a group of seven others, Bai Xiaochun knew that hiding wasn't an option. Gritting his teeth, he said, "Fine! I'm gonna go for it!"
Taking a deep breath, he quickly donned eight leather coats, and then attached his backup wok to his back. Only then did he nervously open his door and step out.
The first thing he saw was Big Fatty Zhang and the others out by the front gate, hefting meat cleavers and huge kitchen ladles as they blocked the path of Xu Baocai and his friends.
"I was wondering why I heard the crows squawking this morning," Big Fatty Zhang roared, his voice echoing like thunder as he stood there, tall and mountain-like. "As it turns out, a bunch of brats from the Supervisors' Department decided to come cause a scene here in the Ovens!"
"Other people might be scared of the Ovens, Big Fatty Zhang, but the Supervisors' Department doesn't give a crap about you. We received a complaint from Junior Brother Xu, and we're here with the authority of the Supervisors' Department. Do you really dare to resist us?" Seven arrogant-looking men clustered around Xu Baocai. Although they wore servant uniforms, their sleeves were conspicuously embroidered with the character 'Supervisor,' indicating that they were from the Supervisors' Department, and had a status and power beyond ordinary servants.
One of the men was a burly fellow who looked as tough as a tiger and as sturdy as a bear. He emanated the spirit pressure of the third level of Qi Condensation, and his eyes glittered coldly as he stared at Big Fatty Zhang. Apparently, he didn't seem fazed at all by Big Fatty Zhang and the others.
"Hogwash!" replied Big Fatty Zhang. "He was trying to kill my Junior Brother. How do you explain that!?" He then laughed coldly as his hand whistled through the air, causing the big black wok on his back to suddenly fly up into the air, looking completely majestic. The burly man's cohorts looked on with flickering expressions, and as for the burly man himself, his eyes widened. Then his hand flashed in an incantation gesture, causing a small flag to fly out. Mist poured out of the flag, from within which the roaring of a wild beast could be heard.
Even as the figurative swords were being drawn, Xu Baocai saw Bai Xiaochun stepping out of his thatched hut, and all his previous rancor and hatred erupted inside of him.
"Bai Xiaochun!!" he roared.
As soon as the words left Xu Baocai's mouth, he waved his hand, sending his wooden sword flying out.
Looks of shock could be seen on the faces of Big Fatty Zhang and the others. Just as they were about to leap to stop the wooden sword, the burly man from the Supervisors' Department laughed coldly and blocked their path.
However, it was in that same instant that Bai Xiaochun, eyes bloodshot, roared, "Xu Baocai, you've pushed things too far! You and I are going to go all out!"
Bai Xiaochun's heart was pounding. He had never actually been in a fight in his entire life, much less magical combat against another cultivator.
He was so nervous that he was shaking. Roaring to build his own courage, he unleashed the power of the third level of Qi Condensation, holding nothing back from his cultivation base. He poured all of his spiritual energy into his wooden sword, then waved his finger to send it flying toward Xu Baocai.
As the wooden sword whistled through the air, the two designs hidden by the garish paint flickered slightly. Suddenly, the sword expanded in size and exploded with an oppressive coldness as it bore down on Xu Baocai.
The speed and majesty with which it shot through the air caused Big Fatty Zhang, as well as the group from the Supervisors' Department, to gasp and stare in astonishment. As the ferocious aura of the sword filled the area, all hearts were struck with shock, and suddenly, nobody was interested in fighting any more, and instead stared at the sword.
Xu Baocai hadn't even gotten close to Bai Xiaochun yet, and was struck with terror by his energy. From what he could tell, this version of Bai Xiaochun was completely different than the person he had faced several months before. The way he gritted his teeth and looked like he was going all out caused Xu Baocai's heart to fill with shock.
Next, his eyes widened with disbelief as he saw Bai Xiaochun's wooden sword speeding toward him. It was like a stream of white light, bursting with the type of energy that he had only seen during fights between Outer Sect disciples. He was so flabbergasted that his scalp went numb.
A bang rang out as Bai Xiaochun's wooden sword slammed into Xu Baocai's. Xu Baocai's wooden sword trembled, completely incapable of standing up to the force of the blow. Starting from the tip, it shattered into pieces. In the blink of an eye, it was completely destroyed, transformed into countless shimmering fragments.
As for Bai Xiaochun's wooden sword, it didn't even pause. It continued to shoot through the air toward Xu Baocai, who by this point was scared witless. Using all the power he could muster, he dodged out of the way. The wooden sword whistled past him, slicing his shoulder in the process, and then slashing into a nearby tree.
A boom rattled out as the tree was chopped completely in half, and then collapsed onto the ground, sending a cloud of dust into the air. Xu Baocai let out a miserable shriek as blood splashed all over his arm. Face pale, he immediately fell back.
Luckily for him, Bai Xiaochun wasn't very adept at controlling physical objects. Otherwise, that sword would definitely have killed him.
"Third level of Qi Condensation! Impossible! This is impossible!" Xu Baocai looked at Bai Xiaochun, and he seemed as terrified as if he had just caught sight of a ghost. To be able to unleash such power in a wooden sword clearly required the third level of Qi Condensation, and he simply could not imagine how Bai Xiaochun could have made such an astonishing transformation in only a few months. Things were playing out in exactly the opposite as he had imagined they would, which was impossible for him to accept. It was like he was in a living nightmare.
He wasn't the only shocked one. The burly man from the Supervisors' Department and all of his friends all gasped and looked over at Bai Xiaochun with serious expressions.
"Forming sharpness with spiritual energy and unleashing sword light! That's only possible by cultivating the Violet Qi Cauldron Control Art into the Lightness-in-Heaviness Realm! There's no other way to unleash a divine ability like that!" The burly man from the Supervisors' Department gasped, and fear could now be seen in his eyes as he looked at Bai Xiaochun.
His fellows had the exact same reaction, and there was almost no need to even mention Big Fatty Zhang and the others, who were also completely shocked. Although they had sensed that Bai Xiaochun had reached the third level of Qi Condensation, the fact that he could cause sword light to emanate out from the wooden sword, and also make it grow larger, showed that he really had reached the Lightness-in-Heaviness Realm, something they had been completely unaware of before.
Even Bai Xiaochun was a bit shaken by what had just happened with the wooden sword. He stared at the toppled tree, then at the ashen-faced Xu Baocai, and suddenly threw his head back and laughed.
"So, Xu Baocai, it turns out you are the weak one! Eat my sword!" Delighted that he was clearly stronger than Xu Baocai, Bai Xiaochun immediately began chasing Xu Baocai, laughing the entire time.
Bai Xiaochun's gaze caused Xu Baocai to tremble, and the sight of him rushing over, laughing uproariously, was completely terrifying. Xu Baocai immediately scrambled to flee.
However, he could only take a few steps before Bai Xiaochun was upon him. As he closed in, Bai Xiaochun couldn't help but think of how Xu Baocai had chased him relentlessly, forcing him to spend so many bitter days practicing cultivation. That bitterness turned into power, which he now used to kick viciously at Xu Baocai.
"Let's see you try to kill me again!" he yelled, punching Xu Baocai in the eye. Xu Baocai let out a miserable shriek and fell to the ground. He wanted to fight back, but his cultivation base was only at the second level of Qi Condensation, leaving him powerless to do anything to Bai Xiaochun.
"You provoked the Young Master, so now he's going to show you that he's not to be trifled with!" Fuming with rage, Bai Xiaochun continued to kick and punch Xu Baocai, who was now wailing in anguish.
Cracking sounds could be heard that caused both the burly man and the others from the Supervisors' Department, as well as Big Fatty Zhang and the others, to all stare in shock. They watched Xu Baocai being beaten, and Bai Xiaochun excitedly doing the beating, and their hearts prickled with fear.
Tears streamed down Xu Baocai's face, and his heart overflowed with grief. He still couldn't believe that Bai Xiaochun had experienced such a drastic transformation in just a few short months. Even more unbelievable was that he could use the divine ability of Lightness-in-Heaviness. That was something that was impossible to achieve without years of work and significant skill.
In his mind, Bai Xiaochun obviously must have someone powerful helping him. Furthermore, he was surely more powerful than he had let on before. However, because of his despicable and shameless personality, he had pretended to be weak. Most outrageous was that Xu Baocai had completely fallen for the act.
At that point, Xu Baocai was overwhelmed with sorrow, and simply passed out.
Seeing that Xu Baocai had fallen unconscious, Bai Xiaochun patted the dust off of his clothes and then waved his hand, causing his wooden sword to fly over into his sleeve. Then, looking every bit the lonely hero, he did his best to hide the excitement in his eyes.
The burly man from the Supervisors' Department looked deeply at him, his expression conflicted. Finally, he clasped hands and bowed.
"Junior Brother Bai, you did a good job of concealing your true strength," he said, his face expressionless. "You've earned our admiration." Then, he turned and left with his fellows, picking up the unconscious Xu Baocai and taking him along too.
After they left, Big Fatty Zhang and the others clustered around Bai Xiaochun, smiling broadly. After all, the people from the Supervisors' Department were outsiders, and they knew that Bai Xiaochun had worked hard over the past months. Therefore they were pleased with the overall outcome.
"Nice work, kid. You didn't kill yourself for half a year for nothing!" Big Fatty Zhang patted Bai Xiaochun's shoulder.
"That's right. I worked so hard that I scared even myself!" Bai Xiaochun lifted his chin as proudly as a cocky rooster, as if daring Big Fatty Zhang and the others to ever laugh at him again.