Days passed. Bai Xiaochun spent his time in secluded meditation, not taking even a single step outdoors. Ten days later, the sound of bells filled the sect, and Bai Xiaochun’s jade slip began to vibrate.
The Chosen battles between the south and north banks were about to begin!
Like they did every thirty years, the matches would be held on Mount Daoseed. As the sound of bells rang out to fill the sect, countless Outer Sect disciples flooded toward that very mountain.
Normally, the north and south banks had few dealings with each other. Only Inner Sect disciples qualified to travel back and forth between them. Now that Mount Daoseed had been opened up, Outer Sect disciples from both banks excitedly rushed over to watch the Chosen battles.
“This time our south bank is definitely going to wash away the disgrace of past times!”
“We’re going to make sure the north bank knows that we’ve risen to new heights of glory!”
The south bank Outer Sect disciples were all very excited. At the same time, the Outer Sect disciples from the north bank were also rushing toward Mount Daoseed, boasting amongst themselves the entire way.
“The south bank is so weak! They’ve lost to us for a thousand years, and this time will be no different!”
“The south bank is destined to lose. In the Spirit Stream Sect, the north bank rules and the south bank drools!!”
The buzz of conversation filled the air as countless Outer Sect disciples streamed toward Mount Daoseed. On Green Crest Peak, Shangguan Tianyou stood there with a cold expression on his face, his gaze as sharp as daggers as he suddenly flew out into the air.
Meanwhile, on Violet Cauldron Peak, Lu Tianlei threw his head back and bellowed. Electricity danced around him as he burst into motion, accompanied by the cheers of numerous disciples.
Zhou Xinqi also flew out into the air. The three great Chosen of the south bank all had very serious looks on their faces.
As for Bai Xiaochun, he was still in his residence, his eyes bloodshot as he took a deep breath. Looking very serious, he said, “The time has come…. When the warrior goes to battle, he must don his combat uniform!” Rising slowly to his feet, he slapped his bag of holding, producing eight leather jackets. The jackets he’d worn during his fight with the Luochen Clan had all been destroyed. These were new jackets, of higher quality and much more durable.
After somberly donning all of the leather clothing, he waved his arm.
“When the warrior goes to battle, he must have his armor!” With that, a large wok flew out of his bag of holding. Big Fatty Zhang’s wok had also been destroyed in the fighting with the Luochen Clan. This was a new wok that he’d acquired after his return. Looking very serious, he strapped the black wok to his back.
“When the warrior goes to battle, he must have a magical weapon!” Even as the words left his mouth, he waved his hand, causing a little wooden sword to fly out, which he strapped to his left side. Next came the Golden Crow Sword, which he placed on his other side. After that came three more flying swords, which he strapped to his back. Finally was the Divine Crane Shield, which he attached to his forearm.
However, he still didn’t feel at ease. After putting on the bracelet from Li Qinghou, he stuck his chin out and began to walk forward solemnly. Clanging and clattering, he walked out of his log cabin.
Outside, he could hear the sound of bells ringing. After taking a few steps, he suddenly remembered something, and quickly slapped his bag of holding to produce a long spear, which he held in hand.
The wind blowing his hair up, he left his courtyard.
From a distance, he almost looked like a ball. He had a huge wok on his back, a long spear in his hand, and had flying swords strapped here and there. It was quite a sight.
As he walked along, countless Outer Sect disciples of Fragrant Cloud Peak saw him and were shocked.
The ringing of bells grew more intense, causing the hearts of countless Outer Sect disciples to begin to pound. There were even some Inner Sect disciples who made their way to Mount Daoseed to watch the proceedings.
As Bai Xiaochun made his way along, more and more Outer Sect disciples joined him. Xu Baocai was among their number, and he took the lead in the cheering.
“Sect Uncle Bai is beyond amazing! He’s a hero of the ages!”
“He’s definitely gonna win! Definitely!” Quite a large group of Outer Sect disciples crowded around him, fans who took it upon themselves to escort him along his way. One of the most prominent was Hou Xiaomei, whose voice rose up above the others as she cheered.
Bai Xiaochun was quite moved, and nodded magnanimously to the surrounding disciples. Considering how much everyone was cheering him on, he figured he really did need to do something to be worthy of it all….
Chin jutting out, he strutted proudly all the way to Mount Daoseed. The first thing he saw when he got there was the huge battle arena which had been set up, which glittered with the light of an enormous spell formation.
Further off in the distance were the various peaks of Mount Daoseed. From within the buildings that dotted their surfaces, quite a few sect elders were emerging and flying over toward the arena.
On either side of the arena floor were the stands, which were being filled with numerous Outer Sect disciples. From the look of things, there were tens of thousand of them.
On the north side of the arena were the disciples from the north bank, who, generally speaking, seemed a lot more impressive than the south bank disciples. Almost every single one of them had some sort of fierce beast accompanying them.
The beasts were all different, but each one had a brutal gleam in its eyes, and none seemed like the type it would be wise to provoke. At the very front of all the north bank disciples was a smaller group consisting of both young men and women. Their expressions were cold, and all seemed to burst with energy.
Most conspicuous of the group was a beautiful young woman wearing a long violet gown. Standing next to her was a seven-colored phoenix that seemed even more elegant than Elder Zhou’s phoenixes. It had lightning-like eyes that seemed to look down upon all creation.
Next to the young woman was a young man in a long blue robe. He was extremely handsome, and shockingly, had the mark of a red sun on his forehead.
Lounging at his feet was an enormous dog, with thick black fur and razor-sharp claws. It even seemed to emanate a golden light.
Its long, sharp teeth looked particularly ferocious, and it was large enough to ride as a mount. If it rose to its feet, it would probably be as tall as two people, and seemed shockingly powerful. Clearly, its fleshly body strength was unimaginable.
The young man with the mark of the red star was none other than one of the north bank’s five great Chosen, Beihan Lie. The huge dog laying at his feet was the famous… Nightstalker Beast!
Near the young man and young woman was another disciple who wore a black robe that covered his face. Only his coldly glittering eyes could be seen, and if one looked closely enough, it was possible to see venomous insects squirming around inside of them!
The mere sight of these Chosen caused the disciples of the south bank to tremble in fear.
As for all the north bank disciples… they looked across the battle arena scornfully at the south bank disciples!
“The south bank always loses. The only people worth paying attention to are Shangguan Tianyou, Lu Tianlei, and Zhou Xinqi.”
“I heard someone else has become famous on the south bank recently. He took first place in the qualifying round. Supposedly he’s a Prestige disciple, and the Junior Brother of the sect leader?”
“It doesn’t matter who he is. He’ll be useless against the north bank. We’re the most powerful by far!”
The Outer Sect disciples from the south bank were mostly assembled, and their numbers were clearly fewer than the disciples from the north bank.
“They’re nothing but a bunch of animal trainers and bug lovers. The south bank is going to get revenge this time around for sure!”
“We’re definitely going to make them lose some face!”
Standing in front of all the south bank disciples were nine disciples, with Shangguan Tianyou, Lu Tianlei, and Zhou Xinqi being the most prominent among them. There were six others with somber expressions, who seemed to seethe with violence. This group was made up of the Chosen from the south bank, and they were currently staring fiercely at the people from the north bank.
It was in the middle of this fierce staring contest that Bai Xiaochun showed up.
Shangguan Tianyou instantly looked over at him, as did all of the south bank disciples in the audience. Thoughtful expressions appeared in their eyes, and the conversations immediately died down.
Mixed emotions could be seen in Shangguan Tianyou’s icy eyes as looked at Bai Xiaochun, and his heart filled with begrudging defiance.
Lu Tianlei looked equally defiant as he glared hatefully at Bai Xiaochun, electricity dancing around him.
Zhou Xinqi stood there silently, eyes shining with a strange light, as if she were measuring Bai Xiaochun carefully, trying to determine exactly how much power was contained within his slight frame.
People from the north bank also couldn’t help but look over at him. However, he was a stranger to them, and the way he was dressed provoked instant scorn.
The north bank Chosen didn’t even deign to pay him any attention.
Finding himself to be the center of so much attention made Bai Xiaochun feel a bit embarrassed. Clearing his throat, he stuck his chest out, hefted his spear, and strutted over to stand next to Zhou Xinqi.
When he realized that both sides were staring threateningly at each other, his spirits instantly rose.
“A staring contest! I’m great at those!” He immediately looked over at the north bank disciples, a very serious expression on his face.
In that moment, a breeze picked up, lifting his long hair off of his back. Coupled with the fact that he held a long spear in his hand, he cut quite an impressive figure.
As time passed, more people began to fill the stands on either side. A huge sea of people was growing, separated only by the arena floor.
Soon, all of the north bank Chosen had arrived. The last one to show up was a young man in a long black robe. He was handsome, but his face was so pale that it seemed to be completely devoid of blood. He came to stand in front of all the other Chosen, where he closed his eyes, an expression of seeming complete disinterest on his face. In the same moment that he closed his eyes, the air around him seemed to twist and distort, as if he were surrounded by countless fierce ghosts, arisen from the shadows of hell.
About this time, beams of light flew toward the battle arena from both the north and south banks. Among them were the seven peak lords from the seven mountain peaks.
Elder Zhou was also there, accompanied by an arrogant phoenix which flew around him. When the phoenix saw Bai Xiaochun, it looked at him with a very supercilious glare.
Sect Leader Zheng Yuandong was also in the group. After everyone had gathered, he looked at the disciples from the north and south banks, then said, “The joint south and north bank Outer Sect Chosen battles were last won by the north bank. As such, they may send twelve disciples into battle.
“As the previous loser, the south bank may only send ten people into battle.
“There will be a total of twenty-two competitors. Opponents will be chosen by drawing lots. The goal of the competition is to select the top ten disciples, as well as… the number one disciple!
“We are here to help each other learn and grow, so killing is not permitted. After every round, you will be given three incense sticks’ worth of time to recover. If your opponent concedes, you must immediately cease fighting. The competition will be presided over by Ouyang Jie from the Hall of Justice.
“Perform well. Four prime elders will be observing the battle with divine sense…. And now, let the Outer Sect Chosen battles… begin!”