The peak lord from Sunset Peak let out a cold harrumph and waved his right sleeve. Instantly, a powerful force descended onto the trembling Sunset Peak disciples. To them, it felt like mountains were crushing down on them, provoking miserable shrieks of pain.
The Beihan siblings felt even more pressure than the others. Their faces twisted in pain as their cultivation bases shook. Although their hatred for Bai Xiaochun surged, they couldn’t let any of it show on their faces.
“The lot of you had better get the hell back to the north bank this instant! Go into secluded meditation and don’t come out for ten years!” Although the peak lord of Sunset Peak was the one to take action, these were disciples from his mountain peak, so he was actually protecting them to some extent. Although he seemed to be acting harshly, he actually was sympathetic to their cause. With a wave of a sleeve, he caused a powerful wind to spring up that swept the Sunset Peak disciples off into the distance.
Looking back at Bai Xiaochun, he plastered another smile onto his face and slowly said, “Xiaochun, can you remember now?”
Bai Xiaochun knew that he shouldn’t push things too far. Things had already worked out quite well for him, so he cleared his throat in satisfaction.
“Hahaha! There’s no need for all of this, Elder Brother. As a Prestige disciple, and the Junior Brother of the sect leader, how could I lower myself to the same level as those raucous Sect Nephews? What a bunch of naughty and mischievous kids.” The way Bai Xiaochun was acting as if he really were of the same generation as him caused the peak lord of Sunset Peak to grimace inwardly. Off to the side, Zheng Yuandong cleared his throat, and yet again wished he could take back his impulsive decision from years before.
Bai Xiaochun ignored the strange looks and puffed his chest out. Suppressing his feeling of pride, he prepared to finish explaining the pill formula.
At that point, Li Qinghou cleared his throat.
“Self-created pill formulas are precious to apothecaries,” he said coolly. “I wonder what else the north bank has prepared to offer in exchange for the formula.”
Bai Xiaochun blinked, and then stood there looking up at the four north bank peak lords.
The peak lords exchanged glances. Then the old woman from Irispetal Peak pulled out a green pearl filled with swirling mist. The magnetic pulses it emitted caused everything in the area to fill with ripples.
“This is a Protomagnetic Pearl,” she explained, “extracted from the heart of a Protomagnetic Giant. It even contains a bit of pure protomagnetic power. Used on its own, it can exert influence on all magical items within a certain area. Even to Foundation Establishment cultivators, it could be considered an extraordinary treasure. It would be difficult to use directly with only a Qi Condensation cultivation base. However, the Heavenhorn Pavilion happens to have a pair of magnetic spirit wings which, if used with the Protomagnetic Pearl, can be a powerful trump card for the Qi Condensation stage. With those wings, you could move so fast that even a Foundation Establishment cultivator would have a hard time keeping up with you!
“Bai Xiaochun, having taken first place in the Chosen battles, you have the right to go select any treasure you want from the Chosen Pavilion. I’ve already taken the liberty of bringing the magnetic spirit wings to give you, along with the pearl, in exchange for the pill formula!” Even as the words left her mouth, the old woman waved her right hand, causing a set of green wings to appear. They, along with the pearl, flew over to float in front of Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun’s eyes began to shine. He could already move with incredible quickness, but if a Foundation Establishment cultivator really wanted to chase him down, he wouldn’t be able to outrun them. However, with the Protomagnetic Pearl and the magnetic spirit wings in combination with his speed, he could move unbelievably quickly. A life-saving object such as that was something that left his heart pounding.
“Furthermore,” the old woman continued with a stiff smile, “if luck is on your side, you might even be able to sense the manifestation of protomagnetic power. With that, you might be able to gain enlightenment of one of the top ten secret magics of the Spirit Stream Sect, Arcane Gravitational Repulsion!”
Bai Xiaochun licked his lips, and was just about to agree, when he suddenly stopped and looked over at Li Qinghou to see whether or not he approved. He had long since come to view Li Qinghou as one of his own relatives, and as such, would follow his lead. If Li Qinghou asked him to hand over the pill formula, then Bai Xiaochun would do so without hesitation.
To him, it was just a pill formula. To the north bank, it was like a holy relic. The truth was that Bai Xiaochun had lots of strange pills in his bag of holding. In fact, he was already coming to the conclusion that he should start testing some of them out to see what wondrous effects they might have.
Li Qinghou glanced at the Protomagnetic Pearl and the magnetic spirit wings, then looked over at the four north bank peak lords. Eventually, his gaze came to rest on the old woman. Eyes glittering, he suddenly said, “Add in one of the other ten secret magics, the legacy of the north bank… the Waterswamp Kingdom!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, Sect Leader Zheng Yuandong’s eyelids twitched.
“Impossible!” barked the peak lord of Sunset Peak angrily. He wasn’t the only one to disagree so vehemently. The peak lord of Archway Peak, the old man, glared at Li Qinghou with wide eyes.
“Li the Swindler appears again!” he sneered. “This is preposterous! The Waterswamp Kingdom is a legacy of the north bank, one of the top ten secret magics of the Spirit Stream Sect! It’s a top-rated technique on the same level as Ghosts Haunt the Night. There is absolutely no way we’ll give it to someone from the south bank!”
Bai Xiaochun looked up at the commotion above, and when he heard the peak lord from Archway Peak call Li Qinghou ‘Li the Swindler’, his jaw dropped.
“Is that supposed to be a joke?” Li Qinghou said coldly, flicking his sleeve. “A thousand years ago, Ghosts Haunt the Night was the legacy of Violet Cauldron Peak! You north bank people were happy to take it away in trade, but now that the south bank wants to trade for one of your legacy secret magics, you refuse? Ludicrous!”
The north bank’s peak lords were at a loss for words.
The peak lord of Ghostfang Peak was a partially translucent figure whose features couldn’t be seen clearly. Sighing, he said, “Ghosts Haunt the Night is a perfect match for Ghostfang Peak. Besides, all that happened years ago. It’s not worth bringing up now. As far as the Waterswamp Kingdom goes, only a handful of people have ever successfully cultivated it, such as Patriarch Heavenwing, eight thousand years ago. Nobody else did anything with it other than produce some useless spirits. It’s far too difficult. Peak Lord Li, why are you making things hard for us?”
“No Waterswamp Kingdom? No pill formula,” Li Qinghou said with decisiveness that could sever nails and chop iron.
Bai Xiaochun looked up in wonderment as the peak lords argued about the Waterswamp Kingdom. He had been under the impression that the offer was good enough already, although the Waterswamp Kingdom had always sounded interesting to him. At the same time, he had a new understanding of Li Qinghou. He was truly providing a shining example of how to rip people off. Could that be why he had been called ‘Li the Swindler’?
Having reached this point in his train of thought, Bai Xiaochun looked up at Li Qinghou, his eyes shining with admiration.
The north bank peak lords grumbled a bit, but in the end, agreed to the demands. Although their legacy secret magic was important, the medicinal pill was even more precious to them.
Moments later, Li Qinghou directed Bai Xiaochun to explain the complete formula for the Aphrodisiac Pill. Considering how important the pill was, the peak lords had long since sealed the area tight so that no one would be able to eavesdrop.
After Bai Xiaochun finished, the four peak lords took some time to examine the complete formula. Then they nodded, and the old woman from Irispetal Peak tossed a blue jade slip out toward Bai Xiaochun.
“The Waterswamp Kingdom is one of the most powerful of the ten secret magics. It is a divine ability which requires that you observe all types of beasts, and use that knowledge to create your own life essence spirit. Creating something from nothing, use the waterswamp to give it form, and summon a physical kingdom.
“For the past ten thousand years, everyone in the Spirit Stream Sect who has attempted to form a life essence spirit have produced simple, ordinary creatures. The only exceptions are Patriarch Heavenwing, who formed a domineering Heavenwing Gargoyle, as well as a few others like him.
“As for what type of life essence spirit is formed, that depends on the cultivator’s understanding of spirit creatures. If a hundred people cultivated the Waterswamp Kingdom, a hundred different life essence spirits would result, some powerful, some weak. Some, like the Heavenwing Gargoyle, were shockingly powerful. Others produced nothing more than a bunny or a snake.
“Bai Xiaochun, you are a south bank disciple, and although there is competition between the north and south banks, we are all one family. I truly hope that you can succeed in cultivating your own life essence spirit.” Of course, despite her words, neither she nor any of the other three peak lords truly believed that Bai Xiaochun would have any measure of success in his cultivation of the Waterswamp Kingdom.
One reason for that, of course, was that the Waterswamp Kingdom required one to carefully observe and study a large number of spirit creatures, something that was virtually impossible to do on the south bank.
The transaction having been completed, the four peak lords from the north bank left along with Zheng Yuandong. Li Qinghou stayed behind. There was warmth in his eyes, but it was hidden beneath the sharp look that suddenly appeared.
He began by reprimanding Bai Xiaochun, telling him not to get arrogant over having taken first place in the Chosen battles. He then gave him some tips regarding his cultivation base, and finally gave him some more detailed information regarding the bracelet he’d given him, as well as the Protomagnetic Pearl.
“The Protomagnetic Pearl and the magnetic spirit wings will be of great use to you. Take the time to get familiar with how to use them. As for the Waterswamp Kingdom, it’s even more profound than the Magic Plant Soldiers we have here on Fragrant Cloud Peak. By the way, the Dragon Mammoth Sea-Forming Scripture was created by the founding patriarch of the sect, who led the campaign from the Heavenspan delta into the Lower Reaches. Make sure to study it well. It will make things much smoother for you when I teach you the Magic Plant Soldiers technique.” After giving some more exhortation, he turned to leave.
Profoundly moved, Bai Xiaochun clasped hands and bowed deeply. However, he couldn’t hold back from curiously asking, “Uncle Li, um… why did they call you Li the Swindler? That was ridiculous!”
Li Qinghou stopped in mid-stride. Face darkening, he glared back at Bai Xiaochun and said, “Stop prying into the affairs of adults! Just remember that we apothecaries treasure the Dao of medicine. We don’t just give things out for free!”
With that, Li Qinghou left.
The more Bai Xiaochun thought about the matter, the more his eyes began to shine with praise. He was now almost completely convinced that acquiring medicinal pills from Li Qinghou must be quite a pain for most people….
After Li Qinghou left, Bai Xiaochun went back into his immortal’s cave. Now that he knew the Dragon Mammoth Sea-Forming Scripture was created by the founding patriarch of the sect, his heart swelled with admiration.
“In the introduction to the scripture, the founding patriarch talked about shackles. I wonder what exactly those shackles are?” After some more thought, he came up with some ideas, but had no way to confirm whether or not they were correct. Shaking his head, he pulled out the Protomagnetic Pearl and, following the instructions given by Li Qinghou, put it into his mouth and swallowed it.
The pearl dissolved into mist which flowed through his body and came to rest in his dantian region. There was nothing uncomfortable about the sensation, and in fact, he even felt a bit lighter. After moving around a bit, he realized that he could move even more quickly than before. It was almost as if some strange connection now existed between him and his surroundings.
Filled with a sense of wonder, he produced the magnetic spirit wings. They were green, and as diaphanous as the wings of a cicada, almost transparent. After a moment, Bai Xiaochun exhaled some spiritual energy onto the wings, and they began to melt. It took the time it takes an incense stick to burn, and during the process, his eyes glittered. Eventually, the wings melted into his palm, and then appeared on his back.
Like blood dissolving in water, they became a part of him, and were as easy to control as his own arms. Expression brightening, he exercised a single thought, and the wings fluttered.
He instantly transformed into nothing more than afterimages, shooting at high speed toward the wall of the immortal’s cave. He let out a shriek as he tried to stop, but was unfamiliar with controlling the wings and slammed into the wall.
A boom rang out, and the entire immortal’s cave shook. Thankfully, Bai Xiaochun’s fleshly body was quite tough, and nothing happened other than him ending up being embedded in the stone wall. After a long moment passed, he flopped down onto the ground and let out a groan.
Gritting his teeth, he struggled to his feet and glanced up at the spot where he’d run into the wall. Not daring to perform any more tests indoors, he walked outside, summoned his courage, and then flapped the wings again. In the blink of an eye, he was far off in the distance.
A few days later, he was much more familiar with how to control the speed of the wings, and it was a wonderful sensation. He almost felt invincible.
“Hahaha! I’m so fast that not even Elder Zhou could catch me!” He threw his head back and laughed uproariously as he flew a few circles in the air before returning to his immortal’s cave.