Chapter 914: The Unpredictable Human Heart
Now that the demigod patriarch was back, the disciples of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect began to make their way back from the four cities and onto the rainbows again.
After being cleansed with pollen, the rainbows’ color had been restored. However, the enormous hole remained in the blue rainbow. In fact, anyone who looked up at that hole would be able to see Bai Xiaochun inside of it….
Bai Xiaochun felt like leaving, but every time he was about to, a terrifying stream of divine sense would descend from the violet rainbow, forcing him to bow his head and remain in place, floating there cross-legged….
“If I’d known things would end up like this, I would have said I was planning to rebuild the immortal’s cave instead of talking about how much I cared about the sect.” He sighed. Being forced to live like this was just as bad as being strung up in front of the entire sect. It was very embarrassing.
“At least the color came back to the rainbows, and none of the disciples were hurt….” When he contemplated those things, his guilt lessened a bit.
To Bai Xiaochun, it was a big loss of face. However, that was only because he didn’t know the demigod patriarch very well. The truth was that the man was extremely cruel and strict. Everyone who had ever had dealings with him had been under the impression that he would dole out severe sanctions!
“That’s no punishment! That’s not even a slap on the wrist…. It's clearly someone from the senior generation favoring someone from the junior generation!”
“Why does Bai Xiaochun get this kind of treatment?! He’s not even one of us! It would be one thing if he kept a low profile in the sect, but instead, he does the opposite!”
“What a pity. Even after all that, he didn’t get killed. You know, I never really liked the River-Defying Sect. What gave them the right to rise to prominence? And what gave this Bai Xiaochun the right to do what he did? Hmph! They’re nothing but country bumpkins. Even the lowest person in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect is better than them!”
Talk like this had been spreading secretly from the moment Bai Xiaochun was appointed as a prime elder. The Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect was a riversource sect, and its disciples were a very proud lot. They always looked down on the sects from downriver, and viewed them as little more than rustic villagers. Therefore, it was only natural that Bai Xiaochun’s rise to prominence would lead to some jealousy.
Before, no one had ever dared to speak such things in the open. But after he started concocting medicine, they simply couldn’t keep their feelings inside anymore. In fact, they were so upset that they didn’t even consider the fact that the pill concocting didn't actually harm them.
Now, new jealousies and grievances were piled onto the old. Soon, word about how everyone hated this ‘country bumpkin’ reached Bai Xiaochun himself, leaving him feeling both bitter and stunned.
“I guess there was no need to be so worried about them!” he thought. Yet again, he was reminded that the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect was not his home. No, he only had one home. The River-Defying Sect!
However, before the gossip could intensify too much, new news was broken, something that deeply shocked everyone.
The Celestial… was taking in a new apprentice!!
The news spread like wildfire, especially on the rainbows of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect. At the same time, the enormous battleship on the Heavenspan Sea began to rumble with noise, causing the talk to spread even faster.
Bai Xiaochun was actually the first to notice the noise coming from the battleship. Shocked, he sent some divine sense out, and could immediately sense that the huge thing was powering up by sucking in the energy of heaven and earth in the area.
Back when his cultivation base was lower, he would never have been able to detect such a thing. But now that he was a deva, he picked up on the clues immediately. The battleship was clearly some ancient magical device that could operate only by absorbing large amounts of spiritual power from the surrounding sea water.
However, it needed a bit of time to power up. From what he could tell, it would be several days before it could set sail.
“The Celestial is accepting a new apprentice?” he murmured, eyes narrowing. “And the battleship is powering up?”
This was not his first time hearing the rumors about the Celestial taking in a new apprentice. Patriarch Spirit Stream had mentioned something similar, and in fact, that was one of the reasons Bai Xiaochun had returned to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect to begin with.
“Isn’t the Celestial doing fine as it is? What does he need a new apprentice for?” Bai Xiaochun already found the thing suspicious. Three days later, the noise from the battleship ceased, and fluctuations began to roll out from it, indicating that it could set sail at any time.
Around that time, cultivators began to arrive from the Middle Reaches and Lower Reaches. Even delta cultivators came.
All of them acted very cautiously, and none dared to enter the sect itself. Instead, they camped in the surrounding regions. The Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect did nothing to stop them, and as time went by, more and more arrived.
These were people from all over the eastern river region, people whose cultivation bases… were at the Nascent Soul stage!
Those who were friends with Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect disciples were able to enter the sect. All such people were from the Middle Reaches. None of the Lower Reaches or delta cultivators had friends in the riversource sect, and so none of them dared to do such a thing.
This influx of cultivators fueled all sorts of rumors about the Celestial taking in a new apprentice. The disciples in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect gossiped nonstop about the matter.
“It seems the rumors are true!”
“I can’t believe the Celestial is actually accepting a new apprentice!! Heavens! This is basically a chance to rise to the highest heights in a single bound! The ultimate good fortune!!”
“You know what I heard? The Celestial is going to pick this new apprentice at any moment! And the apprentice could come from any of the four river branches. Up to now, he's only accepted four apprentices….”
“I heard the same thing. Supposedly, the Celestial’s four apprentices… are the four demigod patriarchs from the four riversource sects!!”
Of course, Xu Baocai was on top of the situation from the very get-go. Before long, he had compiled a detailed report, which he brought to Bai Xiaochun.
After hurrying over to the gaping hole in the blue rainbow, he found Bai Xiaochun and said, “Junior Patriarch, something big is happening!!”
Bai Xiaochun was currently holding a jade slip in his hand, a message from Patriarch Steel Veins which contained detailed information about the matter of the Celestial accepting a new apprentice.
When he heard Xu Baocai’s voice, he put the jade slip away, looking clearly shaken.
“Did you hear me, Junior Patriarch?” Xu Baocai gushed. “The Celestial is taking in a new apprentice!!
“Up to now, the Celestial has only ever had four apprentices, and one of them is the demigod patriarch of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect!
“Now he’s accepting a fifth apprentice. As you can imagine… whoever becomes that fifth apprentice will also become a demigod expert one day!!
“I also heard that whenever the Celestial accepts a new apprentice, he’ll do so, not just from the eastern part of the river, but from all four branches. The main limitation is that only people in the Nascent Soul stage or above can participate. Other than that, anyone can come register at one of the riversource sects. The riversource sects are prohibited from interfering, and in fact, are responsible for making sure that everyone who registers gets to Heavenspan Island!” Xu Baocai held nothing back, and told Bai Xiaochun everything he knew.
The reason Bai Xiaochun looked shaken was that all the information Xu Baocai had just told him was information he had already been made privy to in the jade slip that Patriarch Steel Veins gave him.
There was another bit of news that Xu Baocai hadn’t uncovered, and in fact, very few people were aware of yet.
And that was… the Celestial planned to pick his new apprentice by means of a trial by fire. Apparently, there was an arcane pocket realm on Heavenspan Island that could be entered by anyone from the Nascent Soul stage to the Demigod Realm!
No one knew exactly what would happen inside that pocket realm, but they did know that there was one main requirement…. The first person to get out of it would become the Celestial’s fifth apprentice!
Furthermore, the top 100 people who emerged from the pocket realm but didn’t become an apprentice would get a special reward!
The mere chance to become an apprentice of the Celestial was viewed by countless people as a matter of unheard-of good fortune. That alone was enough to drive people crazy, even devas.
However, what captured Bai Xiaochun’s interest was not the matter of becoming an apprentice, but rather, the special reward!
The runners up… would get a medicinal pill!
They were pills personally concocted by the Celestial, pills that were extremely rare, pills that were called… Millennium Longevity Pills!!
A single such pill would give a person an extra 1,000 years of longevity, and it was no exaggeration to call them immortal pills. Despite being a grandmaster apothecary, not even Bai Xiaochun would be able to make pills like that.
One of the reasons was that among the ingredients was a marvelous type of vegetation that had long since gone extinct!
Bai Xiaochun could tell that Millennium Longevity Pills would be extremely valuable, even to the Celestial!
For cultivators who were at a bottleneck with their cultivation, and had limited time, a Millennium Longevity Pill would be a crucial way to buy more time to make a breakthrough.
It could help Nascent Soul cultivators become devas, and could help devas prepare to become demigods!
As could be imagined, Bai Xiaochun was especially attracted to such pills. After all, his main focus in life was to live forever. Therefore, to have Millennium Longevity Pills dangled right in front of him caused his eyes to go bloodshot and even twitch because of the internal struggle.
How could a thousand years of longevity not profoundly affect him?
Unfortunately, his encounter with the Celestial back in the Wildlands had left him with a very bad feeling. For him to accept an apprentice at this particular critical moment… seemed very suspicious!
Had the Celestial not received a grievous injury, it might seem less odd. But Bai Xiaochun couldn’t help but wonder why he would suddenly be interested in an apprentice, given his current state.
Xu Baocai could see that Bai Xiaochun felt torn about the matter, and couldn’t help but wonder why. From what Xu Baocai could tell, Bai Xiaochun could participate and not even try to win. Even considering that it was a competition among chosen from all four of the river branches, Xu Baocai was still convinced that Bai Xiaochun would fare extremely well.
Bai Xiaochun didn't feel comfortable explaining his hesitation to Xu Baocai. He simply sat there, unable to prevent his heart from racing. After sending Xu Baocai away, he sighed.
“To go? Or not to go?” He shook his head, pondering what the best decision was.