In almost the exact same moment that the ghost face spoke, the golden lightning bolt distorted, and a man walked out, clad in a green robe, an imperial crown on his head.
He seemed threatening without being angry, and had such profound energy that he could be none other than the Celestial!
“You managed to keep yourself hidden for a long time. At long last, I’ve found you!” Smiling excitedly, the Celestial blurred into motion toward the ghost face.
The ghost face let out a piercing cry; he knew that he couldn’t escape this fight, and therefore, he charged directly into battle.
In the shortest of moments, deafening booms were ringing out.
Bai Xiaochun had just barely escaped with his life, and yet, wasn’t happy about that at all. In fact, coldness gripped his heart. He couldn’t stop thinking about how unhappy Du Lingfei seemed at the idea of her father coming, and that was very strange.
Just now… the Celestial had emerged from the golden light surrounding Du Lingfei. Furthermore, she had said that he was “already here.” That in turn seemed to imply that the Celestial had intentionally allowed both of them to be put into extreme danger within that black smoke, all to get the opportunity he sought.
Clearly… he had been after a chance to strike at the ghost face.
And that opportunity… was worth more to him than the safety of his own daughter!
Having reached this point in his train of thought, Bai Xiaochun looked over at Du Lingfei, and could see the bitter disappointment in her eyes.
Much of what Bai Xiaochun knew about the Celestial was only speculation and conjecture. But as the man’s daughter, Du Lingfei knew him well.
She had originally assumed that her father really had sent her and Bai Xiaochun into the north to find out the truth about whether her Eldest Sister was alive or not.
But now, she realized that the matter of her Eldest Sister had apparently been secondary in importance. The Celestial had thrown both her and Bai Xiaochun out as bait to try to reel in the ghost face from the bone galleon!
Although she couldn’t be sure why her father thought that she and Bai Xiaochun would be enough to entice the ghost face, clearly, it had worked.
“Father,” she thought, “everything you do is to leave this world. But… is it all worth it? Is the mere act of leaving more important than family…?” Du Lingfei felt like her heart was being torn apart as she watched her father fighting the ghost face.
By now, the Celestial’s injuries had recovered significantly, and for some unknown reason, the ghost face was not able to get the upper hand. Snorting coldly, the Celestial advanced and said, “It wasn’t easy tracking you down. Don't even think about trying to get away!”
The ghost face chuckled coldly. “Using your own flesh and blood to lure me out? You definitely live up to your reputation of being ambitious and ruthless!”
“Yeah? So what?!” Apparently, the Celestial didn't see anything wrong at all with using his daughter the way he had. After all, she was still alive. And the enigmatic ghost face was almost impossible to track down once it went into hiding.
He was absolutely determined to capture him, and so to him, using Bai Xiaochun and Du Lingfei as bait was well worth it. Not only did he plan to use the ghost face to come to a better understanding of the world beyond, but he also hoped to refine him into a personal treasure.
Success would give him a boost in battle prowess that might help him force the gravekeeper to open the Worldgate. If not, perhaps the knowledge he gained would allow him to do that on his own.
The truth was that the Celestial had been overcome with despair when the bone galleon left. And the fact that the ghost face had stayed behind of his own initiative gave him one final possibility to succeed before resorting to the final method that he wished to avoid!
The Celestial and the laughing-crying ghost face rose higher and higher into the sky as they fought, and also began to move off into the distance, until they weren’t even visible.
At that point, the screaming wind that battered the ice plain finally died down, and everything went calm.
However, Bai Xiaochun simply could not calm his heart and mind. And unfortunately, he didn’t know how to comfort Du Lingfei. Sighing, he walked over, slowly wrapped his arms around her and picked her up.
She went stiff at first, but as she felt the warmth of his arms and chest, she slowly sagged into his arms, as if from exhaustion.
“He was never like this before….” she murmured. All of a sudden, she seemed profoundly weak, causing Bai Xiaochun to sigh.
After a while, she seemed to pull herself together. Looking up at him, she softly said, “What do you think, Xiaochun? Is it really that important to leave this world?”
“I don't really know….” he said, shaking his head. “But I do know that if it were me, I wouldn't want to leave. I like the lands of Heavenspan, and I even like the Wildlands. Why the hell would I want to leave?” He spoke the truth from the bottom of his heart. The Celestial made it seem like the lands of Heavenspan were a prison that he couldn’t wait to escape from, an attitude that Bai Xiaochun just couldn’t understand.
As far as he was concerned, as long as he had enough longevity, and had his friends and family with him, then the lands of Heavenspan were wonderful…. Furthermore, Ghostmother had made it obvious that the world beyond was a strange and dangerous place.
Why would anyone want to jump headfirst into danger…? Although, to be fair, Bai Xiaochun also felt like the gravekeeper was being a bit unreasonable. If the Celestial wanted to leave, why not just open the Worldgate for him?
Du Lingfei smiled in response to his words, a beautiful smile that seemed to brighten the surrounding darkness of night. As the moonlight fell down onto them, surrounded as they were by ice, it was a lovely scene.
“I don’t want to leave here either,” she murmured. “I'm the same as you. I just want peace and quiet, and my friends and family. A simple life….
“Except… I don’t even have any friends…. Xiaochun, look at me. After all the years I’ve lived, I don’t have even a single one…. And I don’t even know what my own mother looked like….”
Bai Xiaochun didn't say anything in response. Holding her even tighter, he began to walk forward aimlessly through the night.
Eventually the sun rose off in the distance, casting its warm radiance across the lands. Bai Xiaochun and Du Lingfei had walked the whole night, but now they stopped in place.
All of a sudden, a golden lightning bolt appeared up in the sky, which pierced through the air for a time until it resolved into the form of a man in a green robe.
The Celestial had returned!
He held a ball of black smoke in his hand, which was none other than the laughing-crying ghost face. It did not struggle, and could not escape. Clearly, his efforts to capture the thing had been a success. The Celestial’s expression was grim and unsightly as he scanned the area with divine sense until he located Bai Xiaochun and Du Lingfei.
It was only after capturing the laughing-crying ghost face that the Celestial realized he wasn’t complete. It was only a soulclone!
The true soul was still missing! Clearly the ghost face was a profound schemer, and although he had been somewhat moved by the bait the Celestial had cast out, he had still decided to rely on a secret magic to split off part of himself in the form of a soulclone, just to be safe.
Although the Celestial had successfully captured the soulclone, he had also alerted his enemy, which would make it even more difficult to get the true soul. Furthermore, it was obvious that, for the time being, his opponent would remain in hiding, and would make sure not to leave any clues as to his location.
However, at least he had not come out completely empty-handed. Although the soulclone wasn’t a complete soul, it was better than nothing.
With such thoughts on his mind, the Celestial took a deep breath and looked down at Bai Xiaochun and Du Lingfei. Waving his hand, he sent a medallion flying downward.
Eyes flickering, Bai Xiaochun slowly reached out to grab it.
“Don’t think too much into it,” the Celestial said. “It’s just a command medallion. Now you can go back to the Nine Heavens Cloud Lightning Sect and use their teleportation portal to return to the eastern Heavenspan region.”
With that, he ignored Bai Xiaochun and turned his gaze to Du Lingfei.
“Let’s go, Fei’er,” he said softly.
Du Lingfei hesitated for a moment, but didn’t refuse. Hugging Bai Xiaochun tightly, she said her goodbyes.
However, Bai Xiaochun refused to simply let her go. Looking up at the Celestial, he gritted his teeth and said, “Celestial, Feifei and I--”
Before he could finish speaking, the Celestial’s eyes glittered with cold light, and he interrupted, “I know what you want to say. You want me to leave my daughter here with you. Unfortunately, you don't qualify. We can talk about it when you're a demigod!” With that, he turned and vanished into thin air.
Du Lingfei shook her head and took a deep breath to calm her heart. Then she followed the Celestial and vanished into thin air.
Bai Xiaochun stood there for a while, complicated emotions filling him. Once upon a time, he had assumed that as the daughter of the Celestial, Du Lingfei would have a very high standing, and as a result, plenty of happiness.
But after what had just occurred on the icy plains of the north, he realized how bitter her life was, and how coldly the Celestial treated her….
“Demigod, huh…?” he murmured. His eyes suddenly glittered with unswerving determination.