The enormous scales atop the draconic tail were all incomparably clear. Ji Ning sat within the draconic tail, surrounded by those enormous scales.
“Hrm?” Ning suddenly heard the sound of explosions and angered shouts.
“Assemble the formation!” “Formation, linked!” Cries of surprise and terror rang out from afar. Ning’s ears twitched, and he laughed. “IT has begun.”
Per their original strategy, Ning was in the strongest position of all, out of the various experts of the Ji clan! He would only be unleashed at the critical moment…there was no need for him to engage yet.
A figure flew over. It was Ji Yichuan, dressed in a white fur robe.
“Father.” Ning rose.
“Take it!” Yichuan produced six flying swords out of nowhere, which hovered there above his palm. “These were acquired by your Uncle Truekep after executing four Zifu Disciples. One of them was a Zifu Disciple who controlled multiple flying swords; we acquired five from him alone. Thus, the four of them had a total of six flying swords.”
Ning didn’t hesitate, immediately accepting them.
“Perfect timing.” Ning was incomparably excited. Prior to this, everyone had already traded for some magic treasures. Some of them were useless to him, but were very important to others! At such a crucial, life-and-death juncture, nobody would be shy; everyone acted quite forthrightly. For example, Ning gave the venomous bugs he had acquired from Bei Zishan to Ji Ninefire, while Ninefire, upon learning that Ning desperately needed ranked flying swords, had managed to scrape together five of them.
Bei Zishan had left behind two; combined with those five, Ning had seven. That wasn’t even enough for a single formation base of the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation]! But now that he had six more…he had enough.
“These six flying swords are all ranked magic treasures.” Yichuan said.
“Right.” Ning nodded. “With these six ranked flying swords, my power is going to rise significantly. Later, I’ll have to have a nice little ‘battle’ against these Zifu Disciples of Snowdragon Mountain!”
Yichuan had a rare look of delight on his face as well. “This has truly been wonderful. And it is all thanks to the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation you brought out! In a single ambush, we killed four enemy Zifu Disciples. Without the aid of this formation, we would probably lose someone on every attack.”
“Right.” Ning nodded.
The Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation had been acquired by Ning from the Aquatic Estate. Naturally, it was quite powerful.
“Make your preparations. Once you are needed, the Patriarch will immediately notify you mentally.” Yichuan instructed, then transformed into a ray of light and left.
Ning immediately filled his elemental energy into the flying swords, seizing every moment of time and hurriedly binding them. Although it was true that, as the spirit of the Aquatic Estate had said, it would be best if the flying swords which served as the core of the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] all came from the same source, the current Ning, unfortunately, had no right to be choosy. It was already quite good for him to even be able to have enough ranked flying swords.
The black fog hung everywhere.
Nong Zidao, Jadechild, and the others were advancing carefully through the black fog. The Fairy Crane and the Landwyrm were all in human form now, accompanying Nong Zidao and Jadechild.
“This black fog bewildering formation isn’t even worth discussing.” Nong Zidao finally spoke. “I’ve already completely seen through its mysteries. I can sense the direction in which Dong Ziqi’s group lies as well. Now, act according to my instructions…and we will soon reunite with them.”
“We will listen to you, senior apprentice-brother Zidao.”
“Senior apprentice-brother Zidao is as formidable as ever.” The other Zifu Disciples previously had ugly looks on their faces, but now they finally looked pleased.
Prior to this, upon entering the formation, they had immediately shouted, and the distant voices of Dong Ziqi and the rest of the eight Zifu Disciples had naturally responded to them…and through the discussion, Jadechild and Nong Zidao learned that four of their comrades had actually died! This caused Jadechild and Nong Zidao to become incomparably enraged and cautious.
Nong Zidao said in a clear voice, “Junior apprentice-brother Ziqi, we are coming over right now. We will soon arrive.”
“Kill that old bastard of the Ji clan!”
A series of angry roars rang out from afar, causing Jadechild and Nong Zidao to be startled. But then, the warcries and sounds of battle came to a halt.
Jadechild shouted with a frown. “Dong Ziqi, are you alright?”
“We are fine.” The voice came from far away. “The eight of us stayed in formation the entire time, not relaxing at all. Just now, an enormous draconic claw attacked us…it was even more powerful than the first attack. We were at a slight disadvantage, but by joining forces, the eight of us were able to defend well enough that none of us perished.”
“Alright. We will immediately come over.” Jadechild said.
“Let’s hurry over.” Jadechild looked towards Nong Zidao by his side. “Prior to this, it was the dragon’s head. This time, it was the dragon’s claw. This puny little Ji clan actually has access to such a technique…”
Nong Zidao said solemnly, “Most likely, in the past few thousand years, the Ji clan must have acquired this formation through a stroke of great fortune. It seems to be quite powerful. Let’s quickly reunite with them.”
Right at this moment…
The surrounding black fog suddenly grew denser, and a bone-piercing, insidious cold seemed to fill it.
“Go forward. Stop. Turn left…stop.” Nong Zidao guided them easily, but then his face suddenly changed. “Eh?”
“What is it?” They all looked towards him, awaiting his directions.
Nong Zidao had an ugly look on his face. “There are multiple layers of formations, formations within formations. I’ve become baffled by an even more powerful formation.”
“Can it be that even you can’t break it?” Jadechild looked at him.
“It will be very difficult.” Nong Zidao looked at the surrounding area. Waving his hand lightly, he could sense that insidious, bone-piercing chill within the fog.
“How long will you need to break it?” Jadechild asked.
“I don’t know!” Nong Zidao shook his head. “If I’m fast, an hour. If it takes a long time, one or two days.”
The faces of the surrounding Zifu Disciples all changed. Jadechild said, shocked, “That long?”
Ning sat in the lotus position within the enormous tail of the Netherwyrm. Around him, more than seven hundred sword-type magic treasures were floating about, nine of which were particularly dazzling to behold. The white light covering those nine was much stronger. The hazy white light continuously thrummed through the swords, quickly coalescing into a sword light in front of Ning.
“Right. With these nine ranked flying swords as a formation base, they can now serve as the core for the other seven hundred-plus flying swords of my [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation]. The power clearly has grown dramatically.” Ning revealed a look of delight. “Only, the ranked flying swords put a lot of pressure on my soul as well.”
Unranked flying swords made up the majority of the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation].
The difference between using them and using ranked flying swords in the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation]…was quite significant and apparent. The difficulty in controlling them rose dramatically, but so too did the power!
“I’ve only added nine ranked flying swords. After gaining insight into my Sword Domain, my soul has grown much stronger. I’m still able to use the ninth level of the [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation].” Ning had the feeling that if he were to add a few dozen ranked flying swords or a few hundred ranked flying swords…the total number of swords he was able to control would drop sharply!
“Ji Ning!” A powerful voice echoed forth.
“Patriarch.” A look of delight appeared on Ning’s face.
“We are in trouble now.” Ninefire’s voice rang out.
“What sort of trouble?” Ning was worried as well.
“The second group of Zifu Disciples of Snowdragon Dragon have just entered the formation. Amongst them there is one person in particular, Nong Zidao, who even I have heard of! Nong Zidao is extremely skilled in formations. He is able to easily defeat the black fog bewildering formation, and so I was forced to use the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation to trap and bewilder him.” Ninefire transmitted.
Ning’s face changed.
The Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation…it had the secondary effect of being a bewildering formation. It was far more exquisite than the Ji clan’s own bewildering formations.
“They also have someone known as Jadechild. I haven’t heard of him, but his power is extremely great.” Ninefire sent mentally. “In our Ji clan, your power is the greatest, while the second strongest is our old servant, Ah Xing. Just now, when Ah Xing ambushed Dong Ziqi’s group of eight, Dong Ziqi’s group was able to maintain their formation, and Ah Xing wasn’t able to do anything to them. However, I’ve discovered that Jadechild and Nong Zidao haven’t joined together in a formation. I ordered Ah Xing to attack as I thought we had an opportunity…but who would have imagined that despite riding on the claws of the Netherwyrm, Ah Xing was blocked off by Jadechild alone!”
“Blocked by him alone?” Ning was shocked.
“He is extremely powerful. Ah Xing launched a sneak attack, then immediately retreated.” Ninefire said. “Right now, there are a total of two groups in the formation. The second group is clearly far more powerful than the first one. Thus, we need to immediately eradicate the first group; otherwise, if they combine, we won’t be able to do anything against them.”
“You are the most powerful person in our group. Immediately go out and attack Dong Ziqi’s group. I will direct you. Prepare to listen to my commands.” Ninefire said.
At the same time, the black fog in front of Ning began to part, revealing a corridor.
“Wonderful. I’ve grown impatient long ago!” Ning sprang to his feet, then shot forward at high speed through the corridor.
Dong Ziqi and the rest of the eight advanced carefully, always maintaining their formation. That white glow surrounded the eight trigrams which covered them.
“Fellow apprentices, be careful. This is the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation!” Nong Zidao’s frantic voice rang out from far away.
“Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation?” Dong Ziqi and the others looked at each other, all of them seeming puzzled.
The distant Nong Zidao said in a loud, frantic voice, “We just suffered an attack from a draconic claw as well. Your senior apprentice-brother, Jadechild, forced it to retreat. I could immediately recognize this as being the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation. This Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation is an ancient, powerful formation! There is a complicated version of the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation, and a simplified version of it…according to legend, the Marquis of Stillwater has access to a Heaven-rank Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation. This formation which the Ji clan is using must be a simplified Mortal-rank formation. But even a Mortal-rank formation…is astonishingly powerful. We are in true danger this time. We have to conserve our power; otherwise, we will be in danger of dying.”
“Your senior apprentice-brothers, Jadechild and myself, will focus on breaking the formation. We won’t be able to divide our attention and take care of you for now. Take care of yourselves, the eight of you.” Nong Zidao’s voice echoed.
Dong Ziqi and the rest of the eight looked at each other, their faces unsightly.
For this formation to force Nong Zidao and Jadechild to completely focus their efforts on breaking it…one could imagine how terrifying it was.
“I’ve never even heard of this ‘Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation’. Only someone like senior apprentice-brother Nong Zidao, who has studied many formation manuals in the main sect, would know of it. How could the Ji clan have acquired such a powerful formation?”
“Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation?”
The look on Dong Ziqi’s face was very ugly.
“We will do our best.” Dong Ziqi looked at his seven comrades. “This is a life-and-death battle. Either the Ji clan dies or we die! Everyone, if you have any life-protecting measures, use them. Don’t save them.”
Their attitudes had all changed.
At first, all of them were simply toying around. The sudden deaths of four comrades had shocked them, but they trusted that once Jadechild and Nong Zidao joined them…all the danger would dissipate like smoke, like the clouds. But now, Nong Zidao had said that this game had just turned deadly.
“If I knew that I’d risk my life, I wouldn’t have entered Swallow Mountain.” They all felt misery in their hearts, but with death staring at them, all of them prepared to fight to the death.
Three hundred meters or so away from them.
An enormous draconic tail was coiling there. Ning was in the center of the draconic tail, and the seven hundred flying swords were all hovering around him, prepared to begin the slaughter.
“Ji Ning, attack!” Patriarch Ninefire’s voice rang out within his mind.
A fierce light flashed through Ji Ning’s eyes.
Instantly, the entire, enormous Netherwyrm whipped its tail out, and its tail struck forward towards those eight nervous, guarded Zifu Disciples.