“Well-offended.” Ji Yichuan’s eyes flashed with cold light. “This matter involves the survival of the Ji clan. How can we be bothered by whether or not we are offending a garrison general?”
“Right.” Ji Ning, Ji Truekeep, Granny Shadow, and Ah Xing all nodded.
Garrison generals wielded great power. The six hegemons of the Swallow Mountain region all needed to pay a large amount of tax each year to the Grand Xia Dynasty. They delivered it directly to Swallow Mountain City! Aside from the authority to collect taxes, the garrison general was also responsible for oversight; he was responsible on behalf of the Grand Xia Dynasty for managing this region.
Power over both oversight and tax collection…if they were really to squabble, these things would cause the Ji clan to suffer in the future.
But that was just suffering; compared to the possible perishment of the entire clan, it didn’t matter!
“As long as we sign an agreement with the Grand Xia Dynasty, we would have their protection. He, a garrison general, wouldn’t be able to do anything to us.” Ji Ninefire said. “Since everyone is here, I will let you know that I have already chosen the location for our battle with Snowdragon Mountain. Let’s head out.”
“Where will we battle with Snowdragon Mountain?” Ning asked.
“Oxhorn Mountain, located close to the City of Ten Thousand Swords.” Ninefire said.
Ning was naturally extremely familiar with the geographical areas around the Ji clan. Upon hearing what Ninefire said, he immediately understood where they would be. Oxhorn Mountain was roughly eight hundred kilometers away from the City of Ten Thousand Swords. It was a large, desolate mountain. Because the peak of the mountain was split in twain, like the horns of an ox, it was referred to as ‘Oxhorn Mountain’.
“I’ve also sent envoys.” Ninefire said. “They are flying on winged beasts towards Snowdragon City to idirectly inform them that our Ji clan has set a grand formation at the base of Oxhorn Mountain. Given the speed at which my envoys travel at, I imagine that in roughly ten hours, they will arrive at Snowdragon Mountain.”
Ning and the others nodded.
It would probably be tomorrow at noon, then! It made sense. The winged beasts the envoys flew on were ordinary, trained animals; it was only natural that they would not be able to compare with Xiantian-level flying monsters, or to Zifu Disciples.
“I will collect this bewildering formation, and then we will immediately head out.” Ninefire, afraid of being suddenly attacked, had set up the formation here.
An enormous gourd appeared. Ji Ning and the other five, along with the two spirit-beasts, stood or sat atop the gourd. The gouard flew through the skies at high speed.
Oxhorn Mountain was roughly three hundred or so kilometers away. They arrived within moments.
“Right there.” Ninefire pointed at the split peak of Oxhorn Mountain below them. “Land there onto Oxhorn Mountain. We can see everything from there, and given that the surrounding area is completely desolate…there’s nothing that can block our line of sight. As long as those Snowdragon Mountain disciples come, we will immediately see them from far away.”
Ning, Yichuan, and the others all nodded.
They landed from the skies, then put the gourd away. Ninefire and the others thus landed atop the mountain.
“I have already prepared six formations. They represent my hundreds of years of painstaking research in analyzing formations.” Ninefire pointed at the surrounding area. “I’ll only need as much time as it takes to boil a kettle of tea before I set these formations down. Even if experts from Snowdragon Mountain who specialize in formations come to break through them, they will probably need to spend quite some time to break through six of them. During that period of time, we can also borrow the power of the formation to launch sneak attacks and ambushes, one after another, disrupting them from breaking through the formations! Our goal is to make them waste as much time as possible. Based on my calculations, the Celestial Envoy of the Grand Xia Dynasty will arrive in three days. If we can hold for three days, then once the Celestial Envoy arrives, we will have won!”
“Right. Once the Celestial Envoy arrives, they will no longer dare to act.” Granny Shadow nodded as well.
“Even if we die, we have to delay them from breaking through our formation.” Truekeep nodded solemnly as well. “Our power, compared to that of a large group of Zifu Disciples of Snowdragon Mountain…if we fight them head on, there’s no way for us to compete. We have to rely on the formations! The more time it takes for them to break through our formations, the greater our chances for victory. Ideally, we should get rid of the formation experts which Snowdragon Mountain has invited over.”
Ninefire shook his head. “They will definitely focus on protecting their formation experts; they might even prepare specifically for us launching our most powerful attacks against the. It isn’t too likely that we will be able to kill the formation experts.”
Yichuan nodded as well. “Let’s do our best to delay!”
Six grand formations!
The disruption of each formation represented an increase in the level of danger the Ji clan would face.
“Patriarch.” Ning said solemnly. “I have a grand formation as well. We can be considered to have seven formations in total.”
“Oh?” They all looked at Ning.
“You have a grand formation?” Ninefire was extremely surprised. “Was it Bei Zishan’s? Bei Zishan came from Snowdragon Mountain, and he should have had some formations available to him.” Although this was what he said, in his heart, Ninefire didn’t feel too hopeful, because as he saw it, Bei Zishan was an amateur, while he, Ninefire, had chosen these six formations based on the most exquisite formations available to him and based on the treasures the Ji clan held.
“No.” Ning shook his head. “I once had a special stroke of fortune, and the most valuable item I acquired from it was this grand formation.”
“A special stroke of fortune?” They were all stunned. Yichuan stared at Ning. Yichuan’s first reaction was to think back to how Ning disappeared in Serpentwing Lake. That time, he and his wife had been worried for many days.
Yichuan said, “Ji Ning has indeed had a special stroke of fortune, which he narrowly survived. However, I didn’t know he had acquired a powerful magic treasure from it.”
Ning nodded. “Patriarch, look.”
Ning waved his hand, and instantly, a black light appeared above them, covered with incomparably intricate, wondrous magical runes. It was the dragon pearl and the four black scales. They caused the surrounding space to fill up with a black fog. Just by looking at them, especially considering the majestic presence of the faint draconic shadow within the dragon pearl, Ninefire and the others felt incomparably delighted.
“Dragon pearl?” Ninefire called out in surprise. “There is a dragon soul within?”
“Look at these runes. In my entire life, I’ve never seen runes as beautiful as the ones atop this treasure.” Granny Shadow was scrutinizing the scales.
“What complicated runes.” Ninefire was stunned as well.
Ning said, “Patriarch, once you bind it, you will understand.”
“How can I bind it? A treasure like this…our Ji clan has existed for thousands of years without having a treasure like this.” Ninefire shook his head. Although the Ji clan had its important, clan-protecting treasures, those were generally one-use Dao-seals and the like. How could it have an incomparably precious treasure like this, which could be used repeatedly? “This treasure isn’t something which the likes of our clan can use. Normally speaking, we’d be afraid others would come to steal it. However, now that our Ji clan is facing annihilation, I don’t have to be worried, I suppose. Still, Ji Ning, it’s best if you are the one to bind this magic treasure.”
“Patriarch, didn’t you say that once things grew dangerous, I would have to immediately leave?” Ning said helplessly. “If I leave…am I supposed to take the formation with me?”
“Oh…” Ninefire hesitated slightly, then gritted his teeth. “Fine. I will bind it. For now, I’ll use it!”
Given that the annihilation of his clan was at hand, Ninefire wouldn’t hesitate.
However, he could tell, just from the quality of the worksmanship, the runes, and the materials used that this magic treasure was extremely precious.
“Whoosh.” Ninefire stretched out his right hand, and a flood of elemental energy flowed into the dragon pearl and the four draconic scales. This treasure didn’t have any remnants of ki within it, and so it naturally was easily bound.
“A wonderful treasure. A wonderful treasure!” As Ninefire bound it, he immediately began to understand the secrets of the treasure, and his eyes turned completely round. “This is too, too…”
Although he knew that it would be an excellent treasure, Ninefire was still stunned.
Granny Shadow, Yichuan, and the others all looked at the Patriarch.
“What a truly fine treasure!!!” Ninefire stared, round-eyed. He said excitedly, “My Ji clan has hope now. It has hope now! We have a chance! A real chance!”
“What sort of treasure is it? Hurry up and tell us! I’m impatient to hear it!” Granny Shadow said hurriedly.
Ninefire said, with incomparable excitement, “This grand formation has five parts. I can control them all by myself, but I need four Zifu Disciples assisting me! The four Zifu Disciples will be assigned to different locations. One Zifu Disciple will become the core of the ‘Dragonhead Formation’, one will be the core of the ‘Dragonbody Formation’, one will be the core of the ‘Dragontail Formation’, while one will be the core of the ‘Dragonclaw Formation’! Naturally, I will stand guard at the center and control the dragon pearl.”
“When the time comes, for the five Zifu Disciples who set up the formation, the most important thing is that, like with Dao-Soldiers, they will be able to share and borrow each other’s elemental energy! Even if one suffers an attack, it will be spread across to everyone in the entire formation and first be weakened by the formation itself, then dividing up amongst the five users.”
Hearing this, Truekeep, Granny Shadow, and the others were all excited.
Being able to combine their elemental energy and defensive strength was already worth them being excited over; it meant all of them had gained in strength.
“But this is just the first benefit.” Ninefire said excitedly. “There are other intricacies within. I’m unable to fully investigate them right now, but the dragon soul alone…when the time comes, we won’t even have to attack ourselves. We can use the dragon soul to launch attacks. This is much like Dong Xiqi’s Eight Trigrams Blood Dragon Formation. Only, this formation of ours is far more exquisite than that one!”
“Hurry, hurry. I’m going to immediately set it up. I need to focus on it and become familiar with the intricacies within.” Ninefire was incomparably excited.
“Good, good, good.” All of them nodded.
Ning nodded as well. He knew very well that this sort of formation required a very high level of comprehension regarding formations by the user. Only a high level of comprehension could result in effective control of the formation. Ninefire, in terms of talent, might not be superior to Ning, but he had been studying formations for centuries, and so in terms of his ability to control formations, he was on a similar level as Ning.
“Right. Ning, what is the name of this formation?” Ninefire couldn’t help but ask. “I’ve never seen such an intricate, exquisite formation. This formation is more powerful than all six of my other formations.”
“Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation.” Ning said.
“Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation.” Ninefire murmured this, then transformed into a ray of light as he began to fly about, setting up the formation. The Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation had to be set up in advance. The dragon pearl could be carried at all times, but the four dragon scales had to be set down in advance.
Time passed by the minute and by the second. It was now dark at night. The Ji clan set up their formations, here at Oxhorn Mountain, training in them and becoming more familiar with the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation. This caused them all to dance for joy.
“So that’s how it is. How incredible.”
“We can allow the Netherwyrm to attack; the rest of us don’t have to interfere. We can also…transform into the ‘claws’ or the ‘tail’ of the Netherwyrm and actively attack. When we attack personally, the Netherwyrm will be able to unleash even greater power.” Truekeep was incomparably excited. He had never seen such an incredible formation.
“In addition, in the Netherwyrm Heavenlock Formation, the heavens and the earth are ‘locked’, making everything seem illusory! This is the most miraculous bewildering formation I have ever seen. If we want to attack, we can; if we want to retreat, we can hide behind the illusions, making it so that Snowdragon Mountain wouldn’t be able to find us.” Ninefire laughed loudly.
Ning was excited as well.
Although this was what he had expected, during their tests, he, a mere early Zifu Disciple, was able to use the combined elemental energy of the entire grand formation…and the Patriarch and the others were peak Zifu Disciples! When accessing all of the elemental energy of the formation, Ning had more elemental energy than any peak Zifu Disciple. For him to use so much ki in setting up his [Lesser Thousand Swords Formation] meant that the power would be even greater!
“Come, then. Snowdragon Mountain.” Ning was filled with confidence.