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“This formation has already been deployed for several months. Fellow Daoist, do you think if the formation was still able to be maintained, why would they come out with an excuse like a virus all of a sudden? If the formation couldn’t be shaken, why are they isolating entry and exit into Longsu Province?!” Zhao Wuye’s pale complexion carried a smidgen of unspoken excitement. “They can’t control it… The ancestors can’t control it! This emergence is definitely an enormous opportunity! An unimaginable secret realm! Legendary ancient treasures!”
Xu Yangyi’s expression didn’t change, and he picked up a cup of coffee and took a sip. “It also might be an enormous danger.”
“Are you scared?” So excited that his face was somewhat twisting, Zhao Wuye moved closer to Xu Yangyi. He enunciated each of his words, “This old man… is so excited that I can’t even sleep!”
“Isn’t the Dragon Hole dangerous? Yet it was capable of producing Ancestor Floatingcloud! The Danxia Temple Colonnades aren’t necessarily incapable of producing an Ancestor Zhao! The greater the danger, the greater the fortune. Heavenly Law never owes anyone… Fellow Daoist, what are you still waiting for?”
Xu Yangyi didn’t speak, but rather his hand lightly rapped an armrest. It had only been more than a month… but already, Longsu Province’s situation was actually so urgent! He had personally witnessed Core Formation ancestors move into action. He clearly understood their might. However… right now, even Ancestor Ancientpine was unable to continue keeping things under control and had begun cooperating with the government.
The time… was too close. His few divine abilities had yet to be completely and thoroughly grasped. In the same vein, a couple other legionnaires were also in seclusion. Nonetheless, Danxia Temple was already an arrow nocked on a bow string!
“Within three days, you and the Xingtian Legion will head to Nanzhou.” After an extended period, Xu Yangyi said lowly, “I hope the Zhao Clan has already made preparations. Something that’s able to cause Master-Ancestor and the government to join hands is definitely no small matter.”
“Relax.” Zhao Wuye chortled, “The Zhao Clan has already prepared centuries for this day!”
“Alright then… I’m going to head out in advance.” Zhao Wuye cupped his hands. “Although mortals are presently restricted from entering, it’s unknown if cultivators are. But anyways, even if I’m restricted, I’m a hundred percent sure that I can use the Xingtian Legion to get in.”
Zhao Wuye left. From rumination, Xu Yangyi’s expression began to reach total caution.
The secret of the Animus Armament… The secret of the endless lotus sea… The secret of his three-year disappearance… Finally, were these mysteries going to be uncovered?
These transformations had arrived too swiftly… but he was devoid of the slightest trace of fear. On the contrary, the expectation in his heart was like a blaze, flaming with the utmost might.
Destiny, a word like a hazy mist. Perhaps it was believed Danxia Temple was a land of destiny, yet the region below was calamity, nine deaths and a narrow escape. And while perhaps it was a land of extreme danger, it concealed a destiny that drove a person to madness.
Such as the Dragon Hole.
Nonetheless, he could confirm that so long as Danxia Temple’s underside was the lotus sea, it was bound to be hiding a few things. Things… intimately related to himself. Or that was to say… something intimately related to the Animus Armament! But whether or not there was, he HAD to go!
At this time, Xu Yangyi’s brow suddenly raised up. A powerful spiritual pressure…
In his office, a spiritual sense of unparalleled might swiftly pervaded the air in his office. It was even… in Thousandedge’s office upstairs!
A Foundation Establishment senior!
In a flash, the Xingtian legionnaires all sensed this pressure in their rooms. No matter the case, this spiritual pressure wasn’t masked at all. It was practically a declaration to everyone that he had come.
“This is…” Upstairs, Thousandedge bolted up from his seat, casting out his senses in disbelief. “This is… Jadesun? He’s personally come to the branch? Is it for me… or…” His heart shortly began to stir into frenzy.
Could it be… that Ancestor Floatingcloud had sold him out? Else not, why had Jadesun, a Core Formation master’s chief disciple, suddenly come?
Swoosh… Downstairs in Xu Yangyi’s room, as if a black hole had emerged, shadows from all around converged in the middle. Xu Yangyi had already stood up and was watching everything happen in the room with rapt attention.
“This is the Thousand Li Shadow Transference divine ability.” At the door, a voice rang out all of a sudden. Fang Cheng walked in through the door without the slightest inhibition. “Senior Apprentice-Brother is here.”
Xu Yangyi raised an eye to look. All the Xingtian Legion’s legionnaires were already gathered at the door.
Swoosh swoosh swoosh… The sound of vibrating air rang out. After a minute or two, Jadesun’s familiar figure appeared before everyone.
The feel of him was rather strange, seemingly real yet seemingly illusory. He laid between the real and the void, but his body’s spiritual pressure appeared as if it had come in person.
“Respectful greetings, Senior!”
“Respectful greetings, Senior Brother!”
At this very instant, everyone in the room collectively faced Jadesun and clasped hands and bowed, speaking in unison.
“You may excuse yourselves from courtesy.” In the serenity of Jadesun’s expression, there was a trace of caution. Without almost a shred of hesitation, he gazed straight at Xu Yangyi. “Daomaster Ancientpine’s seventeenth disciple of the Featherwood Guard’s Xingtian Legion, hear and obey.”
Everyone sucked in heavily, and the other legionnaires tactfully prepared to withdraw, but at this moment, Jadesun said dully, “Slow down. This command is for the Xingtian Legion.” He deeply studied Xu Yangyi’s eyes. “This is a mission specially appointed by a Core Formation Dao Master. All of you need not leave.”
“Hiss…” The sound of cold gasps came from between the gaps of each person’s teeth.
They were different from Xu Yangyi. Not everyone had the luck to meet a Core Formation ancestor. If a Core Formation ancestor didn’t want to allow anyone to catch sight of them, even if one was in plain view, in no way could one even think of getting a glance. Presently, it could be said that apart from Xu Yangyi and Fang Cheng, no one whatsoever had seen a Core Formation master! They moreover couldn’t say they had received an order from a Dao Master!
“Disciple Xu Yangyi receives command.” Xu Yangyi cupped his fist and answered solemnly.
“I will ask you again. You still have room to choose.” Jade sun didn’t speak directly of the command, and his gaze peered fixedly into Xu Yangyi’s eyes as if he wanted to see through the latter’s innermost being. “That day, you said that which is responsibility is that which is shouldered. Did this come from the heart?”
“My words ring true. They came from emotion and came from the heart.” A perfectly identical question, yet it carried a different flavor. Now… it was even more like the final question before entering the battlefield!
“Good.” Jadesun’s voice still didn’t change in the slightest. “Xingtian Legion, hear and obey.”
“Yes!” Everyone cupped a fist and bowed, answering in chorus.
“Effective immediately, the Xingtian Legion is to discontinue all executed missions. Effective immediately, the Xingtian Legion is forbidden from accepting all missions. Effective immediately, the Xingtian Legion will remain here on standby.” Jadesun took a deep breath. “In five days at twelve midnight, the Xingtian Legion will set out. Within the day, you must reach Longsu’s Nanzhou Provincial Capital.”
Once he finished speaking all of Ancientpine’s commands, his voice slowed down a bit. “Seventeenth Disciple, I will tell you that great changes will happen in Longsu Province in a few days. No more than seven days… Master-Ancestor is overseeing Danxia Temple. Are you… willing to accept this order?”
Xu Yangyi straightened out and said with equal graveness, “This isn’t a unique scenario. Over a month ago, the first mission that the Xingtian Legion originally decided on was to explore Danxia Temple’s surroundings.
This time, it was Jadesun’s turn to be surprised. By no measure or pace did he expect that this seventeenth junior brother would be so daring! A newborn calf’s first excursion, yet it preferred to visit the tiger’s mountain!
“Does Seventeenth Junior Brother speak the truth?” he asked and looked towards Fang Cheng.
“That’s right, we’re all ready. Didn’t you know, Senior Brother?” Fang Cheng rubbed the back of his head and asked.
In Jadesun’s heart, his perception towards Xu Yangyi became a fraction better.
Of a Core Formation ancestor’s disciples, which one’s talents weren’t grand and winding in both width and height? However, this still wasn’t enough. They couldn’t fall short in either courage, fortune, and wisdom. He’d seen Xu Yangyi’s wisdom, like during the auction when the demon slayer had implemented a strategy to kill three generals with two peaches, playing odds against the Dao Masters. At this moment, he hadn’t expected that this junior brother would actually be so audacious!
Which newcomer’s legion would choose the surroundings of one of the Eight Great Deadlands as their first mission?
Xu Yangyi dared! In addition… he understood even more clearly that while taking the initiative to volunteer for a Core Formation command seemed like a minor matter, there was in fact a distinction between initiative and passiveness to Ancestor Ancientpine.
The difference among them was to speak big and do big, to speak small and do small. Xu Yangyi absolutely had to further deepen Ancientpine’s impression towards him.
A good, young fellow… Jadesun’s gaze flashed with a wisp of enigmatic praise. You have courage and wisdom. I don’t mind delivering you to the east wind.
His hand gently waved, and a box flew into Xu Yangyi’s hand. “For the time being, I didn’t bring anything. Inside this is a formation diagram that I once studied. Its other functions aren’t that formidable, but it can completely cut off a group’s spiritual sense and qi in a split second. Moreover, it can obscure body shape. It didn’t have a name, but my disciple has a passion for mortal games and chose a pretty good one—the Group Concealment Talisman. Furthermore, there’s also a special authorization inside for this occasion. Take this item… if you don’t wish for the mortal army to open fire on you.”
A good item!
In an instant, Xu Yangyi knew that this capability would be of no minor assistance towards the Danxia Temple excursion! It might even allow them to transform danger into safety!
“Thank you for your generous bestowment, Master-Brother.” He accepted the box, sparing politeness. This wasn’t the time to be particular about face.
“I’ll present you with another word.” Jadesun said with seemingly deep meaning. “This occasion is truly dangerous beyond your imagination. Or perhaps… it might be a stage of uncertain good fortune.”
Jadesun finished speaking, and his silhouette transformed into black light and dissipated. Xu Yangyi put away the formation diagram, mumbling to himself in silence. This time… the path that the Xingtian Legion was to walk on was going to be absolutely different from everyone else! Danger or no danger… From the beginning, the Xingtian Legion wasn’t on this chessboard.
“Everyone.” He turned towards the gathered crowd and gave them each a glance. This deadland journey… In the end, how many faces would still be here? “In five days at eleven o’clock. Assemble on the rooftop.” He looked at his watch. “I’ve already rented a private airplane. And one last thing…” he laughed, “did you write your wills?”
“Not necessary.” Fang Cheng shrugged his shoulders. “I’m definitely coming back alive. Maybe I can even save you and get you to owe me a big favor.”
Lip service was easy, but no one was able to relax in these final five days. Every person did what they should’ve. Tidied up whatever else they couldn’t take along. And also… bid farewell to their friends.
Although they didn’t want to admit it in their hearts, they all understood. The name of deadland was in no modicum of a joke. Perhaps this time, they would really be forever separated from each other by human and celestial realms. But if they came out alive, they could truly be regarded as having firm standing in the Xingtian Legion!
Furthermore… the Xingtian Legion’s reputation was also bound to truly enter the people’s field of view! And it wouldn’t be because people remembered it as “the legion involved with the Vermilion Snow Incident”!
Five days passed in the blink of an eye. December 5th, 2021. It was night. A night sky as if it was washed, and a vast starry heaven as if it was drunk.
The stars travel a long journey and the moon follows an eternal path. In the dark night, a thousand barrack lanterns shine.
At the top of the Featherwood Guard, sixteen silhouettes seemed to be like sixteen sculptures in the black night, firm and unyielding. The wind blew through Xu Yangyi’s hair. He extended a hand to comb his somewhat long hair and slightly grabbed out with the other to accurately catch a can of beer that flew over.
Mao Ba’er wagged his tail and sat down next to him. His canine face studied the glorious view of Mingshui Province below lights. “Isn’t this a feeling of drinking one more cup of alcohol and then setting out on a journey, never to see your old friends again?”
Xu Yangyi kept silent, merely popping open the can tab. Looking for a long time, he suddenly chugged it in a single go and said firmly, “I’m letting them wait for me. I don’t know how long it’ll be until our Xingtian Legion returns and gets to look at the night landscape here again.”
Silence. After a long time passed, Xu Yangyi laughed, “And you? What are you thinking about?”
The husky was silent even longer. Finally, he cutely turned around. “I was thinking back to the pooch that This Lord lost his virginity to. Screw it, she’s still a mutt! But anyways, isn’t a husky a famous dog?!”
1. Poem by Qing Poet Nalan Qingde (1655-1685 CE). Supposed to invoke feelings of melancholy/longing. Used to describe soldiers on a long and arduous journey thinking about their homes.
2. I thought about literally translating this, but its just too clunky. Poem by Tang Poet Wang Wei (699-759 CE). Literally: “The bravery to urge the lord to drink another cup of alcohol. Leave to the west of the Southern Pass to never meet old friends again”.
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