The dark red lava churned and boiled. The scorching temperature almost made people’s hair curled at the end. Thousands of miles under the sky, wisps of gray smoke spewed from the craters. The sky was red as if smeared with a layer of dirty blood.
“Yu-shixiong, what’s going on?” Were they not in the mountains just now? What was up with the volcano in front of them now?!
Pockmarks swallowed and said bitterly, “It must be a trap laid by Mini Frostcloud Sect! We have fallen for it!”
“What should we do then?” Everyone was flustered.
Pockmarks looked around. They were on a cliff with a small peak and the peak was not high. If the volcano erupted, the lava would surely engulf them!
But he was not in fear. After the initial panic, he had calmed down a little, and now said with confidence, “The sight before us is just an illusion! We must not be blinded by it. Now, we just have to find a way to break the illusion!”
His eyes darted around as he pondered. Usually, there would be a living gate in the illusory array, and it would not be too far away. Moreover, it would be disguised as something that would cause people to retreat.
Could it be the cliff under his feet?!
He was hesitating to use something to try it out when suddenly, the mountain shook. He staggered and fell forward, his hands reflexively pushing the person in front of him…
A miserable scream echoed in the cliffs, a muffled sound, and then, nothing.
The scene inevitably fell into silence, with a trace of fear in the silence, and inexplicable embarrassment in the fear...
For a long while, Pockmarks clutched his wildly beating heart, but his original thought still remained. “Since this is an illusion, there must be a living gate. Once we find it, we can definitely get out!”
He automatically ignored the ‘persecution’ of his fellow disciple, which attracted mixed reactions from the other disciples, but they couldn't say anything. It was an accident, right?
With his words, several volcanoes roared loudly, as if they couldn't wait to erupt.
Pockmarks’s pupils constricted and he said anxiously, “We have to find the living gate before the volcano erupts!”
“Hold on.” A disciple pointed at the smoke from the crater. “Yu-shixiong, there seems to be something in the smoke.”
“What? Hiss…” Pockmarks gasped. He saw shadows appearing in the smoke, looking a little like birds.
Pockmarks suddenly felt like crying. Could it be that thing?
A shrill and long chirp pierced the eardrums. Flaming red birds flew out of the smoke and hovered in the sky in rows.
The bird was only the size of a sparrow, its whole body red, except for a thin stripe on its beak, which looked like countless sparks from a distance.
“It’s the Flamebird!”
Pockmarks exclaimed in terror, “Run quickly!”
But there was a cliff ahead so they could only run down the mountain. Pockmarks urged a traversing spell while looking back. The Flamebird had already spotted them and was fast approaching.
Pockmarks wanted to die. No, he wanted to live, but his mood was no different from being dead!
He quickly turned around and used all his strength to speed up, but the flamebird was just too fast. Very soon, he felt like it was burning behind him. Although the bird was small, the impact was great. Any object would spontaneously combust once touched. Pockmarks had reached the Foundation Establishment stage after much difficulty and had no wish to turn into ashes here.
What? An illusory formation? People could still die in the formation, okay?
No way, he had not been promoted as an elder, he had not married the fairy from Tianshui Palace, and he had unlimited possibilities! Bro, sorry about this!
It happened in the blink of an eye. Pockmarks took a turn and overtook a disciple, and pulled another disciple behind him by the way.
A muffled sound was heard. The disciple who took the brunt was burnt to ashes before he could even scream.
Pockmarks traversed and fled all the way, generously sending heads flying along the way, and gradually escaped the path of the flamebird’s pursuit. Then, he stopped at a mountain col. Before he could catch his breath, there were several loud bangs. The ground shook and fire blazed into the sky.
The volcano finally erupted!
The lava was like crimson lightning, engulfed in billowing black smoke, parts of it splattering, like blooming fireworks. Several channels of lava eventually formed a long gushing river, flowing down from the crater, and converging into a vast ocean. Wherever it passed, even the rocks were melted!
Pockmarks was shocked and felt that he was doomed.
From the corner of his eye, he saw several disciples floating up in the air, and his stalled brain suddenly attained redemption—right! He still had some talismans with him!
Mini Frostcloud Sect’s light body charm! Ten feet off the ground and ten feet with every step! No deception guaranteed!
Although he felt his face swell every time he used a talisman of Mini Frostcloud Sect, his face was of less consequence compared to his life. Pockmarks looked at the fellow disciples struggling and crying in the lava, and suddenly felt a subtle sense of gratitude toward Mini Frostcloud Sect.
But the talisman wouldn’t last long. To completely escape from the clutches of the grim reaper, he must find the living gate!
“Look quickly! The mouth of that volcano is glowing!”
A disciple pointed at a volcano afar. At this time, the golden light was flickering in and out. In this hellish scene, it seemed to shine like a star in the sky.
Pockmarks suddenly had a strong hunch that it was the living gate, the hope, and the dawn of his survival!
He raised the spear in his hand and allowed the scorching wind to slap his face as if he was about to sacrifice his life for justice. “My fellow disciples, the living gate is right ahead! Come with me!”
The other foolish disciples immediately echoed, “Follow Yu-shixiong! Charge!”
The volcano seemed very close, but it was in fact very far away. When a light body talisman was about to be exhausted, Pockmarks finally came to the crater near the volcano. He halted his footsteps and tore another talisman!
He stood there and observed the formation carefully. Since he already had a brief understanding of the formation before, he was now full of confidence!
He directed the other disciples to stand in the designated position and was about to try to break the formation when the golden light suddenly extinguished. The crater exploded violently and an incredibly large flamebird emerged from the smoke. Its wings could block the sky and sun like a fire phoenix from ancient times. A pair of red vertical pupils reflected the already petrified figure of Pockmarks before it opened its massive mouth…
Where was the so-called living gate?!
Pockmarks watched helplessly as a fireball roll out of the flamebird’s throat. His mind went blank voided of any thoughts and he just closed his eyes subconsciously.
However, before he was hit by the fireball, the scene suddenly changed, and he found himself in the water.
He choked on several mouthfuls of the bone-piercingly cold water, not knowing whether to rejoice or to curse the heaven and back. He knew that the formation had changed, and realized that this was also a godd*mned transformation array!
He raised his head and immediately saw a big fish approaching…
The big fish looked like a whale without eyes, but long hair grew on its back, and the hair gradually changed from white to blue. The hair swayed with the waves when the fish swam, looking very beautiful.
But how would Pockmarks dare to underestimate the opponent? He recognized that this was a manefish, a type of food ration for the dragon race, but… even food for the dragons was not something a Foundation Establishment cultivator like him could handle! Besides… this kind of fish lived in schools!
He turned around and swam back. In his hurry, he even resorted to using the doggy paddle, and there were a few other dogs, ah no, a few other fellow disciples around him, madly swinging their arms with him. But before he got too far, he felt a strong suction pulling him back with the flowing water, and his bones were about to fall apart. He knew that the manefish had started eating and he couldn’t even put up a fight!
At this time, he had another flash of inspiration—he still had some talismans, right?
The rock talisman was a charm that could make a person's body as hard and heavy as a rock. It was usually used as a defensive charm and wouldn’t affect the user's flexibility. It was most suitable for use at this time. No matter how strong the manefish’s suction, it couldn’t suck a rock away! So Pockmarks immediately used one on himself. Sure enough, the impact of the current on him weakened and his body sank slowly. At the very least, he didn’t end up in the stomach of the manefish.
From the corner of his eyes, he caught a glimpse of his fellow disciples who were swept away. Pockmarks felt a sudden wave of grief. Why the hell did he come here for? To prove how useful Mini Frostcloud Sect’s talismans were?
Of course, not everyone was swept away. Some of them managed to escape like him. At this time, they swam to him and said to him with bubbles coming from their mouths, “Yu-shixiong, you’re proficient with formations. Do you know what formation this is? How can it change from hot to cold in an instant? Isn't water and fire incompatible?”
Pockmarks couldn’t help feeling that the word ‘proficient’ was quite ear-piercing. He shook his head painfully, “I don’t know either.” He had never heard of it before!
In fact, he couldn’t be blamed for being ignorant. This formation was a combination of a few smaller Foundation Establishment arrays that Jing Yue had separated from the Five Elements Transformation Array, that was, the ones he thought of in the Tianzhu formation. After several improvements and recombination, the final effect was comparable to a golden core formation.
Not to mention the Haotian Realm, even in the big world, no one had ever seen it.
Jing Yue had spent many years looking for materials to set up the formation and asked the disciples of Mini Frostcloud Sect to practice the method diligently, just to deal with these troublemakers.
He had long predicted that the rise of Mini Frostcloud Sect would definitely affect the balance of power in the Haotian Realm, and would not be tolerated by other immortal gates. Since the disciples of his sect were low in cultivation level, he would use talismans and formations to protect them. This would also let the other schools realize that even if they had golden core cultivators intimidating them, they should still never dream of bullying Mini Frostcloud Sect!
At this time, Jing Yue was sitting in the main hall, observing a restless little blue chicken. One second, it would pace back and forth in the temple with its wings behind its back; the next second, it would fly to his legs and slump like a puddle of mud; and then, it would retract its head into its neck, looking dejected.
After he had seen enough, Jing Yue slowly said, “Go if you want. Don't harass the disciples in the formation and don't break into the formation.”
Blue phoenix’s black beady eyes lit up at once but said hesitatingly while flexing its wings, “Is it really okay?”
Jing Yue, “I didn't let you go before because I was worried that some of them would accidentally hurt you. Now that Yanzhi has returned, it can be seen that the so-called expert in their party doesn’t exist.”
Qin Yanzhi nodded obligingly and a mocking smile appeared at the corner of his mouth.
Blue phoenix jumped up excitedly, flapping its wings to admire the light of its soul, the fire of its desire—slap face!
Seeing the little blue chicken disappearing from his sight, Jing Yue turned to Qin Yanzhi, “Are you saying there are still dozens of people trapped in the formation? I heard there’s a high-level Foundation Establishment cultivator among them. Can’t he find a way out either?”
Qin Yanzhi said matter-of-factly, “Gege’s formation is splendid and impeccable. Is it possible for such mediocre people to decipher it?”
Jing Yue, “…” He couldn’t help feeling that he had extended the payment for the water navy.
He was about to ask Qin Yanzhi how he dealt with those people when the other party suddenly grabbed his hand.
“Ge, your hands are stained with ink.”
Jing Yue looked down, and sure enough, his little finger and the sides of his palm were inky. “I was careless when drawing the array. Ji-ji made a mess of the ink.”
He wanted to retract his hand but Qin Yanzhi tightened his hold. Using his wide sleeves, he wiped for him. The moonwhite robe was quickly stained with ink.
From Jing Yue’s line of sight, he could only see the top of his dark head and the tip of his nose, but inexplicably, the memory of Qin Yanzhi’s gentleness when facing Ku Sheng many years ago appeared in his mind.
Shaking those thoughts away, he suppressed the strangeness in his heart. He wanted to retract his hand again, but Qin Yanzhi seemed to read his thoughts, and said, “It’ll be done soon.”
Jing Yue, “…”
When his hand was free again, Jing Yue felt a sense of relief. To dispel this awkwardness, he asked, “How are you progressing in your practice recently?”
Qin Yanzhi, “I’m almost there with the seventh sword style, only a bit more to go.”
Jing Yue felt the same way. His own seven style technique seemed to have reached a bottleneck, and there was no one he could ask, so he could only explore slowly on his own. Perhaps he had to achieve the golden core stage before he could practice the Canglan sword technique.
While thinking, Qin Yanzhi rested his head on his lap. Jing Yue froze briefly before relaxing again. “How old are you? Why do you still love acting like a baby?”
With his eyes closed, Qin Yanzhi said, “I’m a little tired.”
Author’s Notes: Cinema
Ji-ji pointing at someone with its wings: Clingy! Hooligan! Taking advantage of Jing-jing!
Big Rouge: …
Jing Yue: Well, I do feel a little weirded out. Don’t you think so?
Big Rouge: No, I'm a clean freak. I can’t stand the sight of stains. Your thinking is too complicated.
Jing-jing blushed: I’m sorry.
Big Rouge: It’s okay. It’s just a misunderstanding.
Jing Yue: I thought I accidentally raised you as a s*ssy. It’s good that you’re not angry.
Big Rouge: …