Ancient Strengthening Technique - Chapter 910-911
AST 910 –The Strength of the Sky Prison Sect, Balancing Act on a Tightrope
"Why is that?" Qing Shui was puzzled.
"Within my Mu Clan, the one you have the deepest relationship with is that girl who calls herself Mu Qing. The smartest choice for you would be to take her away. Given your abilities, it shouldn't be too hard," the Elder laughed.
Without external circumstances, leaving with Mu Qing would be easy for Qing Shui. He could take her away with two consecutive Nine Continents Steps, and then escape with her on the Fire Bird. There would be no opportunity for the Sky Prison Sect to chase.
However, he could not comprehend why the Elder would say such a thing.
"I could easily take Mu Qing and leave, but would she willingly come with me?" Qing Shui smiled towards the Elder.
"Hah, you aren't ruthless enough and too indecisive. Hesitating when a snap decision is required will invariably lead to trouble. If you cannot change this habit of yours, even with your formidable strength, this could still end disastrously," the Elder sighed while looking at Qing Shui.
Qing Shui could not understand why the Elder sighed. Why would the Elder say these things? As a member of the Mu Clan, did he really wish for Qing Shui to leave?
"Elder, do you not wish for the Mu Clan to become stronger?" Qing Shui turned around and asked.
"Of course I do, but getting stronger isn't child's play. You are one of the most talented people I have seen in my life. The truth is, I do not want to see you die. I want to see your growth and achievements in the next ten, fifty, and hundred years. Unfortunately, there is no hope now." The Elder stopped, as if he felt pity towards the situation.
This feeling was understandable. An elder who loved martial arts saw an exceptionally talented prodigy at the tail end of his life. It was normal and understandable that he would be fond of this talent. It was just like seeing a beautiful flower bud;most people would want to see it in full bloom. If just a flower bud was already so beautiful, it would be even more alluring when it was in full bloom.
If not for having some psychological abnormality or some compelling reason, nobody would ruthlessly destroy the blossom. One reason would be if the flower was a beauty but the heart was as malicious as a snake or a scorpion…
"Alright, we seem to have talked too much about the distant future. Let's talk about the matter with the Sky Prison Sect today." The Elder looked at Qing Shui and laughed.
"Sure, I had the same thought. Please, if you can provide me with some pointers on what to do." Qing Shui was not overly confident either. He relied on the fact that he had formations, the Nine Palace Steps and tamed beasts.
Right now, the members of Mu Clan with the Duality Minutest Formation should be at least stronger than the Sky Prison Sect in their formation. Other than this, there's really no other advantage.
With the addition of the Elder, Qing Shui seemed to have gained a pillar of support.
"You critically injured the Sky Prison's Old Fifth, so there will be no peaceful settlement in this case. This will be a battle to the death. Their goal is our complete annihilation. This is the usual style of the Sky Prison Sect. With their strength, I can only say that we are walking on a tightrope between two deep cliffs."
"Elder, how many martial artists with similar strength to you are in the Sky Prison Sect?" Qing Shui asked out of curiosity.
"The Sky Prison Sect has eight Masters. The Sky Prison's Old Fifth was the weakest one. There are several whose strength is only slightly more than his. However, the Sky Prison Sect has three Heads: the First, Second, and Third of the eight Masters. They are the martial artists with the same strength as me," the Elder said while looking at Qing Shui.
Qing Shui was not surprised. Having three formidable martial artists like that was not strange. Qing Shui felt that they were not the only ones he had to pay attention to, so he remained silent and continued to listen to the Elder. To know thyself was to know thy enemy. That was the way to emerge victorious in every battle. The more intel he had before the battle with the Sky Prison Sect, the more he would know about his opponent.
"The eight Masters of Sky Prison Sect are as close as brothers;furthermore, they have two Elders above them. Their strengths are at least fifteen hundred stars. Their abilities in terms of formations and the Sky Prison Sabre are frightening." The Elder said, helplessly.
Listening to this, Qing Shui felt shocked. The Sky Prison Sect was undoubtedly a Super Sect, the top of a hundred thousand elites. Hearing about their strength, made Qing Shui's scalp tingled.
"I'm not sure if those two old farts will come or not." Qing Shui thought in his mind. If those two did not come, then the situation would be manageable. If they did come, it would be devastating to the Mu Clan if their formation broke.
The Elder seemed to have seen through Qing Shui's thoughts. He smiled and said, "The Sky Prison Sect's two old beasts will not come unless you annihilate the entire Sky Prison Sect. Otherwise, they won't interfere in such a small matter."
"Elder, you know the things I placed in the Mu Clan. With your strength, how long would the formation hold you back?" Qing Shui asked after much thought.
"If there were no obstacles, I'd be able to break through it in fifteen minutes. In any shorter timeframe, it would be too difficult," the Elder said after thinking for a bit.
This was bad news for Qing Shui, since the Mu Clan's Elder did not have any previous knowledge of formations. However, the Sky Prison Sect was different. They were well versed in several formations. Unfortunately, Qing Shui had not been successful with the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation, otherwise he would be confident enough to fend off all of them.
"I can help you hold off one without too much difficulty, but that's only one of them. For the rest , you must think of some other method. Other than the Masters of Sky Prison Sect, the rest are not a problem to worry about. If they retreat to their formation to save themselves, then you should be careful. Rumor has it that it is a formation within a formation." The Elder said after a bit of hesitation.
"Formation within a formation?"
Qing Shui was familiar with the concept of a formation within a formation. It was just placing a formation within another one, but the requirements to do so were high. Formations within formations were strong and could provide temporary salvation. For example, if Qing Shui was trapped within a formation while being attacked from all four sides, he could place a formation within the formation to give himself time to find a way to break through.
However, formations within a formation were not easy to place. This was because formations could counteract each other, which could render the formation within useless.
There was a special type of formation within a formation that was especially potent. It could forcibly steal the other formation's Spirit Qi. Qing Shui knew this was the type of formation within a formation that the Elder was mentioning.
Another type of formation within a formation was a trap formation inside another trap formation. One example would be a bigger Duality Minutest Formation with a smaller Duality Minutest Formation inside. However, the Duality Minutest Formation used in conjunction with the Five Elements Minor Formation was not considered a formation within a formation.
The Five Elements Minor Formation was a Death Formation. It required the cooperation of several martial artists.
When it came to large-scale close quarter killing, people would have to cooperate in order to annihilate the enemy. This could not be considered a formation, but rather the foundation of a formation.
Usually, there would be no conflict. Using the Duality Minutest Formation with the Five Elements Minor Formation had originally been Qing Shui's idea anyway. It was a method of self-preservation for the Mu Clan.
He had even taught them the Duality Steps, so that they could use it with the Duality Minutest Formation.
They continued to discuss many things, but the Elder did not make any decisions. These decisions were left to Qing Shui and the head of the Mu Clan to decide. He was just an observer who was willing to help them hold off the opposition for a bit. Mainly, he just wanted to do what he could, so that when he departed the world, he could go in peace.
This was because the Mu Clan would undergo a huge change because of the youngster in front of his eyes.
By the time Qing Shui got up to leave, it was already morning. He spotted Mu Qing's silhouette in the distance.
"Elder!" Mu Qing paid her respects to the Elder.
"Haha. Good, good. The talent of our Mu Clan is the best. Missy, remember to cherish what is in front of you," the Elder said with a smile. He then left after waving goodbye.
Qing Shui bowed with a smile. Mu Qing blushed while bowing. She then left together with Qing Shui.
She had understood the Elder's true meaning from his words. Before, she had a guilty conscience but hearing the Elder's words made her happy, since she had gained the support of the Elder. Now she could really do what she wanted.
"Qing Shui, why were you at the Elder's manor? He doesn't pay attention to the affairs of the world anymore, but how come he invited you over?" Mu Qing said while walking with Qing Shui a bit further.
"I went to see if the surrounding formation had any issues, but accidentally ended up at the Elder's manor. How did you know I was here?" Qing Shui said, looking at Mu Qing.
Mu Qing said as her cheeks turned red, "I tried to find you in many places, but thought you had left. However, the Elder sent word and told me you were here." Mu Qing said all this while looking downwards, trying to avoid eye contact with Qing Shui.
Qing Shui smiled and stretched his hand out to hold hers. He softly grasped her hand once and let go.
He sighed in his mind. The Elder had said he was indecisive. He had enough self-awareness to know this was true. Even now, he realized if he did not want to chase her, he should not be giving her hope. However, Qing Shui felt that he had to do this, because this simple action could awaken her desire to live.
Mu Qing did not say a word. She was happy at this moment, and smiled towards Qing Shui. As she walked forward, her dress accompanied her seductive figure marvelously.
Sometime after noon, Qing Shui decided to wait in his room for a bit. However, an uproar could be heard outside. As he stepped out the door, he spotted Mu Qing heading over as well. Both of them rushed towards the direction that the sound was coming from.
"The members of the Sky Prison Sect are here, everyone get ready!"
"Kill those brutes! I have long been unable to stand their belittling behavior."
"That's right, kill them! They rely on formations to bully people. Today, we fight them inside the formation. Either they die or we die."
Noise continued to reach Qing Shui's ears. It looked like the Sky Prison Sect had arrived.
By the time Qing Shui and Mu Qing rushed over to the front yard, more than half of the Mu Clan had already gathered. The women had already hidden themselves in the secret chamber. It had been sealed beforehand with a formation. If nobody eventually went to unseal the formation, it meant that they had been annihilated. Thus, they would by then escape through the secret passage. Whether they could escape in one piece would be up to them at that point.
Mu Fengyang, Mu Qian and several other people were here. They were all Mu Qing's elders, part of the direct bloodline of the Mu Clan. Other people had already been dismissed. In this situation, they would not able to help in any way, and could even end up being distractions. Thus, their absence did not create any ill will. However, many whose strength was decent still decided to stay. More importantly, they were all completely loyal to the Mu Clan, otherwise they would not have been allowed to stay behind.
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AST 911 –Violent Incoming Force, Tianyu Liangyu, Killing Weapon
“Qing Shui, lass, you’ve both come!”Mu Qian smiled and greeted, as if he was very happy to see his daughter together with Qing Shui. His casual words caused Mu Qing to flush. It was just like the words one’s parents would say to their newly wedded children.
“Father!”Mu Qing answered, smiling as she walked over to Mu Qian.
“Elder sister, why do I feel that you’re much prettier than before?”Mu Xue teased.
“Lass, are you itching for a beating again?”
“Old Master!”Qing Shui greeted Mu Fengyang and the few other old men, then nodded to the others. Now, Qing Shui's status in everyone’s heart was no longer the same as before. After all, he had crippled the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth in one move and everyone was clear how powerful he was, as a result, they now treated him differently.
Qing Shui then looked toward the distance. Several huge, brightly-colored flying beasts were heading toward them from the far distance. There were several hundreds of people on them, with quite a number of them wearing multicolored clothes.
In order to see better when setting up formations, formation attires came in different colors which reduces the difficulty of constructing formations. Those who were of the same group would wear the same color, making it easier to differentiate themselves.
The prime force of the Sky Prison Sect had come. Qing Shui’s gaze was fixed on the few flying beasts in the front. There were seven Multi-colored Great Bird, with an old man on each of them. However, compared to that old man from the Mu Clan, they could be considered to be younger and had more vitality.
Other than the seven Multi-colored Great Bird, there were also several tens of Multi-colored Great Bird which were comparatively smaller. The cultivators on each of the birds wore clothes of the same color. On one of the birds, there was a group of old men who were clearly younger than the seven in the lead. The colors of their clothes were all different, but it would definitely be associated with one of the colors on the other birds, with the only difference being the prints on the clothes.
What made Qing Shui happy was that the majority of the people in the Mu Clan were not afraid, but rather excited. Of course, there were also some whose face had gone pale. After all, they were up against the Sky Prison Sect.
The people who had stayed behind were the Mu Clan’s elites and would do anything for the Mu Clan. Therefore, it was normal for them to be unafraid of danger. These people were willing to even give their lives in battles for the Mu Clan, therefore, they were people who didn’t fear anything.
In the formation that surrounded the Mu Clan, only the space before Qing Shui was not sealed up, with the eye of the formation vacated. This was left for the people from the Mu Clan to pass through, and right now, everyone was gathered here.
However, they had already been grouped together and would be able to use the Five Elements Minor Formation at any time. They had practiced the simplest joint attack in the Five Elements Minor Formation for the past few days and nights.
The team of old men that Mu Qing led into the Sky Penetrating Mountains previously had the best coordination and were also the strongest. Due to the formation and the fact that they were all Peak Martial Saints, they were a tremendous force to be wary of.
Dong Yan and Sun Yan also led a group of people despite not having the same level of coordination. The two of them had learned from Qing Shui the longest, and while they weren’t comparable to Mu Qing, they could still be considered to be quite strong in this group. Furthermore, the two of them were very talented and although they didn’t know how to set up the formation, they were able to utilize it simply.
“Eldest Brother, look! Around the Mu Clan!”
Amongst the seven leading Multi-colored Great Bird, one of the old men suddenly pointed to the ground and said. There were no emotions in his voice. It was just pure sound, as if it didn’t come from a person.
“Formation…Old Fifth had said that there’s a young man amongst them who knows about formations. Seems like this formation has been set up by that young man.”Another old but bright voice lit up.
“Does Eldest Brother recognize this formation?”Another old man took a look for a while and said.
“There are endless variations to formations, but I’m confident to be able to pass through it very quickly. Would you guys have any problems?”The old man said casually.
“No problems. This is a binding formation. As long as we can pass through this formation, it should be an easy feat for us to use our Sky Prison Sabre Formation to kill them.”This time around, it was an old man wearing a brown colored attire.
“3rd Brother, don’t be careless. A binding formation can be modified at any time. Old Fifth had been crippled in a single move. That young man definitely has his strong areas, we mustn’t be careless.”The leading old man wearing golden clothes said.
“Eldest Brother, even if that fellow is a great talent, he’s still young. We must get rid of him this time around, otherwise, our Sky Prison Sect might be destroyed by him in the future.”An old man in green clothes said with a frown.
“2nd Brother is right. We must not only get rid of that young man, but we can’t let that old monster from the Mu Clan off too. Since we’re taking action, we need to be more thorough. Otherwise, our Sky Prison Sect would be in trouble in the future.”
As they conversed, they had arrived before the Mu Clan’s courtyard. The group gradually came down from the Multi-colored Great Bird and formed their own formations with the seven old men in the front.
Those slightly younger old men each led a team of several tens, or close to a hundred of people, quickly getting into their formations.
Qing Shui and the others looked outside. He was also very agitated, even slightly nervous. It was because the opponents were truly powerful, and like what the Mu Clan’s old man had said, amongst the seven people in the lead, three of them seemed to be truly unfathomable.
Furthermore, on the several hundreds of people that the other party had brought, each of them was equipped with a strange looking sabre with three shallow troughs that were meant for releasing blood. The sabre’s blade was slightly thick with a spiral shape on the inner side.
Sky Prison Sabre.
It was said that this was the Sky Prison Sect’s unique weapon and when one got wounded by it, the damage would be several times stronger than ordinary weapons. Although it would not increase one’s attack, the damage inflicted was tremendous.
This was still secondary. What Qing Shui was worried about was their sheer numbers. The previous time, even when the Flower Crusher created their formations, there were only about 20 of them. However this time their number was about four times more, with over 80 people in each group.
The 'Sky Prison Sabre Formation' had the same principles as the 'Five Elements Minor Formation' and as long as there was good coordination- the bigger the numbers, the stronger the prowess. With one look, Qing Shui could tell that these people they were currently facing were not what the 'Flower Crusher' could be compared with.
“The Mu Clan has become more capable.”The old man dressed in golden clothes said to the people from the Mu Clan. His voice wasn’t very loud, but it could be clearly heard within multiple li in the area.
“It’s not that the Mu Clan has become more capable, but that the Sky Prison Sect has pushed people too far.”Mu Fengyang frowned and replied.
“Haha, pushed people too far? This is hilarious. Is there a need for us to bully your Mu Clan? Are you guys worth it?”The old man’s voice was full of disdain, with his gaze as if he was looking at ants.
Qing Shui frowned. To think that such a powerful cultivator still had such a bad character at his age. However, he threw away this thought very quickly. No matter how strong one was, no matter how long one has lived, he would still be human. Humans have various emotions. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have come here.
Qing Shui seemed to have understood some things at this moment.
As long as one was human, one could be killed, one could be defeated!
“It’s true that the Sky Prison Sect is strong, but even a rabbit would bite when it is anxious.”The voice of the Mu Clan’s old man rang out.
“Old man Mu!”
When the old man dress in gold clothes saw the Mu Clan’s old man, he frowned and shouted.
The other people from the Mu Clan also called out to him respectively, with the last greeting coming from Qing Shui.
When he saw that the old man dressed in golden clothes was frowning, Qing Shui felt slightly more hopeful. It seemed that the old man still had some reservations towards the Mu Clan’s old man.
“Since things have come down to this, there’s no need to say anymore. When you guys dared to cripple my fifth brother, you should have expected for this day to come.”The old man dressed in golden clothes said with an air of dominance.
“That rubbish had wasted so many years of his life. If he doesn’t have power, then he shouldn’t be out to bite others. He only has himself to blame.”Qing Shui’s calm voice rang out.
He hated these type of people the most. People who were arrogant and domineering, who cared for people close to them but didn’t give a hoot to everyone else. Those who would stomp down on others as they wished just because they had the power to do so. With the Flower Crusher’s characters, one would be able to tell what kind of personality the people of the Sky Prison Sect had. And now, they were even so unreasonable to resort on wiping out an entire clan.
All of these just because they felt that they were stronger than their opponents and thus could afford to throw their weight around. Qing Shui let out a sigh helplessly. In the world of the nine continents, the people with power are the ones who had the right to speak. Those without any power could only shrink back into their shells. This was nothing rare, but anyone would feel angry if this were to happen to them.
Qing Shui still couldn’t get used to seeing such domineering people bullying others.
“Seems like you’re the one who crippled my fifth brother, and you’re the one who had set up the formation here.”The old man dressed in golden clothes locked his gaze on Qing Shui, as if he wanted to see through him.
Qing Shui’s words didn’t infuriate him. Although Qing Shui's tone was scolding, his words were nothing to an old man like him. He was merely angry that Qing Shui had crippled the Sky Prison Sect's Old Fifth.
The eight Sovereigns of the Sky Prison Sect were orphans that the elders from the sect had taken in. There were many of them at the start, but eight of them ended up being the only ones who had survived. They were very close and had been brothers for a few hundreds of years.
Bad people were still humans, people who still had kinship and feelings. Moreover, whether someone was good or evil was just relative and there was no clear cut definition to it. If a person were to commit an evil act, doing so with a reason and this reason seemed righteous, the result would tend to be different. Regardless if one was killing people without any reason, or doing so only in order to kill, it was still an act of killing. Even if a person was stealing to save his sickly mother, it was still an act of stealing.
“Young man, sometimes, making a showy display of your abilities might not necessarily be something good. You have no future if you were to stay with the Mu Clan. Are you interested in joining our Sky Prison Sect? I can give you everything that you want.”The old man wearing golden clothes looked at Qing Shui, his eyes lit up.
Qing Shui looked at the old man dressed in golden clothes. He even thought that the other party sounded extremely sincere, even the people around him felt the same. However, Qing Shui knew that this guy was a shrewd old fox.
“If you’re willing to kill yourself, I’ll agree to your condition.”Qing Shui said calmly.
“You’re being insincere now. Although our Sky Prison Sect holds outsiders in contempt, we’re very united internally. Moreover, the things that I, Tianyu Liangyi, says always count. As long as you join our Sky Prison Sect, I can even promise you that you’ll be the future Sovereign for the Sky Prison Sect. You’ll be the strongest and when the time comes, it’ll be easy for you to kill me.”The old man dressed in golden clothes said slowly, as if there was some magical charm to his words.
“Haha, why are you hoping for me to join the Sky Prison Sect now? Are you scared?”Qing Shui didn't expect this old fox to say this, but he knew that this old man was in fact very tricky and was focusing on attacking him mentally.
“Scared? Haha, maybe I’ll be in the future. But right now, you can’t stop me. Consider my offer, I’ll give you the time it takes for half an incense to burn.”The old man wearing golden clothes said calmly.
Mu Qing looked at Qing Shui. She didn’t seem to be nervous and was very calm. However, there were still some people who were very nervous. The old men from the Mu Clan, Mu Fengyang, and Mu Qian were all looking at this scene calmly.
“No need for that. Let’s just start the fight. Since we can’t have a settlement, let’s just see whose fist is tougher.”Qing Shui didn’t bring out his Thunder God nor his Big Dipper Sword. Instead, he took out the Poison Dragon Dagger!
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