This chapter has been brought to you by me, WanderingGummiOfDoom, and warlord212.
Chapter Two Hundred and Fifty Seven – One Small Step[i]
He Xiang’s face was tight, but in reality, his mood was not as terrible as he displayed. The members of the Outer Hall were continuously gathering which allowed the leaders of the factions in Nan Sheng Village personally see the strength of the Outer Hall.
Everyone was in danger now.
Under this tense atmosphere, the secret alliance the faction leaders had brokered fell apart without any attack. They all chose to capitulate, and He Xiang quickly got the price he wanted.
Now, he only needed to catch the group of troublemakers before he would accomplish his goals. Looking at the xiuzhe that covered the sky above Nan Sheng Village, the cloud over He Xiang’s heart swept away. The number of xiuzhe in the Outer Hall had reached a terrifying three thousand people. Nan Sheng Village was small to begin with. Three thousand xiuzhe flying in the air was like a storm cloud. In his view, such a strong power could dominate all of Little Mountain Jie. If it wasn’t that Old Forefather had personally made the captivity plan, he would have already suggested to take all of Little Mountain Jie into Clear Sky Sect’s pocket.
However, there wasn’t much of a difference now, he thought contentedly. He had sent out large numbers of troops to search for the traces of those people. As soon as they found one trace, they could send out all their strength, and tear those damned people into a thousand pieces.
He believed that news would come very soon.
Just as he was thinking this, an elder landed in front of him, and said excitedly, “We found the group! Two or three hundred people, up north, about two thousand li from here. Our people have locked onto them.”
He Xiang was exhilarated, and said hatefully, “As long as we can find them, then they will definitely die. Get the scouts at the front to keep alert and don’t lose them. It’s our turn to attack!”
“Ha ha, let them see the power of our Outer Hall,” this elder also laughed.
“We’ll destroy them!” He Xiang was full of bravado. “We’ll celebrate you when you get back!” This elder was an ally he had been pursuing.
“Ha ha! Wait for my good news!” This elder laughed proudly before jumping back into the air.
The xiuzhe filling the sky started to quickly gather.
Nian Lu was just as discontent as Wei Ran.
His feet stepping on a lotus flower, he flew with the wind. His snowy-white robes now seemed grey and dusty. After that handsome and light-hearted face seemed somewhat slow-witted after eating wind for more than ten days. The platoon captain beside him also had an expression of dissatisfaction. “This group of bum beetles, they are so annoying! We have to even talk to them everyday, but it’s still those old faces, there’s nothing new. But they don’t have it easy either!”
The last words were full of emotion.
He turned and hollered at the xiuzhe beside him, “All of you, stay alert. Don’t blame my flying sword if you don’t listen.”
Beside him, other than his own subordinates, there were almost two hundred unfamiliar xiuzhe. These xiuzhe all had their heads hanging down without energy. These were the xiuzhe that they had captured when they took the time to especially sweep up two factions. The sweep had been done together by Lei Peng, Zong Ru, and himself. Nian Lu’s luck had been the worst and had lost in drawing straws, so that the most depressing job of baiting the enemy had fallen to him.
These captives seemed to have extremely well-prepared ling armor, but other than ling armor, all other talismans and flying swords had been taken away.
Just like this, Nian Lu lead a platoon and two hundred xiuzhe as he flew openly towards the north.
To make sure the other side didn’t lose track of them, they had to maintain a moderate speed. What was most depressing was that he could not attend the upcoming battle, he could only continue to travel away.
The greatest tragedy of life was this. Nian Lu said with sorrow and anger, “Slow down, slow down, don’t let them lose track.”
At the base of a mountain about four hundred li from Nan Sheng Village was an extremely well-hidden mountain cave.
“What are we waiting for? We’re just guarding this place that even the birds don’t shit, when can we go and do something!” Lei Peng rumbled.
Everyone ignored him. Zong Ru was sitting and meditating, Xie Shan had his eyes closed to rest. The other platoon captain wisely did not interrupt. With so many of the old-timers here, he did not have a turn to speak.
Ma Fan shook his head helplessly. But it was his idea. It was so troublesome. He drawled, “Soon, soon.”
Lei Peng snickered and said, “Little Nian Nian is probably being blown with a refreshing breeze right now.”
Light laughter came from the other people. Even Zong Ru showed a hint of mirth at the corner of his lips.
After killing those little groups last time, during that period of extremely short chaos, they had quietly sneaked in.
This trip had been seven days. Their luck was pretty good. They had found an extremely deep cave. With some camouflage added, it was a very good ambush point. This place was also very close to Nan Sheng Village, right under the enemy’s eyes. It was perfect for being “dark under the lamp.”
Xie Shan suddenly opened his eyes. The other people instantly had wary looks. Xie Shan said lightly, “They’ve come.”
All the xiuzhe instantly stopped talking. Xie Shan even extinguished the Small Light spell inside the cave. The cave instantly became pitch black. After a while, everyone felt streams of consciousness and strange ling power sweep across their bodies.
Fear rose in everyone’s hearts!
There were at least two thousand people from Nan Sheng Village that moved out this time! It could be seen that the Outer Hall had put a lot into destroying them.
No one dared to move. All signs of life on their bodies disappeared. All breathing and heartbeats stopped. Even the temperature of their bodies decreased. They were like a pile of rocks. Ma Fan had taught them all a spell to conceal themselves from scouts since he was very skilled in concealment.
To avoid attracting attention, they had not used any spell or formation to disguise the entrance of the cave. Formations were the best for disguise, but that was only for experts. If it wasn’t a formation expert, the disguise formation set up would be eye-catching instead.
They only used rocks and foliage to conceal and lessen the traces of themselves. They had also specially grabbed little animals like rabbits to put in the cave.
There were too many caves in this area. Ma Fan had correctly predicted the other would not inspect the caves one by one.
Wave after wave of surveillance continued for two hours. Even Xie Shan, with the highest cultivation, couldn’t help but be shocked by the Outer Hall’s strength. From the consciousness and ling power that swept across their bodies, there were more than ten ningmai third stratum xiuzhe. He was certain that more than seven-tenths of the entire Little Mountain Jie’s ningmai third stratum had sided with the Outer Hall.
One ningmai third stratum was not scary, but ten of them was definitely a great power. If he was the commander, he definitely would arrange for the ten people to be together. Powerful xiuzhe like this were terrifying when they were used together. Why had the xiuzhe who comprehended sword essence like him been arranged together? He hadn’t understood in the past, but after following Lil’ Miss for a time, and personally experiencing it, he now understood the benefits.
However, what he admired the most right now was Ma Fan’s cautiousness. Under Ma Fan’s persistence, they had dug into the cave to an extreme depth. Then used slabs of rock to seal the top of the pit. These granite stones were more than ten zhang thick, and had almost tired them to death at the time. The entire cave was now divided into two levels. Those little animals lived on the top level.
At the time, some people had muttered that Ma Fan was making a mountain out of a molehill. Looking at it now, these measures had saved their lives!
What he didn’t know was that Ma Fan was also feeling fear. If anything had gone astray with the measures, then they would have been sealed in. No one would have been able to escape.
Even when all the scans had disappeared, they still did not dare to move. Everyone was terrified by what had just occurred.
After ten whole hours, they finally recovered from the false death state.
“Woah, they are terrifying. At least two thousand people!” Lei Peng exclaimed, his face slightly pale.
“It’s three thousand,” Zong Ru suddenly spoke, “there is also thirteen third stratum.”
Everyone’s faces became slightly ugly. Xie Shan looked at Zong Ru with surprise. He was shocked at Zong Ru’s sensitivity.
“They really find us worthwhile!”
“Ha ha, laozi was so frightened right now, laozi’s body is still somewhat soft.”
Everyone discussed loudly. They were slightly afraid and shocked, but they were more excited. The Outer Hall had found them important enough to send out this many people. In Little Mountain Jie, there was no faction other than theirs who managed to cause such a reaction. Most of these people were lawless fighters. Battle maniacs like Lei Peng were not rare. The more it was like the present, the more motivated they were.
Ma Fan was not as crazy as they were. He managed to calm his heartbeat, and wiped the cold sweat. He had been the core for so long, but it was the first time he had encountered such a risky situation like the one just now.
“When are we moving?” Lei Peng rubbed his hands excitedly, his eyes shining as he looked at Ma Fan.
Ma Fan forcibly repressed the impulse to kill the guy and rolled his eyes instead. “Do you want to die faster? They haven’t gone far away. If they turn back, none of us will escape.”
Lei Peng realized that his question seemed like it was trouble-making, especially when he saw the gazes looking at him like they were looking like an idiot. He rapidly gave a bright smile, “See, after being frightened by them, an’s mind doesn’t work properly.”
“Five days.” After calming down, Ma Fan’s head turned cold and rational. “We only need to wait five more days. Even if they want to turn back then, it wouldn’t be enough.”
“Everyone, get a good rest these five days. Otherwise, you’ll see the other people rampage while you falter,” Xie Shan said with a smile from the side.
Sound disappeared from the mountain cave. Everyone suppressed the excitement inside, and meditated. They were like a group of experienced hunters making their last preparations before closing the net.
Jiang Wei took the jade scroll his subordinate had handed over. He had sent out the xiuzhe that had been most skilled in concealment to follow behind Wei Ran’s group from far away, and successfully located this group’s main base.
When he scanned the jade scroll, his body froze.
In the mirage of the jade scroll, at the top of a mountain peak was a sun city made from blue-gold. The sunlight was like a keen sword cutting the sky and landing on this city. The faint golden light emitted from the little city gave people warmth like the sunlight.
Jiang Wei’s heart seemed to be suddenly gripped by an invisible hand. At that instant, it stopped beating.
After an unknown length of time, he slowly refocused. There was almost no xiuzhe in the empty city. All the blood in his body went to his head. With a glance, he could see how weak the city was! Even the troop that had sent the captives back had thrown the captives to the camp, and instantly left.
An uncontrollable greed and yearning filled every hair of his body!
[i]The chapter title is the start of a Chinese idiom “差之毫厘，谬以千里.” Translated, it can mean “one small step can make a great difference,” “a small error can lead to a serious result.”
Translator Ramblings: Bait to draw everyone out of the place first and then … …
I have to say that mind-to-mind communication is always the fastest and cheapest communication method in fantasy stories. Look at Pu Yao, a ball of light and then off Zuo Mo goes! Considering how “cheap” information storage in scrolls and other items seem to be in many fantasy stories where secret arts can be read and then copied without any limit, it’s a miracle that a lot of the secret arts remained a secret. I don’t think it is very hard. With mind-to-mind communication, one person can “buy” the manual and then “send” it to his relatives who can also use it. And then things spread. Or they can inscribe the information onto jade scrolls/strips and then sell them for really good prices. Actually, I think that won’t be a bad story, a protagonist that makes a living by making textbooks and selling information.