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Chapter 23: Entering The Formation
The higher the mountain peak, the stronger the wind that blew away the misty rain.
There were many peaks in the Wu Mountains, but all of them were only half as tall as the tallest peak.
This peak was the Goddess Peak.
Because the mountain was so steep and there were numerous vicious beasts, even the most experienced medicine harvesters would never return after entering. This added a great sense of mystery to this mountain.
Three figures appeared on a protruding cliff wall halfway up Goddess Peak. Two of them seemed to be exhausted youths, and the other an old man. They were sitting on the cold hard stone.
These three were naturally Ding Ning, Fu Su and Forefather Zhou.
The Wu Mountain was unlike other mountain rains; some places were shrouded in mist, some under rain, while others had clear skies. When the trio looked out, the Wu Mountains was completely enshrouded in clouds. The mists settled in the numerous valleys like white bowls among the forest.
They had not struggled to ascend to such an elevation just to watch the scenery.
Ding Ning turned to look at Forefather Zhou, waiting for him to speak.
“When the noon sun falls, the formation door will open,” Forefather Zhou looked at the sky and said expressionlessly, “we are just an hour away.”
“We have to wait until noon before there is a phenomenon and we can see where the formation door is?” Fu Su was even more puzzled upon hearing this. “You brought us here because you wanted Ding Ning to help you see where the true formation door is located? If so, have you ever entered the true formation door and know what is inside is what you want?”
Forefather Zhou glanced at Fu Su and coldly said, “The location of the formation door will change at any moment. Even if one cannot calculate its location, they can gamble with luck. However, I have no time for a lucky guess, and no energy for luck.”
“If you find a possible formation door, you run there and try. If you find it is incorrect, then you run over here and try … there may be powerful death traps concealed at the location of incorrect formation doors. At the least, you will be injured, and you may even be killed if you are careless.”
Fu Su understood Forefather Zhou’s meaning and said, “This method is very stupid.”
Forefather Zhou sneered, but did not respond.
Ding Ning, who had until now been silent, looked at him and said, “Relying on this stupid method, you entered the formation door in the past. But there is something inside you could not defeat. So, even though you found something of great use to you, you could not obtain it.”
Forefather Zhou maintained his silence, but Ding Ning continued. “You should have come here before the reformation and your injuries. But for so many years, you stayed in Changling and did not think about this place because what is inside has not matured. So it is about full grown now?”
Facing Ding Ning’s speculation, Forefather Zhou did not refute it this time. He nodded and said, “Thirty years ago, when I had just entered realm seven, I passed by Wu Mountain and coincidentally found this place. I am about to be paralyzed and what is inside is coincidentally perfect to use. A freak like you with extraordinary comprehension has also appeared. I think this is fate.”
Ding Ning looked at him and shook his head. He said, “It is not possible for all good things to happen to you.”
“Maybe all good things happen to me,” Forefather Zhou said expressionlessly.
There were not so many coincidences of good things in the world. Yet, in life, waiting was perhaps the norm for a person.
On another high cliff on Goddess Peak was an old man who looked as old as Forefather Zhou. He was also waiting.
Dressed in light yellow brocade robes made from the softest silk, he wore the most refined jade coronet. There were natural light red patterns in the white jade coronet that looked like blooming peach flowers. His face was covered in black spots and old age marks. But even so, his features were unusually handsome. Any person, at a glance, could see that he must have been an extremely handsome man in his youth.
At this time, he was also waiting for the hottest noon sunlight to land on Wu Mountain. Unlike Forefather Zhou, he had not waited for thirty years, but longer.
He also knew that the Deer Mountain Conference and the maturation time of the thing inside the formation was not a coincidence, but due to arrangements. Because he had set the time for the Deer Mountain Conference.
He was the Chu King rumored to be obsessed with beauty and the inner palace. The longest reigning monarch of the Chu Dynasty.
At this time, the king’s eyes flashed with anticipation, and also the light of emotion and nostalgia.
He thought of himself in bright clothes riding horses in his youth. Back then, he had truly loved beauty. Whenever he heard of a famed beauty somewhere, he would travel thousands of miles. He didn’t know how many love affairs he had left behind in the mountains and rivers. For example, this Goddess Peak … he had named this peak.
Time that has passed cannot return. Those jade-boned beauties had turned into earth long ago, but this Goddess Peak was still shrouded in mist at her waist like she would never grow old.
Ding Ning frowned, and looked seriously at the sight before him.
He too deeply revered and feared the formations left behind by ancient sects, even after so much time.
The sun was high up in the sky.
Forefather Zhou’s squinting eyes widened. Before he could speak, light appeared in Ding Ning’s calm and solemn eyes.
The strong sunlight landed on the bowl-like valleys. Refracted by the many drops of water, the light did not turn into a rainbow, but golden rays of light.
Fu Su’s breathing stopped slightly. He couldn’t help but instinctively recall the words that Forefather Zhou had spoken previously. He could sense that some of the pure golden rays of light were different.
At this moment, Ding Ning could sense what kind of formation this was.
His gaze landed on one of the bowl-like valleys. The true fire energy in the rays of light landing in that valley was absorbed by the valley. Among the light rays, invisible steam rose. These rays of light became special passages for the steam to flow through.
In his eyes, these scenes once again became pure lines.
True fire fell down, while steam crossed among the true fire and rose upwards.
He could not see the situation at the bottom of the valley with his eyes, but he seemed to know all the paths at the bottom of the valley.
“Let us go.”
He turned to look at Forefather Zhou and said calmly, “However, this time, you have to carry me and Fu Su down. Otherwise, if I am too tired, I might not be able to comprehend the method to enter the formation door.”
Fu Su was shocked again.
He looked in disbelief at Ding Ning. “You are already certain of the formation door location?”
Ding Ning glanced at him and said, “This is similar to the Three Sovereigns Sect’s water and fire blending method of the past. They wanted to disguise the presence of what is sealed as much as possible which means they need many channels to guide the wind and mediate. There is more than one formation door.”
After a pause, Ding Ning said, “It is not hard finding a formation door to enter, it is difficult finding a way to resolve the death traps of the formation door.”
Forefather Zhou’s eyes had originally been filled with disbelief. He hadn’t believed that Ding Ning had managed to discern this quickly. But at these words, he took a deep breath, his heart beat uncontrollably.
“You know a lot,” he said slowly.
A cold bone-chilling wind rose on the cliff. Three bodies floated up from the granite and down towards that mountain valley through the mist.
The Goddess Peak was perhaps the only mistake the creators of the formation had made. When they left Goddess Peak and floated into the forest below, even Ding Ning could no longer feel anything abnormal among those golden pillars of light. The formation creator must have been in the mountain back then, and hadn’t sensed that it was possible for this formation to be detected from parts of Goddess Peak at certain times.
The formation was located in a valley with a flat terrain. Shrubby trees stretched as far as the eye could see in the milky mist. It did not look like dry land, but a deep lake.
They landed on the perimeter of this mountain valley based on Ding Ning’s memory. Even Fu Su could feel an ancient presence up ahead that gathered in the bright light and spread through the mountain valley. A presence of water and wind sprouted into the sky as though it would pierce the sky.
An unusual flush appeared on Forefather Zhou’s face. He had used a stupid method to find one of the formation doors. This clear and similar presence allowed him to confirm that Ding Ning’s judgement was correct.
Ding Ning frowned deeply, his gaze calmly sweeping across every tree and blade of grass nearby.
The cultivator who had set up this formation far surpassed a realm seven in strength. The setup inside would have many places that could threaten even Forefather Zhou. So at this time, he did not care about Forefather Zhou’s thoughts. He put all of his mind on studying and sensing this formation he had only ever read in short description from ancient books, and never seen before.
The mist was extremely thick. Wind flowed around, but would suddenly disappear when they reached the spot in front of him. Even the mist inside did not move, and the trees and grass in the mist seemed to be absolutely still in the air.
In a flash, Ding Ning felt pain.
The flora in the mist turned into numerous lines, carrying murderous intent that filled his body like twigs of a chaste tree. He felt suffocated.
A mouthful of blood uncontrollably sprayed out of his mouth.
Translator Ramblings: I wonder what the level of literacy and learning there was in Warring State China. The aristocrats, and important people were definitely well-educated, but doesn’t Ding Ning’s wealth of knowledge and the education he shows doesn’t match that of a … common wine shop youth? Or I’m underestimating literacy and the amount of common knowledge available.