The Desolate Era - Book 10, Chapter 21 - Preparing a Celebratory Feast
This impressive group of experts filed in through a corridor, arriving at a massive, towering hall. The hall was lined with seats, and the walls were lined with musical instruments.
“This must have been the place where, when Immortal Witchriver was alive, he would merrymake with his monstrous clansmen,” Youngflame Nong laughed loudly. “These tables, these pillars, and these sculptures… all of them are utterly exquisite and extraordinary.”
Ning and the others all nodded. They could completely imagine how, countless years ago, the Diremonsters would all be seated next to those tables, eating and drinking and making merry.
“And there. That’s the place where Immortal Witchriver must have sat.” Youngflame Nong pointed towards the front of the hall. The front of the hall had the most beautiful, lavish table of all, and the decorative screen behind it was also exquisite. To each side of the decorative screens, there were bronze lamps.
“That bronze lamp was the core of this Witchriver Palace,” Youngflame Nong said, pointing towards a Zifu Disciple. “Go next to that bronze lamp.”
These Zifu Disciples were all Deathsworn. They knew very well that they had been trained, solely for the purpose of obeying their master. If their master was to order them to their deaths, they wouldn’t hesitate at all.
As soon as the Zifu Disciple moved to walk towards the front of the hall…
The entire hall instantly began to change in appearance. Ning and the others watched as the scenery around them transformed into a beautiful peach tree garden. They were surrounded by peach trees, and the floor was covered with petals.
“Careful. It is an illusory formation,” Xiangliu Fang shouted.
“I knew it. This place, the main palace, the Witchriver Palace… there’s no way we’d be able to acquire it so easily.” Youngflame Nong laughed coldly. With Uncle Fang present, he wasn’t nervous at all. This was a formation that had been in storage for countless years, and it didn’t have anyone truly controlling it; at most, this formation would be able to unleash a tenth of its power.
“Assemble into formation.” Ji Ning, Mu Northson, Yu Wei, Adept Vastriver, and Ninelotus all immediately assembled into that five-elements, pentagonal formation. All of them were on their guard.
“This illusory formation is very formidable; even divine sense is unable to see through it,” Adept Vastriver said. “And I have a vague feeling… that this formation is even stronger than the one which had been located in the Vault of Treasures.”
“This formation seems to be gathering Azurewood Godbolts,” Ning said with a frown.
“It seems you understand a bit about formations as well.” Xiangliu Fang, standing next to Youngflame Nong, gave Ning a glance, then said calmly, “This formation activates the power of the Solar Star. Using wood to guide the power, it generates Azurewood Godbolts. Although no one is controlling it, you still can’t underestimate the power of the Azurewood Godbolts. I need some time to break this formation; I wish all of you the best during this time.”
Ning and the rest of the five moved closer to each other, prepared to deal with the Azurewood Godbolts at any moment. They didn’t dare to run about wildly; to do so in this illusory world was to seek death.
“I, I, what should I do?” Xue Hongyi was panicking internally, but on the surface, he continued to grit his teeth and wait.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Suddenly, three bolts of azure lightning thundered down from up above, smashing directly towards Youngflame Nong.
“Someone is commanding the formation?” Xiangliu Fang was shocked.
“How could someone be commanding it?” The nearby Youngflame Nong was panicked as well.
Whoosh! Xiangliu Fang stretched his large hands out. His hands were like dark clouds capable of covering the skies and smothering the sun; they stretched out to those three bolts of lightning. Boom, boom, boom… the lightning struck against the giant hands, and although the giant hands sank down momentarily, and the skin on the hands split apart as lightning writhed and spat against them, the hands endured.
“Hahaha, young master, don’t worry.” While receiving the lightning bolts, Xiangliu Fang actually began to laugh loudly. “Immortal Witchriver died countless hundreds of millions of years ago; the Witchriver Palace definitely has no living creatures within it. Anything still surviving should be a golem. Generally speaking, golems only possess a simple level of intelligence; at most, they can activate formations. They aren’t able to control them. After all, this sort of large formation is quite complicated. Without Immortal Witchriver passing down the special technique to control it, there is no way they will be able to do so.
“If my guess is correct, the Witchriver Palace should have a powerful golem within it, and this golem should have a sentient spirit animating it. Thus, this golem is extremely intelligent, and is thus also skilled in controlling formations. Immortal Witchriver must have trusted him so much that he transmitted the formation control method to him,” Xiangliu Fang laughed. “But unfortunately, he is still merely a golem, with no elemental ki within his body; at most, he is capable of unleashing twenty to thirty percent of the power of the formation.”
As Xiangliu Fang was speaking loudly, one bolt of thunder after another continued to come crashing down from the skies. Xiangliu Fang, by himself, received all of these blows.
Ning and the others let out sighs of relief. Xiangliu Fang’s guess was most likely accurate; to truly control a formation required the usage of elemental ki. If the ki was that of an Immortal, then the power of the formation would naturally increase greatly. But golems didn’t have any ki at all; even if they were able to control the formation, they would only be able to, at most, increase its power by a small amount.
“Humans, you are not the Immortal’s heirs. To barge into the Witchriver Palace is a capital offense.” A furious shout rang out from within the illusion of a peach garden.
“A capital offense? Who is going to carry out the penalty, you? If my guess is correct, you are at most comparable to an ordinary Loose Immortal in strength,” Xiangliu Fang laughed coldly. “Your power is far from being a match for mine.”
As soon as his words came out, Xiangliu Fang suddenly let out a savage howl. “BREAK!” Instantly, Xiangliu Fang’s hands swung outward, howling out as the fingers on his large hands all transformed into giant serpents. The ten giant serpents instantly latched onto something in the void and gave it a hard pull. The entire formation immediately seemed to have been ‘stuck’, and the peach blossom formation trembled, grew blurry, and completely vanished.
“How can this be?!” An astonished cry.
With the disappearance of the peach blossom, Ning’s group once more was able to see the giant hall, and the tables within it.
“Not bad, not bad. I managed to survive. Fortunately, that golem was extremely intelligent and knew that it had to kill Youngflame Nong, and so it focused all of its efforts on him. If those lightning bolts had struck amongst the rest of us, although those five of the Black-White College would probably be able to endure it, I would have been in danger.” Xue Hongyi felt as though he had been blessed with tremendous luck.
Last time, when he and Adept Bu You had faced those attacks from the golems, Adept Bu You had died, while he had been lucky and survived. He had then acquired an Immortal-ranked magic treasure, and just now avoided yet another tribulation. He had survived multiple dangerous encounters, and had even acquired an Immortal-ranked treasure. Wasn’t this a tremendous blessing of luck?
“The formation is already broken.” Xiangliu Fang swept the hall with his gaze, then said calmly, “Everyone, no need to be afraid. Immortal Witchriver was only a Celestial Immortal, and his roots were not very deep; it is already quite impressive for him to have produced a golem that is fairly close to a Loose Immortal in power. If that golem doesn’t appear, then fine; if he does, however, I’ll capture him.”
Youngflame Nong laughed and nodded, then instructed, “There are golems lying in wait within the Witchriver Palace. Everyone, don’t run around rashly; if you run into those golems, Uncle Fang won’t be able to save you in time.”
“How could we dare to run about rashly? Are we suicidal?” Xue Hongyi hurriedly responded.
Ning and the others shared a glance. Clearly, an extremely powerful golem was lying in wait within the Witchriver Palace. They were no fools; naturally, they wouldn’t run about wildly within.
Xiangliu Fang and Youngflame Nong moved to the front of the main hall, beginning to bind a bronze lamp.
“Haha, this is the core of the final palace.” Youngflame Nong was utterly delighted. “After binding it, the entire Immortal estate will be under my complete control. The Witchriver Palace definitely has other dangers lurking within; however, there’s no need at all for us to go and take any risks. Once I bind the Immortal estate, the golems will naturally have lost.”
Ning and the others nodded.
“The rest of you, be careful; those golems won’t just watch and wait for me to successfully bind this palace. I imagine they will try to ambush us,” Youngflame Nong said.
Eighteen savage, fearsome looking Qiongqi Manticore golems were looking at their leader, a black-armored, muscular man. The black-armored man growled, “That person who broke the formation just now, he is most likely a Fiendgod. He was able to make his hands so large, and his fingers transform into giant serpents; only true Fiendgods are capable of such a thing. From the techniques he displayed, I can tell that he is more powerful than me.”
“Commander, what should we do?”
“They are starting to bind the Witchriver Palace.”
The Qiongqi golems were all panicking.
“I estimate he will need two hours to completely bind the Witchriver Palace,” the black-armored man said in a low voice. “We need to come up with a method…and we need to succeed in one try. We need to kill the human that Fiendgod is protecting. From the conversation between those humans when they first arrived, that human should have already bound the other four palaces. This is the last one.”
“Prepare to obey my orders.” The black-armored man’s cold, dark eyes flashed with a freezing light.
A group of Zifu Disciples were scattered in the surrounding area. Ji Ning, Ninelotus, Adept Vastriver, Xue Hongyi, and the others were all waiting vigilantly, worried that the golem might suddenly attack.
Youngflame Nong, seated high above at the front of the hall and binding that bronze lamp, seeing how nervous everyone in the hall was, couldn’t help but frown. He barked, “No need to be so nervous. It’s just a few golems. If one comes, Uncle Fang will capture one. They will definitely lose.”
Ji Ning and the others, including Xue Hongyi, silently tightened their lips. Yes, Xiangliu Fang could defeat all comers. But the most powerful of those golems had the combat strength of an ordinary Loose Immortal; if golems of such power were to suddenly attack and catch this group off guard, some of them might die. They were not protected by Xiangliu Fang, after all.
“Attend me.” Youngflame Nong, seeing how Ning and the others remained vigilant, couldn’t help but frown and bark, “Prepare a celebratory banquet.”
Very soon, the two Zifu Disciple maidservants who personally served Youngflame Nong had prepared a banquet of fine wine. Actually, during the two day journey on the warship from Serpentwing Lake of Swallow Mountain to the Immortal estate, they had often drank and enjoyed themselves, and so the fine wine had been prepared long ago. Very soon, the table became filled with wine, spirit-fruit, and delicacies.
Youngflame Nong sat down in the lotus position, laughing loudly as he scooped up a goblet of wine. He only needed to use up a small amount of his attention on binding the bronze lamp. “Everyone, no need to worry. The outer perimeter will be handled by my Zifu Deathsworn; even if golems attack, they’ll be the first ones engaged, giving you enough time to react and fight back.”
“Sit, all of you,” Youngflame Nong called out. Seeing Ning and the others continue to hesitate, he couldn’t help but snap, “I told you all to sit!”
Ning and the others exchanged a glance. They had no choice but to sit down.
“That’s more like it.”
Youngflame Nong laughed, “You’ve all accompanied me into this Witchriver Immortal Estate and engaged repeated dangers with me. You’ve rendered quite a few merits. However, this is the final moment; after I bind this bronze lamp, the task shall be complete. Although a few golems continue to resist, they aren’t much to be worried about. Come, let us toast each other for the treasures we have gained, and for my successful binding of the Witchriver Immortal Estate.” After speaking, Youngflame Nong lifted up his bronze wineglass, etched with a tattoo of flames.