The buzzing stopped, indicating the second barrier had been broken. The golden third layer was slowly revealed.
Zhang Xiao Hua was a little excited, but what confused him was that Xiao Xia suddenly looked up and smiled at him. Her smile was the same as the first time he saw her, filled with motherly affection. However, upon careful examination, it was a little different. It actually contained a hint of pity and righteousness. At the same time, Bao Da Tong’s bright laughter sounded from the outside!
What was going on? The moment his attention was diverted from Xiao Xia, he sensed Hong Yu’s confusion. Since both men were going to project their souls, which side should she go after, or should she ignore both? But since the barrier was broken, what did it matter? Yet what was Bao Da Tong laughing about?
Looking back, Xiao Xia was still sitting there unmoving. Yet a wave of force was expanding from the third barrier. It had no offensive nature and was extremely gentle with a bit of rotation. Then, the scene before him suddenly started shaking!
The building was collapsing! That was Zhang Xiao Hua’s first thought.
No, that would destroy Lil’ Tong’s body! He couldn’t abandon his favorite vessel! That was his second thought. His third thought was of surprise and confusion. He had tried to swiftly leave, but had closed his eyes involuntarily due to everything spinning. When he opened them again, the scene had completely changed.
He was no longer inside the building, but rather in the even ground behind it. He was surrounded by long weeds and scattered rubble. The sky was still overcast and there was no wind at all. However, since it was the outdoors, air still flowed, carrying along the smell of garbage. It was also a little brighter than inside the building.
However, his powers allowed him to see a mosquito a hundred meters away in pitch black darkness. The light and air was meaningless to him. His attention was fixed not only on the changed scene, but also of the people who were no longer in their trapped state. This included Xiao Xia. The four stood in a square formation. Although the distances weren’t even, they happened to be surrounding him and Hong Yu. On the ground, the scattered rubble actually covered glyphs that clearly formed a formation. There was a cement tablet at Bao Da Tong’s position.
He and Hong Yu had come from the front, and hadn’t expected them to have set something up behind the building. Yet even if he had, they would have probably found some way to hide it. He had said the one surnamed Ruan wasn’t easy to deal with, but he had still been careless!
“Heaven and Earth, profound origin, the root of all energies. Broadly cultivate the cycle of calamities, bearing witness to my divine abilities. Within and beyond the Three Realms, only the Dao is revered. The body emanates golden radiance, with a rosy halo surrounding me; invisible to the eyes, inaudible to the ears. Encompassing the heavens and nurturing all sentient beings. Reciting it ten thousand times, the body becomes illuminated. Guarded by the Three Realms and welcomed by the Five Emperors. All deities pay homage, commanded by thunder and lightning. Frightening ghosts and demons, causing them to lose control. Within lies the thunderclap, the hidden name of the Thunder God. Interlocking wisdom and transcendence, radiating brilliance. With swift manifestation of golden light, protecting the true self. Pressing, like the rule of law.”
While Zhang Xiao Hua was feeling extremely vexed, Bao Da Tong started chanting loudly. At the same time, he brought out an incense burner from behind the cement tablet and placed a stick of incense inside.
The incense fire was unique. Although the flame burning at its tip was small, it glowed red and gold in the darkness. It burned evenly and the fragrance was also unusual. As Bao Da Tong wafted the smoke, the scent drifting over actually made Zhang Xiao Hua feel unsteady for a moment.
He hurriedly focused his mind, knowing that the fragrance was peak exorcism incense. It was created using the purest substances in the world and was very effective against possessed beings. He was still able to resist, but if it had been any other spirit they would have been forced out of the body when they smelled the smoke!
The third barrier around Xiao Xia glowing faintly gold, the exorcism incense glowing reddish gold, the pattern of glyphs on the ground and the positions of the four people, along with the golden incantation Bao Da Tong was chanting made Zhang Xiao Hua involuntarily blurt out: “Grand Radiance Formation!”
“You’re quite knowledgeable!” Bao Da Tong wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Looks like the old Daoist you guys ate was quite nutritious. You even know about the Grand Radiance Formation of my orthodoxy!”
Seeing that he had fallen into a trap, Zhang Xiao Hua was furious. Although he wasn’t afraid, it meant he had lost the first round. He sneered, “Thy efforts shalt bear no fruit.”
“Can we skip the Shakespeare?” Wan Li interrupted. “Just acting out that script earlier was tiring enough! No need to waste brainpower. Such weather isn’t suitable for thinking too much.”
“That’s right. I finally understand that Taiwanese actor who’s always in scenes involving screaming and shouting. That sort of ‘lion’s roar’ technique is really not easy. Stamina is also very important in order to put on a convincing act.” Bao Da Tong normally bickered with Wan Li, but the two were currently cooperating seamlessly.
Ruan Zhan didn’t speak, merely staying on guard against Zhang Hong Yu. He also paid some attention to Xiao Xia, who was still sitting there. He knew Wan Li was intentionally provoking Zhang Xiao Hua while also buying some time for them to rest. Although this strategy allowed them to conserve spirit power and mana, but the song and dance earlier was truly exhausting.
There had been no other choice. They were well aware of their opponents’ strength. Ruan Zhan could still manage to resist Zhang Hong Yu by herself, but with Zhang Xiao Hua in the mix they definitely had no chance. Luckily, humans were intelligent creatures. Since the dawn of hunters during the prehistoric era, humans had understood to set traps. Daoist knowledge such as mysterious formations had benefitted humanity even more so. Ever since he started getting involved in supernatural affairs, every case had ended in a difficult fight. Such adversity had caused him to grow rapidly and he had a wealthy of experience in battle. Along with his recent study of formations, he could definitely deal with the two fiend children.
The question had been when, where, how, and most important, what formation to set up.
He had decided to deal with the fiends as soon as possible after finding out about his father’s deceit. He was afraid the situation would change if things dragged on. If the fiend children decided to go into hiding, it would become a battle of attrition. The enemy would be hidden while they were in the open, which would be most disadvantageous. He also wanted to know whether the fiends were related to his father’s death. Otherwise, he didn’t understand why he, or rather his corpse, would appear in Creek’s Head Inn. Finally, he wanted to face them while Zhang Hong Yu had yet to fully recover.
They had encountered each other once at the hospital while Zhang Hong Yu was inside Zhang Jia Lin’s body. That time, she had underestimated him and he was anxious to save Xiao Xia. Therefore, they had merely tested each other and neither of them were injured. Yet once he handled Bao Da Tong’s backlash, Zhang Hong Yu was extremely unreconciled. She had turned into black miasma and invaded their bodies, trying to kill them both in one go. He had sensed extremely deep resentment at the time. Although he knew Bao Da Tong probably wasn’t the reincarnation of that old Daoist and had also never provoked those two, that resentment had been genuine. Zhang Hong Yu probably thought he wouldn’t have his guard up while healing Bao Da Tong. Little did she know that he had long since expected her to come make trouble. Therefore, she hadn’t been able to get any benefits, and had even gotten heavily injured due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was lucky he had managed to injure her. Otherwise, Xiao Xia wouldn’t have successfully escaped when she had gotten kidnapped from the department store. One reason was due to her learning the five elements restricted spell along with the recording of Bao Da Tong’s chant which contained spirit power. The other reason was because Zhang Hong Yu’s wounds had yet to heal.
Although Xiao Xia’s birth date was inauspicious, she had karmic ties with Buddha and was an innate lucky charm. Whenever she got involved, the situation would mysteriously change. Zhang Hong Yu had clearly not expected her to use the five elements spell when escaping. Along with Zang Zi Xin’s sudden appearance, her injuries worsened. This was why they had wanted to finish things today.
There was one other important point that couldn’t be ignored. Zhang Xiao Hua hadn’t been involved with Zhang Hong Yu’s kidnapping of so many children. When she kidnapped Xiao Xia and got heavily injured, she didn’t seem to have told him about it either. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have recovered so slowly. While Zhang Xiao Hua was breaking the barriers, Ruan Zhan had noticed that whenever she was anxious or enraged, her soul showed signs of scattering. It was clear that not only had her injuries not improved, they had gotten worse instead.
He had chosen to set the formation at Lu Yan’s old address. Zhang Xiao Hua and Zhang Hong Yu had previously lived inside Lil’ Tong’s body. They would feel that they were battling on their own turf, and inevitably underestimate the enemy. This place was also in the outskirts with only overpasses and undeveloped land nearby. This location was also being torn down, though it wasn’t clear why the demolition had been halted halfway. The kidnapped children had also been saved from this place, so the police had been investigating the area. No one else came here afterwards. They had their secrets and the ghosts couldn’t stand the light. It was extremely appropriate to finish things in an uninhabited place.
Of course, it was also because of the special passage.
The method they set up the formation was something he had decided on after pondering for a while. It was the key element of their plot. Setting up a formation required a good amount of spirit power and mana. The slight injuries he had suffered while healing Bao Da Tong had yet to recover. Zhang Hong Yu was the same way. Afterwards, due to his father’s matter, the urgency of the situation forced him to use the space warping spell twice, even taking Bao Da Tong along. This used up even more of his deficient energy.
According to his calculations, forcibly setting up a slaughtering formation would definitely expend spirit power. Even if they could set it up, he wouldn’t have the energy left to operate it. Finally, he decided to go with a bait.
Zhang Xiao Hua was like Zhao Jiang back then. They weren’t worthy of being described as in love, but they were both strongly obsessed with a woman. Zhao Jian with Nana, Zhang Xiao Hua with Xiao Xia. Therefore, wherever Xiao Xia appeared, Zhang Xiao Hua would follow. So he and Bao Da Tong worked together to create two barriers, figuring that he would definitely go break them. They also figured he would see through the configuration, and would use force to break the first layer while borrowing force to break the second.
In reality, they were the ones who were borrowing force. The second layer wasn’t actually a protective barrier. It also wasn’t meant to absorb Zhang Xiao Hua’s essence. Instead, it was related to the activation of the Grand Radiance Formation and the trigger for space warping. As long as Zhang Xiao Hua “broke” the first layer, the space would warp and bring them behind the building. The Grand Radiance Formation would activate at the same time. The formation was used in the past to capture Duan Jin and her son. Afterwards, Uncle Bao had modified it. Although it would take more energy to activate, those trapped inside would not be able to break out unless they used several times the amount of force.
The plan was a good one, but implementing it would still be difficult. The Grand Radiance Formation wouldn’t be discovered ahead of time. Therefore, they set it up behind the building. They used the moment the second layer was broken to borrow Zhang Xiao Hua’s strength to warp them here. Then, they had to make Zhang Xiao Hua think they were weak.
He had already known Zhang Xiao Hua and Zhang Hong Yu could use clones. The first time he had seen Zhang Hong Yu, she had split herself into two. Her main body had been blocking him in front of the morgue while her clone had possessed a pick from the corpse cabinet. He guessed they would definitely use the scattered objects around the building to use their clone spell.
However, he had still been startled when they did so, no having expected them to appear in such a weird manner. While Zhang Xia Hua went to break the barriers, they weren’t actually acting outside. At least, their struggles were genuine. The only thing was that the bloodwood sword wasn’t that easily dropped. He had been holding a talisman in his hand the whole time. If something unexpected happened, he could control the bloodwood sword into striking any position. As long as one of them got free and retrieved the bloodwood sword, would they still need to fear the clones? The two might have centuries of cultivation, but their clones couldn’t attack and evade like their main bodies!
However, it had still been very dangerous, but the results were extremely worth it. They had only used half the spirit power and mana needed for the formation. Zhang Xiao Hua had helped them activate it, suffering a setback and losing his strength at the same time. That way, both sides had become more evenly matched. Their chances of victory had increased.
Bao Da Tong and Wan Li had been afraid that Zhang Xiao Hua would suspect the barriers and put forth their best acting skills. They pretended to be so anxious, screaming and yelling, while secretly urging Zhang Xiao Hua on in their minds. Ruan Zhan had actually felt like laughing at such a tense moment.
“What are you glaring at me like that for?” Bao Da Tong’s voice rang out. Ruan Zhan looked over and saw Zhang Hong Yu’s two pale eyeballs staring resentfully at Bao Da Tong from within her blurry form. “If you’re going to kill me, don’t let me die ignorant. Why do you hate me so much?”
Bao Da Tong was stalling for time, allowing the formation’s segments to fully fall into place. They also needed to recover their stamina. The mana these two fiends had lost couldn’t be replenished in such a short moment.
“You resemble him!” After a moment of silence, Zhang Hong Yu suddenly shrieked, startling everyone.
“I…resemble him?” Bao Da Tong pointed at his own nose, his face filled with surprise. “Who? That…that old Daoist who buried you with him? Just because of that? Huh, well that’s really strange. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how I’ve offended you guys. Who would have thought you guys were after me because I look like that shameless sect mate!”
Zhang Hong Yu sneered and looked around, seemingly looking for a way to break out.
“That’s a classical example of prejudice.” Wan Li concluded.
After he spoke, everyone fell silent. The air immediately became tense!