Ancient Strengthening Technique Chapter 903-904
AST 903 – Duality Minutest Formation, The Arrival of the Sky Prison Sect
Qing Shui held onto the last pebble and was reluctant to toss it. This last pebble was like the equivalent of a person's eyes, its positioning was paramount to the success of the formation. If Qing Shui missed even slightly, the power of the formation would be greatly reduced.
Qing Shui stared at the Nine Palace and Eight Trigrams formation combination and hesitatingly tossed the pebble in his hand into it.
"No reaction?" Qing Shui was waiting for something to happen with the formation, but there were no changes even though he was inside the formation.
"Failed?" Qing Shui was a bit disappointed. Although this was his first attempt, it was nevertheless a time-consuming process, especially when you took into account the time he had spent on researching. Qing Shui felt that his formation shouldn't have failed.
However, the way it looked, it was indeed a failure. Formations were mysterious. It was like borrowing the divine might of the Heavens and Earth. Qing Shui felt this was similar to one of the realms of the mastery of techniques—providence!
Pausing for a moment and studying the formation, Qing Shui confirmed that this first trial was a failure. However, he was not discouraged. Qing Shui picked up the pebbles from the ground and sat down. He studied the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation, placing more attention on the crucial points of the formation. While doing so, he also practiced his Nine Palace Steps several times.
Then he started tossing the pebbles again. At least, Qing Shui felt he understood what lead to the failure earlier. Every time he tossed the pebbles into position he had the feeling that it was correctly placed, but there was still no effect.
When it came to the Nine Palace Orientation and the Eight Trigrams Orientation, Qing Shui felt that he had a better grasp of it than before. However, he still couldn't pinpoint the exact reason why no reactions had occurred.
This went on for several days before Qing Shui finally accepted the reality that he could not utilize the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation, nor could he understand the reason why.
After his mind calmed down, Qing Shui spent three days experimenting with the Duality Minutest Formation instead. Now that his earlier thoughts had become a reality, he had to practice the Duality Minutest Formation first before attempting the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation again.
The Duality Minutest Formation was a much simpler formation compared to the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation. Qing Shui spent very little time studying it before starting to set the formation. Once he began, Qing Shui could only smile. Compared to the procedure for the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation, setting the Duality Minutest Formation was a walk in the park.
It seemed that it was true that all formations were tied in one way or another to the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation. Even without mentioning the ones that were simpler than the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation, all the more complex ones required the Nine Palace Eight Trigram as a basis. Although their orientation wouldn't be overly difficult, there were probably some special requirements to make the formation work.
A short while later, Qing Shui was holding onto the last remaining pebble. His continuous failure had made him a bit perturbed. If the Duality Minutest Formation failed again, then he couldn't excuse himself.
Placing the pebble at the eye of the formation that was half a meter from his feet, Qing Shui's heart started to beat rapidly almost instantaneously.
As the pebble fell into place, a gush of majestic Spiritual Qi rose from the ground. The Spiritual Qi then turned into a berserk storm. All the rocks and sand were blown away, including a boulder that was the size of a small pavilion building.
Not only were things hard to recognized through the naked eye, but the sensitivity of his spiritual sense had also been reduced. His abilities also suffered a debuff. The Duality Minutest Formation had opened the Six Gates of Life, Death, Dark, Light, Change and Destruction.
Once Qing Shui began to cast the Duality Steps, given his familiarity with the Duality Minutest Formation, the atmosphere cooled immediately when he stepped out. Instantly, the immediate surroundings became tranquil, like a secluded ravine. However, just beyond the immediate vicinity, a dust storm was brewing like a raging battlefield but it was still silent.
Once they stepped into the formation, the victim would be immersed in danger and their strength would be greatly debuffed. Furthermore, some areas were rampant with venom and raging infernos which could cause tremendous damage. This was already incredibly deadly and if the victim couldn't escape from the formation, then they would be trapped till death. More importantly, Qing Shui could also ambush them at any time.
No wonder a formations specialist could fend off so many people by themselves.
The Duality Minutest Formation was already so strong, this made Qing Shui yearn for the power of the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation.
Meanwhile, Qing Shui continued experimenting with the Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation but to no effect. Thus, Qing Shui decided to pour his remaining time onto focusing on the Duality Minutest Formation.
Just like that, two months passed. In between, Qing Shui spent some time practicing his Nine Palace Steps and the Ancient Strengthening Technique. In the last couple days, the Ancient Strengthening Technique had two Cycle breakthroughs. However, the increase in strength didn't feel especially invigorating. After all, the breakthrough difference wasn't much, especially when compared to every ninth Cycle breakthrough that increased his strength by several folds.
A normal day's length was equivalent to a hundred days in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal. The time he had spent was the equivalent of seventy days in the realm, the time he had remaining was about one month. During this time, Qing Shui made preparations for refining materials used in formations.
Pebbles did not carry much power, and jewels were too precious and extravagant. Therefore, Qing Shui decided to use beast skins and beast bones as Formation Flags. The beast skins and the beast bones collected from the Real of the Violet Jade Immortal were of a high quality.
Qing Shui studied a bit on how to make Formation Flags. Surprisingly, beast skins and beast bones required individual quenching, which was similar to the method of quenching used in talisman crafting.
This time, it was relatively easy to craft the Formation Flags. According to the method of crafting, Qing Shui discovered that the Spiritual Qi within them was adequate, and thus he was very satisfied. With a small amount of Spiritual Qi, the little triangular flags crafted would be one foot in height. Crafting was not taxing in terms of material, but it required ten or more days to craft approximate ten thousand little flags.
Looking at the little flags, Qing Shui thought of the eye of the formation. That formation node still required a formation flag, but the main flag should be crafted from a material of an even higher quality.
The next day, Qing Shui rose from bed on time. The sky was barely lit and since it was winter, there was still some time before dawn. Qing Shui walked outside the pavilion building to conduct his morning training. Unless there was an emergency, nothing could disrupt his morning training routine.
Breakfast with exquisite looking items was delivered by a servant from the Mu Clan. Qing Shui had just finished eating when Mu Qing arrived at his door. After seeing that Qing Shui had noticed her, she walked into the room.
"Full?" Mu Qing looked at what remained on the table and said.
"Yes, how about you?" Qing Shui said with a smile. When their gaze met, Mu Qing felt a bit of discomfort and avoided looking at Qing Shui directly.
When Mu Qing replied, something made a loud and noisy ruckus in the front yard. The two of them exchanged gazes. Qing Shui appeared to be calm, but Mu Qing had an unnatural expression.
"Let's go see what's going on." Qing Shui said while smiling.
Seeing Qing Shui's calmness, Mu Qing seemed to calm down as well. Thinking back a bit, Qing Shui had never appeared frightened. This gave her a reassurance because it seemed that Qing Shui had dealt with a lot of things before…
The two of them traveled side by side towards the front yard. Qing Shui dispersed his spiritual sense to observe the surroundings. He was ready for what was coming. The sooner he took care of it, the sooner he could leave.
"Hand over Mu Qing and that boy, or else!"
Qing Shui and Mu Qing hadn't even reached the front yard yet before they clearly heard an overbearing voice.
"Sky Prison Old Fifth, this is our Mu Clan's territory, your arrogance will not be tolerated. We haven't gone to argue with you and yet you come to trouble us, does the Sky Prison Sect have no morality and proper conduct?" Mu Qian said angrily but with restraint.
"People from Sky Prison Sect are here." Qing Shui said softly.
Mu Qing's body shook, had they not left any tracks behind, this wouldn't have happened. However, now that the information had leaked out, the Sky Prison Sect was trying to retain face in this matter. The Mu Clan, the Yin Clan and the Dongfang Aristocrat Clan were much weaker when compared to the Sky Prison Sect, the Godly Sword Clan and the Silken Web Ridge.
The strength of the Sky Prison Sect could only be matched by the Godly Sword Clan. The Sky Prison Sect was arrogant and didn't obey any rules or comply with ethics, but nobody dared to speak their mind on the matter.
By now, Qing Shui and Mu Qing had arrived at the front yard.
Formations. Again with formations.
After he trained meticulously day and night with formations in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal, he wasn't excited from seeing formations again. However, the Mu Clan reacted as if an overbearing enemy had just arrived.
Mu Qian's body was shaking uncontrollably. He wasn't alone, even the people around him were shaking. This was the Sky Prison Sect's infamous Formation Destroyer. Now, several elderly people were walking over from a distance.
"Do you actually believe you could move the Mu Clan, Sky Prison Old Fifth?" an angry roaring voice reached them before the owner of the voice arrived.
Immediately after that, four elders in plain clothing arrived. Their hair and brows were white as snow. As if they were just going for a stroll in the park, they exuded a natural authority.
"Third Granduncle, father and Fourth Uncle!" Mu Qian bowed towards the Elders and the others follow suit.
"Mu Old Fart, I am not here to make matters worse. Just hand over Mu Qing and that boy and we will pretend that nothing ever happened. This is the only chance the Sky Prison Sect will give you as a way out, we won't make things difficult for you guys." Sky Prison Old Fifth hollered at the elder standing in the middle.
"Haha, you come to my Mu Clan's domain to take a member of the Mu Clan? Even if you are the Sky Prison Sect, why should I give in? If I am alive and standing, we don't even fear a life and death struggle. You can dream on about taking someone from our Mu Clan." The old man spoke with an energy that carried an unwavering authority.
Sky Prison Old Fifth was a refined, harmonious and thin looking old man. His eyes looked ruthless. Although he wasn't too big, his voice could carry a great volume. He looked at the Mu Clan's Elder and spoke, "Mu Old Fart, Mu Qing is a member of your clan so I will make an exception. Hand over that boy and we will call things even."
Qing Shui and Mu Qing had just arrived at the front yard. Qing Shui was about to speak up when he heard those words and remained silent. He simply walked beside Mu Qing towards the direction of the rest of the Mu Clan.
"That boy has appeared. Mu Qing has as well!"
One of the older members beside Sky Prison Old Fifth hollered, while the others looked towards Qing Shui.
The Mu Clan's Elders also looked towards Qing Shui and Mu Qing.
"Sky Prison Old Fifth, you belittle us with your provocations and now you dare plan to lay your filthy hands on members of the Mu Clan? You've trespassed into our Mu Clan's territory based on a one-sided statement. Do you take us for some small fry?" The Elder said while sharply glaring at Sky Prison Old Fifth.
"Mu Old Fart, your Mu Clan may be a large clan around here but all of us here are aware that our Sky Prison Sect could demolish your clan with ease. We aren't here to escalate things, just hand over that boy." Sky Prison Old Fifth pointed at Qing Shui while gritting his teeth.
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AST 904 – Qing Shui’s Power, Using Formation to Curb Enemies (teaser)
Qing Shui didn't feel anything as he looked at the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth, who was pointing at him. He didn’t show any indication as he waited for the Mu Clan’s decision.
Mu Qing was intelligent, but at this moment, she probably couldn't guess Qing Shui’s intentions. She didn’t believe that Qing Shui was someone who could go against the Sky Prison Sect and thus naturally wouldn’t have guessed his thoughts.
Mu Fengyang had controlled this branch of the Mu Clan for 300 years, and his descendants had worked hard to prove themselves. Presently, his branch had become the mainstay of the Mu Clan. However, they were facing the Sky Prison Sect, a great sect whose legacy was much longer and whose abilities were more powerful than that of the Mu Clan.
Now, the Sky Prison Sect had come to their door. However, he knew that if he were to hand up that young man, everything would be over. Although the Mu Clan was in no way comparable to the Sky Prison Sect, the Sky Prison Sect would still not dare to do anything to the Mu Clan, at least for a few more decades.
Mu Fengyang’s grandfather was still around, but he was in his final years. At most, he would live only 50 more years. Although the old man no longer involved himself with what was happening in the outside world, if his descendants were threatened with extinction, he would definitely start a war.
Of course, there were people in the Sky Prison Sect who could fight against this old man. Rather, if a strong expert like him were to go on a crazed rampage, even the Sky Prison Sect would suffer great damages.
Moreover, they had never thought of actually eradicating the Mu Clan. However, with the rumors spreading like wildfire, they were fighting to get back their reputation.
Mu Fengyang really felt at a loss. After all, the other party had already taken a step back and decided not to pursue the issue further against the Mu Clan. However, there was no way for them to let that young man off.
Mu Fengyang was very clear that the reason the Sky Prison Sect was here today was just to deal with Qing Shui. Their reputation could be salvaged if they dealt with him. However if they handed him over, the Mu Clan’s reputation would be lost…
“Sky Prison’s Old Fifth, he’s a friend of our Mu Clan. You can forget about taking him away today.”
They were very clear that Qing Shui had saved Mu Qing and the others. Moreover, news had already been spread out. If they were to let Sky Prison Sect take Qing Shui, the Mu Clan’s reputation would be completely ruined.
Therefore, Mu Fengyang had no other choice. Even so, in such a life and death situation for their clan, he had considered handing Qing Shui over. It was because compared to the very survival of their clan, everything else wasn't important.
Furthermore, what had been spread out were just rumors. Rumors would gradually disappear as time passed.
“Today, even if we fight to the bitter death, you guys can forget about bringing him away.” Mu Qian looked at Qing Shui and Mu Qing. Seeing his daughter’s worried gaze, he was even more sure about his decision.
Moreover, he saw that Qing Shui didn’t seem to be scared and that puzzled him. He felt that he had not been able to see through this young man at all. Now, he realized that Qing Shui was becoming even more inscrutable.
“Since that’s the case, we can only forcefully bring him away,” the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth said, unconcerned.
Right now, Qing Shui had become the center of attention. This was something which he had not expected.
“Senior!” Qing Shui called out for Mu Qian, who was just about to speak.
Mu Qian looked at Qing Shui, puzzled.
“Thank you. Since this is something I had done and caused them to look for me, let me be the one to take care of it.” Qing Shui said calmly, his tone as if he had just said something insignificant.
“Qing Shui, don’t!” When Mu Qing heard Qing Shui’s words, she anxiously grabbed his sleeves.
Many people looked at this scene in disbelief. To think that the city’s first beauty, Miss Mu, had this side to her as well. Now, almost everyone had already felt that Miss Mu liked this young man, but the extent of her infatuation still clearly surprised them.
“Trust me!” Qing Shui gently pulled off Mu Qing’s hand.
“Qing Shui, I’ll protect you with my name on the line until I’m dead.” Mu Qian said, after throwing a glance at his daughter.
“Uncle, I’m well aware of your kind intentions. Let me handle this. If I can’t handle it, then you guys can step in. Will this do?” Qing Shui smiled and said. Since this was the Mu Clan’s decision, Qing Shui couldn’t just hide behind them.
Dong Yan and Sun Yan were standing next to Qing Shui. It was clear that they were going to stand alongside Qing Shui.
Qing Shui knew that these two were really people he could consider his brothers.
“Old Master, thank you!” Qing Shui looked at Mu Fengyang and said, bowing, before heading up to the front amidst Mu Fengyang’s astonished gaze. He stood right before the people from the Sky Prison Sect.
“If I meet that idiot, that fool who thinks that forming a lousy thing like that makes him formidable, I’ll still kill him,” Qing Shui looked at that Sky Prison’s Old Fifth and said.
Lousy thing… Their formation being described as some lousy thing, the Flower Crusher called a fool, and that he would still kill him if they met again…
Many people choked when they heard Qing Shui’s words. No matter what, they had not expected Qing Shui to say this. They couldn’t tell if he was arrogant or simply ignorant.
“You don’t know how big the world is! You’re really courting death!”
The Sky Prison’s Old Fifth was infuriated by Qing Shui’s words as he pounced toward Qing Shui, slapping down his palm toward him. He clearly didn’t give a hoot about Qing Shui.
He had initially only wanted to bring him away. Killing a junior like him wouldn’t reflect very well on his standing. Moreover, killing him here would only infuriate the Mu Clan. However, this young man who didn’t know any better had really infuriated him.
One needed to have backing to be arrogant. Without any resources, an arrogant person could only be said to be ignorant. The attack by the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth was one launched out of anger.
Even if Qing Shui could defeat the “Flower Crusher”, there was no way he could compare to Old Fifth.
Old Fifth was considered a strong expert in the Sky Prison. Even he himself didn’t know why he felt so infuriated to be looked down upon by this young lad.
This casual attack and the black fog on his palm, caused everyone to be on their toes, especially Mu Qing, Dong Yan, and Sun Yan. Mu Qing even closed her eyes, not daring to look at this situation.
Mu Qian didn’t blink, but his body swayed slightly. Mu Fengyang looked at Qing Shui. Although he didn't move, his expression was especially solemn.
Qing Shui looked at the palm that was striking out towards him. To others, this palm strike appeared powerful and fatal, but to Qing Shui, it appeared to be very, very slow. He casually took a step forward.
Nine Palace Steps!
This step was very profound and mysterious, and few people present could tell that it was amazing. It made them feel astonished and speechless, as if they could only feel great admiration.
After taking one step forward, Qing Shui instantly raised his cultivation to its peak, lashing out with his right palm and striking the arm of the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth.
The arm was completely mutilated and disappeared!
With a stifled grunt, the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth spurted out fresh blood and fell into the crowd behind him before being caught by a few other old men.
Everyone was astonished and the majority of people had their mouths agape in great surprise. In that instant, their minds were completely blank. They had never expected this to happen.
It was as if time had completely come to a standstill, and it was so quiet that one could hear the sound of a needle dropping. Qing Shui was the only one who stood there, not feeling anything. He only felt that against someone like this, with a strength of about 150 stars, he could almost kill him instantly.
Moreover, he knew how powerful the Nine Palace Steps was. The Nine Palace Steps was pulled off almost perfectly in the attack earlier. When he performed the Nine Palace Steps, everything in his surroundings would be within his Nine Palace. He even could tap into the powers of Heaven and Earth to increase his speed and agility. Even a person who was of the same cultivation realm as Qing Shui wouldn’t be able to hold a candle against him. This was how powerful the Nine Palace Steps was.
After a very long silence, it was as if there was an explosion.
“How is this possible?”
“How did this happen?”
People could tell from everyone's astonished gazes that what they were seeing was real. They then looked towards that young man and the people from the Sky Prison Sect. The sudden turn of events caused them to be dumbfounded.
With her eyes closed, when Mu Qing heard the sound of contact, she was so nervous that she started trembling. However, what had followed after was silence. It was that silence that caused her to make up her mind to open her eyes, worried about what she would see.
When she opened her eyes and saw the scene before her, she thought her eyes were playing tricks on her. After verifying that it was real, she felt regretful that she had closed her eyes and missed out on seeing how Qing Shui had dealt the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth such a heavy blow.
Dong Yan and Sun Yan were also in a daze. They had not expected this outcome either. Right now, they were feeling surprised, great joy, and indescribable agitation.
The Sky Prison’s Old Fifth got on his feet, looking at Qing Shui in great disbelief and horror, his earlier arrogance gone. He was unable to say anything.
As the few old men around him helped him apply medicine, they would occasionally glance at that young man in horror.
After crippling the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth in one move, even if he had been too careless and had not shown off his full prowess earlier, to be able to destroy his arm completely required a substantial amount of power.
“Use formations to kill him! Kill him!”
Suddenly, the Sky Prison’s Old Fifth shouted out. His face was pale as he looked at Qing Shui in horror.
“Formation? You mean that formation behind you? Can that rubbish be called a formation?” Qing Shui looked at them in disdain before taking out a small flag.
“Let me show you what a real formation is.”
Qing Shui spoke as he casually threw out the flag. The opponents started moving and surrounding Qing Shui. However, Qing Shui threw out the small flags in his hands slowly as he easily dodged their attacks.
Having practiced creating the Duality Minutest Formation in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal multiple times, he was able to recreate it very quickly. When the last small flag landed, the formation was activated.
This was the Mu Clan’s front courtyard and the space was very wide. Moreover, the Duality Minutest Formation which Qing Clan had set up was very small. After all, there were not many opponents and they were all gathered together. Therefore, he could quickly make use of formations to bind his opponents.
Qing Shui just so happened to be standing outside the formation, causing everyone else to be stunned. It was only now that they were able to see the formation, since from the outside they couldn’t really understand the formation earlier.
Now, they could see that the people from the Sky Prison Sect were in huge chaos, feeling horrified as they were constantly being injured. Although the severity of the injuries varied, some were so heavy that three had even died.
From outside the formation, all this appeared to look very funny, but now, none of them felt humored. They only felt horrified. In this moment, Qing Shui appeared to be very strange to everyone present, including Dong Yan, Sun Yan, and Mu Qing.
He really had the right to say that the formation the Flower Crusher had formed was some lousy thing…
With a flash, Qing Shui entered the formation, moving with great ease like a fish in water as he used the Duality Steps. When Mu Qing saw this, she was extremely stunned. It was also then that she noticed that Qing Shui was using the Duality Minutest Formation that he had taught her before.
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