TGL Volume 3, Chapter 20 (1)

I wonder what Hong Tian Ji is sacrificing. A large increase in strength like that can’t come at no cost. I already know she’s burning her blood, but she’s training to be like a phoenix, a creature famed for its ability to revive after dying—some blood loss won’t hurt her at all. In fact, some blood loss won’t hurt the majority of sky-realm experts out there. Maybe she’s burning her longevity, but would she really go that far for a simple duel? I know she’s enraged and all…, but her master would stop her at least, right? Since her master isn’t stopping her, her technique must not be life-threatening or damaging to her foundation as a cultivator. I’ll assume she ingested a drug that temporarily boosts her strength but weakens her later on for a period of time. That’s how the standard strength-increasing drug works in the Immortal Continent. My best course of action is to simply hunker down and wait out her berserk period. “Water, dance and sprinkle!” It doesn’t hurt to enrage her further. The angrier she gets, the easier she’ll be to deal with.

However, my first defensive formation is on the verge of breaking. Hong Tian Ji’s enraged strength is almost comparable to the past Lucia’s. That means, there’s absolutely no issue at all. I’ll continue building more defensive formations. As long as the rate I build them is faster than the rate that she can destroy them, I win. Sure, it takes a lot of precious materials to power these defensive formations, but I’ve already won a hundred billion spirit stones from that bet. It’s like all the Holy Beasts Sect’s members are paying me to defeat their top disciple. Am I not afraid of the Holy Beasts Sect’s gambling association defaulting on their payment? Not with an immortal backing me. Having a backer is nice.

Anyways, I’ve put down another defensive formation, this one is soundproof too, so I can’t hear Hong Tian Ji shout. I don’t mind her screeching, but it damages the formation, so I had to nullify the sound waves to make this one last longer. So far, I think I used around … a billion spirit stones worth of rare materials? That’s still a one hundred percent return on my investment, not too shabby at all. And I put on the finishing touches just in time. The second defensive formation collapsed, and the fifth one was erected. By the time she breaks through the third, I’ll have the sixth one up. They’re getting progressively smaller, but the smaller a formation is, the stronger its defenses. I’ll run out of space by the twentieth formation or so, but the twentieth formation actually just consists of ten anti-Lucia cannons.

There’s something off though. The stage is a bit … red. It’s very faint, and a normal person wouldn’t notice a difference at all. After burning, the particles of Hong Tian Ji’s blood are dispersing around my formation. It can’t be purely an aesthetic detail; I wouldn’t be feeling a sense of unease if it was. The spectators are getting fuzzier too; my vision’s being obscured. Am I entering an illusion? The vermillion bird is known for its spiritual attacks after all. It’s a good thing I have an amulet that defends against non-physical attacks. I got it because, being a high-value person, I’m a prime target for assassination. The elders from Pill Valley guaranteed it’d reflect even a quasi-immortal’s spiritual or mental attack since it’s made out of the eye of an immortal nine-tailed fox. Even with money, one can’t buy an amulet like this. Why was it given to me? Well, Pill Valley loves me—what can I say?

“Die!!!”

The world turned red, and my defensive formations collapsed. A blood-colored phoenix flew towards me from where Hong Tian Ji used to be standing. Its beak was wide open, and as it came closer, the yellow insides expanded, engulfing my vision. Right when my vision was about to turn completely black, a holographic image of Hong Tian Ji appeared in front of me. As if I were pushed away, the image of Hong Tian Ji and the blood-colored phoenix shrank and flew back before turning into a black point in the distance. From that point, cracks of black light spread throughout the red mist-like surroundings, and the world shattered, revealing my previous position in the center of my defensive formation with the spectators gathered around the arena. Hong Tian Ji vomited out a torrent of blood, and her eyes rolled up, revealing their whites. A moment later, she fell to the ground, twitching. It seemed like my reflective amulet worked beautifully.

However, this could be a ploy. Other than the fact that a spiritual attack actually managed to slip through, my formation has a very serious weakness. If I leave it, I can’t enter it again without breaking it first. In other words, I’m locked into this tiny region. It’s not very practical for real world applications, but it’s definitely on the stronger side when it comes to dueling in an arena. But at this moment, it also means I can’t take down my defensive formation to make sure my opponent is actually defeated. In that case…. “Water, dance and sprinkle!”

Oh? It was blocked by Old Hong, the quasi-immortal. I guess that means I won. Excellent. Since Hong Tian Ji only broke my second barrier, I’ve spent around fifty-five million spirit stones instead of a billion. If formations aren’t damaged, their cores can easily be reused. Well, even if a formation does get hit, the cores powering them only lose a bit of energy. I’ll take these defensive formations down now. I wonder if there’s a way to automate the process of setting up and taking down formations. It’ll be difficult to do since formations are largely dependent on their surroundings. I’ll have to look into it; maybe I can sell portable formations like my alchemy stoves one day. Then I’ll have the formation masters’ association under my thumb too.

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