They entered the valley.
Although it was called a gorge, in truth, only the entrance was narrow. Once you’d entered, the path between the cliff sides was actually fairly wide.
It was a full thirty feet across. After a long string of misfortunes, this seemed like a lucky break for Gu Li and the demons.
They were afraid that, if the whole path was as narrow as the entryway, they’d have too little space to maneuver in. If they were ambushed, they wouldn’t be able to use their full strength.
Now, at thirty feet, although the path was still too small for them, they at least had enough space to dodge.
“I didn’t see any spiritual formations on the way here.”
They were about three thousand feet into the canyon. They hadn’t encountered anything unusual. No one had hurled any stones over the cliffside, nor had anyone placed any spiritual formations.
“Were they just using psychological warfare to mislead us into thinking that the gorge must contain an ambush even fiercer than a phoenix’s natal flames?” asked Black Dragon with a frown. “Did they want to trick us into flying through the phoenix natal flame killing formation?”
The way here had been far too quiet, he couldn't help but wonder why.
“There’s absolutely no way,” Gu Li disagreed. “If it were really like that, there’s no way they’d use a phoenix’s natal flames to hinder us. A fire phoenix’s true natal flame is the fiercest flame in this world; even a Sky Immortal would struggle to endure it. If they were trying for psychological warfare, they ought to have placed something just strong enough to hurt us, not an overwhelmingly powerful killing formation.”
“That’s true.” Black Dragon nodded. If they were really just using psychological warfare, a phoenix’s natal flame really was far too threatening. No one would try forcing their way through it, not even a moron.
“Then do you think they might just be using that formation to stall for time?”
“That’s possible.” Gu Li nodded and said, “it’s possible they’ve grasped our mentality and believe we’ll neither walk through the gorge nor force our way through the natal flames, that we’ll choose to search for the edges of the formation. It’s just……”
“It’s just what?”
“They paid too heavy a price for that,” said Gu Li after some hesitation.
“If a fire phoenix wants to use its true natal flame to place a killing formation, it has to draw on its natal blood essence. Judging from the formation’s range, it must have taken nearly half their blood essence. Furthermore, I can’t think of anyone besides their clan head capable of producing flames of such intensity. If she used up half her blood essence just a stall for time, well, it truly wasn’t worth it.”
They couldn’t figure it out no matter how much they thought about it. So much time had passed already, but they’d yet to encounter an ambush.
“Don’t overthink things. Let’s keep going forward. When the time comes, we’ll do whatever’s necessary.”
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
The pitch-black shadow mice returned with news. When Ye Zichen saw them, he asked, “they’re here?”
“They’re here,” said the little mouse truthfully. “They’re about three thousand feet into the canyon. Before long, they’ll be within range of our ambush.”
“Hmph, it seems they’ve fallen for Aunty Zhuge’s ploy. They felt they had no choice but to go on foot.” Ye Zichen smiled playfully. In truth, Zhuge Hong had two reasons for placing that formation.
The first: to make the demons fear both the gorge and the natal flames and waste time searching for the edge of the formation.
The second: to force the demons to approach their inner sanctum by walking through the gorge on foot.
As for forcing their way through the flames, there was absolutely no way Black Dragon would do that. If they really did try, though, they could be considered lucky.
In truth, when Zhuge Hong placed that spiritual formation, she’d only used a few drops of her true natal blood.
If Black Dragon wanted to break through the formation, it would take only as much time as drinking a cup of tea. Even so, Ye Zichen bet that Black Dragon and the others wouldn’t even try it.
His luck was decent; he’d won this bet.
Suddenly, one of the Vermillion Bird clansmen spoke up. “Emperor Ye, they’re inside.”
Ye Zichen glanced at where he was pointing and saw Black Dragon leading his army and cautiously evaluating his surroundings.
“Make sure to stay hidden.” Ye Zichen sent everyone a transmission, then lay on his stomach, out of sight.
A probing wave swept over them. When he sensed it, Ye Zichen almost couldn’t help but laugh.
If Black Dragon hoped to use his spiritual awareness to locate them, you could only say he was overconfident. When they’d first arrived, Yin Shang used the Eight Formation Origin Chart to place a formation that erased their presence.
If they couldn’t even manage something like that, what business did they have playing ambush?
“Wait a little longer. Wait until they’re all entered, then blow up both their way forward and their way back. Let them fully enjoy our ‘love’ for them.”
The phoenixes and White Tiger clansmen smiled in understanding. At the same time, they took out their bombs, just waiting for Ye Zichen to give the command…..
“There’s still no one here.”
By now, even Gu Li, cautious as he was, felt there likely was no ambush here at all. By now, they could all see the exit.
Suddenly, one of the demons shouted, “Your Excellency, there’s someone atop the cliff!”
Black Dragon looked up. He saw a figure there as well.
It would be foolish to fight here. The exit was right before their eyes. So long as they could make it through the gorge……
“We’ve been discovered? How is that possible?”
Ye Zichen frowned, then saw one of the White Tiger clansmen running about. “Who told you to move?”
The man came to a stop, then clutched at the front of his pants, expression pained. “Em….Emperor Ye, I…..I….. I really had to pee.”
“Damn.” He rolled his eyes irritably at the man. A perfectly good ambush, ruined by a splash of piss!
Since they’d been discovered, Ye Zichen stood up and roared down at Black Dragon and Gu Li, “Your Excellency Black Dragon, Brother Gu Li, I’ve been waiting here a long time. Don’t be in such a rush! I’ve prepared some gifts for you.”
With that, his gaze grew serious as he shouted, “Explode!”
Black Dragon was racing towards the exit when he suddenly saw it explode. Boulders fell from both sides of the canyon, blocking their way out.
Suddenly, he heard another boom. He reached out with his spiritual awareness…..
Their exit was blocked too.
The enemy tossed an endless stream of black metal orbs from above. The demons assumed they were some sort of projectile weapon; their battle formation instantly dissolved into chaos.
Black Dragon assumed the same thing, but before long, he noticed that there was nothing special about the black metal balls.
“Emperor Ye, here I thought you’d prepared a nice surprise for me. Did you really think those metal balls would be enough to defeat my hundreds of thousands of demon soldiers?”
As he spoke, he flung one of the balls back at Ye Zichen.
“Hee hee, the nice surprise has yet to come.”
As he spoke, he saw the Phoenix clansmen blow flames down the cliffside. At the same time, the White Tiger clansmen shot bolt after bolt of lightning into the gorge.
None of it had any effect on the Demons.
“Really, Emperor Ye? You’ve truly disappointed me,” Black Dragon sneered. This sort of attack was nothing to the demons. Even their most ordinary soldiers could handle it.
But it was then that a line of flame lit above each of the metal orbs. Gu Li already felt that the metal balls seemed somewhat familiar. Seeing them light up, his pupils constricted in terror.
“This isn’t good. These are bombs!”