Yu Chen let out a burst of soft laughter as a few silver rays rushed out from the bottom of his feet, forming a simple teleportation rune on the ground. Wu Qi felt his body lightening up, and in the next moment, Yu Chen had brought him to the center of the square. In front of him, an elderly man with disheveled hair was drawing out a complicated diagram on the floor with a black jade knife. About a hundred white-robed Oracles either stood or floated in mid-air around him, absorbed in the lines that came spilling out from the tip of the knife.
Yu Chen clapped his hands and the elderly man stopped, slowly straightening his back and squinting up.
He had a weak cultivation base, which could be told from the four crescent moons finely embroidered on his sleeve. He was only a Four Moons Oracle, which meant he was only as strong as a mid-tier Heaven Immortal, placing him at the bottom of the Secret Palace that comprised mostly of high-level Oracles. However, Wu Qi was startled when he looked at the diagram the elderly man had drawn on the floor. To him, it was not too complicated, yet it was quite ingenious. Although only about ten feet wide, every line and rune in it contained an explosive power.
'His cultivation base might be weak, but his attainment in the Dao of Formations is truly amazing!' Wu Qi could not help but stare in awe at the elderly man who had an old face and was clad in an untidy, wrinkled robe. Then, he glanced around at the hundreds of young Oracles, and was surprised to see a couple of them having golden suns embroidered on their sleeves. The elderly man was only a Moon Oracle himself, but there were Sun Oracles amongst his apprentices.
While laughing, Yu Chen offered the elderly man a half-bow and said, "Elder Gouchen, please pick three of your weakest apprentices and have them compete with Marquis of Dong Hai Province!" After declaring that, his lips continued to move silently. It was clear that he was discussing something in private with this Elder Gouchen.
A deep, dark gleam flashed across Elder Gouchen's cloudy eyes as he studied Wu Qi and let out a strange laugh. Nodding slowly, he said, "My weakest apprentices? Hehe...Gouchen Yin, Gouchen Hui, Gouchen Yu, come up here and have some fun with our Marquis of Dong Hai Province!"
Shaking his head, which was rather large when compared to his skinny and short body, Elder Gouchen said to Wu Qi, "These three lads have only been here for half a year. It'll be bullying if I make my seasoned apprentices compete with you. Well, they will serve, and if you can't defeat them, go back to where you've come from and don't waste my time again!"
As his words echoed out, three youths in white robes strode over to them.
They looked only fifteen or sixteen years old, but each already had a silver crescent moon embroidered on his sleeve. No doubt they were Moon Oracles. Moreover, their appearances looked alike, which made Wu Qi think that they must be brothers from the same clan. Unlike the other Oracles in Great Yu, who focused on various magic and mystic arts and preferred to defeat their foes with absolute power, the three youths' eyes gleamed with intelligence. In other words, they were the sort of smart and witty people who were fond of schemes and plots.
With his hands clasped behind his back, Yu Chen looked at the three youths from Gouchen clan, then smiled and said, "As you have only been here for half a year, I don't know what you've learned. Well, just use the strongest formation you know now. Mind you, our Marquis of Dong Hai Province has trapped and killed a Primordial Immortal with a formation!"
Wu Qi did not feel comfortable when he heard that, so he hurriedly explained, "Master Yu, the fact is that the Sovereign's immortal body and soul were already severely wounded, and he was killed even before my formation could come into play."
Yu Chen waved his hand and said indifferently, "Aye, what's the point of explaining that? In any case, the Sovereign was slain because of your formation, wasn't he?"
The three juniors from Gouchen clan glanced sharply down their noses at Wu Qi with a disdainful look on their faces. After giving him one last gaze, they parted to prepare. The surrounding Oracles flew up into the air and tucked their hands under their sleeves as they joined the rest of the Oracles floating mid-air, overlooking Wu Qi and the three Gouchen brothers.
More and more Oracles gathered around as words of the Gouchen brothers about to compete with someone spread. Perhaps longs years of studying formations had filled these Oracles' hearts with boredom, as it took only a short moment for over ten thousand of them to swarm over, filling every empty space in the air above Wu Qi.
As more Oracles poured over, it soon became too crowded for those in the back to see the ground. To solve the problem, a few old Oracles casually tossed out dozens of lower-grade energy stones and built a simple formation. A subtle fluctuation of energy swept across the ground, and in just the blink of an eye, the surrounding void was expanded by a hundred times, with plenty of empty space between every Oracle.
Wu Qi was struck dumb with amazement. Who were these few old Oracles? A half-spherical space about a mile across had been formed by the onlookers over him, and yet they were able to expand this small space by a hundred times with only dozens of lower-grade energy stones. It was not because they had formidable cultivation bases, but their understanding of the formations that had reached an unfathomable level.
In fact, these few old Oracles were only Eight and Nine Moons Oracles, and their cultivation bases were not strong. However, their mastery of formations and space was simply godlike, which had allowed them to use the least amount of energy to unleash the strongest power of the simplest formation. Was this the power possessed by all the old Oracles in Yan Tian Palace?
In just a quarter of an hour, Gouchen Yin, Gouchen Hui, and Gouchen Yu had each built a small formation on the ground. It was clear that by choosing the three juniors from his own clan, Elder Gouchen meant to bring them some fame. Although surrounded by over ten thousand Oracles, the brothers had been able to quickly build their formations; the lines and runes within were clean and in order. They were quite talented indeed.
It was when the brothers were building their formations that Wu Qi discovered this huge space deep underground having its own unique secrets. Everything here was specially designed and built for the study and teaching of the Dao of Formations. The countless palaces gradually moving over his head and emanating a faint fluctuation of star power were actually a simulated miniature astronomical map; beneath him, right under the square that was a thousand miles wide, was a miniature network of energy veins.
Three feet below the surface, countless energy veins that were as fine as hairs intertwined with one another, spreading far and wide. Streams of weak energy flowed through them to form a complicated man-made network of energy veins. When coupled with the subtle star power emanated from the palaces above, the apprentices of Yan Tian Palace could build small but detailed formations here.
The three Gouchen brothers had built their formations with these two sets of energy systems. Of the three formations they had built, the largest was only about thirty feet wide. However, if they were built in the outside world using the power of the real stars and real energy veins, these three formations could expand by thousand times and cover an area hundreds of miles wide, becoming deadly formations carrying an incredible power.
It was indeed an ingenious design!
Wu Qi looked up at the palaces hovering overhead, then glanced down at the smooth floor of the square beneath his feet. He could not help but exclaim, "What an amazing thought! With these, it would be very convenient and direct for the Masters to teach the formations and have their apprentices compete against each other."
Elder Gouchen chuckled, then nodded and said, "My lord can see the mystery here as well? Hehe, why don't you try cracking their formations?"
The three formations built by the Gouchen brothers were a formation of Six Directions, a formation of Eight Trigrams, and a formation of Nine Halls.
The formation of Six Directions did not use any of the star power; instead, it was built solely with underground energy. In it were six formation eyes which extracted the evil energy from the fine underground energy veins, turning them into murderous auras that swirled within the formation with the help of six flags. It was a killing formation of pure Yin.
Built with neither the star power nor the underground energy, the formation of Eight Trigrams attracted the surrounding natural energy with little pieces of lower-grade energy stones placed in its eight formation eyes. It converted them into the energies of earth, water, fire, and wind, and conjured the Eight Gates of Life and Death at the same time, inside of which were contained 1024 magical transformations. A wrong gate taken or a wrong guess of the transformations would trigger the energies within the formation and turn the intruder into nothingness.
Lastly, the formation of Nine Halls used only the power of the stars. The nine altars in it attracted the essence of the stars in the sky, turning them into all kinds of ferocious beasts that would kill anyone who dared to enter the formation. This formation did not have many transformations, instead killing with pure power.
Wu Qi gave the three formations a brief glance and smiled as he casually produced a lower-grade energy stone and crushed it into countless bean-sized granules. Then, he flicked his finger, shooting twelve granules into the formation of Six Directions. Six of them blocked up the formation eyes which the formation used to draw underground energy, and the other six cut off the energy flow between them, causing the murderous aura to explode and rip the entire formation to pieces.
After that, the second wave was unleashed, comprising of a total of sixty-four granules. They went into the formation of Eight Trigrams, blocking up the formation eyes and building a small formation of reversed Eight Gates in it. The energy within immediately turned chaotic as countless tiny flood dragons rose from the smaller formation to completely destroy the bigger one.
There were only three granules in the third wave: one was used to freeze the formation, the second one to disturb it, and the third one smashing right onto its most obscure but weakest flaw, ripping the lifeless formation into pieces.
It had taken the three Gouchen brothers a quarter of an hour to build the formations, but it only took Wu Qi three flicks of his finger to destroy them.
For a moment, over ten thousand white-robed Oracles of Yan Tian Palace held their breaths and turned to stare at Elder Gouchen at the same time.
Staring blankly at the three scaled-down formations which Wu Qi had effortlessly destroyed, Elder Gouchen suddenly leaped up into the air and gave each of the three brothers a kick, throwing them far away. "What a disgrace!" He growled, "Go now and copy the 3,600 volumes of Yan Tian's Records of Formation from beginning to end!"
After chasing away the three juniors of his own clan, Elder Gouchen came to Wu Qi with a big smile and grabbed his arm. "Marquis of Dong Hai Province," he said with his eyes gleaming with passion, "do you want to have a teacher who is wise and smart, and attain an unmatched knowledge in the Dao of Formations? Do you want to have an Elder of Yan Tian Palace as your backing?"
Speechless and helpless, Wu Qi turned to look at Yu Chen.
And yet, he saw that Yu Chen was also squinting at him with a queer expression. "Well, I just recalled that my new wife has recently given birth to a baby girl..." Yu Chen said while smiling. "I'm thinking of betrothing this daughter of mine to you, Marquis of Dong Hai Province...and you two can wed when she turns sixteen. What say you?"
Wu Qi was stunned as he took a step back. 'What is wrong with the people in this Secret Palace?'