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Wang Yimo and Han Lingyun weren’t just teaming up because they were close to each other. They had been preparing for the ranking event and had come up with their “Dark Moon Combo”.

 

Wang Yimo’s martial arts was very effective against Han Lingyun’s methods, excelling at revealing positions and at dissipating his cloud of black qi. This cloud of black qi was a huge advantage for Han Lingyun’s side, due to his own exceptionally dense qi and wide range for his level.

However, these characteristics made it very hard for them to cooperate. It was wasted if Han Lingyun’s allies were restricted by the black qi as well or were quickly destroying it when attacking.

That’s why under Wang Yimo’s idea, Han Lingyun (and mostly Elder Wen in fact) came up with a formation that they named Dark Moon. Using that formation, Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo could combine their own strong points.

 

When trapped inside the formation, instead of only seeing darkness all around, disciples would see an additional Cold Moon in the air above their heads.

The formation enabled Wang Yimo to have a perception of what happened in the dark, with a bird’s eye view. Technically, it changed the nature of the black qi to a yin attribute so that her attacks wouldn’t dissipate the darkness. Wang Yimo had to stay in the air, essentially acting as a node for the formation.

However, this also painted a target on her back. This is why the pair would use an additional bewildering and defensive formation. The main default of the method was that the formation had to be fixed in place beforehand.

 

Han Lingyun scanned the terrain and placed flags hidden in precise locations. The multiple formations had to interlock without hampering each other. Such a complex node placement therefore required a perfect memory or the ability to rapidly recalculate the constructions.

The formations were left inactivated until the large group was well inside. Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo nodded at each other. This time, they would be letting out the heavy weaponry!

 

The disciples of the Thousand Willow Sect were well organized. Apart from a scout in the air, there was another disciple that seemed to have abilities related to ground probing, searching for vibrations due to movements or suspicious cavities under the ground. 5 disciples were around the probing one, followed by 10 disciples that looked like the main attacking force and another four that closed the march.

 

As the group entered the trap that was ready to close on them, one of the disciples among the 10 in the middle cautioned his teammates. “Stay alert, I have a bad feeling about this place.”

“Well, that’s normal, we are surrounded by enemies everywhere.” One of his friends laughed.

“We have already caught 4 groups with brother Chang and brother Sun’s alerts. It is always best when we outsmart and overpower those that rely on ambushes to stay in the game haha.”

“Well said brother, if there’s anyone here, bring it on!”

 

That disciple hadn’t expected to have his words immediately take effect as the whole group was suddenly plunged into darkness. Far above, the disciple on his flying sword suddenly saw a black dome enveloping all his teammates and the valley. Cold sweat trickled down his spine as he witnessed this terrifying phenomenon and suddenly found himself isolated.

Before he could do anything, a moon blade was rushing in his direction. The disciple panicked and activated his White Token straight away. Meanwhile, Han Lingyun had already encircled unsuspecting disciples with his thread. The first second of the attack was the most decisive to leverage the advantage of surprise.

6 disciples were immediately on the verge of being diced down. Han Lingyun left them an instant to activate their White Token before tensing the thread completely. Regrettably, one either didn’t think fast enough or failed to assess the situation and was chopped to bits with a chilling sound of flesh slicing.

A moon appeared in the sky and Wang Yimo immediately used her moon gaze on the 6 disciples in the front of the group, which crushed them to the ground. Of those 6, only the one which had the mission to probe the earth was still standing after that.

All these events only took a breath of time and already half of the group had been taken down.

“Don’t panic and launch all your best attacks! Aim for that moon!” One of the attackers came to his senses.

He and his friends immediately acted. Sadly, they all were completely disoriented by the stacked formations. The one who had spoken ended up being violently thrown to the side and severely injured by one of his friend’s qi attacks. He immediately activated his White Token. A white barrier appeared to protect him before disappearing right after as an Elder had taken him away.

Cries of pain were heard and eerily cut off. The remaining disciples tried to fly away or run to escape from this horrible trap. Their series of attacks hadn’t achieved much. To avoid the dark fog from thinning out too rapidly, the supply of black qi was constantly being bolstered by the formation powered by a high-grade qi crystal.

Those disciples running around like headless chickens were easy pickings for Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo, who had the luxury to try to avoid inflicting fatal injuries.

There was an unexpected event as the disciple responsible for ground probing disappeared into the earth. He was escaping from beneath.

Before Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo could react, that disciple had slipped away. He had obviously mastered some mystical technique to tunnel into the ground. It seemed that he was able to compress and expand the earth as he willed. The world was filled with all kinds of unimaginable techniques. Without proper knowledge, it was impossible to prepare against all of them.

 

The dust settled down in the valley and the formations deactivated. Wang Yimo and Han Lingyun rapidly picked up Black Tokens and formation flags before rushing away from the scene. They had made a great commotion already.

The whole confrontation had lasted less than 10 seconds. The key was absolute speed to avoid any variables and disappear before attracting other groups which would lead to a chaotic melee.

 

After a short dash, Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo paused. Han Lingyun placed a concealing formation once again.

In truth, the formation wasn’t totally foolproof and a qi condensation disciple paying attention at close range could notice something, especially if he had a special detection ability.

‘It would still suffice for now.’

The duo recuperated with a mid-grade crystal each after their huge qi expenditure. A while later, the pair counted the gains: they had picked up 19 Black tokens. One disciple had managed to escape and they seemed to have missed another token behind while hurrying to leave; or perhaps one of the disciples had already lost his token.

The values of the Black Tokens they had collected were going from 3 to 14 points. They had a lucky haul as those Thousand Willow Sect members had already hunted several larger groups. The total came up to 112 points. They divided the tokens and began the process of disintegrating the Black Tokens to increase their own points.

Han Lingyun ended with 59 points and Wang Yimo with 53 to compensate for their respective contributions, counting the number of disciples each had taken down.

There was 10 000 points available in the game so 53 points guaranteed Wang Yimo to be in the top 188. Han Lingyun was assured to end up in the top 169. All this on the condition that they kept their Black Tokens until the end of that phase.

 

Obtaining a high number of points was key to increase one’s odds of going far in the second phase of the tournament. Nearly all wanted to have to face the weakest possible opponents and hoped to fight the other strong contenders as late as possible. Therefore, it was imperative to be ranked highly in the 1st phase to progress further later on. Some sects even ordered their disciples to give their tokens to their strongest members when they crossed paths, sacrificing their weakest members’ chance of getting past the first phase.

 

“The formation delimitating the boundaries of the game are closing in. Maybe we should head towards the center.” Wang Yimo proposed.

“You’re not wrong. Things might be a lot more dangerous in that direction though.”

“Hum, I wonder when the phase will end. I would think that a good portion of disciples have already been eliminated by now.”

“There should be a lot still hiding. Only 1 in 20 disciples will make it to phase 2 after all. I also think we could try to find other members of the White Tiger School or we might end up encountering groups too strong for us to take on alone. It would be natural for groups of more and more members to form as disciples from the same sect stay together when they cross paths.”

 

Just as the duo was discussing their next course of actions, loud shouts and explosions were heard from close by as qi clashed against qi, and swords against swords.

Two large groups had stumbled upon each other.

 

Wang Yimo whispered to Han Lingyun. “Things are going a bit out of our control here. Let’s move.”

Han Lingyun acquiesced and they slipped away. They hadn’t laid out formations in that location anyway.

‘I wish I was capable of constructing my own arrays on the go here. That way I could make arrays at the foundation establishment level even with qi condensation level tools. No one would be my opponent then.’

Regretfully, this wasn’t realistic for Han Lingyun as of now. He didn’t have the strength of spirit sufficient to casually inscribe runes in that environment because he would be left extremely vulnerable and would exhaust his spirit without even fighting.

 

The pair kept moving. They spotted from afar a lone disciple wearing the robe of the Cheng Huang School. He just stood there unmoving, with a pitch-black sword lazily balancing in his right hand.

Han Lingyun picked Wang Yimo’s hand and immediately rushed in the opposite directions. He had recognized that sword with all that it entailed. This was the sword that had been auctioned off, Deep Abyss!

 

The lone young man graciously turned his head in the direction of their previous position, a faint smile on his face. “Some mice are more observant than others.”

Xue Guo, Cheng Huang School’s only 5th grade talent this year. Destined to become a powerhouse and a killing machine ever since his talent had been tested, with the sect’s best resources at his disposal.

 

After looking with interest for a while longer at the empty spot, he sighed and started walking in another direction. He would probably have preferred to stay unmoving on that same spot but the smell was starting to irritate him.

On the dusty ground, body parts and random organs were scattered. His delicate violet robe swayed amidst those dead corpses he found obscenely filthy. It was obvious that entire groups had dared to attack him and died before being able to activate their White Token. ‘They DARED?!’.

Xue Guo’s feet passed by another frozen face, forever stuck in a disbelieving impression. The two eyes remained wide open, seemingly in shock after noticing the body’s missing lower half. That face had already lost its vibrant color, but any 2nd year White Tiger Sect disciple would still recognize Qin Tengfei.

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