Library of Heaven is Path
1349 Soulbinding Golden Bead
"These are your formation flags." With a wave of his hand, Zhang Xuan passed the pile of formation flags back to Bi Hongyin.
"You can keep them for the time being. They are much better off with you than with me," Bi Hongyin replied.
After witnessing the other party's proficiency in formations, she knew that the formation flags would be put to much better use in the other party's hands.
Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up. "Thank you."
These formation flags were indeed of much use to him.
If he could only kill a Half-Phantasmal Space expert with his current strength, with these formation flags in hand, as long as he could catch the enemy off-guard, even a Phantasmal Space realm intermediate stage expert could be cornered by him!
After their previous encounter with the Crimsontail Wasps, the group was far more careful than before.
They continued advancing deeper into the valley for four hours straight.
Within those four hours, they got into several small skirmishes with saint beasts, but thanks to Zhang Xuan's formations and the superior fighting prowess of the group, it did not take them too much effort to resolve those situations.
At some point in time, Luo Xuanqing suddenly stopped behind a massive boulder and gestured to the area ahead of him. "The Dongxu Gourd is located in the cavern just ahead."
Tracing the trajectory of the valley, the others soon saw an average-sized cavern appearing before their eyes. Due to the lush vines that grew along the cliff, the entrance was concealed to the point that only small slits could be seen. If one did not pay close attention, one would have overlooked the presence of the cavern easily.
"This place… doesn't seem to be any different from the other areas though," Bi Hongyin said with a confused frown.
In her view, there was nothing unique about the cavern. There was no astoundingly powerful aura or concentration of spiritual energy. It felt no different from the other parts of the mountain range.
Would something as valuable as the Dongxu Gourd really be inside?
"That's because there's an Aura Isolation Formation around his cavern. Otherwise, someone else would have long harvested the Dongxu Gourd," Luo Xuanqing said.
The others also nodded in agreement after hearing these words.
Indeed. If the cavern emanated a powerful aura or had a high concentration of spiritual energy, even the saint beasts would have charged in upon noticing it to dig out the treasure within.
"Let's head in then. Why are we waiting out here?" Yun Lianhai urged excitedly.
As a qualified treasure hunter, his blood raced in exhilaration upon hearing that the treasure was right before them.
"We can't head in right now. We have to wait till nighttime," Luo Xuanqing informed the group through zhenqi telepathy.
"Nighttime? Why?" Yun Lianhai was baffled by Luo Xuanqing's words.
The others also could not understand why Luo Xuanqing wanted to wait till nighttime before making a move. One must know that they were currently in the midst of a valley where Saint 8-dan beasts lurked. Every additional second there put them in greater danger.
"A Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast lives in the cavern," Luo Xuanqing explained.
"Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast?"
Bi Hongyin and the others narrowed their eyes in astonishment.
Noting the changes in the expressions of those around him, Zhang Xuan could not help but ask, "Is it a really formidable saint beast?"
So far, his knowledge of beast taming had only reached 6-star. While he had read quite a variety of books and come to learn of some of the more formidable saint beasts, he still was not too well-versed with the rarer and more elusive saint beasts.
"The Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast is a saint beast that possesses the bloodline of the Dragon Tribe. Just by reaching maturity, they would already achieve a strength on par with Saint 8-dan experts," Yuan Xiao explained grimly.
"Saint 8-dan?" Zhang Xuan's expression turned grave.
To be honest, he had never seen a saint beast of that tier before.
If he could just tame one of those, he would stand a much better chance in the struggle against the Zhang Clan for Luo Ruoxin.
"Indeed. Even with all of our strengths combined, we won't be a match for that fellow, so it would be best for us to wait till nighttime so as to not draw its attention," Luo Xuanqing said grimly.
Due to their innate talents and superior physical prowess, Saint 8-dan beasts tended to wield fighting prowess far stronger than Saint 8-dan cultivators. Even though they were offspring of powerful clans and organizations, possessing multiple means up their sleeves, they were still insufficient to deal with the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast.
"Saint beasts of that tier should possess a keen awareness of their surroundings and be able to perceive even the slightest disturbance in their surroundings. Is there any difference between entering now and at nighttime?" Zhang Xuan asked.
Saint beasts would also unlock their Spiritual Perception at Saint 2-dan, allowing them to be impervious to the reduced visibility of nighttime. At Saint 8-dan, the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast could be considered one of the strongest saint beasts in the world, so what difference would day and night make to it?
"It's because I have this artifact." Luo Xuanqing flicked his wrist, and a jade container appeared in his palm. He pried it open lightly, and a ray of brilliant light flickered out.
Sitting at the center of the jade container was a golden bead. It was made of a material that Zhang Xuan could not recognize, but its radiance was amazing.
"What is it?" Bi Hongyin asked.
It seemed like Zhang Xuan was not the only one who did not recognize what the golden bead was.
"This is a Soulbinding Golden Bead that I had someone specially craft for me," Luo Xuanqing replied.
"Soulbinding Golden Bead?"
"The Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast possesses the Dragon Bloodline, and due to that, it's particularly sensitive to golden, shiny objects. So, I specially had this artifact forged so as to capture its attention. Look at the formation marks inscribed on top of it. It's carved in a way to induce drowsiness if one stares at it for an extended period of time," Luo Xuanqing explained.
"However, in the day, sunlight would compromise the effectiveness of the Soulbinding Golden Bead, making it harder to draw the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast's attention. So, it would be best to wait till nighttime."
The crowd nodded in realization.
It was no secret that those of the Dragon Bloodline possessed a crazed fancy for objects that were particularly shiny or dazzling. As long as they used the Soulbinding Golden Bead well, it could indeed lead to exceptional results.
Once they lulled the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast to sleep, they would be able to bypass it safely as long as they proceeded carefully.
"Brother Luo, can I allow me to examine your Soulbinding Golden Bead?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"Here you go," Luo Xuanqing said as he tossed the golden bead over.
Catching it, Zhang Xuan began examining it closely.
He had to admit that it was an exquisite work. The person who had forged the bead must have been an 8-star celestial designer at the very minimum.
A book materialized in the Library of Heaven's Path.
"Soulbinding Golden Bead, forged by 8-star Celestial Designer Jiang Feifei…"
The book detailed the origin of the Soulbinding Golden Bead, its effects, and its flaws.
Seeing that Zhang Xuan was studying the Soulbinding Golden Bead closely, Luo Xuanqing asked in curiosity, "Zhang shi, are you well-versed in the artifacts of celestial designers too?"
"I have read quite a few books regarding that, so I do know a thing or two about that field." Zhang Xuan nodded.
He was still a 6-star celestial designer at the moment, not having taken the examination ever since leaving the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy.
6-star celestial designers could already be considered professionals in the field, but in comparison with the true experts in the Sanctum of Sages, his mastery and knowledge could only be considered minor at the very most.
"Oh? Since you are well-versed in celestial designer artifacts too, what do you think about my Soulbinding Golden Bead?" Luo Xuanqing asked in interest.
Since there was some time to waste before nighttime, he was curious to see how much this genius formation master knew about celestial designing.
Zhang Xuan hesitated for a moment before speaking up. "Judging from the exquisiteness of the work, I deduce that this artifact was forged by an 8-star celestial designer. However, as exquisite as the work is, there are still quite a number of flaws in it, so I am a little apprehensive as to whether it will be sufficient to deal with a Saint 8-dan beast or not."
He had to admit that the Soulbinding Golden Bead was well-designed, such that it could easily lull any Saint 7-dan beasts to sleep. However, if it was used against a Saint 8-dan beast… it probably would not be that simple.
"I spent a heavy price to get the genius celestial designer of the Inner Sanctum to forge it for me. There are no saint beasts possessing the Dragon Bloodline that could resist its allure and remain unfazed by the effects of the formation marks on it," Luo Xuanqing declared confidently.
Out of safety consideration, he had even had the elders in his clan appraise the Soulbinding Golden Bead after it was forged, and the response he had received was that it was highly effective against Saint 8-dan beasts.
"The formation marks do harness the secrets of the soul, which makes it highly hypnotizing to humans. However, I can't say for sure whether it'll have the same effectiveness when used on a saint beast. After all, the soul of a beast is vastly different to the soul of a human. When you engaged the help of the genius celestial designer, did you tell the person that you were intending to use the artifact to deal with a Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"This…" Luo Xuanqing was taken aback by Zhang Xuan's questioning.
As this involved the confidentiality of his mission to acquire the Dongxu Gourd, he had only told Jiang Feifei that he was intending to use the Soulbinding Golden Bead to deal with a Saint 8-dan expert, not specifying the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast in his request.
He had thought that as long as it could work on Saint 8-dan experts, it should not have any trouble with saint beasts too!
"In proportion to their physical mass, saint beasts tend to possess larger and stronger souls than humans. Nevertheless, as long as the Soulbinding Golden Bead is well-used, it's not entirely impossible for it to lull the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast to sleep. However, it would probably require quite some time, so it might not be as convenient as you thought it to be," Zhang Xuan said.
"As long as it succeeds in lulling the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast to sleep, the duration doesn't matter!" Luo Xuanqing shook his head.
As long as he could knock out that massive fellow, what would an additional hour or two matter?
He had already made half a year of preparations for the Dongxu Gourd; another day or two would not make a difference to him.
Zhang Xuan was silent for a moment before replying. "Considering that it's a Saint 8-dan beast we are dealing with, every second will spell a greater degree of danger. What I'm trying to say here is that if you have any other alternative means, it would be best to use it instead. Counting solely on the Soulbinding Golden Bead won't be a safe option."
Standing before a Saint 8-dan beast was almost equivalent to being in the same room as a ticking time bomb. It would be one thing if they succeeded in lulling the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast to sleep, but what if they were to fail?
"Alternative means? Can you forge an even better Soulbinding Golden Bead?" Luo Xuanqing asked impatiently.
Zhang Xuan shook his head in response.
Due to the limited number of celestial designer books he had read, he was not too sure what he could do to resolve the flaws in the Soulbinding Golden Bead.
"Then, what's the point of saying so much? I had to look through many books before I was able to discover this method to deal with saint beasts possessing the Dragon Bloodline. Alright, there's no need to say anything more. Let's just give it a try first. If it doesn't work out, we'll just have to resort to forceful measures. Even if we are unable to kill the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast, as long as we can stall it for a few hours, we should still be able to harvest the Dongxu Gourd," Luo Xuanqing said.
In any case, his goal was to obtain the Dongxu Gourd, not to kill the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast. Even if they could not knock out the latter, as long they could find a way to stall it for some time, it was still possible for them to succeed in their mission.
"Alright then." Having no better solution in mind either, Zhang Xuan could only go along with the current plan.
The group continued discussing for some time to sort out their plan to deal with the Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast. Just as they were about to rest up to prepare themselves for the battle later in the night, Zhang Xuan's eyebrows suddenly shot up. "Someone is here."
"Someone is here?"
The crowd frowned.
They were all Saint 7-dan experts, but even they did not perceive anyone's presence. How would the young man know?
"I left some small formations while making my way here. As long as someone comes into their vicinity, they will activate and alert me," Zhang Xuan explained.
His Spiritual Perception was far larger than that of ordinary cultivators, but of course, he could not possibly tell them that. So, he could only find another excuse.
"Who is it?" Luo Xuanqing asked.
"I don't know either. They are currently making their way over here. They should be emerging from behind that boulder over there soon," Zhang Xuan said as he pointed behind him.
Luo Xuanqing immediately turned around to stare at the boulder behind him, and right after, a couple of figures emerged from behind the boulder.
"It's him?" Luo Xuanqing's face immediately turned livid.
"Who are they?" Zhang Xuan asked.
Luo Xuanqing clenched his fists tightly and narrowed his eyes. "They're from the Zhang Clan… Zhang Heng!"