The Tian Dang Mountains
Feng Nu’s qi recovered much faster than she lost it. But even when she recovered to her optimum tate, she seemed to forget how to use her martial saint strength and remained in Nian BIng’s embrace, weak as a kitten.
Nian Bing carried Feng Nu out of the magic array. “Are my arms so warm?”
A flash of red, and Feng Nu escaped Nian Bing’s embrace. Slightly peeved, she said, “You only know how to take advantage of me.”
Nian Bing chuckled. “I won just now. Aren’t you going to give me a kiss?”
Feng Nu looked at Nian Bing strangely. “Then why didn’t you kiss me ? Since you didn’t seize the opportunity, then it will be take it as you giving it up. Nian Bing, what kind of magic array this? I didn’t even have the chance to resist.”
Nian Bing looked at the complicated patterns on the ground. “This is a very special magic array that came from ancient times. I first saw it in the Ice Moon Empire Mage Association library. I thought that it was impossible to construct since it was way too complicated. It’s useless once you make a single mistake, and there are several spots that contradict each other. The magic symbols also intersect one another, posing no small problem. However, I realized that I would never be able to make it if I used only one one hand. But if I used my hands simultaneously I could do it. So I thought about using the Ice and Fire Source as a base. I’ve gone over this countless times in theory, but this was this first time I have ever drawn it. I didn’t think that I would succeed so easily.” He paused here, a bit absent-minded as he looked at the array. “Feng Nu, do you know what this ancient magic array is called? It’s called the magical space. After creating this space, I became its ruler. I can switch between two states, the release state and the absorption state.”
FEng Nu did not really understand. “Can you explain clearly what is ‘release’ and what is ‘absorb’?”
Nian Bing’s eyes sparkled intelligently.”It’s very simple. This magic array was used in an ancient era as a seal. Because it so extremely difficult to draw, very few people could use it. Once the array is complete it can absorb all of the outside magic element into itself, and all of the energy it has absorbed is under my control. To put it simply, if I were to to use the release spell while in the array, my magical strength would be boosted by at least thirty percent. If other people step into the magic array, which is what you did, it can completely swallow all of your energy. However, the possibility of that actually happening is small because you can sense the aura the magic array gives off. If we weren’t betting, would you have so easily stepped in it? So this array is more for boosting my own magic.”
Feng Nu was still doubtful. “I still don’t understand. I cultivate qi, not magic. How come it could absorb my qi and then release it?”
Nian Bing grinned. “All forms of energy in the world are conserved. Magic and qi are different types of energy, but the end, they are just that. Energy. For instance, my fire magic and your Nine Flames Qi both have the fire attribute. And my magic array was founded on both ice and fire, so it produced the maximum effect against you. After it absorbed your qi, you didn’t truly lose it. You just suffered the weakening effect of the magic space, making it seem like you lost your qi. Actually, the magic qi only held your qi and cut you off from the outside world, producing the misperception. If you left the magic array, even without my help, you would be able to recover your qi in about an hour.”
Feng Nu thought it over. “That is to say, with this magic array, your strength would be raised substantially? Hmph, I was fooled this time, but you won’t have the opportunity later.”
Nian Bing smiled. “One opportunity is enough for me. You’re my friend. If you were an enemy, I might not let them escape so easily. But this magic array also has many disadvantages. Not only does it take a long time to draw, the failure rate is very high. On top of that, it consumes over 90% of my magic, so I can’t use it regularly.”
Feng Nu laughed. “It really isn’t simple. Why don’t you dig out a part of the floor of this room and then put into a space storage magic item?”
Nian Bing broke into laughter. “How could it be that easy. The magic array cannot be moved once formed. Otherwise, not only will it lose its original effect, but it also might explode. When I was studying magic arrays, I already thought of it. It’s best used to protect cities. As for anything else, it won’t be that useful, unless my magic power strengthens enough that it is much easier for me to draw this array.”
Feng Nu stared at Nian Bing and said, “You used such a broken magic array to take my qi; it makes it hard to accept my loss. However, I won’t act shamelessly.” She flashed forward. Nian Bing only felt a delicate fragrance assail his nostrils as his lips were covered by a soft pressure. Just as he was about to grasp onto this incomparably wonderful feeling, the warmth disappeared. The door opened and Feng Nu left, leaving Nian Bing the only one in the room.
Looking at the door, Nian Bing shook his head and laughed bitterly and shook his head. “Feng Nu, oh Feng Nu, did you know? The more we spend time with each other, the less I can control my impulses.”
Winter dawns were the coldest time of the day. Rousing from his meditation, Nian Bing reveled in his fully recovered magic power, courtesy of the magic array he had drawn last night. Opening the window, cold air bit at his face. His breath turned into faint white smoke, blown away by a chilly wind. It really was so cold! Although he had two kinds of magic on him, this kind of weather was unmatched cold. As a mage, he was not very well adapted to it. Sadly, he didn’t bring a stitch of thicker clothing. After refreshing the room, he shut the window. He put on his coarse, cotton clothing underneath his ice advanced mage robe he got from the association. Feeling the ice element circulating around the robe, he cast an additional ice body spell on himself. Now, he wouldn’t feel the cold.
The mercenaries of the Ice Moon Mercenary Group had already woke up. Under Ka Luo and the two vice-captain’s instructions, they had prepared what they needed. Every person carried a small rucksack as well as the standard warrior’s sword. There were over thirty people there, but their breathing scarcely made sound. Especially strange were the four identical, weird items set up in the courtyard. At the center of each contraption was a chair, as both sides were connected by a long and rough bamboo pole. It all looked very queer.
“Nian Bing, you’ve awakened. I was planning on finishing preparations before calling you. Go have some breakfast. In a moment we will set off.”
Watching Ka Luo’s confident smile, Nian Bing gestured to the strange items in the courtyard. “President, what is the purpose of those things.”
Ka Luo grinned. “There were originally only three of them, but you came. I ordered them to make another one. This is specially made for you mages. The Tian Dang Mountains haven’t developed; the roads are rugged and hard to pass through. It’s much too difficult for you mages. If you used your magic to advance, it would consume all of your magic. So, we specially made these for you. This was invented in the Lang Mu Empire, called a sedan chair. You can sit in it very carefully and rely on us warriors to carry it. Not only will progress be much swifter, it can also conserve your strength.
Nian Bing secretly praised Ka Luo’s attentiveness. He said out loud, “President, this is no good! How could we trouble the warriors so?”
Ka Luo smiled. “It’s no trouble. When it comes to a critical time, we will be relying on you mages to save us. For us, you four mages are an important lifesaving weapon!”
Two hours later, Nian Bing and the others finally set off. Now, the Ice Moon Mercenary Association numbered thirty-three. Among them were three martial masters and thirty great swordmasters. Coming them was the Zi siblings, Feng Nu, Nian Bing, and three mages. The whole group numbered over forty people.
When they had come that night, Nian Bing hadn’t been paying attention the the city. So when he left the inn, Nian Bing took the chance to observe the city. This Tian Dang City was much more pathetic than the bigger cities. He could even see the west wall while standing at the east wall. The whole city didn’t have any large stores. It appeared that the majority of residents made their living as hunters.
Once they left the city, he could see the swathe of grey mountains in the distant. However, he couldn’t see the peaks; they were covered in a thick cloud. Sitting in the sedans was extremely relaxing. With two great swordmasters carrying them, the sedans were extremely steady with slight rocking motions. Besides the cold, it was hard to think of this as carrying out a mission instead of a pleasure trip. THe whole mercenary team was neat and orderly. Ka Luo leading, the thirty mercenaries keeping the four mages in the middle, and the two vice-captains and the other three lurked in the very rear. It could be said that this was a small-scale troop.
Long Ling sat expressionless in the sedan. She was wearing a thick, white fur coat. Li De and Feng Yun were also wearing thick leather clothing. Among the four mages, it was obvious that Nian Bing was the most miserable. The warriors advanced extremely quickly. Although they weren’t really walking. Every step they took covered at least three meters. Even if this wasn’t faster than travelling by horseback, it wasn’t all that slow. The scenery flew past them and so did the cold wind. Nian Bing’s ice body spell could not completely block it out. Although fire magic could warm him up well, it could not be maintained for long. Helpless, he could only cast ice body spells one after the other and hug the True Sun Knife for warmth. This was a bit better, but he still regretted not buying thicker wear.
Under the silent advance of the warriors, they finally arrived at Tian Dang Mountain in two hours. The mountain in winter was barren, and other than the chirping of the birds that one could hear from time to time, the entire mountain felt desolate. Not long after stepping into the mountain, Ka Luo stopped by a cave where the wind couldn’t reach. “Everyone, we’ll rest for a moment before proceeding. The ones responsible for the sedan chairs will change shifts. Do not forget to stay on guard.”
The sedans were set on the ground; Nian Bing and the others got off. The warriors split up to guard all the important locations. Ka Luo walked over to Li De, took out what seemed to be a map from his chest area and began discussing it with Li De. Nian Bing felt very relaxed. He took out a large pot from his space ring and asked Zi Qing Jian to smash a hole in the ground with his qi. He filled the large pot with ice, then used a flame spell to heat up the iron pot. After a moment, the ice turned into warm water. While Nian Bing maintained the spell, he called out. “It is very cold outside. Everybody, come have a drink of hot water before we continue.” Even though they were very hardy people, being able to drink hot water on a winter day was a wonderful thing.
When the water came to a boil, Feng Yun came over to Nian Bing and took out a pile of bowls from his magic space item. “Nian Bing, I’ll help you. Your magic is very wonderful!”
Feng Yun was an earth mage, most specialized in defense. Nian Bing nodded, taking out a ladle from his space ring. He filled every bowl, then called everyone else over.
Ka Luo’s laugh rang out. “Nian Bing, you truly are a great member for logistics! Drinking hot water on such a cold day is very nice. Come, I have some tea leaves here. Boil them and let everyone have a taste.”
“No, we can’t use those tea leaves.” Nian Bing stopped Ka Luo. “Plain water is the most nutritious for people. Tea is good, but it speeds up people’s metabolism so it easier for them to be hungry and overly excited. So water is fine for now. Save your tea leaves as seasoning. I can use them when I make food.”
Everyone drank the hot water. These mercenaries already saw Nian Bing as one of their own. Every person was glad to accept this kind of mage. After all, Nian Bing had already bought their stomachs.
After drinking some water, Nian Bing felt much more comfortable. Suddenly, Nian Bing felt a chill go down his spine. He subconsciously looked to his left. At the same time, two other people copied his movement. One was Feng Nu and the other was the bucket-shaped Hua Rui.
Hua Rui bellowed like a broken gong and displayed speed incongruous of her stature. She shot out like a giant meatball, covering his vision like a small hill.
Ka Luo also responded quickly. He shouted, “Protect the mages!” A red figure flashed. The first to come to Nian Bing’s side was Feng Nu.