[I need to calm down first.] The seventh elder took a deep breath and inspected the area with wrinkled brows.
He found that the recovery of the Diamond Sand was becoming a headache, and when he knew the trio ran into the second area, he confirmed it.
With his experience, he could easily discover their meager cultivation. And with the highest among them being the 7th layer of Bone Tempering Stage, it was no different than squeezing three insects.
What was unbelievable though, was that one of them had a deep knowledge of arrays along with a cunning mind, unlike a rash and ignorant youth he posed to be.
This led to the current predicament. With the three working together to control the array, he would never get the upper hand.
However, he thought of something and his hawk-eyes flashed sinisterly.
“You are Xue clan’s third young miss!”
The seventh elder ignored Zhuo Fan and switched targets, sizing up Xue Ningxiang with a smile, “I remember seeing you five years ago. You were just a child back then. My, how you’ve grown into a fine lady.”
Xue Ningxiang’s heart seized and lowered her head to avoid his piercing gaze.
Zhuo Fan shouted, “Seventh Elder, if you have something to say, say it to my face. Don’t go around scaring girls!”
Yet the seventh elder’s eyes never left Xue Ningxiang, “Ning’er, why do you bother going against me? Xue clan is a vassal of Hell Valley. We always took care of your Xue clan. And yet here you are, resorting to this…”
His eyes flashed with murder as he spoke. Xue Ningxiang shivered and could no longer keep the hand sign up.
Zhuo Fan knew that the seventh elder was threatening Xue Ningxiang and rushed to say, “Attack!”
He and Xie Tianyang synced their hand signs, launching lightning and fire at the seventh elder. But Xue Ningxiang was still in a daze, her hands trembling.
Xie Tianyang thought, [Damn, Xue Ningxiang is worried for her clan and has no will to fight. Without the wind’s help, there’ll be a sharp decline in power.]
The seventh elder was fighting a psychological battle, grasping the trio’s weakness.
Fire and lightning combined as it neared the elder, but his centipede chain just flew at it and the attack was nulled. The seventh elder stood still in the sky while Zhuo Fan and Xie Tianyang spat blood!
“Ha-ha-ha, that’s better!”
The seventh elder cackled, “Ning’er, you made the right choice. These brats will wash their hands over this and leave from here, while your clan will stay forever.”
Zhuo Fan looked at the shivering Xue Ningxiang and urged, “Ning’er, don’t listen to the old goat. He knows who you are and will destroy your clan either way. The only way to save the Xue clan is to kill him here and now. Remember my words, the Thunder-flame Gale Array needs three people to work together and as long as the three are in sync, not even a Profound Heaven expert can escape!”
Another shiver wracked Xue Ningxiang’s frail body and now she stood still. The seventh elder’s words scared her but she had finally recovered.
Zhuo Fan smirked and shouted, “If this old coot lives, your clan is no more!”
His words echoed in her ears and Xue Ningxiang rose her head to show killing intent for the first time as she muttered non stop, “He can’t leave. He has to die, he must…
Xue Ningxiang roared the last word and completed the hand sign.
A green panther roared behind her and sped towards the seventh elder, ten times stronger than before.
The elder panicked, noticing the true power of the array in Xue Ningxiang’s hands. [From the start, the two brats used all they had in fighting me, yet she hadn’t?]
Xue Ningxiang was a kind and gentle soul, not willing to kill even her enemy. But the seventh elder’s words struck a chord in her frail heart that she was close to losing its will for fighting.
It was then that Zhuo Fan woke her up and lit a fire in her. The dissonance in her heart led to unleashing her full power.
To protect her clan, Xue Ningxiang turned cold and unfeeling like a reaper. She was willing to do anything and everything to make sure the old geezer died here.
Zhuo Fan and Xie Tianyang smiled and launched their own attacks. Fire, wind, and lightning combined at their strongest into an overpowering strike that threatened to consume the seventh elder.
Even the calm and collected seventh elder was starting to feel fear. He hastily lifted the centipede chain and lashed.
A huge explosion shook the entire second area and even the sky seemed to collapse. Some 4th level spiritual beasts even fled.
The seventh elder, who was caught in the middle, was blasted a dozen meters with his hair and beard singed as he spat blood. But this time, the blood evaporated before it touched the ground.
It was proof of the intensity of the attack that pierced his inner organs. With such a heavy wound, just one more and he’d be done for!
For the first time, the seventh elder panted with fear in his eyes. Not even he could foresee that the array needed just the girl to flip out for unleashing its full power.
But he understood that he would not be able to take more of such attacks.
“He’s on his last leg. Ning’er, Xie Tianyang, get ready. We’ll finish him off,” Zhuo Fan laughed as he made another hand sign.
But a sudden green panther beat him and Xie Tianyang to the punch.
All Zhuo Fan saw was Xue Ningxiang going crazy and making signs on and on as she raved, “He has to die, he must die…”
[Damn, this girl has lost it. I managed to spur her on, but now she is too far gone. Her only thought is to kill the old goat, even disregarding cooperation with her allies.]
Her action was limiting the array’s power!
The seventh elder noticed this weakness and smiled as he charged for Xue Ningxiang! He was only facing a wind panther, and without the other two elements, he could breeze through it. With a swing of the centipede chain, the panther was no more.
“Quickly help Ning’er!”
Zhuo Fan panicked as he formed hand signs alongside Xie Tianyang. Once again lightning and fire came at the seventh elder.
Yet such lack of cooperation lost the array’s advantage and the seventh elder dealt with it easily. He flung the centipede chain, removing this nuisance and appeared before Xue Ningxiang.
But she sank in, making hand signs.
The seventh elder snorted and clutched her neck, lifting her off the ground. Xue Ningxiang began suffocating and her hands slowed down.
“Crazy girl, you almost had me killed! Consider yourself lucky since you still have some use, or I’d have killed you already.”
Zhuo Fan and Xie Tianyang stood up with worry. The seventh elder mocked them, “What are you brats called anyway? Sit tight, I will deal with you in a moment!”
Zhuo Fan clenched his fists.
“Cough, cough, cough…”
Xue Ningxiang coughed, looking at Zhuo Fan with pleading eyes, “Kill him, don’t let him harm my father…”
“He-he-he, what a caring daughter. You’re still thinking about your father? Too bad these two brats have no way of killing me. Once I get back, I’ll make sure to wipe out the Xue clan for good!”
Tears glistened down Xue Ningxiang’s cheeks.
Xie Tianyang’s heart hurt and roared in anger, “Hell Valley Elder, does one of your stature even know what shame is to raise your hand on a defenseless girl?”
“He-he-he, there’s no such thing as shame in a demonic cultivator’s vocabulary,” The seventh elder cackled and turned to Zhuo Fan, “Brat, you’re just like this old man, stirring this girl’s will to fight with a few words. I would’ve taken you as my disciple if not for us being enemies!”
“You hurt my friend, so you must die by my hands!” Zhuo Fan’s tone was irreproachable, “Xie Tianyang, get ready to strike!”
“Ning’er… also agreed…” Zhuo Fan’s eyes flashed with a hard look. Xie Tianyang felt cold as he looked at Zhuo Fan, then saw the pleading eyes of Xue Ningxiang and sighed.
[This old man must die, or he will slaughter the Xue clan and Ning’er won’t ever find peace, even in death.]
Xie Tianyang then yelled as he made hand signs.
The lightning dragon roared as it encroached on the seventh elder. Zhuo Fan, with his red eyes, also shouted and the phoenix behind him spread its wings.
This was the strongest power they managed to unleash through their cooperation.
But to all this, the seventh elder’s answer was disdain, “Humph, I have already figured out this array. Without wind, just you two are nothing!”
Xie Tianyang gnashed his teeth. [Would our full power attack amount to nothing? Would we meet our end at his hands?]
[Furthermore, Ning’er’s clan would be doomed.]
But Zhuo Fan revealed an evil grin, “Who said we lacked wind?”
His hands shifted through the signs and the seventh elder was swallowed by a tornado, turning his immediate surrounding into a wind prison.
Then came the lightning dragon and fire phoenix.
Fire and lightning mixed, erupting in a spectacular fashion on contact with the tornado, burning everything within into nothing. This display of power was twice as strong as their best attack.
[This time the elder should be dead.]
Xie Tianyang watched it all at a loss, “H-how… w-what…”
“How the wind appeared?”
Zhuo Fan smiled, unlike someone who just lost a friend, “I told you before that I can’t control the 5th-grade array by myself and need all three of us to work together, right? Well, I lied. That seventh elder would’ve seen through you and I couldn’t have deceived him in the end.”
“What, all… was a lie…” Xie Tianyang stammered.
Zhuo Fan smiled, “Insidious Demon is beyond sharp, he is Hell Valley’s sage. If I fight him alone, defeat is certain. So I arranged for you two to work with me in controlling the array and help conserve power. But this wasn’t without its weakness. Us three had to be in full cooperation to unleash its greatest power.”
“Him being the Insidious Demon, he would find this out with ease and would target the weakest among us. It’s clear Ning’er is that person and he would attack her. But he would have never guessed Ning’er was the bait I laid out for him. So, he fell right into my trap!”
“Y-you’re saying that you had planned on giving up on Ning’er from the start?” Xie Tianyang gasped. Zhuo Fan felt like a stranger to him.
He still recalled how Zhuo Fan yelled at Ning’er, “I won’t leave anyone behind!” his eyes filled with righteousness. [Was it all an act?]
“What’s with that look?” Zhuo Fan sneered, “Didn’t you say to leave Ning’er behind and flee, that she was a burden? I only thought of a more appropriate use of this burden!”
“What of your promise to her?” Xie Tianyang swallowed dryly, “I heard you promised Ning’er to take her outside the city!”
Zhuo Fan waved it off, “The result’s the same, be it living or otherwise…”
Seeing Zhuo Fan’s casual manner, Xie Tianyang felt numb and a chill crawled up his spine.
After working together for over a month, he had thought that he somewhat understood Zhuo Fan’s character. But now it felt like he was talking to a stranger!
Such sheer cruelty made him, a 7th layer of Bone Tempering expert, feel more fear than facing a Radiant Stage expert.
But laughter came from amidst the thunder-flame gale prison…