Yin Yanan’s air-transportation spiritual tool crashed into a huge rock, shattering to pieces.
Even though Nie Tian and the girls jumped out before the crash, they still tumbled over, which made them dizzy and hurt all over.
Standing on the dark gray ground, Nie Tian examined his surroundings, and rapidly learned that their crash had been caused by the surging gravity in this area.
The gravity at the center of the stone city was nearly a hundred times greater than in other places.
It was that terrifying gravity that had pulled their air-transportation spiritual tool from the air and caused it to crash.
If Nie Tian and the girls hadn’t had powerful means at their disposal, they would have hit the ground hard too, and sustained severe injuries.
Yin Yanan’s face gradually grew cold as she gazed at her wrecked air-transportation spiritual tool and heard the surrounding Qi warriors’ sneers.
Clearly, those people were well-aware of the unusually high gravitational field at the center of the city.
They had seen the three of them flying in their direction on an air-transportation spiritual tool, yet none of them had warned them. This meant that they probably held evil intentions.
“What are you laughing at?” Yin Yanan asked coldly.
One of them answered casually when his smirk hadn’t even faded from his face, “Nothing. I just find this amusing.”
Yin Yanan suddenly exploded towards the man, the roars of a hundred fierce beasts coming out of her.
She summoned a large, silver hammer from within her ring of holding, and like a streak of silver light, she swung it towards the man with great force.
The man was at the middle Profound realm, which was even a bit higher than Yin Yanan’s cultivation base.
He snorted disdainfully and rapidly unfolded a greenish-black umbrella.
Grabbing the umbrella with both hands, he thrust it upwards. Then, a curtain of spiritual power dropped from the edge of the umbrella.
Yin Yanan’s large hammer slammed into the curtain of spiritual power, sending a large amount of sparks flying in all directions.
The man let out a muffled groan, bone-cracking sounds coming from his hands.
As his face suddenly flushed, blood rolled down the corner of his mouth.
Shock and disbelief filled the man’s eyes.
At the same time, the smirks faded from all of the other onlooking Qi warriors’ faces.
Eyebrows furrowed, they slowly gathered and surrounded Nie Tian and the girls.
Yin Yanan had been in a bad mood after the wrecking of her air-transportation spiritual tool. As she saw those Qi warriors approaching with unpleasant expressions, the look in her eyes grew even colder.
The eighth grade Frost Blood Python had once again turned into a tattoo on her waist after they had left the Dao Enlightenment Rock.
According to her, the Frost Blood Python had derived a mysterious magic, which seemed to originate in its Blood Stripe Python bloodline, from the Dao Enlightenment Rock, and had been meditating on it since then.
Even though it was meditating inside of her, it wasn’t dormant, so she could still summon it to fight for her at any moment.
As the three of them were surrounded by Worldly and Profound realm Qi warriors with unpleasant look in their eyes, Yin Yanan was prepared to unleash the eighth grade Frost Blood Python.
At the same time, Nie Tian looked around with a measuring gaze, and discovered that none of them were at the Soul realm or higher. That was when he knew that once the eighth grade Frost Blood Python was unleashed, these Qi warriors, who had smirked at them a moment ago, would suffer violent deaths.
Only if they held powerful magical treasures from their sects would they have a chance at surviving.
Mu Biqiong from the Bliss Mountain Sect also had a cold look in her eyes. Clearly, she disliked these Qi warriors as well.
A battle could break out at any moment.
At that very moment, an air-transportation spiritual tool flew over from the distance.
As the air-transportation spiritual tool flew closer to their location, two men jumped off it and landed carefully before everyone.
They were a man and a woman. The man looked honest and clement, while the woman had a valiant and heroic bearing.
The two of them looked rather alike, as if they were brother and sister.
The man noticed the tension and shouted aloud, “What are you doing? You don’t intend to start a fight here, do you?”
The Qi warriors who were going to teach Nie Tian and the girls a lesson turned around and saw the brother-sister pair. They snorted coldly and refrained from initiating attacks.
From the look of it, they weren’t from the same sect, but from the same domain, and they were rather familiar with each other.
Eyebrows furrowed, the woman said sternly, “Isn’t it a bit too shameless for you lot to gang up on just three people?!”
The Qi warriors seemed rather apprehensive about the brother-sister pair.
Instead of refuting them, they scattered and left with reluctant, cold look on their faces.
The man who had been injured by Yin Yanan shot her a vengeful glare before putting his umbrella away and leaving without saying a word.
“We’re from the Martial Spirit Sect in the Domain of Heaven’s Origin...” the man went on and introduced themselves to Nie Tian and the girls.
Their names were Chai Longge and Chai Fengfu, and they were at the late and middle Profound realm.
The Domain of Heaven’s Origin where they were from was a medium-grade domain protected by Saint domain experts. The sectmaster of the Martial Spirit Sect was a middle Saint domain expert, who was stronger than the patriarchs of the Divine Seal Sect, the Thousandsword Mountain Sect, and the Golden Vast Sect from the Domain of Heaven Python.
Chai Longge was nice and warm. His perfect manners made Nie Tian comfortable when the two of them talked.
Chai Fengwu had impressively good looks. Even though she wasn’t as pretty as Mu Biqiong or Yin Yanan, her valiant and heroic bearing set her apart, and she remained silent as her older brother did most of the talking.
From Chai Longge, Nie Tian learned that an early God domain human expert had died in this dilapidated city during the second great war between humans and outsiders.
People had referred to that expert as Lord Myriad Gravity. By practicing earth power, he had been able to change the gravitational field around him.
Lord Myriad Gravity’s opponent had been a Demon grand monarch, who had eventually shattered Lord Myriad Gravity’s domain and killed him. However, Lord Myriad Gravity’s lifetime understanding of earth power and many profound magics had merged with this piece of land, which was why the gravity in this stone city was a hundred times greater than elsewhere.
For thousands of years, Qi warriors who practiced earth power had come here to derive enlightenment and practice cultivation, and they had all benefited from their trips.
Chai Longge and Chai Fengwu, however, didn’t practice earth power. They had just happened to pass through this area.
The unpleasant Qi warriors that had teamed up on Nie Tian and the girls earlier were also from the Domain of Heaven’s Origin, and they had entered the Shatter Battlefield through the same spatial rift in the Domain of Heaven’s Origin as Chai Longge and Chai Fengwu.
Most of them were disciples of the Earth Spirit Sect from the Domain of Heaven’s Origin, and they all practiced the same type of power as Lord Myriad Gravity, who had perished here.
Every time disciples of the Earth Spirit Sect came to the Shatter Battlefield, they would head to this place and do their utmost to absorb the profound earth power incantations Lord Myriad Gravity had left here.
Rumor had it the Earth Spirit Sect’s current sectmaster had derived groundbreaking enlightenment from Lord Myriad Gravity’s legacies in this place, and that was why he had been able to advance to the early Saint domain and claim the position of sectmaster.
In the Domain of Heaven’s Origin, the Martial Spirit Sect was stronger than the Earth Spirit Sect.
Besides, Chai Longge and his sister were ranked at the top among the Martial Spirit Sect’s chosen ones. Therefore, the Earth Spirit Sect disciples gathered in this place had cleaned up their act after their arrival.
“Since you two don’t practice earth power, I suppose you won’t benefit much by staying here, right?” Nie Tian asked.
Chai Longge nodded. “Yeah. We were just passing by. We don’t intend to stay for long.”
Nie Tian smiled faintly. “That’s good then.”
Seeing that all of the Earth Spirit Sect disciples had scattered and returned to their own business, he added, “This place isn’t safe. You’d better leave as soon as possible. Something major might happen here soon.”
Chai Fengwu, who had said very little, seemed intrigued by Nie Tian’s words, and thus asked, “What do you mean? You seem to know something.”
“A band of Stone Golems might arrive here at a certain point,” Nie Tian said.
A disbelieving look appeared in Chai Fengwu’s eyes as she said, “Stone Golems?! Are you joking? Everyone knows that the Stone Golems died out during the first great war.
“Fine, believe me or don’t.” Nie Tian didn’t want to give them a detailed explanation. He only warned the brother-sister pair considering that they had stepped up and presided over justice.
Chai Longge seemed rather calm as he said, “We’re not going to stay here anyways, whether Stone Golems are coming or not.” After a moment of pondering, he added, “Do you have any tasks to attend to or places to go in the Shatter Battlefield?”
Nie Tian shook his head.
“If that’s the case...” Chai Longge said. “There is this place we know that’s going to be crowded with people soon. You may want to swing by and take a look, if you don’t have better things to do.”
Nie Tian’s eyes lit up. “Where?”
“We’re heading there ourselves,” Chai Longge said. “We can go together if you want. I can tell you more about it on our way. What do you think?”
Nie Tian turned to fix Yin Yanan and Mu Biqiong with an inquiring look.
The girls nodded.
“Alright,” Nie Tian said. “We’re new to the Shatter Battlefield and don’t know much about it. It’d be best if you could tell us more about it.”
The Origin of Talismans
Talismans are thought to be the strange writing of writs that can invoke spirits and control the ghosts. Talismanic characters, with their twisted strokes, look like drawings as well as calligraphy, and are not easy to recognize. They are applied quite a lot in Daoist skills. Where do they come from? According to the descriptions in Daoist scriptures, a talisman is a condensation of the clouds in the sky. In the Records of the Divine Talismans of the Three Grottoes ( 《三洞神符記》 Sandong Shenfu Ji ), it is written that " the talisman is originally condensed in the sky. The Supreme Perfection ( 太真 Taizhen ) faced upward, wrote the heavenly writings, differentiated the directions, and distinguished pictures and drawings from the writings of the talismans." Later, the Supreme Venerable Sovereign ( 太上老君 Taishang Laojun ) and other immortals imparted them to this world. Recently Mr. Meng Wentong has suggested that the characters of talismans with twisted strokes originated from the scripts of the minorities of the southwest, but this hypothesis is questionable. As a matter of fact, the writings of talismans came from our ancestors' worship of Chinese characters. When the Collective Explanations of the Biography of Xie Gunu ( 《解奴辜傳。集解》 Xienugu Zhuan Jijie ) from the Stories of Magical Arts in the History of the Later Han ( 《後漢書。方術傳》 Houhan Shu Fangshu Zhuan ) quoted Hui Dong, it said that in ancient times, there were ways of controlling spirits. Therefore the Book of Master Huainan ( 《淮南子》 Huainan Zi ) said that a long time ago when Cang Ji created Chinese characters, there was millet falling down from the sky, and spirits crying at night. In Gaoyou's commentary, he states that spirits were crying at night, afraid of being controlled by the talisman. So it is thus clear that the idea existed long ago that some special words or characters were able to impeach and control spirits. In civilized times, official documents such as mandates and decrees carried heavy authority, and their influence foisted the worship of the characters on the common people. Judging from the existing literature, Daoist talismans formed in the Eastern Han Dynasty, and resulted from the fact that the concept of absolute power over the common people in this world was transferred to the world of spirits. When Daoists made their own talismans, they actually imitated those made in the Qin and Han dynasties. And the talismans were mainly derived from the characters of central China. The talisman was originally a trust ( 憑信 Pingxin ) of the ancient sovereigns to invoke troops or deliver orders. At first, it was made of bamboo, and later of gold, jade, and bronze. Both the court and the generals held half of it, and applied it as a trust. The two halves of it put together indicated the fact that the messenger, with the talisman, represented the will of the ruler. So the generals had to follow the order he delivered. After talismans were transferred to the spiritual world, there appeared heavenly talismans and divine talismans. The witches and wizards might have been the first to put them into use, and the Yu Talisman was widely used in the Warring States period. In such activities as the dispelling of illnesses in the tomb, the witches or wizards of the Han Dynasty often applied them, and so we can call them " witch talismans" since they were the direct ancestors of the Daoist talisman.
The witch talismans we can observe today are written on receptacles unearthed from Han Dynasty tombs. Getting rid of ghosts with talismans was a sort of witchcraft to dispel the spirits. On such receptacles, the talismans and incantations have been discovered, which are a mixture of Chinese characters and diagrams of stars, which were thought capable of arresting ghosts. According to the records in the book On Judgements of Opinions ( 《論衡》 Lunheng ) of Wang Chong, it was the witches and wizards who conducted such activities. Most of the Daoist sects originated from sorcery and as a result the activities of dispelling the spirits became one of the magical skills of early Daoism. The book On the Two Teachings ( 《二教論》 Erjiao Lun ) of the Buddhist Dao'an mocked the witchcraft of the Three Zhangs, in which he mentioned the activity of using talismans to get rid of errors that annoyed the ghosts. The early Daoist sects from the folk society inherited and developed folk sorcery, which became a part of the system of Daoism. So the witch talismans were turned into Daoist talismans, and developed into volumes and volumes of talisman books. Such books produced in the Eastern Han Dynasty are The Double Character Book of the Supreme Peace ( 《太平經復文》 Taipingjing Fuwen ), The Five Talismans of the Numinous Treasure ( 《靈寶五符》 Lingbao Wufu ), The Perfect Writs of the Five Sprouts ( 《五芽真文》 Wuya Zhenwen ), The Writs of the Three August Ones ( 《三皇文》 Sanhuang Wen ), and so on. Of them, the Double Character Book of the Supreme Peace had most of its talismans made by doubling popular characters, in which the trace of witch talismans was easily seen.
As far as the implications of the writings of the talismans are concerned, Daoist talisman books illustrate certain religious ideas with coherent sentences. Compared to the witch talismans used by the folk witches and wizards, there are more characters in Daoist talismans, which are also more varied. This implies the transformation of Daoism from spontaneous folk witchcraft to a conscious religion with systematic theories. As far as the form of the talisman is concerned, there was a mixture or deformation of the official script of the Han Dynasty. Apart from it, the Daoist talisman borrowed seal characters and the worm-shaped and bird-shaped characters of the ancient times; these became the mainstream of the Daoist talisman. Such change began in the later stage of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the main representative of which is the Perfect Writs of the Five Sprouts and the Writs of the Three August Ones from the ancient Books of the Numinous Treasure. The talisman characters in the Perfect Writs of the Five Sprouts are in seal type writing. In the Great Skill of the Heavenly Immortal Gold Mother (《 天仙金母大法》 Tianxian Jinmu Dafa ) and the Numinous Treasure Golden Book of Salvation and Guidance ( 《靈寶領教濟度金書》 Lingbao Lingjiao Jidu Jinshu ), the pronunciations of the seal characters were given, but they were different from the pronunciations of the corresponding seal characters in philology books. The talismanic writing style in the Writs of the Three August Ones is called Heavenly Cloud-shaped Seal Character ( 天篆雲書 Tianzhuan Yunshu ) or Cloud-shaped Seal Character ( 雲篆 Yunzhuan ) in Daoism. It is mixed with seal type writing, ancient characters, and overlapped characters similar to double characters in the Double Character Book of the Supreme Peace. In Daoist thought, such a talisman was the secret of the supreme heaven, so it was called "Heavenly Seal Character". At the same time, the talisman was condensed with the vapor of clouds in the sky, and the Immortals in heaven imitated it and imparted it to the human world. So it was called "Cloud-shaped seal character" or "Cloud-shaped Writing", which was an imitation of popular seal characters and of the worm-shaped and bird-shaped characters of ancient times. And to focus on its features, the strokes are twisted like clouds that are winding around. Since such an idea was accepted, the Daoists tried to have the strokes of talismans twisted even when they drew double character talismans. Thus it became the general characteristic of the Daoist talisman.
Since the Eastern Han Dynasty, more and more Daoist talismans were produced. The fifth chapter of the Inner Book of the Master Who Embraces Simplicity (《抱朴子內篇》 Baopu Zi ) recorded that there were 56 kinds of great talismans, amounting to over 500 volumes. The new sects that appeared later often created their own talismans and compiled their own books of talismans. Daoist Talismans and Registers became the trust of the succession of Daoist sects.