The Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement? Venerated Skysoarer was taken aback. “Sect Head, why do you ask? How did you come by the name of the formation?”
“Does this mean that the formation is real?” Jiang Chen frowned slightly. He’d first heard about the formation from Mang Qi when he trained in the Eastern Kingdom’s Boundless Catacombs many years ago. After traveling to the sealed grounds in the desolate wildlands, he made another trip to the Boundless Catacombs for confirmation from Mang Qi. And now he wanted to see from the venerable master if Mang Qi’s words held any water.
“The formation…” The Venerated Skysoarer gave a long sigh. His tone became exceedingly complicated. “Sect Head, the story behind that formation is long and complicated.”
Jiang Chen didn’t care how long the tale might be. He needed to know.
“Venerated master, my fate is deeply entwined with the formation. Perhaps you can share the story with me?”
“I’ll gladly impart everything the sect head wishes to know.” The venerated master didn’t hide anything from Jiang Chen. He heaved a long sigh. “Actually, our sect was involved in the construction of the formation. Back then, a total of eight sects worked hand-in-hand to construct the formation. As one of the frontrunners, we were in charge of thirty percent of it.”
Jiang Chen wasn’t surprised that the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect had a hand in the creation of the formation. It was only natural that one of the strongest sects of the ancient age would participate in such a grand undertaking.
“However, the eight sects weren’t the only ones who participated in this. Every single ancient great sect contributed to this grand endeavor. They provided us with the required spirit stones, tools, and many other resources. Everyone was united in our intention to make this formation the sole weapon to suppress the demons.”
“Oh?” Jiang Chen raised a brow. He didn’t expect there to be so much history behind the formation.
“I’m not exaggerating. Back then, the human race was one of the strongest throughout the Divine Abyss Continent. Resources were abundant. The demons would have never invaded human territory if otherwise. Because of that, we had to pay a great price during the invasion. The construction of the formation alone caused dozens of formation masters to die of exhaustion.”
“Was it really that terrible?” Jiang Chen was taken aback. How would a single formation require so much?
“It was.” Venerated Skysoarer was extremely solemn. “The Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement is the strongest and highest level formation throughout the Divine Abyss Continent. No sect could possibly construct it on their own, nor could they afford the resources needed to support it. Nobody would’ve died if given a decade to complete it, but three months was all we had.”
Time was an extremely precious commodity during the invasion. A decade was simply too long. Every second wasted was a life lost and every single day was worth fighting for. One day was all it took for the war to shift sides.
Jiang Chen came to understand why so many formation masters had died of exhaustion. They’d taken only three months to complete a formation that would normally take ten years. Such urgency was unheard of in modern times. They’d traded their lives for its completion. He was struck by awe.
“Nine elders from our sect had lost their lives during the construction of the formation, including my own younger brother.” Venerated Skysoarer lamented.
“The Earth Bodhisattva Sect, arguably the leading sect in formations at that time, had to sacrifice almost a dozen of their own as well. Many other sects were the same…” The venerated elder grew increasingly downcast as he spoke. “It’s a pity we underestimated how cunning the demons were in the end…
“After all the effort in setting up the formation, we waged what was supposed to be the decisive fight with the demons, but somehow, they saw through our plans. Contrary to our predictions, they didn’t send their main force into battle. Instead, they sent an army of puppets to fight us. They were mere slaves that the demons had acquired from other planes. They were forced into battle and didn’t put up a fight. They were nothing but scapegoats meant to be sent to their deaths in the stead of the demons!”
Skysoarer gritted his teeth. His hatred for the demons ran so deep that he wanted to rip them apart with his teeth. The story seemed to match with Mang Qi’s rendition. It seems Mang Qi wasn’t lying after all. Jiang Chen sighed deeply.
“Sect Head, the formation is one of the deepest scars in our hearts. We put in so much effort and paid such a great price, only to see it all go down the drain. We let down our brethren who sacrificed their lives for the formation. If the main forces of the demon race had been caught in it, our sacrifices in the following battles would’ve been much lighter. Because the formation failed to serve its purpose, a large majority of cultivation experts died in the gruesome battles that followed. Many powerful factions sacrificed everything for the sake of the greater good. Many great lives and treasures were lost.”
The Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement had been constructed as a weapon against the demons, yet it’d been used on nothing but scapegoats. If the main force of the demons had been captured by the formation, then the human race’s fortunes might not have declined so dramatically. The fates were incredibly cruel.
“Venerated master. Since the formation seized the wrong target, perhaps we can reactivate it and release the scapegoats to bolster our own army?” Jiang Chen probed.
“We considered the same thing back then, but the invasion was already in full swing. We couldn't spare any manpower to reactivate the formation. Moreover, there was no guarantee that the scapegoats would willingly join forces with us to fight against the demons if we freed them. They were under the demon's control after all.” Venerated Skysoarer had made a good point.
Jiang Chen nodded. “I understand. Doing so would be a big risk back then. However, I wonder if there is still a chance that we could reactivate the formation?”
He was an all-knowing expert in the art of formations, but he didn’t have a good grasp of the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement because he hadn’t encountered it in his previous life. Therefore, he wanted to learn more about it from the venerable master himself.
“The ancient age was almost two hundred thousand years ago. I can’t possibly know what state the formation is currently in without seeing it for myself. However, with what resources we have left in the human domain, it’s unlikely that we’d succeed in reactivating the formation. In terms of material resources, we might be able to gather enough to meet the requirement if we tried hard enough, but there simply isn’t enough manpower. Dozens of empyrean cultivators died of exhaustion during the construction of the formation, yet the human domain might not even have a single empyrean expert now! Reactivating it is clearly an empty dream!”
The venerable master’s conjecture was very reasonable, but Jiang Chen didn’t believe that it was an insurmountable problem.
“Venerated master, no matter how difficult it may seem, every possible path is worth exploring. If we somehow reactivate the formation, we could blockade the demon army at the desolate wildlands and hinder their march into the human domain.” Jiang Chen had done some research regarding human domain terrain.
The Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement was constructed with geography in mind and was located between demon territory and human domain as an invisible barrier. The demons would have no choice but to march around it. The vastness of the world meant that they’d have to travel up to ten times the distance to enter the human domain. This made their invasion significantly harder.
The longer the distance they had to cover, the more likely their army would be spread too thin. This too served as an advantage for the humans. The human leaders of the ancient times had been very meticulous in the placement of the formation. If Jiang Chen could somehow reactivate the formation, it would serve as the perfect barrier to keep the demons out. Unfortunately, the formation was simply too complex and high level. Reactivating it would be extremely difficult even for someone like him. The material and human resources needed was simply too colossal.
Fortunately, time was on his side. The demons were still rather dormant and their invasion likely a few decades away. The ancients had needed ten years to construct the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement at a sustainable pace. Perhaps taking five times as much time would be a sustainable pace for modern humans? After all, the ancients had to construct it from scratch, but all modern humans had to do was reactivate it.
The foundations of the formation were already laid. Reactivating it was significantly easier than constructing it from scratch. So although the task was incredibly daunting, it was still achievable
“Sect Head, do you really intend to reactivate the formation?” Venerated Skysoarer asked involuntarily when he saw how resolute Jiang Chen seemed.
“Venerated master, based on the current state of the human race, if a demonic cataclysm occurred, what are the chances that we’d win?”
“None.” The venerable master answered bluntly.
“What if we were to reactivate the formation?” Jiang Chen asked again.
“If you reactivate it…” The venerable master began to ponder deeply. “If you reactivate it, you’d block off the demons’ path. The difficulty of their invasion would grow by several multitudes. If that happened, they might actually change their targets and invade another race instead.”
Jiang Chen nodded. “In conclusion, the formation is the human race’s only hope.”
The venerable master sighed deeply. “Sect Head, I must remind you that it’ll be a lot harder than you can imagine. The amount of resources needed is simply mind boggling. Moreover, the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect has only contributed thirty percent to its construction. The parts handled by the other sects are not recorded in our history. How will you reactivate the formation if you have no information about the other parts?”
I have to say, the bit about the ancient demon war is actually quite enjoyable. Realizing they'd fallen into a trap must've been soul crushing!
Half Step Empyrean Realm sponsors, thank you for your patience! # of advance chapters slowly creeping up as promised (currently at 34!), and some of that will trickle down to Great Emperors as well. Stay tuned!