Chapter 42: The Encirclement Annihilation Begins!
As a result of discovering the beast cave, the tactics of the current encirclement hunt had to be changed.
The elder who was the overall-in-charge of the spring hunt gave an order to kill and behead the ferocious beasts coming in from the surroundings as soon as possible then go full-force to besiege the beast cave.
If this encirclement hunt could be completed perfectly, the Nine Jade Palace could gain several Spirit Realm ferocious beast together with their cubs and grand cubs. These beasts would definitely be a huge helping hand to them!
As the saying goes; the mountain dweller lives off the mountain, while the shore dweller lives off the sea. Not only does this apply to common people, but martial sects are also no exception either. *
The Heavenly Sea Pavilion was situated in Dongyue, hence the vast Eastern Sea was the source of their resources. The Ancient Jade Summit, which was situated in Beiming, would depend on the endless amounts of mystic ore found there. On the other hand, Seven Truths Platform, which was situated back to back with the Zhongzhou king, had the numerous and affluent common people of Zhongzhou to support them. As for Nine Jade Palace, the Jade West Mountain Forest was their herb garden as well as beast hunting grounds.
In the several hundred years since the founding of Nine Jade Palace, the gathered herbs and hunted beasts, especially the precious ones, had all become their cultivation resources. The largest and most formidable ferocious beasts among them would be domesticated by them and turned into combat partners.
This might seem simple in theory, but to find a large and formidable ferocious beast was no easy task. If one was able to domesticate it and bring it into the sect, their generations to come would all be ahead of their peers.
Days passed, and as the surroundings ferocious beasts were all cut down, their reinforcements had arrived too.
When the small teams on site stopped whatever tasks they had on hand to participate in the new assignment of encircling and annihilating the beast cave, Lu Mingshu realized Fu Shangqing was there too.
The atmosphere in the camp became tense and filled with excitement. Everyone knew that this was the best chance for them to render their meritorious deeds, for there would definitely be a great reward in order to encourage the disciples. However, with danger and opportunity existing hand in hand with each other in such a large-scale battle; it was impossible for everyone to return unscathed.
Yi Jiao was happily cleaning her sword while murmuring to herself. Gao Xiang would pull Lu Mingshu aside to practice his sword whenever he got the chance to do so. Even Shao Zhengyang had a visibly better mood than before.
After countless days of preparation, the encirclement finally began.
However, the first command left Lu Mingshu flabbergasted.
"Break the team up?"
Wei Peng nodded. "The three of you will be led by someone else, while the rest are to follow me."
‘The three of you' referred to Lu Mingshu, Gao Xiang, and Shao Zhengyang.
Yi Jiao was excited, yet worried. "Where are they going?"
"Probably to do some auxiliary tasks." Wei Peng said, "It won't be convenient to bring them into the beast cave."
"That's right, the danger level for the encirclement attack on the beast cave is too high. It's not suitable to bring newbies in." Zhu Jingliang repeatedly nagged at them, "Although you guys who are at Inner Breath Realm won't be told to do tasks of great danger, you still must be careful. Don't be too greedy to get merits."
With time ticking away, the group of people packed up and set off.
Before they left, Yi Jiao specifically told Lu Mingshu, "You have to be very careful. That person isn't the best person to provoke. She must have been holding back for a huge move, which is why she hasn't been looking for trouble with you recently!"
Lu Mingshu nodded her head. "I understand. Thank you Senior Sister."
Yi Jiao patted her head. "Don't separate from Gao Xiang if you can. With him around, it would be akin to having a protective talisman."
She only left after Lu Mingshu assured her again and again that she would be fine.
As Lu Mingshu looked at her disappearing silhouette, she thought; This Senior Sister Yi is really a kind soul. She might have told me honestly that she wouldn't have any more dealings with me after we return as she doesn't want to be implicated, yet she has not avoided me and has even looked after me in all respects while we were here.
Not long after, the three were called to gather.
The Inner Breath Realm disciples left were not many. They were only 30 in numbers. Lu Mingshu saw Fu Mingtang and Le Xiaoyi.
Gao Xiang jabbed her in her sides and looked towards Le Xiaoyi, before leaning down to whisper in her ears, "Didn't they say she was heavily injured? Why did she come here?"
Lu Mingshu found it strange too. After some thought, she said, "Perhaps the task isn't dangerous?"
The backing Le Xiaoyi had would definitely not let her go into battle given she was still injured. Hence, the task was perhaps not dangerous. After thinking it through, Le Xiaoyi could be here to obtain a reward.
Gao Xiang could not help but feel disheartened at this thought. "Which is to say, we won't have any decent task."
"That's not for certain." Lu Mingshu was once again reminded of what Yi Jiao told her before they parted.
As they spoke, a young man walked over and stood in front of the group.
Judging by his appearance, he looked to be of about the same age as Wei Peng and possessed a similar amount of strength. He had a serious expression on and appeared to be a teacher.
As expected, he spoke after sweeping his glance across the disciples, "I am the teacher in charge of you this time. My surname's Zuo. From this moment on, all of you are to listen and obey my commands. If you are to disobey my commands, your life will not be guaranteed!"
His cold tone stunned the disciples. It felt as if being hit by a bucket of cold water; their excitement vanished straightaway. The words ‘your life will not be guaranteed' made them finally realize that they could lose their lives in this encirclement annihilation of the beast cave.
"I will call out your names to divide you into groups now."
The thirty people were rapidly divided into 5 teams. Not surprisingly, Lu Mingshu, Shao Zhengyang, and Gao Xiang were all in different teams.
"Teacher!" He just finished dividing the teams, when Gao Xiang stood forward and shouted.
Teacher Zuo furrowed his eyebrows, looking somewhat displeased. "What is it?"
Gao Xiang pulled Lu Mingshu's arm. "Teacher, we want to be on the same team."
Teacher Zuo's gaze was even stricter now. "Why? You aren't happy with how I divided you into groups?"
"It's not that," Gao Xiang spoke in a loud voice, "We have a tacit understanding in cooperating with each other, and I presume teacher does not know about this."
He was not in the least afraid of standing up face-to-face with Teacher Zuo.
A while later, Teacher Zuo finally gave up. "Fine, since that's your request, we'll do a swap in team members."
As per his wish, Gao Xiang was now on the same team as Lu Mingshu.
Lu Mingshu jabbed him in the ribs and spoke in a low voice, "Thanks." If she were the one requesting, Teacher Zuo would have most likely rejected her. As for Gao Xiang; no matter how harsh and unreasonable the Second Zhou Miss was, with Zhuo Jiangui as his backing, she would not dare to not give the grand elder some face.
"What's there to thank for." Gao Xiang spoke happily, "I have more confidence when I am around you too."
"Alright, let's set off." Under Teacher Zuo's command, they set off.
Unlike the main force, they took the large roundabout route.
The beast cave they discovered this time was on the other side of the mountain basin. The mountain topography there was complex – a river stream was flowing through the area. Their destination was at the lower reaches of the river.
The river water surged past in a never-ending torrent. At the lower reaches, the water momentum gradually died down, and the river expanded into a vast stretch of open water. The river bank was full of round pebbles reflecting the green hills and crystal-clear water; it was a picturesque scene that looked like it was out of a fairytale.
Most of the Inner Breath disciples were young men and women under the age of twenty. Hence, at the sight of this scene, they cheered and wanted to rush over to have fun, as if they had forgotten the task at hand.
It was Teacher Zuo's commanding shout that stabilized the situation.
He started to distribute the tasks. "Small team one is to patrol the surroundings. Small team two is to lay out a defence on the river. Small team three is to tidy up the birds on the cliff. Team four – follow this route and clear up the beast nest on the way. Finally, team five is to stay here, stand guard and pay attention to the situation in the upper reaches of the river. If anything is amiss, team five is to enter combat immediately."
The disciples shouted out in unison as a response, before moving out separately.
Out of the five small teams, the teams with the most important task were team three and four. At the same time, the tasks they held were also the most dangerous.
Lu Mingshu and Gao Xiang were in team four, while Shao Zhengyang was in team three.