Chapter 605 - Hunting
The crowds had gathered at the Dimensional Battlefield along with many respectable figures who sat up on high, chatting as they watched the disciples from above. The faction battles of the Human Branch were but a circus show for those of the other two branches. The audience members all seemed like they were in a different class from the rest.
The faction battles would start soon, and the contestants would be entering the battlefield in the order established according to the last event. Factions that ended up lower on the ranks would have to enter the battlefield earlier. That way, they would have more time to establish their formations or secure advantageous positions and wait in ambush for a better chance at surviving. According to the rules, the Swordking Faction would enter just before the Dragonmight Faction.
"If Dragonmight is allowed to go in first and set an ambush at the entrance, the others wouldn't even stand a chance."
There were a hundred thousand members in Dragonmight, while Swordking and Azureriver only had less than ninety thousand combined. In total, that made for about two hundred thousand disciples at the start. Even though that was a lot of people, they were managed quite efficiently. By the time an hour had passed, all members of Azureriver had entered the battlefield, and Swordking would come next.
"Disciples of the Swordking Faction, follow me into battle!" Jian Xueyi announced. She would be taking the vanguard position, while Zhao Yijue would be the rearguard. As for the five hall lords, they were evenly spread across the whole group. Tianming saw about a hundred seniors giving out something and checking their spatial rings at the entrance of the illusory formation. They wanted to make sure that the disciples had no trump cards that obviously weren’t acquired with their own abilities.
"What are they giving out?" Tianming asked.
"One star heavenly pattern tomes, specifically, Scarletflame Tomes. Each disciple gets one."
"What's it good for?"
"Don't you know the rules of the faction battles yet?" Lin Xiaoxiao asked.
"Is it too late to ask? I worry that your tongue will rust from lack of use."
"Fine." She scratched her forehead and said, "The rules are: upon entering the battlefield, if you drip blood on the tome, a ring of fire will surround you. It’s a sign that you’ve chosen to surrender. Once you trigger that signal, a senior will come to take you away from the battlefield."
"Ah, so it's a tome for surrendering then. However, it's only for individual surrender rather than the whole faction."
"That's right. However, the ranking of the factions is based on the number of lit Scarletflame Tomes."
"It’s calculated by dividing the number of surrendered disciples by the total number of members in the faction. The higher the ratio, the lower the rank."
"I see. So, the more survivors there are, the higher the rank."
These were rather interesting rules. For Dragonmight, if twenty thousand of their hundred thousand members surrendered, they would have a surrender ratio of twenty percent. If twenty thousand of Swordking's fifty thousand surrendered, it would be a ratio of forty percent. Under such circ.u.mstances, the former would be ranked higher.
"With there being so many in Dragonmight, wouldn't it be hard to lower the ratio against theirs?" Tianming asked. If it were a true group battle, the ratio shouldn't matter more than the actual number that survived.
"The rules are meant to be biased in favor of factions with more members. After all, numbers equal strength."
"I see." Tianming now knew how hard it truly was for the Swordking Faction to emerge on top. Defeating Xuanyuan Yufeng wouldn't help; he had to overcome tens of thousands of his opponents instead.
"Now that's exciting!" Ying Huo said.
"What if we lose but don't light the tome?" Tianming asked.
"Then nobody will be held liable for killing you."
"Oh. That's intense. As expected of the Archaion Sect." Having disciples fight it out so seriously was surely a first, in his experience. It's no wonder there’s so many people in the audience. This is a bloody gladiatorial show.
The faction battles would last half a month. Within that time, more than thirty factions would be conducting combat in a sealed battlefield in a display of valor and wits. Everything should be used to one's advantage, and a myriad of alliances and grudges would form. The largest faction had a good chance of being ganged up upon.
"Just you wait, Dragonmight."
Tianming was at the entrance of the illusory formation. There was a white-robed middle-aged man who tossed him his tome. "Hand your spatial ring over," the man said coldly. Usually, disciples would automatically hand it over, and the slower ones would be chided.
Tianming took out an emblem to show to the man.
"The Human Sacre—" The man nervously attempted to kneel.
"Sssh, don't move and make a commotion. Let everything proceed as normal and don't say anything," Tianming said.
"Yes!" The man respectfully nodded to Tianming.
Tianming then kept the tome away and entered the battlefield.
Soon, everyone in the Swordking Faction had entered the formation. Tianming saw a boundless world with mountains and seas. it was easily ten times the size of Taiji Peak Lake. In actuality, the Dimensional Battlefield wasn't that huge, and their actual distance from others wasn't that long, but to the disciples who were in the illusory formation, it was a world in itself. The actual dimensions of the Dimensional Battlefield barely mattered to them.
"Swordking Faction, assemble and follow me. Scout units, spread out and gather information!"
The army of fifty thousand under the command of Jian Xueyi, aided by the five hall lords and fifty plus chiefs, immediately scattered into the mountains. As lifebound beasts were normally huge, they didn't summon them. Stealth was a huge advantage in the faction battles, after all.
Apart from Dragonmight, the other disciples' main imperative was to minimize their losses and boost their survival rate. Dragonmight, being the strongest faction, would have to take the initiative to attack. They couldn't even afford to ignore the smallest faction. While the illusory formation was huge, it was hard for thousands to completely avoid combat encounters.
The disciples of Swordking were well trained, and traveled without much fuss. There were thousands of men in each scout unit, all of them spreading out in pairs. They were the eyes and ears of the faction, spreading out for reconnaissance. If they encountered enemies or ambushes, they would be able to inform the rest to minimize losses. That was why scouts were at least empyrean saints and above, and incredibly fast.
"Faction Lord, I don't have any assignments, so I'll work with the scouts," Tianming said.
"Alright. Be careful." Jian Xueyi was really busy and carried lots of responsibility. Any decision she made could gravely affect the tens of thousands of disciples in her faction.
"Rest assured. Xiaoxiao, come with me."
Lin Xiaoxiao was now a third level empyrean saint. If her Archaionfiend was willing to fight as well, she would be able to take on other chiefs. The combination of her and Tianming would serve as Swordking's sharpest blade.
"Dragonmight is still entering the battlefield, so we have to take our positions swiftly. In half a month's time, our priority isn’t to engage in combat, but rather spread out our scouts and take our positions!" Jian Xueyi ordered.
Tianming was already quite far off by then. "It looks like the faction battles aren't just about might. We have to plan our clashes too. However...."
He stood atop a snowy mountain. First, he watched the other disciples of Swordking buzz past. Then, he stretched his left arm out and opened his third eye, using Insightful Eye. He hadn't spent too much time on the eye techniques, but he had at least gradually improved Insightful Eye. He was now much more familiar with it than during the realm war back in the Grand-Orient Sect. However, this was a nine star heavenly pattern formation, which made it far more difficult to see through than the Realm Battlefield.
"I can no longer see the entrance of the battlefield from here, but...." Tianming’s Insightful Eye gradually revealed the true form of Dimensional Battlefield to him. He looked up and saw that there were at least a hundred thousand elite disciples and seniors of the sect chatting and enjoying the show.
"There’s so many people...."
His eye swept across and saw around a hundred thousand disciples entering the battlefield. There were quite a few people, and not too much space for each of them individually.
"The amazing part of this heavenly pattern formation is that as long as anyone within doesn't meet, they won't meet in the real world, either." Compared to the realm war, this event was much larger in scale.
He watched the troops of Dragonmight enter in droves. As the strongest faction, their members seemed rather relaxed and confident. They had the most elites and numbers, and had nothing to fear. They could even afford to fight less. Soon, all of them had entered the battlefield. Then, a voice rang throughout the Illusory Battlefield, "I hereby announce the start of the faction battles. It will end in half a month. Fight, disciples of Archaion Sect!"
A loud cheer came from the audience. While Tianming didn't much care for the rewards of the event, those were things that could fundamentally change lives. The more people in a faction, the more thinly spread the rewards would be. So, taking first place to get the most rewards was imperative. That was why Swordking, Azureriver, and the other factions were pumped.
"Kill!" Such hot-blooded cries could already be heard throughout. The snow seemed to shake from the sheer volume of the cries.
Though Tianming had planned to remain in the scout unit, he suddenly turned to Lin Xiaoxiao and said, "Come, let's go hunting!"
"What do you mean?"
"Just follow me and don't ask."
Swordking's current strategy was to lay low and try not to engage. The onus to fight weighed heavier on Dragonmight, after all. However, Tianming decided to do the opposite. This was just his style; he had already found his prey.
Dragonmight's scout unit was huge, making up a tenth of their total number. It was akin to a huge beast with countless tentacles that could stretch incredibly far. Ten thousand people made up a whole hall in Dragonmight. This particular one was Greenvoid Hall, which meant that Gu Shaoyu was the leader of the scouts. He was the eyes and ears that Dragonmight would use to seek out other factions to crush. There was no need for the strongest faction to hide after spotting their enemies, after all.
"If not for the Human Branch actively encouraging competition among the disciples, most of them would probably have joined Dragonmight long ago."
Tianming smiled as he targeted Gu Shaoyu. "It's this piggy that caused me to have no home to return to. Since you're Dragonmight's Eye, I’ll pluck you out!"