Information concerning the formation surged into Zhang Xuan's mind.
All in all, there were seventeen flaws to the Dual Spirit Heaven Dominating Formation.
As a grade-9 formation, it had already developed its own spirit. As time went by, the spirit would gradually grow stronger and stronger, and it would instinctively remove or mitigate any perceived flaws that it noticed. As a result of that, even if one knew the flaws of the formation, it still would not be easy to exploit them.
This formation can be considered one of the stronger ones even among grade-9 formations, Zhang Xuan grimly remarked in his heart.
The formation turned out to be far stronger than he had expected.
While he had not seen the blueprint of any garde-9 formations yet, the might and transformations harnessed within the formation before him had already far surpassed his imagination.
I'll have to study it carefully first.
Just as Zhang Xuan was about to take a closer look at the Dual Spirit Heaven Dominating Formation, the elder who had spoken to them earlier suddenly flew over and clasped his fist.
"Esteemed guests, please hand over your storage rings. Please rest assured that we'll seal them right before you so as to ensure that we won't inspect or take anything from them, and we'll return them to you when you leave."
"You want us to hand over our storage rings?" Zhang Xuan frowned.
Several of his secrets were concealed within his storage ring, and he brought it wherever he went. Yet, to have to hand it over just to enter the Zhang Clan… was this not a little too domineering?
The elder nodded. "Indeed. This is a rule in the Zhang Clan—if you wish to step across the Dracotiger Formation, you'll have to hand over your storage rings. Don't worry, the Zhang Clan has everything you need. You will be able to use our items easily once you familiarize yourself with them, so there's no need to worry."
Noticing the awful look on Zhang Xuan's face, Jian Qinsheng took out his storage ring and passed it over to the elder as he explained the matter telepathically to him. "This isn't a rule imposed just by the Zhang Clan; most major blessed lands have such restrictions as well. Outsiders are expected to take off their storage ring, and in more extreme cases, they might be prohibited from bringing their weapons along."
He had been to the Zhang Clan before, so he was well aware of the rules.
Many other major organizations, such as the Master Teacher Pavilion headquarters, enforced similar rules, too.
Firstly, it was a symbol of respect to the host. Secondly, it was to avoid possible menace from getting into the base.
Many years ago, there had been a master teacher who had been blackmailed by the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe to bring a storage ring filled with a massive army of Otherworldly Demons into one of the strongholds of humanity. That incident had resulted in huge losses for that stronghold, and they had almost completely been wiped out.
Considering that the Zhang Clan was the number one Sage Clan of the Master Teacher Continent, they were definitely one of the major targets that the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe would want to bring down. Even if they were confident in their strength, it would still be best for them to maintain a high level of wariness.
Watching as the elder took the ring from Jian Qinsheng and sealed it without peeking into what was inside, Zhang Xuan asked with a frown, "What if I refuse to hand over my storage rings?"
Stored in his ring was Vicious' head, the Qiu Wu Palace, and many other secrets; he could not afford to let any one of these secrets get exposed!
Even though the elder had said that he would only seal the storage ring, there was still a good chance that something might go wrong should he leave the storage ring with the other party. Furthermore, considering that the purpose of his visit was to challenge the Zhang Clan, there was no guarantee that the latter would not attempt to peek into his storage ring after a falling out, and that could place him in grave danger.
As unlikely as those scenarios were, Zhang Xuan still felt that the Zhang Clan was too shameless to be trusted.
"It's fine if you don't want to leave behind your storage ring. As long as you can clear our 'Formation Trial', you'll be permitted to bring your possessions into the Zhang Clan," the elder replied nonchalantly, not showing the slightest hint of anger at Zhang Xuan's rude question.
It appeared that there were quite a few guests before him who had refused to leave behind their storage rings too, and the elder was accustomed to dealing with such problems.
"Formation Trial?" Zhang Xuan asked doubtfully.
"The Zhang Clan has a Defensive Formation which is able to detect and fend off both cultivators and spatial artifacts. If anyone attempts to barge through the formation with a storage ring in possession, they will find themself completely suppressed by the formation, even if they are a Saint 9-dan cultivator. Formation Trial simply means walking through the formation with a spatial artifact in your possession," Jian Qinsheng said.
While he was speaking, another group of cultivators, who were unwilling to hand over their storage rings just like Zhang Xuan, began making their way toward the Defensive Formation.
Recognizing the other party's identity, Jian Qinsheng said in a hushed voice, "That's an elder from the Empire Alliance. He wields strength that's on par with me."
The instant the elder stepped into the formation, his surroundings immediately burst into flames. A golden-crimson dragon of flames dived down from the heavens, and its sharp talons tore through the air, crushing the space around the elder so tight that it robbed his ability to breathe.
Shocked by the destructive might wielded by the formation, panic visibly appeared on the elder's face. He hurriedly flicked his wrist to draw a sword before swinging it desperately, sending a furious torrent of sword qi forward.
Despite the elder's lack of composure, the strength that he wielded was remarkable. Not even the mighty Netherworld Azure Dragon Beast would not dare face him straight on.
Even so, the strength that he commanded was trifling before the massive flame dragon. In just two clashes, he was already struck in the head and plummeted straight down from the sky, charred.
At the same time, under the raging assault of the flames, the storage ring that he wore also exploded, and the possessions that he had stored within it fell and scattered all over the ground. Due to the lingering heat and shockwave from the clash with the flame dragon, quite a number of them ended up sustaining severe damage.
After which, the flame dragon dissipated into nothingness, and the formation reverted to its original form. One of the Zhang Clan elders walked over to the Empire Alliance elder with an impassive look on his face.
"Now that you don't have a storage ring anymore, feel free to enter."
The Empire Alliance elder meditated for a moment to recover from the injuries that he had sustained before walking into the Zhang Clan with an awful look on his face.
And as expected, the formation didn't launch any attacks toward him anymore.
"Jian Qinsheng's face paled upon seeing that sight, and he quickly turned to Zhang Xuan. "Zhang shi, you should hand your storage ring over. They will definitely prepare a suitable sword for you later on, so you don't have to worry about not having a suitable weapon for the fight.
An elder whose strength was on the same level as him did not even manage to survive two blows in the formation before being knocked out! Even if the young man before him was a prodigious swordmaster, his cultivation was simply far too lacking. He would surely be ravaged should he challenge the formation!
The elder shot an impassive glance at Zhang Xuan and said, "Hand over your storage ring or attempt to barge through the formation—the choice is up to you. However, I would just like to say that the Zhang Clan won't be responsible for the consequences."
He believed that the young man would know what was best for him, especially after witnessing what had happened to the Saint 8-dan elder from the Empire Alliance.
"The Zhang Clan won't be responsible for the consequences?" Zhang Xuan raised his head and asked earnestly, "Are you certain?"
The elder frowned upon hearing such a bizarre question, unsure of what the young man was getting at. Nevertheless, he still nodded. "I'm sure."
"Are you qualified to speak on the behalf of the entire Zhang Clan?" Zhang Xuan continued asking.
"Cough, cough, Zhang shi. The elder over there is the Third Elder of the Zhang Clan, Zhang Wuchen." Horrified, Jian Qinsheng hurriedly explained to Zhang Xuan, "Given his position, he's definitely more than qualified to speak on the behalf of the entire Zhang Clan!"
"The Third Elder of the Zhang Clan? His words should carry some weight then." Zhang Xuan pondered for a moment before nodding slowly.
A smile crept on his lips as he turned to the Zhang Wuchen and said, "I have made up my mind. Since you have said that the Zhang Clan won't be responsible for the consequences, I shall… challenge the Formation Trial!"
In the Zhang Clan, the ranking of the elders was decided by their strength, and the seniority of their positions was proportionate to the authority that they wielded. Considering that the elder before him was the Third Elder of the Zhang Clan, he certainly had the authority to speak on behalf of the entire clan.
"You are going to challenge the Formation Trial?" Jian Qinsheng's face paled. With a deeply anxious look on his face, he urged, "Zhang shi, you mustn't!"