Chapter 204: Weakest Team vs Dream Team

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

After resting for approximately one hour, everyone was finally renewed and refreshed for the journey ahead.

The deeper they entered the marshlands, the more humid and cool their surroundings grew. Each step felt as though they were going sink into the depths of the marshlands in the very next moments. From time to time, they would even come across some sticky substances in the marshlands that seemed to be the remnants of a beast’s saliva or mucus. It was absolutely disgusting and nauseating.

This was the first time that Wei Gaolang had come across such an environment, and it was understandable that he found it hard to get used to. If not for the fact that his martial brothers and sisters remained as cool as a cucumber about their surroundings, he might already have run to the side and thrown up violently.

But now, he fervently suppressed that urge for the sake of his teenage pride, and his face appeared so constipated that it almost turned a sickly green.

“Little Lang, perk up a little. You’ll have to be careful to avoid those swamp bubbles that are surfacing in these marshlands. If you step into the swamp bubbles, sinking into the depths of the marshlands might be the least of your concerns. Those swamp bubbles might very well be concealing a spirit beast or a demonic beast. If you alarm those beasts, then it might become a problem for all of us.

Wei Gaolang nodded his head listlessly. But before he finished nodding his head, his feet immediately landed on one of these bubbles, and he sank immediately into the marshlands.

“Little Lang!” Jun Xiaomo was just about to pick Wei Gaolang back up when she noticed the flicker of a shadow – Chen Feiyu had arrived in the nick of time to grab hold of Wei Gaolang’s collar to prevent him from sinking further into the marshlands.

Wei Gaolang clumsily collided into Chen Feiyu’s chest. After a few seconds, he collected himself and hastily cried out, “Martial brother Chen, careful below!”

Before Chen Feiyu could even process what Wei Gaolang was cautioning him about, he noticed a massive blood-red tentacle rise up from the depths of the marshlands and sweep towards them. The blood-red tentacle was densely filled with suction cups of all sizes on it.

Jun Xiaomo instantly retrieved the whip from her Interspatial Ring and lashed out ferociously at the tentacle. The tentacle immediately recoiled in pain. Then, within moments, several other horrific tentacles began to rise up out of the marshlands.

Then, when the unknown creature finally surfaced in front of everyone’s eyes, the disciples finally got a clear look at it. They discovered that this creature resembled an octopus, but it was far larger than the normal octopus.

Everyone armed themselves with their weapons of choice and began to launch intense attacks and strikes at the creature that was madly flailing its tentacles about. Even Wei Gaolang began to attack the creature after he returned to his senses from his earlier shock. His weapon of choice was a steel hoop.

Fortunately, the creature’s cultivation level was not too high, and it took only three incense sticks of time before Jun Xiaomo and the rest managed to dispose of it. It was unclear whether the creature had merely passed out, or it had passed away – either ways, it began to sink slowly back into the depths of the marshlands.

The Heavenly Peak disciples heaved a sigh of relief as Chen Feiyu instructed, “This place doesn’t seem too safe. I think we’ve got to remain vigilant and keep walking.”

Everyone nodded as the followed Chen Feiyu and continued to forge ahead.

However, after walking for a few moments, the disciples discovered that Jun Xiaomo remained standing where she was, and she did not follow them.

“Martial sister Xiaomo?” Chen Feiyu turned around and saw Jun Xiaomo standing with tightly knitted brows where she had been as she stared blankly at the creature sinking into the depths of the marshlands. It was as though she were deep in thought.

“What’s the matter?” Chen Feiyu returned to Jun Xiaomo and patted her shoulder as he asked with concern.

The pat on her shoulder jolted Jun Xiaomo back from her stupor. She looked back up at Chen Feiyu, grimaced slightly. She opened her mouth, but she didn’t know where to begin.

“Feel free to speak your mind with your martial brother. It’s fine.” Chen Feiyu patted Jun Xiaomo’s shoulder as he cajoled her. To him, Jun Xiaomo was a martial sister, but he treated her more like a part of the family that every other Heavenly Peak disciple was part of. Even if the words she spoke were harsh on the ears, he would never get mad at her.

After all, he was so much older than she was to begin with.

Furthermore, he understood Jun Xiaomo quite well. He knew that she would not speak about the matter unless it was of the utmost importance.

Jun Xiaomo deliberated for another few moments before she began to speak again, “Martial brother Chen, do you think our combat efficacy earlier was high?”

Chen Feiyu was slightly taken aback from this comment. He lowered his head and pondered for a moment, before he sighed with resignation and shook his head, “I don’t have the ability to assess it properly. But from martial sister’s reaction, I don’t think our efficacy is as high as it could have been…”

Jun Xiaomo smiled. She knew that Chen Feiyu would not mind her voicing her concerns like that. After all, Chen Feiyu was the appointed leader of the group. If the leader had been anyone else, they might well have seen Jun Xiaomo as a thorn in their side, or a threat to their leadership by now.

Jun Xiaomo faced Chen Feiyu as she continued with earnestness, “Our combat efficacy is indeed not very high. If we worked properly with each other, I estimate that we might only have required one incense stick of time to defeat that creature earlier.”

“So quick?!” Chen Feiyu was slightly alarmed.

It was understandable that Chen Feiyu would be unaware of the secrets of group battles, group synergies and the like. Generally speaking, cultivators were individualistic in nature and rarely considered the techniques used for group battles, much less practiced them.

After all, none of the cultivators expect to be huddled up or stick around with their group all the time, so what was the point of knowing so much about group battle techniques?

That said, Jun Xiaomo had witnessed with her own eyes the potential of fully utilizing such group battle techniques and maximizing their synergies. There was once incident in her previous life when she encountered a team of rogue cultivators while on the run. None of these cultivators belonged to a single sect, but they nevertheless enjoyed travelling together to complete bounty-related tasks issued by various sects in the spiritual world.

Back then, Jun Xiaomo had already attained the Nascent Soul stage of cultivation, and she recognized that the individual capabilities of that team of rogue cultivators was hardly worth considering. Thus, she grew slightly complacent.

In the end, not only did she find herself on the verge of losing that battle, she was on the verge of even losing her life.

If not for the fact that she had come across a life-saving treasure on her previous escapades, the Lady Demoness might have perished there and then.

Thus, ever since then, she no longer dared to undermine the potential of teams of spiritual cultivators who focused on developing their synergies with each other, even if each individual cultivator did not seem to be outrageously strong.

Not only that, she even extended her research on teamwork to several texts and manuscripts from the mortal world.

Why the mortal world? The reason for this was that the cultivation world hardly delved into matters such as group battles and synergies, and there was barely any research and development of skills on that front. Even though every iteration of the Inter-Sect Competitions consisted of a “group battle” component, everyone’s notion of a “group battle” was none other than to focus their attention and firepower on a single target until that target was dead.

In other words, the mere comparison of a team’s average cultivation level would almost invariably allow one to determine at the outset the winner or the loser.

But Jun Xiaomo knew that if a team maximized synergies and brought out their true potential, the outcome would not be as simple as “1+1=2”. It was far more profound than that. The more they were able to coordinate their attacks, the more they would be able to bring out the hidden potential within each of their team members to do far more than what they would have been able to achieve as mere individuals.

That said, despite all of her research, Jun Xiaomo’s understanding of these matters could only be considered to have scratched the surface because she never had an opportunity to experience for herself what true teamwork could bring out. After all, she had always been battling alone in her previous life.

But right now, she wanted to utilize the knowledge that she had gleaned back then in the present group battles.

Jun Xiaomo explained her perspective of the matter, before suggesting that these group battles were the prime opportunity for the Heavenly Peak disciples to hone their teamwork and develop synergies. It would not be wise to simply attempt to avoid every danger possible for three days.

Chen Feiyu immersed himself in the depths of his contemplations for a moment before he finally relaxed the tensely knitted brows and announced to the rest of the Heavenly Peak disciples, “Martial sister Xiaomo is right. We can’t just keep avoiding dangers. Furthermore, this is a competition. As disciples of the Heavenly Peak, there’s no reason for us to hide in our shells like turtles in the face of danger.”

Jun Xiaomo began to smile. She was overjoyed at Chen Feiyu’s decisiveness.

Chen Feiyu thought for little bit, before he patted Jun Xiaomo’s shoulder while continuing, “In the time to come, I’m going to temporarily relinquish my authority as a team leader to martial sister Xiaomo. I hope that everyone will be willing to take her lead and follow her instructions.”

“Martial brother Chen?!” Jun Xiaomo widened her eyes. She had never expected Chen Feiyu to directly relinquish his authority as a leader to her.

It had to be said that the glory to a team leader was incredibly great if one could lead his team to victory. It might potentially even earn the team leader sufficient recognition to be earmarked as Chosen Disciples of the Greater Sects.

“Martial sister, I believe in you. You’ll do well. Our lives are in your hands now.” Chen Feiyu somewhat joked as he handed the mantle over towards Jun Xiaomo.

“That’s right. Don’t worry, martial sister. Do your best to lead us. We’ll follow your instructions.”

“That’s right, that’s right. We believe in martial sister’s abilities…”

None of the Heavenly Peak disciples objected or dissented to such an arrangement. Every single disciple trusted that Chen Feiyu had his reasons for doing do; and every single one believed in Jun Xiaomo’s abilities.

And this was all despite the fact that Jun Xiaomo was a seventeen years-old cultivator at only the sixth level of Qi Mastery. She was younger than almost everyone present.

“Thank you, everyone.” Jun Xiaomo smiled radiantly. Her heart was moved by the faith everyone had placed in her.

Thus, she no longer shirked her new responsibilities. Her expressions grew stern and serious as she immediately instructed, “Little Lang.”

“Eh? Yes, martial sister!”

“I want you to stand in front of a swamp bubble later. On my command, you’ll break that swamp bubble and lure out the creature within.”

“Ah?” Wei Gaolang had not expected Jun Xiaomo to allocate him such a task, so he was slightly taken aback. But a few moments later, a resolute gaze filled his eyes as he responded earnestly, “Yes! Martial sister, I shall fulfill my task.”

Jun Xiaomo patted his head, before she began to disseminate the rest of her instructions to her other martial brothers around, “As for everyone else, stand by the side of the swamp bubble, arm and prepare yourselves. I want you to attack the creature as soon as it appears. Bear in mind that I might be issuing instructions throughout this entire process.”

“Alright.” Everyone responded in unison.

Jun Xiaomo smiled. Then, she smacked her head as though she had just recalled something important. Moments later, she retrieved a stack of talismans from her Interspatial Ring as she continued, “My voice might not reach you when we’re in the midst of combat later. I want everyone to use these Transmittance Talismans instead. One talisman can last us one full day. That way, you will be able to hear my voice and receive my instructions amidst the chaos of battle.”

“Martial sister’s preparations sure are thorough.” Wei Gaolang exclaimed as he obsequiously applied one of the talismans on himself.

Everyone also picked up these talismans in an orderly fashion as they thanked Jun Xiaomo.

They had finally realized that the “space-wasting” items prepared by Jun Xiaomo beforehand could actually be used so effectively during combat.

After applying the Transmittance Talismans on themselves, everyone began to march towards the next patch of marshlands on Jun Xiaomo’s commands.

Outside the competition grounds, several referees delved deep into their own thoughts as soon as they heard Jun Xiaomo’s analysis about the principles behind group battles.

Indeed, they had instituted group battles in every iteration of these competitions, but from time immemorial, none of the participating teams had ever thought about implementing group battle tactics or techniques to maximize their synergies.

Most people in the cultivation world believed that they would only be able to gain an advantage in combat if they were individually strong enough. Therefore, nobody had ever thought about relying on such alternative techniques for victory.

But what if cultivators began to use the techniques for teamwork and synergies that was so prevalent in the mortal world?

What kind of effects would it produce?

Thus, the referees began to watch the Heavenly Peak disciples expectantly despite the fact that their average individual abilities in these group battles were the lowest among all teams.

At the same time, there were several other referees who were transfixed on the performance of another team – the team from the Eternal Summit Sect.

If the Heavenly Peak disciples were to be described as the “weakest team” around, then the Eternal Summit Sect’s team could only be described as a “dream team”.

It was evident from their performance since the start of the group battles. They were practically like a ravaging whirlwind that left a path of destruction wherever they went. In no time, the Eternal Summit Sect’s team had already accumulated for themselves a massive amount of points, well in excess of the Heavenly Peak, and they now sat firmly at the first place in their standings among all other participating teams.

Even with their group battle tactics, the Heavenly Peak disciples could never defeat such a formidable “dream team”, right?

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