Chapter 173: Out for Blood

An extravagantly decorated fortress ship cut across the sky with two handsome youths at the vessel’s bow, admiring the scenery below. Lu Yun was finally on his way to Nephrite Capital.

Located in Life Province, the heartland of Nephrite, it was the glittering crown to both its locality and the empire at large. Once upon a time, the capital was known by another name: Xiankan!

It numbered amongst the nine greatest cities in all the world. The human territories were called ‘majors’ because of these cities that adorned them. Like its eight brethren, Xiankan wasn’t built by the present generation of immortals. Rather, all nine were the results of excavation.

The nine major capitals were older than even the ancient world, built by persons unknown.

There were more than a dozen main provinces and hundreds of millions of kilometers between Xianhan and Dusk, which alone meant several years of sailing. Thankfully, transportation formations linked the realm’s various majors and their provinces, so Lu Yun could travel to Life Province in the blink of an eye.

There was still the matter of actually getting to the local formation, though. Rather than being situated in the governor’s manor, they were located on the provinces’ frontiers and well-guarded by soldiers.

These transportation formations were some of the most important facilities in the nine majors. They remained under the direct jurisdiction of the celestial emperors, rather than that of the governors. Dusk Province’s very own formation was located in Cloudwater Township.

The fortress ship that Qing Han had gifted Lu Yun was incredibly fast. It traversed a few dozen thousand kilometers in only two hours, and could go even faster, but Lu Yun wasn’t strong enough to fully power it just yet.  

Though Cloudwater was called a township, it was comparable to the provincial capital in activity. These days, it saw bustling activity from innumerable cultivators and immortals traveling to and fro. The town was situated next to a brilliant lake, in the embrace of two lofty mountains. Military flags fluttered on the mountain peaks, signs of the troops stationed there in charge of defending the transportation formation.

“No wonder this place is called Cloudwater… it really is a town between cloud and water!” Lu Yun marveled at the scenery as they approached the township. “So places like this really do exist. I used to think that everywhere in the world of immortals would be pretty like this.”

Compared to the Dusk capital, a place like Cloudwater was much closer to what Earthlings envisioned as a ‘world of immortals’. The township lacked particularly high walls or tall buildings and was enshrouded by a dreamlike haze of cloud and vapor, looking so very magical and mysterious.

“There are plenty of other places like this. Dusk Province is just an exception,” Qing Han remarked from nearby.

“Plenty? I’d like to go traveling sometime, then.” Lu Yun nodded, then paused, taken aback by the sight. “Eh? There’s a tomb of an immortal here?”

There were plenty of tombs scattered about the landscape of the world. In fact, he’d seen several in the countryside on his trip here. None of those had piqued his interest in quite the same way as this one did, though.

“There’s… a tomb here?” Qing Han blinked. “Cloudwater is on the border between Dusk and Outré Province, so Dusk’s restriction has very little influence here. It’s not unheard of for powerful immortals to occasionally pass by. Still, I’ve never heard anything about a tomb.”

“I haven’t been here before, have I?” Pride flashed across Lu Yun’s face.

“Tch.” Qing Han quirked the corners of his lips. A disdainful expression crossed his face, but his eyes communicated full trust.

“A dragon sleeps in mountains coiled,  

Those deathly cliffs with mysteries roiled.

If thousand peaks with locks deter,

A noble soul be thus interred!” Lu Yun roared in invocation. Energy rushed to the top of his head and took shape in the form of a compass. The compass spun at top speed, turning its needle a majestic gold before it settled, pointing to Cloudwater’s rear.

“The tomb isn’t just anyone’s. It belongs to someone important!” The young man snapped his fingers, dismissing the overhead luopan

“Look at the ring upon ring of ridges between the two mountains. They look like walls defending a secret, don’t they? That’s a textbook example of a noble, or royal’s tomb.” He drew a deep breath. “I just wonder whether the guy buried is from way back then or present day.”

The difference between a modern lord and an ancient one was night and day. Ancient rulers were a cut above dao immortals; Lord Sugato, for example. But in the present world, peerless immortality was sufficient for a noble title.

The ridges between the two mountains were created by the power of the person buried within the tomb, a kind of natural feng shui layout that held great protective power. Even Lu Yun’s Spectral Eye was suppressed to a certain extent.

Other immortal visitors to this place had no knowledge of feng shui or tomb raiding, and wouldn’t see the ridges alone as evidence of a tomb within.

“We might as well go down there and take a look!” Excitement gripped Qing Han. “Zhao Shenguang’s coronation ceremony isn’t for at least a dozen more days. We have lots of time to explore!” He was supremely confident in his friend, who was clearly something of a tomb raiding expert.

“Sure.” Lu Yun inclined his head. “Let’s see if there’s any evidence as to the tomb owner’s identity once we slip inside. If it’s someone ancient, we’ll leave immediately. I can’t touch an ancient who’s exceeded dao immortal before becoming an immortal myself.”

“Ah, His Excellency is here!” An audible wave of cheering broke out the moment the fortress ship landed.

“It’s the First Youth Sovereign!” 

Many preferred calling him by the second title.

Cloudwater Township wasn't originally known for its prosperity. In the past, very few cultivators were willing to come here. But after Lu Yun had unearthed the ancient lord’s heritage and made the associated inheritance tower available to everyone, the number of travelers increased explosively.

When Lu Yun took his first step into the town, he felt a considerable amount of goodwill rush in, fertilizing the Sal Tree for additional growth. He happily accepted its feedback energy, focusing it on refining his nascent spirit. He wasn’t in a particular hurry to break through before refining it as much as possible.

The young man entered Cloudwater hand in hand with his friend.

“The governor possesses uncommon moral fiber. Instead of laying personal claim to a priceless treasure, you made it widely available to countless other daoists. Please, accept our humble respect!” Someone approached him, bowing in deference.

“What moral fiber? He obviously just doesn’t have the skills to take the treasure for himself! If he really cared about his fellow daoists, he would’ve offered up the Sugato Sword as well. We should get a chance at it as well!” a snide voice interjected.

“Hmm?!” Qing Han colored. He was about to explode, but Lu Yun quickly pulled him away. They simultaneously retreated backward, when—

Swish!

The first person jerked his head up and unleashed two black sword lights, cutting down on Lu Yun in a criss-cross.

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etvolare's Thoughts

Oh, la, y'all are so dead. Nighty night now!