Chapter 181: Tadpole

Two azure talismans gleamed on Lu Yun and Qing Han’s bodies, allowing them to glide through the water with the ease of fish. They were Swiftwater Talismans—naturally Xuanxi’s doing.

“Is the tomb underwater?” Qing Han scanned the pitch black surroundings. An occasional fish swam past them, but he didn’t see anything unusual. He turned his gaze downward. There was no telling how deep the lake was; even his consciousness couldn’t reach its bottom.

“We should be able to access the tomb through the bottom of the lake. Right now, we’re at the mouth of the volcano, one that goes straight down into earth,” Lu Yun responded slowly. “The unique landscape may give birth to unknown creatures, so be on your guard.”

The water increased in temperature as they sank deeper. In the end, they had no choice but to call upon defensive treasures to protect them from the oppressive heat.

Roar.

A muffled growl sounded from below. Mighty water currents disturbed the surface of the originally calm waters, instantly scattering the barrier of light from the treasures warding them. Terrible heat waves directly assaulted the defenseless humans.

“Is this water or lava?!” Surprised, Lu Yun threw out a few Yu Talismans. Layers of golden light covered them in a protective bubble.

Roar!

Another growl sounded, marking an increased ferocity in the water currents. The water rushed along with an edge as keen as an immortal’s flying swords. Lu Yun had activated nine Yu Talismans, but the tremendous current instantly crashed through seven of them. The remaining two teetered on the verge of shattering as well.

Hum.

Brilliant violet beams exploded from Violetgrave and hacked at the depths of the lake. Lu Yun’s attack split the powerful currents and shunted them to the sides.

“Oof!” He paled, blood trickling down from the corner of his mouth.

“Lu Yun!” Alarm writ large in his expression, Qing Han manifested a sword and channeled the Scroll of the Shepherding Immortals.

“I’m fine.” Lu Yun shook his head, his eyes gleaming brightly. “The currents… are the water’s intent.” A bubble escaped his mouth as he exclaimed, “Now I know what sets Dongfang Hao’s sword aura apart from mine. It’s the intent!”

A sword in the hand was a sword in the heart, and the sword in the heart was a sword in one’s will. No sword aura was complete until it incorporated an intent. Lu Yun’s sword ocean had lost to Dongfang Hao’s precisely because it lacked one.

Its vast nature should’ve been intrinsically more powerful than Dongfang Hao’s sword aura, but without the support of concrete intent, it was more like an extravagant palace built upon the clouds—beautiful gossamer. Flashy without substance. Any true swordmaster would easily be able to slash through his sword aura.

Lu Yun might’ve grasped Dongfang Hao’s sword aura, but the intent behind it was unknown to him. He could therefore only imitate the form, but not the function, which left significant openings in his moves.

If I can incorporate the water’s intent into my sword ocean, my sword aura will be complete and I will no longer fear Dongfang Hao’s sword intent! Lu Yun closed his eyes.

Black luminescence from the Tome of Life and Death rushed into Lu Yun’s mind. The lake before him suddenly seemed different. The clear water seemed murkier in his eyes, swimming with undertones and subtleties. Water benefited everything and won without contending. It had neither shape, nor texture, and was free of all restraints.

Lu Yun’s sword intent was freedom manifested in the form of the sword ocean. Both the Vast Dragon Seaturner and peng morphed from kun-fish existed to break through all restraints on their freedom. 

The intent of the water was perfect for his sword aura.

Gurgle!

Strange noises traveled from the depths of the lake, calming down the violent currents. An enormous shadow swam out at top speed, coming at the humans with a cavernous, open mouth.

“What the hell is that?!” Qing Han gawked with shock. It was extremely dark in the water, but he could still see a giant black creature. Round body spanning half a kilometer in radius, there was a long and thin tail attached to it. It looked like a ridiculously large tadpole!

Lu Yun remained unmoving, his eyes closed as he immersed himself in the intent of the water. His expression alternated between joy and solemnity.

Qing Han knew his friend had entered a key phase of comprehension and was not to be disturbed. He struck a protective stance before his hand, his sword horizontal in front of him and gaze fixed on the tadpole-like creature.

I don’t feel any internal energy from it, and it doesn’t give off the presence of a zombie. It seems to simply be a very large beast. Confusion filled Qing Han’s gaze. The tadpole wasn’t a sentient monster spirit, but a simple beast.

“Be careful, it’s the larva of a Spiriteater Demon Frog,” Empress Myrtlestar’s voice echoed in Qing Han’s mind. “The tadpole has no internal energy at all, but it can easily devour a golden immortal. You’re not its match. Let the little dragon out and have it deal with the creature.”

The empress was referring to the black dragonguard, which was a bona fide peerless immortal. Since it was stuck in a peculiar state between life and death, the restriction wouldn’t target it.

“No, that won’t do!” Qing Han shot down without hesitation. “Lu Yun is in a delicate state of comprehension. As a powerful member of the North Sea water spirits, the dragonguard will disturb the energy of this region, possibly startling Lu Yun out of his current state. I’ll do it myself.”

After battling the half of the Azure Dragon King, Empress Myrtlestar’s unresolved grievances had merged with the remaining fragments of her soul. Although she could use a myriad of combat arts, she couldn’t fight anymore.

Silver starlight blossomed from Qing Han’s chest, turning his hair and eyes the same color.

Qing Han had three starstones on him. The first was the Fire Starstone he’d had for some time. The second was the Big Dipper stone that Lu Yun had gifted him. The third was the Imperial Star from the empress.

Assigning the Imperial Star to disguise duty, Qing Han called upon the Fire Star and the Big Dipper to release their might, bathing him in starlight and dying the body of water in a faint sheen of silver.

……

“What’s going on? Why does starlight glitter in the Great Cloudwater Lake?” Zhu Yu and Yue Cheng were alerted by the happenings.

The lake has always been an unknown entity. Even dao immortals can’t reach its bottom. Is some sort of grand treasure emerging? Yue Cheng’s heart raced with excitement.

The two generals moved out at the same time and made their way to the lake. Other cultivators in Cloudwater followed suit as well.

“His Excellency the Governor has matters to take care of within the lake,” sounded an aloof voice. “Please return to your positions.” Yuchi Hanxing blocked the way with the Dusk Phalanx.

Though the obstacle surprised and enraged Zhu Yu and Yue Cheng, they didn’t dare start anything. The Heavenly Formation of the Black Tortoise could easily crush them.

Within the lake, the two starstones circling Qing Han blasted the lunging giant tadpole back into the depths.

“Starstones? Didn’t expect a Qing kid to be in possession of such treasure. Hand me the stones, or I’ll kill the brat,” a malevolent voice suddenly spoke up. A man in gold appeared out of nowhere, shooting out a beam of sword light that stopped four inches away from Lu Yun’s forehead.

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