Chapter 231: Ghostly Shadow

Hum.

No sooner had Qing Han rushed out than the tendon tied to him blazed with gold. Tremendous might radiated from it and pulled him back from midair. A pair of strong arms wrapped around him as a familiar voice spoke into his ear.

“It’s okay, Qing Han!” garbled Lu Yun, his face pale and his clothes tattered. “I’m fine!”

The disguised girl bit his lip and nodded, blinking back the tears welling up in his eyes.

“What happened?” Lu Shenhou stared at Lu Yun with shock and confusion. “Didn’t the monster eat you?”

“You pulled me out as soon as I broke the formation.” Lu Yun sneered at the giant zombie howling within the circle of green flames. “That thing turned into a grudge corpse after being sealed inside the formation and saturated with grudges and malevolent intent for countless years. Grudge corpses are a mix of zombies and ghosts, with resentment that threatens even the heavens.”

He’d encountered a grudge corpse back in the Skandha Extinction Tomb. However, that corpse had been created out of the curse that embodied the tomb, while this particular one had appeared simply because it’d been here for too long and there was nowhere else for the resentment to go.

“It’s looking for a scapegoat,” Lu Yun spat out, his eyes fixed on the zombie. “Grudge corpses are sentient. This one wanted me to break the formation, so it allowed the fire to burn down the coffins. That should’ve made it easier for it to possess me and escape!”

He hadn’t known how he could break the formation, but when he restrained the two lanterns at the entrance, an errant thought had come to him, prompting him to keep their flames. Stray inspiration and experience with feng shui had prompted him to set fire to the outer-coffins.

Corpse-fostering formations not only fostered zombies, but were also a seal that trapped the zombies to guard the main tomb. The grudge corpse had planned to possess Lu Yun to regain its freedom, but Qing Han’s quick actions had prevented that possibility. It was part of the formation, and the formation’s destruction would bring about the corpse’s doom.

Sensing its imminent demise, the grudge corpse had released its consciousness to create the illusion that Lu Yun had been eaten to lure others in. It’d been here for a very long time, and had developed a very powerful consciousness. Without the formation suppressing it, it was easy enough for it to deceive a few cultivators.

As the grudge corpse shrieked with pain in the green fire, it kept its eyes focused on Lu Yun with pure malevolence.

“Fortunately, after years of deterioration, six of the seven zombies have disintegrated, leaving behind only one,” Lu Yun sighed in relief.

Zombies were creatures abandoned by heaven and earth, forgotten by life and death. They were essentially immortal, if nothing put them down. Sealed within corpse-fostering formations, however, they lived only as long as the formation did. Although Lu Shenhou had seen zombies lying inside all seven of the coffins, there’d actually only been one left.

In roughly four hours, the formation ahead was nothing but burnt remains. All that was left were two shriveled lanterns lying amidst the bone powder and ashes left by the grudge corpse.

“What was that fire?” Wu Tulong knelt down to pinch a fingerful of ashes. “It can burn zombies. Not even your Daevic Skyfire can do that.”

“How do you know it can’t?” Lu Yun shook his head. “The Daevic Skyfire can destroy the formation, but it’d also destroy the tomb in the process.”

The three immortal fires had once burned down a giant zombie tree, which was much more powerful than the grudge corpse. However, with their powers unleashed to that point, Lu Yun wouldn’t be able to control it and the fire would consume everyone.

“The fire is a ghostly fire refined from the living souls of 99,999 children born in a yin hour in a yin year. Their souls were extracted when they turned seven,” Lu Yun said in an impassive voice. “All things have their natural bane, and that flame happens to be the bane of all zombies and ghosts.”

Everyone shuddered involuntarily. The lantern spirits had been the living souls of children, and the lanterns themselves were made of their flesh and bones. Lu Yun had seen that all with his Spectral Eyes, and the lanterns’ destruction had freed the children.

“What a foul person the owner of this tomb was.” Qing Han blanched. “Lamps made of children and a corpse-fostering formation... they must have been a terrible scourge!”

Lu Yun nodded in agreement. He’d attempted to locate the tomb owner with his Spectral Eye, but there was too much information for him to parse through the great number of people who’d died here. He couldn’t determine who was the original buried dead.

“Lu Yun,” said Zi Chen. He’d been the quietest among them.

Lu Yun turned to him. “Yes?”

“Do you know what you’re doing now is much more terrifying than your ability to refine a Heaven Descent Pill?” Zi Chen fixated on Lu Yun with his light purple eyes.

Lu Shenhou had come with more than twenty people, and many of them had died in the first chamber. By contrast, Lu Yun had easily destroyed the terrifying corpse-fostering formation and kept his companions safe.

The others shifted penetrating gazes to Lu Yun. Tomb-raiding skills were the most useful in the current world of immortals, given the plethora of tombs. Excavating an ancient tomb that’d been built for an immortal could make an average house one of the top factions in the world.

“Wanna learn?” Lu Yun smirked at them. “I can teach you, but you’ll have to become my disciples.”

“Pft.” Mo Qitian snorted. “In your dreams. I’m more interested in becoming an advising elder to Dusk Province.”

Lu Yun perked up. “You’re welcome anytime.”

“Let’s go. We’ve solved the first chamber, it’s time to move on.” Dongfang Hao suddenly turned to Lu Shenhou. “Will the complete cultivation path manifest in the next chamber?” 

A tremor ran through the crowd. Compared to Lu Yun’s tomb raiding skills, the cultivation path was obviously much more important.

“There are three burial chambers here. I sensed the missing realm in the third one.” Lu Shenhou’s expression turned serious. “Be careful, though. The thing in the next chamber is too powerful. I only survived and entered the third chamber by pulling out my trump card.”

“What’s in the second chamber?” frowned Wu Tulong.

Confusion clouded Lu Shenhou’s eyes. He shook his head. “I don’t know. I only remember that everyone died in the second chamber. I made it to the next chamber only because of the dao immortal power the ancestor had gifted me. I can’t recall what exactly we encountered.”

That alarmed everyone. Had something within had wiped his memory clean?

“The second chamber is where the third layer of the coiled mountains lay.” Lu Yun frowned at his rotating luopan. “There’s four layers of obstacles within the Door of Demise. Every one of them is more powerful than the last, and all four layers of obstacles working in concert may result in even greater power.

“Although I’ve destroyed two layers, the third will still be dangerous. Follow me.” When the indicator settled in one direction, Lu Yun took point.

“It’s not there,” Lu Shenhou blurted out when he saw his clansman walk in another direction. “It should be this way.”

“That chamber is fake.” Lu Yun glanced at him. “The real second chamber should be an annex room with the tomb owner’s treasures or texts. Nothing but danger lies in the direction you’re pointing at.”

Lu Shenhou fell silent.

“Listen to Lu Yun,” said Wu Tulong. “He’s our leader here.”

The others followed agreeably. Lu Shenhou, however, threw a yearning glance in the other direction. It seemed like he felt a deep attachment to whatever was in that direction.

“Come… come on…. There’s treasure here...” a faint voice rang in the air. “He’s lying… there are treasures… Come, come on...”

The voice built in strength, and even Wu Tulong couldn’t help but turn to look. That was where Lu Shenhou had wanted to go. An archaic bronze door barred the way, a white figure standing before it and waving at them. “Come. Come to me....”

“Is there really treasure there?” muttered Mo Qitian, confusion flashing through his eyes. He made his way to the door.

“Don’t!” Zi Chen grabbed him and tried to turn him around.

“Let go!!” Mo Qitian roared.

“What the hell!” Zi Chen let go of his peer in shock.

Mo Qitian’s face had turned a sickly white. His mouth was now an ugly tear; something had ripped it to both sides of his ears, almost bisecting his head.

“I’m coming, I’m coming....” An eerie smile splitting his face, he walked toward the white figure.

“Freeze!” With a wave of his hand, Lu Yun attached a talisman to Mo Qitian’s head and immobilized him.

“Anyone who stands in my way… must die!!” Seeing that Lu Yun had subdued Mo Qitian, the white figure screamed inhumanely and flashed toward the governor. Its face was only three inches away from Lu Yun’s.

Lu Yun saw a pale face with a torn mouth reaching both ears…. It looked just like what Mo Qitian had turned into!

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etvolare's Thoughts

Eep okay, that's terrifying, and those lanterns are sick. It's been a while since NECRO scared me. This is it coming back with a "DIDJA FORGET THE HORROR IN ME!"