Lu Shenhou worried near the door. He came close to pushing it open many times, but the look Lu Yun had given him before departing gave him pause.
The ancient door opened. Lu Yun and Qing Han emerged, each carrying two men. They’d rescued their four companions, who presently lay boneless and unconscious in their grips.
“Finally!” Lu Shenhou sighed in relief and went up to them.
“It’s safe now!” said Qing Han. Lu Shenhou responded with a nod, watching the two drop the other four in the center of the chamber. Lu Yun fished out some pills from his storage ring and fed them to their companions.
“There it is again!” Lu Shenhou cried out in fear, pointing at the door with a shaking finger.
Lu Yun looked over his shoulder. The ghost had appeared by the door again and had its eerie eye sockets fixed on him, quietly observing his every move.
“Ignore it.” Lu Yun only spared it a quick sweep of the eyes before returning to examine the four unconscious youths. The ghost was just there to make sure that Lu Yun wouldn’t cross the bronze door again.
Hellfire was a threat to the ocean of blood. If Lu Yun gave the fire complete freedom, everything in the ocean would be destroyed. However, that was also the last thing he would do. Hellfire was too powerful. If left unchecked, it could burn down all of Nephrite Major.
Qing Han fidgeted uneasily, unnerved by the scrutiny of a powerful ghost.
It wasn’t until about four hours later that Wu Tulong and the others came to, but they were still very weak.
“What happened just now?” Mo Qitian violently shook his head in confusion.
“You almost got us killed.” Zi Chen remembered what had happened before he himself turned into a ghost. It didn’t take much for him to connect the dots.
“Me?” Mo Qitian smiled wryly. He really didn’t remember anything, as he’d lost consciousness after being turned.
Dongfang Hao remained silent. He knew that if it weren’t for Lu Yun, they would all be dead. Dejection colored his face; he felt like a burden to others for the first time in his life. It wouldn’t have hit him quite as hard if it’d been anyone else rescuing them, but it was Lu Yun, someone who’d defeated him head-on in sword dao.
That was a fatal blow to his self-esteem.
If Wu Tulong felt any frustration, it didn’t show on his face. He simply stared at the ghost hovering by the door, his thoughts indiscernible. The air around them grew heavy.
“It was a miracle that you survived at all,” Wu Tulong suddenly turned to Lu Shenhou with a sigh.
“It’s only because of the power the ancestor gifted me with.” Lu Shenhou’s eyes blazed with fervent admiration as he spoke of his clan’s ancestor. Lu Daoling was one of the most powerful immortals in the world, second only to the celestial emperors. With his power, Lu Shenhou had been absolutely safe in this tomb.
“Unfortunately, the ancestor gave me only one instance of use. I wasn’t in time to save the others.” His mood quickly dipped downward.
“Don’t blame yourself,” Wu Tulong calmly reassured him. “It’s enough that you lived to tell the tale. We aren’t here for thrill or treasure, but to complete the path of cultivation and repair the gap. Whether we can safely reach the third chamber or not depends on Lu Yun.”
Dongfang Hao straightened his back and jerked his head up, his confidence returning to him. That’s right—they hadn’t come seeking adventure or anything material. They were here to deduce the lost realm of cultivation!
He looked gratefully at Wu Tulong; it was plain that the young man’s words were for his benefit. However, they were still quite weak. Being assimilated as ghosts earlier had drained them of much of their vitality. They needed time to slowly get it all back, as it’d be suicide for them to enter the second chamber in this state. Thus, they stayed in the chamber and rested.
It took three days for them to make a full recovery.
During this period of rest, Lu Yun walked around and checked the arrangement of the tomb. There was only one feng shui layout in the place: the Door of Demise.
The area beyond the bronze door wasn’t part of the layout. On the contrary, the tomb and the Door of Demise were all part of the ocean of blood behind the door, the Ten Yins Estuary. If Lu Yun’s speculations were right, the tomb was an island floating over the surface of the ocean of blood.
During their recovery, the vicious ghost had kept its post by the door, continuously surveilling Lu Yun and not bothering the others.
Once the four youth sovereigns had recuperated, the seven of them made their way to the second chamber.
“What’s that ahead?” Wu Tulong stared forward, on the alert. Instead of a tunnel or door past the first chamber, there was a vast patch of misty land. White mist filled the dark space, its atmosphere eerie and frightful.
He extended his consciousness to investigate the terrain within the mist, but it disappeared like a drop of water merging with the ocean.
“This is the third layer of the coiled mountains!” Lu Yun took a deep breath and continued gravely, “this is disorienting mist. If my speculation is correct, there must be an enormous maze within, at the center of which is the second chamber.”
“Can we go around it?” Mo Qitian frowned. “If the second chamber is at the center, we can go directly to the third.”
“We can.” Lu Yun nodded. “The third chamber is underground, and we can get there through the bronze door. However, we’ll be marching to our death if we leave the third coiled mountains intact.”
“We go through the maze then!” Lu Shenhou tightened his jaw. “It can’t be more dangerous than the place behind the door. It’s… well, heh.”
He’d now recalled the ocean of blood. The ghost wasn’t the only threat there; there were also a plethora of monsters more terrifying than anyone could imagine.
“Take the lead, Qing Han,” Lu Yun said, putting a hand on Qing Han’s shoulder. “Senior brothers, put your hands on the shoulders of the person before you. Shenhou, you’ll be the end of the line.”
“Remember not to look around, say anything, or do anything once we enter the mist. No matter what you see or hear, do not respond. Even if your companion seems to be speaking to you, ignore him!” Lu Yun emphasized seriously, “No one says anything!”
Qing Han shuddered as he heard Lu Yun’s instructions, recalling something terrible from his memories. “Do you mean...”
“That’s right. The maze overlaps with a pure layout of certain death. Whoever set up the tomb was just too vicious. There’s no safe route through this place.”
The layout of certain death was one of the most fatal killing layouts in all feng shui layouts. Once activated, an akasha ghost would be summoned and regular immortals would absolutely die. Although Lu Yun had made his way through a couple layouts of certain death, he was truly reluctant to face another one.
“Don’t say or do anything after you go inside. Everything will be fake, don’t trust your senses. If you do, you’ll die immediately.”
The five who hadn’t encountered such a layout before trembled and nodded.
“I’ll seal my senses and entrust you with my life,” Mo Qitian said with a wry smile. “I don’t think I can ignore all the illusions just yet.”
“Same for me,” said Zi Chen. “It’s clear from how serious Lu Yun is that the illusions are beyond realistic. Better safe than sorry.”
Lu Yun nodded, then turned to Wu Tulong and Dongfang Hao. They had a determined look in their eyes; it was clear that they considered this a trial to be attempted.
“Then let us enter.” Lu Yun said, holding onto Qing Han’s shoulder.
Wu Tulong trailed after Lu Yun with a hand on his shoulder, and the others followed suit with Lu Shenhou falling to the back of the line.
Soon, the seven of them had entered the mist.
Lu Yun had closed his eyes as well, leaving everything in Qing Han’s hands. His consciousness would be deceived by the highly dangerous mist as well. Once lost, one’s soul would be lured out and become one with it, the body doomed to forever wander within the ethereal land as an empty husk.
The combination of disorienting mist, the unknown maze, and the layout of certain death was too much even for Lu Yun.
He had to turn to Empress Myrtlestar.
As an ancient immortal empress, her consciousness was powerful enough to detect the correct route through the mist, even though she’d lost everything but a strand of her soul. Moreover, the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals could negate the power of any feng shui layouts. Thus, the layout of certain death, and the power prohibiting immortals from entering the tomb, hadn’t affected the empress while she remained within the scroll.
Under her guidance, the seven of them quickly made their way to the center of the maze.
“Roar!” There was a sudden growl at Qing Han’s ear, followed by the pungent smell of rot burrowing into his senses. Before he could react, a flash of violet cut the rotten corpse in half.
Lu Yun nonchalantly put away his sword.
Qing Han sighed in relief, but a tremor passed through his body shortly afterward. The power of the Imperial Star disguising him receded like the tides.
He’d turned back into Qing Yu.Previous Chapter Next Chapter