A tremendous clash of water and fire filled the void with aftershocks, but the sight of a nine-headed phoenix was still visible through the haze.
Can it be?
The figure of the mythical Nine-Headed Phoenix popped into Lu Yun’s mind. There was only one phoenix with nine heads ever spoken of in legends, and that was the legendary progenitor of all phoenixkind, born countless aeons ago with heaven-defying potential.
It seemed very likely that its body had been refined into the Nine-Phoenix Casket, which now lay in hell. I mean, how many nine-headed phoenixes can there be? Though the fabled one had interred the corpse of an unknown lord in his netherworld, for some reason, the nine-headed phoenix before him neatly overlapped with the skeleton that should be in hell.
Why is that?
Was it because of the Fire Parasol Tree?
Lu Yun’s mind was thrown into disarray and he couldn’t quite figure things out.
The nine-headed phoenix’s appearance elicited a piercing cry from Ghost Dragon, and grayish-black scales flourished over his body. The water attribute treasure hidden in the void began manifesting as well, and its world-forming power gathered and intensified.
“Hold, Ghost Dragon,” a cool female voice interrupted the transformation.
The spectral body shook. Having already turned into a chimera of human and dragon, he tread a brackish wave as he scrutinized the phoenix before him.
The nine-headed phoenix was wreathed in flame, but its eyes were extraordinarily cold and emotionless.
“You are the parasite of the ghost tree.” Ghost Dragon grew in stature until he was at least thirty meters tall; he glared at the firebird with ferocious hostility.
Under the combined power of fire, water, and the luopan’s golden light, the place they were in seemed to begin drifting into an unknown reality.
“You summoned the Fire Parasol Tree here too… who are you? Why do you hate us dragons so?!” Ghost Dragon’s hoarse interrogation was accentuated by the hateful look in his eyes.
The phoenix ignored him, however. All eighteen of the bird’s eyes were fixed upon the baby dragon on Lu Yun’s shoulder. A moment of anguish and disquiet broke through its coolness.
“I am not the one who condemned your race. If I hadn’t suppressed the ghost tree’s power, the dragons would’ve gone extinct long ago,” the phoenix finally spoke. “But much of my kind undeniably perished at your hand.
“Ten thousand years ago, you fell into the Realm of Unearthly Water. After you became a half-ghost, you began cursing my phoenix bloodline.”
This was around the same time that Huang Qing had risen, and from all the signs that appeared with her, the phoenixes should’ve experienced a renaissance. Yet not long after the North Sea dragons were destroyed, she had died, alongside much of her kin.
“Wait, wait, wait-wait-wait. There isn’t just a dragon nest here. There’s a phoenix nest too!” Though he had been very quiet until now, Lu Yun chose this moment to speak up. Two black rays of light shot out of his eyes.
“The dragon above, the phoenix below… together, their nests make up the water and fire layout here. The two races are normally friends, but this particular layout makes use of their powers to curse each other! What a brilliant curse layout. The person who set it up is a genius!” The young man took a deep breath in appalled astonishment.
“Both of you are pawns in this scheme. However, Ao Lin isn’t supposed to be in the water layout, but took the place of the dragon on my shoulder!” He finally realized the truth behind everything he had seen thus far.
No wonder the ghost tree and the nine-headed phoenix were so focused on the small dragon! It had broken out of the layout, but the phoenix was still stuck within… and slowly being consumed by the tree.
As for Ghost Dragon… he would meet the same fate as the phoenix very soon. The awakening ghosts in the Unearthly Waters would make sure of that.
It was Ghost Dragon’s turn to be expressionless, while the nine-headed phoenix sank into thoughtful silence.
“He has escaped the quagmire, but I am still ensnared,” the divine bird suddenly remarked with unwillingness.
“The zombie king,” Lu Yun forced out the words. “In the abyss of fallen divines, there’s a tomb for the living. Someone left that as a lifeline for you—to raise a zombie king that can create an origin sphere. The limitless life essence inside such a sphere will bring you from death back to life, out of the grasp of the ghost tree.”
The phoenix fell silent again.
There was a reason Diexi had come to the North Sea’s skydragon tomb when she fled to the ocean. The nine-headed phoenix’s will had drawn her here, the same way it had opened up the tomb to the world.
Alas, by unexpected happenstance, Su Xiaoxiao had brought Diexi out of the dragon nest and onto Levitating Island.
The phoenix’s other hope had been Jin Heyi, who’d turned himself into a zombie king. He’d entered the dragon tomb with the origin sphere he’d taken from Diexi, but Ghost Dragon had gotten to him first. Indeed, that was how the former first prince of the North Sea had freed himself from the water-attribute treasure.
After that, the phoenix had been forced to subsume its last fragment of spirit into the ghost tree.
Without Lu Yun’s feng shui compass to hold back the fire layout and the full might of Ghost Dragon’s crushing influence upon the ghost tree, it would’ve been impossible for the phoenix to reappear in its true form.
Ghost Dragon had remained silent throughout all these revelations.
“Where did the ghost tree send the dragon empress and the others?” Lu Yun demanded; he was worried about Empress Myrtlestar.
Surely, the nine-headed phoenix’s time in the ghost tree had given it a portion of the tree’s memories.
“To the phoenix nest. Or, perhaps, it should be called the phoenix tomb instead,” mused the phoenix. “I had the dragon empress take that person there. That person is the last chance of salvation for my race.
“The dragons will be fine from now on, but my phoenixes….” The bird sounded strangely despondent. The ghost tree wasn’t fully restored yet, so the divine creature could still exert some of its will.
“She’s extremely capable, but not when it comes to the curses and layouts here in a tomb. Tell me how the ghost tree can be destroyed. I will save your race!” Lu Yun instantly raised. As he said this, he raised hellfire to materialize an image of the Nine-Phoenix Casket sitting in the world below.
“Mother….” The nine-headed phoenix trembled, its nine pairs of reddish eyes radiating an incalculable sadness. Ancient memories of how the divine Nine-Headed Phoenix had turned itself into a great lord’s casket flooded its mind once more.
“I can hold the ghost tree back for three more days, but during this time, neither the dragon nor the phoenix nest can see any more death. If the tree receives nourishment from flesh or soul, it will gain the strength to consume me.
“Put away the origin sphere, it is no longer useful to me.” The phoenix shook its heads at Ghost Dragon’s proffered sphere. “The fools who fought among themselves just now have cost me my last chance.
“The place where the two nests meet is the breeding ground for a two-headed zombie king. It has a dragon head and a phoenix head. If you cut off the phoenix head before three days have passed and bring it here, the ghost tree can be dealt with.”
The nine-headed phoenix was beginning to fade, having exhausted its strength.
“Where’s the Skydragon Pearl?” Lu Yun asked hastily.
“You seek to lift the curse for the one behind you….” The phoenix’s voice and form were becoming indistinguishably faint.
“The Fusang Purewood… fruit from the Ancient Tree of Life… and the Skydragon Pearl will not be enough. You must collect pearls from all four of the divine spirits. The place where dragon and phoenix nests meet are where the skydragon and skyphoenix are also buried… you’ll find their pearls there.
“But remember this: you cannot plant the ten connate spirit roots in her. The one behind it all—” The phoenix dissipated mid-sentence, unable to complete its warning. Below it, the ghost tree had come to life once more.
“Go cut off that phoenix head. I will hold the ghost tree back,” Ghost Dragon declared and handed Lu Yun the Bag of Corpse Refinement.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
A lot of revelations, but I just want to say that yes, the phoenix did say 'her'. It seems that Qing Han/QY's secret will be leaking out whether she wants it or not.