Lu Yun could clearly sense that each soul emanating from the rotten flesh was connected with a spirit as a single entity. They were the souls of regular beings, rather than those of cultivators.
That meant that in the human dao era, or the eras before it, all living beings had a soul, and one fully fused with their spirit. Modern times, on the other hand, saw living beings beneath the dao immortal realm with just souls and no spirits.
Only by reaching the dao immortal realm would one’s true spirit take form and lodge itself in the soul.
However, Lu Yun had only studied the souls and spirits of aether and arcane dao immortals, and those were separate, rather than a single entity like the souls of the rotten flesh. As for origin dao immortals, he didn’t have followers of that level available to study.
A whir traveled through the air as a pillar of golden light blasted down from above, barrelling into Lu Yun’s body. The Sal Tree of Life and Death within him trembled violently and grew at tremendous speed, faint golden flowers instantaneously blossoming along its branches and bearing fruit.
Moments later, the spindly and frail sapling had grown into a large tree of more than twenty meters tall. A hundred and eight sparkling golden fruits hung on its branches.
“This is the true fruit of karma. The tree has collected great wisdom and merit and transmuted them into the fruit it now bears. This is so much more than the goodwill fruit I consumed before!” Lu Yun cracked a smile.
He’d freed the rotten flesh from its torment with the Scripture of Salvation and guided their soul fragments into hell to become Hell Flowers—a deed of incomparable virtue and merit.
The goodwill of the damaged souls had transformed straight into virtuous merit and entered the Sal Tree of Life and Death in his body. As a result, Lu Yun’s cultivation made another leap from the perceived void realm to the unravelled void realm, and one of his death arts evolved as well.
“Instant Thunder Palmstrike!” Lu Yun’s eyes shone with excitement. It was such a pleasant surprise that his palm strike method had evolved!
The original death art had required an unusually complicated activation sequence. He first had to attract lightning from the nine heavens to charge the palm strike before attacking. Now, he could summon heavenly lightning in an instant!
He’d previously saved Thunder Palmstrike as a secret weapon for special occasions, but now he could deploy it whenever he needed to.
“Now it’s time to deal with that latent threat.”
Lu Yun clenched his fist, prompting strands of navy blue lightning to burst forth from his palm and dance a frenzied circle around him.
“This is… Yi Wood Cleansing Thunder of the Azure Dragon tribe!” Qi Hai started. “What was the Azure Dragon King thinking, passing down the combat art of its ancestor to Lu Yun...”
Yi Wood Cleansing Thunder was an innate talent of the azure dragon ancestor and a secret kept firmly within the confines of the azure dragon tribe. Any outsiders who learned the combat art would be chased down by not only the azure dragons, but also the other three tribes.
Thinking of what’d become of the four cardinal tribes, though, Qi Hai sighed. “Perhaps it wished to be friends with Lu Yun and have him resolve the bad fortune plaguing the four tribes.”
Crackling with cleansing thunder, Lu Yun made his way to the strange withered tree.
With the departure of the pair of eyes, the crimson light was slowly dissipating as well. Darkness returned to the locale, leaving Lu Yun’s lightning as the only source of illumination. The tree carrying the extinction layout once more presented itself before him.
“Waughh!!” A scream traveled out from the darkness, followed by black shadows rushing toward Lu Yun. They were the evil spirits of the ancient tomb, responsible for the waves of spirits that used to regularly plague Dusk Province. With the human demon sealed away, the yin spirits seemed to have fallen under the control of the extinction layout.
Evil spirits of different forms lunged at Lu Yun one after another, trying to tear him to pieces.
The Yi Wood Cleansing Thunder around Lu Yun flared with navy blue lightning and tore into any spirits that dared approach him. His cultivation was limited, but the thunder possessed great capacity for exorcism. Not even peerless immortal spirits could survive an encounter at close quarters.
Gaze steely, Lu Yun waded through layers of darkness before finally reaching the tree. The waters of the Dusk River flowed beneath his feet. The great river running across half of Dusk Province seemed to be a treasure of a great personage, and it originated from this tomb.
“Waters of utmost yin are capable of fostering a certain treasure of great yin. The treasure itself lies hidden beneath the tree. Dusk River, the wilted tree, and something else established the layout together… Ah, the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers! It was here first, then left for Dusk City!
It wasn’t until the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers departed that the extinction layout started taking shape… Wayfarer became Governor of Dusk a thousand years ago and set up the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers layout in the province, destroying its fortunes.
That was when the extinction layout started fleshing out… What role did that Wayfarer play in all of this? Lu Yun put everything together once he got a good look at the layout. All the events that had occurred in Dusk Province from beginning to end were in service of this extinction layout.
Was everything just to destroy the thing Ge Long ate? Lu Yun hesitated when his thoughts reached this point.
Ge Long was an enigma, but his strength could at most rival an advanced arcane dao immortal. Something he could easily deal with wouldn’t have made Chen Xiao and the human demon spend a thousand years of planning to destroy, would it?
The Enneawyrm Coffinbearers, Nine-Phoenix Casket, and Enneaqilin Coffinbiers shook in unison, as if trying to prevent Lu Yun from breaking the layout.
“What’s the true purpose of the extinction layout? The eyes… they did this on purpose. They instantly destroyed all the other layouts in the tomb, but left the extinction layout intact.” Lu Yun came to a halt before the wraith-like withered tree and muttered, “Extinction layout, extinction layout. Who is it trying to make extinct?”