Chapter 523.2: Lungs?

Taking out his luopan, Lu Yun abruptly invoked the Dragonsearch Invocation. The compass’ three layers modulated into a miniature world at his side once more, recovering the projection of the celestial master tomb and the mountain over it, feng shui layouts, formations, and all.

“I missed a lot in my speculations just now. This nascent spirit soil is no ordinary soil—it’s formed from the crystallized energy of heaven and earth. I must take into account its corresponding effects on feng shui.” A handful of black earth appeared in Lu Yun’s palm.

The reinforcement of hell greatly amplified his speed of thought, wisdom, and strength. With the luopan’s help, he could analyze more than just feng shui layouts, and even the material in his hands was open for examination.

“Nascent spirit soil… a dao immortal leaves this behind after their death.” Frowning slightly, Lu Yun murmured to himself. “Was there once some sort of appalling slaughter in the ghost realm? Or perhaps this place was an ancient battlefield in its time?”

He looked closer at the soil between his fingers, carefully evaluating its structural composition.

“Yep, this is concentrated natural energy, alright. There’s a bit of something else there, too.”

Everything about the soil was laid bare to his eyes.

“If a nascent spirit is formed from the energy of the world… then an immortal’s nascent spirit absorbs immortal qi. In other words, immortal qi is a higher form of natural qi. So then, where does the qi in nature come from?” The question popped into his head.

“Cultivators have always relied upon natural qi. Before the foundation of immortal dao, there were cultivators of countless disciplines… yet, natural qi has yet to run dry since time primeval.

“Natural qi is born from heaven and earth, but there’s no way nature produces enough on its own for everyone to use… but what if there’s a circulation cycle?”

A karmic fruit inside his body ignited as hellfire flared in his eyes; the power of the Spectral Eye operated at its maximum.

“I knew it…” Lu Yun slowly uncreased his brow.

The soil in his hands was diminishing at a rate not visible to the human eye. Although he couldn’t determine the exact speed, it was definitely turning back into pure natural qi and rising into the void.

The rate of sublimation was so slow as to be unnoticeable, thus preventing anyone from realizing what the soil was, but it was definitely happening.

“The ghost realm… there’s very little heavenly qi there, and no trace of immortal qi at all. However, this kind of black soil abounds…

“Can this ghost realm be the ‘lung’ of all the facets in the world of immortals? Wait, no, the whole multiverse!”

Lu Yun was reminded of the Amazonian rainforest back on Earth. Some called it the planet’s lungs, since it absorbed most of the carbon dioxide on Earth and turned it into oxygen.

“The nascent spirit soil that fallen immortals leave behind is sucked up by some unknown force and sent here. Gradual sublimation returns the resulting qi to the other worlds. But… why does the ghost realm want to consume the world of immortals? It looks like it’s already eaten more than one other world, too.”

The more he thought about it, the more confused Lu Yun got. Some of his conclusions seemed to make sense, but their conflicts with each other made the grand scheme of things inexplicable.

Why was natural qi so thin in the ghost realm? How did nascent spirit soil from other areas end up gathering here?

…and where did all those yin spirits come from, anyway?

Now that he’d figured out what the soil was made of, and the rate of its sublimation, he could use that knowledge to recalibrate his judgments about the changes in the celestial master tomb’s feng shui and formations.

Minutes later, cold sweat dripped down his forehead.

“I really was wrong! If I’d entered the tomb through the thief’s tunnel I figured out before, it would be no different from entering through the front door. The same horrors would happen to me as to someone who tried to cross the boundary of the worlds.” Lu Yun heaved a long sigh of relief.

Determining a tunnel from feng shui involved more than just assessing the environment. Even the kind of soil underfoot was important.

Back on Earth, it was customary for tomb raiders to use a luoyang shovel to dig up a cross-section of soils in order to appraise the time period the tomb was from. The typical tomb layouts of that period could then be used to speculate the appropriate placement of a thief’s tunnel.

While that wasn’t necessary in the world of immortals, any natural energy inherent to the soil would affect feng shui all the same. The minutest of errors often had the most disastrous of consequences.

The only saving grace to an incorrect tunnel was that it would still function as expected after the first unlucky sap entered and triggered their mishap. Most tunnels found in the present world of immortals were excavated and proved in that manner.

Lu Yun wasn’t planning on sending a guinea pig down any tunnel. A living thing that died between the border of life and death turned into a ghost, at minimum. Sometimes, they became something much worse.

He returned to the ghost realm after charting out the new, correct tunnel. No time at all had passed between Lu Yun’s departure and his return.

The Scaled-Dragon King dug a new tunnel according to his new calculations, one far more complex than the last. It coiled and meandered a half-dozen kilometers before finally pointing toward the tomb.

The black nascent spirit soil was the only kind of soil in this world. It was everywhere, even half a dozen kilometers underground. With the power of hell and the Spectral Eye, Lu Yun could see the sublimation of soil into natural qi with his own eyes. However, the qi thinned out the further he dug in.

He, however, grew surer of his hypothesis: an invisible hand was behind everything.

The Scaled-Dragon King spearheaded the expedition with shovel in hand. Lu Yun, Yu Hengluo, and the little nun followed behind him. Quite a few immortals trailed behind them as well, but Lu Yun didn’t stop them. Instead, he drew runes in the air with an immortal crystal as they went, reinforcing the tunnel’s integrity.

Small wisps of goodwill drifted slowly from behind him; the immortals following behind him had clearly noticed something was awry and were grateful for his leadership.

Tink!

Metal suddenly plinked against stone; the Scaled-Dragon King’s shovel had hit a chunk of white rock.

“Stop!” Lu Yun commanded hurriedly. “Part the soil here.”

The ghostly soldier obeyed with utmost care, conscientiously enlarging the tunnel and ferrying the soil out of the passageway. In no time at all, a white wall showed itself before them.

“This is the place.” Lu Yun beamed with satisfaction. This point in the wall was a tiny flaw in the boundary between life and death. 

Or rather, the tunnel that the Scaled-Dragon King had dug was a feng shui layout that’d connected with this point and broken the boundary open.

“This wall is really hard, huh… this... wall…” Lu Yun gawked at the sinister wall before him, one laid with white bricks. Tapping a sword against one resulted in no damage whatsoever; the material was durable enough to withstand most immortal weapons.

“More than a million death messages… in just one brick?” Shaking his head a little, Lu Yun closed his Spectral Eye with horrified realization. “These white bricks were made from the bones of immortals!”

The little nun behind him was pale as a sheet. She tried as hard as she could to curl up behind Yu Hengluo.

Is this really the primordial celestial master’s tomb? Lu Yun suddenly wondered.

According to Su Xiaoxiao’s memories, the four celestial masters of the primordial court were all gracious sages. Although the monster celestial master was a monster spirit and likely had the most blood on his hands, he wouldn’t kill innocents for no reason whatsoever.

His tomb certainly wouldn’t be built from the corpses of the dead. If this really was his tomb, he wouldn’t find eternal rest after being buried here.

The information the bone bricks contained was very clear: the immortals whose bodies were used for them were quite ordinary. In the Primordial Era of the world of immortals, everything under the sun had been immortal in some way; but there were far more worlds than just the immortal one.

The messages the bone bricks contained were largely a jumbled mess. It was hard for Lu Yun to really make out specific ones. However, all of them were in consensus about the cause of their deaths: they’d been thrown into a forge of earth and sky, then refined into bone bricks while alive!

The forge of earth and sky was the ultimate achievement in equipment dao. In primordial times, a master of this technique had forged these exceptionally durable bricks from countless lives. The identity of the culprit was conspicuously absent, but there were only a handful of ancient masters capable of such a feat, regardless.

If I really want to figure it out, I think I can sooner or later… Lu Yun sank into deep thought. The Primordial Era was no more, and its immortals were largely extinct. For the most part, its ancient grudges were dead and buried.

On the other hand, it was a very good guess that quite a few of them lingered on in some form or another in period tombs. Empress Myrtlestar and Qi Hai were good examples, respectively persisting as a wisp of obsession or a soul fragment.  

When modern immortals excavated these tombs, these scraps of residue could possess them and return to a form of life in the present.

“No, no… the art of burial was extinct before the Primordial Era. If this tomb really was built back then, who was its architect?

“For that matter, who built all the tombs after the ancient war and buried all the dead immortals? There must be someone in this world who still knows feng shui and tomb layouts.” Lu Yun shook his head to get rid of his idle thoughts.

“These bone bricks carry an incredible amount of resentment. It’s their resentment that gives them their invincible hardness. The gathered resentment of life itself…” He lightly ran his fingers over the white wall, lost in thought.

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