As soon as he entered the celestial master tomb, Lu Yun found the darkness to be even deeper than in the thief’s tunnel. Next to the Scaled-Dragon King, the cocoons of light carrying the little nun and Yu Hengluo dimmed as well.
Gusts of chilling wind sent involuntary shudders down his spine. He felt like something behind his head was blowing into his ears.
Hesitant immortals had followed him inside and gathered around him. Their consciousnesses remained fully functional, despite their obstructed vision.
The monster king from the ten lands skittishly approached Lu Yun. “Why is this tomb scarier and more sinister than other ancient tombs, Sir Lu Yun?”
“The ghost realm is a realm of the dead,” Lu Yun explained. “A tomb set up within this realm will naturally be more foreboding than the ones in the world of immortals.”
“This lowly one is Zou Longxiu, a monster king of Yellow Springs Land.”  The monster spirit suddenly fell to his knees before Lu Yun. “I am willing to serve, Sir Lu Yun. Please take me under your wing!”
The crowd instantly stilled.
Zou Longxiu was a renowned monster king from Yellow Springs Land, and enjoyed great acclaim. His true form was an ice mo, an extremely rare mutated immortal beast. That earned him a greater status than even many dao immortals.
However, the widely-respected monster king had just openly betrayed the Yellow Springs court and declared loyalty to Lu Yun! If the human turned him down, Zou Longxiu would never be able to return to court and would even be hunted down.
“Oh?” After a pause, Lu Yun opened the Spectral Eye and scanned the monster king, his gaze penetrating the darkness and taking in every minute change in Zou Longxiu’s expression.
He appeared to be a handsome young man, his long, snow-white hair impeccably groomed. However, his eyes were heated and his lips curved in a servile smile, putting a frown on Lu Yun’s face.
“What do you want? Do you want me to create a formation of heaven and earth for you?” Lu Yun asked calmly rather than giving him a clear answer. “Considering your background and status, the Yellow Springs court would’ve fought for you to gain a spot among the thousand who will be granted a formation.”
“That’s not it!” Zou Longxiu shook his head, his lips tightened. “I owe everything to His Majesty, but I must leave Yellow Springs Land!”
“Explain,” Lu Yun schooled his expression and asked coldly.
“If I don’t leave, one of the formations of heaven and earth the court acquires at the Dusk auction will be mine, but I don’t want it.”
Half a month ago, when Lu Yun revealed what he would be auctioning, the major factions of the world of immortals had convened to negotiate how the one thousand formations would be allocated.
The implications were just too great. When the item of auction was too important to be left to chance, the leaders of the nine majors, ten lands, four immortal seas, and four regular seas would come together and negotiate a deal.
This time, the North Sea court hadn’t joined in the conversation. The remaining twenty-two courts, on the other hand, had struck a deal to allot ten formations to each court. The rest would be left for the countless factions and immortals in the world to fight over.
The world of immortals was in utter turmoil. Factions were on the rise, attempting various rebellions and coups to topple the rule of the heavenly courts. Thankfully, the courts of the nine majors were able to keep their territories under strict control.
The courts of the ten lands, while not as powerful as their counterparts in the nine majors, possessed great influence as well. Standing among the most powerful factions in the world, they were able to call dibs on their fair share of the formations.
Of course, this wasn’t an agreement that the courts officially negotiated with the Panorama Pavilion, but part of the rules they’d formulated themselves—rules that had an eighty-thousand-year-long tenure in the world of immortals.
Zou Longxiu would be one of the ten to get a formation among the Yellow Springs court, but apparently he didn’t want it.
The Scaled-Dragon King walked up to him and clapped him on the shoulder, then transmitted a message to Lu Yun.
Lu Yun paused, then nodded. “Alright. You may join me… I’ll create a formation of heaven and earth for you after the auction in Dusk.”
It was an unusually complicated process to etch the formation. Lu Yun had only been able to set one up for Zhao Zhicheng earlier because of the pre-existing Formation of Heavenly Spirits and Earthly Demons in his body. The same couldn’t be replicated in Zou Longxiu.
“Many thanks, sir!” Zou Longxiu knelt on one knee and raised a cupped fist salute at Lu Yun, his eyes bright with gratitude.
“Actually,” Lu Yun commented suddenly. “I think your strength would double if you severed your maternal bloodline.”
“I would rather die!” Zou Longxiu responded with great determination.
Like the Scaled-Dragon King, he’d betrayed his own faction because he was unwilling to sever his own bloodline. His true form, a mutated ice mo, came with great talent and combat arts, but he wasn’t a pureblood. There was a trace of another bloodline from his mother’s side in his body.
Although the Yellow Springs Land emperor highly valued him, he’d also been pressuring Zou Longxiu to purify his bloodline, which he was unwilling to do because of its connection to his mother.
The emperor had one again given the order to excise the secondary bloodline when he bestowed a formation spot to Zou Longxiu. That’d planted the seed of defection in the monster king’s mind.
In fact, he’d come to the ghost realm of his own accord, planning to fake his death and leave the court. He’d simply adjusted his plan when he saw Lu Yun.
Lu Yun nodded noncommittally.
News of the thief’s tunnel spread far and wide as many immortals warned their peers via transmission talismans. Increasing numbers of immortals opted for the tunnel over the uncanny front gates of the tomb.
When they entered the large, lightless cavern, many immortals tried, and failed, to illuminate the environment with fires, luminous pearls, and even combat arts. Moreover, their consciousnesses were increasingly restrained the further in they went. In the end, they could only sense roughly nine meters around themselves.
“Do you know where my flesh is?” sounded a haunting voice by a peerless immortal’s ears.
“What?” he asked without thinking.
Something seemed to drape over him, suffocating him like he was drowning.
“Help… me...” He was silenced before his cry for help could escape his mouth.
Silence permeated the air; the darkness was unrelenting. No one noticed that a peerless immortal had died soundlessly.
A sheet of human skin slowly rose to his feet in the dark.
“Where’s my flesh...?”
Living in Asia means waking up to mass confusion sometimes. I've lived in a lot of the places that've seen massive unrest in the past year. Everyone, please stay safe and stay calm. Come check out cute zombies, rather than the sort we have in NECRO.