Chapter 534: Breathing

The dark room filled with shadows that flitted about everywhere. Spirits slammed furiously into the bronze lamp’s green light, intent on breaking through the light barrier.

Wayfarer’s corpse struggled for freedom while Yu Hengluo sat cross-legged beneath the lamp, silently watching over the sarcophagus. The forms of Wayfarer and Yuying sat suspended in the void, one in front of the other.

……

Behind the chamber was an realm of endless darkness. Lu Yun could only light up a ten-meter corner by using his Mistfire, Voidfire, and Skyfire in conjunction. The sound of heavy breathing seemed to approach from the distance.

As he advanced, it grew in volume—and in a lapse of concentration, he allowed his own breathing to overlap it in rhythm. Slowly, he began struggling to breathe. His lungs expanded and contracted like a huge pair of bellows, puffing up his chest to the point of bursting. 

Lu Yun gasped. He tried using internal energy to control his lungs, so that he might free it from the breathing he heard. To his horror, the energy in his body was no longer his own to command. It gathered in his lungs, drawn by the force there that was running wild.

“This isn’t good.” He paled slightly. If he allowed this to continue, all of the energy in his body would be sucked into his lungs—perhaps even his spirit, as well. If that happened, they would explode with energy.

“Scaled-Dragon King!” He hurriedly glanced to the side.

The Infernum in question couldn’t reply as his own chest was as inflated as a bloated toad’s. Everywhere else on his body was the shriveled opposite. Not only his qi, but also his flesh and blood had been sucked into his lungs.

The Scaled-Dragon King’s lungs grew bigger and bigger, until all of his limbs retracted into his chest. He was now completely spherical.

Pop!

Before Lu Yun could react, the Infernum ruptured into a spray of fragments that scattered onto the ground.

“Nascent spirit soil.” Lu Yun noticed a tiny bit of black sand among the remains. The sand was identical to that found everywhere in the ghost realm.

What a potent layout! His heart trembled with awe. In the instant of the Scaled-Dragon King’s death, he’d finally seen the hidden layout for what it was.

The Scaled-Dragon King was stronger than Lu Yun in cultivation, and had a formation of heaven and earth he’d personally drawn for the ghostly soldier. In terms of raw power, the Scaled-Dragon King was equal to a void-realm peerless immortal—certainly many times higher than returned void cultivator.

His body and lungs were commensurately more durable and powerful too. When the breathing affected him, he’d sucked in his entire self and instantly detonated on the spot. In other words, the effect of the layout correlated to the strength of those that it affected.

Lu Yun noticed its effects on the little nun as well.

Slowly but surely, her chest cavity was expanding. The light of his talisman was insufficient to seal off the bizarre breathing’s influence. He waved her into the resurrection layout in hell as quickly as he could.

If she stayed around, the same thing would happen to her as had happened to the Scaled-Dragon King. It was trivial for Lu Yun to revive the latter; to do so for the nun would be a lot more complicated.

Finally, he produced the Tome of Life and Death with a flourish. Its black light calmed the perplexing force that acted upon him. As expected, the book could instantaneously dispel the breathing’s effects, and his internal energy and spirit went back to normal.

The breathing remained, but it could no longer do anything to him.

“What does this breathing belong to?” Lu Yun squatted down to pick up the sand left behind by the Scaled-Dragon King’s death for a closer look. The three specks of sand he found were much smaller than the rest, and weighed less than one tael.

However, he was extremely surprised to see the Scaled-Dragon King’s death information upon them. As the Infernum hadn’t been revived yet, he was considered dead right now.

“What in the world? Are these specks of soil part of the dead person’s body, too?” Lu Yun blinked. However, the other specks of dirt he could see all around him were utterly blank.

“Hmm?”

Suddenly, Lu Yun’s expression changed again. He noticed that the dirt in his hands was visibly transforming—not into natural qi, but a form of finer sand that was more gaseous than solid. The gaseous dirt didn’t carry any information on it.

“This is the sand I can see everywhere in the ghost realm… it’s undergone conversion already!” The discovery excited him. Moreover, the dirt in his hand evaporated along the same rhythm as the breathing in the darkness.

“Could the breathing in the tomb be the greatest secret of the ghost realm?” His heart raced eagerly at the prospect of treasure. Before now, he’d supposed the ghost realm was a lung of the multiverse, an organ that regulated the natural energy cycle of countless worlds.

“No! The gaseous sand the Scaled-Dragon King turned into is still being drawn in by the breathing.” Lu Yun frowned. The finer dirt had begun to drift away from him, apparently floating toward the direction of the sound.

This situation was far more serious than he cared to admit. Focusing his mind, he used the Tome of Life and Death to shield his body and locked on to the nearly indistinguishable wisp of dirt with his Spectral Eye.

The darkness stretched across a grand expanse that was as silent as it was empty. Nevertheless, he keenly perceived the presence of innumerable eyes fixated upon him from beyond the gloom. They lived in the darkness. For them, it was practically daytime.

Curiously, they seemed bent on staying out of the three immortal fires’ radiance. In fact, they were probably intentionally avoiding him altogether.

The further in he walked, the heavier the pressure he felt in the air. Dust began to permeate the space all around him. It carried a harsh energy that would destroy his respiratory system. If he breathed it in, he would lose his current body.

Having reached this point, the Scaled-Dragon King’s sand began slowing down, although it continued its journey deeper in. Other grains of gaseous sand had made their way here as well. Just like the Scaled-Dragon King’s sand, they moved deeper in of their own volition.

“All of this… is this all nascent spirit soil?!” Lu Yun lit up with comprehension. “Gaseous sand will gradually harden into a solid once again… Right, the darkness here isn’t because of any lack of light. It’s because the endless gaseous sand has dyed this place pure black!

“The gathered sand has covered the entire tomb with a lightless shell. No wonder even the Spectral Eye fails to clearly see everything here.”

Mounting pressure forced Lu Yun to discard any further idle thoughts. He poured everything he had into the Tome in order to resist outside influences. Here, the heavy breathing from earlier had grown thunderous.

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