Though Lu Yun could hear the sound of dripping water, he didn’t suffer from its effects. Thanks to the hellfire suffusing the air around him, he was impervious to these kinds of strange attacks.
What made his blood run cold was that Jing Huaci was seeing a woman coming their way, but Lu Yun’s Spectral Eye didn’t see her anywhere.
“She’s… she’s crying.” Jing Huaci tugged at his clothes in shuddering apprehension. “She saw me. She’s looking at me. Senior brother Lu, I’m… I’m afraid.”
Plip! Plop! Plip!
The sound of dripping water grew ever louder, but also more indistinct. To Lu Yun, the sound didn’t seem to register in the ears, but reverberated in the depths of the soul.
“Sh- she’s coming… Senior brother Lu, she’s standing right in front of you!” Jing Huaci suddenly blubbered. “Senior brother Lu, save me… She’s going to take me away…”
Hellfire flared to life, enveloping her figure within.
“Show yourself.” Lu Yun’s voice was serene, but also contained a hint of frost.
His eyes saw nothing and his consciousness couldn’t detect anything nearby. But the moment hellfire started burning, he clearly sensed a fleeting, terrified stroke of emotions.
Yu Hengluo’s skin and facial organs suddenly rose into the air, as though something was draping her skin on itself and attaching her features to its face. And then, a naked Yu Hengluo stood in front of him.
“Sect Head, it’s me.” Her tones were ethereal, and her lovely eyes limpid as the autumn waters as she looked throbbingly at him. Tears flowed out of her eyes and landed on the ground. She was crying.
However, Lu Yun noticed that when her tears fell to the ground, they elicited very subtle ripples that further transformed into strange undulations.
“Sect Head, your servant hurts so very much.” Her skin stood in front of the cross and looked forlornly at him. “Give me the small dragon behind you. I’ll stop hurting after I eat it.”
A shiver coursed through Jing Huaci’s spine as she dashed behind Lu Yun and covered her face with the lower hem of his clothes.
Lu Yun looked down at the mangled hunk of flesh in his arms. Through the Spectral Eye, he could clearly sense Yu Hengluo’s spirit, as well as the soul-parts deep within. Her soul remained complete and unbroken, and while her nascent spirit had been wounded, it maintained its integrity nonetheless.
He then looked at the existence in front of him that was wearing Yu Hengluo’s skin; she was still looking pitifully at him. Her tearful gaze struck a chord with the deepest reaches of his heart, the softest part of him.
“Who are you?” he asked very gently, his emotions affected by her. “If you want to live, I can help you.”
“Help me? Live?” The voice was still Yu Hengluo’s, but there was now a hint of derision in those eyes swimming with tears. “Who will revive the countless immortals buried here? Who will revive all those lives refined into bone bricks? Who will revive that fallen era…?”
“Is that why you’re killing the people here? Is that why you’re turning the living into faceless ghosts?” Lu Yun scoffed.
The woman fell silent, shoulders shaking as she wept inaudibly. Each of her tears hit the ground with an audible plop, rippling outward in every direction and giving rise to faceless ghosts wherever they spread. Still, she said nothing.
“Take off Yu Hengluo’s skin. Use your real form to talk to me!” Lu Yun burned three karmic fruits and infused a gentle current of hellfire into Yu Hengluo’s body, smothering the strange crimson power inside her. After that, he jolted her soul with another wisp of hellfire and forced her to faint.
Making her lose consciousness was the only way to alleviate her pain. Otherwise, he couldn’t begin to imagine how excruciating her torment must be.
The next moment, Yu Hengluo’s skin and facial features tumbled to the ground as well, nary a peep out of them afterwards.
“Senior brother Lu, she’s gone now,” Jing Huaci whispered softly.
“Good,” Lu Yun sighed softly in relief. As it turned out, the terrible art that could transform living creatures into faceless ghosts was nothing more than this woman’s tears. “Is she the same woman I defeated when we first arrived here?”
“Yes.” Jing Huaci nodded. “But her power wanes when she leaves the mountain’s peak.”
“The mountain’s peak…?” Lu Yun cast his gaze up at the tall, majestic mountain. The boundless swarm of faceless ghosts had returned to their perch. They huddled on the peak, fixated on him with their blank, featureless faces.
Lu Yun paid them no heed, since they posed no threat to him. Instead, he squatted down and collected the skin and facial organs, then sent them together with Yu Hengluo’s flesh into hell.
After being incinerated by Emerald Mistfire, the only things left of Wayfarer’s body were a pair of crimson eyeballs and two blood-red ears, both lying motionless on the ground.
Wayfarer’s bamboo staff had been snapped and the bronze lantern refined by Lu Yun shattered, the tiny Emerald Mistfire flame inside about to be snuffed out.
“The Skinning Spike is also broken! Just what the heck happened here?” Lu Yun noted the fearsome Skinning Spike beside the cross. Just like the chains and shackles he’d obtained, the spike contained a certain kind of hell’s ‘dao’. The shackles and chains were treasures of the human hell, used to restrain prisoners and apprehend yin spirits.
Likewise, the Skinning Spike was a treasure from the seventeenth layer of hell. Used as an instrument of punishment on those sentenced to flaying, it could strip any creature it punctured of its skin.
But now, this treasure of hell lay destroyed.
“This spike really is from the seventeenth level of the human hell!” Lu Yun picked up the broken item. With its runes destroyed, it could no longer serve its intended function, but he recognized its provenance at first glance nonetheless.
“Huaci, the woman just now, did you see where she went?” The subject of his questioning was clinging to him like a koala. Lu Yun ended up having to peel her off so he could set her down on the ground.
Terror lingered on Jing Huaci’s face. In fact, she’d been scared witless after she’d heard the woman mention something about eating her. Still, she shook her head. “She wasn’t there anymore as soon as she turned around.”
“Is she behind everything that’s happened here?” Lu Yun walked up to the cross. “Huaci, try refining this time treasure.”
“Ah? Me?” Jing Huaci was taken aback. “You don’t want it for yourself?”
“Nope.” Lu Yun shook his head. This place was incredibly strange. He was already having a hard time protecting himself, to say nothing of guaranteeing her safety as well.
Yu Hengluo was currently neither human nor ghost, and Zou Longxiu’s fate was unknown. Jing Huaci was Jing Dichen’s younger sister, the treasured pearl of the six profligates. If she were to die again in this place, he didn’t know how he would face the six of them.
The six profligates had come to the tomb in search of an immortal crystal mountain for him. Theirs was a friendship he would always remember. For him, this kind of comradeship was so much more important than trivial treasures.
“With this thing, no one will be able to eat you in the future.” Lu Yun grinned.
“There are still people who want to eat me…?” The silly little girl finally nodded in agreement. “But what about the faceless ghosts on it?”
“Get lost!!” All around Lu Yun, flames of hellfire erupted into a fiery ocean that churned toward the mountain peak.
The faceless ghosts screeched in fear and immediately scuttled down from the peak, then vanished from sight. The second they left, rays of iridescent radiance shot into the sky and bathed the small world in gleaming silver.
“You can start, I’ll stand guard.” Lu Yun smiled at Jing Huaci.
A tad embarrassed, she took a deep breath and sat down cross-legged in front of the cross, bending her mind to the task. Although it was a formidable item, she was a dragon; and one with a special constitution at that. Refining it was no trouble for her.
Why do I get the feeling this girl looks at me the same way as Yu Hengluo and the little nun does? Thinking of Yu Hengluo, Lu Yun’s heart ached again.
Sadly, he couldn’t return to hell right now. Qing Han, his envoys, and Ge Long had reached a critical stage in their research to create a deduction method for combat arts. At the same time, the immortal daos of both hell and the world were absorbing this new school of thought, using Lu Yun’s body as a conduit.
If he were to return to hell, it’d immediately cut off the connection between the two worlds. With that turn of events, the method would become hell’s local oddity, losing its chance to be engraved in the immortal dao of the greater world at large.
For that reason, he couldn’t go back yet.
Jing Huaci was knee-deep in refining the cross, but as soon as she began, Lu Yun saw a gigantic specter rush forth from it, roaring madly in an attempt to stop the refinement.
However, the specter couldn’t see Jing Huaci’s existence, so after a few moments of empty snarling, it returned from whence it came.
What a fearsome specter… Judging by the aura it emits, it’s at least in the origin dao realm! Lu Yun goggled and fidgeted uneasily. This must be some kind of formidable ghostly being. If I’d been the one refining the treasure…
Even if hellfire and hell’s aura could restrain ghosts, the specter’s strength wasn’t something he could withstand. Most likely, he would’ve been flattened in a second flat. Thankfully, it seemed that the specter couldn’t see Jing Huaci, no matter how formidable it was.
Welp, it looks like she is the only one who can refine it. Lu Yun looked at her and sighed.
“Sir Lu… you have to leave immediately! Go now!” All of a sudden, a heavily wounded Zhang Shuo came rushing in. “An immortal who’s experienced the void realm has come to claim the treasure here!”
He wasn’t yet done talking when a beam of light pierced his back and disintegrated him.
Fangyang Xing’s figure gradually came into view.
Nice, I really like the limitations we've discovered for Lu Yun in this tomb. No more easy outs for him!