In the impenetrable darkness all around them, the only source of light was the feng shui compass in Qing Yu’s hands. Lin Yu and Lin Xuan’s formations had long been shattered by the yin wind from the darkness.
Everyone gathered at her side, pressing inward from the horror of the unknown and the frenetic howling of the yin wind that seemed to be right by their ears. The nightmarish circumstances around them weighed down on their hearts; the little fox was fully ensconced and shivering in the folds of Qing Yu’s clothes.
With a flick of his fingers, Lu Yun sent forth six beans. They turned into motes of light, then expanded into soldiers that trudged into the darkness.
Death art: Bean Soldiers.
Lu Yun’s mastery of the art had reached a new zenith. The soldiers he summoned now were the same cultivation level as he was. As long as they didn’t die and weren’t dismissed, they could exist indefinitely with no time limit.
When the soldiers entered the darkness, things abruptly quieted down. The ghostly wailing suddenly screeched to a halt.
“Son of a… what the hell is this?” a coarse voice boomed.
The sound of a splitting watermelon echoed, but nothing followed it.
“Dead,” frowned Lu Yun. The soldier who’d spoken just now had been slain by something—in one hit, from a blow to the skull. The other five quickly followed suit.
“Let me go take a look.” Qing Yu furrowed her slender brows.
“Don’t!” Before Lu Yun could respond, the little fox in her bosom objected vehemently.
Qing Yu ignored her and allowed another self to emerge from her body with a mist of emerald sparkles.
The embittered bamboo replica.
Lu Yun and Qing Yu had both come here in their real bodies. Xing Chen had stayed behind in Dusk Province, while Qing Yu’s embittered bamboo replica had returned to a spirit root to suppress the poison curse inside her.
Now that it was refined, it could reemerge at any time.
“Hold on.” Lu Yun pulled her replica back with a shake of his head. “I know what the thing in the darkness is. Don’t worry, it’s nothing to be worried about.”
He waited for her to put the embittered bamboo away, then took the feng shui compass back to make use of its power.
Golden light erupted from the luopan, illuminating a winding path in the murk.
The Road of the Dead!
Sometimes called Yellow Springs Path, it led to the netherworld and passed all throughout that realm. There had once been such a path in hell, but that one was long gone. Here, heaven and earth had seen fit to spawn another.
No more than a meter wide, the path meandered all over the place. In fact, it seemed to float in midair—the space on either side leading to an endless abyss filled with ghastly shadows.
The Lin brothers traded a fearful look before shivering in unison.
“Come on!” Still holding the luopan, Lu Yun set foot on the Road of the Dead. “Remember to never leave the light of my compass. To do so will invite certain doom.” He stared fixedly at the darkness straight ahead. There seemed to be a gigantic beast hidden there, lying in wait for unwary prey.
Four people and one thoroughly spooked fox shuffled sluggishly along the Road of the Dead.
A muffled creaking and thumping sounded from the darkness, like the sound that might accompany the opening of a set of gates.
“Can it be… the fabled Gates of the Abyss?!” Flipping through the thick tome in his hand, Lin Xuan looked rather incredulous. Considering what path they were on, the gates had a good reason to be here. They served as the first checkpoint to the underworld, given that the Gates of the Abyss separated the realm of the living from that of the dead.
“Yeah, I’d say so.” A smile crept onto Lu Yun’s face. He felt the Gates of the Abyss inside hell vibrate with anticipation, resonating in the presence of its fellow.
His Gates of the Abyss were incomplete, shattered in that outstanding, prehistoric battle. The gates in the darkness ahead were a manifestation of the resulting fragments.
“No wonder, no wonder… no wonder the Road of the Dead appeared here. This is a corner of hell!” Lu Yun trembled violently with excitement. The pale shadow over his heart was replaced by sheer delight.
If he could claim ownership of this fragment, he would be able to repair and strengthen the hell that he ruled and with it, strengthen the six paths of his nascent spirit. Perhaps he wouldn’t even need a dao weapon to use Time or Space Reincarnation then!
Those particular methods were far stronger than his current sword dao. Not that Lu Yun had given up on the latter; his Xing Chen incarnation devoted all of his time to its study. After obtaining that arcane yin fruit, Xing Chen was a living being in his own right. Lu Yun’s singular will controlled two autonomous bodies.
In the midst of his excitement, Qing Yu placed a hand on Lu Yun’s arm. A calming breeze wafted through him, bringing him back to his senses with a shudder.
“I almost fell for it!” Lu Yun was alarmed by the experience.
The thing in the darkness could affect people’s hearts and minds. His heart had stumbled just then, and the thing had amplified that fault to an unlimited degree. He signaled his return to safety with a small pat of the hand, which seemed to relieve Qing Yu.
A loud noise ground in the distance. It sounded like something had fallen upon the road, blocking their progress.
“Milord!” a deafening roar split the air as a stone giant slowly lumbered into view. It was at least fifteen meters tall and towered in their way like a small mountain. It also had a face identical to the bean soldiers Lu Yun had summoned moments prior.
A tomb with carven stone accumulates yin and malevolent spirits. In the presence of life, stone spirits are formed. Beware of such monstrosities.
Lu Yun had seen them back in Yuying’s tomb. After his maid touched it, it’d turned into Wanfeng.
However, that particular spirit had been stiff and incomplete, unable to move much on its own. This one, on the other hand, was all but completed. It had a body of stone, but appeared very much like a living creature. When his bean soldier had made contact with it, it’d stolen some lifeforce and taken on this new look.
“Hmm…” Lu Yun was taken aback by this development. “My bean soldiers possess a lifeforce too? What are they, really? Where do they come from?”
That line of thought took him down a familiar lane of memory and a strange sense of déjà vu; he was sure he’d seen something like them somewhere in this world. His fleeting thoughts were cut short by the stone spirit slamming down its granite fist.
“Accumulated yin and malevolent spirits, eh?” Undaunted by his opponent, Lu Yun strode forward. Holding his compass with one hand, he produced a talisman with the other. Aureate light glittered upon it as enigmatic runic squiggles erupted with pure yang.
The talisman plastered itself neatly upon the stone spirit’s fist. A rippling wave of intense heat was accompanied by the stone spirit’s frightful shriek.
It discovered to its great chagrin that the yin miasma and malevolent spirits inside itself were being melted away.
Crack crack crack!
The stone spirit’s body slowly disintegrated into rubble.
“Why wouldn’t I prepare for something that I’ve seen before?” His first encounter with the stone spirits had been a messy affair, so he’d extensively studied them afterward in order to create talismans that specifically countered them.
“Let’s keep going.” Lu Yun continued leading the way. His compass shone brightly, sweeping aside the darkness ahead.
After an indeterminate period of time, the shadow of an enormous gate gradually loomed out of the gloom. It was identical to the Gates of the Abyss that he possessed, save for its illusory, projected nature.
This time, he kept his wits about him and wasn’t affected by his revelations. Opening his Spectral Eye, he began searching for gate’s fragments scattered nearby.
“This corner of hell has already melded with the void. I must start by looking for remnants of the gate,” he muttered to himself.
Yo, that kinda explains something if the gates themselves are fragmented. It never quite made sense to me that the coffins could use them like automatic doors, even with how strong they were. They aren't the masters of hell. Perhaps in their broken state, the gates aren't powerful enough to exert authority over the coffins.