The ghost king threw Diexi a vicious glare with its empty sockets.
Diexi retaliated in kind with her widened almond-shaped eyes.
She’d just plucked her first aether dao fruit, but the pecking order of the yin realm was determined differently from that of the yang realm. As a zombie king, she was on equal footing with the ghost king, so it was very wary of her.
“It’s you.” The ghost king’s eyes glowed faintly. “You’re back. What a surprise.”
Diexi paused, then blurted out, “Do you know who I am?”
“Humph.” The ghost king huffed and floated into the palace coffin like it weighed nothing.
“This throne is made from the core of a sun,” Lin Yu muttered, his eyes bright with excitement. “It’s a great treasure, and one of great yang at that!”
“A sun’s core? No wonder it glows even in this place.” Lu Yun humored Lin Yu with a response, but his attention was on Diexi. The ghost king knows her?
He thought back to Diexi’s origins. She’d been transformed into a zombie king in the tomb for the living, which originated from the Abyss of Divine Burial under Dusk Province. When he’d first encountered her, she hadn’t yet made a complete transformation, so a trace of death energy lingered between her brows.
Did she have something to do with the Exalted Divines? Or did she come from this place as well?
Diexi looked around blankly with sheer confusion. She couldn’t remember anything about her living years and had been trapped in the sunless abyss upon regaining consciousness, unable to step out of the tomb for the living.
Lin Yu and Lin Xuan weren’t surprised in the least by the newcomer’s sudden appearance. They’d long heard about her. Back when Lu Yun was still a weak cultivator, it’d been Diexi who’d kept the immortals at bay and prevented them from ruining Dusk Province.
“It’s so familiar.” Diexi’s delicate eyebrows drew close together. “I think I really have been here before… come!”
She waved a hand.
The short sword driven into the head of the corpse on the throne flew neatly into her hand with a flash of dark crimson light.
Lu Yun and his companions, the little fox in Qing Yu’s arms included, stared at Diexi in shock. Yueshen shuddered in fear within her Li Youcai container. The short sword had been used to slay the individual on the throne, but Diexi had summoned it with a simple wave of her hand.
Had she... killed the woman before her own death?
The flying sword was dark red throughout, and fluttered around the zombie king like a butterfly.
The ghost king shuddered when it turned around, trembling, but it continued to advance to the heart of the palace, where three dark coffins lay beneath the throne. Two of the three had been opened; the ghost king walked toward the third, where its own body lay.
“Are you leaving as well, Liu Chen?” a plaintive voice sounded from the throne. The corpse had turned into a beautiful woman in palace attire.
Everyone’s breath hitched at the stunning sight. Looking roughly nineteen, her features were delicate and her skin fair as snow. Her snake tail had transformed into human legs and were partially obscured by the silk of her dress.
Lin Yu and Lin Xuan were almost drooling, captivated by her beauty. The little fox popped out of Qing Yu’s collar, quietly judging the woman. “Hmm, not as beautiful as me. Or the ugly thing.”
When the little fox had first encountered Qing Yu, the girl had disguised herself as an extraordinarily ugly youth. The moniker had stuck, and the fox kept calling her ‘ugly thing’ even after Qing Yu had assumed her true form.
With the veil of mist shrouding Qing Yu’s face, it was also difficult for ordinary people to get a clear look at her.
“Your Highness, I...” the ghost king paused as a great wave of sorrow overwhelmed it.
“You’re all I have now. Are you leaving me as well?” the woman sighed faintly.
“Ahhh!” Beset by emotional turmoil, the ghost king tipped its head up and screamed, releasing a puff of dark energy.
Black flames blossomed and set it aflame.
“This servant is guilty, Your Highness!” It slowly dropped down to its knees and disintegrated into ashes. A ball of black flame materialized out of the air and entered the ghost king’s coffin.
Something in the air burst as soon as the ghost king was destroyed. A group of men appeared out of the blue and dropped to the ground—the ghost king’s captives, Zhao Chong and his subordinates.
“Where are we?!” Zhao Chong scrambled to his feet, looking around cautiously. As soon as his gaze landed on the woman on the throne, he was sent into a trance.
“You are of our kind.” She extended her hand and pointed, sending a dark golden pattern weaving through the air that buried itself in Zhao Chong.
“Gah!” Before Zhao Chong could recover, a piercing pain shot through his head. Dark golden patterns crawled through his body and enveloped him like a net.
Sacred Origin Runes!
The black flames in the air entered him as well, setting his eyes ablaze.
“Dammit, the woman has evolved beyond a ghost king and reached a different level.” Lu Yun shuddered. “Run, run at once! We can’t put up a fight against her!”
There was something else he didn’t put into words.
Only the Exalted Divine Emperor’s close relatives would be able to instantly deploy his runes, which meant the woman who’d suddenly come back to life was either the emperor’s daughter or granddaughter. There was definitely less than three generations of separation between them!
She was more likely to be the emperor’s daughter, in Lu Yun’s opinion.
“Have I… Have I made a mistake?” Diexi clutched her short sword, her face pale.
“This has nothing to do with you! The ghost king awakened her when it tried to take back its corpse. If you hadn’t retrieved the short sword, it would’ve become her weapon and none of us would be able to escape!”
The emperor’s daughter had been buried and trapped on the throne. If Zhao Chong hadn’t been a descendent of the Exalted Divines, she wouldn’t have been able to etch Sacred Origin Runes on him. If she’d gotten ahold of that vicious weapon, Lu Yun and the others would’ve all died at her hands.
“You’re not getting away!” A transformed Zhao Chong faced them. His skin had lost its vitality and turned gray after the dark golden runes lodged into his body. He took flight and manifested a fiery black blade, swinging it at Lu Yun’s head.
Did Diexi use to occupy one of the coffins, maybe?