If Qing Han had said this, Lu Yun would only think it was the influence of whatever had a hold on him.
However, Mo Yi was an august immortal. She was channeling her full power, seven stars forming the Big Dipper around her and releasing terrifying force. More importantly, her eyes were clear and her thoughts cogent.
“The river god. Where is he?” Lu Yun furrowed his brows, as he couldn’t see anything.
Mo Yi offered no reply. She was completely ready to fight, her gleaming sword drawn and form hovering in the air.
“August immortal… the Duskwater city lord is an august immortal?!” Qi Shenghui and the others goggled at Mo Yi with shock. She wasn’t the typical august immortal, either. The eunuch felt that even the three of them working in tandem wouldn’t be able to defeat her.
“She’s hidden a lot from the outside world.” Qin Xianhuo’s eyes gleamed with insight. “Her original cultivation must’ve been even higher still… she ruined her own cultivation to descend to this level!”
“Ruined her own cultivation!” The others looked at Mo Yi with disbelief. All immortals sought the heavenly dao to attain ever-greater heights. To voluntarily nullify one’s level required incredible courage and resolve.
“Do not attack,” the zombie king instantly said when she saw that Mo Yi was poised for battle. “The tomb for the living bars its passage.”
When the tomb returned to the abyss, it had erected a barrier. It wasn’t to keep Lu Yun and the others in, but to keep the horrors below the abyss out.
At the zombie girl’s warning, Mo Yi returned to the ground, retracting the crown of stars above her head as she did so. However, her brilliant sword was still bared and remained at the ready.
“The barrier around the tomb will prevent the creatures in the darkness from coming in. We are safe here, as long as the barrier isn’t disrupted,” the zombie king explained, still concerned about Mo Yi’s aggressive stance.
She’d remained in this tomb for who knew how long. A tomb for the living was a special place of existence that converted the energies of the dead into life essence, continually nurturing the girl that had been buried within. Any living creature that dared invade would be devoured by the tomb and processed for fuel.
Back then, the zombie girl had largely been an insensate zombie. Someone had placed her soulless body here, and she’d passively kept a memory of all the goings-on since then.
The barrier outside was strong enough to resist the combined might of multiple august immortals.
In here, innumerable monsters lurked in the darkness, looking for an opportunity to strike. Space itself continuously pressed down on the barrier around the tomb. If a fight took place in addition to that, the stressed walls might very well crumble. The monsters in the darkness would then kill all of them.
Qi Shenghui, Situ Yun, and Qin Xianhuo all hurriedly dismissed their gathered power, fearing for their own safety. At the same time, they also breathed a collective sigh of relief; they were safe for now. Otherwise, either Mo Yi or the zombie king could slay them as easily as snapping their fingers.
Mo Yi nodded and put away her sword. Her eyes remained fixated upon the darkness outside.
“The Dusk River God is here.” Lu Yun suddenly paled. His eyes glassed over and he moved toward the outside, step by gradual step.
“Do not go out there!” The zombie girl was thrown into disarray. If he broke the barrier on his way out, they’d all be doomed!
“Be quiet and let me go,” the young man suddenly interjected. “Open a corner of the barrier. My cultivation is weak enough not to disturb it.”
“You…” Mo Yi and the zombie king were both taken aback. Clearly, Lu Yun was only pretending to be entranced. He was playing along with whatever was trying to lead him out of the tomb.
“Careful,” Qing Han offered weakly. “The river god is no ordinary spirit. He’s more dangerous than any of his predecessors.”
“Do you know what the river god is?” The zombie girl glanced at Qing Han with some surprise.
“Yes,” nodded Qing Han. “The original Dusk River God is dead, but the river above us has birthed a new deity out of a thousand years of sacrifices. It’s that thing in the darkness.”
Gods hadn’t originally existed in the world. They were creations of belief and an abundance of worship. Sacrifices were made in exchange for great power, becoming the focus of myriad thoughts that then coalesced into divine beings.
Thus, the first gods were born out of humanity’s sacrifices. Those gods were a simpleminded lot, protecting the people whose minds they’d sprung out of against the predations of nature and the other races.
When they obtained wisdom and enlightenment from humans and grasped the law of sacrifice, they slowly broke free from human control and became their own race—the divines. They gradually grew to become one of the strongest among all the rest, founding their own nation and pressing the other races into servitude.
After the great war a hundred thousand years ago, they peaked and became the rulers of the world.
The river god currently in the darkness was a divine born from the Dusk River Sacrament over the past thousand years. Because of the spatial chaos beneath the river, the god that should’ve come to life there was instead ensnared in this abyss.
Qing Han didn’t know how he knew all of this. It was like a painting scroll had surfaced in his mind to illustrate the process of the river god’s birth. He’d wanted to head outside, not because of being bespelled, but because of the compulsion from some force inside him.
“I’ll go with you!” Qing Han shouted with sudden realization. “I can deal with that river god!”
Lu Yun turned back with some confusion.
“Trust me, I really can!” Qing Han stood up shakily, but strode surely and resolutely to his friend.
“Alright then.” Lu Yun nodded with tacit understanding.
“Allowing two cultivators to pass is the most the barrier can bear. If any of you immortals wish to leave, do not blame me for what happens next.” Bloodthirst flared in the zombie girl’s eyes, making Feinie’s eager footsteps come to a skidding halt. The zombie king had locked on to her.
“Stay here, Feinie. You won’t be able to help anyway,” said Lu Yun. The wistful envoy inclined her head in acknowledgment.
The zombie girl opened the barrier just a little bit, marked by a watery ripple dancing across it. Lu Yun and Qing Han cautiously ventured out of the tomb, hand in hand.
A sinister wind immediately began blowing in the previously quiet darkness as spectral wails beat upon their eardrums. Qing Han shivered involuntarily.
The palace of the river god emitted a phosphorescent light that clashed against the shadows everywhere else, illuminating a gigantic corpsefish that was nailed to one of its walls by a brass spear.
“That’s the previous Dusk River God. He—she’s a corpsefish!” Qing Han murmured upon discovering the desiccated corpse.
This chapter brings up something I see mentioned a lot in the comments, and that's the cultivation levels. This is one of the things I've been dying not to spoil, and we finally see it mentioned here! I can talk about it, rawr!!!
Immortals seem so puny in this world partially because they lost a lot of knowledge in the great war, so that makes them woefully underprepared when it comes to all the supernatural stuff in the tombs. Also, if someone ruins their cultivation (essentially destroys their own higher levels) to fall back down to a lower level, they'll naturally be stronger than their peers. It's like a university math major taking high school math.
Hence, cultivation kinda being all over the place. This is also what I accidentally kinda spoiled in the chapter reading. XD