It was pitch black all around them. With the Dusk River and Traceless collected, complete darkness and utter quiet descended upon the premises. With neither sky above in sight nor earth below in view, it felt like they stood in an enormous black hole.
“Come with me.” Lu Yun brought out his luopan. The brilliant golden light it released took the shape of a golden avenue leading into the depths of the darkness.
The Venerated Sacrosanct Demon Sovereign and Ashu followed closely after the young man. The dark was too bizarre; losing all its yin energy made the strange void even more dangerous and even Ashu felt a prickle of fear.
“Where are we?” The demon sovereign shoved his concerns down.
“We should be inside the pearl of the Moat Snake,” Lu Yun said with his eyes fixed on the luopan in his hand, clearly enunciating every word. “The snake reached heights I can’t comprehend, and its snake pearl became a real world!
“However, the world turned into a dead realm after the snake’s death.” Instead of the luopan revealing the true nature of this realm, Lu Yun came to this conclusion through his own calculations.
“We need to hurry up,” Ashu said with slight panic. “The Moat Snake’s resentment won’t scatter after its death, they’re very likely to still be around. The three of us aren’t powerful enough to even tickle it. Let’s go, let’s go at once!”
The golden avenue created by the luopan led to the end of the world. Though the three of them moved at top speed, it still took them four hours to depart the world of darkness. What greeted them upon exit was a world of verdant green and a cacophony of bird song, insect chirps, and animal roars, all signs that they had entered a place of great vitality.
The sudden brightness caught them off guard, and they narrowed their eyes and shaded their eyes with their hands.
“Are we inside the snake now? Is this the snake outer-coffin?” Lu Yun looked around, flabbergasted. He was suddenly reminded of Su Xiaoxiao’s tomb. It had been brimming with life as well, but the two worlds were day and night apart.
“Should be.” Ashu squatted down to take a closer look at the ground. “The Moat Snake is the divine beast of the land rather than a simple earth element beast. The land encompasses everything, be it metal, wood, water, fire, or earth. It’s a standalone ecosystem with its own circle of life.
“Impressive, how impressive! Someone refined the corpse of the Moat Snake with great power, making it more than an outer-coffin like you speculated. It’s also a real world. The great dao the snake grasped in the past has remained entirely intact and manifested in this very world.” Ashu’s wealth of knowledge allowed him to draw conclusions through simple observation.
“In that case...” Eyebrow raised, Lu Yun shared a look with Ashu before the two said at the same time, “There must be a descendent of the Moat Snake here!”
“The Moat Snake was so powerful that it wielded a standalone dao encompassing everything in the world. Not even after its death should its body be desecrated!” exclaimed Ashu. “Refining it into an outer-coffin is one thing, but in order to refine a real world while keeping the snake’s great dao intact, the snake had to be willing!”
“It’s the only Moat Snake in the world,” Lu Yun murmured. “If it has any lingering obsessions, it must be to pass its bloodline on!”
“Then the grudges in the world of the snake orb couldn’t have been the Moat Snake’s!” Ashu turned back to where they’d come from, but the path was gone, replaced by a vast, primal forest.
“It must belong to the snake’s enemy…” said Lu Yun. “Perhaps the Moat Snake killed someone at the cost of its own life. Its body was later taken away and refined into this outer-coffin with a standalone world within it.”
The demon sovereign’s head swiveled between them in utter confusion. He knew nothing about the way of burial, thus this conversation was complete gibberish to him. He didn’t let it concern him, though. Instead, he kept a wary eye on their surroundings with the Skyturning Seal in hand and blazing Hadal Bonefire at the ready. If this world had been derived from the Moat Snake’s great dao, it would be filled with great dangers and terrible threats lurking around.
“To draw the patterns of mountains coiled, those deathly cliffs with mysteries roiled.
Danger shies if mountains hide, layers of mysteries do heaven and earth bide.” The luopan rumbled as it rotated, its golden light shrouding Lu Yun and revealing the truth of where they stood.
Gone was the vibrancy before their eyes, a gray world suffused with death energy took its place. Broken burial mounds protruded out of a gray land that didn’t harbor a hint of life in it.
Lu Yun also saw zombies wandering around like the walking dead. Some were five kilometers tall—zombies of giants they had encountered outside. Others were less than one meter tall, some had a third eye, but those all shared something in common.
They were human!
Whatever their sizes or appearances, they were all zombified humans.
“So this is the truth of this place... where we are is completely different. Can this be two tombs in the realm of yin and yang?” the demon sovereign made an unthinking comment with a shudder.
“You’re right, it’s the layout of yin and yang tombs.” Lu Yun could see traces of living souls with his luopan. Although they were quite far away, he could still sense them. They were the immortals who’d entered the Xuan Yuan Tomb from the door outside.
“Fortunately, whoever built this tomb didn’t harbor malicious intent. Although it’s a layout of yin and yang tombs, there is no killing layout here. Those in the yin tomb are in danger, but still alive,” he took a deep breath.
The yin tomb in the celestial master tomb had been deadly because someone had established the Hell of Skinning there—the seventeenth layer of hell. Anyone who entered through the yin tomb was instantly skinned alive. Thankfully, the same didn’t apply here.
“We entered through the door of the yang tomb, which is the safe one. That’s why the snake pearl is located right after the door to guard it.” Lu Yun drew a circle in the air with his finger and manifested a graph of the taiji.
“The shape of the taiji is an intersection of yin and yang, with a spot of yin on the yang side and yang on the yin side. We entered through the spot of yang in the yin realm, while those immortals entered through the spot of extreme yin on the yang side.
“Tsk, I thought the Heaven Locus March was the tomb when, in fact, the entire Heaven Locus Land is part of the Xuan Yuan Tomb! The marsh is the yin side of the tomb, and the area outside the marsh is the yang side!”
A shudder passed through both the demon sovereign and Ashu. The living in Heaven Locus Land… had been living on top of a great tomb all this time?
Nothing could be more horrifying!
“The yin tomb and the yang tomb… The yin tomb buries ghosts, while the yang tomb fosters life! The yin tomb is where Xuan Yuan was buried. This yang tomb is where the descendent of the Moat Snake is being nurtured!” Lu Yun put away his luopan with a frown. “The world’s spleen is in the yin tomb as well… It’s become a god and is sitting on top of the Earth Altar.”
A quick update on the status of the NECRO team:
Real-life commitments and pesky things called jobs have come calling for my team that's been together since SOTR, so I'd like to take a moment to thank cv and Citrus for a job well done! cv's written some zingers that people have gasped at, and Citrus is incredibly good at flowery prose (all those damn poems in NECRO omg). *grabs 'em for a big hug*
They may still drop in in the future, but currently that leaves House handling a few chapters a week. In their stead, I'm back on 100% translating duty (and TLC'ing and editing still) and have been since the 700s (didja notice the difference? Heh). It's been a while, and I'm delighted to find that I've improved immensely since the SOTR days.
Editor CheshirePhoenix has also rolled off the project in the 700s due to time constraints, and the lovable Bel Shamaroth (many of you who might have been spammed by his comment binges... ahem!) has taken over for proofreader. They are both around on Discord, so come say hi to Cheshire (or find him on BOTA, also on WW!) or bring your typo reports to Bel! Please don't PM me with them (they'll get lost) or leave them in the comments (they'll be forgotten).