“You’re going to capture the river god?!” screamed Qi Shenghui. “Are you trying to break the boundary circling the ancient tomb and let all the evil things out?”
“You really are an incompetent fool!” Qing Han snorted. “The river god from a thousand years ago is already dead. The current river god was born out of the Dusk River Sacrament.”
Anger blossomed on the eunuch’s face, but he swallowed his retort.
Mo Yi was no longer hiding her true power. The might of a peak august immortal continuously crashed over the three unwanted guests like tidal waves, killing all of their impulses in their infancy. If the eunuch dared set a toe out of line, death on beautiful wings was sure to immediately follow.
“If she’s the river god, what are you taking her for?” Qin Xianhuo frowned at the river god peeking at them.
“My maid is still on the altar as a sacrificial good. How am I to save her if I don’t capture the river god?”
Wanfeng was the first person Lu Yun had ever seen upon arriving in this world, and she’d risked her life multiple times to protect him in Yuying’s tomb. He would not abandon her.
Relationships were far more important to him than as tools of convenience. While they were under the burial mound, Qing Han had exhausted himself to save Lu Yun. In return, Lu Yun had carried the boneless imperial envoy to safety, despite them being enemies at the time.
“All this for... your maid...” Situ Yun gnashed his teeth but swallowed his complaints.
The dangers of the underwater palace were now clear to all. It was also the reason why the barrier around the tomb had been broken. All of that was set in motion for a simple maid?
To immortals on high, maids were nothing but toys. Expendable. Replaceable. This fellow was willing to risk his life for a maid?!
Though Mo Yi had known about Lu Yun’s motivations, a bemused glint still flashed through her eyes when she heard him reiterate his goal.
“I do not understand humans,” grumbled the zombie king.
“You’re human now, too.” Lu Yun solemnly looked at the zombie. “If you don’t want the entire world of immortals to come after you, you must learn to live and think like a human once you get out of here.”
The zombie king’s living soul marked her as mostly the same as a living person, despite her dead body. According to his Spectral Eye, at least, she was alive.
The zombie king started. “You… consider me human?” She knew very well what she was—an unnatural existence abandoned by heaven and earth and shunned by all three realms. The entire immortal world would hunt her down if anyone were to ever find out what she was. In anyone else’s eyes, she would be the epitome of perverse evil.
“There’s always a sliver of hope in the heavenly dao. Since you’ve made it to this point, you are human and the heavenly dao approves of your existence.” There wasn’t a single note that rang false in Lu Yun’s voice.
The zombie king fell silent, her ruby-like eyes shining with emotion.
“The palace is the mouth of a giant monster,” Lu Yun muttered to the architecture before him, turning his focus away from the zombie king. “It’s not realistic to take her from inside. We need to lure her out.”
“Is she really the river god?” Qin Xianhuo asked after a bemused pause.
Lu Yun’s eyes snapped to the old formation master. “She is. Do you have a solution?”
“I can lure her out if she’s part of the divine race, but...” The formation master paused.
“What are your conditions?” The old man was certainly up to something, but there was no time to waste. Who knew how long they’d spent drifting down to the bottom of this bottomless abyss? Worry of not having enough time to prepare after they got out was constantly gnawing at Lu Yun.
If they wanted to save Wanfeng, there were still a slew of preparations to be made after capturing the river god. She wasn’t her benevolent predecessor, who’d cared about the people.
Plus, she looked half-dead.
“You mustn’t abandon the three of us if there really is a way to get out of here.” The old formation master gravely solicited such a promise from the Dusk governor.
They’d thrown Lu Yun into the tomb for the living as a disposable scout, and the issue of how to kill Lu Yun and his companions was still a top priority in Qi Shenghui’s mind. Now that the governor had a way out, he would most certainly leave the three of them behind. Therefore, Qin Xianhuo took advantage of the situation to exchange help for safety.
“Deal!” Lu Yun didn’t bother thinking over it at all.
Qi Shenghui and Situ Yun looked at their companion and heaved simultaneous sighs of relief.
A pained expression creased the formation master’s face as he took out a three-inch-long bar the width of a thumb. “This incense is called Divine Lure, a spiritual item born in nature. Once lit, it releases a fragrance that’s uncontrollably attractive to the divine race.”
“You’d better not use that on the river god.” Qing Han frowned. “There’s no shortage of her kind in the abyss. In addition to the river god, there are countless other divines, and monsters that they’ve morphed into.” The imperial envoy pulled a grave face. “If you light the incense, it’s possible that all of the monsters in the abyss will be lured here.”
The Scroll of the Shepherding Immortals had rejuvenated Qing Han and granted him some of the abilities of a divine in the process. In his eyes, the abyss was no demonic lair, but the burial pit for the entire divine race. The divines here dated back to more than a hundred thousand years ago, and there were even some that had died after the great war of immortals.
The shriveled corpses on the cliff face were all divines. They’d attempted to escape the abyss by scaling the walls, but something had drained them of their blood and life essence halfway. This abyss was a final resting ground that had sealed away the entire divine race!
“That won’t happen.” Qin Xianhuo smiled wryly and continued with a tinge of embarrassment in his voice. “My incense is of the lowest rank, so it’ll only attract the weakest divines.”
Given the incense’s properties, it was an important tool for when major factions of the world went divine-hunting.
Although the race had disappeared for reasons unknown, the current world of immortals was in an early development stage. In remote areas, there were primal human villages where the most prehistoric rituals were still conducted to summon divine spirits.
Divine spirits could wield powerful elemental power and possessed high battle capabilities. Thus, major factions in the world thus sought to capture these spirits for their own use. Above all, it was also a way to prevent the spirits from coming together as a race to enslave the world again.
“That still won’t do.” Qing Han shook his head. “The divine race has been sealed here for a very long time. Even a lure of the lowest rank would be fatally attractive to them.”
“Allow me.” The taciturn Feinie broke her silence. “I can focus the fragrance of the lure into a single thread and prevent it from spreading.” With that, she manifested a spirit stone and etched lines in the ground.
“What’s this formation?” Qin Xianhuo’s eyes sparked with passion when they scanned Feinie’s formation.
This was also when Qi Shenghui noticed the newcomer. He stared at Feinie with an incomprehensive frown. “Who is this woman and why is she here? She wasn’t around when we came down.”
Situ Yun, whose honest facade belied his wiliness, remained silent. He knew better than to ask something that touched on Lu Yun’s secrets. How much of a fool is Qi Shenghui to ask the question now? He really has a death wish, doesn’t he?
“None of your business!” snorted Lu Yun.
The flash of killing intent flicking through the governor’s eyes stabbed Situ Yun’s heart with foreboding. The governor’s promised to get us out, but what if one of us gets eaten before our escape?
“Done!” Feinie rose to her feet and dabbled away her sweat. This was no regular formation, so it’d been taxing for even her to set up.
This chapter was what really sealed the deal for me on NECRO because of the philosophical bit surrounding the zombie king.
Is she human, because she has a soul now, or is she still a zombie because she thinks like one and has the body of one?
What makes one human? Is it one's thoughts or just if one is born into the race? What is humanity? Does imitating human behavior perfectly make one human? Or is it the intentions? Then is a corpsefish a human if they think perfectly like humans? We have humans who are absolute monsters inside, after all.
Anyhow, I really enjoy these tangents in NECRO, like when Lu Yun felt being a subordinate would kill off friendships (free will and all). It's also the rare flash of maturity we see from him, IMO. I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting a somewhat immature vibe at the moment, what with the EEEK I'm not gay comments. I don't think he's homophobic, because he doesn't say that's unnatural/perverted, but neither is he mature enough to think, "Man, that guy's so good looking I'd turn gay for him." (Popular slang, not that he's actually flipping sexual orientation like a switch.)
I also get socially awkward vibes from him (maybe even lonely for friendship?), maybe cause he mostly deals with dead stuff for work. If say, a finance person transmigrated, I don't think they'd run around insulting everyone they met. I am quite eager to see how Lu Yun grows and develops as a character.