The world of immortals, Dusk Province.
Lu Yun bounced upright in bed, panting heavily with cold sweat beading his forehead.
“Motherf*cker! Shit that’s f*cking embarrassing! A lifelong goose hunter had his eyes pecked out by a goose instead!
“Why the hell was there a layout for certain death in a Han Dynasty civilian tomb?? What kind of asshole, hairy-nosed hateful hack sets up something so foul?
“Eh? Wait… I’m not dead?”
Lu Yun blinked, frozen.
“Hahahahaha! Not dead! Damn straight! I, Lu Yun, grasp everything beneath the heavens and earth! Everything from time immemorial to present day is at my fingertips! I’m the strongest, the best commandant of tomb raiders there’s ever been! How would I possibly die in an ordinary tomb? If it wasn’t for that certain death layout appearing so suddenly, I wouldn’t have been trapped either!”
He continued to cackle. All was fine as long as he wasn’t dead! Thank goodness he hadn’t lost face for the grandmaster, the founder of tomb raider lineage.
“But, what a pity I didn’t bring that ancient bronze tome out with me. It looked quite valuable.” Lu Yun smacked his lips. “Wait a sec, where am I?”
He jerked his head and looked up, scanning his surroundings.
It appeared to be a room of ancient flair. Opulent decorations elegantly graced the classically arranged premises. Luminous pearls glowed with soft radiance in the four corners of the room, illuminating the entire space.
However, the panorama sent shudders down Lu Yun’s spine.
“Does the owner of this room want to die, or is he trying to cast a death curse on me? This feng shui is obviously a killing layout of Nine Yin Repudiation! Look at the bronze mirror facing the bed! Isn’t he afraid of breeding ghosts with this setup??
“What the hell kind of place is this? The owner saved me, so he shouldn’t want to kill me. Did no one get a feng shui master when they decorated the room?”
As its name indicated, Nine Yin Repudiation was a feng shui layout that collected negative energy and spirits. If people dwelled within this arrangement for too long, sickness and poor health would visit them, and their lifespans would shorten greatly.
The door to the room opened while a stunned Lu Yun remained lost in thought. Dressed in a green skirt, a young girl walked in holding a tray of food.
She looked rather young, sixteen years old at most. Waist-length hair flowed down her back and over her shoulders, framing her bright eyes and pearly-white teeth. She was an uncommonly good-looking little beauty.
Lu Yun had weathered more than a few years of life and seen his share of beauties, but his heart still skipped a beat when he saw this one.
A period costume? Are they filming something here? Is she a child actress? No wonder she’s so pretty. What film set have I crashed?
He panned around again, but found no cameras or crew.
“Milord governor , you’re awake.” The girl picked up a bowl sculpted from white jade and approached Lu Yun. A wonderful fragrance burrowed into his nose. He didn’t know if it was from the girl, or the soup within that sparkled with pale purple luminance.
Sparkling soup? Is that even edible?
“Wait!” Lu Yun scooted backward. “What did you call me? Milord governor?”
Nothing made sense to him.
As a grave robber well versed in Chinese history, he knew precisely what she meant with the title she’d used for governor. In modern terms, it meant shepherd, indicating that the office-holder was to guide and care for his people.
Ancient history saw Chinese territory delineated as nine provinces, and the governor the highest ranking official of the province. Such a position had been created in the Han Dynasty.
Is this a Han Dynasty film crew? Is this young beauty too caught up in her character and hasn’t snapped out of it yet?
Lu Yun rubbed his forehead. “Miss, you’ve got the wrong person. I’m not one of your actors, so you don’t need to practice your lines with me.”
“Milord, have you suffered from too much shock and lost your mind? This servant is your maid, Wanfeng.” The girl’s eyes reddened. “Don’t worry, milord, I will follow you even when you’re not the governor. I’ll keep you safe.”
Lu Yun didn’t know what to do with such a reaction.
“Where am I?” He turned around, thinking he should find some normal people to talk to.
“This is Dusk City.”
“Where’s Dusk City?” There didn’t seem to be such a place in China.
“Dusk City is in Dusk Province, of course.”
“And where’s Dusk Province?”
“In Nephrite Major.”
“…what’s Nephrite Major?” Lu Yun was completely lost.
“Nephrite Major is part of the nine majors, ten lands, and four seas of the immortal world, of course.”
Thump! Lu Yun’s eyes rolled up in his head as he collapsed back onto the bed.
Crazy, completely crazy!
Such a charmingly pretty little girl was a complete lunatic!
Wanfeng’s mouth twisted and she almost burst into tears. The lord had finally awoken, but he’d fainted dead away again!
She placed the bowl of sparkling soup onto the bedside table and quietly backed out of the room.
After an unknown period of time, Lu Yun awoke again. “Did that crazy girl leave yet?” Rubbing his forehead, he glimpsed the bowl of purple soup next to his bed. “Mm, I am a bit hungry.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he picked up the bowl of strange soup and gulped it down.
“Phew, it’s not poisoned.” A burp and a sigh later, a warm current circulated throughout his body. Some strength gradually returned to his limp, listless form.
“This film crew’s some kinda rich, huh! This bowl’s gotta be worth a few million, but they’re using it as a prop! Nuts.” Out of professional habit, Lu Yun tucked the bowl away into his clothes.
“They even put me in an ancient costume and shoved a wig on me! Is it because they saw what a gorgeous, handsome, dashing, elegant ladies’ man I am that they decided I should be the male lead?”
Lu Yun clambered down from the bed and struck a leisurely pose.
“First things first, we’ve got to break the layout of Nine Yin Repudiation in this room.” He walked over to the mirror and placed both hands on it, wanting to move it away.
However, it seemed nailed to the wall and didn’t budge no matter how he put his back into it.
“Eh?” The sight of something in the mirror shocked him out of his wits.
It was a reflection of a youth, roughly sixteen years of age, with sculpturesque features and clear, fair skin. He looked like a perfect dandy, if not for the wan complexion that was devoid of any color. He also looked uncommonly frail, like a gust of wind would blow him away at any time.
This is definitely not me!
…is it an illusion?
Lu Yun raised his hand, a motion mirrored by the handsome fellow in the mirror. He shook his head, once more copied by the young man in the mirror.
Lu Yun crashed to the floor again. “Bloody hell, that’s not me at all! What the freaking hell is going on??”
Completely flabbergasted, his mind raced furiously through his shock. He carefully recounted the events that had occurred one second prior to him falling comatose.
“I… don’t seem to have made it out of that certain death layout. Then I should be dead, but reborn thanks to this youth’s body.” He could recall the agony of despair at the moment of his death.
“Then, did that girl speak the truth? Is this a world of immortals, and the young man who I’ve come back to life in really some kind of governor?
“Immortal world, world of immortals… so that means I’m an immortal??” Lu Yun’s eyes gleamed and he flung himself into the air, imitating a carp leaping out of water.
He fell, having thrown his back out.
Lu Yun laid dumbly on the floor, unable to move a finger. What the hell kind of immortal was he?
“Aiya, what happened to you, milord??” Wanfeng reentered the room and quickly helped the petrified Lu Yun up.
“I threw my back out.” He held his waist up. “I, a right and proper celestial being, threw my back out.”
“Threw your back out?” Wanfeng blinked, her expression dimming. “You’re joking, milord. If you really are a god, why would His Majesty the Celestial Emperor want to depose you?”
She helped Lu Yun to the bed as she spoke. Afterward, a small dot of green splendor appeared at her fingertip. She gently stroked Lu Yun’s waist, sending a cool current into it and dissolving that ridiculously painful ache.
She’s a fairy, this unbearably beautiful chick is totally a fairy!
“Am I not an immortal?” Lu Yun sat up again in his hurry to seek answers.
“Milord, you’re not even a cultivator, much less an immortal.” Wanfeng sighed with resignation. “Because you’re not a cultivator, His Majesty decreed that if you still can’t walk the immortal dao after six months, you will be removed from the position of governor.”
“Cultivator?” It was Lu Yun’s turn to pause, but didn’t continue his line of questioning. He was no fool. Continuing that particular train of thought would very possibly mean exposing himself.
The little beauty in front of him named Wanfeng may be delightfully charming and look very biddable, but who knew what would happen if she learned that he was a foreign soul in her master’s body? The host’s death was the reason for his second chance at life!
“Don’t worry, milord. This servant will still remain by your side even if you’re not the governor. I am in the core realm and can deploy combat arts. Even if I can’t fight off those people, there’s no problem in escaping with you.” Wanfeng brimmed with confidence.
“It looks like I have quite a few enemies.” Lu Yun laughed wryly. The maid fell silent as well.
So the previous owner of this body was also named Lu Yun.
House Lu of Dusk Province was of a long and illustrious lineage. Though there weren’t many members, its businesses and networks stretched far. It was the greatest cultivation clan in the province and held power over the seat of governor.
However, this aristocratic house was incredibly infamous. There were no lows it wouldn’t stoop to and nothing it wouldn’t do. Lu Yun’s grandfather and father were particularly notorious for their villainy.
And perhaps because of all of the sins they’d committed, they’d both died under heavenly tribulations. Lu Yun himself was cursed with a dormant bloodline that left him unable to cultivate.
Though he couldn’t be a cultivator, he didn’t fall behind his old man or grandfather at all when it came to immoral notches on his belt. In fact, he even outshone them at times.
All Dusk cultivators hated House Lu with a passion. But as the clan of the governor of the province, the house had plenty of experts beneath its banners. Hence, seething quietly beneath the table was all they could do.
However, all that changed three days ago, when the Celestial Emperor of Nephrite issued a decree that if the new governor of Dusk, Lu Yun, was unable to walk the path of cultivation within half a year, he would be stripped of his position. Another clan would be chosen in the Lus’ stead.
In poor health to begin with, the former governor, a Lu descendant, keeled over in a dead faint, departing the world.
Cultivators who normally swore undying fealty to House Lu immediately vanished without a trace. Just as monkeys scattered when a tree fell, so did hangers-on ditch the power they clung to when it fell out of favor.
There were still a few left in the governor’s manor, but they were all waiting for the new governor to arrive in half a year’s time.
Wanfeng thought that Lu Yun’s mind was unclear from the shock he’d suffered, thus she recounted his current circumstances so that he’d be prepared.
“Wanfeng, that mirror really annoys me. Move it away for me.” Lu Yun pointed at the mirror facing the bed.
“Understood.” Wanfeng waved a hand at the unmovable mirror and sent it casually flying out of the room.
“That potted plant over there. Throw it out too!” Lu Yun’s eyes gleamed. Was Wanfeng a divine fairy, or really a cultivator?
He didn’t notice that Wanfeng had used the words “walk the immortal dao” just now, instead of the term ‘immortal’.
The maid didn’t understand the orders, but followed them nonetheless.
The second the plant flew out, Lu Yun felt a bout of stifling air that’d been pressing down on him suddenly dissipate. Everything felt much more comfortable and smooth.
Nine Yin Repudiation was fatal to ordinary mortals, but absolutely nothing to a cultivator in the core realm like Wanfeng.
“Ah yes, Wanfeng, who decorated this room?” Lu Yun asked after a sigh of relief.
“Grand Steward Xue did.” Wanfeng also felt that something seemed to have changed in the room, but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what.
“Grand Steward Xue? Where is he?” Lu Yun frowned. Was there someone in the same field of work as him in the world of immortals? The layout in this room had been blatantly fatal feng shui that would kill without a single trace.
Lu Yun had been able to come back to life in the body of another precisely because the Lu Yun of this world had died to the Nine Yin Repudiation. If he took up long term residence in this room, he would follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.
As a first-class tomb raider, Lu Yun had a handle on everything from pinpointing the true location of the coffin in a tomb  to assessing the overall feng shui of the crypt.
“The formation of the governor’s manor needs maintenance, so Grand Steward Xue went out a few days ago to purchase the foundation stones for the formation.”
“Formation?” Lu Yun blinked.
“That’s right. Steward Xue is a formation master. There’s a defensive one in your room. The grand steward specially set it up because you have many enemies.”
Lu Yun rubbed his forehead. Formations of the immortal world? Feng shui layouts?
“Help me up for a look.” He took a deep breath in, still feeling a bit weak.
“Alright!” Wanfeng reached out with a pair of fair, tender hands to help her master up.
When Lu Yun felt her soft, pliable body, his heart lurched.
1. The official translation of this Han Dynasty title is Shepherd. The governors were Shepherds of the Provinces who guided and cared for the people -- their flock.
I wondered if using Shepherd here would be too jarring and break immersion. Please sound off in the comments! If it's not too odd, I can switch to Shepherd.
2. This is a huge oversimplification. It’s actually a complex science involving the usage of a luopan, a Chinese feng shui compass, and a golden needle to map out the design of the tomb.