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Chapter 7: Corpse Flies

Necropolis Immortal
     The cavern behind the wall yawned into the distance, giving no clue as to where it led. Wind occasionally howled out of it, a sign that it was linked with the outside world.

    “Weird, there was an unspeakably gross odor when we were outside. How come there’s none of it now that we’re inside?” The night pearl in Wanfeng’s hand radiated a soft light, illuminating their way.

    “That was tomb odor. Now that the tomb’s been opened and the air vented, there won’t be any smells.”

    “I see,” Wanfeng murmured in half understanding.

    “Evil, completely evil! They built a fake passageway so that no matter what direction we walk in, we’ll always end up at the trap on the mountain’s south side,” Lu Yun spoke sotto voce.

    Thankfully, he’d calculated the tomb’s design through the shape of the bricks they’d just smashed through. He might’ve actually fallen into the trap, otherwise!

    “But there’s a wind in this tunnel, so one of the tunnels branching off from the cavern should eventually lead to an exit,” Wanfeng remarked doubtfully when she heard his muttering.

    “That’s why the tomb builder is so sinister. The wind we’re feeling isn’t a real wind, but a product of a calculated layout. It’s a death trap no matter which way we walk.” Lu Yun approached the stone wall at the end of their chosen branch and sounded it out with knocks and slaps.

    Though he didn't have a complete handle on the feng shui layout they’d entered, he could roughly deduce the blueprint of the entire tomb from its building materials—this was what was meant by the saying of visualizing an entire leopard by focusing on one of its spots.

    “Wanfeng, crack this stone wall open. The real tomb is behind it!” Delight twinkled in Lu Yun’s eyes. “This layout may be clever, but it’s not particularly sophisticated.”

    As he rummaged through his mind, Wanfeng chiseled a large hole in the stone with the longsword.

    “Milord, this wall is really hard. I wouldn’t be able to break it if not for this spirit weapon,” she huffed, a sheen of sweat glistening on her forehead.

    Spirit weapon? Lu Yun blinked. He didn’t know what a spirit weapon was, but didn’t ask. To ask too much would be to expose himself. He'd know everything after going back and flipping through a few books, anyway. “The real tomb should be inside. Can you start a fire?”

    “A fire?” Wanfeng snapped her fingers, summoning a dancing flame at the tip of her finger.

    “What, this is a thing?” The sight shocked Lu Yun to new depths.

    “Milord, this is just a regular mystical art of the five elements. Even ordinary cultivators can do it.” The maid sighed, remembering that her master couldn’t cultivate.

    Lu Yun nodded and took out a sheet of yellow paper. Lighting it with the small flame, he flung it into the hole that Wanfeng had chiseled through the wall.

    He fixed his eyes intently on the ball of light.

    “It’s burning regularly. There’s no problem then, we can go in.” Lu Yun sighed with relief. If the ball of flame were extinguished before it burned out, he would’ve left without another word.

    “Milord, you know so much. How come Wanfeng didn’t discover this before?” she asked inquisitively as she stared at Lu Yun.

    “How would I be the governor if I didn’t know this much? Or, do you know something I should know?” His heart skipped a beat, but he maintained cool aplomb on his face.

    “That’s true.” Wanfeng nodded and deflated slightly. “Milord’s kept this servant at a distance ever since that time, and this servant is ignored half the time.”

    Lu Yun blinked. “That time?”

    The girl turned beet red and fidgeted, refusing to respond.

    I bet this kid wanted to eat Wanfeng, but didn’t have what it took to finish the deed and pushed her away instead. But looking at how she’s acting, she probably wouldn’t resist if I wanted to take her now.

    Pushing these thoughts out of his mind, Lu Yun strode into the tomb.

    “Milord!” the maid shrieked the moment both of them walked into the tomb proper.

    “What is it?” Lu Yun turned back and saw pitch-black darkness. He couldn’t even see the fingers of his outstretched hand. The indistinct haze of a pale-green ball of light floated dismally in mid-air—Wanfeng’s night pearl.

    “My, my consciousness vanished.” Thick unease colored the girl’s voice.

    Thanks to a night of Cultivation 101 by Wanfeng, Lu Yun knew what that was. A consciousness was the equivalent of a cultivator’s eyes. When it vanished, it meant the cultivator was half-blind.

    “Don’t worry,” He reached out and grabbed ahold of her soft hand, “there’s a feng shui layout here—I mean a formation. The formation is restricting your consciousness. Look, even the light from the pearl is being suppressed.”

    Wanfeng nodded in the darkness and her longsword howled softly, every inch of her on full alert.

    To most living creatures, the dark was what frightened them the most. But having excavated tombs for many a year, Lu Yun was perfectly at home in such darkness.

    One could say that this was his home territory.

    Lu Yun placed Wanfeng’s hand on his shoulder. “Hold on to my shoulder and follow me.”

    “Mm,” the girl assented.

    Keeping his body close to one of the walls, Lu Yun probed ahead of him. “This should be a burial chamber.” His brow furrowed. “Hmm?”

    His questing hand suddenly touched something that protruded from the wall. He lightly pressed down on it.

    Huff! Huff! Huff!

    Eerie flames blossomed into existence, illuminating the small chamber. Eight oil lamps were inlaid on the walls. Whatever he’d touched just now had lit them all, but the flames showing through the glass were green.

    “Green fire?” Lu Yun shuddered.

    The green lighting painted a ghastly shade on everything in the chamber, including an enormous stone coffin in the middle of the room. The combination of the green flames and coffin was extraordinarily eerie.

    “This really is the tomb of an immortal!” exclaimed a trembling Wanfeng after taking a close look at the stone coffin.

    “Don’t touch the coffin!” Lu Yun swallowed hard, staring fixedly at the coffin. “What a scheme of truths and falsehoods! Smoke and mirrors kept trading places with authenticity in the Crouching Black Tortoise layout of Mount Carmine Dusk. Illusion masked reality in the passageway outside, and now fantasy covers up legitimacy in the burial chamber! What son of a bitch built this tomb?!”

    Though this wasn’t Earth, and Lu Yun was in a new body and new identity, his terrifying trove of tomb-raiding experience had traveled with him in its entirety. He could use his observations to get to the heart of any tomb he was in.

    “This is another gathering spot of yin. Who knows just what horrifying thing’s been nurtured here? We need to go, now!” He abruptly came back to his senses and yanked Wanfeng to his side, then made for one of the stone doors.

    Apart from the enormous hole that Wanfeng had just dug, there were four exits to this burial chamber. However, only one of them was real. The other three led to sure death.

    Rumble.

    At this moment, the lid of the stone coffin slowly shifted open, filling the chamber with a rancid stench of decay. Two blackened arms reached out from the interior.

    "Wh-what is that?” Wanfeng’s voice trembled in terror. She’d never seen such an unnatural thing in her life!

    “A big rice dumpling!” Lu Yun rasped out. “Also known as a zombie! Exiled by heaven and earth and ostracized by the living, they wander beyond the three realms and six paths of life. It’s something neither living nor dead. Run!”

    The big rice dumpling was already in a sitting position; its black shape made it impossible to discern its true form.

    Hum hum hum.

    Suddenly, what sounded like buzzing rose from the coffin. The sound was quickly followed by a carpet of blood-red flies shooting out and making straight for the two humans.

    “Milord, go now!” Wanfeng panicked at the sight and flung off Lu Yun’s hand, shoving him into the stone door. Turquoise light exploded from her longsword, crisscrossing in the air to form an enormous net of sword light.

    Pfft pfft pfft!

    Each fly that came in contact with the net scattered as dismembered pieces on the ground.

    “Don’t come any closer, milord. These flies are monster spirits, and they’re the equivalent of a qi application cultivator!” Two vague beams of light shot forth from Wanfeng’s eyes as an enormous green tornado formed by her side.

    She didn’t dare kill anyone, but there was no pressure in handling flies like these.

    Whoosh whoosh whoosh!

    The tornado grew in size, and at three meters it reached the upper portion of the chamber. It roiled towards the endless mass of flies. Though numerous, the flies proved no match for Wanfeng’s combat arts and were exterminated to the last.

    She’d finally displayed the real strength of a core realm cultivator.

    Thud!

    What sounded like a large drum rumbled out before she had time to catch her breath. It threw her mind into disarray and she almost spat out a mouthful of blood. Once she was injured, her arts instantly shattered.

    The black zombie had climbed out of its coffin at some point in time and was standing in front of its resting place, silently looking at Wanfeng. The drumbeat that had harmed her just now had come from its two feet hitting the ground.

    More blood-red flies spilled out of the coffin.

    “Milord, go!” Wanfeng urged anxiously when she turned back to see that Lu Yun had returned to her side.

    “Those are corpse flies. Only the body of a thousand year old zombie would breed these things.” Lu Yun sighed softly. I’ve only ever read about them in the sect’s ancient records. I can’t believe I’m actually seeing them with my own two eyes after arriving at a world of immortals! These are the corpse flies that terrified even the ancestors!

    “That big rice dumpling is a thousand years old. The immortal world is such a fun place!” His body trembled from excitement. Something he’d only ever seen described in books actually existed here! As a veteran tomb raider, there was nothing more thrilling than exploring the unknown!