“The Dusk River Sacrament?” Lu Yun looked at Ge Long with considerable confusion. He turned to Yuying, but she was just as lost as him.
“Do you know about this rite, Wanfeng?” he asked his maid, who readily shook her head.
“The rite began a thousand years ago, milord,” explained Ge Long. “Every century, all of the city lords in the province meet up on the banks of the Dusk River to sacrifice to its god. The next occasion is in a month’s time. That’s when you must make a trip to the Duskwater Prefecture, where the river is located.”
Lu Yun furrowed his brows slightly, then slowly relaxed as he understood what his enemies were planning. “Ah, so that’s why they’ve been so quiet lately. They’re waiting for me there!”
The Enneawyrm Provenance Formation in Dusk Province’s capital ensured his victory over any immortal trespassers. Without its protection, he would be in much greater danger.
“There was no such rite twelve hundred years ago.” Yuying frowned. “The Dusk River’s waters originate from that particular ancient tomb within Dusk Province, running from there to the North Sea. I’ve never heard of a related river god of any kind.” She glanced at Ge Long. “This… rite. Surely, it involves a sacrifice? What is the offering?”
“Live human sacrifice,” sighed the old man with a detachable head. “A thousand years ago, there was a disaster within the ancient tomb. Countless evil spirits rushed into the world, traveling through the Dusk River all the way to the North Sea. They annihilated the Dusk Phalanx’s seaside stronghold, along with all of the soldiers garrisoned within. The sea monsters from the North Sea and the vengeful spirits from the tomb banded together, causing great chaos in Dusk Province.”
“Did Nephrite Major’s imperial court simply ignore this?” Lu Yun scowled.
Ge Long shook his head. “Apparently, the thirty-six golden immortals sent by His Majesty were devoured by an even more sinister escapee. It was only the Dusk river god’s arrival that saved the province from further ruin.”
Yuying fell silent, as did Lu Yun. There were several oddities about this version of events. Golden immortals from the heavenly court were eaten, leaving some river god of questionable origins to reap all the fame.
“After calling upon tremendous might to seal off the ancient tomb and defeat the North Sea monsters, the Dusk river god died of exhaustion. Before it perished, it left behind a method of reinforcing the seal with live sacrifices. That’s why the Dusk River Sacrament has remained a tradition until today,” continued Ge Long.
“This river god doesn’t seem like the nice sort.” Lu Yun’s lips curled.
“The ancient tomb is completely sealed, then?” Yuying inquired sternly.
“No, only its connection with the Dusk River. It still periodically stirs up some chaos to this day.” Ge Long shook his head.
“No wonder the Dusk Phalanx of today is so weak. It was decimated a thousand years ago by specters and sea monsters,” Yuying muttered to herself.
Lu Yun took this chance to change the subject. “You’re not here just to tell me about this, right?”
“Ahem!” Ge Long cleared his throat before continuing. “Milord, someone else’s soul has taken possession of Patriarch Ge’s body. No one else has noticed yet, but your humble servant instantly identified the abnormality.”
“Stolen his body?” Lu Yun traded a look with Yuying. “No wonder he didn’t show up the night his son died.”
“Milord, I’m also here to assassinate you on his orders. He fed me a poison pill and said that I needed to kill you to receive the antidote.” Ge Long cracked a crooked smile.
Regardless of whether or not he succeeded, he was unlikely to obtain the antidote. As for whatever else House Ge had up its sleeve after the steward’s death, Lu Yun had no idea.
“You, afraid of death?” Lu Yun casually smacked the old man across the face, sending his head across the floor.
Roll roll roll.
“If you can live without your head, what do you have to worry about from a little poison pill?” The young governor made a face.
Ge Long picked his head up, then lodged it back on his shoulders. He stood to the side, a little scared to speak; his master had raised a good point.
“Still, I know what you’re thinking. Alright, you can stay,” added the young governor. “If you dare think about Wanfeng one more time, though, I’ll absolutely end you.”
“No, certainly not, milord!” Ge Long’s lips quivered and he shook his head vigorously.
Too vigorously, in fact.
Roll roll roll.
Wanfeng was quite used to the old man’s antics by now; they no longer shocked her.
“Master, what should we do about the rite?” Yuying bit her lip.
“It’s fine, we’ll just have to deal with it as it comes.” Lu Yun grinned confidently. “Worse comes to worst, I’ll just bring a detachment of the Dusk Phalanx with me.”
He was playing with the Aurum Openia that the Lu Clan had sent him. While examining it for problems, Yuying had found a control art placed upon it; he would be a puppet for whoever it was that had deployed the art.
As for where he could get a clean version, his envoy had pills of every kind—even immortal ones. All of her possessions were preserved within the Panorama of Clarity, which was an immortal artifact of astounding power. It had preserved pills and materials alike with impeccable freshness across more than a thousand years.
“Oh, there’s one thing I should mention. Could you just call me ‘sir’ or ‘young master’ like Wanfeng? Please don’t call me ‘master’ anymore.” Lu Yun had enjoyed the appellation in the short term, but it had started grating on him.
“Yes, sir.” A strange light gleamed in Yuying’s eye.
However, Clan Lu’s Aurum Openia had at least provided Lu Yun with an excellent excuse. He no longer needed to hide his cultivation from the public eye. The marvelous assortment of amazing pills that Yuying supplied him with propelled his cultivation level forward at incredible speed.
In fifteen days, he went from the initial stage of qi application to its peak. The qi condensation realm was already within his grasp.
The fact that he had to rely on pills to grow stronger didn’t hamper him, since the Tome of Life and Death within him perfectly converted the medicinal energies into his own qi.
Yuying’s Aurum Openia rebuilt Lu Yun’s constitution, broadening his meridians and pathways. The pill’s robust fortification allowed his body, long ravaged by negative qi, to begin a natural recovery. Certain male faculties of his were finally restored once more.
“After I take this pill, I’ll be able to condense my qi. When I reach qi condensation, I’ll obtain another art from the book and another envoy slot.”
Each envoy Lu Yun recruited granted him the entirety of their experience and knowledge. Yuying was a pill master paragon, which meant that he was one too, at least in theory. He simply didn’t have much interest in refining pills.
For his next envoy, he wanted a formation savant. If he could obtain the accumulated knowledge of a top-notch formation master, he would be able to further verify the relationship between feng shui and formations of the immortal world.
The faint gold pill transformed into a current of energy that flowed into Lu Yun’s body.
The young man trembled as his cultivation broke through to the next minor realm. Qi condensation realm!
Method of life and death, bean soldiers? Lu Yun opened his eyes suddenly, utterly bewildered by what he’d just received. Throwing beans onto the ground that transform into soldiers? Back on Earth, the only way something like that was possible was due to sleight of hand from stage magicians. So it really exists here, eh?
Specifically speaking, this method summoned divine spirits into soybeans, transforming them into formidable gold-clad warriors. These warriors were as strong as their summoner, and lasted for about four hours. Up to thirty-six of them would be summoned at once.
“Uh...” murmured Lu Yun, “doesn’t this mean that if I become an immortal emperor of legend, I’d be able to create thirty-six legendary immortal emperors?”
This was even better than walking the realms of yin and yang!