Sensing the Emerald Mistfire’s terrifying might, the corpsefish slowly fell back. Tentacles that had already reached the shore withdrew as well. Even so, the fish kept their heads afloat, their crimson eyes opened wide as they fixed spooky looks at the humans.
“Now tell me, where are we supposed to go?” Qing Han asked Lu Yun after regaining his composure.
“So you don’t want to kill me?” Lu Yun had been ready to let Li Youcai go on a murderous rampage; Qing Han’s question came rather out of the blue.
“Why would I do that?” sneered Qing Han. “You seem familiar with this place, so be a good boy and lead the way. If I get my hands on the treasure, I might even spare your life.”
Lu Yun rubbed his nose and didn’t comment, instead glancing at Yueshen beside him. The girl pointed at the lake’s opposite bank, quietly saying, “You have to cross the lake if you want to reach the heart of the tomb.”
“We have to get past this small lake to reach the center of this tomb and find the coffin buried within,” Lu Yun repeated, a little hesitant as he looked at the fish.
“You, what are you waiting for? Go and clean up these creatures!” The red-clad immortal standing beside Qing Han shouted at Yuying, his eyes lingering covetously on her figure. If not for Qing Han’s presence, he might’ve given free rein to his base desires.
“Are you stupid or what?!” Lu Yun’s temper flared the moment he heard the man. A little peeved, he snarled, “Each fish is the equivalent of an immortal-grade trapping formation. My shadow servant is just at the spirit realm. You’re sending her to her death if she faces them.”
Yuying was his trump card. He wouldn’t have let her appear except as a last resort, but there was no telling what might’ve happened earlier if he’d let those zombies get too close to him. The urgency of the situation had compelled him to call on her to eradicate them.
Yuying was a full-fledged immortal. She hadn’t yet fully recovered her powers, but her Panorama and seven swords made her an immortal’s match nonetheless. Even so, Lu Yun would rather not have her show the full extent of her abilities.
Rather than waste time arguing, the red-clad man barked at another immortal at his side. “Then you go. Tidy up those fish!” He was clearly of higher status than the other immortals, if he was able to order them around right in front of Qing Han.
Though the envoy’s face betrayed his displeasure, he didn’t gainsay the red-robed man.
“Err…” The blue-clad immortal hesitated. When someone had killed one of those strange zombies earlier, they’d turned into a zombie themselves... who knew if these so-called corpsefish weren’t the same?
“Don’t worry. Those fish might be spooky, but they aren’t zombies… You can slaughter the lot in any way you see fit,” Lu Yun explained when he noticed the man’s qualms.
The blue-clad immortal nodded, then took a deep breath. His sword streaked into a brilliant ray and flew into the sky. Once above the lake, it burst apart in a downpour of radiance that ruthlessly slammed into the water.
The lake’s serene surface instantly frothed with bloody waves as an endless rain of sword light made short work of the fish.
The onslaught stopped after a dozen breaths, leaving the lake fully pigmented with a scarlet hue. The corpsefish had been exterminated to the last, their corpses floating belly up.
“Hurry up, let’s go!” Lu Yun yelled all of a sudden. Helped by Yuying, his figure swiftly flew past the lake.
Li Youcai was one step even faster. Murmuring nonsense like “give me back my treasure!” or the like, he also reached the opposite shore in the blink of an eye.
“Let’s go!” Although startled, Qing Han reacted fast enough. A dim purple sword light enveloped him, bringing him to the other side.
“Wa-wait for me!” After deploying his sword art, the blue-robed immortal proved a smidgen too slow to react. He hastily retracted the sword light and rushed forward, but...
The entire lake erupted violently with the appearance of an enormous human head. A kilometer wide at the very least, it clogged the entire width of the lake.
Thick arms danced above the enormous corpsefish’s head. No sooner had the blue-robed immortal reached the lake’s center than the tentacles twined around him, dragging him into the fish’s waiting mouth.
His blood-curdling shriek was echoed by the soul-numbing sound of chewing. Horror raked over the assembled group.
Hiss hiss hiss!
The fish produced a sibilant sound resembling that of a snake. Above its head, pale arms stretched toward the bank.
“Break!” shouted the red-clad immortal. Scarlet rays of sword luminance emerged from his hands and cut off the gruesome appendages.
“Young master, hurry and leave… This fish is at least in the august immortal realm!” Color had drained from the red-clad immortal’s face. Though he’d successfully repelled the corpsefish’s attack, he’d suffered heavy injuries in the process. Hence, he set foot on his sword, ready to fly away, but crashed heavily to the ground a mere few feet later.
“I—I can’t fly!” he shouted, horrified.
“The corpsefish’s sphere of activity is limited to the water. We’d better move away from the lake,” Lu Yun declared gravely.
The corpsefish earlier weren’t tiny by any stretch of the imagination, but they’d rivaled a normal human’s size at most. The one they faced now was a leviathan that stuffed the waters full with its head alone.
“Is there a space-restriction formation in here?”
Sure enough, the enormous corpsefish sank beneath the surface when they left the shore, no longer visible.
Probing their current surroundings with his senses, Qing Han’s expression turned grim. Both cultivators and immortals alike took flying for granted, and to be deprived of flight was like a mortal denied the use of his legs.
“A space-restriction formation? Good! Great!” Lu Yun clapped and laughed aloud, his eyes gleaming with glee.
“We can no longer fly. You call that great?” Qing Han scowled in annoyance.
“Of course it is.” Lu Yun grinned. “Both tombs and graves are made to protect something. The presence of this formation implies that we’re nearing our goal. Onward ho!”
Increasingly buoyant, he hummed a little ditty and strode deeper into the dark tunnel with lively hops.
The others looked at each other. Why was he in such high spirits all of a sudden? Was it purely because of the treasure?
“Haven’t any of you noticed? These intersecting tunnels feel somewhat familiar,” Qing Han ventured hesitantly as he suddenly stopped and looked all around him. Rather than a single tunnel, many passageways criss-crossed each other inside this great tomb, like an underground maze.
“Hm?” Lu Yun froze when he heard the musing. “You also find them familiar?”
“Correct.” Qing Han nodded. “Very familiar, in fact, but I can’t tell you why. I’ve never come here before.”
Lu Yun nodded. He also shared the same feeling. “I’ve been observing the tunnels along the way—”
Yuying interjected, “They’re laid out in a pattern similar to meridians of the human body.”
“Meridians of the human body?” Qing Han blinked, then realization abruptly dawned. “I see! It’s just as you say, no wonder!”
“Meridians... human body...” Lu Yun felt a shiver course through his spine. The gears of his brain turning sluggishly, he stared fixedly at the corpse flies on the wall.
Corpse flies… things that only grew on millennia-old zombies.
“The one who built this place had truly exquisite skills to create such an intricate pattern.” Qing Han exclaimed, clucking his tongue.
“I’m afraid that’s not what happened here…” Lu Yun gulped violently. Even so, his throat still felt dry. “These tunnels probably aren’t man-made… rather, we’re inside a giant corpse. To be more precise, inside a zombie.” Even he found his words incredulous.
“Y-you need to stop with this nonsense,” Qing Han shuddered as he hastened to protest. “How can there be someone this big?”