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Chapter 34: A City As Grave Goods

Necropolis Immortal
     “What is it?” Lu Yun asked without thinking.

    “None of your business! Keep your nose where it belongs!” Li Xing snapped.

    The Dusk governor shrugged nonchalantly.

    With a sigh, Qing Han faintly explained, “It’s of utmost importance to me. I have to find it.”

    “The Formation Orb?” Lu Yun asked with brows furrowed. That was what he was here for.

    “No.” Qing Han shook his head. “The Formation Orb is tempting, but a connate-grade treasure like that isn’t for a cultivator like me. Only dao immortals who’ve plucked a dao fruit have the right to possess such a heavenly treasure.” [1]

    “Alright then.” Lu Yun nodded. “Things are only going to get more dangerous as we head further in, so all of you have to listen to me. Otherwise...”

    He glanced at the formation of coffins behind them. Two immortals had already paid the price of ignoring him: their lives.

    Li Xing shuddered, finally realizing how important Lu Yun was. That unassuming formation could claim even a golden immortal, since what the Dusk governor called a bloodcorpse was much more powerful. The time wasn’t right to kill Lu Yun. Not just yet, anyway.

    As they left the formation behind them, the tunnel narrowed until only one person could pass at a time.

    “Halt!” Lu Yun suddenly stopped in his tracks, cold sweat breaking out on his forehead. ”Turn around!”

    “What is it?” asked Qing Han.

    “That thing is back! I relaxed my guard for just a second and almost fell into its trap,” he scoffed. “Turn back around!”

    “Ai,” a faint sigh sounded in the air. The path beneath Lu Yun’s feet suddenly transformed, and another bottomless pit reared its ugly maw at them.

    A dead end!

    “An illusion?” Qing Han stared dully at the bottomless pit with a pale face.

    “Remember the palace we saw when we entered? That’s an illusion created by something we can’t see.” Lu Yun narrowed his eyes. “Cut it out. Show yourself!”

    “It’s gone, my lord,” Yueshen said faintly.

    Scowling, Lu Yun turned around and retraced their footsteps, bringing the group to a three-way fork. There had only been one path when they came. Clearly, the other two paths had been hidden by whatever was creating the illusions.

    “This way!” Lu Yun, pointing at the path on the right.

    “Is that another illusion?” Li Xing asked hesitantly.

    “You’re welcome to go the other way,” huffed Lu Yun.

    The immortal swallowed his words with a scowl. He could crush Lu Yun as easily as he would an ant, but he needed the governor’s guidance here.

    This tunnel didn’t narrow like the one before. Corpse flies covered both walls, casting the tunnel in a faint red glow. The number of flies further decreased as they went along, dimming the ambient light as well. However, a light came from ahead of them.

    Everyone stopped. “This is…!” They gaped at the world before them, their breaths shallow and quick.

    “It’s Truewater City!” Li Xing exclaimed in shock. “The ancient city destroyed by Myriad Formation Summit five thousand years ago!”

    Yuying’s eyes glinted oddly. She’d once visited the mountain to search for Truewater’s ruins, but had mistakenly ended up climbing the mountain after being disoriented by the formations. That trip proved a failure, but who would’ve thought that the ancient city would really be buried underground?

    The tunnel ended in a cliff that overlooked the ancient city below. It was destroyed, merely a wreckage of broken walls and shattered roofs, the rubble of a decayed and desolate scene.

    “Wow! Treasure! So much treasure! Mine, all mine!!” Li Youcai’s shout was enough to startle the earth. Like a giant meatball, he bounced off the cliff and landed in the ancient city.

    That was Yueshen’s doing. She knew what Lu Yun wanted without him needing to say anything. The fatty would be their scout, probing to see if there were dangers awaiting them in the city.

    “Five thousand years ago, the ancient Truewater City was a city of immortals! The city lord herself was a golden immortal.” Li Xing watched as Li Youcai flew down and mumbled, “Not even the city lord escaped when the mountain fell. Perhaps there will be golden-immortal-grade treasure here.”

    Golden immortals and above were considered the elite nobility among immortals. [2]

    Qing Han hailed from an esteemed birth, and the Qing Clan had no shortage of golden immortals. However, he was just a cultivator, so he had no right to order immortals around.

    Even for Li Xing, golden immortals were untouchable figures that he could only admire from a distance.

    “It should be safe. Let’s go down too.” Lu Yun sighed with relief when he saw Li Youcai blissfully cackling over large stones in his arms.

    Yueshen is too good at playing tricks. The Dusk governor snorted with exasperation upon seeing Li Youcai dump his valuables out of storage and replace them with skulls and stones. Judging from Yueshen’s entertaining reactions, she was having a ball of a time.

    Lu Yun wasn’t about to intervene. He and Li Youcai were no allies.

    “The moment the mountain landed was the moment the residents of the city all died.”

    Lu Yun and the others made their way down to the city. They noted human-shaped imprints on the ground. Qing Han squatted and considered the marks carefully, his expression dark.

    “Don’t you guys think there’s something wrong here? What’s emitting the light?” Lu Yun looked up into an expanse of darkness. There was no source of light or even corpse flies. Even so, they were able to see everything in the city very clearly. “This isn’t an illusion,” he added. “It’s real!”

    “Sir.” Yuying turned to Lu Yun with a slight shift in her expression. “Have you noticed? The location and layout of the city seems like a….”

    Puzzled, Lu Yun frowned slightly. Qing Han and Li Xing shifted their attention to Yuying.

    “A peripheral burial pit!” Lu Yun slowly turned over the words in his mouth. “The person buried in the mound must be someone important enough for an entire city of people to be used as their burial goods!”

    Peripheral burial pits were often seen in an emperor’s tomb. In the olden times, the death of an emperor signaled a corresponding retainer sacrifice in designated chambers or burial pits. His consorts and slaves would be buried alive, as companions for the afterlife.

    There shouldn’t be such a pit in a burial mound, yet here it was. The location and layout of their surroundings made it clear what role it played. The mountain had destroyed Truewater City, offering it as tribute to the dead.

    All of its residents were grave goods.

    “It’s not as simple as that.” Qing Han shot to his feet and looked around hesitantly. “Five thousand years ago, the residents of the city were all immortals!

    “Immortals are protected by their qi. Even after being crushed by the mountain, there should be skeletons or something left. But look, why are there only imprints and no corpses? There aren’t even shards of their weapons.” With his keen eye for detail, the imperial envoy made these observations as he landed.

    “A ritual sacrifice!” Qing Han answered before anyone could say anything. “Someone sacrificed a city’s worth of immortals and their treasures!”

    “This….” Lu Yun had no idea what to say. It was immoral enough to bury living people as companions, but to slaughter Truewater’s residents like sacrificial animals, too?

    Suddenly, Qing Han’s expression changed. An indistinct purple sword manifested in his hand and he slashed it at Lu Yun’s neck.

    


    1. Connate means naturally born, innate.

    2. Just a reminder that this is the fourth level of immortals.