Qing Han’s sword was too fast! Neither Yuying nor Yueshen were able to react in time.
He wants to kill me!! was the only thing Lu Yun could think of as purple light enveloped him.
In the face of danger, his strategy was to retreat into the Gates of the Abyss. But when faced with Qing Han’s intimidating sword light, his thoughts moved sluggishly, and he couldn’t react at all.
There was a dull impact near Lu Yun’s ear, followed by a strange, wet sound. Sticky, cold liquid splashed his face as a tortured cry assaulted his eardrums. Startled, he whirled around to find a woman lying on the ground, whimpering with pain.
Well, something that resembled a woman, at least. Its skin and flesh were jelly-like and they clung to the exposed bones, as though they’d been submerged in water for quite some time. Its disheveled hair stuck together like aged seaweed and its pale, pupil-less eyes stared straight at Qing Han. The envoy’s attack had exposed its blackened brains.
“What the hell is that?!” Qing Han almost threw up when he got a good look at the thing. This is too damn revolting! It looked like a body that had been submerged for years, but it was alive!
Lu Yun stumbled a few hasty steps back.
“An undead hag,” he muttered. “Why is there an undead hag here?!”
An undead hag was a water spirit, or rather an underwater zombie. However, they were much more terrifying than regular zombies. Even a thousand-year-old zombie had its weaknesses, but so far, no one knew how to deal with undead hags. Not even a black donkey’s hoof worked.
Case in point, this particular undead hag still lived even after Qing Han had cut off half its head. Its body twisted and contorted as it struggled to get up.
Undead hags mostly resided in water, but Lu Yun hadn’t found any signs of a river or a lake here.
“Run!” He snapped and bolted when he saw Qing Han preparing another attack. Rushing their way from afar were hundreds of undead hags that’d crawled out from who-knew-where. His skin crawling, Qing Han rushed after Lu Yun.
“Yueshen!” roared Lu Yun.
“Alright, which one of you clay-brained shitgibbons wants to steal my treasures?!” Li Youcai dropped the stone he was holding and shot to his feet, breaking out of his reverie. A large square seal was in his hand.
An explosion of golden light saw the seal grow several times larger at great speed, then it viciously slammed into the hags like a small mountain.
The earth shook slightly from the force of the seal crushing the undead hags.
“The Seal of Mountains and Rivers, an eighth-grade treasure!” Greed flashed through Li Xing’s eyes when he turned and stared at their deliverance. But this was neither the time nor place for treasure-snatching. He kept running.
Despite being crushed by the seal, the bodies of the undead hags continued to twitch and convulse, slowly recovering. To Lu Yun’s knowledge, no one had ever found their weakness. Running away was the only way to survive an encounter.
“Gaaa!” The monsters emitted strange sounds that startled Yueshen’s specter on Li Youcai’s back and dispersed it.
“Holy!!” With his senses recovered, Li Youcai finally saw what was actually happening in front of him. His first impulse was to put away the seal and flee.
More undead hags flooded in, filling the air with a strange fragrance.
“Hold your breath and don’t breathe in the scent!” yelled Lu Yun. “It’s poisonous!”
Black flame burned within him, destroying the toxins that entered his body. Qing Han and Li Xing cleansed themselves of the poison with their own techniques, as well.
The poisonous fragrance coming from undead hags was very unearthly. Prolonged exposure would turn someone into another of their kind.
The fifth grandmaster of Lu Yun’s sect had once encountered undead hags in an underwater tomb. Not long after his close escape, he himself had turned into one of the monsters as well. In the end, a group of elites banded together and sealed him away.
The battle had greatly weakened the sect, and it took countless years for them to recover. Although Lu Yun was now a cultivator, he still didn’t know how to deal with these monsters.
“There!” shouted Yuying, pointing at the tall building at the center of the city. “They seem to be avoiding that place!”
Lu Yun perked up. “Let’s go then!”
The undead hags were very fast. They caught up to the humans in an instant, but gradually lost speed the closer the group drew to the tall building. Something about it intimidated them.
Once they’d reached the building, Li Youcai dropped to the ground, his chest heaving like bellows from heavy panting.
“What is this place? What are all of you here? Where are my treasures?” He looked around, befuddled. His eyes lit up in the next instant. “Oh! Here’s my precious!” A satisfied smile tugged at his lips.
Yueshen’s startled specter was back to distort Li Youcai’s perception.
“It really is a mythical immortal ghost!” Qing Han shuddered violently as he observed Li Youcai’s behavior. Records spoke of immortal ghosts that were almost impossible to shake off once a person was haunted by one.
“Thanks.” Lu Yun glanced at Qing Han. If not for the young man, Lu Yun would’ve been a delicious meal for the undead hag. Sure, he had the Tome of Life and Death, but it didn’t make him invincible. A bite from the monster definitely would’ve killed him. If he died, Yuying, Ge Long, and the three remaining Infernum within the Gates of the Abyss would cease to exist as well.
Qing Han huffed in response to Lu Yun’s show of gratitude. Lu Yun rubbed his nose awkwardly.
“What is this place?” Li Xing asked curiously as he considered the tall building. “How is it able to drive off these terrible, undying monsters?”
The hags continued moving even when missing half of their heads, or after being mashed into meat paste. That made them undying creatures in his eyes.
“It’s an altar.” Lu Yun looked up.
The building was about a dozen yards tall and completely black. There were strange symbols and patterns all over the architecture. The undead hags kept a distance of about thirty yards from the altar, a deeply terrified look in their ghastly pale eyes.
“The living souls residing within Truewater were buried alive, then sacrificed. This must be the sacrificial altar for those living souls.” Lu Yun took a deep breath and murmured, “I didn’t see this altar when we were on top of the cliff.”
“What are you suggesting?!” Qing Han demanded darkly.
“The altar must have sensed us coming—or rather, sensed living souls approaching,” Lu Yun responded in a strained voice. “That was why it reappeared. It wants to sacrifice us as well.”
“Do you mean the altar is alive?” Qing Han asked in startlement.
“I don’t think so. There must be something else here. For example, whatever has been creating the illusions! We’ll know once we get up there!”