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Chapter 38: Layout of Certain Death

Necropolis Immortal
     Ghostface maggots were the larvae of corpse flies. While the flies could fly about freely, the maggots couldn’t survive outside their host. They needed the corpse qi as a nutrient. Once they were separated from their host zombie, they would slowly wither to death.

    The maggots proved Lu Yun’s speculation right. They were inside the body of a giant zombie!

    A dozen undead hags lay scattered in the water ahead, their bodies tattered. Two white maggots ate away at the jelly-like flesh. They were palm-sized, and although their bodies were harmlessly chubby, their heads sported horrifying, twisted expressions.

    Squeak squeak squeak!

    One of the maggots noticed Lu Yun and the others, and the face on its head glowed a faint red as it squeaked like a mouse. The other maggot reared up and shrieked at them.

    Whoosh!

    Emerald flames surged and swept over the maggots. They squeaked in pain as they burned to ashes.

    “All things have their natural bane,” Lu Yun muttered. “Ghostface maggots can kill undead hags, but they themselves are vulnerable to Emerald Mistfire.”

    Undead hags were strange creatures that were immune to all elements. Not even Emerald Mistfire could injure them. The maggots, however, while not being particularly powerful, were a natural counter. Just two of them had killed a dozen undead hags!

    “They really are dead,” he said in a heavy tone, using Violetgrave to pick at the tattered bodies.

    “Don’t—don’t use my sword to touch those disgusting things,” Qing Han complained from Lu Yun’s back.

    “Ah, okay.” Lu Yun awkwardly put the sword away. When cultivators fought, they mostly used the light of their swords to attack their enemies. Rarely did anyone use their swords as a physical tool.

    “How much farther do we have to go?” Lu Yun felt compelled to ask as they carefully navigated around the bodies of the undead hags.

    “Not much further,” Miao announced after some deliberation. “But you’ll have to dig after a few more kilometers to get to your destination.”

    Lu Yun widened his eyes. “We’re inside a zombie, and we’re digging a hole?”

    “So what if we’re inside a zombie’s body?” Qing Han interjected. “Haven’t you realized that it was petrified a long time ago?”

    “That’s right.” Miao nodded in agreement. “I always felt that this seemed to be the inside of a large zombie, but I also believe it’s dead and turned to stone.”

    “Petrified? Can it be....” Inspiration struck Lu Yun. “Can it be that the giant zombie was the one who was first buried in the mound?” He stopped in his tracks and closed his eyes, making mental calculations.

    “No, that’s not right.” He opened his eyes, his brows knitted tight. “We’re walking along the zombie’s meridians. Judging from their size, the zombie should be a few hundred meters tall. The burial mound is a bit small for a body this large.”

    Meridians were much thinner than blood vessels and intersected within the human body to create a large, interconnected web.

    Keeping in mind his suspicion that they were inside a giant body, Lu Yun had been mapping their progress to human meridians all along. The appearance of ghostface maggots had confirmed his speculation, which enabled him to make further deductions about their surroundings. There was a fixed ratio between the size of burial mounds and those they were meant for.

    All of Lu Yun’s deductions led to one conclusion: Myriad Formation Summit wasn’t big enough for this body.

    “A zombie that large?!” Qing Han shuddered against Lu Yun’s back.

    The Dusk governor was at a loss as well. There were just too many things in this world that defied common sense. “Screw it. We’ll take it one step at a time, and get the hell out of here once we get the Formation Orb.”

    If it didn’t make sense, there was no use dwelling on it. There were many mysteries in ancient tombs, especially those in the world of immortals. If Lu Yun insisted on getting to the bottom of everything, his head would’ve exploded a long time ago.

    The conclusion resolved the knot in his mind and his steps became lighter in response.

    “Careful, there’s a formation ahead.” Lu Yun paused at the development and readjusted Qing Han by the hip, bringing the envoy closer. “Strange, what’s a man’s ass so soft for?” he muttered without thinking, as his eyes—and thoughts—were fixed on the misty formation ahead. Shadows stumbled and paced within the formation, marking the presence of many entities.

    Qing Han glared viciously at Lu Yun’s ear with a tightened jaw. He’d love to bite this bastard again.

    “Yuying, Yueshen, follow me closely,” Lu Yun ordered with a slight tremor in his voice. Yuying nodded and moved up to closely shadow her master.

    “This strange formation has claimed many lives. You must be careful; your deaths will also be my doom,” Miao sighed faintly. He was merely a shadow that could create illusions. There wasn’t much he could do.

    “A feng shui layout’s not gonna stop me. If I fall into the same trap twice, I might as well kill myself right here.” Veins throbbed noticeably in Lu Yun’s forehead due to his stress. He clutched tightly at Qing Han’s thigh, his fingers digging into the flesh. The envoy could sense Lu Yun’s anxiety, so he just bit his lip and swallowed his complaints.

    Lu Yun didn’t recognize the formation, but he recognized the feng shui layout it corresponded to.

    Certain death.

    That was how he’d died back on Earth—he was killed by a layout of certain death when exploring a Han Dynasty tomb. It’d been concealed within a layout of life. He’d fallen into the trap in a moment of carelessness. Now, in this enormous burial mound, the same layout, sans any concealment or facade, was once again before him.

    Here we go again.

    Yuying and Yueshen could sense his change of mood. They held their breaths and watched Lu Yun without a word. The very air congealed, the stillness broken only by a pained groan from the envoy on Lu Yun’s back.

    “What is it?” Lu Yun asked with a tremble. The interruption had made him realize that he was too nervous. If he entered the layout of certain death in that state, he would be dead without a doubt.

    “My leg hurts,” Qing Han admitted with exasperation, his face bright red.

    “Um, I didn’t mean to!” Lu Yun hurriedly let go of Qing Han’s leg. Why does it feel so good to touch his leg? He shuddered and almost threw Qing Han off his back.

    “I like women,” he muttered. “I like women.”

    Qing Han’s eyes blazed with rage. “What did you say?!”

    “Shut up!” snapped Lu Yun. He slapped Qing Han on the ass, making the young man shriek. The latter wanted to fight back, but couldn’t muster any strength. Without further ado, the governor stepped into the formation and white fog replaced the scene.

    “Follow me closely,” Lu Yun commanded his two unearthly followers without turning around. “Don’t believe anything you see! And you stay put as well!” he snarled at Qing Han.

    He knew that if he hesitated any longer, he would grow nervous again, which would cloud his judgement. That was why he’d stepped right into the layout the moment he relaxed. There were all kinds of terrors and traps within.

    From behind him came a soft scoff. It was Yuying. She’d cut something’s arm off with her sword, but it continued wiggling even after falling to the ground.

    An undead hag. There was an undead hag within the formation!

    The water had now reached his waist, and the biting cold kept assaulting Lu Yun’s nerves. There was no movement behind him; Yuying had also disappeared.

    “Your—your servant is gone,” stammered Qing Han.

    “Shut it!” Lu Yun growled like a wild animal. He grabbed Qing Han’s buttock with the hand that’d been holding the envoy’s leg, twisting with all of his strength. The pain almost made Qing Han cry. It was the only thing Lu Yun knew to do in response.

    Yuying was dead.

    She’d died the moment she cut down the undead hag.

    However, she wouldn’t stay dead. The Tome of Life and Death would resurrect her, just not immediately.

    “Follow me, Yueshen. Don’t lose the fat guy!” Lu Yun’s chest heaved as he moved forward, one inch at a time. He could feel something entwining his legs beneath the water.

    “Fake! It’s all fake! If I believe anything, I’ll die! That’s what makes this a layout of certain death! It’s a realm of illusions that can kill!” he roared gutturally as terrible monsters pounced at him one after another.

    He saw Xue Lang and Old Willow coming for him, blood streaming out of their eyes. He saw himself back on Earth being executed by firing squad for his crimes. A large truck hit him, smashing him and running over the pieces.

    These were all illusions that the layout created based on his memories and fears.

    “Don’t turn back, don’t fight back, and don’t flinch or dodge! Not even when something is about to eat me! If I fight back, I’ll die!”

    Back on Earth, Lu Yun had died when attacking a monster that was about to eat him. The illusions here were simply too real. Terrors continued assaulting his senses, trying to force him to believe what he saw.

    He could see through Miao’s creations, but not the ones in this formation! If it weren’t for his resolute will, or if he hadn’t known what he was dealing with, he would’ve believed everything in front of him.

    Lu Yun felt a sudden surge of envy for Qing Han. The young man was terrified out of his wits and shrieking mindlessly. Though he believed the illusions, he was too weak to react, so the layout couldn’t hurt him.

    Lu Yun clenched his jaw so tightly that his gums began to bleed. He widened his eyes and stared down an undead hag approaching them.

    “Move!” Miao shouted anxiously at his ear. “That’s a real one! You’re out!”