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Chapter 40: Proof of Allegiance

Necropolis Immortal
     Was Lu Yun scared?

    He was only human. Of course he was scared. As an experienced tomb raider—and the best of his field, at that—however, fear wasn’t going to deter him. Quite the contrary, unknown terrors only excited him further.

    “There’s a gradual slope here.” He made his way down the tunnel the soldiers had dug, adjusting his posture to maintain balance. “The air is very humid. There should be a large body of water ahead of us.”

    It would either be a wetland or an enormous pond.

    “There’s a pond up ahead, and past it, an annex room,” Miao said. “You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.”

    “An annex room? Why’s there an annex room in a burial mound?” After brief confusion, Lu Yun quickly accepted the anomaly. Whoever was buried here had warranted an entire city as their burial goods, so building an annex room—a feature only found in tombs—was nothing in comparison!

    There were very few corpse flies here, providing limited light. For cultivators, however, it was enough. Lu Yun slowly made his way downhill without a word, Qing Han on his back.

    The sloping tunnel wasn’t very long. An enormous pond came into view after only a few kilometers, its waters rippling and reflecting with light. Like the ancient Truewater City, there was no source of light here, but the entire place was well lit.

    “I’ve been here before,” Lu Yun muttered at the sight.

    “Of course you have,” a chilling voice suddenly sounded from beside him. “What a trick you’ve pulled, Lu Yun, Governor of Dusk!”

    Qing Hongchen!

    The man’s clothes were tattered and his face was covered in bleeding cuts. Venom stabbed out of his eyes as he glared at the Dusk governor.

    Lu Yun’s breath hitched; he hadn’t expected the young man to be here. Enlightenment struck in the next instant. Miao had led him to a tall cliff earlier, but the young governor hadn’t been fooled. Instead, he moved the consciousness brand that Qing Hongchen had imprinted on him to a stone, then threw it off the cliff.

    At that point in time, Lu Yun had vaguely glimpsed a large pond below. Within it was a terrible creature that had devoured one of his bean soldiers. What he hadn’t expected was that Qing Hongchen would follow the brand down to where the Formation Orb was.

    There was another man by Qing Hongchen’s side. It wasn’t Formation Thirteenth, but the Skyriver city lord.

    “Kill them!” Lu Yun yelled.

    “Die!” Yueshen charged in and Li Youcai activated the Seal of Mountain and River, smashing it down on Qing Hongchen and the city lord.

    “No!!!” Qing Hongchen screamed in panic and bolted for the shore.

    Rumble!

    As soon as the seal activated, something disturbed the surface of the peaceful pond. An enormous white arm shot out and made a grab for it.

    A giant corpsefish!

    It was larger than the ones they’d seen before.

    “Get lost!!” Yueshen pulled out of Li Youcai’s body and shrieked, her expression grave. That put fear in the fish’s dimly crimson eyes and its giant head slowly sank back into the pond.

    Plop!

    The seal fell into the water as well.

    “My lord, I, I want to eat it!” Strands of black smoke abruptly rose from Yueshen’s body and her face turned eerily terrifying. Her eyes glowed scarlet as she stared at the pond with want.

    “What—what is that?!” The Skyriver city lord exclaimed with fear when Yueshen suddenly manifested in midair.

    “Is that the immortal ghost?” Qing Han gasped. He knew of her existence, and they’d interacted when she was in Li Youcai’s body. However, this was his first time seeing her in person.

    “Go ahead,” Lu Yun responded calmly. He knew Yueshen would lose control if he denied her request. Immortal ghosts were dangerous beings of great grievances, and even an empyrean immortal like Li Youcai was nothing but a toy to her.

    If it weren’t for the Dusk governor’s ability to control Yueshen and keep her nature in check, she would’ve long rampaged on a killing spree. Immortal ghosts were no benevolent creatures; this was Yueshen’s true nature.

    Permission obtained, the ghost cheered and dove into the pond, searching for the giant corpsefish.

    “An immortal ghost, Lu Yun? How unexpected.” Qing Hongchen let out a long breath, then noticed Qing Han on Lu Yun’s back. “Qing Han, my dear seventh brother, what happened?”

    He could tell the condition Qing Han was in. With a feral grin, he stalked toward Lu Yun and his younger brother.

    The Skyriver city lord threw his head back in satisfied laughter. “Oh, how the tables have turned, Lu Yun!”

    He knew Qing Hongchen well; Lu Yun was dead without a doubt. The Qing scion might’ve allowed Lu Yun to live in order to use him, but not after the governor gave the order to kill.

    “You don’t have to get your hands dirty, fifth master. Allow me.” The city lord advanced on Lu Yun with a vicious smile.

    “Alright.” Qing Hongchen nodded with an aloof expression.

    “Wait!” Lu Yun said coolly. “Aren’t you worried that the immortal ghost will kill you once she returns and finds me dead?”

    “Return?” Qing Hongchen scoffed. “You don’t know what’s under the water, do you? She’s not coming back. Do it!” he scoffed. “And kill Qing Han, too!”

    “So what if you’re the governor. You court death by stealing my fiance from me! Die!” The Skyriver city lord took a step forward and slashed at Lu Yun, his sword flaring with brilliance.

    Buzz.

    Violetgrave suddenly exploded into purple light and cut the city lord down.

    “What?!” The city lord’s face crumbled. His sword crashed into an invisible wall that shattered his wondrously sharp blade. The purple light expanded to enshroud him and reduced him to ashes.

    Lu Yun panted, his face pale. Fresh blood dripped down the tip of the sword in his hand.

    “Impossible!” Qing Han and Qing Hongchen yelled in unison. Violetgrave was a ninth-rank weapon, how could a qi condensation cultivator use it?

    Qing Han had depleted all of his energy and strength to use the sword, and still couldn’t move even now. Lu Yun, on the other hand, was simply breathing a little faster.

    “Nothing is impossible. I wouldn’t have come to explore this burial mound with you guys if I didn’t have a few tricks up my sleeve.” Lu Yun’s breathing was labored and his face flushed. “I have some strength left in me. Even if I can’t kill you, I can at least injure you severely. That means death in this cursed place.”

    He wasn’t afraid of Qing Hongchen. There were three true immortals within his Gates of the Abyss. However, Lu Yun didn’t want to summon them just yet; Formation Thirteenth was still lurking somewhere.

    He didn’t think the man was dead. Even someone as useless as the Skyriver city lord had survived, so an immortal like Formation Thirteenth must still be alive. The only explanation for his absence was that the man had betrayed Qing Hongchen and was now in hiding.

    As the thirteenth best formation master of Nephrite Major, he would surely detect that there was an invaluable treasure hidden in the burial mound.

    Lu Yun looked around and found that Miao was also missing.

    “What do you want?” Qing Hongchen said with narrowed eyes, his tone murderous.

    “We’ll work together to find the treasure,” Lu Yun said seriously. “It’s a fair competition after that!”

    “Work together? Sure,” Qing Hongchen scoffed. “But I’m more powerful than you. If you want an alliance, kill Qing Han and give me his head as proof of your allegiance.”