“Proof of allegiance? Sure.” Lu Yun smiled slightly.
Qing Han tensed. Was the Dusk governor going to kill him?
Qing Hongchen started. He hadn’t expected Lu Yun to be so agreeable.
“However—” Lu Yun’s tone changed, “You die first! Kill!”
Qing Hongchen’s thought process had momentarily been derailed by the unexpectedly easy capitulation. He suddenly sensed a terrifying killing intent looming behind him.
“A true immortal!” Qing Hongchen’s stomach lurched. He ignored the killing intent and spun around, sprinting away from the vicinity of the pond.
An invisible barrier emerged and crushed the true immortal’s attack in its infancy. A tall wave once again reared from the pond. Hair resembling wilted seaweed shot at the true immortal, entangling and dragging him into the waters. It then swept around the bank, seemingly searching for other prey.
Qing Hongchen sat on the ground, panting. “Haha, hahaha! You have a true immortal, too!” He sneered, but there was a trace of desperation beneath his curved lips. He had a transportation portal on him as well, but every immortal he’d summoned had died here.
“What the—!” Lu Yun was slack jawed with shock. That had been one of his Infernum. He wanted the nether soldier to sneak a fatal blow against Qing Hongchen, then retreat back into the Gates of the Abyss.
Unfortunately, the soldier’s attack was blocked by the formation the moment he showed up. Once dragged into the water, he’d instantly lost his life.
“No immortal can use their power here,” Qing Han explained calmly, prone on Lu Yun’s back. “Anything of their power level triggers the formation and makes the things in the pond attack.”
So that’s what's going on here.
In control of Li Youcai’s body, Yueshen had previously deployed the full power of an empyrean immortal. That had lured the corpsefish out of the pond and negated Li Youcai’s attack.
Lu Yun’s Infernum had attracted another monster. From the glimpse he’d caught, it was an undead hag. However, the pond remained undisturbed when the Skyriver city lord died. Only immortal-level strength would trigger the local restrictions.
He’d now lost two Infernum in short succession.
“Not bad, Lu Yun. It seems that you really want me dead,” Qing Hongchen snorted derisively. He manifested a cyan sword with an indistinct haze and advanced imposingly on Lu Yun and Qing Han. “You’ve used up your tricks, though, so let’s just see who’s the one going to die here.”
“You can certainly try.” Lu Yun’s face clouded over and Violetgrave shone brightly in his hand. “I admit I can’t defeat you, but I’ll make you pay before I die. Just try me!” He bared starkly teeth. “Within this burial mound, being injured is as good as being dead.”
Eyes narrowed, Qing Hongchen stopped in his tracks. “Bastard, how can a condensed qi weakling like you activate a ninth-rank treasure?! And Qing Han, why would you give him your sword? Didn’t you want him dead?!”
Lu Yun shrugged innocently. Even he didn’t know why he could use Qing Han’s sword. The incapacitated envoy’s eyes shone brightly and he glanced at Lu Yun, face flushed.
“Hey, do you have any pills to replenish energy?” Lu Yun suddenly asked.
“I ate them all,” Qing Hongchen scoffed, throwing a glance at Qing Han. “Even if I still had some, I wouldn’t give them to you.”
Lu Yun rolled his eyes in lieu of a response.
“What a fool you are!” Miao came out of nowhere and levied an accusatory finger at Lu Yun, no care for maintaining his elegant demeanor. “Didn’t you see the defensive formation here? How dare you let your immortal ghost loose? Are you trying to get me killed?!”
“Alright, alright, I know now,” Lu Yun grumbled. “Just tell me how I’m supposed to get past the pond.”
Yueshen was already in the pond, her current condition unknown. Fatty Li Youcai was sound asleep as his spirit recovered. Miao’s reappearance had allowed Lu Yun to relax slightly.
“Who are you talking to?!” Qing Hongchen’s eyes widened at the Dusk governor’s words.
Even immortal ghosts left traces of yin energy in the air. Not everyone could detect it, but a genius like Qing Hongchen could. This time, however, he sensed nothing. The only thing where Lu Yun was looking at was an empty void.
“I don’t like him,” pouted Miao. “Even ugly eyesore Qing Han is more likeable.”
Lu Yun repeated his words to the brothers.
“But I don’t like him,” Qing Han yawned lazily with narrowed eyes.
Lu Yun hadn’t let the envoy off his back. Qing Hongchen would absolutely attack his brother as soon as he was physically on his own.
Miao sniffied seductively, eliciting instantaneous goosebumps all over Lu Yun’s body. “My beauty would absolutely conquer that ugly eyesore if he could see me! My looks are unrivaled!”
The spirit caressed his own face, pleased, then his tone turned serious. “You have two options. First, you can wait until Yueshen returns. This is her territory, so she can take you to the other side. Second, you can use the Portrait of Emptiness, which you’ve given to ugly eyesore Qing Han.”
“The former won’t work. Who knows when Yueshen will return? There’s obviously something else here, too, and any delay will only put us in more danger. As for the latter...” A malicious smile tugged at Lu Yun’s lips. He pointed at Qing Hongchen and whispered, “Can you lure him into the water, Miao?”
“No!” Miao screamed. “You can’t kill another! One’s dead already, no more life shall be lost here. Otherwise, the dragon will come back to life and I’ll be the first one doomed!”
“What do you mean ‘the dragon will come back to life’?” Lu Yun widened his eyes. “There’s a dragon here?!”
“No—nothing!” Realizing that he’d let the cat out of the bag, Miao changed the subject. “I can create an illusion realm and trap him. You may use the painting without concerns.”
He disappeared after that, and Qing Hongchen’s eyes became lost in space. No one knew what he was seeing.
“Miao just said that if another person dies, a dragon will be resurrected!” Lu Yun murmured. This was too much for him to process.
“A dragon? Resurrected?” Qing Han was stunned as well. “There’s a dragon here?”
A head popped out of the water and a dejected Yueshen floated into the air with a pout.
“I lost it, my lord.” She’d lost her earlier viciousness and now looked like a little girl immensely saddened because she’d dropped a piece of candy.
Lu Yun sighed in relief when he saw Yueshen resurface. Whatever the deal was with the dragon, it could wait. “Are you alright?” He considered her closely.
“I’m fine,” Yueshen responded unhappily. “I lost the big guy.”
“That’s alright, there are plenty of others here. Miao said this is your turf. What’s under the water?”
“My turf?” Yueshen looked lost. It was obvious that she didn’t think of the place as her territory. “There’s corpsefish, undead hags, and ghostface maggots beneath the water.” She thought for a moment longer and declared with great certainty, “And that’s not regular water in the pond, but corpse water! Any living beings will die if they fall in!”