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Chapter 55: Escape By the Skin of One’s Teeth

Necropolis Immortal
     Lips pursed, Qing Han rested his head on Lu Yun’s chest, listening to the strong heartbeat echoing beneath his ear. The burial mound was crumbling around them, and a terrifying creature out of their worst nightmares was chasing them.

    However, he felt strangely at peace

    To him, this is a time of life and death, but to me.... Qing Han sighed faintly. I’ve never felt as safe as I do now. Not even my cousin or big brother ever helped me feel this much security.

    Qing Han looked down at the starstone on his chest. The empty painting may or may not be able to break the coffin formation, but the stone could certainly do it.

    Even if it won’t hurt the undead hag, it’ll break the formation. Qing Han closed his eyes and quietly gathered his strength to activate the stone. If I use it again, will that weird scroll be able to save me this time?

    If it can’t, the starstone will become an unclaimed treasure after my death. He’ll see my true form then. What will he think? Will he still call me an old hag?

    “Here it is!” Lu Yun suddenly stopped. Nine pitch-black coffins sat at the center of the tunnel, obstructing the way forward. Sensing danger, the gargantuan undead hag came to a halt and growled deeply.

    “Scared now?” He curled his lip. “Too late!”

    They were near the outer fringes of the burial mound. Although the structural integrity of this area was also compromised, the tunnel remained intact, for the moment. As he approached the coffins, the undead hag screamed crazily, seemingly having figured out his plan. But Lu Yun didn’t budge.

    “It looks like you don’t dare come any closer.” He smiled and stepped into the formation. The layout of nine sectors and eight trigrams activated, and his surroundings changed.

    At the same time, Lu Yun felt a tremendous force emanating from the young man in his arms. He quickly called out, “Wait! If you destroy the formation now, we’ll be eaten by the bloodcorpses!”

    After a pause, Qing Han nodded and tamped down the stone’s power.

    Lu Yun sighed in relief and quickly jumped out of the formation in a few leaps and bounds. He’d been here before and still remembered his past experience, immensely speeding up his escape.

    “Now—” Qing Han spoke up.

    “Don’t do anything yet!” Lu Yun interjected, frowning in deep thought. He could see the undead hag’s venomous glare of resentment from across the formation. The coffins were set up to allow only one escape route, which meant the undead hag had to walk it herself in order to get to Lu Yun.

    Rumble rumble, crack!

    An enormous rumble deep within the tunnels presaged to the walls cracking around them. The undead hag shook dramatically, ready to charge. The burial mound was falling apart around them; the moment it was completely destroyed and took with it the corpse coffin, the consciousness trapped within would be gone as well.

    “Aha!” Lu Yun’s eyes lit up. “We’ll have the undead hag break the formation herself!”

    “What do you mean?” Qing Han blinked in confusion. The undead hag was plainly too afraid of the formation to come closer.

    “She may be afraid of the bloodcorpses, but the consciousness in the corpse coffin isn’t.”

    Bam!

    A giant floating summit emerged in the tunnel, filling the narrow path almost to the brim. On one side was the lifeless death pole; on the other side, the lush life pole. Combined, they formed the layout of resurrection.

    The undead hag hollered unintelligibly at the sight and dashed toward the peak with reckless abandon.

    Crash!

    The undead hag’s giant body rammed headlong into the black coffins and reduced them to splinters. Bloodcorpses crawled out of the debris, strange and chilling smiles splitting their faces.

    “Where are the ghostface maggots?!” Lu Yun tensed when he saw only nine bloodcorpses, but no maggots. However, he almost threw up in the next moment.

    The bloodcorpses opened their mouths wide to bite the undead hag, revealing gaping maws teeming with maggots. The maggots were residing in the bloodcorpses’ stomachs!

    The undead hag shrieked with terror as her skin, flesh, and even her bones were relentlessly devoured by the bloodcorpses. She struggled to climb the floating summit, but the bloodcorpses overpowered her and pinned her down.

    “Ehehehehe!” They broke into spine-chilling laughter as they fed on the undead hag, then, one by one, looked in Lu Yun and Qing Han’s direction.

    “Shit, we’ve taken the undead hag out, but the bloodcorpses are even worse!” Lu Yun’s stomach lurched. “Let’s hope they’ll stay in the burial mound, like most zombies.” He put the floating summit away with a wave of his hand and turned around to bolt.

    From behind came the hellish cacophony of bloodcorpses masticating flesh and bone, and the undead hag’s tormented screams.

    “Don’t look!” Lu Yun hurriedly covered Qing Han’s eyes before the imperial envoy could look back. “If you do, the bloodcorpses will follow us!”

    “But they’re already following us,” Qing Han replied in a shaking voice, his eyes fixed somewhere above Lu Yun’s head. Nine crimson shadows floated over his head, and he could even make out dark red eyes glinting coldly within the shadows.

    “Doesn’t matter. Just ignore them!” The noises behind them had died down, the bloodcorpses having devoured the titanic undead hag at a stunning speed.

    “Are they corpses, or ghosts?” Lu Yun flew outside via Violetgrave, but the nine bloodcorpses doggedly chased after him, hovering above him.

    “You… have... destroyed... me!” a chilling voice slid into Lu Yun’s ear.

    “You’re… just... a… fecking consciousness without a soul!” he sneered. “Stay down!”

    He knew what the voice was; it was the consciousness sealed in the corpse coffin. It wasn’t a ghost, nor was it a zombie. It was just an untethered consciousness that would dissipate as soon as it left the burial mound.

    There was no need to fear it.

    “Take me with,” the voice sounded again, but with pleading tones this time. “Let me inside. Let me in, let me in!"

    “In?” After a brief pause, Lu Yun summoned the Gates of the Abyss, opening up the way to the other realm.

    Swoosh!

    Something seemed to have entered the gates.

    “Hm?” Both the consciousness and the nine bloodcorpses had entered, which was rather mystifying. Still, the world within the gates was his territory and the nine bloodcorpses wouldn’t be able to get up to any trouble.

    He kept his guard up and sped through the burial mound. Something else had been awoken amid the destruction. Something terrible.

    The corpse flies!

    They were attached to the meridians of the corpse coffin. As the burial mound collapsed, damaging more and more of the corpse coffin, the walls fell apart and awakened the flies.

    Palm-sized flies lunged spitefully at Lu Yun, and he could see the crimson venom in their mouths. That was the flies’ most terrifying weapon, as one bite would reduce their victim to a zombie.

    Every one of the flies could rival a core realm cultivator, while Lu Yun was only in the qi transformation realm. He could deal with a couple of them, but not an endless swarm of flies.

    Hum.

    A soft white light emitted from within Lu Yun’s arms, keeping the cloud of flies at arm’s length. Qing Han had finally succeeded in activating the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals, and the white glow acted like a barrier in keeping the flies out, but it couldn’t kill them either.

    “I don’t know how to use it,” Qing Han said nervously, his face a shade paler. “This is the best I can do.”

    “It’s good enough!” Lu Yun sighed in relief and flew toward the exit with Violetgrave.

    The first pond they‘d encountered was in shambles and the giant corpsefish was nowhere to be seen. It might be dead, or simply fled.

    “Finally!” Miao and Yueshen, who was controlling Li Youcai’s body, had waited a long time in the ruins of the palace hall. They hurried to Lu Yun when they saw him arrive, Qing Han in his arms.

    “Let’s get out of here! The flies are coming!” Staring at the swarm of flies, Lu Yun destroyed the tunnel with a flash of his sword, blocking the path. The palace hall was losing bits and pieces as well, and wouldn’t hold for long.

    “This was where the formation was etched!” Miao hurriedly pointed out.

    “Don’t use that. Use this!” A transportation formation disk emerged in Lu Yun’s hand.

    “Uhh…” Miao paused.

    The Dusk governor placed the formation disk on the portal they’d come through earlier, lining up the etchings on both. A rumble later, and no more figures could be seen in the hall.

    Boom.

    After twenty breaths of time, the palace toppled, buried under a landslide of mud.

    In the outside world, great disturbances were rumbling from underground.

    Mo Yi watched incredulously as Myriad Formation Summit sank. The mountain that had stood tall in Duskwater Prefecture for five thousand years had abruptly vanished from the face of the earth.

    Every living soul in the prefecture was compelled to look in the direction of where the mountain used to stand.

    “It’s gone,” muttered Mo Yi. “Did he really get the Formation Orb?”

    Though Lu Yun had long taken the Formation Orb, it hadn’t affected the formations outside the mountain, since they’d formed a complete system themselves after five millennia. That was why the grand formation of the mountain had remained intact until this very moment.

    Mo Yi had left the outskirts long ago. Ge Long stood by her side with a transportation formation disk, anxiously awaiting his master. It abruptly flashed, then some figures fell from midair.

    Buzz buzz buzz.

    A stream of palm-sized corpse flies swarmed out of the ruins and spread out in the vicinity.