“What are those?” Mo Yi knitted her graceful brows together and gestured at the cloud of flies obscuring the sky.
“Corpse flies. We stopped the undead hag and the bloodcorpses, but those things came out to play instead,” Lu Yun said with a rueful smile, resignation in his eyes. He sagged weakly to the ground, hugging Qing Han tightly.
“Corpse flies?” Mo Yi’s face fell as her consciousness studied the creatures zipping in the sky. She soared into the air and summoned a sword with a flick of the hands.
“Brightstar Snowrend—” she enunciated gently.
Terrible sword brilliance rained down over the ruins of the mountain like a tempest of snow, mincing the bugs the moment they emerged from the mountain. They had formed a considerable swarm, but each one was only equivalent to a core realm cultivator. For an august immortal like Mo Yi, they may as well have been ants.
Mo Yi was also far from being an ordinary august immortal.
“Brightstar Snowred, the most lethal of the Seven Stars Formations of the ancient world.” Leaning against Lu Yun’s chest, disbelief colored Qing Han’s eyes as he watched sword qi flutter down like snowflakes. “She turned the sword formation into her own combat art!”
“Ah, over there.” Floating in mid-air, Mo Yi swept her consciousness across the ruins of Myriad Formation Summit, plunging into every single hole and finally locating the exit used by the flies.
It was the very passage that Lu Yun’s group had dug to make their way inside. The burial mound’s collapse had connected it to some still-intact tunnels, thus creating a way out for the insects.
Mo Yi’s hands pushed lightly downwards.
The small thieves’ tunnel disintegrated quicker than one could blink. She thought for a moment then arranged a powerful restriction around it, sealing it thoroughly closed.
“Damn, luckily for us she stayed outside. We’d really have been done for otherwise.” Lu Yun sagged with relief when he saw her dispose of the foul creatures. Had she followed them inside, she likely would’ve had the same sorry experiences as Li Youcai, all things considered.
He’d always preferred having multiple strings for his bow whenever possible. Before departing for the mountain, he’d readied a formation disk to allow for a quick exit. The layouts inside would interfere with it, of course, but there were always weak spots to be found. Zhao Dianliang’s formation had used one such weakness to send Qing Hongchen away. Lu Yun could likewise spot similar openings.
He’d had Ge Long and Mo Yi stay outside so they could move the formation disk to safety and stand guard over it. After all, back then, his thinking was that since the great formation around Myriad Formation Summit owed its existence to the Formation Orb, removing the treasure might trigger a cascade collapse and cause the mountain itself to fall to pieces.
Hence, he’d taken extra steps to ensure that nothing would go amiss.
Mo Yi couldn’t make her way through the misdirection layouts by herself, so Lu Yun had purposefully sent Ge Long away to guide her once everyone else had entered the burial mound.
And surprisingly, it was the collapse of the layout of certain death that had ultimately toppled the mountain, not the Formation Orb’s removal.
In actuality, chaotic fluxes generated by the burial mound’s destruction had disrupted Lu Yun’s transportation disk. It’d been the connection with its counterpart on the outside that’d sent the group safely out.
Tomb raiding teams always left someone outside as a precaution, and it had paid off this time. Mo Yi had not only protected the transportation formation, but she’d also prevented disaster by eradicating the corpse flies.
“We’re finally safe.” Lu Yun slumped on the ground, gasping for fresh air with a wide-open mouth.
“You! Put me down first, will you?” Qing Han feebly protested atop the Dusk governor.
“No need. I still have to carry you back.” Lu Yun was equally strengthless, all tension having left his body.
“Duskwater’s city lord should have restoration pills on her. I can make the return journey by myself.” Qing Han was reluctant to leave his arms, but unlike before, there were now onlookers present.
“Oh… that’s right.” Lu Yun chuckled awkwardly. “Mo Yi, can I borrow a few pills?”
Mo Yi nodded. She took out a golden pellet and placed it in Qing Han’s mouth. Eyes shut, he began absorbing the pill’s medicinal qualities.
“Are the few of you the only ones left?” Mo Yi was a bit mystified by the current situation. Before the group entered the burial mound, hadn’t Qing Han wanted to somehow consign Lu Yun to death, while the governor wanted to use the former as cannon fodder?
Yet, here they were, cuddling and seemingly inseparable. Lu Yun even wanted to return to the city with Qing Han on his back? What on earth had happened down there?
Mo Yi glanced at the others.
Li Youcai was sprawled supine on the ground, his condition unknown. Yueshen had scurried back to the Gates of the Abyss the moment they’d surfaced. Even for an immortal ghost like her, the yang energy in the outside world was too much to bear.
“Don’t worry, the Skyriver city lord is dead. As for Li Youcai, I guarantee he’ll no longer bother you,” Lu Yun said with a wave of his hand when he noticed Mo Yi’s expression, finally easing her worries.
“Eh? What a cute little fox!” Mo Yi suddenly reached for Miao, delight sparkling in her eyes.
“Ah?” Seeing a girl suddenly run his way and call him cute took Miao aback. “Shouldn’t she say beautiful instead…?”
Mo Yi extended two slender fingers and lightly flicked them between his eyebrows. Like a bubble popping, the gorgeous man so handsome that he could topple cities vanished, replaced by a palm-sized white fox. Watery blue eyes gleaming with innocence looked back up at Mo Yi.
She promptly gathered him in her arms with a smile. “Little fox, who are you trying to fool?”
Miao was on the verge of tears.
“So it was an illusion all along. No wonder I always thought there was something off about this fellow.” Qing Han rubbed his brow. Now that he’d recovered some of his physical strength and energy, he tried to lurch to his feet. However, his wobbly legs soon gave way and sat him back down.
Lu Yun caught him before he crashed into a heap on the ground.
“You better let me carry you.” Lu Yun shook his head and squatted down. “One pill isn’t enough for your current condition.”
“Do, do you actually like men?” Revulsion floated onto Qing Han’s face. As for whether it was feigned or genuine, only he knew.
“Oh, let Ge Long carry you then.”
“N-no!” Qing Han shuddered violently after one look at Ge Long, then meekly climbed on Lu Yun’s back.
Mo Yi cast suspicious glances their way, goosebumps forming in spite of herself.
“Are there really men who prefer men?” Gently petting the little fox, she lifted its hind legs and glanced at its crotch. “You’re female, so why did you project yourself as a human male? I wonder who you learned that from.”
The fox looked back innocently. Though Qing Han’s face was buried in Lu Yun’s shoulder, one could still spot the bright red tips of his ears.
“A female fox, you say?” an astonished Lu Yun asked as he sidled up to Mo Yi. He, too, pried Miao’s hind legs apart and looked between them. “Sure enough.”
Miao yipped furiously in protest at the top of its lungs. Sadly, she couldn’t speak human languages in fox form.
“No wonder the guy looked so beautiful. He was almost on the same level of the pretty girl who saved me. A man can’t possibly be this good looking, eh?” Lu Yun smacked his lips. As for the fox’s gender… it made sense once he thought it over.
The burial mound belonged to a female immortal, and the corpse coffin was Yueshen’s previous incarnation, also a female immortal. Likewise, all of the layouts inside the burial mound were yin attributed, hence the presence of so many undead hags.
By the same token, the dragon inside the bronze outer-coffin should also be female. Five thousand years ago, Feinie had been buried inside as a funerary offering. She, like the others, was also a woman.
Lu Yun had previously wondered why Miao was an exception to the rule, but the fox also turned out to be female in the end. A male fox wouldn’t have been able to make use of the resurrection layout.
Finally, burial grounds need to strike a balance between yin and yang. As males, the Tiger and Dragon Princes were strong enough yang representatives to offset the extreme yin.
“Yip! Yip yip!” The fox continued protesting, probably trying to say that the mystery girl couldn’t match his beauty.
Hearing Lu Yun’s words, Qing Han pursed his lips, his mouth imperceptibly curving with pride.
“As for this little fox, If I’m not mistaken, she should be a supreme-grade immortal beast, the ‘Nine-Tailed Mirage Fox’. They were rarely seen, even a hundred thousand years ago in the ancient immortal world. She needs to reach the peerless immortal realm, at the very least, to attain genuine form shifting,” Mo Yi ascertained as she inspected the tiny ball of fur. “But she’s only a true immortal right now. It’ll be many moons before she can reach that stage.”
As always, the fox was a picture of guilelessness.
Though Qing Han had regained some of his strength, it wasn’t enough to unlock his storage ring and retrieve the fortress. He took his usual ride on Lu Yun’s back as he rode the sword to Duskwater. Tied to a rope, Li Youcai trudged forward, dragged along by Ge Long.
“Here, this belongs to you.” Landing outside Duskriver City, Lu Yun handed Violetgrave back to Qing Han.
“Keep it, it’s yours.” Qing Han shook his head in refusal.
“What? This is a ninth-rank treasure we’re talking about.” Lu Yun said, a little incredulous. Even regular peerless immortals would fight to the death over such an item, but Qing Han was just giving it to him like this?
It also gave Mo Yi pause. What had transpired between the two that they’d gone from plotting each other’s death to gifting such lavish presents?
Something unusual had definitely taken place inside the giant burial mound.
“Well, you gave me the painting,” Qing Han responded in a voice as tiny as a mosquito. It would seem that the sword meant just as much to him, making it a fair trade in his eyes.
“Alright.” Violetgrave was quite to Lu Yun’s liking. Spirit weapons, even ordinary swords, were a challenge for him to use, not to mention immortal-level swords. Yet Violetgrave felt like an extension of himself. He could use it at will, almost like the weapon was made to be his.
“Then you have my thanks.” He hung the sword at his hip. He couldn’t store it inside his body until he refined it.
“I don’t understand you two.” The baffled Mo Yi shook her head.
Lu Yun had spent three full days inside the burial mound. “A bath first, then some food and drink, and then I’m off to dreamland!”
He could finally truly relax and release all of his tension after returning to Mo Yi’s mansion. This was where he, Ge Long, and Wanfeng had resided before his departure for Myriad Formation Summit.
“Wanfeng, Wanfeng!” he shouted weakly as he made his way back to the small courtyard Mo Yi had reserved for him, Qing Han on his back.
“Eh? Where is she?” He frowned. Something felt amiss. The maid should’ve been waiting by the door from dusk to dawn during the past three days, so why was she nowhere to be seen?
An ominous premonition arose in his heart as he set Qing Han down in a recliner in the yard.
Mo Yi appeared just then, her expression livid.
“Wanfeng has been taken,” she said, her charming face a picture of wrath.
“What?” Lu Yun paled. Someone with an empyrean-grade spiritual root like Wanfeng was probably abducted to be used as a cultivation cauldron.
“It would seem that they all think of me as a pushover they can bully at will!” What made Mo Yi the angriest was the complete lack of regard that certain people showed her. Barging in when they felt like it, abducting her guest, and completely dismissing her authority?
Come what may, she was still the master of Duskwater City!