A tomb for the living!
Lu Yun’s sect’s texts did have some records about this exceedingly mysterious type of tomb: it was generally protected by three types of layouts based on the one potential, two principles, and three essentials respectively. There was no layout that was purely based on any singular one of them.
The ten Taiji forces, from the single potential to the ten orientations, could be transformed individually into thousands of feng shui variations, or fused together into innumerable more. They represented the power inherent in heaven and earth, life and creation.
The layout that protected a tomb for the living was layered together from feng shui based on the one potential, two principles, and three essentials. Lu Yun had already seen the first two. As for the three essentials, they were heaven, earth, and man.
The two principles held infinite variations, and of the three essentials, heaven and earth were already visible right in front of them. I suppose ‘man’ has to do with the shadow I just saw.
His sect’s records had expressly forbidden entry into any tomb for the living. They were even more taboo than bloodcorpses. Although tomb raiders dared to raid tombs of any size, the text he’d read had specifically banned tombs of the living at the end of its account.
Granted, there were more characteristic features to these tombs than their accompanying feng shui layouts. However, every piece of evidence so far was pointing to his identification being correct. Right, Lu Yun was all but certain—the island at the center of the Dusk River held an empty tomb.
Can there really be another Formation Orb inside? Is there really more than one?
He’d already tried asking his second envoy, who’d taken a look at the orb in her hand and shaken her head in bewilderment.
“A tomb for the living? Who does it belong to, an ancient immortal?” Qi Shenghui demanded darkly. Murder flared in his eyes. Like most of his peers, the eunuch was particularly petty and vindictive. He was hellbent on killing Lu Yun for calling him a simpleton.
He was surprised at the young man’s declaration, but the revelation was reasonable enough. There were plenty of tombs in the world today. Rediscovering an ancient site could happen just about anywhere. And no one knew exactly who had erected these tombs for the dead immortals.
“If it really is an ancient tomb, that makes things a lot easier,” Qi Shenghui mused.
Lu Yun’s eyes were fixated upon the island. Opening his Spectral Eye, he saw the white figure once more.
It was a lithe, long-haired woman, dressed in alabaster robes. He was too far away to see what she looked like, but there was no doubt she lived and breathed. She was holding something he couldn’t make out and stood very still, almost like she was looking back at the six of them on the shore.
“It’s the tomb of an immortal indeed!” the old man in red intoned. “It spans the entire island.” He was knowledgeable enough to make the correct judgment, but the woman in white remained invisible to him.
“No wonder the Formation Orb is here,” Qi Shenghui took a deep breath. “You, go that way onto the island!” he turned toward Mo Yi. The Duskwater city lord was beautiful enough to charm any man, but Qi Shenghui was an eunuch and his first instinct upon seeing such a pretty fairy was to destroy her!
“No need,” frowned Lu Yun. He flicked a soybean forwarded with his finger and conjured a golden soldier of about eighteen meters tall where it landed.
“Get over there and take a look!” the young man commanded.
“Yes, sir!” The black fire flickering in Lu Yun’s eyes cowed the soldier into immediate submission. He walked into the Dusk River at the end of the white path.
“What exceptional skill in puppetry,” the old man in red noted with surprise. The bean soldier Lu Yun had summoned was no different from a real living creature, yet it wasn’t alive.
Splash splash splash!
Upon making contact with the river waters, the white path became a floating bridge. The moment the soldier’s feet touched the bridge, the waters roiled with activity from the corpses below, who eagerly grabbed at their perceived prey.
The soldier had no time to react to the assault. He was pulled into the waters by his ankle, then torn to pieces in the next instant.
“Wah! Wah! Wah!” A sound like a babe’s cries echoed across the surface, terrifying the people who heard it.
“The resentment of a thousand years of sacrifices has fused with the river water, bolstering the layout’s power.” Lu Yun’s complexion clouded over. The young sacrifices couldn’t become vengeful ghosts in their own right, but the special conditions here had still absorbed their accumulated emotions.
“What do we do?” The flummoxed Qi Shenghui instinctively looked at the old man in red for help.
This elderly expert was a true master of formations. He and the good-for-nothing Formation Thirteen were as different as night and day; the latter cared first and foremost about fishing for fame.
“Lay out a formation! We can take advantage of its power to weaken the river’s own, then cross it!” The old man in red was very grave, as he could see the formation in the river as well.
The qi transformation realm soldier had been weak, but it’d been torn to shreds without triggering any of the river’s power. There was no doubt that an origin core city lord would meet the same end.
The three august immortals here, on the other hand, valued their own lives too much to venture into danger.
“Hold on!” Lu Yun called out. “The formation here is quite complex and interlinked. It can change in an uncountable myriad of ways. With all due respect, mister, do you know what it is?”
He could see the one potential-based feng shui influence, but not the formation that corresponded to it.
The old man blinked, then shook his head slightly. “Alas, it’s too strange for me to make out. It almost seems one with nature. I can see the formation, but not its true form.”
“What formation do you intend to weaken the river formation with, sir?” asked Lu Yun.
“Ah….” the old man in red blushed with some embarrassment. He wasn’t particularly upset at his own lack of answer, though, and instead responded with an eager question, “Do you have a solution, young man?”
Lu Yun’s prior mutterings had tipped the elderly master off: there was more to this ‘useless’ governor of Dusk Province than the rumors suggested. When it came to formations, at least, he was leaps and bounds ahead of most others.
Though the old man had found some of the explanation mystifying, most of it had helped clear up many key points of confusion.
“I can’t make out the formation here, either,” replied Lu Yun, “but I can see that you have something with you already that can counter it. If you increase its output by ten- or a hundredfold, you’ll be able to cross onto the island unhindered by the corpses.”
“Aha, right!” The old man looked at Qi Shenghui.
“No! The Path of Ingress is too important. It’s one of Nephrite’s most important treasures. We can’t possibly bring it out!” The eunuch staunchly refused.
“The Path of Ingress?!” Qing Han’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. “That bastard Zhao Changkong… how dare he touch the Path of Ingress!”
The Path of Ingress was a treasure that could traverse any formation in the world. Nephrite Major relied on it to excavate ancient tombs for the heritages held within. Of course, it wasn’t omnipotent; otherwise, Nephrite would’ve dug up every tomb long ago and used the spoils to conquer the immortal world. For example, the four ancient tombs surpassing emperor rank within the four provinces were utterly impenetrable.
“Shut up!” Qi Shenghui hurriedly shot back. “The path I’ve brought is only an imitation. The true article requires several dao immortals in conjunction to activate. How can an august immortal like me do anything with it at all?”
“Even an imitation shouldn’t be lightly made use of,” Qing Han harrumphed. “If an immortal from outside the major got ahold of its secrets, what advantage would Nephrite have over our rivals? Do you think that you alone can keep it safe?”
Qi Shenghui colored, but there was nothing he could retort with.
Only an imitation, eh? Lu Yun pondered. If an imitation lets us move freely in this two principles layout, how much more would the original do? It’d probably smash through the one potential here with ease.
The layouts here only constituted common feng shui influences, not grand ones that encompassed the world. In the latter case, the imitation would no doubt prove useless.
“We can destroy the imitation as soon as we get the Formation Orb within the tomb. As a connate-grade treasure, the Formation Orb can both create and destroy formations. If we can acquire it, Nephrite Major will have another powerful weapon in its arsenal. We are doing the major a great service!” The old man in red neutrally declared. “Now, I will set up a formation to boost the path’s power tenfold. Traversing the Dusk River will be a breeze.”
“Alright!” Qi Shenghui gritted his teeth. The white light around him grew more brilliant by the second, until a small, twisting band of luminosity appeared between his fingers. Even though it was only an imitation, the entire sky was still lit up by its radiance.
“Be on high alert, Situ Yun. Kill any newcomers who appear, no matter who it is!” Qi Shenghui’s voice was shrill and a little feminine, but his lethal intentions were clear.
“Understood!” The armored Situ Yun tensed as well and drew his sword.
“That doesn’t quite matter right now,” sighed Lu Yun. “We need to get rid of these corpses first, or we’ll all die.”
The corpses within the Dusk River had stealthily climbed ashore at some point, and were already very close to the party of six. Not zombies, nor hags, just cold, dead corpses.
Everyone had been so focused on the Path of Ingress. If Lu Yun hadn’t kept an eye on the river all the while, the others wouldn’t have noticed their arrival.