When his Spectral Eye was active, Lu Yun could glean information about the corpses from when they’d been alive. Their identities varied, but they’d all died within Dusk River’s waters. There were mortals, cultivators, and even immortals.
“How can these corpses walk ashore!” Qi Shenghui and the others paled and instinctively took several steps back. The horde of corpses had made them uncomfortable enough from the water. Now that the dead were so much closer, their eerie nature had only intensified.
“Careful, these corpses are intimately connected to the river’s formation. You can’t handle them with brute strength alone!” the old man in red shouted, warily watching as the corpses drew nearer. “Qi Shenghui, Situ Yun. You two hold off the corpses while I set up the amplifying formation for the Path of Ingress! We’ll force our way through!”
He urgently snapped out his words. They didn’t have much time available to them, only two hours at most. Past noon, the island in the center of the river would sink back to the bottom, and no one knew when it would appear again.
As an intrinsic part of the formation in the river waters, the corpses were no ordinary bodies. They were impossible to clear away, so only the Path of Ingress could help the humans get through.
“Fine!” Qi Shenghui ground his teeth together. “Mister Qing, please hurry!” He handed the Path of Ingress to the old man.
The elderly master was only an august immortal, but his expertise had made him a valued guest advisor of the crown prince. Objectively, he was much more prestigious than the eunuch. Qi Shenghui only held the replica because he was a more intimate servant.
Taking the Path of Ingress, the old man produced a large slab of formation stone, upon which he began etching a formation.
Formation stone was a special kind of material in the world of immortals, used to boost the power of formations carved upon it. In fact, one of Lu Yun’s late grand stewards had used its purchase as an excuse to pay the Skandha Range a visit to sell off Wanfeng.
Lu Yun gazed intently at the old man’s etching technique as he worked. This old man is quite good. Much, much better than that Formation Thirteenth, but also much worse than Feinie. He moved his eyes away.
Just as the old man had said earlier, he was etching an amplifying formation that bolstered the power of treasures or combat arts. Immortal grade, to be exact. Despite its rarity, Feinie was more than capable of doing something similar.
Qing Han and Mo Yi protectively flanked Lu Yun, while Qi Shenghui and Situ Yun both hacked at the strange corpses who’d climbed onto land.
The corpses were individually pathetic, but the influence of the one essential layout and the formation linked with the feng shui made them quite formidable. The combination of two august immortals was, oddly enough, being pushed back. In fact, the fighting became rather dangerous for them at times.
“How can this be?! They’re just corpses. Why can’t I kill them?!” Qi Shenghui shrieked. His high-quality immortal sword slammed into a corpse, but was only able to beat it back rather than cut through its skin.
“Idiot,” Lu Yun cursed under his breath. “How’re you going to kill something that’s already dead?”
Upon hearing this, what the eunuch wanted more than anything was to turn around and hack Lu Yun in two. Alas, the corpses kept too much pressure on him, occupying the fullness of his attention.
Situ Yun was completely quiet. He used his sword to continuously swat the corpses aside in great, sweeping strokes, keeping them away from the old man in red. He’d noticed that the corpses’ true target was the Path of Ingress in the old man’s hands.
Unfortunately, the number of corpses kept multiplying. It was as if all hundred-and-thirty-thousand corpses wanted to climb ashore. Qi Shenghui and Situ Yun were driven back, pushed to the limits of their strength.
“What are you three standing around for? Come and help!” The eunuch roared, gnashing his teeth together.
“If you two immortals can’t deal with these corpses, what can we cultivators do?” Qing Han snickered derisively. However, a hint of worry was hidden in his eyes. He snuck a glance at Lu Yun, who was similarly apprehensive. Qing Han’s heart rose back into his throat, and he readied both himself and his starstone.
Before he’d come to Dusk Province, Qing Han would’ve been scared out of his wits by a sight like this. But his experiences within Myriad Formation Summit had strengthened his heart and resolve. The corpses confounded and unnerved him, but he could unfalteringly stand his ground.
Likewise, Lu Yun was entirely unconcerned by the threat of the corpses. The Tome of Life and Death ensured that these walking dead could not hurt him.
Rather than them, he was worried about the unknown formation within the river. Someone was obviously controlling it, otherwise the corpses wouldn’t have begun their attack as soon as the Path of Ingress appeared.
“Could it have been that white shadow?” He squinted slightly. “The living person that resides within the tomb?” Two black flames lit up in his eyes as he stepped forward.
A dark ripple emanated from his body. The aggressive corpses instantly recoiled—even their movements began slowing. Sensing a brief respite in pressure, Qi Shenghui and Situ Yun hastily drew sword seals and covered everything within reach in a relentless wall of blade lights.
“Wah! Wah! Wah!” The baby they’d heard earlier suddenly began wailing again. The sound seemed to bolster the corpses. A black aura enshrouded each of them, serving as a shield against Lu Yun’s unique presence against the dead.
“Resentment given form.” Lu Yun furrowed his brows.
Countless lives had been sacrificed at the banks of Dusk River. If the waters hadn’t artificially soaked up their malice, there should’ve been a ghost here that was at least as powerful as the former Feinie.
The Dusk River Sacrament was a great conspiracy. Its victims had died for absolutely nothing, their body and soul both consumed by darkness. Therefore, their animosity was understandably intense. Just as Feinie’s ghost had resisted the authority of his Tome of Life and Death, so too did the corpses.
Still, he was much stronger now than he had been then. Attaining qi transformation had augmented the Tome’s capabilities; despite the fearsome acrimony, Lu Yun could keep the corpses at bay.
“Wah! Wah! Wah!” The crescendoing cries painfully pierced the ear in both pitch and volume.
A wisp of black smoke rose into the air, gradually transforming into a humongous skull. Its gloom cast a shadow over the skies themselves and caused the corpses to become even more frenzied as their ranks swarmed toward the shore. The two august immortals’ thicket of sword light was shattered beyond repair.
Lu Yun coughed, forced back by the sheer energy.
“Resentment has congealed into malice. What a malignant aura!” The young man was very agitated by the black skull’s appearance.
He’d seen very little of it in Myriad Formation Summit, which, logically speaking, should’ve been overflowing with malice. No wonder! This tomb of the living had absorbed all the resentment of the giant undead hag. If it weren’t for that, the nine bloodcorpses wouldn’t necessarily have beaten her.
“Wait a sec. This tomb is connected to that burial mound!” Lu Yun’s scalp tingled with dread; he remembered the mysterious abyss within the mountain.
The group was currently at the site of the ritual, where all the power from the sacrifices was conducted to the floating peak in the abyss. In other words, the abyss was right beneath the river.
And what was at the bottom of the mysterious abyss in the burial mound? The tomb of the living!
The titanic undead hag had been sealed within the abyss, which meant that the tomb here had sucked up more than ninety percent of her resentment until now.
“But there’s something that doesn’t quite click. Myriad Formation Summit isn’t far from here, but fifty kilometers is still quite a jump,” the young man muttered. “There’s no way the abyss is beneath us.”
They’d entered Myriad Formation Summit through a transportation formation, but its disintegration and the subsequent release of the corpse flies indicated that the corpse coffin still remained below the ruins of the mountain. The formation had only carried them vertically down, nothing more. Unless…
A butchered corpse!
Perhaps Yueshen’s corpse had been cut up and placed in various locations in the prefecture. The main torso was buried under Myriad Formation Summit, while the other portions were tied to it in an inexplicable manner.
Yes, that must be it. I found many grand layouts within the corpse coffin: the Ninefilia Specter Fostering, the nine sector eight trigram combo, and the certain death layout. All of those did double duty as spatial bridges!
The abyss was beneath the Dusk River. The head of the corpse coffin was directly beneath their feet, though the collapse of the certain death layout probably meant that that particular coffin was no more.
Two muffled impacts later, Qi Shenghui and Situ Yun were sent flying. Their swords had finally succumbed to the malignant air, losing their power and autonomy. The corpses’ resentment surged, driving them forward in a hideous renewal.
“We’re done for!” Despair filled the eunuch’s eyes. Their august immortality wouldn’t protect them from being ripped to shreds here.
A white burst of light erupted from behind them in the nick of time. The Path of Ingress widened to nearly colossal proportions, beating back the approaching corpse horde.
The floating bridge over the river became part of the pathway, finally providing free access to the island in the center.
“Done!” the old man in red laughed joyfully in relief. Qi Shenghui and Situ Yun exhaled with similar sentiments.
“Wah!” The black skull cut short the triumph with another inopportune wail. A number of white tentacles reached out from the waters, dragging the path slowly down into the depths. Its radiance began rapidly dimming, and the sinking surface threatened to take Lu Yun and the others with it.
“Corpsefish!” Qing Han recognized the large terror in the depths.