Not a single blade of grass grew on this barren island. Dizzy from the fall, Lu Yun nevertheless saw Qing Han rush to his rescue without the slightest hesitation. That someone would readily risk their life for his sake, even in this unfamiliar world, gave rise to a strange, nameless emotion.
“You shouldn’t have come. It’s too dangerous.”
Qing Han or no Qing Han, the situation was still as helpless as ever. Here was a land where not even the grandmaster of tomb raiders would willingly tread. Lu Yun’s original plan had been to scout the area with a few armored soldiers, but he hadn’t expected Situ Yun to so mercilessly toss him onto the island.
“Too late, I’m already here.” With a decidedly Lu Yun-like shrug, Qing Han helped him up.
All of a sudden, Mo Yi also landed softly in front of them in a cloud of sweet fragrance.
“What are you doing here as well?” Lu Yun stared at her in confusion. He and Qing Han had gone through life and death together, so it wasn’t strange to see such a comrade come to his rescue. But Mo Yi? There was no deep relationship there, merely a contract and nothing more.
“The three august immortals would’ve forced me to come, in any case,” Mo Yi sighed quietly. “Moreover, I promised to keep you safe, so keep you safe I shall.”
Lu Yun might’ve undone the inversion of yin and yang and dispelled the life-devouring force, but unknown threats were still lurking on the island. He and Qing Han were just cultivators. What if they were to encounter a creature strong enough to make escape impossible?
An august immortal like Mo Yi could help them survive in such a situation.
As for the three men on the Path of Ingress, they simply watched on indifferently. Lu Yun’s group was nothing but cannon fodder, plus, there was nowhere for them to run. The path beneath their feet was the only way out of the island.
Meanwhile, Lu Yun’s five formation disks were still floating in mid-air, producing an endless flow of energy that countered the reversion of the island. They couldn’t stop for a single instant, else the life-absorbing properties of the island would make its return.
A girl stood quietly at the center, a breeze tugging lightly at her clothes.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” Mo Yi asked quietly, on high alert while she observed the girl standing not far away. The girl’s robes had seemed white from the distance, but they were grey and worn out when seen from up close.
About sixteen years old, her features were elegant and graceful. Eyes tightly shut, her thin eyebrows were set in a faint frown that expressed vague resentment. Her skin was white like a pale sheet of paper, and straight locks of hair flowed all the way to the ground.
She held her hands in front of her chest, seemingly cupping something between them. As still and silent as ever, she ignored Mo Yi’s question.
“Stay away from her.” Lu Yun caught Mo Yi and stopped her from approaching the figure. Halting, the city lord looked back at him, but the governor’s gaze never left the girl’s closed eyes. His lips were tinged blue as they trembled uncontrollably.
There was a faint, bloody light overflowing from the girl’s eyelids.
“I see. I should’ve heeded the grandmaster’s warning. I really shouldn’t have come here,” he whispered to himself.
“What’s the matter?” Qing Han and Mo Yi wondered, astonished by his words.
Qing Han, in particular, felt perplexed. Lu Yun had demonstrated complete poise and resourcefulness inside that terrifying burial mound, ultimately escaping from horrifying monsters against all odds. Yet he was having second thoughts here? And was that regret in his tone?
Not once had he previously expressed regret, despite having been caught in much greater danger. What made this girl different?
“Do you know who… or what she is?” Cautiously sizing up the girl, Qing Han immediately realized the truth. Despite the pretty face, the girl wasn’t human. She was a dreadful monster in human skin.
“Defying the laws of nature, pilfering the essence of all life, overturning life and death.… It’s a zombie king! That’s what’s buried in the tomb for the living,” Lu Yun said, his voice hoarse as he stressed every syllable.
A zombie king was the greatest taboo among tomb raiders. Abandoned by heaven and earth, shunned by the living, and neither dead nor alive, zombies were creatures outside the three realms and six paths.
But in special circumstances, such as a tomb for the living, particularly strong specimens could defy the natural order and reforge a soul to come back to life, evolving into a zombie king. They were still a zombie, and their bodies were as dead as lesser kin, but they possessed a living soul. Those souls were trapped in a dead body and suffered torment, day after day.
Legends spoke of their eyes that shone crimson and brought devastation to whatever their gaze rested upon. A zombie king was a type of living dead, hence the Spectral Eye had failed to discern the truth, leading Lu Yun to mistake her for something alive.
“I was wrong. The phenomenon on the island isn’t caused by formations.” Lu Yun’s expression contorted. “This creature has subverted the laws of the heavens by its sheer power alone. It siphoned the life force away from every creature on the island, as well as those who have accidently stumbled upon this place.”
When he’d previously gazed into the mysterious abyss with the Spectral Eye, he’d only seen too many dead bodies to count. In all likelihood, they were this zombie’s victims. Only an endless stream of vitality could fuel its rebirth and evolution.
“A zombie king?” Mo Yi’s face was grim. “Do these vile creatures truly exist in this world?” Needless to say, it wasn’t the first time she’d heard of such an existence.
As if she’d caught their conversation, the girl’s figure trembled lightly and she slowly lifted her eyelids. Light the color of blood instantly filled the scene before them.
“Fecking A!” Lu Yun swore. An enormous, black donkey hoof appeared in his hand. He’d prepared it before venturing inside Myriad Formation Summit, but it hadn’t been needed there in the end.
Now however, they faced a zombie king. The hoof could restrain ordinary zombies, but its efficacy against zombie kings was unknown.
The zombie king howled so loudly and shrilly that it almost ruptured Lu Yun’s eardrums. As for the hoof, the soundwaves shattered it on the spot. An intense crimson glow shrouded the entire island.
To Lu Yun’s eyes, the world seemed to transform into mountains of corpses and seas of blood, from which countless zombies crawled out to throw themselves his way.
“This isn’t an illusion!” The Dusk governor clenched his teeth. “But it’s not real either!”
The mountains of corpses, the oceans of blood, the countless zombies... everything was born from the light in the girl’s eyes. In other words, it was one of her arts.
“What are you three bastards waiting for?” The governor ran wildly for his life while swearing loudly. “The Formation Orb is in her possession. She’s going to get away if you still don’t act!”
Dragging Qing Han and Mo Yi along in his wake, he sped toward his formations. For the time being, the five disks were still holding strong, forcibly withstanding the zombie king’s power. The sea of corpses and oceans of blood melted like snow the moment they approached the formations.
“What? She has the orb?!” The sudden onset of the light filling the sky over the island had startled Qi Shenghui and the two others, but Lu Yun’s resounding shout goaded them into action.
“That’s right, she seems to be holding a black bead!”
“Let’s go!” Clenching his teeth, Qi Shenghui landed on the island, soon followed by Situ Yun and Qin Xianhuo.