“That’s the previous Dusk River God?” Lu Yun threw Qing Han a disbelieving glance before checking the remains of the corpsefish with his Spectral Eye. “Well, it really is! How did a corpsefish become a god??”
It made no sense whatsoever. Corpsefish were zombie-like creatures born out of fish that were contaminated with human grievances after eating corpses. How could something like that become a god?
Qing Han shook his head, as confused as Lu Yun. “But that is indeed the corpse of a god....”
Grotesque shadows swarmed out of the abyss, advancing on the two. The tortured cries grew louder and more intense, and a pungent smell assaulted their senses. Something big was coming their way.
Heavy breathing sent a shudder down their spines as a mysterious power weighed down on their chests like a mountain, making their breathing difficult.
A soft white light radiated from Qing Han as an empty scroll rose from his body. It was the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals, made by combining the Panorama of Clarity, Portrait of Emptiness, and the Profile of Harmony. Its light drove away the enormous thing silently shuffling toward them from the dark. In fact, it even seemed capable of suppressing the power of the abyss.
“Why is that painting in your hands?” A hoarse voice traveled out from the underwater palace, followed by the emergence of a strange-looking woman.
She was completely naked, but her shrivelled face and exposed skin looked lifelessly grey, as if she hadn’t seen sunlight for a long time. What surprised Lu Yun most was the tail attached to her torso in lieu of a human lower body.
Wait, is she dead or alive?!
Lu Yun shuddered. All that was left of her tail were bones! It looked like the flesh had been eaten away by something. Closer inspection revealed that not only had her tail turned into a skeleton, her entire body was a dried husk that lacked the color and shine of a living being.
He pulled Qing Han behind him and took a few steps back, unsure if the creature was dead or alive.
“Why is the treasure of the divine race in your possession?” The mermaid asked again when Qing Han didn’t answer, slowly drifting toward them.
“The utmost treasure of… the divine race?” Lu Yun blinked. She means the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals?
“Are you the Dusk River God?” demanded Qing Han, his body enveloped by the treasure’s light.
“...I am,” the mermaid bit out, then abruptly erupted with a piercing shriek. Violence entered her lifeless eyes. “Speak! Why would the most precious treasure of my kind fall into the hands of a human slave—”
The entire underwater palace shook as corpsefish after corpsefish ventured out. A dense swarm of white tentacles sealed off and isolated the space. There was no water here, yet the creatures swam as if they were underwater.
“What’s happened to them?” Qi Shenghui asked in a quavering voice when he saw Lu Yun and Qing Han suddenly stop moving. The three supposedly lofty august immortals were as lost as headless chickens here. Terrors lurking within the darkness and the strange young woman in front of them had triggered their deepest fears.
“They see what you can’t see,” the zombie king said faintly. “You will be able to see the same if you walk out of the barrier. If you dare think about doing that, however, I will kill you.”
The eunuch shuddered, too frightened to respond.
“What does that young lad possess that keeps even the monsters from approaching?” If the zombie king left the barrier, the monsters in the dark would swallow her whole. However, the giant thing had cautiously inched its way toward Lu Yun like it was wary.
The zombie king pursed her lips, eyes flashing with a trace of anguish. A living soul trapped in a dead body and enduring daily torment… that kind of agony was one that few could imagine.
Emerald fire suddenly licked the air when the swarm of corpsefish poised to attack. Shrieks of pain sounded out, leaving only piles of ashes after a few breath’s time. As if it were sentient, the fire then churned toward the river god.
“Emerald Mistfire!” The river god cried out, reflexively backing away and darting back into the underwater palace. A tremor spread throughout the architecture, seemingly afraid of something.
Emerald Mistfire was the antithesis of the divine race!
Yuying dropped down from above with her signature white satin dress and aloof expression. With a wave of her delicate hand, the fire returned to her and shrunk into a spark.
“Please punish this servant for being late, sir.” She knelt on one knee before Lu Yun.
“At ease,” Lu Yun sighed in relief. “You did well.”
The short-lived battle had imparted concrete clues nonetheless. The three paintings were the divine race’s utmost treasure, but the three immortal fires could seal the three paintings. Therefore, that meant the fires were natural banes to the divine race!
“Let’s go into the palace!” Lu Yun quickly made up his mind. Since the Dusk River God was vulnerable to both the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals and the Emerald Mistfire, he had nothing to fear!
“Wait!” Qing Han called out.
“What is it?”
Qing Han pointed at the spear pinning the former river god down. “The previous river god was at least a peerless immortal, but the brass spear pinned her to death here. It must be a valuable treasure.”
Lu Yun slapped his forehead and rolled his eyes. Here he was, an experienced tomb raider, yet he’d overlooked a real treasure! A spear capable of killing the previous river god…. Both the owner of the spear, as well as the spear itself, must be powerful beyond measure.
“Wait, don’t move it yet!” Lu Yun hurriedly stopped Qing Han when the latter was about to yank out the spear.
The Qing scion stopped in his tracks. “What’s wrong?”
“The last river god died here a thousand years ago during the unrest of Dusk Province.” Lu Yun checked the details about the god’s death, his tone turning grave. “The owner of the spear may still be alive.”
His mind nagged at him to make the river god an Envoy of Samsara, but he immediately dismissed the idea.
Although the river god was a peerless immortal, she would be at most only a true immortal after being resurrected by the Tome of Life and Death. Moreover, Lu Yun couldn’t accept that she was a corpsefish.
Nailed here a thousand years ago... did this thing really stop the unrest in the province? Lu Yun’s head swam with unanswered questions.
The current river god was born less than a thousand years ago. She seems terrifying on the surface, but Yuying is able to restrain her. So that makes her an empyrean immortal at most! Her strength mostly comes from the influence of the abyss. Capture her, and we can save Wanfeng!
Lu Yun hadn’t forgotten that Wanfeng was still on top of the altar by the Dusk River. Though the power of the Dusk River Sacrament wouldn’t go to the mermaid, the will of everyone attending the ritual would. Gods were born of people’s faith, thus the river god would be empowered by her believer’s prayers.
If he captured her, he would be able to use the moral high ground to save Wanfeng. Nothing would be more convincing than words straight from the river god’s mouth.
“The owner of the spear may still be alive??” Qing Han shuddered. What a terrible place this abyss was. Who knew how many more monsters were hidden in the darkness! If they pulled out the spear and awakened something powerful, they could be crushed by a stray thought.
“Enter the palace,” boomed Lu Yun, “and take the river god alive!”