“Is there something on my face?” Lu Yun was still a bit woozy and stared dumbly at Qing Han while the young man rubbed at his cheek.
“Don’t move!” Qing Han tried again. The mark had faded somewhat, but not completely, making the disguised girl’s face turn flaming red. Her true form had been disguised by the starstone and she hadn’t put on any lipstick, so that mark must be a result of her... sucking Lu Yun’s face!
A hickey, as modern day people would call it!
Of course, Qing Han didn’t know what a hickey was, but memories of prior night’s madness slowly came back to him. Fortunately, Lu Yun’s relatively low cultivation of the golden core realm made him a lightweight when it came to wine brewed for immortals; he believed the events of last night were a dream.
I’m never drinking with him again! If I do, I have to secretly nullify the wine’s potency. A bit of energy floated to the tip of Qing Han’s finger as he finally removed the mark completely.
“Seriously, what’s on my face?” Lu Yun blearily touched his cheek; it was cool to the touch and felt good. He blinked as his head slowly cleared up into full wakefulness. “By the way, why’s your skin so dark again?” He frowned at his friend. “Is your ailment acting up?”
“Ah, this is how I look right after I wake up,” Qing Han lied. “I’ll be fine after a while… I’m not fully recovered yet.” He’d morphed back into male form with the starstone and had opted for his old appearance in a frantic moment of habit.
“Really?” Lu Yun considered Qing Han’s face closely, unconvinced.
Qing Han kicked the governor away again. “What’s a man staring at me for?!” He shot to his feet and shook his clothes, which reeked of alcohol. “Arrange a room for me, I need to take a bath and get changed!”
Lu Yun propped himself up and awkwardly rubbed his butt.
Main hall, the governor’s manor.
“Reporting to Your Excellency the Governor, the Skandha Range has been razed and the willow tree and various otherkind dealt with. Please pronounce your judgement!”
Yuchi Hanxing took off her black helmet, freeing her long silver hair to cascade down to her waist like a waterfall. Silver hair framed coolly angled features, and silver brows arched over silver eyes. She was the perfect picture of a wintry beauty, but the heavy black armor had covered up her grace.
“You’re a woman??” Lu Yun looked at her in disbelief, confusion flashing across his eyes.
“Dusk Province sits in the northern reaches of Nephrite Major. Its heavenly laws are influenced by the North Sea, which is defined by water and the yin attribute. That’s why there are more female cultivators in this region. There’s actually more of a gender balance now. Before the unrest from the tomb, the governor and city lords were all women.” Off to the side, Qing Han explained before turning to Lu Yun in shock. “You ordered the Dusk Phalanx to destroy the Skandha Range?!”
“Eh… so that’s why.” Realization dawned on Lu Yun. No wonder his envoys were all women.
Considering the environment in Dusk Province, it was indeed easier for female cultivators to progress here.
“Left unchecked, the Skandha Range would only be more trouble,” he continued. “I’d rather eliminate them now than wait for them to gather and attack me.”
“True,” Qing Han agreed.
Skandha Range had plagued the Dusk Province for a long time. Past governors had wanted to deal with it, but to no avail. Over time, the willow tree spirit became known as the Dusk Lord.
The Dusk Phalanx represented the Nephrite court, and it couldn’t leave the seaside stronghold unguarded. Even when evil spirits from the Dusk Tomb had gone on a rampage, only a small contingent had been diverted to quell the unrest, out of concern that the North Sea monster spirits would seize the opening to invade.
Lu Yun, however, had Diexi. She was powerful enough to keep the monster spirits at bay in place of the Dusk Phalanx. What he hadn’t anticipated was that not only would the zombie king defend the stronghold, she’d slaughter the entire army of monsters in an eye-popping display of ruthless violence.
He’d sent the soldiers to the Skandha Range instead, precisely because the army represented Nephrite Major and it was completely justifiable for them to crack down on traitors. It was an order that no one could criticize Lu Yun for. As long as the stronghold remained standing, even the soldiers could be forgiven for temporarily leaving their posts.
“Let’s make a trip to the Skandha Range and meet that old willow spirit.” Lu Yun rose to his feet.
He was curious about this mountain range. Five thousand years ago, the Dusk governors had all been arcane or even peerless immortals. What was it about the willow spirit that had stumped the governors before him?
A giant fortress ship sped the northern reaches of the Dusk Province, vastly different from the ship that Qing Han had brought out before. The adornments alone were incredibly extravagant, making it look more like a flying palace. The formations and equipment installed were also miles ahead of those in the previous transport. Lu Yun even spotted a ninth-rank treasure twinkling among them! He could say for certain that if Qing Hongchen had rammed this ship, the only thing destroyed would be his own vessel.
“The ship is yours,” Qing Han said suddenly. “You need your own vehicle as the head of a province.”
“What?!” Lu Yun couldn’t believe his ears. He wasn’t so green now that he didn’t recognize the value of this fortress ship. It was much more valuable than a ninth-rank treasure. In fact, he wouldn’t be able to get his hands on a ship like this even if he sold the entire province!
Qing Han had already gifted him a ninth-rank sword for no good reason, and now this? This was too high a price to pay, even if the Qing Clan wanted him as an ally.
“My cousin took this ship from someone else, anyway,” muttered Qing Han. “It doesn’t cost me anything to give it to you.” He shoved something into Lu Yun’s hand—the spirit key to the fortress ship. Refining it would grant Lu Yun control over the entire ship.
“But....” The governor stared at Qing Han, slacked jaw and speechless.
“But what?” Qing Han batted his eyes. His skin was flawlessly fair again, and his scar had disappeared.
“Your cousin isn’t going to beat me up when he learns of this, is he?” Lu Yun asked with a wry smile. He remembered how much the mere mention of Qing Han’s cousin had frightened Feng Li, Lu Yuanhou, and Qi Shenghui, who’d been devoured by the black dragonguard. That man had to be some sort of character. The fortress ship obviously belonged to some great royal, and Qing Han’s cousin had simply taken it!
“He won’t!” Qing Han promised, thumping his chest. “If he beats you, I’ll beat him up.”
Lu Yun rubbed his forehead, at a loss for words.
With its tremendous speed, the fortress ship reached the Skandha Range in no time.
“This is the Skandha Range?” Lu Yun turned to the silent Yuchi Hanxing in surprise.
“In response to Your Excellency, this is indeed the Skandha Range.” She’d put her helmet back on, obscuring her face and masking her voice.
“I discover something big everytime I board a fortress ship.” Lu Yun turned to observe the giant range in front of him. “A Skandha Extinction Tomb! Torture five generations of a bloodline to death all at the same time and bury them in the same tomb, then seal the tomb with a desolate willow…. That combined will completely destroy the bloodline. Does such a vicious burial method exist in the world of immortals as well?”
Spotting dragon veins and choosing the right feng shui layout when burying the dead could guarantee a peaceful rest, but more importantly, future generations would be protected and the family legacy sustained. Similarly, one could destroy a bloodline through specific burial methods and feng shui!