“What?!” Qing Han’s unexpected comeback left Lu Yun speechless. He hurriedly snatched his hand away from his friend’s chest. “I haven’t!” he blurted.
“Really?” insisted Qing Han.
“I...” The governor was at a loss for words.
“Or do you wish I’d turn into a woman so you can fall for me then?” Qing Han batted his eyelashes, his tone clearly exuding ‘you are such a perv’.
“No!” Lu Yun was truly taken aback by the line of questioning. He hadn’t expected such a hair-raising sentiment to come out from the usually mild-tempered and sometimes sardonic young man.
“Then why do you keep touching my chest?” The Qing scion glared at him. “You touched me back in the Myriad Formation Summit burial mound, too!”
“Well...” Lu Yun puffed his own chest out and rested his hand on Qing Han’s chest. “There’s nothing to be touched anyway. We’re both men. What’s a little encouraging tap on the chest between friends?”
Qing Han froze and reflexively turned to dodge the hand.
“We’re both men. What are you afraid of?” Lu Yun couldn’t resist the urge to take another step forward and placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder. To deal with someone like Qing Han, one had to be tougher than him and take the initiative, or the young envoy would get too full of himself.
Qing Han was dying inside and had no idea what Lu Yun was thinking.
“Enough fooling around. There really was a woman in my arms just now, and it wasn’t an illusion.” Lu Yun grew solemn. “I’m worried that there’s something I don’t know about in here.”
The Skhanda Extinction Tomb was too dangerous, prompting each step to be taken with the utmost caution and alertness, though they hadn’t met with any particular danger up until now.
Face flushed, Qing Han bit his lip and kept quiet, worried that Lu Yun would notice something.
If the disguised girl were a normal person, if she could live as long as regular cultivators, she would absolutely tell Lu Yun the truth…. But now she might die anytime; she couldn’t be that selfish.
The Scroll of Shepherding Immortals had resolved what the Qing Clan feared the most, but she had even more concerns now. It seemed best for her to hole up in a hidden place some day and quietly die alone.
“Did you find the treasure?” he hastily changed the subject.
“Yep, it’s above us.” Lu Yun’s tone was slightly stern. He was still thinking about the woman who’d knocked into him.
Qing Han looked up and saw a pea-sized spot of golden light floating about three hundred meters above them. It was the Treasurefall Coin.
“Don’t touch that coin!” he warned, alarmed. “Summon people to help. A creature has awakened.”
“Huh?” Breaking out of his reverie, Lu Yun could also smell a pungent, disgusting odor in the air. It was from a creature’s gaping mouth.
Raspy hissing sounds suggested the presence of snake-like entities.
“No need!” Lu Yun shook his head. “We’re within the Big Dipper Formation, while the creature is guarding the treasure outside. It doesn’t dare enter the formation.”
This formation, or layout, was remarkably fatal as established through the power of the Big Dipper. Both the layout and the formation were deadly enough on their own, but when combined, their synergy could destroy anything with no hope of survival.
If Lu Yun hadn’t seen through the layout, they wouldn't have made it here. Since the creature had to remain on guard around the treasure, it wouldn’t easily enter the formation.
“Okay.” Qing Han nodded. “Now what?”
“Follow me and retreat slowly.” About to take Qing Han’s hand again, Lu Yun changed his mind and put Qing Han’s hand on his shoulder.
The two slowly backed away; Lu Yun didn’t even retrieve the coin. Although the creature wouldn’t enter the formation, it could influence the arrangement through other means.
Both of them were on edge. They could feel a weighty gaze piercing through the darkness from above their heads and settling down on them.
A sudden hum marked the activation of the Big Dipper Formation, casting the chamber in a snowy-white glow. Qing Han shuddered, his face draining of color.
The originally enormous chamber abruptly shrunk down to roughly thirty-six meters in radius. Innumerable small, black snakes writhed and crawled along the walls. They were all roughly a foot long and a thumb-length wide.
Above the two humans reared a black, triangular snake head about a yard in radius. Its crimson eyes stared coldly at them as frosty light glinted off a white, jade-like horn atop its head. Lu Yun’s attention, however, was on the silver stone above the enormous snake’s head. It sparkled with celestial radiance, and there was something familiar about it.
“What the—” Qing Han’s terror was apparent in his trembling body and bloodless face.
“Don’t worry, this is just a reflection created by the formation,” reassured Lu Yun. “The snakes are actually very far from us.”
“Okay.” Qing Han’s face was still pale.
“You’re afraid of snakes?” Lu Yun looked at his friend in surprise.
“This is a rimesnake, a tremendously venomous beast.” Qing Han tried his best to tamp down his fear. “I was bitten by one when I was little. That venom is responsible for the way I am now.”
Once bitten, twice shy. The experience of youth had planted the seed of abject terror in his heart.
Although the snake was deadly, the Qing Clan had ways to negate the poison. However, everyone in the clan at that time considered Qing Han to be an inauspicious harbinger of disaster that would destroy the clan, so many of them had wanted him dead on the spot.
In other words, it wasn’t a coincidence that Qing Han was bitten by the snake.
When Qing Buyi and Chen Xiao found him, the venom had already traveled bone deep and merged with the thing the clan was most afraid of. That made the resulting poison even stronger, and it was now eating away at Qing Han’s life.
Neither Chen Xiao nor Qing Buyi could cleanse him of the poison. For that, the two devils created rivers of blood in the clan, killing at least ten thousand immortals in a fearful bloodbath.
From then on, clan members hadn’t dared to lay a finger on Qing Han, even though they despised him. For instance, Qing Hongchen may have wanted Qing Han dead, but he had to do the deed in Myriad Formation Summit, and had to ensure his end was inconspicuous.
“It’s no big deal if it’s just snake venom.” Lu Yun’s eyes lit up. “I’ll be able to save you if I can get a snake fang!”
“That won’t do anything.” Qing Han shook his head. “There’s something else in me that’s mixed with the venom to create a new poison, and my life essence has been long devoured by the poison.”
Lu Yun frowned and asked, “What else is in your body?”
“Would you abandon me if you knew?” Qing Han asked in a shaking voice.
The governor shook his head with a smile. “No.”
“It’s… my accursed spirit root,” Qing Han said quietly. “It’s the most evil spirit root of extreme yin in the world. Just like the Skhanda Extinction Tomb you speak of, it can destroy my clan and bring misfortune to everyone I’m close with.”