In Aoxue’s memories, the Fusang Purewood was hundreds of millions of yards tall, reaching up to the heavens and rooted deep beneath the earth. Every bit of kindling on its branches was a sun in its infancy.
This particular specimen was clearly on the brink of death, and someone had sculpted its trunk into an imperial coffin. The nine dragons etched on the coffin evoked a strange order, exhibiting the grandeur of the emperor but suppressing his heart at the same time.
“Nine dragons....” Lu Yun widened his eyes. “The dragons are arranged like the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers! That should’ve occurred to me sooner!”
He slapped his forehead. “Since ancient times, all dragon patterns etched on imperial coffins have been the nine dragons of this feng shui layout! They might differ in appearance, but the influences they give rise to are all the same.
“Is the coffin carried by the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers an imperial coffin as well? Are the nine dragon lords supposed to be suppressing the coffin? Judging from the way the dragons carry it, they obviously failed to maintain their dominance and become the coffin’s slaves, instead.”
The more Lu Yun thought things over, the more his theory made sense.
“Let’s go take a closer look!” He slowly approached the Fusang Purewood with a hand on Qing Han’s unusually soft waist.
Hellfire blazed all around their bodies to disguise their lifeforce. Having lost their target, the zombies held off by the Emerald Mistfire gradually calmed down. Eventually, they simply remained unmoving, allowing the fire to rove over them as it would.
Meanwhile, Lu Yun’s envoys stayed on high alert within the Gates of the Abyss.
“Stop!” a voice sounded from the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals. It was the Dragon Prince.
While inactive, the scroll was closed off, blocking the senses of the Dragon and Tiger Princes. But now that Qing Han had activated the treasure, a window was opened that granted them access to the outside world.
It was similar to how the Gates of the Abyss worked. When Lu Yun applied the art of the two realms to himself, it permitted the envoys to come and go between the two worlds as they pleased. If he stopped deploying the art, the gates would be shut.
While in the burial mound, he’d kept the doorway between the two realms open at all times. The power needed for that art was supplied by the Tome of Life and Death, exhausting none of Lu Yun’s own energy.
The Dragon Prince felt compelled to speak before Lu Yun and Qing Han could make their way to the Fusang Purewood.
“You know something’s wrong here?” Qing Han scoffed. “Then why didn’t you say so earlier?”
“We… we only just noticed ourselves.” The Dragon Prince smiled apologetically and silently transmitted, “Your disguise will fail if you approach there!”
Qing Han stopped in his tracks.
“What’s wrong?” Lu Yun couldn’t hear the conversation between Qing Han and the Dragon Prince, but Qing Han had reached out and stopped him from going further.
“Do you remember the formation in the corpse coffin that can dispel your disguise, master?” the Dragon Prince said seriously. “There’s a formation like that near the Fusang Purewood, and it’s even bigger in scale.”
Qing Han frowned. “Do you mean the layout of certain death?”
“That’s right! That’s the formation!” The Dragon Prince didn’t know what feng shui layouts were, so he called the arrangement a formation.
“What did you say? A layout of certain death?” Lu Yun’s face clouded over when he heard Qing Han muttering. If there was such a layout here, why couldn’t he see it?
Qing Han nodded. “Yeah, that’s what the Dragon Prince said. It’s near the tree.” He scanned the area with his consciousness, but didn’t notice the layout either.
Lu Yun knew about the two princes, they’d been the ones to tame the black dragon in the abyss. “If that’s the case, the layout must be hidden from the naked eye.” He flicked three soybeans to the ground, turning them into three armored warriors. The golden warriors shook themselves awake and carefully approached the tree.
“Hm? Is that... His Majesty the Divine Emperor?”
“All hail the Divine Emperor—” The three warriors suddenly stopped and got on their knees.
Three heads fell off at the same time, followed by bodies toppling to the ground and returning to three halved soybeans.
The warriors were half gods summoned from an outer realm by Lu Yun’s death art. They were divine spirits, yet not of the divine race.
Well... he wasn’t entirely sure what they were.
“It really is the layout of certain death! Believing whatever’s inside and reacting accordingly will be the end of you!” Lu Yun’s expression darkened. Since he couldn’t see the layout, he’d sent the bean soldiers ahead as scouts. Where the three of them had died was the starting point.
“Let’s go!” The governor set his jaw grimly and strode toward the entrance of the formation.
Qing Han followed closely after and muttered, “Be careful. There’s not only illusions within the layout, but also something invisible…. It was that thing that triggered the power of the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals back in the burial mound.” He still recalled that terrifying, stark-white face.
“Okay.” Lu Yun glanced at him and solemnly reminded, “Be careful not to believe anything you encounter. I’ll determine if something is real or not.”
“What if I turn into a woman again?” Qing Han asked nervously.
“Um...” Lu Yun paused. “I won’t believe it.”
Qing Han sighed with relief.
A sudden buzz emitted from around them, heralding the abrupt appearance of a ghastly-pale zombie with corpsewater dripping out of its seven orifices. Its pungent, rotten smell viciously assaulted their senses.
A grudge corpse!
“It’s fake!” Lu Yun exclaimed with determined eyes.
Qing Han took his hand and followed without a word.
The grudge corpse scattered and the two continued onward. Monsters upon monsters, both real and fake, emerged around them.
Lu Yun had concealed their vitality with hellfire. As a result, all of the real zombies ignored them, while only the fake monsters attacked them.
Qing Han had been nervous at first, but after a while, he just screwed his eyes shut and followed the governor with a hand on his elbow.
“Hm?” Lu Yun came to a sudden stop because he smelled a familiar fragrance near him.
He turned without thinking and found a stunning girl by his side, her jade-like hand wrapped around his elbow. Red dusted her cheeks, and her bashfulness whispered of a seductive charm.
It was Qing Yu.