Lu Yun stared into space, thoughts swirling in his mind.
Goodwill! The identification finally hit him.
Just like retribution, goodwill was a force born from thought, yet the two of them were diametrically opposed: one was good karma, the other, bad karma.
Objecting to the execution just now had earned him the juba’s gratitude. In turn, these grateful thoughts transformed into goodwill. Sporadic goodwill was of little use for ordinary cultivators, the exception being when the goodwill of thousands upon thousands of people was directed to one person at a given time. Then, that goodwill would transform into virtuous merit.
While bad karma, in the shape of retribution, could trigger or strengthen heavenly tribulations, goodwill and virtuous merit would instead reduce their strength. Legends even spoke of some cultivators who, after accumulating great amounts of virtuous merit, had even received the blessings of heaven instead of a trial of lightning during their tribulations.
However, those were just folktales at the end of the day.
Bad karma was a persistent ailment and retribution the gangrene, but goodwill and virtuous merit were the complete opposite. The latter was fleeting by nature and most cultivators never perceived their existence, to say nothing of making use of them.
But goodwill was the fertilizer of the Sal Tree of Life and Death. In the process of absorbing goodwill, it provided Lu Yun with tremendous energy as a byproduct, enhancing his cultivation.
The juba’s goodwill had resulted in the seed’s germination, but Lu Yun himself had also greatly benefited from the resulting energy, propelling him into the life core realm. Soon after, a new death art emerged from the Tome of Life and Death and passed into his mind.
If one died within the past seven days and their body was kept whole, this art could reforge their soul and raise them from the dead.
Stunned once again, Lu Yun shook uncontrollably. This was plainly a forbidden art, one that went against the laws of heaven! Reviving the departed and bringing them back from the land of the dead? Even with a seven-day limit, such an art was an incredible taboo.
His envoys were only a pale imitation of resurrection, but already spent their days on the edge for it, changing their names and not daring to show their true forms. Or they simply pretended they never died, using the pretext of having to feign death to buy enough time to heal after grievous injuries.
Yet the book had thrown him another heaven-defying ability: resurrection in the truest sense of the word.
If anyone else were to learn of this, every immortal in the world would hunt him down, either to kill him outright or confine him and use him to revive certain people!
I can never, ever tell another soul about this. I have to hide this, even from Qing Han and my envoys! He was so unnerved by this ability that he could feel the veins on his forehead pop.
“Lu Yun, why did your expression turn so ugly all of a sudden?” Qing Han asked urgently when he noticed his friend’s condition.
“It’s nothing.” Lu Yun waved it off and forced himself to shove this matter to the back of his mind.
Since he’d been shielded by the Tome of Life and Death during his breakthrough, no one had noticed anything untoward.
I never enjoyed the process of cultivating anyway, sitting in meditation all day long is way too boring. This is much more convenient. I just need to imitate Mother Teresa and do good deeds, then kick back and watch my cultivation skyrocket!
He inspected his body once again, relieved to note that the energy provided by the sal tree hadn’t affected his foundations. In fact, it was indistinguishable from the energy he gained by personally cultivating.
To master life and death and walk the land as a living king of hell is way too OP. That’s probably why the heavens created the Sal Tree of Life and Death.
Exerting control over the Tome of Life and Death and wielding the authority of hell implied that he’d one day develop into a paramount existence that ruled over the life and death of all creatures. The wheel of reincarnation, the fate of every realm and of all those who lived within… everything would be at the mercy of his thoughts.
Had he been a vile, wicked man, it would spell utter disaster for the immortal world and all life, hence the reason for the sal tree’s existence. By increasing his strength only with the goodwill it received from others, the tree encouraged him to be virtuous in his actions.
Lu Yun actually had no objection with this arrangement. He was no knight in shining armor, but neither was he a villain. He’d often acted charitably on Earth, helping old ladies cross the street or donating half of his tomb-raiding income to various charities.
As tomb raider commandants would say, what goes around comes around.
I’m the governor right now, so as long as I contribute to Dusk Province and make it more powerful, I can gather goodwill from all over the province. I’ll be able to nurture the seed so that it can hold up the eighteen levels of hell, one day. Plus, I can also increase my cultivation by the same method! He clenched his fists tightly.
“There’s no need to look at me like that—I’m okay, really. I was just refining the seed. By the way, I broke through to the life core realm!” Lu Yun beamed brightly when he noticed Qing Han was still worried about him.
“You really did break through!” Qing Han’s eyes shone as he took in his friend’s higher cultivation level. There were still four months left until the governor’s reselection, and the faster Lu Yun’s cultivation grew, the greater his chances would be.
“Aoxue, stay here and consolidate the Skandha Range. It might look powerful on the surface, but it’s honestly a complete mess.” Lu Yun surveyed the mountain range with some dissatisfaction.
“Understood!” Aoxue agreed on the spot.
The desolate willow looked at Lu Yun, alarm plain on his giant face. There was an aura about the governor that made him subconsciously want to submit to the human. Right now, he venerated Lu Yun even more than Aoxue.
Is Dusk Province’s governor the true master of these mountains? Perhaps Her Highness is merely borrowing his glory?
The old tree spirit had lived for countless years, but he couldn’t help his imagination running wild at this juncture. However, it remained unaware that the imposing aura he sensed from Lu Yun actually belonged to the Sal Tree of Life and Death, an ancestral existence from hell.
“Hm?” Just as Lu Yun and Qing Han were about to leave the mountain range, the governor looked down and took out his command token.
“My lord governor, there’s trouble brewing at the seaside stronghold. Please hurry and come oversee the situation in person.” Yuichi Hanxing’s urgent tones emitted from the token.
“What’s the matter?” Lu Yun frowned. Yuichi Hanxing had attempted to contact him many times already, but the token had been isolated while the pair were inside the tomb realm.
“The girl you sent to the stronghold has caused quite a commotion. Milord, if you don’t come very soon, the monster spirits will turn this place upside down.” Yuchi Hanxing’s voice brimmed with helplessness. She might be an immortal, but in front of that girl, a true immortal like her was nothing but the leg of an ant.
“Diexi…” Lu Yun blinked before turning to Qing Han. “You should go ba—”
“I’m coming with you.” With the flip of a hand, a token appeared in the latter’s hand. “Don’t forget, I’m an imperial envoy.”
Lu Yun chuckled dryly. He could already guess what had transpired at the North Sea; zombie kings were savage by nature. Diexi wasn’t entirely devoid of humanity, but once provoked, her vicious streak would certainly cause a gruesome bloodbath. The North Sea monster spirits wouldn’t easily let the matter drop, this time.
“Juba.” He looked at the turtle cowering in its pond. “Do you want to make amends for your past mistakes?”
“I’m at your disposal, milord!” the juba hastened to say.
“Follow me to the seaside stronghold!” With a wave of the governor’s hand, a door appeared out of thin air. The command token not only summoned the Dusk Phalanx to his side, but could also be used to travel to the seaside stronghold.
“Understood!” The juba acquiesced immediately as Qing Han and Lu Yun hopped on its back.
“The juba race once betrayed the dragons. I will not forgive a second betrayal,” Aoxue’s frosty voice sounded before they set off.
The juba froze, then slowly crawled through the great door made of light.
“Mistress, should we also go and lend a hand?” the desolate willow asked urgently.
“The Skandha Range is one of the young master’s hidden aces; do you want him to reveal it so soon?” Aoxue raked the old tree with a sidelong glance, cowing him into silence.
She knew full well that Lu Yun wasn’t asking her to unite the cultivators dwelling in these mountains. Instead, he wanted her to investigate its secrets—not only the Skandha Extinction Tomb, but the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers as well.