The doors brimmed with an aura of solemnity and holiness. A gentle, yet extraordinarily potent jade brilliance pressed down ruthlessly on Diexi, forcing her ramrod-straight figure to bend. Even her crimson hair turned black again.
“As I thought, a zombie king from the legends....” Shimmering with golden light, the old man’s eyes shone with almost visible glee. “A zombie that returned from the dead as a peerless zombie king. According to the ancient records from a hundred thousand years ago, these creatures can evolve all the way to peak dao immortal, or even break through to that mythical realm!”
If I refine her as my second body and second nascent spirit, then I, too, might reach that realm one day! I came to Dusk Province to quell that little bastard Lu Yun, but to think I’d unexpectedly run into such a fantastic opportunity! He forcibly resisted his delight and feigned a scowl.
“You say she’s not an immortal from Nephrite Major, but an evil spirit from an ancient burial mound?” The blackwater snake blinked.
“Correct. She’s an evil spirit through and through. How else can she manifest the power of an arcane immortal inside Dusk Province? Fortunately, my Skybearer can restrain all things evil and is a perfect counter against her,” the old man responded righteously. He then cupped his hands and saluted the snake. “This old man is called Lu Qishan. Fellow daoist, might I ask your name?”
“So the venerated elder of the Lu Clan has come.” A black halo flashed around the snake as it transformed into a middle-aged man with a somewhat sinister expression. Mimicking the Lu elder, he also cupped his hands before glancing subconsciously at Diexi. Seeing the zombie king unable to lift even a finger in the face of the jade-colored gates was guarantee enough to relax.
If a creature that could fully deploy its fighting strength without fear of the province’s restriction were to appear, then the North Sea monster spirits would have no choice but to retreat.
“This king is Beigong Zhen, King of Southern Subjugation, a servant of the immortal emperor of the North Sea.”
“Beigong Zhen, King of Southern Subjugation… to think we’d alarm your distinguished self!” Dread immediately filled Lu Qishan’s face. “That evil creature originates from Nephrite Major, so of course we should compensate your noble race for your losses. I hereby announce that we will gift the North Sea Court with two hundred million immortal crystals, and also move this seaside stronghold fifteen hundred kilometers southward. What say you?”
“Fifteen hundred kilometers southward? Can you decide that on your own?” Beigong Zhen’s eyes lit up. The immortal crystals meant little to him, but the second part was an extremely tempting proposition.
Dusk Phalanx’s seaside stronghold was Nephrite Major’s northernmost tip, marking its border with the Northern Sea. To move it would not only impact the borders of Dusk territory, but also the sea borders of the neighboring provinces, while implicitly expanding the North Sea’s domain by five thousand kilometers.
“As the emperor’s direct emissary, I can naturally make this decision.” At this moment, Lu Qishan’s only preoccupation was to dispatch these monster spirits as soon as possible, so he could find a place to refine this zombie king into his second body.
As for the immortal crystals, or moving the stronghold, the misbegotten Lu Yun would be the one to deal with that headache. He was the province’s governor, in any case; it was his fault for losing the stronghold.
Lu Qishan was a venerated elder of Clan Lu, a distinguished peerless immortal. Who would dare cause difficulties for him?
Most importantly, the celestial emperor was currently in seclusion, and the young crown prince was about to take the imperial throne. Would he pay attention to such a trivial matter on the eve of his coronation?
“Lu Qishan?” Lu Yun’s voice traveled from the stronghold at this time. “Your surname is Lu? From Nephrite Capital’s Lu Clan?” The governor smiled coldly at the old man sparkling with golden radiance.
“Lu Yun? So you’re also in the stronghold, you little bastard?” The governor’s appearance gave Lu Qishan pause. “All the better, then. Hurry up and use the provincial seal to summon the power of the land and move the stronghold.”
With a flick of the hand, he activated the jade-colored gates again to take Diexi away, when—
An enormous water ball crackling with lightning shot out of the stronghold and crashed directly on the jade gates.
The gates shook as the impact scattered its sacred aura, releasing Diexi from their pressure. Freed, the latter turned into a streak crimson light and vanished into thin air.
“I’ve long heard of Lu Clan’s precious Skybearer Gates, doors that can quell all evil. What an honor for me to see it in person today.” A turtle about a mile wide crawled out of the stronghold. “Who the hell are you?” Lu Qishan was beside himself with rage, seeing his prize snatched away right from beneath his nose. He’d suppressed his cultivation with a supreme treasure in order to enter Dusk Province, so he brought the gates with him to combat Lu Yun’s bloodcorpse. Although he was a peerless immortal, his cultivation was merely peak august immortal realm at the moment. If the zombie king were to come back for him, he wouldn’t be able to fend her off, so he hastily waved the Skybearer Gates back to his side as a defensive measure.
“Me?” the old turtle slowly replied. “I am not a ‘who’, but a ‘what’. What part of me looks human?”
Standing by Lu Yun, Qing Han asked coldly, “You are an imperial envoy?”
Lu Yun furrowed his brow. This celestial emperor seemed to have quite a number of envoys. First Qing Han, then Feng Chi, and now another one had popped out of the woodwork.
“Hmph!” A pale Lu Qishan scanned around him, searching for Diexi and also glancing down at the old turtle that had shaken Skybearer.
“Do you have an imperial token?” Qing Han continued questioning.
“And who might you be? Is an imperial token something a junior like you is worthy of beholding?” Lu Qishan snorted with derisison, full of disdain for this insignificant character. If not for the turtle deterring him, he would’ve attacked Lu Yun on sight. Since the zombie king had run off, he couldn’t be bothered with the local affairs anymore and his priority had shifted to capturing Lu Yun.
A token appeared in Qing Han’s hand, the aura of the Nephrite celestial emperor radiating from it causing Lu Qishan to stiffen.
“By the looks of it, you’re no imperial envoy. Tsk tsk.” Lu Yun’s expression turned playful. “What was it I said? Anyone from Nephrite Major’s Lu Clan who dares take half a step into Dusk Province will be summarily executed! Kill!”
As his voice fell, the old turtle below swiftly expanded in size and returned to its form of a juba. Soon after, an enormous water ball a full mile in diameter fired at Lu Qishan, bolts of electricity streaking across its surface.
“You bastard! Break!” the ashen old man roared. A giant beam of sword light blossomed from his hands and ruthlessly slashed at the ball of water.
“Stop, stop!!” Yuichi Hanxing bawled urgently. “Do you people want to destroy the stronghold?!”
Both human and turtle were august immortals, but the energy they exuded was even more powerful than that of ordinary golden immortals.
Shockwaves reverberated from their clash, careening in all directions and shaking the stronghold’s foundations. As a fort that protected the north from the monster spirits of the North Sea, the stronghold should’ve been invincible.
And invincible it had been... a thousand years ago. Not even a battle between dao immortals would’ve rattled its mighty ramparts back then, to say nothing of peerless immortals whose cultivation had been sealed.
But it’d also been destroyed during the disturbance arising from the Dusk tomb, a thousand years ago. A new stronghold had been erected in its place, but it was a far cry from the old one.
“Destroy the stronghold?” Beigong Zhen resumed his snake form, an eerie smile flashing across his face as he observed the battle between the two powerhouses. “Children, as soon as the stronghold breaks, we shall make an immediate landing and conquer Dusk Province! The legacy of an ancient lord? It’s time for us North Sea monster spirits to get our hands on such a treasure!”