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Chapter 183.1: Tomb of the Phoenix

Necropolis Immortal
     Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit!

    A loud stream of frog croaks reverberated in the air with deafening force. With a great big splash, a roughly four-kilometer-wide head poked out of the lake.

    Spiriteater Demon Frog!

    The demonic amphibian was the stuff of ancient legends and lived only in tombs. So… why was it in a lake?

    Two crimson eyes bulged like bloody hillocks from its even larger black skull. Its visceral gaze instantly locked onto Yue Cheng and Zhu Yu. Both were sealed peerless immortals, but found themselves unable to move.

    Ribbit!

    Another croak, this time in fear. The frog lifted its eyes from its coveted prey onto the bigger threat behind them. A humongous Black Tortoise thudded to Cloudwater’s lakeshore, a silver-haired girl with matching armor and lance upon its head.

    “Auuuuu!” The sacred beast roared to the sky in turn. Holy light shone from two pairs of eyes to loftily scatter down upon the frog in the lake—the tortoise’s own, as well as the serpent fused to its back.

    Yue Cheng and Zhu Yu felt the weight lift from their bodies and fled the scene like homeless stray dogs.

    “That’s not the Dusk Phalanx! N-no, it can’t possibly be!” Yue Cheng rasped hoarsely with disbelief. Incredulous shock flooded his eyes, even more surprised than he’d been to see the frog. “It’s not the Heavenly Formation of the Black Tortoise either…. This is a real Black Tortoise! Not a divine beast with its bloodline, but the true northern god of water!”

    Zhu Yu whitened as well. Her cleverness didn’t spare her from feeling helpless here. A Spiriteater Demon Frog in Cloudwater was one thing, but a real Black Tortoise?! And Yuchi Hanxing right there, on top of its head?!

    Everything was too crazy to comprehend.

    Dusk Province, a place so insignificant that it barely produced any immortals… a place ruled by a restriction powerful enough to strike fear into dao immortals’ hearts… so many monstrosities were hidden beneath the surface here!

    “Uooooh!” The roaring tortoise moved toward Cloudwater Lake with resolute strides. As it walked, it sucked in a seemingly endless amount of water energy from the environment.

    Out of the general scene of panic by the shores, the ancient demonic frog was perhaps the most frightened of all. Its head slowly sank beneath the lake surface, even as the tortoise finally dipped its ponderous form into the water.

    ……

    Lu Yun opened his eyes. They possessed a newfound keenness that reflected his understanding of water. It was a part of his sword intent now; not raw elemental power, but an essential intuition. His sword intent finally had a foundation that brought him infinitely closer to the realm of great perfection. Dongfang Hao’s sword intent could sever his own no longer.

    “An ancient Spiriteater Demon Frog?” The young man frowned slightly, watching the black shadow beneath his feet swim away. “Thanks for the help just now. You really saved me.”

    He smiled at his friend, who’d returned to a much less luminous state.

    Qing Han shrugged. “That gold-robed man is still nearby. We need to be careful.”

    “Yeah.” Lu Yun nodded.

    Yuchi Hanxing approached with the Black Tortoise as her steed. “Milord,” she saluted. She’d sworn loyalty to Lu Yun quite a while back, which meant the Dusk Phalanx was his own private army.

    The Black Tortoise was born as a result of the juba and blackwater snake’s fusion. Within the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals, the Azure Dragon had awakened and come under Qing Han’s service, becoming the tortoise’s catalyst for true fusion—and teacher—as a result.

    After that, Qing Han had released the Black Tortoise and sent it to the seaside stronghold so that the Dusk Phalanx might train and learn from its continued presence. Through this new source of inspiration, they’d gained a new soul and power for their formation that much more closely resembled the sacred beast’s.

    The million or so soldiers of the Dusk army hailed from a multitude of factions all over Nephrite, as well as every walk of life. Some boasted of noble origins, while others were from a commoner background. Now they were all united under Lu Yun’s banner, poised to become the elite force of the future Dusk Sacred Land.

    A Black Tortoise was a connate divine spirit. Though this particular one was born of a more artificial union, the Azure Dragon’s tutelage and the Scroll of Shepherding Immortals had transformed its constitution into a connate one as well.

    As the northern god of all water, the Black Tortoise’s dominion ruled over even a fearsome, ancient beast like the Spiriteater Demon Frog. However, it was difficult to say who would win in an actual fight; this tortoise in particular was only a child.

    “The Black Tortoise will live in Cloudwater Lake from now on. You will be the town’s only mistress,” Lu Yun told Yuchi Hanxing.

    “Yes.” The general nodded as sadness flashed through her eyes. As an army commander, she would’ve been able to return home after reaching empyrean immortal. If she were assigned as a town administrator, that would no longer be true.

    “Don’t worry, Dusk Province will return to her former glory. The natural energies here will revert back to what they were five thousand years ago. It’ll be no different from anywhere else in Nephrite and you’ll be able to become a peerless immortal, even here.” Lu Yun smiled, noticing her disappointment.

    He’d dismantled the Enneawyrm Coffinbearers layout that’d previously sealed the province’s lifepoint. With Dusk’s feng shui restored, life and heavenly qi would soon flourish.

    Yuchi Hanxing found her governor’s statement a little dubious, given the five thousand years of decline, but she took it at face value anyway. She returned to Cloudwater Township, leaving Lu Yun and Qing Han to continue their dive.

    The Black Tortoise was a necessary companion in their adventure. In the event of a frog attack, the dragonguard wouldn’t be a match. Within the Great Cloudwater Lake, only a connate water beast like the Blackwater Tortoise could cow the Spiriteater Frog into submission.

    Faint reddish rays of light peeked out from the depths as the pair returned to the water. The temperature here would be unbearable for any ordinary immortal.

    “No wonder there’s so much mist and vapor over Cloudwater,” Qing Han came to a striking realization.

    “Mount and river ‘round the tomb,

    Winding shape of dragon’s palm.“ Lu Yun murmured, invoking the Dragonsearch Invocation. His eyes flared with black light and scanned the depths.

    “This isn’t a human tomb, thank goodness.” He breathed a small sigh of relief. “A monster spirit king is buried here! One of the modern world, too. A… a phoenix!”