Chapter 538 – The Gate of Hungry Ghosts
The pool of blood surged, spattering blood everywhere. A large, withered, greyish-white hand with long, sharp nails extended out and splayed its fingers, enveloping the three fireballs. They stopped growing in size, shrinking instead until they were completely extinguished. At the same time, it used its index finger and middle finger to easily catch the Heavy Water sword.
Li Qingshan’s eyes narrowed suddenly. Even though he had not used the strength of the ox demon, the strike was still not something anyone could catch easily with two fingers.
However, the feeling that the hand gave him already resembled a terrifying monster. If its entire body crawled out from the pool of blood, then even if he assumed his daemon form, he probably still would not be its enemy. He had never thought the Burial Mound mountain would actually be hiding such a terrifying thing.
Hua Chengzan abruptly experienced a great sense of crisis. Before he could even respond, a great force smacked into him violently, launching him into the air viciously. He stared at Li Qingshan in shock as he sailed through the air.
What struck him was not the terrifying, strange hand, but Li Qingshan.
Has he discovered my suspicions and wants to silence me with death?
Li Qingshan was stern. Without even looking at Hua Chengzan, he placed his sword across his body, assuming a defensive posture.
The withered hand smacked against Li Qingshan. The ground beneath him immediately cracked and collapsed as he sank to his waist.
Li Qingshan’s body could be considered as lofty, but under the hand, it was like a tiny nail being hammered into a wall.
“Qingshan!” Hua Chengzan came to a realisation. Li Qingshan had saved him. With his reactions, he would not have been able to respond to the hand’s attack. If it were not for Li Qingshan, he would have been reduced to a pile of pulp already. He would be as dead as he could be.
“Hmm?” The owner of the hand was rather surprised. If regular Foundation Establishment cultivators took on that attack, death would be certain for them. Not only did this puny cultivator possess endless strength, but his body was as tough as steel too. He gave off a feeling that he was indestructible.
“If you’ve stared long enough, get going!” Li Qingshan glanced at Hua Chengzan. Before he could finish, the hand suddenly closed around him, dragging Li Qingshan into the pool of blood.
Hua Chengzan rushed to the side of the pool, only to see that the blood had already settled. His heart completely sank. Suddenly, the pool of blood began to surge violently like boiling water. The entire underground palace shook.
He gritted his teeth, turned around, and left. He would be of no help even if he remained here. Instead, he would waste his opportunity to escape that Li Qingshan had earned for him with his life.
If it really is like what I’ve been guessing, he might still have a chance to survive.
Grabbed by the hand, Li Qingshan constantly descended towards the depths of the pool. The gurgling blood constantly surged towards his ears and nose. A ring of faint, blue light rose up, pushing away all the blood.
Suddenly, his eyes narrowed. There was actually a dim light at the bottom of the pool, but it did not resemble any glow of spiritual qi. Instead, it was like sunlight. He tried extending his soul sense into the bottom of the pool.
At that moment, a boundless world unfolded in front of his eyes before his soul sense immediately broke off. A blade seemed to cleave apart his soul sense. However, he would never be able to forget the landscape he saw momentarily.
White bones scattered the lands and blood flowed as rivers. The miserable gathering clouds and rolling mists obscured all celestial bodies in the sky.
Zombies roared at the skies madly, wrapped in extremely thick corpse qi. Not only were there Corpse Generals, but there were even Corpse Commanders.
If that was not alarming enough, the number of Corpse Generals amounted to tens of thousands like they were common soldiers. They gathered in noisy groups, strewn across the wilderness, while the number of Corpse Commanders amounted to over a hundred.
The number of Corpse Soldiers could no longer be described with words. They filled his entire vision, stretching as far as the eye could see.
At the very centre of this horrifying image was a dried corpse standing over three hundred meters tall, reaching towards the sky. The corpse qi on his body could basically be described as rising clouds. His eyes shone as two specks of horrible, green light as his arm extended towards the sky as if it was holding it up.
It was a legendary Corpse King!
What is this place? Why are there so many zombies!?
The omen of warning in his heart was set off like a police siren. If he were dragged in there, then even if he had ten lives, it would be nowhere near enough!
Li Qingshan immediately reverted to his original form. His body tightened, and he pushed the fingers away from his body. Tremors of the Ox Demon! The faint blue Spirit Turtle’s Profound Shell swelled up as well, pushing apart the five fingers of the huge, withered hand.
The pool of blood exploded loudly, and Li Qingshan burst out. The wings of the phoenix unfurled gloriously as his scarlet hair drifted through the air. He landed beside the pool and dared not remain for a second longer, rushing out of the palace.
The huge, withered hand tailed right behind him. It snatched down, brushing Li Qingshan’s back, merely millimetres away.
The phoenix wings were ripped to pieces, turning into scarlet feathers that drifted through the air.
Li Qingshan lunged forward as hard as he could. The warning vanished, and he let out a deep breath. Only then did he feel the severe pain from his back.
His back seemed to have become plowed farmland. His flesh had been turned inside out, having gained three bone-deep injuries. Even suffering three strikes from an anti-cavalry blade would not be so horrific.
The protruding flesh became a dark green as the colour rapidly spread. He had been poisoned.
The huge hand reached about madly in the surroundings, shattering and crushing the tough rock like mud. However, it could not extend too far away.
“You’ve been infected with corpse poison! You won’t last long!”
A dry, hoarse voice boomed out, making the entire underground palace tremble.
“What are you?”
With a wave of his hand, the scattered feathers turned into specks of fire and returned to his body, transforming his flesh and blood contaminated with corpse poison into fire. When the flames subsided, he had already made a full recovery, completely unscathed.
There was no reply. The huge hand pulled back into the pool as if it had also realised it was unable to do anything to Li Qingshan like this.
Li Qingshan glanced at Ma Chaoqun and considered whether he could kill off this bastard and steal back the crystal coffin under the interference of the withered hand.
The pool of blood surged, rapidly beginning to revolve. It formed a huge whirlpool as the level of liquid began to drop like someone had pulled out the stopper.
The crystal coffin sank rapidly, spinning with the vortex. Ma Chaoqun threw himself at it and hugged the crystal coffin firmly.
With a series of glugs, the pool of blood was drained, leaving behind a huge, circular space of emptiness. The walls were layered from brick, extending downwards to the unknown depths.
Suddenly, the hole produced a powerful suction force. Fierce winds surged over as they whistled.
The suction force was so great that the underground palace finally gave way, trembling and collapsing. A huge boulder fell in front of the entrance, and the wind halted for a moment, but the boulder was rapidly ripped apart. The hole seemed like a huge, greedy mouth, devouring everything madly.
Li Qingshan’s figure began to waver too. He dared not remain for any longer, rushing out of the place.
Hua Chengzan happened to be waiting at the entrance. He saw Li Qingshan and was overjoyed. “Li Qingshan!”
Li Qingshan grabbed Hua Chengzan and took off into the air. He only stopped when he arrived at an extremely high altitude, lowering his head to look.
The yin qi that enveloped Burial Mound mountain for thousands of years formed a colossal vortex, all surging madly towards a single point. The surroundings of Burial Mound mountain had never been so clear before.
Burial Mound mountain collapsed at a visible rate, forming a colossal pit. The pit continued to grow, swallowing the earth in the surroundings.
Li Qingshan asked, “What the hell is this?”
Hua Chengzan said sternly, “A Gate of Hungry Ghosts!”
Li Qingshan asked in confusion. “What’s a Gate of Hungry Ghosts?”
“Have you heard about the six realms of saṃsāra before?”
“Of course. Don’t tell me this hole is connected to the Hungry Ghost realm?”
TL: There are six major realms of rebirth in buddhist cosmology (as well as corresponding entities), which are the realms of deva (deity-like beings), asura (demi-god-like beings who exhibit extreme anger and wrath, particularly towards deva), humans, animals, preta (hungry ghosts, beings of insatiable hunger and thirst with small mouths and long necks due to being overly greedy in their past lives) and naraka (hell). You can read more about it here:
Li Qingshan came to a realisation. Among the six realms of saṃsāra, every single realm was extremely vast. In comparison, the World of the Nine Provinces was almost negligible in size. The sight he saw earlier was the Hungry Ghost realm, and that probably could only be regarded as a small spectacle in the Hungry Ghost realm.
“That’s right. I’ve already sent a message back. We need to seal off this gate as soon as possible, or there’ll be a lot of trouble.”
Li Qingshan expressed his agreement. Just with what he saw earlier alone, a Corpse King, a group of Corpse Commanders, and a pile of Corpse Generals could throw the entire Green province into chaos, let alone a puny Clear River prefecture or the Ruyi commandery.
“But how do we seal it? There’s no way in hell I’m going to the other side.” If he were accidentally sucked into the Hungry Ghost realm, he would be done for.
Hua Chengzan laid out his hands. “I don’t know either. We can only wait until others arrive and then confer with them. This is probably already beyond what Foundation Establishment cultivators can handle.”
Li Qingshan said, “Just Ma Chaoqun, that puny Qi Practitioner, actually managed to cause something so major!”
Hua Chengzan shook his head. “It’s not just Ma Chaoqun. Burial Mound mountain has always been a corpse-nurturing land where yin qi gathers. Over the several years of warfare and turmoil, the number of corpses that have been delivered here have probably reached the tens of millions. Burial Mound mountain has already become a living Hungry Ghost realm. Its boundary with the Hungry Ghost realm became extremely weak. We only focused on combating the daemons, but we neglected this point.”
“Ma Chaoqun then cooperated with the powerful undead in the Hungry Ghost realm, working from both inside and out. That was how he managed to establish this Gate of Hungry Ghosts.”
“Then we better move a little further away!”
Li Qingshan said. Even if the Corpse King was stuck due to being too large, unable to emerge from the hole, there were still many Corpse Generals and Corpse Commanders. If they surged out together, then no matter how powerful he was, he would still be swallowed by a sea of corpses and forcefully whittled to death. However, if Xiao An were here, she could use the Samādhi Flames of White Bone, and it should be extremely easy for her to deal with them.
“Don’t worry. The Gate of Hungry Ghosts doesn’t open so easily. The more powerful they are, the harder it is for them to pass through. Right now, it’s only equivalent to having opened by a crack. Probably even Corpse Generals won’t be able to squeeze through. However, as time goes on, that’s not going to hold true.”
Hua Chengzan finished speaking and the final sliver of yin qi was sucked into the pit. The pit stopped growing and changing, and the surroundings became clear and bright.
Boom! Like a volcanic eruption, a pillar of black mist erupted violently, connecting the earth with the sky, making the ground shake and shrouding the sky.
Erupting with it were thousands of corpses. Corpse Soldiers were thrown into the air one by one, scattering all over the ground. Some climbed up again, while others had their bones shattered to pieces and were completely immobilised, only for other Corpse Soldiers to immediately cover them up.
Li Qingshan could not help but become dumbfounded. This sight was literally unheard of and never before seen. It seemed- it seemed like a huge “zombie geyser”!
The Corpse Soldiers rolled along the ground like droplets of water.
“Stop them. It’ll be bad if we let these Corpse Soldiers spread out.”
Hua Chengzan said urgently. The Corpse Soldiers were not particularly powerful to them, but they were basically undefeatable monsters to mortals.
A ball of fire descended from above, constantly swelling in the air and slamming against the sea of corpses. Thousands of Corpse Soldiers were reduced to ashes as the shockwave rushed out, sending countless Corpse Soldiers flying. A huge, empty circle appeared in the sea of corpses.
But it was filled again in the blink of an eye.