Chapter 173 – A Horde Springs Alive
Li Qingshan said, “This boat’s pretty good. Xiao An likes it very much as well!” Xiao An currently leaned against the edge, focusing all of her attention on the tiny, wing-like oars paddling in the water.
Zhang Lanqing smiled. “I made it myself. So she’s called Xiao An. Won’t it be dangerous for her if she comes with us?”
Li Qingshan rubbed Xiao An’s head. “She can take care of herself. Why don’t you use propellers?”
“What are propellers?”
Li Qingshan gave a slight explanation, and Zhang Lanqing understood the idea. He immediately sank into his thoughts. “What a special design. It seems like it’ll be more…”
Li Qingshan said, “Be careful!”
Distracted, the boat immediately hurtled towards some rocks. Zhang Lanqing returned to his senses and steered the boat in a hurry. He patted his chest to calm himself down. “So close.”
Hao Pingyang said, “Keep your head clear! Don’t become distracted as soon as you think of new concepts!”
Zhang Lanqing said, “I’ll try it out when I get back. Qingshan, if you join the school of Mohism, you’ll definitely become quite accomplished.”
Li Qingshan said, “Perhaps.” Advice from others could be helpful at times.
On the side of the cave that the boat had just passed by, a pair of emerald eyes lit up in the pitch-black grooves that light was unable to reach. It was actually a preserved corpse. Its entire body seemed to have become part of the cavern wall, covered in moss. Who knows how long it had been there for already. It did not even give off any stink anymore. It did not give off any aura either. As such, even Li Qingshan failed to notice it.
As if it had received some kind of order, it broke free from the cave with a struggle, but its movements suddenly halted. A shiny, white prayer bead floated nearby.
Even though it only possessed a subservient consciousness and a desire for flesh and blood after being refined, it still experienced an instinctual fear towards the prayer bead. The Skull Prayer Bead pierced its head and red light emerged from its body, turning its flesh into fire and its bones into fluid. It became a part of the tiny prayer bead.
In the depths of the cave, an old man who was as thin as a stick opened his eyes. He had lost the connection to a corpse he had just awakened. Before the connection was lost, something very strange had happened. There was a ripple as if there was a sense of fear.
Such a matter was obviously absurd. How could corpses feel fear? Even if their souls were still restrained to their bodies, they had lost the ability to fear a long time ago. It must have been a false impression.
Afterwards, he thought of what he had discovered in the huge, open pit outside Ancient Wind city for some reason.
He was a cultivator who sought corpses. Even though he was infamous, holding the top spot on the blacklist, he was not bold enough to run amuck, killing people and turning them into zombies. Once he crossed a certain threshold, the Hawkwolf Guard would send even stronger people to hunt him down. This cave could not stop cultivators who were truly powerful.
As a result, he spent most of his time as a grave robber. As soon as he heard about the incident in Ancient Wind city, he took action. That was a thousand corpses, with quite a few Qi Practitioners among them. He would definitely be able to find fantastic corpses to refine. However, when he arrived, all he found was an empty pit. All he felt was shock and fear. He felt fortunate that he had come late.
It had been quite a few years since he last felt fear.
Then he thought about what had happened in the morgue. The body of a Body Practitioner was quite tempting, but he had never trusted Zhuo Zhibo before, so he was extremely careful. The trap cast down by the disciples of mohism seemed like a joke in his eyes. While he did lose his Submerged Shadow sword out of carelessness, forcing him to flee which exasperated him, he did not feel fear. He had experienced dangers and setbacks that were far more severe than that in his life.
However, just as his substitute fooled his opponents, and he managed to escape from the morgue, he saw something strange. An extremely pretty child sat on the roof under the moonlight, looking at him quietly. It was as if she saw through his concealing technique completely. She did not give off a particularly powerful aura, but her dark, calm eyes made him shudder from the depths of his very soul. He felt as if he had encountered his natural enemy.
However, he managed to escape from her gaze very soon, and the shuddering feeling became an illusion. However, the sight became firmly embedded in his head without dispersing at all.
He felt like there was some sort of connection between all of this, but he failed to pinpoint what it was.
He shook his head. All he had lost was an insignificant corpse, so why was he thinking so much? He cast his thoughts aside and sneered. The intruders would die very soon, becoming a part of his zombie army.
He leaned against a stone coffin beside him. The coffin was engraved with glyphs that extended to the ground. It was locked up firmly by iron chains.
With this treasure, no one could kill him. Not even Zhuo Zhibo!
Xiao An leaned on the edge of the boat and gently played around with the water. She silently scooped up the Skull Prayer Bead, but when she turned around, all she saw was Li Qingshan staring straight at her. She stuck her tongue out at him.
The Skull Prayer Bead was no regular spiritual artifact. Instead, it was more like a part of her body, which was why it could fly very far away; it could even see and hear for her.
To be frank, she did not like the taste of zombies too much. Some of them were dry, and some of them were like a delicacy she had eaten a while back, a kind of pastry that was hard and tough. However, the good part was that they were combustible and not that noisy.
Hao Pingyang suddenly said, “Something is approaching!”
They all looked ahead. Zhang Lanqing pierced the lantern, and the light gathered together like a searchlight, piercing through the darkness. They could vaguely make out something floating on the surface of the water. It was clustered together and pale. It did not drift along with the flow of water, remaining stationary instead as if it were awaiting the arrival of the boat.
“They’re corpses!” He Yishi cried out.
The pale objects were all floating bodies that had swollen up in the water. They seemed like fatties floating on the water, covering the entire area. Who knows how many there were.
Hao Pingyang said, “Don’t let them get near!”
They fished out their Thousand Mechanism crossbows and aimed at the floating corpses, firing their Fire Crow bolts. With a series of swishes, the floating corpses exploded one by one.
Li Qingshan drew his Wind-entwining blade and channeled true qi into it in an attempt to launch a wind blade, but the blade did not respond at all. He hit it a few times and confirmed that the blade was completely destroyed now. A low grade spiritual artifact really could not endure the wear in his hands. Although he could achieve the same results through true qi alone, it would be far too wasteful of true qi. It was not worth it.
Zhang Lanqing passed a Thousand Mechanism crossbow and a few magazines of Fire Crow bolts to Li Qingshan. “I need to steer the boat! You use it!”
“Alrighty!” Li Qingshan accepted the Thousand Mechanism crossbow and aimed at the surface of the water, launching a barrage and blowing up seven or eight floating corpses. He had learned archery before, so he was more accurate than Jin Yuan and Jin Bao, earning him some praise.
Li Qingshan suddenly felt a gaze lock onto him. Looking back, all he found was Xiao An looking up eagerly at the Thousand Mechanism crossbow. She no longer looked at the oars anymore.
“You try!” Li Qingshan passed the Thousand Mechanism crossbow to her, and she accepted it happily.
Hao Pingyang tried to stop them in a hurry. “Don’t mess around!” He was frustrated with how Li Qingshan did not take everything seriously. How could he give such a dangerous weapon to a child? The Thousand Mechanism crossbow was powerful, so it would be bad if Xiao An was unable to wield it properly and fired them randomly on the boat.
He reached towards the crossbow in Xiao An’s hand, but he grabbed nothing. He was surprised. Looking back, he only found that Xiao An had already arrived at the nose of the boat, shooting at the corpses. Moreover, her accuracy was outstanding. She basically took out a corpse with each bolt.
Li Qingshan patted Hao Pingyang’s shoulder. “I told you that she could take care of herself. She’s taking care of you now as well!”
Hao Pingyang shot a glance at him; this kid was mysterious. Even the child by his side was so strange.
With Xiao An at the helm, the others all stopped shooting, saving some of their Fire Crow bolts as they watched on. They would praise from time to time, “Nicely done!”
Jin Bao smiled complacently. “Zombie Daoist, do you think you can handle us with these puny tricks? Looks like there’s nothing impressive about you at all.” However, as soon as he finished talking, he caught the whiff of a stink. The smell was so sharp that it basically made him dizzy.
Hao Pingyang said, “Hold your breaths! The foul smell is poisonous!”
The boat just happened to have reached where the floating corpses had first appeared. Li Qingshan could clearly see that while the corpses had been blown to shreds, doing so also released the gas within their bodies, which turned into a thick, pale green gas. It filled the entire cave and grew thicker the further they advanced. Even the lantern light was unable to pierce through it.
Everyone held their breaths in a hurry. As Qi Practitioners, the circulation of true qi in their bodies could replace their breathing. However, as the poisonous gas became thicker, their eyes began to sting and water. Even their skin gave off a burning smell. Even without Hao Pingyang’s warning, they all released their true qi instinctively.
Just as everyone fended off the poisonous gas and was disoriented, something moved in the water. Li Qingshan noticed it first. “There’s something in the water!”
Splash! Splash! Blue hands rotten to a point where their bones were visible extended out from the water, grabbing the oars and then the edge of the boat, climbing aboard. They revealed eyeless, noseless heads while producing terrifying groans.
Just when He Yishi had aimed his Thousand Mechanism crossbow, there was a gust of wind from above, and he raised his head in a hurry. He saw a shriveled corpse lunge towards him through the poisonous gas from the dark roof of the cavern.
“Above too!” Hao Pingyang bellowed. He swung his Yellow Dragon’s Cannon of Devouring Light and smacked the corpse away.
Li Qingshan raised his head. On the ceiling of the cave, on those teeth-like stalactites, were dried corpses that lunged down one after another.
Specks of emerald light glimmered on the two sides of the cavern. Corpses broke free from the walls of the cave one by one, opening their shriveled mouths and lunging at the boat. The quiet cave suddenly seemed to spring alive, becoming a terrifying hell filled with vicious, horrifying corpses.
He Yishi and the others raised their crossbows as if they were confused as to where to shoot.
Although they had said that they wanted to redeem themselves, a mentality for battle could not be developed so easily. It required plenty of battle experience, or they had to be geniuses at fighting like Li Qingshan.
Clearly, they possessed neither of the qualities. Jin Bao pulled the trigger of his crossbow in a hurry, basically shooting at his own companions, but he failed to hit a single zombie.
The Wind-entwining blade sliced through the air in an arc and beheaded two shriveled corpses. Li Qingshan said, “Leave the ones above to me. You all get down and focus on the ones in the water.” They all crouched down in a hurry. Without saying anything more, Hao Pingyang lifted his cannon and smacked away all the corpses lunging over from the two sides.
Before they could even get a footing in this chaotic situation, shrill screams rang out from the nose of the boat and rapidly drew closer.
Zhang Lanqing paled in shock.