Chapter 537 – The Strange Hand in the Blood Pool
“Chaoqun, what are you doing?”
A cold bark echoed through the underground palace.
Ma Chaoqun turned his head stiffly and saw a tiny, skinny old man in black the size of a child in the passageway. He walked into the underground palace, his face withered like a skeleton’s as he radiated with yin qi and corpse qi. Impressively, he was a Foundation Establishment cultivator, and late Foundation Establishment at that.
He was the elder who revived Burial Mound mountain, the current sect master of Burial Mound mountain.
The old man ordered. Yu Shukuang was only a measly Qi Practitioner. He did not take him seriously originally—if he died, then so be it. However, he was also a Hawkwolf guard, so he dared not be careless. The Academy of the Hundred Schools was currently rising in power. If a Hawkwolf guard died on his Burial Mound mountain, it would be no laughing matter.
However, Ma Chaoqun did not release Yu Shukuang. Instead, he pressed him towards the blood pool.
Yu Shukuang widened his eyes as the blood pool filled his face. The smell of blood grew heavier and filled his eyes and nose. He felt an indescribable sense of great horror from the depths of his heart. As if he had become stricken with fear, he was unable to move.
The moment the tip of his nose approached the blood pool, it stopped.
A hand that resembled a chicken’s claw grabbed Ma Chaoqun’s arm firmly. The old man had never thought his first disciple who had always been so obedient would actually defy his orders. He grabbed Yu Shukuang with his other hand and tossed his aside casually.
Launched into the air, Yu Shukuang flew away from the blood pool and slammed heavily against the wall. Having scraped by with his life intact, the blood pool he stared into earlier seemed to want to suck him into another world.
Just as the old man wanted to teach this disciple of his a proper lesson, he suddenly felt there was something wrong with the pool of blood. The smell of blood was nothing to him—he had no sense of smell—and he had seen plenty of sights that involved mountainous piles of corpses and seas of blood before.
Pools of blood on Burial Mound mountain were used to refine blood corpses. It seemed very chilling to regular people, but it was nothing special to him. However, there was something different about this pool of blood as if something was hiding beneath. He tried extending his soul sense into it and his expression suddenly changed drastically.
“This- How dare you! No wonder your cultivation progressed so quickly!”
Before Ma Chaoqun could reply, he slammed his hand towards the top of Ma Chaoqung’s head. Overcome by surprise and fury, he actually showed no mercy at all, wanting to execute the first senior brother of Burial Mound mountain on the spot.
As a measly tenth layer Qi Practitioner, he was worlds apart from a late Foundation Establishment cultivator. Ma Chaoqun could not make any response at all. All he could do was accept his fate and await his death.
However, he sneered without a hint of fear.
A great wave suddenly arose from the pool of thick, dense blood. A huge, withered hand extended out and grabbed the old man like it was grabbing an insect. His bones shattered and ruptured like firecrackers before the hand pulled itself back into the pool.
The pool of blood surged a few times before settling down very quickly.
All of this had happened in an instant. A late Foundation Establishment cultivator had simply vanished silently like that. Let alone putting up a struggle, he had not even been able to let out a shriek.
“Thank you for saving my life, sir!” Ma Zhaoqun knelt on one knee and stood up, about to chase after Yu Shukuang.
“There’s no need to chase after him! Let him draw in even more people. I need even more corpses.” A dry, hoarse voice rang out from the pool of blood.
“I’ll go gather all the disciples right now.” A sliver of viciousness flashed through Ma Chaoqun’s eyes.
“I’ve really troubled you for the past three years. You haven’t disappointed me, so I won’t disappoint you either.”
“Yes.” Ma Chaoqun was overjoyed. Ever since he began hearing the voice, he had never stopped working hard. He could finally see a ray of hope now.
When the old man tossed out Yu Shukuang, he immediately fled for his life. Only when he escaped from the underground palace did he glance back and discover that Ma Chaoqun was not after him. Had the old man killed him? He dared not return and verify his thoughts.
No, I need to report this to the Hawkwolf Guard!
Without much effort, Li Qingshan found a few cultivation methods that simultaneously practised water and fire in the library of the academy. Sure enough, they explained in detail how to merge fire and water and make them supplement one another. This was the most difficult aspect of it all.
After reading for a while, a thin, azure water flow rose up from Li Qingshan’s palm, coiling up like a spirit turtle. At the same time, a tiny ball of fire lit up, dancing about like a phoenix.
Under his control, the water and fire collided together and engaged in a violent clash, like two mortal enemies. The water wanted to extinguish the fire, while the fire wanted to burn away the water. How was this merging water and fire? In the end, the water gained the upper hand and suppressed the fire, but the fire only lost the upper hand temporarily. As long as an opportunity showed itself, it would fight back vigilantly.
There was not a single trace of merging together. Li Qingshan shook his head, stowed the water and fire away, and returned the books. The usage of the information in the books was very limited. It was easy to balance out regular fire and water, but both the spirit turtle and the phoenix were the purest embodiments of water and fire.
They were powerful because of how pure they were, but it also made the water and fire more intolerant of one another.
“Commander, you’re here!” Hua Chengzan paced over and appeared between two bookshelves.
“What’s happened?” Li Qingshan turned around and asked. Normally, Hua Chengzan would not refer to him as commander.
“One of our Hawkwolf guards, Yu Zijian’s father, ran into some trouble.”
“Oh? What trouble?”
“We’ll talk as we go.”
Letting Li Qingshan walk in front, Hua Chengzan glanced from the corner of his eyes and discovered the cultivation method that Li Qingshan had been studying was called the Study of Water and Fire. Then he looked away.
Doesn’t he have the Arts of the Boundless Ocean already? What’s he looking at this third-rate cultivation method that can only be practised till Foundation Establishment for?
“What’re you thinking about?” Li Qingshan patted Hua Chengzan on the shoulder. Hua Chengzan raised his head and met his eyes that had contrasting whites and dark irises. He shivered inside and shook his head. “Nothing.”
The two of them returned to the Hawkwolf Guard together and saw Yu Shukuang. Listening to what he went through, Li Qingshan nodded. “It is a little strange. Let’s go and take a loo-”
He paused because he suddenly sensed an omen of warning. He could not help but become confused. With his current cultivation, he could escape without losing his composure even if he ran into Golden Core cultivators and Daemon Commanders. Just what would he be running into during this trip that would actually be so dangerous?
However, he was an old acquaintance of Yu Shukuang and he also cared about Zijian’s mother. He was also the Scarlet Hawk commander and someone had just tried to kill a Hawkwolf guard. Whether it was from an emotional or a logical sense, he could not turn a blind eye to this.
Of course, the omen of warning was not very strong. He only had to be a little more careful. If this was a warning where it was basically certain death, he would not simply walk to his death either. It was a pity that Xiao An was currently refining that old man Wen’s remains and soul, or he would be even safer.
Li Qingshan, Hua Chengzan, and Yu Shukuang arrived at the outskirts of Burial Mound mountain together. They gazed at the gloomy mountain from afar.
Yu Shukuang roughly indicated the location and Li Qingshan said, “Old Yu, you should just stay here!”
Hua Chengzan said, “What, you think it’ll be dangerous?”
“It never hurts to be on the safe side. Let’s just be a little more careful!” Li Qingshan smiled and drew the Heavy Water sword, placing it on his shoulder. “Let’s hope we see the sect master of Burial Mound mountain bringing his traitorous disciple Ma Chaoqun to us in chains and apologising to us as soon as we enter!”
The warning from the spirit turtle had completely eliminated this possibility already.
The two of them arrived before the entrance of the sect with a single leap and Hua Chengzan suddenly asked, “Qingshan, are you very familiar with Yu Shukuang?”
He struggled to disguise this feeling of familiarity. Especially when Zijian’s mother was mentioned, Li Qingshan did not become curious about the details involved, and Yu Shukuang had not given a detailed explanation either. He felt like Li Qingshan knew exactly what had happened, but the two of them should not have had a lot of contact.
“We happened to meet a few times in the past. Let’s announce our presence!” Li Qingshan changed the topic, but he remembered a saying, You can fool everyone for a moment, you can fool one person for eternity, but you can never fool everyone for eternity.
Particularly with fooling a person with sharp senses and accustomed to thinking deeply. That would be even more difficult.
Hua Chengzan called out and announced the reason for their arrival. The haze on Burial Mound mountain weighed heavily as there was no reply at all.
The two of them exchanged glances and walked over. They passed through the formation with ease and entered Burial Mound mountain.
There were no sneak attacks or ambushes that they had imagined. All was silent.
The chilly winds whistled as the sky was without any moon or stars. There was not a single shadow to be seen on the mountain. Even the zombies that roamed everywhere had vanished. They could not sense any auras either.
This situation was even stranger than a hundred thousand Corpse Soldiers encircling them. Where did all of the Burial Mound mountain’s disciples go?
Hua Chengzan joked, “Commander, I want to go home.”
Li Qingshan patted Hua Chengzan’s shoulder with a smile. “Don’t be afraid. We’ll leave as soon as we get a glance.”
Following the direction that Yu Shukuang had indicated, the two of them arrived before the entrance of the underground palace. Wind whistled through the passageway like howls of ghosts.
Even without any warning from the spirit turtle, Li Qingshan knew this place was anything but good. He said to Hua Chengzan, “Wait here. I’ll go in and take a look!”
Hua Chengzan said, “I’ll become scared if I’m alone!”
Li Qingshan grinned. “Then follow along behind me!”
With one at the front and one at the back, the two of them passed through the passageway and arrived in the underground palace.
“Oi, Ma Chaoqun, get out here and die!”
Li Qingshan frowned. The smell from the blood pool was truly unpleasant, and it made the warning intensify. He spotted the crystal coffin above the blood pool with a single glance, as well as the woman who resembled Yu Zijian.
Meanwhile, Ma Chaoqun who resembled almost nothing of his past self stood behind the crystal coffin. He stared at the person in the coffin with great affection. He raised his head and looked at them coldly.
Creak! Crack! Crick! Thump! A series of mechanisms were activated and among the sounds of rubbing against rock, stone doors fell one by one, sealing off the passageway. Inscriptions appeared on the doors. Clearly, they could not be destroyed so easily.
“There’s something wrong with the pool of blood.” Hua Chengzan studied the inscriptions engraved around the blood pool and found them extremely familiar as if he had read about them in a book somewhere before. He tried sending his soul sense into the pool, and his expression changed drastically.
“Oh no! Qingshan, destroy the pool of blood!”
As Hua Chengzan said that, three scarlet talismans flew out of his hand.
Boom! Boom! Boom! The scarlet talismans exploded into three scarlet-red fireballs that rapidly swelled in the air. Li Qingshan could sense the great power hiding inside. Let alone the tiny pool of blood, they were even enough to flatten an entire city.
Talismans that powerful were extremely rare. Often, they would be reserved for life-threatening moments, yet Hua Chengzan used three right off the bat. When they exploded in the underground palace, they could even threaten his own life, but in that moment, he could no longer care so much.
Li Qingshan did not know what Hua Chengzan was worrying about, but he did trust his judgement. With a swing of his sword, the Heavy Water sword that had already been huge suddenly swelled to ten times its size. He cleaved down as if he was trying to destroy everything.
Ma Chaoqun, the crystal coffin, and even the pool of blood were all included in the sword’s trajectory.
The Siege Breaking strike!