After resting on the first floor for a while, everyone inspected the coffins one by one, only to find a pile of bone balls stuffed inside.
Jin Lan's face turned as pale as paper and he had to take a moment to recover.
Jin Lan had an old leg injury, and when he was agitated, he limped as he walked. Yan Qing offered to carry him, but Jin Lan refused.
"This is the work of a servant, but the tomb is full of dangers. You should take care of yourself first," Jin Lan shook his head. "I can walk on my own."
Yan Qing made an assenting grunt and suddenly gasped, "There's a sound upstairs."
Yin Ci listened carefully and indeed heard a faint scratching sound, as if someone was scratching the wooden boards with their nails. Shi Jingzhi glanced at the Blood Bone Beads, then quietly trembled.
"I didn't take the poison just now, and I feel fine. I'll go up and take a look," said Yin Ci, practically wearing the words "I'm brave" on his face.
Shi Jingzhi asked, "You didn't take it?"
Yin Ci looked apologetic, "I was caught off guard by the strange demon I saw for the first time and didn't react in time."
If he had taken the poison and didn't show any symptoms, it would only cause more trouble.
Shi Jingzhi pursed his lips and fell silent for a moment.
"I'll go up with you. Miss Shi downstairs will take care of things."
Yin Ci looked at him in surprise.
Upstairs was empty, with a beautifully crafted red coffin in the center of the room. The stench grew stronger, mixed with a strange sweetness.
Yin Ci recognized the scent of Qinyuan poison hidden inside the coffin.
This was a vicious plan. The scent of Qinyuan poison was faint and easily masked by the stench of corpses, making it difficult to detect.
To deal with the Anxiety Silk, experts like Shi Zhongyu would take poison to protect themselves. Even if they took an antidote, the poison's effects would not disappear immediately.
If they were then hit with another dose of strong poison, even immortals would struggle to survive.
Qin Yuan poison was extremely rare, and Yin Ci had only found a small cup of it. Even with Shi Jingzhi's heightened senses, he would not be able to identify an unfamiliar poison. If he fell victim to it, his young master would undoubtedly die.
Shi Jingzhi seemed to realize the danger and coughed lightly.
"In situations like this, there are usually traps in the coffin, the most common being poison and curses. This coffin looks unusual, so maybe we should..."
Yin Ci turned his back to him and pretended to be impatient. "I've opened many coffins before, I'm very skilled at it."
Without giving Shi Jingzhi a chance to speak, Yin Ci took a few steps forward and lifted the lid of the coffin.
With a crisp sound, a thin transparent barrier rose around the coffin, and Shi Jingzhi, who had intended to follow Yin Ci, slammed into the barrier with a muffled sound.
Yin Ci pretended not to hear anything and moved the coffin lid, only to be sprayed in the face with Qinyuan Poison Powder.
It was indeed the most poisonous substance in the world, with a strong taste and even a slight sense of euphoria.
Yin Ci licked his lips and pressed down on the thing inside the coffin. The thing was dressed in fine silk and had beautiful eyes, looking like a young girl.
But as the former leader of the Red Hook Sect, Yin Ci recognized its true identity with just one glance - a well-crafted puppet corpse. It was not a monster, but rather made from fresh corpses refined to feel like a living person, often accompanied by some enchanting spells.
With a swift and precise move, Yin Ci disabled its core mechanism. It couldn't move an inch and could only transform into a weeping expression, which was heart-wrenching to see.
Demon Lord Yin's heart was as hard as iron, and he didn't even blink. Even if he loosened his grip a little, this thing could jump up and tear him apart.
Although Yin Ci didn't care, Shi Jingzhi was watching from behind, and the transformation from minced meat to a living person would still be too exciting.
Seeing Yin Ci's lack of response, the spell was activated again.
The puppet corpse instantly transformed into a handsome man, revealing a fragile expression.
Yin Ci asked, "…?"
This craftsman had considered everything thoroughly. Unfortunately, his appearance was not as good as his cheap master's.
Yin Ci remained motionless, continuing to increase the force in his hand. The puppet corpse struggled in vain, once again changing its face.
Yin Ci was very familiar with that face.
The spell directly affected the spirit, transforming it into Yin Ci's true appearance - long black hair like ink, pale complexion, intense heaving in the chest, and a painful and desperate expression.
It pleaded as it looked up, revealing a strange sense of breaking down.
Yin Ci instead smiled, moving his lips and silently speaking to the puppet corpse.
"Well, this really is a dream come true."
With that, Yin Ci increased the force once again. He exerted too much force, and the bones in his hand made an unbearable cracking sound. The core of the mechanism even had a slight crack in his grip.
The illusion suddenly dissipated, revealing the true face of the puppet corpse. A female corpse lay quietly in the coffin, with her eyes tightly closed and her nose almost completely rotted away. Her face was eroded by the flower and willow disease*, making her look like a demon.
*T/N: a type of illness that was believed to afflict courtesans who worked in the pleasure districts, and thought to be caused by excessive indulgence in pleasures such as drinking, smoking, and sexual activities.
Yin Ci coldly released his grip, and his injured bones almost instantly returned to their original state. Without turning back, he continued to lean against the coffin and took a short hairpin from the female corpse's hair.
Then, he carefully opened his outer garment, reached into his chest, and inserted the hairpin directly into his heart.
Although his wound healed quickly, the foreign object was not so easy to remove. His heart beat with difficulty, and even through his Ghost Skin Suit, Yin Ci's face remained pale and terrifying.
After making the preparations, Yin Ci finally spat out a mouthful of blood, completely covering the bloodstain on his chest.
He did not move, always facing away from Shi Jingzhi. From Shi Jingzhi's perspective, he was just moving away from the coffin, standing still for a moment, and then falling down softly.
Just then, there was a loud explosion as the barrier shattered. Accompanied by the flag of golden flames, Shi Jingzhi rushed forward, panting heavily.
The barrier was incredibly sturdy, and it was clear that he had exerted a lot of effort.
Upon seeing Yin Ci, whose front was covered in blood, a hint of displeasure flashed in Shi Jingzhi's eyes.
"Don't touch the coffin, it's poisonous," Yin Ci weakly spoke as he supported himself on Shi Jingzhi's shoulder.
"Nonsense, I just said that!" Shi Jingzhi grabbed his wrist and gritted his teeth as he checked his pulse. "The symptoms of heart failure...damn it, didn't I tell you to wait a bit?"
"The Taiheng Sect is a big family with a big business, and there are only two of us. If there really is a treasure here, I'm afraid they..." Yin Ci trailed off.
"The Taiheng Sect is not a bandit gang," Shi Jingzhi retorted, his face stern as he rummaged through the medicine box and pulled out a glass bottle. "Drink it quickly! If you had taken poison earlier, you might not even be alive now."
As Shi Jingzhi carefully placed the medicine, Yin Ci obediently swallowed it, his face full of apologies.
Shi Jingzhi clenched and unclenched his fists, but ultimately refrained from hitting the patient.
Yin Ci found it amusing that Shi Jingzhi was genuinely angry, not just pretending.
Perhaps Shi Jingzhi's use of him was not limited to just filling a quota. Could it be that he truly saw him as a disciple?
That thought was laughable.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise as the barrier broke, and four people arrived late on the scene. Seeing what had happened, Shi Zhongyu sighed and addressed Shi Jingzhi, "Sect Leader Shi."
"I apologize for my disciple's ignorance. He's still a bit naive," said Shi Jingzhi with a serious expression. "The coffin is poisonous, and the thing inside looks like a puppet corpse. Miss Shi, could you please verify it for us?"
Shi Zhongyu reached out with her sword and the coffin immediately shattered, with wooden boards falling in all directions. Jewels and treasures scattered all over the ground, but no one bothered to pick them up.
"It is indeed a puppet corpse. Its core mechanism seems to have malfunctioned. Your disciple is very lucky," said Shi Zhongyu. The incredibly hard mechanism core could hardly be destroyed by bare hands, so at the moment she wouldn't suspect anything.
"The poison he was exposed to is also very strange. I've never seen such symptoms of heart failure before. But the situation seems to have stabilized," said Shi Jingzhi, wiping the sweat off his forehead and giving Yin Ci some medicine.
"The sound is off," suddenly spoke Yan Qing, pointing to the puppet corpse. "There's a sound of friction and movement inside."
When Shi Jingzhi and Shi Zhongyu locked eyes, the latter covered her hands with silk and carefully dismantled the puppet corpse. She lifted the eyelids of the puppet corpse and found two hollow wax eyes.
Then, she pulled Yan Qing over and had him listen carefully before pulling out a black short sword from the spine of the corpse.
While pretending to be weakened, Yin Ci secretly glanced over.
Shi Zhongyu cut open the wax balls and two round beads fell out. The left eye sparkled with a dazzling light golden glow, while the right eye was dull and had a wooden texture.
"Let me see... one Unexchangeable Gold bead and one wooden Buddhist bead. One Hanging Shadow Sword and several precious jewels," she said.
Shen Zhu bit her pen and asked, "How do the two sect leaders plan to divide it?"
Shi Zhongyu let out a sigh and said, "The Ku Mountain Sect saved my life, so I will let Sect Leader Shi decide first."
Yin Ci's gaze circled around the wooden Buddha bead before turning to Shi Jingzhi. After a moment of contemplation, Shi Jingzhi answered decisively, "I want the wooden Buddha bead and the Hanging Shadow Sword."
Shen Zhu raised an eyebrow, "Really? According to Yan Budu's character, it's possible that he would deliberately give a fake Buddha bead to fool people. Although the Hanging Shadow Sword was made by a famous craftsman, it is more like a collectible and not a divine weapon. These two items combined are not worth a single speck of gold dust."
"I have already learned some martial arts from Miss Shi as a token of gratitude for saving my life. There is no need to mention it again."
Shi Jingzhi then stuffed a pill into Yin Ci's mouth, gesturing for him to remain quiet.
"Unexchangeable gold can be used to forge divine weapons and powerful tools, which is why they are so valuable. Our small sect doesn't even have a decent weapon, let alone the ability to forge one with this gold."
Yin Ci's eyes showed admiration.
Although not worth much in terms of value, the gold they have is still priceless to them. However, it would be better to take advantage of this opportunity and sell it to the Taiheng Sect as a gesture of goodwill.
Taking a worthless Hanging Shadow Sword and an unknown bead should suffice.
Shi Zhongyu found it difficult to object.
...And now it seems that only this bead may be related to the Shi Rou. Shi Jingzhi is usually rowdy, but surprisingly calm at critical moments.
Sure enough, Shi Zhongyu nodded, a hint of appreciation crossing her face.
"Thank you, Sect Leader Shi. You should also take some lightweight jewelry for easier travel after leaving the tomb."
Shi Jingzhi nodded in agreement. Yin Ci was still lying on the ground, and he had no intention of leaving too far away, so he casually looked around his feet.
Under the light, a short hairpin glimmered with golden light, its style almost identical to the one in Yin Ci's heart.
Shi Jingzhi fixed his gaze on it and picked it up. He played with the hairpin absentmindedly for a while before falling into deep thought.
"This will do," Shi Jingzhi said absentmindedly after a moment.
He then sat down next to Yin Ci and put the hairpin in his pocket.
"Ah Ci, if something like today happens again, I will expel you from the sect. Since this is your first offense, I will only deduct half a year's allowance."
Yin Ci: "..." Friend, it seems like you only have one year left to live.
After finishing his words, Shi Jingzhi placed a short sword next to Yin Ci.
"As for this...you have just become my disciple, and I haven't given you a proper gift yet. You like swords, right? Take it."
Yin Ci weakly smiled, "Shizun, you're giving the carrot and the stick together?"
"Isn't it because you have good luck? Since you survived such a great danger, we can share good fortune together," he said.
Shi Jingzhi forced a smile and replied, "…After all, with your weak heart, you should have died a long time ago."
The author has something to say:
Puppet Corpse: Look, you're going to die, you're going to die, this is your dying look!
Yin Ci: ? There are such good things in life.
Shi Jingzhi: …Salary reduction, 50% salary reduction!
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