Yin Ci felt a wave of dizziness wash over him.
In his eyes, the ground rose up, the roof pressed down, and the walls squeezed in from all sides.
An endless fear seeped out from deep within his memories, causing his hair to stand on end and his blood to freeze. All his senses were momentarily clouded, leaving only the thick smell of blood in his nose and mouth.
As the flames gradually receded, everything twisted and turned into darkness. Just like back then...
"Not a bad move," Yin Ci lifted his eyes.
Even though Lu Fengxi had been wandering the jianghu for decades, killing countless people, he couldn't help but shiver at the sight of those eyes. His opponent not only didn't fall, but his killing intent had only grown stronger.
Those eyes - they were no longer the eyes of a fierce ghost, at least fierce ghosts had once been human. The thing standing in front of him now was more like a pure demon born in the darkness.
Lu Fengxi widened his eyes in horror as he looked at his opponent. He was about to say something, but he realized that he had lost his lips, tongue, and teeth.
The man stood amidst the splatters of blood, his clear and refined face filled with hostility. His eyes were emptier than the sacrificial hole, and his icy gaze passed over Lu Fengxi, lingering on some empty space.
In the next moment, Lu Fengxi couldn't see anything anymore.
Yin Ci slapped himself in the pool of blood, finally regaining some clarity. Unfortunately, he regained it too late - Lu Fengxi had been torn into pieces, and it was difficult to even shovel him into the sacrificial hole.
Fortunately, he had left a trace of sanity and had been mindful of Shi Jingzhi's fox nose, so he didn't get too much blood on himself.
"Terror Sound, the name is quite fitting." Using a vocal technique to stir up fear in people, he had never seen this fresh move before.
It seems that during the years he was away from the martial arts world, the Ling Sect had come up with some strange things.
Yin Ci picked up the club within the lumps of flesh and blood, and this time he figured out its material - it was made up of human bones, and judging by its softness and hardness, it was probably made from processed children's bones.
The Ling Sect was still the same Ling Sect, unchanged for a hundred years.
The mystery of the club was unravelled and Yin Ci sneered. After a while, he managed to crush the club into pieces and carefully burned it to ashes.
Then he picked up the three Ling Sect disciples and pulled out his sword, throwing them one by one into the sacrificial hole. The stone pillar made a loud noise and descended a by large margin.
Only two people's weight was left.
Yin Ci walked towards the unconscious monk from Jianchen Temple and adjusted his position to a more natural lying position. He then checked the dryness of the Ghost Skin Suit and hung it in a more ventilated area.
After completing these tasks, Yin Ci sat on the edge of the sacrificial hole and looked into the bottomless pit.
He pondered for a while, slowly folding up the hem of his white clothes, revealing his bare legs. His pale skin rubbed against the rough stone edge, leaving behind faint red marks.
Suddenly, a cold light flashed and his hand moved swiftly with the knife.
Yin Ci cut off his own left leg and it fell into the deep pit. Soon, something resembling bloody tree roots emerged from the severed area. They twisted and wrapped around each other, forming new bones and flesh until a new left leg was born.
Yin Ci's face remained expressionless as he raised his hand for another strike. The freshly grown left leg was once again severed, and a large amount of blood sprayed along the edge of the pit. Flesh and blood tumbled and fell, creating a series of uncomfortable thuds against the stone wall.
This repeated more than ten times until finally, the stone pillar began to tremble and lowered completely.
Everything was ready. All he had to do now was put on the Ghost Skin Suit, take the monk out, and tell a perfect lie - they had encountered an unidentified expert who knocked out both the monk and himself, and somehow managed to lower the stone pillar before disappearing without a trace.
The monk had been hit with a chaotic palm strike and his memories were hazy at best, with only a vague recollection of the events and few details to offer.
But before any of that, Yin Ci had to quickly take the treasure from the top of the pillar.
Yin Ci leaped onto the stone pillar and sure enough, there was a Buddha bead on top.
However, the dust on the area around the bead was strange, as if something had been placed there before and then replaced with the bead.
Considering that there were no demons in the Hall of Ascending Immortals, the situation in the Ghost Tomb was becoming more and more bizarre. He wondered if his cheap master could survive this ordeal.
Not long ago, in another stone room, Shi Jingzhi slammed onto the stone surface with a crisp and loud sound. He groaned for a while before shaking off the effects of the anesthesia.
When the fire was lit, he was still sitting on the ground rubbing his legs.
The "Cure All With Medicine" flag was too long, and a piece poked out of the liquid bubble and was dissolved by the lake water, leaving only the words "Cure All".
Shi Jingzhi stood up with the flagpole and took a few deep breaths, feeling heartbroken.
In the center of the room stood a stone pillar with the words "Parting Sorrow" engraved on it. He recognized it immediately.
A few steps away, the people from the Prince Rong's Manor stood quietly, and the sedan chair had been restored to its original state. In addition to the four Prince Rong's Manor experts and the person in the sedan chair, there were also two lone rangers who had just regained consciousness and were looking around.
There were a total of eight people in the room. "Parting Sorrow" required the weight of about five people, if you include that...
He was interrupted by the sudden action of the Prince Rong's Manor experts, who threw the two lone rangers into the sacrificial hole.
After a moment of silence, there came an inhuman scream from the hole. The stone pillar trembled and lowered a bit. The four experts turned around and looked at Shi Jingzhi, preparing to attack.
"Wait, let me talk to him first," said the person in the sedan chair, finally speaking up.
He sounded like a young man. A folded fan lifted the curtain of the sedan chair, and the person inside walked out, revealing his face. His features were handsome and he could be considered a dashing young man.
He tapped his palm with the fan and spoke with a hint of sarcasm, "What, another wooden mask?"
"Every time I come across a market, I buy one as a souvenir," Shi Jingzhi replied readily, taking off his Nuo mask.
Compared to Shi Jingzhi, the person in the sedan chair was only average-looking, like a green leaf next to a red flower, and the kind of leaf that had spots.
The man seemed to realize this and flipped open his fan, covering half of his face. The words "Calm Waves" were elegantly written on the fan, clearly the work of a master calligrapher.
He stared at Shi Jingzhi for a moment and asked, "Do you have anything else to say?"
"There is, actually." Shi Jingzhi grinned. "You dare to come in person. That sedan chair must be worth a lot. I've been short on cash lately. Can I borrow some...?"
"Nonsense." The man's face turned angry. "I'm asking you, you're about to die here. Do you have anything else to say?"
Shi Jingzhi sighed. "Making someone follow me since the Paperman Street. You're still as impatient as ever."
"If you hadn't been lucky enough to travel with Shi Zhongyu, you wouldn't have even made it to the Hall of Ascending Immortals." The man sneered.
"We're talking about the Hall of Ascending Immortals now, and you still haven't realized something's wrong?"
"What do you mean?"
"The Hall of Ascending Immortals... no, the Ghost Tomb is too mild. It's not Yan Budu's style."
The person in the sedan chair looked at the stone pillar in silence.
"And you call this 'mild'?"
"The first floor was not difficult, so the design was kept relatively intact. As for the second level, the Hall of Ascending Immortals was too spacious. If you only want to set up the Corpse Explosion Curse and the Sinking Water Liquid Formation, there is no need to build such a finely crafted maze."
The man furrowed his brow and said, "Continue."
"The most important thing is that the Corpse Explosion Curse and the Sinking Water Liquid Formation can reduce the number of people. The 'Parting Sorrow' is also used to reduce the number of people, but there is a layer of liquid formation mechanism in between, which lacks aesthetic appeal."
Shi Jingzhi sat down on the ground and propped his chin up with his right hand.
"The leader of the Ling Sect regards the tomb as a holy place. Even if you want to design a game that incites conflict, this is too upside down. The Ghost Tomb should be filled with killing mechanisms, not ambiguous guiding games."
The person in the sedan said, "I have never heard anyone complain about there being too few mechanisms before."
"If it were me, I would hide a large number of monsters and curses in the maze, and slowly kill those who enter by scattering them. When the survivors reach a certain number, the world will turn upside down and the liquid spheres will appear randomly. It all depends on luck."
"In each room, there will be two people paired up, and the weight requirement for the Parting Sorrow will be adjusted to one and a half people. If you want to escape, you must leave behind some limbs. When the first person exits the room, all the other rooms will be sealed - the final survivor can enter the third level. Empty-handed, most likely missing limbs, and can only die in despair at the destination."
After speaking, Shi Jingzhi laughed even more brightly: "Doesn't this sound more like a 'Ghost Tomb'?"
The person in the sedan sneered: "Whether it sounds like a Ghost Tomb or not is unclear, but you and that Yan Budu are the same kind of people. I can see that quite clearly."
"Don't be in a hurry, I haven't finished yet," Shi Jingzhi raised his hand to signal.
He was disheveled and casual, with a pair of phoenix eyes that carried a mischievous smile, resembling the legendary evil immortals.
Unlike before, the gentle atmosphere around Shi Jingzhi had completely dissipated, leaving only a domineering pressure.
"Yan Budu, the hero of his generation, cannot be more naive than I am. I dare to guess that the Buddhist beads were only placed in the Ghost Tomb by Yan Budu after it was built. In order to ensure that enough experts survive, he killed all the monsters in the Hall of Ascending Immortals and changed all the rules of magic. This ensures that everyone can fight over the Buddhist beads without the entire army being wiped out."
With his presence becoming too imposing, the person inside the sedan became a little impatient: "So what? In the end, he just wants the Buddhist beads to flow out of the Ghost Tomb and cause chaos, right?"
"Yes, he used the Ghost Tomb as a stepping stone - that is to say, the tomb is no longer important to him."
The man suddenly held his breath, "Are you saying...?"
"Yan Budu is not in the tomb. If the Shi Rou really exists, the Buddhist beads are likely to be a clue." Shi Jingzhi extended his index finger and tapped his lower lip.
"My Buddhist beads are not on me. I can guarantee that if I die, you will never get them."
"To buy information about the Ghost Tomb, you must have spent a lot of money on the demon cults. Are you planning to collect the Buddhist beads yourself to please Big Brother?... Can you even afford to gift something that is not a set?"
"How dare you! Can you call him 'Big Brother'?" The man's face turned pale.
"We are all blood relatives, why can't I call him that? If I call him that in person, he has to respond." Shi Jingzhi said casually.
"Strange, it was clearly you who lacked manners first. After all, I can still be counted as your elder brother, Xiao Qi. Oh, you prefer a more serious title... how about calling me Brother, Your Highness Rong?"
The person in the sedan, Xu Jingming who was Prince Rong, was choked by the words and looked at the speaker with a mixture of caution and disgust, showing no appreciation.
But Shi Jingzhi ignored his attitude and smiled at him.
Xu Jingming took two steps back on the spot, and a familiar memory flooded into his mind.
At that time, he was still young and shouldn't have remembered much. But he remembered very clearly the day he first met this "elder brother".
The Crown Prince led him from afar, standing outside the garden. Inside the garden, Shi Jingzhi sat in a pavilion, staring blankly at the lake.
After a while, he seemed to notice the two of them and turned his head, his face showing a calmness completely incompatible with a child.
When Shi Jingzhi was young, his face was exquisitely delicate, so much so that it didn't seem quite real.
He stood out from his surroundings, as if he had been plucked out of another world.
"Brother...brother...?" Young Xu Jingming pointed to the pavilion.
"Jingming, he's not your 'brother'," the Crown Prince lowered his head and calmly replied.
"That's a monster."
Shi Jingzhi: Let me take off a layer of my little vest first and put it here.
This might be a counted as tearing off both of these onions' layers...
[Note] This story only has a small amount of court-related historical background, and the main plot has nothing to do with the court, let alone any plots of seizing the throne. To clarify the type of story, I'm explaining it in advance.
Happy readers make me float like a cloud in the sky. If you enjoy my translations and want to read them more quickly, I'll translate bonus chapters as a thank you for coffee!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@eyks.