The scent of incense grew stronger as Shi Jingzhi opened his eyes slightly and looked towards the nearby bedroom.
The surroundings were still pleasant, with warm lighting and no hint of the gloominess of a tomb. Shi Jingzhi listened carefully and heard shallow breathing coming from the direction of the bedroom, as if someone was sleeping there.
He didn't dare to ring the bell anymore and held onto his disciple's hand tightly.
Yin Ci's hand was warm and dry, perhaps because he was fearless like a newborn calf. There was no trembling in his grip, and it was firm and steady without any stiffness or discomfort.
Shi Jingzhi adjusted his breathing for a moment, then took a step forward towards the bedroom.
The bedroom was extremely spacious and luxuriously decorated. The firelight was just right, and the flowing light danced on the exquisite decorations.
On the opposite side of the bed was a transparent wall. The wall was made up of resin bricks the size of human heads, and each transparent brick was wrapped in a piece of human skin. The skin looked like it had been peeled off a living person's face, but it had been carefully processed and preserved, resembling exquisitely carved masks.
Each face on the bricks had well-defined features and expressionless eyes, all facing the bed.
Master Juehui's lined face looked even more distressed. Shi Zhongyu shuddered, from either fear or anger.
Shen Zhu clicked her tongue and said, "There are many famous people in there, all righteous gentlemen killed by Yan Budu."
On the other side of the wall was a large bed. A man lay on his side, wearing a simple red robe with his back facing the door. His long black hair flowed on the bed, revealing a slightly pale nape of the neck.
As if sensing the sound at the door, the man slowly stood up, his red robe slipping slightly off his shoulders, revealing a large and sturdy chest. He ran his hand through his hair and lazily turned his head, allowing everyone to finally see his face.
Yin Ci had seen Yan Budu alive before, and the face of this thing in front of him was indeed the same as his.
Yan Budu had countless lovers back then, and it wasn't just through forceful means. He was truly a stunning figure - his features were enchanting, but completely unlike Shi Jingzhi, he had a certain poisonous beauty.
His crimson eyes swept over them, and no one dared to speak. Yan Qing looked around and slowly hid behind the master and disciple duo.
Yin Ci's heart sank. Although the thing in front of him was lifelike, it was obviously not a living creature. Its movements were extremely subtle, and it didn't show any hostility or killing intent.
That wasn't Yan Budu.
The creature didn't immediately attack, instead picking up a red jade smoking pipe. It leaned against the headboard, leisurely blowing smoke rings. Its red eyes were half-closed and unfocused in the haze.
A delicate charm hung from the bottom of the red jade pipe, adorned with three Buddhist beads.
Yin Ci quickly calculated in his mind.
There were a total of fourteen prayer beads. Three were hidden on the Paperman Street, the second floor had an unknown number, but considering that the teleportation lakewater required the beads for positioning, the all of Ascending Immortals probably had four. The "Parting Sorrow" stone pillars had one each for a total of four... These were most likely the last three prayer beads.
If they were all placed together, the danger level was self-evident. It was more of a warning than a lure.
Shi Jingzhi gritted his teeth and shook his silver bell.
"That thing is not an illusion... Grandmother, what the hell is it?"
"I've never seen anything like this before. This is not like those cheap puppet corpses," said the gloomy Dark Blood Witch, every wrinkle on her face stiff.
"This is the center of the third floor, where the coffin should be placed. Did Yan Budu, that bastard, not even make a coffin?" Her voice was low, but the thing still heard her.
It tilted its head and smiled at the Dark Blood Witch - it had no teeth or tongue in its mouth, only a pitch-black space between its lips.
The Dark Blood Witch immediately stepped back and exclaimed, "Girl from the Taiheng Sect!"
Shi Zhongyu instantly understood her meaning and said, "Senior, the Blood Bone Beads are white, it is not demonic."
"Haha, the Holy Leader likes cleanliness, how could he keep such a thing by his bedside?" A cold laughter echoed among the crowd.
There was only one person left from the Ling Sect. He was a burly man, holding a Nine-Ring Blade stained with blood. His eyes were sharper than the blade itself.
Shi Jingzhi spoke sincerely, "But he put a pile of human faces at the foot of the bed. I think even monsters are cleaner."
Yin Ci nodded in agreement with his master: "Indeed."
The man's eyebrows furrowed and his veins bulged in anger.
The Dark Blood Witch seized the opportunity to taunt him, "Zheng Fengdao, as an elder, do you really want to pick a fight with a younger generation? They didn't say anything wrong."
She then glanced at Shi Jingzhi and added, "Interesting, I can't tell if you have guts or not."
Shi Jingzhi pointed to the object on the bed and explained, "That's a mechanism, not a ghost. And since it's a mechanism, it must have a trigger. Plus, it hasn't been activated yet, so there's nothing to be afraid of."
"From your perspective, what are the activation conditions?" Dark Blood Witch looked at Yan Budu, who was leisurely smoking at the head of the bed.
"It's the distance," Shi Jingzhi scratched his head. "The third floor is full of illusion traps. It's already difficult enough to reach the end, and then we have to face this dangerous mechanism... If my intuition is correct, this place is connected to the exit of the Ghost Tomb."
"Oh?" Dark Blood Witch raised an eyebrow.
Shi Jingzhi continued without hesitation, "Moving forward means facing unknown attacks, while retreating means waiting here to die. This kind of design is the most despairing."
Jin Lan couldn't help but interject, "Isn't it even worse if there's no exit?"
Dark Blood Witch sneered, "Fools will always be fools. Yan Budu is determined to become immortal and will never exclude the possibility of resurrection. He must have left a shortcut to the exit for himself."
After the short discussion, the tense atmosphere finally relaxed a little. Just as Shi Jingzhi had predicted, no one stepped forward, but there was also no way to retreat.
The creature, like Yan Budu, added more incense to the smoking pipe. The new incense burned, making the fragrance even stronger. The dim light and swirling smoke created a scene of beauty on the bed.
However, with the wall of faces opposite the bed, the originally luxurious scene sent shivers down one's spine.
With the interference of the "Dream Illusion Bubble", even if someone spoke out in front of everyone, no one could see it. At this point, everyone's equipment had been used up. Even a clever woman cannot cook without rice, and there was a sense of desperation in the surroundings.
Thanks to Yan Qing's bloodline, he skipped the "Parting Sorrow" and was thrown directly into the Palace of Ease, with all the luggage of the Ku Mountain Sect still there. However, the large and small bundles only contained food, miscellaneous items, and two blankets.
The only thing that could be considered a "treasure" was the Hanging Shadow Sword obtained from the Paperman Street - a collectible that could fetch a good price.
Dark Blood Witch's eyes scanned the room, making a few clicking sounds with her tongue.
"This space is too enclosed. If we could make a Moro tent and close our breath for a while, it could suppress some of the power here... Even if the time is limited, at least it can let this old woman see the true appearance of that thing."
Master Juehui asked, "Moro tent?"
"Soak fine satin in medicine water and set up the tent on the spot. Burn Yin fire on the outside and Yang fire on the inside, then use incense to drive away impurities. Stay inside for a cup of tea, then close your breath when you go out, and you can temporarily dispel the incense illusion."
As the Dark Blood Witch spoke, she lightly tapped her cane on the ground.
Jin Lan muttered under his breath, "Why didn't you say that earlier..."
The Dark Blood Witch gave him a sideways glance before continuing slowly, "This is a method used to buy time under the influence of poisonous smoke. It has a very short shelf life. Even if you manage to set it up, the Moro tent is disposable - once you leave the tent and get the scent of incense on you, you can't go back in."
After speaking, she lifted her chin towards Zheng Fengdao and said, "If it weren't for Elder Zheng's refusal to die in the sacrificial hole, I wouldn't have had to abandon my tomb-exploring equipment. It's a tragedy, a tragedy."
Zheng Fengdao sneered and the iron rings on his Nine-Ring Blade clanged loudly. "You old demon..."
Before he could finish his sentence, Shi Jingzhi pushed him aside.
Sect Leader Shi held a quilt embroidered with a pair of mandarin ducks playing in water in his hands, looking serious. "Grandmother, can we use this?"
The Dark Blood Witch and Zheng Fengdao: "..."
With suspicion, the Dark Blood Witch looked at Shi Jingzhi and twisted the blanket in her fingers.
"It'll do for now, but we still need to mix in some ingredients to make the medicine," she said.
Shi Jingzhi rummaged through his luggage and presented her with a medicine box.
"Here you go," he said.
The Dark Blood Witch raised an eyebrow. "Kid, you didn't happen to bring enough water with you, did you?" she asked.
"I have some," Shi Jingzhi replied, holding up his hands. "My disciple made some cooling tea, and I have ten bamboo tubes in my bag. Can we use that?"
The Dark Blood Witch hesitated. "The Shi girl from Taiheng Sect knows how to use the Yin fire, but there's also the Yang fire..."
Shi Jingzhi rubbed two fingers together, and a cluster of golden flames appeared on his fingertips.
"How much do you need?" he asked.
Dark Blood Witch fell silent.
What was up with the Ku Mountain Sect? They seemed to have everything.
After being tormented by their bags for so long, Yan Qing's eyes began to glaze over. "In a place like this, you dare to bring ten bamboo tubes of cooling tea? Even the Taiheng Sect didn't bring this much water..."
Shi Jingzhi took out a tube and shook it in front of Yan Qing, saying, "You'll know once you try it. Ah Ci's craftsmanship is especially good."
Dark Blood Witch cleared her throat and interrupted Shi Jingzhi's sales pitch.
Several members of the Red Hook Sect opened the quilt and painted a blood formation on the satin, while the Dark Blood Witch took out a medicine box and prepared the medicine immediately.
The Moro tent was quickly set up. As the main supplier of raw materials, Shi Jingzhi made only one request - to allow his disciple to enter the tent.
After all, there were only two blankets available, and the space in the Moro tent was limited, with a maximum capacity of only eight people.
Representatives from the four major factions were present, with the Prince Rong's Manor sending Xu Jingming, the Yueshui Bureau sending a male disciple, and the Ku Mountain Sect taking up two spots alone.
Sitting in the tent, Shi Jingzhi spoke in a hushed tone to Yin Ci, "Stay inside the tent. The air here is clean. I'll go out first. If anything goes wrong, I'll call for you. At that time you must hold your breath and find a clean spot outside while the spell hasn't worn off."
Not far away, Xu Jingming and Master Juehui were squeezed together, rolling their eyes in exasperation. The other important figures knew Xu Jingming's identity, but the situation was awkward, so they pretended not to recognize him.
After a cup of tea's time, everyone crawled out of the tent, leaving Yin Ci alone inside.
With the illusion shattered, the scene inside the room changed in an instant.
The room was completely devoid of any light, and the air was chilling. The floor was covered in dust, and the metal decorations were covered in thick rust. The wall with human faces was covered in a thin layer of ash. The edges of the gauze curtains were rotting unevenly, and the bedding on the bed was tattered and covered in mold.
However, there was still someone on the bed.
That thing still had long hair flowing down, and its slender fingers were playing with a red jade smoking pipe. Against the backdrop of the decaying and faded red robe, those blood-red eyes were particularly striking.
Dark Blood Witch held her breath and said concisely, "This is not good."
"...That's the 'human-shaped coffin'."
The author has something to say:
Shi Jingzhi: Actually, there are also pork buns, fried noodles, candy, smoked fish, dried fruit, vegetable meat pancakes, salted egg yolks, and fried rice in the luggage...
Yin Ci: Yeah, I made them for a long time.
The master and disciple were completely unaware of what was wrong.
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