The Ghost Tomb belonged to the first leader of the Ling Sect, Yan Budu.
Yan Budu was born into the wealthy Yan family and lived a life of luxury and extravagance as the youngest son. He was exceptionally intelligent and once brought the Yan family to its peak, earning him the title of a genius.
He believed himself to be a genius capable of becoming an immortal.
At the age of 17, he stopped doing business and used his vast fortune to establish the Ling Sect, searching for rare treasures from all over the world to build his own tomb. He even boasted that if he became an immortal, his tomb would remain empty, but if he died, he would die in the most luxurious tomb.
Ten years later, the Ghost Tomb was completed. However, due to the massacre of too many craftsmen who knew the secrets of the tomb, the Ling Sect was attacked by the righteous martial arts faction.
Yan Budu was indeed a rare genius of the century. He led the Ling Sect in stubborn resistance for two whole years, with countless souls lost under his sword, but he managed to survive.
However, just as the Ling Sect was beginning to recover, he disappeared.
Yan Budu didn't disappear without a trace.
After a year, the Ling Sect believed that the Ghost Tomb had been sealed and Yan Budu had been secretly buried by his confidants. And so began the legend of the Ghost Tomb, which had been passed down for a hundred years.
When Yan Budu stirred up chaos in the Central Plains, Yin Ci was chasing clues about "immortals" in the borderlands and missed out on the big show.
Several years later, he took on the name of Su Zhi and led the Red Hook Sect to find the Ghost Tomb. However, the opportunity did not arise, and they were unable to find it.
At the time, the stories around the Shi Rou were not as profound as they are now, so Yin Ci didn't bother to force the issue. After all, in a hundred or so years, future generations would help him find it.
And now, the descendants are gathered at the entrance of the Ghost Tomb, but no one is willing to take the first step.
In the end, the monks from the Jianchen Temple took the lead, lighting their lanterns and dispelling the darkness with their dim yellow light. But what appeared before them was not a tomb chamber, but the entrance to a street.
As the group stepped in, the ghostly lanterns lit up once again, illuminating the entire street. The ground was paved with smooth green stones, without a single bloody footprint or much dust.
The light and shadows danced, and the street was bustling with traffic. Everywhere there were the scents of perfume and the shadows of beautiful women, and every home was brightly lit. The long street seemed endless, like a lively market.
The ceiling of the tomb was painted with something so black that it didn't reflect any light, making it difficult to judge the distance. The tiny night pearls were strung together, simulating a sky full of stars, and the moon shone with a jade color, so realistic that it was frightening.
The shops on both sides were no different from those in the world, with bricks and stones made of real materials, but the passersby and the goods on the stalls were all made of paper, giving off a creepy atmosphere.
Just then, a grating sound that made one's teeth ache rang out.
At the entrance, the steel support was squeezed flat by the tomb gate. The two heavy stone doors closed on their own, trapping everyone inside the tomb.
The sudden incident caused those who were originally standing at the entrance to scramble out, almost being crushed into minced meat.
Within moments, there were piercing screams coming from outside the tomb gate, followed by an eerie silence.
Ahead was a dark street that seemed to stretch on endlessly, while behind them was a deathly path reeking of blood. The smell of a trap filled the air, causing everyone to fall silent.
After a while, Shi Jingzhi slowly lifted his silver bell, and even Yin Ci cooperative trembled a little.
"That gate was probably made by a demon," Shen Zhu emerged from behind a paper figure, speaking in a relaxed tone. "There must be demons lurking in the tomb... We were brought in here for either treasure hunting or feeding the demons."
She took two steps forward and the light from her lantern cast shadows on the paper figures, making their expressions come to life and adding to the eerie atmosphere.
"Don't panic, members of the Golden Jade Gang and other factions are waiting outside. If the tomb door can be opened once, it can be opened twice. Even if it can't be opened, my sect has enough food and water to sustain us for seven days. Within these seven days, we will surely find a solution."
The "Senior Sister" from the Taiheng Sect spoke again, her voice still low and pleasing to the ear.
"A little girl who knows how to talk. My Red Hook Sect hasn't spoken yet," an old voice rang out.
"Dark Blood Witch." The Senior Sister from the Taiheng Sect, Shi Zhongyu, changed her expression, then bowed. "I didn't expect the Red Hook Sect's leader to be here. I apologize for my rudeness."
The Dark Blood Witch chuckled twice. "How could I miss such a great tomb? I can't guarantee anything else, but there must be a way out."
With the righteous and evil factions saying so, the crowd gradually calmed down.
"Indeed. The former leader of the Red Hook Sect is here. If we still can't get out, no one in the world can save us," murmured Shi Jingzhi to Yin Ci.
Yin Ci's attention was not on this matter, as he examined the paper person beside him.
"Shizun, the hair on this paper person seems to be real human hair."
Shi Jingzhi: "..."
Shi Jingzhi: "Good disciple, there are some things your master doesn't want to know."
Yin Ci replied, "Understood, Shizun. But I am curious...legend has it that thousands of craftsmen were sealed alive in the Ghost Tomb, but why can't we find a single bone? Where did they go?"
Shi Jingzhi was at a loss for words. "Ah Ci, do you hate me?"
Yin Ci held back a happy laugh and shook his head sincerely.
"I see that this dark street has split into two forks. Let's divide our forces and reunite here in three days," said the Dark Blood Witch, her voice hoarse. "Each group should consist of one hundred people, no more and no less. Too many will make it difficult to move, and too few will invite trouble."
The Golden Jade Gang had hidden one hundred and eight jade beads, and after a fierce competition, twelve sects and thirty-nine lone wanderers qualified. Including the likes of the Ku Mountain Sect, which barely had anyone, there were less than three hundred people descending into the tomb.
The dark street was packed with paper people, and with over two hundred people crammed together, making it truly inconvenient to move.
After the Dark Blood Witch finished speaking, she ignored the opinions of others and took out a small pottery jar. "For fairness' sake, young ones, come and draw lots."
The Red Hook Sect was both righteous and evil in their actions, and as a major tomb-raiding sect, no one dared to nitpick them.
Representatives from each sect stepped forward and drew lots from the pottery jar.
The first one to reach into the jar was Shi Zhongyu from the Taiheng Sect. She furrowed her brows and pulled out her hand, revealing a white circular mark the size of a chess piece on the back of her hand.
The next person pulled out their hand, and there was also a circular mark on the back of their hand, either black or white.
The Dark Blood Witch laughed and said, "There are two Yi snakes in the jar. With just one bite, they can distinguish between the balance of yin and yang in a person. Tombs also require a harmony in yin and yang, otherwise it will always attract some dirty things...
"This one is a venomous snake that has been detoxified, so you don't have to worry. What about you, kid over there? Don't you want to try?"
She glanced at Shi Jingzhi with her cloudy old eyes and sneered.
Shi Jingzhi immediately stood at attention and said, "You are too kind. I had already made an agreement with the Taiheng Sect earlier to accompany them on this mission. In any case, there are only two of us here, so whether we get bitten or not doesn't make much of a difference.
"As the saying goes, those who accomplish great things do not fuss over minor details. If you, as an elder, have a broad mind, then please don't worry about it."
Yin Ci was surprised to find that his master, despite coughing up blood, was still able to speak at length.
The Dark Blood Witch chuckled and then turned her attention elsewhere. With fingers like dried corpses, she pointed and gestured, matching black and white to create two distinct groups of people.
Soon, the group was divided into two factions: the Jianchen Temple and the Ling Sect on one side, and the Taiheng Sect and the Red Hook Sect on the other.
The rest of the people followed the two main groups. Only the people from Prince Rong's Manor were undecided, but the Dark Blood Witch didn't force them to choose and instead waved them into her own team.
"Yin Ci, you really lucked out when you collided with the Taiheng Sect," said Shi Jingzhi, patting his chest. "With them, the Red Hook Sect probably won't dare to cause trouble openly..."
"Sect Leader Shi, how did you offend the Red Hook Sect?" asked Jin Lan curiously. "I stole that jade bead from them...sigh, let's not talk about it, that old hag is glaring at me again." Shi Jingzhi turned his head, pretending that the Dark Blood Witch didn't exist.
Yin Ci didn't tease Shi Jingzhi anymore, and he was observing carefully.
Yan Budu was a madman, and the tomb was not set up according to common sense. Even though they were on the first level, there might still be clues related to eternal life.
This underworld-like street split into two paths, and they took the left one. Looking up, it was still filled with paper people, a scene that made one's heart feel cold.
This path was like a flower and willow alley, with warm-colored lanterns flickering inside, and the smell of musty powder permeating the air. The paper people, regardless of gender, were all dressed up and had lively expressions and movements like real people.
But there was no sound of human activity around, it was so quiet that it made people feel suffocated.
"Let's find a house to clean up and spend the night," said Dark Blood Witch, pointing to the most luxurious brothel. "That one will do, at least we can live there, and who knows, there may be treasures hidden inside."
Yin Ci nodded secretly. No one knew where the path to the next level was, or when the tomb door would open. They needed to find a base to settle down, so that their morale wouldn't scatter.
However, this underworld street was surprisingly sophisticated.
The brothel was brightly lit, and the interior was just as impressive as the exterior. The paper dishes on the banquet table were so realistic that they looked like the real thing. There were musicians playing and people laughing, each table unique and nothing alike.
Being so similar to the human world, the chill in the air instead became even more pronounced.
"Do not touch anything with your bare hands. If you must touch, use your cold Yin internal energy to freeze your fingers, without any body temperature. The ground is filled with Yin fire, so be careful when placing ordinary sources of fire..."
With a nod from the Dark Blood Witch, several members of the Red Hook Sect stepped forward to direct the operation.
Shi Jingzhi exclaimed, "The Red Hook Sect is quite generous, they even know how to help others first."
"It's not about doing favors, it's about raising cannon fodder," Yin Ci retorted casually. "My grandfather said that there's nothing good in the demon cult."
"Ah Ci, I've been wanting to ask for a long time, but your grandfather--" Shi Jingzhi was cut off as trouble arose again from the Changle Sect.
This Paperman Street was too eerie, and one of the Changle Sect's servants collapsed--the young man was only seventeen or eighteen years old, and he stumbled and accidentally touched one of the paper men beside him.
The Dark Blood Witch let out a long sigh and said, "Everyone step back."
With that, she swung her cane and it landed in front of several disciples from the Taiheng Sect.
"There's no need to go over there. If there are no traps, he will naturally be fine. If there is something suspicious, it's too late to save him now."
The young man's legs went weak with fear and he sat there for a long time before finally standing up with the help of the table. He didn't seem to notice anything unusual.
Just as everyone breathed a sigh of relief, the paper man he touched suddenly moved.
It twisted in a strange and stiff manner, and the smile on its face became more obvious. In the next moment, the paper woman opened her mouth slightly and spontaneously burst into flames without any wind. The blue flames licked the paper, releasing a milky white smoke.
The face of the disciple from the Red Hook Sect turned pale and he said, "Turn your internal energy cold, hurry!"
In the next moment, Yin Ci found himself being embraced by Shi Jingzhi, his head pressed into his chest. The cold inner energy rushed into his body, but quickly disappeared.
Despite this, Shi Jingzhi continued to transfer his inner energy, and although their bodies were close, they were as cold as ice.
"Yin Ci, hold your breath," Shi Jingzhi gritted his teeth.
The others also circulated their cold internal energy and held their breaths. The white smoke passed by them and headed straight for the three unarmed attendants of the Changle Sect.
Everything happened in a flash.
The attendants didn't have time to react before inhaling the white smoke. They trembled for a moment, unable to struggle.
With a rustling sound, small holes appeared on their skin, then slowly closed. They were frozen in place, allowing the holes to expand and contract on their bodies.
As if sensing something, Shi Jingzhi's breathing suddenly became rapid. Yin Ci acted decisively, covering Shi Jingzhi's mouth and nose with his hand.
The two of them stood closely together, not making a sound.
After the time it takes to brew a cup of tea, the rustling sound stopped, and everything returned to silence. The Dark Blood Witch let out a breath and tapped her cane on the floor. The crowd finally regained their breath and began to move again.
The head of the Changle Sect trembled as he turned his head to look at the three servants. As he looked, the old man let out a scream and fell, nearly repeating the fate of the fallen servants.
"Interesting," murmured Shen Zhu in a low voice.
As Yin Ci approached, he saw that the three people now had smiles on their faces, and their movements were frozen in place, with skin texture no different from that of paper people... or rather, right before everyone's eyes, the three living people quickly turned into "paper people."
Yin Ci recognized that thing.
Just a moment ago, the holes on the three people's skin had not yet closed. They kept expanding and were patched up with similar-colored "fabric," creating the illusion of holes that varied in size.
Their bones, organs, and flesh were all devoured by "that thing," leaving only a fresh shell behind.
Shi Jingzhi, with his keen senses, had already sensed something was off earlier. However...
Before Yin Ci could finish his thoughts, Shi Jingzhi lifted his chin.
His cheap master forcibly opened his mouth and shoved a pill the size of a lychee down his throat, then slapped him hard on the chest.
Yin Ci couldn't resist in front of everyone and choked back tears.
...He made a mistake. After losing his focus just now, he had forgotten to resume his breathing.
Hugging ← pretending to be dead together
Lifting the chin ← the next second, a disgustingly large pill is shoved in.
Shi Jingzhi: ?! My disciple is dying!
His pupils trembled with fear.
Yin Ci: ? I forgot to breathe, it's just a minor issue.
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