This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 67: Awakening
Hu Jingjing followed Li Xixing, passing through the giant monster skeleton.
The giant skeleton was like the hull of an enormous ship and felt extremely pressing when one walked between them. Especially when Hu Jingjing saw a large pile of corroded iron when she passed where the beast’s abdomen should have been. There were metals of all colors, twisted into various layers by a force, and then abraded into large snowflake-like pieces.
Thinking of how this giant beast had swallowed these things in the past, she was in more awe.
But Li Xixing did not consider such things. When he passed through the giant skeleton, he thought for a moment then picked up dried branches and leaves to create two piles of flame before putting some loose soil over them.
Through the strange spirit rain, in the sky above the Mountain of Ancestors surrounded by birds, two pillars of smoke, one thick and one thin, rose.
“What are you doing?” Hu Jingjing looked at his actions and asked when he started to walk again.
“One thick and one thin is the smoke signal of the border army representing safety. Usually, to make the smoke pillar more obvious and strong, they will use cow and wolf dung, and some special colored powder.” Li Xixing turned to glance at her and said, “If he has arrived, at least he will know that we are safe up until here. I will release smoke at regular intervals.”
Hu Jingjing was only momentarily dazed before understanding him. Hereon, Li Xixing would burn and make smoke pillars like this every once in a while. If they got to a certain place and no smoke rose, it meant she and Li Xixing had encountered fatal danger and died.
“If we die, he has no need to risk his life for us here. He will make a good choice,” Li Xixing looked forward indifferently and said.
Hu Jingjing’s emotions were low. “You are certain he will understand what you mean?”
Li Xixing did not look at her. “He is much smarter than me. Of course he will understand.”
The pair were just trying to make conversation so they quickly quieted. Large amounts of corpses appeared in front of them, most of them still in human shapes and not shattered like the skeletons outside of the Mountain of Ancestors.
In terms of appearance, the corpses in their sight were relatively complete. They also appeared to have died later than the people outside. No matter who, when they were stepping on a thick layer of bones, especially human ones, would not feel well.
Hu Jingjing tried to not step on skulls, but listening to the strange cracking sounds coming from under her feet, her face grew paler. “These people are the Tianliang people who were the last to commit suicide in the Mountain of Ancestors?” she could not help but ask.
Li Xixing frowned at her words, looking hesitant. But thinking of how she had just come from Changling to the battlefield, her performance in this situation was good. His expression eased, and he said, “You should see where the fatal wounds on these people are located.”
Hu Jingjing stilled. These dead people only had bones left. Since Li Xixing had said so, then the fatal wound must be on the bones, and easy to see.
She was embarrassed. She looked at the bones in front of her, and her gaze became stern. Most of the skeletons had no obvious sword or blade marks, but there was a small hole between the brows on the skull. The hole was the size of a needle, despite being weathered through several years.
Li Xixing glanced at her. He originally wanted to remind her to look on her own, but he thought that this was soon to be a time of life and death, and not his usual training of new soldiers. He still managed to suppress himself and said, “Look at the back of the skull.”
Hu Jingjing took a deep breath. She tried to calm her emotions and then found the key.
The skull of a human, especially those of a cultivator, would be extremely hard and dense. The item that had penetrated the forehead of these skulls must be much smaller than a needle tip. A sharp thing like this could penetrate the forehead so it must have great momentum and should be extremely sharp.
Piercing through the forehead meant it would easily go through the back of the head. Yet there were no small holes in the back of all the skulls.
Li Xixing cut open one of the complete skulls.
Hu Jingjing knew what he was doing. She suppressed her discomfort and looked closely at the interior. There were no marks on the back of the skull, and nothing had been left inside the skull.
“It cannot be a cultivator.” Li Xixing did not want to waste time. He looked at Hu Jingjing, saying slowly and seriously, “These skeletons did not die at the same time … Even if a powerful cultivator did this by himself, his cultivation would change over time. He cannot control primal energies of the universe or a weapon so precisely to pierce each person’s forehead and not leave behind any traces.”
If it was not a cultivator, then what …
Hu Jingjing looked at Li Xixing.
Li Xixing said after a moment of silence, “You still have time to leave.”
“True bravery is still doing even when afraid. My heart tells me what I need to do now. So I think I am a truly brave person.” Hu Jingjing paused and laughed. She started to walk along the path wreathed with skeletons and ascend upwards.
The mountain path narrowed slightly ahead of her and Li Xixing to enter into another relatively flat valley. As a result, the skeletons looked like an enormous grey-white waterfall, and a demonic mouth that consumed flesh and spit out bone.
Li Xixing followed Hu Jingjing’s trail. Inexplicably, his emotions were calmer now than when he first entered the valley. He was even a bit grateful to the stubborn young woman before him. He knew she was right. One person going alone, even to face the ultimate death, would be too lonely and miserable.
At the end of the skeleton path, where it narrowed, a dot of bright yellow appeared. It was like a totem pole. It gave off a unique crystal light and appeared like a long amber column.
Li Xixing and Hu Jingjing’s gazes were naturally attracted to the crystal pillar. What they did not notice was as they instinctively looked at the profound patterns on the pillar, something was changing inside the crystal pillar.
Some extremely small things keenly sensed the presence of new blood and flesh. The scent caused them to start waking up.
The ten-foot long amber crystal pillar inexplicably shook, sounding like it was breathing.
These sounds were made from many small sounds occurring together. When the sounds merged together, it was palpitating.