Chapter 42: Underworld Court

As the giant doors creaked open, what greeted the pair was not some unidentified treasure, but was instead a pitch black void with nothing in sight, not even the walls. It was nothing but an empty void.

Steeling himself, Ning Chen rolled into the all consuming darkness, yet before he even managed to move another inch forward, the sound of footsteps bombarded his ears the very next moment.

Not too far off from him were row after row of headless soldiers marching in a zombie like fashion towards him; floating around them were a bunch of strange ghostly lights that seemed like a wisp of sorts.

With the headless corpse as the spearhead and the wisps possessing them, the deathly army began to instantly appear closer and closer to Ning Chen. He tried several times to back away but soon found that no matter how much he tried, they just seemed to get ever closer.

His eyebrows furrowed, not understanding this situation one bit. As he turned around, he found that the giant door had disappeared leaving only him and the army of headless soldiers alone in the void.

“An illusion?”

“Kill.”

With a raise of their dagger axes and a thunderous shout, the undead army was now in front of him in the blink of an eye.

No matter how he looked at it, this was a strange phenomenon and yet it didn’t completely seem like an illusion either. He drew out his Ink Sword and in one swift arcing motion swept away the countless axe daggers falling towards him while simultaneously maneuvering his wheelchair ten steps away in retreat.

Thankfully, the wheelchair he was sitting on was made by one of the preceptors in the academy otherwise it would’ve shared the same fate as his machete by now.

This was a sudden fight to be sure but Ning Chen still didn’t dare to be overconfident about it. He condensed his True Qi into his sword and rushed into their ranks with sword slashing.

The undead soldiers weren’t particularly strong being below the level of an ordinary soldier, but with the wisps around them, they proved to be slightly troublesome foes. With their overwhelming numbers even Ning Chen began to accumulate some injuries in spite of his martial background. In the midst of this void, even the blood he spilt had a eerie and deathly quality to it.

The wisps had an ethereal body that couldn’t be hurt with ordinary weapons; in order to suppress them, he had to rely on his True Qi. Yet each time these wisps passed through him, he felt a portion of his True Qi drain away; which began to wear down his psyche.

“I can’t advance and nor can I retreat; it’s ghosts and demons all over!”

In a fit of anger, he sent forth a burst of True Qi from his Qi Ocean, covering the Ink Sword in a frosty layer as he performed another wide slashing arc that swiftly sliced through seven undead soldiers.

In the face of these uncountable undead soldiers and unkillable wisps, his body was soon riddled with wounds and his blood loss was becoming even more severe by the minute. Within what was once an empty void was now a carpet of severed limbs along with an ever growing mountain of corpses.

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With no time to rest or even to catch his breath, his sword now had a reddish black tinge to it thanks to the countless corpses resting around and beneath him at the moment.

It wasn’t long before his sword hand began to feel numb from killing. It was to the point where his movements began to take on a mechanical and thoughtless feel to their motions. Even so, he still hadn’t made a dent in their numbers.

*cough cough*

He violently coughed out a mouth full of blood. Thanks to his severe True Qi consumption, the wounds from his previous battle began to surface once more having been freed from the suppression of his True Qi. He raised his head, and to his surprise, found that the undead soldier horde was now lying limp on the ground.

Throughout the endless void there was no night or day, as if the entire world was in a primordial and chaotic state. In here, he discovered that True Qi recovery seemed to be a lot quicker than usual. In fact, his stalled cultivation began to shows signs of breakthrough.

Unfortunately, this still didn’t make this place a safe haven, let alone a cultivation holy ground.

There was no telling when the undead soldiers would turn up again after all. While these unfeeling monsters lacked any intelligence or combat strength, their numbers more than made up for those faults. Plus, there were still those damnable wisps floating around them.

*clip clop*

Just as he managed to suppress his old wounds and recover some strength, the sounds of war horses galloping echoed in the distance. In the blink of an eye, four armored headless horsemen were within striking distance of him; with their halberds already raised and ready to chop into him.

With a loud bang, sword and halberd clashed for the first time, with the sword coming out short in this titanic clash. Thanks to the momentum of their charging warhorses, Ning Chen was barely able to block them and was pushed back over ten meters away from the sheer force. At his sides, his hands began to tremble slightly from the numbness coursing through them.

“Hmph, looks like it’s starting again.” He gave a soft snort as he swept his eyes over the horsemen surround him. As the vibrations of his Ink Sword began to die down, blood began to drip from within his clenched fists, falling drop by thunderous drop onto the corpses below.

*bam*

The battle began once more with the fall of their halberds. Taking turns to attack him, the four horsemen would rotate between attacking and defending in a flawless display of cooperation. Against such an impressive display, Ning Chen found it difficult to find an opportunity of attack even with his higher cultivation base. Thus, his body was once again bloodied.

“Ahhh, how annoying!”

Having been suppressed for so long by their attacks, he let out a furious roar of frustration as he decided to charge head-on at the horsemen without any attempts at defense.

A spurt of blood erupted forth as a halberd bit into his body, yet its wielder found it hard to continue advancing as a bloody hand shot forth and grasped the rusted copper halberd.

*Dang*

It was then that three more halberds came flying towards him. With a swing of his Ink Sword, he blocked two of them, and with a twist of his chair, avoided the last.

With the absence of one halberd, their four men formation showed a brief window of opportunity. With a forceful tug of his left hand, he dragged the rusted halberd and its wielder in towards him as his body leaned in at the same time with a wide slash. A split second later, the horsemen lost an arm to Ning Chen’s fearless attack.

*cough cough*

It had only been a short while since the battle started, but it was an ever-changing one that caused him to violently cough as his wounds worsened.

Even so, the horsemen showed no sign of tiring out as each strike of their halberds fell with the strength to split stone. Had it been an ordinary man blocking these attacks, he would’ve been cut in half by now. Thankfully, Ning Chen wasn’t an ordinary man but was instead a Houtian Fourth-grade, yet even his body began to show signs of giving in after blocking so many of these attacks.

“This halberd…”

Coming from the stolen halberd in his left hand was a bone-chilling sensation that seemed to constantly seep into his meridians. Only by suppressing this with his True Qi did he manage to alleviate this strange sensation.

If his hypothesis was correct, this halberd was probably once an enchanted weapon. It seemed that due to the long years it spent in that undead’s hands, it became tainted with a deathly aura turning it into a Yin weapon.

If he could just exorcise the deathly aura from this weapon, it might just return back to its original state. However, it would more than likely become a piece of scrap iron instead.

Of the four horsemen, one was now put out of commission causing their once formidable formation to crumble. Without that, they were basically not a threat; all they had now was their abnormal strength. So the battle came to a swift end without much risk. He had after all, defeated a sixth-grade expert as a fourth-grade, though it wasn’t really an honorable win.

Ning Chen stowed the halberd at the side of his wheelchair for future research. This halberd was simply too powerful to be left here like that. Not only was it tough, it also countered the True Qi within him; every strike of this halberd he blocked would quietly drain a chunk of his True Qi.

As time went by, the deathly aura in the void began to grow stronger. Undead soldiers and undead horsemen…weren’t these all warriors in the Underworld? What are they doing here?

All he did was push open the gates to the Underworld Court so how did he even end up in this strange primordial world?

Either way the answer to this question didn’t interest him for now. What’s important now was to recover from his injuries. Thankfully, this world’s spiritual energy was rather dense, and thus sped up his True Qi recovery by more than a level compared to the outside world.

The wounds on his body were extremely severe. Whether it was old or new, internal or external, they were all wounds that required rest. Unfortunately for him, time was the thing he lacked the most right now.

There was no telling when more undead soldiers would turn up, and even if they didn’t, he couldn’t stay here for long or he would risk starving to death.

It was then that he began to miss the little white horse. If that fellow had been here, he would at least have an emergency source of meat.

As he sat there musing about his plight and his companion, the footsteps of the undead rang out in his ears once more. His brows furrowed as he lightly sighed; looks like this was going to be another annoying fight.

It was a pointless battle to say the least, and just like before, it was a one sided massacre. No matter how ordinary one’s talent was, after going through this grueling gauntlet of battles they would start to become proficient at fighting; not to mention Ning Chen whose talent was honestly not that bad when compared to ordinary folk.

After this wave of soldiers, it was another four horsemen again. This battle was markedly harder than the soldier’s wave; though he won in the end, albeit by trading wounds. However, he had no choice but to do so.

In the end, he lost count of how many soldiers and horsemen he killed. All he did was get injured and rest up; before getting injured once more followed by resting once again.

If he were to describe how he felt right now, it would be “bored of killing, to the point of vomiting.” However, he didn’t want to die and thus he could only continue this mechanical routine.

Furthermore, it seemed like this place wouldn’t allow him to die that easily either. The wounds on his body didn’t seem to worsen as if time itself had frozen for them. All that happened was that his wounds kept piling on and his blood kept flowing. By now, he probably lost enough blood to fill a bottle.

In fact, he started to wonder if he were to ever get out, would he die instantly from all these accumulated wounds?

Well…all that talk can wait for another day, all he knew now was that he didn’t want to die.

With no concept of time in this world, he began using the horsemen’s halberds as an indicator of time. Each wave would net him four halberds, and then another four, followed by another four etc.

By now, the halberds were stacked high enough to form a tiny mountain. Just looking at it gave him a headache, so he gave up on counting as well.

As time passed, he began to count by piles of halberds instead, one pile, two pile…

Given his numerous encounters with them, he had basically learnt how to deal with them easily. Killing them was now as easy as chopping vegetables; it couldn’t even be called a battle now.

All this while, the blood on his Ink Sword had never once dried. As it mixed with his own blood, it began to give off a metallic smell that assaulted his nose and threatened to make him puke.

Thus his timeless days continued in such a manner, dreary and unchanging. Had it not been for those undead soldiers and horsemen keeping him company, he suspected that he would’ve gone mad by now.

He was so sick of killing…yet he had no choice but to kill.

The mental torture he was going through right now was even worse than the pain he felt from his wounds. The only thing keeping him going right now was his indomitable will to live.

However, even that had its limits. Just as he was about to consider lowering his sword and allowing them to kill him, the world itself began to crack.

In the blink of an eye, the scenery had changed to that of an eerie grand hall. At the side was his white foal who seemed to have eaten a pearl atop one of the altars, and thus destroyed the source of the illusory world.

Ning Chen had been saved by the very same little white foal he had just considered eating a while ago.

Had the horse been any later, Ning Chen would’ve probably gone mad; yet the foal did the right thing at the right moment.

As for what it was that the little foal ate, Ning Chen truly had no clue.

Atop that altar was a golden page and an eerie looking demonic saber that was completely blood red. Next to it was an ornate sword made entire of purple gold that seemed to radiate a holy aura.

Ning Chen turned his wheelchair around and rolled up to the altar. As he did so, he gave white foal a light pat on his rump to express his gratitude.

*neeigh?*

The horse was taken aback by the sudden change in attitude from his normally evil master.

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Standing before the altar, he stared at the page pondering for a long time before finally making his move. He promptly bit his finger and dripped some of his blood onto it. A second later, the golden page radiated a blinding flash of golden light before slowly levitating, and with another flash, transformed into a stream of light and shot right into his Dantian.

He did the same thing for the saber and the sword, yet as his blood dripped onto both of them, a flash of light burst out from their body, forcefully pushing away his blood.

Seeing as the civilized method didn’t work, he resorted to a more violent one instead. He closed his eyes, focused his True Qi into his hands and in a motion faster than the eye could see, reached out and grabbed the demonic saber. However the moment he touched it, a gigantic force pushed away the offending hand.

He tried this for the sword as well, but was met with the same fate.

Having been a martial practitioner for a while now, he roughly knew what was going on. This saber and sword didn’t want to admit him as their owner. Perhaps from the very beginning everyone was wrong about these ruins. The treasures within weren’t ownerless but were instead waiting for the right person to find them, and this person clearly wasn’t him.

If it hadn’t been for the white foal saving him, he probably would’ve been stuck in the illusion forever.

As for why it didn’t get trapped in that illusion, he had no idea. But then again, he couldn’t really picture that foal getting trapped by an illusion either.

Either way, the fact of the matter was that the white foal had swallowed someone else’s pearl, and he himself had stolen someone else’s golden page. However, the most expensive looking of the loot, the demonic saber and the heavenly sword were simply out of reach for him.

 

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