The white maiden remained as captivating as before, perhaps even more so. From the distance, it looked like she was simply asleep, but Corpse suspected it was the kind of sleep one didn't wake up from. Still, he had to check. " Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps she is still alive, " Corpse secretly hoped.
Corpse released Mo Wan from his grasp as everything around him disappeared. The putrid smell of the rotten blood and guts that covered the floor, his own bone-deep injuries that would have killed any mortal man, even his ever-present hunger simply vanished. All of it gone. Only she remained.
There were no members of Skeleton manor that stood in his path. His victory over Mo Wan cemented that he wasn't someone they can mess with so the facility was quickly abandoned save for Corpse and the leftover undead that still roared in their cells. For now, there shouldn't be anyone or anything that stood in his path.
Yet Corpse was forced to stop as the altar seemed to come alive. The 4 idols that worshiped the blood and the demonic absorbed the surrounding light and the altar radiated darkness. A green shadow manifested in front of him. Corpse bitterly spat at the thing, " Another one that doesn't how to die properly. "
The indistinct shadow gained more substance and the young master of the Skeleton Manor was revealed in all his glory. Corpse could see that the specter held no intelligence in its eyes, only hatred for all that lives and all that doesn't. It stared at him and Corpse emotionlessly stared back. " All of this mess for this stupid thing, by the Heavens what a shitshow. " He clenched his fist ready to punch the ghost in the face.
Perhaps the specter detected a tinge of hostility or it just grew impatient, Corpse really didn't care which, but it snarled and bared its claw-like fingers against him. Corpse fearlessly responded in kind and brandished his fists. Any fear or unease he previously held now replaced with cold murderous rage.
Corpse felt his fist pass through the ghost and the specter quickly invaded his body. He quickly admonished himself. " Well, what the hell did you expect you dumbass? " He forgot himself in his anger, and unfortunately Corpse already knew that this reckless behavior would have a bloody ending. Still, there was a thought that still comforted him. " It's not a coward's end, many things I may be but I am not a coward. '' The thought seemed to bring him some solace.
As Corpse tried to come to terms with his fate he never expected what happened inside his body. Once the ghost invaded his body it didn't wreak havoc as Corpse expected, instead, it moved along his body as if it was attracted by something. The ghost traveled along his arm and into the center of his chest. The ghost circled around his broken aperture as the broken orb shined with a bright green light.
Corpse clutched his head in pain. He felt fragments of memories, sharp as spears, stab into his brain. He saw visions, memories but not those of his past, but one's that belonged to the specter. He felt that as foreign jealousy and envy flooded his mind it glued together some of the scattered fragments.
Corpse saw an ambitious youth that once strived for the heavens. The youth was talented and born with ample resources, yet as he grew older and his horizons widened he recognized how insignificant he was. There was always someone wealthier, someone stronger, someone smarter. So as was natural on Myris he envied, he hated. That envy and jealousy took root into his body until nothing but the misery of others brought any semblance of joy in his life. So strong was the hold of that darkness that it wasn't scattered even after he died. He hated. He hated the world, the people, and himself. The unseemly emotion tainted his soul so much that after he passed away his spirit couldn't rest and transformed into a vengeful ghost instead.
Corpse lived through the memories as if they were his own, that same bitterness tried to take root in his body now. That same envy tried to cloud his mind. It whispered to him of all the things unfair in this world, all the things that he didn't have but others had. Of all the suffering only he had to endure. It screamed and screamed at him. It tried to wash away what Corpse was and have him replaced with something dark and sinister.
Corpse felt these thoughts course through his mind, but his soul burned as he felt these answers go against his very core. " Do you not learn more because someone is smarter? Do you not train more because someone is stronger? Do you not work more if someone is wealthier? " Truths so ingrained in his soul that they survived even after his mind did not.
The bitterness that spilled from the ghost was like a blizzard that threatened to cover his body. but his soul burned. It burned like the sun, and like sunlight, it burned away the darkness. Amid sorrowful almost human wails no traces of the ghost were left and only its power remained. The ghost qi now bereft of any will was sucked inside his aperture. Corpse gasped in surprise. as he felt his aperture heal. Something that he so desperately wanted earlier. He lamented the cruelty of Heaven." What a joke, I expected to meet my end in this place, yet heaven took cruel pity on me. " It was hard for him to feel joy. " Too late, too late. "
With heavy steps, Corpse approached the demonic altar. This time nothing stood in his path. Nobody there stopped him when he checked her pulse and nothing stopped him when he concluded that she isn't alive anymore. Nothing left to that small hope that she just might be alive. Everything was replaced by a familiar sense of loss and bitterness. A dull pain constantly attacked his mind as the realization seemed to set in. " I...failed?" Something seemed to almost pierce the fog that covered his mind, and for a moment Corpse wasn't so sure that he wanted to remember.
He allowed himself a few minutes of self-pity because he knew that's what it was, but no more than that. Eventually, enemies would swarm this place. Corpse knew he had to move out, yet he couldn't leave the maiden there. " In life, your body was bound to this place, at least in death your spirit should be free. " Corpse gently picked up the white maiden and his broken body brought her to the top of the demonic altar. There he gave the demonic chalice a hateful glare before he kicked it away. He carefully laid down the maiden. " I need a flame."
Corpse looked around but found nothing that he could use. He then remembered the bastard he used as a door opener and walked down the altar. He expected to find Mo Wan's dead carcass on the blood tainted floor, instead, the cold bastard left a bloody trail as he crawled away.
Mo Wan looked back just in time to see Corpse as approached. He deliriously shouted as frigid blue qi gathered on his arm. " Don't you dare look down on me! You think you're so great you freak. When Lord of bones gets his hand on you you'll wish that a ghost had ripped you apart instead. You'll be on your knees and weep like a bitch. " His face was bathed in his own blood that constantly flowed from a crack in his skull.
Corpse coldly judged. " As expected of a proper cultivator, he is tough. Still, if he doesn't get help his death is nigh. " Corpse didn't feel obliged either to wait or help. Ever since he refined the ghost he felt some sort of a tug from his aperture. Like he suddenly had a limb he never noticed before.
While Mo Wan blabbered on Corpse closed his eyes and concentrated. Ghostly qi left his aperture and the specter of the Skeleton Manor's young master manifested behind him. Mo wan was shocked into silence even in his delirious state. Corpse willed and the ghost quickly flew through the air.
Mo Wan writhed on the floor as the ghost invaded his body. The frigid qi scattered from his hand and Corpse approached him. Corpse briefly calculated that his aperture could sustain perhaps 2 more attacks like this before it shattered. Corpse's emotionless facade faded and frustration grew. He kicked Mo Wan into the stone wall of the cursed stage to abate some of it. There was a sick sound as the corner of the wall collided with Mo Wan's spine, his ribs cracked, and his lungs filled with blood. Death closed in on him, Corpse made sure of it.
Corpse couldn't contain his frustration anymore as he hatefully kicked Mo Wan. Even after the coldblooded bastard died he didn't feel it was enough. Corpse searched Mo Wan and found what he looked for. A palm-sized old brown bag with a faded drawing of a dragon head on it, but it wasn't nearly enough. " There should be something more I can take from him something more..." The hunger that he restrained all this time suddenly flared up. His body fed on something spiritual tonight but it wasn't enough. Not nearly enough. What used to be background chatter that Corpse suppressed at the back of his mind turned to heavenly thunder. His mind grew hazy as instinct took over. " Take his blood, take his flesh..." Corpse lifted the dead body and suddenly the red of blood looked incredibly appetizing. He bit into dead man's flesh and what happened next could only be described as a blur of blood, guts, and ravenous hunger.
After a time it took to partake in a decent meal Corpse regained his bearings. He stood over bloody rags on the ground and his stomach churned. The sudden clarity of what he had done almost brought him to his knees. But it wasn't just shock that ravaged his body. His flesh churned and twisted as his body healed. A thousand memories attacked his mind some complete while others still shattered fragments, Only this time there was a certain familiarity to them. Corpse had devoured the young master and taken something for himself. Now he had taken something from Mo Wan
Like a pup frightened by lighting his first instinct was to cover and hide but Corpse, no Han Bei had a reason he was still here, There was still something he had to do. He stumbled to the demonic altar and forced his body up the steps. He took a single long breath before he gave the little brown bag that he took from Mo Wan another look.
It was a bag of holding, perhaps the most common spirit treasure in the world. It allowed cultivators to conveniently bring an otherwise cumbersome amount of items with them while it also decreased their weight. This bag of holding was rather small and could only contain around 5 different items.
Han Bei injected the bag with his qi and could immediately tell what's inside. He found several things like pills, spirit stones but only one thing held his attention. A small piece of ornate paper, one that was quite similar to the body locking talisman that was used against him. Han Bei willed it and the little bag spewed out the flame talisman, or to be precise a gorebolt talisman, a small piece of ornate paper with a drawing of a red fireball on it. He injected it with qi and the talisman went up in flames it transformed into a ball of fire the size of an adult's fist that floated above Han Bei's hand. He swung his arm and sent the fireball flying.
Upon impact, the fireball engulfed the altar, and it burned, burned as if the whole thing was soaked in petrol and the fire spread to the surroundings. Han Bei looked on as fire was reflected in his eyes and the white maiden disappeared from this world. The sight weirdly brought him some calm. " May your spirit be free where your body was not. "
Once Han Bei walked down from the altar he felt much calmer. He strode out to the edge of the cursed stage and kicked upon a door. As he found his way back he passed the trail of carnage he had created as something caught his eye. " Well, aren't I lucky? " It was the black cloak he first found once he woke up on Myris. Now in tatters, it didn't make for a pretty sight but Han Bei wasn't willing to part with the first thing he gained once he woke up on this hell. He wore the tattered cloak while fire silently spread behind him and gained a silvery hue.
Han Bei left through the same secret entrance that the white maiden showed him. Only this time there was no need for a guide and no illusion to be worried about. He cracked his neck and stretched the rest his body as fresh, or as fresh as it could be, air entered his lungs. There were no injuries left on his body pale body, not even scars, only that familiar sensation of heaviness, now perhaps a bit lessened, but still constant. " Thank the heavens there was no hunger." Even now Han Bei wasn't ready to deal with what happened partially because something else caught his attention.
In the distance, a silver pillar of flame erupted from the ground. The fire defiantly roared as it broke through the night and reached for the black Heaven above. Absolutely mesmerized Han Bei silently uttered. " Ain't that a sight. Like a star illuminating the sky for the last time before it dimmed into nothingness. "
When Han Bei left the cursed stage the crimson fire slowly turned silver. It engulfed the demonic altar and like a hungry beast, it moved on and devoured the whole cursed stage. Each time the flame met with blood and gore it burned them away to ash while its splendor and might increase. Soon even the solid rock and hardened steel melted away like hot butter incapable of holding backs its magnificence. The undead still locked in their cells roared for one last time as they became part of the great pyre.
The silver flame grew too powerful, the facility couldn't hold it back any longer and the ceiling with all of its protection and concealment formations was peeled away and a flame broke through like a fallen star that sought its way back to heaven. Endlessly brilliant it stole the gazes of all. From the lowest of cows down below to the greatest of cultivators high above. For the Immortal ancestors foretold the passing of a great soul was marked by a great flame.
Endlessly captivated Han Bei didn't notice that a bald elderly man that wore tattered robes appeared beside him. The old monk gazed at the silver flame with a look of appreciation of his own." It's a shame about the lass, but even if you succeded in saving her, she would have lived for no longer than a week. At least, in the end, she got to burn away her resentment. "
Han Bei turned his head in surprise at the old monk but quickly his gaze returned back to the pillar of flame. Surprise faded and he quietly started to make guesses about what the old monk was, while on the surface he simply shook his head. " It's not her resentment burning away. It's that beautiful spirit of hers burning brightly through the night. For what else could make for such a pretty sight? "
"Hhhmmmmmm......." The old monk mused about this answer but chose not to say anything else.
After several minutes the fire started to fade and Han Bei couldn't help but reveal just a bit of jealousy. Not everyone got a flame that marked their passing even rarer a flame so grand. There was no flame when his brothers and sisters were killed. Han Bei could feel his innards twist in hatred as he remembered his defeat at the hands of the Fang clan. His dead juniors were left to rot under the open sky by those black-feathered vultures or perhaps they were used for something worse.
But now that he remembered Han Bei now knew what path he must make and what awaited him at the end. Nothing but the total destruction of those corpse loving demons would satisfy him. He also knew what steps he must take to get there.
The flame finally died out and for the moment the surroundings were wrapped in silence. It was broken when Han Bei faced the old monk, he clasped his hands together, and bowed. " This Han Bei wants to apologize for his previous disrespectful behavior, and offer gratitude for the help that was already given by the elder." With a bemused look, the old monks answered in good humor, " Oh, no need for an apology I didn't do all that much anyway. "
Han Bei continued with his head still hanged low, " And I hope the honorable elder can give this junior further instructions. " Han Bei didn't trust the old monk but the old thing was the one that detected that something was strange with his body. there was a good chance if helped the old monk satisfy his curiosities Han Bei might just learn more about his new condition. He'd rather take chance than risk succumbing to his hunger again.
The old monk didn't say a thing Han Bei only saw a pair of legs that walked up close. Nothing was said but he felt that something rustled his hair. " Sure I'll give you a few pointers little Corpse. Just drop the polite shtick it's really creepy when a brute like you does it. " Han Bei looked up and sighed. "It's called being disciplined, you old thing. " The old monk dismissively waved his hand. " Whatever you say. "
As Han Bei frowned and the old monk smiled, similar but at the same time, quite different thoughts ran through their heads.
" This is gonna be so fun! "
" This is going to be hell! "