Behind Qin Mu, there was a circling wheel of light behind the Buddha’s head shining brightly in all directions. Even the peculiar fog was cleared away by the Buddha's aura. Hearing a continuous clattering, Qin Mu took a look around and saw dried corpses dropping down one by one in mid-air, filling up the entire floor!
Other than the dry corpses, there were also skeletons with flesh missing, leaving behind only bones. However, the bones were adorned with baggy clothing that looked like palace outfits.
The fog around him had vanished, instantly clearing up his vision. However, the song was still ongoing but had sounded further away from him now. The song was still melodious and filled with pitless sorrow.
Qin Mu dispersed his vital qi and the image of Buddha behind him disappeared.
"Why are there so many bodies hidden in the great hall? These bodies don’t look like ordinary people…"
Qin Mu sized up the corpses and slightly frowned. There were too many corpses here and it was abnormal that they weren’t decomposing. The Surging River Dragon King’s body outside had already rotted away, leaving behind the skeleton. How was it that the corpses in the hall could be preserved until now.
"There’s a possibility that these bodies had come in after the Great Ruins’ catastrophe. They had found the path leading to Surging River Dragon Palace and entered this great hall, just like Hu Ling’er and me.
The corners of Qin Mu’s eyes twitched and looked forward. The deeper part of the great hall was still covered in dense fog.
"What lies in the fog that had killed them and turned them into this state!"
His scalp turned numb as he gripped his monk staff tightly. The khakkhara monk staff was no doubt, a treasure that was worth an entire city. He had only fed his vital qi into the monk staff and such an astonishing power came forth.
It was Granny Si’s wish for him to bring the monk staff out. Granny Si was very mindful of his safety and other than the monk staff, she had also transformed into different forms to protect him in the dark.
"Granny must have been worried sick for these few days…"
Qin Mu felt guilty but his spirits lifted up once again as he looked around, "The source of this fog, as well as the great danger, should be around this great hall! What was the thing that had killed these practitioners that had come exploring?"
At this moment, the fog deep in the hall surged forward to him and spread under his legs before rising up slowly. When the dry corpses on the floor were covered by the fog, they actually slowly moved their bodies and stood up peculiarly.
The fog rose higher and soon rose above Qin Mu’s head. In the fog, the corpses started to float upwards. As the fog grew denser, the dry corpses vanished in the fog.
"Who’s the ghost inciting trouble and mystifying me? Khakkhara!"
Qin Mu carried the monk staff and walked forward. After dozens of yards forward, the song felt closer and Qin Mu raised his monk staff to give a heavy slam. The Buddha's aura shone brightly and the Buddha's voice surrounded him. Behind his back appeared the image of Buddha once again and the Buddha’s aura shone gloriously, vanquishing the fog and causing the dry corpses to fall to the ground once more.
A bone-chilling voice suddenly resonated out in the hall, however, it only said one phrase, making Qin Mu and little fox suspected that they had heard wrongly.
Qin Mu finally saw the source of the fog which was coming out from an ice sculpture in the dragon palace.
He finally walked up and saw a young dragon lying inside silently. There was a broken sword stabbed into its chest, piercing its heart.
Between the dragon pillars in the great hall, there was a huge green dragon slowly swimming to and fro. It didn’t seem to have a physical body as it passed through the dragon pillars.
The song was coming from the green dragon and its gaze had never left the body of the young dragon that was frozen.
Its gaze was filled with tender affection and sorrow, just like its song, seemingly heartbroken about its child having left it.
This was a dragon’s soul.
The soul of a dragon.
It could be the Surging River Dragon King or it could be the Surging River Dragon King’s wife. It was a mother and the frozen young dragon should be her child.
She must have encountered the Great Ruins’ catastrophe while her child suffered a sure death sword wound. She must have loved her child too much thus having frozen her child up as she died from the catastrophe. However, her soul still lingered around in this great hall, guarding her precious child while singing the nursery rhymes of the dragon race, hoping to wake her child up one day.
"Little monk, over here!"
Suddenly, the voice resonated out again and Qin Mu looked towards the source of it. Other than this mysterious ice block, Qin Mu saw another mysterious ice block in the hall. This mysterious ice block was hidden behind the ice block that had sealed the young dragon, both blocks being linked together.
In this ice block, a white eyebrow elder in purple clothes was sealed inside. The clothing on the elder should be an official robe which was a twilight robe that was embroidered with nine ornaments. On the waist hanged gold and jade pendants as well as a sword. On his head was a nine tasseled imperial crown while he had a plucking pose.
With a black banner in one hand, his other hand was deep into the other block of mysterious ice and grabbing onto a green egg sized bead.
He didn’t know what was the green bead but the green bead had a small green dragon coiled inside.
"Was it this bead that had frozen the old man?"
Qin Mu blinked his eyes and walked forward to closely inspect the elder frozen in the ice, and then found the oddity. As his body moved, the eyes of the elder in the ice were actually moving as well!
"The voice really was his!"
Qin Mu was slightly frightened and turned his head to look at the dry corpses on the ground, instantly thinking of a possibility.
The elder in the ice should be the first person who had found Surging River Dragon Palace. When he found this bead in the ice and wanted to take away the bead, he was frozen in place.
To be able to survive in the ice for such a long time and not die was probably due to the black banner in his hand which had killed the practitioners that had entered the dragon palace after him and absorbed the essence and blood of them, therefore the practitioners had turned into dry corpses after their deaths!
Being sealed in the ice block until now, the amount of cultivation the elder could use shouldn’t be much. In addition, by bringing the khakkhara monk staff into the dragon palace, Qin Mu was able to survive from the peculiar powers of the black banner and escaped unharmed under the protection of the staff.
"So it was the khakkhara of the old monk from Great Thunderclap Monastery. No wonder you were able to defend against the fog’s peculiar power."
The elder in the ice was unable to open his mouth but he was able to project his voice out by his throat vibration, "You aren’t a monk of Great Thunderclap Monastery so why do you have the old monk’s staff?"
Qin Mu honestly answered him, "Junior here had defeated his disciple and won it."
The elder gave a laugh from his throat, "How would the old monk not be a sore loser? How old are you?"
Qin Mu replied, "I would be twelve this autumn."
The purple clothed elder praised, "Twelve years old and you defeated the disciple of that old monk, truly outstanding."
Qin Mu blinked his eyes innocently and asked, "Why is senior trapped here inside the ice?"
The elder chuckled and said, "There’s naturally a story behind this and it goes all the back to the beginning when… hey, don’t leave! Come back!"
Qin Mu stopped and said as if he was in a dilemma, "Senior, I’m in a rush to go home and have no time for stories."
The elder coughed and continued, "Long story short, I had brought my various disciples to travel the Great Ruins and had stumbled upon this place by accident. Seeing the numerous dry corpses here, I knew it was this dragon bead causing mischief and having killed everyone that had entered here by absorbing their essence and blood, turning them into dry corpses. The reason for the bead doing this was to extend the lifespan of this young dragon! As a cultivator, I shall not condone this kind of behavior and was prepared to restrain this dragon bead in order to stop it from harming more people. However, I help made a mistake by not expecting this dragon bead to be the dragon bead of the dragon god, thus getting sealed here in the ice! None of my disciples were spared. Their essence and blood got absorbed by this dragon bead to extend the life of the young dragon!"
Hu Ling’er who was hiding in Qin Mu’s chest and peeked her head out, whispering, "Do you believe his story, young master?"
Qin Mu hesitated. His guess was the direct opposite of what the elder had said. The elder’s story was that the mother dragon had used the dragon bead to harm people by absorbing their essence and blood to save her child by extending its life. Furthermore, the elder was the righteous one which got schemed by the dragon bead.
Whereas Qin Mu’s guess was that the elder was sealed by the ice and to extend his own life, he had used evil arts to absorb the essence and blood of the practitioners here.
Qin Mu couldn’t deny that both his guess and the elder’s story could be true, but which was the true scenario?
Qin Mu looked around and saw the fog swarming towards him again and he immediately slammed the khakkhara monk staff on the ground!
"So I have heard!"
The image of Buddha appeared behind him again as his Sanskrit voice resonated out, "Since time without beginning, all beings have been undergoing death and rebirth over and over simply because they have not been aware of the pure understanding which is the essential nature of the everlasting true mind. Instead, the workings of their minds are distorted, and because the workings of their minds are distorted, they are bound to the cycle—, cycle—, cycle—, cycle—"
"The Buddhism of Great Thunderclap Monastery sure is skillful." The elder in the ice admired.
"How may I address senior?" Qin Mu dispelled the fog and asked.
The elder in the ice replied, "My name is Gu Linuan, tutor to the crown prince of Eternal Peace Empire and a lower first ranking official. If you can rescue me out of here, I can promise you endless wealth when we are back to Eternal Peace Empire!"