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Chapter 314 - Secret of the Black Coffin
He had read the Daoist Canon since childhood, and within the books, there were iron rules. After entering the Mausoleum of Zhou, Chen Changsheng could plunder all the treasures and magical artifacts in the nine stone rooms, however, he had never thought of opening the black stone coffin. It was extremely possible for Zhou Dufu’s most precious property to be hidden inside, but due to Xu Yourong’s respect for the person within the coffin, he did not even consider the idea.
At this moment, only after hearing what Xu Yourong had said did he understand that even if he wanted to open the obsidian coffin earlier, it was not possible.
Only a key could open a lock. If Zhou Dufu did not want any person to disturb his long slumber, then the mountain-like obsidian coffin would naturally be very hard to open.
Xu Yourong said, “The Soul Wood should have been brought out of the Garden of Zhou very long ago, and for some unknown reason, it ended up in the hands of the demons. Thinking about it now, for them to be able to avoid the main gate of the Garden of Zhou and enter it through another path should have something to do with this. The Soul Wood has returned to the garden of Zhou, and this also means that it is finally the moment for the obsidian coffin to open.”
“You say before Zhou Dufu died…” Chen Changsheng thought about how to say it, and continued, “...he already made the preparations to make it clear to the world of his property and secrets that were hidden in the black coffin, which was why he let someone take away the key? But if it was like that, why didn’t he do so directly himself?”
“You said something before which was actually very reasonable. Time is actually the greatest magical artifact.” Xu Yourong looked at the obsidian coffin and said, “As known by everybody, Zhou Dufu did not have a successor. This meant that before death, he did not find a junior who he believed had the capabilities of inheriting his legacy. He left the key outside the Garden of Zhou perhaps to invite time to help him choose a successor.”
He was slightly shocked and asked, “Are you saying that blade really is inside the obsidian coffin?”
Xu Yourong stayed silent for a while before saying, “There is another possibility. Like you had said, Zhou Dufu’s legacy is not in the black stone coffin, but his secret is.”
Chen Changsheng was confused. “I’m only asking casually, but is there really some secret?”
Xu Yourong looked into his eyes and said, “Whether Zhou Dufu has actually died or not—this itself is the most important secret of the world in the past thousand years.”
Chen Changsheng thought about those deeds of Zhou Dufu that had long become stories, legends or even myths, and his gaze on the obsidian coffin grew heavier.
There was only heaviness, seriousness and some nervousness, but there was no worry. Towards matters like treasure and the legacies of previous experts, he and Xu Yourong both seemed rather calm. This type of calmness could not even described as steadiness beyond their age. No matter how old the cultivator was, if they found out that they could obtain Zhou Dufu’s legacy, they would definitely become unbelievably fanatical, just like the elder from the Setting Sun Sect who drank Xu Yourong’s blood in the cave. If he had appeared before the obsidian coffin at this moment, how could he stay calm?
The reason why Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong could remain calm was because they were geniuses in cultivation, and cultivation itself was the greatest Daoist skill. Without a doubt, it was Zhou Dufu’s most special treasure, but they themselves were also special. They were filled with confidence and pride—if they could inherit the legacy, it was admittedly extremely good. If they could not inherit it, it had nothing to do with fate, as their fate always lay between their hands. However, thinking that it was extremely possible for them to see the most shocking scene in the past thousand years, it was unavoidable for them to feel slightly nervous. Chen Changsheng’s voice subconsciously became extremely quiet, as if he did not want to disturb the great spirit within the black coffin.
“When will this obsidian coffin open?”
Xu Yourong observed the radiance produced by the Soul Pivot grow dimmer and dimmer, and spent a while estimating. She then said, “Should be soon.”
Outside the mausoleum, the monster tide slowly surged forwards like a black line. The key to the obsidian coffin, the Soul Wood, had roused the Soul Pivot, and the opening of the coffin was about to occur right before their eyes.
Before them, the upper half of the obsidian coffin began to slowly slide.
In the gloomy, spacious mausoleum, a great wind whipped up.
The radiance emitted from the Soul Pivot became even dimmer, as if it was a candle flame that could be put out at any moment.
Chen Changsheng moved forwards to the side, and put himself between Xu Yourong and the coffin. His dagger had already left the sheath, and he held it tightly in his hand.
The huge obsidian coffin slowly opened with a rumble. A terrifying sound of grinding emitted from the heavy coffin lid and the coffin itself. It really was just like the rumble of thunder.
The mountainous black coffin slowly separated into an upper piece and a lower piece. It seemed like lightning splitting the black mountain in half.
Seeing this scene, Xu Yourong’s pupil restricted slightly, and she mumbled quietly, “Halved…”
The upper part of the obsidian coffin continued to slide. It only stopped after a very long time.
The wind continued to whistle in the mausoleum, curling around the surroundings of the obsidian coffin. Because of the change in the coffin, the wind became even more mournful in sound, even sharper. It seemed extremely gloomy, as if someone was constantly weeping in the dusky netherworld. The constant sobbing sound merged with the vague music from before, and the idea of the wish for the spirits of the deceased to return slowly subsided. However, the atmosphere grew heavier and heavier.
All of the light from the Soul Pivot was finally extinguished. The mausoleum once again returned to its gloom. Standing on the ground, they could not see the scene above, but they could imagine that the obsidian coffin had already opened. If the great man lay quietly in the coffin, perhaps he would be staring at the roof of the hall. Of course, it was even more possible that his eyes were closed, or that he had already turned into a pile of bones.
However, the person in the obsidian coffin was called Zhou Dufu. No matter how unimaginable something was, it all seemed inevitable and right for it to occur to him.
The sound of the wind slowly stopped, as did the music. The spirits of the dead had already returned, or perhaps they were not there.
The interior of the mausoleum fell into a deathly silence. Xu Yourong looked at the obsidian coffin that was like a broken mountain. Her expression was rather complicated, and she did not speak for a very long time.
Chen Changsheng’s right hand that held onto the hilt of the dagger did not sweat. However, for some reason, he felt that it was sticky. This was his nervous mental state.
If the person was dead, then all was well. What if he was still alive? Or speaking more correctly, waking up from his long slumber and reviving. Or perhaps, he was unwilling to leave this world, so traveled by himself to the lonely sea of stars, and used a certain secret technique to turn himself into an immortal but extremely evil existence before death. What would happen next?
Chen Changsheng’s expression remained calm, but inside, he was nervous to the extreme.
Logically, whether Zhou Dufu revived or was transformed by a secret technique, as long as he maintained his intelligence, he would help them with the demon experts and the terrifying monster tide that was getting closer and closer to the mausoleum. This was because Zhou Dufu was a human expert, an unparalleled hero who defeated the Demon Lord. This was also Xu Yourong’s and his only chance at leaving the Garden of Zhou and staying alive. However, for some reason he did not know, he had a strong feeling that if Zhou Dufu really did not die, all of the people in the Garden of Zhou… would die. It could even invite a storm of blood to the entire continent.
“I want to go up and see.” Xu Yourong’s voice broke the silence of the mausoleum.
She looked at the obsidian coffin. Her eyes, which were slightly gloomy due to her wounds, became extremely bright.
Chen Changsheng supported her to the obsidian coffin. Raising his head for a while, he confirmed a path to climb, and carried her on his back.
A while later, he stood on the cliff of the black mountain that was broken open, and gazed inside.
The space within the obsidian coffin was extremely large. Rather than a single person, even a party could be held inside, inviting a dozen ladies to sing.
However, right now, there was not even a single person within the obsidian coffin.
Not a single person.
That person was not there.
The Garden of Zhou was Zhou Dufu’s world.
The mausoleum was his palace for death.
The dangerous and mysterious Plains of the Unsetting Sun that surrounded the mausoleum was the mausoleum garden, and those unbelievably strong monsters were mausoleum guards.
Very obviously, he did not want anyone to come and disturb his long slumber. The only evidence to the contrary was the key outside the Garden of Zhou, which helped the garden choose a new owner given time.
However, he was not sleeping in this obsidian coffin.
There was still no one who had seen his corpse.
Whether he was dead or alive remained unknown.
It was extremely possible that he was still alive.
This was the true secret of the Garden of Zhou.
This was the true secret that the Plains of the Unsetting Sun wanted to guard.
The obsidian coffin did not have the remains of the great man, but that did not mean the stone coffin was empty.
It was full of tree leaves carved out of crystal, green grass sculpted from the best quality jade, and the rouge stones refined from the Earthen Essence Fire, scattered very casually.
There were countless treasures in the obsidian coffin.
Xu Yourong could enter the royal palace and Li Palace as she wished since childhood, and then went to the Holy Maiden Peak to study, so it was unknown how many treasures she had already seen. Although Chen Changsheng lived plainly since childhood, he has also once entered the Palace of Great Brilliance and the Li Palace, and had also seen the golden coral trees and starry sky that was made from luminous pearls in the Black Dragon’s lair. As a result, when they saw the treasures in the previous nine stone rooms, they did not feel moved.
However, at this moment, they were really rather surprised.
It was because there was too many treasures within the obsidian coffin, and it was too wasteful. The tree leaves carved from crystals only maintained less than a tenth of their original usefulness. The best quality jade that could clearly be used to make countless pieces of beautiful artworks was instead sculpted into grass. Even worse were the rouge stones refined from Earthen Essence Fire… if this was not recklessly wasting things, what was it?
What caused them the most amazement was how these tree leaves, green grasses and stones did not even possess the slightest aesthetic value.
The treasures that were piled full in the obsidian coffin gave off a glow in the gloomy mausoleum. However, it made one feel that it was tacky.
It was definitely enough for these treasures buried with the deceased to be worn by royal families no matter how great in authority and cultivators no matter how strong.
However, how could it be worn by the owner of this obsidian coffin?
In the imaginations of ordinary people, Zhou Dufu should have been a perfect person, especially in the aspect of manner. He was definitely able to despise the mountains and rivers, and disregard the sea of stars.
The Garden of Zhou, the Plains of the Unsetting Sun, and this grand mausoleum were all evidence.
How could such a person fill his own rock tomb with these expensive but extremely coarse treasures? Standing on the side of the obsidian tomb and seeing these golden leaves, jade leaves and blood-red rouge stones, Chen Changsheng could not help but shake his head. He squinted his eyes from the dazzling gleam of the treasure and said, “Why do I feel the air of wealth is so fierce?”
‘Air of wealth’ was a slang term from Wenshui. Tang Thirty-Six often used these three words to describe the old people in the Tianhai Clan and in the halls of the Imperial Court. Chen Changsheng heard it a lot, so he naturally remembered it.
Xu Yourong cared about the important matters, and very clearly was not impressed by the treasures in the coffin. She looked at the black coffin devoid of anyone and said after staying quiet for a while, “The place that all the cultivators that enter the Garden of Zhou want to find the most is the Mausoleum of Zhou. We are not excluded, but I have thought about it many times. If I enter the Mausoleum of Zhou, the thing I want to do the most is to confirm whether he has died.”
Because of this, she remembered a lot. She remembered the tasks entrusted to her by her elders, and her shoulders became heavy once again.
Before on the stone platform, because of Chen Changsheng’s bright eyes, she temporarily forgot this matter. It was the obsidian coffin that caused everything to return to her.
The inheritance of the Orthodoxy, the north and south combining, fighting against the demons… these matters were not limited to just her, but at this moment, this new discovery spurred her to action.
“If… you are able to leave the Garden of Zhou alive…”
She looked at Chen Changsheng, and requested extremely seriously, “Please tell the people about the news that he might still be alive.”
When she spoke, her face was extremely pale. This had nothing to do with her unhealed injuries, but rather that she had received a shock on a mental level.
Before the obsidian coffin had opened, Chen Changsheng also had an indescribable feeling of dread of unknown origins. At this moment, when he heard her serious request about a matter, and when he saw her pale face, his confusion grew heavier and heavier. He thought that Zhou Dufu was a heroic figure, so why was she, someone who did not display admiration even to her elders, feel inexplicably very alarmed?
“He is a hero, as well as a devil.”
Xu Yourong looked at him and said, “Back then when he traveled to the north and heavily injured the Demon Lord with a single strike, he was a hero at that moment. However, he only pursued cultivation, so he killed countless human cultivators. He is cold-blooded, heartless and ruthless to the extreme. At that moment, he was a devil, and calling him an ambitious and ruthless person is more suitable. If he is still alive, and really does reappear, perhaps the continent will fall into great chaos and unrest.””
Although Chen Changsheng was familiar with the Daoist Canons, he did not have too great of an understanding of that era’s history, and understood the character of Zhou Dufu even less. Seeing that her expression was full of concern, he explained, “Not seeing his remains does not mean he is still alive. For such a legendary person, returning to the sea of stars and not leaving behind a body is possible.”
“But his blade is also not in this obsidian coffin,” Xu Yourong said.
Chen Changsheng stayed quiet after hearing that. Indeed, the blade was also missing.
Zhou Dufu relied on this blade to defeat everyone in the world and become invincible.
The blade was called Halving.
One blade, two halves.
Before the blade, no matter how strong the opponent was, no matter how tough the weapon was, even if the target was the boundless earth, it would be chopped into two halves.
Just like the obsidian coffin, like a small mountain, that slowly separated before their eyes.
The Halving Blade was second on the Tier of Legendary Weapons. It was beneath the Frost God Spear that was first.
However, to the belief of everyone on the continent, if the Frost God Spear was not the weapon that Emperor Taizong carried with him, if it did not leave behind so many miraculous scenes in the war between humans and demons, it definitely would not have been able to suppress the Halving Blade on the Tier of Legendary Weapons. In other words, in the hearts of ordinary people, the Halving Blade was the true weapon that occupied first place on the Tier of Legendary Weapons.
This was because outside Luoyang City, Taizong’s Frost God Spear had suffered defeat under Zhou Dufu’s Halving Blade.
If Zhou Dufu had really died, transformed into a wisp of azure smoke and returned to the sea of stars without leaving behind remains, his blade should have been left in this obsidian coffin.
Since the blade was not in the obsidian coffin, it should have been by his side. Was it the most important evidence that he was alive?
Xu Yourong did not continue to think about this matter, and began to face the monster tide that would soon arrive, as well as making preparations for future matters. She looked at him and said, “Nanke is the disciple of Black Robe, and also has the key to the Mausoleum of Zhou. That piece of Soul Wood is in her hands. Black Robe and Zhou Dufu are people of the same period, so it is impossible for him to be surnamed Zhou. However, it is very obvious that Black Robe and Zhou Dufu should have some sort of relationship.”
Chen Changsheng was slightly confused as to why she said these things to him.
Xu Yourong looked into his eyes and said, “If you are able to leave the Garden of Zhou alive, remember that you must tell this discovery to the entire world. This will be a great help to finding the true identity of Black Robe, and to the battle of humans against the demons. It may even hold some importance in deciding the victor.”
This was her second request to him.
To request that if he lived, he had to do that.
Then firstly, she was requesting him to live. Even if he had to ignore her, he had to live, and take this news out of the Garden of Zhou.
The phoenix was about to die. Its cry was also loud.
If this was a normal situation, Chen Changsheng would be moved by her calmness and resoluteness, or agree to her request without any hesitation at all, and then use all he could to leave the Garden of Zhou alive. However, this time, after spending so much time together running, and after the conversation they had on the stone platform, in the green wutong tree, he was unable to accept her request.
“Even if I leave you behind in the mausoleum and try to break through the monster tide and leave alive, it is basically impossible.” Looking into Xu Yourong’s eyes, he said,”Impossible, and I have to betray my nature. I am unwilling, because I cultivate the Dao of following my heart.”
Under the shadow of death brought by the monster tide, what could he do to follow his heart at this moment? He wanted to accompany her, either to escape, or to die here.
Xu Yourong’s complexion was slightly pale. She was unable to accept his decision, but her gaze was still very warm, happy for the decision he made.
Chen Changsheng did not give her any more opportunities to persuade him, and returned the dagger to the sheath. He began to pack away those golden leaves, jade grass and blood-red rouge stones in the obsidian coffin.
These treasures indeed were overly tacky. Although the sculpting work was good, their aesthetics were sub-par. However, they were all made of material of the best quality and were extremely valuable. Since Zhou Dufu was not dead, this could not be considered as grave-robbing—thus he avoided the iron rules in the three thousand Daoist Canons.
Of course, the reason he was willing to avoid them like so was because he could feel that the Black Dragon in the lake water outside his Ethereal Palace had already showed signs of waking. He did not want to be severely reprimanded by the ill-tempered uncle. The feeling of being cursed and berated could not feel good, and the feeling of being covered in dragon spittle was surely also very bad.
The dagger entered the sheath and its blade was hidden, however, it was still able to sweep everything. At the end of the sheath, the gold leaves, jade grasses and blood-red rouge stones all disappeared one by one, being collected without a sound.
After finishing these things, he carried Xu Yourong and was about to come down from the obsidian coffin. Suddenly, Xu Yourong saw something, and gave out a surprised cry.
He turned around and followed her gaze. He only saw that the obsidian coffin was empty of treasure and had nothing in it.
On a certain wall within the obsidian coffin, there were some vague lines carved in.
These lines were not patterns, and seemed like words.
Some lines also seemed like images.