Thursday, 28 January 2016

Chapter 113 - Strange Beast


Inferno Altar.

Although it was a wooden door but it felt heavy to touch, after pushing hard, the heavy Inferno Altar’s solid door emitted a low sound of [zhi ya] and slowly opened.

From the door, red light weakly shone out, the temperature seemed to increase another few degree, scorchingly hot.

Ghost Li frowned, faint sweats already seen on his forehead, he suddenly recalled what he had eavesdropped just now, that elderly called ShangGuan actually had been guarding this blistering hot place for nearly a hundred years, he wondered how did he bear it all these while.

Inside the Inferno Altar, it was not that bright, other than the mysterious stream of red light, most of the area was dim, incompatible with the surrounding torrid heat. Ghost Li stood at the entrance, deliberated for a moment and finally stepped in.

A sound of [zhi ya] again accompanied it, the wooden door gently closed.

Ghost Li inhaled deeply, calmed his mind down and started to appraise the surroundings. It was as what he had surmised when he had looked at the Inferno Altar from the outside, this was indeed a huge hall, the height reaching up to five zhangs, the entire hall appeared circular and the walls also looked identical to outside, all made from that crimson rock, there was not a single decoration or engravings, simple and unadorned but against this enormous empty space, there was an indescribable grandeur and majesticness, giving off a feeling that only the exalted level of architecture would have this kind of simplicity.

Very quickly Ghost Li soon discovered that the red light that was filling the entire great hall came from the center of the building. Nearing the center, the surrounding became brighter and looking at it from afar, against the red light, a ball of flames seemed to be burning in the middle of the building.

Ghost Li watched intensely at that ball of “flames”, the red light gently shone over, reflecting in his eyes and also on Xiao Hui who was crouching at his shoulder.

In the eyes of one man and one monkey, both seemed to be dyed red by something at the same time, red flames indistinctly burning.

Xiao Hui’s tail gently swished, it seemed unsettled and quietly called out.

Ghost Li strided, walked towards that ball of “fire” in the center of the building, unhurriedly walked deep into where that red light was.     

As he walked nearer to that “fire”, the surrounding air became hotter and right now, it was almost like he was beside the deep underground lava. In Ghost Li’s mind, for no reason, a long-forgotten past event suddenly surfaced - Below the Fire Dragon Cave, the lava lake that was even more scorching hot than now, that pair of fox spirits committed suicide by jumping into the lake.

The thought flashed past, at less than one zhang to the center of the building, he suddenly stopped. Xiao Hui turned its head and look at its master.

Ghost Li frowned, already looking away from the fire and observing the floor.

The smooth floor, made from the crimson rock piles, revealed a design.

Under Ghost Li’s feet, a notch about the thickness of a finger appeared on the flagstones and extended in two directions but it appeared to be twisting and definitely not level. And one chi ahead of Ghost Li, the same notch thickness, squiggly drawn on the solid crimson rocks, forming a design about one chi big.

That was a celestial deity!

One that Ghost Li had never seen before, never heard before deity.

The worn-out notch on the ground slowly extended out, the signs of wear and tell could be seen all over on the perimeter of the image, evidently these carvings existed for an eternity, revealing some desolation.

The top of the deity’s head was hairless but instead a slightly curved horn like a goat was there, his face looked similar to human, just that underneath that eerie holes for the eyes, sharp fangs were obviously in the mouth. The engraver had even carved out a few tiny holes at the side of the fangs, as if fresh blood was dripping down, increasing the savageness of the idol.

And the body of the deity, was greatly different from human, like a well-built panther’s body, he had four arms, one hand was holding a knife, one hand a shield; the remaining two hands, one was grabbing tightly onto a painfully contorted human body, that person seemed to be crying out loud towards the sky; and the other hand was gently holding an object, still dripping wet with blood, it was actually a human heart.

The initial crude bleak notch stopped here, the carving strokes suddenly was abandoned in anger, the deep hatred in the heart like it had erupted all of a sudden. Ghost Li could actually incredibly vividly felt that frenzied energy, seething from the notches.

The placid notch, in an instant, became fierce, pouring swiftly down from the body, it became one with the lower part of the ferocious deity, transforming into raging burning flames. The red lights glimmered, the deity’s mouth seemed to have a hideous grin, as if he was about to break out from the floor and come alive!

Ghost Li deeply, deeply inhaled, almost subconsciously, he merged the image of the engraver and the architect of this Inferno Altar. Unbelievably there was actually such a master craftsman in this world that had such out-of-the-world talent!

An engraved drawing and it had as if captured the world’s creations!

That notch was still extending out, Ghost LI could not help but followed it to the side and gradually discovered the second, third deities’ drawings and finally, after circling once around that ball of red flames in the middle, he, in total, discovered eight deities drawings carved into the floor. Not one of them were alike but Ghost Li was almost certain that, engraved on the floor were all ferocious deities.

In those drawings, humans became the offerings for the deities, like food. The entire interior of the huge building right now had became somber, as if following the discovery of the drawings, somehow some ferocious animal was indistinctly howling.

And outside those ferocious deities drawings, there was still a notch that surrounded them but it was not a complete circle, at times it travelled twisting inwards, at times it rose and turned outwards, Ghost Li for the moment could not figure it out.

Right now, he returned to the first baleful-looking deity, after staring deeply at the deity, he raised his head and that burning fire once again appeared in front of him.

Suddenly, a [weng] sound went off in his head, something surged up, a kind of thirst, a kind of thirst to suck blood, such a familiar feeling rushed up in his heart. Almost at the same time, the deities suddenly seemed to come alive, indistinctly wavered in front of him.

The Soul-Absorbing stick hidden beside his hand, through the cloth sleeve, slowly started to light up.

Ghost Li’s breathing slowly turned heavier, suddenly, he forcefully shook his head and focused his mind, and then slowly walked over to that ball of fire.

Just that, he had forgotten to look at the monkey, Xiao Hui, crouching at his shoulder.

In that pair of monkey’s eyes, the golden light once again appeared but behind the golden light, there were even more red lights, the same frenzied bloodthirsty in Ghost Li’s eyes, gradually brighten its eyes, filled its eyes.

The distance of one zhang was not far, Ghost Li very quickly came near to the source of that red light in the center of the building.

By now he had already discovered, the eight stone carvings which he had just seen, were all surrounding this light source and the direction of the deities’ heads were all facing this way. The temperature was now blistering hot, if a normal person was here, most probably he would not be able to breath.

Ghost Li forced himself to quell the waves of bloodlusts raging in his heart, looked past the red lights and at the source of the light.

A thing that looked like a stone well, thin top and thick bottom, appeared in the middle of the great hall. Three chi high and with a diameter of not more than two chi, built out of the same crimson stone as the stone floor.

But on top of the smooth well surface, there was a strange white glittering crystal-clear stone, it appeared to circular and looking carefully at it, innumerable surface cuts were seen instead, each varying in sizes, resplendent radiance circulating around it.

And the unceasing red light projecting out from the well, after entering this strange stone that looked like a crystal, the light was refracted out layer by layer, there seemed to be traces of blood vessels flowing in in-between it. And those light streams congregated into a mass of red light three chi above the strange stone, that was the burning flames which Ghost Li had assumed it to be when he saw it from afar, and that illuminated the entire building.

Looking at this mysterious and mystical scene, Ghost Li slowly went near that well, near that dazzling clear stone and looked down.

A familiar sight impressed upon his eyes. The boiling lava underneath raged and roared, like the tide of a furious raging sea, surging unceasingly and receding, the lava which were splashed up onto the rugged rock faces made sizzling sounds.

The Inferno Altar building was actually built on top of a volcano that looked like it was going to erupt.

A wave of agitation was felt in Ghost Li’s heart, subconsciously he was clenching his hands into fists, even his breathing started to become heavier. Ever since he went near those savage stone carvings in the ground, those never seen and heard before drawings stirred up the savageness deep inside his heart, or maybe those deities were actually savage evil deities. The Soul-Absorbing stick’s bloodlust in his heart was getting stronger but strangely, he could still remain conscious, unlike the other times where he had descended into madness.

Just that although he was clear-headed, the agony from the powerful vicious energy in his body tormented him more. If there was anyone around, the person would see that in Ghost Li’s eyes, aglow brightly with red light, like an evil ghost.

Just when Ghost Li was forcibly holding up, Xiao Hui on his shoulder suddenly [zhi zhi] called out twice and jumped down, landed straight at that strange stone.

Ghost Li was greatly shocked, that strange stone had faint blood-red rays travelling around it, even he who had trained with the Evil Sect Tian Shu for many years, could feel that the evil power in it was something not to be trifled with, he immediately stretched out his hand to prevent and urgently called out, “Xiao Hui, be careful!”

But because Xiao Hui had leapt out in a sudden, Ghost Li’s reaction was too late and his hands grabbed empty air. Xiao Hui unfolded out in the air, its eyes like Ghost Li, glimmering with red light. Before he knew it, Xiao Hui had already landed on top of that strange stone, a slight sound of [peng] was heard.

Instantly, the red lights which were refracted from the strange stone, were blocked by Xiao Hui’s body. And almost at the same time, that ball of red lights congregated above, lost their light source and vanished.

Suddenly, the entire world seemed to turn silent.

Only in a twinkling of an eye, the entire great altar building lost all of its light, darkness enveloped the entire place.

Ghost Li held his breath, dumbfoundedly stared at Xiao Hui.

It crouched on top of that stone and for the time being, seemed safe. The red light which had projected out from the well, was now blocked by its body, reflected onto its stomach.

The red light flowed like fresh red blood, glimmered faintly on its body. Xiao Hui’s body slowly started to emit sounds, like the grating sound of bones knocking against the joints.

[Ka ka, ka ka…]

Ghost Li stepped forward, watching Xiao Hui, a premonition in his heart.

Xiao Hui slowly turned over, its pair of eyes had totally turned red, so dazzling in the darkness!

The next moment, strange events suddenly happened!

In the great hall, in the deep recesses of the surrounding darkness, suddenly a desolate howl powerfully reverberated. The stone carvings around them all at the same time, glowed red and one by one lighted up.

When the eighth stone carving was also lighted up, the desolate howl had already turned mournful, filling up the entire space. And in this completely enclosed altar, a wind had started to blow.

Ghost Li grabbed Xiao Hui up, hugged it close to him. Almost at the same time, an enormous rumble was heard, all of the carvings shone out brightly, immediately those red lights evolved into forms and rose above those stone carvings, at the same time retaining those stone carvings’ appearances, gathered and transformed into a flat surface.

One by one the savage deities which had transformed into red lights gathered in the air and now Ghost Li could finally see that twisting stone carving that encircled those stone drawings.

It was a gigantic flame totem, wrapping all of the deities in it, together with the increasing gale, this mysterious halo slowly rose and right now, had already rose past Ghost Li’s head, came to a stop above Xiao Hui and him.

Ghost Li looked up, cold sweats had already started to form in his palms.

The savage-looking deities looked like they had been revived, in the enormous flame-shaped like red coloured halo, faced the sky and laughed. By then, the great hall darkness had already been banished, the entire place illuminated brightly by this dazzling halo.

The circle of red light slowly started to rotate, gradually increasing in speed and also increased the speed of the wind in the great hall. Ghost Li in the eye of this storm, the clothes on his body making loud flapping sounds, even his countenance also started to turn pale.

Just that he was still not making any move.

The mystifying atmosphere became heavier and heavier, in the rapid sharp soughing of the wind,  mysterious fierce and malicious laughter seemed to mix in it, as if the rumoured Nine netherworld evil spirits had came into the world.

The red halo finally rose up to the domed roof, spinning rapidly under the simple unadorned flagstone, red rays of light scattered down like rain, like blood rain raining down in the hell.

[Rumble!]

Spinning rapidly to a point where it seemed to disappear before the eyes, suddenly the red halo came to an abrupt end, without any warning it stopped. The next moment, above this mass of red flames, like being triggered, the enormous flagstones shifted, with the flame totem in the center, receded in four directions.

In the red halo, two balls of blazing eyes lighted up.

[Hou…]

A deep low roar was heard from the red halo in the air, in that moment, the entire massive building seemed to tremble, all of the deities cried out at the same time!

The enormous body with an inconceivable heat, the entire body like burning with flames, an enormous beast leapt down.

Ghost Li’s pupils immediately shrank, he pushed with his feet, the Soul-Absorbing stick surged with green light and he flew backwards, avoiding that thunder-like force leaping down.

The enormous beast in raging burning flames, roared in fury, slowly turned its head over and stared at Ghost Li.

For some reasons, Ghost Li suddenly felt his mouth turned dry.

Like those strange ferocious deities, he had never before seen and even in the books, there was not any record documenting this kind of fire beast. The enormous body reaching a height of several zhangs, four thick sturdy legs and extremely sharp claws at the tips, moving slightly on the ground, it left deep slashes on the solid crimson slab stones.

On its massive head, a mouth full of sharp teeth, in the pair of huge eyes, there were no pupils, instead two balls of burning flames. And on this strange enormous body surface, raging burning flames covered it, as if the flames were part of its body. Even from afar, that blistering heat from it was already intolerable.

And that enormous huge fire totem in the air, right now like being controlled, landed down and erected itself behind this strange beast, slowly rotating. All of the evil deities above it, like this fire beast, ferociously stared at this man and monkey who had disturbed the divine spirits.

Xiao Hui, embraced by Ghost Li but its eyes stared unmoving at that strange beast, the red glow in its eyes instead of weakening, became stronger.

[Hou!]

That fire beast made another loud roar and again leapt over. This time Ghost Li did not avoid, also the fact that this strange beast was too massive and the spaces in the huge wide great hall was taken by up mostly by it, leaving little room.

The Soul-Absorbing stick, like being controlled by an invisible hand, floated before Ghost Li. Ghost Li’s face was somber and he placed Xiao Hui on his shoulder, after which his both hands, behind the Soul-Absorbing stick, rapidly conjured in the air, the Sinister Orb on top of the stick immediately emitted an Eight Trigrams image, instantly blew up in size and headed towards that fire beast.

After a moment, that strange beast clashed against the Eight Trigrams image in the air.

Right now if Qing Yun Sect disciples were here, most likely they would cheer loudly, this was the authentic Qing Yun Sect unrevealed secret technique ‘Tai Ji Xuan Qing Way’.

As it was the Taoism True Way, the force was naturally formidable, the fire beast leapt with a mighty force but was forcibly blocked by it, its enormous body fell onto the ground.

But also at the same time, a huge force rebounded, Ghost Li’s body shook greatly. The force of this fire beast’s leapt was actually several times more powerful than a highly skilled cultivated martial artist.
  
Although that fire beast was blocked but its massive head abruptly lifted, the fire burning in its eyes, obviously it was unhurt but it became more infuriated, with a roar it leapt again. That enormous fire totem behind it also unhurriedly followed.

Ghost Li frowned tightly and was about to make his move when his shoulder suddenly felt lighter, Xiao Hui had unexpectedly leapt up, leaving his body and headed directly towards that fire beast.

Ghost Li was alarmed, he involuntarily burst out, “Xiao Hui, must not…”

That fire beast suddenly perceived an object heading over and was shocked, it growled, its body which had just leapt up, again temporarily stopped, intending to take a good look at this object.

Against the red light, Xiao Hui whose eyes had already turned totally crimson, leapt in the air.

When its body, insignificant as compared to that fire beast, reached the highest point, it suddenly paused in the air.

In that instant, like time had totally stopped, when the monkey came to a standstill in the air, the great hall which was just filled with the fire beast’s raging roars, suddenly became silent.

[Ka deng!]

A clear and melodious sound slowly reverberated. In the innumerable streams of red light rays, a stream of golden light rose up.

Xiao Hui’s body extended out, its eyes closing tightly, faint golden light glowing from its entire body, like Buddha. In-between its eyes, on its forehead, that dark scar suddenly wiggled and the next moment, Xiao Hui suddenly lifted its head, both hands tightly clenched and howled long to the sky.

Ghost Li who was standing behind and about to leapt forward, also suddenly stopped, stared dumbfoundedly at the transforming Xiao Hui in the air.

That dark scar started to wriggle even more agitatedly, suddenly Xiao Hui howled again and a ripping sound accompanied it next, an indistinct cry and that scar splitted, spilling brilliant golden light out of it.

The third eye!

Three-eyed Divine Monkey!

The legendary unrivalled mysterious beast of all creations, in this fire-like great hall, suddenly transformed!

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