Editor: @iamvectorious <<<<<<< MANY THANKS <3
Hope you all liking the story so far :D, I'll try to write a chapter of Dragon's soul tonight after I rest up a bit.
“Nooooo!” Cai Cao screamed as he watched his dear friend being dragged away into the woods. Had it not been for Zhang’s final words, he would have most likely charged into the woods in the hopes of saving his friend.
However Zhang’s words reminded him a second option, a better option, one that would possess a higher chance of success. Thus with a heavy heart, he charged out of the Graveyard as the barrier slowly closed.
“If it’s an elder they might be able to do something about this.” Cai Cao thought as he and the two wolf pups ran through the mountain and headed for the outer sect hall.
A storm of thoughts swirled about in his mind as his legs kept moving forward through the rugged path. Overtime Cai Cao and Zhang’s friendship had blossomed and for the first time in his life, Cai Cao could say he had a true friend, a friend that he prayed would be safe until he returned with him.
Although he did not want to admit it, there was also a tiny piece of his mind that believed even if help did arrive, Zhang would already be dead. Despite dismissing the thought over and over again, it kept creeping back into Cai Cao’s thoughts.
As the thought seeped into the very core of Cai Cao’s thoughts, two trails of tears began to roll down his cheeks. He did not know why but the tears continued to gush out of the corners of his eyes, as the thought of losing his only friend continued to recur in his mind.
Before Cai Cao had gone to get help, as Zhang was being dragged into the woods, he looked out at Cai Cao with a smile as the words thank you drifted out into the air. Before, he had been afraid of death, however, now that he was within its grasp, Zhang truly felt fearless.
Seconds had become minutes and minutes had become hours as time slowed within Zhang’s mind. As countless memories raced through Zhang’s mind, he had come to a realization.
“What is there to fear when death is the end, without a thing to lose, without a person to grieve, fear is nothing. ” He thought.
“However I do regret not being able to see that beauty again, and I won’t ever get to eat brother Cai Cao’s cooking again.” Zhang thought as he recalled the otherworldly beauty he had seen at the lake and the delicious food Cai Cao had prepared for him many times.
After his final thoughts concluded, time sped up and became normal once more. Now Zhang was in front a wall of shadows as hundreds of blood red eyes stared at him, as if they were peering into the very fiber of his being.
Without a hint of fear present, he stared at the blood red eyes and gave off a maddening laugh that echoed throughout the Graveyard. His laugh contained an eerie vibe to it that would send chills down even to the bravest man’s spine.
As Zhang continued to laugh, the shadows enveloped and flooded his entire body and flooded into his body through his mouth,nose,eyes and ears. There was no way to resist and no way to escape as a massive amount of black mist entered into Zhang’s body.
Zhang’s maddening laughter soon ceased as an excruciating pain soon tore through every fiber of his body. While his body was wrapped in pain, his mind was bombarded by an endless stream of images that he could not piece together. A nearly endless amount of faces with horrified expressions appeared one after the other, showing before him how many victims had met their end at the hands of the shadowy figure.
Unlike all of the people before him who were captured by the shadow however, Zhang was not visibly turning into a husky corpse. Despite being bathed by the black mist for many times longer than those who came before him, Zhang’s body itself did not seem to undergo any changes at all.
“Assimilate...” A hoarse and ancient voice reverberated inside Zhang’s mind as a bony white hand stretched out from within the darkness and pressed against Zhang’s forehead before he lost consciousness.
An unknown amount of time later, Zhang’s consciousness finally awoken and he could feel every part of his body ache. As his eyes opened he found realized that he was no longer within the Graveyard.
The countless trees were replaced by white marble bricked walls and the soily ground was replaced by slabs of white marble with flickering torches illuminated the white room.
“Wh-where am I?” Zhang muttered as he pushed himself up from the ground.
Without any idea where he was, Zhang’s eyes surveyed the room trying to find any possible hints. Sadly the room had nothing in it, however there was a pair of silver gates at the far end of the room that lead into the unknown.
While rubbing his aching head, Zhang walked toward the silver gates as he observed the intricate carvings on it. Although the gate was beautiful from afar and full of magnificence, once one gets close enough to make out the carvings, they’d be able to make out the horror that was depicted on it.
The upper torso of two skeletons stuck out from each door and their hands formed the door handles, while hundreds of smaller carvings of slaughter and death littered the rest of the gates.
Reaching his hand out and pushing the gates open, Zhang saw a long white marbled hall that scratched out as far as his eyes could see. Thus with one hand dragging against the wall, Zhang made his way down the seemingly endless hall.
After walking for a considerable distance, time began to drift by as Zhang continued to move forward, he did not know how far he had walked or how long he had walked but to his dismay the end of the hallway was still nowhere in sight.
“Odd, even though I’ve been walking for so long, I don’t feel tired nor do I feel hungry.” Zhang mumbled to himself, finding his current situation very peculiar.
Suddenly a lightbulb lit up inside his head and he reached into his robes to find one of the scrolls Cai Cao had given to him before they had entered the graveyard, a Treasure Seeking Chicken scroll. Although he had received on prior to entering the Graveyard he did not know its uses but now, he figured he could use it to possibly see how far the hallway went.
“Where did that thing go?” Zhang thought after reaching his hand into his robes and realizing that none of his things were there. The golem scroll, the miniature statues and a few other things were nowhere to be seen, that was when he realized that his black sword and the sack of demonic beast parts that he was carrying was also gone.
“Dammit…. I guess there’s nothing I can do about it...” He cursed and continued walking.
Within the white marble hall, there was no telling whether or not it was day or night, the sense of time had long slipped out of Zhang’s head as his mind was going insane. Seeing the same white marble hall alone for what seemed like or could be days would most certainly drive most people insane.
“Fuck!!!” Zhang screamed as he smashed his fist into the wall. But besides hitting the wall and continuing to walk, there wasn’t much that he could do so after punching the walls a few times, Zhang began walking once more.
Perhaps weeks have passed or even months as Zhang continued walking without physically feeling fatigued or hunger. After he had walked for what seemed like a week, Zhang knew that if he continued to stare at the white walls any longer then he would most likely go insane, so he tore a piece of his sleeve off and covered his eyes with it.
From then on his feet would continue to move by instead of looking at the white walls, Zhang’s imagination ran wild. Scenes of his past would be reenacted within his mind to pass the time, at first these scenes were fuzzy but over time his mind became sharper and his memories clearer.
Blank faces and forgotten names would slowly be recalled and forsaken memories were remembered. Over time he developed the ability to train within his mind; sword techniques and various martial arts that were taught to him in the army would be played over and over until they were perfected.
Unbeknownst to himself, Zhang had reached what many would call a state of zen, where his mind were no longer disturbed by the outside world and was as clear as water. This perfect state of mind was pursued by many, for it would allow those who mastered it the ability to master various martial arts and techniques at lightning fast speeds. Many may call what Zhang was undergoing a blessing hidden within hardship.
He also obtained what could be called absolute control of his body, usually when someone is blindfolded it would make it impossible to walk in a straight line. However over time Zhang developed the ability to do so, resulting in the perfect control of his body.
Besides the scenes of martial arts to pass the time, there were other memories that was often played out within his mind. One particular memory was of the fateful night at the lake, the time he had experienced what was called love at first sight. There were also scenes of Cai Cao’s cooking, although he physically did not feel hunger or thirst, his mind craved for food.
While scenes of what happened at the lake was replayed within Zhang’s mind, his body walked straight into something solid.
“Owww.” Zhang said as he pulled off his blindfold and rubbed his forehead.
To Zhang’s glee there was a large black gate in front of him. Without a moment’s hesitation he pushed open the gates and entered. The room on the other side of the gate was made of white marble and looked identical to the room that Zhang had been in the beginning, however there was some different compared to the other room.
There was a chair with a person sitting on it facing away from Zhang.
“You there, do you know where we are? Do you know how to leave?” Zhang asked. Countless questions had been building up in his mind the entire time.
After hearing Zhang’s voice the person sitting on the chair rose up and turned back.
“What the…” Zhang mumbled once he saw the person’s face.
“I am now you.” The person laughed maniacally in an ancient hoarse voice.
This person, although dressed differently from Zhang, was the same height, had the same build and an identical face.
“Enough of this bullshit! Tell me who you really are!” Zhang roared.
“Seeing that you’ll be gone soon, I guess I’ll tell you.” The person said with a grin as he waved his hand and a large mirror appeared on the marble wall.
Soon, images and scenes began appearing on the mirror.
“Countless years, ago I took part in the great war, a war that shook the heavens and split the seas. Countless experts were killed and many more of their subordinates perished. Luckily although I was killed myself, I was able to preserve a piece of my soul, in the hopes of finding a suitable body to possess when I regained my strength after a few hundred years. However that bastard came along and placed that cursed barrier over the area, trapping me in here. Try as I may, the bodies of the people who entered this place were not compatible with my soul and all ended up perishing before the assimilation process was complete. At least that was before I found you. I knew for sure your little friend was incompatible so before you could leave I grabbed you, and to my pleasant surprise, your body was somehow able to withstand the assimilation process.” The person said with joy.
“So you took over my body and we are in my mind?”
“Yes I did and yes we are.” The person laughed.
“Then why the fuck did you make me walk around for all this time.” Zhang cursed.
“It was fun watching you, I wanted to see how long it took before you were driven completely mad.”
“You son of a bitch….”
“Well now that I’ve had my fun, you can die now. I’ll use your soul to further nourish this body.” The person said as his shadow extended, enveloping the room in darkness, leaving only the flickering torches. Soon Zhang’s body began to sink into the shadows, and to speed up the process, dozens of bony white hands extended from the depths and grabbed onto him, pulling him down.
Outside of Zhang’s mind and within the outside world, Zhang’s body could be seen lying on the ground, enveloped in a layer of black mist. From the look of his haggard face, bony cheeks and long hair, it was evident that his body had been lying here for quite sometime, maybe weeks, maybe months.
Although he would be an easy meal, no demonic beasts or animals dared to go near the black mist, allowing Zhang’s body to go unharmed despite having been unconscious here for so long.
Suddenly the black mist thickened, showing that the assimilation process was near completion, perhaps in a few seconds, Zhang’s existence would be erased and his shoes would be filled by the person who hijacked his body.
While the mist and the assimilation was nearing completion, something strange was happening elsewhere. Within Zhang’s ring that contained his ancestral tomb, the eyes of the statue of the Zhou clan’s ancestor began to light up. The light soon enveloped the entire tomb within the ring, by some manner of luck, the ring itself began to glow, sending out the same dazzling light that the ancestor’s statue was radiating.
The light, began to shine through the dark mist as if it was trying to disperse the mist.
Soon Zhang’s eyes suddenly opened, however his pupils were blood red much like the eyes of the hundreds of eyes that the shadowy figure possessed.
“No! What’s happening?” A hoarse voice came out of Zhang’s mouth.
“How could this be!” The voice yelled shrilly as the mist slowly began to dissipate. Painful cries soon echoed through the Graveyard as the light continued to disperse the mist and once all of the mist was gone, Zhang’s eyes returned normal and his body went limp as he lost consciousness.