Qin Ye nodded his head. He was slowly collecting his dues from Arthis.
Her unparalleled wealth of experiences would become the cornerstone of his survival amidst the great upheaval that was to come upon the mortal realm!
“Then… let’s wait.” He gazed out the window and into the distance. Tonight would be a night of preparation.
Tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, would be when the sword clashes with the blade.
Even if a death god crawled straight out of the television, Qin Ye was hell bent on kicking it back to where it came from!
The day flew by quickly. Wang Chenghao was so traumatized that he no longer dared to be alone. Thus, he spent the rest of the day following Qin Ye around like his shadow. Then, as soon as they were dismissed from school, Wang Chenghao immediately tugged Qin Ye as they made haste towards the outskirts of the county.
A summer day’s weather was just like a child’s face - capricious and unpredictable. The skies were still clear during the day. Yet, by the time they arrived at the funerary street at 6 p.m., the skies were already dark and overcast. They could even see flashes of dazzling lightning from time to time.
The broadcasts relating to the recent surge of paranormal activities had just begun. Families were bolting themselves in their homes. Some of the more antiquated-looking streets were even completely empty by now. As the evening gust blew, it swept up the stacks of paper money on the ground, sending them scattering about. There were even paper talismans hanging on the doorframe of each house. The entire funerary street appeared completely gloomy.
Wang Chenghao couldn’t move an inch.
“Haaah…” It was only when Qin Ye pushed open the door to his small shop and switched on all the lights did Wang Chenghao finally heave a sigh of relief. Qin Ye set his school bag down and massaged his sore arms. Then, he pulled Wang Chenghao over, looked him straight in the eye and spoke sternly, “Later on, no matter what you see, you are to keep everything to yourself and never speak of it. If you even make a peep of sound as to what you’ve seen today…”
He intentionally left his sentence incomplete.
Wang Chenghao nodded his head wildly. He, too, had a hunch that tonight… was one where he would witness something that even science couldn’t explain.
Thereafter, Qin Ye ignored him and began busying himself with preparations. Arthis had already communicated with Qin Ye earlier, informing him that he was unable to summon spirits with his current strength, and that he would still need the aid of some auxiliary tools.
Incense of the Dead - an incense crafted from ground bonemeal. It sufficed that it was made from generic bonemeal; and it did not necessarily have to be bonemeal ground from human bones.
Portrait of the Anitya - Since the role of the Anitya Hellguards is to escort Yin spirits to Hell, their portrait can naturally act as the medium and backbone of their communication between the netherworld and the mortal realm. This auxiliary tool was an imperative.
A bowl of rice. And not just any rice; it had to be Yin rice. This was prepared by steaming glutinous rice and drying it in the dark, completely obfuscated from any Yang elements.
Finally, a bowl of chicken blood, and a pair of chopsticks made from willow wood.
It was already 11 p.m. by the time Qin Ye was done with all the preparation work. Thereafter, he shut his eyes and rested for a while on his chair. Very soon, the clock struck twelve.
According to Arthis’ instructions, the first step was to hang the portraits of the Anitya Hellguards on both sides of the altar. As the scrolls unraveled with a light rustling sound, they revealed the portraits of the Anitya Hellguards of Black and White. Both Anitya Hellguards had pale, ghastly complexions, and tongues that extended one meter out of their mouths. The only difference was that one was dressed in a long white robe, while the other was dressed in a long black robe.
The incense was set on the altar. Incense was something that was quintessential for any funerary procession.
Two large words were written on the portrait over the Black Anitya Hellguard’s head - “world peace”. Similarly, two large words were written on the portrait over the White Aniya Hellguard’s head - “instant wealth”.
Right after the incense was placed on the table, Qin Ye placed the bowl of Yin rice on the altar and inserted the willow wood chopsticks vertically in them. This was tantamount to a plea to the Anitya Hellguards to have mercy and allow the Yin spirit one final chance to communicate with the mortal realm.
If their response was positive, the chopsticks would fall over.
If not, the chopsticks would remain standing upright for three full incense sticks of time. At that time, one would be wise not to attempt any further summoning of souls.
Whoever attempts to summon a soul then would perish.
After all, if King Yanluo has decreed that a person should die at noon, nobody would dare say otherwise.
Arthis had further explained that even though Hell no longer existed, this was still part and parcel of the Heavenly Dao which continues to maintain the natural order of the world. Otherwise, the world would already have fallen into chaos by now.
Qin Ye ignored Wang Chenghao. He shut his eyes and drew a deep breath, before wisps of Yin energy began emerging from his body. As soon as Wang Chenghao saw this, he immediately opened his mouth to scream. Fortunately, he quickly placed his hand over his mouth just in time to prevent a peep from escaping his lips. That said, he continued to tremble vigorously as he retreated to the corner of the bed.
Whoosh! As the Yin energy congealed in the air, Qin Ye was suddenly clothed with his Hell’s Emissary uniform. He had just shed his identity as a mere mortal, and he was now praying to the heavens in his capacity as an Emissary of Hell.
Then, Qin Ye held up the Incense of the Dead and ignited them. As they burned with an eerie green glow, wisps of smoke began to drift into the surroundings. The entire room was indescribably bizarre right now. Finally, Qin Ye bowed reverently to the portraits of the Anitya Hellguards and whispered in accordance with Arthis’ instructions, “This inexperienced one seeks guidance. Operative Qin Ye humbly prays that the esteemed Anitya Hellguards open their eyes.”
Once he finished speaking, he placed the three incense sticks into the incense burner, and placed the soul sphere containing Wang Zemin’s soul onto the bowl of Yin rice.
“There are presently Yin spirits who traverse the mortal realm, wreaking havoc and harming humans. I urge the heavens to extend a lifeline and leave the man surnamed Wang a breath of Yang energy. This lowly official promises to repay this favour.”
Man surnamed Wang? He means… my father?
Wang Chenghao balled himself up in the corner of the room. He was so creeped out right now that his soul felt detached from his body. He remained completely silent as cold sweat continued to pour out of his pores.
Just then, the Anitya Hellguards suddenly moved.
Almost as though a draft was sweeping through the room, both portraits began to rise gently and fall in tandem.
Wang Chenghao’s scalp went numb, and he almost screamed aloud.
This was because… the windows and the door were all shut! There was no reason for a draft to be blowing through the house at all!
How did it move? What in the world is going on here?!
Qin Ye didn’t say another word. Instead, he simply half-knelt in front of the altar as he watched the Incense of the Dead burn down slowly. Five minutes… ten minutes… An incense stick of time was a full fifteen minutes.
Then, at the thirteenth minute, Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed brightly.
The pair of willow wood chopsticks that were standing vertically in the Yin rice had just shifted slightly.
Then, in the very next moment, it silently fell to the side!
At the same time, the Yin rice began to diminish and vanish into thin air! This process was somewhat slow and measured, and it almost seemed as though an invisible entity was slowly consuming the rice!
“Quickly!” Arthis shouted, “You only get one shot at summoning a spirit! There’s no room for redos! You’ve managed to borrow a breath of Yang energy from the heavens, and the Emissary of Hell’s act of consuming the Yin rice is a sign that it is giving you face. The Yin spirit will depart for good as soon as the Yin rice completely disappears, regardless of whether you’ve finished your line of questioning or not!”
Qin Ye was incredibly anxious. Despite having lived for such a long time, this was still the first time he had encountered something like this. Clasping his hands together, he softly murmured, “The fisherman’s light calls the spirits of Hell, let the gleaming stars of night illuminate the netherworldly abode. Open!”
As soon as he finished speaking, the soul sphere opened with a rustling sound and transformed into a talisman that spontaneously combusted in the air. Simultaneously, a green vortex of Yin energy began to congeal in the middle of the room, and a ghastly shade emerged slowly from the heart of the vortex, almost as though he were emerging from the surface of a water body.
“Uhh…” Wang Chenghao let out a muffled sound and promptly covered his mouth before passing out completely.
Qin Ye heaved a sigh of relief as he began on his line of questioning, “Wang Zemin?”
“Ahhhhhhh!!!” Wang Zemin’s response was a shrill, blood curdling shriek. It was one filled with agony. Wang Zemin was dressed in a ramrod straight suit. As soon as he appeared, he immediately collapsed onto his knees and clutched at his head, screaming his lungs and heart out.
Qin Ye was taken aback, “Although I can empathize with what you’ve gone through… don’t you think that your present actions are still somewhat overboard? Could you please rein it in a little?”
“Something’s wrong with his soul.” Arthis interjected, “Grab hold of him.”
Qin Ye’s temples throbbed. What was with this feeling? He was just reminded of an instance when he sent his Pikachu out to deal with a wild, ghost pokemon.
Roaaarrrr!! Before he could make his move, Wang Zemin suddenly threw his head up into the air, and a two-meter high pillar of green flames shot straight out of his mouth. His voice no longer sounded like a human’s voice any longer. It was a dark and windy night, and Qin Ye was in the midst of a summoning ritual. As the netherworldly flames blazed in the dark, the portraits of the Anitya Hellguards were sent floating into the air, and the gloomy jade-coloured shadows in the surrounding shifted in tandem with the flickering flames. It was sufficient to send chills down anyone’s spine!
Clack… Just as the pillar of flame shot straight into the sky, the Soul Shackles around Qin Ye’s waist shot straight towards Wang Zemin and latched onto his skull. With a miserable roar, the chilling green pillar of flame finally subsided and vanished into Wang Zemin’s mouth once more.
“The sky-lantern punishment.” Arthis was somewhat surprised, “Open his mouth. You’ll find something surprising inside. The netherworldly sky-lantern punishment is the worst form of torture for any soul around. The victim will be prevented from entering the cycle of reincarnation. Instead, he is forced to suffer from the endless, excruciating pain of his soul’s immolation. Geez… I wonder who it is that hates him so much?”
Qin Ye grabbed hold of Wang Zemin’s jaw. It was icy cold to the touch, and even somewhat illusory. That said, a corporeal candle stood right in the middle of his mouth!
Qin Ye pulled out the candle and inspected it. The candle was grayish-white in colour, and it emitted a strong stench of death and decay. Its wick was pitch-black in colour. Wang Zemin’s body trembled with immense liberation as soon as Qin Ye removed the candle. Two specks of flame immediately ignited in the depths of his eyes and began glowing with an eerie vigor.
“Corpseoil candles. This is installed by filling a person’s stomach through to his mouth with corpseoil after he dies. Then, a wick made of the deceased’s hair is placed at the front of his mouth and set alight. This flame will continue to burn unceasingly for a hundred years, never to be extinguished. The corpseoil candle is otherwise also known as the soul suppressing nail, precisely because it pins down the soul of the deceased and prevents his corpse from decaying. It somewhat resembles the ancient Egyptian mummification techniques.” Arthis explained.
Qin Ye played with the now-broken candle in his hands, “Does this explain why Wang Zemin’s physical body still remains alive, even after death?”
“It’s hard to tell for at least a month.”
“Are you… an Emissary of Hell?” Just then, a voice of incredulity echoes beside him. Wang Zemin’s soul trembled slightly as he spoke up for the very first time, “You… are you my saviour?”
“Yes. Time is of the essence, so I’ll speak quickly. You’re already dead, but your flesh lives on. There’s presently an evil spirit haunting your house. If we don’t resolve this pressing issue quickly, there’s a possibility that your son might die tomorrow.”
“Ah Hao… Ah Hao? She… what is she trying to do to Ah Hao?” Wang Zemin paused for a moment before responding with increasing agitation.
Unfortunately, Qin Ye was the only one who could hear his voice.
“Do you see that bowl of rice there? You have to tell me how you died before it vanishes completely. Tell me what you know, quickly! Otherwise… you’ll have to be on your way once your escort finishes his meal. At that time, even I won’t have any means of helping your son anymore.”
“Alright…” Wang Zemin shut his eyes. The fact that he was the richest man in a county spoke volumes about his decisiveness. At the very least, he was by no means a capricious or fickle-minded person. His ethereal body shuddered slightly, and he quickly opened his eyes once again. Then, with gritted teeth, he began, “It was all because of that woman…”
He took a deep breath, adjusted his emotions, and began to explain, “My company is called Hyatt. Hyatt Corporation. Even though it’s not a huge conglomerate, there’s still a chance that you might have heard of it before…”
“Hyatt?” Qin Ye raised his eyebrows in surprise, “Is it that Hyatt that I’m thinking of?”
Wang Zemin chuckled bitterly, “Trademark laws prevent the existence of two entities with the same name. The Hyatt you’re thinking of is probably one and the same.”
Arthis wondered aloud, “Famous?”
“Quite.” Qin Ye responded somewhat ruefully, “Not too famous, but its rise to fame has to do with why it moved to this location.”
“Looks like you’ve heard of it before…” Wang Zemin continued with a bitter smile, “Back then… just as the Hyatt Corporation was steadily flourishing and growing, a particular post was made on the forums. I can still recall the handle of the author of that post. Her handle was ‘That Amorous Affair’.”
“That’s not a bad name.” Arthis remarked to Qin Ye, “But he’d better pick up the pace. There’s no time for him to indulge in his moment of commiseration.”
Qin Ye interjected, “Mr Wang, you’re getting emotional. Why don’t you let me summarize the story instead, and let me know if there’s anything you have to add.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter