Qin Ye listened intently.
And then, he grew taciturn. Even though Arthis had already finished her account of her exchange with Zhou Xianlong, neither of them spoke for a long time.
He was aware that the City of Salvation had restricted all exchange of information to and from the rest of the country. And he could appreciate that other parts of the country would never be as peaceful as the City of Salvation.
The mortal realm had indeed suffered too much. Everything had been single handedly caused by the fact that the old Hell had been playing with fire. Any government in Cathay’s shoes right now would naturally prioritize stability over anything else.
And any sacrifice would be permissible in such circumstances.
At least, any sacrifice would be better than offering up the lives of their own citizens.
There would be at least a 70% chance that he would be classified as an ‘expendable’ if he disclosed the truth about his identity.
A living Emissary of Hell? Come, don’t mind us. We’re just going to stick a few probes into your body to understand your existence a little bit better…
The prospects were too bleak to even consider. Qin Ye sighed wistfully. Then, just as he was about to roll up his tongue, he felt Arthis staring at him with a burning gaze. The hairs on his head immediately stood on ends.
“You’ve got a dangerous look in your eyes, lady…” He gulped nervously as he began to retreat, only to find his back against the wall within moments, “Calm down… stay calm! Whatever it is that you’re thinking to do, please reconsider!”
Yet Arthis continued to maintain the terrifying expression on her face as she sized Qin Ye up. After several moments, she nodded with a faint smile, “Not bad. A three foot long tongue. You’re finally looking the part of an Emissary of Hell.”
“... This isn’t anything to complain about. In fact, I’d even add that you’re just getting a taster of what kind of aesthetics the citizens of Hell go by!”
Arthis twirled her umbrella elegantly, “For instance, yours truly was once considered a top beauty in Hell…”
Qin Ye blinked vacantly for several seconds before he gave her a contrived response, “Ah…”
“But enough about appearances. Don’t you think your focus is a little bit off the mark?” Arthis turned around and smiled radiantly at him, “What’s the matter? Don’t you want to test out the strength of an Anitya Hellguard?”
Qin Ye continued to roll up his tongue, and noticed that his tongue felt as dry as a wooden block. He hardly felt any sensation from it even though it was undoubtedly an appendage from his body. He responded casually, “How do we do that?”
Arthis smiled sweetly, “Like this?”
Then, she swung her palm.
Whoosh! Her seemingly simple palmstrike caused the trees on the mountain to go wild, as though an invisible giant hand had just swept them about. A powerful sonic boom thundered in its wake. Qin Ye was instantly stricken with fear, and he held up his hands, “I surrende--...”
But before he could even finish speaking, the powerful palmstrike struck Qin Ye squarely on his body.
With a resounding smack, Qin Ye flew back screaming at the top of his voice. But to his pleasant surprise, his body flew through the air like a soft feather, slowly drifting to the ground before promptly landing on his feet.
“What’s this?” He gasped and looked at his hands, and then he examined his body.
There’s not a shred of damage?
The sturdiness of my body appears to have gone up several notches? My body can actually withstand the attack of a final boss like Arthis?
Have I, too, become a boss?
“Ahh…” His spirits instantly calmed down. Then, he adjusted his robes and elegantly smoothened his sideburns before hooking his finger at arthis with a beckoning gesture, “Again.”
“I want to fight ten!”
Arthis’ temples were throbbing. That was only a taster. Do you really have to be so dramatic?!
“Is that so?” She grinned dangerously. Then, she took a deep breath, and her hair suddenly fluttered wildly and rushed towards Qin Ye!
Whoosh! Everywhere they passed, trees were sliced up into pieces and fell to the ground. Qin Ye immediately gasped - Holy shit… That’s against the rules! Who said you could use your powerful skills?!
“Wait a minute… Let’s talk things through calmly… Holy shit! You’re coming at me for real!”
Arthis ignored his pleas completely, while Qin Ye was completely scared witless. It was too quick to be seen with the naked eye, so he simply put up a defensive stance, curling himself into a ball and bracing his head - just like how school students would reflexively react when facing a bully.
But just as he braced himself for an ensuing period of bondage and punishment, a number of soft clinks resounded just a short distance from his body.
One second passed… two seconds passed… three seconds passed.
Qin Ye lowered his arms and opened his eyes in confusion. To his surprise, a pitch-black sphere had appeared outside his body some time ago.
It was a thin film that was formed out of thick, condensed Yin energy. In fact, it was so dark and dense that it actually prevented Arthis’ hair from reaching his body.
“What’s going on here?” He reached out and touched the sphere of condensed Yin energy. It was icy to the touch, and while he could easily pass through it, it kept foreign objects out of its domain.
“Prestige of the Luminary.” Arthis nodded as she recalled her dark hair like a receding tide, “All entities with abilities weaker than a Hellguard won’t be able to hurt you at all. It is a type of manifestation of your authority, and all Emissaries at the rank of Hellguard and beyond are able to project it outwardly. We call it the embodiment of the spirit. As long as you keep it up, you will be able to travel through the mortal realm in broad daylight despite being in your emissary state. You’ll also be able to enter Hell in the day.”
Can you even do something like that?
Qin Ye poked at the black shell around his body curiously. Again, and again. Arthis continued with an ashen expression, “The difference between a Hellguard and a Hunter is like night and day… Pay attention!”
Boom! With a furious cry, Qin Ye’s embodiment of the spirit crumbled away instantly, and he sheepishly retracted his finger - Very well… Arthis is still the same Arthis as before. A Judge is still a Judge… I can’t afford to step on her toes…
Arthis drew a deep breath - The future King Yanluo is starting to resemble a hyperactive husky more and more? Somebody tell me - is it a crime to put it down?
“... Listen up. Hellguards are subdivided into three different levels, namely nascent, intermediate and advanced. Because of the vast difference in the number of Yin spirits under one’s jurisdiction from here on forward, the amount of Yin energy and corresponding merit points required for a promotion is commensurately larger as well. Netherworld Operatives and Soul Hunters can’t really understand or appreciate this, but the difference in levels between Anitya Hellguards and Infernal Judges are as far as the heavens are from the earth. This vast chasm has proved to be insurmountable to innumerable Emissaries of Hell.”
Qin Ye furrowed his brows and waved his hands, summoning Hell’s Records right away. Yet as soon as he flipped it open, his eyes widened so much that they almost fell out of its sockets.
Name: Qin Ye (Nickname - Dogballs)
Place of Origin: Liu Er Mound Village, Gazi Gully, Tang An County, Qingguang City
Family Members: Grandfather (deceased), Parents (deceased)
Date of Birth: 1 October 1938
Occupation: Anitya Hellguard (Nascent) - 2,200 merit points. Distance to Anitya Hellguard (Intermediate) - 2,200/200,000 merit points.
He rubbed his eyes.
There’s no mistake. It’s 200,000 merit points.
“Ah, that scared me there. And to think that I was under the impression… So… it’s actually 200,000 merit points.” He sighed wistfully and shut Hell’s Records. Then, he stared intently into Arthis’ eyes.
There must be a postscript if she can remain so calm.
Three seconds later, Qin Ye sent Hell’s Records flying with a powerful kick, “Bloody hell, this shitty… #%#(%*$&#)%(^!!!”
“200,000 merit points?! Do you think that the points come as easily as the wind?! Ah-hahaha… A Soul Hunter needs only 2,000 points, and yet a Hellguard needs 200,000 points?! Do you think I can get merit points as easily as sleeping at night?! Do you know what kind of difference that additional zero makes?!”
Arthis nodded deeply.
That’s the reaction I was looking for.
Back when I saw this number, I’d even smashed my most treasured flower vase…
Several seconds later, Hell’s Records flapped back like a graceful butterfly. Qin Ye glared viciously at it and gritted his teeth, “Tell me, how the hell did you become a judge? Two hundred thousand… Do you think this novel is going to continue for an entire lifetime? And that’s only for a promotion to the intermediate Anitya Hellguard for goodness sakes!”
Arthis responded nonchalantly, “Simple. I became a Judge during the Ming Dynasty era, when I participated in several wars. Clearing up the aftermath of the war nabbed me thirty or forty thousand merit points. For instance, during the reign of the Wanli Emperor. The entire lands were covered with Yin spirits… If we hadn’t been mobilized, I’m pretty certain that an incarnate revenant would spawn in less than ten years’ time. I was lucky to have been mobilized for the aftermath of each of the three great wars, and each operation was worth more than sixty thousand merit points.”
“Haha… I’m asking about right now!”
Arthis raised an eyebrow quizzically, “If we take down the Middle East, I assure you that you’ll have so much work that your hands will go limp.”
Qin Ye grew exasperated, “Are you kidding? Are you trying to ask me to instigate the fourth world war?!”
Yet Arthis didn’t laugh. She simply looked at Qin Ye dead in the eye.
Qin Ye blinked vacantly, and then muttered dryly, “Don’t tell me that… you’re actually seriously hinting that I should… take down the underworld of the Middle East?”
Arthis neither refuted nor affirmed his suspicions. She simply stared intently at him for some time, before abruptly changing the topic, “There’s a lot more to an Anitya Hellguard than what I’ve just told you. You’ll get used to your abilities over the next half a year. For now, let me take you on a trip back to the old Hell to take a look at something.”
The first thing that came to Qin Ye’s mind was the terrifying Echoing Worm that he first saw back there. He gulped nervously, “Can I not go?”
“Sure. I guess… you’re not interested in learning the underworldly arts available to an Anitya Hellguard, then?”
When you put it that way…
Arthis continued, “You don’t even know how to tap on the full extent of your abilities right now. An Anitya Hellguard is worlds apart from a Soul Hunter. The fact that you can resist my earlier palmstrike means that you won’t even die to a sniper bullet. It wouldn’t even leave a mark on you. In this regard, Hell actually has a set of instructions and tutorials to teach you to utilize all of your abilities… Why are you looking at me like that?”
Qin Ye probed, “Then… you don’t know either?”
“I’ve forgotten it!” Arthis blurted right away, “That’s knowledge that is centuries old as far as I’m concerned. Who can remember such things? Furthermore, the old Hell hasn’t completely crumbled to the ground. I’ll take you to the Yin celestial pavilion. There should still be some old technique manuscripts imbued with the laws of the old Hell that you can bring back with you.”
She then looked intently at Qin Ye, “Now that you’re a Hellguard, the ghosts that you’ll be facing would by no means be as simple as the Yin spirits from hunting zones. There are stronger existences that lurk in the shadows of the hunting zones in every city. You may be able to rest easy in the City of Salvation, but a multitude of Yin spirits that flood the rest of Cathay will greet you as soon as you depart from its borders. Be prepared.”
The ‘Father of all Peaks’ Khan Tengri Peak.
It was located on the border between Cathay and Kyrgyz, and it was seven thousand meters above sea level.
The Khan Tengri Peak was also known as Khan Tengri. Its name means king of all kings. Glaciers cover its peak all year round, and ice and snow collapses from its peak from time to time. Naturally, not a single soul dared to trek to the peak.
There was a little cave right at the top of the tallest mountain in Khan Tengri. But if one entered it, he would soon discover that the cavern grew larger and larger as one went further in. Ten minutes in, and the cavern would open up into a large open space with an icy lake right in its center.
There shouldn’t be any animals flying at such altitudes. However, several small birds cried out as they flew into the cave, straight through the entrance until they entered the cavern with the icy lake. Then, as soon as they arrived, a dark hand shrouded with Yin energy instantly reached out from the darkness and grabbed hold of all the birds at the same time.
“These are robins…” A hoarse female voice called out. A second later, an endless nethergale swept through the area, and the entire atmosphere transformed completely!
Jade-green netherfire burned atop piles of dried bones within copper braziers. Long banners of cloth embroidered with fine patterns hung all around the caverns like flags, while several Yin spirits dressed in neat Arabian garments and wielding their spears and shields stood upright at their posts. The nethergale roared past the throne of white bones set in the middle of the cavern.
A spider lady sat atop the throne. There was a thin veil covering her appearances. Her lower body was shaped like a spider, but it appeared far larger than the emissary that had vied for Gu Qing’s soul - almost as though she were a broodmother. Scarlet rings ran around her abdomen. She looked menacing and terrifying.
The robins hovered about helplessly over her palm. She gazed at them with a stoic expression. Then, several seconds later, she sighed and crushed them all.
“My lady.” A Yin spirit asked softly, “Aren’t you going to receive their message?”
“There’s no need…” The broodmother replied, “They’re all dead… There are still emissaries alive in Cathay. Perhaps… the council of elders have slipped up in their investigations.”
“Prepare to withdraw our troops. We can’t afford to invade Cathay whilst its great barrier is still active. Enemies lay southwest of us. There’s no longer any reason for us to remain here.”
2. One of the longest ruling Ming Dynasty emperors who reigned for 48 years from 1572-1620. The middle era from 1582-1600 saw three great wars that he dealt with successfully. This was probably what Arthis was referring to. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanli_Emperor