“Let me think about it for a while. I’ll give you my answer in half an hour’s time.” Arthis responded on behalf of Qin Ye, and then immediately turned to Qin Ye and explained, “You’ve got to find a chance to head out no matter what it takes!”
“What the hell is going on?” Qin Ye was incredibly displeased with Arthis’ rude interjection, and he stared at her with a gaze that read - you’re cruel, you’re ruthless, and you’re completely unreasonable.
Arthis took some time to gather her thoughts, and then explained with a grave expression, “The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl is an ancient heirloom of the Song Dynasty era. There are only two of such masterpieces that have ever been made. You’ve seen the pattern on it. It’s so exquisite that it gives the feeling of lying on the beach and staring into the starry night sky. The Nipponese call it the cosmos in a bowl. The spots are actually caused by changes in the kiln’s conditions during the firing process. But ‘kiln-change’ doesn’t sound good, so it was more popularly known as ‘obsidian’.”
“The two bowls are currently in Nippon. It’s unknown exactly how they ended up there. But what we can be sure of is that there’s presently only records of one of these bowls, and that bowl is stored in the Seikado Bunko Art Museum in Edo, Nippon. When it was first introduced to Nippon… do you know who its owners were?”
Qin Ye shook his head.
Arthis drew a deep breath and muttered, “Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.”
“These two bowls were considered heavenly treasures of the world in Nippon, and they spent the next few decades with their owners. One of them… is said to have been destroyed in the Honnoji Incident. There's no trace of it anymore.”
Qin Ye nodded, and then shuddered violently as he did a double take at the screen, “Are you saying… that this is the very same bowl that was rumoured to have been destroyed in the Honnoji Incident?”
“That’s right.” Arthis stared at the screen, “The other bowl is a complete one. I’ve seen it before…”
Qin Ye held up his hand with a ‘stop’ gesture and interjected suspiciously, “How did you see it before?”
Arthis chuckled coldly, “It’s because… this bowl is one of the top ten Yin artifacts in the East. How could I not have seen it before?”
“The ten great Yin artifacts have all been formed from the agglomeration and condensation of a multitude of grievances and grudges. With the appearance of each one comes the rebirth of a powerful ghost. These Yin artifacts form part of the core syllabus in the education of all Infernal Judges. Every single Judge is tasked to keep an eye out for the appearance of these artifacts. To think that… a day would come when I would personally witness the emergence of an artifact like that.”
Qin Ye’s mind suddenly lit up.
That’s right… Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu are both famous generals of the Nipponese Warring States era, and their personal belongings that accompanied them would invariably be exposed to bloodshed and war. They would be able to draw upon the thick air of grievances and grudges that lingered on in the air and clung to the clothes of their owners… Wait a minute!
His lips trembled, “You mentioned that… the appearance of these artifacts would be accompanied by the rebirth of an evil ghost. Are you saying…”
Arthis nodded placidly, “That’s right. Oda Nobunaga, the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven. A trace of his soul is lingering in this bowl. The fact that you were enraptured by the bowl earlier is a sign that his soul is about to reawaken.”
Seconds later, Qin Ye chuckled dryly, “About that… I somehow think that… we should just forget about all these things and participate in the fall auction. What do you think?”
“I think that’s a pretty poor choice.” Arthis sneered, “Do you think that Oda Nobunaga is far too dangerous an existence? Even though he died with incredible resentment in his heart, he’s merely an Infernal Judge at best. Now, after so many years have passed, and with nothing more than a trace of his residual soul left, his presence is at best at the level of an Anitya Hellguard. And he hasn’t even fully awakened yet! What’s there to be afraid of?”
Then, say so earlier next time!
Qin Ye probed further with a heart that was ill-at-ease, “But… isn’t Nobunaga rumoured to be quite amazing? How could he only be an Infernal Judge? Wouldn’t that make him no different from you?”
“Kid… it seems like your confidence has grown ever since becoming a Hellguard yourself. I’m warning you, the next time you do this, I’m unleashing my knowledge of thai boxing on you.” Arthis rolled her eyes, “Oda Nobunaga was born in the Warring States era. To put it bluntly, they were warring villages. Their so-called states are no different from small prefectures in Cathay - a small county. In that light, it really doesn’t matter how awesome Oda Nobunaga had been. THe question is how much Yin energy do you think he would have been able to absorb?”
That makes things a lot simpler.
Qin Ye began to comb back his hair as he addressed Arthis earnestly, “Arti, Arti… It’s not that I want to nag at you, but could you please give me the lowdown on these important details first next time? Is it really that fun to see me lose my wits before you all the time?”
“... You’re truly a shameless coward to the extreme…” Then, Arthis gazed into the distance, “Come to think of it, back then, when I encountered such Emissaries of Hell, I would immediately banish them to oblivion.”
“Let’s not talk about the past.” Qin Ye stood up with confidence, and then frowned at Arthis, “But that doesn’t seem right… Why should I go all the way just to seize the soul of a granduncle? Am I sick in the mind? And even if he comes to his senses, wouldn’t he still have his eyes fixed on Nippon? Perhaps he’d look to visit Tokugawa Ieyasu and talk about their dreams and future ahead… but what’s that got to do with me?”
Arthis barked back resentfully, “Talent! Do you understand what a talent is?!”
“At the very least, he’s a far better statesman and a military man than you are! Wouldn’t you need to create a security force in future? You’ve seen the state of Hell - it’s just a storm of unrest that’s brewing right now! All of Cathay’s famous generals from the past have been whisked away by Lord Ksitigarbha! Or are you waiting for an admiral to pass on?”
“At any rate, Oda Nobunaga is even stronger than the fabled existence Yeon Gaesomun. The Nipponese have admittedly gotten some things right. Look at the famous generals of the East. A good part of them come from Cathay. Hindustan has been oppressed since time immemorial, and even when a decent king had finally taken the reins, they were unfortunately colonized. And Daehan? Don’t even get me started. They’ve been a part of Cathay for the most part. Even Nipponese generals are barely considered passable by our standards! Let me tell you something. Back then, when Nipponese generals passed on, Cathay would send out Judge-class darkfeathers to reap the souls of esteemed generals, and the Nipponese underworld would mobilize millions of troops to resist our advances in order to retain their talents. Now that this perfect opportunity has presented itself to you, how could you be so picky about it!”
Qin Ye didn’t respond, but his eyes flickered unnervingly. Arthis knew in an instant that this look meant that Qin Ye’s thoughts were vacillating between “It’s so dangerous, so scary! That’s Oda Nobunaga we’re talking about” to “Ummm… The number of Yin spirits in Hell are indeed increasing. Shouldn’t I form a security force to keep the law and order in that place?”
Can I say that this must be the world’s most cowardly King Yanluo of all time?
Arthis looked to the heavens in despair - Should I also inform him that as soon as he leaves Cathay’s borders, he will no longer be able to instakill evil ghosts of the same rank as he is?
After much deliberation - I think it’s best if I keep that to myself for now…
To think that I’d never even think of procrastinating back when I was under the charge of the previous King Yanluo… and yet now I do it almost on a daily basis…
This guy truly gets on my nerves!
Some time later, Qin Ye finally looked up, only to notice Arthis’ increasingly grim expressions, and even her hair was starting to flutter menacingly on its own. He immediately coughed lightly as he tested the waters, “Then… I guess we can make a trip down together?”
Mm… Arti’s fluttering hair looks rather dangerous… it’s easy to extrapolate some scenarios that might be inappropriate for the eyes of our younger audience out here… I think it would be prudent to preserve the innocence and purity of this body…
“Why are you asking me to accompany you?” Arthis responded stiffly.
“... I’m bringing you overseas to broaden your horizons. What’s the point in being holed up all day with your computer? It’s bad for your complexion! Do you know that irregular sleeping hours is every woman’s worst enemy? You don’t want to look seventy when you’re only seventeen! How are you going to get married like that? Take some time off and go live the dream!” Qin Ye spoke with utter sincerity.
“Don’t have the time.” Arthis rejected the notion immediately and then vanished into a wisp of green smoke, “I’m heading into Hell for some peace and quiet. Don’t speak with me for a while. I might not be able to hold myself back…”
“Escapism isn’t a solution! We’ve got to face up to the problem!” Qin Ye yelled at the void where Arthis had been just moments ago. Then, he cleared his throat in exasperation, “What kind of a person is that… How could a subordinate be so disrespectful to her superior’s needs? Where’s the concept of subordination gone…”
It seemed that the matter was shelved from discussions for the moment. Qin Ye sat in front of his laptop and began typing to Master Bai again, “Alright, your suggestion works for me. 60 million in advance. I’ll give you my card number. But I think it’s best if I state this upfront. I’m currently… at the City of Salvation.”
Master Bai immediately grew taciturn.
Qin Ye could practically imagine him massaging his temples in pain.
Given Guardian Auctions’ depth of backing, how could he possibly be unaware of what’s going on in the City of Salvation?
“... The City of Salvation that is under direct administration?”
Several seconds later, Master Bai finally responded, “Then… when you’ve made the necessary preparations, you can contact us directly. We’re staffed twenty-four hours a day.”
Has he given up?
Qin Ye’s smile faded away, and his heart sank. Even someone with the depth of backing like Guardian Auctions was unable to enter the City of Salvation?
Almost as though he had heard the cry of Qin Ye’s heart, Master Bai continued, “If you’re able to come to the border of the City of Salvation, we’ll have a way of getting in touch with you. Don’t worry, your artifacts are incredibly precious. We’ll make an exception and send an entire team of mavens. They’ll be able to render a full appraisal on the goods within three hours, including determining its authenticity. As for the owners of the artifact and the exact time period they’re from, we can discuss these details when it’s a little more convenient. Then, once the appraisal process is complete, you can sign the auction agreement there and then, and we’ll remit the money to you immediately. What do you think?”
This seems to be the only way forward for now.
Qin Ye was displeased, but helpless, “This will do.”
With that, he closed the chat box. He didn’t have the heart to play any games either. Thus, he collapsed onto his bed and stared at the ceiling as he began to mull over his thoughts.
What do I do?
The wisp of Oda Nobunaga’s soul wasn’t at the top of his considerations. Instead, it was the redevelopment of Hell that was constantly weighing on his heart.
The Harken had definitely gotten a lock on their Yin energy signatures. As soon as it awakens, there would be no place for him to hide, even in Cathay.
Therefore, he would have to achieve a certain level of development of Hell before the Harken could awaken from its slumber. Hell has to be rebuilt and expand as quickly as possible. The trade route that would ensure his source of finances was right in front of his eyes, and yet he couldn’t do a thing about it. Did he really have to put off his plans until fall? With that many Yin spirits idling about in Hell, would things really be alright?
Just then, the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal on his chest suddenly shifted. Then, before he could even react to the situation, a screen congealed from Yin energy appeared in the air before him. Arthis’ face appeared on the screen with a grim expression on her face. Yet before she could speak, a powerful roar resounded from the background!
ROAR!! It was as though a tidal wave had crashed onto the shore. It was so loud that it practically drowned out everything Arthis was saying.
Yin spirit riot?!
These words immediately surfaced on his mind. Qin Ye’s back broke out with cold sweat, and he immediately sat up from his bed, “Are you in Hell right now? What’s going on?”
Arthis yelled at the top of her voice to get her message across, “Come down right now! Something’s happened!”
1. This is the incident when Nobunaga was betrayed by his general, who ambushed Nobunaga and his eldest son, which resulted in them both committing seppuku. An additional nugget of information - Nobunaga was later avenged by his retainer, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Tokugawa Ieyasu was briefly a rival to Toyotomi after Oda’s death, but then quickly pledged allegiance to Toyotomi, under which he served until Toyotomi passed away. Ieyasu then seized power in 1600, and was appointed as the first shogun of Japan.
2. I’ve done some research on why he’s called the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven. There seems to be two main schools of thought. The first is that this is a Buddhist reference to Paranimmitavasavatti, the demon king of the Sixth Heaven, who inspires envy and desire among men and leads them astray from Buddhist teachings. Calling Oda this was probably a result of his brutality against the Buddhists, particularly some who opposed the samurai rule. Oda Nobunaga was also known for his massacre at Mount Hiei, a mountain which was controlled by a sect of Buddhist warrior monks. The second school of thought is that Oda was the one who named himself that in order to mock Takeda Shingen, one of Oda’s rivals, who referred to himself as the protector of buddhism in Japan.
3. A powerful military dictator that ruled from 603-666 in the old days of Goguryeo (old Korea) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeon_Gaesomun