Soul Hunter… Qin Ye could immediately tell the level of the man’s ability as soon as he stepped out of the darkness. Then, he suddenly frowned.
As a newly minted Anitya Hellguard, Qin Ye knew full well the chasm between the abilities of a Hellguard and the abilities of a Soul Hunter. To put it bluntly, if he were to take the lives of all on the mount right now, nobody would be able to stand in his way.
But this Soul Hunter was slightly different from the rest.
The mask that covered his face did not have a single hole on it. Furthermore, as an Emissary of Hell, Qin Ye could tell that Tripitaka’s body was devoid of any Yang energy.
In fact… the stench of death emanating from his body was even stronger than Sun Wukong. If not for the fact that this man was speaking right now, he wouldn’t even have realized this.
How the hell did this happen?
“You’re thinking of saving him?” Qin Ye smiled faintly, “You can try.”
Whoosh… The leaves on the ground began to rustle and sway without a breeze. Slowly, but surely, they began to swirl around them. The banyan tree slowly lowered its branches, almost as though an invisible force were pushing them down.
“You can’t do this!” Sun Wukong’s entire body was trembling. Qin Ye was like an overbearing force. He could sense the blade that had been placed right across his neck, while Qin Ye’s presence felt almost like a wild asura that was bearing down on him. His breathing began to grow ragged.
Sun Wukong pulled out a scarf and began to wipe off the sweat on his forehead, “Guardian Auctions is--...”
“I don’t care who you are.” Qin Ye barked back, “I’ve learnt since a long time ago… that everything in this world has a price to it. And I’m quite certain that between you, an antique dealer, and me… the balance would naturally lie in my favour. There’s no doubt that the ones backing you wouldn’t even pause to question this one bit.”
Everyone grew silent.
The deadly silence of the graveyard was like a taut wire. Bai Yishan and Pigsy glanced at Tripitaka. After several moments, Tripitaka gnashed his teeth, “He’s not lying.”
With that, he sighed, and slowly grabbed the mask covering his own face.
Then, right at the moment when he lifted off his own mask, his other hand flickered swiftly, and a bright, metallic gleam thrusted straight towards Qin Ye’s arm!
His dazzlingly quick strike was accompanied by the roar of a sonic boom. Tripitaka had mustered all of his strength for this one single strike, not to kill, but to deter.
Clink! The mask in his hand shattered to pieces just as the metallic gleam struck Qin Ye’s arm. But, to his horror, he found his blade unable to penetrate even a millimeter of Qin Ye’s skin!
The man underneath the mask had an appearance that was full of scars, as well as two deep, gaping holes where his eye sockets were. Furthermore… there wasn’t a single trace of blood on that man’s face. He was skin and bones, and his eyes, nose and mouth had all been stitched up!
The man’s facial muscles contorted. A second later, the man’s black cloak suddenly split right down the middle, and then his head abruptly slammed backwards as though struck by an invisible palm!
“This is…” Qin Ye’s expressions suddenly turned somber, “A corpse?”
“Sakayaki hairstyle. This man is… Nipponese?” Qin Ye looked back. But this time, his gaze swept past Bai Yishan (Sun Wukong) and landed directly on Pigsy. There was a burning gaze in his eyes, “This corpse is at least three hundred years old… A Nipponese corpse that is over three hundred years old… The Warring States Period… and the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl… are you still going to tell me that these are unrelated matters?”
“Furthermore, I can tell that you’re an underworldly craftsman. After all, you’ve sealed the seven apertures of the corpse to prevent his corpse stench from leaking out into the surroundings… Just who are you? The one in charge of these affairs… is actually you?”
The dim glow of the moonlight softly illuminated the almost-invisible threads extending right out of Pigsy’s sleeves. The other man hung his head down without saying a single word.
These were silken threads.
In particular, these were special silken threads used to control corpses.
The only one who could do this, was one of the seven underworldly craftsmen… the corpse driver.
There was a stifling silence.
A gleaming shiv was connected to a chain that extended out from the corpse’s sleeve. Unfortunately, the sharp edge was unable to penetrate even the top layer of Qin Ye’s skin.
This was the difference between a Hellguard and a Hunter. Qin Ye could even resist a powerful palmstrike from Arthis. His physical body was already so strong that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call him a human weapon. How could he possibly be injured by something so simple? After all, not even regular guns were effective against him.
Sun Wukong didn’t say a word. Seconds later, he sighed slightly, and reached for his own mask.
In the very next moment, Qin Ye’s eyes flickered in astonishment. The man under the mask bore the exact same appearances as Bai Yishan!
The only difference was that this man appeared far more haggard. His eyes were sunken and bloodshot, almost as though he hadn’t slept for a few days on end. In fact, it looked as though he were held up only by his enduring willpower. Qin Ye could tell with a single look that a soft tap would be all it took to knock him over.
What happened to Guardian Auctions… Qin Ye’s eyes grew frigid. He sincerely hoped that nothing happened to the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl. He truly didn’t want to deal with any more complications.
“So… you’re the real Bai Yishan?”
The real Bai Yishan nodded. Then, before Qin Ye could even respond, he suddenly knelt to the ground and grabbed Qin Ye’s hands tightly like a drowning man clinging fervently to his only lifeline, “Save me…”
“I beg of you… save me!”
“I can help you in any way you desire… save me! He’s here… he’s here! He’s coming soon!”
Bai Yishan appeared to be screaming at the top of his voice whenever he mentioned the word “he”. But, as if a great terror was overwhelming him, the only sound that came out was a soft whisper and a great tremble to his voice.
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered, “Who’s here? What happened? Don’t tell me that… something happened to the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl?”
“Mori Ranmaru… He mentioned that his name is Mori Ranmaru!” Tears finally gushed out of Bai Yishan’s eyes, “Mr Qin… save me! This is an evil ghost! I’ve never seen anything as evil as it! It’s… it’s far too terrifying! It’s followed me all the way here from Yan Capital, and it’s just nearby! I can sense it! I shouldn’t have… I shouldn’t have done it… I shouldn’t have done it! AHHHHHH!!”
Qin Ye swatted his hand away.
He could tell that Bai Yishan’s mind was on the brink of collapse. What has he done? Has the evil spirit truly followed him all the way to the City of Salvation?
And the name Mori Ranmaru carried yet greater implications.
Having lived for such a long time, Qin Ye naturally had a far greater depth of general knowledge than most who were alive. For instance, he knew about the incident at the Honnoji Temple.
There were several people who committed seppuku together with Nobunaga when he was betrayed by his trusted aide Akechi Mitsuhide at the Honnoji Temple, including his wife, Nohime, his son Oda Nobutada, his retainer, Murai Sadakatsu, and finally, Mori Ranmaru.
Legend has it that Mori Ranmaru looked even more effeminate than most women of his time. Personal attendants at that time were akin to a secretary to a general right now. Some of these personal attendants even had an unusually intimate relationship with their masters… As he thought about these things, Qin Ye abruptly looked up, and an incredulous speculation crossed his mind!
The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl… wouldn’t contain more than one soul, would it?
If Mori Ranmaru was around, then… wouldn’t the souls of Nohime, Oda Nobutada and Murai Sadakatsu be trapped within this bowl that is hailed as one of the ten great Yin Artifacts of the East?
Otherwise, why would Mori Ranmaru be chasing after Bai Yishan so relentlessly?
“Mr Qin!” Bai Yishan attached himself to Qin Ye like a leech, clinging onto Qin Ye’s trousers for dear life, “The City of Salvation! Only the City of Salvation is safe! Please take me there with you! I beg you! I don’t want to die in this unending nightmare! It’s too frightening… every night… every night, when I close my eyes, I can see the face of that evil spirit staring right at me…”
But Qin Ye simply pushed him away, “Too late.”
Bai Yishan recoiled in horror. He was just about to scream at the top of his voice when Qin Ye added placidly, “He’s already here.”
Don’t cling to me so tightly. What if you accidentally block off my escape route?
Mori Ranmaru… one of the most famous attendants of all time… Qin Ye turned around valiantly and kicked off with his feet. Then, to Bai Yishan’s great astonishment, he quickly drifted further into the distance.
Farewell. I’m leaving. Goodbye.
But he only covered ten meters before he suddenly paused right in his tracks, smacked his head and turned back around again.
Bai Yishan’s reality had practically vacillated between heaven and hell within the span of a few moments. He immediately scrambled over on all fours and wept desperately, “Mr Qin! You can’t leave me like that!”
Qin Ye also felt somewhat embarrassed by the situation. After all, he just recalled something important - I’m already a Hellguard, aren’t I? What’s there to fear from a mere Soul hunter? If a prey comes looking for a predator, shouldn’t the predator welcome its approach?
“Don’t move.” Qin Ye spoke with great confidence and stepped valiantly in front of Bai Yishan, “You might just die if you move.”
The soft moonbeams cast dark shadows all over the tombs around them, and the menacing shadows of the surroundings danced about wildly behind Bai Yishan… almost as though they were alive! And then, they suddenly began to converge from all directions, ignoring everyone around and swooping in right towards Bai Yishan’s head!
Whoosh! A powerful nethergale began to blow, and a figure slowly walked out from the narrow gaps between the tombstones.
It was impossible to see his appearances. But every single step that the figure took caused endless wails to echo in the surroundings, almost as though… those who had committed seppuku or perished in the tragic fire of the Honnoji incident were grieving endlessly.
Tap… tap… The soft footsteps in the dead of the night were maddening and oppressively deafening. There was also a soft rustling sound in the background, almost as though something were being dragged along the ground, moving inch by inch.
Simultaneously, the candles in every single stall back at the top of the mountain flickered wildly and burned with a green netherflame. The black-robed stall attendants seated at the tombstones were startled by the eerie phenomenon, and all of them turned to look at the candles at their stalls at the same time.
Then, amidst the dead silence, someone stood up, swooped up all their belongings, and made a dash right for the foot of Mount Monarch. Then, a second followed suit, and then a third… In the blink of an eye, what was otherwise a still and silent phantom market quickly disperse into the surroundings as though nothing had been there before. There were even the sparse cries of frightened and startled visitors.
“Evil ghost… a hundred-year evil ghost! This… how could it be?!” “How could there possibly be a hundred-year evil ghost at the border of the City of Salvation? Why weren’t we informed about this?!” “Where did this monstrosity come from?! What an overbearing aura of grievance!”
Nefarious ghosts have been uncaged, all living shall disperse!
Lin Han stood his ground at the top of the mount. The nethergale was so powerful that the tombstones around him were rattling softly, and cracks had even begun to appear on some of them. His coat fluttered wildly in the wind, and he gazed deeply at zone C8 of the cemetery, murmuring to himself, “What an intense wave of Yin energy… what kind of evil spirit is that?”
He gritted his teeth and began to dash right towards the source of the Yin energy.
Mount Monarch was largely terraced, and zone C8 was located on the third terrace. However, as soon as he arrived on the second terrace, he discovered that… he was completely stuck!
His surroundings were already packed with people. The Yin spirits that had been granted special Yin spirit permits were among the crowd, but it was clear that the onset of an extreme terror had caused them to lose their minds. They flailed their arms about wildly in front of them, crying, “Who is it?! Who the hell is it?!!” “Open this damn thing at once! Let us out!” “What is this?! How dare you create trouble at the City of Salvation?! Let me tell you, there are Judge-class experts holding the fort around here!”
“This is…” Lin Han drew a deep breath. He suddenly realized that things weren’t as simple as he had initially thought.
There was a thread that had been tied across the tombstones in front of them. The two upper terraces had all been cordoned off, and these threads were emitting a faint purple luster to it. There were even small talismans and bells tied across various parts of these threads. And no matter how hard the ones in front tried, their blows simply appeared to be absorbed by an invisible wall, and they were unable to gain any ground at all.
“Formation array… and it’s not a Cathayan technique at that.” He glanced around warily, “There are others… there are others in this place!”