One hour later.
Qin Ye checked out of his room and moved to a room that was located directly opposite where Grandmaster Chu was putting up in. Then, he instructed Guardian Auctions that nobody was to enter his room without his permission.
Thus, not even Grandmaster Chu was aware that Qin Ye’s room was completely dark. The windows were closed, the curtains were tightly shut, and even the lights were switched off. Furthermore, there were talismans pasted all over the room.
Unlike the talismans plastered all over the train carriages, the talismans within Qin Ye’s rooms were filled with scribblings that emanated a sense of mystery and profundity, almost as though they would enthrall a person if they stared at the talismans for long enough. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the talismans… appeared to have a life of their own.
A black box sat silently on the bed, surrounded only by rows and rows of purple talismans tied to red strings. Qin Ye was busy as a bee, setting up precaution after precaution within the confines of his room. Ming Shiyin hovered in the air for some time, observing all these things, before he finally blurted, “Is this really necessary?”
“Of course.” Qin Ye straightened his back and rubbed his waist as he gave Ming Shiyin an unfriendly glare, “Soul Suppressing Formation Array… Arthis had prepared the talismans and taught me to set it up as well as the hand seals for its activation. As soon as it’s activated, nobody outside its domain would realize it even if we completely thrash up the room. It’s the same formation array used by the extraterritorial emissaries back when we’d struggled over Gu Qing’s soul. Separately, shouldn’t you, as a subordinate to Hell, make yourself useful when you see the future King Yanluo running all over the place setting up the formation array?”
Ming Shiyin tilted slightly in curiosity, “But… I don’t have arms to help out. I’m already giving you a lot of face by cheering you on by your side… Hang on! Why do I get the feeling that you’ve been showing me less and less respect these days? Do you want me to start lambasting you all over again?!”
What formidable reasoning… Qin Ye found himself at a complete loss for words.
He glared at Ming Shiyin, and then went about setting up the formation array on his own. Even then, Ming Shiyin began to hover about him like a fluttering butterfly, “Besides, I’m not asking whether the formation array is a necessity. What I’m asking is why you have to flaunt your abilities if you’d wanted them to entrust you with the safekeeping of the bowl? You’ve behaved like a male peacock flaunting its assets during mating season ever since we were at the train station. Don’t you think your behaviour is a huge disgrace to the reputation of King Yanluos?!”
Qin Ye froze and turned to look at Ming Shiyin with a begrudging gaze, “Well, I’m sorry. I don’t even know where you get these ideas from! Perhaps you should spend less time reading webnovels so that your mind isn’t polluted with these useless things!”
He lowered his head, bit his thumb and smeared his blood across one of the talismans. In an instant, the talisman emitted a faint purple glow which quickly faded into nothingness.
“You don’t understand the human psyche at all.” He affixed the talisman carefully, and then lowered his head and adjusted the position of the Bagua compass in his legs as he responded, “The X-magic box is Guardian Auctions’ trump card. If they didn’t have this safeguard, Grandmaster Chu would have been dead by now. Given its importance, do you think they would be willing to entrust it to me had I offered to safekeep it for them?”
He looked at the Bagua compass in his hand and adjusted the position of the talismans again, “Grandmaster Chu doesn’t even know who I am, so on what basis would he be willing to entrust it to me? With him around, Bai Yishan can only defer to him in the decision making process. It wouldn’t be proper for me to seize it for safekeeping by force either, unless I’m willing to risk my position in the First Academy of Cultivators. So…” Qin Ye finally took a step back and admired his handiwork, “The smarter thing to do is to make them ask me for help of their own volition.”
He dusted his pants, put away the Bagua compass and stood up, “And that’s also why I’ve been dropping hints to them from time to time, declaring that I’m the strongest person around, and naturally the best choice for the safekeeping of the artifact. Given Grandmaster Chu’s tense state of mind, everything would naturally fall into place, just like how I’d planned. See, didn’t the outcome turn out perfect? Why court trouble when one can resolve any potential dispute with simple words?”
Ming Shiyin grew taciturn.
Several moments later, Ming Shiyin remarked wistfully, “So, is this what one could consider the philosophy of survivalists? To think that there’s such a profound undercurrent of schemes to your seemingly simple set of actions. It’s my loss this time.”
Qin Ye cracked his neck and admired his work of art with great satisfaction. Then, the ephemeral smile on his face faded away, and he looked intently at Ming Shiyin once more, “Lord Ming, shall I… begin?”
Ming Shiyin’s voice grew stern and somber, “Have you… figured out what you’re going to say?”
“Your counterparty is Oda Nobunaga after all. I can summon his soul, but considering his personality, I’m afraid you only have one shot at it.”
“Don’t worry.” Qin Ye lowered his head and took a deep breath. Then, his hands began to move swiftly.
With a unique rhythm to his hand seals, he moved faster and faster as he poured more and more Yin spirit into his techniques, until his hands began to leave after images where they were just moments ago. Then, with the abrupt clap of his palms, the talismans in the room suddenly fluttered in unison. Finally, with a soft hum, all of the talismans in the room began to radiate a dim purple glow.
Without further ado, a bright black beam of light erupted from Ming Shiyin’s surface and shot straight into the X-magic box.
Nobody spoke a single word.
Qin Ye no longer had the usual frivolous expression on his face. He knew full well that the upcoming negotiation wasn’t going to be any easier than a battle with a formidable foe. After all, in the wake of Hell’s great collapse, all of the other underworlds would naturally be able to offer far better conditions to Oda Nobunaga than Hell. And this rift between underworlds wasn’t something that could be overcome in just a matter of a decade or even a century. That said, Qin Ye wasn’t willing to pass up on seizing the soul of such a prominent talent.
There aren’t many talents in the East to choose from after all…
The black light poured into the X-magic box like a drop in the ocean, hardly sufficient to create any ripples at all. But Qin Ye wasn’t anxious about it. He waited patiently. Five minutes… ten minutes… and then, exactly fifteen minutes later, the talismans in the entire room began to soar and flutter wildly! It was a completely unnatural phenomenon!
Whoooooosh! Eerie spots of netherflames suddenly appeared within the room, making it look no different from an underworld! At the same time, a powerful tide of Yin energy began to pour out from the box, while the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl trembled within the box, making clinking sounds that could be heard from outside.
And then, more began to appear. Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Just as the initial powerful tide of Yin energy began to wane away, dozens of distinct sources of Yin energy began to pour out from the black box, almost as though a hell rift had been opened! The cries and whimpers of dozens of people filled the air in an instant, interspersed only with the crackling sound of burning wood in the background!
“Here it comes… here it comes!” Ming Shiyin barked, “Steady your mind. There’s more than one Yin spirit in here! Everyone who has died in the Honnoji incident are all trapped in this place! No… wait… kid! Get out of this place immediately…”
But it was too late.
A nethergale poured out from the black box and sent Qin Ye’s clothes fluttering about. Then, a moment later, a dazzling red light erupted from the box with so much energy as though a new world had been born, and Qin Ye couldn’t help but shut his eyes to its bright gleam.
Several moments later, he opened his eyes again, only to find himself completely rooted to the ground in astonishment.
He was no longer in his room.
The canopy of a dark night sky loomed over his head, yet there wasn’t the usual sight of the stars or moon. Instead, there appeared to be a rift in the sky that glowed with a soulless blue luster. He could see that there was an elaborate temple standing tight in front of him. THe temple was erected in the traditional Nipponese style, with scarlet lanterns hanging by the sides of the doors, swinging gently to the wind that swept across. Lush, verdant trees lined the sides of the temple. And there were even fruiting pomegranate trees and mandara flowers growing around the temple. At first glance, the temple gave off a tranquil and peaceful vibe.
Whoosh… The gentle night breeze sent the fragrance of incense diffusing into the surroundings. The temple was constructed in the typical Zen Buddhist style, with dark tiled roofs and white walls. The temple grounds covered approximately a hundred square meters, and it couldn’t be considered small by any means. Two unique, ancient lamps burned with jade-green netherflames at the entrance of the temple. A plaque hung across the top of the entrance with a single word written on it - Honnoji!
“Honnoji?” Qin Ye drew a deep breath and scanned his surroundings. He could see rows of Nipponese warriors with sakayaki hairdos standing guard right outside the temple like stoic stone statues. And these warriors numbered in the hundreds!
Furthermore, right beside where the Nipponese warriors stood, were rows after rows of foot soldiers and bowmen who were likewise guarding the temple. The total number of soldiers numbered well above two thousand!
Dong… A melodious chime reverberated throughout the entire realm, but it sounded anything but reassuring. Instead, it sounded no different from a death knell ushering the arrival of a death god.
“There’s a burning stench.” Qin Ye remarked after taking a deep breath. The temple stood intact before him, and yet it seemed to emanate wafts of burning stench laced with what was unmistakably the stench of corpses.
This was by no means a temple for the living.
Rather, it was an underworld for the dead.
“A naturally formed realm…” Ming Shiyin’s voice echoed softly in Qin Ye’s ears as it looked around the surroundings, “We’ve miscalculated. Neither Arti nor I would ever have expected the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl to hold such a great number of Yin spirits… We’re not even talking about a handful or dozens right now. This is basically every single person who had perished together with Oda Nobunaga back then, regardless of whether it was his immediate family or his personal guards. In fact, even the soldiers who had besieged the temple back then have been drawn into the bowl as well!”
“That said, this realm is rather unstable, and that’s probably why it is impossible to maintain an access channel between this place and the mortal realm. Look up there. The rift in the sky is the only way out of this place. But the size of the rift is at best large enough for one Yin spirit to enter and exit.”
Just then, the temple doors flung open.
Two rows of women drifted out slowly. Upon closer inspection, not a single one of them had feet that touched the ground. Wisps of Yin energy peeked out from the lower half of their long skirts. They were dressed in pure, traditional costumes with faces powdered with snow white make-up and striking spots of eyebrows. However, their teeth were ink-black in colour. They appeared no different from the sprites of ancient lore.
Swish… Then, a woman dressed in a gorgeous kimono with shoulder-length hair walked out from the temple, handing out paper money to the rows of women standing on the sides.
She walked with great poise as though she had been trained from young. Her body remained upright even as she walked, hardly swaying to the side even a little bit. She kept her head bowed, and the posture was warm, meek and innocent. She brought her hands out from her sleeves and placed them together gracefully as she arrived before Qin Ye.
“Nohime greets my lord.” Her voice sounded peculiar. She had an air of nobility about her and a graceful figure, but her voice sounded no different from a broken bellow - hoarse and husky.
Qin Ye looked at the woman who was kneeling on one knee before him, “Did Nobunaga send you?”
“Lord Nobunaga is waiting for you inside Honnoji.” Nohime responded, “He says… you have to go in alone. After all…”
She turned to look at Ming Shiyin who was hovering in the air, “The majesty of Lord Justice Bao is still far too great for us to bear.”
Qin Ye didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he stared intently at Nohime as he queried, “Are you not lifting your head because you’re afraid of looking at me?”
“No. It’s just that your servant is ugly, and I’m afraid that my appearances would taint my lord’s eyes.”
“It’s fine.” Qin Ye smiled faintly, “You may raise your head.”
Nohime bowed silently, and then she lifted her head.
Qin Ye immediately gasped.
She was beautiful.
She had striking eyebrows and almond-shaped eyes that appeared to contain the enchantment of fall in them. Her skin appeared soft and supple, while her face was pale as a sheet of paper. That said, her eyes were bloodshot, and there was a deep scar of a blade running across her entire neck.
It was death by ritual suicide.
The deep scar from her knife wound hadn’t faded one bit. Instead, it appeared to be deeply branded to Nohime’s neck. Furthermore, it appeared to run so deep that her neck looked almost as though it had been cut off completely. One could even see the grisly bits of flesh that were turned slightly outwards at the edge where her flesh met. Coupled with her pale appearances and her bloodshot eyes, her appearances were truly terrifying.
2. Interestingly, the ritual suicide of seppuku is only done by samurais. The wives of samurais often commit suicide by cutting the arteries in their neck with a knife. This is probably what happened here.