Sss… ahhh--... The door behind Qin Ye was tightly shut, and the lights overhead flickered incessantly as distant cries haunted him. There weren't any Yin spirits in sight, and yet, Qin Ye could immediately sense something amiss with the access corridor. It felt… unclean.
Qin Ye tapped lightly on the handrail and swiftly made his way down the spiral stairs. It was obviously the stairwell of a luxury cruise liner, but the feeling it gave off right now was no different from that of a morgue.
Sss… Pop! After descending to the first basement, the lights fizzled out, and during this transient interchange between light and dark, the silhouette of a female Nipponese child appeared in the corner of the passageway.
She was dressed in a red kimono from the Nipponese Warring States period. Her hair was tied up in braids, and she was weeping in the corner with her back faced towards Qin Ye.
Bzzt… bzzt… The lights quickly came back on. But they quickly began to flicker once more, almost as though the lights were intent on matching the ambience of the scene right now. This was a desolate corridor with flickering lights and a young child weeping in the corner of the room. It was cliched, but sufficient to evoke the most horrific associations in a person’s heart.
Wuuu… wuu…. Qin Ye walked up to the girl, but she still remained unresponsive. Qin Ye sneered, “It looks like our Nipponese emissary friends have left us with a little gift… Lord Ming, have you ever seen a Nipponese horror movie?”
“Mm?” Ming Shiyin responded with great disinterest. A child ghost that wasn’t even at the level of a Netherworld Operative couldn’t pique his interest at all.
Qin Ye didn’t even glance at the female ghost. Instead, he simply walked past her as he continued to mumble to himself, “The sudden whipping around of her head is one of the horror movie classics. These close-up shots can be pretty good for raising one’s heart rate and giving the audience a good scare. With something like this here, then even if a living person did ignore all the warning signs and make it this far, they would naturally think twice about proceeding further. This is a well thought out plan on their part…”
Just then, he suddenly paused.
The girl had at some point in time already reached out and grabbed hold of his trousers.
Wuuu… wuuu… The girl’s hoarse bawling reverberated throughout the cold corridor, “Uncle… will you please give me a hug?”
Qin Ye grew silent. And then, he turned around and sent her flying with a powerful kick!
Thud! The ghost child slammed into the wall behind her in a complete daze. She was probably thinking something along the lines of - Eh? Aren’t you reacting a little differently from what the script suggests?
But Qin Ye didn’t stop kicking her, “Uncle? Uncle?! How dare you call me an uncle! Look at my soft, supple skin and pristine complexion! In what way do I look like an uncle to you, huh?!”
Ming Shiyin: ……
Thud, thud, thud! With each kick that landed, Yin energy was forced out of the girl’s seven apertures. Finally, three seconds later, the little girl screamed at the top of her lungs under the relentless barrage of kicks.
The sound she made was completely incongruous with the image of a little girl. It was filled with immense pain, resentment and hostility. She desperately sought to turn her head around, only to suddenly find a hand gripping her neck tightly, forcing her head to turn back where she was originally facing - to the wall.
“Do you even know how to speak properly?! What kind of manners have the elders in your family been teaching you? Call me brother! Hurry up!”
Zeeeekk… ZEEEKK! The ghost child continued to cry. This time, she mustered the strength to her limbs and struggled with all her might, and yet she still found herself unable to wrest free of Qin Ye’s vice-like grip. Just like that, she floundered about just like an upside-down tortoise.
Thud! A kick.
Thud, thud! Another kick!
“Bro--... brother… brother!!” The little girl finally acceded to Qin Ye’s instructions, and Qin Ye finally relented. Dusting his clothes, he huffed, “I’m teaching you an invaluable lesson on behalf of your elders so that you don’t lose out to the others in society in future, understand?”
As soon as he released his grip around the little girl’s neck, she turned around immediately and screamed desperately - ZEEEEKKK!!
“I want to… apologize for interrupting…”
Her face was devoid of its usual features.
There was only a massive mouth that stretched across her entire face, filled with rows after rows of razor sharp teeth. She looked incomparably terrifying, and yet, she was presently cowering away from Qin Ye, raising both hands defensively as she slid back to the corner of the corridor in fear.
The true evil ghost in this room was the man standing in front of her!
As soon as she turned around, she instantly felt as though she were standing right in front of a gargantuan beast. The Yin energy emanating from his body was so strong that it completely overwhelmed her - he could undoubtedly reduce her to ashes with a single blow. In fact, she could even see an illusory figure of a man wearing a tall fretwork skullcap and wielding a mourning staff standing right behind Qin Ye.
That’s way too frightening… it would be wise to retreat.
Qin Ye couldn’t be bothered with her, and he continued to make his way downstairs.
The second basement saw an eclectic old man hanging from one of the electric lights. However, the old man scrambled to retreat as soon as he saw Qin Ye enter the second basement. In his haste, he even left behind the rope with which he hung himself to death. He simply screamed as he dashed straight into the wall like a madman.
“How lacking.” Qin Ye paused at the top of the stairs leading to the third basement, also the bottom floor, as he remarked aloud, “You know, I’ve always had the impression that Nipponese ghosts are incredibly terrifying and they would never fail to strike fear in my heart. But now, and to my great disappointment… I can’t help but find them a joke.”
“But that’s probably because they can only mobilize a hundred ghosts.” Ming Shiyin responded dismissively, and then he grew somber, “You can treat this as an appetizer leading up to the great war. Are you ready?”
Qin Ye’s smile faded away.
He peered over and stared into the seemingly bottomless stairs!
The stairs appear deceptively long. But then again, it would make sense that these stairs lead all the way down to the bilge of the ship. There are at least forty to fifty steps down this flight of stairs. Furthermore, I can tell that it leads straight into a dense fog of darkness.
It was almost as if this were the final warning to all who enter that they would be descending right into hell.
Right below, two sources of incomparably vicious Yin energy burst out without restraint like a great volcanic eruption. Every glance at the dark abyss attracted a cacophony of ghostly cries, including shrieks of pain, roars of reluctance, and moans of madness. A violent nethergale swept up from below, causing Qin Ye’s clothes to flutter softly. Then, just as Qin Ye placed his hand on the railing, he suddenly froze in place.
He was surprised to see an emblem imprinted right onto the handrail. The marks were fresh, almost as though they had been etched onto the railing only ten minutes ago.
The emblem comprised three diamond-shaped marks.
“Mitsubishi?” Qin Ye felt somewhat baffled by this - Why would Mitsubishi’s emblem appear in a place like this? He scrutinized it and its surroundings, only to realize that there was a line of text etched right beside it in such fine print that it was barely visible.
[in English] Help me.
“Help me?” Ming Shiyin muttered curiously.
“No…” Qin Ye gazed intently at the deep, dark abyss below, “It means - ‘save me’.”
“Why would someone from Mitsubishi Corporation be asking for help?”
Qin Ye rubbed his chin, and a bright glint flashed across the depths of his eyes, “What if… the emissaries had taken on the identities of the bodyguards of the head of Mitsubishi in order to gain access to the third basement?”
He continued, “They might have been discovered. If that’s the case, then this mark and message was most likely left behind by the contemporary owner of the Mitsubishi Corporation. He must have discovered it, but then dared not say a word about it for fear of his own life. This was probably why he had chosen to leave behind such a cryptic signal for help.”
Qin Ye drew a deep breath, “Lord Ming, please unleash your abilities.”
Ming Shiyin’s surface glowed with a bright white light that seemed to render the roiling black fog down below completely useless. Then, several images quickly flickered through the surface of the mirror, until it finally paused on one of the images depicting a perspective of the cargo hold.
There were people lying all over the floor.
He didn’t know what methods the Nipponese emissaries had resorted to, but almost everyone within the cargo hold under the rank of an Anitya Hellguard had collapsed by now. Several boxes containing the goods to be auctioned had already been opened, only to be visibly obscured by the roiling dense fog within. It looked no different from a living hell.
There were only four people who remained standing right now.
One of them was none other than Master Kamo.
His body was surrounded by a circle of Shikigami in the shape of white origami animals that desperately held back the incursion of Yin energy. He could tell that there was a terrifying existence hidden in the dark fog around him. It would from time to time ebb at his shield, causing his origami animals to spontaneously combust with a green netherflame for no reason. However, Master Kamo would quickly summon more origami animals to make up for the ones that he had lost.
That said, his face was growing increasingly pale, and there was even a streak of blood that snaked out of the corner of his lips.
The second and the third people who were still standing were two men dressed in black suits. They appeared tall and imposing, and there was an evil-subduing pestle and a zen staff maintaining a ring of light that wrapped around everyone in the room. Lines after lines of Sanskrit texts drifted through the air, before quickly vanishing with a flourish of white lotus-shaped smoke. That said, the barriers that they were sustaining rippled from time to time, in response to the relentless barrage of netherflames that shot out of the dark fog and slammed into the barriers. Both men appeared incredibly pale and spent as well.
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered as he turned his gaze to Master Kamo - He’s worthy of his title as the best Onmyoji in Nippon right now. To think he could hold his own against the attacks of two Hellguards. It’s a good thing these people are here right now. Otherwise, the entire cargo hold would undoubtedly be a bloodbath right now.
“Tantric Buddhists.” Ming Shiyin confirmed, “And they’re learned members of their sects to boot. The Nipponese monks don’t have the practice of keeping a bald head. Their practices differ quite substantially from ours. They don’t abstain from meat and drinks, and they’re even allowed to get married. All they need to do is to chant sutras. Thus, as long as they’re not wearing their robes, it’s difficult to be certain whether they’re monks or not.”
Qin Ye nodded, and then he turned to look at the last person in the room.
This was also the most extraordinary one.
It was a bald, bespectacled old man who was leaning on crutches. His build wasn’t large, but what was most unexpected of it all was the fact that he was… an ordinary human being!
That said, it appeared almost as though he were completely unaffected by the incursion of Yin energy. As far as Qin Ye knew, exposure to Yin energy would immediately trigger the hidden desires of an ordinary human being’s heart, and his entire body would seize up and freeze as though it had been thrown into an icy cellar. This old man’s face appeared flushed and red, and even though the situation appeared incredibly dangerous, he didn’t show any signs of panic at all.
This must be a man who has held the post of a top executive for a long time… Qin Ye didn’t need to guess. He immediately knew that this was none other than the third key to unlocking the X-magic box, the contemporary head of the Mitsubishi Corporation and the Iwasaki family.
Noticing the bewilderment in Qin Ye’s eyes, Ming Shiyin immediately explained, “This is what you would call the Blessings of Virtue.”
“Top tycoons rarely find themselves plagued by Yin spirits. In fact, they can rake in a fortune for their entire life and not meet with a single supernatural encounter at all. And the converse is true - it would be highly unusual to find a top tycoon that encounters a supernatural incident. The reason for this is precisely because of the sheer amount of charity work that they do. They become clothed with the Blessings of Virtue. In turn, emissaries and Yin spirit alike dare not target those who are shielded by the Blessings of Virtue, for fear that they would be punished by the heavens.”
So that’s what it is… Qin Ye took a deep breath and began to descend to the third basement.
His timing was perfect.
There was no longer any fear of exposing his true identity to those to everyone. After all, those who shouldn’t know his true identity were already incapacitated. Thus, there was no longer a need to dally any longer. These were Nipponese emissaries, entities that were completely invisible to human beings. If things continued to drag on, it would spell certain death to them. Qin Ye loathed the prospects of dealing with two Hellguard-class Nipponese emissaries all by himself. However, he was even more disinclined to allow these Hellguard-class emissaries a free reign to do as they wished.
At the same time, he didn’t want the two human Hellguards to have it too good either. He was once again employing the strategy of ‘The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind’. After all, he didn’t know how the negotiations were going to pan out. Holding back now would give him an edge in the negotiations that followed.
Close… I’m getting close… As he drew closer and closer to the epicenter of conflict, his mind grew calmer and calmer. In fact, it grew so calm that all that remained was an austere disposition.
It’s you guys.
I can still remember your Yin energy signature. It’s exactly the same as the one I’d detected back at the Eastsea North Station!
Excellent… Today, only one of us is leaving this place alive. And I’ve good reason to believe that that ‘one’ won’t be you guys.
The tempo of his footsteps accelerated.
Faster, and faster, until… the lower half of his body was enshrouded with a nethergale! Back by the chorus of a hundred ghosts, he charged straight into the abyss of Yin energy.
His entry caused a huge splash, just like a boulder that had crashed into a still lake. The terrifying fog of roiling Yin energy didn’t hinder him at all. They weren’t out of Cathayan borders just yet, so these extraterritorial emissaries would never be able to unleash the fullest extent of their abilities.
Whoosh!! His presence instantly cut through the tide of Yin energy. His entire being had already transformed into an existence that was corporeal, yet illusory. He was accompanied by the cries of countless ghosts, and Yin energy abounded from his body as he dashed straight into the cavernous cargo hold ahead!Previous Chapter Next Chapter