Shoto Takagi shut his eyes. His eyelids trembled, and his heart bled.
Despite having liquidated so many of his precious assets, he had still been unable to retrieve the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl.
Several of the other top Nipponese tycoons couldn’t help but grasp tightly at their chests. Some of them furrowed their brows, while others massaged their temples as they all sighed wistfully.
Want? No, it’s more of a yearning. In fact, it’s something that I dream about every day!
When Guardian Auctions first announced the auction of the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl, none of them could believe their very eyes.
Each and every single one of them had done everything that was reasonably within their abilities in order to prepare for the auctions today. They had given up investments, and even sold off their personal collections. Most of them had come to the auctions with approximately two billion RMB in their pockets, so who could’ve expected the one to come out on top to be a young man that wasn’t even Nipponese to begin with?!
“This is a sad day for Nippon… What a regretful turn of events!” Fujimoto Hirobumi gently nudged away the assistant who was helping him, and he sighed with great disappointment as he left the booth.
Nishino Mio was an old lady who generally presented herself with an elegant poise. That said, her usual graceful disposition was nowhere to be found.
She flicked open a folding fan and placed it right in front of her face, while her shoulders twitched slightly. She was… weeping with great disappointment.
This was a great artifact that represented modern day Nippon! Here was an artifact that had witnessed one of the greatest turning points of Nipponese history! And yet the one who obtained possession of it wasn’t even Nipponese! What shame! How incredibly regrettable!
“Congratulations.” Ten seconds later, with the aid of her assistant, she finally got up to her feet. Her eyes were slightly puffy as she bowed sincerely to Qin Ye, “Please make sure to keep it well.”
Despite knowing how things would likely pan out this evening, even Iwasaki Kyouya couldn’t help but chuckle bitterly to himself as he stared blankly at the ceiling.
Such a feeling of regret was probably akin to what a Cathayan would feel at an auction where the long-lost jade seal of Emperor Qin was auctioned off to a foreigner.
One by one, the top Nipponese tycoons stood up and left the auction hall, unable to hide the despondence in their heart. Within moments, the number of attendees fell by approximately one quarter of their original numbers. When those who were leaving had left, and those who were still reeling from shock finally settled down slightly, the audience began to applaud gently.
Regardless of the multitude of emotions going through everyone’s minds, this was undeniably still the highest transacted amount for a single lot of goods in the history of all auctions!
A successful bid in the astronomical quantum of three billion was still something worth applauding!
“Okay…” Bai Yishan took a few deep breaths, and then continued, “Bidder number 21, sir, would you like to conduct a live inspection of the goods? If so, please make your way towards Grandmaster Chu. There will also be a service agent who will assist with the processing of your payment. In the meantime, we shall carry on with the rest of the auctions as planned. The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl isn’t the only artifact we have in store for you today!”
Qin Ye stood up and slowly made his way towards Grandmaster Chu. Master Kamo and Iwasaki Kyouya also stood up at the same time.
It’s finally over…
Qin Ye felt an unspeakable fatigue creep over his heart. He had truly traveled far and wide in order to achieve all he had today - from the City of Salvation, to Eastsea City, and then finally to the East Cathay Sea. It was a journey of a thousand miles to the east. Furthermore, this journey of his was interspersed with skirmishes with various forces as well as his nimble avoidance of potential pitfalls and altercations with Oda Nobunaga, the Onmyojis, as well as Azai Nagamasa. And finally… he managed to obtain the artifact that he had been gunning for all this while.
“Let’s open it up for inspection.” The goods which he had brought were also slated to be sold at the present auctions. However, he no longer had the time nor energy to pay any attention to that. After all, he had just spent a whopping three billion RMB on a single artifact, so how significant could goods worth a hundred million be to him right now?
“Alright. And please allow me to express my deepest apologies once again.” Grandmaster Chu bowed deeply, “Gentlemen, please follow me.”
“Haaa--...” Nishino Mio was wearing a kimono, and her assistants had just helped her up from the third floor to the top deck of the cruise liner.
She was already seventy-two years of age. However, she presented herself no different from an elegant, well-maintained lady in her fifties. In fact, she had dressed up particularly for the auction today. In her words, this was her battle gear.
A robe befitting of reclaiming the history of Nippon.
Unfortunately, her battle robe didn’t give her the requisite protection she needed tonight.
She slowly made her way over to a couch and slumped back into it, staring out into the vast oceans without saying a single word. Her mood felt as downcast as the dark night skies, and her expressions were as distant as the horizons about her.
She fanned herself gently, while her attendants took the initiative to bring her a cup of tea.
“Miss, please be at ease. Your competitor this time had simply been too well-prepared.” Her attendant-bodyguard who served her the cup of tea spoke with a cautious, measured tone of voice, “After all, not even Sony’s chairman was able to measure up against the eventual winner of the bid. This isn’t your fault.”
“That’s right. It’s not my fault.” Nishino Mio finally spoke up. Her makeup was meticulously done, and she revealed a faint smile on her face for the first time in a long while, “It’s just that I’m still unable to come to terms with it.”
She stared out into the dark waters around as she continued to murmur aloud, “The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl is an artifact filled with historical significance. I’ve always respected Oda Nobunaga. He was the best of both worlds, an amalgam of a politician and a military leader that was rarely seen in the East. How great was his ambition to unify Nippon? But who would’ve thought that a raging inferno at Honnoji would turn his dreams to ashes?”
“The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl also represents the tragic end of our hero. It represents a great turning point in the history of Nippon. It’s comparable to an earth-shattering event akin to the establishment of a fresh dynasty in Cathay. Something like this…”
She choked up slightly, “I can’t help but feel incompetent. I’ve let Nippon down by allowing it to end up in the hands of a foreigner. But… this isn’t the end. One day, I’ll muster enough funds to purchase it from that gentleman.”
Everyone grew taciturn.
After all, they could all tell that their mistress needed some time to herself to manage her thoughts. Nishino Mio didn’t say anything more either. She simply watched the sky and the sea, breathing softly as her mood gradually eased up.
But just then, she suddenly frowned, “Huh?”
“What’s the matter, my lady?” One of her bodyguards asked immediately.
Nishino Mio didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she curled her fingers, and a bodyguard sensibly handed her a pair of glasses.
She put them on and glanced about carefully. Three seconds later, she abruptly shot to her feet and stared into the distance.
What’s going on?
Her bodyguards froze in place and turned to look in the same direction.
They both possessed exceptionally acute eyesight, and it was precisely because of this that they noticed a completely unbelievable sight.
There were dozens and dozens of turtle shells drifting in the ocean, all around the cruise liner!
In fact, the turtle shells were neatly arranged, almost as though they were drifting in formation and intentionally surrounding the cruise liner! However, it was currently already past 8 p.m., and they were unfortunately unable to clearly identify the shells without having a closer look.
It was far too bizarre. The vastness of the ocean was already a source of fear to some, and yet the peculiar sight of the encirclement of turtle shells simply made one’s hair stand on end!
“Hang on…” Nishino Mio suddenly raised her hand as she exclaimed with great incredulity, “Listen…”
Nobody spoke. They simply perked up their ears and listened intently to their surroundings. Within moments, their ears picked up on soft clicking sounds cutting through the deafening silence.
K-k-k-k-k… It was almost as though something was tightening a cable beyond tautness.
“That’s coming from the ship’s anchor.” One of the bodyguards finally responded with a gasp, “Something… is tugging on the anchor…”
Nishino Mio shivered. They were presently on an anchored cruise liner, surrounded on all sides by nothing more than the vast, boundless seas that blended into the sky at the horizons. It was as though the cruise liner were a lonely island in the middle of nowhere, and yet something… was threatening to submerge the island and drag it down to the depths of the ocean.
And that’s not all. The anchor was made out of steel, so what creature could possibly tug on the anchor with such great strength to tighten it so much that it made such creaking sounds?”
The sudden realization of what might await them in the darkness caused an electrifying sensation to surge straight through their minds. Their breaths grew ragged, while Nishino Mio immediately whispered, “Where’s the anchor? Take me there immediately!”
“Ma’am, should I inform…”
“No.” Nishino immediately interjected, “It will only complicate things if we sound the alarm rashly. Let’s go take a look at the situation first. Do you have your guns with you?”
The bodyguards immediately pulled out their guns, and the group of men promptly ran to the other side of the deck, where they saw an anchor extending out of the hull of the ship, completely taut!
There’s really something tugging at it!
The bodyguards instantly broke out into cold sweat - How could something be pulling on this cruise liner in the middle of the night?!
“Miss…” One of the bodyguards blurted out suddenly. His hands trembled as he pointed feebly into the distance, “P-p-please look there…”
Nishino glanced at it and immediately frowned, “An island?”
There was a small mound that appeared to rise out of the waters in the horizon.
And then, she suddenly shuddered uncontrollably.
There wasn’t an island there just a moment ago!
The ship was on the move! And it was moving fast! In fact, it was so fast that the wake of the cruise couldn’t even be heard!
Something’s going on… Something big is going on!
“To the captain’s cabin at once! NOW!!” She instructed her bodyguards without further hesitation, and they immediately made a beeline towards the captain’s cabin. Within moments, they burst through the cabin door and barked, “Captain! Did you give instructions to set sail? What’s going on over here?!”
The captain simply remained in his seat with his back faced towards the door, silent and unresponsive.
Nishino Mio’s eyes gleamed brightly as she nodded meaningfully at her bodyguards. One of them immediately gnashed his teeth and rushed forward, grabbing the back of the seat and spinning it around at once.
“Wha--...what’s this?!!” “How is this possible… W-what the hell happened over here?!” “That’s crazy… How cruel… is this cruise liner a ghost ship?”
The captain was still dressed in his captain’s outfit.
But… there was nothing on his face.
More accurately speaking, his entire face from his forehead to his jaw had been gouged out, leaving nothing more than a grotesque, gaping hole where his face should have been.
The captain… had already perished some time ago.
Nobody knew when it happened, or who the culprit was.
Nishino Mio gasped in horror. Just then, the door behind them suddenly slammed shut.
Everyone immediately whipped around with their guns raised in front of them. And then, they saw something that they would never forget.
It was a monster.
The monster’s entire body was wrapped in wisps of dark energy. Its body appeared like a turtle’s and yet it had long, slender limbs extending out of the shell. The top of its head was completely bald and shiny, surrounded only by a ring of hair that grew all around the head just above its eyes. Its body was dripping wet, while sharp jagged teeth extended menacingly out of its gaping wide mouth. Its three golden eyes stared transfixed at them, while it licked its lips greedily with its scarlet tongue.
Nishino Mio and her bodyguards were all Nipponese, and they naturally recognized that this monster was none other than the legendary Kappa.
“The Kappa is the spiritual manifestation of a person who has drowned at the edge of water bodies. But… but we’re in the middle of a huge sea…” Nishino Mio murmured aloud with great astonishment. Then, something in her mind clicked, and she trembled all over.
Those turtle shells…
Those turtle shells around the cruise liner…
She suddenly understood everything - what the mysterious entities pulling the cruise liner was, and what those turtle shells around the cruise liner were.
These were Kappas, grievous souls of those who have drowned. Hundreds of them had actually appeared in the middle of the seas and surrounded their cruise liner!
Where the hell did they come from?!
Are these monsters actually real?
Did they kill the captain? Why? Is it because the captain anchored the ship where he shouldn’t have? Where are they taking us?
Ssssss! Just then, the Kappa opened its mouth wide and let loose a blood-curdling shriek.
Sssss!!! SSSS!!! A series of similar goosebumps-inducing shrieks echoed through various other parts of the cruise like an opening symphony of death on a lonesome stage in the middle of the vast seas.Previous Chapter Next Chapter