A sudden darkness enveloped the entire room. The sudden change in luminosity in the room caused everything to momentarily go black before his eyes. He raised his hands instinctively and tightened his fists in a defensive posture, ready to fight at the moment’s notice. With bated breath, he darted his eyes around, desperately trying to get acclimatized to the room’s darkness to regain his vision again. Despite his tall built, he had now shrunk himself back to a corner like a little child, cowering and shivering as he tried to keep as silent as possible.
This ship is unclean!
Master Liu’s death is far too strange! This is definitely the workings of an evil spirit on the cruise!
But, just then, his pupils suddenly shrank.
Squeeeaaaakk… A soft sound cut through the silent darkness. Instantly, his entire body started shivering uncontrollably, almost as though he had just been struck by lightning.
He hated how his mind was now in overdrive, picking up the slightest sounds in the surrounding and immediately identifying them on its own.
After all, if not for that, he wouldn’t have realized that the earlier sound had come from… Master Liu’s old swivel chair.
Master Liu was already dead, and yet something had turned him around in the darkness.
T-t-t-t-t-t… His teeth began to chatter incessantly, and they wouldn’t stop no matter what he did. There were no doubts as to the source of the earlier sound. His expression of fear quickly turned into abject despondence. He stuffed his fist into his mouth and bit down hard on his hand just to repress what modicum of the insurmountable fear he could. Nevertheless, he was unable to prevent tears from beading up and rolling off his cheeks like little streams.
Someone… help me please… I don’t want to die…
“Can he be saved?” Qin Ye watched the scene unfold in the mirror and asked, “There’s nothing but a dead old man in front of us.”
“Unfortunately not. The Yin spirit has capitalized on the sudden change to the atmosphere and temperature, as well as his adept employment of illusion to quell the three fires of life hovering over the man’s shoulder. It would be too late even if we head over now. His flames are already on the verge of going out.” Ming Shiyin sighed.
Back in the communications room, Ma Zhongqin began to hear the sound of soft taps on the ground.
His mind that was on overdrive immediately reminded him of the fact that earlier that morning, when he first visited Master Liu to help with the debugging of the intercommunications equipment, Master Liu had been wearing a pair of flip-flops.
The deceased Master Liu has just got out of his seat!
Every pore in his body opened up, and cold sweat immediately poured out of it like waters from an open dam. However, this was only the appetizer to his full course of terror and despair.
“Little Ma…” A hoarse voice that sounded no different from the whistle of a ghastly spirit called him out of the darkness. Simultaneously, two hands that were enveloped with a thick corpse stench reached out of the darkness and gently caressed his face.
“Did you come to see me? How nice of you…”
Ma Zhongqin could sense that there was blood all over the two hands.
Dong!! Just then, the front door suddenly swung open, and the light from outside immediately illuminated the room. A lady dressed in her kimono stood at the door, panting and gasping for breath.
That’s great… I’m saved… I’m not... going to die here…
“Uuuungghh!! Wuuu… wuu…”
Nishino Mio’s hair was already in disarray, and her eyes were immediately drawn to the young Cathayan man who was struggling on the ground right in front of her like a cowering shrimp. However, her eyes were filled with pity.
Ma Zhongqin’s eyes were glazed over, and he had practically stuffed his entire fist into his mouth right now. In fact, he had bitten down so hard on his hand that it was already bleeding profusely.
10 minutes, 21 seconds. Ma Zhongqin, death by asphyxiation.
Right behind him, Master Liu was still lying there in the same weird position, completely motionless.
“Rest in peace.” She shook her head and stepped over Ma Zhongqin’s body, motioning to take a closer look at the communications console.
The Nishino Group ran a chain of luxury hotels, while Nishino Mio was handpicked as the successor of the business among a series of competitors. Naturally, she wasn’t just a simple, ignorant old lady who didn’t know a thing about operations at all. In fact, she was a woman of substance who had worked her way up from the ground, beginning with things as menial as room service.
And the ambit of her knowledge naturally included the know-how to repair basic circuitry.
The wires have been unplugged.
She immediately understood the root of the problem with a single look. She connected the wires once more, and a series of green lights immediately lit up on the console in front of her. Then, she took a deep breath and gritted her teeth, “Everyone, I’m Nishino Mio. Please stay calm and listen to what I’ve got to say.
Back in the auction hall, Bai Yishan was completely stunned by the developments.
Lady Nishino Mio? What’s she doing in the communications room? And… why is she making a public announcement?
“What?” A man dressed in a white thawb frowned and tapped on the intercommunications headset he had on as he shrugged helplessly. Another middle-aged Cathayan man took a sip from his teacup and sighed, “Is she sore about her inability to succeed in the auction of the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl, and now trying to make a scene?”
The entire scene was set abuzz with chatter.
Back in the washroom, Qin Ye was simply staring at his cellphone, completely dumbfounded.
10 minutes, 21 seconds - not a single second off!
“My… god…” Two striking words appeared on the surface of the mirror, and it sank slightly in a display of despondence.
Just then, Nishino Mio spoke through the public announcement broadcast system. Qin Ye drew several deep breaths to regulate his racing heart as he listened closely to what she had to say.
Back in the communications room. Nishino Mio was just about to continue speaking when… she suddenly heard a strange sound
It was the door to the room she had earlier flung wide open. For some unknown reason, it had just clicked shut softly.
The lights in the room were still brightly lit, and yet the illumination now bore a scarlet hue to it! To make matters worse, she could see that a large shadow had suddenly been cast right over the surface of the console she was facing.
It was the shadow of a set of ancient Nipponese great armor.
Furthermore, it was clear from the shadow that the great armor was holding onto a katana with raised hands.
“I dare you to touch a single hair on my body!!!” Nishino Mio gritted her teeth and bellowed with all her might, “I’ve got so much Blessings of Virtue covering me that I won’t even have to enter the underworld after death! The Blessings of Virtue has been hard earned through my donations of billions to schools and nursing homes!! So how dare you vicious spirits make an attempt against me?!”
Whoosh! Just then, she felt a chilling sensation on her neck, and she shut her eyes reflexively. Then, when she opened her eyes again a moment later, she couldn’t help but slump weakly to the ground.
She was still alive.
Her surroundings were still unchanged, but the dark shadow behind her was gone with the wind.
“Everyone, please hear what I have to say!” She drew a deep breath and consolidated her thoughts, “Hundreds of Kappas have appeared around the cruise liner we’re on! My men, the captain and the man in charge of the communications room are all dead! Furthermore, the Kappas appear to be dragging our cruise liner to an unknown place!”
“Now’s most certainly not the time to be proceeding with the auctions! Everyone, we have to rally together, or we will all have to suffer the consequences of our failure to do so!”
Back in the auction hall.
Nishino Mio’s broadcast had continued throughout her short conversation with the great armor behind her. As she spoke, the translators assisting the tycoons explained the contents of her announcement in real-time. And the more they translated, the more everyone was stricken with fear. Within seconds, most of them had slumped to their seats or to the ground, covered in cold sweat, while their own employees shot to their feet subconsciously in horror.
It was a deafening, oppressive silence.
The entire hall was filled with nothing more than the sounds of ragged breaths and gasps of shock. Bai Yishan was at a complete loss, and he stared at the scene that was quickly spiraling out of control, “How could… this… be possible…”
“Andrew!!!” A white man with blond hair and blue eyes bellowed with gusto at the old man behind him, and the old man’s suit immediately tore open, revealing a priest’s uniform within.
Boom! Just as the priest revealed his true form, another wave of true energy fluctuation no less formidable than the priest’s erupted from another side of the hall. And then, it was quickly followed by a second… and a third… Within moments, more than thirty cultivators had revealed their true forms within the auction hall. And they were all Soul Hunters to boot!
“Quick!” The man dressed in a white thawb instructed the thin old man beside him, “Go see what’s going on out there!”
They didn’t have to say more, nor did the cultivators have to conceal the nature of their identities. After all, given their socio-economic statuses, how could they be unaware of the situation surrounding the outbreak of supernatural incidents within Cathay? In an instant, the main door to the auction hall opened on its own, and over thirty Soul Hunters dashed out like lightning.
There was no hesitation. There was no time to lose! Under the protection of their entourage of bodyguards, each tycoon began to make a beeline towards the top deck of the cruise, in an attempt to get to the highest vantage point of the ship.
Qin Ye was also stunned.
So, it wasn’t an illusion earlier? No wonder it felt like the ship was moving earlier…
Ming Shiyin was taken aback, and it murmured with great urgency, “The ship… is moving? Where are they taking us?”
“Where else?” Qin Ye’s expression had grown ashen. He clenched his fists tightly, “There’s only one possible location that we could be headed to right now… the Strait of Tsushima! That’s where Azai Nagamasa is located!”
“They’re making their move!”
Qin Ye was suddenly reminded of the soft clinking sounds that he had heard earlier. He dashed straight out of the restroom, returned to the backstage where he had come from and grabbed hold of the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl. Then, he turned to Master Kamo and Iwasaki Kyouya and addressed them with a low, booming voice, “Your death god has made her move.”
“I don’t know where we are right now, but I’m quite certain we’re not far away from the Strait of Tsushima! To think that they would even think to use Kappas to drag the ship along. What a clever tactic… Mr Kamo, I’ll need to free the soul of the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven immediately! You’re going to have to protect me no matter what happens. Mr Iwasaki, stay close to us if you don’t want to die.”
Iwasaki Kyouya gulped nervously, and then nodded with great determination.
The Mitsubishi Corporation will remember this great favour you have done for us today.
It shall be repaid in future.
That is… if there is a future for us to talk about.
“Let’s go!” Qin Ye grabbed Mr Iwasaki with one hand and Master Kamo with the other as they dashed out of the backstage and quickly arrived at the auction hall. Then, Qin Ye drew a deep breath, and yelled with a thunderous voice, “Great monks! Protect me now, or we’ll all end up perishing on this ship! Do you think Izanami would spare the monks of Mount Koya?!”
With that, he immediately dashed out without waiting for a response.
That said, two powerful sources of true energy instantly erupted and followed closely at his heels without another word.
This was a situation of great urgency. Even a fool would be able to tell that they were on the cusp of a great crisis that could spell the end of their lives. Izanami and her ranks of troops were all waiting for their arrival at the Strait of Tsushima. And right now, they were approaching the sea of death at top speed!
The Kappa Corps must have realized that the entire cruise was now alert to their presence, because when Qin Ye and the rest finally made their way on board the top deck of the cruise, he could tell that the Kappas were no longer concealing their presence. In fact, the hundreds of Kappas were travelling with such an efficient formation that they were generating waves more than ten meters high as they charged full speed in a single direction.
In fact, they could vaguely make out landfall on the end of the horizon. And right before landfall was an entire line of ghastly netherflames that hovered menacingly like a great wall of death.
This was no different from a living hell.
In fact, it wasn’t just any mere clumps of netherflames that were hovering about in the air.
Rather, there were countless Atakebune ships anchored in formation right in front of the landfall, each of which had massive lanterns that were brightly lit with a blazing netherflame. The entire formation appeared no different from a funnel of death that were welcoming them straight into the open arms of hell.
Whooooooo… There was no masking the roiling tide of Yin energy. In fact, the first thing that struck Qin Ye was the sheer magnitude of the tide of Yin energy they were sailing straight towards. The entire sea was covered by a visible fog of Yin energy that was no different from what one would expect of an underworld itself.
Qin Ye ran quickly to the front of the ship and peered out into the distance. He could vaguely make out the shape of a great vessel from time to time, empty and desolate, and yet sailing about as though it were patrolling the waters within the fog. Hundreds of Kappas continued to generate massive waves as they propelled the cruise liner straight towards the heart of the Yin energy fog. And then, the Atakebune warships finally moved.
They were charging straight towards the cruise ship with full speed!
It was no different from a river lantern festival, where sources of green netherflames drifted eerily along the waters.
Just then, right in the heart of the roiling black fog, a massive flag was suddenly raised like a banner of war.
It depicted the emblem of three flowers joined together in a tortoiseshell formation!
“Bloody hell…” Qin Ye cursed under his breath. His heart was practically wrenching with blood.
Here was a man who was least likely to forgive Oda Nobunaga for his transgressions. In fact, he hated Oda Nobunaga so much that the hatred alone was sufficient to turn him into a ferocious evil ghost with long-standing grievances. There was no doubt that the Strait of Tsushima was going to be stained with the blood of darkness and vengeance!
1. Atakebune ships are ancient Japanese warships of the 16th and 17th centuries which were reinforced with iron plates against cannon and fire arrows. The sight of these ships would strike fear into their enemies back then, a little bit like the aircraft carriers of modern day naval fleets. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atakebune
2. These are popular festivals that are held in Japan to remember the dead and departed. https://matcha-jp.com/en/2484 Similar versions are also celebrated in other parts of asia, including in China and India.
3. This is the Azai Clan’s emblem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azai_clan