Evil ghosts abounded, darting between the colossal serpentine body that had emerged from the surface of the sea at various parts.
Anitya Hellguards were existences that couldn’t be understood through the lens with which one viewed ordinary Yin spirits. After all, they were already existences that could traverse the mortal realm by day, and they were no longer bound by the constraints of the witching hours at night.
The colossal body of Kuki Yoshitaka emerged from the surface of the waters, turning the entire area around the cruise liner into a forbidden ground for the living. Several minutes later, sixteen netherflames lit up from the depths of the seas.
Boom, boom, boom!!
With a deafening gush like that of a water spout, eight silhouettes dashed straight out of the waters, sending copious amounts of water into the sky that soon rained down like a torrential downpour.
Ssss!! Roar!!! Their terrifying cries could be heard hundreds of miles away. Even Azai Nagamasa heard them in the distance, and he furrowed his brows slightly, “The Samurai of the Seas has finally revealed his true form.”
“Seems like it.” A voice that was filled with belligerence responded from the mast above Azai Nagamasa, “I’d like to see how many of my attacks the eight-headed corpse of the deadly cicada will be able to withstand in its true form…”
Azai Nagamasa cast a long, bloodthirsty look across the surface of the seas. He was now infinitely close to the realization of his centuries-long dream, and he couldn’t help but tremble with excitement at the prospects of its fulfillment. Nevertheless, he suppressed the flux of emotions in his heart and responded with a deep voice, “Heihachiro, it’s still not time for you to make a move. Bear with it.”
“Hmph…” The man on the mast snorted back. There were several daimyos standing around, all of whom were Hellguards in their own rights, and yet not a single person dared rebuke that man.
“You’re the sharpest spear across all of Nippon… That’s why I’m telling you to wait a little while more. As soon as the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl shows up, that’s when it’s time for you to make a move…”
“Today… apart from those whose bodies are protected by the Blessings of Virtue, none of the rest shall leave the Strait of Tsushima alive!”
None of the cultivators around the cruise ship were aware of the conversation that transpired some distance away. And even if they did, it wouldn’t have made a difference, because the impending crisis that loomed over them right now comprised of eight heads that appeared to rise from the depths of the seabed. This was a terrifying sea creature that was the stuff of nightmares.
This isn’t a sea serpent at all…
Every single scale on the sea monster’s body had the face of a grievous human being imprinted on it, while copious amounts of Yin energy spewed out from the gaps between his scales. Each of these faces belonged to the innumerable people the eight-headed corpse of the deadly cicada had consumed over the last few centuries, including fishermen and naval soldiers alike.
Kuki Yoshitaka’s palms were stained with mountains of bloodshed.
“My god…” The priest-like cultivator stared listlessly at the overwhelming developments in front of him, and his knees immediately buckled, “Hell… this is no different from hell on earth!”
None of the others could find any words to express their current feelings as well. They could tell that the difference in abilities between a Soul Hunter and an Anitya Hellguard was as great as the heaven was from the earth. In fact, the display of the sea monster’s might was so overwhelming that a section of the surviving cultivators immediately lost all heart and will to fight.
The only one who continued to stand tall in the face of indomitable might was the Cathayan cultivator who had broken the physical limitations of his body.
Yet it was no different from a rabbit standing tall against a tyrannosaurus rex.
“I’ve always admired Lady Izanami for some of the words she’s said.” Eight pairs of flaming eyes stared straight at the Cathayan cultivator, “The Cathayan underworld has ruled over the underworlds for far too long. One day, we shall ravage through the Cathayan underworld just like what our mortal realm counterparts did to you some years back. We’ll etch the definition of humble servility into the marrows of your bones. Blood will be paid by blood. And one day, we shall uproot the Cathayan underworld altogether and become the number one underworld in the East.”
“Even though Lady Izanami thinks that the time still isn’t right, but… I’m most certain she wouldn’t object to the collection of some interest on our longstanding blood feud…”
As soon as he finished speaking, every single one of its eight heads charged straight towards the cultivator with a defiant roar.
“Scram!!” The cultivator’s entire body flourished with a layer of scarlet true energy, which quickly condensed into an ancient armor that gleamed with a golden glow. And then, he, too, charged straight towards the multi-headed monster.
Unfortunately, his feeble attempt derived an equally feeble result.
The difference between their abilities was far too wide. As soon as the hydra got serious, the attacks of the cultivator became no different from striking a stone with an egg. The cultivator’s lips twitched uncontrollably as he attempted to pull back to put some distance between them. Unfortunately, the hydra was quicker than he was, and the long tongues from five of its heads instantly lashed out like lightning, binding each limb and the head of the cultivator, and suspending him in mid-air like a cruel form of punishment.
“I’m really curious.” The hydra’s voice boomed like thunder, “What gave you the confidence to confront a Hellguard-class Yin spirit all on your own? After all, Hellguards are rare existences, even by the standards of the mortal realm. Haven’t you personally witnessed the abilities of a Hellguard? Or…”
He paused for a moment, and then continued with a wailing voice, “DId you really think you can subjugate me with your meagre flourish of abilities?”
However, the cultivator simply shut his eyes and revealed a faint smile on his face, almost as though he had already anticipated an outcome like this, “Because… as a human being…”
“We live by our principles…”
The rest of the cultivators who heard the Cathayan cultivator’s words immediately bit down on their lips and raised their heads to watch his swan song.
The figure suspended in mid-air was incomparably small next to the massive hydra, and yet… he seemed larger than ever before.
“Everyone!!” That cultivator cried out hoarsely before any of them could lower their heads, “What are you still waiting for?!!”
“Have you all forgotten the oaths you’d taken back then when we first registered with the Special Investigations Department? That oath that we swore on our hearts with our hands to our chest!!”
His eyes grew bloodshot as he cried out with all his might, “Yin and Yang should never intersect. All who violate this cardinal rule shall be summarily executed!!”
“It doesn’t matter what their objectives are. As cultivators, this… is our duty and purpose…”
A gruesome ripping sound of flesh cut him off mid-sentence. The five tongues had ripped his entire body apart, limb from limb, and a rain of blood splattered down into the gaping mouths of the hydra below.
“So… what good is there being human?”
“Haa--...” Time appeared to freeze in that instant. The Cathayan cultivators shut their eyes almost simultaneously, and the scenes of their past flashed before their very eyes.
It was as though they were recalling the start of their journey, when they had been young and bright-eyed.
From the time their cultivation journey began, they were already more well-informed than most of the regular human beings. Then, as they grew, they passed the qualification examinations of the well-reputed Special Investigations Department, and eventually came to be appointed as one of the Divine Protectors of the country, where they would continue growing from strength to strength, rising from the ranks of a relatively unknown Operative-class expert to become a Hunter-class expert that was highly sought after…
How much resources had they consumed and depleted over the years, throughout the course of their journey?
Who was the one who had offered them this great opportunity of growth all this while?
Every single one of them suddenly recalled that fateful day, decades ago, when they had stood under the national flag with boiling blood and their hands on their chest as they swore the very same oath that all who came before and after them did. This was the first cardinal rule that they swore to uphold and enforce that day - Yin and Yang should never intersect. All violators shall be summarily executed!
And the second cardinal rule that they swore to uphold was this - All who retreat in the face of Yin spirit shall be summarily executed for treason!
“That’s right…” An old nun slowly opened her eyes, and wisps of scarlet true energy began to flow from her seven apertures. She chuckled abruptly, “After becoming a Soul Hunter, I was so highly sought after that… I became complacent about life, and I forgot about these rules that I’d sword that fateful day…”
Boom! To Kuki Yoshitaka’s great surprise, a cloud of scarlet true energy erupted from her body, and the figure of a slender young woman stepped out moments later. The lady stared at her body that had reverted back to its twenties as she smiled faintly, “As expected, women are better off being younger.”
Her smile promptly faded away, and she raised her hands and curled her finger provocatively at the colossal corpse of the deadly cicada on the waters, “First disciple of the Path of the Golden Core, Chu Mingxia. Come at me.”
But another explosion of scarlet true energy interrupted her before she could even finish speaking. A young man stepped out of the mist of blood and glanced at his hands with great delight, “It’s not that bad to be born a human.”
“Core disciple of the Emperor Sect, Wang Zhenghua. Come at me.”
Boom, boom, boom… A dozen or so other sources of true energy erupted like a chain explosion, and the entire vessel was covered with a thick cloud of scarlet true energy in an instant!
“Disciple of the Nephrite Monastary, Ming Quanzi. Bring it on.” “Core disciple of the Dragon Gate Temple, Cheng Quan. Please guide me.” “Inner disciple of the Freedom Peak, Bai Tianyi. Let’s do this.”
“Are they… crazy?” The foreign cultivators couldn’t understand what was going on. They weren’t aware of the severity of the supernatural outbreaks in Cathay, and they naturally couldn’t understand what measures the government had resorted to just to quell and control the situation as best they could. Consequently, they couldn’t understand the kind of oaths the agents of the Special Investigations Department had taken upon their conscription either.
Thus, they were unable to understand the boiling feelings coursing through their veins right now.
People weren’t born as human beings just to eat, drink and take dumps.
Each and every person was born with their own principles and personal convictions as well.
Ignoring the presence of the foreign cultivators, the twenty-five remaining Cathayan cultivators stood tall in formation at the bow of the cruise liner, staring intently back at the colossal hydra that towered above them.
The terrifying sea monster stared right back at the puny humans in front of them with some measure of astonishment. They were no different from moths to him. Even if he ignored them right now, none of these human beings would live to see the light of the next day.
“But… at least these moths have proven their worth…” Kuki Yoshitaka sighed with great exclamation, “I acknowledge your valiant fighting spirit.”
“I, the Pirate of Hachiman, Samurai of the Seas, shall leave your corpses intact upon death…”
With that determination in his heart, the massive hydra charged straight towards the formation of Cathayan cultivators!
However, as soon as it drew near, the formation of cultivators immediately erupted with true energy, propelling them forward by over twenty meters until they landed directly on the behemoth’s body, where they clung onto its hair as they began to fly into action. Within a split second, dozens of techniques rained down heavily on the body of the colossal beast.
Unfortunately, their efforts appeared to be in vain!
Their attacks did nothing more than to scratch the surface of the hydra’s skin. Nevertheless, it triggered a furious roar that shook the sky. In that instant, one of the cultivators bellowed in a loud voice, “Not good!! Retreat!”
He put up his defense without hesitation. Unfortunately, there were others who didn’t manage to react in time.
A moment later, the hair on the head of the hydra exploded, stabbing out like vicious swords that pierced the bodies of several cultivators in an instant. With a look of great resignation in their eyes, these cultivators soon plummeted into the sea below.
Within moments, innumerable dark silhouettes rushed over to their corpses, and the surface of the sea was dyed a grotesque crimson colour in the wake of their approach.
“Evil ghosts…” Chu Mingxia’s eyes gleamed brightly with passion as she made a series of hand seals and spat out a crimson pellet from her mouth. Then, with the great cry of a phoenix, she flicked the pellet straight towards the skull of the corpse of the deadly cicada.
Simultaneously, the surviving cultivators also mustered all of their true energy without reservation, and a dazzling display of a dozen techniques soon painted streaks of colours across the sky.
A wooden sword gleamed dangerously as it shot straight towards the hydra with the illusory body of a sprinting coyote. An immolating copper bell affixed with talismans and seals rushed forward as well… Every single one of the surviving cultivators knew full well that they couldn’t afford to pull any punches in the face of such a colossal beast. Thus, they had all resorted to the most powerful techniques that they had hidden up their sleeves. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite appreciate the extent of the vast chasm that lay between a Soul Hunter and an Anitya Hellguard.
“You overestimate yourself.” Kuki Yoshitaka glanced at them with ridicule. And then, the throats of the eight heads abruptly swelled at the same time, before it released an earth-shattering roar a split second later!
ROAAAARRRR!!! The powerful roar sent ripples sweeping across the surface of the waters that quickly rose to the height of tsunamis. In fact, the roar was so powerful that even the air itself seemed to quake unstably. Innumerable fishes instantly flipped over and floated motionlessly to the surface of the waters. Even the birds on the distant island stirred with great alarm. That single roar contained so much energy that it was no different from a small storm!
BOOM!! The cataclysmic sonic blast swept past the surviving cultivators, silencing them in an instant. A moment later, blood seeped out of their seven apertures, and they promptly plummeted down into the waters below.Previous Chapter Next Chapter