Back in the cargo hold.
Jingo and Dojin were doing their best to maintain the Moonlit Night. Seawater was already pouring through various parts of the hull of the ship. Simultaneously, countless Yin spirits did their best to rush into the cargo hold, only to be instantly reduced to wisps of Yin energy by the powerful Moonlit Night.
That said, Jingo and Dojin were fully aware that this was hardly something that they could keep up indefinitely!
The Yin spirits pouring in right now could still be considered puny shrimps in the grand scheme of things. However, they were keenly aware that the more powerful Yin spirits were still lying in the depths of the seas, patiently waiting for the time to strike. It was only going to be a matter of time that news of the situation at the hull of the ship reached the ears of Azai Nagamasa, and then it wouldn’t take more than a dozen minutes… No, perhaps there’s already a daimyo or two on their way to this place right now!
“How much longer is he going to take?” Dojin slammed his palms together. Beads of sweat were already rolling off his forehead. After all, maintaining such a powerful technique for a protracted period of time necessarily consumed a great amount of his true energy reserves. He had already eliminated innumerable Yin spirits, but the current of Yin spirits appeared to be endless. Furthermore, they were already knee-deep in seawater by now.
The Tengu army and the battle monks had all arrived at the battlefield, but their strength was still clearly insufficient. In fact, it wasn’t even sufficient to guarantee their safe departure from the Strait of Tsushima. And the only reason why they haven’t left by now was because they knew full well that anyone who attempted to do so would most certainly find themselves intercepted by the other daimyos who were lying in wait for them. In other words, as long as Oda Nobunaga and his two thousand five hundred cavalrymen couldn’t arrive in time to stir up the battlefield, the Strait of Tsushima would be no different from a graveyard at sea!
Hurry up… Hurry up! You’d better be able to break the seal on the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl before Azai Nagamasa wisens up to the situation. Otherwise… we’re going to have to face several Hellguards all on our own, and death would be the only possible outcome!
“It shouldn’t take much longer.” Ming Shiyin’s voice was equally grim and grave as he stared at Qin Ye who was still seated calmly right in the heart of the cargo hold. The lower part of his body was already immersed in seawater. That said, copious amounts of Yin energy were also pouring out from below him. He was at best half an hour away from opening Oda Nobunaga’s seal.
“Aren’t you able to do anything to stop these Yin spirits?” Jingo gritted his teeth.
Ming Shiyin didn’t know how best to respond to that query.
It still had the display of Justice Bao’s might and authority hidden up its sleeves. However, that wasn’t something which it could use freely and callously. In fact, it could only use it once. In other words, it was the ace up its sleeves - its hidden killing trump card. After all, Justice Bao wasn’t even on earth any longer, so how mighty could this lingering display of authority possibly be?
Of course, it wouldn’t be a problem to eviscerate the surrounding Yin spirits with a single display of Justice Bao’s authority. But… this is still a source of power that the Mirror of Eminence had once used to escape the great collapse of Hell!
Back then, Ming Shiyin had already consumed a substantial part of Justice Bao’s lingering authority on the mirror, and there wasn’t much left at its disposal right now. Furthermore, there were other variables to consider in the present circumstances, especially since someone within Azai Nagamasa’s army could very well be in possession of the Book of Life and Death. Nobody knew who it was… just like how nobody knew when General Sun Jian found one of the emperor’s jade seals back in ages past. On the other hand, if it were to callously release its display of Justice Bao’s might, their opponents might well be able to adopt countermeasures by tapping into the strength of the Book of Life and Death. With what little bit of Justice Bao’s aura it had left at its disposal, Ming Shiyin wasn’t confident of overpowering the primordial treasure of Hell at all.
And once their final trump card had been exhausted, what awaited them… was naturally a full-on confrontation with several Hellguard-class Yin spirits, together with their armies of elite Yin soldiers that numbered well in the thousands!
They were caught between a rock and a hard place. Who could have expected the Nipponese underworld to pick up the Book of Life and Death at such a critical juncture?
“There are some conditions to the display of my abilities…” Ming Shiyin gritted its teeth and stared at the Yin energy that was seeping through the cracks around them, “And now’s not the time to use it. Protect him well. If he can’t breach the seal, we might… only be able to preserve our own lives at best!”
“Damn it!” Dojin cursed, while Ming Shiyin turned a deaf ear to him. In reality, there was already a massive tide of Yin energy that was spinning wildly in the heart of its body. If one looked close enough, he would be able to notice a faint source of light spinning softly in the center of the otherwise pitch-black surface of the mirror, almost like a point of singularity from which an entire universe would erupt.
I’ve got to bring Qin Ye back no matter what it takes. The display of Justice Bao’s authority is the final card I have up my sleeves, and it would be capable of clearing a path for our retreat in the worst case scenario. I can’t afford to use it right now.
Krr… krr… krr… Just then, the nails that had been driven into the hull of the cruise liner were abruptly pulled out at once, and seawater began to rush into the cargo hold. Simultaneously, innumerable Yin spirits began to pour in through the beehive-like holes in the hull.
Now isn’t the time to be so calculative… Dojin drew a deep breath and channeled more energy into the Moonlit Night, causing it to flourish with a bright glow once more. Simultaneously, Jingo waved his hands, and a series of scriptures flew out from his sleeves to plug the gaps in the hull of the cruise ship.
“I won’t be able to hold on for long!” Jingo turned back and bellowed loudly, “The Yin energy is growing too dense. At the present rate of erosion, I can at best hold up for only five minutes! And then, the scriptures plugging the gaps will crumble. You…”
Just then, Jingo suddenly paused mid-sentence.
And he wasn’t the only one. Dojin also gasped at exactly the same time. And even Ming Shiyin turned around abruptly and glanced warily at the surroundings.
They’re coming… they’re coming!
They had just detected the impending approach of three Hellguard-class sources of Yin energy! And each of these sources of energy was no weaker than Kuki Yoshitaka himself! These Yin spirits were on a completely different plane of existence than the other Yin spirits around right now!
The existence of the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl was no different from a lighthouse in the midst of great darkness. Azai Nagamasa could sense its existence, yet he would only be able to see exactly where it was located when he drew closer to the cruise liner.
Ming Shiyin immediately grew taciturn. The Hellguard-class monks weren’t able to see what was happening outside the cargo hold, but Ming Shiyin could. Therefore, it was keenly aware that the waters outside were boiling and gurgling. A great inferno of netherflames was blazing around the three sources of great Yin energy as they raced at top speed to the cargo hold of the cruise liner!
Gurgle gurgle… The water continued to gurgle violently as the massive cloud of Yin energy bore down on them. Meanwhile, the Yin spirits that had been desperately attempting to bore into the heart of the cargo hold cried out with a shrill shriek, and then scattered instantly without a single trace.
It was almost as though the lesser creatures of the mountain had all scattered to give way to the majestic tiger that had just crawled out of its den.
Strong… Unbelievably strong! In fact, if we ignore the advantage of terrain that the Samurai of the Seas has right now, these are existences that are indubitably stronger than him! These are definitely the daimyos from the Nipponese Warring States era!
Boom, boom, boom! A split second later, the dense cloud of Yin energy slammed heavily into the cargo hold of the cruise line, and rather than allowing copious amounts of water to enter the cargo hold, the breach in the hull was instead filled with a great wall of netherflames. In an instant, the entire external hull of the cruise liner was covered in a jade-green blaze and filled with eerie shrieks, screams and cries of a chorus of grievous souls.
Sss… Ahh... Urrrghhh… Any regular human being in the cargo hold right now would have been scared witless by the developments. The cacophonous cries of the evil ghosts reverberated throughout the corners of the cargo hold, while their illusory images faded in and out of the wall of flames. And then, the electric lights illuminating the cargo hold fizzled and popped off.
Drip… It was a dark moonless night. The sudden interchange between light and dark caused everyone to be momentarily blinded. And right at that moment, they all heard a soft sound cut through the tense silence.
That was the sound of a blade being unsheathed from its scabbard.
Time appeared to freeze at this instant. Dojin and Jingo held their breaths and suppressed the loud thumping of their hearts to a minimum. The sudden onset of darkness had caused their other senses to perk up with great sensitivity. And that was precisely why they were now able to sense the palpable, murderous intent that crept along their skin.
Right at that moment--
A bright gleam of blade light flickered through the darkness, slicing cleanly through the Moonlit Night and cutting straight at Dojin’s head!
“Yaahhh!!” With a furious battle cry, the technique which he had primed beforehand erupted, instantly enveloping his entire body with a brilliant golden light which promptly condensed into an illusory image of Buddha that surrounded his body. But the bright gleam of light penetrated his defenses with a bright gleam of light. He instinctively realized that this was a moment that teetered between life and death. Thus, he reflexively tilted his head to avoid the attack as best he could. A split second later, blood splattered into the air!
“What an alluring smell…” A faint voice spoke amidst the pitch-black darkness, “We’re both Hellguards, but… do you really think you’d be able to stop us on your own?”
Unfortunately, they didn’t have the luxury of time to respond. The ferocious blade light had carved a horrific scar right across Dojin’s face, and wisps of Yin energy were still lingering on his raw flesh. Had he not tilted his head instinctively earlier, his head would have been lopped cleanly off his neck by now.
Mount Koya’s hidden technique, the Moonlit Night, had actually been unable to resist a single blow from the Hellguard-class daimyo.
Then, as though with a belated response, the illusory image that had enveloped his body shattered completely a moment later.
Dojin gasped in horror, and immediately stood back to back with Jingo. His lips trembled as he ran his finger across the wound on his face with great disbelief. Too fast… To think that I wasn’t even able to respond to the speed of his attacks.
“Iaido?” Jingo gulped nervously as a bead of sweat rolled off his forehead, “There aren’t many daimyos of the Nipponese Warring States era who train in such techniques. And at such a level of mastery, you’re…”
BOOM!! As if in response to his question, spots of netherflames suddenly illuminated the inside of the cargo hold like beautiful fireflies hovering eerily within a gloomy ice cave in the middle of winter. They twirled about in the air, dancing about, before quickly converging together into a great blaze. Moments later, a figure dressed in a red great armor that was immolating with netherflames opened its scarlet eyes and walked out slowly from the great blaze.
The red armor was exquisite, and a five-foot katana hung at his waist. This was far longer than ordinary katanas which were generally two to three feet long.
“The fragrance of the living… is delightful…” Murmuring, the red-armored figure spread his arms, as though embracing the darkness around him.
Jingo and Dojin cried out with shock as soon as they saw the figure appear out of nowhere. Within moments, they found themselves subconsciously retreating well over ten meters away, and they only managed to calm down slightly when they had their backs to the wall of the cargo hold.
“You seem to know who I am.” The blazing scarlet pupils turned to the two monks. The man in the red armor unsheathed his katana and gently ran his finger across its blade, “Then, do you know my sword as well?”
Gulp… Both men gulped nervously at the same time.
How could we not recognize what it is…
His blade was quick as lightning, and swift as a shadow. He was struck by lightning, but did not perish. This man was one of the three great war gods of the Nipponese Warring States era.
And his five foot long katana called A Thousand Birds was exactly what he used to cleave down the bolt of lightning when it struck him.
It was henceforth given the name… Chidori, A Thousand Birds. And its owner was none other than Tachibana Dosetsu.
“Master Dosetsu’s name has spread far and wide. There are few people in the world who wouldn’t know you.” Another voice interjected. Another large set of armor covered in crimson flames walked out of the darkness, dragging a long spear on the ground. The spear was stained with copious amounts of dark and grotesque dried blood.
As soon as Jingo and Dojin saw the second man who appeared, their eyes immediately turned cold and frigid.
Here was a genius who had commanded the Takeda Red Demons at the tender age of twenty one, whose spear and armor was dyed red by the blood of his foes. This was none other than the Red Demon himself, Ii Naomasa!
It didn’t matter how confident Dojin and Jingo had been earlier. As soon as these legendary figures from the annals of history showed up, they immediately felt a chill creep right over their hearts.
“Are you ready?” Just then, a third and final figure stepped out of the darkness. He was dressed in a black feather weave paired with a white yukata, and he shook a folding fan casually. He didn’t look like a warrior at all.
Furthermore, he was the only one whose eyes were lit with a peculiar, white netherflame. That said, his body unmistakably exuded the aura of an Anitya Hellguard. The strength of an evil ghost was inextricably linked to a person’s battlefield achievements while he was still alive. The fact that he was an Anitya Hellguard right now spoke volumes of his conquests in life.
The man’s white pupils swept across the two men emotionlessly as he quipped, “If you’ve already made your preparations… then we’ll send you on your way.”
1. This was an event that happened in the 2nd century AD. It is said that he found one of the jade seals in a well and kept it. However, when Yuan Shu declared himself emperor, he held General Sun’s wife hostage in exchange for the seal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Jian