A cup of coffee was handed to Arthis, and she looked up listlessly, appearing somewhat lost in thought. She picked up the cup of coffee and lamented, “The kid’s all grown up… I’ve said everything that needs to be said… I can’t be bothered with him anymore…”
Hang on. What’s going on over here? Why does this reek of a scene from a family drama somewhere?
“Just a moment.” Qin Ye waved his hand impatiently like a rebellious teenager going through puberty, and he furrowed his brows, “What three primordial treasures are you talking about? Why haven’t you mentioned this before?”
There was an abrupt silence - the kind that mankind feared the most.
Seconds later, Arthis blinked her eyes and probed softly, “Haven’t I mentioned this to you before?”
“Nope! You only mentioned the existence of several divine artifacts in the past, and there’s nothing about primordial treasures at all!”
Arthis coughed awkwardly, “Well… that’s not the main point anyway. I’ll tell you about it right now, so listen up!”
Her voice grew louder towards the end of her statement, presumably to hide her embarrassment and dispel the awkward situation. Qin Ye pouted slightly, evidently dissatisfied with her poor attempt at diverting his attention back to the topic at hand. Nevertheless, he still listened carefully.
Arthis spoke with a solemn and earnest expression, “The operations of Hell are largely powered by the Yin energy which flows from three main divine artifacts. The main operations are powered by the Yellow Springs which flow through Hell, the source of which lies in King Yanluo’s Seal. The ancillary operations of Hell are powered by two other sources, namely the Judgment Pen and the Book of Life and Death.”
“The Judgment Pen sustains the Ten Abyssal Courts and the Eighteen Abysses of Punishment. It distinguishes right from wrong. As long as the Judgment Pen remains missing, we won’t be able to construct and sustain these facilities in Hell. On the other hand, the Book of Life and Death holds the key to the reversion of life. Without it, we won’t be able to establish the six paths of reincarnation…”
“Hang on!!” Qin Ye shot to his feet and stared at Arthis with widened eyes, “You mean… I can now construct the six paths of reincarnation?!”
This was by no means an insignificant piece of news.
The root cause of riots in Hell was the lack of pursuit and other basic necessities of life, including food and shelter. In the absence of goals and other things to look forward to, life in Hell would be so dreary and meaningless that there would be nothing stopping the Yin spirits from stirring up a rebellion at all!
But once the six paths of reincarnation have been established, the Yin spirits in Hell would immediately have something to work towards and look forward to! One could arguably even defer the establishment of entertainment industries and the system of money with little consequences in the near future! After all, once the system of virtue and iniquity was created, most of the Yin spirits would immediately be willing to sell their souls and slave for Hell! At that time, he could simply flap his lips with directions at his whim and fancy, and everything will still fall into place nicely. The thought of such prospects made Qin Ye’s heart flutter uncontrollably.
“Of course you could.” Arthis responded lazily, “First, you’ll have to find six pernicious souls. And then, you’ll have to acquire a whole bunch of treasures and artifacts. Finally, you’ll need countless Yin spirits who will assist you with the maintenance of the six paths of reincarnation…”
Qin Ye covered his ears in denial - ARGH! I knew it was going to be like that! There’s nothing like a free meal in this world!
“Then… would Oda Nobunaga’s soul work?” After wailing and whimpering for some time, the future King Yanluo of Hell turned his attention to his newly-minted subordinate.
Arthis stared at Qin Ye as though she had just seen a ghost. Her lips twitched uncontrollably as she responded, “Not great… At the very least, he wouldn’t be evil enough to be considered a pernicious soul… Speaking of which, I have to say that you’re extraordinarily blackhearted. In this regard, I’d even venture so far as to say that you’re far more scheming and diabolical than your two predecessors. At the very least, they weren’t Yanluos who would think of laying their hands on their subordinates…”
Qin Ye remained taciturn.
He simply continued to gaze at Arthis with an inquisitive and curious gaze, and a glint in his eyes that was no different from a bright twinkling star at night.
Arthis paused for three seconds, and then lifted her hand and pointed her finger to herself with a completely placid expression on her face. Qin-no-fear-of-death-Ye immediately nodded his head.
You’re the cause of the Wanggongchang Calamity! If you don’t fit the bill of a pernicious soul, I’m not sure who else might! Shouldn’t we discuss the terms of engagement? I can offer to erect a monument in the six paths of reincarnation in remembrance of you…
Not all transgressions required the verbalization of one’s thoughts.
Arthis smiled faintly.
And then, a second later, a miserable howl reverberated through every corner of the room, “Stay your hand… stay your hand! Didn’t we agree not to hit the face? I didn’t even say a single word!” “I’m warning you! I’ll send you to the frontlines to be killed if you continue with such acts of insubordination!” “Holy crap… are you actually bullying the sick and wounded? How can you even call yourself a human being! Ah--... I guess the joke’s on me… you’re not a human being to begin with!”
The abuse continued for another ten minutes, before the duo slumped back onto the couch and the bed respectively. Arthis sat on the couch and fanned herself with her hands, “You would do well not to harbour such illicit thoughts in your mind in future. These are dangerous thoughts to have.”
Qin Ye lay in his bed with great dismay - Bloody hell… I’m gonna have a good chat with you as soon as I become an Infernal Judge myself… I’ve got to show you who’s boss around these parts sooner or later!
“Back to the topic at hand.” The lady possessed by Arthis had quite a good figure, and her features were in line with Arthis’ usual sense of aesthetics. She stretched out her slender leg and casually kicked Qin Ye in the chest as she continued her spiel, “There are other auxiliary divine artifacts beneath the class of the three primordial treasures. These would include Hell’s Records, and the Mirror of Eminence, for instance. They also act as a source of Yin energy for Hell, allowing Hell’s operations to go on smoothly without a hitch. Although I mentioned earlier that the main source of Yin energy comes from King Yanluo’s Seal, the Yin energy generated by the other divine artifacts aren’t insignificant either!”
She furrowed her brows slightly, “How do I put it… I recall my mentor mentioning to me that there are some subtle differences in the types of Yin energy generated by the three primordial treasures. However, these subtle differences can’t be uncovered without further research. Ah, that’s right. Let me make an analogy. Cars can function on both gasoline or diesel. The Yin energy generated by King Yanluo’s seal is like gasoline, which is ubiquitously used across the entire mortal realm. The two other divine artifacts are more akin to diesel, which are perfect for particular purposes, and yet can’t be used as widely as gasoline. In that regard, you can see the source of energy which flows from King Yanluo’s Seal as a foundation for Hell.”
It was quite an unorthodox explanation, but Qin Ye immediately understood what she meant.
“In other words, are you saying that I can already construct some of the special facilities of Hell using the Book of Life and Death right now? There’s no need to rely on the source of energy provided by the Yellow Springs, right? I won’t have to first acquire King Yanluo’s Seal before gaining the ability to tap on the energy sources of the other two divine artifacts, do I?” Qin Ye rubbed his chin.
“That’s right. Arthis heaved a sigh of relief. She didn’t expect her explanation to be so well-received, “Never mind. Watch.”
She took a deep breath, stood up, and began to make a series of hand seals. Each and every single one of the hand seals she made exuded a sense of profundity and mystery. Within moments, a fine layer of sweat beaded up around Arthis’ forehead.
As her hand seals grew quicker and quicker, Qin Ye’s eyes flickered wildly. Within moments, the afterimages left behind by Arthis made her appear to have a thousand hands. In fact, this incredible sight lasted for a full five minutes, before Arthis finally sighed weakly. And then, she slapped her palms together abruptly, and the entire room instantly became enveloped by an invisible force. They were clearly sequestered from the rest of the world right now.
“Rakshasa’s Desolate Domain.” Arthis’ body was levitating gently, while everything else in the room appeared somewhat hazy and illusory. A wind swept across the room from nowhere, sending Arthis’ hair and clothes fluttering about gently, “I’ll immediately be alerted as soon as anyone attempts to force their way into this domain. And unless they kill me, they won’t be able to see a single thing in this room.”
With that, she hooked her finger, and the Book of Life and Death glowed with a mystical black-and-white bicoloured lustre. It hovered in the air for a moment, before promptly falling into her hands. And then, she caressed the ancient book gently. With each movement she made, the air in the room rippled and fluctuated visibly.
With her palms clasping both sides of the book, she stared at it with a great depth of emotions in her eyes, “I’ve never imagined… that I would be given the opportunity to touch such a divine artifact…”
“That said, what you’re seeing isn’t its true form at all.” Her entire body lit up with countless golden runes that rushed madly into the Book of Life and Death. Simultaneously, her voice sonorous and distant, “There’s more to it than meets the eye. You’d best take a good look at the Book of Life and Death’s true form in order to fully understand its uses.”
There was a thunderous sound, almost as though an entire mountain had just crumbled to the ground. A scarlet light gleamed brightly from Arthis’ hands, and it was so glaring that Qin Ye couldn’t help but shut his eyes. Then, when he finally opened them once more, he stared at its astounding transformation and gasped in shock.
The palm-sized book in front of Arthis had now expanded to the size of a meter!
It had a black cover, and ‘Book of Life and Death’ was written on the cover of the book in majestic calligraphy! Qin Ye didn’t know who the master of such calligraphy was, but a single glance at these words instantly caused his heart to constrict with fear and awe.
He wasn’t even able to look directly at it.
“This is written by the second generation King Yanluo of Hell, who was also the strongest King Yanluo of Hell by far.” Arthis explained softly as she flipped through the pages. The ancient book was thin, and yet the void around it instantly trembled as soon as she flipped it open. A moment later, countless names appeared right in the space above the open book.
“All Infernal Judges have been assigned a rubbing of the Book of Life and Death.” She stared at the names around her and exclaimed in awe, “This is a massive database. The Book of Life and Death can be subdivided into three main chapters, which, needless to say, pertain to humans, monsters, and things. You already know about humans and monsters. The chapter on things contain the particulars surrounding the death of things such as trees, pigs, cows and other livestock alike. It’s accurate right down to the minute and second, and all you have to do to recall such information is to say a location, and all information pertaining to that location will automatically appear.”
“The rubbings of the Book of Life and Death contain this information as well. That said, it doesn’t replicate the Book of Life and Death’s ability to reap a soul. The workings of the Death Note like what you see on television doesn’t truly exist.”
She stretched out her finger and tapped on a random person’s name. Qin Ye looked over, and he was immediately startled to find that details including the person’s appearances, physique, hobbies, gender, cause of death, time of death, burial location, method of burial, were all clearly documented within the database!
“My god…” He sighed with great disbelief. There must have been well over ten billion people who have existed across Cathay’s history since its founding. And yet every single detail was recorded in this single book of records! It truly deserved its title as a divine artifact!
“The only realm that the Book of Life and Death doesn’t record is the realm of the heavens.” Qin Ye continued to familiarise himself with the Book of Life and Death with Arthis’ guidance. And then, he suddenly furrowed his brows, “I’ve noticed that some of the names appear in different colours. Some are black, some are red, and some are gold. What’s the distinction?”
Arthis reached out and tapped on a person with a black name as she explained, “It’s simple. Black represents an ordinary person. Approximately 95% of all entries in the Book of Life and Death would be black in colour. Red represents talent. People like Gu Qing would fall into this category. Red names stand for 4.9% of all entries in the Book of Life and Death.”
Then, with a snap of her finger, the Book of Life and Death instantly riffled through dozens of pages, before finally stopping on a page where the first golden name appeared.
“Jiang Shang. Lived through the late-Shang, early-Zhou Dynasties. Ancestral name, Jiang. Clan name, Lu. Given name, Shang. Courtesy names of Shangfu and Ziya. His ancestors had assisted Yu the Great with his efforts at controlling the flooding of the lands, and were thereby conferred the name of Lu as a reward for their merit. He therefore had a clan name of Lu, and was also known as Lu Shang.”
Her voice grew stern and somber, “Every single entry with a golden name… would undoubtedly represent one of the most famous figures in history. That said, only the names of Cathayans would automatically appear in the Book of Life and Death. Once Oda Nobunaga completes his registration with Hell, I imagine his name would also be stained with a trace amount of gold.”
“With the Book of Life and Death in hand, you’ll essentially possess full knowledge of the resumes and past lives of all famous kings, generals and ministers across the history of Cathay. Most importantly…” She drew a deep breath and tapped lightly with her finger. The pages riffled softly once more, before finally coming to a stop on another page.
Holy shit?! Qin Ye stared at it with disbelief. His legs went weak, and he nearly collapsed to the ground again.
“What’s wrong with you?” Arthis glanced at Qin Ye with a baffled expression.
“I’m fine… It’s just that… I’m slightly overwhelmed by all this information. Allow me to catch my breath…” Qin Ye drew a few breaths to regulate his wildly thumping heart, and then he stared at the next golden name on the page.
“Yue Fei (24 March 1103 - 27 January 1142). Courtesy name Pengju. Native of Tangyin, Xiangzhou. Famous historical general, military leader, strategist, calligrapher and poet.”
“Are you suggesting that… I can actually recruit the souls of these incredible talents through the Book of Life and Death?!”
2. Jiang Ziya was widely known as a wise man and a sage in his time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiang_Ziya