Qin Ye immediately understood what Huang Liangchuan was getting at. However, he simply sighed, “I understand. If there’s nothing else, then we’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll take your suggestion into consideration.”
With that, he transformed into a nethergale and vanished from Hell.
Minutes later, he appeared back on top of a building at the harbour where the warehouse was located, and he gazed into the dark night sky as he sighed wistfully.
Establishing trade routes huh… Do you think I haven’t considered that? But the question is… with whom shall I establish trade routes?
Foreign merchants might very well double up as darkfeathers, and the truth about the state of Hell that we’ve tried so hard to keep under wraps could easily be divulged to the rest of the world with a single slip up. And if we want to keep our borders closed to foreign entities, then we’ll have to build a dock. And that would entail… establishing a whole new city.
And it would have to be a coastal city at that.
Hell was no larger than the size of a village right now, so what business did he have thinking of establishing a brand new satellite city?
“There’s still a long way to go…” He massaged his temples in dismay. Just as he was about to head back, his pupils suddenly quivered, and he glanced at the surface of the sea, somewhat startled.
He had just noticed a vessel sailing silently towards him.
“Hmm?” He furrowed his brows slightly. An ordinary ship would never sail towards this location. After all, what was there to do around these parts? There was only a dilapidated, unused dock where no regular ship would even consider berthing or unloading their cargo at. What’s more… he could sense an air of Yin energy about the ship that was approaching him.
Emissaries of Hell were particularly sensitive when it came to detecting the source of Yin energy as well as the type of Yin energy. Therefore, he could tell in an instant that the source of Yin energy he had just detected bore the distinct hallmark of local Yin spirits, and yet they appeared to be tainted with an exotic stench at the same time. It was incredibly bizarre.
The vessel that was approaching him had thoroughly piqued his curiosity. Thus, he lay down on the roof of the building in a prone position and silently continued to observe the ship.
The vessel continued its approach without stopping. Five hundred meters… three hundred meters… Then, when it was finally one hundred meters away, the sound of beating drums resounded from the bow of the ship, cutting through the still silence of the night. A second later, countless spots of netherflames suddenly flared up all around the ship, transforming it into a jade-green vessel of netherfire that rushed towards the dock with a great boost of speed!
Whoosh! The ship stirred up great waves on the otherwise still surface of the waters. Qin Ye gasped, and then transformed himself into a nethergale that quickly began to retreat at once. This was because he immediately noticed it when the ship lit up in netherflames--…
There was nobody on board the ship at all.
The ship was rusty, and it was covered in barnacles and seaweed. There was no telling how many years had passed since its very first voyage. In fact, quite apart from the fact that there wasn’t a single person on board the deck of the ship, there wasn’t even a single human source of light around the ship!
In other words, this was a ghost ship!
Qin Ye glanced at his phone as he began to retreat, and his eyes immediately flickered once more.
It was exactly 5.00 a.m.
The demonic hour… But most Yin spirits wouldn’t choose to appear at this time of the night because dawn would soon be here. So, who could possibly be so bold as to make his appearance only now?
Boom! He only managed to retreat a distance of two hundred meters when he heard a startling crash - the entire ship had rammed straight into the docks. The already run-down docks were immediately smashed into smithereens. Broken equipment was sent scattering everywhere, while the seawater around the docks splashed ten meters high into the sky, before promptly falling down like rainwater.
The dark, ancient vessel had run aground, where it lay silently and motionlessly on the docks, no different from a corpse.
Whoosh… The wind swept across the shore. The surroundings were as dead as a graveyard. Qin Ye took a deep breath, and Yin energy began to pour out of his seven apertures as he stared solemnly at the ship that had run aground. Then, right at that moment, the ghost ship suddenly lit up with rows after rows of jade-green light, and more than a dozen streaks of Yin energy rose into the sky in an instant.
Toot toot toot! The high-pitched sorna began blaring loudly without warning. The fact that something like that could happen before dawn was a sight that would make anyone’s hairs stand on end. Moments later, a peculiar line of figures began to disembark from the ship.
It was a row of humanoid paper effigies.
They were dressed in ancient Cathayan eunuch garments that were beautifully and exquisitely made. Their pale faces accentuated the pink blush on their cheeks as well as their striking red lips. They carried lanterns that burned with netherflames, and they continued to march towards Qin Ye like an unstoppable procession.
It was the darkest hour of the night right now.
An empty ghost ship had run aground on the abandoned docks, and a cold sea breeze swept through the area, sending stifling and chilling shivers down the back of the living.
The soft nethergale and the flickering netherflames had ushered the arrival of a procession of short humanoid paper effigies whose feet hovered slightly over the ground. The humanoid paper effigies behind carried a paper palanquin behind their backs, while those in front blew forcefully on their sornas, as though declaring the arrival of their lord and master. It was a ridiculous sight, one that could even be described as comical if it were to have taken place in the day. Yet, the fact that it had happened at night was simply marrow-chilling.
They’re approaching me…. Qin Ye had already calmed down, and he was currently sizing up the procession of humanoid paper effigies. The row of paper effigies would from time to time step onto the ground, puncturing a hole in the sand and leaving a trail of footprints as they marched towards Qin Ye. They arrived in front of him in no time, and the blaring sornas ceased in unison. The three humanoid paper effigies leading the procession bowed in unison and swished their buddhist whisks at the same time. Their actions were undeniably neat and sharp, “Greetings, sir. We are the first premier, second premier and third premier of Emperor Wu of Song.”
“Emperor Wu of Song?” Qin Ye stared at the peculiar procession in front of him without moving a muscle. Yet what was most astonishing to him was the fact that the three premiers standing before him were all at the level of Anitya Hellguards!
How is this possible?!
After all, the Hellguard-class secret ninjas of Renpu were only able to enter Cathay with the assistance of Izanami herself. And, even then, they would never dare to venture into the hinterlands of Cathay. So how was it possible that three Hellguards were simply able to sail across the ocean so smoothly and arrive at the docks without resistance at all?
Whose side are they on?
“I don’t recall the existence of such an emperor in history.” Qin Ye probed boldly, “Or… would it be more accurate if I addressed him as a certain daolord?”
But he received no response whatsoever. Instead, the first premier simply opened his scarlet lips and stared vacantly back at Qin Ye, “His Majesty cordially invites you over for a simple exchange of words. Please don’t hesitate to make your way over.”
Whoosh… The spirit streamer materialized by Qin Ye’s side and gently began to rotate, while more and more Yin energy began to flow from Qin Ye’s seven apertures, “And if I refuse?”
The first premier’s lips twitched slightly, and his eyes narrowed. The pink blusher on his cheeks appeared incomparably eerie under the dim illumination of the netherflames around, “What His Majesty means is that you will have to make your way over for an exchange of words by hook or by crook.”
Qin Ye laughed. His body materialized fully, and the nethergale vanished completely. His upper body was already in its emissary state, and his hair scattered about menacingly as he glared viciously at the three premiers, “So, are you guys going to make me? Are you truly going to go up against a bona fide Emissary of Hell?”
The three premiers also laughed.
“Kakakakaka…” They echoed with low, blood-curdling cackles. Then, a second later, the three premiers suddenly opened their mouths in unison. Their bodies weren’t considered large, and yet their mouths widened to a horrendous span of half a meter, revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth within that were laced with scarlet blood. They unleashed a horrific shriek as they charged at Qin Ye!
Qin Ye’s body erupted with Yin energy in an instant, and he completely entered his Hell’s Emissary state. A gloomy nethergale picked up around him, while the spirit streamer in his hand immediately rose into the sky to meet the oncoming premiers!
Yin energy also erupted from the three humanoid paper effigies at the same time, enveloping their entire beings and imbuing them with great speed. In an instant, they surrounded Qin Ye and began to spin around him like a revolving lantern. In an instant, the entire docks were suddenly filled with howling nethergales and eerie spots of netherflames.
Thud, thud, thud… The sand on the ground was in no time filled with innumerable holes as the humanoid paper effigies danced menacingly about Qin Ye. Three powerful sources of Yin energy enshrouded Qin Ye, while dark claws lashed out for Qin Ye’s vitals in a flurry of attacks, only to be repelled by the spirit streamer. The air was instantly filled with incessant clinks and clanks from the clash of their attacks, and the four entities exchanged hundreds of moves within mere seconds.
The flurry of attacks rained down like a torrential downpour, while Qin Ye’s defense appeared absolute.
Yet the more they fought, the more terrified Qin Ye was.
This is too weird… Qin Ye could sense that his moves contained a naturally suppressive effect against the three humanoid paper effigies. This meant that they were indeed Cathayan Yin spirits. But if they were indeed Cathayan Yin spirits, he should have been able to purge them in an instant! After all, there was simply no precedent for the existence of evil ghosts that could hold their own against an Emissary of Hell of the same cultivation level.
Yet, he simply wasn’t able to gain an edge over the three humanoid paper effigies no matter how much they fought against each other. It was almost as though… they were Cathayan Yin spirits, and yet they fell under the jurisdiction of some other region.
“Interesting.” Qin Ye’s spirit streamer suddenly opened up, transforming into the shape of a large umbrella which repelled the incoming claw attacks in an instant. Qin Ye muttered, “I’ve never employed my blade release ever since entering the ranks of an Anitya Hellguard. To think that I would be forced to use it on you guys.”
A drop of blood beaded up on his fingertip as soon as he finished speaking. Almost as though it could detect what was to come, the spirit streamer instantly began to tremble violently. Meanwhile, the three evil ghosts shrieked in terror as a ferocious nethergale swept around Qin Ye, and they instantly backed some distance away, standing in a triangle formation around Qin Ye as they watched his interaction with the spirit streamer warily.
The drop of blood was primed on his fingertip, ready to fall onto his spirit streamer at the moment’s notice. Qin Ye glanced coldly at the three humanoid paper effigies, “Seems like you still can’t fight back the innate fear of Emissaries of Hell, can you? What’s the matter? Scared? Are we finally able to talk things through properly now?”
The second premier responded, “My lord, His Majesty means no ill will. He only wants to invite you on a trip back to Hanyang…”
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered.
Hanyang… the capital of Daehan… They’re indubitably Cathayan Yin spirits, so what in the world is going on?
“Insolence!!!” Just then, a furious roar echoed from all around them causing the space they were in to tremble violently, almost as though they were completely sequestered from reality. A massive tide of Yin energy surged all around them, engulfing them just like the cold moonbeams on a clear night sky. The netherflame lanterns around were instantly extinguished, while the three humanoid paper effigies cried out in horror, huddling together with great trembling, “Judge… It’s an esteemed Infernal Judge!”
Copious amounts of Yin energy continued to slosh around them, almost as though the entire land they were on was composed solely of Yin artifacts. A split second later, the colossal tide of Yin energy began to converge, forming a ten-meter large vortex of Yin energy. Then, with a thunderous tremor, Arthis finally walked out from the heart of it all.
Thud… The humanoid paper effigies carrying the palanquin behind instantly knelt down and kowtowed to her in fear and reverence. The three Hellguard-class premiers likewise fell to their knees as they stammered shrilly, “Premiers… respectfully greets… my lady…”
Arthis waved her colourful sleeves as she walked past the three premiers, glaring daggers as she sneered at them, “How brazen…”
“You still know to pay your respects to me? Emperor Wu of Song is forbidden from reentering these lands without an edict! The last standing order was for him to remain where he is and hold the fort! Is he trying to commit treason?!”
“No! We wouldn’t dare!” “My lady, please remain calm! His Majesty has no such intentions!” “My lady, this is a misunderstanding!”
Arthis was just about to go on when a hand suddenly appeared in front of her and waved at her. Somewhat taken aback, she turned around, only to notice a faint smile on Qin Ye’s face.
“So there’s really someone called Emperor Wu of Song, huh…” Qin Ye placed both hands behind his back as he leisurely strolled over to Arthis, ignoring the three trembling premiers, “So, he’s an exile? Just like the punishments exacted in ancient Cathay, he was removed from our territorial borders and sent to the lands of Hanyang?”
Without missing a beat, Qin Ye raised a finger and wagged it at Arthis, “And having been abroad all this while, he wasn’t affected by Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s ascension?”
“Given the close proximity between Hanyang and the battle at the Strait of Tsushima, he must have detected something amiss? And the Book of Life and Death must contain his records, so… that’s why you were unwilling to allow me to continue looking through its contents back then, isn’t it?”
Qin Ye sighed pretentiously, “No wonder... It’s no wonder you’ve been practically inseparable from me over the last few days. Do you know that you’ve given me the impression that you’ve fallen head over heels in love for me? And yet… it turns out that you’ve suddenly remembered the existence of the monarch of a vassal state. Do you know how much the truth hurts?”
“You don’t understand!” Arthis was hardly embarrassed by the fact that Qin Ye was calling out her bluff. Instead, she glared intently at the three premiers kneeling on the ground, “You have no idea of how terrifying Liu Yu, Emperor Wu of Song, truly is…”
1. These are lanterns that are often used in festivals and celebrations. A candle is lit in the lantern, and the heat from the candle causes a wheel inside to rotate, which in turn causes paper cuttings mounted inside to spin around the axles. The light from the candle thereby projects the shadow of the moving paper cuttings onto the screen of the lantern, causing them to appear no different from moving silhouettes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep2w9J6xlx4&ab_channel=LittleDayOut