Chapter 276: Emperor Wu of Song

Ding!

The sensory antenna above Qin Ye’s head instantly perked up, and his voice immediately turned drifty, “H-h-h-how terrifying is he? H-h-honda Tadakatsu?”

Arthis nearly couldn’t resist straightening out the tongue of this cowardly future King Yanluo. She drew a deep breath, and then gave him a begrudging look without saying anything more.

“Eh? That look in your eyes is incredibly laden with meaning… Are you currently mulling over your response, for fear that I would choose flight over fight? Let me tell you something, this young master here has already evolved from Pikachu to Raichu after the last altercation with Honda Tadakatsu. Didn’t you see that I can now stand tall against three Hellguards all by myself without revealing any expression of fear?” Qin Ye reacted with a verbal diarrhoea of arguments like a roundworm in Arthis’ stomach.

Arthis looked to the sky with a placid expression on her face, “If this had been a year ago, I would’ve fallen prey to these peculiar analogies of yours. But having delved deeper into the world of Pokemon, I now know that… there’s nothing much to brag about a stupid evolution!! Do you think I would be in such a huge conundrum if not for the sheer atrocity that your resume is right now?!”

Well.

Someone’s all grown up. She’s certainly not as gullible as she used to be… Qin Ye sighed in his heart - Arthis has begun to speak more and more like a 90’s kid ever since jumping on the Internet bandwagon. Such conduct is truly unbecoming…

Ignoring the unorthodox behaviour of the future King Yanluo,  Arthis mulled over her response for the next few moments, almost as though she were weighing the lesser of two great evils. Finally, with a huge sigh of resignation, she asked, “Tell me, who do you think is the most valiant general in the history of Cathay?”

Qin Ye blinked, “Lu Bu? Zhao Yun?”[1]

Arthis shook her head with a somber expression, “Let me put it differently. What do you think… constitutes the highest praise one can give to a valiant warlord?”

Qin Ye responded without hesitation this time, “Invincible!” [2]

Arthis sighed and gazed intently into the eyes of the three shivering humanoid paper effigies as she continued, “That’s right. However, the so-called invincible warlords are generally only seen in acts and plays. In other words, it’s the description of playwrights…”

“Whether Martial Sage Guan Yu, or the Ghost King Zhao Zilong, or Marquis of Wen, Lu Bu, or any of the other Ghost Kings for that matter, none of these people have ever been recorded in the annals of history as invincible.”

Qin Ye nodded curiously, wondering why Arthis was going on at length about these things.

Arthis looked him straight in the eye, “However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any historical records of a truly invincible warlord. But there exists a set of historical records that rarely gets any attention. These records are called Zizhi Tongjian, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance.[3] And these chronicles record the existence of the only person who has ever been conferred the label of ‘invincible’!”

Qin Ye gulped nervously and subconsciously retreated two steps. The smile on his face instantly turned somewhat contrived, “Please don’t tell me that this man… is none other than…”

“Emperor Wu of Song.” Arthis dropped the bombshell, “The founding emperor of the Liu Song Dynasty back in the age of the Northern and Southern Dynasties. He unified half of the country, killed six presiding emperors, and was the only person in history who was called ‘invincible’ by chroniclers.” [4]

Silence.

The kind that Man was most afraid of.

“Ah… cough… I suddenly remember that I’ve got some soup boiling on the stove at home. Hell’s poverty-stricken Financial Department wouldn’t be able to pay for the damages if it causes a fire in the mortal realm… So sorry, gotta go.”

“Hold it right there! I thought I recall someone mentioning that he’s undergone an evolution? Didn’t someone say he could now stand tall against three Hellguards all by himself without revealing any expression of fear?!!”

“It must have been the illusory whispers brought about by the abrupt nethergale that swept through these parts. Anyway… we’ll leave it at that. Bye~~!”

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to take more than a couple of steps before Arthis’ long tongue lashed at him, wrapped around his waist, and began to drag him back slowly as she barked threateningly at him, “You’re still a future king when all is said and done. So, can’t you carry yourself with the slightest bit of dignity at all?!”

Qin Ye rolled his eyes - I don’t even know what dignity is! Can it be eaten? Is it truly as important as life itself?!

Invincible! Do you understand what exactly that means?! And it’s even recorded in Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance! Dear, please release me. Don’t play with my heart. I’m truly going to be whittled down like a helpless stick this time!

And can you blame me at all? I’m a future king, and yet I don’t even have powerful techniques like the ‘Heart of the Emperor’ or the ‘Nine Yang Divine Skill’ at my disposal! Can you truly call this a discussion at arms’ length?!

Arthis didn’t say any more. She couldn’t bear to look at the lily-livered future King Yanluo for a single second longer, and she immediately turned to vent her anger and frustrations on the humanoid paper effigies, “Scram! And tell the king of Hanyang that as long as Hell exists, he will never be allowed to take a single foot onto these lands! Either submit, or be prepared to be indicted with treason!”

“My lady…” A soft, quivering voice called out as soon as her outburst ended. The first premier kowtowed respectfully and pleaded with Arthis, “His Majesty truly meant no harm. Furthermore… furthermore, he says that if Hell isn’t willing to give face to an official of a vassal state, then… then…”

Everyone suddenly fell silent.

A palpable murderous intent erupted from Arthis’ body in an instant, and the expression on her face softened somewhat, “Then what?”

“Then…” The first premier gulped nervously, and began to kowtow desperately as he continued with a hoarse voice, “Then… then… Hanyang… shall declare its independence…”

“Insolence!!!” Arthis’ voice thundered, “How dare a vassal state official discuss the affairs of internal policies with us! What audacity…”

Just then, Arthis noticed Qin Ye reach out from behind her and wag his fingers in front of her. And then, Qin Ye stepped forward.

“You’re probably only as useful as a mecha valkyrie or a humanoid weapon of sorts… It’s still eons too early for you to be participating in the discussion of internal affairs…” Qin Ye sighed as he straightened out his somewhat disheveled hair - Ah… you’re still just as handsome as ever…

“What’s the meaning of this?” Arthis stared coldly at Qin Ye.

“Don’t be mad, I’m just saying it as it is - you’ve truly underestimated this man known as Emperor Wu of Song.” Qin Ye had one hand behind his back, while his other was massaging his temples gently, “The reason for which he was sent to the far flung regions of Hanyang doesn’t matter in the slightest at this point in time. Wasn’t he always an Emissary of Hell? If so, do you really think he wouldn’t be able to feel the great collapse of Hell?”

“The collapse of the old Hell means that the old system of Emissaries no longer exists. He would most definitely be aware of the fact that he’s no longer an Emissary of Hell, and that he is now no different from an evil ghost. What caused this change? Even if he doesn’t know about the exact cause and effect of the great collapse of Hell, do you think he wouldn’t send someone to investigate further?”

He locked eyes with Arthis and continued, “Don’t forget that we’ve not been back ever since our last visit to the old Hell… It’s been a while, so who knows what would’ve happened in the interim? As a former Emissary of Hell, would he truly need permission and authorization in order to investigate what went on in Hell?”

He sneered as he glanced back at the three humanoid paper effigies kneeling on the ground, “Do you think he’s trying to threaten you? No. He’s already made up his mind, and he’s simply informing us out of courtesy right now. So, what’s the use of baring your teeth at these messenger boys? Save your breath. The king of Hanyang isn’t going to give a damn about our attitude right now.”

“How is that possible…” Arthis gnashed her teeth, yet her voice was ostensibly softer than before, “No vassal state has ever dared to defy the superior state in the past…”

“Nothing is impossible.” Qin Ye responded indifferently, “How much attention do you think the battle at the Strait of Tsushima attracted? Even if they didn’t care about the battle from the onset, all who sensed the eruption of Justice Bao’s authority would most certainly take notice of what transpired from that point forward. Most importantly, they would have noticed the appearance of the Book of Life and Death in the Strait of Tsushima. Others might not appreciate the extent of its significance to Hell, but do you think that the king of Hanyang would be similarly oblivious to these things?”

“We can safely assume that he is aware of the fact that the Book of Life and Death had somehow ended up outside of Cathay’s territorial boundaries. Furthermore, he would probably have secretly returned to check on the current state of the old Hell. If he still isn’t aware of what’s going on in Hell, then he most certainly isn’t fit to be called an emperor. We’re desperately attempting to maintain a facade against the foreign underworlds, and yet Emperor Wu of Song undoubtedly sees everything as clearly as pristine waters. On that basis, it leads me to the next point of inquiry - why doesn’t he have the courage to simply declare independence from us?”

Silence.

After a long time, Arthis finally responded with some measure of reluctance, “Then, tell me why he doesn’t simply march right back into Hell?”

“Because he doesn’t dare to do so.” Qin Ye responded affirmatively, “After all, he would have witnessed the appearance of an Infernal Judge and an Anitya Hellguard. He would also have seen the Mirror of Eminence, as well as Justice Bao’s display of authority. And most importantly, he would be fully aware that we’ve managed to secure and retrieve the Book of Life and Death. So, on what basis would he dare to revolt against Hell? My best bet is that he truly means us no harm with his present invitation.”

“Then, what is he trying to do?”

“Of course it would be to enter into bilateral negotiations for equal treatment.” Qin Ye swept a cold glance at the three humanoid paper effigies, “The first thing that any state declaring independence would do is to proclaim their identity as a brand new nation, so that the rest of the world would treat them as such. Naturally, Emperor Wu of Song wants us to recognize that he’s no longer an Emissary of Hell, but he’s the new lord and master of the new underworld of Hanyang!”

Arthis gasped.

It wasn’t that she couldn’t understand these things. Rather, she had simply been in denial, doing everything she could to summarily dismiss these thoughts, hoping that the suspicions in her heart would simply fade away into nothingness. Unfortunately, Qin Ye had ruthlessly torn down the delusions in her heart, forcing her to confront her worst fears, and even sent shivers down her back!

The realm of underworlds was never quite peaceful.

In fact, the king of Hanyang had previously been sent from Cathay to Hanyang precisely in order to keep the balance of powers in check. Qin Ye was unaware of these things, but Arthis only knew it all too well. Although not world-renowned, the king of Hanyang was known throughout all of the east, and his fame was no less than even that of the Sixfold Ghost Kings!

As soon as an entity as well known as that declares to the world the independence of its underworld, then that would be no different from declaring to Yamaraja, the Hindustani lord of death, and Izanami, the Nipponese goddess of death, that Hell was no longer in control!

This was a declaration that was far too dangerous! It might not immediately threaten the security of the Cathayan underworld, but… it would greatly shorten the time which Qin Ye had to reestablish Hell!

But, what should we do?

Arthis wasn’t aware of what could be done under such circumstances.

She… was truly no match for the invincible Emperor Wu of Song. She was all too aware of just how terrifying that man was. After all, he used to be known as the only Yin spirit in Hell that could stand his ground against Emissaries of equivalent cultivation level, despite being disadvantaged by the suppressive effects that Emissaries held over Yin spirits. This was something that not even the six daolords were able to achieve! In other words, he would be a thorn in Qin Ye’s side that couldn’t properly be suppressed even when Qin Ye broke through to the realms of an Infernal Judge!

Do I… really have to disclose all of these secrets to that kid right now? Given how crafty and astute he is, perhaps he might really be able to pull something out of the bag… She glanced at Qin Ye, and her heart was filled with a multitude of complex emotions.

Just then, a soft applause cut through the silence of the night. The applause came directly from the ancient ship that had run aground.

“I’d expect nothing less from a future Yama-King… To think that you were able to infer so much from a simple exchange of words. Next to you, I can’t help but feel somewhat petty with the chicanery I’ve employed.”

A split second later, the ship suddenly trembled violently, and then a chilling wave of Yin energy erupted in an instant!

Strong.

Incredibly strong!

Yet, it wasn’t tyrannical at all. In fact, it was even somewhat… glorious?

Qin Ye couldn’t quite believe what he was experiencing. It wasn’t as though he had never experienced the strength of an Infernal Judge. Rather, it was simply that none of the Judges he had encountered before, whether Yin spirits or humans alike, had ever exuded such an indescribable sensation before.

It felt high and lofty, righteous and mighty. It even carried a trace of splendour, as though one should bow down and worship him. He was obviously an Infernal Judge, yet the density of his Yin energy was several times more powerful than that which Arthis could muster! In fact, it was so dense that it immediately materialized into a visible tide of Yin energy that flooded the lands all around them!

Countless Yin spirits wandered about in the roiling flood of Yin energy, yet not a single one of them screamed or shouted. Instead, they simply stood there quietly, as though they were loyal subjects who eagerly awaited their king’s inspection and scrutiny.

It was as though everything under the skies could be his land, and every man on the shores could be his subjects!

“Emperor Song of Wu?” Arthis exclaimed with disbelief, “You… you… Why are you here?! You’re not supposed to return to Cathay without an official edict! Aren’t you afraid of being indicted for your transgressions?!”

Silence.

Seconds later, a contemptuous chuckle was heard from the ship, “Wherefore shouldn’t I be here? Indictment?”

“Who dares indict me but the heavenly dao?!”

“You?” He smiled with great mischief, “Or is it this coming-of-age future Yama-King who holds but a shard of King Yanluo’s Seal in his possession?”

“Tell me… If I slay you both, right here, right now… wouldn’t I usurp and hold the fate of Hell with my own two hands? Hmm?”


1. Both are famous warlords.

2. The actual words here used are 一骑当千, which, literally translated, means that one rides against a thousand.

3. This is a historical record published in 1084 during the Song Dynasty in the form of a chronicle. The efforts were led by the great historian Sima Guang.

4. This is an interesting one. It happened when Liu Yu (Emperor Wu of Song) joined the army of the general Liu Laozhi in 399. On one occasion, he led some tens of soldiers on a scouting mission, where they encountered several thousand soldiers belonging to enemy forces. All of Liu Yu’s soldiers were killed, and he fell into a riverbank. However, he stood his position and killed all soldiers who dared approach him. Meanwhile, Liu Laozhi’s son, Liu Jingxuan, realized something was amiss when Liu Yu had been away from camp for too long, and went out to search for him, only to witness him holding off the enemy forces all on his own. This is why he was given the title of ‘riding against a thousand’. He’s a real guy btw. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Wu_of_Song 

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