It was a thin man dressed in a white tall hat and white robes, with black hair, blue eyes, and longish canine teeth. Yin energy poured out of his seven apertures as the man glared at Qin Ye with great hatred in his eyes.
They were currently squaring off in the core resource centre of the old Hell.
Given the current state of the old Hell, it was reasonable to expect anyone showing up in this place to be after the precious archives and resources that were stored in this place. Thus, who could have expected Qin Ye to suddenly destroy the Qiankun Pouch? The man had only let out a muffled cry of surprise because he was startled by Qin Ye’s unexpected course of action. Unfortunately, it was also because of this that Qin Ye finally managed to pinpoint his location.
The two men locked eyes. Both were filled with great vigilance. Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed slightly, because… the other man was also an Anitya Hellguard!
“I’ll give you a chance. Tell me who you are and why you’re here. Are you part of the old Hell, or… are you an agent sent by one of the feudal officials of the old Hell?” Qin Ye casually flicked his spirit streamer, “Perhaps I should also remind you of the advantages a genuine Emissary of Hell has over a quasi Emissary of Hell.”
The other man clutched at his chest nervously. He was just about to speak up when Qin Ye suddenly wagged his fingers at the man, “And don’t give me a stupid reply and say things like you’re my colleague. The old Hell has collapsed, and I’m the only genuine Emissary of Hell that remains in existence right now. Even if you once were an Emissary of Hell, right now…”
Whoosh! His spirit streamer flared up and pointed directly at the man’s chest, “You’re no different from a Yin spirit that has no place to call home. You should know full well what the outcome would be if an evil ghost confronts an Emissary of Hell of the same rank.”
The man stared at Qin Ye without saying a single word. Then, copious amounts of Yin energy abruptly erupted from the man’s feet, and his entire being appeared to fade away into the smokescreen as he quickly mounted a retreat. Qin Ye’s eyes flickered, and he dashed forward like a bolt of lightning, sending his spirit streaming smashing down onto the man’s head once more.
Emissaries of Hell were a tyrannical force against all evil ghosts!
The Yin energy pouring out of the man’s body was filled with the cries of countless wailing ghosts and spots of netherflames that darted about wildly. Yet, it was completely useless against Qin Ye’s tyrannical approach. He rushed straight through the cloud of Yin energy, and his eyes darted about wildly, only to notice that six other appendages had already burst out from the man’s back, enabling him to hang from the ceiling of the large room like a spider as he sped backwards while facing Qin Ye. Meanwhile, he had already completed a series of peculiar hand seals, “Hah!!”
The Yin energy around them suddenly sank heavily, while innumerable spots of netherflames suddenly surged from the ground, almost as though they had been transported into one of the great abysses of Hell. A split second later, countless swords congealed from Yin energy emerged from the ground and rushed straight towards Qin Ye without any warning.
It’s really a former Emissary of Hell…
Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed - This is definitely one of Hell’s Arts. Unfortunately…
Clatter! Qin Ye’s body glowed brightly in the instant that the Yin energy swords arrived by his side. A layer of pitch-black aura appeared to wrap around his body, and the Yin energy swords that slammed into it instantly crumbled like dust and transformed back into clouds of Yin energy.
“Prestige of the Luminary?!” The man gasped in horror, and he immediately abandoned all other thoughts and focused solely on his retreat. Unfortunately, he only managed to retreat a distance of three meters before he suddenly froze in his tracks, and his hands trembled violently as he slowly raised them into the air.
This was because he could sense that, right behind him, Qin Ye had just cut his fingertip, and a drop of blood had already landed onto the spirit streamer in his hand.
“As expected, you really were once an Emissary of Hell.” Qin Ye smiled and walked over slowly, “You have a clear understanding of the conditions of an Emissary’s blade release, and you’re even learned in the ways of Hell’s Arts… So, tell me, how should I address you?”
The spirit streamer rested softly on the man’s back, causing his entire body to tremble in fear. Resigned to his fate, the man gnashed his teeth, “... Darkfeather operating under the instructions of the Lord of Jiaozhi… special agent Ma Liu.”
“Lord of Jiaozhi? Who’s that?” Qin Ye prodded the man’s back with his spirit streamer. Ma Liu’s body trembled once more, and he cried out in astonishment, “You… aren’t you a genuine Emissary of Hell? How can you be oblivious to the identity of Lord of Jiaozhi?”
Why would I need to ask you if I knew who exactly he was?!
Qin Ye prodded his back several more times - Sigh, what a tough back. It doesn’t provide the same sensation as the blight vermins out there…
Ma Liu drew a deep breath, “Lord of Jiaozhi… is also known as Lord Gao Changgong, or the Prince of Lanling.”
Despite having been mentally prepared for what was to come, Qin Ye couldn’t help but gulp nervously at the man’s response.
Prince of Lanling… To think that it’s actually Prince of Lanling of the Northern Qi Dynasty; one of the four great beauties of all times; the man nicknamed ‘The Great Mask’! To think that he would be conferred the lands of Jiaozhi!
His emotions surged from within - Emperor Wu of Song, and Prince of Lanling… How many other such foreign garrisons does the old Hell actually have? How many famous generals are there eagerly awaiting my arrival to escort them back to the new Hell?
However, Qin Ye knew better than to consider these questions right now. He suppressed the surging emotions in his heart and asked with a deep voice, “Why did you come to this place?”
Ma Liu closed his eyes and continued to hold up his hands, “Looking at our historical interaction with Hell, all feudal officials are required to return to Fengdu Necropolis to pay tribute every fifty years. However, Jiaozhi hasn’t received any such edicts from Hell for the last fifty years, and the feudal officials are unable to return to Hell without an edict. Thus, Lord Lanling instructed us to return to take a look. Unfortunately, the Yin energy in Hell was in great chaos, and none of us were able to take a single step into Hell. Then, it wasn’t until a few days ago when the opposing straits suddenly erupted with the presence of the Book of Life and Death that Lord Lanling once again instructed his darkfeathers to scout the old Hell once more.”
Qin Ye nodded, “So you discovered that Hell was in ruins as soon as you entered, and you immediately thought to seize Hell’s legacy for your lord and king? Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on your side, and you were discovered by yours truly.”
Ma Liu chuckled bitterly.
You make it sound much better than it really is. I’d practically stumbled upon a legacy of a lifetime, only to have you suddenly rush into this place, leading an entire swarm of blight vermin after you that promptly toppled the entire building! Can you really downplay the tragedy that slapped me right across the face?!
We’re talking about the misfortune of ages!
There was an abrupt silence.
Qin Ye was considering just how he should deal with Ma Liu. Just then, a loud tremor rippled through the Pavilion of Transcendence, and it began to tilt once more.
Kkkkkrrrr… There was simply no time to react. They were currently located at the valley created by the tilt of the building, and they were already surrounded by piles of cabinets on both sides. With the sudden quake, more cabinets began to slide over dangerously.
They immediately turned to glance at the countless cabinets that were sliding towards the valley from above like a massive avalanche. Fortunately, they were standing in a clear aisle in the middle, so they watched with bated breaths as the mountain of cabinets crashed down onto the two growing piles of cabinets. The mounds grew to a height of over ten meters within moments.
They could tell that the building was tilting even more dangerously than before. The initial thunderous bang was followed by a terrifying creaking sound. Both men stood right at the heart of the aisle, frozen in place, until the mind-numbing tremors of the building finally stopped. By the time the two men came back to their senses, they realized that they had already subconsciously leaned against each other, and their foreheads were already percolating with cold sweat.
Apart from a few clear passageways around them, the entire room appeared to be filled with mounds of cabinets that had collapsed all over. Furthermore, as a result of the dangerous tilt of the building, they found themselves now… standing directly on the windows.
“These are gloomwood cabinets…” Ma Liu’s face was incredibly ashen, “Not even Infernal Judges can break them apart with ease. These materials can be considered A-grade and above, even by the standards of the old Hell. It’s a good thing that we’re standing here, otherwise…”
Before he could even finish speaking, a cabinet that was dangling dangerously at the top of a cabinet mound on the right suddenly fell with a great clatter like a boulder rolling off a cliff. Bang, bang, bang! A split second later, it came crashing down right onto where they were standing.
“Holy crap…” Qin Ye cursed in anger, and the two men tacitly separated from each other, with one man spreading his bone fan in front of him, while the other raising his umbrella-shaped spirit streamer above him. Like a massive pinball, the huge data cabinet clattered about noisily as it slammed onto both sides of the mounds of cabinet, before crashing straight through the windows between the two men and falling straight into the darkness below.
Gulp… Both men gulped nervously as they wiped off the cold sweat on their foreheads.
Whoosh… An icy gale swept in from the five meter hole that had just opened up right between the two men. Qin Ye drew a deep breath, and then craned his head over to glance out of the building, only to see that they were currently at least fifty meters above ground level. The size of the houses below looked no different from tiny matchboxes.
The sight was simply dizzying.
Yet perhaps what was even more terrifying was the fact that the streets no longer bore their original appearances. Instead, the buildings below were blanketed by a writhing black cloud that was undoubtedly formed by a large gathering of blight vermin. In fact, the cloud had even spread to the Pavilion of Transcendence like a plague, where they had begun to gnaw away at its base like termites infesting a large tree.
Neither men spoke. Both were reeling in shock from the earlier close call.
Then, amidst the deadly silence, a series of loud clattering and creaking sounds echoed through the entire Pavilion of Transcendence once again. This time, it was the sound that the structural beams and pillars were making because they could no longer support the weight of the building. Both men could tell that the Pavilion of Transcendence was slowly but surely tilting more and more, almost as though it were an old man that were trudging along valiantly in the final moments of his life.
There was no doubt that the building would collapse as soon as its tilt goes beyond a critical angle.
“The Pavilion of Transcendence can’t hold on any longer.” Qin Ye drew a deep breath, “Help me locate the precious resources, and I’ll spare your life.”
“You’re still thinking of killing me at a time like this?!” Ma Liu’s breaths grew shallow as he glanced at Qin Ye and licked his lips, “I can help you out, but we’ll split the profits evenly!”
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered.
Gao Changgong… is thinking of rebelling!
A special agent among darkfeathers likely doubled up as Gao Changgong’s personal guards, and would naturally be privy to his thoughts and plans. Yet he still asked to split the profits evenly.
If this hadn’t been Gao Changgong’s intention in the first place, the darkfeather under his command would never of his own volition make such a request. In fact, it only stood to reason that Gao Changgong was planning such a rebellion. After all, he was a highly accomplished man while he was alive, only to have been poisoned to death as a result of his king’s suspicion back then. If Hell had truly lost its power, they would never be able to obstruct his usurpation of the throne.
It’s fine… there’s already Emperor Wu of Song… so what if we add another Gao Changgong to the fray? I can’t believe their audacity! To think that each and every one of these feudal officials are turning rebellious and harbouring their own designs on the throne of Hell! To think that there’s not a single one of them who’s loyal to Hell! Qin Ye psyched himself up mentally as he glared at Ma Liu, “Dare you believe it when I say that… I’m going to clean out the rabble in Hell right now?”
Boom!! A split-second later, the Pavilion of Transcendence could no longer hold up its own weight, and it snapped at the foundation. The entire building slammed down to the ground once more, kicking up a massive shockwave of dust and debris. Then, just as wooden splinters and dirt scattered everywhere, Qin Ye and Ma Liu made their moves at exactly the same time!
Ma Liu raised his bone fan and swung it with all his might. More than a dozen immolating skulls screamed as they charged forward and homed in on Qin Ye’s vitals. Meanwhile, Qin Ye leapt from the ground and promptly transformed into a nethergale that shot straight to the top of the mountain of cabinets.
Qin Ye didn’t even care about the skulls that were approaching him. Instead, he swung his spirit streamer like the dance of a silver dragon, and set it flying straight towards Ma Liu’s legs.
There was a loud bang and a shrill shriek from Ma Liu, before he soon realized to his pleasant surprise that… Qin Ye had completely missed his legs.
When he first saw the strike approaching him, he was already prepared to lose a leg in order to preserve his own life. Yet when the crash resounded, he didn’t feel a single ounce of pain emanating from his lower limbs!
Just as his shrill shriek was about to turn into a shout of joy, he suddenly froze in shock. His eyes quivered in fear a split second later, because he had just realized that the mountain of cabinets right above him was starting to teeter dangerously.
In that instant, everything became patently clear to Ma Liu - He wasn’t aiming for me…
He was aiming… to smash the mound of cabinets…
So long as he destabilized the base of the cabinets, the cabinets on top would most certainly fall down. And then, Ma Liu would be sent smashing straight out of the Pavilion of Transcendence, and into the open arms of the sea of blight vermin below…
“Stay your hand!!” Ma Liu screamed in terror as he turned to look at Qin Ye with a pleading gaze. He was now shaking all over.
“Hellguards can fly for short distances.” Qin Ye didn’t even bother to look back as he toyed with the spirit streamer in hand, “But would that really be the case under the weight of these A-grade gloomwood cabinets?”
1. Jiaozhi is the term used to refer to several provinces, prefectures and counties in northern vietnam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiaozhi Gao Changgong (541-573) was a high ranking general of the Northern Qi Dynasty who was given fiefdom in Lanling County, thereby earning him the name Prince of Lanling. Legend has it that he looked beautiful like a woman so he wore a mask in battles to appear more fearsome to the enemy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gao_Changgong