Qin Ye remained suspended in the air. His hat was no longer the pointed hat that he donned when he was an Anitya Hellguard. Rather, it now appeared no different from the Zhong Kui hats worn by traditional operatic actors. He wore black imperial robes, with images of the Harken and the xiezhi unicorn embroidered on his left and right sleeves respectively. He held what appeared to be a Judgment Pen in his left hand, and what appeared to be the Book of Life and Death in his right hand. A graphic image of evil ghosts being vanquished was embroidered over the chest area of his robes. His belt buckle was made of luxurious jade, and his shoes were jet-black in colour. His entire ensemble appeared far more exquisite than that of an Anitya Hellguard.
“I’m an Infernal Judge?” He lifted his hands and examined the pen and book in his hands.
He could sense that these artifacts were what used to be the demonhead sabre and the mourning staff that he had used in the past. It had simply changed forms, and naturally gained new functions as well. That said… the pen was clearly mightier than the sword!
In fact, it contained far more power within than even the mourning staff he had used as a Hellguard!
He picked up the pen and gently dotted the air. There was immediately a loud tremor, and the space right in front of the Judgment Pen suddenly exploded with a roar no different than a sonic boom. It was almost as though he had just unleashed the most powerful drawing technique known to man, and the resultant impact sent Arthis’ hair scattering about wildly.
“Haa--...” He gasped slightly. Is this truly the might of an Infernal Judge? I guess… Arthis had clearly been holding back all this while. She mustn’t even have used a tenth of the strength available to her?
Something told him that if he had gone all out, even the thick walls that were hundreds of meters away would be completely blasted through by the immense power now at his disposal!
Arthis chuckled, “Judgement Pen and the Book of Life and Death. These are no more than imitations of the true divine artifacts on which the foundations of Hell are built upon. As a Judge, the coverage of your senses have now expanded to the size of a province. So long as you will it, there’s not a place within a province-sized Hell that you wouldn’t be able to see. And when you so desire to summon any Yin spirit before you, all you need to do is to write that Yin spirit’s name on the imitation Book of Life and Death with the imitation Judgment Pen in your possession.”
Qin Ye nodded. Then, he closed his eyes and began to sense the Yin energy flowing within his body. It was peculiar… he could actually see and perceive the flow of energy within his organs and bones right now.
Everything appeared completely transparent to his newfound senses. What appeared to flow within the marrows of his bones was no longer blood, but Yin energy. Furthermore, his bones appeared to have been refined so much that they now appeared crystal clear, just like the Yin spirit stones that he had used for his breakthrough.
Needless to say, there was no doubt that his body could withstand far greater punishment right now.
After several minutes, he finally opened his eyes and suppressed the wild ecstasy in his heart as he curled his finger provocatively at Arthis, “Slap me. I want to fight ten of you!”
Arthis smiled menacingly, “Then… do be careful.”
“This time, I’m going to go all out.”
As soon as she finished speaking, countless spots of netherflames promptly erupted from her back. The sight of her technique looked incredibly familiar… Then, just as Qin Ye’s lips trembled, Arthis muttered, “Ten Thousand Ghosts Ravage the Soul.” 
“No… NO! Wait! Hang on a moment! That’s not what I meant…”
Unfortunately, he simply wasn’t given the luxury of time to wallow in his regrets. A tide of Yin spirits promptly rushed over, with each spot of netherflame representing a grievous, burning soul. They screamed and shrieked and erupted with great Yin energy. Qin Ye cried out in alarm and immediately curled up into a ball and held his hands tightly over his head.
Don’t you know what a slap refers to?!
I’m giving you an inch, and you’re trying to take a mile?! Are you trying to get me kille--... Eh? Hang on…
The copious amounts of Yin energy exploded around him with incredible tremors. Three full minutes later, Qin Ye slowly lowered his hands with great astonishment and stared at the Prestige of the Luminary that surrounded his body.
It was far larger than what it had been before when he was still an Anitya Hellguard. The Prestige of the Luminary was now a visible shield that encompassed a sphere of ten-meters radius around Qin Ye. Arthis’ powerful technique had struck the surface of Qin Ye’s defenses, but it hardly left a single trace on it altogether.
Ahh… Qin Ye finally lifted his hand and ran his hand smugly through his somewhat disheveled hair. He coughed lightly, “You’re nothing much…”
It had to be said that his actions appeared so natural that it even made Arthis second guess whether it was indeed Qin Ye who had been turtling up just moments ago.
Nevertheless, Arthis rolled her eyes softly at him, “You’d be far more convincing if your legs weren’t trembling so much.”
Qin Ye cleared his throat and wisely ignored her last statement as he began to turn his attention to the Yin energy coursing through his body once again. If he wished, he could now finally project his form elsewhere like Arthis had once done, a technique more commonly known as the manifestation of the saint.
He glanced around using his inner senses. Not a single part of Hell was hidden to these ‘eyes’ of his. In fact, when he turned his attention to the rumbling clouds of dense Yin energy at the borders of Hell, he could tell that his senses could still go further, yet they were artificially obstructed by the borders in existence.
Ten minutes later, he finally retracted his senses and opened his eyes, “So this is what an Infernal Judge is capable of… It’s on a completely different level from an Anitya Hellguard.” Then… he turned to look at Arthis with an unkind expression undergirding his gaze.
Arthis immediately caught sight of it. She promptly lifted her chin proudly and glanced down at Qin Ye with disdain.
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. It’s time for payback.
Qin Ye sighed softly, “You’ve come.”
Arthis paused for a moment, and then immediately understood what he was getting at, “Yes, I’ve come.”
Qin Ye: “You shouldn’t have.”
Arthis: “But I have.”
Qin Ye: “And I knew you would.”
Arthis: “Of course I would. And you would’ve known this as well. Otherwise, why would you have let me leave a year ago?”
Arthis lowered her gaze and stared intently at her long black nails that were slowly elongating from her fingers. After some time, she slowly remarked, “It’s been a year… A whole year.”
“What a long year it’s been.”
Qin Ye sighed, “What a short year.”
Arthis: “... You’re addicted to it, aren’t you? Don’t you think you’re going too far with your role-playing with Fu Hongxue and Yan Nanfei’s famous exchange? Can we make a move already?”
Qin Ye gulped nervously, “Aren’t we… simply raring ourselves up for the battle ahead? The great duel to settle a grudge between father and son should always be preceded by a stirring exchange--…”
He promptly transformed into a nethergale and pounced towards Arthis before he could even finish speaking.
It was a sneak attack to start off the duel - Qin Yanluo style.
Arthis chuckled coldly and transformed into an equal, opposing nethergale that clashed powerfully against Qin Ye. It was like the clash of two mighty pythons, and the subterranean cavern immediately trembled and roiled with copious amounts of Yin energy.
Qin Ye exploded with rage, “Seizing my laptop, huh?!!”
“Calling me dogballs, huh?!!”
“Looking down on me, huh?!!”
“You berate me and smack me around whenever you feel like it! And yet your greatest sin against me is when you used a silicone doll to disgrace me thoroughly!!!”
Ten seconds later, with a loud smack, the roiling Yin wind promptly scattered to the surroundings, revealing a peculiar sight of Arthis holding Qin Ye down by the ear, and Qin Ye grimacing in painful submission. Footlong nails extended out of his hands, and he frantically scratched at Arthis, yet to no avail at all, “And… and y-you still dare assault me, huh?!!”
It was the complete sight of a tiff between roommates.
“You’ve got quite the sharp tongue, haven’t you?” Arthis muttered coldly as she twisted Qin Ye’s ear, causing him to squeal like a pig in the slaughterhouse.
“What’s a junior Judge like you with no arts or techniques at his disposal doing challenging one of the top fifty Infernal Judges of the old Hell? Don’t you think you’re overestimating yourself?” She casually waved her hand, and Qin Ye collapsed straight to the ground.
Three seconds later, Qin Ye leapt straight to his feet and bellowed with rage, “This is completely unscientific!!! Aren’t you supposed to be no better off than a rogue Yin spirit right now? I’m of the same rank as you, so why can’t I instakill you?!!”
Arthis yawned lazily, “I’d long known that you’ve been harboring a grudge against me. Therefore… I’ve made sure to personally preside over your promotion ceremony.”
“Do you know something? Anyone who presides over the promotion ceremony of another would gain the benefit of having their authority rub off on them. Thanks to you, I’m already considered half a civil servant of Hell, and undoubtedly also an Emissary of the new Hell. I may not be considered someone who is officially appointed, but my name would still appear in Hell’s Records as it stands right now. So on what basis are you going to instakill me? Whoo… Do you know how long I’ve waited for this day? Three hundred and sixty-five long days and nights! I’d already known since the start that you were going to put me in my place as soon as you attain the same rank as me!”
Picking a fight with me?
You’re still too young and too immature!
Nggghhh… this is my loss! Qin Ye gnashed his teeth and summarily shelved all thoughts of revenge. It’s fine… I’ll be promoted to an Abyssal Prefect in no time… He picked up Hell’s Records and flipped to his name, only to realize that he was now five million merit points away from the next promotion.
It’s fine… revenge is a dish best served cold… I’ll sooner or later have you begging for mercy…
“What kind of expression is that in your eyes right now?” Arthis was displeased, “Get lost if there’s nothing more you need right now! Look at what kind of example you’re setting for the rest?! Oda Nobunaga has already led your army to a great battle in the depths of the old Hell, so how can you, the King Yanluo of Hell, be dallying about and not setting up the Beacons of Light?! Don’t you think you’re being a deadweight around here?!”
Endure… I’m still no match for this shrew at the time being… He dusted his sleeves and straightened his robed, “Well, there’s one more thing. I’ve just encountered Lord Ksitigarbha.”
“Okay.” Arthis responded indifferently.
“... What kind of a response is that? Shouldn’t you be incredibly shocked by something like that? Where’s the expression of astonishment? Why is there such a bland look on your face?”
Arthis waved her hand impatiently, “That’s just because there wasn’t sufficient lead up to the incredible news you were disclosing. You should’ve at the very least retracted that smile on your face and revealed an air of sobriety. Look at your expression now, it’s no different from that which you have plastered all over your face when you discharge your daily excrements. How do you expect me to respond appropriately?”
Ahh… lady… Qin Ye’s hands shook softly, and the Yin Beast Bell appeared in his hands.
“Lord Harken’s bell?” Arthis gasped in horror as she stared at Qin Ye, “You… seriously encountered Lord Ksitigarbha?!”
“I mean… didn’t I just tell you exactly that? Did you really think I was kidding earlier?!”
“... But our earlier exchange… made me think that you were just coming up with something more to annoy me with…”
Qin Ye felt like throwing up. Do you really think I’m capable of joking about something like that? Something else to annoy you with? Do you know how much you’re annoying me right now?!
Endure… endure… Qin Ye took several more deep breaths to regulate his roiling emotion. Then, he slowly recalled to mind the words that Ksitigarbha had left him with, and his expressions turned somber once again.
“I’ll tell you more about our encounter later.” Qin Ye retracted his smile and then murmured, “Have you ever heard of Valley County? Was it a location that had ever been recorded as part of the Annals of Hell?”
Arthis shook her head without even thinking much about it, “No.”
“Are you certain?” Qin Ye furrowed his brows deeply.
“I’m certain.” Arthis nodded, “Apart from Fengdu Necropolis, every single city and county in Hell are well known to us. For instance, we’ve got the Argen Town that is known to be the bulwark stopping the advance of the Middle East underworld, or the Darksnow City that guards against the Hanyang underworld. Valley County… unfortunately does not belong to any one of these names. Furthermore, I can be sure that this wasn’t a location that a renowned Abyssal Prefect once used to live in. After all, we’ve heard all about the birth and life of the esteemed Prefects in Hell for hundreds of years.”
Qin Ye gazed deeply into Arthis’ eyes, before suddenly remarking, “Why did you think I suddenly returned, asking for your help to promote me to an Infernal Judge? There aren’t many incarnate revenants in the mortal realm to begin with, and it wouldn’t be for another half a month until I arrive in Martial City either. So, there simply isn’t any reason for me to be in such a hurry.”
Arthis didn’t even have to think about it, “Of course it’s because you felt threatened… I’ve got to hand it to you… your nose is far sharper than any Yin dog’s nose that I know of. And you even run away from danger faster than any rabbits in Hell--… Wait a minute!”
She paused for a moment, before staring back at Qin Ye with widened eyes, “Threatened?”
“What entity is there that possesses the ability to threaten your existence? I don’t think you’re the type to be actively provoking an incarnate revenant to begin with.”
“So, are you saying that… there might be something that poses a threat to your life and limb back in Valley County?”
1. For those of you who have forgotten, Zhong Kui is a deity known as the vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings. Here’s an image of the cap he is usually depicted to wear. https://img.mp.itc.cn/upload/20170507/ebdc3c4957774e258484bdc56ad1a435
3. Their exchange is apparently a well-known part of a series of wuxia novels by Gu Long known as Xiaoli Feidao. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaoli_Feidao