How outrageous… Qin Ye’s scalp was tingling, and his senses were tense to the extreme. Fortunately, a layer of black film formed entirely out of Yin energy immediately expanded around him. With a loud metallic clang, the seven saw-toothed blades struck Qin Ye’s Prestige of the Luminary in an instant.
The film of Yin energy rippled slightly. Then, with a soft, crunching sound, cracks began to appear on the edge of the saw-toothed blades, extending quickly throughout the entire weapon, before shattering into a million pieces in an instant. A split second later, the assailants were instantly repelled back to the central pool, where they screamed in terror and desperately scrambled to retreat.
A Judge-class Prestige of the Luminary.
It activates automatically, and guarantees that the Infernal Judge would never be hurt by an entity weaker than him.
Qin Ye shut his eyes as soon as he noticed the assailants being repelled backwards. His forehead was already percolating with cold sweat. He gritted his teeth and lifted his hands, and countless chains suddenly shot out from within his long sleeves, swiftly coiling around the retreating ghosts and binding the ghosts who were desperately retreating!
Crack! The rattle of the chains was instantly followed by the sounds of crushing bones. Moments later, the chains slowly retracted back into the depths of his sleeves, leaving behind in its wake seven corpses that fell limply and lifelessly to the ground.
Qin Ye’s chest heaved and fell slightly as he glanced about his surroundings warily. His fingers were still trembling slightly underneath his sleeves, ready to react at the moment’s notice. This was the first time he had felt such a fleeting moment of death and crisis arise from the depths of his heart.
He hadn’t even felt such levels of crisis back at the Strait of Tsushima!
But it only stood to reason. Back then, he knew full well that he always had the option of retreat when push came to shove. The only trade off was forgoing his possession of the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl. On the other hand… his current opponent’s intentions were patently clear - he was after Qin Ye’s life!
This was… an assassination!
Assassination of the King Yanluo of Hell!
If I were still a Hellguard right now…
The sheer thought of the potential consequences sent shivers down Qin Ye’s spine.
The unknown mastermind had already moved once against him back at the train station. This was the second time he was getting targeted! In other words, everything that had happened to this very moment had been entirely orchestrated by the mastermind for the purposes of claiming his life! The pit of a thousand was a complex trap that had been laid out to snare and eradicate him! The only miscalculation in the mastermind’s plan was the fact that Qin Ye would break through his bottleneck and attain the ranks of an Infernal Judge before he fell prey to the trap.
Qin Ye’s heart was still thumping wildly. He forced himself to calm down as he turned his gaze to the jiangshi back at the central pool. He couldn’t be bothered with the mastermind for now. What was more pressing was… whether there were any clues left behind for him.
Why does this person have such an intense desire to murder me in cold blood? He’s failed once, and yet he keeps coming again and again?
Is it because he knows that Hell has been reestablished?
That’s impossible. Even if that were the case, how could they possibly ascertain my identity as the King Yanluo of Hell? Moreover, it’s not likely that they’re able to detect the presence of the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal on me, since it’s a divine artifact after all. Even Honda Tadakatsu was able to detect the shard of King Yanluo’s seal only due to the resonance arising out of the Book of Life and Death. It’s practically impossible in the current circumstances.
Therefore… there must be another reason motivating these actions. Hopefully, I’ll be able to uncover some leads from the jiangshis’ corpses. He curled his finger, and a soul shackle latched itself directly onto one of the corpses in the central pool and yanked it straight towards him.
But just as the corpse was flying through the air, it suddenly paused, almost as though there were an equal and opposite force that was pulling the corpse straight back towards the pool. Just like that, the corpse trembled in the air where it remained motionless!
“This is…” Qin Ye froze, and then turned to look straight back into the pool.
It was only then that he realized that a meter-wide hole had at some point in time silently appeared in the middle of the pool. Water poured straight into this peculiar sinkhole, together with the body of the female jiangshi.
In fact… water wasn’t the only thing that was being swallowed up by the sinkhole.
The sinkhole was consuming things around it almost as though it were a swirling black hole! The entire realm that Qin Ye was in right now, including the dead female workers, the factory, and even… the pharmacy, hotels, roads, street lights and humanoid paper effigies outside were being sucked straight into the sinkhole as though they were nothing more than a painting on a canvass being drawn into a powerful vortex.
Whoosh… Even Qin Ye’s garments were fluttering madly to the powerful suction force of the sinkhole in the central pool as it slowly grew stronger and more terrifying by the second! The colours around it soon faded away, revealing nothing more than the reddish dirt of the ground and the copious amounts of bones and corpses that were littered below.
Qin Ye’s eyes instantly narrowed. He could sense that an entity powerful enough to influence the surroundings like that had to be an Infernal Judge. Had he finally decided to be personally involved? His modus operandi was exactly the same as before - attempted assassination, and a swift decision to destroy all evidence to cover his traces as soon as the assassination attempt fails.
Clang! The corpse was finally pulled into the sinkhole, and his shackle snapped back suddenly, pulling back the armor around the corpse that promptly transformed into the size of a matchbox and landed in his hands.
“How brazen. Do you think you can come and go as you wish all the time?” Qin Ye snickered as he tucked the matchbox-sized paper armor into his clothes, before promptly erupting with Yin energy as he fully unleashed his Hell’s Emissary state!
Within moments, he was clothed in the garments of an Infernal Judge, replete with the Zhong Kui hat. His white hair scattered about menacingly, while the golden netherflame in his eyes glimmered brightly like the moon in the dark night sky. He held a Judgment Pen in one hand, and the Book of Life and Death in the other. Then, he chuckled coldly, “By Hell’s Dictum, all rabble shall disperse!”
A soul shackle promptly shot out of his sleeves with a resounding clatter, stabbing straight into the female jiangshi in the depths of the hole like a hot knife through butter. Qin Ye’s swift attack bore the power of an Infernal Judge, and it naturally pierced straight through the female jiangshi’s body without any form of hindrance whatsoever. She instantly shrieked miserably at the top of her voice.
SSSSS!!! She threw both hands up before her and struggled to pull out the shackles that had plunged straight through her body. Meanwhile, everything around her was rapidly transforming into a black-and-white vortex that was being consumed by the sinkhole. The humanoid paper effigies around were screaming at the top of their voices, even as they swirled about helplessly within the massive vortex that was swallowing up everything in its surroundings. Within moments, Qin Ye and the female jiangshi were both swept straight into the sinkhole.
Whoosh… The surroundings around Qin Ye changed rapidly, from a mix of green and black wisps of Yin energy to that which was pure black in colour. He fell for several minutes, almost as though he were flying straight through a portal or wormhole of sorts. Then, when they finally emerged from the other side of the portal, the female jiangshi screamed miserably as she slammed straight into the ground, while Qin Ye remained suspended high in the air, exuding the majestic aura of an indomitable Judge. He twirled the Judgment Pen in his hand swiftly and dotted down with its tip straight towards the female jiangshi.
Rumble! The entire space trembled. A Judge’s might was so overwhelming that it could easily trigger abrupt changes to its surroundings.
They were in Limbo. Qin Ye could immediately tell from the familiar Yin energy that filled the air. Countless flowers of paramnesia blossomed everywhere, while a thick, dense fog of Yin energy drifted just over the surface of the lands. A moment later, Qin Ye blotted down with his Judgment Pen and unleashed a powerful bolt of energy at the female jiangshi!
Sss… SSS!!! Qin Ye’s attack was like a bolt of condemnation that crashed straight towards the female jiangshi’s body. Her entire body trembled, and she shrieked at the top of her voice, “Didn’t… you promise… to save me?!!!”
But just as Qin Ye’s attack arrived right in front of the female jiangshi’s head, a lotus flower formed entirely out of water suddenly blossomed from beneath her head. It was approximately one meter in size, and it immediately expanded in size and clashed directly against Qin Ye’s Judgment Pen attack! The incredible clash caused a massive circle of Yin energy to ripple out into the surroundings, sweeping away all of the drifting clouds of Yin energy around.
AHHHHH--!!!! A miserable shriek filled their entire surroundings. However, the source of the scream wasn’t the female jiangshi. She was still clinging tightly to her head and glaring viciously at Qin Ye at this very moment.
“Genuine Emissary of Hell… It’s actually a genuine Emissary of Hell!” A voice that was filled with even greater resentment echoed from the surroundings, interspersed only by his ragged breaths. Seconds later, the voice continued, “I can’t believe that there’s still a genuine Emissary of Hell in existence after what happened to Hell… Not even I could believe my own eyes when I first saw you…”
Qin Ye remained silent as he glanced vigilantly about his surroundings.
The clouds of Yin energy in his surroundings had just dispersed, only to reveal the fact that Qin Ye was currently standing in a great encirclement of ten thousand Yin soldiers who were all surrounding him.
Ten thousand Yin soldiers… The cloud of mystery in Qin Ye’s mind was suddenly swept clear in this very instant.
So that’s what it is… That’s what it is!
The cause of Ksitigarbha’s warning was indeed located in the heart of Valley County! In fact, it had only appeared when the Yin soldiers were marching! Therefore, Ksitigarbha’s warning must have been intended to tell me… to be careful of these Yin soldiers.
Because they… are after my life!
The Yin soldiers around looked no different from the famous terracotta warriors. They weren’t living beings at all. Instead, they appear to have been formed entirely out of clay, while the armor on their bodies were made entirely out of paper.
Thousands of spear-and-shield-wielding Yin soldiers were arrayed at the front of the encirclement, while more Yin soldiers armed with paper bows were stationed behind the dense defensive formation. What appeared to be sticks of white bone arrows with flaming tips drawn along with the bowstrings.
There was a sea of Yin soldiers around Qin Ye as far as he could see. It was the optical effect of having ten thousand or more Yin soldiers arrayed against him. Yet what was perhaps even more astonishing was the fact that there was a large ancient palanquin that stood out in the midst of the Yin soldiers around him. We say it was a palanquin, but… it would be more accurately described as a mobile imperial residence carried on the backs of hundreds of Yin spirits.
The mobile residence was made entirely out of mahogany in the typical ancient-Cathayan structures. Wind chimes, spirit streamers, and other accessories adorned the palace eaves, while its entrance was covered with a thin green veil. It was impossible to see the appearance of the Yin spirit within it. It looked incomparably eerie.
The atmosphere was as tense as the bowstrings that were drawn. Qin Ye’s heart began to thump wildly, and he desperately sought to stall for time as his hand slowly gravitated towards the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal.
Unfortunately, for some strange reason, the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal appeared to be activating much slower than before.
“So, you were the mastermind behind everything ever since I stepped foot into Valley County?” Qin Ye glanced at the mobile residence as he remarked cautiously, “You threw out hint after hint, luring me into the pit of a thousand, where you attempted assassinating me a second time. Then, just when I thought that your assassination attempt was over, you reveal your true finishing move?”
“How bold.” A man’s voice chuckled coldly from within the mobile residence, “Trifling Infernal Judge… You now stand before a direct descendent of the Confucian Family - a spiritual leader of Cathay as you know it, and yet you’re not even kneeling to pay your respects to me?!”
Qin Ye’s gaze shrunk. This man… is a direct descendant of Confucius himself? How many people surnamed ‘Kong’ are there in Cathay in the first place? And how many of these are notorious for their crimes? Of all people, why was he the one who was able to evade the cataclysmic consequences of Ksitigarbha’s ascension?
“A trifling wild Yin spirit dares to speak with such aggression and display such hostility against a genuine Emissary of Hell?” Qin Ye sneered back, desperately feigning calmness.
Truth be told, he was already starting to panic within. Is the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal taking longer than usual to activate because we’re in Limbo right now? That said, he knew full well that the display of fear could never resolve and dispel the source of danger in the first place.
Therefore… he was hoping to be able to escape from this place as soon as he could!
The voice in the palace chuckled lightly, “Esteemed Infernal Judge, are you currently thinking of how you can escape from this place?”
“Don’t worry, I can assure you that you will die a quick and painless death. Divine artifacts aside, none of your regular artifacts work properly in Limbo. And even the rare ones that work would take far longer to activate and take effect. By then… you’d already be dead.”
“And if you’re thinking of throwing around baseless claims that a genuine Emissary of Hell can instantly purge an evil ghost… take a look for yourself and see what this is.”
As soon as he finished speaking, a vibrant golden light glowed faintly on all the bodies of the Yin soldiers at the very same time.
Furthermore, a faint, white lustre glowed beneath the feet of the Yin soldiers in the shape of a tiger-shaped pattern.
As soon as Qin Ye saw the tiger-shaped pattern in the ground, he was immediately struck with a throbbing headache.
That’s the source of the warnings from Ksitigarbha and Arthis’ Arya Sense!
“This is a military formation.” The cold voice continued to explain from within the mobile residence, “I know all twelve hundred Infernal Judges of the old Hell, but I haven’t seen you before. By my guess, you must have only become an Infernal Judge within the last hundred years. In other words, you would have only recently advanced to this new rank, and you naturally wouldn’t know how to deal with such terrifying, terrible things.”
Gulp… The voice gulped excitedly, “This is the White Tiger Immortal-Punishing Array formed by ten thousand Yin soldiers. With me in charge around here, you can count on it that you’re going to die today!”
With that, the Yin soldiers echoed with an earth-shattering battle cry and loosened a volley of flaming arrows at Qin Ye!
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