Chapter 396: The Harken's Response

“Meow~~” The Harken continued to roll about joyfully, spinning about and leaping into the sky with a bright glint in its eyes. Yet as it continued to flounder about in its great ecstasy from the shower of catnip, the surrounding hills and mounds were getting visibly flattened right in front of Arthis’ and Qin Ye’s eyes…

Arthis and Qin Ye hovered about in mid-air, silent and speechless, refusing to believe that this was what had become of the divine beast of the old Hell. Nope… We don’t know each other… not at all…

Just like that, the Harken’s one-sided gallivant of pleasure lasted for four whole hours, before the Harken finally laid languidly on the ground once more. It was panting intensely, almost as though it was completely worn out from its hours of play time. Then, it finally opened its eyes reluctantly and gazed at the sky, “I’m surprised Lord Ksitigarbha didn’t smack you to death as soon as he saw you…”

Silence.

Qin Ye was almost tempted to respond by saying - Stop with the farce, alright? We’ve witnessed everything you’ve done over the last four hours. Your image has been completely shattered and ruined in our minds…

“Come on, tell me, how did you encounter Lord Ksitigarbha, and how did you get your hands on the Yin Beast Bell?” The Harken laid lazily on the ground. He wasn’t even looking at Qin Ye right now. Instead, he was simply rubbing its face against the ground it had earlier tenderized, “And don’t you dare lie to me. This is the only chance at reconciliation that I’m giving you.”

Ah. The Harken’s word of caution came just at the right time. Qin Ye had just been mulling over how to embellish the facts, such as by telling the Harken that he had to be the protector of Hell, and so on and so forth. His mouth was already opened, and primed to speak, but he immediately shut his mouth sensibly.

I’d almost forgotten that this was the Harken we’re talking about…

Its auditory acuity meant that it could even hear the thoughts of a person’s heart. In the Journey to the West, when even Buddha himself wasn’t able to distinguish between the Six-Eared Macaque and the real Sun Wukong, the only one who was able to do so was the Harken. So, wouldn’t lying to the Harken be tantamount to courting death? [1]

Thus, for the next ten minutes, Qin Ye recounted everything leading up to his encounter with Lord Ksitigarbha, without missing a single detail. Then, as soon as he was done, the Harken snorted coldly, “I’ve got to admit that you’re pretty smart.”

The Harken stared intently at the Yin Beast Bell with a complex gaze in its eyes. After a long time, it finally sighed, “Forget it… There’s some truth in what you’re saying as well. Without Hell, where would I go? Kid, since you’ve clearly got Lord Ksitigarbha’s nod of approval, then let’s bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones.”

Arthis and Qin Ye both heaved a great sigh of relief.

But the Harken soon added, “That said, Hell’s location has already been fixed. You’ve built it above and allowed Hell to draw on the Yin energy that I’m using to recover from my wounds. That’s going to delay my full recovery by another hundred years or so. Until then, don’t you expect me to protect Hell at all. In fact… you’d better pray that nothing happens to Hell in the meantime.”

“We were forced to do so only by the circumstances at that time.” Qin Ye sighed and smiled bitterly. Regardless of how the Harken had behaved earlier, an existence representing thirty million Yin was still nothing to laugh at.

“Are there any means of… accelerating your rate of recovery?” Qin Ye probed further.

As soon as the Harken fully recovers, they can immediately march for Amano-Iwato![2]

Why Nippon?

Was it simply because he was unhappy with them?

Nonsense. King Yanluo is the ruler of a nation. Wouldn’t it be far too irascible if a ruler sends troops to invade another country just because he felt like it?

What was more important… was the big picture he was working towards!

Nippon was an underworld with over a thousand years of history. While Izanami was only an Abyssal Prefect, she still had some measure of influence over world politics. Credit where it was due, all underworlds that were still in existence today should never be underestimated at all. Not a single one of them can be considered weak by any means. After all, how many underworlds and gods have risen throughout the years, only to disappear with the effluxion of time? And where are these underworlds of bygone eras?

Once the Array of the Nine Gods that had been strengthened by the second King Yanluo of Hell finally wears out after a hundred and fifty years, the truth about Hell would finally be made public. Unfortunately, no matter how confident Qin Ye was in his own abilities to rebuild Hell, it was quite something else to say with confidence that he would make Hell regain its former glory in just a hundred and fifty years.

So long as they continued on their current trajectory, war would be inevitable.

But… what if they managed to raze a longstanding underworld to the ground in the meantime?

That would be an incredible flex of power, as if to declare to the world that even if Hell isn’t quite the same as it once was, one would still be wise to think twice before getting on Hell’s bad side.

War was always the best way to flex one’s muscles to the world. The other options around were only the small countries and their corresponding underworlds, as well as the nameless god of death of the Orthodox Church of Rus. Naturally, the Nipponese underworld was the perfect choice for Hell.

That said, everything hinged on the Harken’s complete awakening. Otherwise, Qin Ye would be left with no choice but to continue struggling for the next hundred years.

The Harken was clearly unaware of the contemplations in Qin Ye’s mind. However, it still responded to the question, “It’s not as though there isn’t… but… it’s these options are just too difficult.”

Without missing a beat, he continued, “Yin spirits. The more Yin spirits Hell has, the more Yin energy Hell will accumulate. In turn, the density of Yin energy would trigger the appearance of certain precious specialty products of Hell, some of which would be useful for the purposes of accelerating my recovery. For instance, these would include the Yan Capital’s Nine Yin Water of the Azure Dragon, or the Moonlit Spider Lily of the three eastern provinces. But given the size of Hell as it stands…”

It glanced up at the tiny Hell that hovered above its head and snorted unabashedly, “Even if I consumed the Hell in its entirety right now, it would barely accelerate the healing process.”

Could you please be more civil?!

Qin Ye suppressed the stirring emotions in his heart and continued to perk up his ears to Harken’s spiel, “However… there’s hope to be found in Limbo.”

“Even though the Yin energy in Limbo isn’t anywhere close to the quality of that which you can find in Hell, it’s still the ‘mantle’ that has been in existence for several thousands of years. I wouldn’t say that you can find treasures littered everywhere, but there are certainly some to be found. That said… Limbo is massive, and there are even Yama-class Yin beasts around. Given the current strength of the new Hell… Haha…”

Qin Ye glossed over the Harken’s mockery and got straight to the point, “But… what if we have the Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows?”

“Fire God Zhou Gongjin’s Karmic Fire Divine Crossbow?” The Harken froze, and then responded with a smirk, “Are you sure he’s willing to assist the new Hell? I wouldn’t have expected that of him.”

Qin Ye’s smile broadened, “Fortunately, I’d just called for an imperial court meeting, and Lord Zhou was willing to offer up to Hell twenty thousand sets of Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows and a million Karmic Fire Divine Bolts.”

The Harken’s eyes widened slightly, and finally deigned to size up Qin Ye once more.

Good lad…

For the very first time, it was looking at Qin Ye with a different light.

The Yin Beast Bell had secured him an audience with the Harken, and Qin Ye was seizing every opportunity to ride the momentum here. He sounded like he was stating facts, but the truth of the matter was that he was merely raising the Harken’s assessment of him.

How weak would Hell have to be right now? It might appear strong on the outside--... No, it couldn’t possibly even maintain a facade of strength. And yet he dares to call for an imperial court meeting? What kind of characters are the twelve envoys supposed to be? If not for the system of ranks established by the old Hell, I’m afraid they wouldn’t even listen to the Abyssal Prefects who occupy a higher office than them! Yet not only did he call for an imperial court meeting, he’s even intact and standing here in one piece?

Did Liu Yu and the rest turn vegan or something?

Interesting… No wonder he was chosen as the successor to the second King Yanluo… Other achievements aside, the fact that he can survive an imperial court meeting with the twelve envoys justifies a reassessment of his abilities.

But before the Harken could even finish mulling over these things, Qin Ye promptly leaned over and added, “And everything seems to have fallen into place nicely, because I was just planning on using these one million Karmic Fire Divine Bolts to pave a way from the City of Salvation to Martial City.”

Boom!

This time, the Harken’s eyes widened completely, and he stared intently at Qin Ye.

Ignoring the Harken’s reactions, Qin Ye slowly straightened up and continued placidly, “That said, there is one obstacle that stands in our way right now. A great sinner of the Confucian Family who was once exiled from Hell into the realms of Limbo has managed to escape into the mortal realm. Therefore, I’d like you to lend me a hand and aid me with the use of the Universal Grand Shift.”

Arthis had somehow already slipped away before Qin Ye was even done with his request. The Harken drew a deep breath. Its colossal body rose and fell heavily. And then… it slowly got to its feet.

Boom… The soft movements of an existence worth thirty million Yin caused the earth to tremble and mountains to shift. Its gargantuan head rose up like a towering pylon that obscured Qin Ye’s field of vision completely. Its golden pupils blazed with netherflame as he stared intently into Qin Ye’s eyes. Finally, after a full minute of intense, dead silence, the Harken finally spoke again, “You know everything.”

It was an affirmative statement.

“You’ve… heeded Lord Ksitigarbha’s warning.” A peculiar smile crept across the Harken’s face, “You’re really forcing me to think highly of you, aren’t you? It’s not simple… Something like that isn’t simple at all… Although I can sense that you’re approximately five times weaker than others of the same cultivation rank as you, your intellect and wisdom sets you apart from them all, and even places you in the same ranks as your predecessor Yanluos.”

“I’ll do the math.” It raised its paws and pinched its fingers together, “Three days. It’s only been three days, and yet you’ve already understood the intricacies of it all. Lord Ksitigarbha’s warning concerns the entire situation in the world. I would have thought that only a high ranking Emissary of Hell would have had the exposure to understand the depths of complexities undergirding his warning to you. Who would’ve thought…”

It stuck out its scarlet tongue and licked the scales near its lips, “A mere Infernal Judge like you who has only been in service for a year would actually be able to surmise the true meaning of his warning to you? You’re not bad… Kid, you’re slowly becoming easier on my eyes. Can you tell me how you managed to deduce everything?”

“It’s simple.” Qin Ye responded with confidence. He was fully aware that even the tone of voice in which he carried out this exchange with the Harken was of utmost importance. He couldn’t afford to reveal the slightest traces of weakness. On the other hand, the Harken knew that his intuition was right - That’s right, he’s already secretly begun to seize the initiative.

That said, the Harken had no intention of allowing him to ride the momentum so easily. The road to gaining the approval of the divine beast of Hell was a long and arduous one.

“One would be able to guess pretty much everything by making extrapolations and inferences from his warnings. That said, what I understand is no more than a guess on my part. If Lord Harken is willing, would you perhaps consider breaking it down for me so that I can dispel any lingering doubts on my heart?”

This was the true reason for which he had agreed to see the Harken in the first place!

The Universal Grand Shift was important, but learning the truth from the Harken’s mouth was of even greater importance!

The Harken locked eyes with him. It was peculiar. The two entities were clearly of an unequal starting point to begin with, and yet they looked unexpectedly harmonious together. The Harken considered the possibility of skirting around the issue, only to realize that it was simply impossible to do so. Thus, with great resignation, it lay down on the ground and sighed deeply, “Under the old Hell’s system of education, all entities of the Abyssal Prefects rank and above must undergo a compulsory course. The teacher of this course is none other than King Yanluo himself, and the entire course is premised on a single topic, namely, ‘the collapse of Hell’.”

The Harken was growing increasingly breathless, presumably because its body was unable to sustain such an extended period of speech. Nevertheless, it continued, “Entities above the ranks of Abyssal Prefects are considered the true elites of Hell. We’re talking about a few hundred existences among billions of Yin spirits. The topic is merely a hypothetical situation, but it is still important to treat something like that with great importance for succession’s sake. After all, Hell faces a great number of rivals, and there’s always a possibility that it would one day be destroyed by an external coalition of forces. Apart from that, there’s an even greater likelihood that Hell would one day implode upon itself because of the disjointed gentries that tear Hell apart from within. Thus, the true elites and leaders of Hell would always have to come together to consider what they would do when a remote possibility like that becomes an eventuality.”

Qin Ye nodded. It was normal to consider and even provide for contingency measures. Every major nation in the world would most certainly have plans like these. The only reason why civilians knew nothing of these plans was because of the strict confidentiality requirements to it.

Thus, Qin Ye listened intently. This was the first time he was hearing an analysis from an entity that belonged to the core circle of the old Hell’s leadership, and he knew that an opportunity like that might not come again in the near future.

Catnip is truly important…

“Back then, all of the big shots agreed that… as soon as Hell collapses, what follows next… would undoubtedly be a reversion to Hell’s warring states era!”

“Kiddo, do you think you’re fortunate? You’re… merely at the opening act of a great era of war and strife. You’re nothing more than a digit among the competitors who have thrown their names into the ballot box. It’s going to be a battle royale out there, and the winner takes all. Do you think you’re already the King Yanluo of Hell? Haha… that’s nothing more than a ceremonial title right now. The road ahead is still long and fraught with uncertainties and difficulties. The dominos from Hell’s collapse are still falling, and we’re only just beginning to see its effects…”


1. This first appeared in Chapter 93.

2. This is what Izanami’s home is called.

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