Maynila, capital and largest city of the Felipinas.
The city of Maylina was situated on the eastern shore of Maynila Bay, located on the western edge of Luzon. Otherwise known to the locals as “Little Luzon”, it was located right on the natural harbour of Maynila Bay, and was also the largest port in all of the Felipinas. The city itself was very prosperous. But unlike the states of Siam and the Great Viet, which boasted of a strong foundation of regional folklore and legends, Maynila was far more cosmopolitan in nature.
Malacanan Palace, official residence and workplace of the president of the Felipinas. It was a colonial-style building. The time now was midnight. Only the streetlights and some surveillance lights were switched on in the palace. Just then, some of the presidential guards suddenly felt a chill across their bodies. Simultaneously… the trees, flora and fauna in the surroundings keeled over with a soft rustle, almost as though something was softly brushing past their rich canopies.
“What’s that?” “It wouldn’t be a ghost, would it?” “How is that possible? This is the official residence of the president we’re talking about.”
Unfortunately, none of them were aware that a magnificent ghostly city was flourishing with dazzling lights right underneath the Malacanan Palace.
The ghastly city was neither built with the same flair as the Han or Tang Dynasty architectural styles, nor was it constructed with the flamboyance of the Ming Dynasty. Moreover, it was far grander than the buildings more commonly seen in the Song Dynasty, and yet also constructed with far more beauty and splendour, and with intricate designs that exemplified their owner’s keen eye for detail. Pavilions sprouted up everywhere across the canopies of the vast buildings. The city covered a vast land, while the gambling houses appeared to have a ceaseless flow of activity at night. One by one, Yin spirits drifted about the streets at night, coming and going from their merriment endeavours. The entire city depicted a grand sight of prosperity and wealth.
Anyone who entered the city would immediately wonder if they had gone back in time and entered the Song Dynasty once more, albeit one that was far more prosperous than it had ever been before.
Yet what stood out in the center of the city was a seven-storey wooden building. Yang Jiye sat in the throne room, clad in resplendent armor. Meter-tall flames danced about reverently atop two thick candles that sat right behind him, illuminating a map of the East Continent that hung behind him. The generals of the Yang Clan were all seated in their respective seats.
“Great General, is there any reason for which you’ve summoned us today?” A man with a stern expression asked respectfully from the left side of the hall.
Yang Jiye didn’t speak. Instead, he simply picked up a smaller map that lay in front of him and gazed intently at it. After some time, he muttered, “The new Hell has sent an imperial edict, requesting Luzon to send reinforcements. We are to rendezvous where the new Hell is located, and render aid to Hell in their endeavours to pave the way from the City of Salvation to Martial City. In other words, we’re talking about forging a path from Insignia Province through to the mouth of the Yellow River in Eastmount Province.”
Everyone was silent.
Yang Jiye ruled his army with an iron fist. Anyone who was conscripted into the barracks would be strictly identified by their ranks, regardless of what ties they might have with others around.
He looked up, and a bright netherflame flickered in his eyes, “Who’s willing to go?”
Almost all of the generals in the room stood up at the same time, “I am!!”
Yang Jiye smiled, “It’s not possible to send everyone. We still need people to stand guard in the Felipinas. Over the last ten years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of incursions on our territorial waters. In fact, just last month, during the imperial court meetings, we’ve even spotted an Overwatch Sea Beast not more than three hundred nautical miles away from us. We cannot let our guards down. Furthermore…”
He paused for a moment, and his expressions soon turned somber, “Lord Qin’s letter has made it crystal clear - he suspects that there might be other cities of Yin spirits sprouting up within Cathay. I expect that those heading out on this expedition right now… might not be able to return to Luzon within the next hundred years or so. You guys have to think carefully about this.”
A minute later, a young general stood up and cupped his hands respectfully, “The establishment of the new Hell is to restore all glory to the Han Cathayans. All who attempt to take from Hell are no more than traitors! Great General, I am willing to offer up my life for King Yanluo of Hell!”
“I am also willing to head out on this expedition.” Another general promptly stood up as soon as the young general was done. It was a female general this time. Yet, not a single person in the hall appeared to be surprised by her response at all.
“I, too, am willing.” A second young man stood up, “I’ve participated in the old Hell’s expeditions to the western reaches and helped forge three stretches of national highways for the old Hell. I shall cut down all Yin beasts in my path and assist Lord Qin with his endeavours on this road to Martial City. Demons and ghosts alike, beware!”
“I’m willing to go!” “I’m also willing to lend aid to Hell!” “Same here!”
More than half of the forty generals on scene stood up within moments!
Yang Jiye glanced about the hall and sighed wistfully as he nodded, “Yang Yanzhao.”
“Here!” The young general who stood up first at the very beginning responded with great excitement. However, Yang Jiye’s expression remained just as stern and somber, “You were the only one who returned alive from the Battle of the Golden Beach back then. Your literacy in military affairs is second to none. I hereby appoint you as the commander-in-chief of the subjugation force. Take ten thousand Savage Tiger Raiders and immediately depart for the City of Salvation. Make sure that nothing happens before reinforcements arrive. The City of Salvation cannot be lost! Most importantly, keep Lord Qin safe and secure at all costs!”
“Yang Yande. You emerged from seclusion on the mountains and returned to the battlefields. Your bravery and might are second to none, and you have the respect of the troops under your charge. I hereby decree that you take charge of twenty thousand Girded Spear Yin Soldiers and depart immediately. You are to catch up to your commander-in-chief in the fastest time possible! Can you do this?” 
“Hua Jieyu, you’ve overcome all odds to become a female general that everyone looks up to. I want you to take command over generals Mu Guiying, Yelu Jiner, Huyan Chijin, together with four Yin beasts, namely the Nine-Eyed Siegebeast, the Scarlet Lotus Beast, the Yin-Footed Beast, and the Cloud Devourer, and thirty thousand bowmen, and depart for the City of Salvation immediately. You are also to catch up to your commander-in-chief in the quickest time possible! Understood?”
“Yes!” Four female voices responded with great determination.
Anyone from the modern era would scream in astonishment if they saw this sight panning out in front of their very eyes.
After all… everyone present today was in some way or another a famous general of the Yang Clan in their own right!
Unlike Yu Qian, Ma Fubo and other gentries, the Yang Clan was known for their illustrious military endeavours! Their clan practically constituted the bulk of the military force of the entire Song Dynasty!
To that end, perhaps the only other envoys who could stand shoulder to shoulder with Yang Jiye would be Zhou Yu and Liu Yu.
Besides, Yang Jiye’s loyalty to the new Hell was well apparent. Incidentally, Yang Yanzhao was one of the most famous of the generals in the hall. He was more commonly known as Yang Liulang. (TL: Liulang literally means the 6th son.)
Apart from that, Yang Yande, also known as Yang Wulang (TL: Wulang means the 5th son), was in life conferred the title of General Xuan Wei, appointed the commander-in-chief of the infantry and also tasked to protect the emperor. In the Battle of the Golden Beach, he was cut off from the rest, surrounded by enemy forces and completely outnumbered. Thus, he cut his hair and pretended to be a monk in order to escape his pursuers.
Beyond the eight illustrious sons, the Yang Clan was even more well known for their twenty-two female generals, including Hua Jieyu, Mu Guiying, Yelu Jiner and Huyan Chijin. Consequently the four of them were each known to be specialists that were undoubtedly at the top of their respective fields!
The imperial edict had been served, and the Yang Clan had selected the best of the best. Hundreds of years after Yang Jiye’s enfeoffment, they were finally returning back to Hell for the very first time!
“Great General.” Just when Yang Jiye was done issuing his order, another general stood up and remarked softly, “The old Hell has decreed that the twelve envoys should not maintain an army stronger than ten thousand in number. The five thousand soldiers that we often say comprises our entire army aren’t even being sent out together on this expedition. So how are we going to explain these tens of thousands of troops…”
Where did they come from?
Yang Jiye smiled.
Even the most stiff-necked folks would learn to become more adaptable after hundreds of years in Hell and the netherworld.
Are we supposed to stick to five thousand just because we say we only have five thousand?
Didn’t you see how Liu Yu had alone mustered forces of well over ten thousand back during the imperial court meeting?
“I’ve been expanding my army and forces ever since Hell’s great collapse. But… all of them are used as auxiliary soldiers. The official army of the Felipinas is still five thousand, but as far as auxiliary soldiers are concerned… we can maintain up to a hundred and twenty thousand.” He casually waved his hand, “The new King Yanluo of Hell wouldn’t mind something like that. He’s a… rather interesting leader. You guys will know as soon as you meet him.”
With that, he stood up and glanced about the hall.
Everyone was silent. A gently nethergale swept through the room, causing the blazing candles to flicker softly.
This was a kind of silent tension before war broke out. An air of sobriety filled the entire hall.
Yang Jiye slowly took in the expressions on each of the general’s faces, and thought about the times that they had shared together in these unending exploits of theirs. Then, he slowly shut his eyes and continued with a deep voice, “Everyone. Lord Qin didn’t state who the opponent is this time. I’m naturally none the wiser as well. However… the fact that they’ve managed to trigger Hell’s call for assistance means that the enemy this time is by no means easy to deal with! Swords have no eyes. Please, come back alive.”
“Apart from that…”
He abruptly opened his eyes and stared at everyone with an electrifying gaze, “The Yang Clan has boasted of their utmost loyalty to its emperor since time immemorial! Our name is unblemished and shall continue to be so! There shall only be deaths in battle, and no traitors or turncoats!”
Then, he turned to each of the generals whom he was sending out to war, “If Hell is razed to the ground or Lord Qin perishes, and yet you still remain alive… I shall summarily put you to death without any mercy!!!”
Qin Ye was naturally unaware of what went on back in the Felipinas.
That said, Hell had also slowly but surely begun to stir into motion. But this time, it was slightly different from the hustle and bustle of prosperity that filled Hell in the past. Instead, Hell was filled with an air of tension… almost as though everyone could sense that war was coming.
Everyday, the citizens of Hell would hear Yin soldiers shouting their slogans at the top of their voices before their morning routines. To that end, Oda Nobunaga had even shifted out of hiding and allowed the Yin soldiers to work out right in front of Hell’s Gate, where everyone could see them as clear as day.
This had only been done in accordance with Qin Ye’s instructions. This was a decision which Qin Ye had made as soon as he realized that they were on the cuff of the warring states era.
After all, it was better for everyone to slowly come to terms the fact that war was coming, especially since this was a war that wasn’t going to end in just a matter of days, or possibly even years. The paving of a way to Martial City, and the march of the Yin soldiers against Valley County… was only the appetizer to the main course.
The only piece of good news was the fact that Hell’s Media Group had already been officially established. The Minister of Doctrine, Cang Jie, had been appointed the chairman of the group. On the very day of its establishment, thousands of workers worked overtime to print out thirty thousand copies of the newspaper which was distributed to all major work sites.
Just like back when the imperial court meeting was held, all generators in Hell had for the moment been diverted to Hell’s Media Group for their use. Unfortunately, the power generated from generators was simply too low to achieve the standards that were expected back in the mortal realm.
One of the more important things on the pipelines would naturally be to locate an independent source of power generation. However, now was not the time to consider these things. After all… the new Hell was stirring with passion and apprehension at the prospects of war.
“Rebel forces numbering sixty thousand have been sighted in Breakwaters Province. Lord Qin’s imperial army will soon be moving out, and Lord Yang of Luzon has sent reinforcements to support Hell’s endeavours... “ A middle-aged man in one of the construction sites couldn’t help but gasp in shock when he read the one-page report. He subconsciously turned his gaze towards Hell’s Gate.
“We’re going to war…” “Indeed. I’d never expected such tension in the underworld as well.” “Isn’t it just the same back in the mortal realm as well? The Middle East has been in conflict for the longest time.” “I just hope that these conflicts don’t affect us back in the City of Salvation. I’ve not even had a proper chance to enjoy life after death just yet…”
Qin Ye didn’t pay much attention to Hell’s Media Group. After all, he knew full well that their effects on the citizens of Hell would be severely limited until they could finally locate a more reliable source of power generation.
How startling could the news be in a town-sized precinct?
Apologies, the shutter-technologies of the mortal realm aren’t suitable for capturing images of Yin spirits at all.
And tabloids and entertainment news was completely out of the picture as well. Therefore, Qin Ye knew better than to waste his time and resources on this for the time being.
“Aren’t you going to wait for General Yang’s reinforcements?” Arthis, Gu Qing, Oda Nobunaga and Qin Ye were all present at the annex hall. Wang Chenghao listened on the sidelines, knowing full well that it wasn’t his place to interject in the slightest. Arthis mused, “We’d have some measure of insurance with them around.”
However, Qin Ye shook his head and glanced out of the window. He could tell that Hell had been filled with a rather restless atmosphere as of late. The prospect of war stirs up the most primal instinct of the human heart, and such stirring emotions would only be quenched by the stimulus of the spoils of war.
I can’t wait…
Even though Qin Ye was aware of his opponent’s identity, he still couldn’t wait for war to happen!
How well-developed was their city right now? Did the sixty-thousand Yin soldiers represent the entire fighting force of their alliance? Or was it only a fraction of it all? To what extent are they able to employ military formations?
There would always be clues left behind wherever an army passes.
And tardiness simply meant more time for the clean disposal of all such clues.
Time was of the essence.
“I’ll head over first.” He retracted his gaze and slammed his palms onto the table with fierce determination in his eyes, “Tomorrow, we march for Valley County!”
“What about the citizens of the county?” Gu Qing continued with great concern, “We’d have to conduct a thorough sweep through the lands for Yin spirits. If any patrolling officers are inadvertently drawn into this altercation of the underworld, they won’t be able to survive!”
Qin Ye narrowed his eyes and glanced at the map, “This is exactly why I’m heading there first, so that I can let them know of my intentions for Valley County.”
Gu Qing froze, and then gasped in horror, “Inform… who? You don’t mean--...”
“I’m naturally referring to the mortal realm. I’ll be telling them that Hell has their laws, and the dead shall all fall within the jurisdiction of Hell!” Qin Ye chuckled coldly, “It’s high time we tested the mortal realm’s response to such matters anyway. The new Hell is about to make its debut in the mortal realm. Are you looking forward to it? Mr Gu, don’t you want to know how the mortals would react to our existence?”
Gu Qing’s jaws dropped slightly, and his entire body trembled a little.
These were matters that he had never dared to consider in the first place!
Would they show fear, or respect?
Would they hide from us, or welcome us?
Would they cooperate with us, or reject us completely? Would they celebrate our arrival, or show us a look of disgust?
It was anyone’s guess. Regardless, the supernatural outbreak in the Valley County was the perfect platform on which to make Hell’s debut! It was the perfect opportunity, and the circumstances would also give rise to the most favourable outcome!
“Alright.” Gu Qing no longer had any concerns. Instead, he turned and bowed deeply to Qin Ye, “Then, I sincerely wish King Yanluo a triumphant return! A hundred victories for a hundred battles ahead!”
“Don’t worry. I’m 100% certain that they wouldn’t dare remain in Valley County any longer. Kong Mo… is more afraid of hell than any other Yin spirit out there! What we’ve got to face isn’t the army of sixty thousand Yin soldiers, but the already-decimated hunting zones and predatory zones of Valley County that remains behind, together with all of the wandering spirits around.” Qin Ye licked his lips, “Whether the mortal realm likes it or not, Valley County will become a slaughterhouse for all evil ghosts in just a few days time!”
“The first battle of Hell must end with a resounding victory!”
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