Previously, this would have been the time when the nightlife in Cathay truly kicked into full swing. Unfortunately, the only thing that buzzed in the air was a grave silence and the melancholic note of death. Countless families were huddled together, shivering in fear as they awaited the rays of warm light from dawn that seemed still so far away.
Perhaps the only silver lining was the assurance of a steady source of electricity, unlike the frequent power outages or circuit overhaul exercises that were conducted in the past.
After all, light was the only thing that kept darkness at bay.
Such was the reality for Zhou Mingliang’s family. Zhou Mingliang was born and bred in Valley County. He had just turned seventeen, and also just completed his college entrance examinations. He was eagerly looking forward to the next chapter of his life, not for wealth, but for better safety and security against the unspeakable forces of the dark.
“I’ve heard that there are some big cities out there that don’t even need to impose a curfew at night.” He lay on the couch, staring out of the window at the dark night sky longingly, “I’ve only seen it once before I turned ten. I can barely recall what it was like back then…”
The phone in his hand buzzed with a notification. He glanced at it, only to realize that it was his class WeChat group. Everyone was sending their prayers and well wishes for the night ahead.
We’re just done with our college entrance examinations. We should be meeting up face to face and chatting about our dreams and our ambitions. How did things come to this?
“This damned world…” He sighed softly and tightened the grip around his phone as he murmured to himself, “What’s the government doing? Aren’t they going to make a statement about these things? Everyone already knows of their existences by now… Are they not allowed to talk about these things just because their existence can’t be proven by science? What good does it do by hiding it anyway?”
Just then… he heard a sound.
What kind of a sound is this?!
Under these circumstances, hearing unexpected sounds in the middle of the night would most certainly give anyone goosebumps. Zhou Mingliang drew a deep breath and suppressed the urge to scream out loud as he crept up to his windowsill, towards the source of the noise.
The sound had come from some distance away, but he couldn’t see a single thing. That said… there was something about the sound that seemed very familiar to him.
Where have I heard something like that before?
Just then, the entire class chat group instantly went mad with messages - “Did you guys hear that?!” “I did! I really did! What the hell is going on out there?!” “I’m not the only one, am I? That’s great… I don’t want to be the next Zhao You… Nobody knows where he’s gone, or why he’s stopped coming to school altogether…” “Blah, blah, blah! I’m not listening to these inauspicious talk!”
Everyone’s heard it? Zhou Mingling gently bit down on his lips and forcibly suppressed the sweat glands that had started to kick into high gear. Then, he slowly peeked over the edge. What sound is that… I’ve definitely heard it before. Ah, that’s right! It’s the sound of several people marching together…
Just then, his eyes flickered wildly, and he immediately opened up his group chat once more, “Military parade! Doesn’t it sound like a military parade?!”
“Holy shit! You’re right! That’s got to be a parade!” “Who are you kidding… who do you think would be marching out on the streets in the middle of the night? It’s… it’s midnight right now!!” “I--... I think I’ve got it… The so-called military parade must be the march of the Yin soldiers that we’ve heard so much about in the legends!!”
March of the Yin soldiers?
Zhou Mingliang’s mind slowly went numb, and he immediately thought to turn away from the windows. Unfortunately… it was too late.
Qin Ye had specifically instructed the Yin soldiers to march in their true forms because he wanted to make an impact with this opening salvo. Thus, Zhou Mingliang, and everyone who was still awake or had been roused from their slumber saw it with their own two eyes - row after row of neatly lined troops with blazing pupils and wearing pitch-black armor and wielding a grim black spear were marching right through the main road of the county. Their bodies were clearly illusory, and yet they were undoubtedly marching in unison with imposing footsteps as the night around them darkened!
“Oh, dear lord!!” There was a loud exclamation upstairs, followed closely by the sound of a falling stool and the slamming of a door. Likewise, various parts of the neighbourhood were filled with sounds of startled people tripping and falling, or knocking things over. These were usually followed closely by the sounds of a door slamming shut as well. Zhou Mingliang continued to stand motionlessly by the windowsill, completely stupefied by what he saw.
There really are ghosts!!
Some of his classmates had vanished without a trace, and everyone had been discussing the possibility of supernatural occurrences. Unfortunately, those who had personally witnessed and experienced such supernatural incidents… were all dead. But this time… given the sheer scale of the supernatural phenomenon, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that the entire populace of the Valley County were practically witnesses at this point!
These were real ghosts - and proper Yin soldiers at that!
The Yin energy spreading from the bottom of their feet was so dense that they could be seen with the naked eye. Furthermore, they could even hear the faint cries and moans of grieving souls echo in the dark night sky. The Yin soldiers appeared to be going somewhere. They appeared to know their direction.
“What are you doing?!!” Just then, a panicked voice called out from behind him, and began pulling him back. It was his father. He held Zhou Mingliang tightly and did what he could to calm his nerves down, “Don’t look… Don’t even listen anymore… Just… go to sleep… alright?”
SSSS!!! A cry of alarm resounded from a mass grave. Following that, a pale hand that was covered in liver mortis spots burst through the lid of a coffin and clawed desperately through the rest of the lid, before a cloaked figure finally sat up straight.
It was a white-haired old lady dressed in ancient garments. However, her clothes were already torn and tattered in various parts. She was thin. Yet what was most striking was the fact that her teeth protruded out of her mouth in the shape of an ‘x’. Her body was enveloped with dark-green Yin energy, while the netherflames in her eyes flickered wildly.
A 300-meter enclosure of chains and talismans had already been set up around the mass grave. This was Hunting Zone D-53, and the evil ghost residing within it was nearly a Hunter-class Yin spirit. She was confined within the barrier, fated to thirst and lust for the blood and flesh outside of her enclosure for the rest of eternity. And yet, at this very moment, she was struck by an incomparably greater sense of fear.
T-t-t-t-t-t… Her razor-sharp teeth chattered for no reason. Who would have thought that something as terrifying as an evil ghost in fact knew fear, so much so that it would even tremble within and without? In fact, she even shrank back into her coffin because of the immeasurable fear that overwhelmed her entire being. The enclosure erected around her was something that used to stop her. But now, she even seemed to find solace in the fact that there was something to keep out whatever terrifying existence was around! She wasn’t sure where the guards around her had gone, but she couldn’t care less either.
Run… RUN! I’ve got to get out of here!
Her primal instincts of fear screamed from within her heart. She tried to straighten up, only to discover that her legs had actually gone weak.
Something’s coming… It’s fast, and it’s close… She could sense that what was closing in on her wasn’t something she could resist. It was a primal sense of fear that shrieked from the depths of her heart.
Just then, the chains of the enclosure suddenly rattled and collapsed! The links in the chain were sent flying everywhere, while the talismans were tossed up into the sky and immolated in the air. A figure dressed in ancient armor and blazing netherflames in his eyes stepped out of the encroaching cloud of Yin energy within moments.
SSS!!! Fear mounted, and compelled her to scramble to the side.
But soon paused in her steps and retreated with great trembling once more.
It was because… she could see another fifty scarlet dots on the periphery of the cloud of Yin energy aimed directly at her.
These scarlet dots were none other than fifty Yin soldiers who were all carrying the Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows.
Karmic flame blazed at the tip of the crossbow bolts. The evil ghost’s instincts told her that she would be good as dead as soon as she touched the seemingly harmless flame. On the other hand, she could also sense that the Yin spirit behind her was even more terrifying than the fifty Yin soldiers combined!
“Li Xiangou, born in 1932, died in 2019 at the age of 87. She sold her three daughters as commodities and ended up becoming a bloodsucker of her son-in-law’s family. Tsk, tsk, tsk, that’s practically trading your own children in exchange for your own desires. To think that you even emotionally blackmail your children by alleging unfilial piety, and even threaten your own death when they dont give you what you want.” Oda Nobutada held a copy of the Book of Life and Death as he walked over, shaking his head with great vexation as he continued reading, “After forcing your eldest daughter to her own death, you began to extort money from your second daughter because you wanted to buy a new house. When she refused, you even abducted her child - your grandson - and sold it to a human trafficker… You’re a vicious beast. No - not even tigers eat their own offspring like that. You’re worse than a beast.”
Pak. Oda Nobutada shut the Book of Life and Death, “Do you think… death means that everything is over?”
“No, this is just the beginning.”
Sss… SSS!!! The evil ghost trembled all over. I’m no match for them… The difference is just too great! She gnashed her teeth, and began to drool all over as she pleaded with him, “Who… are… you?”
Oda Nobutada smiled as he slowly sank back into the recesses of the dense cloud of Yin energy behind. The Yin soldiers in the surroundings echoed in unison, “By Hell’s Dictum, all rabble shall disperse!!!”
Dong… Her body collapsed to the ground limply. She had completely lost the will to put up a fight. The Yin soldiers immediately tied a black chain around her neck.
“Hunting Zone D-53 has begun to move.” “Hunting Zone D-72 has begun to move.” “Hunting Zone D-33 has begun to move!” While the masters of the hunting zone were all slowly led away from their base of operations, the county government was stirring with great activity!
It was impossible to say what exactly was on the minds of the civil servants.
It could very well be the ploy of a highly intelligent evil ghost. The prospects of such thoughts immediately sent chills down their spines. However, most of them clung desperately to the hope that what the self-professed Emissary of Hell had said was completely true!
Because if it were, then tonight would mark the night that Valley County would finally be out of the woods!
“Alert! Alert! Intense Yin energy fluctuations have been detected. All locations in Valley County are affected. Total Yin energy reading is over four million and seven hundred thousand. Of that, the presence of one entity with Yin energy readings of over four million has been detected. We have confirmed the existence to be a Judge-class Yin spirit. Complete evacuation advised. Repeat - complete evacuation advised…”
The sounds of alarming sirens echoed through every part of the county hall, yet not a single person paid any attention to the announcements. The surveillance room was crammed full of people from all over, including members of the SRC, the Special Investigations Department. They were all staring at the flurry of data as well as the shifting heat map of Yin energy on the screens. Government officials shuttled about like busy bees, carrying stacks after stacks of information from place to place.
Knock, knock. A civil servant drew a deep breath, knocked on the door, and entered the room while wiping off the sweat on his head. Then, he promptly handed over a stack of documents, “This comprises all of the data pertaining to Hunting Zone D-33, together with the live video footage! Please take a look!”
It was a large conference room.
There were two national flags placed right beside the main seat at the ten-meter long table with matching mahogany chairs on all sides. It was 2.00 a.m., and yet the room was completely filled with people.
Su Defang, the county secretary, military officers, SRC representatives, Special Investigation Department investigators, and so on and so forth. However, the ones who sat right at the head of the table… was a man and a woman.
Both appeared to be middle-aged and relatively young. However, the true energy flowing from their bodies was dense to the extreme. Their presence at the head of the table gave the rest of the room an immense sense of security and reliability.
They were Infernal Judges!
The two Judge-class experts had arrived at Valley County just three hours ago. When they heard the reports of the shocking news of Hell’s reappearance, they remained completely rooted to their seat, watching the surveillance monitors closely as they eagerly anticipated the next move that Hell was going to make.
The hunting zones in the county were undeniable a headache for the government, no matter how one looked at them. So, who could have thought that they wouldn’t put up any form of resistance when arrested by the Yin soldiers? That said, not a single one of them could smile at the situation. In fact, their expression only turned even more somber.
Arrested but not purged? What are these Yin soldiers going to do to them?
Moreover, they could tell that the evil ghosts were all slowly but surely being led straight to the front of the county hall. Although there were two Judge-class experts present right now, everyone still knew just how much chaos would ensue if the evil ghosts were released all at once.
“To think that we would see Yin soldiers with our own two eyes…” One of the Judge-class experts sighed wistfully, “I don’t know if they’re authentic Yin soldiers… but no matter what the case may be, this… is the first time in the history of supernatural incidents that such a powerful Yin spirit has ever revealed itself in the public eye. And if they’re authentic Yin spirits…”
He clenched his fists tightly, and the other Judge beside lamented softly, “Then… the implications are truly immense - so immense that it can go down in history as one of the greatest revelations of all time.”
“This could well be Hell’s declaration to the world that they’re going to be retaking the underworld! And that they are going to be ending the chaos that is plaguing the mortal realm once and for all!”
“Hold your horses.” The first Judge pouted slightly and stared intently at the screen, “There’s still Predatory Zone A-49 remaining - the pit of a thousand.”
“That is the true focal point of Valley County!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter