The thin man was none other than Wu Wenqing, a Hunter-class expert, and deputy chief of the Martial City branch of the Special Investigations Department. He was completely flabbergasted. When he first learnt of Qin Ye’s breakthrough to the ranks of an Anitya Hellguard, he read through Qin Ye’s resume several times, hoping to glean a secret or two from it so that he, too, could attain an advancement in the near future. But…
What do you mean you’re about to become an Infernal Judge soon?!
Didn’t you just become a nascent Hellguard-class expert just a little while ago?!
It wasn’t Qin Ye’s desire to stand out too much either. Unfortunately, this was already the best excuse for what was to come. After all, Martial City would never react well to the news of his absence over the next four to six months. Furthermore, he couldn’t afford to strain relations, especially since he would have to remain in Martial City for some time thereafter. The eastbound expedition was only intended to pave the national highway between the City of Salvation and Martial City. Following that, he would still have to see through the construction of the sea port city in Martial City, comb through the far reaches of Eastmount Province to purge all residual Yin spirits that have been left unchecked, and then finally… ride the newfound stability of Eastmount Province and reopen negotiations with the mortal realm!
In other words, everything would only go on smoothly if he were able to maintain an identity of great importance back in the mortal realm.
“I’m afraid that there’s something you haven’t been apprised of just yet. I had an encounter back in Valley County just a little while ago.” Qin Ye smiled and pulled out the excuse he had already earlier prepared, “More specifically, I’d encountered an incredible opportunity that triggered the expeditious growth in my cultivation. I’ll inform the First Academy of Cultivators in a little bit.”
Nobody said a word.
Everyone knew exactly what an Infernal Judge meant. Put differently, they all knew that so long as Qin Ye truly attained the ranks of an Infernal Judge, the Martial City would be able to rest on his laurels entirely!
No. That’s not all. We would immediately become the apple of the central government’s eye. They might even confer upon us the title of an outstanding city in the fight against the netherworldly forces, and cause all other cities in Eastmount Province to look up to us with great envy… Secretary Ma’s breath instantly grew ragged.
There was no reason not to accept Qin Ye’s condition!
“Moreover, should anything arise over the next few months, you can always notify me at any point in time. I’ll never shirk responsibility.” Qin Ye hammered the final nail on the coffin.
The scales weighing the costs and benefits immediately tipped to the side. Was there anyone present who wasn’t adept at politics as much as they were in the matters of governance? Everyone came to the same decision in an instant.
“Alright.” Secretary Ma sighed softly and set down his chopsticks, “When will you begin? Apart from that, please take note that we do not represent the Special Investigations Department. I’ve heard that Infernal Judges would be given an opportunity to take on an assignment at the committee level. You… wouldn’t accept such an opportunity if it were extended to you, would you?”
“Don’t worry. I’d like to serve a full term here.” Qin Ye smiled, “If possible, I’d like to enter my period of closed-door cultivation starting tomorrow. Furthermore, the only condition I have is that my lodging should not be located downtown. Apart from that, please feel free to make all other arrangements as you deem fit.”
Secretary Ma thought about it for a moment, before turning to his personal secretary, “Little Jiang, I recall there’s still a waterfront villa available near Section Chief Liu’s place of residence, isn’t there? If Mr Qin doesn’t mind that, we’ll immediately have someone clean out that place, and you should be able to move in tonight. As for Mr Qin’s specific treatments and benefits, should we defer these discussions until you’re out from your closed door cultivation?”
Qin Ye silently gave a nod of approbation to Secretary Ma in his heart. The location was great, and all arrangements would be made for him in time for his plans.
“Thanks for looking after me so thoughtfully. I sincerely appreciate it. Then… I suppose that will be all for now, wouldn’t it? Shall I get packing?”
“Sure.” “No problem.” “We look forward to the day when Mr Qin returns from his closed-door cultivation.” There was a series of gratulatory words, before everyone left with great satisfaction. Everyone had managed to obtain what they were here for.
Two hours later, Qin Ye arrived right in front of the waterfront villa. It felt empty and desolate. Ever since the surge in supernatural incidents, nobody dared to stay in such places anymore. In fact, it was so far out on the fringe of the city that not even the police came by frequently on patrol. Naturally, the residents around have all moved out by now.
There was no better place than this.
The road adjoining the neighbourhood led straight to the sea. The night was dark and calm. A gentle sea breeze swept across the lands, soothing Qin Ye’s heart and mind for the very first time in ages.
Whenever a person was about to embark on a task of great magnitude, they would always first seek out a moment of solace and inner tranquility.
After all, it was the final moment to say his prayers in this ephemeral calm before the arrival of the superstorm.
He shut his eyes and immersed himself in his tranquil surroundings. Seconds later, he opened his eyes once more, before turning to look at the downtown district, “No… there’s still yet another Beacon of Light to be set in place…”
The new Hell.
The long river of blood in the sky went on for a seemingly endless distance. Clouds of smoke abounded, while netherflames danced all around it. That very same river of blood went well into the distant horizon, plunging straight through the endless depths of the darkness in the sky.
Three massive pillars of light peeked through the darkness beyond, shining faintly like lighthouses in the dreary darkness outside.
The citizens were already used to this peculiar sight by now. But, just then, the entire Hell trembled once more.
Back in the annex hall. Arthis was just reading through the Annals of Hell when she suddenly jerked her head up and murmured to herself, “Hell’s still too small right now… Had it been the old Hell, it wouldn’t tremble one bit even if we set dozens of Beacons of Light all at the same time. Regardless… this must mean that the last Beacon of Light has finally been set in place.”
Her eyes instantly turned both black-and-white. Her gaze penetrated the darkness, and countless images flickered through her pupils, before finally settling on the images of a location hundreds of kilometers away.
There, right in the infinite sea of darkness, a massive pillar of scarlet light burst straight through the clouds of Yin energy and plunged straight into the mortal realm! The fourth Beacon of Light had finally been lit!
It’s finally over… Or should I say, it’s finally beginning… Arthis closed her eyes, and her hair began to dance like a thousand menacing vipers. Back at the front of Hell’s Gate. Oda Nobunaga was just taking command of his army of ten thousand when he suddenly turned to gaze at the distant vault of the skies.
It was almost as though the drums of war had begun to beat. In that instant, Oda Nobunaga, Oda Nobutada and Murai Sadakatsu all felt their hearts surge with the exact same emotion - a shuddering of excitement that they had long forgotten.
This wasn’t the feeling that sweeping through a small place like Valley County could satiate.
Rather, there was something more primal within - an adrenaline rush of sorts that compelled them to charge headlong into battle again in a clash of tens of thousands of Yin soldiers at once!
It was the call of blood.
It was the cry of their boiling Yin energy within.
Shk...Oda Nobutada silently tightened his grip around Kiku-ichimonji. He would be heading out as part of the eastbound expedition, and his father had even entrusted his most beloved sword to him.
The sword that represented the embodiment of all conquests across Oda Nobunaga’s life, was now… the adumbration of victory.
“Greetings, King Yanluo!” “Greetings, Lord Qin!” Just then, there was the sound of a multitude kneeling and bowing down in worship in front of Hell’s Gate. Oda Nobunaga and the others immediately turned around, only to see Qin Ye’s swift appearance in the midst of a ferocious nethergale.
He completely glossed over the kneeling Yin spirits and immediately cast a deep, long look at the river of blood that ran deep in the sky. Even a coward like him couldn’t help but feel something primal stirring from deep within him.
This was a battle that was going to determine the fate of the nation.
This was a battle that would inaugurate the netherworldly warring states era.
The endless scarlet river in the sky filled him with a sense of breathlessness and eager anticipation for more. Just like that, he stared longingly at the sky for a full minute, before finally lowering his head and lamenting softly, “The first steps are always the hardest steps.”
But he knew better than to dwell on these emotions. He promptly set aside his moment of melancholy, and swept his gaze across the vast expanses of Hell as it stood. As far as he could tell, the new Hell was now filled with strong, valiant soldiers who were ready for war. Oda Nobunaga, Oda Nobutada, Murai Sadakatsu and the rest of the Oda vassals were all staring back at him with a blazing passion in their eyes, almost as though they were eagerly anticipating the command to be issued.
Then, there were two handsome generals dressed in Song Dynasty armor staring directly at him.
Four other female generals stood behind the two men. None of them had any softness in their eyes. Instead, they practically radiated an intense, murderous intent.
Beyond them was arrayed neatly vast and endless ranks of troops with banners fluttering majestically in the nethergale. Their banners were one and the same, and on it was written a single word - ‘Yang’.
Furthermore, Qin Ye could tell that there were four colossal silhouettes that stood tall within the massive army. Each of these silhouettes were easily thirty to forty meters tall, and together, they looked like a small range of hills.
The army of Hell had finally been assembled!
Qin Ye felt an inexplicable wave of pride rush straight up to his chest. It was strange. This wasn’t a feeling that he should be experiencing. After all, did it really make sense that a coward like him felt empowered by the grandeur and majesty arrayed before him?
But as he stood in the midst of rolling winds and clouds, surrounded by the multitude of banners that were fluttering in the sky, there was no doubt that this was exactly the emotions he was experiencing right now.
Perhaps… men are just creatures that can never let go of excitement, the mysteries of the unknown, and the allures of adventure.
“Yang Yanzhao.” “Yang Yande.” “Hua Jieyu.” “Mu Guiying.” “Yelu Jiner.” “Huyan Chijin.”
The six generals promptly half-knelt to the ground and cupped their hands respectfully to Qin Ye, “Greetings, King Yanluo of Hell!”
“We march for Hell against the outlaws and miscreants. May the name of the new Hell be ubiquitous across the three realms once more!”
“HOO-AAHHH!!!!” Tens of thousands of Yin soldiers echoed valiantly behind them. They all wore a similar paper armor to that worn by the Yin soldiers of the Kong alliance forces. Even the overcast clouds in the sky trembled to their cry, as though with fear.
“Good.” It took Qin Ye a dozen or so seconds to suppress the stirring flames that were burgeoning in his heart, “Generals, great chaos sweeps through the Eastmount Province today. The great sinner, Kong Mo, has led twelve Infernal Judges to wreak havoc in the mortal realm, and the daolord of the asura has joined in the fray. Everyone… are you willing to follow me into the heat of the battle, and quell the uprising of these insubordinate ghosts?!”
It was wonderful.
It was as though every modicum of fear and cowardice in his heart had vaporized completely without a trace. Knowing Qin Ye, what he should have said in the circumstances would have been something along the lines of - “I wish you all a triumphant return…”
But he didn’t.
“We are willing to die for Hell’s glory!!!” The unified response was overwhelming, and their cries of passion filled every corner of the new Hell. The Yin clouds in the sky trembled softly, while leaves scattered and fell. Even the citizens watching from afar couldn’t help but feel their hearts stirred by the courage and bravery exhibited by the soldiers.
Huang Liangchuan was going about his business under the money tree when he heard the valiant cries of the troops. He paused for a moment, and then promptly shook his head with great emotion, and wished Hell the best in his heart.
Similarly, Gu Qing was just going about his business in the annex hall when he shut his eyes softly, “War is a crucial part of any nation’s development, especially at the crossroads of dynasties. And now… the war that is ours to fight has finally arrived…”
Any spectator around right now, including the most block-headed of men, would feel the great stir in their hearts. Qin Ye swept a gaze around coldly, before turning to Oda Nobunaga, “Nobunaga-kun, I’ve asked you to prepare everything to do with the eastbound expedition before I departed the last time. Is everything ready?”
“Yes, my lord. Everything is ready.” Oda Nobunaga half-knelt to the ground and cupped his hands in response, “Three sets of plans, and all the supplies that you’ve asked for have been prepared for you. Oda Nobutada and Murai Sadakatsu will be joining this expedition force as well. General Yang Yanzhao will be leading the troops.”
Qin Ye nodded. It was wise not to vie for the position of commander-in-chief. After all, Oda Nobutada would never be a match for Yang Yanzhao’s military prowess.
“All relevant Annals of Hell have also been prepared.” Arthis appeared from behind Qin Ye with her hair scattering wildly, almost as though she were a demon god descending into the world, “I’ll also be embarking on this expedition, together with the Mirror of Eminence.”
Unlike the armies of the mortal realm, Hell’s forces didn’t need resupplies or logistics in general. The preparations were simple and everything had been taken care of. In that instant, tens of thousands of eyes were blazing with bright netherflames, staring intently at Qin Ye.
They were eagerly anticipating his command.
“Good…” Qin Ye drew a deep breath, “All generals, heed my command!”
“Yes!!” Several voices responded in unison.
“Today, we march for Martial City!!”
Arthis spread her hands as soon as Qin Ye gave the word, and the Book of Life and Death immediately erupted with a brilliant light that dazzled the lands and caused all of the Yin clouds in the vicinity to slowly fade away.
Then, the dark clouds in front of Hell’s Gate parted for the very first time, revealing the existence of lands that lay beyond the four walls of Hell!
The world after the collapse of Hell was strange and peculiar, and completely unchartered territories to everyone of this era.
It was pitch black, deep, and ostensibly filled with mystery.
Whoosh… Just then, a single line of words appeared in the Book of Life and Death.
“Hell’s Chronicles, Year 0001 A.D. King Yanluo’s successor, Qin Ye, with an army of 70,000 Yin, marched for the Eastmount Province. Thus began the first war of expansion - the eastbound expedition to Martial City.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter