There was a sudden silence.
Apart from Qin Ye and Arthis, everyone else present were all famous generals, and they naturally understood the undertones in what Yang Yanzhao had just said.
Three full minutes of tense silence later, Mu Guiying chuckled softly, “Who else could possibly bear the burden of such heavy responsibility but me?”
“General Yang, I will go.” She stepped forward and cupped her hands respectfully, “I’m an advanced Anitya Hellguard, and I’m one of the frontrunners among all generals here today when it comes to my martial prowess. And our logistics-commander Yang Yande aside, I’m a head and shoulder above the rest when it comes to my aptitude as a military commander as well. Therefore, please allow me the honour of doing the heavy lifting this time.”
“Haha, sister is far too confident in her own abilities.” Hua Jieyu promptly smiled and stepped forward with an equally respectful demeanor, “I’ve had more battlefield experience than any other around here. I’m confident that I should be the one to shoulder this responsibility instead.”
“General Yang, although I’ve joined the ranks of the Yang Clan’s forces not too long ago, regard must be given to the fact that I’ve practically grown up riding a horse. I’m second to none when it comes to horseback archery. I, Yelu Jiner, humbly requests for the honour of being part of this battle.” “General Yang, I’m willing to go. Please make a fair decision.”
All of the generals stepped forward in an instant. Oda Nobutada was bewildered at their response. On the other hand, Yang Yanzhao boomed back, “What’s the meaning of this?”
The atmosphere around them was stiff and sullen. All of the generals were still cupping their hands respectfully with their heads slightly bowed, while Yang Yanzhao’s expressions gradually turned cold and grim. His voice even grew frigid, “Are you trying to influence my decision?”
“I have my own arrangements as to the deployment of troops. You’re in no place to make such decisions at all!”
Knock knock… Just then, Qin Ye rapped on the table twice, before slowly speaking his mind, “We’re at most a month away from our arrival at Qufu. It’s time to call upon the help of the Mirror of Eminence. A giant city like Qufu is bound to attract new establishments in the nearby vicinity. Perhaps… we might stumble upon some unexpected gains along the way.”
Arthis nodded and made a grasping motion. At once, the Mirror of Eminence appeared. Then, before it could begin unleashing its usual barrage of curses and swears, Arthis snapped her finger, and the Mirror of Eminence vanished with a soft ripple in the air once more.
“Everyone, the Mirror of Eminence may be able to project the detailed landscape around us, but it won’t be able to give us our exact coordinates. In other words, there may be some variance in what we see, and where we end up as soon as we descend into Limbo. We need to be mentally prepared for these potential deviations. General Oda.”
“You’re to monitor the images that show up on the Mirror of Eminence.” Arthis pulled out a bronze mirror and tossed it to Oda Nobutada, “Lord Ming would scan the vicinity located within a thirty kilometer radius around us. Immediately report back as soon as you notice something amiss, or something of interest.”
Qin Ye nodded, “Then, that settles everything. Meeting adjourned.”
All of the generals departed without another word. It was only when the entire room was vacated that Arthis softly whispered to Qin Ye, “What was going on earlier?”
Qin Ye’s gaze grew deep and abstruse. He sighed softly, before finally explaining slowly, “What General Yang was alluding to earlier was that Hell’s defeat is certain as soon as we find ourselves surrounded. In other words, Hell’s forces would find themselves completely helpless as soon as the rest of the Alliance of Darkness returns to reinforce Qufu. Naturally, there is only one option left if we are to take down the Mythic Palace of Reflections.”
He turned around and stared Arthis deep in the eyes, “And that is to mobilize an army for a frontal assault against the city’s defenders in order to draw out the guards of the inner city. That is the only way to ensure success in our sneak attack on the inner city.”
Arthis blinked vacantly - A full frontal assault… Soul-Launching Coffins, Karmic Fire Cannons, Winstrike Ballistae… And that’s not to mention all of the rest of the hundreds of thousands of troops… This is…
“It’s a suicide mission…” She gasped in horror. Her jaws dropped slightly, and she stared at Qin Ye with great shock, “Then… weren’t they all begging for death earlier?”
“What they were trying to do was to cede the opportunity to live to their loved ones.” Qin Ye felt conflicted when he explained their intentions. After all, he had just witnessed his generals’ willingness to sacrifice their own lives for Hell’s greater good, so what right did he have to shrink to the backlines?
Arthis remained taciturn for some time, before finally muttering, “Is there really no other way?”
“Not for the moment.” Qin Ye retracted his gaze and turned back to the terrifying city on the table, “This battle is destined to be recorded in the annals of Hell’s history books. Regardless of our casualties, I’m going to honor all who perish as a pioneer of the nation as soon as Hell establishes itself.”
“As it should be.”
“The names of the fallen shall also be engraved on monuments at the entrance to Hell, as well as in all textbooks for the education of future generations. They are to be remembered for all time. I want all citizens to know that their safety and comfort was built upon a foundation of bloodshed and war.”
Arthis’ voice grew soft and drifty, “You’ve got a heart for the people.”
The assembly had dispersed, and the rainstorm had finally stopped. The army was ready to set out once more.
Nobody was aware that a 100,000-strong army was currently marching for Qufu through the core of the earth. FIve days passed… ten days passed… fifteen days passed… As the army of Hell slowly drew closer to Qufu, so did the nerves of the generals gradually tense up.
The final act was just around the corner.
Their eastbound expedition had lasted for two and a half months thus far. They had seen their fair share of encounters with monarch beasts and natural disasters during this time, and they were finally no more than a hundred kilometers away from the First Pass Under Heaven. The tension was palpable, and they could even smell the sparks of conflict in the air.
As they forged onwards, Qin Ye would pass down any news or instructions through the generals and ten-thousand-men commanders, who would then relay that information down the chain of thousand-men commanders, hundred-men commanders, ten-men commanders, and five-men commanders. Qin Ye knew what to play up in order to get the fists of the Yin soldiers pumping high into the air. Coupled with their continuous victories over all obstacles that had come their way thus far, the morale of Hell’s forces was as high as they could be.
This was the battle that would determine Hell’s future.
Even the most ordinary of Yin soldiers understood the implications of something as great as that. Some of the newer recruits naturally grew increasingly anxious. Fortunately, the majority of the forces were raring to go, and their passion soon quelled any unease in the hearts of the newer recruits.
Annals of the New Hell: 78th Day of the Eastbound Expedition. A ghastly windstorm swept through the lands and tore the ground asunder. Dark Yin clouds were spotted rolling through the skies, emitting the faint cries of a chorus of ghosts prior to the occurrence of the windstorm. Ordinary Yin soldiers who heard the cries of the windstorm developed symptoms of mania. Lord Qin and Lady Arakshasa unleashed their Prestige of the Luminary and sheltered the entire army throughout the great disaster. Casualties: 342 Yin soldiers.
Annals of the New Hell: 82nd Day of the Eastbound Expedition. Sinking Blood Disaster. Fresh blood surged from the ground, swallowing up all objects within a ten-kilometer radius and transforming the entire land into a swamp of blood. The ground showed signs of redness like that of irritation on human skin prior to the disaster. Hell’s army took shelter in a pool of water and was safe from the disaster.
That same day, Hell’s forces encountered a monarch Yin beast shaped like a Xuanwu Turtle in the depths of the waters. It was beheaded. Casualties: 400 Yin soldiers.
Annals of the New Hell: 87th Day of the Eastbound Expedition. Encounter with two monarch Yin beasts that were vying for territorial supremacy. Both monarch Yin beasts were peak Judge-class existences. All Yin beasts within a ten kilometer radius ran for their lives, thereby stirring up a great tide of Yin beasts. Hell’s forces took a detour around the monarch Yin beasts. Casualties: 1,320 Yin soldiers.
Annals of the New Hell: 89th Day of the Eastbound Expedition. Both rainstorm and lightning storm fell at the same time. The cave which Hell’s army was taking shelter in was partially destroyed by the lightning storm’s devastation. Casualties: 947 Yin soldiers.
It was now the 90th day of the eastbound expedition.
It was a clear day.
No monarch Yin beasts.
No natural disasters.
“My Lord.” Qin Ye was riding a skeletal war tiger along the middle of the pack when Oda Nobutada suddenly came up to him, “We’ve finally arrived at Eastmount Province.”
Is that so…
Qin Ye looked up and heaved a great sigh of relief.
We’re finally here… The long, arduous journey was a test of one’s resilience, willpower, and fighting spirit. Every single Yin soldiers who had survived this expedition to date were all qualified to be called an elite in their own rights.
The encounters with the monarch Yin beasts and natural disasters had precipitated their personal growth and equipped them with the cumulative experience and know-how to tide them through every battle that was to come. Now, they were at the cusp of the final act. It was finally time to put into practice everything they had learned.
Qin Ye gazed deep into the sky and murmured to himself, “I thought I would be more excited than this when we finally arrived at the Eastmount Province. But little did I expect the first reaction to be a sigh of relief.”
“That’s because… we finally have a target in our sights.” Arthis was also riding a skeletal war tiger right beside Qin Ye. A soft nethergale tousled her hair gently, yet there was an incomparably grave and somber expression on Arthis’ face right now.
This isn’t just an illusion… Qin Ye glanced about him. News that they had arrived at Eastmount Province had already spread throughout the entire army, and he could tell that Hell’s forces were clearly exuding a different kind of aura right now.
Their target was finally in sight. Their arduous journey had culminated in this very moment, and all of Hell’s forces were clearly bursting at the seams with a wolfish air about them.
“My Lord!!” Just then, someone called out with ostensible anxiety in his voice. Qin Ye glanced back, only to realize that it was Oda Nobutada.
“What is it?”
Oda Nobutada glanced warily at his surroundings, before running forward to Qin Ye and whispering into his ears, “Lord Ming… has revealed an image of interest.”
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered. He immediately picked up the mirror that Oda Nobutada had handed to him to verify the image, and his pupils instantly shrank in confirmation of what he had just seen. Then, he promptly called out to Yang Yanzhao, “Let’s rest here for a while. Have all generals assemble immediately for a campaign meeting.”
A long horn sounded, and the army soon halted its march. The contingent of troops parted in the middle, leaving a wide berth of space for the generals that soon answered Qin Ye’s summons for a meeting.
“This is the message that we’ve just received from the Mirror of Eminence. Let’s take a look at it together. It’s still going on right now!” Qin Ye immediately handed the mirror to them before they could even take their seats.
Yang Yanzhao picked it up in an instant. He was like a ferocious tiger with its hair standing on end. Ever since he got wind that they had finally arrived at Eastmount Province, his heart boiled with such intensity that he couldn’t contain the tyrannical bloodlust that poured forth from his entire being. But, even then, he couldn’t help but gasp in shock as soon as he saw the mirror.
It was like a galaxy!
The Mirror of Eminence was obviously flying high above in the sky as it captured and transmitted the image of Limbo back to Hell’s forces in the underworld. Unfortunately, because of the height at which it was flying, everything below was a patchy, tawny colour, almost like it was capturing sepia, monochromatic photographs. But what was most shocking was the fact that there were a great number of spots of light radiating from the image below! And all of them were clearly moving towards a particular direction, almost as though they were a thunder of dragons charging straight into the oceans!
The image appeared as dazzling as the milky way on the canvass of the dark night skies. But due to the height at which the Mirror of Eminence was capturing these images, the little spots of light appeared to be moving very slowly, no different from the stars in the sky that shifted in tandem with the rotation of the earth.
It was spectacular and majestic.
“What’s this…?” Everyone froze in horror. Arthis waved her hand, and the image immediately grew larger and larger, until finally saw what the light spots represented.
They were… Yin spirits.
Endless Yin spirits that numbered well in the millions - possibly even in the tens of millions!!
It was as numerous as the stars in the sky. Each spot of light represented the netherflames that flickered in their eyes. They were gathered in groups, and moving around along certain paths, almost like they were flowing along the milky way in the skies. It was a galaxy of Yin spirits!
These weren’t Yin soldiers. Rather, they represented the most ordinary of Yin spirits - small and insignificant by themselves, but indubitably spectacular and majestic when viewed all together.
So many...The sheer number of Yin spirits was stifling and terrifying. It even caused chills to run down the spines of those at the meeting. Just then, Qin Ye’s eyes brightened, and he suddenly pointed to a particular location, “What’s that?”
Arthis waved her hand once more, and the perspective immediately swung over to focus more closely on where Qin Ye was pointing. Everyone stared intently at it, and then their eyes soon brightened up.
It was a large number of troops!
They could tell at a glance that the number of troops under their command was by no means less than Hell’s forces! And they were still galloping through Limbo right now!
Additionally, they could tell that these troops were clearly of higher quality than Sha Xiangzu’s army. The paper armor they donned was completely black in colour. Furthermore… they were all cavalrymen!
They were currently riding skeletal war horses, and they kicked up a cloud of dirt and dust in the wake of their march, all of which lingered for miles and miles on end. Their flag bearer carried a banner that was embroidered with a monster that somewhat resembled a snake, and striking red words that read “Umbral Alliance”.
Umbral Mount Tai Alliance of Darkness. They were… the army of the Shanhai Pass!Previous Chapter Next Chapter