Inside the imperial residence. A pair of green eyes narrowed abruptly. He was astounded to discover that he actually felt threatened by the flaming arrows of the enemy’s crossbow bolts.
“You’re courting death!!” With a furious shout, the green veil of the residence suddenly drifted up. Clatter, clatter… Moments later, countless sources of Yin energy suddenly rushed out from behind the residence, blotting out the sky with their presence altogether!
These were Yin soldiers!
There were at least 50,000 Yin soldiers in all!
Like a swarm of crows taking to the sky, the Qufu Yin soldiers quickly stood in formation. Anyone could tell that these Yin soldiers were completely different from the ones that Hell’s forces faced just moments ago.
These were all… humanoid puppets.
Their eyes were shut, and there was the same stiff expression on the faces of each Yin spirit. None of them were wearing the usual paper armors found on the Yin soldiers. Instead, these puppets appeared to be wearing black-and-white daoist robes and riding atop paper cranes with their hands folded neatly together. It was incredibly peculiar and eerie.
Hua Jieyi bit hard on her lips. She could sense an extraordinary wave of murderous intent and Yin energy erupting from these humanoid puppets, and she immediately knew that these were one of Qufu’s hidden trump cards!
It’s all worth it now. Lord Qin, do you see this? The Yang Clan would never betray your expectations of us. We’re willing to give up our lives for Hell’s glory! Dear sisters… do you see this? The Infernal Judge and the army of mannequins are moving together. The situation with Qufu’s forces… isn’t as good as it seems as well!
Let’s do this…
Lord Qin, I hope you’re ready. Qufu’s already digging deep into their reserves. I hope you’re ready to deliver the final blow to crush them completely!
“Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows at the ready…” She drew a deep breath and stared intently at the countless humanoid puppets in the air. Then, with a sonorous cry, she swung her hands down, “Fire!!”
Shk, shk, shk!!!
A dazzling array of flames filled the air, instantly transforming into a majestic reverse meteor shower that poured straight into the sky.
It was the battle between hidden trump cards of both forces.
“Kill them all!!” The voice cried out from within the residence, and the Yin energy around it trembled violently. A split second later, a mighty wave of murderous intent erupted from the heart of the palace, filling the entire skies. The eyes of all 30,000 humanoid puppets opened up at the exact same time, revealing a multitude of blazing pupils that lit the sky ablaze.
Sss!!! Like falling stars, the humanoid puppets promptly descended upon the rising flames of the crossbow bolts below. The two meteor showers collided in an instant!
Dong… A grand bell rang from the sixth floor of the six-storey tall building within the inner city.
Apart from two figures who were standing at the door right now, the entire room that spanned thousands of meters across was completely devoid of all Yin spirits.
Lai Junchen stood in front of the door, holding the railing tightly with flickering flames in his eyes as he carefully surveyed the situation at the three sides of the city walls that could be seen from his vantage point.
Qufu was so large that not a single sound of the clashing armies could be heard from over here. He could only see the roiling Yin energy in the distance, as well as erupting flares of netherflames in the sky from time to time. The citizens that resided in the inner city didn’t appear in the slightest bit concerned at all. Instead, they simply peeked out from their houses and gesticulated curiously at the city walls.
Occasionally, they would see shockwaves of Yin energy rippling out from the city walls in the distance. And it was only through the reflections of the glistening shockwaves that one could even catch a glimpse of the 200,000 humanoid paper effigies hidden below, resting on a scarlet platform like inanimate wooden sculptures.
The room on the sixth floor occupied a massive space that was thousands of meters large. The wooden floor was reddish-brown in colour, and appeared completely empty.
But that wasn’t the case.
There was a drawing of the Harken tussling with a xiezhi unicorn in the middle of the ceiling over the room. The entire drawing spanned hundreds of meters across. There was also a large hole in the middle of this drawing, and the hole concealed a magnificent, colossal mirror.
The reflection of the mirror revealed the entire image of Qufu’s Shanhai Pass. In fact, there were even rolling clouds and brilliant golden beams of light that poured out of the surface of the mirror. However, it hardly exuded any traces of immortal energy at all. Rather, the energy it exuded was undoubtedly Yin energy of the densest and purest quality.
In fact, the pure Yin energy felt grand and majestic, completely devoid of any taints and blemishes of evil intentions.
Back at the door. Lai Junchen’s expressions made it clear that his heart was hardly relieved by the current situation. In fact, it was apparent that his worst fears were all coming true.
He knew full well what Lord Kong had done back in Valley County. It was for this reason that they had decided to leave over 800,000 troops, together with 200,000 of the elite Confucian Family skeletal puppets garrisoned in Qufu, even though they were still resisting the approach of the daolord up north. They were afraid that Hell would bite back at them.
This was also exactly why they had been able to consolidate their forces so swiftly as soon as they discovered the death of the Lord of Darkriver.
Having been sentenced to hundreds of years under the six paths of reincarnation to atone for their sins, the notorious traitors Li Linfu and Lai Junchen knew all too well how terrifying the true Hell could be. Even then, neither one of them had expected Hell’s revenge to have come so swiftly, ferociously and decisively!
By Hell’s Dictum, all rabble shall disperse. The mere mention of these words were more than sufficient to cause them both to break out in cold sweat.
We can no longer afford to deploy anymore Yin soldiers… He stared intently at the city walls. We have to ensure the safety of the Mythic Palace of Reflections. But… would we truly be able to stem the advance of Hell’s forces with only the forces that have been mobilized thus far?
He subconsciously tightened his grip around the railings, digging his dark, grisly claws deep into the metal and grated against it with a harsh sound. His heart was filled with great apprehension and anxiety right now.
And it was precisely because of this that he agreed to send the Lord of Huayin straight into battle as soon as he requested for deployment.
He was afraid.
He was afraid that Hell would still have further reinforcements up their sleeves! After all, their mode of entry had been too sudden and bizarre. None of Hell’s forces had appeared within the inner city itself, but the remote possibility that they could still do so forced him to leave his 200,000 elite Confucian Family skeletal puppets behind in case of a contingency situation.
That said, he had allowed the Lord of Huayin to take 30,000 of these with him.
His purpose in doing that was to test and see if there was in fact a Judge-class Emissary of Hell among the ranks of Hell’s forces.
The weight of Hell’s advance might be great, but it still wasn’t heavy enough to cause his mind to snap with tension. That said, the appearance of an Infernal Judge might just tip him over the scale.
But until he could get confirmation of that, he would never be willing to mobilize the remaining forces under his command.
Knock, knock! Just then, he was jolted back to reality by a loud rap on the door leading up to the sixth floor. Several voices trembled with great anxiety from the other side of the door, “Lord--...” “Get lost!!”
A moment later, two ferocious streams of nethergale rushed straight towards him and stopped right in front of his eyes.
One was a tall, thin, man with traces of countless grisly knife wounds all over his body. The other was a headless woman. Both exuded Yin energy that were clearly in the realms of an Infernal Judge.
That’s right - the Umbral Mount Tai Alliance of Darkness had left three top-class Infernal Judges in Qufu!
“Mr Lai.” The headless woman’s diaphragm bulged as she shrieked, “Do you even know what you’re doing right now?!”
Lai Junchen’s heart was incomparably vexed. He wasn’t a military man in the first place. And yet, he had all the same been tasked with two tall orders of defending the city walls as well as ensuring the safety of the Mythic Palace of Reflections. He was practically caught in a bind. Thus, he chuckled back bitterly, “What do you mean?”
“What do I mean?!” The tall thin man’s voice was as loud as thunder. He smacked the railing loudly, causing a piece of it to fall off the building. His expressions contorted in a twisted manner as he gnashed his teeth at Lai Junchen, “Bloody hell… are you even aware that the soldiers perishing right now are all our own forces?!”
“Lord Kong has declared that each feudal lord shall take command of 200,000 troops.” The headless female hissed back like a venomous viper, “But the ones who are rushing to the frontlines are all our Yin soldiers. Your skeletal puppets are still stationed here--...”
Ssssssiiiikk!! Before she finished speaking, her entire body abruptly split from the middle, revealing layers upon layers of teeth from within, “What the hell are you doing?! Do you think that we wouldn’t dare make a move against you?!”
“Do you know how difficult it is to train Yin soldiers?! Do you know how hard it is to gather resources to support the development of troops, huh?! If you still want to fight back, then send your skeletal puppets! Our Yin soldiers are all dead and wounded! There’s no way we can hold out any longer!!”
Lai Junchen’s entire forehead was covered with cold sweat, but he still clenched his teeth tightly and remained completely silent.
The two feudal lords before him were truly incensed.
After all, 80,000 of Hell’s forces had decimated 500,000 of Qufu’s forces in the battle thus far! How humiliating was this? Even though he knew full well that the losses in a war against an army of genuine Yin soldiers of Hell would be in the region of one to ten, the other Infernal Judges were completely unaware of this fact!
To their minds, this was simply a situation of mismanagement of troops. There were far more disposable skeletal puppets that could have been deployed, and yet Lai Junchen still chose to deploy the Yin soldiers instead. How could they stomach such a terrible decision?
“It’s not like that.” Lai Junchen gritted his teeth, “The skeletal puppets are our last line of defence. The entire Shanhai Pass depends on the integrity of the Mythic Palace of Reflections. As soon as this Yin artifact is deactivated, the consequences would be immeasurable! I--...”
His voice promptly drifted off, because a pale bone spike and a scarlet tongue had promptly lashed straight towards his forehead.
This was an issue arising out of military illiteracy.
Had Yang Yanzhao been here, he would have been able to affirm what Lai Junchen had done. Unfortunately, the two Infernal Judges were evil ghosts of the modern era, and they weren’t able to dissociate themselves from their immediate benefits to look at the bigger picture. All they could see was the fact that they had lost a multitude of Yin soldiers that they had painstakingly nurtured. They were too focused on the small matters before them that they had completely lost sight of the more important ones.
“Everyone…” Lai Junchen gritted his teeth, “I’ve been entrusted with Lord Kong’s token of authority. I’m acting as his agent and representative right now. Do you want to be charged with the crimes of betraying Lord Kong?! Besides, what’s the use of retaining the lives of your soldiers if we lose Qufu?! How can I disregard the importance of the entire city?!”
“Then trade your soldiers for ours.” The tall thin man sneered as he stared right back at Lai Junchen, “If Hell could do it, they would already have deployed soldiers in the inner city with those spell arrays of theirs. But they did not. They clearly cannot do such a thing! Mr Lai, we all know full well from the history books how cowardly you are, so you can stop pretending now. You’re just an old man who managed to scrape by on pure cowardice for a thousand years until you finally became a Hellguard-class Yin spirit.”
“You!!” Lai Junchen’s heart exploded with rage. But just then… an earth-shattering tremor rocked the entire city.
What in the…
Lai Junchen’s heart shuddered uncontrollably. He recklessly shoved aside the bone spike and scarlet tongue in front of his very eyes and rushed straight to the railing, where he turned to stare at the source of the sound with great disbelief.
Both of the other Infernal Judges also soon followed suit.
The sound had come from the western walls.
This was a sound that had similarly rocked the entire Shanhai Pass when it was first established as well. The twelve zodiac beasts placed at the head of Shanhai Pass could be considered one of Hell’s millennial masterpieces. And the sound was one that accompanied the ultimate attack of each of these twelve zodiac beasts.
Has it already come to this?
No. There are still hundreds of thousands of Qufu’s soldiers alive right now. We’ve got more than enough to slowly whittle down Hell’s forces until they all perish. So… why would the ultimate attack mode of these Mechanical Beasts be activated?
The western city walls. Whoosh… Wave after wave of dark Yin energy appeared to be sweeping through the entire western walls. The Ugly Bull Mechanical Beast had just lifted its head. The talismans attached to every part of its body were fluttering wildly as it furiously gathered Yin energy towards its mouth.
Buzz… The Ugly Bull’s eyes lit up. Moments later… a ten-meter-sized black orb suddenly appeared right in front of its mouth.
The orb was entirely formed out of condensed Yin energy. Everyone in the vicinity could sense the terrifying might of this attack that was being generated. It was no less powerful than a nascent Judge’s strongest technique. And even then… they could sense that it was still slowly but surely gathering even more energy!
Buzz… BUZZ!!! The entire western walls were now trembling profusely. Hell’s forces and Qufu’s forces had once again broken away from their melee and turned to stare at the terrifying sight. Even Oda Nobutada couldn’t help but gasp in horror. Those who were situated closest to the Mechanical Beast could most clearly sense its might. Even the impregnable walls of the Shanhai Pass were starting to show signs of cracks from the terrifying tremors.
This was the name of the ultimate attack of the Ugly Bull Mechanical Beast.
It was an attack that wouldn’t leave a single survivor.
The black orb was slowly growing larger! Twenty meters… thirty meters… and then, after a dozen or so seconds, it finally grew to become a fifty meters large black orb!
Rumble… Even the residents in the vicinity couldn’t help but stare at the black orb in horror as the mighty gravitational pull from it peeled off the roofs of their homes.
It was almost as though the surroundings had lost all measure of weight.
In fact, the terrifying pressure of the black orb was sufficient to extinguish the soulfires of the weaker Yin spirits around. Oda Nobutada gulped nervously. He felt incredibly bitter. The weight of Kiku-ichimonji had never felt heavier.
Have we… finally come to the end…?
What a pity… He turned to look at the rest of Qufu with great regret and remorse.
The world is my oyster… yet I cannot enjoy a single moment of it…
All eyes were on the black orb right now. In that instant, it was as though the entire world had gone silent.
It was a stifling silence that forebode death.
Everyone was awash with despondency and despair. They knew it was impossible to defend against such an overwhelming attack in the first place.
Nobody even thought about escape at this moment. After all, it was a warrior’s pride and glory to live and die by the battlefield.
Oda Nobutada smiled bitterly and glanced to the east, “Father...”
And then, he shut his eyes.
The heavens and earth shook.
The eruption of Yin energy drew all eyes to it, be it Qin Ye, Arthis, Lai Chunchen or Lord of Huayin…
To their horror, the black orb of Yin energy… was actually fired straight at the Lord of Huayin and the throng of skeletal puppets arrayed behind him!