The top of the altar was instantly shrouded in silence. Lai Junchen stared blankly at Qin Ye with his lips trembling and his mouth agape. Three seconds later, he dashed straight for the edge of the altar. But before he could even make his way out, a sharp, long spear skewered his shoulder and lifted him right back to the Mythic Palace of Reflections.
“Please, Mr Lai. This is fate… Zhou Xing, the man whom you invited into the urn that fateful year, will be so relieved to see things come full circle like this…”
“No… No… NO!!!” Lai Junchen screamed frantically, “Don’t be like this! I don’t want to die!! Let me go… Put me--...”
Qin Ye forced his head straight into the mirror before he could even finish his plea for mercy.
He muttered softly, “Unfortunately… you don’t have the right to be spared.”
SSS!!! A miserable shriek erupted from the top of the altar, and Lai Junchen’s body convulsed violently. Wisps of Yin energy were forcibly being extracted from his body and absorbed into the surface of the mirror. A split second later, his hideous face appeared on the massive surface of the mirror!
The talismanic writing appeared to be on the underside of the mirror, followed immediately by Lai Junchen and his terrified expression. He looked from side to side, rapping desperately on the mirror from the other side, almost as though he were yelling out something of great importance. Unfortunately, nobody could hear his silent cries.
Elsewhere in the outer city. The cavalrymen who were desperately rushing back to the Mythic Palace of Reflections suddenly tugged hard on their reins and looked up in horror.
“Is that… Lord Lai?” One of the generals muttered under his breath with a tremor in his voice, “Commander-in-chief of the forces in Qufu City, Shanhai Pass… Lord Lai?”
No one responded.
That said, every single Yin soldier who was in the midst of rushing back to the inner city couldn’t help but exchange awkward glances as they paused in their steps.
Nobody understood what they were supposed to make of the peculiar sight.
Just then, everyone saw Lai Junchen clutching at his head with both hands, ostensibly screaming silently on the other side of the mirror. They could all see copious amounts of Yin energy pouring out of his seven apertures like a raging tsunami. Within moments, the Yin energy that filled the entire mirror transformed into countless black butterflies that soon drifted away, and the eerie green radiance emanating from the surface of the mirror quickly faded back into a soft, white light.
A second later, a majestic voice echoed throughout the entire Shanhai Pass, “The enemy general has fallen! All who surrender shall be spared!”
The forces of Hell who were still locked in the heat of combat with Qufu’s Yin soldiers, as well as the forces of Hell who were completely spent of energy and resting both echoed at the top of their voices, “The enemy general has fallen! All who surrender shall be spared!” “Hell has emerged victorious!!!”
In an instant, the four outer city walls erupted with a triumphant shout!
It was filled with the excitement of seeing the sun after a torrential downpour. It was the joy of seeing the fruits of their hard labour and sacrifice. Everyone burst out in a celebratory cry of victory in an instant!
Granted, they were but a miniscule drop in the ocean compared with the sheer size of Shanhai Pass, but even then, their clamor of victory was still just blaring and grating to the ears of the Qufu Yin soldiers.
“We’ve… lost?” News of the death of their commander-in-chief instantly spread like the plague among the Qufu forces, dealing a fatal blow to their morale. The general of the Qufu cavalry stared blankly at the top of the altar, where a figure stood valiantly with an exquisite spear in his hand. The general softly repeated his words to himself.
Clang… A crisp, clear sound of metal jolted him back from his reverie. Following that, there was a cacophonous ring of heavy objects falling to the ground.
He didn’t need to turn his head to know that these were the sounds of heavy weapons falling to the ground.
Nobody had the will to do battle anymore.
The First Pass Under Heaven, Shanhai Pass, had been completely and utterly defeated. The loss of their bulwark had stripped the Qufu forces of every measure of battle spirit within them. Besides, what was the point of fighting when they had already lost their commander-in-chief?
There was a loud clamor of sounds coming from all around him, including the sound of a whistling gale, explosions, and clanging of heavy metal. But… it was also the first time the general felt such intense peace, almost as though his heart was completely dead to the world.
Yet, even then, he could hear the victorious cries of Hell’s forces scraping against his eardrums. The soft shouts of victory were like heavy strikes of the drum that beat heavily on his heart.
“General…” Just then, a lesser commander arrived at the side of his general, “We--...”
“Surrender.” The general continued to stare blankly at the sky, “Lower our banner… and cast down your weapons… We surrender…”
It was calm.
It was practically emotionless.
The lesser commander didn’t say much more. Seconds later, he mumbled softly in response, “Yes.”
Whoosh… As soon as they lowered their banner, the rest of the cavalrymen immediately dismounted from their war horses and cast down their weapons silently.
They were the first ones to react as such. Soon after, and elsewhere on the battlefield, everyone made the exact same decision with each their own contingent of troops.
Clatter… Just as quickly as the flames of war roared like a great conflagration within the city, so were they extinguished in just an instant. Various armaments of all sorts were instantly cast onto the ground, while the various armies lowered the banners of the Alliance of Darkness accordingly. The only ones who were still rushing back towards the altar was a faction of approximately 100,000 or so remaining Yin soldiers.
These were the die-hard loyalists of the Alliance of Darkness. They were the ones who had a vested interest in preserving the status quo. So long as there was even a modicum of hope left to salvage the situation, they would never be willing to give up on that!
There were always people like that in any organisation.
Over ten million ghastly citizens stared blankly at the incredulous spectacle panning out before their eyes. Nobody rioted. They were simply dumbfounded. They were apathetic to war, so long as they weren’t inadvertently drawn into the midst of the battlefield. Kong Mo had ruled over them with the basic governmental amenities, but he wasn’t able to provide them with any significant benefits, like that which Qin Ye could offer with the Book of Life and Death.
Qin Ye watched all of these things with great indifference. The die-hard loyalists rushed past the forces that had already surrendered. As they passed by, the loyalists attempted to stir the surrendered forces back into action by cursing and insulting them, yet to no avail.
Qin Ye gently shook his head. Do you really think that’s going to work?
The big picture has already been decided! The curtains have been drawn!
In fact, Qufu had already fallen as soon as the first contingent of Qufu’s forces lowered their banners. Would the remaining stubborn loyalists truly be able to stand toe to toe against the Infernal Judges of Hell?
Qin Ye gazed into the distant sky. He could sense a magnificent aura rapidly coalescing overhead.
What was coming next was truly going to be the final nail in the coffin that breaks the fighting spirit of all remaining Yin soldiers in Qufu City, Shanhai Pass.
The city had been ruled by Kong Mo for decades now. None of the citizens nor Yin soldiers here had ever experienced the reign of the old Hell, much less realize that they were in fact a rebel force.
But it didn’t matter.
It was easy to teach them the truth.
All Qin Ye needed to do was to show them a miracle.
“Kill them all!!!” One of the loyalist generals yelled at the top of his voice as he continued charging towards the top of the altar. There were only a few thousand Yin soldiers of Hell remaining at the altar. So long as they rushed over, they would be able to take down every single one of them. Then, with the Mythic Palace of Reflections back in their possession, they would have control of Qufu once more!
They couldn’t afford to lose Qufu! The loyalist general was the deputy commander-in-chief of Qufu’s forces. He knew he would never be able to command such an important station if Qufu’s leadership changed hands. Thus, he would very much rather stake everything in the last hurrah at taking Qufu back.
Over 20,000 Yin soldiers followed closely behind him. None of them said a single word. Their morale was at an all-time low, but… they were at least still following his lead.
“Anyone who can retake the Mythic Palace of Reflections shall be promoted threefold and rewarded with ten thousand catties of Yin spirit stones!!” He threw down a magnificent reward in a last-ditch attempt to lift the morale of his troops once more. He could see several other generals leading the charge not far away, Chen Fudai, Cao Putang, General Zhou and others leading at least eight other contingents as they rushed back towards the Mythic Palace of Reflections. Each one of these generals had thousands of Yin soldiers following close behind them.
The forces rushing back numbered close to 100,000! They definitely had a fighting chance!
Thus, he lowered his helmet and gritted his teeth as he continued onwards. Close… we’re getting close! Five kilometers… three kilometers… one kilometer! Five hundred meters… three hundred meters… one hundred meters!
“Kill them all!!” The Mythic Palace of Reflections was right in front of his eyes! He yelled at the top of his voice and began to ascend the altar.
But a split second later, with a miserable scream, he was sent flying hundreds of meters away with a loud bang.
His jaws dropped as he stared blankly at the Mythic Palace of Reflections. It felt almost as though… there was an invisible wall erected around it right now.
Just then, a loud bang suddenly erupted in the air above them. A moment later, a colossal hole as large as the entire city of Qufu opened up in the canopies of the sky above. Countless spots of netherflames poured out from it, followed closely by an overwhelming pressure that descended from the sky.
None of them could even consciously react to the situation. Thud, thud, thud… Across the entire Qufu, every single Yin spirit fell to their knees with great trembling as they stared at the sky in horror.
It was a crushing pressure.
It was the arrival of Lord Harken itself!
Shanhai Pass trembled violently, and even began to contort slightly. All of the Yin spirits stared blankly at the sky, not knowing what calamity was coming. Meanwhile, the scarlet writing on the surface of the mirror slowly vanished and faded away even as Shanhai Pass continued to quake incessantly. Then, several moments later, there was a massive tremor, and then the entire Qufu… vanished without a trace!
All that remained was a large, empty plot of land, together with rolling mountains in the distance. After a long time, a monarch beast in the distance suddenly glanced over in horror, wondering where the magnificent city that had stood for such a long time had gone.
And… what about the other Yin spirits that roamed the lands? Where have they gone?
All that was left was a completely barren land.
Annals of the New Hell: Year 001 of the New Hell. Third King Yanluo of Hell, Qin Ye, led an army of 100,000 and took down the rebel forces of the Umbral Mount Tai Alliance of Darkness. Hell’s forces took down 570,000 enemy troops, seized control of Qufu City’s Shanhai Pass, and recovered one of Hell’s grade A Yin artifacts, the Mythic Palace of Reflections.
Hell’s casualties numbered 68,000 troops in all. Pioneer General Mu Guiying and Pioneer General Yang Yande were martyred in the call of duty. Their death paved the way for Hell’s success in the first war for expansion against Qufu City, Shanhai Pass.
Black cliffs overlooking the vast oceans.
Eastmount Province, Limbo. The forces of the Alliance of Darkness were stationed along the cliffside. Their military garrison was well illuminated with blazing netherflames. Yin soldiers patrolled along the coast, watching cautiously for any enemy movement from the scarlet spots that hovered menacingly above the ocean.
Just then, an infuriated roar erupted from the central tent of the military garrison. “Who… who the hell did that?!” All of the surrounding Yin soldiers turned to look sheepishly at the tent.
That’s Lord Kong’s tent…
“My Lord!” An attendant immediately entered the tent, only to have his approach rebuffed by an equally furious cry, “Scram!!” He promptly backed out of the room.
There was still the same chandelier of human bones hanging in the room, as well as a map of Eastmount Province hanging at the back of the tent. However, everything else in the room was a complete mess. Kong Mo had already knocked over the table in front of him, sending his brushes, ink, paper and inkstone scattering everywhere across the ground. But he didn’t even care to look at the mess around him. Instead, he gnashed his teeth bitterly and furrowed his brows.
There lay beneath his palm an eyeball that appeared no different from a mirror, and it was currently slowly but surely fading into nothingness. He desperately clung onto the eyeball, and even bashed his head against it so hard that Yin energy and netherflames spewed out from what remained of it. He wasn’t willing to let it go.
But, in the end, it was all in vain.
A split second later, the eyeball flickered softly, and then completely vanished into thin air. He screamed at the top of his voice, clutching madly at his head. His expression grew twisted in rage.
“Damn it… DAMN IT!!”
“Is it Hell? Or is it other alliances of the underworld?! The Mythic Palace of Reflections… My Mythic Palace of Reflections has actually vanished from Limbo?! Whoever did this… you’d best be prepared to suffer under the eighteen abysses of punishment!!!”
The intense shock and rage flowing from the horrific turn of events caused his entire body to tremble violently, and it took him dozens of minutes before he finally regained his composure once more. Yet, even then, he found himself gazing into the distant sky helplessly.
How did this happen?
How did things come to this?!
I can accept Qufu’s defeat, no matter how miniscule the possibility might have been. But… how could the entire Shanhai Pass simply vanish just like that?
Where has it gone? Who could have done this? The Mythic Palace of Reflections is my greatest source of confidence! Whose hands did it end up in?!
And… where does that leave me?
Have I actually become caught between a rock and a hard place?
Several moments later, he vented every bit of frustration and vexation in his heart with a crazed roar that resounded throughout the entire coast, “I’ll curse you to death!!!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter