“I’m warning you… You’d better dispel those untoward thoughts in your mind right now!” Wang Chenghao’s senses had evolved so much through his interactions with Qin Ye and Arthis that he could already tell that the smiles on their faces were hardly smiles at all.
Qin Ye coughed dryly, before raising the chains in his hands with a wicked smile, “What are you talking about, Rodent, I’m just going to--...”
“Don’t even think about it! Thinking is just as bad as doing! Thinking is sinning!” Wang Chenghao reacted just like a cat whose tail had been stepped on.
You’re no fun, you know that?
There’s no resistance at all… and what’s with the screams before I even dish out the punishment? Qin Ye put away the chains with great despondence - Speaking of which, these tools are pretty evil indeed…
Arthis also glanced at Wang One Tail, irate at his unfulfilling response, “Don’t say it… Classmate Wang is still pretty much as good a punching bag as it gets… Do you think the name ‘Local Bully’ is just for show…”
Qin Ye stared at Arthis as though he had just seen a ghost, “No… I mean… Why does it seem like there’s even a trace of regret in your voice? What the hell are you thinking about?! He’s just a kid!”
Arthis coughed dryly, “That’s true. Sigh… Kids these days are all so well-endo--... I mean, well developed these days. It truly messes with the mind…”
Both Arthis and Qin Ye tacitly knew that it was a conversation best shelved for another day. Qin Ye coughed dryly, “Going back to the main topic at hand, that deals with two of the divine abilities. What about the other three?”
The segue couldn’t have been more contrived.
“The other three aren’t abilities that can be perceived on the surface.” Arthis shelved the unnecessary thoughts on her mind and continued with great focus, “The third divine ability is called… Judge’s Stroke.”
“A single stroke is all it takes to determine the life and death of all creatures.” She pointed to the Book of Life and Death in Qin Ye’s hands, “That said, one of the prerequisites to usage is that the Book of Life and Death must be in Hell’s possession first. That’s where the faux Book of Life and Death draws its powers from. All natural life is bestowed by the Heavenly Dao. Apocryphal Emissaries of Hell have no rights to get even a glimpse of such information. Additionally…”
She retracted the smile on her face, “This ability, the Judge’s Stroke, can also be used in the mortal realm.”
Qin Ye blinked vacantly for some moments, before finally shaking his head.
He could understand why Arthis had said these things with such great sobriety.
It was because, moving forward, he would be no different from the mythical existence known as Zhong Kui!
He was now armed with eyes to discern, and a pen to determine life. He had never possessed the ability to directly reap the lives of the mortal realm. But now… the ambit of his authority had clearly expanded greatly!
As long as he so desired, he could even transform the entire mortal realm into a sea of blood. If the True King Yanluo of Hell decrees the death of a person, how could he possibly run from his fate?
That said, Arthis had spoken with such sobriety because she was also warning him to be circumspect in his usage of these abilities. After all, it was a very real possibility that one could lose his heart and mind with such heaven-defying powers at his disposal.
“I understand.” Qin Ye finally nodded after a long time.
“I’ll always be watching you.” Arthis continued placidly, “According to the Records of the old Hell, all who were found to have abused the power of the Book of Life and Death were sentenced to at least a millennium in the abysses, or even eternal imprisonment. You’d… be wise to be cautious.”
Qin Ye nodded deeply. Arthis then withdrew her gaze, “The fourth divine ability is your blade release.”
“Hell has three divine artifacts, namely King Yanluo’s Seal, the Book of Life and Death, and the Judgment Pen. When an Emissary of Hell becomes a True Infernal Judge, he or she would be bestowed with the Book of Life and Death and the Judgment Pen. While they are nothing like the real thing, they are still modeled after divine artifacts. Naturally, their blade release will now be completely different from before. As to how exactly it differs… you’ll have to try it out for yourself. I’m too lazy to talk about the exact details right now. Suffice it to say that it will be so awesome that it’ll render you completely breathless.”
But I wanna try it out now… Qin Ye glanced up at Arthis with a wicked smile.
And then, he noticed Arthis pull out the Peach Blossom Lantern.
You’re making things really uninteresting, you know that?!
Qin Ye sighed softly, before grimacing back at Arthis, “About that… why did you suddenly pull out something so dangerous? Put it back… put it back… That’s terrifying…”
“Oh? I’d just taken it out for fun. Otherwise, who knows if a particularly petty leader would have designs on me, huh?” Arthis smiled back. “And the last divine ability… is something that you don’t need to know of for now. This can wait until you’ve finally settled the citizens of Qufu. As a True Infernal Judge of Hell, you now hold an immense responsibility over the lives and deaths of millions of Yin spirits. There’s much to be learned there as well.”
Qin Ye was displeased, “You whet my appetite so much, only to show me up at the very end? Hurry up and tell me!”
“Are you even conscious of the fact that the first general assembly of the citizens is coming up shortly?” Arthis pulled out the hourglass once more and glanced at it, “We’ve got eight minutes left. Are you certain?”
“Of course! Hurry up!”
Arthis rolled her eyes, “The last one… is called Spirit Particle Affinity.”
Qin Ye blinked vacantly as he stared intently at Arthis, while Arthis did the same as well.
Ten seconds later, “That’s it?”
“... You’re not messing with me, are you? Why does the last one sound so different from the previous four? The image isn’t coherent with the graphics card that we have at all… Bloody hell… Why does it feel like the cultural influences have shifted from the east to the west from the last one? Is this a misapprehension on my part?”
Arthis glared at him, “This is indubitably the name. Like I said before, you’ve got much to learn as a True Infernal Judge. The final divine ability has got to do with the three major rules of Hell, and it’s not possible to talk about everything in just a short span of time. In fact, it’s not even something that I’m very familiar with myself… So shelve it for now, you hear?”
Just as she said that, a lilting bell resounded throughout the entire Qufu City, and Qin Ye and Arthis promptly transformed into a nethergale and headed out from where they were.
Wei Youliang stood quietly on the street right in front of the neighbourhood.
The entire street was already so crowded with Yin spirits that they couldn’t even see the end of the roads. He silently glanced at the city walls not too far away. Their neighbourhood was located rather close to the city walls, and he could naturally see thousands of Yin soldiers standing guard on the city walls, completely dressed in full armor.
They were ready to unleash a torrent of arrows as soon as they detected the slightest sign of trouble.
What’s Lord Qin going to do? He’s not really going to massacre over ten million Yin spirits, is he? He looked around at the rest of the Yin spirits around him, all of whom were ostensibly just as apprehensive as he was.
Oh, how things have changed… He sighed softly in his heart, pursed his lips and lowered his head.
This was probably how it was in ancient times when a new emperor was appointed…
“Old Wei.” Just then, a voice beside called out to him, and a thin Yin spirit continued uneasily, “What do you think… Hell is going to do with us?”
He glanced at the city walls, before continuing with a parched voice, “S-sorry… It’s just that my heart is beating really quick, and I need someone to talk to… You used to be a clerk in the governor’s office, didn’t you? What do you think… Hell is going to do?”
Wei Youliang pursed his lips tightly - That’s right… Is there any one of us Yin spirits who aren’t worried right now?
Aren’t we all part of the ‘rebel forces’? Wouldn’t it only be natural that Hell makes an example of all of us?
“I… don’t know…” Wei Youliang responded with an equally hoarse voice, “Let’s just hope that we’re still of some use to the new Hell. That way, Hell might just want to keep us around…”
“Then… between Hell and Lord Kong, who do you think would be a better ruler?”
Wei Youliang chuckled bitterly, “Who knows…”
“But does it matter? We’re like lamb to the slaughter right now…”
In fact, none of them knew where exactly they were right now.
The sun in the sky was replaced by endless nethergale and eerie spots of netherflames. It looked no different from the underworld that they had all heard so much about…
Then, just as he began to delve deep into his own train of thoughts, a sea of netherflames suddenly rushed out from the inner city like a massive wave. Then, amidst the sea of flames, a massive figure began to rise from it, almost as though it were a 3D projection.
“Sss… What’s this…” “My god… Is this King Yanluo himself?” “Is this what Hell is capable of?” “That’s Lord Qin?”
A split second later, there was a series of gasps, and then a buzz of soft murmurs throughout the entire city. It began small, but soon began to spread like wildfire across the entire city!
It was the manifestation of the shock and awe of millions of Yin spirits!
“This…” Wei Youliang abruptly looked up to the sky. He could see a Yin spirit hovering in the void with brilliant netherflames billowing from his eyes. The figure was dressed in the black garments of an Infernal Judge and wielding a Book of Life and Death and a Judgment Pen in his arms. The figure had appeared suddenly with a bang. His white hair scattered menacingly, and he stood close to a thousand meters tall, so tall that his entire being practically appeared to connect heaven and earth. That figure could be seen from every single location in Qufu right now!
It was like the descent of a god!
He’s just like the myths of ancient times… The figure exuded such might and authority that the Yin spirits of Qufu immediately felt an unspeakable terror arise from their hearts. It was terror and dread that arose from the suppression of their souls. It was a reverence accompanying the realization of the truth of the myths that have been passed down for thousands of years.
This is… something that not even Kong Mo was able to do… Wei Youliang’s lips were completely parched by now. He stared blankly at the towering figure in the sky. None of them had actually expected the first general assembly of the citizens to be so unpretentious, and yet at the same time command such great reverence and awe from all of them. Even Kong Mo had no choice but to enlist the aid of the Mythic Palace of Reflections before he was able to command the respect of all the citizens at once!
Qin Ye glanced about the entire city, only to notice countless flickering netherflames staring back at him. It was a sign of psychological shock. He secretly nodded with approbation.
Over the last month, the officials of Hell had been incredibly busy scrambling about with background checks on the Yin soldiers who had submitted to Hell, doing up an inventory of Qufu’s assets, completing a census of the people and cartographing the vicinity that Qin Ye hadn’t even had the chance to do a proper walkabout Qufu itself! In fact, he had only managed to catch about four hours of sleep every night over the last month or so.
And it was precisely because of his busyness that he had also come to a realization about one thing.
And that was… the fact that Kong Mo wasn’t able to deify himself before his subjects!
This was a right accorded only to a True Infernal Judge of Hell!
Authentic or Genuine, Apocryphal, and then True. These were the three different kinds of Emissaries of Hell - and Kong Mo and his people weren’t even considered Genuine Emissaries of Hell. They were but a bunch of rogue Yin spirits who had banded together, relying on the power of the Mythic Palace of Reflections to perpetuate a lie that they were the true Hell.
Just as quickly as the citizens had begun to clamor, everyone soon fell silent once more. And then, one by one, the Yin spirits immediately began to bow down low, in awe of a miraculous sight that they had never seen before.
“Everyone, I am the Third King Yanluo of Hell, Yanluo Qin.” Qin Ye’s voice boomed throughout the entire city with an unhurried pace. He spoke with an authoritative voice because he didn’t want to be too relaxed and cause the Yin spirits to be under a misapprehension that they could come and go as they pleased. Yet he also measured the forcefulness of his words because he didn’t want to scare the little babies bowing down before him.
We’re talking about over ten million Yin spirits! This is the populace of a provincial capital back in the mortal realm! And it would easily even be among the more densely populated ones at that!
Over the dozens of meetings he had held with the other officials of Hell across the last month, the goal he had set for himself was this - I can spare you, but this is no democracy! This was the message that he intended to convey to the citizens of Qufu today.
We’re still a developing country, and you’re already talking to me about democracy?
You’re the demos, and I’m the kratos.
I can assure you that the Yin soldiers patrolling the city walls aren’t just for show. We’ll make an example out of any potential rebels out there.
“I’m willing to look past your transgressions. But you’ve now returned to Hell, and you must also be aware of your duties and obligations as citizens of Hell.”
His voice was placid, yet still just as authoritative as ever. This was the result of his special training in the past, “Firstly, you must always remember that you are ghosts and Yin spirits, and there’s only one authority that has been recognized by the three realms of the world as the true governor of all such entities.”
“And that is none other than Hell itself!”
“All who dare provoke the ire of Hell by failing or refusing to enter Hell will be considered a rebel. All who fail to submit shall summarily be purged and executed!”
1. He’s known to be a vanquisher of ghosts in the Japanese and Chinese mythology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhong_Kui