Unlocking the ‘lustful ghost’ achievement gave Arthis a great boost to her IQ. Even her abilities appeared to soar to new heights. Before Qin Ye could even respond any further, she had already transformed into a nethergale and drifted away without reservations.
Qin Ye thought disdainfully - Do you think you’ve really landed the perfect opportunity to be a hero to a damsel in distress? That’s not possible. Believe me. Do you think idols truly care about what their fans think of them? It’s all a front! An outward-facing persona that they artificially establish and maintain!
“That said… there’s really more than meets the eye here…” Qin Ye carefully addressed his mind to the entire sequence of events once more, before glancing around the empty cave thoughtfully, “Firstly, what we can be sure of is that Zhao Zilong must have received a secret imperial edict, or met with a mishap of sorts. The Second King Yanluo of Hell must have caught wind of this, but failed to appreciate what the Confucian Family was attempting to do behind his back.”
“The Second King Yanluo must have been oblivious to how truly terrifying these so-called scholars used to be in the Song Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty. He must have underestimated the Confucian Family, only to finally come to his senses when he first discovered the missing secret memorial. Incidentally, that event coincided with Ksitigarbha’s ascension. Having sobered up to the true situation plaguing Hell, the Second King Yanluo must have steeled his heart and watched idly as the entire old Hell collapsed altogether.”
After deliberating for several more moments, Qin Ye nodded, “It sounds logical, but unfortunately… it’s still no more than a postulation. The only evidence I have is that everything seems to fit squarely in the grand timeline of events. However…”
Qin Ye sighed, “I’ve got no concrete evidence. But then again… why do I have to prove my conjectures? This is something that only feeds my curiosity. Besides… everything is now in the past.”
“What I should be addressing my mind to is the question of what the Confucian Family is or was attempting to do here?”
“Firstly, I know that they have sent Kong Mo. He’s the most suitable candidate to have been sent to Limbo on the pretext of being exiled. Thus, he was the one who was ‘banished’ to Limbo. As a great sinner of his time, he was bestowed with the Mythic Palace of Reflections… Hahaha… there’s nothing to go on beyond that. I’ll need more clues. Perhaps I’d only be able to learn more about their true purposes by unravelling the secret memorial.”
He nodded his head and turned around to leave. Just then, a soft golden light suddenly lit up between his brows.
He paused for a moment and probed at the golden light in his mind. Instantly, an anxious figure immediately appeared beside him.
It was Wu Wenqing, deputy chief of the Martial City branch of the Special Investigations Department. This was the seal which Qin Ye had left back on his door in the mortal realm. So long as someone knocked on his door, he would be able to see and hear what was going on in the mortal realm from wherever he was. To that end, this was the very first time that Martial City had come calling on him.
That said, it made perfect sense that they did. He had already been missing in action for over five months now. It had been far longer than he had previously promised them.
“Mr Qin!” Wu Wenqing’s anxious voice reverberated in his mind, “We’ve encountered a rather critical situation in Martial City. We implore Mr Qin to exit from his closed door cultivation if possible! We have yet to apply for external assistance in this regard. Mr Qin, please respond within the day! We will send someone to call on you again tomorrow!”
Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed slightly.
Critical situation... Martial City is a coastal city located at the upper part of Eastmount Province. Coastal city…
Is he making his move? Has he finally wised up to Kong Mo’s situation? Is he finally trying to press the advantage? Doesn’t this mean that he was previously afraid of Kong Mo? No… the daolord would have his own army that is just as imposing as well. Since that’s the case, then the only other possibility would be that the daolord is afraid of the Yin artifacts currently in Kong Mo’s possession. He’s afraid of the depth of the arsenal at the Confucian Family’s disposal.
In other words… Kong Mo must have in his possession an artifact that can even threaten an Abyssal Prefect! It would have to be something even more terrifying than the Peach Blossom Lantern! The Confucian family has truly pulled out all the stops this time…
With Ashmound now under our control, there’s no way Kong Mo would think of reclaiming it. After all, Ashmound’s defenses aren’t things to be trifled with. If not for the fact that we could drop right into the heart of Ashmount through the underworld, there’s simply no way we could have taken Ashmound in the first place. But the recent developments must have flustered Kong Mo, and… the daolord must have noticed it.
Three powers are contending for sovereignty in the Eastmount Province right now. Kong Mo is already out of the running, and he’s only desperately maintaining the facade that he’s had all this while. Moving forward, I’ll have to trample over Kong Mo and clash head on against the daolord.
“But before that, there are some things that I’ll still have to resolve.” He smiled and rubbed his hand, savouring the lingering feeling of the Courage of Dragons Silver Spear in his hands, “Kong Mo is well on the path to demise. I’m pretty sure that the daolord would be happy to join forces with me to rid the world of that vermin completely, wouldn’t he?”
“What are your thoughts on joining forces with the daolord?”
Yang Yanzhao immediately opened his mouth, but sensibly held back his initial reaction. After some time, he finally chose the right words to speak, “The six daolords are all sinners of their times that have committed unforgivable, heinous crimes. Truth be told, I would not approve of such a course of action. But given the limitations faced by the new Hell right now, I would have no objections so long as it can restore Hell to its former glory in the next hundred years.”
Qin Ye nodded, “Truth be told, I’d actually reached out to the daolord of the asura immediately after the last imperial court meeting. However, he didn’t give a damn about me back then. He didn’t kill Li Jixi, the messenger I’d sent, but he didn’t grant him the audience that I’d sought either. He didn’t even bother to let him into his borders.”
“It’s best that you continue to think this way. You’ve been following Yang Jiye, so you would have been exposed to the developments in the mortal realm. I’m sure you would have noticed over time that the allegiances in the mortal realm have never been as polarized as they make them out to be. Every country will sway from position to position from time to time. Allegiances are never permanent. The only thing that is everlasting is a nation’s own interests.”
Yang Yanzhao nodded deeply.
“But before we get to that, there’s still something that we’ve got to do.” Qin Ye made a grabbing motion in the air, and some flowers of paramnesia appeared in his hand.
“Are you… going to see them?” Yang Yanzhao responded with a hoarse voice.
Qin Ye nodded softly, “I’m afraid that… they need an answer.”
“And I’m going to tell them to rest in peace, because everything is fine, and everything will be fine. What they have exchanged their lives for shall be carefully and cautiously preserved and developed for hundreds of years, and even thousands of years. Their legacy shall continue to stand in these great lands that we see right now.”
“And I wouldn’t be able to rest at ease until I personally give them an answer.”
With that, he transformed into a nethergale and flew out of the pit. Before leaving, he informed all of the Yin spirits gathered by the pit to return to their duties, begin to sort through their own work, and that they would reconvene in a week with a follow up provincial working group meeting.
Then, he flew straight into the air and rushed right to the southern part of the city.
Within moments, both Qin Ye and Yang Yanzhao arrived at their destination.
“Greetings, my lord.” A thousand Black Armored Troops were stationed here. As soon as they noticed Qin Ye’s arrival, all of them knelt to the ground on one knee and greeted him respectfully.
“Rise.” Qin Ye’s voice deepened. His eyes glanced right past the Black Armored Troops, at the location just behind them.
There was a stone monument located in the empty space behind.
It was a large monument - ten meters wide and five meters tall. It looked like a rectangular block that was etched with a series of words.
Besides that, a cemetery lay right before the large stone monument, replete with hundreds upon hundreds of tombstones.
The cemetery was very silent. There were a multitude of things to be done in Ashmound right now, which was why he had only deployed hundred of Yin spirits to stand vigil about these parts, and erect a monument and hundreds of tombstones in memory of all who had perished. There weren’t even fresh flowers offered to the deceased persons.
Qin Ye and Yang Yanzhao slowly walked through the entire cemetery. The tombstones were all constructed with an ancient Cathayan flair, replete with some rather intricate carvings. Qin Ye walked over and gently ran his finger across the tombstones. “When are you returning to the Felipinas?”
“In one week’s time.” Yang Yanzhao responded. His heart was incomparably heavy at the sight of the memorial for the deceased soldiers.
Months ago, they were still standing together, as comrades-in-arm, vowing to fight for the glories of Hell. Yet, today, they were standing worlds apart from each other.
“Relay my thanks to General Yang for me. Tell him that I’ll never forget everything that the Yang Clan has dedicated to Hell.” Qin Ye shook his head, “You might say that this is entirely born out of obligation, but obligations don’t preclude sentimentality.”
“You’ve extended help to Hell in the most critical times. Such kindness in times of need will always be remembered.”
He stopped before a tombstone with the words Mu Guiying etched on it, together with her date of birth, date of death, as well as… the date on which her soul dissipated. Thereafter, it listed the countless achievements accorded to her to date.
“Zhou Yu thought that his contributions of Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows and its bolts would leave a lasting impression on Hell.” Qin Ye stuck a flower of paramnesia into the ground. Its petals fluttered beautifully in the wind.
Then, he stood back up with a sigh, before pulling out another flower and walking over to Yang Yande’s tombstone and setting it down once more, “It won’t. At best, I might just go a little bit easier when settling the accounts with them in future.”
“There can only be one voice in the underworld, and that is the voice of authority that comes from Hell.” He straightened up, stepped between the two tombstones and bowed to the multitude of graves in front of him, “I’m sorry.”
“You’ve worked hard.”
“Rest well. You won’t need to spill anymore blood.” He bowed deeply for a long time, “It was my incompetence that has resulted in your eternal rest in these graves. But… I promise that as long as Hell shall stand, you will all live on in the hearts of Hell’s citizens.”
It was a brief condolence.
And an everlasting promise.
He finally straightened up. As they took their leave, Qin Ye explained, “It’s not that I’m averse to burying them in accordance with the ancient Cathayan customs. It’s just that the number of sacrifices are only going to grow in this long and arduous journey of ours. Hell simply cannot afford the space to bury each and every one of them in their own plot of land. That’s why only Yin soldiers who are regimental-commanders and above have been given the honour of a grave and tombstone. The others…”
He turned his head to where a massive ancient-style mausoleum lay. There were tens of thousands of vigil lamps lit outside, each of which represented the lift of a Yin soldier lost in battle.
“The others can only be buried here.”
“I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I’ve got to plan for the future. I humbly seek your understanding.”
Qin Ye nodded, and then turned back to look in the other direction.
There was a three-meter tall sky lantern located some distance away.
Hundreds of Yin spirits were moaning and crying from within, fated to suffer in anguish for the rest of eternity.
“All 340 of Kong Mo’s trusted officials are answering for their crimes here.” His voice was calm and placid, “I hope the anguish of their souls will give our martyrs some rest. Do you think I’m being too cruel?”
Yang Yanzhao shook his head, “No. While there may be the possibility of a wrongful conviction and sentence, it’s still far better in times like this to err on the side of caution rather than let one slip through our grasp! We simply cannot afford mistakes at times like this.”
Qin Ye nodded and continued, “There were also a total of 17 city-grade supervising officers that I’ve spared.”
Yang Yanzhao looked at Qin Ye in astonishment. He smiled softly and waved his hand. Instantly, 17 souls flew out from his hand and transformed into images of Yin spirits.
However, they looked nothing like they were in the afterlife.
Rather, they took on the image that they had right before their death in the mortal realm.
Some of them were headless, some of them appeared to have been run over, and some even had their tongues hanging out of their bloated bodies.
“Yoke of a Hundred Ghosts. It’s a proprietary spell of the King Yanluo of Hell.” Qin Ye glanced at his fingers, only to see 17 threads tethering his fingers to each of the 17 Yin spirits. He moved his finger slightly, and one of the Yin spirits immediately cried out in anguish and convulsed on the ground, “Lord Qin… mercy! MERCY!!!”
“These were the officers who attempted to regain control of the Mythic Palace of Reflections towards the end of the war. They deserve to die. But there are three special Yin spirits among their midst, and I found it too much of a waste to simply purge them. Thus, for now, I’ll keep them by my side to execute my commands. If you so desire, you can claim their lives from me at any time.”
This is the extension of His Excellency’s grace… Yang Yanzhao pursed his lips. His heart was on fire. His actions in the cemetery, including the act of offering up flowers to Mu Guiying and Yang Yande, as well as his words right now, told Yang Yanzhao that he would always treat the Yang Clan as a vital part of Hell. He would never rid them once they cease to be useful!
Such measure of grace extended by a king would in any past dynasty be greater than the highest conferment of title!
Yang Yanzhao drew a deep breath, cupped his hands respectfully and responded with the utmost sincerity, “Thank you, Your Excellency!”
“Then… safe journeys back.” Qin Ye shook Yang Yanzhao’s hands hard, “Unfortunately, I must return to the mortal realm, so I won’t be able to see you off.”
“There’s no need.” Yang Yanzhao boomed back with gratitude, “Please call on your humble servants when you need our assistance again. Through hell or high waters, we will definitely respond!”
He looked up with a blazing netherflames in his eyes, “My Lord… the Yang Clan eagerly awaits that moment we can once again don our battle armors for Hell once more!”
“There can only be one voice of the underworld, and that is the voice of Hell, the one and only true master of the underworld!”
“All things are made for Hell, and they will one day return to their rightful owners once more!”
“The Yang Clan might have missed out on the pioneering works of the First King Yanluo of Hell, but we… will definitely leave our mark in history this time!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter