Am I… already dead?
Strangely enough, Ding Xuan’s entire world shook violently as soon as addressed his mind to this thought, before everything became monochromatic moments before they started to turn blurry.
He had been forcibly “awakened” by someone.
His grievances ran deep, and the endless repetition of the end of his life had slowly but surely begun to transform him into an evil spirit. Fortunately, he… was jolted right back to his senses in the nick of time.
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to describe him as finally resting in peace.
He glanced dumbfounded at his bloodstained hands, and then cracked his neck. It appeared to be broken, but he didn’t feel any pain. Instead, he simply stared at the young man in front of him, “Who are you?”
“Was it you who clinked the teacup on the coffee table earlier?”
“Qin Ye. Just a mere passer-by.” Qin Ye responded placidly, “Do you know something? If you let your grievances fester any longer, you will become just like the thing that killed your family. I clinked the teacup to drag you away from these endless repetitions of your memories, but you… still ended up walking to the refrigerator.”
“But it’s fine. Everything is all in the past now.”
Qin Ye sighed and lifted his hands, “In your next life, always remember to at least glance at the living room to see if there’s anyone watching you from the sofa in the living room.”
“And if there is, alert your parents and hide together. At the very least… you would be able to perish together.”
Whoosh… With the wave of his hand, Ding Xuan’s soul finally dissipated with the wind.
Qin Ye remained rooted to the ground as he sighed wistfully.
Sometimes, all it takes is a soft, familiar sound to seize the attention of a person in a stupor. Perhaps the strum of a piano string, or a high pitched clink of a teacup.
In that instant, Qin Ye was suddenly filled with a longing desire to see what things would finally look like after all the reconstruction efforts of Hell were finally completed.
Would these tragic incidents cease to occur for the rest of time?
Seconds later, he retracted his distant gaze, before turning to the refrigerator, “Come out. Is it really that fun, hiding behind the corpses of dead people?”
“You have two choices.” Qin Ye continued indifferently, “Firstly, you will be subject to an eternity of torment, without any reprieve of death. Every moment of every day and night, you will continue to hear the endless screams and cries of the souls of the lives you’ve taken. Meanwhile, your soul will forever roast in karmic flames without respite.”
With that, Qin Ye plonked himself down onto the sofa and casually looked at the refrigerator.
Three seconds later, the three doors to the refrigerator opened once more, revealing the same body parts as before. The heads of Ding Xuan’s parents were already covered in frost. But as soon as the doors opened up, the father’s head suddenly opened its eyes.
“Who… are you?”
Frigid mist appeared to flow from the dead man’s skull, and his eyeballs were so deeply frozen over that one couldn’t even see the pupils of his eyes that had already rolled back upon death. Even then, the head continued to stare intently at Qin Ye, “I’ve… never heard of you before…”
“I’ve lived in Eastmount Province for 34 years now, and I’ve never ever seen a Judge like you.”
“That’s because you’re still too young.” Qin Ye shut his eyes.
It was a dark night, and there was an entire swarm of Yin spirits on the loose. He shouldn’t be indulging in such merriment right now. However, he couldn’t help but take interest in the situation right here.
There were also times when he missed his interactions with the Local Bully.
Seconds later, the human head spoke up hoarsely once more, “And what’s the second option?”
“Die a swifter and more painless death, and you’ll be given the chance to be reborn once more.” Qin Ye spoke without even raising his eyes.
Just then, a wisp Yin energy rushed straight at Qin Ye’s chest like a bolt of lightning. However, he didn’t even move in the slightest. A Yin spirit dressed in ancient armor suddenly materialized right in front of him. Copious amounts of Yin energy flowed from the Yin spirit’s seven apertures, and he opened his mouth wide and unleashed a terrifying roar.
“A bizarre spirit?!” The head in the refrigerator also screamed at the top of his voice. Unfortunately, the ferocious roar quickly drowned out his shriek.
In an instant, a spiderweb of cracks appeared on the ground of the house, and bit by bit, the floor began to crumble. The electrical appliances around exploded with a bang, raining showers of sparks everywhere. The wooden frame of the sofa and the coffee table in the room were suddenly crushed together, before shattering with a smattering of wooden splinters. Even the stainless steel objects in the living room began to twist together with gut-wrenching creaks.
All of this lasted only for five seconds, and then everything stopped just as suddenly as it began. But, even then, the state of the living room was already well beyond recognition. The head in the refrigerator widened his eyes. Then, a split second later, a spot of netherflame emerged from the forehead of the dead man’s skull and made a beeline for the door like a slithering snake.
Qin Ye didn’t even bother to glance at it.
Because as soon as the Yin spirit rushed out of the door, it immediately let out a muffled groan, before screaming once more at the top of his voice, “Evil ghost?! There are more evil ghosts?! Are these all your servants? You’re a Shepherd of Souls?! Sss--!!!!”
The exclamation of shock ended with a cry of pain. Seconds later, another illusory Yin spirit dressed in an ancient armor marched through the door. He was somewhat plump in stature, and sported a glorious beard that tangled together like gnarly tree roots. Pale white netherflames flickered softly underneath his disheveled eyebrows.
There was a large bulge in his mouth that seemed to continue all the way into his stomach. Wisps of Yin energy even sought to escape from his pores, almost as though there were something struggling desperately for its life within his body.
It was only when the plump Yin spirit stood in front of Qin Ye that he finally opened his mouth and spat out onto the ground what was earlier trapped in his body. A bald old man with a white towel draped over his shoulders and faded grey overalls gasped for air as he sat on the ground, somewhat discombobulated.
“Spatial Spirit.” Qin Ye looked up and explained without any prompting, “Ranked 29 among all special Yin spirits. Don’t look down on it. It can swallow targets as large as four cubic meters, and unless he personally decides to regurgitate its target, there’s simply no way of escaping from within. Not even the strongest of Yin spirits would be able to escape from the fate of certain death. For a Spatial Spirit to appear, he would have to have lived life as a gourmand, die while eating, and even bear resentment in his heart that remains unresolved, even at death.”
“Cough, cough!!” The old man coughed violently, but couldn’t help but glance warily at the other Yin spirit standing right behind Qin Ye.
“This is a Porter Spirit. Most of these used to be singers, actors or playwrights in life. To become a Porter Spirit, one must have died by the side of accompanying musical instruments, and harbour great grievances that remain unfulfilled for ten years. Once a Yin spirit becomes a Porter Spirit, it is fated to keep its lips sealed shut for the rest of its life, because as soon as its lips even part in the slightest, it would immediately unleash the purest, most terrifying shrieks that ghosts like you could never stand against. Oh, I’ve forgotten to mention that it’s also ranked 32nd among the top 50 special Yin spirits.”
Qin Ye finally straightened his posture, “Let’s make some formal introductions. Yanluo Qin, lord and master of Hell. Now, tell me your decision.”
The old man gasped deeply. Then, just as he was about to speak, extremely dense Yin energy suddenly poured out in all directions, causing him to tremble all over.
It was qualitatively different from what he was used to! Not even the terrifying existence residing in Limbo beneath Azurewaters City had made him tremble like that before!
The Yin energy was on a completely different level.
Just like a pound of diamond and a pound of brass. The terrifying existence that lay hidden beneath Azurewaters City was clearly stronger than this man, yet… he couldn’t help but sense a more primal fear rising up from the depths of his heart!
It felt almost as though his blood and soul were both screaming in terror!
In an instant, he felt as though he had just perished a second time. Even the netherflames in his eyes nearly went out as he collapsed to the ground. Five minutes later, the source of the billowing Yin energy helped him back to his feet, and the Yin spirit on the ground responded bitterly, “I choose… the second option…”
“I didn’t think anyone would be so foolish as to choose the first option either.” Qin Ye crossed his legs and also crossed his arms across his abdomen. His summer clothes fluttered wildly, while dense Yin energy continued to pour out endlessly from his seven apertures. The old man on the ground glanced up, and then sensibly looked back down on the ground.
“Before you go, I’ve got a few questions for you.”
The old man muttered hoarsely, “If I answer you… can I be spared?”
“Can you reverse the death of Ding Xuan and his family?” Qin Ye responded placidly, “Here’s the lowdown, you’re going to die today, regardless of how you respond. That said, I can give you my word that your children and grandchildren may be spared from the weight of your crimes.”
The old man finally looked up. His body trembled violently as the look of resentment on his face finally dissipated. Then, he respectfully kowtowed to the ground.
“Where did you come from? Why are you running away? Who’s chasing after you?”
These questions struck the old man like a bolt of thunder. He abruptly looked up once more and looked Qin Ye straight in the eye.
The old man’s lips quivered slightly, and then his entire body began to shiver uncontrollably. Within moments, he could no longer even support his own weight, and he promptly collapsed to the ground.
“That’s… the soul collector…” He hugged himself tight and struggled to speak with a shrill voice, “The Shepherd of Souls… He’s the one who’s trying to reap all of our souls!!”
“Speak properly. There are limits to my patience.”
“Yes…” The old man gritted his teeth, closed his eyes and then forcibly suppressed the roiling emotions in his heart. It took him several more minutes before he finally managed to calm his mind and collect his thoughts, “I’ve escaped here from Azurewaters City.”
“I’ve not been out of the Eastmount Province before. That said… there exists in every major city in Eastmount Province a rift between the mortal realm and Limbo that we can enter and exit freely. Limbo used to be desolate and barren, at least until a year ago…” He gulped nervously as he muttered through gritted teeth, “Everything changed. It became a battleground for war without any warning at all.”
“One faction is called the Umbral Mount Tai Alliance of Darkness. They appeared out of nowhere and seized control of the entire Azurewaters City. We don’t know who their opponents are. The only thing we know is that the Alliance of Darkness is a coalition force of at least ten Infernal Judges! And their opponents aren’t weak either! The battlefield was located along the coastline. Truth be told, so long as we avoided the areas that were sealed off, its effect on us isn’t great at all. But, just ten days ago…”
Almost as though he recalled a terrifying scene, the Yin spirit took a deep breath, and then continued with much difficulty, “The Umbral Mount Tai Alliance of Darkness… suddenly used a terrifying Yin artifact.”
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered brightly, and he finally heaved a sigh of relief in his heart.
I’ve finally found you!
He recalled to mind the map of Eastmount Province - Azurewaters City… is located on the ‘horn’ of Eastmount Province, surrounded by the sea on three sides, with only one path leading southeast into the rest of Cathay. Incidentally, this is where the largest port of Eastmount Province is located back in the mortal realm. Who would’ve thought that Kong Mo would choose this city as the place of war?
Truth be told, the topography of Azurewaters City was as suitable as it got for a landing zone. Although the topography of Limbo would be somewhat different from the mortal realm, the annals of the old Hell and Arthis have both mentioned that the differences would not be significant at all. At best, most of the recorded differences lay only in the direction of the mountain ranges. Meanwhile, it was also the perfect place to obstruct enemy forces from landing and disembarking on the mainland.
So long as they could hold their ground, then the battle would certainly not ebb inland.
The old man’s eyes flickered wildly as he spoke, “You can’t even begin to fathom how terrifying that Yin artifact was… We’re talking about an extent of destruction that ravaged hundreds of kilometers of city in an instant. That single strike was so great that it even forcibly tore multiple rifts between the mortal realm and Limbo in an instant!”
So that’s how it is…
Qin Ye narrowed his eyes - Something more terrifying than the Peach Blossom Lantern? Is this Kong Mo’s hidden trump card?
What could possibly give Kong Mo the confidence to stand tall against the daolord? It would minimally have to be as powerful as an Abyssal Prefect. What in the world is it? It’s got to be no different from a nuclear bomb!
After all, only fools would remain in such close proximity to the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
Furthermore, the sheer power of the attack had caused rifts to open up between the mortal realm and Limbo. In other words, what was otherwise a city on lockdown had become as porous as it got, and it was the perfect opportunity to flee for one’s own life! Who would deign to stay and see if a second nuclear bomb would be detonated in their faces?!
The old man gritted his teeth, “Azurewaters City in Limbo has collapsed, and innumerable Yin spirits are rushing out from the multitude of rifts. We’re not just talking about regular Yin spirits anymore. There were at least a dozen or so Hellguards hiding in the crevices of Limbo back then! There was even a Judge-class Yin beast! Unfortunately, the rift appeared to be too small, and I recall seeing the Yin beast get stuck in the process of escape. But I didn’t have time to take a closer look, because…”
His entire body trembled all over as he stared fearfully out the window, “They… sent out an army of Assassins of the Underworld! To make matters worse, these were all the top soul collectors, otherwise known as the Shepherd of Souls!”
“You wouldn’t know how terrifying they are… They’ve… even chased us for well over a hundred kilometers! And they seem to be bent on pursuing us to the ends of the earth! There’s nowhere to run, and no place to hide!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter