Qin Ye was somewhat startled by their identities. The three named by Shadowless were all figureheads who had etched their marks of notoriety in the annals of history. All of them were somehow related to the fall of a dynasty back in their lifetime. Most, if not all, would consider their crimes unforgivable. Who would have thought that after thousands of years, these infamous people would escape the clutches of eternal death and set foot in the mortal realm once more?
After a protracted period of silence, Qin Ye asked, “How did you learn of their names?”
“Lord Sasori, the daolord of the asura has never concealed their true names from us. In fact, all of the important, trusted aides under his command know of the names of the daolords.” Shadowless responded in great detail, “In fact, he has been in correspondence with the other daolords, and there were several occasions where he would instruct us to read the contents of the messages and respond on his behalf. That’s why we know their names. But, that said, that’s also the extent of all we know of their interactions.”
He’s making himself known, isn’t he… Qin Ye rubbed his chin thoughtfully - When he first escaped, I’m sure there would have been Yin spirits who asked him, ‘Qin Hui?’ To which he would respond in the negative, ‘No, that’s not me. You’ve got the wrong person. Farewell.’
He would have denied it vehemently.
But now, having realized that Hell was no longer breathing down their necks, their attitudes have changed. This would make sense as well. After all, how was one supposed to rally an entire faction without any reputation to ride on? I’m sure he would have been going around declaring to others that he was none other than Qin Hui, the infamous criminal in the history of Cathay!
After mulling over his thoughts for several more minutes, Qin Ye continued, “What about the forces that are under Qin Hui’s command? How was it back in the three eastern provinces?”
Shadowless bowed respectfully, “My Lord, we have 18 Infernal Judges in total, but we haven’t done a proper count on the number of Hellguards and Hunters at our disposal just yet. The total number of Yin soldiers exceeded one million at last count. The three eastern provinces…”
He hesitated for a moment, before finally steeling his heart and continuing with great determination, “Has already become a nest of ten thousand captive ghosts, and the daolord was already in the process of transforming their base into an underworld altogether. It’s going to take another ten years at best. The concentration of Yin energy there… at least, according to the daolord himself… is no weaker than that located in Hell.”
Is he fuelling the transformation of the three eastern provinces into an underworld using the lives of tens of millions of people?! Qin Ye immediately felt a pang of nausea from such a horrific thought.
We’re both Yin spirits, so how could we be handling our interactions with the mortal realm that differently? Perhaps this must be why we’re considered the orthodox Hell, while the other is just a rebel force in the making…
“Now, let’s talk about the procedure pertaining to your surrender.” Suppressing the nauseating feeling in his heart, Qin Ye once again turned to Shadowless with a genial smile on his face. But, be that as it may, Shadowless couldn’t help but find chills running down his spine as he gulped nervously and nodded his head.
Since when… is there a procedure pertaining to surrender?
Qin Ye hooked his finger, and the Yin energy behind him immediately materialized and formed a seat. He leaned back comfortably, and then continued placidly, “I’d like you to make a trip back.”
Shadowless trembled, and his jaws dropped. He couldn’t conceal the abject shock and horror on his face. But before he could even retort and make any form of resistance whatsoever, Qin Ye added, “I’ve got something that I’ll need you to hand over to Qin Hui. Once you have done so, let him know that my old master would like to meet with him.”
Shadowless’ pupils narrowed abruptly. There seemed to be many startling pieces of news today. First, there was the appearance of the ridiculously powerful Infernal Judge, and then… this Judge even mentioned that he had an old master?
Without missing a beat, Qin Ye retracted his smile and waved his hand casually, and a piece of scale flew over into Shadowless’ hands.
The Yin energy around Shadowless instantly trembled and exploded as soon as the scale landed in his hands! Like a roaring tsunami, a chorus of chants that sounded like innumerable mourning ghosts instantly echoed throughout the surroundings. Shadowless’ clothes fluttered wildly, and the peculiar phenomenon continued for three full seconds before it finally faded away.
He held the scales with both hands, with a frozen, reverent expression.
After an inordinate amount of time, he finally lowered his eyes and looked at the piece of scale in his hands. His entire body was trembling violently by now.
What the hell… is this?!
In that instant earlier, he felt as though he were all alone, rowing a rowboat along the boundless oceans, underneath a vast canopy of skies that were filled with beautiful auroras. It was a feeling of being incomparably small in the presence of something larger than life itself. It was a feeling of being no more than a single drop in the ocean out there.
It was almost as though an ineffable being from a distant place had transcended time and space, and were staring straight into the depths of his soul.
Is this Lord Sasori’s master?
Where in the world is the Hidden Sand Village? Who in hell is Lord Sasori supposed to be?!
But he didn’t dare mull over these things any further.
“Tell him to consider what I’m saying carefully if he doesn’t want to be placed underneath the six paths of reincarnation again.” Qin Ye stood up and vanished in a cloud of Yin energy, “Additionally, don’t even think about absconding with that scale. I can assure you that your soul will dissipate in an instant the moment you do so.”
With that, Qin Ye’s figure vanished completely. Shadowless remained kneeling on the ground, reeling from the shock of what had just occurred to him. After some time, he stood up with great trembling, heaving with ragged breaths as though his lips were bellows.
Abscond? Would I even dare contemplate something like that?
This thing here… is definitely from an unbelievably powerful Yin spirit - one that is possibly even stronger than the daolord himself!
In that instant, he even questioned whether it was the right move to defect to Qin Ye’s side. After all, he might well have come out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The latter was clearly more terrifying, and far greater than the underworld he had come from.
After approximately five more minutes to his own thoughts, he finally sighed wistfully, and transformed into a nethergale as he vanished into the distance.
Ten more minutes passed. Then, Qin Ye silently stepped out of the void once more, gazing wistfully in the direction that Shadowless had taken off, almost as though he were deep in thought.
Hell can’t destroy Kong Mo, but the daolord definitely can!
But I’ll have to come up with something to say to the daolord on the fly, depending on how the negotiations go. Besides… I’m not even sure Qin Hui would be willing to meet up with me!
“Shadowless might not appreciate what that scale was, but I’ve got no doubts that Qin Hui would know at a glance that this is none other than one of the Harken’s scales. A Yin spirit that can pull out and hand over a piece of the Harken’s scales cannot possibly be a small fry. So… I wonder what his decision is going to be?”
He paced about on the rooftop, murmuring to himself as he analyzed the situation, “Refuse? Impossible… The world might be filled with young and naive Yin spirits, but the old evil ghosts that have existed for more than a hundred years are undoubtedly elites that have all managed to survive the great collapse of Hell. These would include entities such as the various daolord, Arthis, Lai Junchen and Kong Mo. Not a single one of them are ghosts to be messed around with.”
“And to that end, the fear of Hell is something that has already been etched deep in their bones. Qin Hui would probably accede to my request.”
Qin Ye looked up and stared into the distant night sky, “Thus, what’s more important is this - how am I supposed to speak with him?”
And then, he grew taciturn.
Negotiations aren't difficult. Qin Hui and Kong Mo are both wrongdoers in Hell’s eyes to begin with. The crux of the issue is that… we’ve met each other before!
Furthermore, a particularly cowardly Yanluo had previously divulged the entire truth about Hell in exchange for keeping himself alive! Who would’ve thought that we’d meet each other face to face so soon! Qin Ye couldn’t resist the urge to give himself two tight slaps across the cheeks!
I’ll need to have someone to protect me!
“But where am I going to find someone like that…” Qin Ye chuckled bitterly.
Tying up all the loose ends in Ashmound would take at least the next five years.
He would have to appease the hearts of the citizens, stabilize the economy, and then, only when he had sufficient backing could he finally start recruiting fresh troops and delving into his research endeavours.
So on what basis was he going to convince the daolord?
He’s an Abyssal Prefect… The sheer thought of that already makes my legs weak. Should I ask someone else to go on my behalf? But no matter how I think about it, Arthis is the only other possibility. Sure, her martial abilities might be there, but she’s no different from a piece of shit when it comes to politics. If I throw her into the open arms of the daolord, I’m quite certain that it wouldn’t take more than a minute for war to break out…
“I’m already giving you face by being present right now, so what’s with the look of disdain? Something wrong with your face?”
“Pfft, you irreverent child. I’m a daolord and an Abyssal Prefect, while you’re just a measly Infernal Judge. How dare you look me in the eye like that?”
“What’s it to you, huh?”
“I dare you to try it again.”
“You think I wouldn’t dare?!”
Apart from that… I don’t have a single other Judge-class Yin spirit present across the rest of Hell. Can I send a Hellguard to negotiate with an Abyssal Prefect? Is that a joke? Besides, I’m the only one who knows the ins and outs of what’s going on in Hell right now, and who possesses some measure of proficiency in negotiations and politics.
I truly hate that Hell lacks talents right now…
“Actually, shouldn’t I just... use some catnip to tempt Lord Harken to accompany me on these negotiations?”
Then, just as he was about to delve deeper into that train of thought, he suddenly paused.
“Is this… summoning?” He stared at himself in astonishment. Then, a split second later, his entire figure abruptly vanished from the ground.
It felt as though he had entered a pitch-black realm. It was strange, but he also had the sense that so long as he willed it, he would be able to leave this peculiar dimension at a single thought.
“But what am I suddenly doing here? And… I could have sworn that I heard someone… praying to me earlier?” He furrowed his brows and glanced around, “Arthis mentioned that a multitude of changes would follow as soon as one becomes a True Emissary of Hell. Is this one of them? Am I now able to hear the prayers of the mortal realm? Who would be praying to me?”
Just as he was considering these things, the void in front of him suddenly rippled, and a black-and-white image appeared right in front of his very eyes.
The image revealed a middle-aged man of approximately 1.84m of height, replete with thick eyebrows, large eyes and a chiseled face, kneeling in front of an offering table with his hands clasped together. He knelt with an erect posture on a mat, and he looked to be muttering something to himself.
There were two other men in black suits kneeling beside him as well, both of whom also had their hands clasped together. They, too, were chanting together with the middle-aged man.
The offering table was very old. In fact, having previously dabbled in antiques, Qin Ye could tell that this was a real antique piece as well. Furthermore, the heads of three animals were placed on the offering table, each of which was still dripping with blood. These were animals that had clearly just been slaughtered. All kinds of other fruit offerings lay around the periphery of the table, while paper money scattered everywhere. Their posture, offering and prayers were all far more authentic and sincere than most of the people of modern day Cathay.
“Is this… the language of Daehan?” Qin Ye furrowed his brows. Daeians… are praying to me?
Daehan is currently under the control of Liu Yu, so how could the prayers of Daeians possibly reach Hell?
Qin Ye was fraught with bewilderment. But, just then, the man on the left suddenly spoke up with perfect Cathayan, “Lord of Hell, Director Kim was personally tasked by the chairman of the board to entreat you with this request. If Hell can hear us, please reap her soul…”
“This is a special summoning technique that we have searched far and wide for. Our sole intention is to entreat the aid of Hell. If you agree, we promise to offer all the tributes you ask for in the next three major ghost festivals!”
“Open your eyes to us… We call upon you from the faraway lands of Daehan. And… this may be the only shot we have at that! She’s not a human… she has to be an evil spirit! She… she has to be an undead evil spirit! Please… take her soul away with you! We’ll do anything you ask of us!”
Qin Ye was just about to leave when he suddenly froze in place.
Daehan? The Hanyang underworld, huh…
The ones who possess the requisite knowledge to reach out to Hell are by no means ordinary mortals. After all, such rituals have already long ceased to exist. If I accede to their request… would I perhaps… be able to locate Xia Jinse’s whereabouts?
Unable to resist himself, Qin Ye slowly reached forward for the screen in front of him.
It was a very large room in what appeared to be a quaint temple. The incense pot was only sparsely filled, because they were currently in a temple that was dedicating offerings to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.
A large offering table sat right in front of Ksitigarbha’s golden statue. Three men dressed in suits kneeled before it reverently with their hands clasped tightly together as they muttered prayers of offerings.
An entire series of bodyguards stood right outside the temple. The entire temple was empty. Even the abbot and monks were nowhere to be seen.
They had already knelt for an inordinate amount of time, yet had received no response whatsoever. Finally, after kowtowing for the umpteenth time, the man on the left finally sighed softly, “Director Kim, what do you say… we give up?”
“Nobody can prove the existence of gods or demons in the first place. This temple is already supposed to be the most numinous temple of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. But even then--...”
“Not a chance!!” The man in the middle gnashed his teeth and continued to stare intently at the statue in front of him, “It wasn’t easy for us to come to Cathay, locate this place, and even uncover the most formal method of worship and prayer. We can’t just stop now!”
“You say that the existence of gods and demons are but legends and myths, but… Mr Quan, have you forgotten how long that terrible monster has been alive?!”
His entire body trembled violently as he glanced back with a frightened look, “I’ve known her ever since I was young, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on her all this while. But despite the effluxion of time… she’s still exactly the same as she used to be!”
“Meanwhile, I’ve gotten married, had a child, and my son is already 18 years-old this year! Yet, she still looks exactly the same as she used to!”
“She’s a monster… an ageless and immortal demon! We, the Samsung Group, cannot afford to let a monster sway us!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter