Chapter 48: Cao Youdao

Even though Qin Ye had already been an Emissary of Hell for some time now, he was still completely floored by what he was seeing.

Three female ghosts dressed like ancient officials were doing an incredibly provocative dance in the center of the dance floor. They ran their pale white hands from the dangerous slits on their lengthy skirts to their voluptuous bosom, and then wrapped their hands around their tiny, dainty waists. If not for the fact that they possessed an ethereal body, Qin Ye would’ve most certainly praised them - absolutely charming.

The exotic dancers were accompanied by passionate shouts to the pulsing beats that sent everyone’s hearts racing. Hell notes rained from the sky in abundance. Simultaneously, some other ghosts who had unlocked more advanced cognitive abilities appeared to be discussing matters of importance in a private room adjacent to the dance floor. The bunny girl ghost was holding a tray of glasses and filling it with wine from an exquisitely-packaged wine. The rest of the dance hall was bobbing their heads and shaking their feet in tempo with the beats of Desert Camel’s song.

Truth be told, if one looked past the distinction between what was illusory and what was real, and beyond the realms of colour, this place was practically one and the same as any of the other clubs that Qin Ye had been to in his entire life.

I board the boat that crosses the desert, with a pipe and an hourglass, and a jug of hard liquor in hand!

The long, ancient road is boundless and long, filled with all emotions of joy, sorrow, laughter and pain. Yet the only thing that keeps going is the camel in the desert…” The song gradually receded from its climax, and the atmosphere began to lighten up a little. Some ghosts dressed like students hopped off the dance floor, only to be replaced by several ghosts wearing suits and small leather hats.

Shortly afterwards, the atmosphere that had somewhat softened was again ignited with passion with the arrival of the chorus. On the stage, a band of ghosts with long hair dressed in an avant-garde style strummed their instruments in harmony, infecting everyone around with their wild passion and ecstatic music. In that instant, the surroundings were filled with a sea of smoke, and innumerable ghosts raised their hands in the air, hissing and shrieking with the band with wanton abandon.

The enchanting and graceful intersection of day and night wastes away the years and wastes away my soul. The path ahead is yet uncharted…

Qin Ye was flabbergasted for a whole minute before he finally came back to his senses.

What the hell… isn’t this much too progressive?

No… this is indeed a clubhouse. There’s no doubt about it. And there’s nothing wrong with this card either. But wouldn’t you say that this narrative is completely incoherent from how I was first invited and ushered to this place? We’re talking about a completely different grade of graphics card here!

“Hey, handsome.” Just then, Qin Ye felt a cold touch right where his lower abdomen was. He was astounded to see a sharp-faced lady looking back at him. Her appearances would most definitely have been well above an ‘eight’ while she was still alive. Her hand was already hovering over his unnameable parts, and she gently traced her finger along the seams of his pants as she smiled faintly, “First time here? You’re pretty handsome. Whose body did you borrow? He mustn’t have died too long ago, right? It’s such a pity that such a handsome man has died…”

Bloody hell…

Qin Ye was incredibly tempted to dispose of her with one fell of his saber. Couldn’t you at least warm your hand before coming over?

He glared coldly at her. Within three seconds, her faint smile turned into a stiff expression, and then she began trembling. Finally, she opened her mouth wide and tried to scream.

“L-l-l-liv--… liv--... mmmph-mmph!!” Fortunately, a pale hand covered her lips before she could scream out loud. The woman’s eyes widened, and she flailed about with her limbs as she pointed at Qin Ye, unable to exclaim that he was a living person.

“Hey miss, this is our master’s guest of honour.” The entity covering her mouth was a humanoid paper effigy. Unlike the ones who had been sent to escort Qin Ye here, this paper effigy wore a simple, poorly-drawn black suit, and sported a ridiculous center parting hairstyle. It was evident that the effigy maker’s skills were lacking in all regards. Even his vital facial features hadn’t been drawn to proportion. The sheer atrocity of the effigy maker’s handiwork under the glow of the multicoloured spotlights was upsetting, to say the least.

Within moments, the female ghost that was being restrained by the humanoid paper effigy transformed into ethereal wisps of greenish-white Yin energy, before quickly dissipating into the surroundings. The other ghosts around ostensibly pretended not to see anything, and continued as they were. Finally, the humanoid paper effigy bowed respectfully to Qin Ye, “Please follow me, my lord.”

Qin Ye nodded his head. As soon as the Yin spirits saw the humanoid paper effigy approaching them, they automatically parted ways, clearing out a passage for them to pass through. When Qin Ye finally followed the humanoid paper effigy to a clamoring corner of the clubhouse, he discovered for the first time the existence of a second floor above.

As they slowly followed a spiral staircase up to the second floor, Qin Ye finally saw for the first time what the entire layout of the first floor looked like. Just behind the dance floor lay a large pit that was two-meters wide. It had been well-hidden by the dazzling strobe lights earlier. But right now, Qin Ye could see what lay within the pit… four silver chains extended from the sides and converged in the center of the pit. In turn, thick plumes of dense, pure Yin energy continuously billowed and rose from the center of the chains like clouds.

“This is…” Qin Ye’s gaze quivered slightly as he forcibly suppressed the ripples of emotions welling from his heart. A layer of cold sweat broke out from the palm of his hands.

This is too familiar.

The purity and the density. This Yin energy… is undoubtedly emanated from the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal!

Just then--...

Dong…

It was a dull sound, almost akin to the chime of a bell. Then, something in the pit began to stir. In the very next second, a massive tidal wave of the purest of Yin energy surged straight out of the pit and engulfed the entire dance floor. The atmosphere of the entire clubhouse exploded to new heights in an instant! The ghosts were all screaming in ecstasy!

Amidst the clamor of hundreds of ghosts, the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal on Qin Ye’s chest also began to react as though it had taken on a life of its own, thumping and pulsing just like how a heart would. Simultaneously, a powerful source of Yin energy erupted from the room on the second floor, engulfing him in an instant and sending his mind spinning with disbelief.

Whoosh!! Qin Ye’s clothes fluttered wildly for an instant, before slowly settling down again.

Yet this single instant of extremities was almost akin to the explosive flurry of an impending storm. And right now, he felt as though he were standing right in the heart of it all.

“This is… a Soul Hunter?”

He was approximately five to six meters away from the door.

Yet for some strange reason, he was immobilized. He felt as though his feet were completely rooted to the ground.

He had never expected the owner of the Orchid Clubhouse to possess a shard of one of the primordial treasures of hell! Furthermore, the last remaining Emissary of Hell was also the head honcho of the entire City of Salvation, and the Yin energy at his disposal was comparable to that wielded by the puppet master Qin Ye had earlier faced! This person was at the level of a Soul Hunter!

Retreat?

Impossible. The other Emissary of Hell already had his eyes locked on Qin Ye. If Qin Ye took even a single step back, the head honcho would immediately issue his orders to the fright of ghosts around to flood the entire floor that was six storeys underground.

Enter?

The Hunter-class Emissary of Hell was also scrutinizing Qin Ye’s every single move. If the shards of King Yanluo’s Seal even emitted the slightest form of resonance with each other, the other Emissary of Hell would immediately detect it. When that time comes, the breaking down of negotiations would immediately spell death for Qin Ye!

“My friend, why don’t you come in?” A voice suddenly rang out before Qin Ye could properly contemplate his next move, “Don’t you want to at least see what your former colleague looks like?”

Damn…

Qin Ye was trapped between a rock and a hard place. He clenched his fists tightly. The palms of his hands were already frosty and cold. Nevertheless, he bravely walked forward towards the second floor.

Qin Ye opened the door, only to be greeted by a room with modern decor.

It was a terrace-like space enclosed only by tempered glass on three sides of the room. Two sofas were placed against the window, and a long European-style table formed the centerpiece of the room. A crystal chandelier hanging overhead shone brightly, whilst a copy of the Mona Lisa painting hung on the lone wall in the room.

A rather exquisite cabinet sat in the corner of the room. The shelves above were filled with books, while the compartment below was locked tightly. A figure stood near the shelf with his back facing Qin Ye and an arm resting on the sofa nearby. He wore three immaculate rings on his fingers.

Taking a deep breath, Qin Ye suppressed the roiling emotions in his heart, walked over to the sofa, cupped his fist and bowed slightly, “Junior Emissary of Hell, Qin Ye, greets the esteemed Senior Soul Hunter.”

Silence.

Seconds later, a thick voice finally responded, “Do you know something?”

“When I first sensed the Yin energy emanating from your body, I was filled with absolute disbelief.”

“To think that there are other survivors of that immense upheaval in Hell. Such an occurrence is even more fantastical than the fabled Arabian Nights.”

Swish… The sofa turned around automatically, and Qin Ye finally caught sight of the appearance of the head honcho of the City of Salvation.

It was a middle-aged man.

He was holding onto a cup of red liquid in his left hand. The man appeared spritely and full of energy. He presented himself in a ramrod straight suit, replete with a pristine white shirt and a navy blue tie underneath. His immaculate dressing was completed by swanky, shiny leather shoes to boot.

He sported ink-black hair and a chiseled face with appearances that were as ordinary as it got. It was the type that would never leave an impression with anybody.

If not for the roiling Yin energy that was continuously seeping out from his seven apertures, Qin Ye could very well have mistaken this man for any other successful businessman.

At the very least, Qin Ye would never have thought of him as an Emissary of Hell.

Qin Ye sat down. The man’s couch had completely turned around by now, and he was staring straight into Qin Ye’s eyes. Seconds later, the man smiled faintly, “I’m glad.”

“Truly.”

“I would never have imagined the day that I would encounter a former colleague after the great collapse in Hell. There’s nothing more joyous than an occasion like this.”

He stood up and walked over to the cabinet in the corner and opened the bottom compartment, revealing a chiller, “What’s your poison?”

“I’ve got pretty much all of the branded liquors out there. You name it, I’ve got it - from Smirnoff crown vodka, to Moet & Chandon champagne, to Martell. Or perhaps you’d like to try something else? Something special? I’m a pretty good mixologist if I’m to say so myself.”

“No thank you.” Qin Ye felt a little bit out of sorts. The man was far too prolific in his grasp of the english language. No matter how Qin Ye looked at him, the man hardly looked like an Emissary of Hell at all.

“You’re missing out one of the greatest pleasures in life here.” The man brought over two bottles and poured them into his own class, creating his own concoction to suit his taste. The golden liquor splashed into his glass, sending waves of aroma bursting into the air that rippled faintly into the surroundings like fine silk. The man continued, “My name is Cao Youdao. I started my first assignment two hundred years ago guarding the Western Crane Village. I served the entire term of a hundred years and fulfilled all the requirements to be promoted to a Hunter-class Emissary of Hell. I was even slated to be transferred to take charge of Strong County. Yet before the official transfer order could be issued, Hell collapsed and was no more.”

The two liquors melded into each other, creating a faint, golden liquid. He took a whiff of the scent and squinted his eyes in pleasure. Then, he held the glass in front of Qin Ye, “A prime opportunity had fallen out of the sky and landed right at my feet. I’d be an idiot if I were to pass it up. Thus, I headed straight for the City of Salvation, and spent decades establishing this empire to call my own. Friend, what do you think of it?”

He spread his arms wide open with a smirk on his face. The moshpit of wildly dancing ghosts lay right under his feet, while innumerable Hell notes continued to rain down from above. He appeared incredibly accomplished.

Qin Ye didn’t accept the cup of wine. Instead, he simply smiled, “It’s quite different from what I’d thought.”

“What’s different?” Cao Youdao leaned his body inquisitively, “Do you mean the style? The decor? My personality? Newbie… You’ll find a hundred personalities among a hundred Emissaries of Hell. Things aren’t quite as you’d expect them to be. At the very least, you’re not going to find everyone dressed in antiquated Hell’s Emissary uniforms and simply prowling the streets at night.”

He opened his cigar case, revealing five neatly arranged cigars within with a single blue ribbon wrapped around each one. He picked up a pair of scissors as he continued, “For instance, I love indulging in new experiences. I’ve got to say that the world is only becoming more convenient and beautiful in its own rights. And I’ve also grown to admire and respect humans as a species as well. Want one?”

Qin Ye shook his head.

Click… Cao Youdao clipped the cigar in a methodical manner as he continued, “And it’s only by assimilating with new things and accepting new experiences that we can keep with the times.”

“Take you and I for example. We’ll have to accept that Hell has collapsed. It’s only by accepting it that we will finally move on from it and find the best way to live within our means. Just like… how I have adapted to the situation.”

Kachick… The lighter set the tip of the cigar alight with an incendiary glow, and the room was instantly filled with the gentle aroma of cherry blossoms from the cigar. Cao Youdao peered through the thin wisps of greenish smoke with squinted eyes, “Just like me… enjoying this world; dominating this world.”

He took another puff, and the tip of the cigar glowed brightly, “It’s truly been an experience. Right now, I’m cordially inviting you on board this journey of exploration. All it takes is a single nod of your head, and you’ll be second to none in the entire City of Salvation!”

Qin Ye finally picked up the glass and swirled its contents about. However, this was merely to hide the ripples in his eyes as he continued to probe, “What about the government?”

Cao Youdao laughed, “Only insiders know best.”

“How can mere humans possibly understand the world that we live in?”

“Newbie, of all of the people in the world right now, only you and I have the capacity to understand each other. In other words… we are Hell!”

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