Just then, a bell sounded, instantly silencing and putting to rest the turmoil wreaking havoc in the palace hall.
There was only one toll of the bell, mellifluous and ethereal.
It was the clock hanging within the palace hall, and the single toll of the bell represented the passage of a single day.
For some reason, the familiar sound of the bell seemed to soothe the man behind the veil. He paused for a moment and collected himself, before tossing Shadowless right back to the ground and growing taciturn.
But the fact that the man didn’t say a word didn’t mean that Shadowless was going to remain silent as well. Shadowless immediately lay prostrate on the ground once more, trembling as he begged with a drifty voice, “He said that… he wants to meet with you. But he didn’t say why. I swear this is all he said! He didn’t tell me anything else!”
The man frowned softly. He was initially bent on searching Shadowless’ soul, but the toll of the bell had for some strange reason caused him to drop his intent to kill.
He stared intently at Shadowless, before turning to look at the scale that was suspended in the air. Yin energy flourished from his body, and then ebbed away, and then flourished again, and then ebbed away again. After vacillating for some time, he finally retracted all of his Yin energy and muttered hoarsely, “Send word back to him.”
“Tell him to come to the Azurewaters City in Limbo. I’ll personally receive him.”
Back in Limbo. Whoosh… The Harken watched intently as Fate immediately flew into action when the clock struck twelve.
The first name - Qin Hui!
“The daolord of the asura…” The Harken’s gaze narrowed slightly. The wheels of Fate could no longer be stopped as soon as it started rolling. The daolord of the asura would have crossed paths with Qin Ye even if Fate hadn’t interjected. That said, the Harken couldn’t understand how they could possibly cross paths in just 18 days. How were things going to end?
It recalled what the Second King Yanluo had said back then - Fate brings about a confluence of coincidences, but nobody can say for certain whether any dangers lay hidden amidst these opportunities.
Besides, he could tell that Fate didn’t finish writing Qin Hui’s name in its entirety.
This meant that he was going to be involved again sometime later.
And all of these seemingly disjointed factors and coincidences would come together on the grand stage of life in 18 days’ time. Everything would happen for a purpose, and it would all point towards the very same finale, until the curtains fall on the final act.
Just as the Harken started to get lost in its own thoughts, Fate started to move once more.
Whoosh… Lee Jung-sook!
Black Yaksha, Crow Tengu!
“Black Yaksha… Crow Tengu?” The Harken stared at the two names for a long time, before finally recoiling slightly with a squint in its eyes, “They’ve come to Cathay? How bold! How did they sneak past the Array of the Nine Gods? How unfortunate that they’ve come at a time when I can only muster enough strength for a single attack, and I can’t even aim this attack of mine to boot. It’s simply impossible to peer beyond the boundaries of this realm and gaze upon the happenings in the mortal realm. That said…”
It crinkled its brows like a human being - I wonder where the source of danger is supposed to come from?
These two Nipponese Yin spirits?
“These aren’t ordinary Yin spirits to boot… They were once hailed as the siblings to the Nipponese god of death. Unfortunately for them, Nippon is far too small for their own good, and they were only able to reach the cultivation realms of a peak Infernal Judge. With Izanami clinging tightly to the top spot, none of them have any room for further growth. But even then, these are two Nipponese Yin spirits that are capable of summoning their own Yin spirits, no different from Qin Ye’s Voyage of a Hundred Ghosts. Even if they were supplanted to Cathay’s old Hell, their strength would easily place them within the top 50--... perhaps even the top 20 of all Infernal Judges.”
They definitely possessed the ability to threaten the incumbent King Yanluo of Hell.
It glanced at Qin Hui’s name, and then glanced at the two Nipponese names again, and it simply couldn’t wrap its mind around how things were supposed to pan out.
“What’s this?” A long, slender finger pointed to the glass display case, and a male guide dressed in a dapper black vest and white shirt promptly explained with a bright smile on his face, “These are artifacts from the Shang Dynasty. That’s a bronze tiger vessel, and that’s a bronze dragon vessel. There’s only ever been one bronze dragon and tiger vessel found across the entire Cathay. Although this isn’t that unique artifact, the fact remains that these are still priceless artifacts in their own right. According to the reports--...”
“I’m not talking about those.” The person to whom the guide was explaining all these things retracted her finger. It was a beautiful woman wearing sunglasses, almost as though it was designed to conceal her appearances.
She was a remarkable beauty who possessed the trifecta of the perfect figure, exquisite dress sense, and an untouchable aura about her. One might even say that the only word to describe her would be… extraordinary.
And that was exactly who she was.
Even with her sunglasses on, one could already extrapolate the hidden from what was visible. Everything pointed to perfectly proportioned features and a perfect image. Her soft yet ritzy clothes comprised a white-laced, perfectly-cut collared shirt and an ordinary knee-length skirt. Two exquisite tasseled ruby earrings added a touch of nobility as they hung by her ears.
Nobody was in the exhibition hall apart from her and the seven bodyguards following her. There were also two children whose hands she was holding. These children were approximately seven and eight years old respectively.
The guide didn’t dare to look her in the eye. He was keenly aware that the entire Azurewaters City Museum had been closed for the day for the simple reason that this lady was coming to visit it. Even though the museum had been open for more than a decade now, something like that was still an incredibly rare occurrence. He didn’t even dare to hazard any guesses as to who this lady was. All he knew was that she was called “Ms Lee”, and that she appeared incredibly elegant and noble.
Ms Lee was currently pointing directly to a stone tablet.
The stone tablet was very old and dusty, and even crumbling at places. That said, the museum would never display any counterfeit goods. Everything here was as authentic as it got. The guide glanced at it, and then promptly smiled at Ms Lee, “This is a relic that was unearthed together with the bronze tiger vessel and the bronze dragon vessel. It was presumably used as part of the rituals conducted back in the Shang Dynasty. This is the stone tablet containing a relief of the King Yanluo of Hell. If you look closely, this relief depicts the likeness of King Yanluo’s entire body. There are only three pieces like this across the entire Cathay.”
Ms Lee lowered her hand, and then her entire body trembled slightly. Then, she promptly looked up and smiled as she turned and walked away, “What an eye-opener… I didn’t know that the King Yanluo of Hell was called Qin Ye.”
The guide smiled respectfully and nodded. And then, he froze.
“Qin Ye?” The guide was taken aback, “That’s not right. The King Yanluo of Hell had always been known to be a nameless god ever since time immemorial--...”
The lady who was just walking away suddenly paused and turned back, “Nameless?”
“That’s right.” The tour guide turned to look at the stone tablet, “Likewise, this stone tablet wouldn’t have the name of the King Yanluo of--... Eh?!”
He was the top guide of the museum, and had been hand-picked for his steady and smooth delivery of information. Generally speaking, there wouldn’t be any hiccups in the tours that he gave. However, even he couldn’t help but freeze at the sight of the stone tablet.
The stone tablet was approximately two meters high, and the painted relief sculpture depicted a young man wearing a long robe with a vivid expression on his face. Yet what was perhaps most astonishing was the fact that four additional words had mysteriously appeared right by the sculpture of the man.
King Yanluo, Qin Ye.
How is this possible?!
When did this happen?!
Impossible. This is definitely the authentic stone tablet, but none of us have ever noticed any names written on it before! When did these words appear?
Just then, a shockwave suddenly rippled through the air in the museum, and the entire hall was suddenly shrouded with a veil of black mist. At once, all of the bodyguards and the guide seized up and promptly collapsed to the ground.
“Lee Jung-sook… Have you already forgotten our word of caution?” The boy on the left remained completely motionless as he turned around bizarrely to face Lee Jung-sook. Copious amounts of Yin energy poured straight into his pores, and Black Yaksha promptly rose from the cloud of Yin energy. It sported the appearance of a white dog, and both its robes and its hair fluttered wildly as it bared its razor-sharp fangs at Lee Jung-sook.
“I’ve warned you before… but you don’t seem to be taking it to heart…” The boy on the right suddenly looked up, and his human skin instantly ripped wide open. The scarlet Crow Tengu emerged from the cloud of Yin energy, dribbling its rancid saliva everywhere. He instantly grabbed Lee Jung-sook’s hand and forced it open, only to notice that a dark nail had at some point in time been driven through her palm. Yet, the strangest part was that there were no traces of blood at all.
It was precisely because of this nail that her entire body had trembled earlier.
“Are you trying to seek help from the Cathayan Hell?” Black Yaksha stared at Lee Jung-sook with a deadly gaze. Yet she simply chuckled placidly, “Do you think I’d do something as stupid as that? I was just curious.”
Whoosh! Crow Tengu’s hideous head instantly appeared right in front of her with a twisted and manic expression, “Curious?”
“Don’t you think it’s curious?” Lee Jung-sook boldly pushed Crow Tengu’s head away and pointed at the display case once more, “I’m quite familiar with the Cathayan culture. The King Yanluo of Hell is known to be a nameless entity. So how did a name suddenly appear on the stone tablet depicting the King Yanluo of Hell?”
“This is one of the distinguishing features of Cathay’s feudal era. It’s taboo to address the venerated by their names. Instead, they’d simply refer to them using a pronoun. Which of you have ever heard a king being addressed using his first name? Besides, did you see the guide’s expression? He’s clearly never seen those words on the stone tablet before.”
Crow Tengu narrowed his eyes, “The stone tablet’s… probably fake?”
“It’s real.” Black Yaksha walked up to the display case and scrutinized the stone tablet, “I can sense the aura of antiquity from it, and there’s even… a trace of domineering Yin energy. It’s absolutely terrifying, almost as though we’d instantly be crushed as soon as we come into contact with something like that. Besides, given Ms Lee’s identity and the sheer amount of investments she’s poured into Azurewaters City, they’d never ever think of pulling a veil over her eyes with counterfeit goods.”
“So… what do we make of it?”
Seconds later, Black Yaksha gnashed his teeth, “A change of dynasty.”
“The new King Yanluo of Hell is about to appear--... Or perhaps I should say, has already appeared. And he’s making his presence known to the entire world!”
He uttered these words with an incomparably grave expression.
This was by no means a trivial matter. The change of a dynasty might mean nothing to Hell as it stands, but… the change of dynasty to a powerhouse underworld is undoubtedly breaking news to the smaller surrounding underworlds!
What’s the new King Yanluo of Hell like?
Is he hawkish or dovish?
Is he going to march against the surrounding nations? What’s his political alignment? What’s his take on the current global situation?
Perhaps one way of looking at it would be to liken it to the change of presidency in one of the world’s leading powers, such as in Usonia.
“I think… I might understand why we don’t see any Emissaries of Hell here in Cathay anymore.” Black Yaksha suddenly retracted its claws with a bright glint in his eyes.
Lee Jung-sook stood behind the two evil ghosts and shut her eyes, “So, aren’t you guys going to take a closer look at the source of such breaking news?”
“I dare not.” Black Yaksha calmly turned around and tucked his hands into his sleeves, “This is the dynastic change of the top underworlds of the netherworld. Do you think it’s really out place to be probing and prying about? This is their own internal affair. Prying eyes might easily be met with the dissipation of our souls.”
“Not necessarily.” Lee Jung-sook ran her finger slowly across the display cabinet as she continued, “The Hungry Ghost Festival is almost upon us, and the gates of Hell would be opened once more. If there’s truly a change of dynasty, we’d surely be able to pick up some clues about it during this major ghost festival.”
“For instance, we’d be able to pick up clues from how the Emissaries of Hell treat Yin spirits, or where the Yin spirits are flocking to, and by peering into the gates of Hell. And if it so happens that we’re able to capture an Emissary of Hell, then even if we don’t find Oda Nobunaga, I’m sure Izanami wouldn’t scrimp on the rewards, would she?”
Black Yaksha instantly placed his claws around Lee Jung-sook’s neck without showing any trace of mercy. Her beautiful face flushed red with suffocation at once.
“Did you lure us here… with the intention of pitting us against the Emissaries of Hell?!” Black Yaksha leaned in menacingly, “For your sake, I certainly hope not. Lee Jung-sook… you’d do well to be mindful of the fact that you’ve only lived for a few hundred years…”
“Because we’ve already been around in these parts before you were even born.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter