It was a dark night.
A nethergale swept across the lands, silencing even the softest whispers of life in Azurewaters City. The citizens were all holed up in their homes, trembling with bated breaths as they prayed hard that the night would pass in peace and serenity.
Ground floor in a home adjacent to the national highway. A father held his daughter tightly in his bosom. She blinked softly and tugged gently on her father’s sleeves, “Dad… did you hear it? There’s the sound of gongs and drums coming from the street…”
She didn’t dare to speak loudly. Her father hadn’t told her about the reason for the publicly broadcasted announcements that they had heard every night, but her instincts were screaming from within, telling her not to make even the slightest peep of sound.
Shh!! Her father cut her off with a gesture of silence, and then proceeded to hug his daughter even more tightly, “Be good… Hush now...”
Just then, the shadow of a procession of figures holding spirit streamers, prayer flags and scattering paper money suddenly appeared on the walls in the room. Both father and daughter held each other as closely as they could, afraid to make even the slightest of sounds. The father stared at the wall with bloodshot eyes. He could tell that the shadows were all moving as though they were drifting above the surface of the ground!
Each of them wore pointed hats and ancient robes. They carried a variety of musical instruments in their hands, and the entire procession was clearly dozens of meters long.
It took merely 30 seconds before the entire procession passed, and yet it felt like eons to them. Then, it was only when the procession passed that the father gnashed his teeth and carried his daughter back to the bedroom where they hid under their covers, praying that dawn would rise soon. Incidentally, it was only then that the father noticed that his entire back was already soaked through with cold sweat.
“When will these horrific, long nights ever end?”
If it were any consolation to him, he wasn’t the only one this night whose heart was awash with fear. In fact, almost every resident living along the national highway could see gut-wrenching shadows of the procession of ghastly silhouettes appear on the walls of their rooms.
Meanwhile, the alarms of the Special Investigations Department, Azurewaters City Branch went through the roof!
“Alert, alert, Judge-class Yin energy detected. Yin energy readings amount to… 12 million in total. Red alert. Repeat. Alert, alert…”
The red alert status had been raised, and the scarlet warning lights flickered wildly in alarm within the Special Investigations Department branch offices. Within minutes, the branch chief of the Special Investigations Department Azurewaters City Branch arrived back in their branch office, together with the relevant military leaders and grassroot leaders. A dozen or so people marched into the office and listened to the report with a grim expression on their face and a chill rising in their hearts.
“12 million…” The branch chief sat paralyzed in his chair. He was merely a Hunter-class expert, and the current situation was clearly well beyond the league of his abilities. His mind instantly went blank.
“What the hell is happening to Azurewaters City…?”
Just then, a major of the military forces jolted him right back to his senses, “Chief Wang, now’s not the time to be speculating about these things! Immediately request support from the other Special Investigations Department in the vicinity! Director Mo is currently stationed in Qizhou! And we’ve still got the newly-minted Judge, Mr Qin, who is stationed in Martial City! I’ve read that Infernal Judges can travel at speeds that are already close to the speed of sound. It wouldn’t take them long to get here!”
“No!” Chief Wang immediately snapped back to his senses and gnashed his teeth, “We cannot invite them to this place! This is… an Abyssal Prefect! It’s an evil ghost on par with the strongest experts in the mortal realm! Judge-class experts would be as good as fodder if they come!”
“Then what are we supposed to do?!” The major slammed his fist heavily onto the table, “We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of citizens residing in Azurewaters City… Are we supposed to simply watch as they all get massacred?!”
Just then, a third voice interjected. It was the mayor, “Chief Wang is right. Anyone who comes would be as good as throwing their lives away. Let’s watch and see what this monster is looking to do. As soon as they start laying their hands on the citizens, then we’ll mobilize every resource we have to evacuate them at all costs! Meanwhile, Chief Wang, I’m afraid you’ll still have to contact the two Judges earlier named. Sure, they might not be a match for an Abyssal Prefect, but it’s still their duty to obstruct the tide of netherworldly forces so that the citizens can escape!”
“Understood…” Chief Wang gritted his teeth and immediately made the call. Yet the tension in the room was still at an all-time high. Everyone stared intently at the screen in silence, until one of the secretaries spoke up, “Sir… what should we do?”
“We live and die together with Azurewaters City.” The leaders responded in unison. The somewhat plump deputy mayor turned around and looked at the secretary with a calm smile on his face, “This, too, is our responsibility.”
Back in Qizhou. Beep beep beep… The alarm of the Martial City branch office rang. Wu Wenqing happened to be on duty tonight, and he was the one who personally received news on his headset. Within moments, he gasped in horror and rushed out of the office like a madman.
As he ran, he pulled out his cellphone and immediately scrolled through his contacts to find Qin Ye’s number. Then, he abruptly paused and turned the corner to enter a small meeting room.
He barged straight into the room without even knocking at all, “L-leaders, something big has happened! Azurewaters City--...”
“We’re already aware.” Zhou Xianlong and Mo Changhao were seated in the middle of the room, surrounded by a series of talismans that contained their true energy and concealed it from the rest of the world outside.
“Stand down.” Zhou Xianlong responded placidly.
Dong… Wu Wenqing left without another word. It was only then that Zhou Xianlong turned back to Mo Changhao, “Mr Qin hasn’t returned.”
“That’s right.” Mo Changhao opened his computer and squinted at the screen which depicted a small red dot over a downtown city district.
This wasn’t the map of Martial City.
Rather… it was the map of Azurewaters City!
“He’s in Azurewaters City.” Mo Changhao took a deep breath and leaned back into his seat, “He’s just arrived from the national highway, and according to the images sent by our albatrosses on site, the Prefect-class evil ghost… well…”
He paused for a moment, and then continued, “Appears to be welcoming him…”
Nothing was perfect in the world.
Just like how the delectable cuisine of meat and poultry was only possible with the death of animals. Likewise, Qin Ye had to carry his cell phone with him.
This was his personal cell phone, bought with his own money. It wasn’t the one issued by the Special Investigations Department. That said, he had never thought about leaving his phone at home. Indeed… he dared not.
After all, his cultivation prowess meant that he would have to be on standby at all times, in order to attend to any emergencies that arose within the mortal realm. At the very least, this was the only way he could maintain the pretenses of his identity that he had so painstakingly developed. That said, the presence of his device on him also meant that the state could track him anytime they so desired.
He was caught between a rock and a hard place, and there clearly wasn’t any feasible solution out of this tricky conundrum. Naturally, bringing his cell phone along with him was the lesser of the evils.
“Sir…” Mo Changhao turned to Zhou Xianlong, but his lips were parched, and he was completely lost for words.
Zhou Xianlong closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before pulling out his phone.
Then, he tapped on Qin Ye’s contact detail with a quiver in his fingers.
Azurewaters City. The procession of Yin spirits stopped at the national highway entrance.
The procession was led by ten Infernal Judges, all of whom wore ancient majestic robes. They stood firmly on the ground and had their hands placed behind their backs.
Behind them, each Judge was followed by several Hellguards, then dozens of Soul Hunters and Netherworld Operatives. Each of these Yin spirits were flanked by humanoid paper effigies toting spirit streamers and prayer flags. The Yin spirits didn’t have any shadows, but the sheer number of humanoid paper effigies in the procession more than made up for it.
Countless paper money was scattered among the spirit streamers and prayer flags. A majestic carriage pulled by 16 skeletal horses was located right in the middle of the procession. The entire carriage occupied a footprint of approximately 20 square meters in size. It was accented by exquisite carved beams, yet it also appeared so old that it exuded an aura of death and decay. To that end, it looked almost as though this carriage was something that had been excavated from the depths of an underground palace.
The procession completely blocked off the entire national highway. It was evident just how much importance the daolord of the asura attached to this meeting.
Silence. Only the gentle howl of the nethergale could be heard. Then, after some time, a massive tide of Yin energy surged from out of nowhere!
Like the thundergod’s wrath, the seas churned and instantly set off a massive tsunami!
The surrounding trees swayed helplessly as though they were on the verge of being uprooted entirely. Even then, copious amounts of Yin energy continued to pour down like an endless waterfall from the sky.
SSSS!!! Countless human faces tumbled about in the tide of Yin energy with a multitude of expressions. There was joy, pain, anguish, sorrow, resentment, and so on and so forth. They would surface for a fleeting moment, before vanishing into the depths of the tide of Yin energy, only to give way to more faces that took their place. A multitude of netherflames filled the depths of the tide of Yin energy as though they were constellations in the night sky. All things considered, this was the grandest welcoming ceremony to have taken place at the national highway - ever!
Whoosh… Suddenly, a majestic nethergale picked up out of nowhere and rushed across the national highway, instantly sweeping away the entire procession, including the Infernal Judges that led the march. Every single evil ghost in the procession was swept well behind the carriage, leaving a single carriage remaining on the massive highway in the blink of an eye.
“This is--...” Seconds later, a voice trembled from within the carriage, “This is… a Yama… It’s Yama-class Yin energy…”
A hand covered with livor mortis spots raised the veil of the carriage, while the man within peeked out with great trepidation. At once, his memories of the thousands of years he had spent in Hell flooded right back into Qin Hui’s mind.
In life, he had committed the heinous crime of murdering the military god, Yue Fei. Naturally, he wasn’t qualified to enter Hell in death. Instead, he wandered the mortal realm and became an Infernal Judge. Back then, he had been overjoyed to learn that he was far stronger than he had ever been while he was still alive! It wasn’t much of an exaggeration to say that he was already at the realms of a ghost god!
Unfortunately, his reverie didn’t last long. An Emissary of Hell known as Ran Min appeared in the mortal realm to arrest him and bring him back to Hell, where he would be suppressed under the six paths of reincarnation for thousands of years, suffering from endless torment without any hope for reprieve.
Then, he managed to escape from captivity as soon as Hell collapsed. Having personally witnessed the might of Hell, he’d spent the first 90 years of his newfound freedom in fear, hiding in the depths of the most secluded mountains. Yet, almost as soon as he emerged from hiding, he found himself faced with the exact same situation as before.
He was completely helpless against Hell’s forces.
“The great sinner, Qin Hui, pays his respect to the esteemed official of Hell!!” He reacted completely differently from the rest of the modern day Yin spirits. After all, he knew full well how terrifying Hell could be. He knew how frightening the phrase ‘by Hell’s dictum, all rabble shall disperse’ was. With great trepidation, he scrambled out of his carriage and lay prostrate on the ground, kowtowing repeatedly as he pleaded with palpable fear, “Please forgive this little one for my transgressions!! I Deserve nothing but death!! But I only pray that you’ll give me a way to live!!”
All previous thoughts of putting on airs and negotiating for the best terms and conditions had been cast right out of the window. All that was left was the reverence for Hell that had been etched into his marrows after thousands of years.
The evil ghosts that had been swept well behind the carriage stared at their master, completely dumbfounded.
What the hell is going on?
An Abyssal Prefect… is actually laying prostrate on the ground?
This was the difference between the evil ghosts who had experienced Hell’s might, and the modern ghosts who were completely ignorant to that fact.
Ancient ghosts knew better than to court their own death.
Because they knew that if they courted death… then it would most certainly be death that they got.
After all, not even the most prominent superstars of their time were able to extract clemency from the courts of Hell. On what basis would a mere daolord be able to attain something like that?
Qin Ye’s voice echoed from the midst of the nethergale, “Daolord of the asura, I hope you’ve been well.”
“To be honest, when I saw you receiving me in your carriage earlier, I really thought you had forgotten what gives Hell its name.”
This voice sounds… familiar.
Even then, Qin Hui didn’t dare speculate too much. Instead, he simply continued to kowtow repeatedly to the ground, “This little one would never dare! This little one is a great sinner that deserves death. I only pray for mercy and a chance at redemption!”
He didn’t even dare to ask for more.
Very sensible… Qin Ye tapped the sack on his back - It’s a good thing that I’ve remembered to bring this…
Qin Ye was just about to head out to personally meet with the daolord when his cell phone suddenly rang.
Qin Ye frowned. He knew he couldn’t afford to ignore the call.
“Mr Qin, it’s me.” Unfortunately, Qin Ye wasn’t aware that he was currently on speakerphone, and Zhou Xianlong and Mo Changhao were located right beside Wu Wenqing.
“Where… are you now?”
“Resting at home. What’s up?” Qin Ye raised an eyebrow quizzically and responded without batting an eyelid.
“Ah. I’ve just called to let you know that there’s a last-minute meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning, and that you’re expected to be there.” Wu Wenqing chirped back.
“Got it.” Qin Ye acknowledged the message and promptly cut the call.
Back in Martial City. Mo Changhao and Zhou Xianlong squinted at the red splotch on the screen, as well as… a red dot that appeared as large as the sun, together with the tide of Yin energy that surrounded the dot!
There was a small line of text on the upper left corner of the screen - Yin energy reading: 62,410,000 Yin.Previous Chapter Next Chapter