Chapter 489: Negotiations

Azurewaters City, at the national highway. Qin Ye slowly drifted down before the daolord of the asura and smiled faintly at him, “Looks like we meet again.”

Qin Hui was just in a midst of a kowtow when the netherflames erupted from his eyes and he immediately looked up.

I remember… I remember now! This was a voice that I’d heard just a few months ago!

“It’s you?!” He was instantly filled with the urge to strike out at Qin Ye. Fortunately, his fear of Hell forcefully restrained him from any rash acts. Thus, he simply shot up to his feet and glared at Qin Ye. His fingers trembled, but he couldn’t bring himself to point at Qin Ye at all.

Watch your persona! Watch your persona!

Had Wang Chenghao been the one in the daolord’s place right now, Qin Ye would most certainly have teased him with a friendly revelation, “Surprise~~!!!” However, Qin Ye was keenly aware that this wasn’t the case. Thus, he put on the most noble smile on his face, “Did you really think I was deceiving you when I told you last time that I’m the new King Yanluo of Hell?”

Of course I did!!!

Qin Hui’s lips parted, and shut, and parted, and shut. Yet he found himself completely dumbfounded at the situation.

How is this possible?! What kind of venerable figurehead is the King Yanluo of Hell supposed to be? How could it be a puny Hellguard--... eh? He’s already an Infernal Judge. But… that’s still only an Infernal Judge!

There were only two possibilities on his mind right now. The first possibility was that Qin Ye must have by some stroke of luck managed to dispel the curse on his body. After all, Qin Ye was clearly caught in a bind in their previous encounter, and he had no choice but to blabber some rubbish in order to extricate himself from the situation. If this was indeed the case, then Qin Ye could not possibly be anyone important.

The second possibility was that he had to be the child of some high official in Hell. And this was the main reason which caused the daolord to have stayed his hand back then. Even if there were only a 50% chance of this being the case, the potential backlash against the daolord would be completely disproportionate to the gains he could have had at that time.

But now… Qin Ye was once again claiming that he was indeed the King Yanluo of Hell!

His cognitive dissonance militated against his comprehension of the situation. Thus, the daolord found himself completely lost for words as he stared intently at Qin Ye with a flabbergasted look on his face.

Meanwhile, Qin Ye was also staring right back at him.

This was the renowned daolord of the asura that he had heard so much about. He was the sole cause of the nest of ten thousand captive ghosts back in the three eastern provinces. He was dressed like a Song Dynasty official, similar to the Tang Dynasty hemmed gowns with curved collar and large sleeves, and fastened at the waist with a leather belt. Everything was a royal black colour. The daolord was incredibly thin, and appeared ancient and frail, and practically skin and bones. If one looked close enough, one could even spot traces of dark Yin energy writhing in the veins underneath his semi-translucent skin, almost as though they were maggots under the skin of a rotting corpse.

This isn’t the real body. The real body is hidden elsewhere. This is nothing more than a useful instrument that he uses to execute his commands. Qin Ye quickly made an assessment of the situation.

Qin Hui lowered his head and remained silent for over twenty seconds, before he finally managed to pull himself together, “King Yanluo, what is your name?”

Wisps of dense Yin energy peeked out from within the daolord’s lips, almost as though his body contained the vast expanse of an underworld altogether.

“You may address me as Yanluo Qin.” Qin Ye stared Qin Hui in the eye. He could tell that Qin Hui had already calmed down completely. Thus, Qin Hui retracted his gaze and made a respectful inviting gesture, “I wonder if this little one has the honor of inviting Yanluo Qin to come with me?”

Is this a test?

Qin Ye glanced suspiciously at Qin Hui, and then at the carriage, before finally responding with a faint smile on his face, “I’ll let you have the honour just this once.”

With that, Qin Ye boarded the carriage, only to be momentarily stunned by what he saw.

The inside of the carriage was incredibly spacious, and adorned only with antique furnishings. A two-meter wide square table with two chairs on both sides was placed right in the centre of the carriage. A stick of incense emanating green smoke was burning in the corner of the room, while a series of sutras hung right beside the curtains. Whilst it occupied only a footprint of approximately 20 square meters, it still did the job as far as privacy and seclusion was concerned.

The seat was covered with thick cushions, but there clearly wasn’t any tea or fruits placed on the table to entertain his guests. Evidently, Qin Hui hadn’t been able to develop a sustainable economy in his underworld. That said, Qin Ye didn’t mind, “Abyssal Prefects are few and far between after Hell’s great collapse. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have personally made this trip down today.”

Qin Ye’s hands were already wrapped tightly around the sack behind his back.

There lay a black wooden box within the sack which contained a rusty spear tip. 

Would Qin-coward-Ye have dared to confront the daolord of the asura without this mighty artifact? Sorry, let me rephrase that - Qin-rational-Ye would have chosen to avoid a confrontation with the daolord had he not possessed this mighty artifact.

That’s right. It wasn’t a cowardly move. It was all carefully calculated.

Qin Ye’s last statement was intended to probe at the daolord’s bottom line. He wanted to assess if the daolord still harboured any murderous intent towards him, as well as suss out how the daolord viewed the new Hell altogether.

This was a meeting that had come so abruptly that neither side could properly be said to have had the luxury of time to craft its approach. This could both be a bad thing and a good thing. It could be a bad thing because either side could potentially make an irretrievable mistake. That said, it was also a good thing because both sides would see the genuine attitude of the other towards themself.

The daolord of the asura leaned back into his seat and gently ran his fingers along his armchair. However, Qin Ye could tell that the daolord’s spine was erect and straight.

It was a sign of being on guard at all times.

After some time, the daolord finally smiled, “That’s right… Who am I to deserve an audience with the mighty King Yanluo?”

They appeared to be speaking of seemingly unrelated matters, but the truth of the matter was that they were both carefully crafting their responses in order to glean the most information about the other without disclosing their own positions.

Incidentally, the daolord of the asura had already managed to suss out the events leading up to their present meeting.

During their first encounter, he was clearly the uninformed aggressor, and Qin Ye naturally had no choice but to divulge the truth in exchange for his own life. Therefore, Hell must indeed have collapsed. And the fact that Qin Ye wasn’t able to send anyone else in his place was yet another indicator that confirmed this suspicion.

“I wonder what instructions you might have for this little one?” The daolord promptly gathered his hands respectfully into his sleeves as he continued. A split second later, two infant hands emerged from his limbs and began to make a series of hand seals in the dark, and a talisman appeared in the middle of his palm. Yet, he chose not to detonate the talisman just yet. Meanwhile, Qin Ye was completely oblivious to the threat that had just emerged.

Truth be told, Qin Hui’s acts were hardly borne out of hatred. Rather, it was borne out of the fear for Hell that penetrated his marrows.

He was waiting - waiting for that moment when Yanluo Qin employed the Yama-class Yin artifact against him, only to realize that it was unable to overpower Qin Hui’s mighty attack. After all, Qin Hui could sense that the Yama-class Yin energy emanated from a broken Yin artifact.

That said, all that didn’t change the fact that he was still afraid!

He was afraid of the possibility that Yanluo Qin wouldn’t die in a single blow. He was afraid of the consequences. He was afraid of things reverting back to how it used to be thousands of years ago! Thus, notwithstanding the fact that there was only a 10% possibility that his attack would fail, he still refused to take any chances.

This was entirely borne out of a fear that ran way too deep in his heart. In fact, he didn’t even realize that he was speaking to Qin Ye with honorifics, like a lowly subordinate speaking to a highly official.

This was a conversation between an Abyssal Prefect and an Infernal Judge, and yet the Prefect was clearly the more timid of the two!

Qin Ye sized up Qin Hui for several more moments, before suddenly chuckling and placing the sack on his back onto the table.

It had been over ten minutes since the start of their discussions, and yet both men hadn’t exchanged more than ten simple sentences. There were clearly a multitude of thoughts on each of their minds. Both were clearly cautiously probing at each other, desperately testing the waters to see how far they could go.

Boom! The daolord of the asura leapt straight to his feet as soon as the sack hit the table. Yin energy instantly erupted from his body, and his chest squirmed violently as though something were about to emerge. The netherflames in his eyes flickered wildly with apprehension. There was chaos for a moment, and then everything quickly grew calm once more.

Damn it… The daolord of the asura felt a chill run down his spine - I’ve moved too presumptuously!

His simple reaction had clearly placed himself on a backfoot in these discussions.

“What are you so afraid of?” Qin Ye stared him in the eye as he slowly untied the sack. As each knot was undone, the daolord of the asura would back off an inch. The daolord knew that the process was only being protracted because Qin Ye was pressing his initiative, but… he still couldn’t help it!

He had never expected to react with such conditioned reflex towards an Emissary of Hell despite the effluxion of over a hundred years of time!

Whoosh… The sack was finally unraveled completely, revealing the dark wooden box within. The daolord of the asura stared agape at it. His rational mind was shrieking at him at the top of his voice. There was even a foreboding premonition in his heart telling him that as soon as the box was opened, the Yin artifact within would immediately plunge straight through his heart and kill him despite the fact that it was broken and tattered!

But… how am I supposed to stop this?!

Lord Qin, I’m begging you! I’ll assent to anything you ask for!

His attitude at this point was a far cry from what he had always intended. Even he couldn’t help but sense his cheeks burning up with heat.

Qin Ye gently ran his finger along the lid of the wooden box. Clack. He unlatched the metal catch. At once, the sounds of clashing weapons and galloping horses erupted from within, together with dense Yin energy that filled the entire carriage.

The daolord’s breaths instantly grew ragged! The source of the Yin energy was all too familiar to him, and his entire body trembled profusely.

Zhao Yun… This is the spear tip of one of the Sixfold Ghost Kings, Zhao Yun!

By now, the daolord had already retreated to the corner, clutching tightly to anything he could grab hold of. His menacing black nails had already emerged from his fingertips, and he no longer harbored any intention to conceal the thoughts on his mind. His lips quivered as he glared intently at Qin Ye’s hands.

Qin Ye’s fingers were slender, but immeasurably frightening.

Is he already so terrified that he can’t be bothered with his own image any longer? Qin Ye stared at the daolord of the asura, before slowly opening the box, inch by inch. The increasingly burdensome weight of such slow actions caused the daolord to open his lips several times, only to barely hold back the words “stop” from his lips!

Clack… Just then, Qin Ye suddenly snapped the box shut once more, “It looks like the daolord knows what this is?”

It’s much more than that…

As soon as the box was shut, the daolord slumped straight back into his seat, glaring scornfully at Qin Ye, only to be met with an annoyingly bright yet somewhat incisive gaze.

The hunt was complete.

The predator and the prey had finally been identified.

They had barely exchanged any words since boarding the carriage. Both were posturing with their simple remarks and soft gestures. Both sides were desperately trying to seize the initiative and elicit the other’s weaknesses before the other could do the same to them. Each and every action was calculated to the tee, designed to draw out more about the other person’s state of mind, be it within the glint of the eye or the twitch of the muscle.

Even then, Qin Ye had never expected to be able to seize the initiative that quickly! It was almost akin to opening a LoL match with a pentakill!

Truth be told, Qin Ye had never expected Hell to have left such a strong, lasting impression in the mind of the daolord. It was now clear that his fear ran deeper than any other emotion he had - so much so that even despite knowing full well that Hell had collapsed, he was still willing to maintain an equal dialogue with Qin Ye!

Naturally, being the ferocious dog that he was, Qin Ye would never release his grip on his opponent’s weaknesses as soon as he got a firm hold of it.

And his efforts were finally bearing fruit. It was finally time to commence with the negotiations.

“Someone has entrusted me to bring this artifact to your attention.” Qin Ye hammered the final nail on the coffin, before finally leaning back into his seat leisurely, “Hell has no time to care about you right now, so we’ve decided to make a special offer to you.”

Now that the hunter and the hunted were clearly defined, there clearly wasn’t any reason to posture any further. Thus, the daolord spoke respectfully, “Please speak, Your Excellency.” 

Even a Prefect-class Yin spirit had to bow his head when speaking with an Infernal Judge of Hell.

After all, the Judge was clearly backed by entities that he could never afford to cross. He naturally didn’t even bother toying with the idea of testing Qin Ye’s authority any further.

Qin Ye didn’t speak immediately. Instead, he simply tapped his fingers gently on the table for some time, as though drumming his authority deep into the heart of the daolord, stirring the daolord’s anxiety and apprehension.

Ten seconds later, Qin Ye finally retracted his gaze and slowly ran a finger along the edge of the wooden box, “Kill Kong Mo.” The wooden box sat silently on the table, nondescript and forgettable, yet its presence was indescribably glaring to the daolord.

“Hell’s not going to make a move. We’ve already sealed his path of retreat. Bring me his soul as a peace offering, and then go back to the three eastern provinces where you’ve come from. If you can do this, then I, in my capacity as the King Yanluo of Hell, give you my word that I will not build the six paths of reincarnation on the foundation of your soul. In fact… it might not even be entirely out of the question to make you a feudal official of a foreign land.”

Whoosh! The daolord of the asura raised his head violently and stared at Qin Ye with great disbelief.

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