Why isn’t there any response?
Qin Ye glanced at the daolord of the asura with displeasure. Had this been Wang One Tail, he would’ve lain prostrate on the ground by now…
“Ahem…” Qin Ye cleared his throat, desperately hinting to the daolord that he should at least show some reaction to his offer. It was clear that Qin Ye was still waiting for an over-the-moon response.
After some moments, the daolord of the asura sighed wistfully and then hung his head low, “Are you willing to guarantee this?”
“Naturally.” Qin Ye smiled, “I’m a man of my word.”
But the devil is always in the details…
For instance, you could take on the role posthumously underneath a wreath, in a coffin, or perhaps even in sky lantern form…
The daolord of the asura lowered his head, and the netherflames in his eyes flickered wildly. He remained silent for the longest time.
He wasn’t young, naive or inexperienced.
At least, he wasn’t so next to the modern day Yin spirits who averaged only 50 years of age.
Naturally, he knew full well that the words of high officials could never be taken at face value. At the very least, there was always room for interpretation. What was more important was what the other party he was negotiating with thought and felt.
Does Yanluo Qin intend to build the six paths of reincarnation on my soul or not?!
Moments later, he finally gathered his thoughts and responded with a hoarse voice, “Yanluo Qin, do you know something? I’ve heard that all true Emissaries of Hell are able to make oaths by swearing against the heavenly dao. I’m willing to kill Kong Mo on your behalf if you’re willing to make that oath with me. Without the Mythic Palace of Reflections, Kong Mo no longer has any path of retreat. If I were to take him on no matter the cost… then not even that Yin artifact in his possession would be able to protect him.”
I can make an oath like that?!
Qin Ye cursed in his heart even as he maintained a forced smile on his face.
What the hell is that? Why hasn’t anyone told me about something like this? Why didn’t the Lord of Darkriver mention anything about this before? Is his ignorance because he was too weak?
Or is it simply because the Yin spirits of recent times haven’t the slightest clue as to the means available to Emissaries of Hell?
The daolord of the asura didn’t rush him either. Instead, he simply waited patiently for Qin Ye’s response while Qin Ye wracked his mind for an appropriate response.
It was a difficult question.
The abruptness of their meeting was bound to trip them up at some point or another. If he responded with ignorance, then that might lead to suspicions that he was merely putting on a farce. In the worst case scenario, the daolord might even come to suspect that he wasn’t authorized by the master of the Yama-class Yin artifact to employ the functions of the spear tip freely, and that he had only brought it along as a form of deterrence. And if things came to that, would an artifact used for mere deterrence actually be able to impede the advances of an Abyssal Prefect?
In fact, Qin Ye’s track record was already dismal with the manner in which he acted during his previous encounter with the daolord of the asura. Granted, he had managed to gain some ground with his performance today, but feigning ignorance when it came to matters of real importance would most certainly reverse all of his efforts thus far! After all, how was a King Yanluo that ignorant to be deserving of any respect at all?
He knew full well that he hadn’t done anything deserving of any respect in the daolord’s eyes. His first impressions in his earliest meeting with the daolord had been dismal after all. Instead, what the daolord respected right now was merely the presence of the Courage of Dragons Silver Spear’s gleaming tip.
“Yanluo Qin?” The daolord of the asura prompted Qin Ye once more. Damn, I’ve taken far too long to come up with a response. It’s really difficult to get off while riding on a tiger’s back…
It was a simple question, and it would arouse suspicions if Qin Ye took too long for his response.
“Sure.” Qin Ye gnashed his teeth and bit the bullet despite not knowing what he was getting himself into.
But before the daolord of the asura could even heave a sigh of relief, Qin Ye went on, “But not now.”
A brainwave struck Qin Ye, and he responded with a crafty smile on his face, “Because I’m still not the official King Yanluo of Hell. I’ll let the Harken speak with you in this regard.”
The daolord’s heart constricted, and he nearly couldn’t resist the urge to give Qin Ye a good kick to the face!
Wait a minute… What the hell are you talking about?!
W-w-why did the Harken suddenly get dragged into this?
Did I miss something?
I’m just trying to get a fair bargain here, and yet you suddenly drop the old switcheroo? What are you - a con artist?
But… what made matters worse was the fact that there was no room for discussion in this regard.
Both men smiled and nodded placidly at each other with acknowledgment even as they silently cursed and swore in their hearts.
One man had been desperately probing at Hell’s bottom line, and even to some measure of success when he managed to elicit the confirmation from the other. Yet, by some strange twist, the compromise didn’t come cheap, because it was soon followed by a horrific switch-and-bait technique. At once, the negotiations appeared to be at an impasse.
Qin Ye felt somewhat worn out by the negotiations. He massaged his temples as he went on, “I can tell that your prejudice against Hell runs deep, and I’m afraid we’ll be getting nowhere at this rate. That said, there are some things that I think I should make clear to you.”
The ultimatum is coming… The daolord of the asura nodded respectfully, and Qin Ye continued. “Firstly, go back to the three eastern provinces where you came from. Secondly, bring me Kong Mo’s head on a silver platter. Fail to achieve these things, and your next meeting wouldn’t be with me.”
“If you want to gain something, you’ve got to be willing to pay the price for it.” Qin Ye promptly stood up. He just recalled the contents of Wu Wenqing’s call - he was still involved in a meeting tomorrow, and it wouldn’t be wise to stay too long, “I’m the only one who can grant you clemency, and it’s impossible to justify the same without any show of sincerity on your part.”
As expected… The daolord of the asura narrowed his eyes, “Kong Mo is still in possession of a rather terrifying Yin artifact. And if I were to kill him, I’d still have to get through the Yin soldiers around him. This is by no means an easy process. We’re talking about the Confucian Family, one of the top gentries of the old Hell. Do you know how deep their resources run? What if - and I mean hypothetically speaking - I pay such a huge price to take him down, yet Hell goes back on its word and refuses to pardon my sins? What am I supposed to do then?”
Qin Ye leaned over and looked the daolord dead in the eye, “You’ve got no other choice.”
“If you don’t return to the three eastern provinces right away, I can assure you that the next Emissary of Hell you meet will be none other than the Harken itself. Hell might be shorthanded, but you’re just an Abyssal Prefect. There’s nothing indisposable about you.”
“I’m only here in person because I didn’t want to waste any ghost power. But the fact that I’m not desirous of wasting resources doesn’t mean I can’t afford to do so. You’re welcome to test the waters of Hell’s firepower… if you dare.”
The daolord looked up and glared Qin Ye straight in the eye.
A terrifying murderous intent erupted from within, almost as though the abysses of Hell were baring its fangs, ready to devour the entire mortal realm. At once, an electrifying sensation of fear surged straight from the depths of Qin Ye’s heart and into every fiber of his being.
The daolord was making his identity felt for the very first time!
As they locked eyes with each other, the Yin energy underneath Qin Ye’s skin writhed uncontrollably, as though they were being forcibly extracted from within his body. The carriage was instantly filled with a tense silence, so much so that every thump of his heart could be heard in his ears.
Qin Ye leaned heavily on the table, forcibly maintaining his posture without giving anything away. Cold sweat beaded up on his forehead.
He might have heard about the might of an Abyssal Prefect, but experiencing it first-hand was quite something else altogether!
Qin Ye desperately fought against his primal instincts and forcibly suppressed the roiling emotions in his heart. Then, approximately ten seconds later, the daolord of the asura finally lowered his head and responded with a deep voice, “Your Excellency needn’t be too concerned.”
“Hell’s imperial edict cannot be retracted.” He sighed wistfully as he got to his feet, “One year.”
“I’ll drive Kong Mo out to sea. Since Hell has already seized his base of operations, he’s got nowhere to run, and no place to hide. The best option for him right now would be to escape into the lands of Nippon. Naturally… he’ll be given a burial out in the open seas.”
You need that long? Qin Ye’s eyes quivered for a moment, before realization dawned on him.
Both were factions that easily had over a million Yin soldiers under their command. It was only natural to expect a war on such a scale to start off with smaller skirmishes and minor battles until the final, decisive battle. Neither Kong Mo nor the daolord of the asura were willing to throw millions of Yin soldiers into battle just like that.
“I’ll eagerly await the news of your victory.” Qin Ye straightened up his body and began to make his way out of the carriage, “Bring me Kong Mo’s soulfire, and Hell will hold up to the terms of this official edict.”
There was a sound of dragging chairs, followed by the voice of the daolord respectfully sending off Qin Ye, “Please watch your step, Your Excellency.”
Shk… Qin Ye lifted the veil of the carriage and disembarked from it. It was only then that he noticed how his entire back was already soaked through with cold sweat.
It had only been an hour, and they had barely exchanged a few words. They had both done nothing more than to suss out the other’s bottom line, while protecting their own as much as possible. Yet, even then, Qin Ye had already felt completely spent.
His mind was already at its limits, and he was pleased to call it a day.
Meanwhile, back in the carriage. For some strange reason, whether by some stroke of fate or otherwise, the daolord of the asura happened to glance at the table right after Qin Ye departed.
It was a casual glance.
He didn’t expect to gain anything from it, and yet, what he saw caused him to raise his brows quizzically and shoot to his feet.
The surface of the table was slightly damp.
They were clearly palm prints.
The daolord ran his finger gently across it, before placing it right before his nose and taking a whiff. Then, he glanced in the direction that Qin Ye had departed.
It was sweat.
His heart wasn’t as at ease as he had made himself out to be!
He was finally able to think freely after Qin Ye had left, and a vital observation immediately popped up in his mind, and that was the fact that Qin Ye’s position was premised on the facts that the Harken was still around, and Hell was still in existence!
“That’s right… I’d been the first of the three daolords to mobilize my forces precisely because I’d detected the presence of the Book of Life and Death back in the Strait of Tsushima. And I wasn’t the only one. Over ten other Infernal Judges and the Nipponese goddess of death had made their moves back then. I was worried that the situation would take a turn for the worse, and thus sent troops.” Everything in his mind had finally begun to come together.
“I’d asked the Nipponese spirit if someone had managed to obtain the Book of Life and Death, and I was told that Cathay had reclaimed it. But more importantly… why did the Book of Life and Death appear in the Strait of Tsushima?”
“Perhaps it had simply been washed out of Hell after its great collapse. And if a divine artifact such as the Book of Life and Death could be washed out of Hell, then wouldn’t it likewise have been possible to have picked up the Harken’s scale and the Yin artifact of the Sixfold Ghost King along the way? That’s right… that would also explain why he’d placed the tip of the spear in the wooden box earlier! I could sense from its aura that it was a broken Yin artifact!”
“Does this mean that… he’s messing with me?”
He agonized over these things for another thirty seconds, and then finally nodded with gritted teeth, almost as though he had made an important decision. Then, he suddenly vanished from his carriage and appeared where Qin Ye was.
Qin Ye was startled.
However, Qin Ye didn’t reveal any traces of it in the slightest. Instead, he simply raised an eyebrow placidly, “Something else on your mind?”
The daolord had his hands gathered in his sleeves, and his body was suspended in the air. If he had a heart right now, it would most certainly be thumping right out of his chest.
After all, he was on the verge of making one of the most important decisions in his entire life!
“Yes.” Wisps of Yin energy peeked out of his teeth as he continued, “Yanluo Qin, I wonder if you’ve heard of the technique known as Auxiliary Heart Transmission?”
“A little.” Qin Ye responded calmly, wondering why the daolord was asking all these things.
“I’ve dabbled a little with these techniques. So long as I take possession of the body of a person who has recently passed on, I’d be able to tread the path to Hell vicariously through the soul of the one who had perished. It doesn’t require much; all it takes is a little bit of my soulfire. Do you remember the time I encountered you when you were back at the hospital? It just so happened that a soul had passed by back then, and I happened to catch a glimpse.”
Qin Ye was even more bewildered by these remarks, “What exactly do you mean?”
“Nothing.” Qin Hui cupped his hands respectfully, yet did nothing to conceal the ferocious glint in his eye. He gazed intently at Qin Ye and continued with a hoarse voice, “Would Yanluo Qin be so kind as to indulge this little one here with another look at the new Hell? I recall that my conviction was sealed by Lord Harken back then, so you can also consider us… old friends.”
Whoosh… Qin Ye’s fatigue was swept away in an instant, and he turned back and looked the daolord straight in the eye.
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