Chapter 503: Countdown

The sky erupted with a beautiful array of colour. Millions of Yin spirits looked up to the magnificent display that was reminiscent of the most glorious national day celebration. It reminded them of the public holidays back in the mortal realm, when they spent their free time together with their loved ones. It should have been a joyous occasion filled with laughter and chatter. But it wasn’t. The entire city fell silent.

It was almost as though the fireworks were a final salute to the life they once used to have.

The citizens stared at the sky with a deep sense of longing, almost as though the thin veil of canopy in the sky was the only thing separating them and the mortal realm.

Their mind was in flux, and their hearts were filled with complex emotions.

Excitement and elation, sorrow and regret, pining and yearning were all rolled into a long river of interwoven feelings that stirred the undercurrents within each Yin spirit’s hearts.

“I feel… respected…” An old Yin spirit exclaimed hoarsely as he shut his eyes. It was the first time he had felt such warmth in his heart.

“Hell isn’t anything like Kong Mo’s reign…” Another middle-aged man murmured as he glazed at the skies, “Perhaps… this might just be the turning point we all need…”

“I hope that this is a sign for the things to come…” Yet another young female Yin spirit smiled faintly as she prayed with her hands clasped tightly together, “This has to be Hell - the true, orthodox Hell which upholds the dignity of the dead. This is the place where all of the dead should go.”

“Kong Mo… is far too lacking in this regard…”

The fireworks continued to crackle in the sky, filling the air with an atmosphere of festivity. Just then, four sets of illusory numbers silently appeared right above the city walls surrounding Ashmound City.

7,200.

Only 7,200 seconds remained until the start of the Hungry Ghost Festival!

As the numbers started ticking down, the anxiety and anticipation in the hearts of countless Yin spirits slowly crept up. They stared at the numbers, watching it intently as it went down from 7,200 to 4,000, and then to 2,000, 1,000, and finally… 100.

Just then, someone shouted at the top of his voice, “99.”

It was a faint exclamation, yet it resounded with sonorous clarity in every Yin spirit’s hearts. At once, the multitude of Yin spirits began to chime along in the countdown event of unprecedented scale, “98!”

“97!!”

“96!!”... “90!!” “89!!”

Each tick of the numbers tugged strongly at their souls. The heartfelt shouts of 20 million Yin spirits completely drowned out the crackling sound of the explosive fireworks. Sure, they might have continued to erupt with fiery passion, but nothing could compare to the earth-shattering countdown that was taking place on the ground below.

For the first time in a hundred years, the countdown to the Hungry Ghost Festival had once again commenced.

They longed for entertainment. They longed for festivities. Most of all, they longed to catch even a glimpse of the mortal realm. And now, their deepest desires would be fulfilled all at once. This night was destined to be remembered in the annals of Hell.

Soon, the numbers trickled down to 20, and then 15, and finally… 10 seconds!

With the countdown now in full swing, even the most reticent of Yin spirits couldn’t help but chant along with the rest of the city. Decades of longsuffering had finally culminated in this one single moment.

“10!!!”

Countless faces beamed brightly under the brilliant fireworks as they roared with all their hearts.

It was the final countdown.

Limbo. The Harken suddenly opened his eyes. Fate had once again erupted with glorious golden lights as illusory waves began to ripple through the names previously written. A split second later, they slowly converged towards the tip of the brush, swirling about slowly as it transformed into black ink.

“It’s begun.” A calm voice spoke from right above the Harken. The voice was filled with great authority, almost as though its owner could peer beyond the realms and see everything that was being brought together under Fate’s invisible orchestration.

After a long time, he suddenly smiled, “This kid… isn’t too shabby.”

“He’s a leader who’s managed to keep up with the times.” The Harken responded, “Truth be told, I’m not surprised that he’s able to accomplish this much.”

The man chuckled, “And you’re content with being a mere power generator at that?”

“It’s only going to be two days.” The Harken wagged its tail lazily, “Besides, what’s being a power generator compared to the great showing we’re both going to witness tonight? I’ll just take it as a form of compensation to him. The actors are in place, and the stage is all set up. I’m truly looking forward to the treat in store for us…”

“9!!” Meanwhile, the unified cheers of the Yin spirits in Hell rocked Ashmound at its very core.

Rumble… There was a stir in front of the city walls. Teams of Yin soldiers were stationed around to maintain the order as the chaotic gathering of Yin spirits were corralled into dozens of columns, each of which were separated by wooden barriers. These wooden barriers were supported by columns that were carved with images depicting the glorious achievements of the Yama-Kings of the Ten Palaces. Each of these column was three meters apart from the other, and the space between them was already packed full of Yin spirits.

Meanwhile, back in Azurewaters City in the mortal realm. Whoosh… Two pairs of eyes abruptly opened in the darkness.

Black Yaksha turned and glanced at Lee Jung-sook, “Lee Jung-sook, are you ready?”

“Of course.” Lee Jung-sook responded without hesitation, “9 seconds till the jaunt of a thousand ghosts in Cathay. Since you guys are so bent on courting death, I’ll play along. I can’t die after all.”

Black Yaksha turned to Crow Tengu, licking his lips and hissing menacingly, “All Yin spirits will sense it as soon as the gates of Hell are open. We’ll be able to pinpoint the exact location of the gates of Hell so long as we follow the flow of Yin spirits. The gates of Hell can’t be unguarded. We’ll capture an Emissary of Hell, and then leave right away. Remember, we cannot afford to lust for war and destruction”

Even a ravenous ghost like Crow Tengu nodded with great sobriety at the thought of the threat to his life and limb.

The prospects of crashing one of Cathay’s major ghost festivals was simply so outrageous that he couldn’t help but get goosebumps just thinking about it!

Unfortunately… time wasn’t on their side!

“8!!!” Back in Hell. The massive city gates began to creak open, just like the floodgates at a dam!

Whoosh!!! A nethergale rushed right in, causing all of the prayer flags located around the city to flutter wildly in the sky.

Qin Ye stood at the top of the building at the core of the Mythic Palace of Reflections. He propped himself up against the railing, keeping a close watch over the scene in the entire city.

The fireworks continued to crackle and pop in the sky, giving Ashmound a brilliant splash of colour that was all too lacking in the dreary underworld.

How splendid the sight of Ashmound. How magnificent the sight of the stirring Yin spirits. Qin Ye fed off the energy thrumming in waves from the city below.

That’s it… Let’s mark a clean start to Hell with a glorious bang!

These were the thoughts that filled his mind in that very moment.

He didn’t turn on his cell phone.

He knew full well that the mortal realm must already be trying to reach him at all costs. However… with the way things were going, he realized that he truly couldn’t bear to leave for the mortal realm right now.

He wanted to witness the grand finale that he had worked so hard towards.

He wanted to personally see Ashmound flourish with glorious splendour.

Besides… the daolord of the asura was still on his way, and he absolutely had to be in Hell to receive him!

It was his duty as the master of Hell, and the lord of Ashmound.

After all, how could he even think of leaving an Abyssal Prefect to roam freely in the vast reaches of Ashmound?

“7!!” Yet another earth-shattering roar filled the air. A thousand meters away, a procession of humanoid paper effigies carrying a palanquin on their shoulders continued drifting towards Hell.

A middle-aged man sat inside the palanquin, silently radiating the aura of an Abyssal Prefect.

He heard the clamor from a mile away and couldn’t help but lift the veil of his palanquin, only to notice the magnificent city of lights in the distance.

Countless fireworks were illuminating the lands below that were filled with peculiar structures and buildings. It was clearly his destination - Ashmound City.

Ashmound City was so magnificent that it almost appeared to be the only true city of the Cathayan underworld.

“What--...” He paused for a moment, and then gulped hard as he continued staring with great disbelief.

He could sense a great stir in the emotions of the Yin spirits of the city. However, it was clearly not the precursor to a rebellion or uprising, but an unconcealed explosion of excitement.

How is this possible?

By his deductions, the new Hell should never be filled with such great energy and vitality. And yet, the sight that first greeted his eyes was that of a world flourishing with prosperity. At the very least, it was well beyond anything he had seen before in the three eastern provinces under his command. In fact, it was even more glorious than the festivities celebrated in ancient times!

His heart was truly shaken by the startling sight. It took him ten seconds before he finally withdrew his gaze and lowered the veil.

Then, a split second later, the palanquin suddenly exploded. The man within couldn’t wait any longer, and instantly transformed into a ferocious nethergale that swept towards Ashmound City at top speed.

He wanted to see what kind of underworld the new Hell was!

He wanted to know whether Hell possessed the might to subjugate him!

“3!!!” The voices of the Yin spirits were hoarse and cracking. There were a total of nine gates, one large one and eight small ones, and they were all slowly opening up in front of their very eyes.

The gates would lead them straight to nine bridges, beyond which lay the promised land of endless entertainment!

Meanwhile, back in the mortal realm. Wu Wenqing held onto his phone with great astonishment as he reported back to Zhou Xianlong, “Sir! We can’t get through to Mr Qin’s cell phone! It doesn’t seem to be in any service area!”

Zhou Xianlong simply glanced knowingly at Mo Changhao.

Has the day… finally come?

Does your absence today mean that you’re finally prepared to shed that mask of yours?

They were in the conference room, where all the captains of the Martial City branch of the Special Investigations Department were located. “Let’s begin.” He shut his eyes and muttered softly. At once, everyone stood up and responded with a sharp salute, “Yes, sir!”

Hungry Ghost Festival. The jaunt of a thousand ghosts. Three seconds later, all of Cathay would become the playground of the Yin spirits of the world.

This is going to be the festival of the dead, and a jubilee for the living… so long as we can keep our guard up.

With every street filled with wandering spirits and even evil ghosts, who knows how many supernatural incidents are going to happen tonight?

This was how things had been like for the past ten years, and not a single person in the mortal realm had witnessed Hell’s gates for the longest time. From past experience, it was clear that the wandering spirits were going to continue patrolling the streets from dusk to dawn for the next two nights.

“All Hunter-class and Operative-class investigators are to patrol the major streets in the city. The supernatural perimeter will be in full operation at exactly midnight. Mr Mo and I will personally take charge of the Lush Garden Acres. Mr Wu, keep calling Qin Ye until you get through!”

Zhou Xianlong slowly rose to his feet, drew a deep breath and then cupped his hands respectfully to every single person around, “Everyone, please take care.”

“Please, come back alive.”

“I don’t wish to see your souls wandering the streets at the next Hungry Ghost Festival.”

“Yes!!”

“1!!!” Meanwhile, the bell perched atop the Mythic Palace of Reflections finally tolled, sending waves of cheer resounding across every corner of the city.

With that, the gates of Ashmound City were finally open. The Yin spirits located right at the front of the queue immediately rushed forward, only to immediately seize up in shock.

Because what appeared in front of their eyes was a gorgeous world that they had never imagined possible!

BOOM!!!

It was also in that very moment that Hell trembled with a deafening bang, both in the City of Salvation and Ashmound City alike.

That said, ordinary Yin spirits weren’t able to perceive this sound.

It was a sound that could only be heard by Hellguards or stronger Yin spirits.

Qin Ye, Arthis and Oda Nobunaga glanced at the sky at the very same moment.

A blood-coloured rift had torn the skies above the two cities apart. At once, a mighty black tide soared up from both cities and straight into the sky!

“Finally… it’s beginning…” Back in Limbo, the Harken slowly clambered to its feet, “Cui Jue’s Law of Yin-Yang Coaction says that what appears in the netherworld will also appear in the mortal realm, just like how the ancient city of Fengdu Necropolis was likewise seen in the mortal realm…”

“And now that a city has appeared in Ashmound, and a nest of ghosts in the City of Salvation… Yanluo Qin, haven’t you considered what might appear in the mortal realm during the Hungry Ghost Festival?”

“This is going to be the first time in a century that the gates of Hell are opened once more. This… is a night that will go down in history. Yet you’ve… completely failed to consider the implications of something as important as Cui Jue’s Law of Yin-Yang Coaction…”

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