“Come on in.” Qin Ye nodded at the daolord of the asura. However, the daolord neither lifted his head nor flew over to Qin Ye. Instead, he allowed himself to be led in on foot, escorted by several Yin soldiers, and it took him another ten minutes or so before he finally made it to the very top of the city.
He didn’t move quickly, yet his heart thumped wildly with every step he took.
How could this be?
Why do things here look completely different from what I had in mind?
Everything around him reeked of prosperity - the beaming smiles on the faces of all Yin spirits, the entertainment facilities, and even the splendid island that was completely out of the world. The daolord wasn’t a fool. Having once been the chancellor of a nation, he naturally knew that these were signs of a highly developed civilization. In other words, nothing was likely to shake the firm foundation of Hell’s governance right now!
Hang on… But if that were indeed the case, then why did you have me personally visit the King Yanluo of Hell? You clearly knew that I was slowly establishing myself in the three eastern provinces, so why didn’t you do a thing about it?
Such passiveness is nothing like the Hell I knew!
That said, such level of development is by no means a paltry fledgling civilization that’s still languishing in the stone ages! No! This is already comparable to the Song Dynasty… and quite possibly even beyond that!
He trudged along with measured paces behind the Yin soldiers, observing his surroundings with amazement. Or could it be… that Hell has channeled the entire nation’s resources towards developing a whole new capital of Hell? Besides… I don’t see the Harken or Zhao Yun around either. Perhaps… there’s still some room for some measure of contention…?
Despite the fact that he was only being escorted by measly Yin soldiers, the daolord still clasped his hands together as a sign of great respect. Meanwhile, Qin Ye closely observed every move he made.
“He’s afraid.” Arthis spoke with great certainty.
“Of course.” Qin Ye squinted, “A Yin spirit’s personality is highly dependent on his inclinations in life. Qin Hui was a scheming man in life, and it’s clear that he would always have his own interests before others. Sure, he’s like a fish in water when it comes to manipulating weak and gullible kings, but that’s the situation back in the mortal realm at his time.”
“Unfortunately for him, he’s dealing with me now.”
“Tell the escorts to take their time. Meanwhile, send word to Lord Harken to have him be ready to appear at the moment’s notice.”
Arthis nodded and quickly drifted away.
One minute later, in Limbo. “Manifest my projection in front of the people? Has the daolord of the asura come?” The Harken raised its head lazily and snorted, “I didn’t think he’d actually dare to come… It appears that his fear for Hell has dwindled substantially after these last hundred years. Indeed, there is truly nothing that cannot be erased by the effluxion of time. Well then… let’s give him a gentle reminder of exactly what he feared about Hell in the past.”
The Harken lowered his head lazily before abruptly opening his eyes again, “Do you think Yanluo Qin would actually conscript him?”
“Impossible! The daolord of the asura must die!” A man suddenly interjected before Arthis could even respond, “First of all, it’s important to note that back then, Lord Yue Wumu’s soul had been seized and taken by Crow Tengu and Black Yaksha back to the Nipponese Hell. When the Array of the Nine Gods finally collapses in future, the best way for the Cathayan Hell to gain prestige would naturally be to take down the Nipponese Hell.”
Arthis froze, and then her entire body trembled.
This voice… This voice is unbelievably familiar!
At once, she lay prostrate on the ground and worshipped wholeheartedly, “Greetings, Second King Yanluo of Hell! Long live the Second King Yanluo of Hell!!”
“Spare the formalities.” The Second King Yanluo of Hell didn’t even deign to glance at her as he continued, “Hell is presently well-placed to stem the perpetuation of the warring states era. Once broken, the Cathayan Hell will be completely different from before. Then, 150 years later, when the Array of the Nine Gods have finally collapsed, Cathay will have to take to the battlefields to establish its authority on the global stage. Nippon is naturally the best stepping stone in this regard. This was why I hadn’t approached Izanami back then. A mere peak Abyssal Prefect isn’t worth my time at all. This was also why she had the gall to come test the limits of the Cathayan Hell time and again.”
His explanation gave Arthis some food for thought. So that’s how it is… From what he’s saying, it would seem that the Second King Yanluo of Hell would only have wreaked havoc in the top four underworld in the netherworld. It does make sense. Given his pride, he would never stoop so low to visit the other lesser underworlds. Who knows, perhaps he might not even have visited the nameless god of death in Rus.
And would the gods of death ever deign to tell others about how they were sorely beat up?
Of course not!
Therefore, Izanami clearly doesn’t know a thing about this, and it would also explain why she is still desperately pushing Hell’s boundaries and testing Hell’s limits right now.
The Second King Yanluo of Hell continued, “Once Nippon has been flattened, Hell would once again receive the soul of Yue Wumu with open arms. Do you expect Yue Fei to get along with the daolord of the asura? If you had to choose, would you rather have Yue Fei, or Qin Hui?”
It was a rhetorical question.
“Qin Hui was the one who killed Yue Fei back then. In fact, you can even say that he single handedly caused the downfall of an entire dynasty. The thousands years he’s spent in the depths of the path of the asura would only have amounted to propitiation of his sin of causing the downfall of the Song Dynasty. There’s still the heinous crime of plotting and killing the hero Yue Fei. Let’s see what my successor decides in this regard.”
Arthis kowtowed deeply to the Second King Yanluo of Hell. Then, almost as though something clicked in her mind, she suddenly queried, “About Fate--…”
“I’m the one who wrote his name.” The Second King Yanluo of Hell responded unapologetically, “If he’s displeased with the outcome, he can take it up with me personally.”
… I’m pretty sure Qin Dogballs would never have the guts to even consider something like that…
Just then, Arthis gasped once more, because it just dawned on her that Fate was nowhere to be seen this time. “Then…”
“It’s begun.” The Second King Yanluo of Hell murmured softly, “We’ll see the results of Fate’s orchestration within the next six hours.”
“And it seems like Qin Hui is the first pawn to make its move on this grand stage called destiny.”
The daolord of the asura followed his escorts and approached the city gate. But before entering the city, he was invited to head up the stairs on the side onto the top of the city walls. The path was complex and winding, and his gaze slowly grew more and more apprehensive.
The walls of Ashmound City were extremely large. Shanhai Pass was originally built along the Great Wall of Cathay, and the internal structure of the city was largely modelled after the nodes of the same. The passageways they took were all illuminated with torches of netherflames, and lined with all kinds of weapons hanging by the walls. From time to time, patrols of Yin spirits would pass them by.
Qin Hui wasn’t too well-informed.
He died a great sinner of his time, and the heinous crimes he had committed in life naturally caused him to quickly transform into an Abyssal Prefect. Soon afterwards, he was captured by the old Hell and banished to the depths of the path of the asura. Everything he knew had been entirely dependent on the insights disclosed to him by his “prison friends”. He knew nothing about the armor made from the blight vermin carapace worn by the Yin soldiers, but this didn’t stop him from appreciating the exquisite craftsmanship required to forge these sets of armor.
The defense of this armor is so strong that only Hellguards are able to breach it… and yet all of the Yin soldiers I’ve seen thus far have been equipped with it! The new government of Hell is only supposed to be at its infancy right now! How do they possess the wealth and depth of resources to manufacture these sets of armor with such abundance?!
Did they raid the old Hell’s treasury? No… that’s not possible! I’ve never heard of something like this in the old Hell before! What the hell is going on right now?!
He was confused.
He’d thought that the last hundred years of freedom would have washed away all lingering fear of Hell etched in the depths of his mind. Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless trip back to Hell had him trembling with fear once more.
His first impression of the new Hell was that it was only forcibly putting on a facade of strength, and yet… it was only when he made a trip to the new Hell that it dawned upon him how his own Yin soldiers could hardly hold a candle to the mighty forces of Hell!
Given that their soldiers are armed with such exquisite armor, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect them to have military formations up their sleeves?
And if they’re armed with military formations… there’s simply no way I’d be able to contend with the forces of Hell…
The three eastern provinces might be large, but the Yin soldiers under his command are greenhorns who had hardly experienced skirmishes of any sort, much less battles and wars against other underworlds. On the other hand, he could easily tell that the Yin soldiers of Hell were clearly battle-hardened soldiers.
To that end, thanks to Oda Nobunaga’s personal training regime, the experiences gleaned from the Yang Clan forces, as well as the battle of Qufu, the Yin soldiers located in Ashmound were clearly to be considered elites in their own right.
The daolord of the asura carefully scanned his surroundings as he continued walking down the passageway. None of the other Yin soldiers were slacking off nor abdicating from their responsibilities in the slightest. Such discipline… The more he saw, the more alarmed he was. He addressed his mind to the overall defenses of Ashmound City for a fleeting moment, and then promptly shuddered.
I’m afraid there’s no way I’d be able to take Ashmound City as it stands right now - not even if I mustered every single Yin soldier I have stationed across all three eastern provinces.
What do I do… What do I do? What in the world should I do right now?!
“Sir.” Just then, the Yin soldier leading the way turned back and cupped his hands respectfully, “The meeting point is just ahead. Please.”
“Al-...alright.” Qin Hui smiled faintly. Then, he reached into his sleeves and pulled out a bunch of Yin spirit stones before stuffing them into the hands of the Yin soldier. However, his attempts were soon rebuffed by the Yin soldier who promptly looked back with a wary expression, “Sir, kindly refrain from such actions. The punishment for bribery is the sky lantern punishment.”
With that, the Yin soldier cupped his hands respectfully and left calmly.
The daolord of the asura froze in place, completely dumbfounded.
Why does everything here appear to be running like clockwork, and with such immaculacy?!
Did Ksitigarbha’s ascension cause only the elites to vanish into thin air? Is the foundation of Hell still as solid as ever before?
The strength of my army is by no means a match for these Yin soldiers! No… quite apart from the Yin soldiers, just the Harken itself is more than sufficient to completely level my forces!
Why in the world did I have to run off my big mouth and insist on visiting Hell?!
I’ve been had...
The daolord of the asura trembled all over.
Yanluo Qin… His acting skills are top-notch. He must have done everything to lead me on. I’ve been dancing in the palm of his hands all this while!
At once, his mind was filled with the notion of retreat. But as soon as he turned back, he immediately paused.
I wonder if the Harken is really here? And if so… wouldn’t I… be doing myself in by running away?
An expression of bitter astringency crept onto his lips, and he hung his head low as he walked stiffly up to the city tower.
Sometimes, intelligence was a bane.
With intelligence came the prospect of overthinking matters. Conversely, a simpleton might well have come to a completely different conclusion.
Tap… The daolord of the asura slowly ascended the city tower. The nethergale swept by, gently tousling his clothes and hair. He glanced to the left.
And then, he glanced to the right.
Regardless of where he looked, he could tell that the entire city of Ashmound was unbelievably developed and brimming with culture. Next to this, his own underworld in the three eastern provinces was far too lacking. This was a clear sign that Yanluo Qin had managed Hell incredibly well. Having once been a chancellor, he knew all too well the impact of a giant city like this on the surrounding regions.
It was a mess. His plans and his mind were all in a mess.
Just then, he saw a figure in the distance, standing at the head of the city and taking in the sights and sounds of Spider Lily Island. The figure wasn’t large by any means, but his heart still skipped a beat.
He promptly marched over. Meanwhile, Qin Ye had also noticed the approach of the daolord of the asura. As the daolord closed the gap, so did Qin Ye secretly tighten his grip around the spear tip that was tied to his forearm and concealed under his sleeves.
But before he could even say a word, the daolord of the asura promptly threw himself onto the ground and gave him a resounding kowtow, “Great Sinner Qin Hui humbly greets the King Yanluo of Hell.”
What have I done? I’d best brace myself for what is to come…
Meanwhile, Qin Ye stared dumbfounded at the daolord that was laying prostrate in front of his very eyes. Isn’t he an Abyssal Prefect?! He’s as strong as the mightiest warrior back in the mortal realm! How could he just… kneel down and prostrate himself before me like that?!
Indeed, Qin Ye did have the intention of giving Qin Hui a rude shock in order to soften him up for submission. But he never expected things to go as smoothly as this.
I mean… what in the world is going on in his mind?!!Previous Chapter Next Chapter