Qin Hui had indeed gone back down to Hell.
However, the Yin spirits still had a handle of his last known location.
And they still rushed here as quickly as they could. Their arrival meant that what used to be peaceful and quiet was now completely tumultuous!
It was like the arrival of crashing waves!
Qin Ye blinked his eyes blankly. In an instant, he understood everything.
Lee Jung-sook… How ruthless. To think that she would bide her time for an opportunity with such patience until that very instant when Black Yaksha’s mind was completely distracted. Black Yaksha must have been astounded by the fact that I was a living Emissary of Hell, and subconsciously let his guard down in that very instant. It was also at that time that she held up her pistols to Black Yaksha’s head.
Then, she probably traded positions with her guardian spirit as soon as she landed on the ground. She must be hiding among the sea of Yin spirits right now. As someone who straddles both the mortal realm and the netherworld, the Yin spirits would treat her as one of their own, and she’d be completely safe from harm. On the other hand, if Crow Tengu and Black Yaksha were to locate her again, they would have no choice but to fight through the entire tide of Yin spirits to locate her proper!
Well done! Qin Ye smiled radiantly. Everything began to turn illusory, and a hellish nethergale began to swirl about him.
He had already begun to activate the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal as soon as Lee Jung-sook informed him that Black Yaksha was still alive. It had already been five seconds since then.
After ten arduous minutes of intense pursuit, he had finally caught the breathing room required to slip back to Hell.
Back in Limbo, where the Harken was.
A number of golden lotuses blossomed in mid-air. Ink dribbled down from its roots, flowing straight into fate’s brush tip as it continued to write the final act taking place during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Bit by bit, it wrote the script for the convergence of coincidences taking place back in the mortal realm. The Harken watched quietly from the sidelines, while an illusory figure leaned over the Harken’s head.
“My Lord… he wouldn’t be in danger, would he?” The Harken asked as it continued to read the script that was in the process of being written by Fate. Things were clearly coming to a head, and it couldn’t help but raise its concern as unease stirred in its heart.
“Perhaps.” The Second King Yanluo of Hell spoke without hesitation, “People… would invariably encounter twists of fate in their lives. Some would bring joy, while others would bring sorrow. Nobody’s life can possibly be completely smooth sailing. He must feel incredibly vexed at the amalgamation of confluences. But even then, it’s far better that he should suffer from the immense vexation now, than have the entire Cathay be deeply frustrated at him for the rest of time to come.”
“This is but only a type of cause and effect. Fate is only bringing forward the harvest of what he’s sown for himself. Of course danger wouldn’t be out of the question. After all, accidents are but part of Fate’s means of orchestration. That said…”
“You can rest assured with me around.”
As he spoke, Fate’s movements suddenly paused. It twitched slightly, but clearly stopped writing for a moment. Furthermore… the words composed of Yin energy slowly began to ripple, and then fade away.
“What’s this--...” The Harken was stunned. But before he could say anything, the illusory figure opened his eyes for the first time. Then, his body suddenly flickered, and he instantly appeared right next to Fate and held Fate in the cusp of his hand.
At once, a brilliant light erupted from Fate, almost as though there were an unseen power that was forcibly rewriting Qin Ye’s chapters of Fate.
The golden light flowed right out of Fate like a roaring tide, sending the Second King Yanluo’s clothes scattering everywhere. Even the Harken’s scales rattled incessantly. Fate struggled desperately in the hands of the Second King Yanluo, and it even let out an ear-splitting scream.
SSSSSS!!! The shockwave generated by its shriek caused the mountains that were located hundreds of meters away to collapse in an instant!
The veins along the Second King Yanluo’s hand bulged as he forcibly wrested control of Fate in its entirety. This was the man known to be the strongest among the three realms. He drew a deep breath, gave it a hard thump, and then bellowed authoritatively, “How dare you!”
Boom! At once, the space around them trembled softly, almost as though order was restored to the entire realm. Then, Fate… began to write once more.
The Harken gasped, and then asked, “My Lord… what was that?”
“King Yanluo’s Seal.” The Second King Yanluo of Hell shook off the tension in his hand, “Worthy of being called the top divine artifact of Hell. Had there been more than a single shard in Qin Ye’s control right now, I might not have been able to wrest control from it…”
“Earlier, he’d managed to find the time to activate the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal. However… I don’t want him to have it so easy.”
The Harken’s face twitched slightly, “My Lord… That doesn’t seem like a good idea, is it? The situation already seems rather critical…”
“Critical?” The Second King Yanluo sat like a statue and shut his eyes once more, “Critical is good…”
“It’s only in critical situations that one would grow impatient. Impatience begets a bad decision, and a bad decision… leads to pain. And it’s only when it hurts most that he would learn and understand.”
“Don’t worry, not even I can fully suppress a divine artifact. All I’ve done is to delay its effects… The destiny of a King Yanluo of Hell shouldn’t be written by Fate to begin with. Instead, we’ll let the natural order of fate take its course, whether it be the occurrence of an accident, or the resumption of Fate’s writing. Five minutes. If he can last for the next five minutes, then he’ll have the last laugh.”
The Harken grew taciturn. Moments later, it probed cautiously, “And… if he doesn’t last the five minutes?”
The Second King Yanluo responded placidly, “Do you still recall the rules of Hell as far as external forces are concerned?”
The Harken nodded, “An instance of infraction, a life of requital?”
The Second King Yanluo nodded, “Izanami’s biting off more than she can chew.”
Back in the mortal realm. Qin Ye’s smile suddenly froze.
Everything in front of his eyes was just about to fade away completely when his consciousness appeared to be wrested right back to reality!
“How is this possible?!” He glanced at his chest with disbelief. What could possibly interrupt the operation of the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal?
Unfortunately, it clearly wasn’t the time to be considering these things. Everyone hated change. But as soon as an exigent situation occurred, the best thing to do would be to confront it directly.
Without hesitation, Qin Ye turned and made off into the distance. It was clear that Lee Jung-sook had something that the two Nipponese emissaries needed. To that regard, it was also clear that one of the only things that both Qin Ye and Lee Jung-sook had in common was the fact that they had both consumed the taisui fungus. If Lee Jung-sook could no longer be located, the next best target was naturally Qin Ye!
As he ran, he pulled out the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal to investigate it further. He simply couldn’t understand what could possibly seal off a divine artifact like that.
Yet, to his dismay, the first thing he saw was the fact that the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal was covered with a layer of golden substance. It was neither Yin energy nor true energy, yet it was clearly of a quality far beyond anything that QIn Ye had seen before. And it was precisely this unique energy that had broken off the connection between Qin Ye and the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal, preventing him from operating it altogether.
“Five minutes?!” He sprinted at top speed, so much so that his muscles were even trembling.
Crow Tengu glanced at him, while Black Yaksha stared in the direction of Lee Jung-sook’s escape. A moment later, Black Yaksha raised his claws to the air and gnashed his teeth, “Damn it… DAMN IT!!!”
His clothes fluttered wildly with the terrifying roar of his. At once, he flew into action, making a series of hand seals so quickly that it left afterimages in its wake. Moments later, a black dot appeared underneath his foot.
Meanwhile, Qin Ye didn’t dare to look back even once. He could sense that Black Yaksha’s Yin energy was soaring to new heights beyond the realms of Infernal Judges and drawing infinitely closer to the realms of an Abyssal Prefect!
To make matters worse, Black Yaksha was standing right next to Hell’s gate. Naturally, escape through Hell’s gate at this point was impossible. The next best thing for Qin Ye right now was to immediately rush out and to rendezvous with the rest of his Yin soldiers. After all, they were all elites in their own rights, and they should easily have detected the clamour back here.
Unexpectedly, Black Yaksha and Crow Tengu didn’t move in the slightest. Moments later, Black Yaksha clasped his hand tightly, and a massive thousand-meter Yin vortex instantly began to swirl about him. Boundless ghastly cries echoed from within. Crow Tengu gasped in horror, and his hair stood on end as he cried out with great trembling, “You… hoo… Are you going to--...”
“Are you… hoo… unleashing the Voyage of a Hundred Ghosts?! Are you mad?!”
“I’m mad indeed…” Black Yaksha had reverted back to his half-dog half-human form. He basked in the roaring nethergale around him, and trembled wildly as he ran his fingers through his hair, “That’s right… I’m truly mad…”
“If we don’t find Lee Jung-sook, we’d all have to die!!” His mouth opened up a meter wide, and hundreds of scarlet eyes opened up in the void right behind him. At the same time, he grabbed Crow Tengu’s hand, and both figures instantly transformed into a nethergale that quickly melded deep into the swirling vortex around them.
A prickling sensation of crisis quickly rushed up the nape of Qin Ye’s neck. The situation is devolving quickly… Black Yaksha and Crow Tengu’s Yin energy are both soaring wildly! They might well just attain a breakthrough right here and now!
And what was even more frightening was the fact that there were approximately one hundred spots in the vortex where Yin energy appeared to be rapidly coalescing, each of which exuded an aura bearing the qualities of an Anitya Hellguard!
Moments later, with a startling roar, a monstrosity approximately ten meters tall rose up from the heart of the terrifying vortex.
The creature bore two heads, one resembling that of Crow Tengu, and one resembling that of Black Yaksha. Its entire body was bursting with sinewy, red muscles, while sparse white hair appeared to cover scant parts of its body. The creature was clothed with a tattered magus robe, and the Yin energy about its body… was actually in the realms of an Abyssal Prefect!
Qin Ye gnashed his teeth. He didn’t dare look back in the slightest. The monstrosity had clearly gone way out of its mind. The confluence of their fear of Hell and their rage against Lee Jung-sook had triggered their deployment of their strongest technique, calculated to crush, kill and destroy in the swiftest possible fashion. Yet the most dreadful part of all this was the fact that Qin Ye had no means of returning to Hell at this very moment!
A deep sense of regret gnawed at his heart. He hadn’t expected things to go south so quickly during the Hungry Ghost Festivals. His preparation had been far too scant. In fact, exigencies like this were dime a dozen in the case files of the old Hell. The lack of preparation was clearly remiss of him.
That said, this was hardly the time to be reviewing his own actions. There was no use crying over spilt milk. Instead, the best thing he could do right now was to look ahead and go with the flow. Thus, he ran at top speed to the outskirts of Lush Garden Acres, before finally glancing back to where he had come from.
It was horrific. He saw something right at his feet. The swirling black vortex appeared no different from an underworld on earth, and a bizarre figure had climbed right out of the vortex and appeared right underneath his feet!
“Hehe!” There was a shrill laugh. The first one to rush up from the ground was a middle-aged man wearing a kimono. He appeared to be bald, and he sported unkempt brows and a beard.
It was a dwarf. The garments concealing his limbs appeared to be illusory, yet Qin Ye could tell from the Yin energy about them that they were a hundred percent real.
It was a Hellguard.
A bona fide Hellguard.
To make matters worse, Qin Ye could recall seeing the image of a Yin spirit like that back in the records of the old Hell.
It was a Nurarihyon, a type of yokai. Legend had it that the Nurarihyon was a supreme commander among yokais, easily commanding a hundred yokais at once.
As the Nurarihyon appeared, countless other figures soon followed as they rushed up from the ground at the same time!
Some wore kimonos, some looked like spiders, some looked like succubi, some wore a terrifying Hannya, some were completely engulfed in netherflames, some carried a lantern and formed part of a procession of skeletons… At once, countless evil ghosts emerged in a chaotic dance of darkness!
As soon as the yokai appeared, they began to swirl madly about the chimeric monstrosity that was formed by both Crow Tengu and Black Yaksha. At once, a crimson vortex of Yin energy swept about the chimera! Countless balls of netherflames hurtled about wildly in the sky amidst the cries of Yin spirits. Yin energy spread far and wide, scattering well beyond the bounds of Martial City… Within moments, the entire region transformed into the domain of a living underworld! And the ten-meter tall chimera was clearly the master of this new domain!
A moment later, the chimera turned and looked right at Qin Ye.
1. Yokais are Japanese folk ghosts, of which Nurarihyon is a part of. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurarihyon
2. A type of Japanese mask used in Noh theatre. [ref] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannya