Hungry Ghost Festival. It was 4.50 a.m., and yet the skies were already turning bright with the faint glow of dawn.
Nobody knew what Fate had in store for them. There could be pain, yet there could also be pleasure. It was a series of unexpected encounters. Qin Ye had never expected Lee Jung-sook to be crying out to her for help in the darkest moment of her life. He hadn’t expected Black Yaksha to still have yet another ace hidden up his sleeves. And most of all, he hadn’t expected to encounter the folks of the Special Investigations Department in these far-flung parts.
They were the last people that Qin Ye wanted to see tonight.
What do I do?
Qin Ye hesitated.
Save Lee Jung-sook, and they’ll likely recognize who I am. Forsake her… Qin Ye gnashed his teeth. He knew full well that Lee Jung-sook wouldn’t die for good, but he still wouldn’t be able to live it down.
Granny Meng had once mentioned that she had chosen him because he was a man of principles. And now, in these crucial times, his principles were manifesting themselves.
Lee Jung-sook wouldn’t die because she was a lady who had consumed the taisui fungus. However, that didn’t change the fact that she had once risked her life to save Qin Ye, and he was now in the position to do the same for her. If he didn’t act upon his principles right now, this would undoubtedly be a decision that would eat away at his soul from the inside for eons to come.
He hated being caught in a bind like this.
Don’t say a word. So long as I don’t say a word, nobody would be able to recognize who I am. I’ll dispose of Black Yaksha as quickly as I can, and then take Lee Jung-sook and depart from this place. At best, I’ll just resign from the Special Investigations Department tomorrow…
He had finally made up his mind. He raised his hand, summoning a flaming spear that materialized from the Yin energy around. A chorus of ghastly wails filled the skies with every step he took. The tip of the spear scraped along the surface of the ground with showers of sparks. He slowly approached the cloud of Yin energy.
“Who are you?” The female voice asked with great caution, “There’s nothing I don’t know about high-ranking Emissaries of Hell, but I’ve never heard of you before.”
Don’t answer her… Qin Ye gnashed his teeth and picked up his pace. His steps quickened, and he soon began to sprint full speed ahead! The tip of the spear carved a deep groove across the surface of the ground, and netherflames erupted and soared into the sky!
He found himself suddenly filled with complex emotions. In the past, he would have run at the earliest signs of trouble like this. But now… he was actually brandishing his spear and charging valiantly towards the enemy in front of him!
Have I changed?
Perhaps I have. But perhaps this is also why people say hard times make a strong man.
Qin Ye leapt straight up from the ground and allowed the copious amounts of Yin energy to surround him. At once, his body became faint and illusory, but his eyes continued to stare through the darkness with piercing golden flames. He raised his spear above his head. The sky began to thrum with fury!
Whoosh! A scarlet figure plunged straight down from the sky.
This was strength that was in the realms of an Abyssal Prefect. He’d borrowed the strength of the daolord of the asura. His movements exceeded the speed of sound, causing sonic booms to crash through the air. Not even Zhou Xianlong and Mo Changhao could see the trajectory of the spear. Everything happened just like a frightening bolt of lightning! But with a loud clang, the spear bounced right off the surface of its target!
Black Yaksha had spun rapidly on the spot before the spear could strike him, and then exploded into a cloud of Yin energy that quickly sank deep into the ground.
With an eerie howl, and the surrounding shadows suddenly surged towards the cloud of Yin energy in the ground as though they were being drawn by a magnet.
There was a soft, foreboding rustle, almost like a death knell in the wee hours of the morning. Within moments the shadows in a thousand meter-radius poured towards the cloud of Yin energy and transformed into a ten-meter large vortex.
“Ahhh…” “Arrrghh… It hurts…” “I don’t want to die…” “Save me… Save me!!!” A multitude of anguished cries echoed from the depths of the vortex. Illusory faces of suffering humans emerged from the heart of the vortex, before soon being consumed by the swirling madness once more. Everything slowly drew towards the heart of the vortex.
Both had their own reasons for not dragging things out, and they were clearly letting their actions do the talking.
A second later, with a flash of bright light, the horrific vortex of Yin energy was split cleanly down the middle. It ceased spinning for a moment, and then exploded into two clear halves!
Yin energy and netherflames poured out in all directions at once, sweeping away the cloud of Yin energy that was concealing Qin Ye’s appearances, only to reveal the fact that the spear in his hand had now taken the bizarre shape of a scythe. Apart from that, there were spirit streamers all around him and even a necklace of human bones. The clashing Yin energy caused his illusory form to flicker wildly. His clothes and garments appeared to be sublimating, as though steam were rising straight into the sky. Within moments, the sublimating Yin energy transformed into countless birds that twittered loudly as they fluttered around him.
And then, the world suddenly plunged straight into darkness.
Absolute darkness. And without any warning.
It was just like a person journeying through the stormy oceans, or trudging through rice paddies in the midst of a storm. A terrifying nethergale tore through the darkness. Right then, a massive eye opened up in the void right behind Qin Ye.
The eye had vertical pupils, and the glistening surface reflected the image of a lady in black kimono. An entire field of red spider lilies bloomed all around her.
“SSS!!!” With a deafening shriek, the eye bulged out from the darkness and turned completely bloodshot. And then, a slit tore open along the body of the kimono-garbed lady, revealing… a colossal mouth!
Just then, the massive eye vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. But that all lasted only for a split second, before countless scarlet eyes began opening up in the vast canopy of darkness around!
It was just like the most terrifying of nightmares.
It was just like being lost in an eternal river of darkness!
Countless birds poured around in all directions, almost as though it were a torrential downpour!
Zhou Xianlong and Mo Changhao gasped in horror. Mo Changhao clasped his hands together, causing a scarlet talisman in his hands to promptly transform into a white armored barrier. At once, an endless barrage of sound struck the surface of the barrier, causing copious amounts of true energy to fade away into the darkness.
“Hang in there… Hang in there!!” Zhou Xianlong gritted his teeth and poured his true energy into the barrier without reservation. Clink! A blinding crack appeared on its surface. Clink, clink, clink!!! Following that, the single crack promptly grew into a web of cracks, almost as though it were a piece of glass that had shattered in an instant!
CRASH!! Within ten seconds, the entire barrier shattered with a resounding crash. At once, the investigators within were thrown everywhere, and the terrifying rainstorm of Yin energy soon rushed straight towards them!
Just then, the darkness abruptly vanished, and the moon appeared in the sky once more. At some point in time, Qin Ye had appeared right behind the eye and plunged his spear right through the center of its body.
That said, his efforts appeared to be worthless.
Everyone could see the amount of strength he was exerting. The veins on his hands bulged and popped up, yet he remained unable to cleave the scarlet eye in half. He was standing no more than a hair’s breadth away from the eye. And then, the eye suddenly spoke up once more, “Neither of us can get the better of the other.”
“The witching hour is before us. Let Black Yaksha go, and I give you my word that he will never set foot in Cathay ever again! I’ll even give you a huge gift at the end of this year!”
Her voice was urgent. She knew full well that it wasn’t going to be long before an even stronger force arrived.
Qin Ye smiled.
And then, he pushed the scythe a millimeter deeper into the eye.
“Your death… would be the best guarantee to that promise.”
Crack! The kimono-garbed lady in the center of the eye tightened her grasp around the blade of the scythe and continued with a vile, twisted expression, “Aren’t you afraid of the witching hour? There’s no way we’d be able to decide the victor among us without tussling for another few hours! Why are you so hell bent on Black Yaksha’s death?!”
“Only death…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth as he mustered every bit of strength in his body to plunge the scythe that much deeper, “Would quell the fury in my heart…”
Just then, a bright light erupted from his bosom and soon coalesced into the form of a scale suspended in mid-air.
It was the Harken’s scale.
Incidentally, a rooster crowed in the moment that it appeared. The first light of dawn peeked through the dark of the night.
5.00 a.m. The witching hour.
The twinkling stars in the sky had begun to retreat behind the cloud cover in the sky. The land was glowing with a faint sheen of sunrise. In that instant, the Harken’s voice boomed in Qin Ye’s mind, “It’s five.”
Qin Ye frowned.
What is he getting at?
But before he could go on, he suddenly felt a stir in the Yin energy, almost as though the tides were shifting once more.
The tide of Yin energy rose and fell like a roaring dragon weaving through the tight spaces in the city. Then, one by one, the lanterns carried by the Yin spirits in the city began to get snuffed out.
Qin Ye sent his consciousness swimming through the city to where Hell’s gate was located in an instant. The gates were slowly shutting. Countless Yin spirits were staring at him with both longing and awe, yet not a single Yin spirit dared to approach Hell’s gate altogether.
“What’s this…” His mind was filled with a bad premonition. Without missing a beat, the Harken’s voice boomed in his head once more, “Hell’s Gate can only be opened or closed by you or the representative that you’ve clothed with the authority of Hell. As things stand, you don’t possess the capacity to confer such authority on Yin spirits. Therefore… you’ll have to personally see to the closure of Hell’s gate.”
Qin Ye gasped as he stared the monstrosity before him in the eye, “And what if I don’t close it?”
“Then these Yin spirits that have been exposed to the purest Yin energy of Hell would remain in the mortal realm, where all of them would slowly but surely develop spiritual intelligence. All of them.” The Harken paused, “We’re talking about approximately 300,000 to 400,000 Yin spirits. There’s been an instance in history that Hell’s gate wasn’t closed properly. In just six short months, that city was transformed into a city of the dead on earth.”
“This is your responsibility. It is the responsibility of the King Yanluo of Hell. You must shut the gate of Hell before 6.00 a.m. And the process of closing the gate takes 30 minutes.”
Qin Ye took a deep breath and stared at the eye with deep murderous intent. The kimono-garbed lady in the eye turned to look at Qin Ye once more, “Give me Lee Jung-sook and Black Yaksha, and I’ll leave at once! I won’t stand in the way of your duties!”
She hurriedly added, “Apart from that, I’ll even undertake to have the Nipponese underworld offer 50 million tons of Yin spirit stones as compensation, plus the best replicas we have of the Kusanagi Sword, the Eight-Foot Mirror, and the Jasper Magatama, together with a stack of the best talismans we have.”
“Conversely, if you don’t agree to these terms… then I’m not going to let you leave this place!”
Qin Ye gnashed his teeth. Damn it… How can I just let Black Yaksha off the hook like that?! Crow Tengu isn’t going to be able to act as the foundation of the six paths of reincarnation on his own. That’s only possible in their Susa Boy incarnation. Besides… how could I let them off after they’ve disrupted something as important as the Hungry Ghost Festival?! How could I let them off that easily?!
“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll have my way by force?”
“You might be an Emissary of Hell, but you’d be wise not underestimate us mythical creatures!” The lady gnashed her teeth as she tightened her grasp around the blade of the scythe. This was the manifestation of her resolution. This was the only way she could return with Black Yaksha alive!
“You should know full well that you aren’t able to purge me!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter