He glanced at the Second King Yanluo, only to be greeted by a gesture of invitation. He opened the scroll and glanced at it. At once, he did a double take on the words.
The title was written in striking red ink - Land.
It would be a mistake to think that this were a title deed, because the words that followed… were the names of countless people!
“Li Yun: Lord of Zhoufang County, Martial City. Identity: Forestry Administrator of the Zhoufang County.”
“Fang Dongshan: Lord of Hongxiang County, Martial City. Identity: Small-time boss at Hongxiang County.”
“Zhao Liang: Lord of Whitecloud County, Martial City. Identity: Medical doctor operating out of Whitecloud County Hospital.”
And the list went on for over a thousand names!
Qin Ye looked up and took a deep breath. If memory served him well, there were incidentally over a thousand counties across all of Cathay.
“The land that this refers to--...” He turned to the Second King Yanluo.
“Is exactly the one that you’re thinking of.” The Second King Yanluo smiled, “The mortal realm is the foundation of all three realms. Both Heaven and Hell are premised on the foundation of the mortal realm. Anything that occurs in the mortal realm would have to be immediately reported to the two upper realms, especially if it be a massive upheaval. This is because… the mortal realm is the weakest realm among the three realms.”
Qin Ye furrowed his brows, “Then, why--...”
“Why not resolve the problems plaguing Cathay?” The Second King Yanluo finished his question for him, “Have you ever seen the heavenly realm resolve the problems of the mortal realm of its own volition?”
“Everything under the heavens happiness for a reason. Conflict is bound to arise over time, and war and strife are but part and parcel of the natural occurrences in life. We’ve seen countless heroes emerge across the annals of history, and civilizations come and go, but has there been anyone in the upper realms who have interjected before? This is an unwritten rule. It matters not whether you’re a death god or one of the supreme deities of the heavenly realm, because the humans have to resolve their own differences and deal with their own affairs. The two other realms are not allowed to render direct assistance. This is also the reason why we never act out of line.”
He looked Qin Ye in the eye, “You must remember that the existence of gods and deities are built upon myths, legends and faith. This is the true foundation of all things. Such beliefs transcend the rise and fall of a city or even a civilization. So long as faith exists, so will gods and deities.”
Qin Ye nodded, and then proceeded to ask with caution, “Is this also one of the ironclad rules of Hell?”
“No, it’s just a casual remark on my part.” The Second King Yanluo chuckled, “It’s good to learn from one’s mistakes, but as far as this is concerned, it’s fine to keep it on the backburner for now. After all, the three realms are separate and distinct from one another. All you’ll have to do is to mind your own business. They’d… naturally come knocking on your door.”
Come knocking on my door?
Qin Ye stared at the Second King Yanluo. I’m not afraid of ghosts knocking on my door, but as far as gods and deities are concerned, I’m really not that certain…
The Second King Yanluo raised his chin towards the scroll in front of Qin Ye, “What did you think this was?”
“There exist many things across the three realms that cannot be resolved through the efforts of a single realm. Interoperation is a necessity. There are names of approximately 1,400 people written on this scroll, all of whom act as the eyes of Heaven as far as the mortal realm is concerned. They are otherwise known as the Lords of the Land. They have a divine appointment, but no divine abilities. If you liken the heavenly courts to the courts of the mortal realm, the Lords of the Lands would be no more than the smallest officials possible - almost akin to pawns on a chess board. Even then, they are the only line of contact between Heaven and Hell. So long as you have need, you may call upon the Lords of the Land.”
Qin Ye pouted softly - Are the Lords of the Lands such puny existences? But… I suppose it makes sense… Just look at how the Lords of the Lands are treated in Journey to the West…
“One thing to note is that you can currently only summon the Lords of the Lands in the mortal realm. That said, once you regain control of King Yanluo’s Seal, they would sense the resumption of order and annually provide you updates on the affairs of the mortal realm and Heaven. Beyond that, you’d even be able to activate King Yanluo’s Seal if you have need for them, and the Lords of the Lands would at once rush straight to the netherworld to answer your summons. Incidentally, each and every Lord of the Land is equivalent to a Soul Hunter.”
I see… Qin Ye nodded, and continued skimming through the names of the scroll.
Two words were written in striking red ink right after the 1,400 or so names.
And then, everything below was blank.
The Second King Yanluo responded slowly, “The City Gods are the only officials that Hell are able to appoint within the mortal realm. To better understand their function, it would be important to understand Hell’s system of governance as a whole. Hell employs a central governance system that operates top-down like a pyramid. It is differentiated by regions, starting from counties, then cities, provinces, districts, with the central government sitting at the very top. Every county is divided into two portions, namely the Orderly Desk, and the City God. The Orderly Desk is in charge of their territory in Hell, while the City God is in charge of the mortal realm. As far as the City God is concerned, its function is to monitor the emergence of any powerful evil ghosts, keep track of the mortality rate, keep an eye out for any foreign emissaries, ensure that the rifts between the mortal realm and Hell ar intact, ensure that no Yin beasts escape from Limbo into the mortal realm, and so on and so forth.”
“Every county, city, and province have both these functions. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the old Hell, the City God function in the mortal realm should have collapsed in its entirety as well…”
Qin Ye suddenly raised his hand and looked intently at the Second King Yanluo, “If memory serves me well, Ksitigarbha… had only whisked off the officials in Hell when he gained ascension, right?”
The Second King Yanluo nodded casually.
“Then… what about the 1,400 or so City Gods in the mortal realm?!”
“Are you telling me that there are now 1,400 rogue Yin spirits running loose across all of Cathay?!”
The Second King Yanluo smiled faintly, “About that… You’ll find out soon enough.”
“I’ve known for the longest time that Hell needs to be destroyed before it can be rebuilt stronger than ever before. Naturally, I’ve made some preparations as well. By my estimate, everything will become clear to you in approximately two years’ time.”
At once, Qin Ye had the urge of stamping his foot straight into the face of the Second King Yanluo for his annoying response. But, on second thought, he held himself back.
I can’t beat him… There’s no way I can beat him…
He turned his attention back to the issue at hand and slowly began to wrap up the scroll, “So, how should I go about appointing City Gods moving forward?”
“I’ll teach you these things in due course.” The Second King Yanluo smiled, “For the next two months, I shall remain here to teach you everything I know. You’d best be mentally prepared.”
Is tonight… finally coming to its close?
Qin Ye sighed wistfully, “Yes!”
Henceforth, I shall shoulder my responsibilities as the King Yanluo of Hell.
Bo Yikao had slaughtered his way through his competition before finally establishing the renowned Fengdu Necropolis that had stood the test of time. Although I’m neither as ambitious, nor filled with the same measure of grit, I currently stand on the shoulder of giants and ride on the coattails of my predecessors. Hell faces neither rival underworlds nor external pressure. There couldn’t have been a better start to my reign in Hell. If I still can’t follow in the footsteps of my predecessors despite all this, then I absolutely don’t deserve to have my name etched in the Records of the Three Realms!
There were times when a man would be filled with passion and ambition. But it faded away as quickly as it came, and Qin Ye chuckled with a bitter smile on his face.
Unfortunately, this epiphany had come a little too late.
Lee Jung-sook, as well as the hundreds and thousands of innocent Yin spirits were gone without a trace. Qin Ye would always remember this Hungry Ghost Festival as one of the greatest sources of regret in his life.
It was impossible to live life without regrets. After all, it was only through regret that one would learn to cherish and work with diligence.
Perhaps… life is made perfect because it is built on the foundation of regret… The bright gleam in his eyes gradually faded away. At once, he waved his hand and summoned the Book of Life and Death. Brilliant light erupted from within, and a split second later, a creature almost two-meters tall appeared in the imperial hall.
It unleashed a heart-rending roar as soon as it appeared - I’ve been captured… Why?! I’ve even used my hidden trump card, so why in the world am I still stuck in Hell?!
“You…” His teeth chattered wildly. But just as he was about to go on, he felt his heart suddenly awash with a frigid chill, and he immediately collapsed onto his knees.
“G-g-g-g-greetings, Second King Yanluo of Hell!! Greetings, Lord Harken!! Greetings, esteemed lord!!” He kowtowed desperately to the majestic figures standing before him.
Black Yaksha… The mere sight of this Nipponese Yin spirit caused a deep resentment to flare up in Qin Ye’s heart, and yet he did nothing more than reveal a soft smile on his face, “Raise your head.”
“This little one dares not…” Black Yaksha trembled. His heart was still beating profusely, and even the hair on the nape of his neck was standing on end. The Second King Yanluo was standing right behind him, and he couldn’t help but shudder in fear whenever he addressed his mind to the incredible might of his abilities.
And there’s also Lord Harken… A Yama-King and a King Yanluo… Even his bones were shaking uncontrollably. The pressure was so immense that he was practically on the verge of collapse.
“The Third King Yanluo of Hell has spoken. Did you not hear him?” Arthis barked coldly, “Or are you suggesting that Nippon already has the guts to refuse the orders of the Cathayan underworld? Do you think that the Immortal Sanction is no longer in existence?”
Black Yaksha’s heart skipped a beat, and he immediately prostrated on all fours and kowtowed three times before lifting his head softly. Even then, he dared not look directly at Qin Ye, and he simply glanced around at his surroundings with great vigilance and fear.
This is… the Imperial Palace…
It’s over… everything is over… He could sense that Crow Tengu’s soul was still intact, but his body had undoubtedly been crushed and destroyed. There was no more than a sliver of hope left in his heart.
I can only hope that our actions don’t implicate Yomi-no-Kuni… Otherwise, the use of Immortal Sanction will cause the entire world to tremble, and Yomi-no-Kuni… might cease to exist altogether…
He also felt incomparably grateful that the Second King Yanluo was no longer in power. Otherwise, the Second King Yanluo would most certainly have activated the Forbidden Art, Immortal Sanction without even giving Izanami the chance to explain herself.
It’s a good thing that the Third King Yanluo is willing to grant me an audience. There… there’s still hope yet!
I absolutely cannot allow these actions to implicate Yomi-no-Kuni…
Just then, he heard a cold chuckle, “You’re Black Yaksha.”
The voice was cold, but it was the immeasurable murderous intent hidden in his words that caused Black Yaksha to shudder uncontrollably.
“I’m a stain in the eyes of Your Excellency! I deserve nothing but death!!” Black Yaksha kowtowed resoundingly once more. In fact, he slammed his head against the ground so hard that his head cracked slightly, and Yin energy spilt out from within.
“Death penalty.” A tide of rage filled Qin Ye’s heart. Lee Jung-sook is dead because of you. She died before I could even repay her saving grace. She was forced by your hand to commit suicide!
Your actions have also caused the demographic dividends that Hell was supposed to reap at the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival to go up in smoke. Hundreds of thousands of Yin spirits have perished as a result of your actions! You’ve caused my meticulous plans to kickstart the Hungry Ghost Festival celebrations with a bang to become the laughingstock of the town!
And because of you… my identity was completely exposed to the Special Investigations Department…
“You knew full well that your actions would attract the death penalty, and yet you still dare intrude upon the sanctity of the Hungry Ghost Festival?! What gall does Izanami have?!!” Qin Ye’s murderous intent skyrocketed, and he slammed his fist hard onto the table. Black Yaksha shuddered and begged for mercy at once, “Your Excellency, this has nothing to do with Yomi-no-Kuni! Everything… everything was a result of my own wilful actions! I… I deserve nothing but death!”
“All I ask is that Your Excellency spares the Nipponese underworld! I… have sinned against Hell, and I beg for death! I pray that my death might appease the raging fire of fury in your heart!”
“May the esteemed Hell have mercy on us!”
With that, he began to kowtow repeatedly to Qin Ye, filling the entire imperial hall with the sounds of repeated thumps.
Qin Ye licked his lips and glanced at the Harken, “What’s the most painful death sentence that Hell is capable of?”
“Your Excellency.” The Harken bowed respectfully, “Under the current circumstances, the sky lantern punishment would be the most painful death sentence. But… there once existed another kind of death sentence known as the paper flower boat.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter