“On the day of the major ghost festivals, we would ignite the convict’s soul on fire and send it out into the Creek of Forgetfulness on a paper flower boat. The waters of the Creek of Forgetfulness cuts like a steel knife, scraping endlessly against the convict’s bones and corroding his marrows. Billions of Yin spirits flowing within the depths of the waters would tear away and devour his soul. The paper flower boat is incredibly small, and countless Yin spirits would be able to clamber atop the boat and gnaw away at his soul. Coupled with the waters from the Creek of Forgetfulness, the pain that we’re talking about… is over a dozen times worse than the suffering afflicted by the sky lantern punishment.”
Black Yaksha’s jaws dropped, and his mind instantly went blank.
“I happen to have in my possession some of the water from the Creek of Forgetfulness.” The Second King Yanluo added, “Speaking of which, this was a punishment that was first pioneered by Lai Junchen no less. What a cool guy…”
Qin Ye smiled, “Will he die from this? I still have use for his soul later on.”
“No.” The Harken smiled. “And this is the beauty of the paper flower boat punishment. The light in the middle of the boat would protect his soul and keep it from dissipating. The debilitation only eats away at his physical body.”
“And how long will the punishment last?”
The Harken sighed, “It depends entirely on the strength of the one who metes out the punishment.”
Satisfied, Qin Ye retracted his gaze and turned back to Black Yaksha, who was still trembling profusely. “Well, why don’t we invite the Second King Yanluo to do the honours today?”
Black Yaksha’s eyes rolled back at once, and he nearly passed out.
An intense wave of fear filled his heart, cutting off all measure of rationality from his mind, and he nearly shrieked at the top of his voice.
The Second King Yanluo of Hell?! Doesn’t this mean that I’m going to suffer until the end of time?! I won’t be granted any moment of reprieve!
“Certainly. It’s no big deal to me.” The Second King Yanluo waved his hand, and Black Yaksha’s body vanished without a trace. Nobody said another word about Black Yaksha, because they all knew full well that it was far worse to end up in the hands of the Second King Yanluo than Qin Ye.
Qin Ye heaved a sigh of relief. Then, just as he was about to rise from his seat, the Second King Yanluo suddenly shook his head, “Please wait a moment.”
“There’s something else on the agenda?” Qin Ye frowned. He wanted nothing more than to retire for the night and spend some moments of solace organizing his thoughts and regulating his mood before finally dealing with his official affairs.
Unfortunately, the Second King Yanluo nodded, “The ceremonial procedure requires all officials of Hell to pay tribute to the new King Yanluo of Hell as soon as he ascends the throne.”
Qin Ye nodded deeply, and then turned excitedly to Arthis and the Harken - Aren’t we all here right now?
“I’m not talking about them.” The Second King Yanluo turned back and glanced at the vast expanse of the skies, “I’m talking about the ones out there who are able to return to Hell.”
“In other words… I’m talking about the 1,400 Lords of the Land whose names you saw earlier!”
“Although they have no divine abilities, they are still the only ones from the heavenly realm who possess the ability to travel to Hell. I’m sure they must all be eagerly awaiting your summons right now. We… probably shouldn’t keep them waiting, should we?”
With that, he continued with a more authoritative voice than before, “The Third King Yanluo of Hell hereby summons the Lords of the Land for an audience!”
His voice wasn’t loud, but it clearly sent ripples travelling through the boundaries of Hell and straight into the two other realms. Meanwhile, the echo from his voice lingered endlessly in Hell.
He can directly transmit messages across the three realms without King Yanluo’s Token? Once again, Qin Ye discovered something new about the transcendent might of the Second King Yanluo of Hell. Ten minutes later, over a thousand pillars of light suddenly plunged straight through the vast canopies of the skies and straight into Hell!
Brilliant golden light emerged like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. Following that, several blurry figures stepped out from the pillars of light, drawing the attention of every Yin spirit within Ashmound City.
Back on Spider Lily Island. A Yin spirit was just screaming atop the roller coaster when he suddenly blinked vacantly and yelled at the top of his voice, “Look!! Look over there!”
“What’s that?” One of the Yin spirits gazed at the distant skies, “What the hell is happening tonight? T-this is the second heavenly phenomenon we’re witnessing tonight, isn’t it?”
“Is the sun finally shining upon the abysses of Hell?” “No… Perhaps it’s because one of the great officials of Hell has gained enlightenment!” “Could Yanluo Qin be introducing something new to Hell again?”
At once, the lands were filled with the chatter of speculation. What started out as the mere curiosity of a single Yin spirit soon spread to ten, and then a hundred, a thousand, and ten thousands!
Just then, the timbre of a clear voice suddenly echoed throughout the vast expanse of Hell, “Yuen Long, Lord of Muyin County, answers Hell’s summons.” “Zhou Chaofang, Lord of Zhenshan County, answers Hell’s summons.” “An Yitai, Lord of Heiliang County, answers Hell’s summons.”
Within moments, over a thousand voices introduced themselves with a grand and majestic voice.
On the other side of Spider Lily Island. Tang An’s jaws dropped, and he stared vacantly at the sky above Ashmound City some distance away. It just dawned on him that Hell was far more formidable than he had previously imagined.
The buzz of chatter quickly died down. Nobody had expected the incredible heavenly phenomenon to have been caused by thousands of Lords of the Land coming to pay tribute to the new King Yanluo of Hell.
“These are all Lords of the Land… The mythical existences known as the Lords of the Land…” Tang An exclaimed with a soft sigh as he felt a tingling sensation run down his spine. He glanced around at the Yin spirits beside him, only to realize that everyone was gazing intently at the magnificent sight some distance away.
This is what the mythical existence of Hell should look like! How can Kong Mo even begin to compare with this?
They might have thought highly of Kong Mo earlier, but that was because they hadn’t personally witnessed what the true Hell was like. But today, they had finally witnessed the grand arrival of the deities!
It was on a completely different scale from what Kong Mo’s counterfeit underworld could do!
Back on the city walls. Countless Yin soldiers watched with great disbelief as the brilliant eruption of golden light continued to dazzle the skies in Hell. And then, they turned to look at the front of the city tower, where countless figures dressed in pure white robes and jade crowns bowed deeply in reverent worship. At once, the hearts of the Yin soldiers stirred with pride.
The Yin soldiers didn’t simply comprise the regular Yin soldiers of Ashmound City.
It included the soldiers of the Yang Clan and Nobunaga’s Umamawari horse guard. There were even the other elite Yin soldiers that used to form a part of the defences of Shanhai Pass. Previously, Kong Mo would repeatedly assure the citizens that they were the one true Hell, but it was only Hell seized control of Ashmound City that they finally witnessed Yanluo Qin assuring them with actions, rather than words.
As far as they could see, the entire city tower was completely shrouded in a golden veil of light, almost as though a spotlight of the heavens were shining down on it.
It was glorious. At some point, one of the Yin soldiers couldn’t help but fall on one knee as he declared at the top of his voice, “May the King Yanluo of Hell reign for all eternity!”
That declaratory cry was like a catalyst that opened the floodgates. At once, the Yin soldiers standing on various parts of the city walls got down on one knee and filled the skies with their congratulatory roar, “May the King Yanluo of Hell reign for all eternity!”
Meanwhile, the 1,400 Lords of the Land remained completely silent as they continued to maintain a bowed posture towards the city tower. They comprised people of all ages, whether young or old, men or women. Back in the mortal realm, each of them were gods in their own rights. But here, none of them dared act brazenly.
After all, this was the King Yanluo of Hell? How could these lesser deities even consider acting out of line?
There was a pin drop silence. Several minutes later, a tide of boundless Yin energy erupted from the heart of the city tower.
It was towering as the skies, and boundless as the oceans. In an instant, the Lords of the Land bowed deeply in unison and roared at the top of their voices, “Lesser deities, Lords of the Land, extols the King Yanluo of Hell. May the King Yanluo of Hell reign for all eternity!”
A moment later, the Harken appeared right above the sixth floor of the city tower. With the snap of its finger, stairs that were 300-meters wide coalesced entirely from Yin energy began to unfurl from the sixth floor of the city tower and extend all the way to the ground. Then, it spoke with a lofty voice, “Greetings to all.”
It was only then that the Lords of the Land finally straightened their bodies and slowly marched up the Yin energy stairs as though they were treading on thin ice. Just like that, they marched straight into the sixth floor of the city tower.
They were immediately greeted by a lush red carpet adorned with accents of glorious gold. However, nobody dared raise their heads in the slightest. Instead, they knelt down as soon as they entered the sixth floor. A man who appeared incredibly old took a step forward from and lay prostrate on the ground, kowtowing as he spoke, “On behalf of the Golden Immortals, greater deities and lesser deities from the heavenly realm, this lesser deity, Sun Lifa, Lord of Chaoyang County, Yan Capital, sincerely congratulate to King Yanluo for your honourable ascension to the imperial throne.”
The Second King Yanluo was standing right beside Qin Ye. Qin Ye glanced at the throng of lesser deities paying their respects to him, and then whispered to the Second King Yanluo, “Does the King Yanluo of Hell rank very highly in the heavenly realm?”
“You’d be treated on the same level as the Jade Emperor. Both are considered the lords of an entire realm.” The Second King Yanluo lowered his voice to a hush, “This is nothing. Back in the glory days of the old Hell, we used to have a great pilgrimage every fifty years, where officials from everywhere would send greetings to the imperial throne of Hell. Back then, even getting through the congratulatory words was something that could easily take an entire day. Once you reassemble the King Yanluo’s Seal, you’d be able to communicate with the heavenly realm, and you might be required to head up to the heavenly realm whenever something important happens. At that time, you’ll come to realize that save for a handful of Golden Immortals, not a single one of them would even dare make eye contact with you.”
I see… Qin Ye turned back, only to realize that everyone below still had their heads bowed low. These are Lords of the Land - mythical existences that the mortals freely have access to. To think that all 1,400 of them would be here in response to Hell’s summons, and even be kneeling in reverence before me!
Is this the might of the King Yanluo of Hell?
Is this what it means to be the word of law?
Qin Ye wasn’t one who dreams about waking up to the world beneath his feet and his arms wrapped around the bosom of countless beauties. But now… he couldn’t help but savor the sweet, intoxicating first taste of power.
“What should I do?”
“Nothing. This is the first pilgrimage, so you can just sit back, watch, and learn. The Lords of the Land will pay you a visit every five years to brief you on any updates. You’ll have to do this on your own next time.”
Qin Ye nodded, and then sat upright, before giving a simple command, “Spare the formalities.”
It was only then that the Lords of the Land finally stood up. Yet, even then, they continued to keep their heads bowed low. Nobody dared to meet his eyes.
“Everyone.” The Second King Yanluo spoke at once, “Henceforth, I hand all my duties and responsibilities to Qin Ye, the Third King Yanluo of Hell. From today onwards, your allegiance shall be to him, and you shall work together towards the same goal, understand?”
“Very good.” The Second King Yanluo walked down the imperial hall, pacing silently, “From now on, you shall notify the Third King Yanluo should you discover any issues in the mortal realm. In your capacity as the Lords of the Land, you shall continue to cast and spread myths and legends about Hell to the rest of the mortal realm. Meanwhile, all disciples of the Lords of the Land shall be directed towards Hell and treated as believers in Hell as well. Do you understand?”
Casting and spreading myths and legends?
Qin Ye raised an eyebrow quizzically, but he didn’t say anything more. He continued listening intently.
“Now, we shall proceed with your individual reports. The Harken shall personally preside over these proceedings and adjudge your reports for any inaccuracies. Thereafter, you may leave your tributary gift behind and take your leave.”
“Yes, sir!” Sun Lifa responded on behalf of all of the Lords of the Land. Following that, they each retrieved a scroll from within their sleeves and held it up gingerly with two hands as they retreated to the sides of the imperial hall.
Qin Ye blinked vacantly, “That’s it?”
“Of course.” The Second King Yanluo responded indifferently, “Remember this - in their eyes, you’re someone no different from the Jade Emperor. Don’t act out of line.”
Qin Ye nodded. With that, he promptly took his leave from the Golden Palace.
The Second King Yanluo didn’t keep him around any longer. After all, he could tell that Qin Ye had a multitude of things to process from this eventful night.
It wasn’t so much that he had head knowledge to process. Rather, it was an entire paradigm shift that Qin Ye needed to wrap his head around. He needed to broaden his vision and look at the three realms from the perspective of one at the top.
He needed to digest what exactly it meant to be a King Yanluo of Hell, and how exactly he should behave moving forward.
“I hope that he would’ve embraced his role as the King Yanluo of Hell the next time I see him. I sincerely believe that he can do it.”
“After all, anyone who’s consumed the taisui fungus would have accrued sufficient life experiences to handle something like this. Even if they wish to simply cruise along, it wouldn’t change the fact that they’d already be equipped with all the right skills.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter