Xu Yangyi glared at him with a grimace, almost as though he were saying - Go on. I dare you to continue with your grand performance.
“I’m only doing this because the atmosphere in this place is far too tense… The best way to go about moral education is connection and proper engagement of the students…” Qin Ye muttered sheepishly. What the hell is wrong with this man?! How can he be so easily aggravated? This is a conversation between two King Yanluos, is there really a need for everything to be so somber and grave? I’m seriously doing my best to liven the atmosphere around here, so can you please stop being a downer on my parade?!
Xu Yangyi closed his eyes, took a few breaths and then proceeded to speak once more. But this time, he kept his hands wrapped tightly around the hilt of his sword.
“Faith stems from belief.” And then, he appeared to suddenly change the topic, “Myths were born because there were just far too many things that math and science simply couldn’t explain. Myths and faith are two sides of the same coin, and faith is incidentally the foundation of all underworlds out there! The best proof of this is the disappearance of countless underworlds since the beginning of time. Some were besieged and razed to the ground, either by way of being overrun completely, or perhaps with the death of their god. But more often than not… they fell to the test of time.”
“With the effluxion of time, the community that first thought up and promulgated the notion of their god of death no longer believed in him nor spread the word about his existence. With the diminishing number of followers, it was only a matter of time that their god of death and their underworld crumbled and fell over time. This is one of the reasons why the older underworlds tend to be the more powerful ones as well. It is precisely because they stood the test of time, and they have a core group of believers and followers.”
“Yanluo Qin, now, I’d like you to think about the current situation in Cathay. Do you think that time’s on your side? No… the situation surrounding Hell is as imminent and critical as it gets! This is one of the main reasons why I’d spared no punches in forcing you to come to the realization of what exactly your function as the King Yanluo of Hell is. The fact that you weren’t able to conceal your identity from the mortal realm puts your cover at risk, but it is likewise a prime opportunity for you!”
“Restore faith in the King Yanluo of Hell! Etch your name into the annals of Cathayan mythology! This is the one opportunity you have in which you can easily surpass both Bo Yikao and I. Seize the opportunity!”
Qin Ye’s breaths grew ragged at once.
He recalled what Xu Yangyi had mentioned just a little while ago - it was the notion of ‘casting myths’!
Something told Qin Ye that Xu Yangyi was going to segue straight into the core of this topic.
Xu Yangyi’s voice sounded calm, but it was patently clear that he was suppressing a deep sense of excitement in his heart. Even the air about him trembled softly in tandem with his stirring emotions. He continued, “Think about it - every single Yin spirit in an underworld, including their functions and roles, have their roots in the myths promulgated back in the mortal realm! This is the reason why it is often said that the mortal realm is the foundation on which the other two realms of Heaven and Hell are built! Without myths and legends, there would be no Heaven and Hell. So long as people ceased extolling the works of their gods, there would be absolutely nothing to which the might of Heaven and Hell can be built upon.”
Qin Ye paused, and then began to scrunch up his face in deep thought.
If, indeed, things are as Xu Yangyi said, then Cathay might well be facing a huge crisis right now.
Cathay was still reeling from the effects of the cultural revolution. Cathay had risen from the ashes of it all, abandoned everything that it deemed to be of little value to its development, and turned to believe fully in science. Unfortunately… it had gone a little bit too far.
Faith and superstition were hardly distinguishable concepts. How many mortals were there in Cathay who were still able to distinguish the two and live properly by faith? Most of them would hold shallow beliefs in the supernatural at best, praying only when it was convenient or when an emergency struck.
There was no one left to tell the stories of myths and legends.
If not for the fact that these stories were still recorded in books and treatises, ingrained in practices, and used as the building blocks of moral education stories in schools for children, then perhaps… there might not even be many who could still distinguish between the Three Religions in Cathay.
“Do you understand it now?” Xu Yangyi tapped gently on the rim of his teacup, “For too long, Cathay has languished in its state of feudal governance. Given its intense desire to keep with the times, Cathay has subtly decoupled society from its cultural heritage, including its belief in myths and legends. I’ve personally seen some visions of the future in the instant that Hell collapsed. Had I halted the process of collapse back then and allowed things to go on as they had been, I’ve got no doubt that Hell would undoubtedly cease to be considered one of the four superpowers of the netherworld in no more than 500 years’ time.”
Qin Ye sighed.
“You’re just exaggerating, aren’t you?” Qin Ye responded softly, “Sure, Cathayans might turn to medical science and medicine when they fall sick or grow old, but they’d likewise also make their trips down to the temples to pray for blessings.”
Xu Yangyi shook his head, “That’s still not enough.”
“I’ve got to admit that the western underworlds are doing far better than us in this regard. While we are languishing in cultural disconnect, their religions and faiths are growing stronger than ever. In fact, I can even sense that… Thanatos is already showing signs of another breakthrough…”
He gave Qin Ye a grave look, “It’s not possible for the old Hell to reshape faith, because it had already taken a certain form and shape. This is something that only you can achieve!”
“This would constitute immense merit to the continuation of Hell. So long as you can succeed in this… such an achievement might even propel you straight into the ranks of a Yama-King!”
“Besides, your success would mean that faith is restored to the mortal realm, and Hell would thrive stronger than before. Incidentally, I’d like to remind you that Ashmound City isn’t where the core of Hell lies. The true core of Hell still resides in the City of Salvation! Haven’t you noticed that the City of Salvation hasn’t expanded for the longest time? The primary reason for this is that the lack of faith brings about impurities in the Yin energy in Hell!”
Qin Ye frowned, “What difference does it make? I’m the lord of the entire Hell. What does it matter if I treat Ashmound City or the City of Salvation as the core of Hell?”
Xu Yangyi shook his head, “This is the first lesson of Hell’s Legacy that I’m going to teach you more about.”
“The first city of Hell is also the embryo of Hell.”
“What does that mean?”
Xu Yangyi chose his words carefully, “Are you aware that… back during Bo Yikao’s era, there were only two divine artifacts of Hell - the Judgment Pen, and the Book of Life and Death.”
“It was only during my reign that I created King Yanluo’s Seal, the supreme divine artifact that can suppress the entire existence of Hell.”
Qin Ye nodded softly, and then everything clicked in place, “Are you saying that… these artifacts… were all forged using an entire city?!”
Xu Yangyi nodded.
“Some other conditions would have to be met for the development of such artifacts, but believe me, there are some things I can see and have seen that you still can’t. There currently already exists many ‘primordial’ level existences in the underworldly city back in the City of Salvation. But you don’t have to be too concerned about these things for now. In future, once you become a True King Yanluo of Hell, I’ll return to Hell once more.”
“... Didn’t you say that you aren’t going to be able to return?” Qin Ye glanced at the longsword in Xu Yangyi’s hands.
A terrifyingly awkward silence.
A split second later, Qin Ye coughed dryly and revealed a flattering smile, “About that… I couldn’t help it… couldn’t help it…”
Xu Yangyi promptly retracted the cold gaze in his eyes and continued, “The second and more important lesson of the two is that you have to do everything you can to play catch-up. The show of force is the common language between underworlds. We’ll need to have the Immortal Sanction ready as quickly as we can. Otherwise… you can count on it that in 150 years’ time, you would never be considered an equal to the other underworlds.”
Qin Ye nodded.
It was the same in the mortal realm. Put your nuclear weapons on the table, and we’ll talk.
“And to that end, nuclear weapons have to be built upon the fission and fusion of Yin Talismans, which in turn are highly dependent on the existence of faith.” Xu Yangyi finally concluded, “Therefore, faith is the most important ingredient in the continuity of the Cathayan myths and legends.”
“If Hell is to catch up to the other underworlds, the only way is through sowing the seeds of faith and casting myths and legends!”
“This is also the most important function of the King Yanluo of Hell. In fact… you can say that it is the only function that is unique to the King Yanluo of Hell!”
Qin Ye mulled over Xu Yangyi’s teachings with great caution. He would never make the same mistake as he did with Cui Jue’s Law of Yin-Yang Coaction again.
Once was more than enough.
“The only function that is unique to King Yanluo…” Xu Yangyi leaned back and allowed Qin Ye to ruminate over his lessons and slowly digest them. After a long time, Qin Ye looked up with a glint in his eyes, “Doesn’t this imply that other emissaries, such as Abyssal Prefects and Infernal Judges, also have their own unique functions?”
“You can say that.” Xu Yangyi nodded affirmatively, “Infernal Judges don’t have their own functions, but Emissaries of Hell from the ranks of advanced Abyssal Prefects and upwards would have their own unique functions. You can think of them as various aspects that govern the law of the land, such as how seawater’s function is to nurture life, or how large trees constitute the foundation of an entire ecosystem.”
Qin Ye didn’t ask for it in greater detail. After all, Xu Yangyi would undoubtedly have told him more about it had it truly been necessary. And if he didn’t, then it would simply mean that these details could all be found in the written records of the old Hell.
After pondering for several more minutes, Qin Ye got to the nub of the issue, “So, how am I supposed to go about developing and promulgating faith? By creating miracles?”
Xu Yangyi nodded in satisfaction, and finally released his vice-like grip over the hilt of his longsword, “Faith is the hope of miracles. All you need to do is to continue revealing your hand through the work of miracles, and people would naturally have faith. It is only human to be amazed by the unknown and inexplicable, and such amazement is the ideal soil on which to sow the seeds of faith.”
With a wave of his hand, countless stories of myths and legends appeared in the void around them. He pointed at them and continued, “And the core of faith is belief… and an encounter with god!”
“Let me start with this question. What do you think is the best way to get people to believe?”
Qin Ye glanced at the various popular titles of the myths and legends that have been promulgated through time. And then, his eyes brightened, almost as though he’d finally grasped something, “Manifestation of a vision?”
“That’s right!” Xu Yangyi paused for a moment, and then continued, “These days, people subscribe to the maxim that ‘seeing is believing’. In other words, unless they see it with their own eyes, they’d never believe in hearsay! Unlike in ancient times, when stories of old were passed down from generation to generation, we currently live in a time when the key to faith is through visions!”
Qin Ye rapped the table with great realization.
No wonder I started hearing the prayers of people as soon as I became an Infernal Judge!
My identity had already begun to spread through various means in the mortal realm back then. Even the heavenly dao was reminding me of the core function that was unique to the King Yanluo of Hell!
“The appearance of your name on the ancient artifacts is already a miracle in itself. Seize the opportunity and ride the wave, and you’ll be known throughout the mortal realm as a living myth!”
“That said… this isn’t everything. In fact, it’s only a small part of the process of sowing the seeds of faith.” Xu Yangyi glanced at the words in the sky, “After all, you’re but one man.”
“There are limitations as to the number of prayers you can answer. You’d have to pick the ones that are most significant, or the ones made by supplicants of the highest status and influence, or the ones most likely to be celebrated, or the ones with the greatest impact. Thus, what’s more important is actually the second point that I’m driving at - revealing a true miracle.”
He turned back with a brilliant smile, “What do you think myths and legends all have in common?”
Qin Ye shook his head, obviously hoping to obviate the need to think for himself.
Xu Yangyi smiled, “Two parties.”
“Of all myths and legends, at least 99% of them comprise at least two parties, or two sides.”
“One party would act as the protagonist of the story, while the other would generally act as the antagonist. For instance, in Hou Yi’s story, one faction is the struggling mankind, while the other is the antagonistic suns.  Naturally, if we’re going to create myths and legends, we’d have to put ourselves in the position of the protagonist.”
Qin Ye frowned. He didn’t understand what Xu Yangyi was getting at.
Nevertheless, Xu Yangyi simply smiled, “Then, with the protagonist present, don’t we need the other faction?”
“For instance… a powerful evil ghost emerged from the abyss and ravaged a city, and the King Yanluo of Hell appeared when all hope was lost, trampling on the evil ghost and banishing it to the pits of Hell where it belonged. What do you think of… this script?”
Qin Ye raised his eyebrow quizzically. And then, his pupils suddenly shrank.
He finally understood what Xu Yangyi was getting at!
He was suggesting that Qin Ye creates supernatural incidents on a large scale to promote the saviour that is the King Yanluo of Hell!
This was the means of promulgating myths that Xu Yangyi was getting at!
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