His words were sharp and incisive.
“Does that mean I should go?” Qin Ye long to give this a miss, but he knew he had to seek confirmation from Xu Yangyi at the very least.
Of course I don’t want to go!
Isn’t this a huge embarrassment?
I wasn’t able to retain a feudal official under my command, and he’d instead struck out on his own and founded a whole new underworld! How could I even have the nerve to show up?
“Go.” Xu Yangyi responded placidly.
“Alright, then I’ll reject--... WHAT?!” Qin Ye turned back as though he’d seen a ghost, “Are you throwing me under the bus just because you’re no longer going to be around?! Let me make this clear - whoever wants to go can sign up for it! I’m not going!”
Xu Yangyi rapped the table and spoke slowly, “You did well at the last imperial court meeting. Liu Yu wouldn’t have the guts to send out such an invitation on his own. That would be tantamount to courting death.”
Qin Ye relished in Xu Yangyi’s praise for a moment, before his eyes flickered wildly, “Are you suggesting that… someone is trying to contact us through Liu Yu?”
Their thoughts were clearly now in sync. Qin Ye went on, “The only underworlds in the East that are qualified to send invitations directly to the King Yanluo of Hell are Nippon, Hindustan and Rus. Geographically speaking, it couldn’t be Hindustan, because they’d never pick an underworld so far away from them. And after what just happened, it couldn’t possibly be Nippon. Izanami is probably still cowering in fear. This leaves us with only one other possibility…”
Both men locked eyes and exclaimed in unison, “The nameless god of death of the Russian Orthodox Church!”
But Qin Ye quickly furrowed his brows, “Why is he reaching out to me? And why do it through Liu Yu?”
“Who knows?” Xu Yangyi muttered softly, “International politics are mercurial in nature. Relations between underworlds can change in the blink of an eye, and there can be a multitude of reasons for which they’re looking to contact you. If we take things at face value…”
He picked up a lychee and tossed it casually into the air, “They might simply be testing you. Or perhaps they can’t hold back any longer.”
“Can’t hold back?” The prospects of a thought like that caused his heart to skip a beat, “Is there… any way to keep them restrained?”
Xu Yangyi turned back and began to look around. At once, Qin Ye blurted at the top of his voice, “Hey, what are you looking for? Something tells me that I’d really like you to remain focused on the task at hand here. Could you kindly stop?”
Three seconds later, Xu Yangyi retrieved his club and leaned it against the side of his bed, “Sorry, what were you saying earlier? I didn’t quite catch you there.”
“... What I meant is that if they can’t hold back any longer, then bring it on!”
Xu Yangyi cast Qin Ye a look of approbation as he sighed, “Cathay and Rus may share much of its borders, but they rarely have any territorial disputes. That said… ‘rarely’ isn’t quite the same as ‘never’.”
“The Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island and the Abagaitu Islet were both hotly contested territories that ended up in a compromise with Cathay and Rus each taking a part of each. You should already be aware that even if there are changes to Hell’s geographical appearances and features, the size and shape of its territorial boundaries would never shift on its own. In other worlds…”
Qin Ye gasped, “Hell and the Russian underworld… are also facing some insignificant territorial disputes that can easily be glossed over?”
Arthis couldn’t stand it any longer, and she immediately barked at Qin Ye, “Watch your words! Every bit of land is just as important and precious to Hell as any other! We should fight for every bit of land under our control!”
On the other hand, Xu Yangyi couldn’t even be bothered engaging Qin Ye on this front. Over the last three weeks, his interactions with Qin Ye had given him new insights about the Third King Yanluo of Hell, and he couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed.
“Don’t underestimate the nameless god of death.” He tossed the lychee in his hand up and down for some time, “He keeps a low profile, but his abilities are by no means any weaker than the gods of death of the other major underworlds around the netherworld.”
“Of course I’m not underestimating him!” Qin Ye rolled his eyes, “Just tell me whether you want me to go or not, and how you’re going to guarantee my safety!”
Xu Yangyi thought for some time, and then slowly made a grasping motion in the air. At once, a gemstone-encrusted sword materialized out of nowhere and fell right into Qin Ye’s hands.
“Back then, he was able to hold out for ten moves against me. Even Anubis didn’t hold out for any more than thirteen moves against me. I’d taken his accessory sword as a symbol of my victory. You may return it to him. Once you do, I’m sure he’d have no choice but to hold back with whatever demands he’s making.”
Now, that’s more like it… Qin Ye smiled brightly as he grabbed hold of the sword and tugged it into his possession… but to no avail.
He tried again, and failed once more.
The sword didn’t budge one bit.
“The odds of success in casting myths depends largely on the depth and breadth of your experiences.” Xu Yangyi was no more than 20 centimeters away from Qin Ye right now, and he gazed deeply into Qin Ye’s eyes, “You have to make the trip to Hanyang.”
“Liu Yu is showing off. The establishment of any underworld is contingent on the growth and proliferation of faith in them. Otherwise, that underworld is bound to crumble and collapse in no time. Liu Yu isn’t properly clothed with the authority to cast myths, nurture faith and create a god. And since he doesn’t have the authority to do that, it must necessarily mean that someone must be helping him out from the shadows. These are functions that can only be executed by equivalents of the King Yanluo of Hell. Given the geography of the Hanyang underworld, the only person who could possibly achieve all this has to be the nameless god of death.”
“He must be sending you an offhanded message that he currently has the favor of the nameless god of death of the underworld of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This is only to be expected. After what transpired at the previous imperial court meeting, he’s clearly aware that he would have to curry the favor of another major underworld if he’s looking to maintain his independence in the world. Unfortunately, within the East Continent, Hindustan is too far away, while Izanami is simply too capricious, unreliable and weak. By elimination, the only one who could possibly help him cast myths is naturally none other than the nameless god of death.”
“This is a direct challenge against your authority. Moreover, there’s always a price to pay in exchange for dependence on the bulwark of a foreign nation. No matter how unwilling he might be, Liu Yu would most certainly have disclosed a thing or two about the new Hell to the nameless god of death. But that’s just as well… You’ll be able to watch and learn how a true god of death would cast myths and proliferate tales of legends and miracles. Only the most well-thought out, complete and fail-proof miracles would reap the most converts and give rise to a surge in believers and faith. I think… this might just be the perfect learning journey for you.”
“Ah, that’s right.” Xu Yangyi finally released his grip on the sword and leaned back onto his bed, “The nameless god of death isn’t actually nameless. Every god of death out there knows his true name, so don’t just address him as the nameless god of death. You’d be a laughingstock of all underworlds out there.”
“Tsar Arturo Hanks.”
“That’s his real name.”
Qin Ye’s surroundings soon faded away. When everything became clear again, Qin Ye discovered that he was once again back in his underworldly office.
But he didn’t leap right into action. Instead, he slowly ran his finger along the scabbard of the gemstone-encrusted sword for some time, before revealing a bitter smile on his face.
I’ve still got some ways to go…
To think that the Second King Yanluo was able to decipher that much information from a single statement. He’d even been able to determine who my next opponents may be, and what I can learn from them. Such elegant moves and decisiveness is clearly borne out of his wealth of experience as a King Yanluo of Hell.
Besides, Qin Ye could tell from Xu Yangyi’s tone of voice that he was absolutely certain in his deductions.
Qin Ye shook his head in dismay, and then turned to inspect the sword in his hand.
He pulled hard on the hilt.
And yet… it remained lodged in its scabbard.
“Only a Yama-King can unsheath this sword.” Arthis’ voice rang out from beside him, “Speaking of which… are you really going to respond to the invitation and go to Hanyang?”
“Of course...” Qin Ye tossed the sword onto the table helplessly, “Liu Yu is flaunting it before me. He’s waving it in my face, telling me that he’s got his arm wrapped around the thigh of the Tsar. If I don’t go and make an example of him, then… I’m sure more would follow soon after. Gao Changgong, Han Qinhu, and the rest who have declared independence would soon pledge their allegiance to the god of the Hindustani underworld. And when that time comes, not even the Yang Clan would be able to do a thing about the chaos that would ensue.”
Arthis nodded with understanding, “Are you sure… it’s not because of Lee Jung-sook?”
Qin Ye glared at her.
He hated the fact that Arthis was just like a pesky roundworm that knew him inside-out.
Meanwhile, Arthis gave Qin Ye a contemptuous glance - Kiddo, don’t you realize that I’ve got you all figured out?
“That’s just a secondary benefit, understand?” Qin Ye sighed, “But seriously, I wouldn’t be able to rest in peace unless I see for myself how she’s doing right now. After all… I owe her.”
“Uhuh.” Arthis’ expression stiffened, “And then, what happens after you see her?”
“Of course we’ll tell her all about her previous life! Don’t you worry, someone like her would never allow others to take advantage of her as soon as she recalls the painful past she’s been through. That way, I’d have paid off my debt to her.”
“Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Arthis lowered her voice, “You’d better not let word get out that you’re related to her. Otherwise… you wouldn’t be repaying your debt to her. You’d be… setting her up.”
With that, she stepped out of Qin Ye’s office.
The room was filled with silence again. Qin Ye picked up the reports on his table and began to look through them. All of them already had the Harken’s endorsement, and he was just looking through the documents to get up to speed once again. But, several moments later, he discovered that he simply couldn’t peel his eyes off the report that Arthis had placed on the table.
It was an official diplomatic document.
The intentions were clear. It was an invitation issued to the King Yanluo of Hell, inviting him to witness the opening ceremony of the Hanyang Underworld. It was even sealed with their own unique seal.
A seal that was designed in the likeness of the Harken.
“You rebel against your motherland, and still have the gall to invite me as a witness to the opening ceremony of your underworld? Liu Yu… you truly leave me with no other choice…” Qin Ye gently flipped over the invitation and chortled bitterly.
In that instant, Qin Ye had already made a mental note in his heart to sentence Liu Yu to death.
So what if he’s strong? I don’t want to suffer a fate like Cao Cao did…
“How dare you reach all the way back to Cathay and give me a tight slap across the face? Do you really think that I wouldn’t be able to do a thing to you now that you’ve gotten yourself into the Tsar’s good books?”
With that, Qin Ye crossed his arms across his chest and sank deep into his own thoughts.
It was only a matter of time anyway. That said, I’d never expected to be forced to deal with external powers so quickly!
Unfortunately, the confrontation on the international stage had come so quickly and stealthily that Qin Ye simply didn’t have the time to prepare himself for it. And this issue was particularly aggravated by the fact that Cathay still hadn’t managed to establish its global intelligence network. To make matters worse, Cathay had been absent from the international stage for the longest time.
Naturally, other underworlds were already beginning to scheme and ploy.
Is this invitation also going to be used as a sounding board to test Hell’s readiness to emerge onto the international stage?
Qin Ye furrowed his brows, and then slumped back in dismay. The future… seemed bleak.
Hell was currently at its weakest across a timespan of thousands of years. Qin Ye didn’t possess any capacity to deter Arturo. And without deterrence, how was he to make a statement?
Things are going to be different from when I dealt with Qin Hui. The daolord of the asura has been suppressed under the six paths for the longest time, and the fear of Hell runs deep in his marrows. All I had to do was to gently nudge him over the edge, and he would easily cave. But Tsar Arturo… is a True Yama-class Yin spirit. He has to be well read and knowledgeable, and I would never be able to bluff my way through this one. Strength is a prerequisite on the international stage.
He massaged his temples for some time, wracking his brains to think of means to deal with the troublesome situation, but to no avail.
This was the first time he was going to confront a true god of death!
As the newly-minted King Yanluo of Hell, he simply couldn’t afford to reject an invitation that had been sent straight to his office!
“Forget it, I’ll deal with them as they come. Besides, there’s at least the silver lining of learning how to properly cast myths and fabricate miracles…” He stood up and sighed wistfully, “I’ve still got two months until the end of October. That’s just right. I’ll get properly acquainted with the functions of a King Yanluo, and then, I’ll go meet Liu Yu and this legendary nameless god of death of the Eastern Orthodox Church!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter