Three weeks later. Xu Yangyi rubbed his chin with surprise as Qin Ye cupped his hands respectfully before him. “That’s impossible…” Xu Yangyi glanced at the club resting beside his bed with confusion. He clearly couldn’t come to terms with the situation.
“It’s been six weeks since I’ve started imparting to you the knowledge pertaining to Hell’s legacy, and I could tell that you clearly exhibited a surge in your intellect in the last three weeks. But that’s simply impossible! It violates all laws of human growth and development…” Xu Yangyi furrowed his brows as he stared at Qin Ye, “Or are you simply being motivated and driven by stress? Did I not put sufficient stress on you previously?”
“... Now you’re just being presumptuous…” Qin Ye’s eyes twitched wildly as he quickly placated Xu Yangyi with a flattering smile.
Xu Yangyi didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he frowned and thought for a moment, “Yesterday, I taught you about your function of administering laws. Why don’t you give me a quick rundown of that, together with the function of Abyssal Prefects?”
“No problem.” Qin Ye chose his words carefully, “Prefects can be likened to the deities in the heavenly court. Some are in charge of managing the sun, moon and stars, while some would manage the change of seasons. Likewise, the primary function of Abyssal Prefects in Hell lies in the execution of punishments for sin.”
“People sin, and they would be meted out punishments commensurate to the extent of their sins. Abyssal Prefects are in charge of punishments, with each Prefect in charge of a specific type of punishment, some of which would be carried out in the lives of these sinners in their subsequent lives.”
“For instance, the sinner might be sentenced to death by drowning, fire, hanging, and so on and so forth. Each Prefect is in charge of a different punishment, and they may also be addressed by their expertise, such as the Drowning Prefect, or the Karmic Fire Prefect, or the Anguish Prefect, and so on and so forth. On the other hand, King Yanluo’s function deals more with the measure of punishment.”
“To that end, the Yanluo has the power to determine the measure of punishment applicable in each instance, such as whether a person should simply suffer a minor burn, or be put to death, as well as the measure of pain and suffering to be inflicted. In a nutshell, while Prefects are the masters of individual punishments, the Yanluo is the one who decides what the punishment is. Furthermore, the Yanluo has the right to overturn the conviction of all Prefects. Finally, the Yanluo has access to the vital information and particulars of all persons, including their date of birth and death, and the things they have done in their lives…”
He glanced at Xu Yangyi’s expression, and then continued cautiously, “I’ve given it some thought. The function of the heavenly realm seems to lie in the movements of the planetary bodies, including when the sun rises, when the moon sets, and when the seasons come and go. The function of the mortal realm lies in the fact that it acts as a foundation to both Heaven and Hell, supplementing both realms with power through faith. And if that is the case, then Hell’s function could only be likened to the clock - accurate to the minutest seconds. Hell is the realm that keeps the world flowing like clockwork in accordance with the natural laws of the world. I wonder if I’d be right to say something like that?”
Xu Yangyi gazed deeply at Qin Ye, and then nodded with approbation, “You’re getting the hang of it. Generally speaking, that is correct. But as for the specifics… well, I’m sure you’d come to deal with it in due course.”
And then, he sighed, “I’d never expected you to go above and beyond what you’ve been taught. You’re truly outstanding.”
“It’s all because I had a good teacher.” Qin Ye smiled with much flattery, just like how Qin Hui used to smile at Qin Ye.
That said, Xu Yangyi couldn’t help but feel goosebumps creeping up all over his skin, and he promptly massaged his temples, “Speaking of which, why’d you suddenly become so enlightened in recent times?”
… Is it not because I’m seeking your validation? Qin Ye grumbled in his heart, but continued to smile genially, “Oh, it’s nothing. It’s just that Teacher has been working so hard, and I’d be letting Teacher down if I don’t learn well.”
Are you sure?
Xu Yangyi raised his eyebrow quizzically. Then, after some deliberation, he probed, “You have something to ask of me?”
“Do I look that objective driven to you?” Qin Ye straightened his body, as though insulted, “I’ll handle any hiccups myself. How could I possibly stoop so low as to wag my tail pitifully, begging for assistance?!”
Alas… you actually would do something like that… Xu Yangyi understood Qin Ye’s nature, and therefore nodded in a non-committal fashion.
Here it comes!
There’s always a ‘but’!
Xu Yangyi’s eyes wavered slightly as he saw Qin Ye pull out two airplane tickets, “It would be winter in two months’ time. I’d have undergone studies for a full term by then. Logically speaking, it would be about time to take a winter vacation…”
Xu Yangyi raised a brow curiously.
I’ll play along with you.
“To repay Teacher for all of his hard work, I’ve made the decision to tap into public funds and sponsor an all expenses paid trip for Teacher to visit the Daehan Tower!”
Qin Ye’s voice rose with enthusiasm, “You might not know where the Daehan Tower is, but surely you’ve heard of the Daehan show, My Love from the Star, or Legend of the Blue Sea! That’s right, the Daehan Tower overlooks an entire city below! It’s practically a place of pilgrimage!”
“Just imagine standing up there, gazing down on the sprawling city below, while the lights of the city and the stars in the sky blend into each other across the horizon. Meanwhile, you’d even experience the cool night breeze in the company of refreshing beauties! Don’t hesitate any longer! Brother, come with me!”
Xu Yangyi nodded, and then got straight to the nub of the issue, “And where might the Daehan Tower be located?”
Xu Yangyi chortled, “Not bad, huh… To think that the eminent Third King Yanluo of Hell has even mastered the art of bending time and space over this short span of time! Do you think I don’t know a thing about the geography of the world?”
“... What do you mean bending time and space? I don’t get what you’re driving at… Anyhow, this is merely a goodwill offer to send you on an all expenses paid vacation. What are you talking about?”
Xu Yangyi nodded, “Not too shabby. But did you notice that your reaction has changed?”
Qin Ye: ???
Xu Yangyi continued, “Two years ago, your first reaction upon encountering trouble would’ve been to hide and avoid. Now, even though you’re still a coward--... I mean, although you’re good with matters of self-preservation, you still choose to seize the opportunity to make the first move.”
Qin Ye paused for a moment, and then he chuckled bitterly.
That’s right… I’ve unknowingly changed.
Had this happened even a little while ago, I’d most certainly have resisted all notions of travel, before finally embarking on the journey under Arthis’ wrathful gaze anyway. But now, notwithstanding the fact that I’m still incredibly worried about the things to come, I’d still chosen to make the first move.
Even though inviting the Second King Yanluo along with me was a rather bold and blatant move, at least there were no longer any thoughts of shirking responsibility or escape.
He hadn’t noticed the change in his heart because of how it had happened gradually over time. But if one simply compared snapshots of it, it was undoubtedly different.
“You’ve got something that you’ll need to confront, so I won’t be going along with your suggestion.” Xu Yangyi flatly refused, “If I’m there, you’d always have that reliance on me, and you’ll never develop a sense of independence. Unfortunately, the fact remains that you’ll have nothing to rely on in just two months’ time. You’ll be on your own, and left to your own devices entirely.”
“Let me reiterate - Tsar Arturo definitely has a hand in the establishment of the Hanyang underworld. In all likelihood, he might even be personally involved. Therefore, this would be the best opportunity for you to watch and learn how a true god of death casts myths and fabricates miracles. There are equivalent organizations to the Special Investigations Department in Daehan. Nevertheless, the Tsar has still managed to succeed in his purposes. Such field observation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Miss it, and you’ll never know which supernatural incident is a natural occurrence, and which is one that was orchestrated by a god of death.”
Qin Ye frowned, “But… wouldn’t we already be heading down after the event?”
“Not necessarily.” Xu Yangyi replied, “It’s only been a year since the last imperial court meeting. Daehan might be small, but miracles still take time to grow and nurture. Sure, there may be special means that can accelerate the process, but that would likewise leave countless telltale signs around for you to pick up on. Moreover, casting myths is a long-term process. It’s not something that can be done once and for all.”
He glanced at Qin Ye’s sullen expression, and then sighed softly, “Ah, fine.”
With that, a talisman materialized out of nowhere and flew straight into Qin Ye’s chest, where it glowed with a brilliant radiance, before promptly fading away.
“With it, you’ll be able to contact me on three separate occasions. Remember, it only allows you to ask me a question, and not to make a move. So long as I’m still within the boundaries of these three realms, I’ll definitely answer your call.”
Qin Ye placed the palm of his hand across his chest, and then nodded. After several seconds, he muttered, “I’d like to take leave from now until November.”
“Many thanks.” Qin Ye cupped his hands respectfully, and then vanished from sight. When he next appeared, he had already arrived back at the imperial office.
He sat down, took a sip of tea, and then gnashed his teeth with regret.
He had earlier thought to ask whether he could borrow an artifact or two to smoothen the process, but he couldn’t find it within himself to speak those words.
Xu Yangyi had never offered to protect him.
What he was about to do was merely an extension of his duties as the King Yanluo of Hell. Therefore, he knew better than to beg and grovel.
“Did I really choose to confront the problem?!” He slapped his hands hard on his cheek and pulled a long face, “That’s not right! This isn’t like me at all! I didn’t even realize it until I said it myself! Am I being possessed by something?!”
The Hungry Ghost Festival had marked the end of an era in his heart, and the beginning of another.
And since he’d already made the promise, then there was clearly no reason for him to shirk responsibility any longer. Thus, he began to wrack his mind about the things he needed to pay close attention to in the upcoming visit to Daehan.
This was going to be the new Hell’s debut appearance on the international stage. The significance of this was self-evident. The international stage… was the true arena on which Hell was to shine. It was only a matter of time that Hell reclaimed the glory due to it. A quick recce now of what was to come later certainly wouldn’t harm anybody. He could even return Xia Jinse’s favour along the way.
“Arthis is right… I can’t let anyone know about our relationship. Otherwise… I wouldn’t be repaying the favour. I’d only be placing her in even greater danger.”
And this led to the first premise.
If he visited Hanyang with a great procession led by gongs and drums, then every single move he made would most certainly be subject to close scrutiny. That being the case, it meant that it was far better to travel light and head there alone, or at best with few people.
“Besides… the New Hell doesn’t even have a troupe for ceremonial processions…” He bumped his head against the surface of the table several times. Had there been one, would a peacock like Qin Ye truly be willing to head out alone?
Since Liu Yu dared to send the invitation straight to Hell, he would most definitely have responded with the most luxurious honor guards to dazzle and blind Liu Yu’s eyes!
Over the last month or so, he’d learnt that the King Yanluo of Hell used to travel in a grand manner. The head of the honor guard were all Infernal Judges. The first 300 Yin soldiers marching in the procession would hold majestic flags bearing the emblem of the Harken, followed closely by 1,000 more Yin soldiers bearing the colours of Soaring Serpents. Finally, there would be another 500 Yin soldiers bearing the flag of the xiezhi unicorn. Meanwhile, musicians, drum bands, humanoid paper effigies and the like would march alongside the flag bearers in a glorious procession.
Sure, the Harken could create a huge procession in the likeness of the processions of old. However, the splendour of the old Hell didn’t lie in the numbers that made up the procession, but more in the materials involved and symbolism with it. It was impossible to counterfeit such opulence and majesty!
How could a genuine procession ever be compared with one constructed out of Yin talismans?
In fact, it would be completely inappropriate to fabricate a fake procession right now. Liu Yu might be fooled, but it was going to take far more than that if he were to fool the man acting in the shadows, Tsar Arturo.
He was the lord of the underworld of one of the three largest religions in the world.
He was a true, blue Yama-class god of death lording over his underworld.
And his underworld was one that was filled with renowned generals and ministers on a completely different scale than what the Nipponese underworld was like.
“There’s no way I’d be able to conceal it from him…” Qin Ye raised his head slowly, revealing slightly bloodshot pupils. He squinted slightly, “Tsar Arturo is orders of magnitudes more experienced than I am, and he would know full well how Hell’s procession should look like. He’d be able to tell at a single glance if I were pulling a fast one on him. If he dares to reach out to me through Liu Yu, there’s a good chance that he’ll be there himself!’
Qin Ye gritted his teeth, and his gaze grew stern and harsh, “I’d be a laughingstock of the world if I even do something so silly as attempting to pull a fast one on him. Rather than that, why don’t I sink deep into the shadows and go with just a couple of attendants? That way, we can leave everyone guessing what Hell’s intentions are, and I can even ride on the information asymmetry to my advantage!”
After all, Cathay had traditionally always given others the impression that it was the land of gold. Nobody would ever believe that Hell was lacking just because their King Yanluo decided to dress shabbily for once.
Travelling light was his last resort, but it was also the best move available to him right now. And since there were no other options, then the next best thing to do would naturally be to make preparations for every step of this journey.
After all, travelling light would necessarily also mean that security would be weak. Assassination atttempts… were things that couldn’t be simply glossed over.
Seconds later, he picked up King Yanluo’s Token and infused it with his Yin energy. In an instant, several men answered his summons and appeared in the room.
“Your humble servant, Assange, Special Lord of the Manchuria County City along the Cathay-Rus border, greets the esteemed King Yanluo of Hell.”
“Your humble servant, Liu Changhe, Special Lord of the Springlight County City along the Cathay-Rus border, greets the esteemed King Yanluo of Hell.”
“Your humble servant, Pei Shao, Special Lord of Brisk County, Longsky City, located along the Cathay-Rus border, greets the esteemed King Yanluo of Hell.”
Previous Chapter Next Chapter