He looked over at Heaven’s Gate, only to notice four men dressed in ancient armor, wielding a longsword, a whisk, a lute, and a treasured fan. At once, they shuddered violently, before swiftly kneeling on one knee. Meanwhile, the rest of the immortals and deities drifting about also glanced down, right past the mortal realm and into the netherworld.
Following that, they swiftly got down to their knees and shouted at the top of their voices as well, “Glory to the new King Yanluo of Hell!”
Huh? Why are their voices filled with delight, almost as though they’re celebrating something? Second King Yanluo, what have you done to make them detest you so?
Qin Ye stole a glance at the Second King Yanluo, before promptly retracting his gaze and taking in the heavenly realms once more.
Slowly, his gaze traversed through each plane of the heavenly realms. The Heavenly Palace consisted of 99 floors in all, just like a majestic pagoda that was suspended in the air. Clouds drifted in and out of the palace, while golden lotuses would blossom out of nowhere, before fading away ephemerally. Within moments, the celestial citizens of the first layer knelt to the ground, followed by the second layer, and the third layer… Layer by layer, they all got down on their knees to pay their respects!
This was the praise of the Three Realms!
Qin Ye relished in these praises for several moments, before finally withdrawing his gaze altogether. It was only then that the Second King Yanluo finally turned to him, “How about it? Wasn’t that meaningful?”
Qin Ye nodded.
If one were to say that being appointed a successor to the Second King Yanluo had opened a door to a whole new world out there to him, then he would’ve just stepped through the door and taken a look beyond the screen behind the door for the very first time!
And this world beyond was so gorgeous and vibrant that he couldn’t help but be filled with excitement and eager anticipation!
“Henceforth, you’re officially the King Yanluo of Hell. You no longer have to call yourself a mere successor to the throne.” The Second King Yanluo spoke with complex emotions, “Unfortunately, your current welcome is still somewhat lacking. Back then, I recall that the Jade Emperor even sat me down on his throne and hugged my leg, begging me not to go…”
Thanks, but nobody asked. Please get lost.
“Now that the gods have borne witness to your ascension to the throne, the greatest difference you’ll see is that… the dangers you face will only increase. That said, there will be commensurately higher gains to be had as well.” The Second King Yanluo waved his hand, and a tea set appeared. He sat down leisurely, “Take a seat. We still have approximately one month of time.”
“Hang on… Why does your calculation of two months seem to be so vastly different from mine?” Qin Ye couldn’t help but complain, “It’s nearly been half a year since you’ve been freeloading off Hell!”
Doesn’t your conscience ebb away at your heart in the slightest?
The Second King Yanluo poured himself a cup of tea and raised his brows quizzically, “Didn’t I mention?”
“I’m talking about two months’ worth of time spent in Hell, not two consecutive months’ of time.”
Damn you and your loophole… Qin Ye crossed his legs and sat down. Then, he poured himself a cup of tea and looked up at the Second King Yanluo, “Speaking of which, Brother Xu, what exactly did you do to make the celestial beings so mad at you? I can sense their joy and delight at finally ridding themselves of your existence…”
“That’s not the main point.” The Second King Yanluo immediately interrupted with a conversation-ending phrase. Then, with another wave of his hand, a black scroll unraveled itself in the air, “Take a look at this.”
Qin Ye took hold of the scroll, and discovered that… there was nothing on it.
But, just then, a ripple swept through the surface of the scroll, and a scene depicting the night in which Qin Ye took over Hell began to play out on the scroll. Then, it went on to reveal every evil ghost he had crossed paths with, every major encounter, starting from the evil ghost that had haunted the Wang Clan, to his encounter with Cao Youdao, his encounter with the Harken, his first achievement of seizing Gu Qing’s soul, the battle at the Strait of Tsushima, the Battle of Qufu, and so on and so forth, until… now.
These events were all recorded clearly in chapters, and each chapter was signed off with a name.
The first one was signed off by someone known as the Gold-gilded God. Then, it was the Morning Star Deity. Then, they were the Gods of the South and North Pole, and after that, it was the Heavenly Sovereign of Spiritual Treasures!
As the chapters wore on, the names and titles of the gods endorsing their names only increased. Qin Ye mulled deeply over the names written on the scroll. In fact, towards the end of the scroll, it revealed the esteemed name of the venerable Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.
And by the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival, the name of the Jade Emperor himself was written.
The latest records of the script of death incident was even signed off with the name of the Yellow Emperor. And then, the black scroll ended there.
There was also a red check mark after the endorsement of each name.
“This is an examination.” Qin Ye took a deep breath and looked up at the Second King Yanluo, “When did it begin? And did these examinations only just end?”
The Second King Yanluo set down his teacup, and for the very first time, his voice was filled with a trace of coldness, “Ever since… Granny Meng approached you.”
“The name of this scroll is called the Records of the Divine Witnesses. It’s only when the master of a realm takes over under extremely special circumstances that this test will appear. The scroll is formed by the Heavenly Dao itself, and endorsed only by the great immortals in the Heavenly Realm. This would include the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, the Jade Emperor, as well as yours truly. Everything you’ve done thus far has been done under the scrutiny of these esteemed individuals.”
“Do you know something? During this time, there were at least three occasions during which the Jade Emperor had even made up his mind to completely erase your existence from the face of the earth. I was the one who told him to hold his horses and keep observing you for some time. In fact, there was even one occasion when he was actually already behind you with his spell technique primed to fire. So long as you’d made the wrong decision on the task ahead, he would have killed you there and then.”
“The throne of a master of one of the Three Realms isn’t something that you can take on callously. Every move you make will affect the balance of the Three Realms. I’ve mentioned before that everything is a test. Do you think it had only begun when you first met me? Do you think that I’ve got nothing better to do with my life?”
“Besides, do you know that if you’d not managed to obtain 80 marks in your final assessment pertaining to the script of death, I would’ve been left with no choice but to… erase your memory and pick out a new successor to the throne?”
“And if that happens, the Mythic Palace of Reflections will cease to exist. Ashmound City will disappear, and even the new Hell as it currently stands will vanish into nothingness. The Book of Life and Death will be lost to the next successor once more. Everything… will have to start all over again.”
Finally, with a long sigh of relief, his frigid expressions melted away, and he revealed a warm smile, “You’re very lucky. And you’re very diligent as well.”
“All of the tests have officially ended.”
“Congratulations, Third King Yanluo of Hell.”
Qin Ye stared at the Second King Yanluo with great consternation.
So… you’re saying that I’ve been walking along the edge of the precipice of death all this while?!
To think that these great celestial beings were able to condone my behaviour all this while… No wonder they’re often hailed to be beings of great mercy and patience…
“Seriously?” Qin Ye couldn’t help but ask with great disbelief.
The Second King Yanluo tapped the scroll. At once, a screen of light projected above the scroll, and the images wound back to the very beginning, when Qin Ye first encountered the Special Investigations Department.
This was when Qin Ye first purged the evil ghost in the school, and the image was focused on the investigator who was tracking Qin Ye that night.
That must have been… AC285, right?
But as soon as he left the scene, his entire body began to emit a white mist, before promptly erupting straight to the sky with a glorious beam of light.
Whoosh… Before Qin Ye could react in shock, he found the screen zipping straight into the hotel where he managed to purge the evil ghost that had been haunting the Wang Clan.
The image zipped through the entire incident until it came to the moment when the boss was eliminated. As soon as Qin Ye left and made his way up onto the roof, the boss suddenly opened his eyes once more and stared intently at the ceiling of the building!
His eyes were filled with a murky white colour, almost as though they were imbued with the ability of seeing everything. Then, as soon as Qin Ye returned after purging the evil ghost on the roof, he immediately set down his head and shut his eyes, almost as though he had never been awake before.
And there was even the Battle of Qufu, where an attendant hid on the ground floor of the Mythic Palace of Reflections, holding up his fingers as though making a series of complex calculations. A multitude of Yin spirits zipped here and there, yet not a single Yin spirit appeared to have even come so close to detecting his presence.
Every incident had been witnessed by an invisible figure. A being of light had remained hidden in the shadows, watching him furtively and observing his actions over the last two years.
“To be honest, there were in fact several candidates available to us from the onset. However, Granny Meng chose you of all people primarily because of your constitution.” The Second King Yanluo pinched his fingers, and the black scroll finally rolled itself up, “With each step that you took, you slowly revealed more and more characteristics that we’re looking for in the next King Yanluo of Hell. Naturally, the tests only grew more and more demanding over time. Obtaining my approval was the final step of the test.”
Qin Ye’s jaws dropped slightly, and he shook his head with great disbelief, “But--...”
“But haven’t you already completed your ascension after the Hungry Ghost Festivals, when the Lords of the Land worshipped you?” The Second King Yanluo shook his head, “You’ve never properly sat in the throne before, and your perspective is still too narrow and naive. Lords of the Land are but the lowest of the immortals. In fact, they’re not even considered immortals to begin with. At best, they’re trainee immortals. Are you satisfied with your ascension being witnessed by mere trainee immortals? Don’t you think that’s a little bit too lacking and even shameful to the Master of a Realm?”
“Granted, the Three Realms should never intermingle. But what happens when a sudden and dramatic change occurs in one realm? Shouldn’t the other two realms immediately render assistance? Relay such urgent messages through the Lords of the Land? Who are they supposed to be relaying the message to? Who’s supposed to make the call? And how are the realms supposed to cooperate?”
“That’s not realistic at all. The rule against mingling only applies to ordinary Yin spirits. There are still other unique means in which the upper echelons of each realm can communicate with each other, albeit only in special circumstances. This is no different from how the national leaders of the mortal realm have a special channel available to them to reach out to other nations in times of need. I mean… didn’t you suspect a thing when only the Lords of the Land came bearing gifts the last time?”
Qin Ye coughed dryly. He truly didn’t suspect a thing…
Who would’ve thought that such a straight-faced man would actually be deceiving me all this while!
It suddenly dawned on Qin Ye that there was still much to be learnt.
“What about the dangers and blessings that you’d earlier mentioned?” Qin Ye asked, desperately looking to turn the attention away from how lacking he was.
“It’s simple. Every realm has countless exotic treasures.” The Second King Yanluo sipped his tea placidly, “The mortal realm has mountains and swamps which conceal divine treasures and materials. The heavenly realm is blessed with treasures that promote longevity and even grant immortality. While Hell… contains treasures that reverse the flow of Yin and Yang!”
“Some of the things here might be useless to Hell, but they can be very useful to the mortal realm. For instance, do you know that the spider lilies here can increase the lifespan of mortals?”
Qin Ye blinked his eyes vacantly, “Legend of the White Snake? Was that the immortal grass that they were talking about?”
The Second King Yanluo nodded, “That’s right. Every few decades, there would always be a handful of daredevil cultivators or demons who would venture into the depths of Hell, seeking such ‘immortal grass’ to increase their lifespan. These would fall within the scope of dangers that I’m talking about. However, it’s nothing serious. All you need to do is to remain vigilant and guarded against such incursions. So long as you handle these incursions well, the citizens probably wouldn’t rebel.”
“I recall several hundred years ago, Bai Suzhen and Xiao Qing ventured into Hell to steal immortal grass.  They were originally sentenced to death. However, the entire Snake Clan rallied the support of their relatives, the Dragon Clan, and petitioned against the death sentence by organizing a sit-in outside Heaven’s Gate that lasted one full year, and that eventually led to an uprising… Well, let me give you another example that is closer to your heart. For instance, what if a man commits a crime in Usonia, and the first thing that the Judge considers isn’t the severity of his crime, but the skin colour of the man? Don’t you think that would trigger a movement for equality and against racism?”
Qin Ye stared at the Second King Yanluo as though he’d just seen a ghost - You’re truly good at this… Such an analogy… is indeed close to my heart!
The Second King Yanluo went on, “And as for potential gains…”
He ran his finger across the edge of his teacup gently, “Each of the realms have their own master. You’re the master of Hell, so don’t you think that there would likewise be a commensurate master of the mortal realm?”
Qin Ye’s eyes brightened at once, “There’s also a Yanluo-like existence in the mortal realm?”
“Not quite. But it’s true that there are five gods who preside over the operations in the mortal realm. The mortal realm forms the foundation on which Heaven and Hell are built upon. Heaven and Hell are not allowed to interfere with the mortal realm, but they still have a duty to protect the weakest of the Three Realms. Hell has you, so Heaven naturally has their own ambassadors as well.”
The Second King Yanluo retracted his smile as he went on somberly, “The Equal to Heaven, Benevolent and Sacred Great Emperor of the Eastern Summit Mount Tai; the Charge of Heaven, Bright and Sacred Great Emperor of the Southern Summit Mount Heng; the Peak of Heaven, Lofty and Sacred Great Emperor of the Central Summit Mount Song; the Treasure of Heaven, Prudent and Sacred Great Emperor of the Western Summit Mount Hua; and the Peace of Heaven, Mysterious and Sacred Great Emperor of the Northern Summit Mount Heng. These are the five gods who preside over all matters in the mortal realm. Sooner or later, you’ll have the opportunity to meet them.”
He smiled mysteriously and whispered softly, “These old folks possess loads of treasures with them. So long as you’re able to get a handle or two on each of these old fogies, there’s only good things to be had for you.”
Qin Ye coughed dryly, “How could I even think of doing something like that… Besides, what exactly are they in charge of?”
“Everything.” The Second King Yanluo lifted his teacup wryly, “Land, mountains, rivers, forests, lakes and seas, beasts of the fields… Basically, they lord over everything, so long as it doesn’t concern the matters of life and death. However, they don’t have a fixed residence, which means there isn’t a specific place you can go to look for them. In order words, don’t ever let them go as soon as you locate them. Let’s put it this way… I’ve once encountered the Great Emperor of the Western Summit, Jiang Xiong, and I managed to extract a 5,000 year-old mountain ginseng from him. Tsk… Do you know that this ginseng is even more precious than any elixirs you can find in Heaven? That said, it was only later that I learnt that he was planning to offer it up to one of the Great Immortals, Taiyi Zhenren, to be refined into a pill…”
His words ended there abruptly.
Qin Ye watched the Second King Yanluo intently, but the Second King Yanluo did nothing more than to sip silently at his tea to cover up the slip of the tongue.
Damn it! It feels like I was just on the verge of learning why Heaven is so delighted to get rid of the Second King Yanluo! I mean, how could they let someone like him continue in a position of power? What kind of example would he set for his successors?
Hang on… Aren’t I his successor?!