Once called Huangjue Temple, it was the place where Emperor Hongwu used to be a monk. It was only later that Emperor Hongwu personally bestowed it the name of Longxing Temple. To be more precise, Emperor Hongwu was 25 years old when he finally left the temple, before wandering the world, joining the Red Turbans rebel forces, before finally establishing one of the most illustrious dynasties in the history of Cathay.
The city-wide power outage had little effect on Longxing Temple. Monks were still going about with their evening classes, while an old monk remained seated in the middle of the main hall, leading a few other novice monks in the sutras that they were chanting. They were surrounded by dozens of lit candles.
Suddenly, the candles flickered wildly, and then returned to normal again. The old monk paused for a moment, and then spoke with an equally calm and placid voice, “You may be dismissed.”
The novice monks glanced at each other in dismay. Master Yuanzhi may appear to be kind, but they knew that in reality he was one of the strictest masters around, and he would never allow them to leave earlier than their regular dismissal time. Was something wrong with him today?
“Stand down!” Yuanzhi raised his voice and dismissed them for the second time. Naturally, the novice monks complied and bowed immediately, “Yes.”
“And close the door after you.”
With that, the novice monks left the main hall and shut the door after them. Meanwhile, Master Yuanzhi continued to chant his own sutra. After approximately 15 minutes, the mantles in the hall suddenly loosened and lowered themselves silently. At the same time, the candle flames flickered once more, before promptly turning into ghastly netherflames!
“Today isn’t the day that I die.” Yuanzhi stopped chanting and spoke without even turning back, “The Longxing Temple isn’t a place where you curmudgeons can come and go so freely. This is your final warning.”
A young man smiled radiantly as he walked up behind him and whispered back, “And if I refuse?”
“Then, prepare to be punished for your transgressions!” Yuanzhi’s body spun right around, only to notice a dark figure standing with his hands behind his back right in the middle of the swirling nethergale. At once, a scroll of ancient scriptures emerged from his long sleeves, unravelling itself as it shot towards the dark figure like the emergence of a yellow dragon.
Clatter! Unfortunately, the ancient scriptures were reduced to dust before they could even strike their target. Yuanzhi gasped in horror, and his lips trembled profusely. Even then, he didn’t stop moving. His upper body immediately swelled up abruptly, while his hands made a series of rapid hand seals. At the same time, he drifted up and landed directly in the bosom of the statue of Buddha behind him.
Om mani padme hum… The six-syllabled mantra? Qin Ye watched with great interest as Yuanzhi proceeded to perform a somewhat awkward dance. Before long, his limbs began to glow with a golden light, and then he suddenly turned and patted between the brows of the Buddha statue.
BOOM! A sudden gust of wind erupted from behind, causing his robes to flutter wildly as he continued to stare at Qin Ye, almost as though he were eagerly anticipating something.
Unfortunately… nothing happened.
Things were getting awkward.
Yuanzhi glanced at the Buddha statue behind him, and patted between its brows once more.
Moments later, the sound of rapid smacking of palms against a statue echoed out throughout the main hall. After some time, Qin Ye couldn’t take it any longer, “Come on, that’s enough. Even the statue’s going to get swollen from those palm strikes…”
“That’s impossible…” Yuanzhi stared at the statue in shock, “Have the bone relics of Buddha lost their effects? Why are they unable to purge evil ghosts? This--...”
“Impossible, right?” Qin Ye smiled, “I’m rather surprised too. I’m surprised to find that the presiding monk here in Longxing Temple is actually an intermediate Judge-class expert. Fairly good.”
Yuanzhi finally raised his head, “Who are you?”
Before he could even finish speaking, a dark and heavy object flew straight into his hand.
The front of the token was inscribed with the words “Prefect Qin”, while the back bore the emblem of the Harken. Yuanzhi nearly exclaimed in shock when he saw it.
The identity token was like a sun to Yuanzhi - a sun formed out of Yin energy. In fact, it emitted such intense Yin energy that Yuanzhi wasn’t even able to get a good hold of it.
Furthermore, the Yin energy flowing out of the token felt neither hot nor cold. That said, he could sense an air of… greatness and dignity about it, almost as though it were the embodiment of law and authority!
“Abyssal Prefect?” He drew a deep breath and waved his hand casually, causing the token to fly right back into Qin Ye’s hands. Then, he gazed deeply into Qin Ye’s eyes for some time, before finally asking, “It’s well known that Emissaries of Hell can’t be seen with human eyes. So, why is it that I can see you?”
“It seems that the mortal realm might be misconceived in this regard.” Qin Ye responded placidly, “Mortals are only unable to see Emissaries of Hell when we do not wish to be seen by the eyes of mortal men.”
“Thank you for your guidance.” Yuanzhi sighed softly, and then bowed deeply, “Yuanzhi greets the esteemed Abyssal Prefect. What business might you have with us today?”
Qin Ye took a few steps closer, and then stopped just a few steps away as he whispered softly, “Is there anything of particular spirituality here in the Longxing Temple?”
“I’m here to look for something. I’ve thought about it. The only two possible places are the Zhongdu Imperial City of the Ming , and the Longxing Temple. I’ve taken a good look around the Zhongdu Imperial City, but I’ve found nothing. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get a good read on the Longxing Temple.”
“There’s none.” Yuanzhi shook his head, “The Longxing Temple was established in the Song Dynasty. In all its years of existence, we’ve heard of nothing of particular spirituality.”
Qin Ye looked him deep in the eye, “Visions of Emperor Hongwu, or some divine revelation? Nothing of that sort?”
“How can there possibly be visions of Emperor Hongwu here?” Yuanzhi quipped back curiously, “This is the Longxing Temple.”
Just then, a ripping sound came from Qin Ye’s sleeves, and the Harken leapt out and raised its front paws. At once, Daddy Qin immediately picked him up and held it in his hands.
The Harken immediately gave Qin Ye a pleased look.
Moments later, the Harken lay down comfortably in Qin Ye’s bosom and turned to Yuanzhi, “Old monk, are you sure you’ve got it right? Hell has it recorded clearly that Emperor Hongwu was once a monk with the Longxing Temple. Are you suggesting that Hell was wrong?”
Unfortunately, Yuanzhi’s pupils shrank in horror as soon as the Harken appeared.
Qin Ye did nothing to conceal his Yin energy, and all who stood in front of him would naturally be able to sense how sharp and incisive it was. However… Yuanzhi hadn’t even sensed the presence of this little dog at all!
It was only when it showed itself that he suddenly discovered an overbearing source of Yin energy washing over him like the waters in the ocean. It was stifling and suffocating.
Within moments, his entire undershirt was soaked through with sweat, and his legs even began to tremble violently. With gritted teeth, Yuanzhi asked, “And who might this be?”
This is someone stronger than an Abyssal Prefect… It… has to be at least in the realms of a Yama-King!
Yama-King of the Ten Palaces?
The Sixfold Ghost Kings?
Or is it… some other unrecorded Yama-King of Hell?
“The Harken.” As soon as Qin Ye disclosed the dog’s identity, Yuanzhi shuddered profusely, and then collapsed to the ground.
So, that’s the Harken… Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s mount… No wonder... He shook his head with a bitter smile. He no longer had any doubts as to Qin Ye’s identity right now.
“Do you believe me?”
“I believe you.”
“Will you require him to reveal his true form?”
“... N-no… That’s fine…”
I’m afraid Fengyang County wouldn’t be able to withstand the descent of such a mighty presence…
Just then, Qin Ye let out a soft muffled grunt, and Yuanzhi immediately looked up at him curiously, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth and glared at the Harken - What the hell is this? Are you biting me just because I’m not paying any attention to you? Are you having a bad hair day or something?!
The Harken - Reveal my true form? What gives you the right to offer something like that? You best believe it when I say that I’ll eat you alive the next time you say something like that!
After spending the next few moments placating the Harken, Qin Ye turned back to the old monk, and the old monk slowly rose to his feet again. With a long sigh, he finally addressed the Harken’s earlier query, “You are right. And I have an inkling I know the exact place that you’re talking about.”
“That said… you have to know that there are in fact two Longxing Temples. The Longxing Temple that you’re looking for isn’t this one.”
“What do you mean?” Qin Ye immediately pressed the point, “Where’s the other Longxing Temple?”
“It’s gone. It was completely and utterly destroyed in a military disaster several hundred years ago. Amitabha.” Yuanzhi clasped his palms together, “Esteemed benefactors, it’s cold out here. Why don’t we adjourn our discussion to my humble meditation room?”
Qin Ye nodded softly. Yuanzhi’s meditation room wasn’t far from the main hall, and it was plain and simple. There was a bookshelf filled with books that one would expect of a monk, and then some.
Yuanzhi sat on his mat and made his company a pot of tea. Then, he looked up slowly, and his gaze grew distant and abstruse, “To be more precise, this is indeed the Longxing Temple. However… this is the second Longxing Temple.”
“The real Longxing Temple is where Emperor Hongwu became a monk, and it’s none other than the temple originally named the Huangjue Temple, or otherwise known as the Yuhuang Temple. Most of the history books would have referred to it by the latter name. Established in the Northern Song Dynasty, it was completely destroyed twice over.”
The more Qin Ye listened, the more he felt that the contingency plan prepared by Zhu Yuanzhang of the Zhu Clan was probably hidden right in the depths of the original Longxing Temple!
Two Longxing Temples… there’s no better smokescreen than this!
“During the Song-Mongol War, the Mongol Empire invaded and destroyed the Yuhuang Temple, routing the monks and scattering them into the wilderness. This was the first instance of destruction of the temple.”
“Then, at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty, one of the monks who had fled for his life back then returned and rebuilt the temple. However, because the original site was already occupied by an imperial office, he built the temple 300 meters away from the old site. Later, in the 4th year of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang became a monk in this place. Some say he was a monk for 8 years, while others say that he only spent 50 days in this place. Regardless, in the 12th year of the Yuan Dynasty, and during Zhu Yuanzhang’s campaign, the Yuhuang Temple was destroyed by a fire.”
Yuanzhi sighed, “This time, it completely and utterly destroyed the entire temple. The great blaze consumed the entire temple. The statue of Buddha was crushed and smashed to smithereens under the weight of the falling debris, while the monks were burned alive. The last of the monks serving the Yuhuang Temple were completely eradicated. It wasn’t until the 16th year of Emperor Hongwu’s reign later that he finally issued an order to have this place rebuilt, thereby giving it the name of Longxing Temple. The temple that you see now is the fruit of Emperor Hongwu’s labour.”
So that’s how it is…
Listening to an old monk’s stories in the middle of the night had a calming effect on Qin Ye’s heart. He gently stroked the Harken’s back, and the Harken curled up its back in pleasure.
“So, where’s the original Yuhuang Temple located?”
Surprisingly, it was two voices that answered him from outside the room, “Village of the 24th Battalion, right next to Emperor Hongwu’s former residence.”
Furthermore, they didn’t even bother disguising their Judge-class aura that was pouring out of their bodies. One had a blistering aura like the embodiment of a thunder’s wrath, while the other appeared soft as a gentle river. Qin Ye was just stroking the Harken when he suddenly paused. The Harken’s eyes widened slightly.
Human, you dare provoke me?! How dare you pull out my fur?!
However, it didn’t say a single word.
It was because it had seen the two men before.
Zhou Xianlong and Mo Changhao were standing right outside the door to Yuanzhi’s meditation room. Furthermore, they could all sense the presence of several others in the distance with their infrared sights all trained at Qin Ye’s body. A number of other shadowy figures remained hidden in the darkness of the night.
Yuanzhi didn’t say a word. He could tell that something was different about Qin Ye as soon as he heard these voices.
“Greetings, esteemed Abyssal Prefect.” Zhou Xianlong cupped his fists respectfully and bowed slightly, “I wonder where you hail from? And what might your purpose be here?”
Mo Changhao’s eyes gleamed brightly as he added, “The Divine Protectors has an ancestral admonition that has been passed down through time, and that is that Yin and Yang do not intermingle. You’ve entered the mortal realm without first informing the Divine Protectors. Don’t you think you’re acting beyond the scope of your authority?”
“Hehe…” Qin Ye chuckled softly, and then slowly rose to his feet with his back still facing them, “Strictly speaking, I’m still a human being, so is there really a need for me to seek permission before being here? Haven’t you ever heard of a living Emissary of Hell?”
There were times when Fate just had a twisted sense of humour.