Qin Ye suppressed the excitement in his heart and waved his finger softly. At once, Kwon Kyung-ho and Ryu Changmin appeared before his eyes.
“I want you guys to make a complete inventory list of everything that you find in this place, right from the first floor all the way to the ninth floor. Record it clearly, and classify them accordingly.” With a wave of his hand, the two evil ghosts flew downstairs and got started at once. Meanwhile, he turned to the eight scrolls suspended in mid air.
“Are you certain that all of the restrictions have been lifted?” Qin Ye queried cautiously.
“Are you looking down on me?” The Harken grunted with frustration, “Do you know how long it has been since they’ve last maintained these formation arrays? Would I really be fit to call myself a Yama-King if I couldn’t even take down these things?”
Qin Ye took a deep breath, and then released a soft thread formed by wisps of Yin energy from his fingertips, wrapped it around a scroll, and then gave it a gentle tug.
He didn’t face any sort of resistance whatsoever. It didn’t take long before the scroll was in his hands. He promptly unraveled them, only to find golden words revealing themselves against the white backdrop of the parchment.
They were the runic symbols of Yin Talismans. It was profound and mysterious, and just as captivating as the constellations in the sky.
No. In fact, it was even more than that! Far beyond that!
It was practically akin to the milky way!
As soon as Qin Ye saw it, his consciousness was immediately drawn to a completely different place, almost as though he were located in the heart of thousands upon thousands of soldiers. A terrifying, bloodthirsty aura exploded around him and bore down on him like a suffocating vortex, stimulating his nerves and stirring his soul. At once, Qin Ye forcefully shut the scroll and recovered from his momentary stupor. The hairs of his body were trembling as though they were overcharged with static electricity. His heart was thumping wildly against his chest.
“Military formations.” The Harken’s eyes gleamed as it sighed softly, “Wumu (武穆).”
“Wu (武) represents might and excellence, stability and order, the willpower to overcome, and the ambition to rise to new heights, while Mu (穆) represents the reverence of virtue and justice, and unending loyalty.”
“Wumu… is a term that can be used to refer to individual military generals, or a concept of the highest posthumous name conferred by an emperor on the most illustrious of subjects. Over the last thousands of years of Catahyan history, there have only been six people recorded to be conferred such a title, the most famous of which is none other than Yue Fei, otherwise known as Yue Wumu. Apart from him, there was Ma Yin of the post Tang Dynasty, Gao Huaide of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, Li Guangbi of the Tang Dynasty, Liu Qi of the Southern Song Dynasty, as well as Bo Luohuan of the Yuan Dynasty. Each of them were revered generals in their own rights.”
The Harken stared at the scroll, “As far as military formations are concerned, Hell had always sub-divided them into superior, intermediate and lesser formations. To put things into better perspective, Hell had only ten different types of superior military formations, all of which were used and wielded by the Yama-Kings of the Ten Palaces. I’d always thought that these have been lost to us together with the sudden ascension of the Yama-Kings of the Ten Palaces. Who would’ve thought that the Eight Great Clans were actually able to get their hands on such things…”
Qin Ye sighed softly. This spoke volumes of the sheer might and influence of the Eight Great Clans. Apart from the private belongings of the Second King Yanluo of Hell, there was practically nothing in the old Hell that they didn’t have access to!
That said, their power and influence turned out to be one of the greatest blessings to the new Hell right now. After all, if not for them, it would’ve taken the new Hell’s brightest talents decades upon decades to come up with something like that.
After the news finally sank in, Qin Ye asked hoarsely, “Just how powerful is it?”
“Let’s put it this way. The lesser military formations would imbue 50,000 regular Yin soldiers with might equivalent to that of an Infernal Judge; intermediate military formations would imbue 500,000 Yin soldiers with the might equivalent to an Abyssal Prefect; while superior military formations would imbue 1,000,000 Yin soldiers with the might equivalent to a Yama-King! Don’t underestimate these military formations just because of the sheer number of Yin soldiers required. The power of a Yama-King is well beyond your imaginations! If left unopposed, it wouldn’t even be out of the question to have them wipe out an entire continent!”
“If an underworld lacks Yama-Kings, they would have no choice but to rely on military formations in order to resist the advances of other underworlds. In fact, I’d even go so far to posit that if the lesser underworlds didn’t have access to military formations, we may well be left with only four underworlds in the entire netherworld right now, and that would be none other than the four major underworlds. After all, Yin soldiers would be nothing more than mere rabble devoid of military formations, even if there were hundreds of millions of them. Military formations are the only means of bestowing upon them a qualitative enhancement of their abilities!”
Qin Ye fervently suppressed the excitement in his heart as he began to consider the possibilities.
It’s basically like giving machine guns the ability to fend off the threat of a nuclear warhead… The potential isn’t limited to just military formations. There was another reason why Qin Ye had come to Everburn. He’d wanted to clear his mind so that he could better consider how to resolve the incident with the Russian Underworld.
After all, they had made a request that Hell absolutely had to consider and give an answer to. It was a request that was built upon Hell’s regional influence, and the difficulty lay more in how he should reject and suppress the Russian Underworld, as opposed what he should do with the Resentment Crystals Mine.
If he could, he would be happy to give up on this Resentment Crystals Mine, since Hell didn’t have the right tools, infrastructure and talents in place to be developing Forbidden Arts in the near future. However, such a course of action would require Hell to quell the Russian Underworld’s advances with its absolute might! In fact, he would need to suppress them so convincingly that they would willingly extinguish every ambition of theirs to even consider making their foray into the world of Forbidden Arts.
And to that end, suppression on such magnitude would unfortunately require more than shouting louder than the other side. Hell would need to back its words with commensurate actions and threats.
The Russian Underworld would soon be pulling out all its stops and sending both Peter the Great and Catherine the Great to the Mongol Empire at the same time. In other words, two illustrious Yama-Kings would be leading a grand army as they assembled in Khuree, the Mongol Empire’s capital.
Meanwhile, Qin Ye had only managed to delay his negotiations with the Russian Underworld thus far, because he knew full well that Hell didn’t have anything to match such a show of force with!
But how could one of the P4 underworlds have no army to send, and no powerful military formation to back their armies with? How would the other underworlds view them? How would Hell be able to deter the enemy forces without any threats?
Fortunately, this scroll has now given Hell a way out of what earlier appeared to be a dead end.
“And that’s not all…” Qin Ye tightened his grip around the scroll with his eyes gleaming as though it were on fire, “These military formations would give Hell wings to soar upon in future! These will be Hell’s fangs in the decades to come!”
What was one resource that Cathay was best known for?
If a million Yin soldiers could already display the same might as a Yama-King… How strong would Hell’s forces be in just a hundred years’ time? How many Yin soldiers would Hell have? This was the key to putting Hell back on the map of the netherworld again!
“Excellent.” The Harken also suppressed the excitement in its heart as it swallowed up the scroll for safekeeping, “They’ve stored all of these things for their own descendants to rise above the competition, only to have them benefit others instead. I’ll bet that Zhu Yuanzhang must be stirring in his grave right now.”
Qin Ye took a deep breath, and then turned to the second scroll. He did likewise and pulled it into his hands, before finally opening it up slowly.
This time, the scroll revealed a map.
It was an incredibly detailed map, and the focal point of the map was clearly Lotus Peak of Huangshan, otherwise known as the Yellow Mountain!
Nothing else was written on this scroll.
“It’s normal. The direct descendants of the Zhu Clan probably have their own means of internal communication. If they could omit certain things from their written records, then there was no reason why they wouldn’t do so. But whatever this might be, I’m pretty sure it would be on the same level as the Wumu military formation…” The Harken’s eyes narrowed slightly, “If you ask me, I’d guess that this would be a rare treasure, or perhaps even the nascent form of a Yama-class Yin artifact in the making!”
Then, it immediately shook its head, “No… the nascent form of a Yama-class Yin artifact can’t even begin to be compared with a Wumu military formation. We should be talking about something either among the top three most highly-sought after treasure in Hell, or perhaps… a Yama-class Yin artifact that is already in the process of being forged as we speak!”
“And whichever it is…” It licked its lips, “This only goes to show that the Eight Great Clans have contacts in the mortal realm. After all, they would definitely need someone to safeguard the treasure or watch over the forging process of the Yin artifact. In other words, doesn’t this mean that they might have made contact with some of their direct descendants back in the mortal realm?”
Unfortunately, the scroll shed no further light on these questions on their minds, and Qin Ye promptly handed it over to the Harken for its safekeeping. Then, Qin Ye went on.
The next few scrolls were also maps devoid of much particulars or details. It would seem that the Zhu Clan were clearly being careful not to place their eggs all in one basket. Such a realization filled Qin Ye with both curiosity and dismay. He was also filled with some measure of disappointment.
I mean… You’ve already left such a massive Longxing Temple behind, so why can’t you just hand over everything all at once?
Have you never considered the possibility that your descendants might be idiots who cannot unlock the mysteries of the maps you’d left to them?
Did you really have to be that guarded against Hell?
What kind of a person are you?!
Aside from the joy of the initial discovery of the Wumu military formation, the next six scrolls were unfortunately all maps. Thus, by the time Qin Ye picked up the last scroll, his heart was already numb and cold.
Forget it. It’s not too bad to have these maps either. It’s only going to be a matter of time before we reclaim and unify the Cathayan Underworld after all… With a soft sigh, he slowly unravelled the eighth scroll, bracing himself to see yet another map again.
But to his surprise, the last scroll had a multitude of words written all over them!
He froze for a moment, and then immediately took a closer look at it.
“It’s not suffused with any Yin energy at all.” Qin Ye ran his finger slowly across the words with astonishment, “This is just regular and simple writing.”
Regular words… constitute the last and final scroll?
Qin Ye raised his brow with consternation and read on, word for word.
“Year 1801. First contact with Unkulunkulu. Traded 100 kilograms of Grade A materials, and 10,000 pieces of Yin jade for the right to develop a port at the netherworld’s Cape of Good Hope.”
These were simple words, and yet both Qin Ye and the Harken couldn’t help but gasp in horror. Neither concealed the shock in their eyes.
They were absolutely floored by what they had read because it was incontrovertible evidence that the Zhu Clan had been frolicking with foreign underworlds!
No wonder it was kept in such a place!
Nevertheless, these words instantly began to set in motion a train of thoughts in Qin Ye’s mind, and he mused, “Cape of Good Hope… That’s in Alkebulan. Doesn’t this mean that… they’d been in touch with the Alkebulan Underworlds?”
“I remember Unkulunkulu…” The Harken’s fur was slightly ruffled as it gnashed its teeth, “Spiritual Totem of Alkebulan, Nascent Yama-King. Hell first established contact with the Alkebulan Underworlds in 1735, which means that… just 66 years later, the Zhu Clan actually sold us out on this ship of ours?”
“No… We can’t really consider them selling us out either.” The Harken shook its head and immediately qualified his earlier statement, “After all, it’s an open secret that the Eight Great Clans have always been colluding with foreign underworlds and gaining private benefits from these transactions. The Cape of Good Hope… Does this mean that… the Zhu Clan had planned to open a sea port for their use? Are they… smuggling?!”
Qin Ye chuckled bitterly - That’s right… There’s a good chance that they’re smuggling goods. But… is it really surprising?
“How well received are the ‘made in Hell’ goods in the rest of the netherworld?”
“Good as hell!” The Harken snorted, “Porcelain, tea, relics, silk - any of these can easily be traded as easily as fiat currency! And that’s not even mentioning the war-torn regions like the Alkebulan Underworlds. The demand for such goods is so high there that you could easily earn several hundred times the usual profit on these goods!”
“No wonder… no wonder the Zhu Clan is so well off! The Sixfold Ghost Kings had roamed the entire East Continent, and yet found no evidence of them establishing diplomatic relations with any of the countries there. To think that they’ve actually extended their reach this far! Keep reading. I want to know just how many countries they’ve managed to extend their influence to!”
Thus, Qin Ye read on.
“Year 1832. With the aid, recommendation and introduction of Mythic Spirit Unkulunkulu and another, we paid a hefty price to establish the Alkebulan Rift Valley Access.”
“Year 1851. With the aid, recommendation and introduction of Mythic Spirit Unkulunkulu and another, we paid a hefty price to gain access to Kilimanjaro, establish the Port of Elizabeth, the Port of Cape Town, the Port of Rwanda, the Port of Alexandria, and ten other ports and waterways. The negotiations went well.”
“Year 1900. With the aid, recommendation and introduction of five Alkebulan Mythic Spirits, the Zhu Clan was finally allowed to dock our ships at the major Alkebulan ports. We made contact with the Mythic Spirits of the lands, and also brought ambassadors back to Hell for the very first time.”
“Hah…” Qin Ye chuckled. As expected, business opportunities always required something in return. And in this case, what they got in return was the opportunity to bring their ambassadors to Hell for the very first time! And all of this was done without the knowledge of the Second King Yanluo of Hell!
Almost as though it understood what was going through Qin Ye’s mind, the Harken shook its head, “It’s not as bad as you think.”
“Sure, the ambassadors might have entered Hell through the hands of the Zhu Clan, but they would most certainly have been whisked off together with the rest of the old Hell when Lord Ksitigarbha gained ascension. The Eight Great Clans may be pursuing their own private benefits, but they’re not so corrupt that they would sell out their own homeland. That said, what I’m more concerned about is whether any of them are still… hiding in the mortal realm.
“Yin and Yang do not intersect, but there are still ways of circumventing this so-called ironclad rule. For one, Alkebulan is a land that believes in ancestral spirits, and some of the Alkebulans living in Cathay right now could very well be proxy scouts of the Alkebulan Underworld--…”
“You mean this?” Qin Ye interjected.
The Harken looked over immediately, and his eyes immediately gleamed brightly.
“A complete list of Alkebulan missions in Cathay, where each of them are stationed, the means of communicating with each of them, and the date on which contact was previously made.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter