The scales of the tall serpentine silhouette flared up right in front of Qin Ye’s eyes, allowing snow-white feathers to emerge from within, instantly engulfing the dark outer appearances of Black Mamba. Moments later, a colossal snake hissed loudly as he shed the skin of Black Mamba and soared into the sky.
Qin Ye’s jaws dropped slightly as he stared right up to the roof of the Grand Hall of Ancestors. The legendary ruler of the Alkebulan Underworlds had finally revealed his true form.
He was approximately 10 meters long, and his body was as thick as the thigh of a grown man. A pair of fleshy wings spread out from the sides of his head. Serpents shouldn’t have feathers nor wings, and yet the creature standing before his eyes was clearly an existence in defiance to the norm. In fact, he was covered from top to toe in countless feathers.
His terrifying Yin energy instantly erupted from his body and came bearing down heavily onto Qin Ye’s body at once. But, even then, he wasn’t able to hide the fact that it wasn’t in a good state.
His outer skin appeared to be transparent, almost akin to that of a phantom. Even his innards and skeleton could be seen from the outside. Furthermore, the netherflames in his eyes were pulsating wildly. It was clearly faint and weak, but the Plumed Serpent God was clearly hanging in there. The feathers on his entire body might be glorious and white, but if one looked closer, he would immediately be able to tell that the roots of the feathers were all turning slightly gray in colour. Additionally, the Plumed Serpent God appeared messy and frazzled - hardly befitting of an entity more commonly known to be the lord of an entire continent.
There must be a reason for this… Qin Ye didn’t let his guard down in the slightest bit. Instead, he only grew more stern and somber, “What is this…?”
“Prefect Qin…” The Plumed Serpent God sighed softly as he soared freely above the Grand Hall of Ancestors, “I am no longer a Mythic Spirit.”
“Drop your guard, please. I’ve got a request to make of you… No, rather, I’ve got a request to make of Hell. This is why I’ve been waiting patiently for your arrival all this while.”
Qin Ye stared at the molted black scales on the ground and raised his brows quizzically, “Where’s Black Mamba? What kind of technique is this?”
“This is Soul-Grafting Seed. Every Mythic Spirit I have awakened has a seed planted in their bodies. Where necessary, I can move between their bodies instantly, all according to my will, and regardless of how far away they might be. But this doesn’t cause them to die. As soon as I leave, they will regain consciousness once more.”
Qin Ye nodded, “So, why did you go through all that trouble to come meet with me in this place?”
He didn’t let his guard down in the slightest. The Plumed Serpent God didn’t continue to make demands of him either. Instead, he sighed and continued, “Time is of the essence. I can’t maintain this state for long, so, let me start from the beginning…”
He had clearly bottled up these thoughts in his heart for a long time, and his desire to speak was clearly bursting at the seams. Therefore, he didn’t even pause in the slightest as he continued, “Black Mamba should already have informed you that I’m not a Mythic Spirit that is native to the Alkebulan Continent. As they had suspected, I used to live in the New World when the various systems of mythologies were still in conflict with each other.”
“Mythologies and underworlds… There’s an interesting point of correlation as far as the development of an underworld is concerned.” Quetzalcoatl turned back to look at his own sculpture as he murmured, “The longer a civilization remains primitive and undeveloped, the more robust their mythological system would be. And this was exactly the case for the New World. It wasn’t until the great age of discovery from about the 15th century, when the aborigines of the New World were faced with the firearms and cannons of foreign invaders, that they were forced to shed their primitive civilizations in order to keep with the times. Naturally, they were only second to the Alkebulan Underworlds when it came to the depths of their mythological systems.”
“There were the Mayans, the Aztecs, and the Incans. These were civilizations distributed throughout both North and South Usonia. However, due to the sheer size of the geographical territories they occupied, none bothered to do a single thing about the others. And that was when... a civil war broke out within my mythological system.”
“The Mayans had a god of death known as Ah Puch, and the Incans had a god of death called Mictlantecutli.  I belonged to the Aztec civilization. Unfortunately… there wasn’t a god of death back then.”
His voice was full of regret, “Back then, the Aztec mythology could largely be broken down into three aspects - the Maize God’s family; the Beast God’s family, and God Itzamna’s family. Each of these three divine families were all competing for the title as the god of death of the Aztec lore. But in the final war of the Sacred Tree, I was accused of having the bloodline of the Beast God family, and was therefore exiled from the New World altogether!!!”
Despite the passage of time since then, Qin Ye could sense the endless hatred lingering in his voice. He could even hear Quetzalcoatl gnashing his teeth.
“It was the greatest moment of shame in my life…” Plumed Serpent God’s scales flared up as he continued to speak through gritted teeth, “Back then, I was still young, and I vowed in my heart to make those fools regret their decision. Thus… I came to Alkebulan.”
Qin Ye nodded, “And so you decided to awaken the Mythic Spirits and use them as your pawns to launch a mighty counterattack against the New World?”
As he spoke, a peculiar white mist suddenly rose up in the darkness amidst the Grand Hall of Ancestors.
The white mist appeared almost sentient, slowly rising from the ground, before receding once more like an ebbing tide.
“What’s that?” Qin Ye looked at the white mist around him, wondering whether they were sentient beings that he’d never seen before because he could sense power within them.
That’s right, power.
They were neither Yin energy nor true energy, but just pure, unadulterated power.
It was somewhat akin to the feeling he got when interacting with the Second King Yanluo of Hell.
“This is the end of the Heavenly Dao.” The Plumed Serpent God swept his glance around, and then licked his lips, “Didn’t I tell you that you can already consider me a part of the Heavenly Dao now. They’re… looking for me. But it will take them another half an hour or so if they are to discover my presence with any measure of certainty.”
He turned back and looked Qin Ye in the eye, “I hunkered down and slowly amassed my forces here in the Alkebulan Underworlds. From time to time, I would peek out just to keep abreast of the developments in the New World. Unfortunately, given the distance separating us, and the fact that my identity was far too prominent, I can’t say that I was very well-apprised of international affairs. Then, when we finally awakened the 17th Mythic Spirit here in the Alkebulan Underworlds… something big happened…”
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered wildly, “The Argosian Underworld marched against you and initiated one of the great wars of the netherworld?”
Quetzalcoatl nodded softly.
Qin Ye shook his head, “But I don’t get it. Why didn’t you march back to the New World even after awakening 17 Mythic Spirits?”
The Plumed Serpent God smiled, “Each of the four major underworlds houses more than 13 Yama-Kings each, but the underworlds of the New World weren’t too weak either. Each of them had five Yama-class powerhouses on their side. I wanted to conquer the New World by swallowing up all three underworlds in one fell swoop, and not help the Itzamna God’s family conquer the world.”
“And if I were to do that, I'd need at least 20 Mythic Spirits… No, in fact, I’ll probably have needed more…”
Just then, he turned back to Qin Ye, “Have you ever wondered why the Alkebulan Underworlds have never been unified?”
Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed slightly, “Because of you?”
“That’s right.” Plumed Serpent God smiled grimly, “In order to awaken these Mythic Spirits, they needed to pay a corresponding price. Therefore, what I’d taken from each of them was a portion of their ambition.”
“This way, no heroes will appear among their midst. This way, they wouldn’t harbour any ambitions of overthrowing my reign, and it would only facilitate my rule. Moreover, do you really think that Mythic Spirits are all that great? There’s another price for their awakening, and that is that they will forever remain no greater than nascent Mythic Spirits, or what you understand to be a nascent Yama-class Yin spirit. Furthermore, none of them would be able to match up against a true Yama-King.”
So, that’s how it is.
Qin Ye’s heart sighed softly. It turns out that the truth of their inability to unify the entire continent stemmed from none other than their revered god of the Alkebulan Underworlds!
That said, Qin Ye could somewhat empathize with Quetzalcoatl. At the very least, he would have done the same had he been in Quetzalcoatl’s shoes.
Whoosh… Just then, the white mist around them suddenly surged up once more. This time, the surface of the mist even rose up like swarms of angry vipers that were slithering about the sides of the Plumed Serpent God, slowly drawing closer and closer to him.
“I don’t have much time.” Plumed Serpent God went on with a deep voice, “Your guess is right. It was all because of the great war triggered by the Argosian Underworld that my plans were all shattered.”
“Nobody can predict how history would be written - not even gods. When the Argosian armies first marched out of their underworld, the Alkebulan Underworld simply watched from across the seas. Nobody had anticipated that they would even be turning to us. Little did we know that not only would they turn to us, they would even pull out something as devastating as the Forbidden Arts!”
A deadly gaze appeared on Quetzalcoatl’s face, “With their Forbidden Art, they struck out at the Alkebulan Underworld, widening the East Alkebulan Rift even further! At that time, I had only two choices.”
“One, leave immediately.”
“Two, block their Forbidden Art.”
Nobody said a word. It was obvious that Quetzalcoatl chose the latter.
This was understandable. He was protecting his life’s work. He chose to block it and stop the march of the Argosian Underworld into the Alkebulan Underworlds. After all, he knew full well that the Mythic Spirits he had raised would never be a match against one of the top underworlds of the netherworld. If he didn’t want his efforts spanning over hundreds and hundreds of years to end up completely in waste, this was the only choice available to him.
“Unfortunately… the Forbidden Arts were far too devastating…” He sighed, “Truth be told, it’s not entirely true that my Mythic Spirits would be unable to block their deployment of Forbidden Arts. But if they were to be able to do that, their power would need to be supplemented with the right Yin artifacts and formation arrays. But I was exiled from the New World! Where was I supposed to get something like that?”
“Thus, I ended up grievously wounded, and I had great difficulties recovering. It would take far too long for these tribes in Alkebulan to develop to the same level as that of the New World. Thus… I chose another method.”
“And that was to… to put it in a way that Hell would understand, merge with the Dao. Neither the New World nor the Alkebulan Underworlds have a good explanation for this phenomenon.”
“When you become a fully-fledged Yama-King, you’ll naturally sense the Heavenly Dao. And to that end, you’ll innately realize that you can in fact seize the essence from the moon to facilitate the recovery from your wounds. However, there are risks in doing so. The Heavenly Dao is one of the most powerful wills existing in these Three Realms. So long as it discovers that you’re stealing something that you’re not allowed to, it will… devour you.”
As he spoke, the white mist all around the room immediately stirred up and began swirling like a vortex aimed straight at the Plumed Serpent God. The surroundings immediately turned pale white in colour.
Yet, the Plumed Serpent God didn’t even bother looking at it. After all, he knew the risks involved in his appearance in this place. Thus, he continued speaking with haste, “Truth be told, I was 90% certain in my success. However… life has a cruel sense of humour.”
His voice carried a thick sense of resignation, “In recent years, we’ve seen the closure of a chapter, and the turn of a page to something brand new. I would never have thought that the three major civilizations that have stood so long in the New World would collapse from the mortal realm!”
“The Incans, the Mayans and the Aztecs… Every last vestige of their civilizations went up in smoldering flames in the recent wars!”
“History has proven that the netherworld is closely interlinked to the occurrences of the mortal realm. When a particular civilization ceases to exist, their corresponding underworld would also be hit equally hard! As things stand, the death gods of the New World are still around, and they’re still Yama-class Yin spirits in that regard, but they’ve all been weakened to an incredible extent!”
He gasped with excitement, “They’ve all reached the end of their lives! But do you know why nobody is making a move against the Usonians just yet? It’s because they’re all waiting. They’re all waiting for another three or four generations to pass, when the last remaining bloodlines of these civilizations vanish completely from the mortal realm. At that time, they would no longer be able to even call themselves a god of death, and their might will fall to complete nothingness!”
Qin Ye gasped in horror.
The affairs of the world were far more complicated than he had imagined!
Furthermore, he finally understood why the Plumed Serpent God was in such a weakened state.
It was because the disappearance of the three great ancient civilizations had likewise dealt him a deadly blow! And to make matters worse, he was slowly being swallowed up by the Heavenly Dao!