The plane landed safely in Jeju Airport. After several more transits, Qin Ye found himself standing right before Ashmound City once more.
Perhaps it was due to the overuse of his brain cells, but Qin Ye felt inexplicably drawn towards Ashmound when he first saw it. He couldn’t wait to return to his abode to get a good rest.
It was 13 December, just 18 days before the New Year. During this time, Hell had adjusted its position to give itself a far better advantage than ever before. It was high time that he got some rest to recover from his efforts.
The next day, Qin Ye pranced into Hell in a sprightly fashion and placed a bag of souvenirs right in front of the Harken, who was seated at his desk, “Wanna take a guess and see what this is?”
Without even lifting its head, the Harken responded, “Looks like the trip to Alkebulan went well.”
“But that’s only to be expected, given the person who made the trip.” Qin Ye sat down onto his seat lazily and looked at his empty teacup in dismay. At once, he cleared his throat, “Assistant Wang!”
“There’s no use.” The Harken grabbed another document with its paws, “He’s been sent to the outskirts of the city for a surveillance mission, and he wouldn’t return today.”
Then don’t you know how to be a little bit more conscious?
Qin Ye coughed dryly, “Well then, brother--...”
Thud. The Harken set down the document in hand and gave Qin Ye a deadly glare. Qin Ye immediately cleared his throat again, “Ahem… Old… Harken?”
“It’s nothing, it’s nothing… It’s just that I’ve not seen you in such a long time, and I’m missing you… Anyway, you go about your business…” Qin-self-preservation-Ye sensibly picked up his own cup and went out to pour himself a glass of water. It was only after he had done that that he swiftly picked up the Harken and cradled it in his own arms, stroking its fur as he continued, “Let me ask you something… Do you have an untold secret with a certain particular Plumed Serpent God?”
The Harken ignored him and immediately shut its ears away.
“It doesn’t make any sense…” Qin Ye thought about it for a moment, and then relayed everything that he had heard from the mouth of the Plumed Serpent God to the Harken. It was only then that the Harken finally responded, “What’s so difficult to understand about that?”
It sneered, “If Hell helps to extricate it from the grasp of the Heavenly Dao, do you really think it makes sense for us to release him right back to where he came from? Besides, release him back? Back to where?”
“Whether it goes back to Alkebulan or other continents, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a god of the Aztec mythology. With his lineage on the decline, where else can he go but to remain here in Hell and be a good security beast with us?”
Qin Ye frowned and grabbed the Harken’s ears, only to find the Harken biting back and sinking its sharp teeth right into his hands. Qin Ye gasped, “But even if it remains here in Hell… he would still be subject to the same fate as soon as his divine lineage becomes a thing of the past, right?”
The Harken snuggled up close to Qin Ye, “It’s simple. All we need to do is to conquer those lands.”
I’m asking you for a solution, and you give me the most vicious solution you can think of?
“Didn’t expect a response like that?: The Harken leapt onto the table and snickered softly, “There are those who were born to pave the way for others. The three gods of death from the New World are all doomed to perish. If Hell was still around, the Second King Yanluo wouldn’t have hesitated in the slightest bit to send them a letter demanding that they submit. Conquering them is just an extension of what the Second King Yanluo would’ve done.”
“And once conquered, their mythological system would immediately become subsumed under Hell. And once the Plumed Serpent God finds new roots, restoring strength would no longer be a problem to him. In fact, I daresay that the three gods of death of the New World are all making their last hurrah right now. As soon as they find the situation to be beyond hope, then… I’m dead certain that they would much rather submit rather than perish.”
“Of course, there’s always the possibility that they would be ambitious and proud, and unwilling to submit, but I’d say that the possibility of this happening is even lower than that of submission.”
Qin Ye sighed. He wanted to live in peace, but that was a concept that seemed to elude Hell.
Just like the mortal realm, the netherworld, too, was rife with conflict and strife between underworlds. The largest international rift in the mortal realm right now lay between the two seemingly irreconcilable positions taken by Cathay and Usonia, while the netherworld… had four superpowers vying for control of the netherworld. Many second-rate underworlds were all caught between their deadly tussle, trying desperately to survive. In this world where strength was paramount, conflict was oftentimes synonymous with bloodshed.
He had a hunch that the fall of the three gods of death of the New World might once again trigger the next battle for supremacy in the netherworld.
After all, anyone who controls the New World would undoubtedly be propelled straight into the realms of the hegemon among the P4 underworlds. And if Hell could rescue the Plumed Serpent God and have him on their side, Hell would gain for itself one of the most useful allies that it could possibly have in such a tussle!
“You seem to be dreaming about something pleasant. Let me add a few things. Right now, the first thing you’ll have to consider is how to resolve the issue pertaining to the Russian Underworld’s development of Forbidden Arts. The second thing that you should have on your mind after that is how to juggle between Hell’s development of Forbidden Arts and its internal growth. Thereafter, the third order of priority would be matters pertaining to the unification of Hell! As for the battle for supremacy of the netherworld… You’re not even in the running right now.” The Harken would never allow him to rest easy on his laurels. A split second later, Qin Ye found a document flying straight towards his face, “Take a look at this. It was sent to us three days ago.”
Qin Ye grabbed the document with dismay and began to skim through its contents. Within moments, the smile on his face faded away, only to be replaced by an icy smirk.
It was an official diplomatic document from the Russian Underworld.
“31 December. Arxan/Suember Crossing. Midnight.” Qin Ye crushed up the diplomatic document and tossed it right into the bin, “Where is this?”
“Yiershi Town, Arxan City, Hinggan League, Mongol Empire.” The Harken finally looked up with a somber expression, “The crossing that leads straight into the Mongol Empire’s Suember is located on the river that sits across the border between the two countries. So… what results do you have to show for your trip to Alkebulan in the end?”
Qin Ye began to relay everything that happened during his trip to the Harken. It was only then that the Harken sighed softly, “And then what? What are you going to do when the time comes?”
“What am I going to do?” Qin Ye sneered and slumped back into his seat, “We’re talking about 13 Mythic Spirits, plus you, plus two great leaders of the Russian Underworld. That’s a total of 16 Yama-class entities. Why wouldn’t I secure myself front row seats for such a grand spectacle? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a better understanding of our future opponents in the international political arena in future in any event.”
“Besides, it’s not us who should be thinking about what to do. It’s them.”
“And as for now?” Qin Ye sipped his tea and continued indolently, “We wait.”
“The best part of the story is never the climax. That’s where one would merely vent their emotions. The real excitement lies in the games both sides are playing leading right up to the climax of the fight. And now that their fate has already been sealed in stone, all that’s left is… to wait and watch the fireworks.”
The Harken sized up Qin Ye with some measure of satisfaction, and Qin Ye understood the appreciation in its eyes. He smiled genially and basked in the Harken’s look of approbation.
“I’ve got to say--...” Just as the Harken was about to go on, Qin Ye promptly rested his head on his hand and sat back haughtily with a wide grin, “How can I not mature after all that’s happened? There’s no need to say more. I understand.”
The Harken nodded in complete satisfaction, “That’s good.”
“Anyhow, I was going to say that I’ve drunk from that cup of tea.”
Qin Ye: ……
Why didn’t you say so earlier?!
Most Mongols are named according to their own customs, and some are even given auspicious names. For instance, Bayin was a name that meant wealth. Naturally, Bayin was just as prosperous as his name was auspicious. He was a plump man in his forties, and his face was always full of smiles. Yet what was more astounding was the fact that he was already the director of the Suember Customs.
He was in his early forties, and it was a great privilege that he was able to take such a prestigious office at such a tender age. In fact, it was almost as though the stars were aligned in his favour - the previous director had suddenly died due to a heart attack, while the transfer director perished in a car accident just one month after assuming office at the Suember Customs. It was only then that the government finally turned their attention to the group of local officials, and he was therefore fortunate enough to be nominated as the next director.
The Suember Customs were located along the border line between Cathay and the Mongol Empire. However, there was nothing much to worry about. Most contraband items coming from Cathay would be intercepted and destroyed before they even made it to the borders. That said, there was always the occasional instance of forged papers or palms greased with hush money. Unfortunately, most of these illegal activities were spurred on by officials on their side of the borders.
“Aren’t you going back yet?” Bayin’s secretary appeared almost used to the regularity of Bayin’s overtime work. It was now 6.30 p.m, and most of the workers in the office had already left for the day. Instead, he continued to work overtime everyday, going through everyone’s projects with close scrutiny. Sometimes, Bayin’s secretary couldn’t help but wonder if Bayin deserved every bit of favour from the heavens.
Naturally, her question was more rhetorical and asked in passing than anything. As soon as Bayin nodded back, she promptly set the office keys on his desk and took her leave as well.
His room was silent. It was winter. The further north one was, the earlier the days got dark. Although it was only 6.30 p.m. in the evening, it was already dark as midnight on a regular day.
Bayin continued to stare at his computer screen for the next 20 minutes, before sighing and walking right over to his window.
His plump face was devoid of any expression of joy at this moment. In fact, the corners of his eyes were twitching gently, and he looked absolutely dejected as he stared gloomily out the window.
The Mongol Empire wasn’t rich. In fact, the Mongol Empire’s GDP was only 5% of the GDP of the Cathayan Province that existed right next to them. Naturally, the Suember Customs was hardly luxurious by any means. The office was formed from regular whitewashed partitions, and the emblem of the Suember Customs was simply placed atop some steps on a raised platform. Not many of them drove cars either. At the very least, there were no longer any cars located outside the office building of the Suember Customs right now.
He was the only one left.
He stared out of the window blankly for some time. Then, just as the streetlights finally came on, he sighed softly and removed his hand from the window. And it was only then that… he discovered a line of blood had appeared right where his hand had just been!
It’s here… It’s here!!!
His entire body trembled. The lights in the room fizzled and popped off, while the doors and windows all slammed shut in unison. As soon as he removed his hand from the windows, a trail of bloody words began to write on the window by themselves, almost as though he’d written them on his own!
“Something terrifying will occur in this place on the 31st. Over the next half a month, you will witness a surge in the supernatural activities here. Stay away if you want to live.”
Bayin opened his mouth several times, thinking of a response, yet he found himself completely lost for words. It was only after several minutes that he continued hoarsely, “I… I think I’ve already paid off my debt to you.”
“Hehehe…” A soft cackle echoed coldly through the room. It was a lady’s voice. Within moments, ghastly wisps of Yin energy seeped out through the cracks on the floorboards, filling the room with darkness and laughter.
Thump, thump, thump… Bayin could only hear the wild thumping of his heart. He trembled profusely, shrinking back into a ball. His legs grew weak, but he still fought to remain standing, staring dead at the window.
It was because he could see the silhouette of a lady dressed like a European servant. Endless Yin energy poured out from the seven apertures of her face as she slowly emerged from the darkness and cackled manically, “It’s not up to you to decide whether you’ve paid off your debt or not. Besides, we’re not asking for much. It doesn’t even threaten you one bit.”
“But I can’t simply abandon my station and leave like that!!” Bayin cried out in desperation, “It’s New Year’s Day! I’ve got to start the new year on a clean slate! I can’t afford to leave things in a mess! Besides, wouldn’t I be asking for a harsh reprimand from the top brass if I leave right now?”
“Make no mistake about it.” The lady’s voice responded with great indifference, “This is just a suggestion of mine. Whether you actually take heed or not doesn’t concern us. The only difference it would make would be the resultant number of corpses around these parts. After all… you don’t want to know what happens to a human being that gets exposed to too much Yin energy.”
“Well, since you’re so insistent on remaining here at your post, then… let me just give you one more word of advice.”
In a flash, a pair of cold hands appeared right at Bayin’s neck, causing his entire body to shudder violently. Cold sweat beaded up on his forehead. A split second later, a raspy voice grated right next to his ear, “If something happens, I hope you’ll be sensible enough not to press the button for special emergencies. What’s the name of the special organization here in the Mongol Empire again? Oh, that’s right, the Eternal Guardians.”
“If you don’t want your daughter to see your body completely torn to shreds, and if you don’t want her to come here and get killed, then… you’d be wise to manage your own fears.”
A lump swelled up in Bayin’s throat, “N-not even the Eternal Guardians can do a thing about the upcoming incident?”
“They’re nothing.” The woman cackled softly as her voice gradually faded away, “They’re not even worthy of waiting on the ones who will be arriving shortly… Kekeke…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter