“I can’t believe you still remember who I am.” Aristotle coughed several times. If not for the fact that the Yin energy pouring out from his body was dense to the extreme, nobody would’ve believed it if he said he was a Yama-King.
Endless Yin energy poured out of the seven apertures on his face, transforming into the likeness of faces filled with various agonized expressions, before returning back to his body once more. He raised his withered head and looked straight at the Harken and Qin Ye, “It wasn’t easy getting an audience with the Emissaries of Hell…”
“Are you really only seeking an audience with Hell?” Qin Ye stroked the Harken with a faint smile on his face, “Or are you attempting to get a better feel of what’s going on in Hell?”
There was no need to beat about the bush.
Clarity of the current status of Hell was something that would shed greater light on the delicate balance of powers in the netherworld. It might even trigger the next great war of the netherworld! In fact, the implications were so great that with every day that passed, the underworlds have all been ceaselessly attempting to peek through the Array of the Nine Gods to get even a glimpse at what was happening in Hell. Unfortunately, their efforts have been in vain thus far.
At least, until today.
“How dare infants butt in when adults are talking?” Aristotle glared at Qin Ye, only to find Qin Ye locking eyes with him. Qin Ye snorted coldly, “Since you’re here, you must have heard from the Russian Underworld that Hell is currently undergoing a change of regime. But it seems that we haven’t been formally introduced.”
He gently flicked the sleeves of his robes, “Emissary of Hell, successor to the throne, Prefect Qin.”
The netherflames in both the eyes of Catherine the Great and Aristotle flickered wildly for a moment, and then they gazed deeply upon Qin Ye once more. After a long time, Catherine the Great lifted her puffy skirt slightly and curtseyed elegantly, “I sincerely look forward to our encounters in future.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the time to be frozen in astonishment.
Ignoring her, Qin Ye turned to Aristotle, “Ever since our previous encounter with the Russian Underworld, we’ve been wondering - the research and development of Forbidden Arts requires not only that moment of inspiration, but also pure raw data gathered over experimentation and tests. And to that end, the Russian Underworld would never be able to gather the materials required for such experiments and tests without alerting the international arena to their intentions.”
“Hmm?” Aristotle coughed twice.
“And that was when we first began to speculate whether someone had in fact deliberately leaked data to the Russian Underworld. The more we thought about it, the more we found such a possibility highly probable. And to that end, your underworld was at the top of the list of suspects. After all… you do share a substantial border with the Russian Underworld.”
Qin Ye spoke with great eloquence, describing Hell’s postulations and deductions succinctly and clearly, “Building upon this premise of ours, we then considered the question - why? Why do this? And there’s only one answer to that.”
He walked forward unhurriedly and gazed deep into the eyes of Aristotle, the renowned thinker, statesman and educator, “You want to know the truth about Hell.”
“But you wish to do so without breaching the Array of the Nine Gods that the Second King Yanluo had set in place. Incidentally, a massive Resentment Crystals Mine had appeared in the lands of the Mongol Empire. Thus, you cast out the hook of Forbidden Arts and made the Russian Underworld a deal that they cannot possibly refuse. With that, they would proceed to get in touch with Hell by hook or by crook. After all, if they wish to march into the lands of the Mongol Empire, there’s no way they can do so without first getting Hell’s nod of approval. They wouldn’t dare act so presumptuously, even if the fruit of Forbidden Arts was dangling right before their eyes.”
He paused here. Truth be told, Qin Ye had some further thoughts that he chose not to reveal.
And that thought pertains to why the Argosian Underworld had decided to act at this point in time.
And the answer to this was likely because the gods of death in the New World didn’t have much time left in the netherworld! Their underworlds were about to collapse at any time, and Hell’s likelihood of participation would immediately be relevant to the potential division of the lands in the New World. Who wouldn’t be anxious about something like that?
Nevertheless, Qin Ye simply raised his eyebrows placidly and continued, “I don’t care what it is that you’re trying to do, but our acquiescence to the Russian Underworld’s development of Forbidden Arts is predicated on the return of the Mongol Empire to us, and that includes the tomb of Genghis Khan!”
“I don’t care what thoughts and considerations you have on your mind either. What I want to know right now is…” He turned to Catherine the Great with a grave expression, “Are you planning to wage war against Hell?”
Catherine the Great didn’t say a word.
There was only so much one could plan for, and the current situation was largely caused by the variables in actual implementation. For one, they hadn’t thought about laying their claim on Genghis Khan’s tomb until they learnt that Hell was only sending two Emissaries to the final showdown.
Furthermore, they had learnt that there were no material changes to the Array of the Nine Gods, and no army of Hell assembled at the borders either.
Thus, Aristotle had moved to take matters into his own hands. And when he made this suggestion, the Russian Underworld naturally didn’t say a word about it. The Argosian Emissaries had opened the door to the dusty tomb of Genghis Khan, and Aristotle had also personally come to the Mongol Empire to oversee the operations. Unfortunately, this also meant that the dispute had escalated to beyond its original form, and now took the form of a dispute between the P4 underworlds. The Russian Underworld had to tread carefully.
“If not, you’d best withdraw your actions right now!” Qin Ye barked loudly at Catherine the Great. The burning sensation caused by the mark of the scale in his hand was intensifying by the second. Spurred on by the knowledge that reinforcements were soon to arrive, he walked slowly towards Catherine the great and gave her an unyielding look. “Empress Catherine, do you even know which continent the core of the Russian Underworld is located in?!”
Catherine the Great didn’t say a word. Instead, she simply took a step back and stood slightly behind where Aristotle was standing.
Aristotle gazed deeply at Qin Ye. He hadn’t expected an Abyssal Prefect to be able to speak with such gravitas and boldness, even in the face of two foreign Yama-Kings. He truly bears the hallmark of Hell’s tyranny…
“Pursuant to Article 178 of the International Convention…” Aristotle’s lips curled up with a contemptuous smirk, “Only Yin spirits of eminent importance to an underworld are required to be returned to their respective underworlds. But, has Hell forgotten?”
He stepped forward and stared intently at the Harken, “The Mongol Empire… isn’t Cathay.”
“So, are you telling me that you refuse?” Qin Ye smiled and nodded gently, before backing away.
Aristotle was somewhat surprised that the Harken didn’t respond, and in fact simply deferred to a mere Abyssal Prefect. He chuckled hoarsely, “So, is Hell now going to send troops against the Russian Underworld, in blatant violation of international conventions?”
Whether you dare to send troops, and whether you even have the capacity to send troops - both of these questions are the key to the next international tussle that is on the cusp of breaking out!
The New World!
These were lands that would soon become completely masterless. These were lands that were rich in both resources and Yin spirits. It was also a land where Catholicism had a presence. Hell’s decision now would determine whether the door to the New World would also be open to them or not. It would determine whether the tussle for territory would be among the P4 underworlds, or… the P3 underworlds.
“No.” Qin Ye stroked the Harken, “Like we’d mentioned before, Hell would never interfere with these affairs.”
Aristotle’s gaze flickered wildly.
Hell… is unbecoming of the Hell we knew!
Not only is an underworld bold enough to make a foray into the development of Forbidden Arts at Hell’s doorstep, it’s even going to be expressly tolerated by them?
Since when do they act this way in the face of the potential seizure of a Yin spirit with Yama-class potential before their very eyes?
And even if the matters pertaining to international conventions are ambiguous and arguable, since when do the P4 underworlds adhere to the rules to begin with?
After all, these international conventions are merely designed for the compliance of the rest of the lesser underworlds, but the P4 underworlds would never fall within such a category!
“So… you’re giving up?” Aristotle’s heart thumped wildly - Not enough… This isn’t enough. I’ve merely touched the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got to keep testing their bottom line to get to the bottom of it all!
Perhaps I’ll convene an international conference on Forbidden Arts.
Or perhaps I might even call for a global condemnation of the Russian Underworld’s refusal to comply with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Forbidden Arts. That way, as the master of the East Continent, Hell will have no choice but to lift the seal and preside over this matter. Otherwise… they would have no choice but to relinquish their position as one of the P4 underworlds!
“As regional administrators, are you actually abdicating your duties and responsibilities to maintain the stability of the region? Are you even taking a backseat as one of the greatest warlords and emperors of your nation gets seized by a foreign underworld?” Aristotle stepped forward and began to speak with great aggression. Netherflames blazed like an inferno in his eyes as he gazed intently at Qin Ye, refusing to let slip even the slightest of micro-expressions.
“Is it that you’re unwilling to send troops, unable to send troops, or…” He slammed his cane on the ground, and a terrifying blast of Yin energy erupted at once, “Do you no longer have the strength to do so?”
“Over the last hundred years, you’ve refused 372 international meetings and 57 large conferences of the Federation of Underworlds. You no longer participate in peacekeeping missions in the region. You no longer publish your regular white papers on finance and military matters. You refuse all academic, artistic, civil and even military exchanges…” He sighed in exclamation even as the Yin energy continued to stir and swell within his body, “Has time… finally gotten the better of Fengu?”
As he spoke, Qin Ye sensibly retreated, leaving a large berth of several meters between them, before he finally responded, “Hell naturally wouldn’t interfere with such matters. After all, international disputes should be resolved using global means.”
At once, both Aristotle and Catherine the Great couldn’t help but get a bad feeling about the hidden meaning behind Qin Ye’s words.
But before they could say anything more, they heard a sound of something shattering echoing from the distant skies across the horizon.
Unlike the usual sound of glass shattering, the crashing sound they heard had a far more cosmic timbre to it. In fact, the sound even caused the entire East Continent to tremble softly.
“This is…” Catherine the Great froze for a moment, and then turned to glare behind, “The death god barrier has been broken?! How is this possible?!”
Aristotle also froze and turned back at exactly the same time. And a split second later, the netherflames in his eyes instantly contracted.
They weren’t the only ones. The shattering sound was so loud that practically every single one of the multitude of Yin soldiers turned back in horror.
It was an unforgettable sight.
The skies at the horizon appeared to be torn completely apart, and vast amounts of Yin energy and netherflames poured right out of the rift in the skies, together with a massive vortex of Yin energy!
And to that end, the vortex was easily tens of thousands of meters wide from end to end! It was quite literally a giant tornado that was sweeping straight through the skies and descending towards the ground! Moments later, dozens of pairs of netherflames lit up from the boundless darkness in the skies and stared intently over. Then, with a soft chuckle, they immediately swooped over like a majestic eagle!
The Mythic Spirits had finally arrived!
BOOM!!! The sheer impact of their arrival crushed the densely packed Russian cavalry on the ground at once, blowing them up to smithereens and tainting the skies with darkness!
It was already past nine in the morning, and yet Khuree appeared to be plagued by an endless winter night. Even then, the cold of such winter nights could hardly compare with the chilling sensation accompanying the deadly gaze of multiple Mythic Spirits!
“Mythic Spirits?!” Aristotle was the first one to exclaim in horror. As one of the highest emissaries in the Argosian Underworld, he knew full well the deep revulsion the Mythic Spirits had for the Argosian Underworld. That said, there was only one thought in his mind right now.
What the hell are they doing here?
On what grounds?!
His heart and mind were in chaos, and he appeared completely frazzled. A split second later, he turned back abruptly and peered straight through the darkness of the Yin energy and stared at Qin Ye with a quiver on his lips, “You!! It’s you--...”
“It’s you!!! It’s you, isn’t it?!!”
Qin Ye looked up with an icy gaze, and a mischievous smile hung off the corner of his lips, “Does it really matter right now?”
“Esteemed Thinker, and renowned Empress Catherine, shouldn’t you be thinking of how you’re going to extricate yourself from the interrogations of these Mythic Spirits?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter