Chapter 703: Drum of a Mountain God (1)

Boom! An intense nethergale swept forward. Qin Ye didn’t enter his Hell’s Emissary state, so the wave of Yin energy that swept forward was ferocious and aggressive. The Yin spirits lying prostrate on the ground all felt it envelop their entire bodies, and yet… not a single one dared move in the slightest.

“I’ve not used my weapon ever since becoming an Abyssal Prefect…” Qin Ye’s silhouette slowly appeared from the shadows, revealing the fact that he was holding… an umbrella.

It was an oil paper umbrella with its surface covered with numerous talismans.

Rustle… The umbrella opened silently, revealing the painting of a face that was half crying and half laughing. The spokes of the umbrella were all made with human bones, and from them also hung several fist-sized human bones that acted as wind chimes, followed by trailing black talismans that were drawn on with striking vermillion ink. It was a rather artistic sight. Qin Ye released his hand, and the umbrella drifted soundlessly to the road covered with Yin spirits.

A second later, copious amounts of Yin energy suddenly gathered from every direction, pouring into the umbrella and causing it to grow larger and larger! Meanwhile, the ghosts below clearly felt the coalescence of terrifying Yin energy. Their bodies twisted and twitched slightly, almost as though they were desperately trying to avoid this frightening attack. Unfortunately, they were shackled by the powers of a Yama-class Yin spirit, and they could do nothing more than shiver hopelessly.

Whoosh! Then, like a torrential downpour, countless sharp blades poured out from beneath the umbrella, pelting down mercilessly to the congregation of Yin spirits below. A cacophony of miserable screams ensued at once, followed by the eruption of dazzling lights formed by the netherflames hurtling into the skies. Qin Ye and the Harken rushed forward through the now-cleared roads, crossing over a thousand meters at once!

Both sides of the road were covered with netherflames what echoes of the miserable cries of the sea of hapless Yin spirits. He could hear the merit points slowly accruing in Hell’s Records in his bosom, but… even a few hundreds thousand points was nothing more than a drop in the ocean in light of the millions that he needed.

“Do you feel that?” 10 minutes later, after crossing yet another valley, Qin Ye’s eyes flashed wildly as he beckoned to the bone umbrella, causing it to fly right back to his hands. He licked his lips, “The Yin spirits are slowly getting stronger and stronger.”

The Yin spirits that they had encountered earlier looked almost akin to the gathering at a bazaar, numerous and chaotic. But now, they could only see one Yin spirit bowing in reverent worship on the ground just 10 meters ahead of them.

“Operative-class Yin spirit…” The Harken’s pupils narrowed as it glanced towards the depths of the mountain range ahead, “Does this mean that the further we go, the stronger the Yin spirits making this pilgrimage? We’d seen nothing more than mere wandering ghosts earlier, and yet… we’re already seeing evil ghosts?”

“And not just any regular evil ghost.” Qin Ye walked up to one of them and stared it down in the eye. The evil ghost trembled, but remained hapless and unable to move. Qin Ye grabbed the evil ghost by the nape of his neck and lifted his head forcibly, “These are nomads.”

He wore a foreign looking cap, replete with two rows of braided hair running down the back of his head and onto his chest. They wore simple clothes that were monotonous in colour, and a scimitar hung by his waist. A folkloric necklace made from horse’s bones and a turquoise pendant also hung right in front of his chest.

Nobody said a word.

Had it not been for Temujin’s Tomb, the appearances of such an evil ghost would’ve hardly meant a thing to them. But now…

“Does this mean that Ghost King Zhao’s state right now is related to Temujin?” Qin Ye couldn’t think of any other reason why the ghost of Mongol descent would actually be worshipping Ghost King Zhao.

In fact, it would seem that every Yin spirit from this point forward were all evil ghosts of the Mongol Empire!

“Temujin’s soul is missing, and yet these spirits have made pilgrimage to this place to worship the same god…” The Harken licked the corners of its lips and murmured to itself, “Interesting… When the cat goes to sleep, the mice come out to play… Kill them all. I’d like to see just who it is who even dares to make its move against the Ghost King of Hell.”

Without further ado, Qin Ye rushed forward, ploughing straight through the Yin spirits along the road. His Yin energy roared in fury as they slowly but surely made their way to the very peak of the mountain range. As they went on, they encountered fewer Yin spirits along the way. However, they could all sense that their cultivation levels were slowly getting higher and higher.

Operatives, then Hunters, then Hellguards… Then just as they approached the halfway mark to their destination, they actually passed by three Judge-class Yin spirits, all of whom were lying prostrate on the ground with impeccable devotion.

Qin Ye rushed forward and motioned to strike them with his bone umbrella once more. But, just then, he paused, only to realize that the Harken had simultaneously also grabbed hold of his hand. Both man and dog took a tacit look at each other, and then proceeded to glance around at the surroundings.

The road had ended.

They were only halfway along towards the very peak. The Yin mountains looked just like a large horse from afar, with its peak located at the horse’s head. They would only be at the horse’s back, and they could see that the horse’s head was just ahead of them. However…

The path upwards had completely ended!

In other words, there didn’t seem to be any other ways to get up to the peak!

They could both see that the horse’s head was shrouded in clouds of Yin energy that had already filled the sky. Crows formed from Yin energy could even be seen circling the very peaks of the mountain. But what was most astonishing was the fact that the three Judge-class Yin spirits didn’t appear to be bowing in the direction of the horse’s head. Instead, they appeared to simply be bowing towards another location.

“Are they worshipping their own king?” The bone umbrella flew right back into his own hand. Qin Ye grabbed hold of it, and then slowly made his way towards the end of the road. The stone path had been around for countless times, and some of the pieces had already collapsed into the ground.

“That’s right.”

“But why aren’t they bowing down to the horse’s head?” Qin Ye’s pupils contracted as he walked up towards the three kneeling Judges, gently running the tip of his bone umbrella along each of their spines. The three Judges trembled, and they begged with quivering voices, “Cultivation isn’t easy… P-please… spare us…”

They didn’t speak in Cathayan, but Qin Ye could understand them because he had heard these exact words just a little while ago!

They were speaking in the language of the Mongols!

Qin Ye’s eyes flickered wildly, and he immediately rushed forward to the end of the path. Right there, he could see a crumbling building located along the mountainside. It was clearly completely different from its original state, but there was still a sculpture located right in the heart of the ruins.

Incidentally, Qin Ye had also seen this sculpture before.

It was none other than a sculpture of Tengri!

“What’s the meaning of this?” He sighed in disbelief and turned to the Harken, “They’re bowing down to Tengri? Does this mean that Brother Zhao isn’t here? Or is it that…”

He paused for a moment, and then his body shuddered at the thought, “Tengri and Brother Zhao… are synonymous with each other?”

Silence.

A split second later, both Qin Ye and the Harken quipped at the same time, “Genghis Khan’s soul?”

Qin Ye quickly marched up to the sculpture, confirming that it bore the exact same appearances as the Tengri he saw when the Mongol Empire’s faith had collapsed. That said, the only difference was that the sculpture appeared to be holding a lotus flower in his hand.

It was a withered lotus flower.

But although it was withered, its petals were still neatly arranged around the heart of the lotus flower. Qin Ye reached out and touched them gently. At once, the petals immediately disintegrated, before transforming into wisps of ethereal green Yin energy that promptly dissipated into the surroundings.

“What’s this--...” Qin Ye stared blankly at the sculpture’s hands. He had never seen such greenish Yin energy before.

“Ascension.” The Harken paced around the statue, glancing around with great seriousness at the surroundings, “The lotus flower represents the cultivation of virtue, while a withered lotus flower represents divine impurity, or taintedness. This is a distress signal.”

“Green Yin energy lies on the other end of the spectrum of colours for Yin energy. It’s an indicator of the extent of taintedness. It means that its owner is on the verge of losing control. And the Yin energy that you see…” The Harken took a deep breath, “It's all from Ghost King Zhao.”

Qin Ye gulped nervously, “You mean…”

The Harken stared at the horse’s head peak, “The lotus flower is symbolic for something else, and that’s Buddha’s tongue, or Buddha’s words. The fact that Ghost King Zhao had left a trace of his own Yin energy on the lotus flower has various levels of significance. The first is that this is a message from him. The second is that his own divinity has been tainted, and he might no longer be able to discharge his divine functions from now on. If anyone sees this, render assistance immediately. But if no one sees it…”

It gnashed its teeth and gazed into the depths of the mountain range, “Then three months later, karmic fire will ravage the city and destroy both him and his opponent.”

The Red Lotus of the Purgatory will destroy everything, even the holiest of divinities. This is an ultimatum.”

Qin Ye’s jaws dropped slightly as he gazed blankly at the horse’s head peak.

Is he actually fighting with someone? Who… or what could it be?

Genghis Khan’s soul?

No… that wouldn’t be sufficient to push him into a corner like this.

After all, Genghis Khan hasn’t even been to Hell, and he’s not been conferred any title as an Emissary of Hell either. Naturally, Ghost King Zhao will be able to instakill any Yin spirit of the same level as him.

So who could possibly force Ghost King Zhao into such a tight corner - and even to the point where he would have to leave a distress signal and trigger the ultimate technique that is the Red Lotus of the Purgatory?

Qin Ye skimmed through everything he knew of Cathayan history, but apart from those who had already gained ascension, nobody seemed plausible!

“What do we do now?” He had never encountered a situation like this before. It was almost akin to the xuanxia novels that he had been reading, and it was completely different from the international affairs that he had been learning to deal with of late. Qin Ye rubbed his chin and paced about with some measure of annoyance.

“Hang on.” The Harken leapt up onto a boulder nearby and gazed into the distance once more, “He’s torn apart the fabric of space that connects the horse head’s peak from the rest of the world. I’m afraid we won’t be able to locate him even if we head there right now. This is a formation array, one that only high-ranking Emissaries of Hell know how to enter. Let me take a closer look at how we can enter this domain he’s created.”

Qin Ye sighed, “Why? Isn’t he asking for help? Why does he have to make things so difficult for the person rendering assistance?”

The Harken glanced coldly at Qin Ye, “Because something that can force a Ghost King into a corner like that can only mean that it’s not an easy situation to break out of. He doesn’t want any other hot-headed Emissary of Hell to rush headlong into the fray and end up adding to the chaos instead.”

The Harken took a deep breath, and then its body swelled up abruptly. Its eyes flashed like arcs of lightning bolts, while its small body began to exude a terrifying presence, almost like that of a grand dragon. Then, it slowly brought its paw to the ground. With a loud bang, the runic symbols of countless Yin Talismans began to converge on his paw.

As the number of runic symbols increased, they also began to dazzle with ever greater brilliance, becoming more and more life-like, until even golden butterflies were beginning to scatter from its paws. Then, finally, everything transformed into a pillar of light formed from dazzling Yin talismans that revolved around them.

“Divine Bulwark, Boundary Break.” The Harken’s voice boomed like muffled thunder. With a loud bang, the pillar of light contracted around them and spun violently, until it finally formed a map of the Yin Mountains.

At least, it looked like a map. The truth of the matter was that every bit of it had been completely formed from the runes of Yin Talismans. The Harken gently set its claws onto this map, causing it to ripple wildly like the twinkling stars in the dark night sky.

Then, the Harken paused for several seconds, before sighing softly, “He was probably already losing consciousness back then, because I can tell that this formation array was set up in a haste. Unfortunately, I need to know what kind of formation array it is if I’m going to break in and enter. I hope he’s at least left us with sufficient clues…”

“Is it going to be troublesome?”

“Very.” The Harken gnashed its teeth, “If Ghost King Zhao had entered with the intent of perishing together with his enemy, he might not even leave a single clue for anyone - just to alert others to the fact that there is a formation array here that none should enter. Right now, we can only pray that he wasn’t sober enough to set it up properly--... Hang on a minute! What’s this?!”

As it spoke, the map on the ground suddenly sparkled with a dozen or so spots of light that appeared to be entering from several different locations.

“Someone has gone in?!” It gasped, “After all these years, someone has actually stumbled their way through the formation array’s defenses?!”

Qin Ye’s gaze flickered wildly, and then suddenly recalled something.

Couldn’t ‘One Sword One Mind’ be said to have entered this place?

That’s right! Could he have inadvertently breached the defenses of the formation array and stumbled in by mistake?

That’s right! The drum beats of the mountain gods, and the diffuse fog…

These are all special features of the formation arrays!

Qin Ye immediately turned to the Harken, “Drum beats of the mountain gods! And a world full of fog and mist!”

The Harken abruptly looked up and gazed deep into Qin Ye’s eyes, “Are you certain?”

“I am! But now isn’t the time to be talking about how I got to know of these things!”

The Harken sighed softly, and then swiped its paw down ferociously towards the boulder beneath its feet. Then, with a sharp, incisive gaze, it glanced up at the horse’s head peak once more and murmured to itself, “Superior A-grade formation array, Ninefold Desolation Soul-Cleaving Array. Old Zhao, aren’t you being too hard on yourself?”

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