“Just… just one… I--...”
A split second later, there was a shrill shriek, and the Yin spirit answering the question immediately vanished without a trace. But Su Daji didn’t even care to look at where the Yin spirit was. Instead, she simply turned to the next Yin spirit, “I can smell the thick stench of blood coming from your body. I don’t think my Lord would like that…”
She waved her hand gently. No Yin spirit could stand up against the might of an Abyssal Prefect. But just then, she looked up abruptly at the sky, and then knelt down respectfully, “Your servant Su Daji humbly greets your lordship!”
Ashmound City. Qin Ye gazed intently at the screen, suppressing the burgeoning excitement in his heart, “Where are you now? What’s the progress?”
“Your Excellency, I’m currently located in Fengtian West Railway District, where a nest of a thousand ghosts has been formed. I’m slowly unravelling the effects of the same. My lord, Fengtian will be restored within a month’s time. Meanwhile, Yichun and Bingcheng are also being taken care of by my subordinates. And as soon as I receive reports of any Judge-class Yin spirits, I’ll immediately head over to deal with the situation.”
Qin Ye responded placidly, “Will you be able to complete your tasks before 1 May?”
Su Daji pondered for a moment, “Your humble servant will try her--...”
“I’m not asking you to try your best.” Qin Ye cut her off right away, “I need this done!”
“The three eastern provinces must be liberated before 1 May. You’re not the only one racing against time here. General Zhao will soon be travelling to the Yangtze Delta and Fulling Province. We’re talking about half of Cathay being liberated at the same time. Su Daji…”
He glared coldly at her, “Don’t be the deadweight here.”
“You know the position that you’re in right now. Prove to me that my decision to keep you around isn’t a bad decision… that is, if you don’t wish to join Crow Tengu and the others at the six paths of reincarnation.”
The screen of light went out. On the other side, Su Daji stood up at once, drew and deep breath, and then Yin energy erupted from her body like thousands of poisonous vipers slithering out of their nest, burrowing into every corner of Fengtian.
I’ve only got slightly over a month left… To liberate three provinces… might prove difficult, even to an Abyssal Prefect.
But if anyone dares come between me and my survival, I’m going to take it personally!
After all, Hell is no longer the same Hell it used to be…
Time passed quickly. Both Hell and the mortal realm were eagerly anticipating the upcoming meeting, and both sides were making their final preparations as they dashed to the finish line. And before they knew it, 1 May arrived.
Labour Day was a day celebrated by the entire nation. Unfortunately, the mortal realm hadn’t had the chance to celebrate this for many years now. That said, this Labour Day was going to be different. All leaders whose works were in some way related or affected by the supernatural disaster had now gathered in Yan Capital’s main square, in the middle of a grand and spectacular hall.
It was an annex hall. But since the seating capacity wasn’t too high, everyone here would at least be 50 years of age and above. They all wore a serious expression on their faces, and they glanced at the door expectantly from time to time.
The hall was further divided into two sides. One one side were three rows of high-ranking officials, some of whom even wore golden olive branches on their shoulders that signified their importance. These were faces that everyone knew all too well about, given the number of appearances they had already made on national television. Meanwhile, the other side of the hall was filled with empty seats.
Then, as soon as the clock struck midnight, the lights in the entire hall suddenly flickered, and that was soon followed by the convergence of a terrifying nethergale. Lei Jun and about a dozen other Infernal Judges standing guard at the sides of the hall immediately glanced around vigilantly, ready to strike at the moment’s notice. Then, seconds later, the Yin energy swirled together like a powerful vortex, from which Qin Ye’s figure slowly stepped out.
Lei Jun’s muscles loosened slightly, but then he soon frowned once more. And he wasn’t the only one. Everyone frowned at the same time.
How could Hell have sent only one person to a meeting as important as this? Are they… really serious about these negotiations?
Qin Ye didn’t speak immediately. Instead, he surveyed his surroundings and took in the grand sight. The national insignia hung gloriously at the back of the hall, and just its presence alone weakened Qin Ye’s energy by almost half. Meanwhile, both sides of the hall were lined with the national flag.
Isn’t this… the Assembly Hall? To think that I would be given the opportunity to set foot in a place like this… No, this is a clear indication of how important the mortal realm treats this meeting of ours.
He was slightly moved. After all, the Assembly Hall was a place used only when either Yan Capital or Cathay received international envoys or guests. Who would’ve thought that Hell would be granted such honour as well?
His heart was filled with a sense of sobriety and honour. At once, he retracted his faint smile and swept his gaze intently across every person in the room. The president, the vice president, and several other important people were all present in the room. Even the lowest ranking member here was easily a general of the Cathayan armed forces.
These are all people that I’ve once seen on television and sincerely looked up to…
He took a deep breath and calmed his mind down. After all, he knew that he represented an entire realm, and it was on his shoulders to do well for Hell. Besides, he already had some experience with meeting national delegates, especially after the incident with the Alkebulan Underworlds. Therefore, he didn’t feel too apprehensive about the upcoming meeting.
“It is an honour to finally meet you.” He clenched his fist and placed it across his chest as he bowed deeply to the room, “You may all be wondering why Hell has only sent me, and only an Abyssal Prefect at that, and not a Yama-King.”
He straightened up and looked up, “There is an ironclad rule in Hell that the mortal realm and the netherworld must never intersect. I’m the sole exception to the rule, and that naturally means that I’m the only one who is qualified to represent Hell at this meeting.”
A thin old man smiled faintly, “I’ve read the records of the Divine Protectors, and there have been records of their interaction with Hell as well.”
“What you’re talking about is an interaction through the medium of possession, or perhaps the relaying of a message through a dream. However, given the agenda that we have, this meeting will take time, and neither of those modes are going to be useful to us here. Besides… you can say that I have a good understanding of what goes on in Hell, and I’ve also got the authority to speak for Hell. After all, I was the one who initiated these negotiations in the first place, “Qin Ye explicated with eloquence, “I can naturally explain everything that has happened, and everything that will be taking place.”
The top brass exchanged glances, and then the president nodded slightly and made a gesture of invitation, “Well, then… please.”
They glossed right over the usual platitudes. These negotiations had been a long time coming, and both sides couldn’t get into the heat of it all.
Meanwhile, Qin Ye’s heart was also filled with complex emotions. The journey thus far hadn’t been easy.
The first time he faced the government directly was when he first broke through to the ranks of an Anitya Hellguard, when he came face to face with Zhou Xianlong. Back then, his attitude was that Cathay had no need for the netherworld, and if Hell can be sacrificed for the mortal realm’s greater good, then that would be the way moving forward.
And then, there were a couple of other times when he had crossed their paths, but those weren’t too important. All he knew was that they had on several occasions attempted to probe deeper at Hell’s might and strength, and yet Qin Ye had done everything he could to conceal as much as he could. Then, the turning point came during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
That was when the Master of the Sword of the Yellow Emperor first noticed Hell’s might.
From there, he stepped into the realms of an Abyssal Prefect, personally travelled across the lands, recovering Pearl River Delta, shocking the Daolord of the Asura, before slowly but surely reclaiming the land that had been lost to Hell. As time wore on, the alert status of the coastal regions slowly turned from red to orange, and then to yellow. But even then, Hell chose not to call for negotiations, but instead went on to reclaim Valley County, Pearlriver, and even resolve the supernatural incidents at the Yin Mountains. Finally, as all of these threads came together, it finally culminated in the negotiations today!
After all, Hell finally had the requisite might and strength to call for these negotiations!
He closed his eyes and adjusted the thoughts in his heart. Then, he finally looked up, “I believe you already have an idea about the situation in Hell after our last meeting. But just so we’re all on the same page, I’ll say it again. A hundred years ago, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva fulfilled the Great Vow and gained ascension, causing Hell to be emptied out. Granny Meng found me and entrusted me with a shard of King Yanluo’s Seal, and I suddenly found myself shouldering the weight of Hell’s revivification. From there, I’ve come to build something out of nothing, and it’s finally time to enter into talks with the mortal realm about the tall task of restoration of Hell.”
“There might have been several misunderstandings between us in the past, but that’s only natural. Back then, I had no choice but to join the Special Investigations Department because I was weak, and Hell hadn’t even taken form yet. I was being pursued by a daolord, and that’s why I decided to turn to the safest place in the mortal realm. Meanwhile, the Special Investigations Department and the government has time and time again preferred the interests of the nation over anything else. I can get behind that as well.”
Lei Jun’s fingers quivered for a moment, and then he calmed down once more.
That was all in the past.
Neither side was wrong. It was all just a misalignment in their positions.
As a nation, it was impossible to allow the growth of a power that they weren’t able to keep tabs on or under their control, especially one that was inextricably linked to the source of the supernatural disaster they were facing. After all, how long had they longed for the end of such a calamitous occurrence? They would never let any opportunity to gain ground slip past their fingers!
The president nodded slightly, “Our interests weren’t aligned, and we had no choice either. It is great that Prefect Qin understands the situation, and has helped us to set things into better perspectives.”
The Assembly Hall was constructed with acoustics in mind. Thus, even though the president spoke with neither a loud voice nor any voice-enhancing equipment, everyone in the Hall could still hear his words with pristine clarity. Qin Ye smiled back, “Yes, that’s all in the past now. And now that that is all out of the way, please allow me to officially begin.”
Everyone straightened up slightly. Qin Ye drew a deep breath, and then began to explain, “Hell currently has two cities under its charge, Ashmound City and Everburn City, which sits on Martial City and the City of Salvation respectively. Of these, Ashmound City has a population size of 20 million, while Everburn City has a population size of 3 million. Two months ago, we issued a conscription order, and 180,000 troops have been recruited thus far.”
“The strongest fighting force in Hell right now comprises myself, the Harken, and General Zhao Zilong, an Abyssal Prefect, a Yama-King, and… an entity beyond the realm of a Yama-King respectively.”
He paused for a moment, and yet not a single person made a single peep of sound.
Their ability to keep their wits about them was astonishing.
But even then, Qin Ye knew that they had to be astounded in their hearts. They were just repressing their emotions for the purposes of the negotiations. Needless to say, their placidity created a peculiar sensation of depth and profundity in the air.
Qin Ye was learning.
After all, the world stage was next on the cards after the unification of the underworld, and it would serve him well to learn from the leaders of the mortal realm, especially since… he didn’t have the same kind of “persuasiveness” of the Second King Yanluo.
“You might not understand what all this means right now. So, to put things into perspective, I’ll tell you about the situation in the rest of the netherworld right now. The four largest underworlds in the netherworld include the Argosian Underworld, the Aegyptian Underworld, Hell, and the Hindustani Underworld. Of these, the strongest entity in the other underworlds are Yama-Kings, which means that General Zhao Zilong is an exception to all that. Therefore…”
His eyes gleamed brightly, “Nobody can stand in the way of our unification of the Cathayan Underworld!”
“Then why do you need five years?” Just then, an old general stood up and asked, “Director Lei, an Abyssal Prefect, can already take care of several provinces on his own. All things being equal, wouldn’t an entity beyond the realms of a Yama-King be able to sweep through the lands in less than half a year? And that’s not to count the other Yama-King in Hell’s power right now.”
“Because of the Heavenly Dao.” Qin Ye pointed up, “Perhaps you might find this statement rather nebulous, but I can swear it upon the name of Hell that everything I’ve said thus far is absolutely true, regardless of how incredulous it might seem.”
“The Heavenly Dao would reject existences beyond the realms of Yama-King if they act out of line. In fact, the last King Yanluo of Hell was known as the strongest King Yanluo in history, but his might drew the ire and rejection of the Heavenly Dao, and he was forcibly expelled from the Three Realms altogether. Unfortunately, the unification of the Cathayan Underworld isn’t the end for us. From there, Hell will have to deal with the other powerful nations outside. Therefore, we simply cannot afford to lose our strongest experts right now, and…”
He paused for a moment, “We have no choice but to plug the gap with Yin soldiers.”
He told a lie.
They still had a Yama-King, and a Yama-King could still act without being rejected by the Heavenly Dao. Unfortunately for the mortal realm, they didn’t have Yama-Kings, and they weren’t able to verify whether Qin Ye was telling the truth or not.
Truth be told, the upcoming unification war was also a change to train his soldiers. After all, training wasn’t quite the same as going to war once. He didn’t want the Harken to interfere if he could help it. Sure, doing so might cause things to be slightly more protracted, but if he didn’t take this opportunity to train up his forces, how were they going to be prepared to face the other three P4 underworlds in the future?
It was a cold position to take, but it was all a matter of national interests at the end of it all.
The president and the vice-president had a soft exchange with each other, before they turned to Lei Jun and engaged him in their discussions. Meanwhile, Qin Ye couldn’t catch anything useful from the lack of expressions on their faces. Seconds later, the president turned back and asked, “What’s the estimated time frame?”
“Five years.” Qin Ye responded decisively, “And possibly even sooner! Currently, the only remaining stronghold that stands in our way belongs to the Daolord of the Beast, located in the southwest. But he’s just an Abyssal Prefect. This means that liberation of those provinces isn’t going to be so much of an issue, as it is going to be just a matter of time!”
“Are you not worried that other Yama-class forces would suddenly appear out of the blue?”
“Impossible. It takes more than a hundred years or two for the development of a Yama-class entity. Besides, Cathay isn’t going through any period of war right now, and there’s barely enough blood food to go around among the evil ghosts right now. Sure, we might encounter other organized forces along the way, but they would never be able to stand against the army of Hell!”
“Surrender and submit, or fight and die!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter