Chapter 823: Deep Sea Mezzanine (1)

The meeting was temporarily adjourned. In order to make sense of everything, deep-sea exploration was required, and in order to carry out such a massive scouting operation, both sides had to make thorough preparations.

The mortal realm had to prepare marine scientists and submarines capable of descending to extreme depths, while Qin Ye needed more power.

This was a hidden force that even the second King Yanluo hadn't managed to track down, and he certainly didn't dare to look down on it. Under extreme depths, even an Abyssal Prefect most likely wouldn't be able to withstand the crushing water pressure. In addition to that, there was a giant sea beast constantly lurking. If something were to happen to the submarines, he had to ensure that he had the ability to protect himself deep under the sea and survive any attacks that came his way.

In order to do that, he required Yama-King level power.

After parting with Mo Changhao, he immediately returned to the underworld using King Yanluo's Seal, then sent out a messenger bird to summon Zhao Yun for an emergency meeting.

For someone above the Yama-King level like Zhao Yun, traversing through the Cathayan Underworld was a simple task, and he quickly arrived.

"My Lord." Zhao Yun stepped onto the top floor of Ashmound's customs building before extending a respectful salute.

Qin Ye was standing in front of the window, looking out into the boundless sea. The sea in the underworld carried a slightly black tinge, and under the illumination of sunlight, scattered rays of golden light that were a little different from what you would see in the mortal realm were reflected. The sea was like a vast piece of black jade, as imposing as it was awe-inspiring, and it was as if the light was being reflected off of shards of broken glass.

Qin Ye was the only person on the top floor, and his hands were clasped behind his back as he cast his gaze out the window. The sea breeze blew in through the window, carrying with it the scent of the sea as well as the refreshing aroma of rain and dew. He didn't say anything, and it was as if he were mesmerized by this stunning scene. Only after a full five seconds had passed did he begin to speak. "How many mysteries do you think there are lurking beneath the surface of the sea?"

Zhao Yun pondered this question momentarily before replying, "I do not know. The sea is the most mysterious part of the underworld. Due to the lack of electricity, there is no foundation for technological development. There are also no substitute sources of energy, so we're unable to develop submarines like in the mortal realm. At the very most, an Abyssal Prefect can venture into depths of around 7,000 meters. Yama-Kings can go beyond that into the tens of kilometers, but there were only 120 Abyssal Prefects and less than 20 Yama-Kings in the entire Cathayan Underworld, and all of them were extremely busy, so we haven't had a chance to explore the sea."

Whoosh... The icy cold underworld sea breeze abruptly blew in through the window, causing the curtains and Qin Ye's robes to flap and drift before settling down again.

"Not even once?"

"There have been past instances. Both the first and second King Yanluos have sent Yama-Kings to survey the seabed in the past. King Dushi, King Pingdeng, and some others have all gone to depths in excess of 10,000 meters, but I never got the opportunity. Apparently, it's very different from the sea in the mortal realm. I've heard that there are no large marine animals in the seas of the underworld, and that the terrain is very flat. Instead, there are many underwater spirits. This directly correlates with the mortal realm. Throughout the course of history, countless ships and boats have set off on voyages across the seas, and the bodies and souls of fallen sailors aren't on land, so they're unable to access the underworld through the city gods and the Lords of the Land. The best that Hell can do is set up some Gates of Hell on certain islands. As a result, most of the lost souls have no place to go, and countless lost souls have accumulated in the sea over time. Hell has conducted three culls in total in history, and on each occasion, aggregate Yin spirits very close to the Yama-King level were discovered. However, the most recent of those culls took place several centuries ago."

Qin Ye nodded in response, and he rested his hands on the windowsill as he asked, "Can you accompany me on a trip to the seabed?"

The answer should've been straightforward, but Zhao Yun sighed and cupped his fist in a salute as he refused, "I'm afraid I won't be able to accompany you this time, my Lord. Alternatively, I can only accompany you to the border of the underworld at most."

"Why is that?" 

"Do you still recall the last mission you assigned to me where I extended invitations to all of the death gods to attend your inauguration ceremony?"

Qin Ye immediately realized what the problem was.

Just like the second King Yanluo, beings above the Yama-King level were prohibited from interfering with the underworlds at will. Their powers already transcended beyond this realm, and even the almighty second King Yanluo had been left with only two choices, the first of which was to destroy this world, and the second of which was to leave.

The Heavenly Dao was like an intricate machine. Any changes that arose, regardless of whether it was good or bad, as long as they weren't within its calculations, then they had to be erased. If it couldn't do that, then it would force the issue and potentially cause catastrophic consequences than accept and tolerate.

On the previous occasion, Zhao Yun had already interfered too much with the underworld's affairs. If it weren't for him, the inauguration ceremony would've most likely already aroused suspicion from the death gods. All of the nations could've even sent envoys to force the Cathayan Underworld to open itself up to the rest of the world. However, due to Zhao Yun's intervention, everything had passed by peacefully, and his actions had altered the course that the underworlds were supposed to take.

"My Lord, once you become a Yama-King, you'll be able to sense it. The Heavenly Dao is like a pair of eternally present eyes. It's constantly surveying every single Emissary of Hell and Yin spirit. My actions from last time didn't escape its detection, and I can sense something constantly watching me. If I continue to recklessly act as I please, I'll most likely be following in the second King Yanluo's footsteps soon."

Qin Ye heaved a faint sigh upon hearing this.

The Harken also wouldn't be suitable to bring along. It hadn't yet fully recovered from its injuries, and on the past few occasions where it had engaged in battle, it had only been for short and explosive bursts. Currently, it was in no condition to fight for extended periods of time, and the maximal time limit during which it could battle in its Yama-King state was only 10 minutes. If they were to encounter any danger deep under the sea, 10 minutes definitely wouldn't be enough for them to reach the surface!

He had never actively pursued progression in cultivation, but in this instant, he was suddenly strongly yearning for a breakthrough to the Yama-King rank.

"Accompany me to the border of the underworld." He took a deep breath before turning around. "After that, we'll travel to the six paths of reincarnation."

"Yes!" A hint of excitement appeared in Zhao Yun's eyes as he asked, "My Lord, are you finally prepared to progress to the Yama-King level?"

"That's right," Qin Ye sighed. "Only my own power is true power."

………………………………………………….

It was very difficult for sunlight to pass through the seawater of the underworld.

Entering the sea from Ashmound Port, one only had to descend for around five to six meters before visibility fell to zero. A giant ship was resting up above on the surface of the sea, and the Harken was situated at the front of the ship. The sides of the ship were lined with over 1,000 Yin soldiers, and the plan was that Qin Ye would release a messenger bird once every 20 minutes. If no messenger bird arrived after over 25 minutes since the last one, then the Harken would activate King Yanluo's Seal at all cost to suck away all of the seawater and ensure Qin Ye's safety.

Below the surface of the sea, Qin Ye and Zhao Yun were enveloped in Yin energy as they rapidly descended, instantly speeding past the 500-meter mark. However, the deeper they went, the slower they became. Their surroundings were already pitch-black, as if they were submerged in black ink, and even if they were to hold their hands up to their faces, they wouldn't be able to see them.

"There really does seem to be something amiss here." Qin Ye's emissary aura kept the seawater at bay as he inspected his surroundings through narrowed eyes. "It's too quiet... and too deserted."

Zhao Yun's earlier description had only provided him with a rough idea of what the sea in the underworld was like, but seeing it in person was a different experience entirely. In the sea of the underworld, there were no mountains and no fish. It was inky-black, but there were some eerie reflections of light from time to time, and it was far more forbidding an environment than the seabed in the mortal realm.

This wasn't a paradise, it was a dark prison.

Advancing through this area, one was struck by the feeling that something extremely terrifying could abruptly emerge beside them at any moment. Perhaps it would be a twisted human face, or perhaps it would be a gigantic Yin beast that had never been seen before. They were all lurking in the darkness, scrutinizing these two fresh new souls, and the bone-chilling sense of oppression was like a huge hand that was locked in a vice-like grip around Qin Ye's heart.

However, nothing ever happened, and the suspense simply continued to build.

After descending to a depth of around 1,000 meters, Qin Ye and Zhao Yun both cast their eyes toward the same direction in unison. There, several hundred meters away, the darkness seemed to have sprung to life.

Ripples began to surge through the water, and an indistinct deathly pale figure appeared, presenting a terrifying sight to behold in the darkness.

"That's an intermediate Infernal Judge level evil ghost." For an Abyssal Prefect like Qin Ye, he was able to see the evil ghost from several hundred meters away even in the suffocating darkness. He could clearly see that this was a female Yin spirit with snowy white hair wearing a garment that was also white. She seemed to exist between the planes of illusion and reality, and her body appeared to be completely formed by white mist, wisps of which were drifting through the seawater. Countless hands and heads were growing all over her body at twisted angles, and she was like a conglomeration of several dozen people.

"That's an aggregate Yin spirit," Zhao Yun said. "In the deep sea, countless Yin spirits have accumulated throughout the course of history. Make sure to be on your guard, my Lord, these things are no less powerful than special Yin spirits. As we go down further, there's a very good chance we could encounter Abyssal Prefects or even beings close to the Yama-King level."

Qin Ye was naturally on high alert after hearing this, but even as they continued to descend, they only discovered two or three aggregate Yin spirits, none of which were above the advanced Infernal Judge level!

"This isn't right..." Zhao Yun appraised their surroundings with tightly furrowed brows. "The last cull took place 400 years ago. During the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, countless sailors would've lost their lives at sea, so there should've been countless more Yin spirits accumulated here. How could there only be a few aggregate Yin spirits?"

No one could answer that question.

The most terrifying thing was always the unknown, and Zhao Yun was already flying ahead of Qin Ye as a safety precaution. The two descended deeper and deeper. 3,000 meters... 5,000 meters... 7,000 meters!

At this point, Qin Ye felt as if the seawater around him had already turned into iron and steel, and he was imprisoned right in the center of it. Even the rising of his chest from inhalation was a monumental task, and he couldn't even lift his neck anymore.

All of his joints were creaking and groaning, but right at this moment, a burst of Yin energy extended toward him, enveloping his body and providing him with instant relief.

It was Zhao Yun's Yin energy.

Neither of them said anything as they continued to descend in silence. 8,000 meters... 9,000 meters... 10,000 meters!

Right as they hit the 10,000-meter mark, they seemed to have triggered some type of boundary, and slight tremors ran through the entire seabed. Zhao Yun's pupils abruptly contracted as he grabbed onto Qin Ye's hand.

There was something different here.

It was an extremely abstract and indescribable feeling. It was clearly still the same sea, but they couldn't help but feel as if there were something extra here.

The fear of the unknown converged toward them from all directions in the darkness, and Qin Ye appraised their surroundings with a grim expression. All of a sudden, he spotted something, and he gently tapped Zhao Yun's shoulder before pointing toward the east.

Zhao Yun cast his gaze toward that direction, and his brows immediately furrowed slightly.

It was a speck of netherfire that was of a stark white color.

It was very small, but it was extremely eye-catching in the vast and deserted sea. If it were anywhere else, then it would've been very difficult to notice.

However, it was by far the most attention-grabbing thing here.

Before Zhao Yun had a chance to say anything, Qin Ye patted his shoulder with a grim expression, then pointed downward.

Through the faint radiance being released by the speck of netherfire, it could be seen that countless Yin spirits were converging toward it from down below!

The Yin spirits were twisting and revolving like a deathly vortex. On the very top of the vortex were around a dozen Prefect-level Yin spirits, and beneath them were what appeared to be close to 100 Infernal Judge level Yin spirits, and that wasn't even taking into account the countless Netherworld Operatives, Soul Hunters, Anitya Hellguards... Yin spirits of all levels were gathering like stars in a galaxy. It was as if this speck of netherfire was the sun, while all these evil ghosts were orbiting around it.

It was a galaxy of countless ghosts deep in the sea!

Qin Ye was momentarily dazed upon seeing this, and only after a few seconds had passed did he shake his head with an awe-struck expression. "What on earth is this thing..."

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