Zhao Yun swept his gaze around the boundless surrounding darkness. The speck of netherfire was the only source of light in this entire area, but what it was illuminating was a sea of evil ghosts.
They didn't immediately decide to do anything. Instead, they cast their eyes further into the distance, and they saw another speck of stark white netherfire. They were like lanterns separated by set intervals, guiding one deeper and deeper into the darkness.
"My Lord, you stay here, I'll go test out the waters." Zhao Yun's eyes narrowed slightly as he made a grabbing motion with one hand, and a gust of fierce wind suddenly swept through the area, even though they were deep under the sea. His suit of silver armor clattered and clanged in the wind, while his black hair and white cape danced erratically as they were blown toward the left. He was like a statue of a war god standing in the dark sea.
To his right, a massive hole formed by Yin energy had taken shape on the pitch-black seabed. Countless specks of netherfire converged toward it, forming a revolving wheel of wind and fire. Wisps of white Yin energy began to revolve around Zhao Yun's right hand before transforming into a long spear.
"So cool..." Qin Ye was looking on like a starstruck fangirl. No matter how many times he saw it, he was always amazed by the epic displays that Zhao Yun could put on at will.
When will I be able to pull off an entrance like that...
Such a massive commotion naturally attracted the attention of all of the Yin spirits, but even after catching sight of Zhao Yun, they didn't escape!
The evil ghosts looked at the netherfire, then at Zhao Yun, and the netherflames in their eyes flickered with internal conflict. They were hesitating in the face of a being above the Yama-King level!
"Piss off!" Zhao Yun ordered in an indifferent voice as he brandished his spear. As he stepped forward, the darkness within a radius of hundreds of meters faded like the night giving way to the day.
Three seconds later, the evil ghost vortex began to revolve rapidly. Led by the dozen or so Abyssal Prefects and close to 100 Infernal Judges, the countless Netherworld Operatives, Soul Hunters, and Anitya Hellguards roared in Zhao Yun's direction in unison.
With so many evil ghosts gathered, the sea instantly became extremely turbulent. However, Zhao Yun merely smiled as he strode toward them in a calm manner.
The more he approached the evil ghosts, the more ferociously they roared, and upon reaching within a kilometer of them, Zhao Yun finally made his move.
Qin Ye shivered as a chill ran down his spine. All he saw was a streak of light.
It was a streak of dazzling white light that illuminated the entire seabed, and by the time he returned to his senses, Zhao Yun had already arrived behind the army of evil ghosts, while all of the evil ghosts were completely still as if they had been immobilized.
In the next instant, all of the evil ghosts burst into netherfire in unison, and it was as if red spider lilies were blooming over this dark seabed. The most hideous and vile things had been transformed into the utmost beauty.
The Courage of Dragons Silver Spear dissipated into netherflames, and Zhao Yun turned around as he said, "Everything's cleared up now, my Lord."
Qin Ye flew over to him in silence. He didn't want to speak to a man who was so much cooler than himself. After taking a glance at the speck of netherfire, he gently placed a hand onto it. Immediately thereafter, his soul abruptly shuddered.
It was as if something important in his life had been filled.
He immediately raised his head to stare at the speck of netherfire with a stunned expression, and upon closer inspection, he discovered that there was a speck of golden light skipping at the center of the netherfire. No... in fact, it was billions, trillions of golden specks!
Those golden specks were like the radiance from the initial creation of the world, or the stars in a dark night sky. They were revolving and forming one golden galaxy after another before silently dissipating.
"Divinity...." A hint of excitement crept into Zhao Yun's voice. "This is divinity!"
Before Qin Ye had a chance to say anything, he continued, "Only divine artifacts possess divinity!"
"Only divine artifacts possess divinity..." Qin Ye faltered slightly upon hearing this before immediately exclaiming, "Are you saying this is from the Judgment Pen?"
The three divine artifacts of Hell were King Yanluo's Seal, which was capable of drawing upon the Yellow Springs to activate the kinetic energy of the Cathayan Underworld, the Book of Life and Death, which allowed one to examine the lifespans of all living beings, and the Judgment Pen, which judged right from wrong and decided the paths of reincarnation for Yin spirits to take. Only with all three divine artifacts complete and in their rightful places could the Cathayan Underworld function to its maximum capacity.
Thus far, the Judgment Pen had proved to be very elusive. Qin Ye hadn't declared this in a public setting as that could encourage rabble-rousers aiming to take his place, but in secret, the darkfeathers had been constantly searching for the divine artifact. Never did he think that he would find leads on the divine artifact that had eluded him for several years here on the seabed!
"Back when Hell ascended, King Yanluo's Seal was the closest, and it was completely destroyed. In contrast, the Book of Life and Death and the Judgment Pen were further away, and the former was blown all the way to the Strait of Tsushima, so it's certainly not impossible for the Judgment Pen to have flown all the way here..." Qin Ye mused as his eyes narrowed slightly. "Which part of the Judgment Pen is this?"
"It's the ink," Zhao Yun replied as he stared intently at the speck of netherfire. He then cast his gaze toward the distance, where there were even more specks of netherfire, seemingly acting as signposts.
"There is ink on the pen, and after it was sent flying, it traveled all the way here... My Lord, the current situation is very bad."
He turned to Qin Ye and cupped his fist in a grim salute as he said, "Divine artifacts arise from the founding of Hell. That was an era during which gods like Nüwa and Exalted Father were still around. Ever since then, no more divine artifacts were able to be created. Every single divine artifact is imbued with a hint of the laws of heaven and earth, allowing them to disregard all restrictions..."
A thought seemed to have occurred to Qin Ye upon hearing this, and he raised a hand to cut off Zhao Yun as he cast his gaze toward the specks of netherfire in the distance.
It was clear that the Judgment Pen had been sent flying in that direction, and the problem was...
"The Array of the Nine Gods is in that direction..." His voice began to tremble as he spoke. "It disregards all restrictions... Doesn't that mean it would've smashed a hole directly into the array?"
All of a sudden, he felt as if an important puzzle piece had clicked into place, and many things that had confused him in the past all became connected.
Arthis had once told him that unless express permission was given, only low-grade darkfeathers at or below the Soul Hunter level could enter another country's underworld, yet three Anitya Hellguard level emissaries of the Nipponese Underworld had once come to the Cathayan Underworld.
He hadn't paid much heed to it at the time, but thinking back now and connecting this matter with the appearance of Otakemaru... Could it be that the emissaries of the Nipponese Underworld were already aware of this crack in the array?
No, that shouldn't have been the case. If Black Yaksha and Crow Tengu had known about this, then they wouldn't have gone after Lee Jung-sook during the Hungry Ghost Festival. Alternatively, perhaps the crack wasn't able to support their enormous Yin energy?
Could it be that the emergence of that giant sea monster also had something to do with the Judgment Pen?
He shook his head to set aside that train of thought for now. The answer would be revealed sooner or later as he continued exploring, and it was clear that these specks of netherfire led to the final divine artifact.
Thus, without further ado, he and Zhao Yun quickly flew along the path traced out by the specks of netherfire.
Neither of them said anything, and even at depths in excess of 10,000 meters, they were still moving extremely quickly with Qin Ye enveloped in Zhao Yun's Yin energy. Very soon, light began to appear up ahead.
Qin Ye swore internally as he gritted his teeth and urged, "Go faster, General Zhao!"
Zhao Yun accelerated even further at his behest, and he also knew that this was a very bad sign.
The faint blue light shimmering up ahead was the light of the Array of the Nine Gods, yet even at this point, the netherfire still hadn't been snuffed out!
At this point, it was virtually certain that a devastating clash had taken place between the Judgment Pen and the array, and the outcome would've most definitely been catastrophic.
As they continued to advance, the Array of the Nine Gods gradually became clearer and clearer in their field of view. As they drew closer and closer, their expressions also darkened further and further. This was because there was a hole that was over 100 meters in size on the array above them!
The runes around the hole were desperately writhing and self-repairing, but even after over a century, only a thin layer had been restored, and it would easily break under the slightest touch.
Soon, both of them arrived in front of the array. The radiance of the Array of the Nine Gods couldn't be seen on the surface, but within the boundless darkness of the deep sea, it was clearly visible. It was like a series of bright blue metal bars, forming a fence that separated the Cathayan Underworld from the outside world.
Up to this point, Qin Ye had been reveling in a sense of extreme security, and this was all based upon the assumption that the Array of the Nine Gods was perfect and whole. Standing in front of the giant hole right now, Qin Ye's lips were tightly pursed. His fingers were trembling as he gently stroked the array in silence.
Does anyone know about this? Does the Nipponese Underworld know? If they do, have they told the other underworlds, particularly the three pillars? Have other emissaries from foreign underworlds entered through here? No, this most likely hasn't been discovered yet. At the very least, the three pillars don't know about this. Otherwise, my inauguration ceremony definitely wouldn't have progressed so smoothly. However... does the Peach Blossom Spring know about this?
This was the thought that worried Qin Ye the most. If that massive monster could freely traverse through the three realms, then the connotations were downright terrifying. He gritted his teeth, and in the blink of an eye, he was already outside the array.
"My Lord!" Zhao Yun exclaimed in an urgent voice from inside the array.
"You don't need to come out." Qin Ye's body disintegrated into Yin energy as he rapidly drifted upward. "There are some things that I have to see for myself."
The specks of netherfire were still extending into the distance, and he had to see where they concluded!
However, he had only just emerged from the array, and the enormous water pressure was already crushing the air out of his lungs. Before he had a chance to say anything, the Courage of Dragons Silver Spear had already appeared in Zhao Yun's hand in a flash.
"I'll wait for two hours at most!" Zhao Yun declared in a serious voice. "If you don't rise up to an altitude of 7,000 meters or above, two hours is the maximum period of time you'll be able to last."
Qin Ye nodded in response, and the Yin energy that his body had disintegrated into scattered before rising up like a murder of black crows.
He didn't want to think about anything right now, all he wanted was to find out the truth. The Array of the Nine Gods was the foundation for his rule, he didn't want to have all of his efforts in creating this dynasty benefitting someone else in the end.
He traveled upward at full speed, and after 10 minutes, he finally drew to a halt.
"Shit..." he swore through gritted teeth as he looked up with an extremely grim expression.
It was a Yin Yang Mezzanine...
It was a gigantic Yin Yang Mezzanine with a radius of around 150 to 160 kilometers!
Within the Yin Yang Mezzanine, the azure Yin energy of Limbo was surging incessantly, and the netherfire formed by the ink of the Judgment Pen extended all the way into it before vanishing from sight. It was like a series of signposts guiding Yin spirits to another world.
"How could there be such a massive Yin Yang Mezzanine?" Veins were bulging on the back of his hand as he held onto the Courage of Dragons Silver Spear. The Judgment Pen wasn't in the underworld. Instead, it had borrowed the power of Hell's destruction to smash its way straight into Limbo, creating a massive hole that even that massive sea beast was able to pass through!
This made him think of even more things. The mirage city had appeared outside the array, and this was also outside the array. This was most likely the case that the rift that connected all three realms, and it was even more massive than he had imagined.
At the same time, he was feeling very fortunate. Thankfully, even though the Cathayan Underworld had remained silent for over a century, its influence still remained, and no one dared to probe its condition. Otherwise, the neighboring underworlds would've detected this rift long ago, and if they were to go slightly further ahead, they would be able to see the gaping hole in the Array of the Nine Gods.
Indeed, he had been truly fortunate... but not fortunate enough!
He stared intently at the rift with a grim expression because a chilling thought had occurred to him.
That giant beast had to have passed through this place, and it was carrying Otakemaru on its back, which meant that Otakemaru had been extremely close to the Array of the Nine Gods!
Was it possible that he had inspected the Array of the Nine Gods in secret? Would he have dared to do that?
Just the mere thought of this sent cold sweat flowing down his back, and he wanted nothing more than to go to the mortal realm and inspect the seabed there right away.
He wanted to see what form the rift had taken in the mortal realm, and he wanted to see where that gigantic beast was hiding.
It wasn't in the underworld. Otherwise, he would've already sensed its enormous Yin energy, and it wouldn't dare to be so close to the Cathayan Underworld.
For such a massive beast to have entered the mortal realm through the rift, there had to have been some traces left behind.
If there weren't any traces in the mortal realm...
"Then I'll see you in Limbo." He pursed his lips, and he rapidly retreated as a flood of Yin energy. The mirage city, the massive tsunamis, the underwater giant beast, Otakemaru, the deep sea Yin Yang Mezzanine, the Judgment Pen... All of these chaotic leads were muddying the water further and further. If he wanted to repair this rift just as Nüwa had mended the heavens, then he would have to attain the same level of power as Nüwa first.
Thus, the first thing he had to do wasn't to connect these leads. Instead, it was to rebuild the six paths of reincarnation and progress to the Yama-King level!
After that, he would slowly examine everything to see exactly how these seemingly unrelated events were tied together.Previous Chapter Next Chapter