In the Felipinas.
The rousing sound of blowing horns rang out, and one underworld emissary after another turned to look at the tall palace in the distance. Immediately thereafter, they were stunned to discover that the army of the Lord of Luzon, which had barely ever been mobilized before, was on the move!
"What's going on?" A netherworldly citizen looked up at the tall city walls with a stunned expression. Atop the city wall, Yin soldiers were converging from all directions like waves of netherfire.
Is there going to be a war? But that's never happened before!
The Lord of Luzon, Yang Jiye, had never made it a secret that he was here to keep out all the fugitives, evil ghosts, and underworld emissaries that tried to pass through this place from the Pacific Ocean, and the army had never been mobilized before.
"What's going on? Is there an underworld that's attacking the Cathayan Underworld?"
"Who could be so insane?! This is one of the four pillars we're talking about here! I can't think of anyone who would be crazy enough to attack the Cathayan Underworld!"
"Then how do you explain this?"
There was no need for an explanation.
In the next instant, the city gates were flung open, and rows of cavaliers riding on skeletal horse steeds emerged amid the sound of thundering hooves, and countless gusts of Yin wind that swept across the earth like an inky-black flood!
The sound of the blowing horns was absolutely deafening, and a series of bright red flags bearing the "Yang" character were flapping in the wind. No attempt had been made to hide this operation from the public eye. The army was led from the forefront by Yang Jiye, and behind him were Yang Yanzhao, Yang Zongbao, Yang Yanyu... All of the direct lineal descendants of the Yang Clan were present, and their suits of black armor were giving off a chilling gleam under the light of the sun.
All of them were wielding long spears with quivers strapped to their backs, and no matter how one looked at it, it was clear that a battle was on the horizon.
As soon as the army of tens of thousands of troops rushed out of the city, they immediately split up into two groups. Most of them rushed straight towards the harbor, while the rest rushed toward the other side of the Felipinas. They had to prevent the troops of the Hindustani Underworld from leaving the Strait of Malacca. At the very least, they had to report such a situation to Hell should it arise.
Killing intent was rising up straight into the heavens, and Yang Jiye led the way with an authoritative expression. On the harbor not far away, a series of giant treasure ships had already unfurled their sails and were ready to set off at any time.
In the instant that he reached the harbor, Yang Jiye brought his own steed to a halt, and the imposing skeletal steed that he was straddling immediately rose up to its hind legs. Only after the rest of the army had stopped behind him did Yang Jiye turn his steed around to face them.
He was greeted by the sight of tens of thousands of bright red flags and a sense of bristling killing intent in the air. It was as if time had fallen completely still, and a gust of Yin wind swept over the army, emitting a fierce howl as it did so.
Several seconds later, Yang Jiye declared, "Everyone, I have an order from Yanluo Qin."
Yang Zongbao and Yang Yanyu exchanged a glance before immediately extending bows on horseback, and the rest of the troops quickly followed suit.
Everyone had been called together for an emergency gathering within 10 minutes, and no one had any idea what was going on, but the answer was about to be revealed to them now.
"Yama-King Xu Fu has stolen the Judgment Pen and is fleeing to the Pacific Ocean. Lord of Luzon Yang Jiye is ordered to stop him from reaching Xolotl's Screen at all costs. Abyssal Prefects Qin Hui and Su Daji have been sent as reinforcements."
All of the soldiers raised their heads to stare at Yang Jiye with incredulous expressions.
A Yama-King had taken one of Hell's three divine artifacts and fled? And that Yama-King's name was Xu Fu?
Was it that Xu Fu? That man was still alive? Why was he betraying the nation?
Countless questions sprang up in their minds at once, but as soldiers, their duty was to follow orders, so as soon as Yang Jiye's voice trailed off, all of the soldiers immediately cupped their fists in salutes and accepted the orders.
"Remember that this is a Yama-King," Yang Jiye said as he fixed an intense gaze on everyone.
"This is no Infernal Judge, nor is this an Abyssal Prefect. If we rush in and face him directly, the only possible fate that awaits us will be death. Thankfully, our orders are only to stall him, and we shall do so at all costs! No one is too valuable to sacrifice! I will report the names of all those who perish during this battle to Yanluo Qin, and you'll be sure to be granted a lavish burial and have the needs of your family members looked after for the rest of their days!"
Yang Jiye turned his steed back around and led the charge toward the dozens of treasure boats docked at the harbor. "I wish you all the very best of luck."
In the face of a Yama-King, they would certainly need luck in spades to survive.
Peach Blossom Spring, Fantasy City.
No one knew where this city was located. It was as if it were constantly traversing through a nonexistent space. Currently, the city was surrounded by boundless greyness in all directions, and Xu Fu was standing on the top floor of the tallest pavilion. His usual calm and carefree demeanor was missing, and his hands were gripping the railings tightly as he carefully inspected the unchanging scenery around him.
He was racing against time.
He knew that there was no way that Hell would allow him to flee to the Pacific Ocean, and that they had to have already set things into motion to capture him. Even though he had already left Gui Xu behind as a decoy, he certainly couldn't be sure what a powerhouse like the Cathayan Underworld was capable of.
"I can't help but feel uneasy..." He gently pursed his lips, and right at this moment, a voice suddenly rang out beside him. "Your Excellency, we are nearing the territorial sea of the Federated States of Micronesia."
All of a sudden, Xu Fu's heart began to thump violently. This was a very bad sign. He merely nodded in response, and before he had a chance to examine where this terrible premonition was coming from, the owner of the voice continued, "Your Excellency, I must say that I'm very perplexed by your decision not to travel through the Nipponese Sea. That route is clearly shorter, and that messenger sent by Mistress Izanami told us that she would be willing to grant us free passage..."
Before he even had a chance to finish, Xu Fu waved a dismissive hand, and he inspected his surroundings through narrowed eyes as he interjected, "I don't trust her. If the Nipponese Underworld really had the guts to oppose the Cathayan Underworld, then it would've already made a move. Instead, it's forced to sit in silence as several of its most powerful emissaries have been picked off. They're granting us free passage now, but if they decide to shut the gate on us in Tokyo, we'll be trapped, and the Cathayan Underworld will catch up to us for sure! On top of that..."
A cold tone crept into Xu Fu's voice as he continued, "I'm sure Izanami also wants to know where the Peach Blossom Spring is herself. Taking the Micronesia route is a little longer than the shortest route, but it's much safer."
The owner of the voice paused momentarily before asking, "Your Excellency, will the Cathayan Underworld really try to catch us?"
Xu Fu merely smiled and offered no response to this.
Over 2,000 years ago, he had intentionally not returned from his final voyage precisely to avoid the wrath of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. He knew extremely well what an emperor or ruler hated the most. If everything he had done had remained a secret, then nothing would've happened, but upon its discovery, the only fate awaiting him would be execution if he were to remain in Cathay. Thus, he didn't even hesitate before deciding to flee.
Right at this moment, the horns of Fantasy City rang out, and countless messenger birds rose up from the surrounding forest before flying toward the pavilion where Xu Fu was standing.
The chirping of the messenger birds rang out incessantly, and Xu Fu's pupils contracted slightly as he mused, "Finally, after all these years, I'll be using the measures I set up so long ago."
There were so many messenger birds that they were sweeping up gusts of Yin wind that were causing his robes to flap audibly. He closed his eyes and listened carefully, and several minutes later, he reopened his eyes as he spat through gritted teeth, "They're coming."
The Cathayan Underworld was beginning to close its net around him, and he was facing the immense pressure of opposing a powerhouse nation. Now, it was truly a race against time.
True energy revolved around his fingertip, and the messenger birds flew back into the forest. "Lord of Luzon Yang Jiye has just set off with an army of tens of thousands of troops, and elsewhere, two Abyssal Prefects are also on their way, leading roughly 80,000 troops. They really are sparing no effort to hunt me down! But why is there no Yama-King among them? Perhaps they really have been delayed by Gui Xu?"
No one dared to say anything in response.
Several seconds later, Xu Fu suddenly raised his head and asked, "How far away are we from Xolotl's Screen?"
"1,000 nautical miles, Your Excellency!"
Xu Fu nodded in response, and he could feel that his mouth had become bone dry. How long had it been since he had experienced such an overwhelming degree of fear?
"What about the time? How long has it been since my encounter with that Yama-King of Hell?"
"It's already been 47 minutes since then, Your Excellency! From here, it'll still take us around half an hour more to reach Xolotl's Screen!"
So this is the final 30 minutes...
If he hadn't taken a longer route, there would perhaps only be 400 to 500 nautical miles left at this point.
Surely the final present I've left Hell is about to take effect now.
Unbeknownst to even Xu Fu himself, his eyes had turned slightly bloodshot, and he was unconsciously drumming the railing with his fingers as he murmured to himself, "Let's see who's going to win this race. Activate the Profound Heavenly Windglide formation!"
"Your Excellency, it's already been activated, and it's already been operating at over its maximal capacity for close to an hour!"
"Keep adding Yin spirit stones!!" Xu Fu commanded in a cold voice, "As long as it doesn't explode, keep feeding it Yin spirit stones! Even if it explodes, it has to last until we reach Xolotl's Screen!"
Beep beep beep!! In this instant, almost all of the Yin energy detection devices in the mortal realm were beeping vigorously.
At the headquarters of the Special Investigations Department, all of the investigators and SRC researchers were staring at the screens around them with incredulous expressions.
There were countless red dots on the map! It was like looking at a nest of wasps that were mobilizing from all areas!
The Yin energy detection devices around the screens were beeping like there was no tomorrow, and strings of numbers were constantly flashing and changing.
Three hundred million, five hundred million, a billion, two billion, three billion... The numbers were jumping up by millions every second!
"My god..." A middle-aged man collapsed back onto his chair. "What on earth is happening?"
The countless red dots weren't worthy of alarm, but there were several particularly thick red lines that were rushing rapidly toward the harbor, while one of them was traveling toward Fujian Province.
Right at this moment, the door swung open, and Lei Jun strode in alongside a man in Taoist priest robes. Everyone immediately rose to their feet.
"Director, take a look at this! We have no clue what's going on!"
"Is there any news from Hell?"
A flurry of voices was ringing out at once, and Lei Jun raised a hand to silence everyone before rushing over to a monitor and staring at its screen with an extremely grim expression.
With just a single glance, he was able to ascertain that there were a total of three Yama-Kings involved, as evidenced by the three red lines with Yin energy readings in excess of a hundred million. Two of them were rushing toward Wuyang, while the other was traveling toward Fujian at breakneck speed. They were making no attempt to disguise what they were doing. Perhaps it was because it was already too late and they couldn't even be bothered to hide their actions.
Something big must've happened in the underworld!
After exchanging a glance with the old Taoist priest, he asked, "What do you think, Sword Master?"
All of the investigators were shocked to hear this title.
There was only one person who could be referred to as Sword Master in the entirety of Cathay, and that was Sword Master Xuanyuan.
"I received emergency contact from Hell not long ago, informing the mortal realm that a major crisis is taking place. Looking at things now, the fact that they've deployed three Yama-Kings means that this crisis is most likely even direr than they had described," Sword Master Xuanayuan replied in a grim voice. "As for what exactly happened, I didn't ask, and the person who contacted me was in too much of a rush to tell me. All he said was that the Yama-Kings have already been deployed, and he advised us to seize control of the region of the high sea near Hawaii as quickly as possible. I've already informed the higher-ups of this, and we're just waiting for a response now."
Lei Jun paused momentarily, then took a deep breath before casting his gaze toward everyone else. "Instruct all of the branches of the Special Investigations Department to go on the highest level of alert. On top of that, instruct all branch directors at the Infernal Judge level to travel to Eastsea City right away!"
After issuing all of those instructions, Lei Jun made his way over to a technician and commanded, "I want a report of all of the ships from our nation near Hawaii as soon as possible!"
"Yes!" The technician's fingers flew over the keyboard like the wind as he asked, "What do you plan to do, Director?"
Lei Jun shook his head as he cast a grim gaze forward.
Hell had advised them to seize control over this region of the sea.
In order to do this, something had to happen so that Cathay would have an excuse to intervene.
To all of the ships docked near Hawaii, my apologies, your holiday is most likely going to turn into an extremely terrifying experience.
This was something that he had to do.Previous Chapter Next Chapter