Boom… As the alloy wall slowly opened up, and the locks and bolts retracted from their view, a ten-meter wide square hole appeared in front of everyone’s eyes.
As the door opened, innumerable symbols lit up at the same time. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that they were in fact runic symbols that appeared to have been etched into the alloy itself.
“The Heaven’s Gate Demon Descending Great Array.” Chang Shun explained softly, “This is one of the most powerful formation arrays in Cathay. No matter how powerful the Yin energy is, it wouldn’t be able to affect the people standing within the domain of the formation array. The effects of this array lasts ten minutes.”
“The entire SRC falls within the domain of the Heaven’s Gate Demon Descending Great Array. Do you think a simple alloy door is sufficient to block out Yin energy as powerful as thirty million Yin? The only reason why you’ve not been affected and forced to your knees is because the Great Array is in operation at every moment of the day. And this place is none other than the heart of the formation array.”
As soon as he finished speaking, a pitch-black gale rushed straight out at them!
The alloy door had finally fully retracted, and everything inside was visibly gold in colour!
“Manifestation of Yin energy as wind…” Su Feng looked around in shock. Their clothes, including their camouflage uniform and Chang Shun’s white lab coat, were immediately swept back and fluttered wildly as though they were squaring up against the eye of a typhoon.
“Materialization of Yin energy… This is the effect of the thirty million Yin ghost king?” Qin Ye drew a breath of cold air and stared at the hole.
However, he couldn’t see anything apart from the field of gold.
The golden colour was not a glimmer of light or a luster. Rather, it was a form of material substance, almost as though a layer of golden diamond membrane had been laid over the surface of the hole.
“This is… a ghost king?” Lin Han’s jaws dropped with disbelief. Was the thirty million Yin existence nothing more than a patch of gold?
Whoosh… The Yin gale subsided, and the temperature around them fell rapidly. Chang Shun’s voice grew somber, “Like I said before, this is only a part of it. Nobody knows its true appearances, and nobody dares to dig through the stones at the sides either. After all, if the thirty million Yin existence is awakened from its dormant state… the consequences would be simply unimaginable!”
“The world behind it is blocked by layers upon layers of Yin energy, and none of our instruments and probes are able to reach within. It’s been decades now. This is the third batch of researchers, yet we’ve not made any progress whatsoever. That said, the Exalted Father hasn’t moved an inch either. The Special Investigations Department has once sent criminals sentenced to the death penalty to us for the purposes of live experiments. When they touched the gold membrane, some of the convicts immediately dried and withered up, while other convicts immediately collapsed to the ground with the three lamps over the bodies extinguished in an instant… Hang on… this is…”
Just as he was speaking, the gold membrane suddenly moved.
It was an abrupt silence.
Chang Shun was just explaining that the Exalted Father had not moved an inch for decades on end, and yet, it had just… shifted!
Everyone, including Qin Ye, thought that this was nothing more than their eyes playing tricks on them. However, in the very next moment, a loud rumbling sound reverberated from behind the stone wall, sending waves rippling across the golden membrane, leaving clear wrinkles across the surface. Finally… it spat out a single strand of hair that was approximately one meter long.
Everyone remained silent, and stared at it with widened eyes as they instinctively adopted a defensive stance. On the other hand, Chang Shun’s face immediately flushed with a red hue, and both of his arms began to tremble uncontrollably!
It’s moving… it’s moving!
The most powerful presence with the highest aggregate Yin energy reading in history… has finally moved!
Swish… The six of them waited with bated breaths as the snow-white hair gently drifted towards the ground. Then, as soon as it landed on the alloy below, the soft contact released an earth-shattering sound! It was as though the bones of a giant dragon had collided with the surface of the alloy! The single strand of hair had left an immeasurably deep hair-line crack on the ground!
No… In fact, the tremor was so powerful that the entire SRC had felt the violent quake!
At this moment, all of the personnel stationed at the garrison on ground level were also dumbfounded.
Rumble… The old nursing home quaked as though an earthquake had struck the lands. Then, pieces of the dilapidated walls began to topple over, leaving cracks on the structure of the nursing home. Finally… with a loud crash, the entire five-storey nursing home collapsed to the ground!
Down below, the tremor from the collapse of the nursing home jolted Chang Shun right back to his senses, and he immediately dashed back out of the room like a madman, “Quick! Mobilize all of the cultivators in the City of Salvation right away! Dr Chen, Dr Li, Dr Zhao and my research team, bring your equipment over to the Exalted Father’s room!! Even if we’ve got to dig down three feet under, we absolutely must find that strand of hair!”
“Captain Lu!!” He was practically shouting at the top of his voice, and his eyes had already grown bloodshot. A captain dressed in his camouflage uniform immediately stepped forward, “Please give me your instructions.”
“Seal off the scene!! Nobody is to enter or leave this place! All violaters shall be shot on sight! Inform Deputy Attorney General Zhou and request his attendance immediately! This is of the utmost urgency!”
He completely ignored Qin Ye and the others. The entire research center immediately flew into a frenzy. Several machines extended their arms into the Exalted Father’s lair; the lights of several indicators lit up almost instantaneously; while the flow of unending data scrolled rapidly throughout the large screens all over the place.
Very soon, another man dressed in white lab coat escorted the five of them into an empty room each, and left hurriedly without saying anything.
The doors of the rooms were tightly shut, and they were unable to see anything that was going on outside. The only thing that they continued to hear was the incessant sound of quick paces on the outside. Qin Ye’s gaze flickered brightly as he whispered, “Scales.”
He muttered affirmatively.
Earlier, he had clearly noticed the pieces of scales peeking through the hole when the Exalted Father had shifted its body.
And the golden membrane that was blocking the entire hole was none other than a single scale from the Exalted Father’s body!
Qin Ye had obviously been thinking aloud. His elbows were resting on his knees, and he rested his interlocked fingers over his mouth.
On the other hand, Arthis didn’t drift out. She was aware that there were surveillance cameras all over this place.
“Scales.” Arthis’ voice was immeasurably grave, “This is definitely something from Hell… energy readings at thirty million Yin means that it’s already at the level of a Yama-King! But what can it be? The colour of the scales are extremely familiar, yet I just can’t put a finger on it!”
“What did you do earlier?” She suddenly paused and asked Qin Ye, “Something tells me that its movement has something to do with you. Even I was able to sense the roiling Yin energy while standing beside it. But I didn’t do anything. It must be you.”
Qin Ye remained taciturn.
He did make a move earlier.
He was curious to know whether his proof of identity as an Emissary of Hell would have any suppressive effects on the Exalted Father. But as soon as his hands touched his chest, the Exalted Father moved.
In fact, that was not all. He had even heard a sound.
Roar… It sounded like a howl, but Qin Ye knew it was more than that. It was an anguished howl. The Exalted Father’s consciousness had connected with his for a split second, and he could almost feel its pain.
It wasn’t a seal.
It wasn’t in a deep slumber.
Rather… it had sustained grievous injuries!
That entity was not moving because it was simply absorbing Yin energy from the surroundings in order to nurse its wounds. In other words, it was fully aware as to everything that the humans were doing around it!
“No!” Arthis rejected, “As Granny Meng has mentioned, the esteemed Torch Dragon has already departed from the world. I’d even personally watched from the depths of the abyss as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva personally whisked the Torch Dragon away. The Torch Dragon may be an entity that possesses the same amount of Yin energy as this one, but I’m quite certain this isn’t him!”
Qin Ye nodded his head, but his eyebrows were still tightly knit. He was no longer trying to identify who this was. Rather, he was now wondering… why the Exalted Father had decided to share a shred of its consciousness with him?
It couldn't be unintentional. The extent of such injuries on such a powerful existence meant that it had struggled with its life to flee to earth when Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva attained enlightenment. Thereafter, it had lived the next few decades, completely motionless as a statue. One could only imagine the price it had to pay to move even the slightest bit. Under such circumstances, how could it have possibly shared a shred of its consciousness with Qin Ye unintentionally?
Twenty minutes later, Qin Ye shook his head dejectedly.
He couldn’t figure it out.
“But Hell was truly powerful back then…”
“Each of the Yamas of the Ten Palaces are extraordinary beings comparable with the thirty million Yin existence here. If we add the Aurogon and the Exalted Father, we’ve essentially got twelve such existences. And then there’s still the hundreds of Abyssal Prefects and thousands of Infernal Judges, all of whom rule over innumerable Emissaries of Hell… Is it truly possible to rebuild something like that?”
Qin Ye was murmuring to himself, but Arthis heard everything. She gently nudged Qin Ye in his pocket, “Don’t be discouraged. The forces of Hell in its glory days was a result of thousands of years of painstaking nurturing and cultivation. You’re not even at the starting point yet. Don’t you think that you should be directing your thoughts to the starting point instead?”
Qin Ye paused for a moment, and then revealed a bitter smile on his face.
If he were to follow their original plan, that necessarily means that he would have to enter the SRC and punch through the stone wall just to find his way beside the motionless ghost king. That would be the precondition for reestablishing Hell above it.
But this was practically an impossible task!
There remains the possibility that they might have erred in their earlier conjectures that it was grievously wounded, on the brink of death, but likely awake. But quite apart from that, there was also SRC’s impenetrable security around the Exalted Father. How could he possibly enter under the SRC’s watchful eyes?
“Let’s settle for another location.” He sighed and mumbled, “This place isn’t suitable at all… the City of Salvation is huge. There are deep mountains over the horizon, and there’s even the fifth largest freshwater lake in Cathay, the Pagoda Lake. Are any one of these unsuitable for our purposes?”
Arthis responded indifferently, “Do you think that my earlier suggestion for a location was merely for safety and security? Then what’s the point of making this trip down tonight? For the few meagre merit points that you might possibly earn?”
You probably thought to trip me up and cause my ‘accidental’ death while you’re at it as well… Qin Ye blinked innocently. Yet before he could say anything, Arthis continued, “That’s only one aspect of my considerations. To understand the other aspect, you’ll first have to understand what Hell truly is.”
“First, you need to know that it’s an infinitely large plane that is comparable to Cathay. It doesn’t exist in this world, but it has to be connected to this world through its main entrance. This would also be the point of contact between the mortal realm and Hell. Without this, Yin spirits would never be able to enter Hell.”
Qin Ye furrowed his brows, “But Hell is already gone. Didn’t the Three Gorges Dam burst and flood the plains below? Didn’t the Yin spirits still enter Hell all the same during the three major ghost festivals?”
He had personally witnessed the sight when he first embarked on the netherworld odyssey.
“Who says it’s gone? Ruins are ruins, but the Fengdu Necropolis of Hell is still around! That said, its influence over the mortal realm can last at best another fifty years before everything vanishes completely.”
“And the projection that you saw in the mortal realm… Hahaha, kid, if you’ve got time, you can head over to the depths of the Three Gorges Dam and see what the former Fengdu Necropolis used to look like. Every night, tens of thousands of spirits would congregate from all over the country, and innumerable spots of netherfire would hover and wander about. It’s been flooded, but it’s still around.”
“In any event, the entrance beneath Insignia University is simply going to act as your conduit between the netherworld and the mortal realm. It would act as a beacon of light to guide the Yin spirits back to Hell.”
“Second, where does the Yin energy in Hell come from?” She drew a deep breath and continued, “The Yellow Springs!”
“As soon as you assemble all the shards of King Yanluo’s Seal, the Yellow Springs would begin pouring out once again. This is why I’d earlier said that the day you restore King Yanluo’s Seal is also the day in which Hell reopens. That said, it doesn’t naturally mean that you can’t restore Hell without the presence of the Yellow Springs.”
Qin Ye coughed dryly, “That doesn’t seem to be what you said the last time…”
Arthis exploded with a domineering fury and snapped, “Last time is last time! Can you fit everything in your brain if I’d explained it all at one shot last time? And can’t you consider the feelings of the readers if you drop them too many pieces of information all at one? Keep quiet and listen up, you slag who knows nothing about Hell!”
I’ll endure this!
“Like I mentioned before, Hell is like a machine, and the Yellow Springs is its driving force. Let me refine the analogy even further. Yin energy is the innate driving force, while the Yellow Springs is the vehicle that perpetually channels the Yin energy through the machine. But now…”
Realization suddenly dawned on Qin Ye, and he immediately completed the sentence for Arthis, “You’d employed your gift of the gab to convince me to come down and take a look; and you’d enthusiastically encouraged me to accept this mission, and yet the truth of the matter is that everything had all been a farce so that you can assess whether it is possible and viable to tap on the Exalted Father’s energy to power Hell’s operations?”
“Even though that’s roughly the truth of the matter, I think that there’s still some concerns with your manner of expression there…” Arthis rolled her eyes at Qin Ye before adding, “That’s right, thirty million Yin energy is strong. Incredibly strong. But it’s still a drop in the ocean when you compare it with Hell’s former glory. To someone who's rebuilding Hell from scratch, the help that you’re receiving from the country’s defence agencies is akin to the delivery of charcoal in the midst of winter! If you rely on the Exalted Father’s Yin energy, and then continue to feed off the mortal realm’s source of spirit stones, you might just be able to relaunch Hell in no time at all!”
“And don’t be presumptuous. Why did Granny Meng look for you? This is something that I’ve mentioned before as well - you’re presently the most promising candidate for accomplishing such an immense task! Nobody else is more suited for the job than you are!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter