Whoosh… Qin Ye continued to free fall into the seemingly endless cavern below. The further he fell, the lighter his body grew. After falling for more than twenty minutes, he suddenly noticed that… his entire body had become as light as a feather - almost as though he were now able to stand on the roiling Yin energy in the air.
This isn’t just a feeling…
He tested it out. True enough, he adjusted his form into an upright position, and his body slowly began to float down like a feather.
“What’s going on here?” Qin Ye was somewhat startled. Having fallen through the air for tens of minutes, the excitement in his heart had already diminished substantially.
“Limbo.” Arthis’ voice was laced with incredulity, “There exists a very small sliver of space between the mortal realm and the netherworld called Limbo. It’s a separate realm altogether, but it can also be treated as both a part of the netherworld and a part of the mortal realm. For instance, some people may suddenly discover a road or an entrance that had never existed or been marked out on maps by cartographers before. That would be where the gateway to Limbo lies.”
She took a deep breath, “Like I’d previously mentioned, there exists many gateways to Hell in the mortal realm, but most of them will never be discovered by mankind. And the reason for this is that all of the gateways lead to Limbo in some way or another!”
The soul sphere glanced vigilantly at the surroundings as she continued, “The points of intersection between the netherworld and the mortal realm are top secret, even among the upper echelons of Hell. Even I haven’t heard of such a massive gateway like this before.”
Qin Ye nodded his head, and then suddenly blinked his eyes, “What does this mean?”
“What does it mean?” Arthis chuckled coldly, “This means, if the Exalted Father had entered this realm intentionally, it could very well be one of Hell’s top officials who had access to such top secret information! It must be at least of the Abyssal Prefect rank! In other words, it must be part of the inner circle of Hell!”
Qin Ye nodded his head, and the duo grew taciturn. After another ten minutes, he finally came to a halt.
And without any warning at all.
He was now in a very strange space. The sky above was white in colour, not borne out of clear skies, but as a result of a pure white sea of mist. The air around him was somewhat inconsonant with Yin energy. A green sea of fog roiled underneath his feet. There was a distinct sensation of stepping on land, but when he reached out to touch the fog, it didn’t give him the same sensation that solid ground did at all.
As far as the eyes could see, a number of black flowers sprouted out of the sea of fog below. The flowers were palm-sized and pure black in colour. There were five layers of petals in total, and it bloomed just like a lotus flower.
Rolling clouds and roiling fog, and the weightlessness of an immortal.
“This truly is Limbo. Yang energy exists above, and Yin energy exists below. The flowers are called the Fragrance of Lingering Souls, and they only exist within Limbo itself. I’ve heard that as soon as a soul arrives in Limbo and plucks one of these flowers out of greed, his soul will remain trapped here forever.”
Qin Ye squinted his eyes and looked around him. The rolling black clouds of Yin energy had dissipated completely. For as far as his eyes could see, he could tell that there were countless Yin spirits walking among the fields of black flowers in a daze.
There were men, women and children alike, and some looked incredibly ancient, while others were dressed in modern clothes.
And far in the distance, there was a giant, golden entity.
Roar… sss… A deafening snoring sound rumbled across the lands as the golden entity’s body rose and fell. Each time it did, the entire realm would tremble, expanding and contracting accordingly in tandem with the breaths of the golden entity’s body.
Just then, a terrifyingly forceful gale threatened to sweep Qin Ye off the ground! By the time he snapped out of his stupor, he had already been pushed back a single step!
“It’s just a simple breath… and yet even a Soul Hunter was blown off balance…” Qin Ye gasped. Arthis continued, “Pluck one of the Fragrance of Lingering Souls. It's also known as the Anemos Flower. Take a look at the other Yin spirits around - none of them were blown off their feet.”
Qin Ye looked around and realized that it was true.
“You’re an Emissary of Hell, and Limbo naturally has no authority over you. As long as you’re holding onto an Anemos Flower, you’ll be able to make your way to its side.”
Qin Ye tightened his grip around the demonhead saber, cut the stalk of the flower and carefully picked it up.
Roar… sss… The flower in his hands shook violently with every breath the golden body took. Qin Ye stood his ground as he watched the sea of Yin energy get blown back, before surging forward as the golden body took its next breath again.
“How incredibly mighty…” He clutched tightly at his chest as he forged forward with gritted teeth.
The distance to cover was at least several thousands of meters. The closer Qin Ye got, the more the expression on his face changed.
It’s far too majestic…
The behemoth in front of his very eyes was at least half of the size of the entire City of Salvation!
Qin Ye trudged on. Ten minutes, twenty minutes… Just then, as the Yin energy surrounding his feet was swept away with another mighty exhale from the golden body, Qin Ye suddenly exclaimed, “Arthis… what’s this?”
At some point in time, the ground underneath his feet had already become covered with thin grooves.
In fact, the grooves were more accurately described as crevices.
And a pure golden liquid flowed slowly through these crevices.
After looking at it for two seconds, the entire soul sphere began to tremble violently. Arthis quaked with a hoarse voice, “Impossible… this is impossible…”
“Bring me closer… Let me have a closer look…”
Qin Ye did so accordingly. After ten seconds, the soul sphere floated up and remarked dryly, “This is… blood…”
“I see… No wonder I found this shade of gold so familiar… I know exactly who this esteemed character is now…”
“Kid… head over there. Let me give you a formal introduction of who this celebrity of Hell is…”
They had already covered a great distance so far. After approximately another ten minutes, Qin Ye was finally able to make out the shape of the beast in front of him.
He didn’t go any closer, because he knew his limits. While they were still a distance away, he could tell that the scales on the massive beast had still been resting in an orderly fashion on its body.
But now, as soon as he drew close to the massive beast, he could tell that each and every one of its scales… had suddenly stood up.
It was an instinctive response of a powerful being.
At this distance, he could already see the distinct ringed patterns on each of the scales.
“That’s it… That’s really the esteemed entity of Hell…” Arthis shuddered, “Don’t take another step… don’t ever get a single step closer to it. The instant you do, we’ll immediately be reduced to dust, even if we become ten times stronger than we are right now.”
“Go around the perimeter and take a look… This may be the first divine beast you’ve ever encountered. And it might very well be the only divine beast you’ll ever see in your entire life…”
Qin Ye knew better than to go any further as well. This was the limit. He had a clear, distinct premonition that if he drew only ten meters closer to the divine beast, he would immediately be shredded to pieces.
The divine beast was clearly sleeping, yet for some strange reason, Qin Ye felt as though there were thousands of eyes just watching his every move right now.
“It’s really… ridiculously, mind-numbingly strong…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth as he started making his way around the massive behemoth. After several hours, he finally got a rough idea of the massive behemoth’s true appearances.
He had a tiger’s head with a single horn on top, a dog’s ears, a dragon’s golden body covered with golden scales, and snow white fur on its back that extended from its head all the way to the base of its tail.
That said, it also had the tail of a lion, and its feet were the claws of an animal that had never been seen before.
Its entire body was curled up in a ball, and half of its head was buried within its body. It was sleeping peacefully. With each breath it took, the surrounding Yin energy would surge into its nostrils and transform into corporeal, black wisps of energy that circulated around the dragon body until it converged at the massive wound on its back that almost cut the beast into two.
“My… god…” Qin Ye drew a breath of cold air. Despite the fact that it was curled up into a ball, the behemoth was still thousands of meters tall and ten thousands of meters long. The sight of such a majestic beast was akin to seeing a fabled dragon!
Arthis added hoarsely, “The horn on its head represents the rule of law. A single word distinguishes between conviction and acquittal. Its dragon body represents auspiciousness. Its tiger head represents wisdom; its dog ears represents auditory acuity; its lion tail represents patience; and its Kirin feet represents all-rounded stability and an emphasis on good virtues. This is the mythical creature called the Nine Dissimilitude.”
“In Hell, any Yin spirits that are unable to be sentenced for whatever reason will invariably be sent to it. The esteemed creature need only lay down on the ground and listen closely, and it would immediately be able to perceive the Yin spirit’s entire life. If the Yin spirit has been evil, it will immediately be stabbed to death with its powerful horn. This esteemed creature is also well known across the mortal realm, and it is said to be synonymous with spiritual energy, divine energy, fortune, wealth, motivation, luck, vitality, strength and courage. Thus, it’s also called the God of Nine Energies.”
“Its true name…” Arthis’ voice was already quivering. Qin Ye shut his eyes and exclaimed with disbelief, “The Harken…”
“In the Journey to the West, when even Buddha himself wasn’t able to distinguish between the Six-Eared Macaque and the real Sun Wukong, the only one who was able to do so was the Harken. Incidentally… it is also Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s mount…”
It was far too astonishing.
Qin Ye had never imagined that the Exalted Father was none other than the revered Harken! Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s mount! It was a true divine beast!
The subterranean space underneath the City of Salvation was none other than the Harken’s hiding place!
He finally understood everything. The Harken had only been able to make it here by seizing Hell’s Records. In turn, Cao Youdao’s ambitions had only been ignited when he fortuitously picked up Hell’s Records.
Yet the most frightening thing of all was the massive wound on the Harken’s back.
It had practically cut the divine beast in half, and all of the grisly bones and internal organs within its body were now somewhat exposed. The fact that the Harken was still alive right now was a complete miracle.
“It broke free of the control of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva? It chose to stay here?” Arthis murmured, “This wound… must have been sustained in its final struggle with Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, when it did everything in its ability to break free.”
“What do we do?” Qin Ye asked softly. His gaze was somewhat out of it as he looked at the fabled creature of Hell.
Things had been simpler when he was still oblivious to the identity of this divine beast. But now that he had uncovered its true identity, how could he possibly construct the entrance of Hell over its head?
Its specifications were too high. So long as it was displeased, all it had to do was to flip its body, and the newly minted Hell would be tossed about like a bumboat in the vast ocean waves and obliterated immediately.
Arthis was also somewhat caught in a bind, “Injuries like that… would require at least a thousand years to recover from. But that said, the establishment of Hell will require the use of a shard of King Yanluo’s Seal… As a divine beast, it will definitely sense this, and perhaps… it’ll wake up and even glare at us…”
Qin Ye gulped nervously, “And this glare… how terrifying is it?”
Arthis muttered icily, “If we’re lucky, we might be reunited in Hell.”
“Shit!!” Qin Ye clutched at his hair. What in the world is going on? We’ve finally found the precious pearl that we’ve been searching high and low for, only to realize that it’s none other than the esteemed Harken?! And the reestablishment of Hell just above it is likely to attract a backlash from it to boot. Then, should we just give up?
But there was no way to give up now.
Even Qin Ye had ambitions.
It was still far too early for the Harken to awaken from its slumber. And if he could earn the approval of this mighty beast in a thousand years’ time, then…
It would practically be akin to donning the robes of an emperor over his own body!
Who would dare to covet and seize the new order of Hell from him?!
Arthis grew taciturn. Everything was up to Qin Ye right now.
Qin Ye stared intently at the Harken, almost as though he were attempting to tell from its breath when exactly it would awaken from its slumber.
Time trickled by. Two hours, three hours… Finally, five full hours later, Qin Ye finally sighed in resignation and turned to look at Arthis.
Arthis looked up, and their eyes met. Qin Ye’s lips trembled several times, and then he finally gritted his teeth and barked, “Teach me… how to rebuild Hell!”
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