The rain continued to pelt down incessantly.
Pa-ta-ta-ta-ta… A series of footsteps echoed through the rainy night. Countless military vehicles and police cars zoomed past them all with sirens blaring as they raced to the various exits of the City of Salvation.
Nobody noticed the footprints on the ground. Perhaps this was the only remaining trace of the extraterritorial emissaries’ existence detectable by the mortal realm right now.
“What next?” A female voice whispered to the rest in english.
“What next? Are you trying to see if I’ve still got any tricks up my sleeves?” The man who responded sounded somewhat breathless as he chuckled sardonically, “Don’t you worry. So many of my comrades have perished for this cause. How am I supposed to answer to Hades if I don’t bring back Gu Qing’s soul in one piece?”
Tension filled the air in an instant. One could even briefly hear the soft clatter of weapons in the air.
Their truce had ended, and it was time to divide the spoils.
“What’s this?” The person who responded snickered contemptuously, “Right here? Under the watchful gaze of an Infernal Judge?”
Several moments later, another deep voice responded coldly, “Let’s go… We can talk about ownership after we pass the Qinling mountainous region.”
“Is your rendezvous point in the west?”
“There are darkfeathers garrisoned in both the northwest and the southwest regions. Whether we enter Kashmeer via the southhwestern region, or Kyrgyz via the northwestern region, both are absolutely safe passages.”
Another voice built on it, “There are three entrances to the underworld in Kashmeer - Red Khilap, Chogori Peak, and Karakoram Pass. There are garrisons in each one of these areas, and these entrances will lead you straight to the Federation of the Underworlds. The northwestern route is slightly further, but we have five entrances there - the ‘Father of all Peaks’ Khan Tengri Peak, or the four other disputed regions of the Akhaba River, Belkau, etc.”
“Take the northwestern route.” An older voice gnashed his teeth, “Don’t you remember… we’d taken the southwestern route into Cathay. And the southwest… has a terrifying creature that is comparable to Hades himself… The concentration of Yin spirits there can already be called a nest of ten thousand captive ghosts. They call their master… the daolord of the path of the beast. They slaughtered twenty of my colleagues. Not even my commander dared to stand up against it. Otherwise, do you think this operation would have been so painful and difficult?!”
“Is he an existence that is part of Hell?” “He shouldn’t be. He’s definitely at least an Incarnate Revenant - an existence far more dreadful that the mortal Infernal Judge! I don’t want to risk crossing paths with it a second time… Take the northwestern route!” “I didn’t see any of their assassins of the underworld in the northwestern region. This information is verified by the corpse puppets, and it should be safe.”
The woman who first spoke up finally gave her word, “Then… let’s prepare to return via the Khan Tengri Peak. Release the robins and tell them to receive us. For now… full speed out of Insignia Province… Damn it, why is Cathay so large?! Given our current speed, it’ll take us at least a day to reach the borders of Insignia Province.”
Nobody spoke again. Moments later, the trail of footprints on the ground swiftly turned towards a deserted path that led straight towards Anhua Mountain, where the border of the City of Salvation was located.
As soon as the footsteps turned, five figures promptly scattered and dashed into the surroundings, promptly possessing the bodies of little birds that quickly soared into the sky as they bolted towards northwestern Cathay.
As soon as they passed the Anhua Mountain, they would be at the border between the City of Salvation and its other neighbouring counties.
They flew past police roadblocks, military garrisons, and even guard posts, yet not a single person noticed their existence. Just as the City of Salvation’s authorities were busy turning out the entire city in search for them, the five extraterritorial emissaries were already entering the hinterlands of Anhua Mountain.
They were obviously moving under the influence of underworldly arts. Their footsteps tapped on the ground rapidly, and they sped along at an inhuman speed. Then, at 6.30 a.m., their footsteps finally came to a halt.
The sky was still dark. It had been raining the entire night, and the mountains were covered in mud. Rain continued to batter the soft layer of fallen leaves on the ground, and the air was filled with a stifling sense of fatigue.
As they scuttled along the seemingly endless path, the vague silhouette of an ancient temple appeared in the distance.
“Shall we take a break?” A voice called out softly, “We’re still subject to the restrictive effect of Cathay’s great barrier. Embarking on a dawn voyage would expend far too much of our energy.”
“That’s fine.” another voice responded placidly, “This night… has been far too long.”
The pace of their steps slowed down, and soft squelching sounds echoed from the damp, fallen leaves. Then, as they drew closer to the ancient temple, a series of lights suddenly lit up all around them.
Clang clang clang! The extraterritorial emissaries immediately unsheathed their weapons to the tune of loud clangs, and the air was once again filled with a tense atmosphere. Five startled voices promptly cried out anxiously, “Who’s that?!” “Get out here!” “Who’s there?!”
No one responded.
Their voices reverberated endlessly through the deep, desolate mountains, only to be diminished by the sound of torrential downpour.
Darkness, despair, and a sense of abject dread immediately began to spread from the depths of their souls. Just then, a melodious bell chimed from the dilapidated temple.
A desolate region in a dark mountain, replete with torrential downpour. Even underworld emissaries like them found their hair standing on end in an instant.
“What the hell is--…” One of them remarked. Yet before he could even finish speaking, another voice cut him off with an exclamation of his own, “Look… T-this… this is an emissary! It’s an emissary!!”
The trees on Anhua Mountain shook wildly with the resounding chime of the bell, almost as though a god of death had just arrived in the temple. Then, a moment later, they revealed their true forms!
One was a Nipponese emissary wearing his conical bamboo hat; one was a wolf-headed emissary; one was a half-spider lady toting her lantern; one was an emissary wearing a white mask with his entire body wrapped up in a dark cloak; and the last one was the emissary wielding a scythe - the very same one that had attacked Qin Ye just the other night.
The only thing that could make an emissary reveal its true form was another emissary.
“You… who the hell are you?!” The Nipponese emissary tightened his grip around his katana as Yin energy billowed from his robes, causing it to flutter about wildly. The others similarly raised their weapons as they stared warily at the entrance to the temple.
Still no response.
The five emissaries didn’t move a single muscle. It felt as though they were little rabbits that were being stalked by a giant predatory beast. Their hearts trembled, and they glanced about their surroundings warily. But as soon as they did, their pupils instantly shrank in shock.
Emissary… emissary… countless emissaries’... heads!
The path leading straight up to the temple was lined with several trees, and yet the ‘lights’ hanging from these trees were in fact the heads of underworld emissaries!
More accurately speaking… these were the heads of extraterritorial emissaries!
Blond-haired, red-haired, and so on. The only thing that wasn’t there was black-haired emissaries!
Some wore a mask on their faces, some of their faces revealed the grisly mark of their skulls, while others had hair tied up in a samurai’s bun… there was just no end to their widely varied appearances! It was a sea of heads and lanterns!
The only common thread among these heads was that their mouths were wide open.
And the light had come precisely from candles that extended out of their mouths. These candles blazed ceaselessly with a soulless netherfire, causing this part of the mountain to look almost like part of the Eighteen Abysses of Hell!
“Haa…” The half-spider lady gasped in horror and her hair stood on end as she spoke with a quivering voice, “You… who are you…”
“Do you like it?” A clear voice finally responded, yet the response only made the five extraterritorial emissaries huddle even closer. Their lips trembled; their eyes widened; and their chests began to rise and fall with ever increasing magnitudes of their ragged breaths.
This is all too peculiar…
“It was you…” The wolf-headed emissary barked back with a hoarse voice, “It was you who had set up that formation array back at the First Academy of Cultivators… wasn’t it?”
Before he could even finish speaking, a seemingly simple strike flew through the air, accompanied by a crisp sound. A split second later, the emissaries responded with loud gasps and exclamations!
“Shit!!” “いや！これは一体何なのか / Holy crap! What the hell is this?!!” “cum ar putea…… / How can…”
The five emissaries who were huddled close together scattered in an instant. An electrifying sensation of fear surged through their minds as they glanced about with their jaws hung agape.
The wolf-headed emissary’s head had already vanished.
It had been sent flying.
That seemingly simple strike had decapitated him and sent his head flying!
The four remaining emissaries shook like chaff, and their hearts sank to rock bottom. None of them had expected to encounter such a towering roadblock after making it so far!
Whoosh… The wolf-headed emissary’s body transformed into Yin energy that quickly dissipated into the surroundings. The crisp yet ambiguous voice from before spoke once more, “I’m asking you a question. How dare an ant like you interrupt me?”
“Do you like the decor around here?”
Yet, in the very next second, all of them obsequiously responded with a tremor in their voice, “Y-y-y-yes!”
“That’s right…” The voice sighed, “I think it looks good too.”
“I can’t hold a candle to Zhou Xianlong when it comes to killing people. But if we’re talking about purging Yin spirits, not even ten of him can hold a candle to me.”
The voice was like the autumn rain - chilling to the core.
The unhurried voice that carried an air of nonchalance and disinterest seemed to loom over the hearts of the remaining emissaries, slowly but surely ebbing away at what remained of their sanity.
Yet the voice ignored them and simply continued, “These… are all the extraterritorial emissaries slain by yours truly. Back then, they were practically as helpless as livestock in a slaughterhouse. But now, I see that you guys have grown over the last few centuries…”
“An instance of infraction, a life of requital. Have you… already forgotten that?”
“RUN!!!” Their fear escalated so much that their flight response was triggered, and the four remaining emissaries scattered madly in different directions. Frantic and desperate, they fled for their lives. None of them could be bothered about Gu Qing’s soul any longer.
“Heh…” A soft chuckle rang out, and then the leaves on the ground and the raindrops in the valley actually rose into the air as though the entire realm were no longer subject to the laws of gravity! The surviving extraterritorial emissaries witnessing this sight instantly sank into the mires of despondence. But before they could react to the situation, a pitch-black tide instantly rushed out of the ancient temple, divided into four parts and wrapped themselves around the feet of the escaping emissaries.Then, it slowly dragged them back towards the mouth of the temple despite their feeble resistance and destitute cries!
“AHHHHHHHH!!” They screamed at the top of their voices. Yin energy swirled madly, but none of them were able to break free of the black tide’s grasp. Thud, thud, thud, thud! The emissaries were flung to the far end of the temple with four muffled grunts. They immediately got back to their feet and brandished their weapons as they reflexively adopted a defensive stance.
And it was only then that they discovered that the black tide earlier had been four clumps of hair.
The ancient temple was massive.
The statue of Buddha in the temple hall was five meters tall, but it was already broken into pieces. Its head and shoulders had already vanished without a trace, and only its right hand remained. The oil lamps in the temple that were covered with cobwebs were lit with eerie netherfire that flickered dangerously, as though reflecting the fragility of the emissaries’ lives.
A man sat on the right hand of Buddha’s statue.
The man was rather good-looking, but… he sat daintily with one leg folded over the other. He put his thumb and middle finger together and ran his fingers along his cheeks with great elegance. His other hand was resting quietly on his knees with a poise that looked… indescribably… effeminate.
That was the word.
The Nipponese emissary’s lips dried up around the edges. The scene was far too bizarre. Although the person bore the appearances of a young man, the only word that came to his mind was the word “feminine”. And it was one of great elegance at that.
“You… who the hell are you?!” The four emissaries were each at a corner of the temple. Their hands were trembling, and their weapons were aimed at the man in the middle. Yet not a single one of them dared to move a limb at all.
Qin Ye whipped out a round paper fan and fanned himself gracefully with a faint smile on his face, “Who am I? … I’m naturally an Emissary of Hell.”
“And if you really need a name…” He leapt down from the statue gently, twirling salaciously in the air before landing. Then, he slowly strutted towards the closest emissary. That emissary didn’t dare to move a muscle. He simply sweated profusely.
Qin Ye held out the round paper fan and gently lifted the emissary’s chin with a soft chuckle, “The undefeated sunrise of the orient.”