In the next instant, a burst of vast Yin energy spread through the area, and it was so enormous and fearsome that it was like a boundless expanse of mist on the sea, while Honda Tadakatsu was left feeling like a lost raft.
All of the trees in the entire park were swaying violently, and the netherfire in the antiquated lamps had sprung up to over two meters in height. The garden had become his own personal hell, and Honda Tadakatsu reflexively stumbled back before drawing a sharp breath. "You’re a Yama-King?!"
During his last visit to Nippon, Qin Ye had concealed his Yin energy, and it never occurred to Honda Tadakatsu that he could’ve been a high-grade underworld emissary. He had thought that Qin Ye would be around the same level as him, which was the mid-Infernal Judge level. By his reasoning, even at the very most, Qin Ye wouldn’t have been an Abyssal Prefect.
To him, it was like seeing an old friend on the street and giving him a friendly slap on the back. However, it seemed that he had made a severe lapse in judgment...
As Qin Ye slowly turned around, Honda Tadakatsu continued to stumble back with his mouth gaped wide open in shock. He reflexively made a grabbing motion, upon which Tonbokiri returned to his grasp, and the entire shaft of the spear was trembling gently.
"How did you find me?" Countless Yin winds had gathered behind Qin Ye to form a terrifying vortex, within which lost souls were howling incessantly. WIth each step that he took, the Yin energy around him would ripple violently, and countless fallen leaves were shrieking through the air like kites with severed strings.
With each step that he took, Honda Tadakatsu would take a step backward, and only as his back crashed into a tree did he return to his senses, following which he asked through gritted teeth, "Is this how you greet an old friend?"
Since when were we friends?
Qin Ye watched him through narrowed eyes for a few seconds before abruptly withdrawing his Yin energy. He suddenly recalled that Honda Tadakatsu had once told him that if he were willing to rule over Nippon, he would be willing to serve him.
Could it be that he was serious?
Yama-King level Yin energy could crush an Infernal Judge to a pulp, so it was a massive relief to Honda Tadakatsu once Qin Ye withdrew his Yin energy. He looked directly at Qin Ye as he explained, "We’ve both touched the Book of Life and Death before, so we can sense one another if we try. Have you not noticed that?"
Qin Ye closed his eyes and tried to sense Honda Tadakatsu, upon which he discovered that it really was the case.
At the same time, he could clearly sense the Book of Life and Death. There were many Infernal Judge level Yin spirits in the Book of Life and Death, but he had never carefully inspected them as Yin spirits of that level simply didn’t attract his interest.
"Why are you here to see me?" he asked as he slowly clenched his fists behind his back.
He wasn’t sure whether he should kill Honda Tadakatsu or not.
"I thought we were friends," Honda Tadakatsu replied as he looked right back at Qin Ye. "My fiefdom, Feathersheen City, lies beneath Tokyo, and I thought I should invite you to my home for some hospitality. I’ve already prepared a banquet for you in Feathersheen City."
Several seconds later, Qin Ye smiled as he said, "I thought you were only kidding at the time."
Indeed, it seemed that Honda Tadakatsu had taken their conversation seriously.
Of course, Qin Ye wasn’t so immature, but if he were to leave now, he would arouse suspicions from Honda Tadakatsu. This trip to Nippon was strictly confidential, and he didn’t want any unnecessary trouble.
Furthermore, the fact that Honda Tadakatsu’s fiefdom in the underworld was equivalent to Tokyo in the mortal realm was a clear indication that he was an extremely important figure in the Nipponese Underworld, so he could be a valuable source of information.
"So what would you like to do now?" Honda Tadakatsu asked.
"Well, it would be rude not to accept an invitation from an old friend, would it not?" Qin Ye replied with a smile.
10 minutes later, Qin Ye was standing in front of a large shrine, inspecting his surroundings with a rather surprised expression.
The shrine was situated in Yoyogi, Tokyo, and it was surrounded by a vast forest, which was the largest area of greenery in the central area of Tokyo, spanning the entire area between Yoyogi and Harajuku, which amounted to a total of 70 hectares. Inside this forest was the number one Shinto shrine of Nippon, Meiji Jingu.
Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken were the ones worshiped in Meiji Jingu, and it could be said that this was the head temple of the Shinto religion.
Only an extremely important figure to the Nipponese Underworld would possess an inter-realm mirror here. It seemed that Honda Tadakatsu’s status in the Nipponese Underworld was even loftier than Qin Ye had expected.
It was already past 3 AM at this point, but there were still lit candles on the candlesticks outside the shrine, as if to provide guidance to the lost souls wandering through limbo. The shrine was extremely majestic, but there was something a little eerie about it at the moment.
Honda Tadakatsu pulled back the sleeve of his kimono as he made an inviting hand gesture, then led the way into the shrine.
They passed through the entrance and several corridors, arriving in a room with seals adhered to the doors. The interior of the room was extremely tidy, and there was a black vase that was around a meter in height with lush plum blossoms inside situated in each of the four corners. At the center of the wall was a mirror.
It was a floor-to-ceiling mirror that was roughly three meters tall and two meters wide. At the foot of the mirror were statues of the Hyakki Yagyō, while carvings of Izanami and Susanoo-no-Mikoto were present on top of the mirror. The mirror’s surface was incredibly smooth and pristine, but it was incapable of reflection.
This was an inter-realm mirror!
Qin Ye took a long look at it before stepping into the mirror together with Honda Tadakatsu.
After a brief rush of dizziness, Qin Ye slowly opened his eyes, and he was greeted by the sight of a large city in the form of a tenshu pavilion in the classic style of the Nipponese Sengoku period.
At the center was the inner citadel, and it was over 100 meters tall with the emblem of the Honda clan hanging at the center, surrounded by countless specks of netherfire. Situated around the inner citadel were four smaller branch tenshu pavilions that were connected by passageways that were suspended in mid-air, and at this moment, the entire tenshu pavilion was brightly lit.
"Welcome to Feathersheen City!" Honda Tadakatsu smiled as he extended a slight bow. "I came into possession of this city a century ago, and after what happened at the Strait of Tsushima last time, I received the rights to expand it."
Right in front of them was an altar, upon which was a faintly glowing teleportation array formed by Yin runes. The two of them stepped onto the array, and they quickly arrived in a spacious room.
This was a classic antiquated Nipponese-style room, and it was very large, looking to be around 200 to 300 square meters in area. There was a bamboo curtain hanging in front of each seat, and a group of kabuki dancers were already gathered and ready to perform on the tatami mats at the center of the room. Right as Qin Ye sat down, the instrumentals began, and it was at just the right volume, clearly audible, but not loud enough to hinder conversation.
The bamboo curtains were pulled up by the servants off to the side, and Honda Tadakatsu picked up his black sake cup with a smile. "I didn’t think I would ever meet you again, Qin San, and it’s certainly a massive surprise to me that you’ve already become a Yama-King. Let’s drink to that."
"I also didn’t think that you would’ve already become a daimyo." Qin Ye took a sip of his sake, then set down his cup with a reminiscent look in his eyes. "I still remember everything that happened at the Strait of Tsushima as clearly as if it were yesterday, but over two decades have already passed since then."
"Indeed..." Honda Tadakatsu sighed. "Almost all of the daimyos at the time were punished. Out of the 54 daimyos, 42 of them were demoted, and they were allowed to keep their tenshu pavilions, but were forced to reduce the number of troops in their private armies."
Qin Ye’s expression changed slightly upon hearing this, and he turned to look at Honda Tadakatsu.
However, Honda Tadakatsu was watching the dancers and sampling a piece of sashimi, seemingly completely oblivious to what he had just said. Firstly, a daimyo wasn’t an official post.
During the Sengoku era of Nippon, anyone could receive the title of daimyo so long as they had sufficient territory, troops, and wealth. There were different levels among daimyos, with the lowliest ones roughly equivalent in rank to shoyus, while the most prominent ones, such as Takeda Shingen of Kai Province, Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province, and Oda Nobunaga of Owari Province were roughly equivalent to the likes of the Naidaijin or the Dainagon.
This made sense considering Toyotomi Hideyoshi declared himself to be Kampaku as soon as he united the nation, thus making him the head of Nippon, and he was a daimyo prior to that.
Honda Tadakatsu didn’t appear to have said anything significant, but in reality, he had just revealed the internal conflict between the system of gods and demons and the system of daimyos in the Nipponese Underworld.
In reality, there were always signs of this internal conflict present if one knew where to look. For example, why wasn’t there even a single god or demon present back at the Strait of Tsushima? Why was it that only daimyos had been present?
It was most likely the case that the daimyo system was inferior to the system of gods and demons. After all, Izanami wasn’t part of the daimyo system. With that in mind, Qin Ye took another glance at Honda Tadakatsu, wondering if he had intentionally said this or if it had just been an errant thought that he had expressed out loud.
Qin Ye smiled as he took a sip of sake, but his mind was racing as he said, "It looks like the daimyos don’t have it easy, either. The regime seems to be quite restrictive and oppressive toward daimyos. Does that apply to you as well?"
"It does..." Honda Tadakatsu sighed. "On the surface, it looks like I have it all, but in reality... Hehe..."
Both of them fell silent there.
Qin Ye was becoming more and more confused about Honda Tadakatsu’s mindset. In the past, he had told Honda Tadakatsu that he was the future heir to the Cathayan Underworld’s King Yanluo, and he was certain that Honda Tadakatsu wouldn’t forget something like that. Now that Qin Ye had become a Yama-King, he couldn’t help but wonder how he was being regarded by Honda Tadakatsu.
Was he saying all of this in an attempt to initiate an exchange of information, or was he just lamenting about his situation to what he perceived to be an old friend?
This was extremely important as it reflected the attitude of the daimyos in response to an invasion from the Cathayan Underworld. The daimyos of the Sengoku period were a force to be reckoned with, and if they were willing to defect to the Cathayan Underworld, that would naturally be extremely welcome. Thus, if possible, Qin Ye really wanted to absorb them into the Cathayan Underworld.
At the moment, the two of them were like a pair of crickets touching one another with their feelers, but not directly expressing their true intentions.
After several seconds of silence, Qin Ye smiled as he said, "Perhaps some things will change in half a year’s time."
"Oh?" Honda Tadakatsu picked up his cup to hide the hint of excitement that flashed through his eyes.
"In half a year, I’m going to hold an Asia-Pacific Economic Development Conference."
Honda Tadakatsu sighed, "We most likely won’t have the right to attend the conference."
"Not necessarily," Qin Ye said. "When the time comes, I’ll be sending invitations to Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Hōjō Tokimune, and yourself. Izanami wouldn’t dare to refuse."
On the surface, it appeared that Qin Ye was helping him or that he was widening the rift between the daimyos and the gods and demons, but at the same time, he was also implying that this was the reason why he had come to Nippon.
He was visiting to see which people he wanted to invite.
Perhaps this was an absurd reason. After all, no one would believe that a Yama-King would come to Nippon in person over such a trivial matter, but at the very least, it was a somewhat plausible excuse.
As for what happened next...
Qin Ye set down his cup.
Once Qin Ye confirmed that the Mitsubishi Corporation and the daimyos were interested in a deeper collaborative partnership, he would have to find opportunities to initiate contact with those parties.
These things couldn’t be rushed. If he were to do things too hastily, his plans could be exposed.
He had already reaped sufficient reward from this trip to Nippon, and it would be unwise to try and pursue much more than this.