Chapter 5: Gatekeeper’s Fury

Chapter 5: Gatekeeper’s Fury
Written by: IEndWorlds

The three massive minotaurs stared coldly at Zhang and the sinners behind him while emitting blood thirsty aura, that would make a person’s legs go numb and shake. Some sinners even got on their knees and began kowtowing and begging for mercy while others tried to run in the opposite direction and back down to the lower floors.

Hundreds of thousands of sinners were fleeing in all directions. But they were too late trying to escape, because suddenly, hundreds of thousands of guards also marched in through the gate. From the lower floors many guards came and blocked the entrance to the lower levels, while many soldiers from the fortress above and from elsewhere also began descending and blocking the exit out of the 1st floor.

The sinners were now boxed in by the guards from every direction. Some guards could be seen floating in the air, which meant they were saint level guards.

In Zhang’s mind the mysterious voice suddenly said, “It’s time, use half of those souls that you stored after the 100,000″.

“All guards fall into formation and support the gatekeepers!” A commanding guard bellowed.
But then suddenly a loud bang sounded. One of the minotaur was knocked back and fell onto a bunch of guards, crushing them to death. One of its arms holding a giant axe had been cut off, and it spun around in the air, before falling to the ground.

“Damn, it didn’t die!” Zhang yelled in his mind.

Zhang was currently enveloped in a blue light, this was the essence that he collected. Normally was not visible to the naked eye but due to such a high concentration it could now be seen. Zhang now possessed the power of the hundred thousands guards that he had absorbed and stored in the pendant.

Ironically, it only enabled him to knock down the minotaur and wasn’t able to kill it.

The two standing gate keepers roared and charged at Zhang with blood-shot eyes. While the saint level guards began to fly closer and circle around Zhang. The two minotaurs swung their giant axes, while the saint level guards launched various attacks toward Zhang from a distance. Bolts of lightning, fireballs, ice lance, and many other things were all approaching Zhang from all directions.

Zhang was only able to dodge some of the incoming attacks, while the layer of essence covering his body fended the rest.

The two minotaur almost bisected Zhang, but he luckily was able to dodge by a hair’s breadth.
Zhang knew dodging wasn’t the answer, because eventually the power he got would disappear soon and he who only had the cultivation of a level 4 warrior would be like an ant to these experts, so he decided to counterattack.

The area around Zhang was slowly being engulfed in a sea of black fire. Guards were backing away left and right, and saints quickly flew away. While the minotaurs, despite their huge size, were able to agilely jump back and not get engulfed by the fire.

A metre away from the two minotaur gatekeepers, the 3rd gate-keeper who fell over was slowly getting back up. Although Zhang was able to cut off its arm with the black fire, unlike the guards that he encountered so far, the minotaur did not die.

Zhang decided to change target, he saw one of the saint level guards flying around him. What he now needed the most was a weapon. Up until now, he had relied on the black fire and did not bother to pick up any weapons. N that the black fire was ineffective against the gate keepers, Zhang needed to arm himself.

He noticed that there was only one guard who possessed two swords. The swords had pitch black colored hilts, which looked particularly different from what the other guards had. The guard was dressed in gleaming black armor, that looked flawless. Little did Zhang know, this guard was the commander of all the guards in the whole fortress.

Zhang formed hundreds of thousands of black flames once more. The flames ascended into the sky and flew around at amazing speeds. Some stayed near Zhang and flew around him to protect him, while others began to home in on the guard in black armor.

Each flame flew in its own unique path like it had a mind of its own, which made it even harder for the black armored guard to evade. Amazingly, none of the flames touched him despite the level of difficulty he faced.

The man was a veteran of thousands of battles, while Zhang had just recently stepped on to the path of taking lives. Thus gave the guard an advantage over Zhang, despite being currently weaker than Zhang. He knew he only had to evade until the energy boost Zhang got faded away or when the gate keepers and other guards closed in. Zhang was like a child holding a steel sword, he had no experience, while the guard was like a sword master holding a stick.

If he faced him head on and based on his current power he would lose to Zhang for sure. But if it was based on skill he had the upper hand.

“Damn, this isn’t working!” Zhang cursed in his mind.

The fire that chased after the black armored guard began to slow down and change its directions.  The hundreds of thousands of flames began to go in all four directions and descended upon the regular guards on the ground. Countless guards scattered and ran like a bunch of ants. They knew how powerful the fire was and knew that they had no chance of survival if they were even touched by it.

Although some guards managed to evade, vast majority of them were still hit. Soon it all flew back to Zhang once more which increased his power even more.

Zhang quickly ran to where one of the guards had met his demise, picked up a sword and ran toward the gate keepers. Despite their strength, the gatekeepers were not capable of flying like the saint level guards nor the powered up Zhang. Thus, they were slower and held at a disadvantage despite their tough bodies and almost infinite strength.

If killing the gate keepers was not an option then Zhang would have dismissed the idea then.. One of the gate keepers swung downward at Zhang with his massive axe. Zhang skillfully dodged the swing, and then proceeded with a jump onto the minotaur’s arm while wildly slashing.

The minotaur tried to swat Zhang off its arm but to no avail, Zhang was simply too fast at this point. Due to its huge size, it took a while for Zhang to reach its head. And then he jumped and stabbed the minotaur in one of its eyes. Then he slashed again the other eye before he jumped back onto the ground.

A terrifying cry sounded after Zhang had landed on the ground. The minotaur covered its face with the one arm that was not disabled as it cried in pain. Without wasting any time, Zhang ran for its ankles and slashed its tendons with that, the gate-keeper fell over on the ground.

“One down, 2 more to go”, Zhang murmured.

The one gate-keeper who had not been injured yet roared and began charging at Zhang, while wielding dual axes. Many of the guards rearranged their formations and once again they started to encircle Zhang.

Sinners who tried to escape before began picking up weapons from the fallen guards, and then rushed at some of the guards. If they ran they would die later, if they didn’t they would also die. So they decided to fight, some sinners even put on the armor of the fallen guards and during the confusion, tried to mix in with them.

The minotaur charging at Zhang suddenly started glowing, a bright red aura covered its entire body and the two massive horns that was on top of its head also turned red.

“Everyone retreat! The gatekeeper has gone berserk.”,the black armored commander yelled.

The gatekeepers were born from the accumulation of essence in one of the fiery pits of the underworld over the countless years. And due to the essence in the pit being tainted by hatred and malicious intent, once the minotaur had gone berserk, it would indiscriminately attack everyone. Being born from the accumulation of energy their bodies were extremely tough and their attacks extremely powerful. To the point that even though their cultivation had not yet reached sainthood, they would still be able to fight saints while saints were not able to contend them.

Guards and sinners were being mashed up indiscriminately with each other, either fighting or fleeing from the direction the gatekeeper was charging trying to avoid getting killed.

“Guess I have to use it now,” Zhang said in his mind.

All of a sudden the aura around Zhang increased dramatically, and changed into a much darker shade of blue. Zhang was using the rest of the souls he stored up to now, besides the 100,000. He figured out that, after he got rid of the gatekeepers, he would still be able to gather some more from the guards because he could always simply kill more guards.

Zhang knew that even if he managed to defeat the gatekeepers, there would be many more stronger opponents to block his path. And if he wasted anymore time here, he would miss the solar alignment and would be stuck in the underworld for another 1000 years which is equivalent to 100 years in the mortal realm.

If he was able to escape 1000 years later, which was 100 years in the mortal world, he would most likely came back to a different, unfamiliar world. The current kingdoms would have already fallen, new faces would replace the familiar ones. And the scariest thing would be that his loved ones couldn’t even recognize him anymore.

Due to the fact that he would have aged 1000 years later, he would became an old man. Although time in the underworld moved at a different pace than the mortal world, one would still age, even though aging here would be somewhat slower than the mortal world.

And thanks to the high essence present in the underworld, the people in it lived a lot longer than those in the mortal world, which allowed them to be able to wait until they were reincarnated.

Zhang launched countless black flames at the minotaur but  had no effect on it. It continued its charge toward Zhang coming closer and closer.

“I need to think of something and fast!”, Zhang said in a small panic to himself.

And then an idea popped into Zhang’s head.  He focused all the energy he had into his right foot, and stomped onto the ground with all his might.

BANG!!!

A gale of dust blew in all directions pushing Zhang out of view, and cracks could be seen snaking across the ground.

The charging gatekeeper simply swung his axe, which swept all the dust blocking its view away and kept on charging. But once the gale of dust had dissipate, a massive, deep crater was now visible. The gatekeeper could not stop due to the momentum he had and tumbled down into the crater.

“Ha, I can’t fight you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t trap you!” Zhang laughed.
Having gone berserk, the gatekeeper which possessed little intelligence to begin with, had no means of getting out of the deep crater. It simply began smashing its axes against the walls of the crater and roared out in rage.

Zhang focused his eye on the last gatekeeper that would stop him, the one that was missing an arm. He dashed to it and with a few swings, disabled its remaining limbs.

All that was left to do was to make sure the saint level guards couldn’t stop him. He knew that the guards could not kill him as long as he was in his current state, but sadly the saint level guards were fairly experienced and fast, so he could not kill them either.

He made a mad dash for the exit, while cutting down all the guards in his path. Seeing this, the sinners also began running instead of fighting the guards.

Zhang had made his way out into the fortress. Now all he had to do was to pass through the Forest of Forgotten, reach the Pool of Regret and reverse its direction using the power of the Dragon Pendant together with the accumulated souls so he could escape from the underworld.

When suddenly, a giant palm fell from the sky and smashed onto him. Before he could get up, another one slammed, then another and another. Soon enough, a small crater was formed and Zhang was practically imprinted into the ground.

A man dressed in bloody red robe appeared in the sky and gave off an intimidating aura.

The sinners behind Zhang simply stared into the sky and fell on their knees, seeing that their only hope of escape had been crushed. The guards finally caught up and assembled behind the sinners.

“Drag them all back down there and for that boy, send him to the lowest level with that old monster.” The man in the red robe said.

“Yes, milord!” the black armored saint said.

—————————————————————————————-

(A bit before Zhang made it out of the 1st floor of hell)

“Your majesty terrible news!!!!! There has been a massive escape from the 18 Levels of Hell!”, cried a soldier as he kneeled with panicked expression on his face.

Seeing the soldier in that state the Yama calmly said waving his hand, “The guards can handle it, no need to panic. These things happen all the time.”

“No your majesty!, This prison break is of an unprecedented level, hundreds of thousands of guards have perished. If we don’t hurry and act, the number will most likely go over a million or two.”, the soldier stated.

“WHAT?!! How can some regular sinners kill hundreds of thousands of guards? Within the 18 Levels of Hell  no one was capable of doing this. All of the prisoners placed in there were continuously weakened by their punishment. The stronger ones should be contained at that place. The only one that was capable would be that one in the 18th level who was going to be moved soon.”, the Yama furiously said, slamming his hand on the arm of his throne.

“Your majesty reports say that a young lad, who is able to manipulate black fire had caused all this. The casualties so far are all due to him. The sinners are simply following behind and have yet to engage any of the guards.”

Silence descended in the room, while the Yama fell into deep thought.

“Black flames, it can’t be! The only thing that could create black fire had perished a thousand years ago.”, the Yama thought to himself.

“Have one of the judge personally go and stop them, now!” The Yama said.

With a bow the soldier quickly ran out of the room while the Yama sat on his throne and once more fell into deep thought. Not long after, a knock could be heard on the door.

“Father, are you in there? It’s me, Yuying.”

As the door slowly creaked open, a pretty girl with fiery red hair  walked in carrying a tray of food. There were different foods on the tray, each looked very delicious.

The Yama seeing his daughter brought him food, he was particularly happy and his mood improved right away despite what was happening. Over the countless years he lived, he had fathered many children but this daughter was his favorite.

From an early age, she showed that she was extremely capable of amazing feats and was also gifted with extreme beauty. Many suitors came and asked for her hand but most eventually gave up, except for one.

“Father try these desserts that I made.” Yuying cheerfully said as she put the tray onto the desk in front of the Yama.

The Yama picked up and ate a dessert his daughter personally made. A smile could be seen on his face as he ate.

“I also wanted to talk about that engagement that you had arranged for me.”, Yuying said timidly, lowering her lowering her head.

A loud bang resounded as the Yama slammed his palm onto the desk. He was clearly not happy that Yuying had brought this topic up.

“No, there is nothing to discuss. The arrangements have been made and you are betrothed to the 3rd son of the judge of the Northern hell.”, the Yama yelled.

And in a fit of rage, he swung his arm and the tray of food all fell on the ground.

Tears slowly formed in the corner of Yuying’s eyes, and began to flow like rivers. She then ran out of the room as she cried. She had always been against the engagement. To the point of running away from the palace when the Judge of the North came with his son to make the engagement official.

But despite running away, the Yama did not punish her. He did not even yelled at her when she came back. Instead, he acted very kind to her but secretly increased the guards that kept watch over her. But this time, he had to make it clear that the engagement was set in stone and there was no way of changing it.

He knew his daughter was the type that once she had set her mind, there was no way of changing it. So, at first, he tried to act as if nothing happened and maybe it would slowly ease the thought into her mind. But that did not work, so now was the time to act like a tyrant and instill it into her.

—————————————————————————————-

Zhang woke up to find himself chained into the wall in a  cell of what was known as the 18th level of hell, also known as Avici.

This was the lowest level in the 18 Levels of Hell, the level where only a few were imprisoned. There was no physical torture on this level, just pure psychological torture.

Prisoners would be chained up in cells, some would be blindfolded in pure darkness and deafening silence as water dripped near them until it drove them mad. Or a feast fit for kings to eat would be set just out of reach of the sinners making it so they could only look but not eat. The sinners here would have to suffer for all eternity or until they lose all sense of reason.
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