Chapter 109: In the Lead

And that was all there was to the post.

It just ended there.

Oh, that’s not it. There was still one other line - The rest of the message can be found in the comments section.

Qin Ye furrowed his brows and scrolled down. No matter how peculiar or unorthodox it was, the top sticky post was bound to have some audience. As expected, the number of comments below had already exceeded several hundred.

“What a brain-dead post. Why are you here? Are you my son?” “Is the author of this post crazy? How could something like this be made a sticky post?” “There’s a total of only four sentences. Hahaha, this is the shortest sticky post I’ve ever seen.” “What’s your cat got to do with my family?” “Look at who’s been making millions. Are you still working for three thousand a month? Follow qq438125732, and work your way into a different life.”

“Cats are mediums.” Arthis muttered, “This is something that both the east and the west are in agreement to. In the west, cats are considered the spokesperson of the god of death, and it has the ability to see all Emissaries of Hell. In the east, cats are said to have nine lives, and all cats, and especially black cats, are able to see things that most ordinary people aren’t able to see.”

Qin Ye remained silent. He continued to tap on his phone screen, and promptly opened up the Mount Tai City entertainment forum. Even though the source of news and their target audience were all different, the top sticky post was still one and the same - “Has anyone seen my cat?”

The comments were similar to the ones on the city forum - “God, why is this post everywhere?! How much money has Mount Tai City received from the author of the post?” “This proves that cats are better than humans. The disappearance of a single cat is immediately made a sticky post, but the disappearance of a human being is simply treated like a drop in the ocean.” “Author, please tell us your story.” “Have you guys tried replying to the post? I can’t do it at all.”

There wasn’t a single constructive comment.

His finger hovered over the reply button for some time, before he decided to look through the other forums as well.

After several minutes, he finally ascertained something.

Every single forum that was even remotely affiliated to Mount Tai City in some way or other had the very same sticky post at the top of its threads!

“What are you looking at?” Arthis was somewhat confused.

“This is why I say there’s still a generation gap between us.” Qin Ye's finger gently hovered over the reply button, “Did you notice that there isn’t a single reply to the author’s post?”

Arthis: “???”

Qin Ye continued explaining, “The number of views is already in the hundred thousands, yet there’s not a single reply. You clearly don’t understand the hearts of the netizens. Such sticky posts would definitely attract a huge internet footprint from users. Yet everything thus far has only been comments, and there’s not been a single reply at all.”

“... Actually, you can just get to the point. There’s no need to indirectly diss me like that.”

Qin Ye coughed dryly, “Sorry… I couldn’t help myself. What I’m trying to say is that the reply button might contain more than meets the eye.”

As soon as he finished speaking, he casually typed “1” on the screen, and tapped on the reply button.

Immediately, the phone screen turned scarlet, and a line of striking black words appeared on the screen.

“WARNING: The following page could contain potentially life-threatening information. By entering, you agree to bear all risk to life and limb. Yes/No.”

Qin Ye clicked on the yes button.

The loading animated symbol appeared in the middle of the screen. Three seconds later, another prompt appeared: “Please enter your registration number.”

“All cultivators are given registration numbers for administrative matters. I’m one hundred percent certain that this post pertains to a supernatural incident. And I’m afraid that it might be a troublesome one at that.” Qin Ye licked his lips. He was thoroughly intrigued by the cat mentioned in the post.

What kind of mutated Yin spirit must it be to have earned the attention of both principals, Li Tao and Xu Anguo?

Furthermore, this appeared to be an outstanding, unresolved matter that had plagued provincial capital Mount Tai City for some time. Didn’t this mean that not even Hunter-class experts or even Hellguard-class experts were able to root out the problem?

S9527. After typing in his registration number, the animated loading symbol appeared again. One second later, a plain-looking page appeared on the screen. A line of emboldened red words appeared on the top right corner of the page.

“The following information pertains to a supernatural incident in Mount Tai City.

Area of effect: extremely small.

Impact: minimal.

Hunting zone: hidden.

Threat: extremely high.”

“Postmortem on victims reveal bite wounds. Some victims were even found with dismembered bodies. At present, seven Operative-class experts have entered the hunting zone, and not a single one has returned alive. Four Hunter-class experts have returned without success. The Special Investigations Department has assessed the threat level of the ghost to be no higher than the level of an Operative. The hunting zone is thereby assessed to be a C-grade hunting zone.”

He skimmed through its contents, and immediately found the hidden information on the post.

“I’ll be waiting for you at Coffee Shop No. 4, table 4 at twelve everyday.”

There was only a single line of information, and approximately only ten comments below. That said, the comments were all far more informative and constructive than the others in the main forum.

“Be cautious, fellow cultivators. Please be cautious. This hunting zone is incredibly peculiar. I have a friend who’s on the brink of breaking through the bottleneck to the Hunter-class level, and I’ve not heard from him ever since he’d entered this hunting zone.”

“Friend, Operative-class experts aside, I’ve heard that the esteemed Inspector Jiang, a Hunter-class expert, has personally investigated this hunting zone as well, only to return covered with bite and claw marks all over his body. If not for the fact that Operative-class ghosts can’t penetrate the defenses of a Hunter-class expert, I’m quite certain Lord Jiang would have perished in that hunting zone as well. And it’s precisely because of this that the hunting zone was assessed to be an Operative-class hunting zone. It’s probably one of the most peculiar ones among its class.”

He didn’t take long to read through all of the comments below. Before he could even say a thing, Arthis remarked, “Interesting.”

“What?”

“Haven’t you noticed?” Arthis chuckled softly, “The master of this hunting zone… has a corporeal body.”

“The ghosts you’ve encountered in the past never had a corporeal body. Even the household god that you’ve encountered is only an illusory existence at best. When all is said and done, spirits are only spirits, and their existence can never breach the gap between what is illusory and what is corporeal. But this hunting zone is different. The fact that the master of the hunting zone is able to leave marks on the physical body of cultivators means that it undoubtedly possesses a corporeal body.”

Qin Ye squinted his eyes, “It possesses a physical body… yet it nevertheless remains hidden and undetectable? What’s all this about?”

“There are several possible situations. Incidentally, this is quite relevant to the public lecture you’ll have to give at the start of the semester. Each of these possible situations are incredibly rare to find, even by the standards of Hell. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell exactly what the cause is with the information we have right now. Should I continue?”

“Of course.” Qin Ye switched off his phone, “There’s nothing that can come between me and my dreams of becoming the god of instructors!”

“... Why do I get the feeling that you’re only facing this bravely because you’re peerless among all ghosts of the same level as you? After all, it’s not quite like you to display such a headstrong attitude…”

………………………………………………..

Meanwhile, a number of notification bubbles were appearing on Zhou Xianlong’s phone.

“Instructor S9527 has triggered an assignment relating to the C-grade hunting zone, codenamed ‘Lost Tracks’. There is a certain level of risk to Hunter-class experts. Its Yin energy reading levels have continued to rise over the last three years. Should we protect him?”

“So soon?” Zhou Xianlong raised his eyebrows. He hesitated for a moment, before selecting the ‘no’ option.

There was no need.

Even though Zhou Xianlong abhorred S9527’s ill-disciplined and disorganized personality, he couldn’t deny that S9527 was one of the strongest among all of the other instructors around.

He set down his phone. He didn’t send a voice message this time. Instead, he simply sent a message blast to all of the instructors of the First Academy of Cultivators.

“S9527 has officially accepted the ‘Lost Tracks’ assignment. Difficulty: C-grade. Awarded 5 teaching credits. Current total: 10 teaching credits, first place.”

It was a brief and simple sentence, yet it attracted the attention of over a hundred pairs of eyes all at once.

“Bloody hell…” Lin Han stared at his phone with gritted teeth, “Does he have to be so fast?!”

“Instead of being jealous of others, why don’t take a closer look at what we’ve missed, and why we haven’t found it yet?” Su Feng adjusted his glasses, “It’s S9527 after all… You really shouldn’t revel in the perception that you’re number one just because he had let you take that spot in the sparring competition.”

Elsewhere, in an abandoned factory building, a young man was just chatting with one of the guards when his cell phone suddenly rang. He picked it up and glanced at the notification, and his brows immediately furrowed, “It’s him again…”

“Should I say he’s truly worthy to be called the first instructor to breach nine hunting zones in a single night?” On an ancient-looking street, a long-haired lady pulled down her shades and glanced intently at her phone before placing it back in her pocket.

It was now patently clear to everyone that the selections competition had begun.

Although Qin Ye had temporarily taken the lead, each and every other instructor in the race were all elites in their own rights as well. The true winner of this race was undoubtedly going to be the one who could have the last laugh in the end.

“Time… is still on our side…”

Qin Ye also saw the message blast. However, his reactions were vastly different from everyone else. In fact, he was suddenly filled with an intense urge to spit a mouthful of blood straight at Zhou Xianlong’s face!

Are you really that displeased by the fact that I’m doing well?

You’ve even sent this message to everyone?!

Here I am, going about covertly, doing what I need to do - even refraining from seizing and snatching, yet there you are, announcing my achievements to everyone like a gun salutation?!

You’re an esteemed Judge-class expert! Can’t you just cut me some slack and let me contend with my fellow Hunter-class experts? Why do you have to alert your cult of followers like that?! Why do you have to scrutinize and watch me like that?!

Qin Ye let out a muffled groan, hailed a taxi and promptly made his way towards Coffee Shop No. 4.

As they drove along the road, the sights and sounds slowly grew more and more familiar to him. Qin Ye suddenly exclaimed, “Sir, is Coffee Shop No. 4… located at Insignia University?”

That’s right. They were headed in the exact direction where the Insignia University was located.

“You didn’t know that?” Almost all taxi drivers enjoyed a good conversation. The driver chuckled casually, “This place used to be called the Tianxi Fourth Street decades ago. It used to be a neighbourhood built around a thriving seafood market located in a rickety old building. Then, Insignia University built its main campus here and boosted the economy in the area. However, they left some of the old buildings in the area of the north entrance of Insignia University intact. Didn’t you catch a whiff of the stench of fish when you passed by?”

Qin Ye shook his head. He truly hadn’t noticed such details.

“Then, last year, they finally commenced demolition works in the area. But then, they suddenly stopped as abruptly as the works first began, and the stop-work order has remained in force for almost a year. Do you smoke?” The driver held out a box of cigarettes, to which Qin Ye kindly refused. Then, the driver lit up and spat out a ring of smoke, “Kid… you must be here for studies, right? Freshman?”

“How did you know?” Qin Ye casually responded.

The driver drew a deep breath and whispered, “Kid, let this big brother give you a word of advice. If you’ve got no business there, steer clear of that area altogether. It’s… unclean there.”

Then, almost as though he recalled a frightening incident, he bit down on the cigarette butt, “All of us locals here know that taxis steer clear of that area after six at night. Every month or so, there’s a person who would stumble upon that area and vanish mysteriously! In fact, the seafood market located at the northern gate of Insignia University has gained such infamy that it’s even been dubbed one of the ‘three great mysteries’. You… you’ve arrived at your destination.”

Their brief interaction ended as soon as the car stopped. Qin Ye paid the fare, got off the taxi and scanned around the neighbourhood.

It was an old neighbourhood. The surroundings revealed traces of the prosperity that the neighbourhood used to enjoy. Poles for telephone lines were erected at every corner of the street like dried, decaying tombstones. Wires hung loosely from the poles with a slight, depressing arc. All sorts of advertisements and signs were pasted on the telephone poles wherever there was space. The garbage cans were filled to the brim, and the stench of rotting garbage assaulted one’s olfactory senses. Everything pointed to the fact that the neighbourhood was well past its prime, and it was in its twilight years.

A dusty signboard peeked out of the corner of the street. Four words were scribbled haphazardly on the signboard - Coffee Shop No. 4.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter