“Are you certain?”
“I’m certain!” The young man clutched at his chest. The more he thought about the incident, the more horrifying it was. There were the eerie sounds of the lashing of belts, knives plunging into human flesh, and blood splattering everywhere at night; and then there was Li Cheng’s abrupt disappearance; and even the black cat which he had never heard of before… The young man had already decided in his heart that he was going to resign from his job tomorrow. There was no way he was going to live on in this street any longer!
He no longer wanted to speak with Qin Ye, so he turned around and motioned to leave. Unfortunately, he felt someone grab him by the collar of his shirt.
“Dear… it’s almost seven in the evening, and it would be dangerous to ply the roads at night… Look at my charming appearances, are you sure you’re not just trying to get me into an incident at night?” The blond-haired young man glared at Qin Ye with a disdainful expression on his face. Having just spoken of such horrific affairs, there was just no way he could remain on the streets like this any longer.
On the other hand, Qin Ye was somewhat displeased as well.
“... About that… since when did you become so confident in your own appearances? These words might bear some measure of credibility if I were the one who had said it, but don’t you realize that you’re just a measly ‘neighbourhood kid’? Our graphics cards are on completely different levels, alright?!”
The young man glared at Qin Ye, and then switched on his phone.
“What are you looking at?”
“... Nothing much. I’m just looking at how many years I’m looking at for an offence of causing grievous hurt.”
“... There’s no meaning in what you’ve just said… Come on, put down your phone, there’s no reason to be overly dramatic… I’m just asking whether this incident is something that’s widely known to the locals?”
The young man set down his phone and wrested his clothes free of Qin Ye’s grasp, “These matters are quite widely known. Just a little while ago, Li Jiankang was known to have visited the funerary street almost on a daily basis in order to invite monks and Taoist priests of all shapes and sizes to perform rites and rituals to cleanse his house. Unfortunately… four people went missing in just a single night. Word in the funerary street is that Li Jiankang’s house is one that is haunted, through and through. But at the same time, they do their best to keep things under wraps presumably because they are concerned about their own reputation.”
So desu ne… Everything makes sense now.
The young man finally left. Arthis muttered softly under her breath, “The Great Intergenerational Heredity.”
“This truly is a remarkable specimen… Kid, remember this lesson. When the school term begins, you’re sure to make waves when you discuss these matters.”
“What’s that?” Qin Ye frowned.
“You’ll know when you delve a little deeper into this matter…” Arthis smiled mischievously, “Let me warn you ahead of time - although this evil spirit is only at the level of a Netherworld Operative, even Soul Hunters can’t take their existence lightly. Otherwise… you won’t be able to properly close this case…”
After leaving Tianxi Fourth Street, Qin Ye searched for an internet cafe and surfed the web until it was 11 p.m. Then, he began making his way towards the neighbourhood where Li Jiankang’s home was located.
Tianxi Fourth Street could practically be described as Hell on earth. When night fell, the entire street was enshrouded with a mysterious eerie sensation.
What was clearly the telephone poles in daylight now appeared as though they were massive poles holding up spirit summoning prayer flags. And the night was so dark that nobody could tell whether corpses hung from these poles as they stared at innocent, unsuspecting passers-by.
The dim street lights were positioned dozens of meters away, and many of these were even broken, malfunctioning, or flickering with an eerie buzzing sound. It was almost as though something were darting about in the crossroads of light and darkness.
The multitude of trash lying around, replete with stray cats and dogs and the scuttling of rats didn’t do much to set hearts at ease. If anything, it only escalated the oppressive uneasiness in the hearts of those around, almost as though it were foreshadowing the approach of a frightening terror.
“Only a crazy person would deign to live here…” Qin Ye remarked as he glanced about his surroundings and noted that there were only a few homes that had their lights on.
“Eh? Given your finances, you must’ve had your fair share of living in such places, haven’t you? What gives you the right to criticize others like that? Do you think that everyone is middle class? Even the largest of cities around have slums and ghettos.” Arthis barked back disdainfully.
“... Don’t speak of such nonsense! At the end of the day, I’m still a duly licensed businessman. Or are you trying to say that businesses pertaining to the afterlife aren’t proper businesses? Admittedly, the location of my shops have been in the gloomier areas, but you can also say that it’s all part of my charm and my style!”
“Tsk, tsk… I still find that your confidence and ego is slightly over-inflated right now. It’s almost like you change into a completely new person whenever you’re faced with ghosts. How can you even have the mood for such banal banter within the territory of an extraordinary Yin spirit? Have you already forgotten what it felt like when you were completely dominated in the sparring match with Lin Han?”
“Ridiculous!” Qin Ye sneered, “That was merely an exchange of pointers, and we weren’t out to get each other, understand? You need to better educate yourself… How can you reduce the complex affairs of Emissaries of Hell to a simple win-lose situation?”
“I don’t care what this great inheritance is. If it dares show its face to me, I’ll definitely show it who’s boss! I’m the king of all ghosts! I’m Nurarihyon’s Grandson!
His ego was inflated to the extreme…
Arthis clicked her tongue and shook her head as she watched Qin Ye draw closer and closer to Coffee Shop No. 4. Li Jiankang was still seated in the same spot. Qin Ye picked up Li Jiankang’s keys and made his way towards the haunted home.
Li Jiankang’s home was located at the border of Insignia University, and it overlooked the locked northern gate of Insignia University, together with some of the campus buildings and brightly lit students’ dormitories within the campus. The two-storey house had seen its fair share of years. It stood in the shadows of the street lights, almost as though it had been relegated to the sidelines after the end of the past era.
Qin Ye opened the door and flicked the light switch. Unfortunately, there was no electricity.
“He must be in arrears, huh.” Qin Ye shrugged his shoulders. Li Jiankang had mentioned that it had been some time since he last went home. It certainly looked that way.
However, darkness was hardly a hindrance to him at all.
This sole husky hiding among the pack of wolves possessed the unique ability of seeing at night. It would be far too disappointing if a genuine Emissary of Hell couldn’t do at least this much.
His eyes darted about and took in his surroundings.
It was a relatively large room that was approximately one hundred square meters in size. There was a set of stairs tucked in the corner which led to the second floor. And the second floor… was precisely where the matricide occurred.
The furniture was old and dated, and the floors were not covered by any form of flooring or floor tiles. A typical drawing of an immortal Buddha hung on the wall. The sofa was covered with a blue cloth cover, while the table was covered in dust. An old school television sat in the corner from the room. Apart from the fact that the place looked somewhat old and dusty, there weren't any traces of the horrific tragedy that occurred on the second floor.
“Then… let’s not waste time, shall we?” Qin Ye licked his lips excitedly, and the colours of his eyes inverted abruptly.
White pupils and black irises. These were the eyes of a Soul Hunter!
As long as they were at or under the level of a Soul Hunter, no Yin spirit would ever be able to elude these eyes.
Things had been going badly for him lately. The actions of the silly buffoon, Lin Han, had stirred in him a belly full of fire; Zhou Xianlong was scrutinizing his every step and delighting in his misery; and even the foundations of Hell were unstable… It was high time for the darkness of night to tremble before him, and for all Yin spirits to understand who their true god was!
What goes unnoticed in the mortal realm shall be repaid in full in the netherworld!
For three whole minutes, Qin Ye looked around the room with disbelief. He shut and opened his eyes, and then scrutinized every single detail in the room once more.
“Nothing?” He gasped, “How could it be?”
“That’s right… how could it be?” Arthis smiled gleefully as she delighted in his misery, “Why can’t an Emissary of Hell locate the Yin spirit at all?”
Qin Ye turned around and glanced at the paper crane that was perched on his shoulder, “You knew this was going to happen?”
“Don’t underestimate Yin spirits.” Arthis muttered placidly, “What you’ve been exposed to thus far has only been the tip of the iceberg. Just as humans possess hundreds of different personalities, there are likewise hundreds of types of Yin spirits. Hell used to treat the classification of Yin spirits as a separate discipline altogether. Its full name is ‘The System of Records and Classifications for Yin Spirits’. Perhaps 99 of 100 of these Yin spirits won’t be able to threaten you, but the last one of these might very well cause you to lose your life.”
“Mother-and-child spirit, nightmare spirit, the Great Intergenerational Heredity, the evanescence spirit, the broodmother… These are all incredibly dangerous types of Yin spirits. You… should experience this for yourself… Hang on… what are you trying to do?! Stop right there!! Where’s your pride as an Emissary of Hell?!!”
Qin Ye was just about to pull open the door with an abrupt movement when he smiled dryly, “About that… I’ve suddenly got the urgent need to pee, so I’ll make a move first…”
Arthis drew a deep breath. The paper crane trembled violently as she exploded in rage, “You’re an Emissary of Hell!! By Hell’s dictum, all rabble must disperse! Do you think these words are completely meaningless?!! Back then, a multitude of ghosts would immediately scatter to the corners of the earth as soon as they heard this declaration! You’re only facing a Great Intergenerational Heredity, and yet you’re already fleeing at the earliest sight of trouble?!”
“What do you mean flee at the sight of it? What rubbish are you spouting? This can only be called a tactical retreat! Haven’t you heard of the saying, ‘avoid any fights you’re not prepared for’?”
“I’ll be damned…” The paper craned flew up and shot straight towards Qin Ye’s forehead, “Where’s your spirit of fearlessness and courage?! Didn’t you want darkness to tremble at your sight?! Didn’t you want all Yin spirits to cower at your existence?! Didn’t you want to be the god of all evil ghosts?!!”
“Shh… keep your voice down. I wouldn’t want these ghosts to hear such embarrassing words from your lips… Humans must have dreams. That said, these dreams shouldn’t be too far detached from reality either… By the way, why won’t this door open?”
Just then, a crisp sound reverberated throughout the room. Qin Ye immediately pulled back his hand.
Before he could even react to the situation, the same sound echoed throughout the room again.
The darkness of the night seemed to shift slightly. The dim moonlight shone eerily in through the windows, casting the spotlight on the tables and chairs in the room, making them look as though they were silently but surely cracking their mouths open. The soft reflections from the glass windows even appeared to paint on the furniture eyes that stared at Qin Ye without blinking at all.
A loud, repetitive sound approached the dark room in the dead of a deep, dark night. It was almost as though something was desperately hacking at the front door!
It was the clanging sound of metal.
“Shit…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth and leaned into the peephole.
Another loud sound caused the door to rattle loudly. However, Qin Ye saw nothing through the peephole.
There was only a dim street light in the distance. He looked at his phone immediately.
Midnight. 12 a.m.
The evil ghost was coming!
“Shit…” Qin Ye instinctively retreated. What’s knocking on the door? No… what’s hacking and slashing at the door? But before he could even react to the situation properly, he was suddenly stricken by a feeling of intense terror that he hadn’t experienced for a long time now. The sensation surged straight through his body so quickly that his mind grew numb and all of his hairs stood on end!
Just as he was retreating earlier… he had suddenly and abruptly collided into… a human body!
Yet the body was ice cold - almost akin to that of a corpse!
Someone else was in the house!
Goosebumps flared all over his skin. He had earlier taken a look around when he first entered the house, and he had ascertained that there was nobody else inside. Despite that, there was suddenly someone standing behind him in an otherwise empty room!
Without hesitation, he unsheathed the demonhead saber and swung it behind him as he turned around. However--...
There was nothing behind him.
There was still the same miserable glow of the dim moonlight, and the somewhat suffocating darkness of the night. Yet nothing else was there.
Drip… A drop of sweat rolled off his forehead.
He took a deep breath and pulled open the front door. It was equally empty outside.
That said, he could see that there were now several visible hack marks across the surface of the door.
“This is… caused by a kitchen knife.” He gently ran his fingers along the surface marks as his eyes gleamed brightly, “In the case of the matricide, Li Cheng had similarly murdered his own mother with a kitchen knife like this…”
Whoosh… Suddenly, Qin Ye heard the sound of the kitchen faucet being turned on. Simultaneously, he heard the somewhat hoarse voice of a middle-aged lady call out, “Cheng-Cheng, come help me clean the vegetables… you… you’ve been smoking again?!!”
“Stop bothering me!” A teenager’s voice echoed, almost as though it were within earshot.
Qin Ye glanced about his surroundings vigilantly. It was all too peculiar. It was almost as though the scene from that night was being reenacted right before his very eyes. Yet even he, an Emissary of Hell, was unable to see a single trace of what was going on!
“How many times must I tell you?! You refuse to take it to heart? I-I’m going to beat you to death!!” An incensed voice exploded, followed quickly by the lashing sounds of a leather belt striking flesh. Pak pak pak… The teenager barked back with an equal amount of rage, “Screw your mother!! I dare you to hit me again!! See if I don’t kill you!”
“How dare you talk back? Y-you… how could you swear at your own parents?! Haven’t you learnt anything?!”
“I… I’m going to cut you down!!”
1. This is a reference to a popular Japanese manga. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nura:_Rise_of_the_Yokai_Clan