“How did you learn of these things?” Old Man Yu gently flicked open the lid of the teacup and asked somewhat casually.
Qin Ye smiled, “I’m an orphan, and I’ve been wandering the world since I was a kid. I was born with the Yin-Yang Eyes, and I’ve seen many things in my travels. The term ‘nightmare spirit’ is something that I’ve come up with, because… the spirit is just like a nightmare - pervasive and formless.”
He drew a deep breath and closed his eyes as though he were recalling a distant memory, “I once lived in an air-raid shelter where the homeless and vagabonds gathered. I was very young back then, and I was too afraid to fall into a deep slumber. It was there that I discovered… that there was someone else who had trouble sleeping. In fact, he kept having recurring nightmares.”
“Every time he woke up, he would always yell at the top of his voice, ‘There’s a ghost… a ghost is coming to kill me!’ This man began to grow visibly emaciated. You might not know this, but vagabonds live from hand to mouth, and nobody has the capacity to care for others at all. In fact, the life of a vagabond is dictated by the doctrine of every man for himself, and one would even need to keep an eye out for others snatching food from them. That’s why… I hid myself extremely well - so well that few people could uncover my location.”
Old Man Yu looked at him thoughtfully, “Was that how you thought about the air-raid shelter this time?”
“This air-raid shelter was built a long time ago. They’re not even recorded in our building plans from thirty years ago. Furthermore, these shelters are twelve meters underground, well below the level of most foundations. It’s probably not constructed by Cathayans to begin with. This is probably why we’d failed to discover its existence all this while.”
Qin Ye didn’t expect his strength in concealment to resolve a potential conundrum in his story for him, and he casually glossed over it, “I guess you can say that… Picking up from where I left off, I continued to live in the air-raid shelter until one fateful day, when the death of a vagabond made waves among our little community.”
“That man was mutilated by several knife wounds, and his death was incredibly tragic. Despite that, the air-raid shelter was too good a shelter to pass up, and nobody wanted to leave at all. Therefore, after disposing of the corpse, we continued to live in the shelter.”
He drew a deep breath, “And… that’s when it all began.”
“From that day on, someone died everyday for three days straight! I immediately made up my mind to leave the shelter. But just as I was leaving, I suddenly saw the man who had been having nightmares walk past a fire pit.”
“Everyone was too frightened at the material times to pay attention to him, but I noticed it…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth, “He… didn’t have a shadow!”
Old Man Yu remarked, “Shadows are one of the key distinguishing factors between humans and ghosts. A man without shadows… must mean that he’s a ghost. Was he the nightmare spirit?”
“Yes. In hindsight, it seemed to have festered and grown from a person’s nightmare. That’s why I named it the nightmare spirit. There seems to be some records of such sightings in ancient manuscripts. Back then… I’d probably witnessed its existence with my own two eyes.” Qin Ye gulped nervously, “But this was just the beginning of an incredibly peculiar incident!”
Old Man Yu wasn’t listening to it as anyone would a mere story.
Right now, any information - especially that which flows from the personal account of a cultivator - was information that was potentially invaluable to his research topic!
“After wandering about for the next ten months, I returned to the air-raid shelter once more.”
“But… I didn’t go in.” Qin Ye couldn’t help but praise his own acting skills. He put on a perfect expression of a lingering fear from a past event of trauma, “Because as soon as I was twenty-five meters away from the air-raid shelter, my intuition immediately raised alarm bells, warning me against entry. I had a feeling that entering the air-raid shelter would spell certain death! Furthermore…”
He breathed heavily, “With my eyes… I could see that there were a dozen souls hovering about just outside the shelter. Apart from the ones who had already died by the time I’d left the shelter, there were several others. In other words… the air-raid shelter had already become a nest of evil that devours all life.”
“Come to think of it, I’m pretty certain that I saw a thick aura of Yin energy as well. And the quality of the Yin energy there… was definitely above the level of a Hunter-class expert!”
Old Man Yu nodded deeply. But in the next moment, his eyes immediately widened, and he stared at Qin Ye, “Are you saying… that it was already a Hellguard-class evil ghost?!”
“In a single year?!” Old Man Yu gasped, “Are you certain?!”
“I’m absolutely certain.” Qin Ye nodded affirmatively, “This happened when I was approximately ten years old. It left a profound impression in my heart.”
Old Man Yu probed further, “Do you still remember where that air-raid shelter is located?”
Qin Ye had visited many places in his lifetime, and he had already anticipated such a question. Therefore, he immediately responded, “Basil City.”
Even if they went down to Basil City to search the area, they would only be able to find an abandoned air-raid shelter, and possibly some traces of Qin Ye’s stay in the past.
This was back when his days were filled with blood, sweat and tears, well before the time when he opened ‘The Afterlife’ for business… This was back in the days of emancipation, when the communists were victorious over the nationalist... And he had once again visited the same place just several years back…
Life was tragic back then…
“Thus, after that incident… I immediately analyzed all of the supernatural incidents I’d encountered in the past, and I developed the hypothesis that the more stringent the requirements for the conception of each Yin spirit, the stronger they would turn out to be. This is precisely why I feel that the SRC might not be paying enough attention to your research topic. You probably understand just what a Hellguard-class malevolent ghast represents, don’t you? If left unattended, a city could easily be razed to the ground!”
“Quality is of far greater significance than quantity!”
Old Man Yu was deep in thought. That said, he also looked visibly excited.
His own hypothesis had just been directly corroborated and affirmed. Even though the evidence and proof was still lacking in some regards, the affirmation of his hypothesis still meant that Cathay was faced with a danger that was far more sinister than expected!
Millions of people lived in a single city, and a provincial capital city housed more than ten million citizens! A single oversight leading to the emergence of an extremely rare Yin spirit in such a heavily populated location…
The consequences would be unimaginable!
Furthermore… He couldn’t help but shudder uncontrollably.
Furthermore… if our hypotheses are true, then what we’re talking about are only two of a multitude of Yin spirits. Could there be more terrifying Yin spirits out there? Yin spirits that required even more stringent conditions for their conception, that would eventually pose a greater threat to Cathay?
It’s high time for the establishment of the Department of Yin Spirit Classification… This was rejected the last time I’d brought it up. But this time, I simply have to see things through by hook or by crook. This is no laughing matter! As these thoughts ran through Professor Yu’s mind, he looked at Qin Ye and smiled radiantly, “Little Qin, what plans do you have in mind for the future?”
Qin Ye had already reverted to the typical bashfulness and behaviourism of a teenager, and he lowered his head and smiled shyly, “I’m honoured to be selected by the First Academy of Cultivators, and I’ll do my best to teach well.”
Old Man Yu smiled.
There were also children of Qin Ye’s age among his relatives. Yet he found it particularly enjoyable to have conversations with Qin Ye. After all, he was thoroughly intrigued by the idea of a young man with a fresh and unique perspective that was well-considered and not completely unrestrained.
“I’m referring to your plans after graduation.” He smiled casually, “S-class agents like you can’t possibly stay at the First Academy of Cultivators forever. You’d probably teach there for a full term of two years at best. And then you’ll be deployed back to the frontline with your usual investigator duties.”
He paused for a moment, and then smiled, “Have you ever considered an assignment at the SRC?”
“The SRC has a special division called the Operations Division. We can’t bother the Special Investigations Department for everything after all. Thus, the SRC has its own operative forces as well as its own set of cultivators. Furthermore…”
“Only associate professors are eligible to mobilize the Operations Division for their research topics.”
In other words, as long as you come to the SRC, you’ll immediately become a big shot who stands at the frontline of the battle against the supernatural forces!
“Bloody hell…” The three men in white lab coats were completely dumbfounded.
Nobody had expected an outcome like this!
Qin Ye had spoken of matters so brilliant that none of these things had ever even crossed their minds before!
His first postulation was that Yin energy could be latently concealed in a person’s bloodline. No… Yin energy has always been a part of a person’s body. After all, the constitution of one’s body was founded upon a balance of both Yin and Yang energy. However, the idea that latent Yin energy could be triggered by external causes was a concept that was completely outrageous. Yet, upon closer inspection, it wasn’t completely impossible either!
Qin Ye’s second accolade was his story about the Yin spirit he named the nightmare spirit - an evil ghost whose strength quickly grew to the realms of a malevolent ghast in the span of a single year!
Qin Ye’s third contribution was his conclusion. Even though his words didn’t carry much weight, he had nevertheless in his own ways affirmed Old Man Yu’s hypothesis, that there was diversity among Yin spirits. He had even gone one step further by saying that the harsher and more stringent the conditions for the conception of special Yin spirits, the stronger they would be when they appeared.
Each of the three points made sufficiently proved that Qin Ye possessed astute observational skills and a meticulous, analytical mind.
“Old Man Yu has personally invited him…” One of the men in white lab coats revealed a bitter smile as he conceded, “We’ve been here for several years now… but none of us have ever done enough to receive Old Man Yu’s personal recommendation. It looks like Qin Ye has completely outdone himself…”
Su Feng and Lin Han were completely flabbergasted as well.
Even though Lin Han wasn’t able to fully appreciate what the recommendation meant, he could still appreciate the gravitas of the person making the recommendation.
“One of the three founding fathers of the SRC… Did this kid grow up eating cow dung? You can’t get such good luck by simply stepping on shit.”
Everyone stared at the screen in silence, and they couldn’t help but wish that they were in Qin Ye’s shoes right now. At the same time, everyone also wanted to know what Qin Ye’s response would be.
“Thank you.” Qin Ye smiled, “But I personally prefer slaying demons and purging ghosts. Research work doesn’t quite suit me.”
Are you kidding?!
Is this husky supposed to join a group of elites in the pack of wolves now? They’re even elites specializing in intelligence!
Do you think I’m looking to commit suicide…
“I see.” Yu Guohui didn’t press the issue. He was already making an exception by asking Qin Ye directly, so there was simply no way he would continue to badger Qin Ye into joining. He added with a deep voice, “Then, is there something you might possibly need help with?”
I simply adore how you wish to immediately reciprocate my kindness!
Qin Ye smiled, “Not at the moment…”
“Alright then, we’ll be wrapping up the video and sending it to Yan Capital immediately. We shan’t hold you back any longer.” Old Man Yu stood up and sent off his guests with a simple statement.
What do you mean?
Can’t you let others finish their statement first?
Qin Ye’s heart felt incredibly stifled. Platitudes! Have you never heard of platitudes? Isn’t this customary for all Cathayans to begin with? Shouldn’t you at least probe a second time for confirmation? And then that’s when I’m supposed to speak of any difficulties I might have!
You’re not playing by the rules, old man!
“Ahem… actually… there is one thing, if I may…” After much cursing and swearing in his heart, he forcibly eked a smile on his face and added, “It’s like this. We’ve got to conduct a public lecture as soon as lessons begin. As you’re aware, I’m relatively young. Even though I’ve got some personal insights that I would like to share with the class, I worry that I might not be able to command the stage. If Professor Yu has the time, I was hoping you could give me some pointers.”
“Bloody hell!!!” Su Feng and Lin Han cursed in unison below.
Where’s your face?!
Where the hell has your face gone?!!
Didn’t you just say you didn’t need any help, and yet you’re now asking for the moon and the stars?! Has your face been eaten by the dogs?!
“This idiot…” Lin Han’s lips trembled, “Isn’t this the public lecture that everyone has to conduct?! Isn’t he just cheating right now?!”
Su Feng was similarly seething with rage. Is it not sufficient that you’ve entered the ranks of an outstanding instructor over the course of a single night? You’re even making preparations for a headstart in the next semester right now… no, aren’t you simply planning to start at the finish line at this rate?!
What happened to fair play?
What happened to our mutual trust and tacit agreement?
Are you going to wait for us there?
“Old Man Yu’s visit… is something that would even involve both our principals and all of the heads of faculty…” Su Feng’s facial muscles were already twitching uncontrollably, “And if Old Man Yu agrees to personally attend his lecture, it no longer matters what kind of bullshit Qin Ye spews during his lecture - the academy would still have to rate his lecture among the top. All other alternatives naturally lead to the conclusion that the academy either doesn’t fully appreciate the intricacies of research, or that they simply don’t respect SRC’s choice of endorsement… What the hell is this all about… Lin Han, let’s go!!”
“Ahh? Aren’t we supposed to be asking him about his ‘Lost Tracks’ mission?” Lin Han couldn’t keep up with the developments.
“What the hell is there to ask?!” Su Feng could no longer suppress the seething rage in his heart and the burning desire to give Qin Ye a flurry of tight slaps to the face. Tonight could only be described as a night of revelation as to the different facets of Qin Ye’s wicked nature.
He exploded with an ashen face, “Let’s go back and prepare for class!!”
“At least there’s hope of securing 100 credits if we take things seriously in our preparation work. If we continue to mess around… heh heh… do you really want to let this kid run us over like that?”