This was a sword that had been forged from pure gold. It was still sheathed, and the sheath of the sword was engraved with illegible patterns and symbols everywhere. Even though the hand was merely holding onto the sword, every single instructor in the lecture hall felt as though... the slightest show of disrespect to the sword would trigger the sword and cause it to traverse the vast chasm in the blink of an eye and arrive right before one’s eyes.
The feeling was so real and visceral that a bead of sweat quickly slid off Qin Ye’s forehead.
It was a supreme treasure.
And one could only imagine what it would look like if unsheathed.
Zhou Xianlong’s expression had never been as stern and somber as this. He turned and actually paid his respects to the sword, before facing the group of instructors once more, “Instructors, I know of a rumor making its way around the realm of cultivators.”
“Rumor has it… that across all bygone eras, there exists an organization akin to the Special Investigations Department. Regardless of the rise of kings, or the fall of dynasties, this organization would continue to hand down its treasury to its next incarnation - an equivalent organization of an incoming ruler that steps into the shoes of its predecessor. In fact, rumours of such organizations have existed all over the world since time immemorial. Foreign cultivators refer to these people as the gravekeeper. Cathay has its own set of rumours as well.”
He looked around the audience and took in all of the instructors impassioned gazes as he took a deep breath, “I now confirm the veracity of these rumours.”
Boom! It was as though a hammer had struck heavily on everyone’s hearts. Even the most stoic of them was unable to maintain a calm expression on his face.
A vault of treasures that is thousands of years old!
An accumulation of knowledge of thousands of years!
But… why tell us these things now?
Was this part of the perks of becoming a formally appointed instructor?
“The previous incarnation of the Special Investigations Department was known as the Divine Protectors. They were formed from a group of elites among the upper three banners of the eight banners system. In other words, they were formed from handpicked elites among the plain yellow banner, the bordered yellow banner and the plain white banner. The Divine Protectors existed even after the founding of present day Cathay, and only officially handed over all rights to the treasury to the Special Investigations Department when it was finally formed. It was then that the Divine Protectors was formally declared a thing of the past.”
“The Special Investigations Department has been guarding this treasury ever since then. This is also the greatest privilege that you’ve been bestowed with! In fact, this is an extraordinary privilege that the state has extended to all of you!”
Gulp… Some gulped audibly, while others tightened their grip around their armrests as their buttocks hovered slightly over their seat. Dozens of pairs of eyes stared intently at Zhou Xianlong’s mouth as he explained all these things. Even Qin Ye had to clench his fists tightly to suppress the overwhelming excitement in his heart.
The treasury hid an immense trove of artifacts that Hell could really use! The value of these things greatly exceeded that of mere Yin spirit stones! If not for the fact that he couldn’t summon Arthis right now, he would most certainly have done so and forced her to set a “seizing target” for him!
The husky had finally managed to sneak into the wolves’ den, and it was now eyeing the trove of treasures as well as the she-wolf…
“This treasury is sub-divided into seven different tiers, each of which is aptly named after the big dipper asterism - Alpha-Dubhe, Beta-Merak, Gamma-Phecda, Delta-Megrez, Epsilon-Alioth, Zeta-Mizar and Eta-Alkaid. According to our ancient records, the Alpha-Dubhe tier corresponds with Operative-class treasures; the Beta-Merak tier corresponds with Hunter-class treasures; the Gamma-Phecda tier corresponds with Hellguard-class treasures; the Delta-Megrez tier with Judge-class treasures, and so on and so forth.”
The different levels of cultivation in the mortal realm took after the different ranks of Hell’s Emissaries. This was probably a practice that had been passed down from generation to generation. Qin Ye wasn’t too bothered by it. After all, the more uniform the system of reference, the less the likelihood of a freudian slip.
“The final vault which contains eta-class treasures… contains artifacts that you wouldn’t even dare to dream about.” Zhou Xianlong explained with a burning gaze, “Let’s just take this sword for instance. Do any of you know its name?”
Simultaneously, almost as though it could hear Zhou Xianlong’s voice, the hand in the image reached over and turned the sign in front of the sword around. In the very next moment, there was pin-drop silence throughout the entire hall.
Qin Ye’s eyes widened as he stared at the screen with incredulity. Su Feng shook his head with disbelief, and he sat up even straighter than before.
At another corner of the lecture hall, an old instructor murmured hoarsely, “This… how is this possible…”
He subconsciously shot to his feet… and he wasn’t the only one. All of the instructors present rose to their feet with a soft rustling sound. The only exceptions were the various professors, faculty heads, and the principal, Xu Anguo.
There were five words written on the sign.
Sword of the Yellow Emperor!
“The sword of humanity, the sword of the Yellow Emperor…” Zhou Xianlong felt goosebumps creeping up all over his skin, and he closed his eyes as he continued explaining with a hoarse voice, “Even I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw this treasure. However… no one has been able to unsheath this sword for thousands of years now…”
“Holy shit… the three daolords are going to suffer…” Qin Ye wiped the cold sweat off his forehead and sat back down onto his seat. We’re talking about the Sword of the Yellow Emperor… This is the stuff of legends, and it actually exists?! Although nobody has been able to unsheath it for several millennia, who knows whether it would unsheath itself if the three daolords begin to ravage Cathay once more?
I suddenly get the feeling that this pack of wolves is more dangerous than I’d thought. What do I do?
It might be best if I keep a low profile and continue being a husky… the mortal realm is a little bit too far into the deep end…
Although I still don’t know how terrifying a Prefect-class existence is supposed to be, I still get the feeling that… it can’t possibly be any more terrifying than this thing…
“No…” As soon as he sat down, a brainwave struck him like a lightning bolt, and he immediately did a double take at the screen.
What class of artifact is the Sword of the Yellow Emperor supposed to be? How could the sword possibly be unsheathed by any other man on the street?
Since that was the case… the person who’s handling the sword now… Just who is the sword’s master?
A cultivator at the same level as the Sixfold Ghost Kings?
He carefully scrutinized the hand on the screen. His attention had earlier been completely seized by the glory of the Sword of the Yellow Emperor, and it was only now that he discovered just how wrinkled and withered the hand on the screen looked. Yet, at the same time, the hand still looked like it was filled with boundless energy and vigor.
“He’s at the very least… a Prefect-class cultivator…” He drew a deep breath and forced himself to calm down, “The mortal realm has their own hidden trump cards… It’s no wonder that they dare to suppress the outbreak of supernatural activities across all of Cathay… and it’s no wonder that the three daolords are hesitant about making their next move… No… in fact, the nation might already have guessed the identity of the three daolords... These are Prefect-class existences… We’re talking about hundreds of millions of Yin spirits pouring out of countless nests of ghosts, squaring off against the mortal realm and its backing of thousands of years of history and heritage… Neither forces are willing to move beyond these skirmishes and openly declare war on the other.”
Whoosh… The screen switched off abruptly. Everyone immediately roused from their state of stupor and exchanged surprised glances as they took their seats silently.
“Everyone.” Zhou Xianlong boomed, “I solemnly and sincerely declare that from the moment the First Academy of Cultivators was founded, this treasury has been open to its instructors!”
Several people instantly shut their eyes and heaved a long sigh of passion.
The entire atmosphere was filled with excitement.
“Teaching credits can be considered the path to your promotion, while merit points form the currency of exchange here in the treasury. Formal instructors of the academy would be entitled to redeem alpha-tier and beta-tier treasures. Outstanding instructors would be entitled to redeem one gamma-tier treasure from the treasury every year. As for associate professors and full professors…”
He smiled faintly, “They would be entitled to redeem higher tiered treasures at any time they wish!”
“Simultaneously, instructors would enjoy a 10% discount on their redemption of Yin spirit stones. Outstanding instructors would be entitled to a 15% discount for the same. Associate professors would enjoy a 20% discount; senior associate professors a 30% discount, and full professors… a whopping 50% discount!”
“The list of all possible redemptions shall be disseminated to all of you via the Momo app as soon as we return to the City of Salvation.”
“Everyone.” He slammed his hands onto the lectern with a burning gaze in his eyes, “With such great support from the state, do you know what you have to do?”
“We do!!” This time, everyone answered with a resounding cry.
The privileges accompanying their formal appointment as instructors were simply so great that they were nearly knocked unconscious by it!
This was the true power of policy!
“Very well. Then… I’m counting on every one of you.” Zhou Xianlong cupped his hands, “As for the third order of business, namely, the rubrics for the second phase of instructor evaluation… is non-existent.”
“Every single word you utter, and every single action and deed performed will be closely monitored by us. Everyone, wrap up your studies. We return to the City of Salvation the day after tomorrow. The first semester of the First Academy of Cultivators officially begins five days from now!”
“Here’s to great things ahead! Dismissed!”
Zhou Xianlong and the others promptly took their leave. As soon as the last of them stepped out, the previously silent lecture hall immediately exploded with chatter!
“Holy shit… holy shit… I’m about to faint from being smothered by all these blessings…” Local Bully stared at the ceiling with a lifeless gaze as he slumped back weakly in his seat.
Su Feng adjusted his glasses, “What’s there to be so excited about? The first part of our instructor evaluation has just ended, but the second part is soon about to begin, and that’s where the kicker lies. S9527, wouldn’t you say so?”
Local Bully glanced over, “If you’re not excited, why don’t you stop shaking your legs?”
Qin Ye walked over, smiled and nodded at Su Feng, “What’s the matter? Are you trying to seize the top spot from me?”
Qin Ye’s remark was fairly audible across the entire hall, and it immediately drew a mix of laughter and criticism alike, “S9527, you may have come up ahead of us in Mount Tai City, but we start the second round of assessments on a completely clean slate. There’s no certainty you’re going to take the top seat this time.”
An old man twirled his goatee as he smiled cheerily, “This old man has got some insights and experience in teaching and education…”
“It’s just as well, since I’d like to have a taste of how comfortable the first seat feels like.” “You placed first in the first part, but the competition is only going to become more intense in the next part.” “Hahaha, well said. Everyone should have a go at the first seat. That’s the way to keep things interesting.”
Qin Ye rolled his eyes.
The next part?
I’m so sorry… but this husky has already hidden a trump card up his sleeves. I hope you guys don’t cry too much when it’s finally revealed… You’ve gotta understand that this husky has licked a certain academic to complete satisfaction… oral skills are ten out of ten.
“Shall we get together for dinner?” Zhuo Qinfen came over with a stoic expression, “Since we’re already leaving the day after tomorrow, shouldn’t we take the opportunity to take a good look around Mount Tai City? After all, we probably won’t get a chance to return for the next few years once school begins.”
“Sure.” “Let’s go!” “Local Bully has to take us around.” “What the hell do you mean Local Bully?! I’ve only gone to high school here!”
They indulged in themselves that night, eating and drinking and partying away. With the exception of Qin Ye, all of the rest were a complete inebriated mess by the end of the night. After a good night’s rest, Local Bully took them around the sights and sounds of Mount Tai City in their two rented cars.
It was a brief, enjoyable respite… On the way back, Qin Ye’s gaze grew somewhat complicated and abstruse as he looked at the group of friends around him. A smile crept up the corner of his lips, but then quickly faded away.
How many years had it been?
How many years had it been since he’d completely let loose and enjoyed a time of fun and joy with his friends?
Even the term ‘friend’ felt like a distant notion to him.
It was far too difficult for him to entrust others with the contemplations of his heart, and far too difficult for him to trust in humanity. After all, he had maintained a persona of an invisible, forgettable man throughout his several experiences in college.
He’d rarely attended class reunions. When he did, he would get involved and forge associations. When he got involved and forged associations, he would become more noticeable. And when he grew more noticeable, he would attract trouble… Therefore, he had always lived a life of an unnoticed, impressionable person. Always treading carefully around the bounds of social circles, but never taking the plunge too deep.
It wasn’t as though he didn’t have friends either. In fact, there were a few people who he kept close to his heart, like Zhang Baoguo for instance. However, these friendships all arose out of exceptional circumstances, and they were most certainly not the norm for him.
He had never taken the initiative to extend an olive branch to others either, since he simply couldn’t fathom a day when he could surround himself with people he could consider his colleagues or his friends.
Ka-cha… There was a sound of a camera shutter. Lin Han had leaned over and taken a wefie together with Qin Ye, before promptly posting it on his social media account with the caption - Touchstone of attractiveness among the pioneer instructors of the First Academy of Cultivators. He immediately received dozens of likes.
“There’s no need for photographs.” Qin Ye smiled faintly, “I guarantee you that we’ll be seeing each other on a daily basis as soon as you die. You wouldn’t be able to even avoid me at that time.”
About that… Qin Ye was probably the first person in the history of mankind who had looked forward to the death of his friends with such eager anticipation…
A day filled with laughter and joy passed quickly. Two days later, two large buses ferried the sixty-over instructors and several professors and faculty heads and made its way straight back to where they had first come from - the City of Salvation.
The inauguration of the first semester at the First Academy of Cultivators had finally arrived!
1. This was a military system that was created in the early seventeenth century, leading up to the end of the Ming Dynasty and ushering in the era of the Qing Dynasty. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Qing_dynasty
2. The names of the seven big dipper stars are actually the suffix of each of these words. However, they also have Bayer designations using consecutive letters of the greek alphabet, starting with alpha. I’ve taken the liberty to compound these names so that we don’t have to memorize the names of the big dipper stars. Since these names also correspond with the different tiers of treasures, making reference to them using the greek alphabet would also make a lot more sense (ie, alpha-class or alpha-grade treasure, as opposed to dubhe-class or dubhe-grade).
3. The Yellow Emperor is a mytho-historical chinese sovereign named Xuanyuan, or more commonly known as Huangdi or the Yellow Emperor. He is estimated to have been born in 2711 BC, reigned from 2698 BC until he died in 2598 BC. Holy crap, that’s 113 years old! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Emperor