Qin Ye didn’t return to his dorm room until the next morning.
Zhou Xianlong personally questioned him throughout the entire night. A32 was probably faced with the same ordeal. Thus, neither of them saw each other after that.
It wasn’t until 5 a.m. that the inquiry finally ended. After that, he saw through a series of procedures to complete his redemption of the Yin spirit stones, and was told that they would deliver his spirit stones to his room by the end of the day.
The time now was already 7.30 a.m. Fortunately, he didn’t have to take any classes today… He stretched out the soreness in his joints as he walked out of the Department of Academy Administration. He even felt somewhat lightheaded.
“What the hell are those things… how dare they poke the ass of the tiger known as the First Academy of Cultivators? The three daolords? And if it’s them, why are they here at the academy? Have they already discovered the reestablishment of Hell?”
He continued to speculate as he walked back to the academy to have his breakfast. Then, as he ate, he denied the plausibility of his earlier conjectures.
“That’s probably not it. Hell’s too insignificant right now. To put it bluntly, we’re not even worthy of being on their radar right now. Like Arthis previously mentioned, each of these daolords are infamous evils who possess abilities equal to that of an Abyssal Prefect. What they seek is to subjugate an entire district of Yin spirits. The City of Salvation is way too small for their appetite. They probably haven’t even discovered the existence of Hell’s reestablishment yet.”
“If I were them, and even if I did guess that Hell has been reborn, I would never come to the City of Salvation immediately and square off against the strongest powers of the mortal realm. I’d observe from afar and bide my time until I’m certain of victory before taking any action. After all, the daolords aren’t Emissaries of Hell like Cao Youdao, who possess the ability to make waves right under the noses of the Special Investigations Department without being detected at all… Since that’s the case, who the hell could this perpetrator be?”
He simply couldn’t figure it out. And as for Hell… I don’t know a single thing about the forces that used to exist in the old Hell. The first port of call right now should be to go to Arthis and ask her about these things. She obviously knows what’s going on.
Thus, he turned around and made his way straight towards the First Academy of Cultivators. The City of Salvation was slated to be the first city of cultivation to coexist with its ordinary citizens. Therefore, as dawn arose after the night of bizarre events, the streets outside the academy were once again filled with the hustle and bustle of the morning markets and stores.
However, as soon as he drew close to the dormitory building, he saw several students dash out with an astonished expression as they frantically discussed matters of ostensible importance. The students immediately made a beeline towards another building nearby.
“What’s going on?” He grabbed one of the students passing by and asked.
“Ah… you’re… Instructor Qin!” The student gasped. Shock and fear were written all over his face, and he trembled as he said, “S-s-somebody has died!”
Qin Ye immediately drew the link to the peculiar occurrences at the basketball court last night and patted the student’s shoulder, “Don’t panic, speak slowly. Tell me what exactly happened.”
“Dormitory three, room 214.” Qin Ye’s presence gave the student a sense of security, and he patted his chest as he explained the situation with trembling in his voice, “No one saw how it happened, but… when I woke up this morning, I discovered that one of my classmates was already dead! And the manner of death is incredibly bizarre! I don’t know anything else!”
Qin Ye eyes quivered. He looked around and noticed that the yards and gardens were already bustling with activity. The chatter among various groups of students created a soft buzz in the background. Almost a thousand students had gathered in the yard, reeling from shock and horror of the news that they had heard.
“Have you heard? Someone died last night!” “How’s that possible… this is the First Academy of Cultivators!” “Is there an evil presence among us?” “I don’t know… I’ve heard the news from others. Everything’s a mess right now!”
He remained rooted to the ground as the sea of students flowed about around him. The sudden turn of events had been so overwhelming that most of the students rushing around didn’t even remember to greet him properly. Yet, rather than enter the building, he took out his phone and tried to access the campus site.
“Server maintenance is currently in progress. The website you’re trying to access is currently unavailable.”
Qin Ye frowned as he clicked his tongue and kept his phone. The First Academy of Cultivators shouldn’t be facing any issues with their servers. His inability to access the campus website was most likely the result of the academy’s attempt to contain public disorder. Looks like… something’s really gone awry.
Perhaps news of the incident hadn’t yet reached the ears of Zhou Xianlong, and he was probably still discussing the bizarre turn of events last night with the purgatory troopers. Regardless, Qin Ye noticed upon his arrival that there were only some instructors and professors who weren’t present at the Great Dipper Vault last night who were maintaining the order at Dormitory Three. The instructors and professors were spread out all around, closing off all access to the premises altogether. There was a crowd of frightened and panicking students outside, yet not a single one dared to enter at all.
“What’s going on?” Qin Ye made his way forward to the five professors at the entrance. There were even two men dressed in white lab coats wearing the emblem of the SRC around. Everyone had a grave expression. They made way for Qin Ye as soon as they saw his arrival, nodding softly to him to greet him as well.
“When it rains, it pours.” Tao Ran sighed with an ashen expression as he patted Qin Ye’s shoulder, “The most important thing is to quell the anxiety and unrest among our students. Go in and have a look, and let us know if you’ve got any idea what’s going on. And don’t make a sound. The situation inside… is incredibly odd.”
These are troubled times… Qin Ye nodded his head curtly. Just as he was about to step into the building, he suddenly asked, “What does the academy make of it?”
Tao Ran’s gaze grew cold and frigid as he glanced at the crowd of students nearby, “We suspect that it’s linked to the situation last night. Some dastardly thing is probably hiding among the students… You guys weren’t able to figure it out… and not even I was able to figure it out. This is something for the hands of Faculty Head Zhou. Anyway, less talk. Don’t worry about these things for now.”
Qin Ye nodded and made his way straight towards room 214. He arrived in an instant, only to notice that there were already several other instructors standing around.
Lin Han and the others were there as well. As soon as they noticed his arrival, they let him in directly without saying anything at all. Immediately, Qin Ye furrowed his brows.
A dried corpse.
It was just lying silently on the ground with its arms folded across its chest, and its skin as wrinkled as a dried orange peel as it clung tightly to its bones. The corpse’s eyes were tightly shut, and its expression looked to be at peace. Not a single wound could be seen anywhere on his body.
“The deceased’s name is Mo Jun. Eighteen years old, male.” Su Feng leaned over and whispered, “He comes from the Eastsea Alliance of Cultivators. Nothing suspicious about him. The time of death… was around midnight last night.”
When Qin Ye noticed the dried corpse, the first thing he examined was the deceased’s neck. Unfortunately, he didn’t find any teeth marks at all.
However… when he lifted his hands again, he noticed that his fingers were slightly damp.
“Twelve o’clock…” He squinted his eyes and glanced at the windows - Everything’s intact.
12 a.m. was merely a short time after Zhou Xianlong had rushed to the Great Dipper Vault!
Luring an enemy away… no, this was borne out of spontaneity. The perpetrator had only gone with the flow.
It was injured. Although I don’t know how a Hunter-class ghost was able to evade Arthis’ strike, it was still undoubtedly injured by it. Furthermore... that kind of injury could very well result in it being discovered by others. Therefore, it was forced by the circumstances to escape to the dormitories and kill Mo Jun, even at the risk of being discovered.
And at that time, the academy’s attention was thoroughly gripped by the situation at the Great Dipper Vault. It was incidentally able to exploit the loophole in security… Qin Ye rubbed his fingers together and asked aloud, “What kind of liquid is this?”
“That’s just water.” Lin Han glanced around with a murderous intent in his eyes, “Lights out in the dorm is at twelve. This means that everyone was already dead in slumber by then. It’s likely that the Yin spirit had doused Mo Jun’s body with water after killing him.”
“Was the cause of death excessive blood loss?”
“It’s not only that…” Su Feng had white gloves on, and he gently lifted the clothes off Mo Jun’s corpse. Qin Ye gasped immediately. He had just discovered to his horror that the deceased’s chest and abdomen had split open! And yet… his stomach was missing!
In fact, all of his internal organs were missing!
“We can’t sense the perpetrator’s Yin energy.” Su Feng covered the deceased’s body once more and cupped his hands as he paid his final respects to Mo Jun, “Furthermore… such killing methods are completely unprecedented!”
Qin Ye furrowed his brows deeply. A notion had just flickered across his mind, and yet when he tried to delve deeper, he couldn’t find a single trace of it.
What exactly is it…
There was just something about the situation that felt incongruous.
“Unprecedented?” He massaged his temples as he asked.
“That’s right.” Lin Han squatted at the edge of the bed with his thick, bushy eyebrows tightly knit together as well, “This is completely unprecedented. The Yin spirits in Cathay have two main modus operandi. The first is intimidation-based, where they would menace and frighten their targets to weaken the three lamps over the human body. As soon as the flames begin to flicker, they would seize the opportunity and make their move. The second is when they possess the ability to manipulate physical objects in the mortal realm. These usually result in extremely cruel and gory deaths. But the manner in which Mo Jun perished…”
The three men exchanged a knowing glance at that moment and remarked in unison, “Ritual?”
His hands were folded after death; the corpse was washed clean with water, and the organs were all missing. It was exactly like… a ritualistic murder.
Dok, dok dok… Just then, the sound of rapid footsteps echoed from the stairs nearby. Before they could even react to the situation, the door to the room opened with a loud bang. Zhou Xianlong stood at the door with an ashen gaze.
True energy poured out of his seven apertures, crackles of lightning snaked around his hands, and a sound of rushing wind even swept past the corridor outside because of how quickly he had arrived. He didn’t greet anyone. Anyone could tell that he was in a terrible mood right now.
If the First Academy of Cultivators were to make a name for itself, it has to prevent such incidents from occurring on its premises. And yet, tragedy had struck not once but twice in a single night.
More importantly, the fact that a freshman had died almost as soon as they had arrived in the First Academy of Cultivators would necessarily give others an impression that the academy couldn’t even keep Yin spirits off their own premises. What would the world outside possibly think of this?
This was a thousand tight slap to the academy’s face.
Qin Ye and the other instructors exchanged knowing glances, and were just about to leave when Zhou Xianlong’s voice called out to them, “You must contain the students’ discussion over today’s incident.”
“In addition, the top priority right now is to protect the safety of all students. Tomorrow, the school’s Internal Affairs Department shall bring forward the launch of the mission system and announce an S-class mission. Anyone who can find the perpetrator…”
He gritted his teeth as killing intent burst forth from his body, “Shall be awarded 50,000 merit points and 300 teaching credits!”
“If you’re able to catch him alive, the rewards shall be doubled!!”
Qin Ye nodded, blinked knowingly at Su Feng and Lin Han, and then slipped away from the room.
Things were heating up in the academy.
If anyone dared to poke the tiger’s ass, they would have to suffer the consequences of their actions!
Qin Ye walked back to his dorm room hastily. As soon as he entered the room, the first thing that caught his eye was a massive box that was a perfect meter cube.
The Yin spirit stones that he had earlier redeemed had finally arrived.
Arthis wasn’t playing games right now. Instead, she appeared to be deep in discussion with Ming Shiyin. But when he entered the room, the two immediately paused in unison.
“What in the world is that thing?” Qin Ye sat on the couch and stared at the two ghosts, “You didn’t want to tell me earlier. But now, can you finally tell me?”
Seconds later, Arthis muttered softly, “Truth be told, Lord Ming and I were just discussing whether we should apprise you of the situation or not.”
“And our conclusion is that we shouldn’t.”
Qin Ye rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. Then, he abruptly shot to his feet and pointed out of the window, “Someone’s dead, you know.”
“A student has died right under the noses of a Judge and countless Hellguards! And the academy’s unable to pinpoint who exactly the perpetrator is!”
“I don’t care that he’s dead. What I care about is whether I’m going to be implicated with these things! This damn thing is as elusive as hell, so can’t you at least give me an explanation for it?!”
He gazed into Arthis’ eyes, “What could possibly take a higher priority than the daolords? Hmm?”
“What is it that even the Judge-class experts of the mortal realm can’t detect them.... No, even I can’t sense its presence, hmm?”
1. The actual description here used is literally translated as ‘they would let the perpetrator know just how many eyes the Horse King has!’ The Horse King is known as the god of horses, and it’s a deity that is said to have three eyes. I chose to use a more common expression as it’s far less clunky.