Chapter 17: That Fateful Incident 5 Years Ago (2)

Arthis conceded.

She was willing to bet good money that if this conversation had taken place several hundred years ago between her and one of the Emissaries of Hell under her command, she would already have sentenced him to be purged under the feet of Ksitigarbha. Endure… someone trapped in a soul sphere has no choice but to bow down in submission for now…

What would people say of history’s last Emissary of Hell, if they knew his sole talent lay in staying alive via cheating and deception?

Repressing the discomfort in her heart, she sneered disdainfully, “But isn’t letting him live tantamount to courting your own doom?”

“No-no-no.” Qin Ye wagged his finger confidently, “Firstly, you’ve forgotten all about Sledgehammer Wang’s identity.”

“... And who is Sledgehammer Wang?”

“That’s not the main point. The main point is that Mr. Sledgehammer is Wang Zemin’s son, and he’s the only one who can gain access to CEO Wang’s room. Secondly, he can go in the day, while the ghosts are still in hiding.”

Arthis thought about it - the plan was practically watertight!

“Logically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with your plan. Yet, for some strange reason, something about it still feels a little bit off. I’m going to rest for a bit. Try not to call me if there’s nothing serious.”

She felt crushed.

…………………………………..

Wang Chenghao found himself abruptly awakened to the tempo of Qin Ye’s slaps on his face. 

However, the fact that his cheeks were on fire was the least of his concerns right now. He blinked his eyes and scanned his surroundings in dismay, “Did… did I just see my father? What was he doing here?”

He cowered like a rabbit before a predator, trembling as he pleaded, “What’s going on… Qin Ye… I beg you… please… please tell me… I-I feel like I’m going mad!”

Qin Ye clamped his palms on Wang Chenghao’s cheeks and lifted his head as he gazed straight into the depths of his eyes, “Your father has already passed on, and your stepmother has likely been possessed. If my guess is right, you’re the only person in your family that is still alive.”

Wang Chenghao’s jaw dropped in complete shock. He blinked his eyes with a vacant stare, and his entire body shook uncontrollably.

A feeling of overwhelming terror sent waves of shivers shooting across his body.

How is this possible? We’ve been living together for such a long time. Does… does this mean that I’ve actually been living with a bunch of corpses?!

What’s going on?!

Qin Ye caught every moment of Wang Chenghao breakdown from confusion to despair. It was only when tears began welling up in the corners of Wang Chenghao’s eyes did Qin Ye smile faintly, “Do you want to live?”

Wang Chenghao desperately nodded his head. For some strange reason, he found Qin Ye’s present disposition to be somewhat terrifying. Even though there was a smile on Qin Ye’s face, Qin Ye’s imposing disposition was sufficient to elicit Wang Chenghao’s complete trust and faith in him.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk… look at you now. Where’s that air of arrogance that you used to flaunt so much in school gone? Head up. Chest out. Stand straight!” Qin Ye patted Wang Chenghao’s shoulder, “You’ve gotta fight for your own life if you want to live!”

Wang Chenghao gritted his teeth. That’s right… no one is obliged to help me out. Rather than desperately beg others for help, why don’t I just help myself?!

Qin Ye finally withdrew his hand as he continued with a kind expression, “And after you fight and give it your all, you’ll still find your efforts completely in vain.”

Wang Chenghao’s expressions immediately twisted in a pathetic manner. He opened his mouth slightly as though he wanted to say something, only to find the words lodged in his throat. It felt as though he were eating shit. And yet, for some strange reason, it left a slightly sweet taste in his mouth.

Then, Qin Ye’s smile faded, and he revealed a stern expression as he explained, “If you want to live, the first thing you’ll need to do is to go to your father’s office and locate his safe. The code is 200086. You’ll find a piece of stone inside. Bring that to me.”

“Alright… I-I’ll go first thing in the morning… t-t-t-t-t....”  Wang Chenghao’s teeth chattered rhythmically as he shivered. He avoided Qin Ye’s gaze and glanced down at his own legs, “Haha--... w-why are my legs shivering uncontrollably? I’m n-not afraid…”

“It’s good that you’re not afraid. Don’t worry. Brave boys have good luck. Those who have no luck are all dead anyway.” Qin Ye patted his shoulders, “It’s too dangerous to go back at this time of night. Feel free to stay here for now.”

Wang Chenghao clutched timidly at his chest as he nodded his head. Then, he wrapped his blanket around himself as tightly as a cocoon and shivered himself to sleep.

At 7 a.m. the very next morning, Wang Chenghao departed from the funerary street with a pale expression on his face. Only one of the three lamps above his head was still alight. Yet, even the remaining flame flickered dangerously in the rising sun, as though it would be snuffed out in the very next moment.

Qin Ye left Wang Chenghao to deal with his own affairs. Instead, he switched on his own computer and began trawling through the forums for the Hyatt Corporation debacle that occurred five years ago. Although a substantial period of time had lapsed since then, forum posts are rarely deleted from the online archives. He should have no issues locating he was looking for.

He logged onto the Tianya forums and typed in the keywords “Hyatt”. Very soon, hundreds and hundreds of posts appeared before his eyes.

“You’re a member?” Arthis was somewhat surprised.

“It’s only natural for someone who’s lived among humans for such a long time. I’ve got all the necessary memberships.” Qin Ye clicked on one of the posts that had thousands of comments to it. The author of this post was naturally That Amorous Affair.

This should be the original post.

It’s also the starting point of the entire debacle.

It was like what Arthis had mentioned before - the first immutable principle that all Emissaries of Hell should learn was that nothing is unrelated to a ghost’s obsession, no matter how bizarre the situation might seem at first blush. Put differently, it is precisely the ghost’s obsession that drives it towards ceaselessly repetitive actions. These details may well lead one to the key to eventually delivering the ghost. 

Although Qin Ye had already begun creeping forward with a view of stealing the tower from under the enemy’s noses, he still had to be prepared for any contingencies. His manifold life experiences taught him the importance of not getting caught off guard.

Qin Ye continued skimming through one comment after the other. Things were no different from his recollection.

“Give me a break! Clickbaits like this are dime a dozen. Can’t you come up with something fresh? What a waste of my braincells.” -- User029344.

“Haha, no pic, no talk. You allege that the old CEO has his sights on you? Do you think you’re a hottie or something?” --Conan, Cathay.

“Even if this is true, you're just a scheming bitch who’s looking to ascend the social ladder, aren’t you? You were used, and now you’re here to elicit feelings of sympathy for you? Get lost!” --Pessimistic Resentful User

Abusive language like this was like an invisible knife. It flowed casually from the users’ mouths, yet penetrated deep into their target’s heart. Qin Ye continued to scroll through the comments placidly. Very soon, he located a comment which had tens of photographs attached. Qin Ye paused.

“What?”

“That’s strange…” Qin Ye looked at the photographs with a grave expression on his face, “These photographs should have depicted the carnal interactions between a man and a woman, and the website should already have 404-ed them as well. This was That Amorous Affair’s post, which was the inflection point of this entire debacle. It was precisely the emergence of these photographs that sent the post into viral overdrive, after all. But… why hasn’t the post been censored yet?”

In fact, the photograph that appeared did not even depict the carnal interactions between a man and a woman. Instead… it was simply the photograph of an office space!

This was the office of CEO Wang.

It was taken at night when the lights were on, yet not a single person was captured in the frames of the photographs. Each and every photograph was taken from a different perspective. It was almost as though… a pair of invisible eyes continued to watch the office space silently each night.

“Look here.” Arthis suddenly spoke, and Qin Ye shifted his attention to the location pointed out by Arthis, and he noticed it immediately. It was in the reflection of the windows located just behind CEO Wang’s seat. There, a lady with dishevelled hair stood motionlessly under the dim lights of the room with her arms hanging limply about her.

The perspective of the photographs and the lighting were both very poor, and one could easily gloss over these details if one did not scrutinize the same closely. This woman was wearing a black coloured dress ensemble that seemed to meld into the dark of the night! Upon closer inspection, Qin Ye could vaguely make out a bloodshot eye staring straight through the draping hair at the seat where CEO Wang had built his business from.

It was a ghastly photo!

This photograph was not snapped by human hands at all. Rather, it was this evil spirit that had captured snapshots of its surroundings and posted them onto the forums. Yet, despite this being on the public domain, there was not a single person who had realized this to date!

“When was this changed?” Qin Ye was taken aback. He looked at the top of the post. There, the timestamp stated “19 August 2025”.

“Ten days ago.”

This was That Amorous Affair’s post, and these photographs had been uploaded by her as well. In other words, a woman who had already died five years ago had just edited her own post ten days ago! In fact, this was clear evidence that she had been staring menacingly at CEO Wang’s back every night since ten days ago!

Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed as though it was on fire, and he immediately went back to the original post and began scrutinizing it once more.

“Did you discover something?”

“Yes.” Qin Ye’s eyes glowed brightly as he pointed at the number of comments on the screen, “If there’s anything remarkable about me as a person, it’s the fact that I’ve got a pretty good memory. If memory serves me well...the level of this post had earlier been 8,472.”

“In other words, there have been 8,472 people who have commented or replied to this post since its incipience. But now… do you see the number?”

8,473!

In other words, from the time he accessed the already-dormant post, someone… or something… had silently commented on it again.

According to the forum’s rules, the original post would immediately be bumped back up to the first page of the forums as soon as someone comments on it or replies to it. This was the definition of bumping up posts.

However, this post was not bumped up.

Qin Ye drew a deep breath and flipped all the way to the final page of the post. As soon as the page loaded, he saw several comments in a row, all of which were written in blood-red font and signed off by…

That Amorous Affair!

It was none other than the lady who had died five years ago!

“I… I’m back…”

“I’m not lying…”

“I’ve got him…”

“Tonight…”

And the last comment was something that had just been posted.

“I know… you’re watching…”

And it was now daytime.

It was daytime at the funerary street.

Bright beams of sunlight shone into Qin Ye’s shop, The Afterlife, illuminating the paper servants, paper horses, firecrackers, incense and candles alike. It was as though everything were  covered with a faint, white sheen of smoke. It was clearly midday, yet the room suddenly felt oppressively quiet. A pervasive, netherworldly chill filled the air.

“Damn, that’s something.” Arthis was stunned for a moment before she chuckled, “That’s some temper she’s got. It’s been some time since I’ve seen a ghost that has dared to oppose an Emissary of Hell. Oh, that’s right. Given the amount of time that she’s been an evil spirit, I’m afraid she might not even have heard of Hell. As things stand right now, I’m afraid the only ghosts who would know to fear Hell are at least centennial spirits.”

Qin Ye was also somewhat stunned by this. It was only after he had personally been to Hell that he finally understood how terrifying it was. A provincial-level bureaucrat like Arthis had been relegated to hiding in the depths of the abyss for survival, while the Sixfold Ghost Kings were existences that possessed sufficient power to instantly annihilate Infernal Judges with a single strike. And this didn’t even take into account the Yamas of the Ten Palaces and King Yanluo who ruled over them all.

Hell, even Granny Meng was already someone that caused others to tremble at her sight. What kind of gall did this ghost have to provoke a national organization like Hell?

Screw her!

Qin Ye’s fingers tapped rapidly at the screen, “You probably haven’t heard of me before. Regardless, I’m giving you a chance to turn yourself in. Twelve midnight tonight, when the moon hangs high above the willow tree and the world is deep in slumber. What do you say?”

No response. It was almost as though the other’s computer had crashed.

Something about this still feels off…

Seconds later, another line of crimson words appeared: “Look at your phone.”

As soon as he read the ghost’s response, his cell phone immediately began to ring at maximum volume.

Instead of picking up the call immediately, Qin Ye glanced at the dated wall-clock hanging behind him, “It’s twelve.”

Arthis immediately understood the significance of this. Something’s gone awry.

It had been five hours, yet they had not received a single phone call in the meantime. Given how frightened Wang Chenghao had been, he would most certainly have called Qin Ye as soon as he had completed his task. Unfortunately, Qin Ye still hadn’t heard from him yet…

Qin Ye sighed, “It seems like he’s got quite the dumb luck. Could he be dead?”

Arthis chuckled contemptuously, “I’m not trying to look down on this ghost. It’s just that killing a human in broad daylight is something that even I would refrain from attempting. So, how could it possibly do so with its meagre abilities?”

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