“Was that Yin spirit earlier… the advance party of the other underworlds? The emissaries of other underworlds?” Qin Ye murmured as he gazed deep into the sky.
There was no response.
Qin Ye smiled, and then suddenly bellowed in rage, “And where does that leave me? This is a checkmate situation, and I’m supposed to sit here and wait around as they slaughter their way into the depths of Hell?!”
The City of Salvation was able to conceal him from the prying eyes of the three daolords, and yet it couldn’t do a single thing to uncover any traces of the extraterritorial Yin spirits.
Because they were entities that only the dead could see.
And because only Emissaries of Hell could detect the presence of emissaries of other underworlds.
There was no hiding from them in the City of Salvation.
Yet Arthis remained completely cool and collected, displaying her wealth of experience dealing with such startling developments, “I’ve got a piece of good news. Would you like to hear it?”
Qin Ye sneered, “I’ve hit rock bottom so hard that any news right now would be good news. After all… Cathay is no different from the lamb chops on the dining table right now, and we’re surrounded on all sides by the other great underworlds, all of whom are waiting to pick us dry and polish the meat off the bones!”
Arthis turned a blind eye to his snarky attitude and explained, “But before I tell you this piece of good news, I would first have to preface that with this - spies were a commonplace occurrence even during the eons of glory of Cathay’s old Hell. In Cathay, we call underworldly spies darkfeathers.”
“They are thus named because they’re scattered around like commonplace feathers, and yet not a single one arouses a single trace of suspicion by their presence…” She paused, and then turned to Qin Ye, “Why do you think we have to do something like that?”
Qin Ye fervently repressed the roiling emotions in his heart. He knew full well that anxiety didn’t help him one bit, so he took the next few minutes to cool off completely before he began to contemplate Arthis’ question.
A few seconds later, he smiled and responded softly, “The answer is simple - seizing talents.”
He elaborated, “The construction of Hell, man… no, ghosts come first. Without ghostpower, what kind of expansion and development do we have to talk about?”
“And where do ghosts come from?”
Arthis listened quietly without interjecting.
“From the mortal realm.” Qin Ye answered his own questions, “Therefore, all of the great people from the mortal realm, including this professor and that professor, would only receive an even warmer welcome as soon as they arrive in Hell! After all, the population of Hell is far greater than that of the mortal realm. In the mortal realm, we see countries and governments desperately attracting and vying for talents from other nations. The Cathayan government has even implemented policies just to attract the top, cutting edge talents in various disciplines to work for them. In Hell, the methods would naturally be even more brutal and ruthless. In other words… seize directly?”
Arthis didn’t respond straight away. She took several seconds to gather her thoughts, before quipping, “All talent, especially top-notch talents, are the greatest driving forces behind the growth and expansion of Hell.”
“There have been many similar clashes since time immemorial. Any contemporary cutting edge talent could become the next guest-of-honour of any underworld as soon as they die… I wonder how many intelligence agents across all of the underworlds are monitoring the global news each and every day. And as soon as they discover the death of a top talent, they would immediately dispatch their emissaries to reap these souls for the benefit of their own underworld. In this regard, there’s a whole plethora of methods that they can employ to reap these souls. Even if they aren’t able to do so, they would much rather destroy the soul than let other underworlds have it!”
She gently sighed, “Over the last few millennia, we’ve had our fair share of successes and failures as well, albeit failures were few and far between. Our track record is something that the various underworlds know full well. Thus, whether they decide to step in this time… is something that is entirely up to their emissaries.”
Qin Ye finally understood.
There was one… no, rather, there were several extraterritorial emissaries that had discreetly snuck into the City of Salvation.
And this was because a cutting edge talent had just passed away, and everyone was eyeing his soul! And there was even one faction that had taken things one step further to scout out the current extent of the Cathayan Hell.
“Whose souls did you manage to seize over the last few millennia? And who did you fail to secure?” He finally formulated a peculiar question to Arthis after some moments of deliberation.
Arthis coughed dryly, “Mr Cai Lun, Mr Zhang Zhongjing, and Mr Zhang Heng all had their souls reaped by the underworldly forces of Anubis. Mr Yue Fei’s soul was reaped by the Nipponese Izanami. And the soul of Huang Taiji was reaped by an unknown party… in any event, our failures number no more than seven.”
“Then whose souls did you manage to reap?”
Arthis responded solemnly, “Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Faraday, Darwin, Edison, Freud, Marie Curie… Einstein should count his lucky stars that he was still alive when the old Hell collapsed. He was still alive!”
What the hell?!
Qin Ye’s complex emotions instantly went up in smoke and ashes as he stared at Arthis as though he had just seen a ghost.
All ten great scientists across the history of the world were seized by the Cathayan Hell?
It really doesn’t get any more tyrannical than that…
Suddenly, a brainwave surged through his mind, and he drew a deep breath, “And your good news is that… this special Yin spirit…”
“You’re lucky.” Arthis squinted her eyes at the sky canopy, “I detected the aura of Hades on those soul shackles. And the only people who can justify the use of these soul shackles are most certainly a national-level cutting edge talent!”
Qin Ye immediately drew several deep breaths. He couldn’t resist the urge to reap his soul right back to Hell right now!
A national-level talent… was an existence that Hell needed so much right now!
So much for becoming a hermit in the recesses of the mountains. This was nothing more than a casual thought. After all, Qin Ye knew that there was no room for retreat any longer.
The Harken would immediately tear him to shreds when he aroused from his slumber.
And even in the slightest off-chance that an entity with an energy reading of thirty million Yin failed to capture Qin Ye’s scent and remember his appearances, what about the three daolords?
They were existences that had been suppressed under the six paths of reincarnation for thousands of years. How could they possibly tolerate the existence of any remaining Emissaries of Hell? Death was inevitable as soon as he was discovered by them.
Since there was no room for retreat, there was no reason to contemplate retreat.
“So… does this mean that we have to square off against these extraterritorial emissaries?” Qin Ye rubbed his chin as he thought aloud.
Arthis nodded her head, “The special Yin spirit will stay in one place for the next three months. This is a result of its obsession. And if one attempts to reap it while its obsession lingers on, its soul would immediately dissipate and go up in smoke. Thus, we have to do our best to reap his soul within the next three months.”
“Do our best?”
Arthis continued coldly, “The rules of engagement are all undergirded by the Heavenly Dao. Emissaries that exceed the rank of Soul Hunters will instantly vaporize and turn to ash as soon as they step foot into the territories of other nations. And the only exception to this rule is if one charges into another territory with an army that numbers more than ten million. That is the only way to break the rules of engagement underlying international underworldly conflict. But none of the other underworlds know, or can even be certain of what’s going on in the Cathayan Hell. Therefore, we can be certain that they wouldn’t be charging at us with a great army.”
“And it’s precisely because of this that the incoming emissaries of their underworlds… are definitely the cream among the crop, even among their numbers. They’d naturally opt for quality over quantity. Their numbers wouldn’t exceed five, but… this is only for each underworld that has decided to join in the fray. We’re weak right now. I’m afraid that liberating this Yin spirit from their shackles is going to be… an uphill task, to say the least.”
Qin Ye glanced at Arthis, and she quickly added before Qin Ye could say anything, “I can’t guarantee that I would be able to make a move over here. I’ve already made an appearance back in Clear Creek County. If I display my might here in the City of Salvation again, anyone would be able to tell that you’re being followed by a living Infernal Judge. The disadvantages of potentially having your access cut from the Great Dipper Vault far outweighs the potential benefits of securing the soul of a meagre Yin spirit.”
It was starting to feel as though he would have to charge headlong into the enemy troops all on his own.
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered, yet it continued to burn with passion. It seemed as though he were alone, but the truth of the matter was that there were several other factors he could tap on to his advantage.
For instance… the First Academy of Cultivators!
For further instance, the Special Investigations Department!
This was the City of Salvation. It was the land of the living! Wasn’t it just the same with Cao Youdao, when the mortal realm wasn’t able to detect his presence? He would be dealing with fellow Soul Hunters. As long as the Special Investigations Department is able to run some interference for him, there was hope yet!
“Then… shall we first learn for ourselves who the deceased is? Which acclaimed person is this that can cause the other underworlds to throw caution to the wind and risk everything to reap his soul.”
After deliberating for a moment, he smiled, “That makes things a lot simpler… We’ve got three months. We can slowly bide our time.”
He put aside his thoughts for the moment and began to inspect Hell.
The construction of Qin Gardens Phase 1 was going on well. And Yin spirits wouldn’t hesitate to drop their tasks and pay their respects to him wherever he went. Soon, he noticed the seven division heads of Yin Construction rush over to respectfully escort him back to their construction headquarters.
It was a simple tent with a single table inside where the Design Department’s architectural drawings of Qin Gardens Phase 1 was placed. Qin Ye mulled over the progress of the construction works he had just seen and asked, “Is there an expected completion date?”
“We expect to complete the project in two and a half years.” Song Ming was still wearing his helmet as he chuckled bitterly, “And this is only if we continue to work day and night. If we were back in the mortal realm, this project would take more than three years to complete.”
Qian Tianyi sighed, “My lord, there’s an urgent need for more equipment and materials. By our estimations, the materials that your excellency has obtained previously isn’t even enough to complete the first level of the project. Ancient-styled buildings occupy a massive land space, and are generally low-rise. Therefore, the construction of each floor of the building naturally takes a lot more materials than other similar projects. With the last batch of Yin spirits that had arrived, we’ve managed to recruit several thousand more workers. Unfortunately, with the shortage of materials, work in some locations have come to a complete stop.”
Qin Ye nodded, “I’ll think of something.”
There were still several pieces of antiques and jade artifacts worth a hundred million lying under his bed in his possession right now. The only problem was that the academy had just commenced its first semester, and he was naturally unable to take leave of absence from his teaching duties.
I’ve got to figure a way to make a trip out of this place…
After patrolling about for the next three hours to ensure that everything was in good order, Qin Ye returned to the mortal realm. By the time he returned, it was already dusk.
Arthis didn’t follow him back. The population size of Hell had increased far too abruptly, and it was absolutely necessary to have someone there to act as a stabilizing force.
The nights in the mortal realm were extremely peaceful - especially in the City of Salvation. Qin Ye glanced at his watch. It was exactly 7 p.m. He smiled, “Right on time.”
He walked towards the television room. There were no televisions in their personal rooms within the First Academy of Cultivators. This was the same for instructors and students alike. Therefore, anyone who wished to watch television would invariably have to head into the television room. This incidentally allowed them to foster a greater group cohesiveness as well.
There were already several instructors seated within the television room. As soon as Qin Ye entered, he immediately heard the familiar introductory tune to the news broadcast. Having noticed Qin Ye’s arrival, a middle-aged instructor smiled, “What brings the fabled Instructor Qin here for television? I don’t generally see you being too concerned about our current affairs.”
“From time to time.” Qin Ye smiled back, “Isn’t it boring to be staying in a room for an extended period of time anyway?”
“It is. Besides, the campus grounds of Insignia University is rather large. It’s rather tiresome to have to make the trek to this place on a daily basis.” An elderly instructor who appeared to be in his sixties stroked his beard as he quipped back, “That’s right, the initial appraisal test is about to take place soon. How’s Instructor Qin’s preparation for it so far?”
“What’s there to prepare?” Qin Ye responded nonchalantly, “I’ll just let the students take their test. I wasn’t the one who taught them prior to this anyway. This test is simply to assess their current standards. It’s the final exam that would be far more important.”
Someone elbowed him as soon as he sat down. Qin Ye turned his face and immediately saw Local Bully staring straight at him.
“I was looking for you all afternoon to play ball. Where were you?”
“I had some matters to attend to.” Qin Ye responded casually, “How many times must I tell you not to worship me? What should I do with you when you follow with your nose to my ass everyday?”
Lin Han rolled his eyes at Qin Ye and ignored his comments completely.
As the familiar tune ended, Qin Ye turned his gaze right back to the screen with eager anticipation.
The City of Salvation was in a state of total isolation from the rest of the world, and they were uninformed of most of the ongoings in the outside world. That said, there were still some channels of information that continued to flow.
For instance, the news reports.
Any talent that could justify the long journey of extraterritorial emissaries from their respective underworlds were most certainly entities that would make the news!
All he needed right now was a name. And that would give him a target to work towards--...
A target for him to lie patiently in wait for.
4. Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman from Nanyang who lived during the Han dynasty. He achieved success as an astronomer, mathematician, seismologist, hydraulic engineer, inventor, geographer, cartographer, ethnographer, artist, poet, philosopher, politician, and literary scholar.