Qin Ye’s thoughts churned, and he grew taciturn. Zhang Linhua was an astute man. After walking them to Head of Faculty Zhou’s office, he turned to Qin Ye and asked if he could approach Qin Ye if there was something he needed help with in future. After Qin Ye agreed, he left sensibly.
After all, Qin Ye’s relationship with Zhang Baoguo ran deep as the ocean, while Zhang Linhua was Zhang Baoguo’s only son. Naturally, Qin Ye could never bring himself to be heartless to him.
They knocked on the door and entered. Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran were both present, and there was a thick stack of documents placed right in front of them. Both of them had an ashen expression on their faces.
“Have a look.” Sighing, Zhou Xianlong waved his hand casually, and the stacks of documents immediately divided themselves into five copies that flew straight into each instructor's hands. After skimming through its contents for the next ten minutes, Qin Ye roughly understood the situation.
Simply put, Gu Qing wanted to return home in death, and thus wished to be buried within the City of Salvation. The central government had given their approval as well.
But who exactly was Gu Qing? Put bluntly, he was a figurehead greater than any provincial governor or secretary of a provincial committee! He was an important minister that had shaped Cathay’s development and left his mark in the annals of history! Even if he wanted to return home in death, there was no way he would immediately be buried. His family and friends, his teacher’s children, the top leaders of the City of Salvation, Mount Tai City, and even Insignia Province, and a number of others, including leaders of the surrounding regions, would all come to pay their final respects to him.
Qin Ye suddenly understood a number of things.
For instance… why there was an extraterritorial emissary hidden within the First Academy of Cultivators.
Perhaps he’d already set their sights on Gu Qing, silently remaining by his side until the day he made his will. And that’s probably when he rushed over to the City of Salvation and took possession of the body of a particular student.
Qin Ye was an Emissary of Hell, and he knew full well that he was an exception. His fleshly body contained and concealed all of his Yin energy, preventing any Yin spirits nearby from coming close to him in an attempt to siphon off his presence. On the other hand, the extraterritorial emissary would invariably begin to attract other Yin spirits if he didn’t possess the body of a living human being. At that time, the instructors of the academy would most certainly discover his presence.
But all of that doesn’t matter anymore… After all, that emissary isn’t the only one here… Qin Ye squinted with a grim expression. He recalled Arthis mentioning that this emissary must have been sent by a lord of the underworld called Serapis.
What a strange name.
Zhou Xianlong was also irritated by these developments. He wasn’t used to interacting with the other departments and ministries of the mortal realm. The Special Investigations Department’s style was typically a hardline approach. Yet not only did they have to interact with the others right now, they even had to make concessions and delay their course schedule for several days just to accommodate Gu Qing’s final wishes.
“Is it possible to deflect these tasks?” Local Bully was the most straightforward of the lot, and he immediately took the initiative to probe at the situation, “We’ve got nothing to do with the late Mr Gu Qing. We can conduct our classes, and they can conduct their burial. End of story.”
Lin Han had broached this suggestion casually.
Yet Zhou Xianlong immediately glared at him, “The upper echelons of all major departments and ministries are going to be present! We may well need to rely on each other for help in future! Wouldn’t you need to engage with the local authorities and leaders when you graduate and take up an office elsewhere? Where do you think your cases and missions come from? The academy has just commenced its very first semester, and we’ll still need the support of the City of Salvation. If we give them the cold shoulder on the very first request they make of us, what would they think?! And the ones who are coming are the top brass of every city in the surrounding region to boot! Will you grow a brain?!”
The verbal diarrhoea of rhetorics sent Local Bully’s soul flying away, and he could only react with a silly laugh like a cooing pigeon.
Qin Ye gave Su Feng a knowing look, only to receive a despondent gaze in return. The two immediately understood the emotions in the other’s heart as soon as they locked eyes.
It’s been tough on you raising a problem child like that…
Tao Ran smiled and brightened up the tense atmosphere, “Therefore, our top priority in the week to come will be the funerary preparations. The incoming leaders know how special the First Academy of Cultivators is, and it gives them a peace of mind knowing that we’d take care of the proceedings.”
“That being the case, starting tomorrow, we’ll be suspending classes for the next few days. Principal Xu has given his in-principle approval as well. We’ll clean out the memorial hall first. You’ve seen the handouts, right? We’ll set everything up in accordance with that. It’s only going to be a few days.”
Nobody said anything. Zhou Xianlong coughed lightly, “Deal with this well, and you’ll each be rewarded with ten teaching credits.”
“We’ll definitely get the job done!” “What’s something like this to us… One other thing, Faculty Head Zhou, if I clean out the entire memorial hall alone, does this mean I’ll get all fifty credits to my own name?” “Rest assured, you can count on me!”
Zhou Xianlong glared at them and waved his hands, “Now get out of my sight. Instructor Qin, stay behind for a while.”
There’s something else!
There’s a dirty, shady deal going on!
Local Bully gave Qin Ye a glare that was filled with jealousy and admiration as he left. Then, as soon as the door shut, Zhou Xianlong spoke solemnly, “Instructor Qin, you’ve got a special assignment.”
“You won’t have to attend classes for the next few days. Instead, I want you to patrol the campus grounds from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. everyday, with a focus on the vicinity near the memorial hall.”
Qin Ye eyes quivered slightly, “Are you suggesting that… he hasn’t left yet?”
Tao Ran looked at Qin Ye with an icy gaze, “It doesn’t matter whether he’s truly gone or not. The ones who are coming are all provincial-level leaders and governors. If something goes awry… we’d all be in deep trouble. Qin Ye, you must not slip up or be negligent.”
Qin Ye was the first to have discovered the Yin spirit whose presence even Zhou Xianlong was unable to detect.
“Yes.” Qin Ye stood up, cupped his hands respectfully, and then took his leave.
He was the only one who knew with absolute certainty that Gu Qing hadn’t departed yet!
Furthermore… there was a possibility that they might even encounter each other that very night.
Qin Ye returned to his room and got some shut eye to rejuvenate himself. Some hours later, he woke up to the alarm from his mobile phone. The entire academy was shrouded with darkness.
Midnight also represented lights-out in the entire academy.
“Bloody hell… I feel almost like a schizophrenic whenever midnight falls…” Qin Ye grumbled softly amidst the darkness of the dorm rooms. He stretched his muscles, cracked his neck, and then silently leapt out of his window and into the darkness of the night.
Night filled every corner of the First Academy of Cultivators. The gentle night breeze sent soft ripples through the trees around, almost as though an invisible hand were caressing the tips of the branches. The faint illumination of the surroundings was eerie and foreboding, almost as though a bloodied figure would leap out of the shadows at any moment.
It was extremely quiet.
Qin Ye could only hear a cat’s soft meows from time to time, yet he simply couldn’t tell where it was hiding. Like an agile cheetah, Qin Ye landed gracefully on a willow tree right next to the dormitories.
“The hearse is expected to arrive within the next two days. If the intruder is truly an extraterritorial emissary, he would most certainly be scouting out the memorial hall within these two days. Furthermore, he would be hiding among the student body right now. If he were to carry out some scouting activities, I might just be able to discover his presence.” He laid low onto one of the branches as he thought aloud. His vantage point gave him a good view of the entrances to all three dormitory buildings.
Sha…. sha… Ten minutes… half an hour… one hour… two hours…
Time flew by, and the only sounds that Qin Ye heard were the soft rustling sounds of the trees nearby. The dim lights continued to cast eerily flickering shadows around like a demon’s dance.
It had been two and a half hours, and there was not a hint of response from the three dormitories at all.
“He’s not coming.” Qin Ye spat out the willow leaf in his lips, drew a deep breath, and the tip of his toes tapped against the willow branch below. The branches swayed gently with the wind. By the time they grew still again, Qin Ye was already hiding in the canopy of the next tree.
It was a willow tree located right next to the man-made river. Incidentally, the unconventional path of willow trees would lead him right to the memorial hall.
Tap… tap… tap… His footsteps were soft as a cat’s, and the rustles were completely masked by the gentle night breeze. When Qin Ye finally arrived right next to the memorial hall, it was already 3.50 a.m.
The memorial hall was located right below him, and he had a good view of it from up above the tree.
The memorial hall was rather dilapidated. There were wooden plaques placed on each side of the hall, yet the decaying wood made it difficult to make out what was originally etched on it. The entire wooden building appeared to be stubbornly holding its ground, and yet it also looked as though it would collapse at the slightest touch.
It adjoined the back entrance of the First Academy of Cultivators. The two dim lights which hung on the side of the halls clearly hadn’t been cleaned in a while. They were grey and dusty, and the illumination was faint to the extreme. The only purpose it served was to illuminate the countless mosquitoes and bugs that were hovering about it.
The scene practically looked like something straight out of a horror film.
Qin Ye suppressed the sounds of his breaths to a minimum. He’d taken several looks around the vicinity, and he was certain that there wasn’t a single person around right now. And yet, for some strange reason, he couldn’t shake off a bone-chilling sensation that had crept up all over his body. It felt as though a cold corpse were staring right at him in the middle of the night.
Someone’s definitely here!
Furthermore… it’s a kindred spirit. It’s an emissary of hell!
The wind picked up with a soft howl. He pinched his fingers down on the branch and peeled off some of its bark. Then, mustering the Yin energy on the tip of his fingers, he flicked the bark straight towards the back of the memorial hall. Simultaneously, he dashed out from the canopy, straight into a dark shadow right at the front of the hall.
It was 4.05 a.m. right now.
He leaned back on the walls that were emitting a musty stench of decay. He could even hear the sound of the tree bark striking the ground at the back of the memorial hall. The entire hall was completely silent. Boundless darkness appeared to encroach on all sides, and the flickering lights cast deep, long shadows into the depths of the hall. The atmosphere was terrifying and mind-numbing.
Thud… thud… Qin Ye heard what sounded like an old monk striking the bell. He squinted and looked into the memorial hall, only to notice that the culprit was none other than the billowing gale that was repeatedly slamming the frame of the tattered windows against the walls.
This was the recipe for an eerie symphony of gloom.
Then, in the very next second, he crouched down and leapt straight into the memorial hall through the open window. As soon as he entered, his pupils widened, and he rolled on the ground to break his fall. Simultaneously, netherfire instantly burst out of his body and Yin energy poured out of his seven apertures as his demonhead saber materialized out of nowhere and slashed horizontally across in front of him.
The radiant blade light drew a beautiful arc through the darkness. It felt as though it had struck something invisible, and his attack was immediately repelled, sending him recoiling back half a meter away. However, not a single sound was made.
It was as though everything was muted. His feet tapped gently on the ground, and he somersaulted through the air and landed on the ground just like a great expert in a martial arts film.
A formation array!
All sounds were completely muted as soon as he entered the formation array.
The shadows were still there, and the memorial hall looked exactly how it did, but the wailing wind, the clattering windows, and the sound of the demonhead saber clashing against the barrier had completely disappeared.
But before he could even get a closer look at the conditions within the memorial hall, a spine-tingling sensation of danger surged through his body. He ducked reflexively and swung his demonhead saber through the air. This time, the recoil was even greater than before. His hands immediately felt numb, and his body was sent flying back to the edge of the memorial hall from the impact. He made full use of this opportunity to take a good look at what was within the hall.
“Damn… That style of yours… Don’t you think your appearances are way too horrendous…” Qin Ye cursed under his breath almost immediately.
Pair after pair of jade-green eyes lit up one after another on the roof of the memorial hall. A two meter figure was crawling right underneath the roof.
It looked like a spider.
But it was not completely one. Her lower body was shaped like a massive spider, with eight massive claws latching it to the underside of the roof, and yet her upper body… bore the semblance of a lady. She wore a middle eastern robe and hijab ensemble, while her appearances were masked with a black veil. Three golden necklaces hung around her neck.
Yet what was most frightening about this was the fact her eyes that were peeking out from under the veil looked exactly like his - Yin energy was pouring out from right within her eyes!
Her long sleeves fluttered wildly as visible wisps of Yin energy flowed out of her robes. The jade-green eyes on the bottom half of her body appeared to stare transfixed at Qin Ye. She held a lantern in her hand that was completely congealed from Yin energy. Most of all, the Yin energy emanating from her body was ostensibly stronger than what Qin Ye could muster!
Qin Ye gasped deeply. Such Yin energy… is way too familiar…
This is the Hell’s Emissary state! And of an extraterritorial emissary to boot!
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