Qin Ye pretended to be drained and lumbered back to his dorm room. Then, he collapsed onto his bed and began to rest.
One hour passed… two hours passed… and when three and a half hours finally passed, he suddenly opened his eyes again.
He could hear footsteps scrambling down the corridor outside. He looked at the clock with bloodshot eyes - it was 5.30 a.m.
Thud thud thud! Someone was knocking on his door. He answered lazily, “Who’s there?”
“It’s me.” Su Feng responded with a hushed voice, “All instructors are to gather immediately. This is Professor Tao’s orders.”
Did something happen?
Qin Ye rolled out of bed immediately and walked together with Su Feng, “What’s going on?”
“Someone has died again.” Su Feng’s expressions were grim, “It’s just like the last time. Nobody sensed anything amiss. Except, this time… five people are dead. They were all discovered by students who are up early for their morning training. The situation is under control, and news of this tragedy hasn’t spread yet. Head of Faculty Zhou is currently monitoring the movements across the entire school, and Professor Tao has temporarily stepped in in his absence.”
Qoin Ye’s eyes flickered, and he silently followed Su Feng to the scene of the crime.
There were five locations where an incident had taken place. The one that they had gone to was located at Dormitory Two, room 322. There were no traces of the surroundings being locked down. However, the main door was shut tightly. As soon as Su Feng opened the door, everyone inside immediately looked over with veritable undertones of murderous auras. But these quickly vanished as their identities were verified.
5.30 a.m. The skies were still pitch black, and the rolling clouds in the sky allowed only faint beams of moonlight to peek through. Without saying a word, Qin Ye marched right over to the bedside and lifted the sheets, only to be greeted by a pale, motionless corpse.
It was a man.
However, his manner of death was completely different from the one before!
This student had obviously struggled desperately for his life. His clothes were in tatters, and there were bloodstains everywhere even though not a single drop of blood appeared to be spilling out right now. His eyes were bulging, as though he couldn’t believe what he was seeing in his final moments.
“Cause of death was a blade wound.” Qin Ye inspected the scar over the man’s chest. It was a fatal stab wound that had gone straight through his body.
Moreover, there was a row of teeth marks over the man’s neck. Qin Ye ran his fingers gently across it, only to hear Professor Tao’s icy voice chipping in, “There’s no need to look further. We’ve ascertained that it’s the mark left by human teeth.”
“This student… had had his blood sucked dry after being stabbed to death. Instructor Qin, you were on night watch last night. Did you sense anything peculiar?”
Qin Ye’s gaze froze, and then he stood up as though nothing had happened, “I’ve already given my report to Head of Faculty Zhou.”
There were three instructors and one professor present at the scene. One instructor gnashed his teeth, “What the hell is going on? We haven’t even managed to uncover the truth about the last student’s death, and yet five more have died in the blink of an eye! Who the hell dares act so brazenly right under the watchful gaze of Head of Faculty Zhou?!”
Another instructor echoed in an icy voice, “I’ve seen the other bodies as well. The killer was incredibly vicious. There’s another student in Dormitory Four whose fatal wound was at his throat. The scene of crime was in the bathroom, and his throat was cut before it was bitten off. The perpetrator’s blood had splattered all over the mirror in the bathroom, and we’ve sent that to the lab for testing as well.”
“It looks like there’s something evil hidden in the First Academy of Cultivators that we’re not aware of…” Professor Tao was unable to mask the killing intent hidden in the depths of his eyes. He gazed deep into the dark campus grounds as he continued threateningly, “He’d better pray hard that he doesn’t get discovered by us… Does anyone have any thoughts on the matter?”
Nobody responded. Qin Ye didn’t want to attract any unwanted attention to himself either, so he kept his mouth shut as well.
Several moments later, Professor Tao continued solemnly, “We’ve called each of you over only so that you can be mentally prepared for what is to come. After all, not even Head of Faculty Zhou can make head or tail of this matter. Until otherwise stated, these are your standing orders from now onwards. One. You must pay attention to every single student! All of the students who died tonight died in a manner similar to this corpse right here. The perpetrator… is human. After all, there’s no way they could have tussled with a Yin spirit for such a long time!”
He glanced at everyone and muttered icily, “There are several murderous demons hidden amongst our students. Keep a close eye on them. And if you even see the slightest irregularity, report it immediately!”
“Two. The academy had originally intended to nurture its students together in order to foster unity and camaraderie. However, that’s no longer appropriate with the current developments. Prepare yourselves. Once the matter with Mr Gu’s funeral is over, arrangements will immediately be made for all students to live separately. Students of the same faculty shall live in the same dormitory building as their instructors. At least one instructor shall take charge of each floor as its superintendent.”
“Three! Mr Gu’s casket had already departed the city hall half an hour ago. The estimated time of arrival is no more than twenty minutes away. All matters pertaining to this incident shall be strictly confidential. We will find an opportunity to disclose it to the public in future. That said, we cannot afford to lose face in front of the leaders of the provincial and municipal authorities right now!”
“Understood!” Everyone cupped their hands in unison.
It was only then that Professor Tao heaved a sigh of relief and waved his hands wearily, “What an eventful period of time… Every new establishment needs to have its fair share of unforeseen circumstances. I guess the First Academy of Cultivators isn’t an exception to this either… Go about your daily duties. Remember, we can’t afford to make another mistake today!”
With that, the instructors took their leave. However, Qin Ye didn’t head straight back to his dorm room. Instead, he slowly paced along the circumference of the lake, as though lost in his own thought. His gaze drew further and more distant with time, until a tiny smirk crept up the corner of his lips.
The extraterritorial emissaries were already at the end of their road.
This was the First Academy of Cultivators. Gu Qing’s soul was like the carrot dangling in front of the horse, drawing the attention of all extraterritorial emissaries. But… would they truly be able to take a bite off this carrot?
The deaths of the students were clearly caused by some of these extraterritorial emissaries.
Professor Tao and the others weren’t aware of what transpired last night. But what they didn’t notice was that there were other similarities between the corpse of the previous student who had died and the corpses right now.
For instance… all of their blood had been completely drained dry.
That said, the previous corpse had presented itself in a more peculiar manner, because the perpetrator last time was filled with confidence that nobody would be able to detect their presence. The first student to have had his blood drained dry right under the nose of the entire academy was due to the fact that he had sustained a heavy blow from Arthis’ attack.
And tonight’s situation was exactly the same.
That knife wound… Qin Ye was almost certain that this had been caused by the Nipponese emissary!
A skirmish had broken out last night, and he had personally caused the destruction of one faction’s formation arrays. The two emissaries from that faction had most certainly been injured in their exchange with each other, and they would have no choice but to return to the bodies they had seized possession of. With Zhou Xianlong watching over the entire academy with such close scrutiny, none of them would dare take any chances to enter their emissary state again. But they still needed a way to recover from their injuries. What could they do?
“The only thing that they can do is to act through the physical body of the students they’d possessed…” He skipped a stone along the surface of the lake as he sneered, “This is why there were signs of a struggle on the corpses of the students dead this time. It’s precisely because the perpetrators… are the students who have been just beside them all this while… The perpetrators weren’t able to act in a manner without leaving any traces like they did the last time.”
“Are you guys already at your wits’ end? Then… I wonder how many of these old friends of mine I’m going to see tonight?”
Just then, his phone suddenly rang. He looked at it and noticed that Professor Tao was calling him.
“Where did you run off to? Assemble at the front of the academy gates in five minutes. We’re preparing to receive Mr Gu’s casket.”
It’s finally begun…
After hanging up, Qin Ye drew a deep breath, rubbed his face to freshen himself up, and promptly made his way to the academy entrance.
Ever since Gu Qing’s death, he had found himself in the company of several extraterritorial emissaries that were avariciously eyeing Gu Qing’s coveted soul. They’d followed him straight into the City of Salvation, infiltrated the First Academy of Cultivators, made their preparations, engaged in several nights of skirmish, and then silently murdered several students… The final act of this great show was soon about to begin.
He didn’t care how many pairs of eyes were staring at him right now. He couldn’t be bothered at all. Eighteen hours later, exactly at midnight, and this show would finally be at its climax! What needed to be done had already been done. Overthinking things would only cause him to trip and stumble.
By the time Qin Ye arrived, almost all of the instructors had already assembled at the entrance of the academy. The usually solemn-looking gate was now decorated with white streamers and black cloth. A banner with Gu Qing’s picture fluttered with the wind. The words on it read - “We welcome home the soul of our dear brother Gu Qing.”
Qin Ye took a look at his picture. Gu Qing had white hair, looked radiant and kind, and slightly on the chubbier side. It was a nice picture of him.
The sky was still dark, and all of the instructors that had gathered maintained a somber expression on their faces. Five minutes later, the bright lights of a convoy of vehicles appeared on the horizon.
Qin Ye had already calmed down by now. But as the convoy arrived, his heart began to beat wildly once more. Blood rushed to his head, and he reflexively moved his hand to his waist, and then consciously set them back down again.
A serene morning breeze swept across the lands, as though dancing and howling to usher the arrival of Gu Qing’s casket.
Simultaneously, several dark figures immediately glanced over from the dorm rooms at exactly the same time. Pair after pair of eyes peeked out of the curtains as they stared intently at the entrance to the academy.
He’s here… He’s finally here…
This territory represented an underworld that nobody dared to cross for the longest time. Yet here they were, lying patiently in wait for the arrival of their next target!
“何百年ぶりに、私は……。ついにまた国の土地を踏んだ。/ After hundreds of years… I’ve finally set foot on Cathay’s soil once more!” Dormitory Three, room 322. The chests of two students rose and fell with every heave as they peeked out from behind the curtains. Their hands were gripping the curtains so tightly that even their knuckles had turned white.
“このの中で最もい土地は、これほどに入られているのか。/ Legend has it that Hell is the strongest of all underworlds, yet we’ve somehow managed to infiltrate their midst with such ease.”
The student beside him closed his eyes and remarked with a quivering voice, “成功すれば、自分がった後に身をっているだけでなく、底的に明しました。国は自分のを守る格がない！/ If we succeed, it wouldn’t merely mean glory and honour to us. It would also prove that Cathay’s underworld no longer has the ability to protect its own Yin spirits!”
He opened his eyes, and they exchanged a knowing look that was filled with undying conviction, “を守ることができない地府は、地府と呼ばれるものではないが……。古青の魂を持ちるなら冥府会は中国出の案を再するが……。私たちの先のはできません！/ An underworld that is unable to protect their own Yin spirits from others doesn’t deserve to call themselves an underworld… As long as we can reap Gu Qing’s soul, I’m certain that even the Council of Underworlds would have no choice but to reopen Cathay’s case file… and finish what our ancestors failed to do!”
“私たちは退けない……。！伊邪あの美大人は私たちをしています！/ We will never back down… never! Izanami-sama shall bless us!”
Dormitory One, room 111. A female student with blood on her face stared intently at the academy’s entrance. Her hand was gripping tightly to her bloodstained sheets.
Three other female students lay on their beds right behind her, with their eyes closed and a peaceful expression on their faces. It was as though they were roses blooming in a pool of blood offering.
After a long time, she muttered to herself in broken Cathayan, “Back then… we lived with the shame of being beaten back all the way to the Rub’ al Khali desert… But today… we shall repay everything with interest…”
“I shall reap Gu Qing’s soul even if it costs me my life. I shall engrave every bit of Cathay’s feebleness onto his soul so that Lord Anubis can set it as a trophy on his golden shelf! It shall be a declaration to all underworlds that Cathay is weak! And then, a hundred years on, the Sacred Scarab Forces shall join hands with the other underworlds and avenge my death! This, I swear!”
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