Qin Ye stood at the least crowded area at the academy gates. The early morning breeze gently tousled his fringe, and he drew several deep breaths to calm his heart down.
This was the calm before the storm. He could already feel the undercurrents stirring beneath the surface, yet it was apparent that every party involved was doing their best to maintain tranquil appearances.
“Why do I feel so uneasy about everything? What else could they possibly bring to the battle at the memorial hall?”
Qin Ye didn’t think that they would still throw themselves into the fray with wanton disregard to their own lives despite knowing that their formation arrays have all been shattered. By his judgment, they would at best toe the line and test the waters, and leave as soon as they realized it was impossible.
But he still had his reservations.
Based on intuition.
The hidden gazes were causing his hair to stand on end. He could even sense a trace of desperation emanating from these hidden entities.
“This is because you don’t understand these underworld emissaries at all.” The paper crane that Arthis had transformed into silently landed on his shoulder and whispered into his ears, “Someone like you would never be able to understand these things… You would never understand the earnest longing and sense of duty and belonging that an emissary feels after having lived in their underworld for hundreds of years.”
“They would never back down. They would only give it their all. This is something that you’ll probably never understand in the near future. You must be careful. Tonight… isn’t going to go as smoothly as you think.”
Qin Ye stared at the dark skies, “Why?”
After a long time, Arthis finally responded softly, “If I had to give an answer, then it would have to be ‘dignity’.”
“Would they really die for something as simple as dignity?”
“Perhaps…” The paper crane lowered her head, “It’s foolish, but unfortunately, the same goes for me as well.”
Just then, a loud command was issued - “Salute!” All who were present immediately placed their right fists over their chests and kept completely silent and still.
Whoosh… Snow-white paper money was scattered everywhere in the air like confetti for mourning. Qin Ye finally saw it. Three flag bearing vehicles led the convoy, with white flowers tied over its car logo and white ribbons hanging from the car handles.
The convoy of vehicles was extremely long. Several more flag bearing vehicles drove past the academy entrance in threes, before an eye-catching modified SUV showed up right in the center of the convoy.
It was very large, spanning approximately three and a half meters from front to rear. Gu Qing’s portrait was secured to the roof of the vehicle, and its surroundings were decorated with golden and white chrysanthemum flowers. There were also several wreaths sent by various important people hanging off both sides of the vehicle. White streamers bearing the names of their senders fluttered in the wind.
Yet what made Qin Ye’s pupils constrict immediately was the fact that there were five large chains, ostensibly illusory, that appeared to penetrate the doors of the vehicle. Each of these chains were etched all over with an illegible foreign script, including Nipponese, Argosian, and others. In fact, the chains were taut and extended straight towards five different dorm rooms within the First Academy of Cultivators!
“Should we also tether Gu Qing’s soul to our soul induction platform now?” Qin Ye whispered back, “What will happen if Zhou Xianlong discovers their existence right now?”
“No.” Arthis responded coldly, “If we make a move now, there’s a chance that some of them might slip away. We simply can’t let something like that happen. There are only five factions here right now, but we don’t have the exact details on the number of emissaries that have arrived. If we’re going to kill them… then we can’t leave even a single one of them alive.”
Clatter clatter… The chains rattled softly with the morning breeze. Unfortunately, Qin Ye was the only one who could hear the foreboding sounds that set the backdrop for the arrival of the casket amidst a shower of paper money. Qin Ye watched intently as the main vehicle drove straight towards the memorial hall, before taking his leave and returning to his dorm room.
The instructors dormitories were incredibly quiet.
It was quiet as a coffin.
All instructors and students were to participate in Gu Qing’s wake. In fact, the wake would be broadcast live all day on one of the City of Salvation’s new television channels. Nevertheless, Qin Ye didn’t switch on his television to watch the proceedings. Instead, he simply went to bed to get a good rest, and he only woke up at three in the afternoon.
Rumble… The sky was now filled with dark, rolling clouds, and every now and then a lightning bolt would crackle across the sky. The sun was completely blotted out by the ominous, dense clouds that looked no different from the underside of a cauldron.
He put on his camouflage uniform, tightened the laces of his boots. Then, he had some food, sat down in front of the television and finally switched it on.
“... The time now is 3.04 p.m. This is Zhang Xiang, reporting for the City of Salvation’s special television channel right now. We’re currently seeing the entrance of Mr Yedikar, First Secretary of the Senior Magistrate. Mr Yedikar comes from Makomia, Cape Province, Mozambik of Alkebulan, to offer his condolences and tributes on behalf of the Senior Magistrate, Mr Rowell…”
A procession of Mozambikans dressed in long robes entered the memorial hall, but Qin Ye didn’t pay any attention to them. Instead, he only began to pay attention when the camera perspective began to pan around the room.
It was the full view of the funerary hall.
It was large.
The memorial hall wasn’t large, but there was a large courtyard outside of it where an open-air makeshift funerary hall was set up. Next to that, the memorial hall instead bore an almost palatial existence. The first thought that crossed Qin Ye’s mind was when these massive changes were implemented. After all, the courtyard outside the memorial hall had still been empty and bare just some moments ago, when he was still on night watch.
Wreaths with black and white couplets were hung on frames all over the funerary hall. Various levels of governmental leaders gathered outside, while family members and relatives remained inside, kneeling on mats in front of Gu Qing’s portrait. The casket in the center of the hall was decorated with a number of fresh flowers. It was a proper maroon coffin with an intricate design etched on its surface. It was clear that the etchings revealed the mark of the Big Dipper Soul Invocation.
Yet what was even more striking than all of this was the five long chains that all human beings were unable to see. In fact, the five taut chains were now pointing straight out of the entrance to the funerary hall!
They’re already here…
Qin Ye drew a deep breath. It was exactly as Arthis had mentioned - the five factions had the gall to show up at the funerary hall at the same time!
They were hiding amongst the students outside the hall right now. They had come, despite the fact that there was a Judge-class expert and several Hellguard-class experts around.
And they were clearly waiting.
They were waiting for midnight, when they could finally let loose and unleash the fullest extent of their abilities.
Qin Ye glanced about, only to realize that Zhou Xianlong wasn’t present anywhere at the funerary hall. Nevertheless, Qin Ye was certain that he had to be around somewhere close by. After all, the academy had been facing a series of problems recently, and it would be a huge disgrace if he still couldn’t produce any results to show for it today.
The ones present at the funerary hall were Professor Tao Ran of the Faculty of Combat with a female associate professor whom Qin Ye was unfamiliar with, Professor Chen Zhili of the Faculty of Theory with two of his associate professors, Professor Lou Chuan of the Faculty of Underworldly Craftsmen and his two associate professors… as well as all of the professors and associate professors of the other faculties. All of them were Hellguard-class experts! The existence of a dozen or so Hellguard-class experts seemed random, but the truth of the matter was that they had already taken up their positions around the funerary hall.
Outside of the funerary hall, the instructors stood at the front, closest to the entrance to the funerary hall, while the rest of the student body remained at the back. Everyone wore white flowers on their clothes as they silently mourned for Gu Qing’s passing.
Qin Ye sat in front of the television like a statue, scrutinizing every detail caught on camera. Time trickled by slowly. 4 p.m… 5 p.m… 7 p.m… 10 p.m…
11.20 p.m… 11.40 p.m… 11.50 p.m…
His breathing grew quicker and quicker, while he repeatedly shifted his hand to the side of his waist, only to capitulate once more. It’s coming… the fuse has been lit, and everything is soon about to explode… Incidentally, he wondered whether he had been brainwashed by Arthis for a moment there.
Wouldn’t my old self have slipped away from such an event a long time ago?
But why… do I even feel a sense of anticipation right now?
11.51 p.m… 11.52 p.m… Every second and every minute ticked by slowly. Clatter clatter… The illusory chains were already rattling vigorously at the 11.55 p.m. mark. The various scripts that had been etched on each of these chains began to glow brightly, and Gu Qing’s soul began to show signs of fluctuations, as though he were soon going to be dragged right out of his human body!
Then, a soft thud echoed from the casket. Perhaps one of the emissaries had in his anxiety inadvertently tugged a little bit too hard on the chain. The entire funerary hall suddenly went silent.
Nobody stepped forward to pay their respects at this very moment.
All of the professors immediately turned to look at the coffin. They were all certain that the thud that they had heard came straight from within the coffin!
Whoosh! The suit of Professor Lou Chuan of the Faculty of Underworldly Craftsmen suddenly fluttered, and several barely visible threads immediately extended from his sleeves straight into the ground. He gazed icily at the coffin, and immediately whispered to the associate professor beside him, “Watch the scene.”
“Yes!” Yet as soon as the associate professor responded, there was another soft thud.
Crash, patatatata… At that very same instant, a huge downpour finally burst forth from the previously ominous skies, beating down on the ground like the drums of war. Lightning arced across the skies like dancing dragons, painting a pale hue across the lands below.
Clatter clatter… The peculiar sounds of rattling chains intensified, and the gazes of all the professors around instantly turned grim and grave. Tao Ran reached into his clothes with both hands. True energy was already gathering around his wrinkled hands, and a runic symbol quickly appeared in the heart of his palms.
“Nobody move!!” The five professors yelled almost simultaneously. Although they couldn’t see what was lurking, their years of experience dealing with Yin spirits told them that something was definitely here!
“All instructors are to watch over your own students! Nobody is to take a single step towards the funerary hall!” “Anyone who dares leave his position, whether instructor or student, shall immediately be dismissed or expelled!” “Instructor You, inform the Principal! And fetch the Yin measurement instrument while you’re at it! Now!”
“This is…” One of the secretaries stared at the scene in astonishment as Professor Chen Zhili of the Faculty of Theory instructed, “Associate Professor Ma, evacuate all unrelated personnel and clear the scene!!”
Who dares act so brazenly under the eyes and noses of a Judge and several Hellguards?!
Qin Ye sat in front of his screen, biting down hard on his lips as he clenched his fistst tightly.
Only he was able to see just how taut the five long chains were right now, as well as how brightly the etched runes on them were glowing!
In that instant, a wave of righteous indignation swelled from his heart and burst straight through his mind - This is my territory; the land of my underworld! How can I stand idly by and watch these emissaries come and go as they please?!
What am I?
A clay sculpture?!
What ignorance! Do you really think you would be able to do as you pleased?!
T-t-t-t… One of the students glanced at his classmate beside him and asked in bewilderment, “What happened to you? Should I inform the instructors?”
It was a torrential downpour, and yet not a single one of them had left their stations. All of them were soaked through completely.
“No need…” The student beside appeared to be holding onto something with his hands, and he trembled slightly as he revealed a manic smile amidst the downpour, “I’m just… incredibly excited right now…”
Just then, a bell chimed.
The sounds of twelve loud chimes reverberated throughout the entire campus grounds.
Dong, dong, dong… dong, dong, dong!
And it was exactly at this moment that a dozen or so silhouettes suddenly dashed out from the body of students and charged straight towards the funerary hall in full speed. In fact, they were so quick that the instructors didn’t even have time to react to their actions!
“This is… a Soul Hunter?!” Lin Han was stunned, but he quickly reacted to the situation and yelled at the top of his voice, “Protect the funerary hall!”
“Get lost!!” One of the last few figures to dash out of the student bodies laughed with an eerie voice that didn’t seem to match the appearances of a teenager, and then he suddenly spread his arms wide, “なのか、前らの地府がをかばう力はない！/ If there’s anyone to blame, you can blame it on the fact that your underworld no longer has the strength to protect its own Yin spirits anymore!”
“で人を持って、然として退避する！！”“negatiivinen ero ottaa pois, sir！”“γiν δiaφop φλe, πσw πσw!!”
By Hell’s dictum, all rabble shall disperse!
In an instant, a dozen or so streams of Yin energy shot straight towards the coffin!
At the roof of the funerary hall, Zhou Xianlong suddenly shot to his feet and exploded with fury, “What gall!!!”
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