Chapter 200: Sounding Out

(TL: I don’t usually translate the musings or comments of the author, but I feel like this one gives some insight as to his thoughts on the novel thus far, and also gives us a glimpse of what to expect in future, so it might be useful for our readers to take a look. I’ll translate as accurately as possible)

Author’s Note: 

These are some musings of mine. Not to worry, I’ll keep the post under 4000 words so that you don’t incur additional costs for my rambling. Do bear with this naggy, fat old man.

I’ve heard feedback from critiques that my novel tends to be on the more garrulous side. I admittedly don’t read the comments very much because I’m so busy writing, so I do apologize for that. (TL: Not me! I read your comments on quite a regular basis!)

Now, let me address the comments that things are superfluous.

The novel isn’t designed to be incredibly fast-paced. Instead, there’s a large part dedicated to conversations to make it more relatable. What I wanted to create was a parallel, realistic world that everyone can immerse themselves in, rather than the usual tropes of a wealthy prodigious son repeatedly provoking his competitors and face-slapping them.

Now that the reader base has matured a little bit, I believe that the style of my novel would be a breath of fresh air. This would be in line with my personal writing style as well. 

Furthermore, as with the development of any story, there will always be turning points and inflections. A climax of a story cannot always remain at a climax, and it’s bound to fall before rising again. It needs such inflections to provide relief to the readers and proper closure to certain arcs, while also setting the stage for the next scene to come. I’m not sure whether the critiques come because they want to read more, or they truly think it’s far too garrulous for their liking. But to each his own. My style might not be suited to the taste of everyone out there.

To me, the gradual immersion and investment in the story far outweighs any instant gratification that we get out of the usual tropes. How much of the other novels remain memorable and stick with you? I want this book to be memorable and linger in the minds of my readers. Every chapter I release is passable by my standards. I do my best to incorporate interesting everyday scenarios that are relatable, or drop some nuggets of information, all the while setting the stage for the next big climax.

And if, after all that, you still think it’s long-winded, you can delete those parts and go straight to the conclusion, and see if the effect remains exactly the same. I’ll just leave it out here that the things I’ve written are all there for a reason. Nothing is superfluous. Back then, when Potato authored Battle Through the Heavens, others complained that he was superfluous and garrulous. And the same goes for me ever since the first novel I’d released as well.

I can only say that those who enjoy this will definitely enjoy it. Those who understand the intention will see where I’m coming from. There’s no book out there that remains at the climax continuously for an extended period of time. If one is still intent on labelling this as superfluous, then I can only say that perhaps this novel isn’t for you. After all, this is the fourth book that I’ve written, and nobody has ever said that I’ve reused my materials or fallen into the traps of cliches.

Alright, that’s all from me for now. I hope you guys enjoy reading these chapters!

(TL: End of the author's rambling, and the start of mine. We’re at 200 chapters! To be honest, I’m one of those who enjoy the novels with repetitive tropes and lots of instant gratification moments. But after going through 200 chapters of translations and reading several chapters ahead, I’m starting to appreciate more and more what the author means when he says that everything is there for a reason. When there’s a lull, the author develops characters, introduces others, moves the story a little, and drops little nuggets of information that lingers in your mind until the mystery is finally solved, so that it gives you that ‘aha!’ moment.

And while I sometimes complain about the depth of details in the novel, these are like the shading on a canvas which turns a flat image into an immersive picture - it provides perspective. 

I’m thoroughly enjoying how the novel has grown, and I’m absolutely stoked to see what else is in store for us.
In the meantime, I’d also like to thank everyone for your support thus far, and I promise to keep the quality of translation as high as possible for your enjoyment! Well then, keep safe and keep awesome y’all!)

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Your mother’s dead! I am your father!

Qin Ye furiously stormed out of Zhou Xianlong’s office.

“I should’ve known he would never have given his assent to this!” Gnashing his teeth and cursing under his breath, he made his way towards the offices of the instructors and professors. As he went, he glanced at the title of the newspaper - “Cultivators Weekly”.

“Since when was there something like that?” But he didn’t have the heart to look any further into the papers. The only thing on his mind was the auction house. To think that Guardian Auctions had such immeasurable backing to be able to hold the auction on an island on the high seas just so that they could list items that couldn’t otherwise be circulated within the country! And it seemed like all one hundred slots were filled up each time! An auction of this size would definitely fetch him an astronomical price for the treasures on hand!

And these funds would certainly be able to tide over the few months before the funds from the sale of the first batch of Southsea Huanghuali comes in.

But right now, he couldn’t even cross the hurdle that Zhou Xianlong was, much less Xu Anguo and Li Tao.

Calm down… calm down… endure with patience… He took several deep breaths to regulate his emotions. By the time he pushed open the door to Tao Ran’s office, he was all smiles once again.

“Here to deliver the papers?” Tao Ran was currently skimming through a docket. He had an amiable expression on his face, and he looked no different from any old grandfather in the neighbourhood. That said, none of the students who had witnessed his fury that night would ever think that way.

Qin Ye set down the papers. Tao Ran poured him a cup of tea, and Qin Ye took a large sip from it, before asking, “Professor Tao, do you think there’s any way I could make a trip out for a while? It’s my grandfather’s death anniversary. I’ll just need a week of time.”

“That’s impossible.” Tao Ran smiled faintly as he flipped through the papers, “The First Academy of Cultivators is operating with military regimentation. No one should be given any special treatment.”

Qin Ye choked on his own saliva and chuckled dryly, “But aren’t laws written by man…”

“Where’d you learn to speak so smoothly at such a young age?” Tao Ran set down his papers and glared at him with a huff, “You know, you’re right about that. Unfortunately, the timing just isn’t right.”

“Think about it. How long has it been since school has started? A month? And how long ago has the City of Salvation been under direct administration of the central government? Only a few months to date. To a certain extent, you can say that placing the City of Salvation under direct administration was done so that the First Academy of Cultivators can grow and develop into the first bastion of stronghold in Cathay’s war against the netherforces. And why restrict access to the internet? Isn’t it to keep all of you from worrying too much about the rest of the world and being overly ambitious?”

“Under such circumstances, anyone who reveals their identity as a representative of the First Academy of Cultivators outside of the City of Salvation will be treated as a huge deal. All eyes are on the City of Salvation right now. Do you know how the public outside is discussing the direct administration of the City of Salvation by the central government? Even a single citizen stepping foot outside of the City of Salvation right now would attract a huge buzz of chatter, much less a representative of the First Academy of Cultivators. With these considerations in mind, do you really think the academy or the city would just let anyone out callously?”

Tao Ran took a sip of tea and then began to persuade Qin Ye earnestly, “Think about it, if you’ve got something to attend to, wouldn’t that be the same for others as well? Which of our instructors in the academy doesn’t have something nagging at them in the back of their minds? Once you head out, it will set a precedent for others as well. The government would never disclose what’s going on within the City of Salvation until the time is ripe. Let me give you the lowdown. Unless a major change occurs, nobody would be allowed to travel out of the academy before the next semester begins.”

Qin Ye sighed wistfully.

This was exactly why he didn’t have high hopes for this to begin with.

Going out wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was what he represented when he did. This was a point of inflection for the nation. The public was abuzz, wondering what was going on, and the government was under an immense amount of pressure. Under such circumstances, who would possibly authorize his leave of absence just so that he could travel out of the sequestered city?

Especially when it involved him, a person who had been inextricably intertwined with the developments of the City of Salvation which triggered the massive upheaval.

Tao Ran looked him in the eye and asked, “I hope you can understand where we’re coming from as well… Where were you hoping to go?”

“To Eastsea…” Qin Ye responded with some measure of uncertainty, only to receive a suspicious look from Tao Ran.

“Your grandfather’s death anniversary? Has the Qingguang City[1] moved to Eastsea?”

“... That’s where my grandfather’s ancestry lies!” Qin Ye maintained a hard headed attitude.

I’ll praise you for how thick-skinned you are… Tao Ran couldn’t help but laugh at Qin Ye’s stubbornness and laid the papers in front of him, “Then that’s all the more impossible. Take a look at this.”

He pointed at the papers, and Qin Ye looked at it. He immediately furrowed his brows.

“The Ins and Outs of the East Cathay Sea Incident.” 

This was a particularly sensitive issue because that region was exactly east of Cathay, near Pusan and Kyukoku. 

In other words… it was exactly where the next major auction of Guardian Auctions was going to take place.

“Over the new year, five supernatural incidents were reported in the East Cathay Sea. Five ships, including cruise ships and cargo ships, were discovered to have become ghost ships overnight, and they are now floating aimlessly on the sea.” He read aloud, and then knitted his brows deeply as he looked at the accompanying picture.

It wasn’t clear who took the picture, but not a single soul could be seen on the entire ship. There wasn’t even a trace of a fight, and yet… everyone appeared to have simply vanished without a trace!

Even the food and drinks that they were eating were displayed properly where they were, as if they were eating one second, before suddenly disappearing all at once.

The Cultivators Weekly was different from the regular newspapers. They didn’t report with bombastic words with a view of generating excitement. Rather, they simply kept to the facts and reported things as they were, “No traces of Yin energy were detected, but this was by no means caused by humans. It has been classified as a D-grade supernatural incident. Investigations have made no headway thus far…”

“The Eastsea region has always been a rather tumultuous one. The classification of D-grade is merely to appease the general body of cultivators in the region. But the truth of the matter is…” Tao Ran flipped open the lid of his teacup and continued, “One week ago, the Eastsea Branch Special Investigations Department has already sent out a request for assistance. The actual classification is… A-grade.”

“The situation is already somewhat out of control. Eastsea has always been one of the most strategic bridgeheads into Cathay, since it leads straight out into the East Cathay Sea. And several boats that have gone out to sea have already vanished. Therefore, you absolutely must not go to the Eastsea region.”

Bloody hell… this is too much of a coincidence!

Qin Ye felt the onset of a splitting headache. With that, he bade Tao Ran goodbye and left. He didn’t bother heading to the principal’s office to make a fool of himself either.

After having his dinner, he returned to his dorm room once again. Arthis looked up from her game in a rare moment, “Why do you look no different from Death itself?”

“Things might be far more complicated than I thought they would be.” Qin Ye furrowed his brows as he accessed the calendar on his phone, “Perhaps… I’ll just wait patiently until the next semester.”

Arthis paused her game and looked up at Qin Ye with a frown on her face. She didn’t raise any objections. Instead, she simply commented, “Then you’d best be prepared for a tough time over the next few months.”

Qin Ye chuckled bitterly. She didn’t have to tell him that much. When the concept for Qin Gardens Phase 1 was first broadcast to everyone in Hell, the number of citizens signing up to be part of Yin Construction instantly broke ten thousand. But, just a few months down the road, the only things they could see were a handful of machines rumbling along the vast lands. The fire in the hearts of the Yin spirits had already dwindled substantially, and most of them grew lethargic and cold once more, as they fell back into their old ways of simply getting by.

This was no different from a pile of gunpowder!

It’s fine if nothing happens. But as soon as something does…

Qin Ye shook away the thoughts in his mind. He didn’t dare to delve into these thoughts.

“It might not necessarily be a bad thing to make a decision and run with it. But even if we give up on this opportunity, we can still get money from the auctions.” Qin Ye carefully bolted the door and pulled out a locked box from under his bed. Then, with a deep breath, he put on white gloves and opened the box carefully.

The box was completely different from other suitcases. This box had four compartments, each of which were built with a special protective plastic as its base and covered with black velvet. Then, it was padded with thick cotton and foam underneath. An antique treasure nestled snugly in each of the four compartments.

The first artifact that immediately caught the eye was a cup that was about half a foot long.

The cup was extraordinary - it was a tiger’s head cup with no ostensible base to the cup at all!

The entire cup was curved, like an ancient horn. Qin Ye couldn’t tell what material it was made of, but the top of the cup was luxuriously made with gilded gold and lacquered jade. A jade chain connected the tiger’s head at the end of the horn to the mouth of the cup. It looked more like a work of art than a regular wine cup.

“That’s good stuff.” Arthis commended, “It should be a gift that had been conferred upon a general. After all, tiger emblems are most commonly used in the army. If this were for royalty, the design would have been shaped like a dragon. I’d actually managed to locate a phoenix head cup in the past. Unfortunately… I don’t know which idiot got lucky with me at that time.”

“Of course it would be extraordinary…” Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed, and he gulped avariciously, “The beast-head gilded agate cup… is the name of a similar artifact that is listed among the ten most expensive antiques across all of Cathay. That artifact is carved out of red agate, and is the only Tang Dynasty treasure that has been made from a beautiful piece of jade. It essentially represents the most exquisite piece of jade workmanship across the entire Tang Dynasty. Even though this isn’t quite the same, its value should be reasonably high as well. This would easily go for upwards of ten million.”

He ran a finger across the cup before looking at the next object. 

A palm-sized raw gemstone sat just beside the tiger’s head cup. The gem was half-open, revealing a bright green luster from within. When viewed under the moonlight, the crystal green body of the gem looked completely flawless and pure.

And it wasn’t clear and transparent throughout. Rather, it appeared subtly cloudy, almost like a spring leaf peeking out of the early morning mist - mostly clear, yet ever so characteristically translucent such that the eye couldn’t see right through its body. 

It was delicate, yet distant; profound, yet warm.

The gradation and colour of the ore meant that this was an excellent piece of icy imperial green jadeite.

“I recall that such raw gemstones generally sell for at least a million with every ten grams. This piece is probably dozens of grams in weight… and its value is probably equal to three sets of twenty ton cranes imported from Germania… It’s highly valuable…” Qin Ye stroked the gemstone excitedly, before flicking it gently and indulging himself in its clear, crisp resonance that sounded just like a cicada’s call at night.

Arthis’ eyes gleamed brightly.

“Wait… When did you even bring these treasures back? And why were you hiding them from me? What happened to the trust between us?” Arthis exclaimed with a righteous indignation as she stretched out her hand, “Let me take a closer look so that I can test out its quality…”

But her efforts were immediately suppressed by Qin Ye.

With bloodshot eyes, Qin Ye barked, “It’s already getting increasingly difficult for me not to suppress the evil thoughts of absconding with these priceless treasures. Don’t make things any more difficult for me, alright?”

Arthis chuckled dryly, and obediently retracted her arm.

How could you blackmail me at every turn? What kind of a human being are you?

Qin Ye snorted, and turned to look at the next artifact.

It was a compact seal. A subtle creamy-white colour, yet incredibly elegant, silky smooth and cool to the touch. The seal was carved in the shape of a phoenix.

And what was most stunning was the fact that the phoenix’s tail, wing tips and crown carried a touch of scarlet on them! The passionate red hue injected such vigor into the carving that the phoenix looked alive and almost ready to take flight!

This was none other than blood jade from Hotan!

And the fact that it was designed in the shape of a phoenix necessarily meant that it was an item of royalty - quite possibly one that belonged to a queen of the past! The small seal would most definitely fetch a higher price than the tiger’s head cup!

And the last artifact was a pair of footlong Tang Dynasty pottery.

A complete dragon and phoenix set. An incomparably rare collection by any measure! Most Tang Dynasty pottery were designed in the shape of horses, and it was already extremely rare to find any that was shaped after famous people or mythical beasts. This complete set must have been stolen by tomb robbers and subsequently acquired by Huang Liangchuan for his own collection. He must have spent at least tens of millions to obtain it!

“Treasures. All of them are treasures in their own rights!” He carefully took a few videos of the artifacts with his phone and then transferred the videos to his laptop. Then, he accessed Guardian Auctions’ website once again.

This time, it was Master Bai who served him directly from the onset.

“I’d like to auction a few items.” Qin Ye typed.

“Alright. Please take pictures of the items you would like to sell and send it to us. Videos are fine as well. We’ll do a preliminary estimation of the price on our end immediately. If these artifacts are valuable treasures…” He paused, before continuing with great excitement, “Then, three days later, we’ll send our mavens to your city to do a full appraisal of the good you’re looking to sell!”


1. Where Qin Ye was born.

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