Qin Ye furrowed his brows. He had never expected that drafting a research paper for publication would be so troublesome.
But… he wasn’t going to give up.
This was the only avenue he could pursue in order to be present at the summer major auction at the end of June. Otherwise… he would have to give up on securing Oda Nobunaga’s soul for himself, and the inauguration of his Southsea Huanghuali golden trade route would have to be pushed back by several months as well. Who knew whether he would face yet another Yin spirit riot during this period of time?
“I’d like to give it a shot.” Qin Ye locked eyes with Tao Ran with an affirmative nod.
“Alright.” Tao Ran didn’t beat about the bush any longer. There wasn’t any basis for him to oppose Qin Ye’s application in this regard, whether as a professor, or a representative of the academy. He opened his drawer again, pulled out a form and began to fill it up, “Where do you intend to publish your paper?”
There were many words and fields on the form, and Qin Ye glossed over its details as he responded placidly, “Cultivators Weekly.”
“Ambitious.” Tao Ran sighed, “The prestige and prominence of that is equivalent to having something published on People’s Daily, except in the cultivation world. The first three panels are reserved for the most important developments in the cultivation world, while the final page is where the latest research topic in the cultivation academia would be published. The publications that make it there are all thoroughly screened before being handpicked from a pile… Are you even aware of the number of publications that get sent to the Cultivators Weekly every day? But… if your paper finds its way into Cultivators Weekly, then you can be sure that invitations requesting your personal appearance will abound from everywhere across the nation. And these invitations will at least be at the level of institutions from Project 211 or Project 985.”
Scribble scribble… Tao Ran continued to fill in the form, while Qin Ye raised an eyebrow quizzically, “Everywhere?”
Tao Ran didn’t even lift his head as he responded, “Naturally. Do you think SRC is the only research institution around? No. It might be the largest, but there are others, including Shang County’s Origin Research Center, Luo River’s Dragoncircle Research and Development Center, Pearlriver’s Astronomy Experimental Base, and Eastsea Building 653. While none of them run as deep as the SRC, they are still undeniably prominent existences. And that’s not including the second-tier research institutions. Most major provincial capitals would have established their own research centers in recent years. After all, it is sometimes better to have a local base of operations rather than a distant headquarters.”
Qin Ye nodded. Just then, Tao Ran put down his pen and blew on the sheet of paper to dry the ink. And then, he pulled out a seal and stamped his seal of endorsement on the form, “This is a duly endorsed application form for your research topic. Go look for Head of Faculty Zhou to obtain his endorsement as well. Once your application has been formally approved, you can go about your research project. Then, when you’re done with the first draft, bring it to me for my review. You may go now.”
Qin Ye picked up the form and left the office. As soon as he shut the door, he immediately leaned on the wall and scanned through its details.
Most of the particulars were left open. The parts that Tao Ran had filled in were all authorizations and permissions to be granted to Qin Ye as soon as his application for the research project was approved.
For instance… he would be granted access to the top secret collection of records in the academy.
He could distinctly remember it. The access door was about three meters high and two meters wide. The entrance was etched with a vivid image of Nuwa. Back then, it was the two principals of the academy who had introduced it during the introductory tour.
But if that were all there was to it, it wouldn’t have made a lasting impression on his mind.
What he could remember most vividly about it was the fact that the old man acting as a gatekeeper to the top secret collection of records… was a Hellguard!
At that time, Xu Anguo mentioned this, “Behind this gate holds the records of all major supernatural incidents that had occurred in Cathay ever since the founding of present day Cathay. These records have never been released to the public before. Furthermore, it holds the great works of over three hundred and twenty Divine Protectors from various dynasties across various eras. These works include both hypotheses and dissertations on the interactions between the Yin and the Yang. You can even trace the development of supernatural incidents across Cathay’s history through their works.”
“Naturally, these are just copies, and their original works aren’t here. That said, not even the SRC has a full set of their complete works. This is a privilege that has only been extended to the First Academy of Cultivators. At present, only a full professor can access these records and browse its contents. But none are allowed to loan or borrow them.”
To think that Tao Ran had granted him such access rights!
Furthermore, he was given authorization to use a whole host of other facilities such as the labs, and he was also given the right to enlist other instructors to assist him.
He continued traversing the form, line by line, and he couldn’t help but clench his fist.
It’s enough… Gu Qing’s method actually works! There wasn’t supposed to be any exceptions to the rule stating that nobody could leave the academy before the next semester commences, yet Qin Ye had actually found the key to overcoming this!
He would be able to head out as long as he could open the door called thesis!
“But I’ve got only one shot at this.” He massaged his temples to calm down as he murmured to himself, “If I fail this time, it would be impossible to get the academy's support for anything future endeavours of mine."
Then, what are we waiting for?
Qin Ye brought the application form to Zhou Xianlong's office, and Zhou Xianlong promptly approved it after skimming through its contents once. Then, Qin Ye rushed back to his dorm room and slammed the sheet of paper down in front of Arthis and lifted his chin proudly, "It's time to get cracking, Miss!"
"You actually managed to get it done?" Arthis scanned the form, and then gave Qin Ye an incredulous look, "... How did you manage to do it with such crafty, scheming appearances?"
"Naturally, by tapping on the relationships of trust I've built up!" Qin Ye was in a great mood, so he conveniently ignored Arthis' casual contempt. He opened up the word processing software on his laptop, gently shifted Arthis' hands to the keyboard, and then gazed affectionately into her eyes.
It was quite the sight to behold.
Arthis stared at the laptop with a somewhat stiff expression, and then she began to type without any emotion in her eyes - “By the imperial edict of the great Infernal Judge…”
Smack! Qin Ye smacked the delete button without any hesitation like a ruthless killer, “Rewrite it!”
“Hang on…” Arthis’ doleful expression carried a trace of murderous intent, “Are you… actually asking me to write it?”
Qin Ye stared blankly at her - What else could it be?
“Are you seriously asking someone who has been buried centuries ago to write a thesis dated 20XX AD?”
Qin Ye continued to blink at Arthis, as though he were saying - What’s wrong with that?
One second later, Arthis gave Qin Ye a mighty kick, causing him to collapse back into the bed. Her hair fluttered around menacingly, “And how dare you ask in such a matter-of-factly way, as though I owe it to you to write it for you?!”
“Soft… softer… my back’s gonna break at this rate…” Qin Ye grimaced as he held onto his back. Arthis was stamping on him so ferociously that his breakfast nearly came back up. After much struggle, he finally managed to escape from Arthis’ evil clutches, and he rubbed his back pathetically as he gnashed his teeth, “I’m warning you! Our relationship is already on the verge of breaking down after that incident with Triumph, Anerle and Whispers! This is the only chance I’m giving you to make amends for what you’ve done! Write the paper! Don’t be ungrateful!”
“Then let it break down for all I care.” Arthis didn’t even look up at him, “Get lost. Don’t interrupt me while I’m catching up on my drama serials. Otherwise, be careful I don’t hang myself out to dry right outside your door.”
What the hell… how could you even think of something like that?!
Qin Ye had a multitude of words to say, yet he found everything bottled up at his throat. He glared at Arthis in horror - This woman… knows how to take advantage of the body she’s got…
With a great deal of frustration weighing on his mind, he left the room and found his way to the top floor of the library, where the secret records were located.
This was the second time he had come to this place. He was greeted by a gate that was three meters tall and two meters wide, with a vivid portrayal of Nuwa’s image. A bald old man sat in front of the gate, messing around with his computer lazily. But as soon as he got to the top floor, Qin Ye’s eyes quivered slightly.
Advanced Hellguard-class expert… He silently sized up the old man. Even though he felt an imposing presence from the bald old man the last time he was here, Qin Ye still didn’t think too much of it back then. After all, the chasm between them had been far too wide, and it was only after becoming a Hellguard himself that he could truly appreciate how terrifying this old man was.
True energy poured out from the old man like a roaring tide, and yet the old man was so bored that he was entertaining himself by moulding the wisps of his true energy into various shapes of animals, ranging from galloping horses, to Kirin beasts, to soaring sparrows… Everything was drifting about in the corridor, completely invisible to cultivators below Hellguard-class.
It was evident that the old man’s control of his true energy had already reached the state of perfection. In other words, this old man was only a step away from becoming an Infernal Judge!
“Registration number, name and purpose.” The old man muttered without looking up from his computer.
“S9527, Qin Ye, research.” Qin Ye didn’t beat about the bush either. His responses were clear and succinct.
Beep… The old man’s computer beeped softly as soon as he had reported his particulars. He glanced up at Qin Ye, and then a magnetic card flew over and landed right in Qin Ye’s hands.
“Go to the gate and register your fingerprint and iris. Bear these in mind. One. Everything you learn from the records here are strictly confidential and not to be disclosed to anyone. Two. All records and books you find inside cannot be borrowed or loaned. Read what you must within, but you may not bring them out. Three. We don’t track the amount of time you spend inside, but you can only browse its contents for as long as your authorization remains valid.” The old man explained, “Your authorization is valid for the next four months. In other words, you can spend here all twenty-four hours each day for the next four months. Now go do what you need to do.”
Qin Ye nodded and made his way to the door, where he promptly discovered an exquisite fingerprint lock that was approximately one meter off the ground.
After recording his fingerprint and iris signature, a soft rustle came from the entrance, and the massive door parted. To Qin Ye’s surprise, everything inside was brightly lit.
There were bookshelves on the left, but they weren’t too large. After all, how much information could three-hundred-odd Divine Protectors record? Apart from that, there were a dozen or so steel cabinets on the other side of the room, to the right of the entrance.
A row of mahogany sofas sat against the wall, with a decent sized coffee table placed right in front of it. Someone was already seated right in front of the coffee table. The door to the entrance had opened conspicuously, and the person inside naturally looked up and locked eyes with him.
It was an abrupt and awkward silence. It was evident that the sight of the other reminded each of them about a certain peculiar scene. Seconds later, Qin Ye forcibly plastered a smile on his face and greeted the other person, “Professor Lou… what brings you to this place?”
Bloody hell… this is incredibly awkward…
“I’m looking for some information.” Lou Chuan gently raised the book in his hands as he smiled back, “Ane--... ahem… I mean Instructor Qin, how did you get permission to enter this place?”
Qin Ye’s face immediately turned pale, and his expressions ashen - Ane-what?! I dare you to finish what you’re saying! Are you trying to say Anerle?! Damn it… you old fogeys must have given me a nickname behind your backs, haven’t you? You’d best believe it when I say only one of us will walk out of here alive if you finish that word!
He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. And then, when he opened his eyes once more, there was a radiant smile on his face, “I just got approval for a research topic. I’m here to take a look around and make preparations.”
“Research topic?” Lou Chuan was clearly taken aback. He stared at Qin Ye, and then nodded deeply, “Not bad. Since this is an academy, it’s naturally important to delve into the pursuit of knowledge. You’re the first in the academy to be embarking on a research project. You’ve not been here before, have you? Come, Little An, let me give you a quick introduction of where things are.”
AHHHHH… What the hell did you just call me?!!
Qin Ye nearly couldn’t resist the urge to stab the old man to death. He gnashed his teeth and followed behind Lou Chuan silently. Yet Lou Chuan seemed completely oblivious to the slip of his tongue, and he simply pointed to the steel cabinets and explained, “These contain all the files and dockets pertaining to all A-class supernatural incidents and above that have occurred ever since the founding of modern day Cathay as we know it.”
“Those that appear on the news and get covered up are all supernatural incidents that have a wide area of influence. But the area of influence of a supernatural incident doesn’t necessarily mean it would be given a high classification or grade. For instance, a supernatural incident witnessed by thousands of people might not necessarily be harmful or devastating in any way. But… the entries in these records are completely different from that.”
He opened a cabinet and riffled through the dockets, “Some supernatural incidents might have a small domain of influence, and yet their impact can be deep and profound. And it is precisely those that are known to be highly dangerous or to result in devastating consequences that are recorded in these dockets and files.”
Finally, he pulled out a docket, “These are called occult files, also known as the folders of paranormal activity. The Special Investigations Department would investigate all of the reports of supernatural incidents, and then at the end of each year, they would gather up the reports and cases that cannot be resolved and record them here. In other words, what you’re looking at right now are all unresolved cases. In fact, there are still bounties for the resolution of these files to this date. The potential merit points to be gained from these dockets are immense, to say the least.”
Qin Ye’s gaze followed along Lou Chuan’s hand - Eastsea Province, Pearlriver Province, Westriver Province, Province of the Great Heavens… Everything was there. In fact, there was even a letter appended to the name of each location.
These letters represented the grade of these case files. They were minimally ‘A’, while the majority of them were… ‘S’!
There were no records of what exactly transpired during these supernatural incidents. But the devastation that ensued was unimaginable, and its causes remained unknown. These freakish incidents represented the lives of several human beings. And right now, these records remained silently in their dockets like neatly arranged tombstones, laying prostrate before the future King Yanluo.
1. This is a project in China launched in 1995 with the intent of raising research standards. 211 is in fact an abbreviation of its slogan, ‘in preparation for the 21st century, successfully managing 100 universities.’ According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019/20, most of the universities participating in Project 211 are now ranked among the top 1000 universities in the world.
2. This was another project in China launched in May 1985 (98/5), hence the abbreviated name 985. The project was launched to promote the development and reputation of the Chinese higher education system, and it sought to build new research centers, improve facilities, hold international conferences and attract scholars as well as send scholars abroad. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019/20, most of the universities participating in Project 985 are now considered among the top 500 universities in the world.