Qin Ye breathed deeply to calm his heart down.
The rows of steel cabinets in front of him had actually caused a sense of responsibility to swell from the depths of his heart.
And it came quickly and without warning, clouding his heart with a long, lingering effect.
He received the docket from Lou Chuan’s hands and began to read its contents.
“Year 197X. The Mao Clan incident at Chuan City.”
“Mao Clan Village, Riverboat County, Chuan City, was located five hundred meters below sea level, and was formed by people of the Dai and Han ethnicity groups. The Mao Clan led the village. The population size of the village was one thousand, five hundred and forty-six. On 5 April 197X, during the night of the Qingming Festival, there was a torrential downpour. The Mao Clan’s ancestral shrine was brightly lit with candles and incense that had been kept going for decades on end. And yet, at exactly midnight, everything was extinguished. The people of the Mao Clan Village believed that their ancestors were back to visit them, and they all knelt down and prayed to their ancestors.”
“On the morning of 6 April at 1.00 a.m., someone was reported to have sounded the night watch gong. But investigations revealed that the Mao Clan had ceased to use their night watch gong for thirteen years by then. 2.00 a.m. A hundred crows braved the downpour and flew to the banyan tree at the entrance of the village, weeping blood incessantly. The village chief believed that this was an omen for bad luck, and he immediately directed all villagers to leave the village. Most villagers evacuated by 3.00 a.m. According to the survivors, they even heard vivid cries of those carrying a palanquin coming from right beside their ancestral shrine.”
“7 April. The entire Mao Clan vanished without a trace. 8 April, in the wee hours of the morning, an astonishing sight was discovered in the depths of the mountains. Everyone had a peaceful look on their faces. The village chief survived the tragedy, but lost his mind. He now resides in the Qinglong Mountain Mental Hospital. The details of investigations and photographs of the scene are annexed…”
“Sss…” Qin Ye gasped. Goosebumps crept all over his skin as he shut the docket.
Incarnate revenant… This is definitely the working of an incarnate revenant! It’s completely different from a Hunter-class spirit!
The astonishing sight was no sight to behold at all. After all… the sight had been a pyramid of human heads!
As expected… as expected, there are already other incarnate revenants that have appeared in Cathay, and it’s just that the government has been suppressing any news of it in order to keep what modicum of peace that remained in the nation. The fact that they were able to keep this facade of peace for decades on end spoke volumes about the strength and influence of the government! That said, was it truly the safest nation that everyone said it was?
How many more of such incidents were there?
He glanced back at the rows of steel cabinets. Pearlriver Province, Eastsea Province, Norfecture Province, Harbour Province… These were no more than rows of lifeless, still cabinets, and yet they actually gave Qin Ye a better appreciation for how Granny Meng had struggled so hard to extend her time in the mortal realm back then.
Hell couldn’t exist without a leader.
The Heavenly Dao’s cycle of life was premised on the complete existence of both the Yin and the Yang; Hell and the mortal realm.
Sometimes, profound realizations didn’t require any great catalysts, and epiphanies could occur at the most unexpected moments.
“Shocking, isn’t it?” Qin Ye had grown taciturn, and his gaze gleamed impassionately as he stared blankly at the rows of steel cabinets. Lou Chuan thought that he was too astonished by what he had just seen, and he picked up the docket from Qin Ye’s hands and returned it to where it belonged, “Hunting zones are just the most common occurrences that we’re faced with. However, they are by no means the most dangerous ones. You should pick out the cases that are most suitable and representative of all Yin spirits out there when you do your research. Everything you need is in here. And those who will eventually review your work will definitely be aware of these references as well. After all, those who are entitled to review your work will naturally be authorized to view these records.”
He cast a complicated gaze at the steel cabinet, “I imagine that the cases set out in these steel cabinets… are all sufficient to leave an indelible mark in the souls of everyone who reads them.”
Seconds later, Qin Ye nodded deeply. Then, Lou Chuan turned to face the bookshelves behind.
“And these are the records of the Divine Protectors since thousands of years ago.”
It suddenly occurred to Qin Ye that he had first heard this name back when the First Academy of Cultivators had been inaugurated, whilst everyone was preparing for the commencement of the first semester. The Sword of the Yellow Emperor was also something kept and passed down by the Divine Protectors. Every dynasty and era of Cathay’s past had seen an equivalent existence, up until the end of the Qing Dynasty. Its present incarnation is no longer called the Divine Protectors, but the Special Investigations Department as well as the SRC.
“They can be considered our forefathers of sorts. You’ll find quite a lot of useful information in here. Who knows, perhaps some of their hypotheses and conjectures could light a spark in your research? Why don’t… you take a look and see who they are?”
Lou Chuan had a peculiar smile on his face. Qin Ye glanced at him, before turning to look at the topmost bookshelf. He didn’t care much for the names from the more obscure parts of Cathay. Thus, he skimmed past a few names, until he suddenly did a double take.
“This is…” He exclaimed with abject disbelief, “Liu Bowen?!”
Liu Bowen was a venerable figure often compared with Zhuge Liang. How could Qin Ye have expected such an amazing person to actually be part of the Divine Protectors?!
“That’s right.” Lou Chuan added with a sigh, “When I first saw this, I was even more astonished than you were.”
“Liu Ji, also known as Liu Bowen. He was one of the most trusted advisors of Emperor Hongwu, and nine years after death he was posthumously conferred the title of grand vizier… But if you think about it, how could anyone apart from such amazing figureheads be involved in the management of Cathay’s national treasury?”
Qin Ye nodded in agreement, and he continued to look on.
And the next name he saw caused him to gasp in shock yet again.
… Zhao Pu!
“Holy shit…” He subconsciously exclaimed. Zhao Pu… one of the most influential men of his time, instrumental in seizing and consolidating power for Emperor Taizu and Emperor Taizong. He served three terms as a chief councilor of the emperor, and he is often hailed as one of Cathay’s ten greatest strategists of all time!
No matter which one it was, all of them were venerable figureheads that were known throughout the history of Cathay!
Who could have thought that all of them were among the ranks of the Divine Protectors? And to think that they had painstakingly recorded the darkest secrets of Cathay of their time and passed it down all the way to present day?!
Qin Ye couldn’t resist the urge, and he pulled out a book and began to browse it carefully.
The text on it had been translated and modernized. He was currently reading Zhao Pu’s paper entitled “Yin Spirits: The Changing Times and Their Evolution”.
“... It was commonplace to hear of powerful evil ghosts during the Tang and the Han Dynasties. But now, these occurrences are becoming more polarized - we don’t hear as much of them, but when we do, they are invariably terrifying occurrences… I therefore posit that this is a result of the expansion of Hell’s capabilities. Ten years ago, I was fortunate enough to encounter a Soul Hunter Emissary of Hell that was accompanied by Ox-Head and Horse-Face. Looking back at the encounter, their garments and weapons were hardly outdated at all. In fact, they looked even more sophisticated than those at our disposal…”
“... Therefore, I conclude that Hell’s ability to detect the existence of malicious Yin spirits have been improving over time. Yin spirits that gain spiritual awareness would detect the fearsome existence of Hell, and the first decision would be to hide in the shadows and avoid it, biding for time until they become strong enough to surface in the mortal realm once more…”
Before Qin Ye knew it, he was completely enraptured by what he was reading.
It wasn’t that he was a good learner. It was simply the fact that a husky like him would never pass up on any opportunities to learn more about the mortal realm. Incidentally, all of this formed part of the basic knowledge of all other cultivators around, and yet a supposed genius like him knew nothing about these things.
Furthermore, the more he read, the more divergent his views became. It had to be said that Zhao Pu’s paper was incredibly relevant to the research topic he was looking into right now. In fact, both Zhao Pu and Liu Bowen have had their own speculations in this regard. Unfortunately, due to the closed attitude of the nation at that time, open discourse like that promulgated by foreign nations wasn’t encouraged. Otherwise, he was certain that the Ming Dynasty Divine Protectors would have discussed the evolution of Yin spirits in greater detail at that time.
As he delved deeper into their discourse, he also began to understand why there seemed to be a disruption in the continuity of what was passed down to the Special Investigations Department. The Qing Dynasty records were still intact. But starting from the Ming Dynasty, there started to be gaps and breakages in the records in certain places. These gaps in the records were even substantial at times. Then, as one drew further into history to the Song, Tang and Han Dynasties, the gaps in the records grew larger and larger, until everything after that was practically unusable.
This meant that the hypotheses were no more than speculations and unsupported conclusions. There were even times when a hypothesis or premise was set out on one page, and the next page was already discussing the supporting evidence of another hypothesis or premise.
But Qin Ye didn’t fret. After all, having been through college several times in the past, he was quite experienced in the field of writing research papers. He knew full well that a research paper wasn’t something that could be done within the day. Time trickled by quickly. After some time, he finally set down the records of the Song Dynasty Divine Protectors and stretched his back as he lamented, “So these are the compilation of theses of past dynasties… These are incredibly helpful. And with the records and evidence of the high-grade supernatural incidents kept by the SRC over all these years, churning out the paper probably isn’t going to be as difficult as I thought…”
“That said, it’s still going to be rather difficult to streamline these sources of information into proper premises and conclusions. There’s just too many books here. How long is it going to take before I finish going through everything…”
It wasn’t that he despised going through these books. In fact, he was more than happy to pore through the records on his own. Unfortunately, time wasn’t on his side. It was presently 1 May. If he couldn’t make it to the East Cathay Sea by the end of June, then the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl would be lost to him forever.”
“No... I don’t even have two months. I’ve got to consider the time taken for submission, review and then publication… And then the time required for other organizations to respond and extend their invitations to us. At best, I’ve only got one month’s worth of time… That’s far too little.” He massaged his throbbing temples and took a look at his phone. It was already 10.00 p.m.
Lou Chuan had already left a long time ago. It was only then that Qin Ye felt a little sleepy, and he opened the door to head back outside.
When he walked out and glanced at the bald old man, Qin Ye’s eyes immediately flickered in shock.
Bloody hell… Trump Card... That’s enough, old man! To think that here I was, praising you for being studious and still contributing to the nation despite your age!
“You’re leaving?” The old man didn’t even look up from the screen, “Kid, the things in here aren’t something that you’ll grasp and understand within a single day.”
Qin Ye nodded. That’s right, thesis papers contained discourse that left readers with great food for thought. It would be wise to look at the contents from the perspective and context of the author as well. Otherwise, his efforts would be futile, and he would never have a good enough grasp of the author’s premises to implement it in his own paper.
As he watched Qin Ye leave with a multitude of thoughts on his mind, the old man suddenly quipped, “You can’t carve a piece of rotten wood… Let me ask you something - where are your assistants? Are you really planning to finish your paper alone? And then publish it on Cultivators Weekly? Don’t you think you’re thinking too highly of yourself? Or are you underestimating the reaches of Cultivators Weekly?”
Qin Ye finally snapped out of his dissertation stupor, blinked vacantly, and then fervently repressed the urge to give himself a tight slap on the face.
These days, in college, most students would simply type google into the browser and access google scholar, and then search for the relevant graduate thesis from a corresponding faculty, make payment, copy, paste… rinse and repeat. Eh… isn’t there something wrong with this?
But that’s not the point. The point was that he was an instructor right now! An instructor of the First Academy of Cultivators that held a great deal of authority!
And therein lies the problem.
What the hell are you doing wasting an entire day in there! Can’t your assistants pore through these details on your behalf? Can’t your assistants help with your application form? Why do you like being a loner so much?! Or is this the manifestation of a habit resultant from your long history of shallow friendships with people?!
He glanced back at the old man with some measure of resentment, as though saying - Why didn’t you ask me this earlier?! The old man glared back at him, “How would I have known that an instructor didn’t think he needed assistants for a research project? It wouldn’t even have occurred to me but for the fact that you’d been in there alone all this time!”
In other words, how could there be such a stupid instructor around?
Qin Ye felt his heart crying tears of blood. But as soon as the suggestion for assistants was broached by the old man, everything became clear to him.
The role of an assistant was hardly a simple one. Generally, all published papers would have secondary authors, also known as co-authors.
In fact, there were even times when an entire paper was jointly written by two primary authors or first authors. But this didn’t necessarily mean an even distribution of words written. Rather, it meant that they were both equally important in their collusion of ideas and contributions to the paper.
After all, there were bound to be many voices and opinions in the course of an entire research project, and it was a constant discourse of ideas like how iron sharpens iron that would finally give rise to a cogent paper. Besides, no matter how smart a person is, how could he possibly finish writing an entire thesis paper on his own? What about experiments? And how about the sourcing of information? And even formatting?
If he did everything alone, he might not be able to finish the paper even by the end of the next semester!
Besides, he was already ahead of his competition among instructors, so why not reach out to his peers and rescue a certain Lin-so-and-so and Su-so-and-so?
1. Liu Bowen lived from 1311-1375 AD. He was a military strategist, philosopher, politician and poet who lived in the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties. He was well known for his prophecies, and has been described as the chinese nostradamus.
7. This one is an interesting one. Gui Guzi is actually a collection of chinese texts, and Gui Guzi appears to be a pen name, which literally means the sage of the ghost valley. Most scholars believe that it was written by a single person. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guiguzi