Mount Tai City, provincial capital of Insignia Province.
Traffic was heavy, and the streets were filled with pedestrians. Professor Yu sat within a nondescript, low-profile villa, staring into his computer screen. Three men dressed in white lab coats stood patiently in front of his table. The title of the document displayed on the screen read “The Evolution of Yin Spirits and Their Adaptation to the Environment”.
“Let’s halt the work on this for now.” Professor Yu massaged his temples with one hand and waved his other hand. His personal assistant immediately brought over a cup of tea. He sighed, and then furrowed his brows at the LED screen, “It doesn’t work.”
The three men in white lab coats chuckled bitterly, and the middle one sighed, “The information is really lacking. You’ve been whole-heartedly devoting your attention to this research topic ever since your return from the City of Salvation. We’ve searched the records throughout the country, and we’ve located no more than a few dozen cases where mutation was but a possibility. But if we compare these numbers to the total number of Yin spirits around, the results we have are completely insignificant.”
Professor Yu shut his eyes and grew taciturn.
He recalled the day when the young man swore to him that the mutations of Yin spirits were by no means isolated examples, and they had in fact been occurring since time immemorial. Unfortunately, his busy schedule meant that he had to return to Mount Tai City the very next day. Otherwise, he would have liked to listen to a few more lectures from that young man in the hope that it would spark some inspiration on his part.
He had never thought of this as a shameful affair. After all, he was a firm believer that there was something he could learn from everyone. On the other hand, being too fixated on one’s own perspectives would instead militate against the progression of theories and development of new ideas.This would in turn unduly inhibit the mortal realm from ever developing an advantage against the growing tide of Yin spirits.
“Our premises are too weak.” Ten seconds later, he opened his eyes and instructed, “Get in touch with the First Academy of Cultivators immediately. Ask them to send over the contents of everything covered by their instructors during their opening lectures… Hang on a minute.”
Just then, his phone suddenly vibrated. He held it up and took a look - “Class of ‘89, Student Tao, has sent you a message.”
Professor Yu couldn’t recall who this was. After all, he dealt with esteemed individuals on a daily basis, including the heads of the major research institutions who were on a level equivalent to that of Zhou Xianlong. Thus, he tapped on it to take a look. To his surprise, the message contained a name that was of interest to him.
Instructor Qin, huh…
Thus, he did what he wouldn’t normally have done, and he responded: “He contributed to this paper?”
Class of ‘89, Student Tao: “That’s right. Could I please have a little bit of your time?”
Yu: “Send it over.”
A word document was promptly transmitted to him through the messaging software. The other white lab coats watched Professor Yu silently as he opened the word document and read its contents.
Title: The Mutation of Yin Spirits: Causes, Developments and Possibilities.
His eyes instantly lit up, and he subconsciously sat up straight. The men in the white lab coats were immediately taken aback.
This was a sign something had caught Professor Yu’s interest.
And the only thing that could possibly interest this old man was necessarily a profound academic paper or a scholarly article. There are only approximately a dozen people who can engage in discourse with him on an equal level. I wonder whether an esteemed individual has sent over some new research data or conjectures?
Their hearts stirred with curiosity, yet nobody dared to interrupt Professor Yu.
On the other hand, Professor Yu was completely oblivious to the expressions of the three men dressed in white lab coats, because he was completely enraptured after reading the first three sentences in the paper.
The author must at least be a provincial leader, if not from one of the special organizations around! And if he’s from a special organization… He began to think of the writing styles of his old friends and acquaintances.
No… It’s not Old Chen, his writing style is different. Given his age and reputation, he simply writes what he wants. Would his arguments be this sharp and precise? Unlikely.
It’s not Old Ma either. Old Ma’s style is a lot gentler. I can tell from the opening paragraphs that the author’s style is calm yet incisive, like a gleaming sword hidden under the surface of still lakewaters. His style isn’t repulsive at all…
Who the hell is this?!
But these thoughts were quickly shelved to the back of his mind.
To a person like him who had dedicated his entire life to the furtherance of the cultivation academia, a good research paper was akin to the Bugatti Veyron in the eyes of car lovers, or the best spirits in the eyes of alcoholics. The mystery of the identity of this author could be resolved later on! After all, this research topic was close to his heart, and he was incredibly eager to learn of a different perspective on the matter.
He read through the first premise quickly, and then let everything that was written soak deeply into his mind. Three minutes later, a soft sound rang out in the room.
Professor Yu’s eyes gleamed brightly as he smacked the armrest of his wooden chair. He sighed with a soft exclamation, “Beautiful.”
“To think that he would use the profession of a corpse driver to prove that Yin spirits would evolve under special circumstances, and that the strength of Yin spirits would even rise significantly after their evolution… The parallel is simply brilliant! And these are such widely accepted facts that it’s practically irrefutable! There’s no point in raising any objections to this premise at all!”
“Why didn’t I think of using corpse drivers?!” He huffed in resignation before reading on.
The introduction to the next premise piqued his interest even more.
Three minutes later.
“Homologous Yin spirit… There’s actually something like that? A parasite that resides in the recesses of a person’s body since young? The host possesses both Yin and Yang character traits. He is born with Yin-Yang eyes, while the homologous Yin spirit may be considered half-Yin and half-Yang. It grows together with the host, and as soon as it matures and erupts from its host body… the consequences would be dire?”
“This premise… is proven by the existence of the kid that guards the Great Dipper Vault… This is a live specimen we’re talking about… and he even tells of a way to force out the homologous Yin spirit from the host body! Li!!”
One of the men dressed in a white lab coat immediately walked over, “Professor.”
“Head over to the Great Dipper Vault immediately! And bring over A--... That A-something over here! The guy that looks like half-man half-ghost! Bring him here right now! Wang!”
“Yes, professor.” Another man dressed in a white lab coat cupped his hands respectfully.
“You! Open up my underground research lab right away, and check that all equipment are in good working condition!”
After issuing his instructions, the room was silent once again. Over the next ten minutes or so, a smacking sound rang out from time to time. It was almost as though Professor Yu had to slap the armrest of his chair as a sign of appreciation with every segment of the research paper he got through. His face flushed with great excitement, and he even raised his hand from time to time.
He was ecstatic.
It was a brilliant thesis, with a brand new perspective built upon a solid foundation of arguments and proof. It was good enough to inebriate hardcore academics like him. In fact, not even Professor Yu expected the research paper to bring him so much joy and ecstasy.
Those in the room found their names being called upon from time to time as well, “Little Zhou, bring me the case file from SRC pertaining to the 4 July case from XX City, XX Province.” “Xu, pull out these B-grade dockets from the SRC…”
“Wonderful… I’ve heard about this case before. If this were indeed corroborated as such, wouldn’t it perfectly illustrate the point which the author is making? These aren’t mere coincidences… the choice of substantiating case files have been perfect!”
“Very good. This is… the third premise already, and he’s still bringing up gem after gem… I wonder who the author is… Where did he get all of his information from? Since when does the SRC have such a formidable individual?”
Finally, the room was completely silent.
Professor Yu had shut his eyes to let the information sink in countless times by now. He was ruminating over the brilliant paper he had just come across, and he was also fervently suppressing the anxiety in his heart. He was anxious to implement experiments to prove that the premises were sound and accurate. The paper was largely inferential in nature, and yet a single experiment was sufficient to prove each of its premises. And if these experiments were successful…
He opened his eyes, and his breaths grew slightly ragged.
If I succeed in these experiments… then the research topic that I’d been working so hard on… would finally see a breakthrough!
He no longer had any doubts about the quality of the research paper right now. It was cogent, profound on several levels, and irrefutable.
“Theses are by their very nature a form of written discourse… and it naturally flows that discourse and refutations would follow…” His eyelids twitched slightly as he picked up the research paper, “But no matter how I look at it, the impression that this paper gives me is that this is an incontrovertible conclusion… And I’m not even talking about the incisiveness of his arguments, the depth of substantiation, and the logical flow… Which esteemed academic wrote this? Why can’t I tell from his style of writing?”
In his elation, Professor Yu had actually forgotten Professor Tao’s earlier words. He flipped back to the first page and finally noticed the string of names.
Right at the very top, a series of names were written in black and bold font. First author: Qin Ye.
The Bugatti Veyron had suddenly morphed into the transformer Bumblebee, and the fiery alcoholic spirits had turned into molten lava.
The room suddenly felt as hot as a blazing furnace, while Professor Yu’s expressions of elation instantly faded away, almost as though he had just eaten shit.
This is… somewhat embarrassing…
Hang on… how could this possibly be you?
I mean, how old are you? What basis do you have writing a paper of such incredible caliber?! It’s not that I want to look down on you, but isn’t knowledge something you’ve got to accumulate over time?! You’re only 18, and yet you write like you’re 81! Have you been slaying ghosts since you were in your mother’s womb?!
“This kid… is he King Yanluo’s incarnation or something? How could he be so well-informed about Yin spirits?!” Old Man Yu massaged his throbbing temples. You’re annoying. You’re terribly annoying, you know? I mean… are you trying to make us look bad? I’m already over eighty. I’ve dedicated most of my life to my research on Yin spirits, and yet the one to open the door to a new breakthrough on my research is actually an instructor who’s only in his teens?
He continued reading on. Co-authors: Lin Han, Su Feng.
The rest of them were assistants who had been involved in the research and writing process, including a dozen or so students.
He stared at the paper, trying to locate a familiar name. Unfortunately… there was none.
Professor Yu suddenly felt like being alone.
“Professor Yu… where are you going?” Two men in white lab coats asked as soon as they noticed Old Man Yu stand up.
“Don’t mind me… I’m going out for a walk…” Professor Yu massaged his still-throbbing temples as he stared at the heavy flow of traffic and pedestrians outside. A sudden decrepit sensation washed right over him, “The new generation exceeds the previous one… Hang on a minute! But isn’t this just downright outrageous?! There must be a ghostwriter involved, isn’t there?”
No, no, no, I think there’s still room for this old man to flounder around in denial… I just can’t accept this as reality… I feel like there’s hope in salvaging my self-confidence yet…
As if venting, he tapped the guardrail in exasperation as he murmured to himself, “I can believe it if you tell me that the thesis statement, and even the premises emanated from him. But the incisive arguments, the pristine organization of information, the professional use of vernacular, and the brilliant logical flow… these are all hallmarks of someone who’s at least a provincial government leader or someone of my stature in the SRC. I absolutely cannot believe that these had all emanated from an instructor of the First Academy of Cultivators!”
He took several deep breaths to regulate his emotions. Then, he pulled out his phone, searched up Tao Ran’s number, and then initiated a video call with him.
“Professor Yu?” Tao Ran was somewhat startled. After all, it was incredibly rare to hear of anyone receiving a video call initiated by Professor Yu himself.
“Tell me who the ghostwriter was.” Professor Yu spoke with mixed feelings, “The standard of the paper is a telltale sign of the true author’s experience, abilities and knowledge. So tell me, who guided his hand?”
“Weren’t you the ghostwriter?!” Unexpectedly, Tao Ran reacted with even greater astonishment.
Holy shit… are you saying that these kids have truly accomplished all of that?
The two old men stared awkwardly at each other, completely flabbergasted. Several moments later, Professor Yu snorted, “Who do you think I am? He’s not my illegitimate son, so why should I be acting as a ghostwriter for him?”
Tao Ran’s heart began to beat wildly, and he fervently suppressed his burgeoning excitement as he responded cautiously, “Professor Yu… as you know, the City of Salvation is under military regimentation right now. Nobody can leave the city until next semester - not even I. And there’s no need to even consider the lack of internet access either. Besides… there’s not a single person in our academy who can write like that, apart from the two principals…”
Old Man Yu sighed deeply.
Hadn’t he already realized all these things as well?
In fact, he already knew it wasn’t Li Tao and Xu Anguo as soon as he read the first paragraph of the research paper. He had only called Tao Ran because he was unable to reconcile his cognitive dissonance.
Was this truly authored by that little bastard?
This… I’d like to be alone for a little while...Previous Chapter Next Chapter