It’s too rare…
He was accustomed to a lifestyle of being part of humanity, yet keeping his distance from human relations at all times. Days like today were far too rare to him - When was the last time I’ve experienced something like this?
He couldn’t remember.
There was a vague memory of the last time he had indulged in such revelry, but he couldn’t remember how many decades ago that was, or with whom he had shared such experiences… Either ways, he was now all alone.
He was actually indifferent to these things.
He had a multitude of gags and jokes at his fingertips which he indulged in from time to time in self-relaxation. He was adept in the important matters in life as well. But despite all that, there was a sense of distinct indifference undergirding all his interactions with people.
You guys are all going to die sooner or later, aren’t you?
Rather than be hurt when that time comes, why shouldn’t I simply keep my distance from you? That way, you’ll forget about me easily, and I won’t have any lingering thoughts about you either.
Familiarity breeds feelings. And with feelings comes impulse. Qin Ye had never taken the initiative to draw close to anyone, including Lin Han or Su Feng. Although they habitually studied and worked together, he had never engaged in any interactions with the intent of deepening their relationship. In fact, he hadn’t even asked of their family history before.
But, perhaps things might be different now.
After all… we’ll still be colleagues even after death, so there’s no reason for me to grief at your passing at all.
Just then, his phone rang. Qin Ye looked up at everyone and quickly made a shushing gesture with his finger.
It was Zhou Xianlong.
Everyone glanced over tacitly, promptly setting down their glasses and halting in the midst of their conversations. In an instant, the only thing that they heard was the sound of their hearts thumping in their ears.
Qin Ye took a deep breath and answered the call, “Hello?”
There was a brief moment of silence on the other end of the call. Zhou Xianlong’s voice was placid on the surface, yet it seemed to stir with some measure of searing urgency, “Where are you now?”
“A party.” Qin Ye looked around, only to receive the looks of several burning gazes, “I’m with the colleagues who have drafted the research paper with me.”
“Put me on speakerphone.” Zhou Xianlong immediately responded.
Qin Ye switched on the speakerphone, and the entire room was silent, save for the ragged breaths that abounded all around. Then, Zhou Xianlong took a deep breath and addressed everyone around for the first time, “Good evening to all instructors and students who have been involved in the first research paper completed under the banner of the First Academy of Cultivators.”
“Research paper number one entitled ‘The Mutation of Yin Spirits: Causes, Developments and Possibilities’, authored by Instructor Qin Ye, assisted by Instructors Lin Han and Su Feng, and contributed to by Wang Chenghao, Ye Xingchen and several other students. Just a moment ago, pursuant to a review by Cultivators Weekly’s Chief Editor Yao, two deputy editors-in-chief, as well as seven other editors, they have just confirmed that your paper will be published in the next edition of Cultivators Weekly on a dedicated full page.
Everyone blinked with a vacant stare in their eyes. They simply couldn’t believe what they had just heard.
“De-...dedicated full page?” A split second later, Lin Han spoke with a tremble in his voice, “Faculty Head Zhou… are you sure you didn’t hear them wrongly?”
“There’s no mistake.” Zhou Xianlong sighed, “Listen carefully. The First Academy of Cultivators has made an exception for you--... No… rather, the entire City of Salvation has made an exception for you.”
After a protracted pause, he continued, “This comes as a surprise, even to me… but because of your stellar performance, the academy’s leaders have already reported this to the Special Investigations Department and fought for an opportunity to let the rest of the country learn who you are.”
A cacophony of gasps echoed through the room. All eyes were on the phone, and a raging excitement surged underneath the ostensibly calm atmosphere in the room. Everyone perked up their ears with great anticipation.
“Everyone, you might be unknown and unrecognized right now, or perhaps you’ve got a lot to offer, yet simply didn’t have the right opportunities to do so. But everything will change from the date of publication of your work. We will provide you with a large-enough stage for you to shine brilliantly. Talents like you should stand in the spotlight. Therefore, following a joint decision between the academy leaders as well as the upper echelon of the Special Investigations Department, we have sent an urgent missive to Commander Li Yunsheng, the general in charge of the City of Salvation, to issue… a special temporary permit allowing you to leave the City of Salvation.”
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered, and his breaths accelerated immediately.
The paper is a bridge that linked my reality on one part, and the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl and the Southsea Huanghuali golden trade route on the other part. This bridge has finally found its place.
And today… everything was ripe for the picking!
Everyone was lost for words. These were incredible news, but they had come far too suddenly like a meteorite that had just crashed into their heads and jolted their minds!
A dedicated full-page publication on Cultivators Weekly, and a special temporary permit to leave the City of Salvation… A series of good news struck them one after the other, until their minds were in a complete daze. The only voice in their heads right now was crying out feebly - Is this real? Is this really happening? Am I not dreaming?
Nobody spoke a word, almost as though they were afraid that they would awaken from the reverie if they even made the slightest sound.
Zhou Xianlong had always been forthright and to the point. Yet even he needed to take some time to regulate his breath before continuing, “Everyone, brace yourselves.”
“You’ll be speaking as representatives of the First Academy of Cultivators. In other words, you will become the face of the academy to the public. The academy looks forward to your performance. The true elites of the cultivation world are always watching the developments in the academic circles. After all, this is where the ideas and concepts for all new weapons and equipment are first conceived. Therefore, as soon as you step out onto this magnificent stage and into the spotlight… your future will truly know no bounds!”
Beep beep… Zhou Xianlong hung up. A minute later, the entire room was still completely silent.
Three minutes later.
“Bloody hell!!” Local Bully was the first one to stand up with a loud clatter. He leapt onto his head with a glass in his arms, “Come! Bottoms up! Nobody’s leaving this place standing today!!!”
He downed an entire glass of beer at one go. It was a bittersweet taste. The days of bitter grinding at the research paper were finally over, and the good times were just beginning.
Their hearts were all filled with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Having their efforts validated and recognized as such caused their hearts to burst with pride and thump with a wild clamor.
Their wanderlust was ignited with a bang. In an instant, the monochromatic silence of the room was filled with a vibrant celebration of colours. Everyone rose to their feet in unison, grabbed their glasses and danced to the romance of beers and spirits. There was no better way to manifest their elation and excitement right now.
“Come! Drink! It’s not manly to quit right now!” “Cheers!” “Bullshit… I don’t even know what I should say! A full dedicated page… and even a special temporary permit to leave the City of Salvation for exchange and forums… I-I-I simply cannot believe what I’ve just heard!”
“Holy shit! I’m going to call everyone in my family after this! Haha! I wonder how ecstatic they would be when they hear of these incredible developments!” “We’re going to be famous… Never in my wildest dreams have I ever thought of being featured on Cultivators Weekly!”
It’s Cultivators Weekly… the top cultivation journal in Cathay. This is something read by every single cultivator in the country. Not even my parents and masters have achieved something like that, and yet… I have?
Euphoric cheers resounded incessantly from every part of their private celebration room. It was a night of revelry.
It was already 1.00 a.m. by the time Qin Ye returned to his own dorm room. After leaving the skewers bar, the three instructors had gone on to drink some more at another pub. It was at this moment that they truly appreciated the existence of a university town in the academy.
“You reek of alcohol. Go get a shower.” Arthis’ voice called out as soon as he returned to the room. However, Qin Ye simply ignored her, and proceeded to bury his head in his bed and giggle to himself like a fool.
Having heard no response from Qin Ye, Arthis turned around, only to see a repulsive grin on his face, “The smile on your face right now looks no different from a lecher… Let me guess, the only thing that can evoke such joy from your heart must be the resolution of the matter pertaining to the thesis paper, am I right?”
“YEAH!” Qin Ye rolled over and curled up his legs lazily in bed, “Arti-dear, this is for the record - today, under the wise leadership of the future King Yanluo, the assistance of our future officers Lin so-and-so and Su so-and-so, and a bunch of others, we have managed to perfectly address one of the most pertinent academic conundrums plaguing the mortal realm. And in so doing, we have placed Hell well on the broad and open road with brilliant prospects…”
Arthis nodded and turned around indifferently, “There used to be Emissaries of Hell like you, but they’re all eighteen feet underground, covered by a carpet of tall grass. Given how you’ve been testing my limits time and again… Perhaps you should simply be grateful for my benevolence and mercy…”
Qin Ye ignored the venomous viper that was hissing at the corner of the room, and he simply stared at the ceiling, deep in his own thoughts.
Although he had initially embarked on the research paper in the hopes of attending the major auction at the end of June, there were far greater implications to his success in this regard!
For instance, it was through this experience that he had serendipitously discovered the road to riches in the cultivation realm!
A research paper was worth forty thousand merit points and five hundred teaching credits. As long as he could churn out several more research papers of similar standards, he would rack up an immeasurable amount of points! The Great Dipper Vault would become no different from his backyard!
Furthermore, teaching credits were required for his promotion in the academy, which in turn translated to greater discounts…
Life is simply too beautiful right now…
“Tsk tsk… You look like a wild dog that has just set its eyes on a piece of meat on a bone… or should I say that such a look suits your character well…” Arthis continued to slur with disgust, “Rather than live in the past, shouldn’t you be looking ahead right now? For instance… consider how you’re going to get in touch with Guardian Auctions?”
The fingers that appeared to be conducting the symphony of bliss in the air suddenly paused.
Seconds later, Qin Ye clambered out of bed with a grimace on his face, “Would it kill you to let me spend a night in peace? You’re no different from an abrasive goblin.”
“It wouldn’t kill me.” Arthis responded with blunt honesty, “But I wouldn’t feel good about it either… speaking of which, I somehow get the feeling that you need some electroconvulsive therapy. Is this just an illusion…”
Resigned to his fate, Qin Ye got out of bed, switched on his laptop and glanced at his phone.
It was now 21 May.
Guardian Auctions would on 1 June announce the list of all items to be put up for the summer major auction. This was in line with their decades-long practice to give their clients over twenty days to raise the necessary funds for their bids and payment at the auction.
In other words, he had approximately ten days to confirm his attendance at the summer major auction and negotiate a mortgage of his stock of Southsea Huanghuali with Guardian Auctions in order to raise sufficient funds to bid for the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl.
He furrowed his brows as he opened Guardian Auctions’ website and clicked on the ‘contact us’ button. Then, he typed into the chat box that appeared, “I’m Mr Qin. I’d like to discuss matters pertaining to the auction with you. Please get in touch with me as soon as you see this message.”
A series of words quickly showed up on the screen, “Mr Qin, sorry to have kept you waiting. Have you already decided to meet us?”
“City of Salva--...” Qin Ye’s hand paused abruptly.
With age came a keen eye for detail.
“What’s wrong?” Arthis noticed Qin Ye’s hesitance and asked curiously, “You’ve already got a foot in the door. Aren’t you going in? Testing the waters?”
Qin Ye rolled his eyes, “There’s something wrong with this person…”
Without missing a beat, he rubbed his brows and thought aloud, “At times like these, shouldn’t his question be ‘have you decided?’, rather than ‘have you already decided to meet us?’ I haven’t even made up my mind about the auction, so what makes him so certain that I’m going to meet up with him?”
The smile on Arthis’ face also faded away, and her eyes narrowed to a squint, “Then… perhaps he’s just anxious to meet you. But that doesn’t accord well with his role in the auctions. He’s no more than a channel or conduit. You should be the one who’s anxious to meet him, not the other way around.”
“And if that’s the case… why, then, is he in such a hurry to meet? Unless…” Her eyes flickered, “Something happened to the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl? Perhaps they’re unable to auction it? And perhaps they’re desperate to replace it with your artifacts?”
“It’s not just that.” Qin Ye explained indifferently, “It’s already so late at night, and yet a master of the house is still on the line. It’s almost as though… he was just waiting for me.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter