Without another word, Qin Ye picked up That Amorous Affair’s cell phone and made a beeline for the rooftop.
The fifth floor of the building was completely empty, while a small set of stairs provided access to the rooftop. As he drew closer, he noticed that the lock on the door to the rooftop had already been broken some time ago.
Qin Ye forcefully kicked down the door to the rooftop. As soon as he stepped out, he immediately gasped. Everything on the rooftop was harrowingly white.
Amidst the torrential rainfall and incessant peals of thunder, the greenish-white flashes of lightning appeared to accentuate the snow-white mourning hall that stood eerily on the rooftop!
Wooden shelves were laced with white prayer flags fluttering wildly in the wind.The rest of the scene was decorated with a number of paper horses and paper servants which surrounded three silhouettes that sat silently among them. A dark coffin lay in the center of it all, while the flames of two half-meter tall candles flickered madly in the rain as it continued to emit a dim glow in the surroundings.
Despite the torrential downpour, the flames on the candles continued to burn softly.
Qin Ye slowly made his way forward. On such a gloomy, rainy night like this, the prayer flags continued to clatter incessantly with the billowing winds, seeming all the more horrific than ever.
Wang Zemin and his wife were dressed in classic Cathay tunics. Their eyes were closed, and each of them sat on their own chair silently. None of them were breathing. Their skin was cold and as inelastic as ever. Nobody knew how long it had been since they had passed away.
Wang Chenghao was passed out on the chair between his deceased parents. He was still breathing, yet Qin Ye chose not to wake him up. After all, some things were best left unknown to him.
“This is man-made.” He looked at the mourning hall and declared with confidence, “The manuscript that Granny Meng has left me states that ghosts can’t come into contact with things of the mortal realm. There’s no way they would be able to set up a mourning hall like this.”
“It’s not just that…” Arthis chuckled coldly, “Look closely at this coffin.”
The ink-black coffin was tied up and bound by innumerable blood-red threads. Four bronze oil lamps were carefully placed, one at each corner of the coffin. Each of them were alight with a dim, pea-sized flame.
“The Four Stars Soul Summoning Array… the four lamps each represent one of the four baleful heavenly bodies, namely Ketu, Rahu, the Voracious Wolf, and Mars. The red threads are woven from human hair that had been soaked in blood. Seven days later, the evil spirit would return to its body. This technique belongs to the earthly branch of the feng shui secret arts. Damnation… it looks like we’ve underestimated this old ghost. He’s probably already established some form of connection with some exceptional human individuals to achieve all this.”
Qin Ye slowly ran his hand along the corner of the coffin. Then, a tiny smile suddenly crept up the corner of his lips. “You still haven’t told me whether I will be discovered by this old ghost or not.”
“Who knows?” Arthis brushed him off, before realization dawned on her, “What are you trying to say? You’ve got a devious smile on your face.”
“I’ve suddenly thought of a little problem…” Qin Ye lifted the coffin, “Perhaps there might be a way to set my heart at ease… but now’s not the time to discuss that.”
Arthis didn’t press the issue, because as soon as the coffin’s lid was lifted, an incredibly dense Yin energy surged up from the coffin, instantly converging into a powerful vortex of Yin energy that was invisible to mere mortals!
What lay within the coffin was exactly the corpse of That Amorous Affair. It looked almost completely perfect, with hardly even a trace of her leaping off the building. She was wearing a black dress, just like the one that was shown in the videos. Both of her hands were folded neatly on her bosom. However, right beneath her hands, a crimson stone continued to spew out a boundless amount of Yin energy!
A shard of King Yanluo’s Seal!
Shashasha… Right this moment, in all of Rivergorge City, two mysterious entities simultaneously turned their gazes in Qin Ye’s direction.
At the top of the Green Dragon Mountain Cemetery in Rivergorge City, a muffled, cracking sound could be heard from an ancient tombstone. Seconds later, with an eerie click, a withered hand stretched out of the grave.
“Ahh…” An avaricious voice that sounded as though it had just learned to speak echoed out from the crevice in the grave, “I...I...I hunger…”
Somewhere else, on another archaic-looking street, a woman wearing a red dress who was combing her hair in front of a mirror suddenly turned her head around 180 degrees. Drool poured out from her mouth like a waterfall as she gazed at the distant sky.
Clear Creek County.
The eruption of Yin energy lasted no more than a split second. Before these mysterious entities could begin to track down his location, Qin Ye had already waved his long sleeve and drawn the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal into a silken brocade bag that was tied to his arm.
I’ve finally found it… Even Qin Ye couldn’t help but heave a massive sigh of relief at this moment. However, he didn’t have the luxury of time to inspect the shard to see what exactly it looked like. As soon as he first touched the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal, he immediately experienced a wonderful sensation of balance swelling up within him.
Yin and Yang were now balanced once again, and the curse of the three-day limit had finally been broken. But before he could even finish heaving that sigh of relief, tens of red dots immediately began hovering about outside the white mourning hall like flies.
“What’s this?” Arthis looked at the red dots curiously. This was something she was unable to identify despite her wealth of knowledge and experience. Qin Ye, however, only needed one glance at the red dots before he began trembling wildly.
Of course you wouldn’t know… how could a person who’s not kept up with the times know what these things are? In fact, it would be far more peculiar if an old grand-aunt like you could recognize something like this!
“Eh? You look terrified. Your hand appears to be shifting. You’re lifting your hands… are you attempting to surrender? Who are you surrendering to?!” Arthis’ last few words were spoken in a shrill, agitated tone of voice.
What happened to your dignity as an official of Hell?
“Screw that shit!” The veins in Qin Ye’s temples were pulsing madly, “These red dots are called laser sights! You stupid fool!!” The damn things are far more frightening than a Frostmourne Sword. A pull of the trigger is tantamount to a death sentence… do you even know the differences between firearms and normal weapons?
“Oh…” Arthis appeared to have recalled something important, and then she glanced at Qin Ye as though she had seen a ghost, “What are you getting so nervous about?”
“What are you talki-…”
“Ordinary humans can’t see you when you’re wearing your Hell’s Emissary robes. Why else do you think they seem to be pointing those lasers about aimlessly?”
Qin Ye sighed discreetly and put his arms down before glaring back at Arthis, “They can’t see me...but...can they still hit me?”
“Of course they can!” Arthis responded as though speaking to an idiot.
Trembling, Qin Ye raised his arms once again.
“Idiot!” Arthis bellowed, “Just hide behind your classmate!”
Oh, what the hell?! Qin Ye gave the soul sphere an appreciative glance, before swiftly darting behind Wang Chenghao.
Everything went silent despite the torrential downpour. Over ten red spots continued to linger and hover about the rooftop mourning hall. Then, approximately ten minutes later, four figures finally emerged from the corner of the adjoining street.
Each of these four people were dressed in black suits and toted black umbrellas. It was hard to distinguish them one from the other in the dark of the night. That said… each person seemed to emit certain fluctuations of energy from their bodies.
“Cultivators.” Arthis declared with certainty as soon as she spotted them, “But they’re rather weak. Our abilities are built upon Yin energy, while they cultivate using primordial true energy. We walk different paths.”
Qin Ye continued to observe them for several more seconds before sighing wistfully. He was ascertaining with his own two eyes that these were not people he could trifle with.
The four people had, at best, just embarked on their path of cultivation. Having sized up the extent of their abilities, he adjudged that he would be able to dispose of all four of them at the same time with no problems at all.
That said, their authority was quite something else. They were here as representatives of the mortal realm. In other words, a disposal of one of these agents was hardly any different from issuing a public declaration of war against the mortal realm. With his present abilities, that would be tantamount to a death wish.
“Greetings, sir.” As soon as they arrived at the building, the four men stopped in unison. One of the four bowed deeply. His voice was not loud. Yet, it still echoed throughout the entire building, “We’re investigators from the National Special Investigations Department, Clear Creek County Branch. My registration number is AC-276.”
“AC-265.” “AC-285.” “AC-281.”
“We mean no harm.” The bowing man continued respectfully, “We’ve been tracking this ghost for two whole weeks, ever since it first breached our supernatural perimeter. Since our abilities are too weak to subdue it, we’ve also notified the city district. This ghostly entity is classified as a pseudo-ghast.”
“But, just a little while ago, we noticed the disappearance of all traces of this pseudo-ghast. Any existence that can expunge pseudo-ghasts on their own are guests of honours of all major departments in the entire province. That said…”
He paused for a moment, “We don’t seem to have any records of your registration number.”
“Might I ask if you hail from the Shushan Sect, the Xiangxi Sect, or the Zhengyi Sect? Or do you come from someplace else altogether? With strength like this… if Senior remains unaffiliated to any other organizations, might we be able to interest you in considering the Special Investigations Department?”
“Supernatural perimeter?” Qin Ye queried in a hushed voice.
Arthis pondered for a moment before responding, “It should be some form of protective measure of sorts…”
“Protective measure?” Qin Ye found such an abstruse concept incredibly difficult to understand.
“...Perhaps we can put it differently: it’s like how your little ding-dong is protected by a thin layer of protection in order to sequester billions of sperm from their target. But as soon as there is a breach in this protective layer, it could very well mean jackpot. Understand now?”
“...even though this analogy is rather bizarre...I understand it in mere seconds…”
The torrential rain continued to pour down. Nobody apart from the persons involved was aware of the fact that there was presently a somewhat fascinating conversation going on at the building. AC-276 continued in all seriousness, "It seems, sir, that you are unwilling to consider our proposal? Then… at the very least, is it possible to meet face to face?"
"Senior, as you're probably already aware, the mortal realm is presently experiencing some rapid, massive changes. This could very well be the preamble for something which threatens Cathay’s existence for the very first time. In fact, the scale of what is to come may even threaten the world as we know it. The apocalyptic movies are no longer mere fantasies. No matter how strong one is individually, it would still be difficult to stand against the gales of upheaval alone."
Another man who was dressed in a black suit added, "Sir, with your abilities, you will immediately be appointed an official if you joined the Special Investigations Department. Naturally, it is only if you join us that you will be granted access to our wealth of resources and obtain first responder reports of any supernatural events." As they continued their spiel, they also discreetly repositioned themselves around the entire building.
Qin Ye furrowed his brows whilst he continued to lean against the glass, "Do you have any means to allow me to leave this place without leaving any traces behind?"
Arthis responded calmly, "Take out the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal and hold it in your hands."
Qin Ye let out a sigh. Then, with a flick of his sleeves, the silken brocade opened up, and he quickly wrapped his fingers around the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal. Just then, a massive tremor jolted his mind! The entire world around him began to spin.
Boundless Yin energy…
It was absolutely immeasurable. Qin Ye felt as though he was a mere drop of water that had fallen into the vast ocean. He felt as though he had caught a glimpse of all eighteen levels of Hell. Then, he felt as though he saw the thousands upon thousands of ghosts traversing the Yellow Springs Road as he flew further and further away into the horizon. Finally, a massive golden pillar of light exploded in front of his eyes, and he noticed that he was suddenly standing right at the feet of the statue of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha.
It was as tall as the skies, as vast as the horizons.
Time began eons before the establishment of Hell; the lands stretched far beyond the horizon, while the skies extended up endlessly. Multitudes of constellations blanketed the wild plains, and the winding rivers converged into the boundless oceans.
He was nothing more than an ant in front of all these things.
His heart had practically paused in that epiphanous moment. After what felt like ages, he suddenly shuddered and came back to his senses. He was already covered in cold sweat.
This is the power of Hell’s artifact? And this is the extent of power emanating from a single shard of it?
Qin Ye’s heart continued to palpitate as he stared at the shard, no larger than an inch and a half. Just then, almost as though it detected a new owner, its boundless Yin energy began to flourish, and it completely enveloped him in just an instant. Several seconds later, he transformed into an emaciated-looking man dressed in black and wearing a tall hat.
“You’ve got twenty minutes. Separately, don’t worry about Sledgehammer Wang’s reaction to all of this. He won’t remember anything that happened recently.” Arthis explained.
Qin Ye nodded his head. However, just as he was about to rush out, he suddenly let out a muffled groan as he crouched down, clutching at his head.
Whoooosh… His mind spun like a wild vortex, and a rapidly changing image appeared in his mind - his perspective had just transformed into a god's view!
1. The first 2 names take after concepts belonging to the Vedic astronomy. The first refers to a point opposite an imaginary star presaging disaster; while the latter refers to the intersection of the Moon’s orbit with the ecliptic.