“Sir… please don’t!!” Bai Yishan screamed miserably as soon as the rain of arrows started falling, and he cowered behind the tombstone with dread and despondence in his heart.
But he soon came to realize that the arrows weren’t directed at him at all.
Instead, they were all aimed at Qin Ye.
“How dare you cause trouble at the First Academy of Cultivators. What gall.” Qin Ye chuckled and swung his demonhead saber rapidly, parrying each and every one of the arrows that were pouring down towards him!
The air shone with a radiant light as the arrows were shattered one after the other, just like the dawn of the new moon.
A brilliant blade light burst through the canopy of arrows, shattering them as it shot straight towards Kamo no Tadayuki. Tadayuki recoiled with great surprise. He hadn’t expected the rain of arrows to be completely useless against Qin Ye altogether. Before he could react to the stark change in circumstances, several voices cried out with great urgency from the sides, “Protect the master!”
The tengu soldiers immediately turned around, revealing a shield that they wore on their backs. It was unclear what materials they were made out of, but each of them had a different human expression painted on it. With their great cry of urgency, all of them dashed like madmen towards Tadayuki and surrounded him, stacking up a neat shield formation in just an instant.
And it wasn’t a moment too soon. Qin Ye’s blade light slammed straight into the shield formation in the very next instant. With a loud bang and several miserable cries, the entire shield formation was shattered in an instant!
Several silhouettes flew back like kites with broken strings, revealing a dumbfounded Tadayuki in the midst of it all. Thick wisps of true energy were visibly wrapped around his hands, and yet he simply wasn’t afforded the opportunity to unleash the powerful strike he had prepared. With another loud cry, his body vanished into a cloud of dense white smoke, and cracks appeared on the ground, causing several tombstones to collapse.
“You’re not a mere Soul Hunter!” His infuriated cry reverberated in the surroundings, “Otherwise, there’s no way that the Tengu army would be unable to withstand a single exchange of blows!”
This might… is completely beyond the realms that I’ve seen!
“Ah…” Qin Ye picked at his ear and casually swung his saber once more, “So what about it?”
The blade light sliced through the air with a chilling hum. Tadayuki peeked out from behind another tombstone. With another miserable cry, that tombstone was smashed into smithereens, while that particular image of Tadayuki vanished without a trace.
Eh? Qin Ye blinked as he looked to another tombstone, murmuring to himself, “This is… Kage Bunshin no Jutsu?”
Interesting… He swung his saber again. This time, he was quicker than before. Tadayuki’s eyes widened in horror. He could see that Qin Ye’s attack was now filled with dark, evil energy, almost as though he had unlocked a seal, and was now tapping on the energy of Yin spirits. The blade light was accompanied by a dense aura of Yin energy that was perceptible to the naked eye. Wherever it passed, the tombstones were sliced cleanly in half, almost as though cut by a machine.
How is this possible… how could there be a cultivator like this?
“Damn it!” He gnashed his teeth and made several hand seals in the blink of an eye. But… it wasn’t enough!
There simply wasn’t enough time.
The attack was too quick. Qin Ye had secretly tapped on his strength as a Hellguard. After all, he would never engage in banal negotiations if he could compel with sheer strength. Furthermore, it was only after he utilized his Hellguard abilities that… he truly discovered just how great the difference between Hellguard and Hunter was.
He had once been put to shame before Lin Han. But now…
Come! I want to fight ten of you! 
“Idiot!” Tadayuki cried with great indignation as his physical body vanished in a cloud of white smoke, and he appeared behind another tombstone. Yet before he could even catch his breath, another blade light came flying at him in an instant.
He’e not a Soul Hunter… He’s definitely not a Soul Hunter! Where did this monster come out from?!
Unfortunately, he didn’t have the luxury of time to ponder over these details. He made a series of hand seals, and his body vanished again for the third time.
Qin Ye thoroughly enjoyed himself.
One slash, vanished in a cloud of spoke. Another slash, vanished again in a cloud of smoke.
What was this reminiscent of?
The gopher game!
In fact, this was a gopher game with a Hunter-class gopher. Qin Ye was aware that such opportunities came few and far between. Therefore, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. One slash, a tombstone collapses, and a cloud of smoke arises. Another slash…
Within moments, he was fully immersed in the great gopher experience and indulging himself in the ecstasy of destroying public property.
Boom! Finally, after the umpteenth tombstone was shattered, Tadayuki found his entire being soaked through with sweat, and he gnashed his teeth as he made yet another hand seal again.
This is the Kamo Clan’s shame of a lifetime!
But now was not the time to consider these things. He clasped his hands together. But he was quickly stunned before he could even activate his jutsu.
There’s no more tombstones…
The gopher holes had been completely sealed off… Meanwhile, Qin Ye was also frowning at the sight - Why are there only so few tombstones around?
In that instant, Tadayuki’s chest swelled up bizarrely, and he opened his mouth and quickly blew out what looked like a landscape painting. It started out as an ink painting. Then, as it unraveled, it quickly transformed into a floating world painting, also known as the ukiyo-e, which depicted the vast expanse of the seas below, and thousands of demons dancing in the sky above.
This was clearly Tadayuki’s trump card, and its sudden appearance startled Qin Ye for a split second. By the time he came back to his senses, Tadayuki had already vanished from where he was, and a purple-gold talisman slowly drifted down from the sky.
“Kamo?” Qin Ye waved his hand, and the talisman flew straight into his hand. He furrowed his brows, “Is it that Kamo? That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time…”
The cemetery quietened down. It was only after several seconds that Qin Ye collected his thoughts and glanced at Bai Yishan who was still trembling some distance away.
There were a plethora of complex emotions in Bai Yishan’s eyes right now, including a mix of both ecstasy and fear. In an instant, he scrambled over like a dog and grabbed earnestly at Qin Ye’s trousers, “Mr Qin… thank you… thank--...”
But Qin Ye interrupted him mid-way, grabbed his chin and lifted it forcibly, “Mr Bai, you seem to be hiding quite a number of things from me, aren’t you?”
“Ungh… ungh!” Bai Yishan waved his hands madly, as though he desperately wanted to explain himself. Qin Ye muttered, “I’ll give you thirty minutes. If you don’t explain yourself, I wouldn’t mind tying you up and leaving you here. I believe that… Mori Ranmaru is still lingering around. After all… what exactly have you done with the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl?”
He released his grip, and Bai Yishan collapsed to the ground, gasping for air. The youth who had just been hiding elsewhere immediately scuttled over to help Bai Yishan back to his feet. Qin Ye turned around coldly, “It’s not safe here. Follow me.”
He wasn’t in the slightest bit worried that they would turn tail and run. After all, Bai Yishan would be as good as a snack to Mori Ranmaru as soon as he escaped. Qin Ye sent Lin Han a message to meet in half an hour’s time. Then, he found a secluded spot to have his discussions.
“Speak.” Qin Ye leaned against a tombstone and lifted his chin to Bai Yishan, “I can keep you safe if you tell me the truth. Then, you can return safe and sound to Yan Capital and continue to be the second-in-command of Guardian Auctions.”
Bai Yishan had already made up his mind. Nothing was more important than his life. Thus, he sighed wistfully and shut his eyes, “There’s… a long story behind this…”
“Guardian Auctions actually comprises a number of individuals like myself, namely Operative-class experts who are unable to breach the next bottleneck to become a Soul Hunter. Forgive us for being cowards, but not all of us can face those horrific things with the same level of courage as you… We chose to leave that life behind us. But, we still need a source of livelihood. With true energy, we can easily detect traces of antiquity in ancient artifacts, thereby telling apart the real and the fake. This is how Guardian Auctions first came to be.”
He sat on the railing and pinched his forehead between his brows, almost as though such an explanation drained him of the remainder of his energy. He continued with a hoarse voice, “Since its establishment, more and more cultivators began to sign up and join us at the Guardian Auctions. That was how I first started as well, and I was eventually appointed a Master of the House, second only to the grandmaster. Most of the other employees of Guardian Auctions are cultivators who aren’t even at the Operative-class…”
Qin Ye rapped on the tombstone impatiently, “Get to the point. I don’t have the time or patience to listen to your memoirs.”
“Yes.” Bai Yishan shivered slightly, and he subconsciously leaned closer to Qin Ye with an expression of ostensible fear, “Truth be told… this bowl was whole when it was first excavated…”
Qin Ye was taken aback, “It was whole?”
He recalled how the picture of the bowl he had received from Guardian Auctions showed only the remaining half of the bowl.
“Yes…” Bai Yishan wrapped his hands around himself and shivered uncontrollably, as though succumbing to the chill of the night, “In fact… when we first excavated it, the bowl was held tightly by it.”
He lifted his chin towards the Nipponese corpse standing in the corner, “We discovered this corpse in a coffin… It wasn’t something that we had preserved and nurtured over the years. Rather… it… had looked like this since centuries ago!”
“We didn’t know who it was. When we first excavated the coffin, nobody dared to touch the bowl. Because we all feared that the bowl was a corpse-affixing artifact. Thus, they called me over to seal off its seven apertures, before finally retrieving the bowl. But… as soon as we removed the bowl, i-i-i-it woke up!”
Bai Yishan began to bark with a hoarse voice, “It woke up… it woke up! Do you believe it?! A centuries old Nipponese corpse with its seven apertures all sealed up suddenly sat up abruptly! And it was sizing up each one of us here! It actually managed to open its eyes!”
Bai Yishan ran his fingers through his hair and tugged tightly at it, “I can’t remember it clearly… I only know that I was stricken with fear in that instant. A-at that time… the bowl was in my hands. And in that moment of fright, I… I…”
He shuddered hard and closed his eyes, “Dropped it on the ground and broke it…”
“Ever since that day… those who had participated in the excavation works that day began to die, one by one. I wanted to throw it away… and I did!” His pupils dilated, and even began to quiver uncontrollably, “But… no matter where I threw it, the bowl would somehow find its way back to my desk on the very next day. The cosmic spots on it look just like eyes… each of them staring intently at me, as though taunting me to make my next move! I’ve tried smashing it to smithereens too, but… it was impossible!”
“It… has a life of its own.” Bai Yishan opened his bloodshot eyes and stared straight at Qin Ye, “I don’t know whether you believe me or not… but I can hear its voice calling out to me everyday, screaming… screaming at me incessantly! There are male voices and female voices… and some others which speak in unintelligible Nipponese words. When I looked up its words, I realized it was… ancient poetry.”
“Nobunaga is after me… he’s after this bowl! It’s coming! He’s here!” Bai Yishan leapt to his feet and grabbed Qin Ye intently. But, just one second later, he shuddered all over, and wrapped his arm tightly around Qin Ye’s arm, refusing to let go. He even began to whimper and sob softly.
“Save me…” He looked up with a pleading eye, “Save me, please… I don’t want to die.”
“At first, I was hoping that I would be able to finally dispose of it at the auction. I’ll admit… I was greedy, but I also hoped that I would attract someone with a solution at the auctions! Therefore, I even notified the Nipponese about it. But… as soon as they heard that it was the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl, none dared to come. They even sent messengers to tell me… that I was dead meat. They said that this is the ‘Eye of Damnation’, and anyone who was seen by it would never come back alive…”
“I truly panicked when my usual Nipponese clients turned down this auction. And it was right at that moment that I met you. I knew that… someone here, in the City of Salvation, would definitely have the means to fix this horrible thing!”
“T-this is the very first stronghold of all Cathayan cultivators after all…”