“Mr Qin, please.” The verification process didn’t take long. Minutes later, the suited man at the entrance made a gesture of invitation, and Qin Ye boarded the cruise liner safely.
“Welcome aboard, Mr Qin.” Bai Yishan was dressed in a suit and standing at the front of a corridor right behind the entrance to the cruise. As soon as he saw Qin Ye boarding the ship, he immediately walked over with a smile on his face.
Qin Ye smiled faintly and shook hands with him. The cruise liner was quite luxurious. The corridor they were on was wide, as far as cruise liners were concerned. In fact, if Qin Ye didn’t know any better, he wouldn’t have expected this to be a corridor on board a ship altogether. The walls of the corridor were decorated with portraits of the previous owners of Guardian Auctions, while the sides of the corridor were furnished with exquisitely-trimmed bonsai plants. An marvelous antique screen carved out of wood stood at the end of the corridor.
“It’s good to be rich.” Qin Ye lamented, triggering an immediate soft chuckle from Bai Yishan, “Guardian Auctions is nothing compared to Master Qin, who casually sold off a stock of Southsea Huanghuali worth billions to vie for the possession of the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl.”
Qin Ye didn’t take Bai Yishan’s comment to heart. Escorted by Bai Yishan, he walked slowly along the corridor, admiring the decor and taking in the luxurious sights. However, he slowly furrowed his brows.
He was already certain that they were on board. When he unleashed his Yin energy earlier, he could detect that there were at least a dozen sources of true energy that responded to him instinctively. Furthermore, he could tell that two sources of true energy came from Hellguard-class experts. The rest were Soul Hunters.
In other words, there were hidden experts lying in wait at every corner of the cruise liner. These tycoons naturally had their sources and knew of the situation that plagued Cathay right now. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect the tycoons to have with them a Hunter-class expert or two. In other words… this means that one of the two Hellguard-class true energy that responded to my call earlier must have emanated from an Onmyoji!
But his energy signature was fleeting.
The two sources of energy subsided as quickly as it had responded, almost as though their owners knew what Qin Ye was attempting to do, and had thus immediately suppressed their energy. Bai Yishan escorted him all the way to the screen, flattering him incessantly as they walked along. Then, Qin Ye suddenly interjected with a soft voice, “Are we expected to arrive at the Strait of Tsushima tomorrow noon?”
Bai Yishan was taken aback by the sudden interjection, but he immediately glanced around before responding softly, “That’s right.”
“I’d like a copy of the manifesto containing everyone’s particulars - not just the owners of the black card VIP accounts, but including those that form part of the entourage of these account holders.” Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed as he peeked around the screen.
He had turned the corner and gone around the screen, only to discover a huge hall on the other side that was approximately a hundred meters long. Handsome men and women in suits and evening gowns were waltzing elegantly to one of Chopin’s beautiful mazurkas played by a foreign pianist on the stage.
The carpet on the ground was so soft and plush that it felt no different than walking on clouds. A huge crystal chandelier hung overhead, while the walls were lined with intricate faux masterpieces. Elaborately carved sculptures from various countries adorned the corners of the hall, while exquisite chairs and tables were placed right below the stage. Several tycoons were seated sparsely at these tables, whispering and discussing matters in confidence with each other with a smile on their faces. Everyone had at least two suited bodyguards standing right behind them.
It was as lavish as a royal banquet.
“Sir?” Bai Yishan gasped, “You’re asking…”
“Do as I say if you don’t want to die.” Qin Ye cast him a frigid glance and didn’t say anymore. Bai Yishan gnashed his teeth in silence for some time, before reluctantly pulling out his phone and tapping furiously on it.
“Mr Qin… I’ve already sent the manifesto to your phone…” He bit down on his lower lips as he continued apprehensively, “Mr Qin, what I’m disclosing to you is strictly confidential information. You can say that this is to return the favour of saving my life. Please don’t leak this to others.”
Qin Ye nodded, and Bai Yishan promptly took his leave without another word.
Qin Ye had no intention of breaking into the circles of the affluent in the first place. Without further ado, he pulled out his phone and looked at what Bai Yishan had just sent to him.
It was a word document. He scanned through its details, and then quickly furrowed his brows once again.
They were all locals, and not a single person’s identity was in question. However, Qin Ye could have sworn that he had earlier detected the instinctive responses from two Hellguard-class experts. The Onmyojis aren’t daft, so they must be on board!
But who is it?
Where are they?
He turned around calmly and began to scan the banquet hall that was now approximately twenty meters behind him. The resting cabins were right ahead of him, and he could still hear the faint mazurka playing in the background.
After some deliberation, he made his way back into the banquet hall.
“They’re intentionally concealing their identities…” Ming Shiyin was presently strapped to Qin Ye’s chest. It whispered into Qin Ye’s ears, “You’re thinking of… locating them before Guardian Auctions’ final verification of the goods to be auctioned. If you can secure the cooperation of the Onmyojis before the final verification of goods, then there would be a substantial possibility of securing the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl without even having to draw close to the sea of death.”
Even Ming Shiyin knew just how terrifying a killing floor the Strait of Tsushima was going to be.
Qin Ye didn’t deny it. His gaze remained completely calm as he whispered back, “Although the odds of success are low, it’s still worth a shot.”
“Both Oda Nobunaga and Izanami have the backing of their factions and armies. On the other hand, I’ve only got you. As the weakest party around, it is important to be aware of where I stand, and not pass up on any opportunities that would strengthen my position altogether.”
The banquet hall was naturally the best place to keep an ear out for the whereabouts of others.
It was a chamber of secrets.
No matter how much the Onmyojis sought to conceal their presence, they had to be on board the ship. And if they had boarded the ship, they would naturally have had to gain access through one of the tycoons.
It was worth spending some time and effort pursuing this lead he had.
Ming Shiyin lamented, “If you could just maintain this persona of yours and shed that daft, idiotic personality that you always don, you might just be a pretty good King Yanluo.”
“I’d like to think of it as having the flexibility of different perspectives, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He backtracked those twenty meters, found a chair in the corner and took a seat. As soon as he sat down, a waiter brought over a selection of cocktails, and Qin Ye took his pick. Then, he held it in his hands leisurely as he scanned everyone with an eagle eye.
There weren’t many people in the hall right now. The seats were sparsely occupied by the few rich tycoons who were mainstays on the list of wealthiest people in Cathay. In fact, there were more bodyguards standing about the room, protecting their masters. Qin Ye was seated in the southwest corner of the room. There was a screen to his right, and there happened to be another person sitting just left of him. Qin Ye recognized him immediately.
Qin Ye had seen him on television and in the newspapers. This man was also one of the mainstays on the list of wealthiest people in Cathay.
The man was slightly chubby, with a full head of thick, black hair, save for some strands of white hair growing out near his sideburns. He looked kind and amiable. If this man hadn’t announced his family history, nobody would have realized that the kind old man was already close to seventy years-old. This man was none other than Long Congyun, chairman of Cathay’s restaurant conglomerate, the Cosmos Group.
Their establishments ranged from fast food to fine dining restaurants which included all types of cuisines, including Cathayan, vegetarian, western, southeastern, Europan, Usonian, and so on. In fact, they established such a name for themselves that every single establishment that they endorsed and developed would most certainly be catapulted to fame and become one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in their city.
This is the power of influence and authority. Qin Ye sighed in his heart as he took a sip from his cocktail - It’s no wonder why people fight so hard to break into these circles of influence. Having a friend like this would undoubtedly be a bragging right for life.
Unfortunately, I don’t think any one of these people here are interested in wasting their time on such petty friendship politics.
“Hello.” A robust voice called out from Qin Ye’s side just as he sighed. Qin Ye looked up, only to lock eyes with Long Congyun. Long Congyun raised his wine cup to Qin Ye, “Friend, I haven’t seen you around these parts before. I’m the chairman of the Cosmos Group, Long Congyun. May I know how I might address you?”
This was a rare gathering of tycoons. The auctions were the catalyst for their attendance and naturally their primary objectives, but connections were naturally second on the agenda!
The people gathered on the ship were some of the most highly regarded economic powerhouses in Cathay. Wouldn’t it be a great waste if they passed up the opportunity to forge stronger connections and failed to make the best of their time here?
Not a single person around was of a simple background.
“Qin Ye.” Qin Ye smiled and clinked glasses with the amiable old man. Long Congyun raised his eyebrow slightly and was about to continue speaking when the bodyguard behind him suddenly trembled all over. Then, he cast Qin Ye a wary look, hurriedly walked to Long Congyun’s side and whispered into his ear before he could even say a word. The bodyguard stared at Qin Ye with great incredulity and respect as he whispered two words to Long Congyun.
Qin Ye understood everything with a single glance, and he continued to sip at his cocktail placidly. On the other hand, the look of slight bewilderment in Long Congyun’s eyes soon turned into abject astonishment.
“Mr Qin.” Several seconds later, the bodyguard straightened his back once more, while the expression on Long Congyun’s face had already turned into one that was bright as spring as he took the initiative to clink glasses with Qin Ye once more. As the crisp tinkle resounded, Long Congyun smiled deeply at Qin Ye, “What an outstanding and promising young man… I’m certain our paths will cross many more times in future, and I sincerely hope Mr Qin would remember me when the time comes.”
They were living in the time of great supernatural upheaval. Even though Qin Ye wasn’t aware of the exact extent of these circumstances ravaging the rest of Cathay, Long Congyun was. In fact, he was also keenly aware of how rare and precious the appearance of a Hellguard-class expert was, even to an esteemed person like himself.
Qin Ye was currently trapped within the City of Salvation, and news of the outside world was substantially curtailed to them. Otherwise, he would have learnt that… even an Operative-class expert was considered an incredibly coveted asset to the rest of Cathay!
“I’m listening.” Qin Ye smiled as he twirled the golden card that Long Congyun had pushed over. Long Congyun’s eyes gleamed brightly, “This card contains no limits on its credits, and it can be used at any establishment owned by or affiliated to the Cosmos Group, including our assortment of hotels, resorts and restaurants. You can consider this a small token of my appreciation. When Mr Qin is free, do consider visiting us at the Swainriver City. I’ll personally take you around and buy you a few meals and drinks.”
Long Congyun was paving the way for the future. Incidentally, Qin Ye was thinking of the same. After all, he would have to think about where to go after his two years’ teaching stint.
He tapped the golden card on his chin pensively, before abruptly asking, “What’s the matter? Are things looking bad in Swainriver?”
Long Congyun’s expression turned grim, “It’s bad. In fact, things are incredibly grim.”
“We’re already seriously considering relocating our headquarters to Yan Capital. If not for the fact that the authorities have issued a directive stating that conglomerates of our magnitude aren’t allowed to shift, we would have moved a long time ago.” He sighed forlornly as he gulped his wine with great vexation, “Every night, we would hear the incessant public broadcasts of the blasted supernatural alerts. Then, the special agents of the Special Investigations Department would patrol the streets starting from seven in the evening. The entire city would become a ghost town at night. The city has lost its vibrancy and vitality, and become extremely…”
He deliberated over the choice of words, while Qin Ye suggested, “Stifling?”
“Mr Qin knows best.” Long Congyun smiled bitterly as he flicked his wine cup and looked up at the ceiling, “Why is this even happening…”
Qin Ye stowed away the golden card and smiled radiantly, “Then, I guess I’ll have to impose on Chairman Long when I visit Swainriver in future.”
Qin Ye’s statement immediately dispelled some of the despondence that had enshrouded Long Congyun’s heart, and he immediately chuckled, “I can’t ask for anything more.”
Their conversations flowed much more smoothly as soon as their introductions were done and dusted. Long Congyun pulled out a cut cigar, but chose not to light it. Instead, he simply twirled it in his fingers as he murmured, “Speaking of which, it seems like Cathay is the only one experiencing such supernatural upheaval.”
“Oh?” Qin Ye silently sized up the rest who were in the hall - Where can they possibly be? He looked here and there, and yet he couldn’t locate the traces of an expert beyond the level of a Soul Hunter - Is he not here? Or is he simply hiding himself too well?
Long Congyun didn’t notice Qin Ye’s slightly distracted gaze as he smiled, “Nippon appears to be fine as well. I saw Mr Iwasaki Kyouya earlier, and he’d only brought one bodyguard along with him.”
Qin Ye was momentarily taken aback. And then, he looked Long Congyun straight in the eyes with a burning gaze, “Iwasaki Kyouya?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter