Chapter 28: Into Enemy Lines

“I’m ninety percent certain!” Qin Ye snapped his fingers, “First of all, how strong do you estimate Cathay to be in supernatural warfare?”

“Not too strong.” Arthis responded affirmatively, “This has been the case since time immemorial. And it’s especially true now that few people believe in such matters anymore. Cathay’s strength should have weakened in that regard.”

“That’s right. Secondly, a person of his abilities should hold a reasonably decent rank among the Special Investigations Department. Given that they are short-staffed, what’s the best way to deal with all of the supernatural incidents occurring within Clear Creek County all at once?”

“From what I understand of the human psyche, they would be swift and decisive, and not muddy the waters. Therefore, their decision should be to send a person with enough strength to resolve the problem once and for all. Incidentally, the phantom market is about to open. What better choice was there than to hand out the assignment to the host of the phantom market?”

“Therefore, he must be the host of the phantom market!”

Arthis nodded her head in agreement, “So… what do you plan to do?”

“As much as I’m reticent to engage in a head-on confrontation with the military forces, but…” Qin Ye motioned to leave the scene, “Since this concerns the identity of the mastermind, I’m really left with no choice but to clash directly with these practitioners from reputable, mainstream sects…”

………………………………………………

Night-time.

The obscured moon casted a gloomy shadow across the dark, wind-swept lands. The sun and the moon were rare sights in the Westriver locality.

Room 302 of Clear Creek County’s most luxurious hotel, the Jin Xin Hotel. Right in the middle of its modern decor, a middle-aged Taoist priest with a foot-long beard sat cross-legged in meditation. With each breath he inhaled and exhaled, the surrounding air would fluctuate slightly. Then, at exactly midnight, he breathed out heavily, expelling two wisps of faint, white smoke from his nostrils.

“Haa…” He sighed in relief as he opened his eyes. After putting on his shoes, he made his way to the table in his room.

A map of Clear Creek County was laid out on it. He began to examine it closely.

He had just received a report of a D-class supernatural incident this morning. The supernatural entity had even slipped right through the supernatural perimeter undetected, entering the Westriver Province by night. Its destination was Clear Creek County.

The hospital that Wang Chenghao was residing in was considered a red zone. In other words, this was one of the locations that they were monitoring and guarding the most closely. The other zone that they were keeping a close eye on was the Ethnic Minority Street, an orange zone where the upcoming phantom market was to be located. Most of the other places were yellow or green zones.

Qin Ye wasn’t wrong. The Taoist priest was indeed none other than the host of the phantom market. Furthermore, he was also a captain of the Rivergorge City Branch of the Special Investigation Department.

“Ungh…” Several minutes later, he massaged his head, attempting to alleviate the onset of his headache.

His heart would grow vexed and frustrated every time he saw a map of the country. The number of yellow zones were only growing. A full-blown outbreak of a supernatural upheaval… was no more than a decade away.

The government was already desperately attempting to gather all forms of talent and experts related to the netherworld. They didn’t even pass up on those with the most basic of requirements, the infernal eyes. That said, their efforts were still hardly sufficient.

The present situation presented itself almost like the foreboding waves that prefaced an incredible tsunami. Wave after wave, it continued incessantly. And when it finally reached the tipping point…

He didn’t dare to contemplate what was to come.

As he folded up the map, he paused for a moment before remarking, “Fellow Taoist, since you’ve already come, why not show yourself?”

No response.

The Taoist turned around. There was already a solemn look on his face. His hands grabbed tightly onto his buddhist whisk. Then, as he pulled it apart, a short peachwood sword revealed itself.

Shiing… With the flick of his wrist, the peachwood sword flew up on its own and began dancing about his side like a butterfly.

“This Taoist is the Head Priest of the Clear Jade Monastery, Zhang Fengzi. I wonder which fellow Taoist calls upon me for a spar?”

Yet, before he could even finish speaking, a silvery gleam appeared out of nowhere. Zhang Fengzi cried out, and his peachwood sword flickered quickly, leaving seven or eight afterimages in its wake. Everything in front of his eyes became a blur in the very next moment.

Clatter clatter… Innumerable chains instantly shot out of nowhere. The peachwood sword clashed against it, and a shower of golden sparks blossomed.

Clink clink clink! The chains appeared almost as though they could see. They bolted themselves straight into the heart of the room, rapidly reducing the space within until a prison of chains was quickly formed. Zhang Fengzi’s eyes burned with passion as he desperately searched for the most open spot remaining.

My opponent is clearly dividing up the battlefield, but… he possesses a corporeal body as well! The location with the fewest chains is exactly where I will find him!

“Over there!” As he moved, his eyes gleamed brightly. The peachwood sword spontaneously burst into flames and transformed into a bolt of fire that shot straight towards the door.

However, in the next moment, a radiant gleam of light exploded from behind him, cleaving straight towards his unprotected back!

“Damn!” In his astonishment, a jade pendant slipped from his hand. He reached out for it and grabbed hold of it once more. Unfortunately, in the very next moment, he felt an icy cold sensation press against his neck.

Whoosh… The chaotic gale ceased instantly.

Everything had stopped just as abruptly as they had started.

The dust settled in a flash. A figure dressed in flowing black robes and wearing a conical bamboo hat suddenly appeared behind Zhang Fengzi. He was still holding onto the blade that was pinned against Zhang Fengzi’s neck.

“Who are you?” Zhang Fengzi gnashed his teeth as he asked, “You’re no spirit… a spirit has no means of touching a physical object unless he’s a 100-year ghost… And if you’re already at that kind of level, there’s no reason for you to make a move against me at all… Wait a minute…”

Their earlier battle had taken place far too abruptly and quickly, and he had only just managed to take a closer look at the chains around him. Yet as soon as he did, his entire body shuddered terribly, “Yidu’s sunken gold?!”

“Is this really sunken gold from Yidu?! You… you’re an Emissary of Hell?! Wait… Emissaries of Hell are still in existence these days?!”

“Shut up.” Qin Ye deliberately lowered his voice and pressed the blade deeper into Zhang Fengzi’s neck, causing a red mark to appear instantly, “Tell me, are you the host of the phantom market?”

“Yes…” The frigid sensation at his neck caused the ecstasy in Zhang Fengzi’s heart to diminish substantially. He responded truthfully.

Nevertheless, his heart was still rippling with emotions. This is most certainly an Emissary of Hell… I’d seen it from my master’s hidden manuscripts - Yidu’s sunken gold cannot be used by anyone apart from genuine Emissaries of Hell! Incidentally, sunken gold is also a natural form of restraint against ghosts!

The situation in Cathay is already escalating out of control. But if Hell intervenes… there’s truly nothing more we can ask for right now!

However, now was obviously not the time to discuss such prospects.

“Bring out the records of all past assignments undertaken by the phantom market over the last six months.”

Zhang Fengzi pointed at the cell phone on his bedside table and responded in a hoarse voice, “The password is 642321… Esteemed Emissary of Hell, you need only ask if you need any assistance from me. The only question I’d like to ask is… what happened to Hell? Why aren’t we receiving any response whenever we attempt to reach out to Hell?”

Qin Ye hesitated for a moment before explaining in a deep voice, “There’s a great upheaval in Hell. The mortal realm should pray for its own blessings.”

“What…”

Before he could finish his sentence, Zhang Fengzi felt a sharp pain on his neck and promptly fainted.

“What incredibly tough bones he has!” Qin Ye swore under his breath as he shook off the pain in his palm. Then, he lit a stick of Incense of Paramnesia, took Zhang Fengzi’s phone and left.

He knew full well that he couldn’t afford to stay long. He was presently moving about right under the radar. Most of their forces had been deployed to the hospital or to where the phantom market was to be held. That said… there were still other means of security surveillance.

Qin Ye opened the window and silently slipped back out into the dark of the night.

Just thirty seconds after Qin Ye’s departure, the main door of the room was suddenly slammed wide open, and three men dressed in black suits charged in with their guns!

“Sir!” Seeing Zhang Fengzi lying on the ground, they immediately rushed over to help him up. Yet as soon as they extended their arms to support him, they found themselves caught by his hands instead.

“Ex--…” With bloodshot eyes and disheveled hair, Zhang Fengzi barked, “Extinguish the Incense of Paramnesia right now… and contact the Lotus City branch!! Hurry!”

“Sir…”

“Just do as you’re told!!” As Zhang Fengzi clambered to his feet, the bones on his neck cracked resoundingly, and the expressions on his face contorted slightly, “Inform Lotus City… that a genuine Emissary of Hell has appeared in Clear Creek County! We must find him no matter the cost!!”

“Sir, are you alright?”

“I’m fine… I’ve been practising a bone condensing technique ever since I was young, and I would never faint from that simple strike.” He heaved a sigh of relief before issuing his next command, “Contact the armed forces immediately! Geolocate my phone! Pronto!!”

“Yes, sir!”

“And… I want a sweep of the entire populace in Clear Creek County! Find out who wasn’t at home at this time of the night! Keep an eye on those who weren’t home, regardless of who it was, and await orders from above thereafter!”

“Yes… Sir, wouldn’t this be…”

Zhang Fengzi’s voice was unusually firm and resolute, “Listen here… you don’t know just how crucial a genuine Emissary of Hell is in light of the current situation! Even if we trade an entire city - even an entire province for him - it would still be worth it!”

Qin Ye had only departed moments ago. Yet within three minutes’ time, the entire Jin Xin Hotel was already brightly lit.

“Fuck!” He cursed under his breath. What a rapid response!

It’s completely different from what I see on TV and movies… don’t all those cops always only arrive after the fight is over…

At the same time, he could see several SUVs headed straight towards his location right now.

“Geolocation…” He sincerely hated the advent of technology right now. The authorities were clearly homing in on his location. It was evident that they were tracking the cell phone!

“Arti, I need twenty minutes… Would I be able to outrun the police vehicles?”

“That’s not possible. Your body cannot possibly withstand the Yin energy from the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal. That said, there is yet another way. You can manifest the abilities to fly temporarily and escape from the rooftops. Then, as you go, find out exactly who took on the assignment from the Eastsea!”

Whoosh…  Before she finished speaking, Yin energy had already begun surging from his surroundings towards the bottom of his feet. His robe began fluttering. Then, in the very next moment, he began to fly up into the sky just like a kite.

Qin Ye was currently caught between a rock and a hard place.

Firstly, he had to learn of the true identity of the mastermind acting behind the scenes. Western Cathay was already littered with pots of breeding fodder planted by the mastermind. The shard of King Yanluo’s seal acted as a form of passport. As long as Qin Ye continued looking for shard after shard of King Yanluo’s seal, he was bound to be discovered by the old ghost. At that time, if he still didn’t have any means of dealing with the old ghost, then it would be no different from courting death.

Secondly, there was simply no way he could pin his hopes on survival on anybody else. That’s right. Qin Ye was afraid of death. Very afraid of death. So the only thing he could do was to give it his all in an attempt to remain alive.

This was a simple wish of his, yet also one filled with gravitas. Naturally, there was no way he would entrust any other person with his innermost desires, much less trust the Special Investigations Department to disclose the mastermind’s identity as soon as they discovered it. In fact, there was even a reasonable likelihood that the Special Investigations Department was unaware that all of this was going on right under their noses. Taking a step back, even if the Special investigations Department did discover the mastermind’s identity and revealed the same internally, there was no way Qin Ye would be able to join the ranks of the Special Investigations Department in any event.

It was an issue with his identity itself.

There was no way he could fool anyone with the Yin energy around his body… A massive supernatural upheaval was on the horizon, and Qin Ye was hardly optimistic that Cathay would be able to quickly take control of the situation. As soon as they lost control, someone would most certainly recall that they had an Emissary of Hell amongst their ranks and start speculating - How is he different from others? Can we replicate his abilities in others? If we can learn how to reproduce his abilities in others by dissecting him, wouldn’t we be able to control this chaotic situation immediately? …

Don’t go about testing the human heart; doing so was never wise.

Just like that, Qin Ye flew about aimlessly and haphazardly, albeit subconsciously avoiding the vicinity of the funerary street. At the same time, he keyed in the password and swiftly unlocked the cell phone. He located the documents folder in no time..

Faster… His heart was incredibly anxious. He skimmed through the contents of the documents folder as quickly as he could. One minute... two minutes... five minutes... ten minutes!

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