“Still haven’t found it?” Arthis' voice was ostensibly laced with some anxiety now, “You’d better look down.”
Qin Ye took a moment to glance down below, and he furrowed his brows in an instant.
He was flying at a low altitude of about a hundred meters, so he could clearly see that on the dimly lit streets down below, tens of cars were pursuing him and hot on his tail! In fact, as far as his eyes could see, there were several parts of the city that had already lit up conspicuously despite the time of the night.
The county had aroused from its slumber at night.
This was the nation’s might.
Clear Creek County was not large to begin with. Therefore, Qin Ye could almost immediately recognize and identify the places that had lit up.
The county’s security bureau… the police… the military… the neighbourhood committee… Shortly after the lights in these localities lit up, tens of vehicles that were deployed immediately spread out all across the county like an all-engulfing tidal wave!
“Clever. Not only are their reactions quick, they’re even doing a simultaneous check on everyone in the county who isn’t home right this moment. And the first thing that they’re doing is to head straight for the funerary street and the phantom market. Kid… you might not be able to muddle your way through the predicament this time.” Arthis was almost delighting in Qin Ye’s misery.
Qin Ye’s eyebrows were knit tightly together. They’re too quick... their reaction speed is extraordinary. Furthermore… I’d subconsciously run away from the funerary street. There’s no way I can possibly return in time!
Calm down… calm down…
He took several deep breaths. If his identity was going to be discovered anyway, then he should at least make the best of it and secure a lead right now. At worst, he could always just walk away from all this mess later on.
“Sir.” Just then, a loud voice suddenly resounded in his ears, “Please hold on.”
Before the owner of the voice could finish speaking, a strand of black thread suddenly shot up from an off-road vehicle down below, attempting to grab him around his ankle.
“It’s a true Operative-class expert.” Arthis grew somber, “Not too shabby at all. They’ve been hiding their true strength all this while. Even though Zhang Fengzi was ostensibly the director of this series of events, it was all a farce to conceal the truly powerful shadow directors who have been in hiding all this while.”
Someone at the same level as me… Qin Ye was truly getting anxious now. He swept his saber and cut at the black thread that was quickly approaching. The clash between saber and thread actually made a resounding clanging noise! Yet, despite that, Qin Ye didn’t even turn back to take a closer look at the situation. His left hand was still madly scrolling through the documents folder of Zhang Fengzi’s phone.
March 27. Registered underworldly craftsman Huang Shenghao accepted an assignment for linkers from the Nanfeng Province. Reward - RMB 300,000. Duration - one month. Status - concluded on April 27. The employer was Liu Yun, a steel tycoon in Nanfeng Province.
April 5. Registered underworldly craftsman Wang Yitian accepted a soul summoning assignment from the Xinping Province. Reward - RMB 500,000. Duration - 7 days. Status - concluded on April 12. The employer was Zhu Yang, a fruit magnate of the Xinping Province.
April 30. Registered underworldly craftsman Su Mu undertook an assignment from the Westriver Province to act as a coroner. Reward - RMB 250,000. Duration - 7 days. Status - concluded on June 6…
No… no, it’s all not it!
“Sir, we mean no ill will. Hell’s objectives are squarely in line with ours as well. We just want to discuss some business with you. Is that alright?”
“We already know that an Emissary of Hell who lives on the mortal realm would necessarily need to borrow the body of a living person. We’ve already commenced a county-wide search. Your identity will be revealed shortly. Your cooperation will lead to a win-win situation. We truly mean no ill will.”
Qin Ye hands continued to tap rapidly on the screen. Suddenly, his eyes lit up.
“May 7. Registered underworldly craftsman Zhou Chao undertook a pallbearer assignment from the Eastsea Province. Duration - unknown. Status - in progress. Details of the employer are unknown.”
Qin Ye breathed out a huge sigh of relief. With a fiery blaze in the depths of his eyes, he tossed the phone in his hand towards the ground and dove like an eagle in the opposite direction.
He couldn’t be seen with the naked eye when he was wearing his Hell’s Emissary uniform. However, it was quite something else when he was in the state powered by the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal. In that state, he would be granted the ability to fly for a short period of time. Unfortunately, the downside is that there would be no means of concealing his appearances at all.
If I want to leave this place discreetly… it’s impossible to do so in the seal empowered state.
“What do you plan to do?” Arthis' voice was filled with boundless allure at this moment, “Perhaps… I could offer you an interesting suggestion.”
“For instance… remove the seal on the soul sphere. As long as you let me out, I can guarantee you that the entire Westriver Province will be under our reign, much less the Clear Creek County.”
“I knew it…” Qin Ye landed softly on the roof of a building and rolled to break his fall. However, he chose not to fly up again. Instead, he promptly dispersed the Yin energy from the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal, before dashing out onto the streets below under the concealment of his Hell’s Emissary uniform.
“I just knew that you haven’t given up on the hope of escaping the soul sphere.”
“Why bother with all that suspicion? We’re bound by the heavenly oath that we’ve taken. You know full well that I won’t be able to do anything to you.”
Qin Ye chuckled coldly, ‘I don’t trust you.”
The cars paused for a moment where Qin Ye had tossed the cell phone to. Yet, it only took them some moments before they started to move out once more. At the same time, more than a dozen trucks had just arrived at their destinations and deployed hundreds of soldiers to lock down the perimeter of an area within a one kilometer radius of Qin Ye’s last known location.
Arthis kept silent for several seconds before quietly adding, “Are you sure you’re fully prepared for the showdown against the mortal realm?”
“Don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Without my abilities, you’re practically like a single bulb of light shining brightly at night. You’re far too conspicuous.”
Qin Ye remained taciturn. He no longer had the time nor capacity for banal chatter. After all, he could see that their foes had finally, fully revealed themselves some five hundred meters away - they were finally going on the offensive.
It was an ancient Buddha statue.
It looked very old, and it was covered in black stains and even innumerable micro cracks. The statue was also covered with plenty of charms and talismans.
Yet alarms immediately began to blare in Qin Ye’s mind as soon as he noticed it in the distance!
“Incarnation of the City God.” Arthis spoke without any hesitation, “No netherworldly being can conceal their bodies near the City God. This sculpture is already stained and cracked beyond belief, and it has probably lost its ability to distinguish between sources of Yin energy. That said, the fact still remains that no netherworldly being can escape its eyes.”
Whoosh… Before she could finish speaking, a tall and thin figure covered in black robes stepped out from the off-road vehicle. The man quickly formed a series of seals with his hands, while his robes began to flutter on its own. Within moments, the talismans and charms on the City God’s sculpture began to flutter wildly!
“Kid, I’d never break my promise! As long as you unseal this soul sphere, the entire Westriver Province will belong to you!”
Yet Qin Ye simply continued to dash forward, almost as though he didn’t hear a single word she spoke. Arthis drew a deep breath, “Don’t you understand? Your identity is going to be exposed tonight no matter what. Without the backing of my full abilities, you’re going to end up like nothing more than a lab rat to them…”
“Is that so?” Qin Ye finally paused in his steps as he panted, “Do you recall why I was so certain that Zhang Fengzi was the host of the phantom market?”
Suppressing the vexing fire blazing in the depths of her heart, Arthis responded calmly, “Of course. Like I said before, they’d mistakenly identified the hospital that Wang Chenghao is located at as a place with thick Yin energy, and they thought that the ghost haunting his family hasn’t completely been expunged yet. Thus, they were thinking of summoning its soul to determine the person who had purged it…”
She suddenly paused before she could finish speaking.
The Clear Creek County People’s Hospital was in plain sight right in front of them!
Qin Ye gasped for breath as he spoke, “You’d earlier mentioned that the City God’s sculpture is so broken that it wouldn’t be able to distinguish between sources of Yin energy. So...what if I hide among the thick Yin energy of others?”
“For instance… the Yin energy belonging to That Amorous Affair, who once held onto the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal that I currently possess? Her lingering Yin energy should be far thicker than what I possess on my own....”
Arthis grew taciturn for several seconds.
Whilst Arthis remained silent, Qin Ye dashed right through the front door of the hospital and made a beeline straight for where Wang Chenghao’s ward was located.
Meanwhile, just as Qin Ye was making his way to Wang Chenghao’s ward, the talismans and charms on the City God’s sculpture finally peeled themselves off the body. Then, in the very next second, the sculpture of the City God… K-k-k-k-k-k-k… It slowly began to open its eyes!
Fwoosh… A noiseless wave of energy only visible to cultivators rippled through the darkness. It was like a tidal wave that slowly swept across the entire county. The City God sculpture stood at the epicenter of this magnificent spectacle.
“Brilliant.” At the exact same moment, Qin Ye leapt through the window into Wang Chenghao’s ward while still under the concealment of his Hell’s Emissary uniform. Arthis exclaimed softly, “Even a coward has moments of brilliance…”
Wang Chenghao was just watching the TV in his room when all of this had happened. He was completely aghast when his window first opened suddenly and the curtains began to dance on their own for no ostensible reason. Then, he heard a voice whisper something in his ear.
He was first astonished, then calm, and then he finally lowered his head silently.
Invisible to the eyes of mere mortals, the noiseless waves of energy from the City God sculpture continued to ripple throughout the entire county. The frequency increased, and the waves moved faster and faster, and further and further. Within ten minutes, a strange hum echoed out, and the entire Clear Creek County was covered in these noiseless waves!
The county was now on full alert!
Meanwhile, in one of the military bases in Lotus City, a soldier on night shift was currently looking at his phone when a bell suddenly tolled in the room.
Dong… It sounded distant, yet resoundingly clear.
He was presently in a strange-looking room. Everything in the room appeared ancient and dated. There was one table, and one man. And in the midst of the room sat a ten-meter tall instrument that looked somewhat similar to a seismograph.
It was cast in bronze, was shaped like an ancient wine vessel with a raised lid, and it had tortoises, birds and animals etched on its surface. On the outside were eight sculpted dragons holding copper-sculpted pills in their mouths. The base of the instrument was decorated with toads with mouths gaping wide open.
The tolling sound came directly from this instrument.
The soldier was stunned for a couple of seconds. He immediately put down his cell phone and typed rapidly on the computer in front of him. Moments later, he drew a deep breath, “Clear Creek County in Rivergorge City is now on full alert?”
“How is this possible… This is the first time that the supernatural police forces have activated a county-wide full alert. What the hell is going on?”
After being dazed for a few more seconds, he stood up abruptly and walked outside.
Meanwhile in the Rivergorge City police headquarters. A man with a chiseled face and thick eyebrows finally caved to his frustrations and picked up the phone on his bedside table that was ringing incessantly, “Hello?!”
His wife who was laying beside him woke up as well, only to receive from the middle-aged man a warm caress as he continued to gently stroke her hair. She asked, “Old Lin, what’s going on?”
The man indicated with his eyes - Nothing to worry about. Then, he turned his attention back to his phone, “Mm… I’ve got it… What? The entire Rivergorge City has been activated for mobilization? Alright… I’ll head towards the Special Investigations Department immediately…”
He grabbed his clothes and promptly left the comfort of his warm blankets.
Clear Creek County.
Not far from the county hospital an SUV appeared to be charging about wildly, as though rushing for time. A figure in long black robes and Zhang Fengzi were both staring transfixed at the screen in their hands. Their eyes were completely glued to the screen.
Several black blips kept appearing on the screen from time to time. Yet, the more they looked at it, the more tightly knit their brows became.
The largest black dot incidentally indicated a location that was closest to theirs right now. It was also where Wang Chenghao was located. Yet the other black dots were simply not representative of their target’s abilities. Zhang Fengzi stared at the screen in disbelief, before uttering in dismay, “Has he left?”
“This… how is this possible…”
However, in the blink of an eye, almost as though he suddenly recalled something important, Zhang Fengzi barked at the driver, “Head towards the county hospital! Hurry!”
“Zhang Fengzi…” Before Zhang Fengzi could finish speaking, a voice echoed from the backseat, “Are you suggesting that he’s hiding under the radar?”
“There’s that possibility…”
“I don’t think so. This appears to me more a display of your inability to reconcile with your performance tonight. We’re talking about a genuine Emissary of Hell here… Records of these encounters are few and far between, even amongst our masters’ annals and records. Tell me… why do you think he left?”
Zhang Fengzi shook his head.
“Have you considered the possibility that he’s not an Emissary of Hell?” The voice suggested, “You’ve let your emotions cloud your decisions… So what if he’s escaped? There’s nothing to be anxious about. Besides, the fact that he’s wearing a Hell’s Emissary uniform doesn’t necessarily mean that he must be an Emissary of Hell. Your resentment for your failure has led us on a wild goose’s chase. It’s been an imprudent use of resources.”
Zhang Fengzi shut his eyes and sighed long and hard. Several seconds later, he gritted his teeth and continued, “Yes...I’m feeling sore about the entire incident.”
“But I’m not going to give up until I’ve checked every unturned stone!”
Clear Creek County People’s Hospital.
Wang Chenghao was munching on a bag of chips when the door was suddenly opened.
“You…” He was just about to speak when Zhang Fengzi immediately interjected. Zhang Fengzi stared at the person at the foot of Wang Chenghao’s bed in astonishment, “You… what are you doing here?!”
1. The City God is one of the important deities commonly worshipped in the Chinese religion and culture. It’s also one of the Taoist gods who is believed to guard cities and towns. According to its lore, the City God is also a magistrate in the underworld, with powers equivalent to those of a magistrate in the mortal realm.