Qin Ye is a rational person. All measure of irrationality in his heart had already been whittled away to nothingness by his long, arduous interactions with society.
Thus, he knew what he was good at, and where his limitations lay. He would readily steer clear of any full-on confrontations that involved him personally, because he knew that his true strength lies in working in the shadows, and orchestrating scenarios clandestinely.
In other words, he was a seemingly unassuming man with sufficient output to influence the tides of war all by himself. Someone akin to… Twitch?
Thus, Qin Ye had mulled extensively over how each step of Hell’s development should proceed. His present approach was something that he had also already decided upon, except that he had in this instance raised it for Arthis’ comments and consideration.
“What’s the matter? Not possible?”
Arthis stared at him as though she had just seen a ghost, “The new Hell is only at the level of a town, and you’re already thinking of establishing a new city outside? Don’t you think you’re putting the cart before the horse?”
“I only want to know whether it’s possible or not.” Qin Ye explained, “The reason is simple. One, we have too few ghostly citizens right now. Two, our income stream is limited. Three, the imperial court meeting at the end of the year is bound to be a touch-and-go. Some will join us, while others will prefer to remain separate and distinct from us. If I’m able to establish trade agreements with those who prefer to remain independent, then… are we to allow them to enter, leave and scurry all over Hell with their merchants all the time?”
Arthis grew taciturn, and her eyes appeared to glaze over as though she were deep in thought.
“Once we establish a new city, I plan to shift Ming Shiyin over to take charge of matters over there. It’ll also enhance the influx of Yin spirits to Hell. We can’t be complacent. There are still three daolords who are prowling about on the outskirts of Hell, watching us with eagle eyes. The old Hell has collapsed, and Yin spirits are running rampant all over the place. Every moment we leave these Yin spirits unchecked would be no different from leaving a gift out there for the daolords to claim.”
Qin Ye drew a deep breath, “Even though I don’t have the capacity to manage the establishment of several satellite cities for now, a single one… would still be within control. Naturally, everything would only be firmed up after the imperial court meeting at the end of the year.”
“October.” His eyes gleamed brightly as he stared excitedly out the window, “End-October is when I’ll be extending invitations to all twelve envoys, including the official of Sindhu, as well as the Lord of Hanyang. It’s been a hundred years since they last heard from Hell… I imagine they must miss us as well…”
After a long time, Arthis finally responded, “Your suggestions would have been impossible just a few months ago. But with the Book of Life and Death in hand, it’s no longer out of our reach… But, are you sure you don’t want to reconsider this? Don’t you think that setting up another city when Hell’s capital hasn’t even taken shape yet is rushing it a little? I know that development has to be swift, especially with such real prospects of sea trade. However… have you ever considered what might happen if the new city develops faster and stronger than the Hell’s capital, and then revolts against us?”
Qin Ye sneered, “What do you think Oda Nobunaga is good for?”
“Rapid growth is contingent on the existence of military might to keep order. I plan to station Oda Nobunaga at the new trading port city as soon as it is established. If anyone rises up against us…”
A cold glint flashed across the depths of his eyes, “Then I’ll kill them again and again, until none dares to rise up against us again!”
Arthis grew silent. She knew that she wasn’t cut out for politics and governance, so she knew better than to engage in such matters of discourse with Qin Ye.
The rest of the day passed quickly, and the next day arrived in the blink of an eye.
28 August. It was the start of the new school semester. Qin Ye finally emerged from his period of “hibernation” and returned to the human world.
Yet as soon as he did, he saw a startling scene.
He took a glance just as he was passing by the basketball court, only to look up once more in shock, horror and fury.
It was now noontime. The academy’s opening ceremony was slated to take place in the evening at the grand auditorium. Thus, most of the students had already arrived back in the academy, and the school’s basketball court was filled with people. Incidentally, this was also the reason why he saw a rather incongruous image.
Lin Han wore a sleeveless shirt on the courts, and he made an impressive dunk, to the wild cheers of all onlookers. His 1.87m tall frame was extremely conspicuous, while the aphrodisiac-like bulging muscles on his arms caused all the female students around to swoon over him… But that was still nothing. After all, the existence of Lin Han’s muscles was hardly sufficient to cause Qin Ye to do a double take. Crucially…
The idiot had actually scooched over to a seat close by with a silly smile on his face, where a pretty lady of approximately 1.7m in height handed him a bottle of water!
Where’s the justice in this world?!
Dogballs Qin stared at the incredulous sight with a fiery gaze in his eyes. If one were nearby, he might even have heard something snap within Qin Ye. Bloody hell… Here I was, slogging my ass away during the summer holidays, while you’re there frolicking away in the merriments of life?! Whatever happened to the promise we made to forever be angels to the other?! Are you shirking your responsibility just like that? No… I’m not bothered by the fact that you’re no longer single… What I’m bothered by is the fact that you’ve gotten yourself hitched while I’m still single!!!
A series of curses and swear words erupted from his heart like a fountain, and he gnashed his teeth as he continued to glare at Lin Han. The lady seated beside him even tenderly wiped the sweat off his forehead after handing him the bottle of water… Drink it… drink it and die! I hope it’s sulfuric acid inside! Then, your innards will erode and you can die a horrible death! You scum of the earth!
Unfortunately… his innards didn’t erode.
Lin Han put on his jacket, took the lady’s hand, waved at the students as he bade farewell to them, before promptly leaving the basketball court. Qin Ye began to follow them out of great jealousy.
Damn these lovebirds! I hope they fall to their death!
He continued to curse them silently in his heart - Hurry up and die! Die, so that you can come accompany me in Hell. I’m far too lonely over here…
“You’ve got a rather twisted expression on your face…” Qin Ye turned the corner and bumped into Su Feng. Glaring at Su Feng with a lingering, unkind expression on his face, he responded with gritted teeth, “There’s a traitor among us.”
Su Feng turned to look at the lovey-dovey couple walking ahead of them, “Given his looks as the male wallflower of the First Academy of Cultivators, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened… In fact, this happened shortly after the last time he asked us to join him at the party. After returning from that party, he couldn’t stop giggling to himself for the next three days.”
“Hang on right there… Wallflower?! Who gave him that title?! How come I was never consulted on this?!” Qin Ye refuted adamantly.
Su Feng picked up his phone, tapped it several times, and then scanned its contents, “You’re sixth on the list. Local Bully is first, followed by Ye Xingchen, then Wang Chenghao. You don’t know the next one, but I should remind you that I’m ranked fifth on the list.”
Which idiots were the ones who came up with this ranking system anyway?!
Also, what do you mean by “I should remind you that I’m ranked fifth on the list”?!
As an instructor, does it even make sense that you would care about such nonsense and turn a blind eye to what’s truly of importance, such as the teaching credits and lesson plans?
Qin Ye snatched the phone from Su Feng, stared at it for the next ten seconds, before finally snorting coldly, “Silly endeavours.”
On the other hand, Su Feng was stunned by how quickly Qin Ye had snatched the phone away from his hands, and even more so by how incongruous it was when Qin Ye verbally dismissed the ranking system, yet continued to have a grotesquely twisted expression on his face…
Just as Su Feng was about to put away his phone, he suddenly received a notification from the Instructor Group chat.
The mere fact that he had gotten a message wasn’t important. What was important was the person who had sent it. It was Zhou Xianlong.
“All instructors are reminded that there will be a meeting taking place at 3.00 p.m. this afternoon at the Faculty of Combat’s tiered lecture hall.”
“What’s going on?” Qin Ye frowned, “Has Faculty Head Zhou just reached menopause? I didn’t see him all summer. Not even Principal Xu was around either. Are they thinking of checking on our lesson plans?”
Su Feng’s eyes narrowed slightly as he led Qin Ye into a noodle store, ordered two bowls of noodles, and then set his chopsticks down gently on the rim of the bowl, “It would be fine if this were just for the purposes of checking lesson plans…”
He glanced around, and then lowered his voice to a hush, “I’ve heard some news on the grapevine. Apparently, something big has been brewing over the last few months or so.”
Qin Ye immediately grew somber.
The first thing that struck him was that there probably wasn’t anything larger than the battle at the Strait of Tsushima taking place over the last few months. The mortal realm might be unable to see Emissaries, but there was simply no way of concealing Justice Bao’s authority, as well as the overbearing might of the Book of Life and Death!
Could it be that… this incident has caught the attention of the Cathayan government?
“What is it?” Qin Ye asked softly.
Su Feng whispered back, “Do you know about… the three major districts of supernatural upheaval in Cathay?”
Qin Ye nodded his head. He had seen the map of supernatural activity, and there were three large areas where the dots were abnormally red. This was the basis for his conjecture that each dot represented the area of activity of one of the daolords!
“The three eastern provinces; the three provinces of Westriver Province, Cloudriver Province and Rich Province; and the three provinces in the vicinity of Pearlriver.” Su Feng tapped his chopsticks gently on the table as he continued to explain softly, “I’ve heard that the three eastern provinces exploded with a full supernatural outbreak in August, starting with the Skytribute City. It is said that the situation is so bad that they have just seen the formation of the nest of ten thousand captive ghosts. The heart of the three eastern provinces, the Skytribute City, is already considered a forbidden zone for the living. There was an emergency evacuation of all living in the region, and the Northriver Province, Yan Capital, and Hale Province all have their hands full receiving refugees. Furthermore, it is said that a Judge-class Yin spirit has been sighted in the three eastern provinces. In fact, there are rumours that it could even be at the level of a Ghost King. Moreover… I’ve heard that it has engaged in a full-on confrontation with the forces of the Special Investigations Department and the SRC. Wargod Zhou and Principal Xu were all deployed to the east for this reason.”
Qin Ye listened calmly, but his palms were already dripping with sweat.
The battle at the Strait of Tsushima must have stirred one of the daolords to action. After all… the three eastern provinces are no more than a stone’s throw away from the Strait of Tsushima!
For some strange reason, he kept having the niggling feeling that the supernatural outbreak… was inextricably interlinked to his battle at the Strait of Tsushima.
“How did you learn of these things?” Qin Ye gritted his teeth, “The school embargoes such information in an attempt to create a conducive environment for learning. Yet you’ve even managed to learn of our principal’s whereabouts?”
Qin Ye didn’t want to admit the veracity of such matters. But no matter how he looked at it, what Su Feng was telling him right now was likely to be the truth. If this is indeed the case… then I must have attracted the attention of an Incarnate Revenant… Did I… inadvertently leave any traces behind?
Would he be able to track me down to the City of Salvation?
Qin Ye couldn’t help but shiver at such a thought.
“Have you forgotten that I’m from the SRC as well? And I’m on a completely different level from that idiot Local Bully.” Su Feng paused for a moment, “I’m almost certain that they will be updating everyone on this situation this afternoon. Just wait and see. If my source of information is accurate, then it is likely that the academy will be rolling out a completely different syllabus for the upcoming semester… Alright, that’s enough fair warning for now. Let’s see what the big boss says this afternoon.”
It was already 1.00 p.m. when they finished their lunch. Qin Ye returned to his dorm room and lay on his bed restlessly. He sought to distract his mind by approving some documents and reports from Hell, but he simply couldn’t shirk off the niggling feeling of anxiety at the back of his mind. He wanted to return to Hell to ask Arthis for her thoughts on the matter, but he also couldn’t be certain of the veracity of the news he had received.
“Damn… what the hell is going on…” He sighed and finally got some shuteye till 2.30 p.m. Then, he made his way to the tiered lecture hall, only to discover that he was one of the first to have arrived.
Zhou Xianlong, Xu Anguo, Li Tao, and five other professors had already arrived.
He observed them silently. Every single person had a somber expression on their faces. Tao Ran waved at him and forced a contrived smile to his face, “Little Qin, did your academic exchange to Eastsea go well? Did you encounter any major incident or hiccup over there?”
“No.” Qin Ye responded amiably, before testing the waters slightly, “Is there anything I should be concerned about?”
“Nothing. Just asking.” Tao Ran smiled, before settling back into his seat together with the rest of the leaders of the academy in silence.
Soon, the rest of the instructors arrived. Local Bully naturally tried to sit next to Qin Ye, only to receive a deadly glare from him.
“Scram!” Qin Ye pointed to the seats around him, “These seats are only for single dogs. Not for you!”
Suddenly, everyone around him got up and shifted away.
He was the only one who remained seated where he was.
A sudden wave of awkwardness filled the entire lecture hall.
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