Qin Ye could feel his eyelids twitching and jumping as he stubbornly kept his finger pointed towards the seats around him. Gritting his teeth, he turned his attention to Su Feng, who was standing right beside him, “When did you get hitched?!”
“Since when was I ever single?” Su Feng stared back at Qin Ye with incredulity, “My other half simply isn’t from around these parts.”
Fine… Very well… Qin Ye swallowed his anger and finally set down his finger. Lin Han promptly minced up to him with a commiserating smile on his face, “My apologies. But don’t worry about it. You’re still young. It’s okay to be single…”
His words were like an awl that was driven through Qin Ye’s heart.
Bloody hell… Forget it, I can’t be bothered with you ignorant fools.
The future King Yanluo of Hell felt as though he had just been shunted across the face, and he settled back into his seat with great displeasure in his heart. Unfortunately, Lin Han didn’t know his limits, and he immediately minced over once more, “Hey, why don’t I get Yanqiu to help you look for someone? Even though you’re young, and your appearances are rather tender, I think it should still fit the bill for most students out there…”
“Yanqiu?” Qin Ye barked back, “Are you two so close that you’re already on a first-name basis already? So, what’s next? The wedding?”
Local Bully was immediately filled with vigor, “We’ll wait and see about that. Let me tell you something - we’re a power couple that fights on the frontlines against the encroachment of Yin spirits together. We’re a war couple! I’m going to see where she’s going after graduation, and I’ll probably tag along with her. And then, I’m going to try and seal the deal in a year’s time!”
Qin Ye couldn’t be bothered with him any longer. Just then, Xu Anguo spoke up, “Instructors, please settle down.”
“I’ve called everyone over today for two reasons. Firstly, I’d like to discuss the contents of the syllabus moving forward. Secondly, I’d like to discuss something that had happened over the summer holidays.” He paused for a moment and turned to Zhou Xianlong, “Faculty Head Zhou, would you like to begin first?”
Everyone immediately grew silent.
Because the involvement of Zhou Xianlong told them that the “something” that had happened was most certainly no trifling matter.
None of them were daft. If the matter to be discussed were something that could be resolved by Hellguard-class cultivators, Xu Anguo would never prompt Zhou Xianlong to talk about it. The fact that it involved Zhou Xianlong meant that it was a matter that not even Hellguards were able to resolve, and it required someone as powerful as Zhou Xianlong to properly describe it in detail.
In other words, it likely had to do with the appearance of an evil spirit that was beyond the realms of what Hellguards could handle!
“Everyone.” Zhou Xianlong stood up and swept a frigid gaze across the hall, before promptly breaking the news, “The three eastern provinces… have devolved into chaos.”
Sss… There was a series of gasps. Zhou Xianlong’s words were brief, but they were laden with implications.
The three eastern provinces have devolved into chaos? But… how? There could only be one possibility - and that was the appearance of a Ghost King equivalent that was clashing directly with the mortal realm!
“Is the great war between the mortal realm and the netherworld finally about to break out?” Lin Han grabbed his armrests tightly, and his breaths grew ragged. Meanwhile, Qin Ye’s gaze grew deep and abstruse, and he remained completely silent.
“Don’t be alarmed!” Zhou Xianlong slammed the desk and continued, “The situation has already come under control. The Eastsea Branch of the Special Investigations Department has already activated the highest level of alert on its supernatural perimeter, and the chaos is sequestered from the rest of Cathay for now!”
Qin Ye gritted his teeth and looked down silently.
Why is the daolord at a deadlock with three eastern provinces?
Qin Ye knew much more about the situation than any of the others seated around him right now. Most importantly, he was fully aware that the three daolords were all at the level of Incarnate Revenants!
In other words… the supernatural upheaval that was stirred up by a daolord at the three eastern provinces was actually stopped dead in the tracks by the mortal realm!
“That’s unbelievable…” He raised his head and gazed deeply at Zhou Xianlong.
Back on the main stage, Zhou Xianlong picked up a stack of papers, while the LED screen behind flickered on to reveal the image of a map. He continued, “Everything began with an incident that occurred in end-July. Specifically, that incident occurred on 26 July, at 4.50 a.m.”
“Old Qin, you look rather pale. Are you feeling alright?” Local Bully glanced at Qin Ye in confusion, only to be rebuffed immediately, “Pay attention! Why do you keep looking over?!”
Local Bully turned back with an absurd expression, while Qin Ye secretly sighed.
The map wasn’t that of a particular landlocked territory. Rather, it was a map of a district encompassing a sea.
A sea that sat right between Cathay, Daehan and Nippon. It was a map of the Strait of Tsushima which Qin Ye knew all too well!
The map depicted the three eastern provinces of Cathay with a deep scarlet colour, while Nippon was yellow and Daehan was green. However, the heart of the Strait of Tsushima was tainted with an unprecedented black colour!
To be precise, it wasn’t jet black.
Rather, it was coloured with such an intense red hue that it looked closer to black than it did red!
The wings of the butterfly effect have begun to flap… His heart grew somber and sullen. The consequences of the great battle at the Strait of Tsushima was only just coming to light. It first triggered Emperor Wu of Song’s visit to Cathay, and now… even a daolord was beginning to stir.
Qin Ye continued listening attentively. He wanted to hear for himself how the mortal realm would break down such a startling situation.
“26 July. The Strait of Tsushima exploded with an incredible amount of Yin energy. By our estimates… the Yin energy reading of the eruption was well over thirty million…”
“What?!” “Thirty million?! Are you sure there wasn’t a mistake with the instruments?!” “How… is this even possible?! Are we witnessing the birth of a death god or something?!”
The entire hall was set abuzz instantly, but Xu Anguo rapped the table loudly, “Silence.”
Everything went silent once more. Zhou Xianlong waved his hand, and the image on the LED screen behind him changed, causing Qin Ye’s pupils to shrink in an instant. It was the image of… Kuki Yoshitaka’s massive body, Honda Tadakatsu charging across the surface of the waters on his mount, and… the image of Arthis riding on roiling dark clouds as she arrived on scene.
It’s impossible for mere mortals to see Emissaries of Hell… but that idiot Azai Nagamasa was so confident that he didn’t even bother concealing his own presence from the mortals around… DAMN IT! Qin Ye cursed in his heart, and his heart began to palpitate wildly. His hand was already resting on the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal in his clothes, and he was ready to flee at the moment’s notice.
He was invisible to the eyes of all mortals when he was in his Hell’s Emissary state.
Unfortunately… he also had a human form!
And it still wasn’t clear whether he had been photographed at the scene of the crime by the Cathayan authorities just yet!
Come to think of it, forcing the use of the Incense of Paramnesia back then was a masterstroke. The only ones who could possibly know of my true identity right now are the two monks from Mount Koya. But, that said…
My name is still listed among Guardian Auctions’ users!
It was practically impossible to leave no traces behind regardless of the endeavours one undertook. Either refrain from a course of conduct altogether, or expect that traces would be left behind in some way or another.
The image on the LED screen was evidently a snapshot of a satellite footage, and it wasn’t particularly clear by any means. Zhou Xianlong continued, “We gather that the eruption of Yin energy at the Strait of Tsushima was caused by the clash between Nipponese Yin spirits and another unknown faction. It’s not that we don’t want to sharpen the image. Rather, the image of Yin spirits would completely vanish the moment you attempt to zoom in on their appearances and features. Currently, the case has already been handed over to the most elite Albatross Division of the Special Investigations Department.”
Zhou Xianlong had mentioned it in passing. However, Qin Ye keenly picked up on it, and he promptly opened up the Slay app on his phone and began searching for more information on the Albatross Division.
He quickly found a description of the Albatross division, and their introductory write-up immediately made his heart thump wildly with anxiety.
The Albatross was the Special Investigations Department’s most elite reconnaissance unit. All 108 personnel were minimally peak Soul Hunters, and they are more commonly known as the Strength of Malignance, because their involvement… meant that Cathay was getting serious.
It meant that Cathay was hell bent on uncovering the truth at all costs.
They neither had names nor records of their achievements. The only other thing that was known about the Albatross Division was that they had never made any mistakes on their investigations, save for cases involving Judge-class Yin spirits and above.
Damn it… Qin Ye maintained a placid expression on his face, but the palms of his hands were already soaking wet with sweat.
Zhou Xianlong continued, “Following the eruption of Yin energy at the Strait of Tsushima, we received news that there was a supernatural outbreak at Skytribute City at midnight on 4 August. Every single person forming part of the city, including the citizens of the remotest counties, towns and even villages, witnessed the birth of the nest of ten thousand captive ghosts. I’d pause here to commend Instructor Qin for his predictions here. The term ‘ten thousand captive ghosts’ is all too apt for the phenomenon that has arisen.”
Qin Ye chuckled dryly, and he loosened his tense heart slightly. Judging from Zhou Xianlong’s attitude towards him, it was clear that the Albatross Division hadn’t yet confirmed his involvement at the Strait of Tsushima.
Just then, the LED screen changed once more. This time, everyone sat up straight and stared at the screen with widened eyes.
The image on the screen now depicted the supernatural outbreak at the Skytribute City.
The time was indicated in red at the bottom right corner of the screen. At midnight, the vault of the sky suddenly trembled, and countless netherflames suddenly poured straight out from the sky, accompanied only by a powerful nethergale that swept through the lands. Within moments, a massive hole opened up in the clouds above the city. As far as the eyes could tell, countless illusory Yin spirits poured out from the hole in the sky, screaming and wailing at the top of their voices!
The video also showed the panicked screams and shrieks of terror of all the citizens around. A split second later, the sound of gongs and drums rang out, and a majestic palanquin descended from the skies on the shoulders of eighteen humanoid paper effigies. Following that, countless other humanoid paper effigies began sprouting up from the ground all over the city, before they began to fly around the city like grievous spirits.
“All of the personnel belonging to the Skytribute City Branch of the Special Investigations Department immediately resisted with all their might as soon as they noticed the supernatural outbreak. Unfortunately… they were all martyred in the line of duty.” Zhou Xianlong’s voice had lowered to a hush, “An hour later, one of the Special Investigations Department’s strongest forces arrived on scene, and they were fortunately able to safely evacuate millions of citizens… We should be grateful for their prompt response. If it weren’t for them, Skytribute City would already have become a land of the dead by now.”
“Every single major military garrison in the vicinity was mobilized within a day to lock down Skytribute City. Then, a fierce battle for sovereignty ensued that continued till approximately ten days ago. After deploying half of the Hellguard-class experts at Cathay’s disposal, we finally managed to stabilize the situation.”
Zhou Xianlong presented his case without any exaggerated emotions. But all who were present in the hall could only imagine just how bloody and terrifying the battle would have been!
This was a full-on invasion of countless Yin spirits led by a ferocious general, coupled with the uprising of hunting zones, predatory zones, and other zones with even stronger Yin spirits! The citizens of Skytribute City should absolutely thank their lucky stars that they were able to come out of this great ordeal alive.
“This incident - the storm that is brewing outside, and the internal struggles that the nation is facing - are things that you needn’t concern yourselves about. This is why I’ve only given you the lowdown on things.” He swept a placid gaze across the room, “Because even if you knew the full details of these things, this isn’t a battle that you would be able to participate in.”
“The First Academy of Cultivators is the foundation on which the Cathayan cultivation world is going to be built upon. Our sole purpose of existence is to teach, educate and nurture, and not to wage war. The reason I’m telling you all these things is because…”
He paused for a moment, “We’re going to be making some changes to the syllabus next semester.”
He opened up a document, “Firstly, we’ll be adding a self-training session every night. This isn’t something new. It was an optional session for all students to participate in last semester. But it will be made compulsory starting this semester. All instructors rostered to take charge of the night sessions shall guide the students in their practice and mastery of arts, techniques, and bodywork in general.”
“Secondly, I’ll be personally taking charge of the actual combat training to take place on a monthly basis. All other faculties apart from the Faculty of Combat will see their schedules rejigged slightly so that they will have time to join the Faculty of Combat for actual combat training.”
Nobody said a word.
After all, everyone could tell just how serious the situation out there must be if the academy were to take such drastic measures. Zhou Xianlong’s tone of voice may have been placid, but the situation was most certainly grave.
Otherwise, there was simply no reason for students to be participating in actual combat training only after a single month of theoretical studies!
Zhou Xianlong couldn’t be bothered about what the other instructors were thinking. He set down his documents, stared everyone in the eye, and continued to impress his point, “This change in syllabus has been presented at board meeting and approved unanimously. We… can’t get complacent. Cathay needs new blood! We’re cultivators. Having indulged in the benefits that the state has showered upon us, it is only our duty to take responsibility for our own duties and give back to our nation!”
“Remember this - for every day you continue to teach here in peace, safety and security, know that there are innumerable people who are out there right now, placing their lives on the line against the forces of the netherworld.”
“For every night of restful sleep you get, know that there are a multitude of other families out there who worry about what lurks in the dark.”
“Cultivators must always place others before themselves!” He slammed the table in front of him, “This isn’t an ivory tower; this is a reserve! We’ve always got to be prepared for war! We have been far too lax in the last semester that has passed! In fact, we were so lax that there were even some instructors who had spent the entire summer vacation indulging in hours upon hours of mahjong! Do you really not have any regard for your duties and obligations as a cultivator anymore?!”
“The First Academy of Cultivators is not a place for you to gild yourselves with gold and rest on your laurels! Anyone who even harbors a modicum of such thoughts can leave right now and head back to where you’ve come from!”