Lin Han held Qin Ye steady. What’s going on? Is he really fainting? He must be overwhelmed with excitement… Well, he’s got to learn that there are people who would give up their lives for their friends like me out there in the world. It’s only right that he’s reacting this way.
“Who am I…” Qin Ye struggled to open his eyes. The blood coursing through his veins were frigid and cold, and he continued to hold tightly to Lin Han’s collar as he murmured blankly, “Where am I…”
Pak! Pak! Lin Han gave Qin Ye two tight slaps across the cheeks, “I’m slapping you.”
A second later, Qin Ye transformed from a soft, innocent puppy into a ferocious mastiff, and he grabbed hold of Lin Han’s neck, sent a knee flying straight between Lin Han’s legs, and then pushed him right back into the wall. Lin Han cursed under his breath, “What the hell…”
Lin Han hunched over immediately. His face darkened, and he glared right back at Qin Ye with a condemning gaze in his eyes.
“Change it back!!” Qin Ye gritted his teeth as he continued to shake Lin Han by the neck with a vicious expression, “Change it back immediately!”
Lin Han was just about to massage his nether regions when he noticed out of the corner of his eyes Qin Ye moving his knee once more. Thus, he immediately raised his hands sensibly in an attempt to elicit a ceasefire, “Stop… I was just looking out for you. It’s fine if you don’t show me any gratitude, but how can you lay a hand on your nephew like this?!”
“Nephew?!” Qin Ye glanced down, only to realize what the hunk of muscle in front of him was referring to - We’re akin to brothers, so my child is none other than your nephew. If you cripple me down under, then you won’t have a nephew anymore…
The logic was watertight!
“Believe it when I say that… If you don’t change it back right now, I’ll foreclose any possibilities of a niece as well!”
Lin Han coughed dryly, “About that… Faculty Head Zhou has already approved the swap…”
Qin Ye finally loosened his grip around LIn Han.
And then, he drifted down the corridor listlessly like a ghost, staring wistfully at the ceiling, “Oh dear heavens… Why are you always doing this to me? Why am I always surrounded by a bunch of idiots…”
Lin Han sensed that Qin Ye was practically on the verge of snapping, so he cautiously minced forward and whispered to him, “Hey, you’re not thinking straight. Heading out isn’t going to be any different from a walk in the park. It’s even the perfect opportunity to enhance teacher-student relations! This isn’t something that I’d simply extend to anyone who asks, even if they were to beg for it.”
“Then, can I beg you to change it back?”
As soon as he said that, Lin Han promptly put a safety distance of three meters between them, “Besides, Faculty Head Zhou says to head over to his office after this lesson to discuss the matters pertaining to the actual combat practice. Well, if there’s nothing more, I’ll make a move first, mmkay?”
With that, he shot off like lightning, and not a moment too soon, because Qin Ye’s teaching materials came flying swiftly after him like a cleaver, slamming straight into the wall behind where Lin Han had been standing just moments ago.
Qin Ye completed the rest of the lesson with a listless expression on his face. He read straight from his script, and it couldn’t be anymore bland.
Throughout the lesson, he was contemplating how he would chop up Local Bully and sell him as meat to a duck shop owner. But… it didn’t help one bit.
Now’s not the time to be contemplating these things! Hale Province! It’s just a stone’s throw away from three eastern provinces! That’s no different from a kiss with the daolord through a thin sheet of glass! Lin Han has really done me in this time!!!
He dawdled around after class for a while, before finally dragging his feet towards Zhou Xianlong’s office.
“You’re here?” This was undoubtedly Zhou Xianlong’s office. However, there was presently another ordinary, unassuming man seated on the chair right opposite Zhou Xianlong, and they appeared to have been discussing some matters. As soon as Qin Ye entered the room, the man smiled faintly and nodded at Qin Ye.
That man looked ordinary - so unassuming that it was difficult to say much more about it. His appearances were easily forgettable as well. He stood at an average height of 1.75m, and the true energy about his body revealed that he was a Soul Hunter.
“Take a seat.” Zhou Xianlong pointed to another chair in front of him. After Qin Ye took the seat, Zhou Xianlong got straight to the point, “Your lessons haven’t achieved the intended effect of late, have they?”
“They’re still alright. I’ve got some ideas that I plan to include in my lessons, but I haven’t found the appropriate segues just yet. I’ve been stuck in a rut lately, so hopefully things will be better once I’ve finally found the solution.” Qin Ye regurgitated the response he had prepared for such questions to him. After all, it didn’t matter how poorly he did this semester. Given the waves he had made with his publication last semester, the academy would never fire him.
Zhou Xianlong nodded, “It’s all about finding the right perspective. That said, you should pay closer attention to your relationship with the students as well. Look, Instructor Lin has been faring well in this regard. According to the feedback we’ve received, it seems like you’ve been rather stiff in your classes of late. Therefore, this might just be the opportunity you need.”
He pushed a pile of documents before Qin ye, “As mentioned before, there has been a supernatural outbreak in the three eastern provinces, and a large number of refugees have flocked to the surrounding regions, including the Hale Province. Yan Capital and Jin Province are in the vicinity of the heavily guarded headquarters of the Special Investigations Department, so there’s no need to worry about those regions. Hale Province, on the other hand, spans across large grasslands, and the rate of supernatural outbreaks has historically been on the lower side. However, with the sudden influx of refugees, the number of supernatural incidents has since skyrocketed. The provincial government has requested the Special Investigations Department for help. I think this would be the perfect opportunity to hone the skills of our students.”
Qin Ye sighed secretly, picked up the documents in front of him and began to skim through its contents.
The documents listed detailed information about the Yin energy readings of Hale Province. The Yin energy index in the vicinity had recently grown from 3% to 19%. The supernatural perimeter in the vicinity had already been activated, but unfortunately, it hadn’t done them much good.
“After much consideration, I’ve decided to appoint you as the instructor in charge of the first actual combat practice.” Zhou Xianlong continued, “Your strength is most certainly higher than Lin Han’s. Prompted by his request for a swap, I thought hard about it, and agreed that you would be the most suitable candidate for the first combat practice. Your objectives and the resumes of the students to be sent on the first trip are all included in this stack of documents. Study it well, and we depart next week at five in the evening. Any questions?”
“Yes…” Qin Ye coughed dryly and gazed expectantly at Zhou Xianlong, “About that… would I be excused if, say, I’m not feeling well…”
Zhou Xianlong stared straight back with an expression that meant - What do you think? Just like that, the two continued to lock eyes with great affection for several more seconds, before Qin Ye finally relented and nodded.
It was because Qin Ye had caught a glimpse of Wargod Zhou’s impatience that was burgeoning in the depths of his eyes.
Bloody hell… The actual combat practice is only going to be a week later, and yet you’re already telling me that you might not feel well? Are you truly that reluctant to accept the mission that has been entrusted to you by the state and I? Are you displeased with me, or unhappy at the academy?
Why are you trying to shirk responsibility like that?
“One other thing.” Zhou Xianlong pointed to the man beside Qin Ye who was smiling faintly, “Li Jixi, Specially Appointed Professor of the First Academy of Cultivators. He will be the one in charge this time.”
Qin Ye glanced at the man in astonishment. How is this unassuming man a Specially Appointed Professor? And… how illustrious must he be if a Soul Hunter were to be appointed a Professor?
Even though his heart was fraught with doubts and questions, Qin Ye still stretched out his hand and smiled radiantly at the man, “Qin Ye, Instructor of the First Academy of Cultivators. I look forward to receiving your guidance.”
“It should be ‘outstanding instructor’.” Zhou Xianlong interjected, “The teaching credits you’ve accumulated from last semester has already qualified you for an appointment as an outstanding instructor. We’ve already submitted the papers on your behalf, and the approval should arrive within a month or so.”
Li Jixi smiled and shook Qin Ye’s hand, “Li Jixi, investigator from the headquarters of the Special Investigations Department. Pleased to make your acquaintance.
Their interaction was brief and cursory.
Qin Ye picked up the stack of documents and left soon after. Since it was impossible to make adjustments to the schedule any longer, then the next best thing he could do right now was to be fully prepared for what was to come. Arthis had once mentioned that there were some Hell’s Arts that he could still learn, even though he was no longer able to tap on the powers of the old Hell.
The office room soon became silent.
Zhou Xianlong made a cup of tea and offered it to Li Jixi, who received it respectfully with both hands. Yet, before he could even take a sip from the tea, Zhou Xianlong frowned and muttered, “No need.”
“If it’s really not him, and word of this investigation gets out, then… I’m not sure if I’d be able to find a place to hide this old face of mine.”
Li Jixi suddenly revealed a deep, profound smile as he glanced back at the door, “There’s more than meets the eye with that man.”
“Of course, everyone has their own secrets. But… his identification documents…” He pointed upwards, and Zhou Xianlong’s eyes flickered slightly. Li Jixi continued, “Have been provided by someone from above - someone from the upper echelons. That man is still part of the upper echelons, and he still answers to others. However, what puzzles me the most is how he’s been a rogue cultivator all this while? If he has someone as impressive as that backing him, then he should already have joined up with the Special Investigations Department a long time ago.”
Zhou Xianlong didn’t say a word.
Li Jixi continued slowly, but spoke with extreme clarity, “And even if this means nothing, there’s still the question of how there weren’t any traces of him in Eastsea in the few days when the incident at the Strait of Tsushima occurred?”
Zhou Xianlong finally responded, “That suspicious mentality of yours is no different from wild speculation. Didn’t you check the surveillance camera in the hotel? He wasn’t feeling well during this period of time, so he had been holed up in his room all that while.”
“But he told Instructor Lin and Instructor Su that he had something to attend to!” A sharp, incisive look was now plastered all over Li Jixi’s face, somewhat incongruous to his usual dull demeanor, “Mr Zhou, the Albatross would never suspect a human being without good reason. We’ve run the photograph through facial recognition software and confirmed that there are only 82 people nationwide with a qualifying 90% match on the features. If we exclude those who couldn’t possibly have been at the coastal region at the material times, as well as those who aren’t practitioners, he is the only possible suspect that remains!”
Zhou Xianlong sighed, “As a colleague, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment too much on this matter. However, the fact that you’re clinging onto him as though he were your last thread of hope is something that the First Academy of Cultivators can’t agree to on principle.”
Li Jixi sighed and smiled bitterly as he took another sip from his teacup, “Truth be told, we’re also at our wits’ end. Even with our experts, I’m afraid it will take us at least four years to reverse the effects of the Incense of Paramnesia on the rest of the eyewitnesses. We’ve entered Guardian Auctions’ system, but we didn’t find an account under Instructor Qin’s name. That said, there was a dormant account that was filled by someone. Unfortunately, it was filled with such haste in order to qualify for the then-upcoming auction involving the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl that Guardian Auctions didn’t manage to obtain his full particulars. That said…”
He gazed deeply at Zhou Xianlong, “Mr Zhou, do you know whose account it was that was filled?”
Zhou Xianlong shook his head.
“Academician Gu Qing.” Li Jixi sighed, “He loved Cathayan paintings and antiques, and he had more money than he could spend. Thus, he was naturally one of Guardian Auctions’ visitors. His account was reactivated once in recent times. Furthermore…”
He continued with great emphasis, “The request for reactivation came right from the City of Salvation!”
Zhou Xianlong’s expressions turned grim and ashen.
Whether time, location and appearance, everything appeared to be a match. Even Zhou Xianlong was beginning to grow suspicious of Qin Ye.
“But that still doesn’t prove anything. After all, he was holed up in the hotel when the incident at the Strait of Tsushima occurred.” In the end, Zhou Xianlong still fell back to the one piece of the puzzle that still seemed to baffle everyone. It was a good thing that Qin Ye had taken the necessary precautions back then, and even told Arthis to set up a formation array in the room to set up the perfect alibi. Otherwise… his identity would have been exposed a long time ago under the impressive might of the state machinations.
One should never underestimate the powers of the Albatross. The involvement of a secret division like them meant only one thing - it was only a matter of time that the truth came to light.
Li Jixi’s voice deepened, “There are some techniques… that can enable him to slip out under the radar. Unfortunately, these are all techniques that have been lost to us since ages ago. That said, am I not right to say that you know nothing of the arts and techniques he practices?”
“This is why I’ve made it a point to personally observe him in action. Furthermore, I’ve made it a point to include another particular student of interest. If all goes according to plan...”
He stood up, took another sip of tea and gently set the cup down, “I’ll be at the First Academy of Cultivators until he’s completely clear of all suspicion next semester.”
“Farewell for now, Faculty Head Zhou. Thank you for the tea. It was exquisite.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter