The jeeps continued to drive straight towards the source of the lights. And then, as they drew closer and closer, the reality of what lay within suddenly doused the burgeoning excitement in their hearts. Even Qin Ye couldn’t suppress the twitching on his eyelids.
The source of the light came from countless shanties.
These were no different from the shanties used to temporarily house the workers living on the construction sites.
Everything was immediately clear to them - these were the temporary residences of the refugees that had been evacuated from the nearby three eastern provinces. Naturally, it was obvious what lay right in the heart of the shanty town.
There was no doubt that the city’s law enforcement agencies would be based right in the heart of the shanty town. Their existence would serve two purposes. Firstly, their presence was needed to regulate the safety and order around these parts. Secondly, evil spirits are naturally repulsed by the existence of the army. In other words, their existence would elevate the conduciveness of the shanty town as a temporary shelter for the refugees.
But when they drove past the rows of shanties, not a single soul peeked out of their huts despite the brilliance of the light in the vicinity. Having experienced the tragedy of the latest supernatural outbreak in the three eastern provinces, not a single soul dared to even stick their heads out of their homes at night. From afar, the entire shanty town didn’t look like a shelter for refugees at all. Rather, it looked like rows after rows of neatly constructed tombstones.
They finally drove up to the main gate, and that was when they saw the first signs of life for a long time. A row of soldiers stood guard at the entrance, each of whom wore a cap with the words “Unit 43151” embroidered across it in bright red lettering. There were already soldiers eagerly awaiting their arrival.
The leader was an elderly policeman - fifty years of age, and relatively high ranking. He wore a dreary, exhausted look on his face, and there were two younger men standing right behind him. As soon as they saw the arrival of Qin Ye and Li Jixi, their eyes of the two men lit up at the same time, and they immediately whispered something to the policeman standing in front.
Qin Ye could tell that the two men were only Operative-class experts. According to the reports he had received, Hale Province had always boasted of an extremely low Yin energy level, and it was practically impossible to see the appearance of a large hunting zone in the vicinity. Naturally, the law enforcement agents garrisoned in this locality wouldn’t need a high level of cultivation to begin with.
In fact, Qin Ye and Li Jixi were probably the ones with the strongest cultivation among all who were present right now. The two men were most likely whispering to the old policeman about Qin Ye’s and Li Jixi’s cultivations.
The policeman’s eyes promptly lit up, and he walked over to greet them with great enthusiasm, “Greetings, dear instructors and students. My name is Gao Hua, and I’m the bureau chief of New Hale City. It must have been a long, arduous journey to these remote parts around here. We’ve already prepared dinner and arranged lodging for you. Shall we take you there? I can brief you all on the situation at the D-72 hunting zone tomorrow morning.”
Qin Ye turned to Li Jixi, who promptly responded with a gesture of invitation.
Qin Ye smiled and walked forward to receive Gao Hua’s warm handshake with a faint smile on his face, “Pleased to meet you. I’m the lead instructor, Qin Ye, and this is Professor Li Jixi. Sorry for imposing on you.”
“Not at all, not at all.” Gao Hua shook his hand warmly, yet he couldn’t contain the emotion in his voice, “We’re talking about the safety of a hundred thousand people after all… Yan Capital and Jin Province already have their hands full, and I’m afraid they must have given shelter to nearly ten times the number of refugees we’ve received over here. We had no choice but to turn to the Special Investigations Department, and we’re truly thankful that you’ve answered our call… Truly… We’re truly grateful…”
Qin Ye grew taciturn.
He could feel the sincerity in Gao Hua’s voice. His grip was forceful, and there was a slight quiver in his voice. The micro-signals of his body were a telltale sign that Gao Hua was truly looking forward to the arrival of other cultivators.
Qin Ye’s heart was suddenly filled with an earnest expectancy - If only Hell’s development would occur more quickly… Any amount would do - as long as we could bring forward the end to the hundred-year calamity that has befallen Cathay.
After some time, Gao Hua finally released Qin Ye’s hands, only to hear a somewhat surprising response, “Let’s have something to eat first. Could I trouble Chief Gao to get someone to shift our belongings to our place of residence? If there’s time, we would like to hear more about the situation in New Hale City tonight.”
“Consider it done!” Gao Hua was overjoyed.
They were served with an ordinary meal - grilled lamb from the grasslands, with reasonably tender meat that was equally flavoursome. The portion was decent as well. That said, nobody had the heart to indulge in the delights presented to them, and they simply ate in silence. Not even the students discussed what they had seen today. After the meal, Gao Hua promptly led the entire group of instructors and students into the conference room nearby.
They could tell that the meeting room was frequently used. There were bits and pieces of rubbish littered all over the ground, while the ashtrays on the table were still full of cigarette butts. Gao Hua chuckled in a slightly self-deprecating manner, “Pardon the mess. We just had a meeting before you guys arrived…”
Qin Ye glanced at Gao Hua, only to notice that his eyes were bloodshot. He opened his mouth to respond, yet he found himself completely at a loss for words.
Everything was caused by the negligence of Hell!
It was as though they had walked right out of paradise and entered the mortal realm, where they were soon struck by the devastating reality of the embattled humanity that ravaged the lands. Everything he saw reminded him of Hell’s dereliction of duty.
If not for Hell’s negligence, how could so many people have been made homeless overnight?
If not for Hell’s dereliction of duty, why would a bureau chief have to stay around after a long meeting in the day, and even greet unknown visitors with such profound gratitude?
It was strange that the human heart was most easily moved by the hearts of other human beings.
As the next King Yanluo of Hell, the consequences of Hell’s shortcomings was something he had to shoulder responsibility for, whether he liked it or not.
And carry it he would! If this had occurred a year ago, when he had been his previous self, he would most certainly have rolled his eyes and labelled himself insane.
“Chief Gao, shall we begin?” He sat down, and unexpectedly followed his impulse to do the right thing. Hell was a great distance away, but he could still do something for them here in person at the very least.
“Certainly.” Gao Hua sat at the head of the table and switched on the LED screen. Instantly, countless images and words appeared on the screen, and his expression turned grave, “Gentlemen, an unknown incident has occurred in the three eastern provinces, and refugees are pouring into the surrounding provinces. New Hale City has taken in 84,000 refugees, and we have hit our limit.”
The image on the screen changed, while Gao Hua pulled out a long pointer and tapped on the screen, “All refugees are now gathered here. The police headquarters and the city hall have temporarily also been relocated to this place. You are currently in the political center of New Hale City. 347 investigators from the Special Investigations Department have arrived before you, and they are now stationed in various parts of the shanty town. Together with the rest of the armed forces, they’re keeping watch over everyone around the clock.”
“But… that’s about as much as we can do for now.” He sighed and continued with a deep voice, “The population size of New Hale City is 7.2 million. Most of our military forces are gathered over here, but that necessarily also means it is impossible to keep a close watch over the rest of the city. Then, just a week ago, a large number of supernatural incidents were reported to have occurred in New Hale City.”
He tapped on the screen, and the image changed to a topographical map of New Hale City, the three eastern provinces as well as the Yan Capital and Jin Province region.
“Hale Province is located along the ‘spine’ of Cathay, while New Hale City is located on the easternmost part of Hale Province. In other words, we are located directly adjacent to the three eastern provinces and the Yan Capital and Jin province regions. Everyone, please take a look…”
The lights in the conference room dimmed. And then… a flowing diagram of Yin energy that they were all too familiar with suddenly appeared on the screen!
The three eastern provinces were so intensely red that they appeared to be tainted with black. Yan Capital and Jin Province had clearly set up an impenetrable wall around their borders, and the dense Yin energy was completely unable to breach these walls. Unfortunately, the flow diagram also showed how an orange shade of Yin energy had just begun to flow into New Hale City.
Hale Province was large, and the New Hale City was by no means small either. Therefore, it happened to share its border with all three eastern provinces. New Hale City was originally a city that was only yellow in colour. Unfortunately, it had now been dyed orange as a result of the outbreak in the three eastern provinces. To make matters worse, there was clearly a trace of red colour that appeared to be slowly but surely shifting in the direction of New Hale City.
Nobody said a single word.
Even the students simply stared at the screen with a somber expression on their faces.
A single misstep… might very well cause New Hale City to end up just like Skytribute City.
Gao Hua fiddled with his laptop and brought up another image. This time, it was a case file.
His voice quivered softly, “Five days ago, a bizarre murder case was reported in the Jadecloud neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city. A male worker was reported to have died of panic in his room. There were no trace of injuries on his body. Forensics reports confirmed that he had died of cardiac arrest, most likely as a result of being intensely frightened by something.”
“If that was all, it would’ve been written off summarily. That said, our failure to take the necessary precautions was still negligence on our part… But that’s not the point. We arranged for the necessary send-off, and prepared his body for cremation three days later. However…”
He took a deep breath, “Here’s the video footage from the morgue. Everyone… please take a look for yourselves.”
A video footage appeared. It was the morgue. A cold room, filled with cold metal cabinets, where lifeless numbers on the walls represented the storage facility for equally lifeless bodies within. There were even some lifeless corpses lying on the beds around, covered by white cloths that lay gently over their bodies.
The perspective of the footage also revealed a clock that hung on the wall.
It was 11.59 p.m.
Tick… tick… tick… It was almost as though they could hear each and every tick of the second hand. And then, right when it struck midnight, there was suddenly a loud groan from the otherwise empty morgue!
“Aagh… aagh… aagh!” There were short, periodic groans. Coupled with an otherwise silent and still image of a desolate morgue filled with corpses, it was a sight that easily sent chills down anyone’s back!
And then… a white cloth was lifted off the bed.
“That’s none other than that same worker.” Despite having seen the footage countless times by now, Gao Hua still couldn’t help but draw a deep breath, “He… just… stood up…”
The footage went on to show the corpse stiffly lifting the white cloth, before getting to his feet robotically, almost as though he were slowly adapting to his new body. Following that, he began to trudge out to the main door with a peculiar gait.
Yin spirit possession…
Qin Ye immediately understood what he had just witnessed.
The footage ended there. Gao Hua clicked to the next case file that promptly showed up on the screen, revealing… the details of a grotesque, gory case!
“Four days ago, a female student passed by an abandoned building at 7.00 p.m. She went home late, just past the time of the supernatural broadcasts. At that very moment, she felt as though someone… was watching her from the shadows of the abandoned building…”
“As you can tell from the surveillance cameras, the black fog there was so dense that it almost appeared material! Moments later, the wisps of black fog dragged her into the abandoned building… The next day, she was found dead on the roof with her chest cut open. However, there was a strange smile on her face.”
“Three days ago, an elderly couple died inexplicably in their house. Nothing was moved, yet all of their joints were twisted together. All of the doors and windows were found to be tightly locked.” “Also three days ago, a male teacher was reported to have died of shock in the very same neighbourhood.”
One by one, they were briefed on the details of each and every supernatural incident that occurred within the last week, and there were a total of over twenty such incidents!
And all of these incidents had been concentrated on the east side of the city!
“According to the report we received earlier at 6.00 p.m., there are currently… 34 hunting zones in the east side of the city.” Gao Hua’s words were incomparably heavy, “And this is something that has only surfaced over the last five days! All of our Operative-class experts from the Special Investigations Department are stationed in the region. However… I received reports of deaths of some of these investigators just yesterday. They have now confirmed the sighting of a Hunter-class Yin spirit! And you… are the first Hunter-class experts to have arrived in this city!”
He bowed deeply, and his voice choked up, “I’ve never witnessed a phenomenon so terrifying and treacherous over the last thirty-seven years of my service to the nation! This isn’t something that we can handle on our own. So…”
“Please help us!”
Li Jixi stood up with an equally grave expression. This was the first time he had decided to speak up of his own volition, “Don’t worry. Leave it to us.”
“Evil beware! Reinforcements have arrived. Let’s see if they still dare to cause a ruckus around these parts.” Ye Xingchen snorted coldly, before soon realizing that he had spoken out of place. Nevertheless, he gazed intently at Qin Ye with deep, expectant eyes.
Ah… the passion of youth…
Qin Ye sighed softly. His eyes were filled with an unusual gaze, and he nodded at Gao Hua, before turning to his students, “Students.”
“Rest well tonight, and prepare the artifacts that you will be using.”
“Tomorrow, I’ll take charge. Together with me, let’s purge New Hale City clean of all hunting zones!”
“YES!!!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter