Chapter 320: Hunting Zone D-69 (3)

I’ve been discovered.

Realization dawned on Qin Ye in that very moment. The daolord had sensed his presence. Or, at the very least, he must have sensed something amiss. That was the only explanation for dispatching an Assassin of the Underworld against him.

But… where did the peak Hunter-class Yin spirit come from?

And why is it targeting the Blue Sky Neighbourhood? There’s only Wang Chenghao over there!

Why?

He was baffled. Simultaneously, there was a rare moment of hesitation in his heart.

What do I do?

Save him?

Wang Chenghao won’t last ten minutes if I hold back! There’s still time if I make a move right now.

But if I wait any longer, then… I’m afraid I’ll have no choice but to reveal my true cultivation level if I’m to be able to rescue him at all.

“What wrong? Instructor Qin?” Just then, Li Jixi glanced over with great concern, “You don’t look too good. Did something happen?”

Qin Ye repressed the stirring thoughts in his mind and responded placidly, “Professor Li seems to be very concerned about me, huh?”

“There’s nothing wrong with showing concern for an instructor of my own faculty, is there?”

“Shouldn’t you be showing more concern for the students right now?” Qin Ye feigned ignorance and glanced at the monitors, “They’re all in a pretty pickle right now, while we’re relishing in the safety of this guard room. Why don’t we head over to the hunting zones to guide them along in person?”

“There’s no need.” Li Jixi smiled, leaned back and lit up a cigarette, “How can a cultivator possibly mature without spilling some blood? Did you learn to fight Yin spirits from reading a book? We are prepared for casualties with every actual combat training we embark on. It would be irresponsible of us to intervene prematurely.”

Qin Ye nodded and stood up, “I’m heading to the washroom. I’ll trouble Professor Li to monitor them while I’m away.”

“I need to go as well. Shall we head over together?” Li Jixi also stood up.

Qin Ye remained silent.

The two men made their way to the washroom together, and each went into their own cubicle. After they were done, and when they were washing their hands, Li Jixi suddenly quipped, “How blessed…”

Qin Ye raised an eyebrow quizzically.

“I’m talking about these students of ours.” Li Jixi’s hands were long, fair and slender, and he washed his hands meticulously, “We never had such luxuries back when I was with the Albatross… Death meant death. The academy is simply pampering them too much.”

Qin Ye paused momentarily, but his voice remained emotionless, “You used to be a part of the Albatross?”

“That’s right. Haven’t I mentioned this before?” Li Jixi smiled as he pulled out a napkin to dry off his hands, “But that was ages ago. Don’t worry, I don’t take any interest in prying into the private lives of others.”

For some strange reason, Qin Ye could sense the assurances given by Li Jixi ebbing away at his vigilance. However, he immediately forced himself to increase his wariness, ever more than before.

This man… is more than meets the eye.

They took their places in front of the monitors once more, but his vigilance was now raised to the extreme. It would be fine if that had been a casual conversation with no other implications. But if he had dropped these pieces of information intentionally, then this man… must be an expert in manipulating the minds of others!

The fact that he was being upfront and unobtrusive means that… he has already detected my guardedness against him! After all, the best way to lower my defenses is to of his own volition make explicit any points of suspicion about him.

Any normal person would have thought - ah, so that’s how it is - and attribute any peculiarities in his behaviour to the habits developed through his previous profession. Then, they would let their guards down. But Qin Ye would never allow that to happen.

Qin Ye wasn’t formally trained in such matters of human psychology. That said, there was no better teacher in this regard than life and life itself.

There’s something wrong about this man.

But just as he was about to delve deeper into these thoughts of his, the images in his mind suddenly trembled, and then vanished altogether.

“Ahhhh!!!” A shrill shriek promptly echoed through the recesses of his mind. He followed its source, only to realize it had come from the direction of the Assassin of the Underworld!

The Assassin of the Underworld had already breached the five hundred meter perimeter around him, and killed one of the five ghosts which was keeping a lookout for him!

He shut his eyes, and his chest rose and fell with every heave of a breath he took. Then, when he finally looked up once more, his eyes were already filled with a trace of determination, as though he were fully convicted on the course of action to take, “Professor Li, call off the operations right away!”

“Why?” Li Jixi responded indifferently, “The operations are supposed to last till twelve midnight. In fact, we’ve only commenced operations no more than forty minutes ago. Instructor Qin, don’t let your concern for the students cloud your judgment…”

BANG! Qin Ye slammed the table and interrupted him before he could even finish speaking, “There’s a terrifying evil ghost coming our way! The consequences will be dire if we don’t retreat right now!”

Li Jixi didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he stared back intently at Qin Ye in silence. Tension filled the guardroom.

“Cultivators aren’t generally too sensitive to the existence of Yin spirits weaker than them. This is all part and parcel of the principles of survival - one would always more readily react to existences that might threaten their own. I didn’t sense anything, so how did you, a Soul Hunter, detect a threat?”

“It’s my technique.” Qin Ye responded placidly, but it was evident that the gaze in his eyes were only growing more deep and abstruse, “Besides, how are you so sure that the threat isn’t stronger than you?”

This guy is hiding something!

Both men had ascertained that the other was hiding something. The sudden onset of an exigent situation was sufficient to cause even the most proficient of experts to reveal the flaws in their facade. Qin Ye was unable to properly explain why he could perceive the approach of an evil spirit from that far away, while Li Jixi couldn’t explain how he was so certain that the threat was weaker than a Hellguard.

“It was a passing remark. I didn’t detect any suspicious presence after all.” Li Jixi stood up and added, “Instructor Qin, let me say it again - I’m the one in charge of the operations over here, and I’m the one taking responsibility for any accidents and incidents that may occur. In my capacity as a professor, I’m now ordering you to sit down. We’ll stick to the plan and close our operations at twelve midnight.”

“This was a gentle reminder of the dangers that are approaching.” Qin Ye sat back down lazily, “Since you don’t believe me, then you can take it that I’ve said nothing. Speaking of which, let me tell you something - the evil ghost that is approaching is a Hellguard. If you don’t notify the whole of New Hale City right now, something big will go down tonight.”

Wang Chenghao… I hope Lady Luck favours you tonight…

Rather than risk exposing myself, I’m gambling on your luck right now… After all, I’ve already done everything I could.

Hellguard? Li Jixi sat down silently. Impossible. The supernatural perimeter hasn’t reacted with any alerts. Besides… the Yin spirit that was released tonight is most certainly not a Hellguard.

Is he simply trying to exaggerate the dangers?

Well… let’s see if your heart is truly as cold as you present yourself to be.

……………………………………………….

Blue Sky Neighbourhood, 12th storey. Wang Chenghao stood at the door, shaking his head and wiping the cold sweat off his forehead. It was strange. He was obviously standing right at the heart of a supernatural incident, and yet he couldn’t sense the presence of any Yin energy no matter what he did.

“What’s going on?” There were already four talismans primed in his hands as he glanced about warily around his surroundings.

No… something’s not right!

Then, a primal sensation rose from the depths of his heart - Leave this place… right now! Unfortunately, his feet were frozen in place.

This is the first opportunity that I’m getting to purge an evil spirit… so how could I retreat so quickly? What if all my other classmates manage to complete their objectives as well? Wouldn’t I be the only one to have achieved nothing? Wouldn’t I become the laughing stock of the entire cohort?

Whoosh… Right then, another flurry of torrential rain was sent scattering into the rooms by a powerful gale of wind. It was almost as though the stifling darkness in the room was suddenly stirred by an invisible giant hand.

Wang Chenghao shivered all over. Bzzt… The electrical lights in the room went out. Simultaneously, both Qin Ye and Li Jixi lifted their heads and stared intently at the central monitor, which revealed Hunting Zone D-69.

Here it comes…

Here it comes!

A terrifying Yin spirit was approaching!

They could see from the surveillance monitor that showed the outskirts of the Blue Sky Neighbourhood… the silhouette of a man covered in blood.

He appeared crippled and immobile, but was somehow able to teleport from shadow to shadow. He was standing at the outskirts of the Blue Sky Neighbourhood in one moment, and then he was standing right on the rooftop of Building No. 2 on the next!

Rumble! The flash of lightning briefly dazzled the twelfth floor, only to reveal that the man… had no shadow under his feet!

Tap… The man placed his hand gently on the glass door and pushed it open softly, leaving a bloody handprint on it.

Meanwhile, as soon as the lights went out, Wang Chenghao immediately sensed his presence. A cold chill went surging straight through his spine!

This is different… This Yin spirit is on a completely different level from anything I’ve ever encountered before!

He could tell that it was far stronger than the average Yin spirit, and its ferocity, bloodthirstiness, resentfulness and hatred for the world was far more intense than anything he had ever sensed before!

Run!

Run away!

He immediately turned and dashed desperately towards the elevator!

CLANG CLANG CLANG!!! As soon as he rushed out, the dilapidated doors along the entire corridor suddenly slammed shut! Furthermore, the number on the elevator panel quickly changed from one to another… 13… 12… 7… 6… 1… All in a matter of just three seconds!

And then… it continued to head down!

-1… -4… -9… -18!

“An evil spirit is crawling up from the eighteenth Abyss of Punishment?!” Wang Chenghao gasped. How is this possible?! This is something that’s completely outside the league of what I can handle! In fact, this isn’t something that even our instructors can handle mano-a-mano!

“Shit!” He smashed on the elevator door hard and began to dash towards the stairs.

But before he even made it two floors down, he suddenly heard a crisp coughing sound coming from below.

“Cough… cough…” The hoarse coughs were followed by the eerie reverberations of thousands of ghastly cries, almost as though the stairs were leading straight down into the depths of Hell.

“Who’s there… who--... who--...” A man’s soulless voice called out, “Help me… save me… I don’t want to die… it hurts… it hurts!!”

His voice grew shrill towards the end of his exclamation, and the entire column of stairs reverberated coldly with his high-decibel screams. Wang Chenghao’s face was now white as snow, and he subconsciously began to retreat, only to discover that… his surroundings were suddenly engulfed in an unusual silence.

There was neither the sound of rain nor the winds. Furthermore, there was no light in the area.

The only thing he could hear was the endless reverberations generated by the man’s heart-rending screams.

Ka-thunk… Wang Chenghao’s knees buckled, and he promptly fell back onto the ground, completely dumbfounded. Moments later, the onset of extreme fear over his heart caused him to leap to his feet once more. But when he turned around…

Bang!

The door leading to the stairs suddenly slammed shut.

And it didn’t only happen back at the twelfth floor. The initial slamming sound was soon followed by a series of twelve others, amidst the lingering cries and moans of the man from below. Wang Chenghao’s heart felt as though it was leaping straight out of his chest.

This… means that all of the doors leading out of the stairs… have just been shut…

He was currently trapped in the enclosed stairwell with an evil ghost.

He was trapped between a rock and a hard place. To make matters worse, the coughing man appeared to be walking upstairs, slowly but surely drawing closer and closer to him.

“So that’s what a truly malicious ghost is like…” He gnashed his teeth and finally pulled out his magic artifact.

It was a carved wooden gourd.

He cut his fingertips and smeared a drop of blood on the gourd. He recalled the use of the artifact - it concealed the breath of the living for thirty full minutes, prevented the incursion of Yin energy and would even send out a distress signal.

After all, regular communication devices couldn’t be used in a dense cloud of Yin energy.

However… as soon as he smeared the drop of blood on the gourd, the energy that blossomed from it wasn’t that of true energy. Rather, it turned out to be… Yin energy!

A split second later, the screams that echoed through the stairwell grew colder and more intense, while the sound of footsteps instantly picked up. Pure Yin energy was a far better tonic to a Yin spirit than mere flesh and blood!

It’s a fake…

The gourd fell to the ground with a dull thud, and Wang Chenghao stared at his hands with disbelief.

The academy had given us a fake magical artifact…

Clatter! Back in the surveillance room, Qin Ye instantly shot to his feet and stared at Li Jixi with great incredulity, “Is this what you call the academy’s magical artifacts?!”

“Professor Li, do you know what you’ve just done?!”

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