Chapter 364: A Meaningful Expression

The room was instantly shrouded in silence.

Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran gasped in horror, because they knew all too well what the emergence of a Prefect-class ghost meant to humanity.

Furthermore… Zhou Xianlong’s intuition told him that this was the true cause for Li Jixi’s death!

He wanted to know more. But, after three full seconds of tense silence in the room, he slowly shook his head, “Let’s not discuss these things for now. Get some rest. We’ll talk more once you get better.”

However, Qin Ye refused to release his hands, and instead gazed deeply into Zhou Xianlong’s eyes as he continued, “No… Faculty Head Zhou, please listen to me… There are some things I have to tell you right now.”

With that, he pulled open his robes and revealed his chest, “Do you see this?”

Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran exchanged a glance, before shaking their heads.

As expected, you can’t see it. But that’s good. That means there’s no way of verifying the truth after all.

Qin Ye lowered his eyes like a weak and feeble patient as he continued, “I don’t know exactly what happened either… The only thing I know was that I’d passed out back then, only to fall into a deep, long dream. In that dream, a Prefect-class evil ghost afflicted me with this curse which he called… the Immortals on the Magpie Bridge.”

Zhou Xianlong couldn’t hold back any longer. His heart was anxious, yet his voice remained calm and placid, “Don’t worry, Little Qin. Even if you’ve been targeted by a Prefect-class evil ghost, I’ll personally get you posted to the Special Investigations Department’s headquarters. You’ll be absolutely safe over there.”

Don’t… please don’t! That’s not how this plot is supposed to unfold! I’m not ready to depart for the headquarters just yet!!!

Qin Ye’s felt a lump swell up at this throat - You guys are here to mess around with me, aren’t you? How can you be so adept at stabbing me where it hurts?! Each strike comes without any warning, and cuts straight at the heart and the marrows… Are you bent on blocking every possible path of retreat I have prepared for myself?!

“Cough, cough, cough…” Qin Ye coughed violently, and Tao Ran immediately took a step forward and patted his back. Then, Qin Ye leaned back on his pillow and continued softly, “This is the first instance of the curse’s outbreak, and this is also what tells me that everything I’d seen in the dream wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. Furthermore, as soon as I come into close contact with any cultivators of the mortal realm, I’ll experience such flare ups within a month’s time.”

I can’t help but praise myself for my resourcefulness and quick-wittedness!

Let’s see if you still send me to the Special Investigations Department headquarters with that!

I may be a husky that has successfully infiltrated the ranks of a pack of wolves, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to meet with the king of the wolves just yet!

Qin Ye lowered his head, and a bright glimmer of victory flashed across the depths of his eyes.

Silence.

“We’ve got it.” Seconds later, Zhou Xianlong sighed deeply and clasped his hands tightly around Qin Ye’s hands, “Little Qin, don’t think about anything else and rest well. The only resource that us cultivators have is the abilities that have accrued to our bodies. We’ll look for new instructors on our side. As for you…”

He gritted his teeth, “We’ll temporarily suspend your classes. Once you’ve recovered, we’ll prepare your hand-over documents. I believe that the two principals wouldn’t have any objections to this arrangement either. At that time, we’ll help you source out the best way to rid yourself of this curse altogether.”

… Hang on a minute…

Qin Ye felt as though he had just been struck by a bolt out of the blue. He looked up at Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran in despair. Wait, wait, wait… that’s really not how the plot is supposed to unfold! You’ve misunderstood me completely!

I’m already an outstanding instructor that is on the brink of becoming appointed an associate professor, and yet you’re telling me to hand-over my teaching post to someone else?! Where’s your sense of leadership?! Do you know that you won’t be able to retain your office for long if you keep handling matters this way?!

The correct response should have been this - ‘You can continue to rest and recuperate in the First Academy of Cultivators. The gates of the academy are always open to you, and we look forward to your recovery and your teaching contributions next semester.’

Isn’t that a more appropriate response?!

Shouldn’t a terminally ill instructor be given the opportunity to teach at a podium until he falls in the line of his teaching duties? I promise that I won’t look to you for compensation! Besides, what do you mean hand-over my duties and focus on rest and recovery anyway? Don’t you know that even cancer patients can have periods of remission?! This… this curse of mine won’t affect my duties and obligations in any way!!!

Their eyes met. Qin Ye’s eyes were filled with despair, while Zhou Xianlong and Tao Ran’s eyes were filled with worry and concern. After some time, Zhou Xianlong finally raised his hand and patte Qin Ye’s hand reassuringly, “Rest assured that the academy would never give up on a single one of its instructors. We’ll do our level best to pick out cities that are lacking in resources so that you’ll be far from any other cultivators in the region. Get some rest.”

With that, he shook off Qin Ye’s feeble grip on his sleeves and left the room so that Qin Ye could rest. He didn’t even look back. Qin Ye, on the other hand, reached out after Zhou Xianlong, like a heroine of a bitter soap drama that was on the verge of calling out after the antagonist of the story.

Finally, after three long seconds, he finally slumped back into his bed with great despondence, “How did things end up this way…”

How did I end up digging such a huge pit for myself?

No… This is an illusion. It has to be an illusion. Everything must be false! They can’t have such a terrible grasp of the situation… can they?

After some time, the door opened softly again.

Qin Ye didn’t even look at the door. His mind was still spinning at full speed, trying to come to terms with the cataclysmic consequences of his own actions. I just got fired… I’m now an unemployed soul… My dainty, feeble persona achieved nothing of its intended effect, and instead even caused things to take a turn for the worse…

Just then, Lin Han’s voice suddenly cut through the silence in the room, “I’m relieved to see that you’re still alive.” Qin Ye was so startled by his sudden, loud remark that he immediately sent a slap flying the way of the voice, incidentally landing it right across Lin Han’s cheeks.

Lin Han slowly and silently peeled off Qin Ye’s hand, before sighing softly, “That’s right, it’s me. It’s not a grim reaper. Come on~~”

Then, a split second later, he actually lifted Qin Ye up from the bed!

The cataclysmic comet had just struck earth, only to be followed closely by Mars hurtling towards the earth! Qin Ye was so astonished that he nearly jumped up and kicked Lin Han right out of the ward, “What the hell are you doing?!!!”

He had already been overstimulated today, and his mind was practically on the verge of collapse.

But Lin Han was merciless, and he seemed to only be concerned about expediting the collapse of Qin Ye’s mind. Thus Lin Han stared back as though Qin Ye was being ludicrous, “We’re going to the toilet. Shouldn’t you be used to it by now? We’ve been doing this since you’ve been unconscious!”

WTF?!!

Qin Ye grabbed Lin Han by the neck and squeezed it so hard that his eyes were even bulging out, “Let go! I say, let me go!!! Otherwise, this very day next year will be your first death anniversary!”

“... Too hard, too hard… Speaking of which, how can you possibly be so violent immediately after coming to your senses? Anyway, you don’t have to be so shy… It’s not as though I’ve not seen it before…” Lin Han set Qin Ye down on the wheelchair and immediately began to wheel him to the bathroom. And then...

Qin Ye suddenly shot to his feet.

“Holy crap?!” Local Bully reeled back in shock. It was far too shocking that someone who had just awakened from a two-week comatose could suddenly shoot to his feet like that. After all, wasn’t he just recovering from a serious affliction?

Qin Ye fervently suppressed the murderous intent in his heart and glanced up at the ceiling, “I… can go by myself.” He was afraid that another look at Lin Han would immediately trigger an irreversible response on his part.

His voice was as placid as he could muster.

“What crap are you talking about? Your legs and waist are trembling uncontrollably…” Lin Han responded with great concern for Qin Ye.

“... I want to get used to the feeling of ambulating on my own earlier.” Qin Ye’s facial muscles twitched uncontrollably, “Besides, I’d like to have a break from the world. Please help me shut the door from the outside. Thanks.”

Lin Han nodded.

And then, he closed the door from the inside.

Don’t you understand basic instructions?! I’ve already done my best to speak to you with the greatest amount of courtesy and decorum I could muster!!!

His heart was in turmoil! The mere thought of Local Bully having handled his untouchables stirred such intense rage in his heart that he couldn’t help but develop the urge to cast Local Bully into a swarm of blight vermin to be completely and utterly destroyed.

Endure… endure… There must be surveillance cameras in the ward right now. I’m supposed to be a patient in critical condition… I can’t afford to act out of line…

A few seconds later, Qin Ye plastered on his face the very best smile he could muster, before returning to his bed, lying down and beginning to use his phone once again. Lin Han didn’t disturb him either. This appeared to be a rare compromise that the two men had managed to reach.

Thus, they were also unaware of the presence of a man who was on the other side of the wall. He wore a smart suit, and he was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in his mouth.

The man was approximately 1.8m tall, with a youngish appearance. However, his movements and mannerisms said otherwise about his age. He exhaled a mouthful of cigarette smoke and nodded to the man across the room he was in, “If that’s how it is, then that would explain Albatross 032’s bizarre death.”

Zhou Xianlong was the man who was seated across the room. He promptly sighed, “Then, let’s conclude the investigations here.”

He folded his arms and propped up his head with a tightly clenched fist, “I didn’t expect Student Wang Chenghao to have been martyred as a result of the investigations. These are regrets that I’ll have to live with. As things are, there doesn’t seem to be any further meaning in pressing on with these investigations. After all, there’s no further complications resulting from the outburst of Yin energy at the Strait of Tsushima either.”

The man gently snuffed out his cigarette butt as he abruptly responded, “It’s fake.”

Zhou Xianlong lifted his head and furrowed his brows, “Hmm?”

“Qin Ye’s ID card is fake.” The man tapped off the ashes on his cigarette as he continued, “We’ve just discovered that Albatross 032 had previously run a verification search on Qin Ye’s identity on the database. But the falsity of his identity was something that was only discoverable by a search authorized by a higher level of authority.”

Zhou Xianlong’s gaze flickered, and his expression grew austere. Seconds later, he shook his head to loosen up his tension.

“Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that Qin Ye is human. Over the last two weeks, we’ve done a comprehensive physical examination on his body and confirmed that there’s no Yin spirit residing in his body. He’s an instructor of the First Academy of Cultivators, and one who has done his level best at every step of the way at that. These are all signs of his dedication that cannot be disregarded or erased from his records.”

Zhou Xianlong slowly rose to his feet, “I forbid you to continue any further with your investigations, and I hereby do so in my capacity as the second-in-command of the Special Investigations Department.”

The man grew silent.

After some time, he finally spoke up, “Actually, that’s in line with my intentions as well.”

Without missing a beat, the man continued, “The fact that his falsified ID card forms a part of his records on several government databases means that he’s got someone backing him. We’ve located this man, and have also questioned him about these matters before, but that man has hinted that we should cease this line of questioning summarily. He has given us his word that there’s no issues with Qin Ye’s identity. In fact, Qin Ye’s backer has confirmed that Qin Ye’s identity is rather unique, and that he was the one who had prepared his identification documents for Qin Ye.”

“Who’s that man?!” Zhou Xianlong barked back.

“His position is higher than yours.” The man in the room responded softly, causing Zhou Xianlong to gasp in horror.

Qin Ye… actually knows someone like that?

He wasn’t aware that Qin Ye had already lived for about a hundred years, and he would naturally have some tricks hidden up his sleeves. The City of Salvation’s Zhang Baoguo was but one of such hidden cards he had.

“Besides, Zhang Baoguo of the City of Salvation seems to know more than he was willing to disclose, and he was clearly hinting that we shouldn’t probe any further.” The man sighed, “So, let’s leave it at that and pretend nothing ever happened. From now on, we’ll divert our attention away from Qin Ye and focus all of our efforts on investigating the nature and cause of the outburst of Yin energy at the Strait of Tsushima.”

He paused for a moment, and then continued, “But, in our opinion, he shouldn’t be given a teaching post in any event. Qin Ye is a man shrouded in mystery, and his backers are protecting the truth behind his identity as well. It’s… not safe to allow him to remain in a place such as the First Academy of Cultivators.”

With that, he pushed on the door and left the room.

He made his way to the ground floor and pulled out his phone, “Hello… it’s me. Prepare to withdraw all surveillance and investigative resources channeled to target S81. Cancel all plans… Yes, that’s right. Tomorrow, the team deployed at the First Academy of Cultivators will be returning to Yan Capital, and we shall wash our hands clean off this matter… No, nobody else will be taking over either. This matter ends here.”

Simultaneously, Zhou Xianlong picked up the phone in the ward he was in, “Professor Tao… Mm, it’s me.”

He paused for a moment, and then continued, “Make the necessary preparations. Ask around and see if any localities experiencing a high volume of supernatural outbreaks are looking for a strong Hunter-class expert to stabilize their operations. He’s on the verge of becoming a Hellguard… Mm, I’d like to have a response by this afternoon.”

With that, Zhou Xianlong set down the phone and gazed out the window at the distant sky, sighing deeply, “What an eventful year indeed…”

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