Chapter 365: Choice

Qin Ye’s leave of absence from Hell lasted for a whole week.

During this time, his heart was fraught with incomparable anxiety. The official documents alone would already pile up like mountains in his week-long absence, and there was still the need to keep Arthis in check to prevent all forms of… corruption. They even needed to attend to the most pressing issue of firming up the next steps of Hell’s developmental work. After all, they had only two years’ time to establish a sea port city good enough for commencement of their trade routes. There was truly no time to lose. That said… he had no choice but to stick to his leave of absence.

There were currently a multitude of instruments tethered to his body. As soon as he enters Hell again, these instruments would begin to blare and beep like a wild medical concert. Furthermore, the icing on the cake was indubitably… the extremely obtrusive Local Bully that was hovering about right next to him.

Local Bully was a man who was completely oblivious to all forms of social cues whatsoever!

Everyday, he would watch over Qin Ye with an expression like that of a benevolent grandfather, asking Qin Ye whether he was thirsty or hungry, or whether he would like to use the bathroom or have some fruit. He turned a blind eye to Qin Ye’s coldness and even menacing gaze at times.

One thing was certain - Local Bully would make for a good father in future. That said, Qin Ye couldn’t wait to get out of this ‘fatherly’ hell as soon as he could.

And the worst part of it all was that there was simply no room for retreat on his part!

During this time, some of his other students had dropped by in their free time to visit him, and their presence was what helped sustain him through the long, arduous week. That said, he couldn’t hold on any longer.

The hospital that he was residing in was located within the premises of the First Academy of Cultivators. He finally checked out and left the miserable white building for the very first time in a long, long while. He took a deep breath of the fresh air of freedom. He had never felt so alive before.

It was already the final sprint leading up to the end of the semester, so most of the students were already holed up in their little booths in the library, and few could be seen scattered about the campus grounds. Everything looked bare and empty, save for the occasional regular citizen passers-by who were pointing and commenting on the fence surrounding the campus grounds.

Qin Ye didn’t even bother looking around the campus grounds to take in the fresh sights and sounds that had been absent from his life for such a long time. Instead, he made a beeline straight towards the faculty buildings. Teaching credits… How could Zhou Xianlong leave me hanging like that? How could he just discard me after using me? Believe me… I’m still good for a few other uses…

He pushed open the door to the faculty office, only to notice Zhou Xianlong look up from his desk in surprise, “Have you finally been discharged? I’ve been anticipating your arrival. It’s good to be young. Your rate of recovery is extraordinary. Come, take a seat. You’re just in time, there are some things that I want to show you.”

Qin Ye scooched over obediently and took his seat.

He had a request to make to Zhou Xianlong, so he would naturally have to comply with Zhou Xianlong’s instructions. I’ll listen to the leadership, and then comply with their instructions so that I can remain with the organizatio--... What the hell is this?!!

Qin Ye jumped up from his seat as though a pin had pricked his bum. He stared warily at Zhou Xianlong’s table, only to notice a large pile of applications placed atop his desk, all of which had headlines that stood out to him - “XX City urgently seeks senior cultivators! Supernatural outbreaks have increased by up to 13% in recent months!” “XX City is willing to offer top dollar to Hunter-class experts! Looking for a city chief of police force and city chief of defense!” “Supernatural outbreaks in XX City have increased by 11.97%. Help is urgently required! Seeking aid from all experts of neighbouring regions!”

“Take a seat, take a seat.” Zhou Xianlong placed his arm on Qin Ye’s shoulder and pressed him back down onto his seat, “Little Qin…”

Such opening statements hardly boded well. Qin Ye took a deep breath and immediately interjected, “Faculty Head Zhou, you wouldn’t be trying to drive me away from the academy, would you?”

Straight to the point. Zhou Xianlong had never expected Qin Ye to be so direct, and he paused for a moment, “We don’t operate cabs around here…”

Haha… You think you’re humorous, don’t you?

Qin Ye nearly rolled his eyes, “Faculty Head Zhou, I’ve already recovered, I can still continue to teach! We’ve got to be responsible for the students under our charge! Can the other instructors possibly take over the matters which I’ve been imbibing our students with? Would the students be able to understand these key concepts about the supernatural without my guidance? I’ve been hearing the despondent cries of my students even in my sleep back at the hospital!”

Zhou Xianlong: ……

The students aren’t as stupid as you make them out to be…

“Do you remember what you’ve said to all of us previously? The first batch of students have been sent by the great clans and sects of Cathay to test and see if the First Academy of Cultivators can truly live up to its name! It’s a proving ground of sorts! I’ve already done one of the two years, and yet you’re simply going to give up on me just because of two weeks’ performance?”

Qin Ye still had a large amount of credits under his name that hadn’t been spent. Although the evaluation guideline for the determination of associate professors had changed somewhat, he was undoubtedly still in the running for the highly coveted title. One could only imagine how the first batch of teaching staff were going to be treated after the graduation of the first batch of students! Qin Ye was naturally bent on fighting for his teaching post, even if that meant dragging his name through the mud!

“It’s not that--...”

“Or are you saying that I’m not teaching well enough? Or am I not strong enough? Or do you take issue with my attitude?”

Zhou Xianlong wasn’t even given the opportunity to respond. He was stonewalled by Qin Ye at every possible point of interjection.

Zhou Xianlong sighed softly. He had only come to this very decision after having regard to a multitude of considerations. Yet, faced with Qin Ye’s feisty, accusatory gaze, he found himself rendered completely speechless.

Damn... Being a faculty head really isn’t easy! If this were the Special Investigations Department, I’d simply have given him two tight slaps across the cheeks…

Just then, a voice suddenly called out from the door behind Qin Ye, “Instructor Qin, you’ve misunderstood us.” Qin Ye turned back in surprise, only to see Xu Anguo standing at the door, holding a cup of tea.

To think that the elusive dragon that is our principal would make such a timely appearance… Xu Anguo smiled and promptly pulled over a chair. He smiled faintly, “Old Zhou, you’ve got to work on developing some of the softer skills that would be crucial to performing your function as a faculty head. Instructors are one of us, and it would naturally be important to inspire them and guide them along.”

“Understood.” Zhou Xianlong chuckled bitterly. He had already done much to restrain his volatile temperament, but there was admittedly still much room for improvement.

“It’s like this.” Xu Anguo turned to Qin Ye. He was smiling so widely that a series of wrinkles had appeared on his face. He continued with a soft tone of voice, “Instructor Qin, let’s get things straight. You’re still going to be a part of the First Academy of Cultivators.”

Hmm?

Qin Ye expression was still filled with righteous indignation, but Xu Anguo’s words had practically lifted a huge weight off his chest.

Couldn’t you have told me these things earlier…

As long as the points accrued to my name aren’t taken away from me, everything is up on the table for discussions.

“Your situation is rather special.” Xu Anguo picked up the documents on Zhou Xianlong’s desk and began flipping through them, “There are several considerations that were playing on our mind when we decided to approve of the proposed course of action. Firstly, your physical condition is a huge issue. The First Academy of Cultivators doesn’t possess the ability to undo the curse. Something afflicted by a Prefect-class entity will require another Prefect-class entity to undo. To this end, there are only three such existences in Cathay itself. Together, they constitute the Cathay’s bulwark in this war against the netherworldly forces. These experts are usually impossible to contact. Thus, if you remain with the First Academy of Cultivators, you’d only be waiting for death. This is something that none of us want to see.”

Qin Ye’s expressions immediately turned somber.

Three Abyssal Prefects, huh… To think that there would be three Prefect-class experts hidden within the mortal realm. The head honcho of the Special Investigations Department should be one. Then, what about the other two? Taoist? Buddhist?

“We can all sense your passion for teaching and education. But the preservation of good health is a necessary precondition to catalyzing change in the world, especially when it comes to talent like yours that comes only once in a hundred years. Your immense cultivation speed places you well ahead of your compatriots, and you even possess the ability to purge evil ghosts in a crisp and clean fashion. This is all the more reasons for us to take your life even more seriously than any other out there, isn’t it?”

Qin Ye’s lips trembled slightly, but he remained taciturn.

Old fox.

What a wily old fox. What masterful use of rhetorics and soft-argumentative style. Qin Ye had a feeling that he would be fully persuaded by Xu Anguo today.

“The second point of consideration is your ability to take charge of the students.” Xu Anguo flicked the lid of his teacup gently, “Like you’d mentioned earlier, you’ve undoubtedly got the ability to take responsibility and charge over your students. However, that’s all in the past.”

“And don’t be in a hurry to refute me just yet. Consider this - how do you know when your curse would next act up? What if you’re in the midst of an important lesson or a crucial demonstration? What happens if this happens during the actual combat practice? These aren’t matters that we can gloss over lightly.”

Qin Ye sealed his lips tightly shut.

Having noticed his silence, Xu Anguo smiled faintly once more, “Thirdly…”

Then, Xu Anguo promptly retracted the smile on his face, “Cathay has already evinced an intention to publicly disclose the truth about the supernatural outbreaks.”

“Sss…” Qin Ye gasped and turned to look at Xu Anguo with great disbelief.

Is Cathay finally… about to make everything public?

They had laid the groundwork for over a decade, and the consequences of the supernatural outbreaks across the three eastern provinces were clearly too severe to conceal any longer. Thus, riding the wave of the opportunity that had presented itself, the Cathayan government… had finally decided that the time was ripe.

One could only imagine how tense the entire nation would be with such an earth-shattering announcement. All industries pertaining to the supernatural would glow with white-hot passion, and the entire nation… was headed straight towards another point of inflection!

Nobody knows what the future would hold for them. That said, one thing was for certain - everything would hinge on whether they could overcome this obstacle that was a tidal wave of Yin spirits headed for them right now!

The dead in the grave had opened their eyes, and they were looking avariciously at the mortal realm that was now, more than ever, a mere stone’s throw away from them.

“Over the last ten years, Cathay has established satellite offices across the entire nation, populating even the remotest counties with cultivators and experts of all sorts. Every county has at least a hundred cultivators protecting them. Unfortunately… this is far from enough as far as cities are concerned.” Xu Anguo could tell that Qin Ye was mulling over these things, and he promptly added, “It’s not that there’s insufficient headcount. Rather, what’s lacking is the number of elites.”

“Cities and similar urbanized areas with a larger population naturally come with a commensurately higher propensity to develop high-ranking Yin spirits. Cathay currently has approximately twenty Hunter-class experts deployed in each of such urbanized areas with a dense population. However, of these Hunter-class experts that are deployed in each location, few possess the combat ability to deal with such high-ranking Yin spirits. Some of these experts may be Hunter-class in name and quality of true energy, but it’s still very much a toss-up whether they can deal with a commensurately powerful Yin spirit or not.”

Xu Anguo sighed softly and set down his teacup, “To make matters worse… they’re not at all familiar with Yin spirits at all. Supernatural outbreaks have only become more commonplace in the last decade or so. On the other hand, the sects, clans and other forces have complex and intricate organizational structures that are generally inward-looking. Their rate of development and adaptation is slow, and it was only in the last two to three years that some of these experts have come out of their seclusion to experience the changes in the world once more. What remains head knowledge requires time and bloodshed to be converted into practical experience and knowledge. This is why most urbanized areas are still looking for true experts who have the means of dealing with the increasing supernatural threat.”

Qin Ye pondered for a few moments before asking, “Do the other governments around the world… know that the Cathayan government is prepared to announce the truth of the matter?”

“Everything is in the works right now.” Zhou Xianlong explained, “Nobody knows exactly when it’s going to happen, but it’s only going to be a matter of time in the near future. This is why the competition for cultivators over the last half a year has never been stronger, and I’m afraid it will only continue to get more and more intense over the next decade or so.”

Qin Ye sighed in his heart. He had been so busy with his own affairs over the last six months that he hadn’t had the time to catch up on the matters in the mortal realm. Otherwise, he would have been able to pick up a hint or two from the trends in the world.

Xu Anguo added, “How to defend against or deal with Yin spirits are matters that must be learnt through practical experience. Besides, how many experts do you think there are in Cathay who actually possess the requisite ability to deal with the threat of the supernatural? Most of them have already come to the First Academy of Cultivators. We've already received over a thousand such requests and applications for assistance from various cities around. There are even some cities that have come together to pool their resources to attract the best talent around. Unfortunately, the pool of talents they're vying for is simply too limited. Incidentally, you're one of these talents that everyone is looking for."

He gazed deeply into Qin He's eyes, "Your talents are wasted in the academy. Thus, we've made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend you from your teaching post so that your talents can be put to good use elsewhere. That said, you'll still be considered a part of the teaching staff. We'll treat the location that you're posted to as the First Academy of Cultivators' top choice of hunting grounds for it's students' actual combat practice, and you'll still be rewarded with teaching credits and privileges as though you haven't left the academy. What do you think of such an arrangement?"

Of course I'm agreeable to this!

What else could I possibly ask for? Qin Ye looked up with a glint of satisfaction, "I accept your rationale. Although it's a pity that I'm unable to continue teaching at the academy, it would likewise be worrying not to have a reliable instructor at the locality where the academy's actual combat practice is to be carried out. Mm… I'm willing to respond to the call of duty and shoulder this hefty burden!"

"Excellent! I knew we could count on Instructor Qin!” Zhou Xianlong finally breathed a sigh of relief, “Come, Instructor Qin, take a look at the cities we’ve picked for you. We’ve especially shortlisted the cities with the highest level of supernatural outbreak so that your talents wouldn’t be wasted! Furthermore, when we previously channeled true energy through your body earlier, we’ve discovered that you’re already close to breaking through to becoming an Anitya Hellguard. Being caught in life-and-death battles would only increase the odds of breaking through!”

Hang on a minute…

Qin Ye stared at Zhou Xianlong as though he had just seen a ghost.

Whoever told you that ‘life-and-death battles’ was one of the selection criteria for my city of posting? Please stop making such random decisions for me, will you?!

I’d very much rather have a home with a sea view and wake up to the smell of a bed of roses!

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