Whoosh… The night wind carried the cries of a thousand ghosts. The man’s voice was now shrill and sharp, “That’s the broadcast that induces passengers to alight at Valley County. But Valley County’s train station has already been decommissioned some time ago. A whopping sixty-four people died the first time the announcement was made… The station was completely sealed off that very day…”
“Incidentally, the ones who hear the announcement… would still be able to see an intact train station when they look out of the window… gulp… Furthermore they would be able to see train attendants that otherwise can’t be seen by other passengers… gulp… The government has already warned everyone not to alight at this train station… gulp…”
“But those who hear the announcement… will feel compelled to alight in any case… Come… gulp… welcome to my humble abode…”
The man stopped in front of an earthen grave. It was already overgrown and broken in places, yet the paper money that had been placed right atop the tombstone appeared to be written with fresh, vermillion ink, and… they were even fluttering menacingly at Qin Ye!
“So, you’re none other than the steward who can’t be seen by others?” Qin Ye exclaimed, “No wonder I couldn’t see the existence of the three lamps hovering over your shoulder when I first saw you.”
K-k-k-k-k… The man turned around stiffly. His cheeks were now sunken, and blood was now pouring out his gaping eye sockets. In fact, his entire throat from the jaw down appeared to have been completely gouged out, leaving countless maggots and other worms crawling in place of the gaping hole. His lips slowly cracked open from ear to ear, revealing a vicious, horrific smile, “Number ninety-nine… Hahahaha!”
He suddenly flopped to the ground and began to slither about towards Qin Ye almost as though he were a centipede crawling across the ground!
“Fresh meat… fresh meat! You’re a fresh soul! Gulp… Haaaa--!” He was practically screaming at this point in time. Blood poured out of his gaping mouth, scattering everywhere around on the ground. But as soon as he began charging towards Qin Ye, a foot suddenly stamped down on his head with a resounding crash.
SSS!!! A muffled shriek cut through the eerie silence of the night. The man’s head was stamped straight into the ground. Qin Ye flicked his sleeves in disgust, “Bloody hell… you’re seriously disgusting! Can’t you pay some attention to your appearances for once? Why do you have to scare people like those Usonian horror flicks? Why can’t you do it like the Daehan or Siamese films? Stop disgracing the Yin spirits of Cathay!”
SSS!!! The evil ghost’s head was firmly planted in the ground, and he couldn’t extricate himself no matter how hard he flailed his limbs about. Qin Ye looked up and swept his fringe to the side as he gazed deeply into the distant night sky, “He truly needs some guidance. He only has one job. How could he even bastardize something as simple as that? The Yin spirits of recent times… are truly getting more and more disappointing…”
Boom! Qin Ye kicked the man back up into the air. With a miserable scream, the man’s body shattered in mid-air, leaving an ethereal figure behind in its wake.
“Y-y-you!!! Who are you?!” His originally hoarse and eerie voice was now instead filled with terror and panic as he squealed at the top of his voice, “Who the hell are you?! Cultivator?! Hellguard… You’re an Anitya Hellguard!”
“Cultivator?” Qin Ye smiled faintly in the darkness. For some strange reason, the man couldn’t help but feel as though his entire soul was now exposed to Qin Ye. He could tell that Qin Ye was clearly a man, but his instincts told him that… this man was indubitably more frightening than a real ghost altogether!
“By Hell’s Dictum, all rabble shall disperse.” Qin Ye smiled faintly. Qin Ye had dressed himself in a down jacket because a camouflage uniform made him way too conspicuous. He lifted his hands, and his soul shackle suddenly shot out of his sleeves, puncturing the man’s ethereal figure completely.
“AAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!” A heart rending scream reverberated through the night sky. Green netherflames immediately began spewing out of the man’s seven apertures as he continued to scream at the top of his voice, “Don’t… don’t kill me! I… I don’t want to die!”
The netherflames burnt for ten whole seconds before Qin Ye finally relented. The man’s spiritual body was on the verge of collapse, and it immediately slumped weakly to the ground.
“The fact that you haven’t heard of that phrase tells me that you haven’t been dead for a long time yet. After all, any ghost that has been in existence for over a hundred years would immediately turn tail and run as soon as they hear this phrase.” Qin Ye stood right in front of the man and spoke with great coldness and nobility, almost as though he were on a different plane of existence altogether.
It couldn’t be helped. Qin Ye was naturally just that domineering against evil ghosts that were of the same or lower cultivation level as he was!
Everything he did was filled with overbearing might!
In fact, he was so tyrannical that he even surprised himself! He couldn’t even recognize himself! Shurima, your emperor is back!
“I’m curious. Truly.” He squatted down and towered over the Yin spirit’s trembling spirit, “How did you manage to do all that? Not even I was able to distinguish illusion from reality. Do you know that when I saw the reality of the disused platform upon disembarking from the train, the first thing that occurred to my mind was that I’d encountered a mutated Yin spirit - one of those that Arthis had warned me to be particularly wary of.”
“But your strength isn’t much, and you’ve probably only just appeared. Otherwise, had you been any stronger, it’s likely that the transport authorities would have completely closed off this train route, rather than simply decommission the present train station. Soul Hunter? Or perhaps at best an Anitya Hellguard. It’s going to be a walk in the park for me. In fact, this might even be a pretty good start to assembling my Dusk Legionnaire forces… Come, tell me where your big boss is located so that I can sit down and have a nice cup of tea with him?”
The Yin spirit let out a muffled groan. A wave of excruciating pain coursed through his entire body, rendering him completely incapable of speech. He had never seen or heard about something like the shackles running through his body before! He didn’t even have a physical body, and yet the shackles that ran through his ethereal being felt no different from a red-hot iron that was branding his body! There was no doubt that even his spiritual body would vanish into a wisp of smoke if the branding had just continued for five more seconds.
That’s terrifying… He can’t possibly be a cultivator! Cultivators don’t have such terrifying techniques! That chain… is something that is specially crafted to dish out punishment against one’s soul! This definitely isn’t something that cultivators can use!
Run… I have to get out of here… His thoughts converged on a single conclusion. But before he could traverse every specific notion in his mind, the excruciating pain shot straight through his temples once more, and he couldn’t help but scream at the top of his voice.
Seconds later, Qin Ye finally retracted his soul shackle and furrowed his brows, “Hey, I’m talking to you. Can’t you show me some respect? It’s not good to be so arrogant, you--…”
The gaze in Qin Ye’s eyes flickered before he could even finish speaking.
Everything had suddenly become dead silent.
It was night, but the fact that it was night didn’t necessarily translate to dead silence. Dead silence… was a phrase used to describe places like the morgue.
Yet, the sensation that Qin Ye got was exactly that, notwithstanding his surrounding right now. The rush of the wind, and the rustle of the leaves, and even the chirrups of the insects… had all completely vanished just seconds ago!
He stood up in silence.
No… it wasn’t just that there were no sounds anymore. In fact, even the shadows in his surroundings had ceased to move altogether, almost as though… the entire space around him had become completely frozen in place!
“One of the top ten types of Yin spirits… Phantom Spirit? Forsaken Spirit? Gluttonous Spirit? These Yin spirits all exhibit similar characteristics… I wonder which one it is this time? Not bad… to think that I’d encounter such a pleasant surprise as soon as I leave Insignia Province. This is definitely a top-quality hunting zone in the region… Well, I guess I’ll help you guys out for free just this once.”
He swept his gaze vigilantly around his surroundings. Then, a split second later, the lights on the disused train platform suddenly snapped and exploded in unison!
The entire train station went dark in an instant, and the dark platform appeared loomed over him like a menacing behemoth.
Then, the shadows on the platform suddenly shifted softly. Qin Ye’s eyes flickered, and he tilted his head just in time to avoid a rusty steel beam that rushed straight towards him. Shk! It whizzed past his head and plunged straight into the ground below like a hot knife cutting through butter.
Sssss! Ahhhhh!! It plunged straight into the Yin spirit below, and it was instantly reduced to a cloud of Yin energy.
Qin Ye raised his brows with some measure of astonishment, before slowly running his finger across his cheek, only to realize that there was a faint trace of blood there.
“To think you were actually able to hurt me.” His expressions turned grim. A split second later, Yin energy suddenly erupted from his body like a colossal tidal wave that swept across everything in the darkness. The terrified cry of a female ghost echoed in the distance as the ground erupted with a blazing green inferno that rushed out in all directions.
But Qin Ye didn’t give chase. He only furrowed his brows yet even more.
In fact… they appear rather organized. Killing their own kind to keep them from running their mouths?
What’s this? I’ve never seen anything like that before.
However, Qin Ye knew full well that it wasn’t the time to be considering these things now. His top priority right now was to find a suitable place to rest. After all, the distance between the City of Salvation and Valley County was approximately two hundred kilometers, so the next order of business was naturally to locate the best place for the placement of the first Beacon of Light.
Thus, he began to take large strides towards the sealed iron door.
The iron door was tightly shut, and about ten police cars were parked in this place. The head of the group was a captain-ranked officer.
All of the police officers stood behind a tape cordon that was placed hundreds of meters away from the iron door, armed with guns that were trained directly on the sealed iron door. The iron door was tightly sealed shut with five massive chains, each of which were imbued with a powerful talisman that was glowing with a faint scarlet hue that fluttered wildly with the wind.
Nobody said a single word, and everyone had an incredibly tense expression on their face. Even the man in a suit standing right next to the captain-ranked officer was staring intently at the iron door.
“Haa--...” After some time, the officer finally sighed and gritted his teeth as he gazed into the sky, “What’s going on with Valley County… And why would something happen tonight of all nights…”
The man in a suit was incredibly scrawny, and he appeared to be in his early thirties. He propped up his spectacles as he remarked, “Things like that are completely unpredictable. There’s no need to think too much of it.”
“I’ve heard that the rest of Cathay has it even worse than us?” One of the other police officers lit up a cigarette and took a deep drag, “It appears that we already have it good compared to some of the other places around.”
The man in the suit shook his head, before turning to gaze at the iron door with a complicated look in his eyes, “Good? Hunting zones of such levels shouldn’t even be appearing in counties to begin with… But whether Breakwaters Province or Eastmount Province, we’ve seen an increasing emergence of such hunting zones in larger counties in recent times. These things are no different from ticking time bombs that will blow up at any time. And yet, we don’t even have the help of suitable cultivators to keep these in check and under control.”
“As soon as they blow up…” His voice drifted off, and then he sighed and shut his eyes, “Pray… pray hard… pray for as few casualties as possible, and that the cultivators that we’d requested for will arrive quickly…”
Clang… Just then, the iron door clattered with a muffled clang.
Everyone froze immediately. The police officers that were easing up slightly immediately tensed up their spirits and half-knelt to the ground once more as they aimed their iron-sights directly on the iron door. The eyes of the man in the suit flickered slightly, and then a discernible wave of true energy erupted from his body.
He was an Operative-class expert.
One after another, the police officers cocked their guns and held their breaths.
Several men even had cold sweat running down their foreheads. Just then, the iron door clanged and rattled again. And before they could even react to the situation, the chains on the iron door snapped violently, and the iron door suddenly burst wide open!
Gulp… The officers gulped nervously and held their hands directly over their communications devices. This was the first time an anomalous situation had arisen ever since they first sealed off the locality altogether! What in the world was going on?
But the order to shoot that everyone was waiting for never came, because everyone could clearly see the figure of the man who was walking through the door.
It was a young man, ostensibly below the age of twenty. In fact, the young man was even staring at them as though he couldn’t understand what was going on.
Is it a man, or is it a ghost?
Nobody said a word. They could even hear the sound of cold sweat dripping on the ground.
“Don’t shoot.” The man in the suit spoke with a grave tone of voice, “He’s got a shadow! And the three lamps that are hovering over his body are also burning brightly!”
Qin Ye stared right back at them with great bewilderment. Tsk, tsk, tsk… How could the main door be so weak and feeble? And how weak are these cultivators? They can’t be considered anything more than hard labour if they enter Hell right now…
That said, what’s the big idea pointing those guns at me anyway?
Is it because I’d shown up out of the blue?
He cleared his throat and waved his hands at them, “HEY… HOW ARE YOU?” (TL: In english)
The captain coughed dryly, “I’m fine, thank you, and you?” (TL: In english)
Very good… All of the gun barrels were immediately lowered.
That short exchange was sufficient for them to verify that the other was truly one of their own.
Although the method of verification was somewhat unorthodox, it still managed to achieve all of its intended effects.
1. A League of Legends reference. Shurima is the name of a civilization from which several champions arose. https://universe.leagueoflegends.com/en_SG/region/shurima/