That’s right… where is the danger supposed to come from?
So long as he’s of the same rank as the evil ghost he’s facing, he’s technically supposed to be able to instakill them. So why would the Arya Sense still reveal the presence of a life-threatening danger? And… why would Lord Ksitigarbha personally appear to warn him about what lies ahead?
“First, tell me how you knew that only Yin spirits up to the rank of Infernal Judges would be banished to Limbo in the first place. I don’t recall ever telling you these things.” Arthis queried.
Qin Ye snorted, “It’s simple. It’s because I’m a coward who is filled with fear! What if I die out there? Who’s going to take care of all of these Yin spirits in Hell who are relying on me? Of course I would have to estimate the strength of what I might be facing up against. From there, I thought of the second King Yanluo of Hell.”
“... To think you could even make cowardice and fear sound so justifiable and outstanding. Just don’t get ahead of yourself… I’m already used to your antics by now. Go on, then… you were just saying something about the second King Yanluo of Hell.”
Qin Ye nodded, “Think about it, if I were the second King Yanluo of Hell, and an Abyssal Prefect transgresses against me, would I really think to banish him to Limbo? That would only make his life slightly harder than it normally is, wouldn’t it?”
“If I could have it my way, I would definitely ensure that they are afflicted with the sky lantern punishment until their entire soul crumbles. The harsher the punishment, the more it would achieve the effects of general deterrence. Given how decisive and merciless the second King Yanluo of Hell is, do you think he would be willing to allow these wrongdoers to get away with life that is just a little bit worse for wear?”
Arthis thought about it for a moment, before shuddering slightly, “That would be impossible.”
Qin Ye nodded gravely, “Exactly. An Abyssal Prefect is already among the upper grade Emissaries of Hell. Anything higher would already be a Yama-King. There were billions and billions of Yin spirits in old Hell, and only a few hundred Abyssal Prefects at that. You could even go so far as to say it would be irresponsible to the rest of the Yin spirits in Hell if one were to exile such powerful entities to Limbo. Thus… the exiles in Limbo are all Infernal Judges at best.”
With that, the two immediately grew silent.
Ksitigarbha’s warning and Arya Sense’s caution were undoubtedly both pointing towards the rift in Limbo. Unfortunately, it had just occurred to them that what they had deduced did nothing more than scratch the surface of this Pandora’s Box.
What remained hidden within Valley County was still shrouded in mystery.
“I have a feeling…” Qin Ye gazed deeply at the ceiling, “That when Lord Ksitigarbha told me that the answer holds the key to my next course of action, he might not have been referring specifically to the eastbound expedition, because…”
“He might have been referring to everything!”
“Including the restoration of Hell!”
“It’s pointless to speculate.” Arthis sighed wistfully, “We’d be none the wiser unless we take a look for ourselves. If something truly terrifying appears… then we might have no choice but to awaken the Harken.”
Qin Ye sighed. That’s right… speculations are useless. I’ll only know when we test these theories proper… But what the hell is the answer supposed to be?! I’m going out on a limb over here!
It involves the warning of Ksitigarbha and Arthis’ Arya Sense! How great is this danger supposed to be?
There’s a LeBlanc lying hidden in the fog of war, waiting to strike at this unsuspecting Teemo! 
It’s great that we’re putting our theories to the test, but the fact that I’m involved in the testing… makes it far more distasteful than it should be… Qin Ye’s expressions soured slightly, before he coughed lightly with a suggestion, “About that… is there any possibility that you might be willing--...”
“Nope. No way. Get lost!” Arthis immediately shut Qin Ye down, before sighing softly, “It’s not that it’s impossible, it’s just that the Arya Sense was used on your body specifically, meaning that the outcome would be different if others went instead of you. You can choose not to go, or even reroute to a different location. That way, you would almost certainly avert the dangers that lay ahead. But… it also means we’ll never uncover the answers that lay hidden within Valley County.”
“Have you ever thought about the implication if your hunch were true? If the answers are going to affect everything moving forward, including the restoration of Hell to its former glory, then it’s definitely worth investigating and uncovering these hidden clues! This is a huge door of opportunity! Are we going to skirt around it and only regret our decision when disaster strikes?”
Qin Ye sighed.
I’d thought that I only needed to play a supporting role, only to realize that fate has forced me to become a tank. I hate this kind of feeling the most… 
Valley County, county hall.
It was now 7.00 p.m., and the building was brightly lit.
Just like New Hale City, Valley County had also established their military encampments around their county hall. Notwithstanding the fact that it was well past the time of the public broadcasts of warnings about the supernatural, the county hall’s location ensured that everyone within was absolutely safe.
Zeng Shuai stared blankly at the darkening skies outside. Today was the day of the lantern festival. It was still spring, and the skies naturally darkened early in the day. It was only slightly over seven in the evening, and yet the entire place already had to be illuminated by electric lights.
“Old Zeng.” Just then, someone pushed on the doors, and a worn-out man emanating faint traces of true energy walked over and handed Zeng Shuai a warm thermos, “It’s chicken porridge. Have some food.”
Zeng Shuai chuckled bitterly as he glanced placidly at the thermos, “How can I eat--...”
“You have to eat even if you don’t want to.” The old man sat on the bed and lit up a cigarette, completely turning a blind eye to the regulations of the hospital wing. He playfully puffed out smoke rings as he gazed blankly at the ceiling. After a long time, he muttered, “There’s been another incident. Another death.”
Zeng Shuai’s eyes twitched softly, but he remained silent.
“There were two platoons of soldiers guarding that area at the material times. Sixty of them… are all dead.” He took a deep drag, “So you have to get well soon. We’re not the only ones experiencing this. Every part of Breakwaters Province is experiencing a surge in the number of supernatural outbreaks. Nobody from the Special Investigations Department is going to be coming to help us. If you don’t get up soon… I’m afraid you might soon have to collect my corpse.”
Zeng Shuai drew a deep breath and trembled all over, “Have things… already escalated that much? Isn’t our headquarters going to send any reinforcements?”
“Reinforcements?” The man chuckled bitterly, “The situation varies from place to place. And some parts of the province have it even worse than us. So, who would dare to call the shots on the movement of personnel?”
Zeng Shuai stared blankly out of the windows, fraught with despondence. After a long time, he turned back, as though clinging to a dim ray of hope, “Old Chen, have you… heard anything from Mr Qin?”
The man chuckled bitterly and shook his head.
A high-ranking investigator… He’s said to be a Hellguard-class expert, but he probably has more urgent and important things to deal with elsewhere. How could we possibly expect him to stay in such a small county and deal with our problems? He’d mentioned that he has some things to attend to, and would return in a few days’ time. Isn’t that tantamount to a polite rejection to us?
The greater the hope, the larger the disappointment. Old Chen patted his shoulders and sighed, “Rather than count on others, perhaps it’s best if we relied on our own strength…”
Just then, his cellphone suddenly rang. He answered the call and listened for five seconds, before promptly cutting the call and dashing out of the room! He even cursed under his breath as he ran to the door, because he had inadvertently tightened his fist around his still-lit cigarette and burnt himself.
Old Chen rushed straight to the entrance of the county hall. He didn’t even bother to conceal the smile on his face. He was a man who was in his early-forties, and yet… he greeted the visitor with some measure of respect!
A young man in his late-teens was currently leaning against the door of the county hall. Old Chen did a double take at him with some measure of disbelief, before gulping nervously and approaching him cautiously, “Mr Qin?”
Qin Ye looked up and extended a handshake, “Mr Zeng’s friend?”
It was almost as though fireworks had just erupted in Old Chen’s heart.
He had earlier received a phone call that told him one Mr Qin was still looking for Investigator Zeng. Even though he was filled with some measure of disbelief, he didn’t express it, because he didn’t want to risk offending the Hellguard-class expert if he were truly here! And… he was!
He could sense the faint aura of Hellguard-class true energy emanating from Qin Ye’s body, yet he still couldn’t believe his eyes. After all, how could a man still in his teens possibly be an Anitya Hellguard? However, he knew that these things weren’t important at all. What was most important is that Qin Ye had kept his end of his promise, and had still arrived at the end of the day! He was actually willing to lend Valley County a hand with their problems!
“Yes… my name is Chen Nian. I’m one of the t-t-ten local investigators from the Special Investigations Department. Nice to meet you!” He wiped off the sweat from his palms before reaching for Qin Ye’s outstretched hand. Then, he spoke excitedly, “Mr Qin… this is great! Valley County is saved! We truly didn’t expect you to be willing to do this for us… Thank you! Really, thank you!”
He could sense wisps of Hellguard-class true energy tickling the surface of his palm, and he was so excited that he was on the verge of screaming at the top of his voice! What kind of dog-shit luck does Zeng Shuai have?! We’re talking about an advanced Hellguard-class expert to boot!!!
It had to be said that an advanced Hellguard-class expert would usually be helming the operations in a provincial capital city, or at least be the second in command in such operations to boot. These are illustrious figureheads that would usually only be seen through television and screens. In fact, most investigators had signed up with the Special Investigations Department with a hope that they could one day meet one of the fabled existences of Hellguard-class cultivators. To think he would actually encounter someone like that today!
I’m not going to wash my hands for the next week…
“These are my identification documents. Speaking of which, my time is rather tight. If possible, could we get started as soon as possible?” Qin Ye smiled faintly and got straight to the point.
Chen Nian promptly verified the documents as he suppressed the raging fire in the depths of his heart. Then, he nodded with a bright smile on his face, “Of course we can. Then, might I invite you to rest for a moment in the lounge over here? I’ll immediately notify the county governor and his secretary, as well as the bureau chief. Then, we’ll take you to the scene as soon as possible!”
Qin Ye nodded, and was immediately brought to the lounge by some of the staff in the building. The lounge of a county hall wasn’t luxurious like their counterparts in the city hall. There was a national flag hanging on the wall, with some newspapers and magazines laying around on the tea tables in the room. Apart from that, there were two sets of heavy mahogany tables and chairs, as well as some potted plants in the corner for some added greenery to the room. Qin Ye didn’t need to wait for long, because the door soon opened again, and three middle-aged men strode right into the lounge.
“Mr Qin!” The leader was a bespectacled man in his mid-forties with graying hair and a squarish face. As soon as he entered, he immediately reached for Qin Ye’s hand and shook it with unparalleled enthusiasm, “I’m the county governor of Valley County, Su Defang. Thank you… I truly appreciate your help! The fact that you’re willing to take time off your busy schedule to lend us your assistance… is truly a ray of light in such dark times for the people of Valley County!”
“I’m in charge of these affairs, and my secretary is currently out and about assuring the citizens. I do apologize on his behalf for his absence right now.”
His posture was low filled with humility. Qin Ye smiled and nodded back cursorily. As Su County Governor retracted his hand, the other two men standing with them immediately introduced themselves, “Chief of Public Security, Lu Ping.” “Armed Police Unit No. 85478, Instructor Li Zheng.”
Politics, police and the military. It was clear that everyone apprised of the supernatural outbreaks was already present, with the sole exception being the secretary who was out and about on his duties and obligations. Qin Ye could sense just how important his presence was to Valley County. Taking a step back, he could even tell just how terrible the shortage of cultivators was in Cathay right now.
Once the introductions were complete, Qin Ye promptly retracted his smile and got straight to the point, “Fellow colleagues, I don’t think we need to delve into how terrible the situation is around Cathay right now. You have your fair share of supernatural outbreaks, but so do the other parts of Cathay. I will soon be making my way towards Eastmount, so I naturally won’t be staying too long in Breakwaters Province. That being the case, why don’t we… talk as we go? We’ll save the pleasantries for another time.”
Everyone exchanged a glance, before Su Defang clapped, “The matter is of grave importance and implications. Let’s speak on the way.”
With that, he bowed respectfully to Qin Ye with an inviting gesture, “Mr Qin… we’re counting on you!”
They cut straight to the chase. Lu Ping personally drove them on an off-road vehicle towards their destination, while Qin Ye rode shotgun, surveying his surroundings in complete silence.
Any locality that experiences a supernatural outbreak would naturally see the manifestation of destructive effects on the ecology of the area. The longer these supernatural phenomena lasts, the more uninhabited the locality would appear to be. However, Valley County didn’t appear this way. Instead, it was exactly the converse - the closer they drew towards the center of the county, the denser the concentration of Yin energy was. That said, the surrounding schools and stores clearly hadn’t been evacuated either.
Was this a… sudden outbreak of supernatural incidents? Qin Ye retracted his gaze and probed thoughtfully, “What happened to Valley County? Would someone care to apprise me of the situation?”
The car was instantly shrouded in tense silence.
Then, after some time, Lu Ping finally gritted his teeth and began, “Pit of a thousand.”
“Three days ago, it was formally classified as a predatory zone… You… wouldn’t be able to fathom just how vicious and evil this supernatural incident is… Not even the city or the province has seen anything quite like that at all…”
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