Just as they were done speaking, a figure suddenly walked through the door of the villa.
It was Qin Ye.
He had initially committed to a period of only four months, yet ended up taking an additional month and ten days. He couldn’t afford to disappoint the government of Martial City any longer. That said, he hadn’t had the time to contemplate how he was going to act in his newfound role as a Judge - to act all noble and distant, or to continue being warm to his loyal subjects.
It was an issue.
I should have addressed my mind to this before returning… Qin Ye sighed, deciding that the best way forward was to act as he had always acted in the past to these people. Thus, with an amiable smile, he looked up and nodded at them, “Sorry that I’ve kept you all waiting.”
The two investigators were filled with excitement. This was the first time that they had come this close to an Infernal Judge! It’s a Judge! A real-life, living and breathing Judge! And the youngest Judge-class expert in the history of Cathay to boot! These last few hours haven’t been spent in vain at all! It’s all worth it in the end!
Ah? Did Mr Qin’s lips move earlier? He seems to have said something?
Unfortunately, the howl of the wind was far too loud, and they weren’t able to make out what Qin Ye was saying… Holy crap! Lord Judge is speaking to us right now!
The two fanboys immediately snapped back to their senses, drew a deep breath and cupped their hands respectfully, “Not to worry, sir, these last few hours don’t count for anything much! The fact that we were able to witness the glorious emergence of an all new Judge makes everything well worth it!”
As soon as they said those words, they immediately developed the urge to give themselves a tight slap across the cheeks.
Who are we kidding? A few hours isn’t considered long? Aren’t we implying that he’s been making us wait? Why the hell is our IQ so out of whack today?!
Fortunately, Qin Ye didn’t seem to mind at all. He smiled, “Did something happen in Martial City?”
“Yes.” Secretariat Jiang sighed softly and finally managed to calm down. Even then, he didn’t bother concealing the elation on his face, “Twelve hours ago, we detected a Hellguard-class eruption of Yin energy. And not just one source of it, but three sources to boot! Martial City’s Special Investigations Department wasn’t able to cope with these developments, and that was why we were specially sent down to seek your assistance.”
Qin Ye frowned slightly.
Yin spirits were territorial in nature.
All Yin spirits under the ranks of Hellguards are loosely considered earthbound spirits. The term earthbound spirit refers to Yin spirits who are unable to move beyond one hundred meters in radius from their place of death. That said, Hunter-class and Operative-class Yin spirits are ghosts that can continue to move around within a city or a county without requiring their physical bodies to be shifted. It was for this reason that That Amorous Affair was only able to act as she did when her corpse was shifted to Clear Creek County.
But Hellguards were different.
Hellguards were already able to embark on dawn voyages, which meant that they were also free from the shackles of the location of their corpses. That said, 99% of Anitya Hellguards would still continue to act in accordance with their concept of territoriality rather than move about like wandering nomads. This was an observation backed by thousands of years’ worth of data from the old Hell. To that end, the supernatural perimeter established by the mortal realm was erected primarily to contain ghosts that are Hellguard-class and beyond, rather than to keep them out of a location altogether.
Thus, a Hellguard-class ghost would never of their own volition cross territorial borders and enter other territories unprovoked, especially not territories where supernatural perimeters were set up and running. Even if a Hellguard-class ghost were being hunted down, the first thing on their minds would be to escape to the far-flung corners of the forests or mountains, rather than encroach upon the territory of the living where the supernatural perimeter is likely the most active. Besides, three Hellguards at one time?
Without much further ado, Yin energy that was disguised as true energy erupted from his body. The two investigators felt their hearts skip a beat as the air around them almost appeared to stop moving altogether. A split second later, the lights by the streets some distance away appeared to stop flickering altogether. Even the shadows that appeared to dance like demons celebrating darkness seemed to shrink back in the face of Qin Ye’s eruption of energy.
This is a Judge’s display of strength… Both investigators exchanged a tacit glance before sensibly shifting to the side.
Qin Ye’s energy appeared to blanket the entire city, almost as though it were a dark cloud. Not a single supernatural being was able to elude his gaze. In that very moment, every single Yin spirit across the entire Martial City was able to feel Qin Ye’s presence.
Whether streets, cemeteries, roads, or even the desolate parts of the city most of the Yin spirits in the vicinity had already been captured by Kong Mo and whisked off to Qufu. The ones that remained were naturally the weakest of wandering spirits. Their bodies trembled under the weight of Qin Ye’s gaze, and their ethereal bodies even appeared to be on the verge of collapse. Their knees buckled, and they all knelt down to the ground. Thud, thud, thud…
Anyone in Martial City who possessed infernal eyes would marvel at the amazing sight of all Yin spirits kneeling prostrate on the ground right now. There wasn’t a single exception, and they all kept their heads bowed low, cowering like cicadas as they feared to even raise their heads in the slightest.
At the edge of Martial City, atop an abandoned construction building. Three pairs of flickering eyes looked up in unison at the sky. Horror filled their eyes. Moments later, they trembled profusely, and then struggled against the innermost desire to bow down in submission.
Unfortunately, the weight bearing down on them felt no different from an overbearing mountain. Seconds later, they all knelt down to the ground with a resounding thud, bowing so low that they were practically kowtowing to the ground.
“Infernal Judge… Infernal Judge!! How could there be a Judge around these parts?!!” One of the Yin spirits glanced around with bloodshot eyes. It was a man with terrifying cut wounds across his throat. The words spoken were hoarse and airy.
“I… I don’t know… But I can tell that this is a genuine Infernal Judge… A living Infernal Judge! It’s no mere pretense!” The Yin spirit beside him was an old man covered with dark livor mortis spots, almost as though he had just clambered out of his coffin after countless years in the ground. His voice quivered violently, “A-and it’s different from the other cultivators we’ve encountered before… I-I can feel it… T-t-there seems to be an innate majesty and authority flowing from his body… How terrifying…”
The final evil ghost was a middle-aged woman, somewhat plump with a bloated body. Her teeth chattered softly, “Do you think that… it… it will still come after us? T-t-there’s an Infernal Judge in Martial City after all…”
Seconds later, the old man gritted his teeth and responded in the affirmative, “It will.”
“Run… we’ve got to get out of here. I don’t know what’s going on, but the entire Eastmount Province has been incredibly chaotic… And lest you’ve forgotten, it… is also a mighty Judge…”
“Once this Infernal Judge is done with his scrutiny of the area, we’ve got to go! We have to leave immediately! I can see that it… is nearing Martial City in no time…”
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Martial City.
The supernatural broadcasts that have been playing ever so regularly had caused the outskirts of the city to become no different from desolate, barren lands. Even then, nothing prevented a bold old man on crutches from hobbling and limping down the road.
He was abnormally thin - so much so that he appeared practically skin and bones. His eyes were shut tight, but the direction of his travel was undoubtedly Martial City. Just then, he suddenly opened his eyes.
There were no eyeballs underneath his eyelids. Instead, there were only two point-sized netherflames that were pulsating softly. The flames leapt half a foot high into the air in the instant he opened his eyes, before promptly shrinking back to where it came from again.
“Martial City doesn’t have any records of Infernal Judges… So… has this Judge suddenly appeared out of nowhere?”
“Unfortunately, I’m still too far away. There’s no telling who this Infernal Judge is. That said… is he… a demonstration of his ability to me?”
Several seconds later, he snorted coldly, before forging forward once more, “That’s fine. I’ve not tasted the flesh of a Judge for a long time now. A Judge-class mortal expert… Hahaha… Next to Hell, the mortal realm is truly a heavenly existence…”
Meanwhile, Qin Ye slowly retracted his Yin energy.
There are indeed three Hellguard-class Yin spirits here. What are they doing here?
He didn’t speak out. Instead, his eyes narrowed slightly as he went deep in thought. Truth be told, he could have easily destroyed the three Hellguard-class Yin spirits earlier, but he decided against it anyway.
It was because intuition told him something was amiss.
It couldn’t have been catalyzed by the appearance of a treasure of sorts. Qin Ye didn’t believe in such tropes or plot devices. Having ruled out those matters, Qin Ye turned his mind to address another possibility for the appearance of the three Hellguards.
Ashmound was crumbling!
Things were taking a twist for the unusual. The old Hell’s collapse saw the dispersion of three daolords. The daolord of the asura managed to escape to the three eastern provinces. After a hundred long years, they finally guessed that Hell had collapsed, and they began to reach back into the heart of Cathay.
By then, the three eastern provinces had already become a nest of ten thousand captive ghosts. The daolord of the asura sought to return to the heart of Cathay by land, but their efforts were obstructed by the great bulwark of defenses put up by Yan Capital and Jin province. Not even a powerful daolord dared to push their luck that way. Thus, they decided to cross the sea and enter Cathay through Eastmount instead. Unfortunately, little did they expect Eastmount Province and even Breakwaters Province to be under the control of the Umbral Mount Tai Alliance of Darkness.
Homeground advantage meant that their forces were practically at a deadlock against each other. Besides, Kong Mo was clearly a pawn of the Confucian family. He was armed with dozens of powerful Yin artifacts, together with the space fortress that was the Mythic Palace of Reflections. Fortunately, with the bulk of their forces deployed in the deadlock against each other, Hell managed to sneak between the gaps and steal a base from the Alliance of Darkness from behind.
The tussle of forces had transformed Eastmount into the stage for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. An obscure hell had been propelled into fame by their calculated conquest, and the tides of war had turned in their favour.
I wonder how the war ravaging through Eastmount is affecting the Yin spirits?
Qin Ye rubbed his chin, deep in thought. Would the presence of the three Hellguards be nothing more than the byproduct of the great war between the three factions?
Perhaps… I might even be able to understand a thing or two from these Yin spirits… This was why Qin Ye had decided to spare the three Hellguards their lives.
Naturally, there were other contributing reasons as well. For instance, the fact that they were fleeing to Martial City meant that these Yin spirits were by no means a part of the forces of the Alliance of Darkness or the daolord of the asura. In fact, they probably didn’t understand the implications of war, and they weren’t even qualified to be a part of the great tussle of powers. Beyond that, there were other reasons that could be gleaned from the clues in the mortal realm.
“When did it begin?” Qin Ye asked as he walked towards the SUV that was parked outside. Secretariat Jiang handed his cell phone over, “12 noon. There was a series of reports of supernatural incidents, all of which were determined to have been caused by ghosts that are Hunter-class or stronger. Finally, after further investigations, we’ve finally managed to determine that it was caused by three Hellguard-class ghosts, and we confirmed their direction of travel as well. Secretary Ma has given the go ahead to show you these case files. Everything is on the cell phone.”
Qin Ye immediately recoiled in shock as soon as he received the phone.
It was incredibly hot!
Furthermore, it was vibrating incessantly.
“Samsung, right?” Qin Ye quipped back, “Recently, there has been a spate of reports stating that this brand of cell phone is prone to spontaneous combustion. Look at your phone. I’m guessing that it’s almost there as well.”
Secretariat Jiang smiled bitterly, “I’d like to get it changed as well. Unfortunately, the city government is on good terms with Samsung. Due to our location, Samsung Group’s first port of call has always been in the Eastmount Province. Furthermore, given how Eastmount has managed to make a name for itself as an industrial powerhouse province, Samsung Group has already set up forty parts assembly plants here in Eastmount.”
“Then you’ll just have to be careful.” Qin Ye tapped on the screen as he frowned slightly. “Otherwise, you might actually just end up--...”
Then, before he could finish speaking, the cell phone exploded in his hand. Fortunately, Qin Ye was already prepared to react to such exigencies, and he promptly contained the explosion and shattering debris with his Judge-class Yin energy.
Things immediately turned awkward.
It had exploded as soon as Qin Ye called it, almost as though… the phone was waiting for Qin Ye’s command…
“About that…” Seconds later, Qin Ye coughed dryly, “Should I buy a new one for you?”
“No… it’s fine…” Secretariat Jiang grimaced, “I can get it replaced by the government. This was issued by the government anyway. Everything we use is provided by the Samsung Group…”
I guess there’s no choice but to return to the city hall… Qin Ye thought to himself as he began to catch some shuteye.
Soon, the car arrived at the entrance to the city hall. As soon as he opened the door, he saw Secretary Ma of the municipal party committee, Qian Jianjun, captain of the 856th regiment, as well as the cultivators of the Special Investigations Department, Martial City branch office, led by their deputy chief, Wu Wenqing. Everyone was waiting for Qin Ye’s arrival with expressions of great excitement.
As soon as he got out of the car, Wu Wenqing immediately rushed over, “Mr Qin! Have you… finally broken through to the ranks of an Infernal Judge?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter