Chapter 458: Astonishment of the Investigators

“That’s right. Luck was on my side.” Qin Ye spoke as casually about it as he could.

Watch the public persona! By hook or by crook, I’ve got to make sure that my public persona remains as intact as it can be!

He knew that he bore the appearances of a man in his late teens or early twenties at best. If he didn’t carry himself with some measure of dignity, he wouldn’t be able to command the respect that he so deserved. This was the reason why he had always watched his public persona at all times.

Qin-longsuffering-Ye frowned softly, “What happened in Martial City? Were there no symptoms before the supernatural incident struck?”

“No.” Secretary Ma sighed softly and shook his head, “And that’s precisely why it feels extremely fishy. Generally speaking, we would always see signs before the formation of all hunting zones and predatory zones. But these were the exception to the norm. Supernatural incidents suddenly occurred without any warning, and the severity of the outbreak is even akin to that of a predatory zone. We’re talking about twelve lives in a dozen or so hours - an average of one per hour. This is truly beyond our capabilities. It’s only for this reason that we had no choice but to seek your assistance.”

Qin Ye nodded slightly.

If these were indeed Yin spirits that had escaped from the battlegrounds at which Kong Mo and the daolord of the asura were clashing, then it would only mean that there have been further developments on the battlefields!

Possibility one: Kong Mo possessed might that could even threaten an Abyssal Prefect, and had no choice but to use it. The collateral damage from such attacks routed the Hellguards that were now in town.

Possibility two: The daolord of the asura had wised up to Kong Mo’s predicament. If the daolord had truly learnt that Kong Mo had lost Ashmound to Hell, then rather than remain passive, the daolord would most certainly seize the initiative and push Kong Mo off the precipice of no return. Accordingly, the all-out attack startled the rest of the Yin spirits in the vicinity, sending all evil ghosts who were in hiding fleeing for their lives.

Secretary Ma noticed that Qin Ye appeared to be deep in thought. Thus, he coughed dryly to get Qin Ye’s attention, “Mr Qin… shall we speak inside?”

Qin Ye nodded, and followed the entire entourage of people into the city hall. It was only after he entered then that a number of men dressed in camouflage uniforms silently strode out from their hiding places.

It was as if they had been hiding and watching for an inordinate amount of time now.

Camouflage uniforms were generally worn by soldiers. However, these men were clearly not part of those ranks. After all, soldiers didn’t wear collar pins, but they did. They were pins that depicted the red flag of Cathay. Their epaulets also revealed a unique insignia of a hand with a clenched fist, different from any of those worn by the military soldiers of Cathay.

“Sir…” One of the men dressed in camouflage uniform walked over. It was a young man who spoke with a flushed expression, “Are we certain that he’s indeed a Judge?”

Wu Wenqing remained silent as he turned to look at the entrance to the city hall that Qin Ye had just entered.

Moments later, the young man couldn’t help but raise his voice slightly, “Sir, is he, or is he not?!”

It was only then that Wu Wenqing finally responded with a harsh glare, “Can’t you sense it yourself?!”

“I-I was scared stiff by his aura. Truth be told, I could barely breathe in his presence. Seriously? Is he seriously an Infernal Judge? The one and the same Infernal Judge like our head honcho back in Qizhou?”

Wu Wenqing nodded softly, before turning to gaze softly at the entrance to the city hall once more. His heart was in flux, and it took him a long time before he finally sighed with great emotion, “A 19 years-old Judge… Dear heavens… I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes. I’m nearly 45 years-old, and I’m still no more than a mere Soul Hunter at that…”

Seconds later, he turned back around, ready to address his men, when he suddenly noticed all of his camouflaged subordinates staring down at the phones in their hands. He immediately frowned, “What are you doing?”

“Adding him as a friend, of course.” The young man dressed in camouflage stared back at Wu Wenqing inexplicably. And then, he was struck with an epiphany, “Ah, that’s right! Chief, you don’t like increasing your circle of friends, do you…”

“Tomfoolery!” Wu Wenqing snorted as he snatched the phone from the young man’s hand, only to notice that the young man had already posted a public message, “Amazing! Witnessed the birth of another Infernal Judge! The youngest Infernal Judge in the history of Cathay!”

In just a few seconds, there were already a dozen or so comments, and even more likes.

“You’re in Martial City?” “Is there really a new Judge? My god… there’s going to be an upheaval in the balance of political powers once more.” “A new Infernal Judge, huh… Why am I still a Netherworld Operative?! When will I finally become an Infernal Judge?!” “It’s time to sleep.”

“Hurry up and delete it!” Wu Wenqing tossed the phone back and addressed his warning to everyone, “Judge-class experts are equal to the deputy director of the Special Investigations Department! Representatives of his alma mater, the First Academy of Cultivators, will have to verify his status and personally update his resume. Someone from Qizhou will be coming over shortly as well. We will have to issue a proper press release in our capacity as the Special Investigations Department, Martial City branch office, and not disclose such information in our own personal capacities! Then, there’s still the network of cultivators, as well as the various cultivation journals and magazines to notify! Finally, there will be a confirmation from the headquarters on the veracity of our press release! Who do you think you are?! Do you think you can simply circumvent the entire press release system that has already been set in place before you were even born?!”

The young man seized up for a moment, before immediately deleting his social media post. Even then, his expression appeared incredibly constipated.

This was the prime opportunity to secure myself a whole wealth of likes… What a wasted opportunity… Perhaps I’ll just circulate a message to my inner circle of friends, rather than by way of a public message…

The others who heard the word of caution also deleted their messages hastily. Wu Wenqing snorted once more, before walking over, “Let’s follow them for now. Listen to what a Judge says, and analyze it thoroughly. It might just point us in the right direction for the future.”

You can still do something like that?

Everyone immediately followed closely behind, but their hearts were clearly elsewhere, because they were still busy tapping on the phones in their hands.

Martial City Community of Cultivators.

“Breaking news! Mr Qin has broken through and attained the ranks of an Infernal Judge! He’s come out of his closed door cultivation!” “That’s awesome! We finally have an Infernal Judge here in Martial City! My goodness… I’d never thought that a day like that would come in my lifetime!”

A series of messages immediately began to bombard the community chat. Even a number of community group members who had never surfaced for anything were dragged right out of their hiding by the incredible news.

“Is this a dream?! Mr Qin? The one who took up the assignment here in Martial City, before immediately entering closed door cultivation for over five months? He’s actually managed to break through to the ranks of an Infernal Judge?! Holy crap!!” -- Flowers Blooming.

“I’ve heard that a Judge can practically guarantee the lives of his subordinates if he’s willing. Doesn’t this mean that any missions we carry out here in Martial City would be 100% safe? All we need is to make a timely plea for help, right?” -- That Old Dream

“Are you saying that… we will all have the privilege and honour of working under such an otherworldly figurehead? A small fourth-tier city like us is actually going to be no different from the great cities like Eastsea or Yan Capital?!!!” -- Self Pleasuring Dog Licks

“Preceding user is reminded to be more mindful of your username. The administrators of this group have been rather strict in recent times. You may even get blocked. Anyway, can I check if Chief Wu will be abdicating from giving our monthly ideological education lectures from now on?” -- Long Horse Face

“Definitely! Please abdicate your responsibility, Chief Wu!”

Qin Ye obviously was unaware of these things that were taking place behind his back. He knew that the emergence of an Infernal Judge in the mortal realm was something groundbreaking that would need to be verified thoroughly. But, even then, he didn’t think much of his own achievements.

I’m just an Infernal Judge…

Our enemies are currently Prefect-class or even Yama-class entities! We’ve even just uncovered the silver spear belonging to one of the Sixfold Ghost Kings, Zhao Zilong…

I really can’t help but make light of Infernal Judges...

That’s right! Zhou Xianlong, I’m talking about you!!

Whenever his thoughts drifted off to the miserable times when he was nearly wrung dry back at the First Academy of Cultivators, he couldn’t help but develop the urge to provoke Zhou Xianlong to a fight to the death - Bring it on! I want to fight ten of you!

But he forcibly suppressed these roiling emotions and maintained a placid, unwavering expression on his face that was befitting of a Judge as he followed Secretary Ma into the conference room. This was the situation room that Wu Wenqing usually presided over. However, Wu Wenqing had sensibly moved to the side of the table, and made an inviting gesture to Qin Ye for him to take the head.

Qin Ye didn’t struggle against the decision either. Then, just as he was about to take his seat, several men and women dressed in camouflage uniforms cautiously entered the room.

“Hmm?” Secretary Ma was somewhat startled.

“This is the captain of the Martial City branch office of the Special Investigations Department.” Wu Wenqing explained, “These developments have come suddenly, but your assessment of the situation might just be a good learning point for them all. That’s why I’ve taken the liberty to ask them to sit in while you break down the situation. Mr Qin, would you mind?”

Qin Ye nodded with approval. Having presided over a general assembly in front of tens of millions of Yin spirits where he even had to make the difficult decision to break up the overflowing population of Ashmound into smaller districts, something like that was truly nothing to be too concerned about.

With that, everyone took their seats in silence.

Everyone’s breaths heated up and grew shallow, while Qin Ye could sense a multitude of passionate gazes landing on him as they slowly sized him up.

Ignoring them all, Qin Ye turned to Wu Wenqing and nodded at him. Wu Wenqing immediately stood up and walked towards the back of the room, where a map of the Yin energy distribution across the city was displayed. Martial City was covered all over in orange splotches.

“Hmm?” Qin Ye frowned slightly. Orange… This reflects the alert status. Is the entire city on orange alert?

Since this was the first time he was chairing the meeting in Martial City, he decided to get the lowdown on the details, “Was it like this before?”

“No.” Everyone’s expressions turned somber as Wu Wenqing shook his head, “Before noon today, our entire city was still largely green, with only tinges of yellow in certain areas. Most areas can be considered safe zones, with the exception of a few hunting zones.”

Qin Ye nodded softly. So, that’s how it is…

He had been negligent.

A large number of other Yin spirits had also entered the city together with the three Hellguard-class Yin spirits!

Having been immersed in the presence of a multitude of Yin spirits over the last few months, he had subconsciously glossed over the presence of the other ordinary Yin spirits in the mortal realm. Only Hellguard-class Yin spirits and above were entities that would draw his attention. Who would have thought that something as seemingly insignificant as mere ordinary Yin spirits would end up hiding right under the radar?

But that makes sense… If my postulations are right, then… the confrontation between Kong Mo and the daolord of the asura would definitely have affected a multitude of other Yin spirits as well. The three Hellguards may have led the escape, but a large number of ordinary Yin spirits would have taken the opportunity to tether themselves to the Hellguards and flee alongside them. They might be no more than wandering spirits now, but given the concentration of Yin spirits around, it’s only going to be a matter of decades before their presence begets an incarnate revenant…

These events had deepened his understanding of the world of Yin and Yang.

The confrontation between the daolord and Kong Mo was indubitably taking place at Limbo.

Since that’s a different realm altogether, it wouldn’t affect the mortal realm, right?

Wrong. Battles on this scale involving millions of Yin soldiers would generate ripples and ramifications that transcend the limits of realms. For instance, albeit located in different realms, many Yin spirits in the vicinity are terrified of being drawn into the war between the two mighty factions, and therefore end up scattering to the neighbouring cities like cancerous cells. Should these developments be handled poorly in the mortal realm, things in Eastmount Province could quickly spiral out of control in no time.

Just then, he recalled the recruitment advertisement that he noticed back in the First Academy of Cultivators - No… things are already beginning to spiral out of control…

The daolord and Kong Mo both head incredibly powerful factions. Previously, things still looked somewhat in control because most of the Yin spirits were concentrated in the vicinity of Ashmount City and subject to the control of the Alliance of Darkness. Having come from the Confucian Family in Hell, Kong Mo must have known the importance of maintaining balance in the mortal realm and preventing things from spiralling into chaos. This is one of the prime benefits of keeping the entities of the underworld under the control of a single government. However, the arrival of the daolord was like the catalyst that ignited the fuse. It didn’t take long before countless low-grade and mid-grade Yin spirits slowly began to crawl out of the cracks of Limbo and into the mortal realm.

Naturally, these were nothing more than speculation on his part. It was entirely premised on the notion that the three Hellguard-class Yin spirits and the throng of Yin spirits that followed them had all escaped from the point of confrontation between the two mighty factions.

That said, this was an easily proven hypothesis.

“Chief Wu, please apprise me of the location of these supernatural incidents, and the exact time at which they happened."

“Yes.” Wu Wenqing took a deep breath and pointed to a location, “The first supernatural incident took place at 10.00 a.m. It happened on the outskirts of the city, on Bright Avenue.”

“This road is a rather long road that runs straight through the entire city of Martial City, and connects directly to the national highway.”

Qin Ye stared at the LED screen that Wu Wenqing was pointing at - It happens to be located right on the borderline dividing two adjacent cities, namely Martial City and Stalwart City!

The location of the incident made him almost certain of his judgment!

But he remained silent, because… he suddenly noticed that something else was amiss.

Dawn voyage? Why?

There was a tense silence in the room, broken only by the soft taps of Qin Ye’s fingers on the table.

Something’s still not right!

Even if the battle were taking place at Stalwart City, what’s the urgency in rushing out in broad daylight?

And even then, it would suffice to simply leave the border of Stalwart City. There wouldn’t be a need to rush along by day. This almost feels like they’re trying to escape through Martial City itself!

A ravaging battleground wouldn’t be sufficient to trigger such a response from them.

What’s causing such panic in their hearts?

It’s almost as though… something was chasing after them?

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