His voice was low and hoarse, evidently repressed with much difficulty for fear that the bodyguards outside would hear what he was saying.
It was eerily silent in the temple hall.
Nobody said a single word. Everyone glanced around tensely as similar images surfaced in each of their minds. They bit down softly on their lips with great apprehension.
“And if she’s a demon god, then… why can’t there be other demon gods in existence?” After a long time, Director Kim continued wearily, “Haven’t you guys been following the news in Cathay? The series of supernatural events plaguing Cathay have already begun to draw interest from other countries. I reckon that… she must be an evil spirit that has escaped from the clutches of Hell! So long as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is willing, he can definitely take her with him!”
“Therefore, I ask you to pray together with me in earnest!” He clasped his hands once more and shut his eyes, “Don’t forget that this is an opportunity that is hard to come by! Do you think we can conceal such instructions from her watchful eyes for long?!”
Nobody had any further reservations. At once, they shut their eyes and began to chant softly under their breaths. But, just then, loud thumping sounds suddenly came from the doors to the prayer hall.
“What’s going on now?” Director Kim opened his eyes in frustration and turned around reflexively, only to realize--...
Pak! Pak! Pak! The doors to the prayer hall were all slamming shut!
And this was without any form of human intervention. In other words, they were slamming shut by themselves!
Whoosh… The sound of rustling leaves came from outside the doors. At some point, the wind outside had burgeoned from a gentle night breeze into a terrifying gale, and the bodyguards stationed outside even fell to the ground!
“What’s this…” Director Kim froze, before suddenly whipping around and gazing deeply at the statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. At once, he kowtowed again, “Great compassionate Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, is this your response? Is it you?!”
But a split second later, all of the lights in the prayer hall went out at once!
Whoosh! A powerful gale swept through the prayer hall through the vents in the ancient building. It was colder than usual, and the entire hall was filled with pitch-black Yin energy in an instant.
Gulp… Director Kim shuddered and rose to his feet, while the two others trembled as they huddled close to him. All three trembled violently as they watched the supernatural forces descend upon them. The lights went out in unison, and the doors and windows slammed shut in an instant. They… had clearly succeeded in summoning something!
“Don’t be afraid… We’re standing at the feet of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva!” Director Kim gritted his teeth, “Even if there’s something here with us, it wouldn’t dare to behave irreverently!”
The three men surveyed their surroundings apprehensively. Just then, the man on the left shuddered softly as he stared at the statue of Ksitigarbha itself. Three seconds later. His palm was soaked through with cold sweat. With a loud scream he knelt straight to the ground with a resounding thud.
Director Kim immediately glanced at the man angrily and muttered under his breath, “What’s wrong with you?! Stand up!”
Even then, the man appeared to be completely stunned. Several seconds later, he finally snapped back to his senses, and he immediately grabbed onto Director Kim’s thigh desperately as he pleaded with a cracking voice, “D-d-director Kim… T-take a look at the statue!”
Director Kim promptly looked up, only to discover that…
The statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva had at some point in time already opened its eyes!
But what lay within wasn’t made with clay, nor was it golden and gleaming with brilliance. Instead, it was a pair of deep, abstruse eyes that were pitch-black in colour!
“AHHH!!!” The three men screamed in unison as they scrambled back to the pillar nearby, only to realize that their backs were already soaked through with cold sweat. Director Kim grabbed the pillar with his hands as he murmured to the rest with great trembling, “Are you guys… certain that we’ve invited Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva?”
But before any of them could respond, the lips of Ksitigarbha’s statue parted, and he began to speak, “Mortals… why have you summoned me?”
Director Kim’s mind had gone completely blank with fear, and he blinked vacantly at the statue in front of him. Several seconds later, he rushed over madly and lay before the mat once more, kowtowing hard to the ground as he blabbered with a quivering voice, “Group Executive Director of Samsung Group, Kim Jae-huan, greets the supreme deity!”
What a big shot!
Qin Ye’s consciousness was now manifesting in the body of Ksitigarbha’s statue. Earlier, when he first made contact with the screen of Yin energy in front of him, he felt his entire consciousness being drawn here by a powerful suction force. Then, for the next few minutes, he observed the interactions of the three men before him.
Truth be told, he didn’t know how he was supposed to communicate with them. It was only a little later that he noticed how the bodies of the ordinary human beings and Ksitigarbha’s statue alike were all radiating faint traces of golden lustre. At once, a mysterious intuition surfaced in his mind, telling him that so long as he made contact with it, he would immediately manifest in that vessel.
Acting on his intuition, he made contact, and instantly found himself acting through the vessel of Ksitigarbha’s statue.
After all, he would never touch, much less enter the bodies of those filthy men!
That said, he found himself even more bewildered by the circumstances.
The Samsung Group is one of the pillars of Daehan’s economy, while a group executive director would undoubtedly be among the top brass of the organisation. What are they doing here in Cathay seeking the aid of a foreign god? Logically speaking, shouldn’t Liu Yu be responding to his cries for help instead? After all… Liu Yu should for all intents and purposes be considered a True Infernal Judge in his own right as well. He should likewise possess the ability to answer the prayers of his people.
Or perhaps… this might be an ability that is unique to me? Perhaps this is what Arthis meant when she said that there are too many changes to be described in detail. To think that I’d gain the ability to hear the prayers of mortals from back in the mortal realm. That’s… pretty darn amazing. Perhaps I should erect a monument for myself in the mortal realm. Then, armed with an ice queen in my left arm, and a girl next door in my right arm, I’ll bask in the glory of the mortals’ worship… Hehehe… What a wonderful thought…
Just as his fantasies began to take a turn for the weird, Kim Jae-huan promptly continued, “Apart from that… I’m also the son-in-law of one of the descendants of the founder of Samsung! So long as you’re willing to lend us a hand, no form of repayment is out of the question!”
Qin Ye shelved his thoughts for the moment and promptly looked up.
Corrections. This man is an even bigger shot than I’d earlier assessed him to be!
Samsung was one of the pillars of the Daehan economy. To that end, one could even justifiably say that their executives were more influential than some of the governmental officials themselves. Apart from that, Samsung Group has historically always been controlled by the Lee Family, and they rank among the richest families in the world!
Kim Jae-huan was the son-in-law to a direct descendant of the Lee lineage. Quite apart from his relationship with the rest of the Lee family, the fact that his marriage was even approved by the Lee Family was already in and of itself a vote of confidence in his abilities and potential. To think that someone as amazing as that would personally come forward to personally offer up prayers in a relatively unknown temple in Cathay.
Qin Ye didn’t know where exactly they were, but it wasn’t convenient to ask for clarification in this regard either.
After all, maintaining his appearances was of the utmost importance right now!
I’ve taken possession of the body of the revered Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. Wouldn’t it be beneath me to be asking where exactly I am?
Thus, he responded curtly with a soft, “Mm.”
Kim Jae-huan drew a deep breath and gnashed his teeth as he finally made his request, “The Samsung Group, and the Lee Family… humbly pray that you would have mercy on us, and blot out the name of a person in the Book of Life and Death…”
“Lee Jung-sook!!!” Kim Jae-huan was practically grinding his teeth as he uttered her name, “She’s a demon… She is an evil spirit that has absconded from the pits of Hell! She’s not a human being! She’s been alive for such a long time, and yet she still looks like a young girl in her twenties! I’ve known her since I was young. But as I matured, and then got married, and even after my children grew up, she still looks exactly the same as before! Furthermore…”
He fumbled about as he pulled out a black-and-white photograph from his pocket and offered it up for inspection with great reverence, “This is… a photo that I’ve found by chance at my grandfather’s place. The Kim Family likes to think that we have a monopoly in the shipbuilding industry in Daehan. It’s for this reason that we’ve always maintained a close relationship with the Samsung Group. This is a photograph of my grandfather’s new year’s reunion…”
As he spoke, the photograph flew up and hovered horizontally in front of Ksitigarbha’s statue. The three men gasped in unison, and their eyes clearly gleamed more brightly than ever.
There were two middle-aged men in the photograph smiling genially as they sat in front of the coffee table. A lady dressed in what appeared to be a white dress sat between the two men, holding both of their hands with a graceful poise.
She was beautiful.
For a split second there, Qin Ye found himself lost for words. The lady looked fairly young. By his estimates, she appeared no older than her late teens - just like he was.
She sported straight, shoulder-length hair, large eyes, and a cheerful smile with two deep dimples. She could easily become a celebrity with a face like hers.
Even then, he could sense that… there was something else rather strange about this lady.
Intuitively, he employed his Judge’s Glance to take another look at the lady in the photograph. And then, his eyes nearly leapt out of its sockets.
There were seven silhouettes standing right behind the lady in the photograph!
That said, each of the silhouettes appeared incredibly blurry, and not even Qin Ye was able to get any clarity on their images with his Judge’s Glance.
This is actually a photograph of the supernatural, huh… He disengaged Judge’s Glance and allowed the photograph to drift back down into the hands of Kim Jae-huan, “Does she have a shadow?”
“Yes!” Kim Jae-huan responded, “But she’s definitely not a human! Nobody has ever been able to maintain their looks for decades on end!”
Of course there has been. For instance, there’s a rather impetuous emissary, also known as I… Hang on a minute!!
Qin Ye’s eyes brightened abruptly as he continued to press on with queries, “Why did you come to Cathay?”
Her condition sounds exactly the same as mine!
Could it be that--... A wild postulation immediately surfaced in his heart - Lee Jung-sook… is none other than Xia Jinse?
Otherwise, why would they come back to Cathay to seek the aid of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva? Why didn’t they plead for help from a Daeian god?
Kim Jae-huan grew silent.
He remained silent, ostensibly struggling internally. Then, a minute later, he looked up once more with a renewed sense of resolution in his eyes, “That would involve the hidden secrets of the Samsung Group. But… given the developments right now, there’s no reason to hide anything anymore!”
He panted softly, “This photograph was taken in December 1938, more than 80 years ago. 1 March 1938, the founding chairman of Samsung, Mr Lee Byung-chul, with 30,000 won in his pocket, established the Samsung Chamber of Commerce. That was the predecessor of the Samsung Group as we know it, and it was also when the Lee Family began to work closely with the Kim Family. The man on the left of the photograph is none other than Mr Lee Byung-chul himself.”
“Back then, Mr Lee Byung-chul happened to visit China on one occasion, and it was during this trip that he serendipitously met…” He glanced at the photograph with great disgust, “The so-called ‘daughter of destiny’.”
He glanced at the two men beside him, and they immediately got up at once and left the prayer hall. It was only then that Kim Jae-huan lowered his voice and explained in greater detail, “This concerns hearsay that I only came to learn about after joining Samsung Group… No, to be more precise, I only came to learn of this in recent times.”
He continued, “Back then, Mr Lee had gone to Yan Capital for a business trip. During this trip, the hotel which he was staying at had suddenly caught fire. Incidentally, Lee Jung-sook happened to be working as a waitress in the hotel at the time of the fire. It was she… who saved Mr Lee.”
“But she--… At that time, Mr Lee personally saw it--!! He saw her being burnt to a crisp in the fiery blaze!”
He drew a deep breath and continued whispering softly, “But… when the fire fighters finally arrived on scene, she… suddenly came back to life again!”
“Do you believe it? Someone who had obviously been burned to death actually came back to life! That said… she couldn’t remember a single thing about her past!”
Qin Ye felt his fingertips quiver slightly.
It’s definitely the taisui fungus! Nothing apart from the taisui fungus could give rise to such symptoms and effects!
A wave of heat filled his heart in an instant.
Truth be told, the names Lee Jung-sook or Xia Jinse meant little to him.
Yet the Book of Life and Death just had to state that this was the one who was destined for him, and that he absolutely had to go after her.
But how am I supposed to go about wooing someone I have never met before?
That said, he knew that if there were to be a person in the world who could understand him, then it would undoubtedly have to be Xia Jinse!
She would know of the loneliness of eternal life. She would know of the feeling of seeing the people close to her pass away one by one, while she could only watch from afar, afflicted with the curse of eternal youth. She would have experienced how it was like to see the graves of her relatives being exhumed to make way for new developments, and she would know the anguish and sorrow of being unable to even claim the ashes of her loved ones.
Eternal life wasn’t a blissful thing.
It was cold in high places. Too high up, and one might even find their hearts freezing over.
With the advent of modern identification cards, Qin Ye was even forced to uproot his life and reinvent himself every five years or so. If not for the favours he had called in back then, he could well be among the lost members of society right now.
There were a multitude of words that he had kept locked up in the innermost parts of his heart for the longest time. The prospect of finally having someone to pour out his deepest thoughts to was a feeling that was absolutely indescribable.
Fraught with complex emotions, Qin Ye drew several deep breaths and muttered softly, “Continue.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter