“Searching for me?” Lee Jung-sook’s eyes narrowed, “How would he know of my existence?”
The fact that she’s immediately picked up the most problematic part of the sentence is clearly a sign of having interacted with humans for far too long… Qin Ye sighed. The first response of any other ordinary human would’ve been more along the lines of ‘Who?’ ‘What’s his name?’ or ‘How old is he?’
“Fate willing, may your paths cross.” Qin Ye responded enigmatically, “He knows your name, and that you’re residing in Daehan. Beyond that… the Book of Life and Death has determined that you’re destined for each other.”
A few seconds later, Xia Jinse covered her mouth and chuckled softly.
Moments later, she broke out into an uproarious laughter without regard for her image, almost as though she had heard the funniest joke in a long while, “D-destined? Don’t tease me, alright? I’ve lived seven lives now. And each time I did, I would encounter someone whom I thought was the one destined for me. But look where I am now?”
“What does destiny even mean?” She shook her head as she opened the door and motioned to leave, “I’m a lady of free will. So what if it’s destiny? Would destiny be able to force something onto me if I’m not willing?”
With that, the entire prayer hall went silent.
After a long time, Ksitigarbha’s statue finally shut its eyes.
Back on the rooftop of a building in Martial City, Qin Ye opened his eyes at the same time.
He didn’t know how far his consciousness had travelled in his earlier encounter. That said… he knew that in all likelihood, that place must have been none other than Azurewaters City.
“What a coincidence…” He rubbed his chin and muttered to himself, “This lady isn’t too bad after all… She might be a little on the feisty side, but her character is pretty good. Furthermore, I can tell that she’s pretty soft and tender beneath that harsh facade of hers…”
He couldn’t deny the fact that his heart was almost moved for a moment there.
When exactly did it happen?
Was it when I realized that I could completely understand the true meaning behind the scars on her body?
Or was it when I heard her talk about the stories of her past lives?
“No… perhaps I wasn’t moved after all. Perhaps that was just… pity?” He furrowed his brows, “But that can’t be right either! I’m also struggling against the tides of fate! I’m already an Infernal Judge, and you can even say that I’m on the verge of conquering fate itself! So why isn’t anyone showing any pity for me?!”
Just then, his eyes suddenly twitched, and he glanced at the rest of the city.
The Yin energy in the vicinity had already faded away, and he had already regained visibility of the rest of the city.
He glanced at his cell phone. It was 5.00 a.m.
The witching hour.
He was tempted to rush straight into Hell and ask Arthis what his earlier encounter was all about! Why did he suddenly become summoned like a beast? However, he knew that now wasn’t the right time for that.
Much had happened over his first night of work, and he naturally had to return to Martial City’s city hall to resume his duties. To that end, he would at least have to ensure that there was nothing else required of him before returning to Hell.
“It’s just as well. I’ll have to reconvene the meeting with Hell’s ministers one week later to discuss Ashmound’s direction moving forward. I’ll shelve my return till then. It wouldn’t be good to vanish into thin air just after I exit my closed door cultivation in any event…”
Qin Ye was still a rather responsible person when all was said and done.
That’s right! It’s not for the money! Nor is it because I’m hoping to receive some other form of gratification in kind!
I’m a responsible King Yanluo of Hell! It’s my personal duty in life to establish balance between the netherworld and the mortal realm!
Thus, Yanluo Qin rode a stream of nethergale right back to the city hall. Naturally, it was a stream of nethergale disguised as a stream of true energy.
“Hmm?” But as he drew closer, his astute senses immediately told him that something was amiss.
Only a few hours had lapsed, and yet he could already sense the presence of another Infernal Judge in the city hall right now!
It seems like… this is a nascent Judge-class expert? We seem to be rather similar in terms of abilities. At the very least, I can tell he’s far weaker than Zhou Xianlong. Where did he come from?
Naturally, the fact that he could detect the presence of another Judge meant that the other Judge had also detected his approach. Thus, with a soft smile on his face, Qin Ye shot right to the ground and completed the rest of his journey back on foot.
There were still a number of ordinary citizens who hadn’t been exposed to the existence of cultivators, and the cultivation world naturally took great pains to maintain the fragile balance between the two seemingly diametrically opposed realms.
As soon as Qin Ye arrived, Wu Wenqing immediately came up with him with a radiant glow in his eyes and cupped his fists respectfully, “Mr Qin, great news!”
“What’s the matter?” Qin Ye smiled as he followed Wu Wenqing’s lead. Meanwhile, Wu Wenqing continued to explain the situation, “After you left, we immediately got down to notifying everyone about the news of your breakthrough. Just an hour ago, the director of the Qizhou branch of the Special Investigations Department, Mo Changhao, arrived here in person. He’s accompanied by a team of evaluators from the SRC, and we’ve received word that a team of reporters from Yan Capital is even on their way right now! Apart from that, there’s even a team of web editors and reporters from the Auspicious Omens website who’s now on their way, and they are all expected to arrive in Martial City at 8.00 a.m.! Martial City will truly be making a splash in the cultivation realm this time!”
Tsk tsk… Every dog has its day, huh… But truth be told, I couldn’t care less. What’s most important is my survival at the end of the day!
That said… have I finally made my way into the upper echelons of the Special Investigations Department?
“Ah, that’s right. Your previous office, the First Academy of Cultivators, has also sent an Infernal Judge over.”
Qin Ye casually asked, “And who might that be?”
“Zhou Xianlong! Mr Zhou Xianlong!” Wu Wenqing responded with great excitement, “The former deputy director of the Special Investigation Department! An advanced Judge-class cultivator! Goodness me, this is going to be the first time I’m witnessing the gathering of this many living Infernal Judges!”
Qin Ye nearly bit his tongue. His eyes instantly widened as he turned around abruptly once more, “Who was that again?!”
“Deputy Director Zhou…” Wu Wenqing scratched his head, somewhat confused, “About that… is there a problem?”
Of course there is!
I’d only just become a Hellguard when I first left the academy, but it didn’t take me long to enter the ranks of an Infernal Judge. Don’t you think this is going to be an issue?!
I’d left the First Academy of Cultivators precisely because I didn’t want to attract unnecessary attention to myself. This way, I could simply make an excuse for my breakthrough and slip into the shadows of the upper echelons of the Special Investigations Department. The last thing I’d wanted was to attract the jealousy and ire of the instructors and perhaps even the principals of the First Academy of Cultivators. Who would’ve thought you’d summon the big boss back there over here?!
“Not at all…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth, “Where’s Director Mo? I’ll be fine on my own.”
“Alright, we’ve still got some preparatory work for the reception. Thank you, Mr Qin, for your kind understanding and consideration.” Wu Wenqing scooted off in an instant, ostensibly filled with excitement at the proceedings to follow.
Qin Ye calmly turned the corner and found a restroom. He walked into the restroom, calmly twisted the faucet, and then--...
He began to pound on the sink in anguish.
Bloody hell… Zhou Xianlong is coming over!! How am I supposed to explain all of this to him?! I haven’t had the time to come up with a proper excuse just yet! Wu Wenqing, do you know what kind of hole you’ve dug for me this time?!
I don’t want to be sent to the SRC to be cut up into pieces! I’ve been cruising along in the shadows of the Special Investigations Department for such a long time! Wu Wenqing, I’d never thought I’d fall to the unassuming ploys of a mere branch chief! You must be a double agent engaged by others to execute their masterful ploy, aren’t you?!
How vexing… After pounding away at the sink for an inordinate amount of time, Qin Ye finally straightened his back and washed his face in preparation for the interviews to come.
And it was only then that he noticed a strange man, standing right behind him, staring at him as though he had just seen a ghost.
It was an awkward encounter.
Qin Ye’s heart skipped a beat. Holy crap… What the hell are you doing in the toilet at five in the morning?! If you’re facing urinary issues, you should just get your prostate checked out!
Both men found themselves completely lost for words. Several seconds later, the stranger in the toilet smiled faintly as he walked over to the sink and washed his hands casually, “That’s understandable. If I’d become an Infernal Judge at the tender age of nineteen, I would have reacted in the same manners as you did as well. Come to think of it, when I first became an Infernal Judge back then, I was so elated that I’d practically locked myself up in the house for three days straight, shouting as loud as I could until my voice went hoarse. Unfortunately, I was already over the age of fifty at that time.”
It was embarrassing. Qin Ye knew that this man was raising an embarrassing incident of his own in order to lighten the mood, but the atmosphere was still as awkward as ever…
The man was 1.86m tall, and he wore a smart Cathayan tunic suit.
He sported a long thin face, and the hair at his temples were clearly greying with age. A scar ran across his cheeks, but his eyes still looked as bright as ever.
Qin Ye sighed. Forget it… there’s no use crying over spilt milk. I don’t think I possess the ability to brainwash him or delete memories from his mind, do I? Qin Ye forced a smile to his face, “You must be… Branch Director Mo?”
“In the flesh.” Both men dried off their hands with the hand dryer. Then, Mo Changhao smiled and made a gesture of invitation, “Come, let me take a good look at the youngest Infernal Judge in the history of Cathay. The governmental office restaurant has already prepared breakfast for us. Let’s talk as we eat.”
With that, he led Qin Ye straight into a meeting room which had a sumptuous spread laid out on the table, including braised tea eggs, doughnuts and soy milk, steamed buns and a variety of other selections. As they took their seats, Mo Changhao sighed once more and sized up Qin Ye with a complex look in his eyes, “I’m truly envious of your ability to attain a breakthrough into the ranks of an Infernal Judge at such a young age. Once your assignment here is over, I’m sure you’d be reassigned.”
Qin Ye gulped down his soy milk voraciously, before raising an eyebrow quizzically, “Reassigned?”
“Probably to Yan Capital.” Mo Changhao held his cup of soy milk in his hands, but didn’t drink any of it. Instead, he simply smiled as he continued, “All Judges of Cathay must further their studies in Yan Capital for a period of time. Moreover, there are some special secrets available to Judges that are only accessible in Yan Capital.”
My deepest apologies… It’s almost about time for me to feign my own death… Otherwise, Yan Capital and Professor Yu are going to witness a proper miracle with their own eyes…
Mo Changhao was clearly trying to build rapport with Qin Ye, so he continued to smile genially as he spoke, “Additionally, all newly promoted Judges would find themselves entrusted with a greater set of responsibilities. To this end, I can assure you that it wouldn’t take more than a quarter before you find yourself in charge of a new division or department. After all, not even the Special Investigations Department has that many Judges to go around.”
“Oh?” Qin Ye set down his soy milk, “What division or department?”
“It’s hard to say.” Mo Changhao shook his head, before lowering his voice to a hush, “But I’ve heard some rumours that we’ve recently… made contact with the netherworld once more, and they’ve even evinced an intention to interoperate with the mortal realm. From what I’ve gathered, it seems that the netherworld has gone through a massive upheaval over the last hundred years. The top brass has already approved of this, and they’re now assembling a task force. That said, it appears that they can’t come to an agreement in this regard.”
Ahem… apologies, but are you aware that the mastermind responsible for the interoperation you’re talking about is sitting right in front of you now? Qin Ye coughed dryly, evidently displeased with the mortal realm’s lack of enthusiasm in forming the task force, “Why?”
Mo Changhao blew softly at his soy milk, “Every large organization is bound to face their fair share of politics and dissenting views. I’ve heard that some people suggest active communication, but others are more reluctant, because the frequency of communication would tip the balance of beliefs and faiths that currently exists.”
“Cathayans have always had a propensity for creating their own gods or deifying certain people. In fact, almost every generation of emperors would have at some point in time been revered and worshipped as gods. To that end, it’s taken quite a lot for the government to detach its citizens from faith and lead them towards science. Can you imagine what’s going to happen if we establish communication channels with Hell? Can you imagine what the consequences might be?”
Qin Ye chuckled softly.
Are you saying that you don’t want Cathayans to create gods or deify people anymore?
Having been creating gods and deifying people for such a long time, do you think the Cathayans don’t know what they’re doing?
Besides, do you know that deification and faith are two separate concepts? Faith isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. At the very least, its existence would teach people boundaries and give them a moral compass. After all, it’s only with faith that men would fear the consequences of their sins.
Fortunately, Mo Changhao recognized that this was far too complicated for a breakfast conversation, and it was probably best not to delve into such discourse right now. Thus, he did an about turn and smiled genially, “I reckon that this thing will eventually come to pass anyway, because the situation in Cathay has been worsening as the days go by. I’ve also heard that the number of leaders for the proposed interoperation outweighs the number against. Once passed, there’s no doubt that they would be setting up a new division to tackle this problem. To that end… I can’t help but think that the timing would coincide nicely with your next assignment.”
Qin Ye nodded. He wasn’t in a hurry. The interoperation between the mortal realm and the netherworld was first broached back in the Valley County, between him in his Hell’s Emissary state and one of the upper echelons of the mortal realm. Back then, he’d set a projected timeline of two years in future precisely so that he could weed out the rest of Kong Mo’s rebel forces in the interim.
After all, he would need to have purged Eastmount Province of supernatural incidents in order to gain himself the bargaining chips for the upcoming negotiations with the mortal realm.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. A row of white coats marched into the room. All of them had a badge with the SRC logo prominently displayed on their chests.
“Mr Qin, the arrangements are ready.” The chief researcher rubbed his hands together gleefully, “Come, 19 years-old Judge, let us see how the constitution of your body is different from that of an ordinary mortal, and at the same time measure the extent of your true energy.”
Hang on a minute… Qin Ye stared at the chief researcher as though he had just seen a ghost.
Did you… get the order of priorities mixed up?
Should you be measuring the extent of my true energy, before assessing the constitution of my body? With the way you’re speaking… I can’t help but feel a little bit nervous about what is to come...Previous Chapter Next Chapter