The room was silent. Time slowly trickled by. It was now 2.30 p.m.
Qin Ye furrowed his brows as he continued to brood over the situation silently. Arthis hadn’t minced her words at all, and his face still felt somewhat as though it was on fire.
“Just wait till I’m done with Cao Youdao. If I don’t hang you up and flog you by then, I’ll write my name backwards!!”
“Who’s Cao Youdao?” Wang Chenghao asked cautiously. Qin Ye shot a murderous gaze at Wang Chenghao, causing him to cower in fear just like a quail.
Qin Ye shot several glances at him as the fiery rage in his heart continued to blaze. My whole body feels like it’s immolating with shame… shouldn’t I look for an appropriate outlet for my ventilation?
Incidentally, why does this man named Wang have a stature that looks so fit for purpose…
“... Brother Qin… why are you cracking your knuckles? Why are you standing up… have a seat… we can talk things through…”
After taking several more deep breaths, Qin Ye suppressed the swelling desire to ventilate the vexation in his heart and sat down once more. Then, gnashing his teeth, he explained, “Cao Youdao… is a son of a bitch that deserves to die by a thousand cuts!!”
He lit up a cigarette and took a deep drag. The smoke lingered in the air, while Qin Ye’s mind continued to spin rapidly.
It was useless being mad at his weaknesses. That was a sign of lack of self-control. After all, weaknesses could only be overcome by change, not by escape.
“Underestimating me? I’ll make a meat patty out of you one day!” The tip of the cigarette butt was almost completely flattened by Qin Ye’s gritted teeth. Despite that, Qin Ye’s mind continued to analyze all the possible moves available to him to deal with the escalating situation tonight.
Arthis didn’t say that things were at a dead end. This means that there must be a possible solution!
But… what’s the solution?
He tapped his forehead with his finger and casually rapped on the table randomly with his other hand. To follow Arthis’ train of thought, he would first have to look at the matter from a whole new perspective.
In other words, he would have to change his perspective from that of survival… to that of killing Cao Youdao!
“The first condition for killing Cao Youdao is this - I have to first attain the rank of Soul Hunter.”
“No… perhaps merely attaining the rank of Soul Hunter wouldn’t be enough either. After all, Cao Youdao has been in charge of the City of Salvation for the last hundred years. How many Yin spirits would he have under his charge? Thousands? Ten thousands? Or perhaps… hundreds of thousands?”
“As long as they stood guard over Cao Youdao, nobody would be able to even draw close to him.”
He continued to think aloud as he drew in the air using a wisp of condensed Yin energy, “The second condition is… an opportunity.”
“I’ll need to be able to get close to him while he’s alone in the devil’s nest!”
The wisps of Yin energy congealed into clear, distinct words. Right now, the following words were written on the surface of the table in front of him - City-wide search, opportunity, strength. Then, Qin Ye suddenly paused as soon as he finished speaking.
He gazed blankly at the few words written on the table. Seconds later, a radiant flush filled his face as he stood up once more. His chest heaved and fell with excitement.
“So that’s what it was…” He drew a deep breath and continued with a bright gleam in the depths of his eyes, “Counterintuitive… it’s so counterintuitive! The opportunity… has been right in front of us the whole time!”
Wang Chenghao couldn’t take it anymore, “Brother Qin, what opportunity are you talking about? I’ve roughly caught on to the situation. There’s a very powerful man looking for you, isn’t there? And he must have a huge command of Yin spirits under him, doesn’t he?”
Qin Ye didn’t respond. A thread of thought flashed through his mind. Yet just as he thought he’d grasped tightly onto this fleeting notion, it eluded him again.
Counterintuitive.... If Cao Youdao were going to look for me, he would have to comb through the entire City of Salvation! How many Yin spirits would he need for that?
And if he mobilized all of the Yin spirits at his disposal for this… how many Yin spirits would remain behind to guard his lair?
“If… if I manage to attain the Soul Hunter rank during this period of time…” His finger paused, and his eye glinted.
Danger was synonymous with opportunity. The moment that Cao Youdao mobilized all of his Yin spirits was also the very moment that his defenses were the weakest! Having exchanged blows with Qin Ye before, Cao Youdao was naturally confident of dealing with and disposing of Qin Ye if he came knocking on the door!
However, that was only if the Operative-class Qin Ye came knocking on his door.
But… what if the person who came knocking was a Hunter-class Qin Ye?
Qin Ye clenched his fights tightly. He’d come full circle back to the crux of the problem. He needed another 180 merit points to attain the Soul Hunter rank. Vengeful apparitions were uncommon, to say the least. He would need approximately half a year to be able to finally gather all of these points.
“No…” He stared at the ceiling with widened eyes before quickly pulling out his soul sphere and barking at it, “You’d thought of this right from the start, haven't you?!”
“Stop playing dead!” Qin Ye stashed the soul sphere clumsily as he muttered in a low voice, “That’s right… I would need half a year at any other time. But, tonight… the Yin spirits in the entire city are going to be moving in full force! There isn’t going to be a lack of vengeful apparitions for my culling at all!”
“As long as I can pluck up the courage… tonight… is most certainly the prime opportunity to break through to the Soul Hunter level!”
“Cough cough…” Arthis finally spoke up again with a feeble voice, “You’re finally showing a small measure of grit that all of Hell’s Emissaries should possess. However… cough cough… do you think that Cao Youdao wouldn’t have considered the possibility that you would treat tonight as the prime opportunity to harvest merit points for your promotion?”
Qin Ye paused momentarily and began to furrow his brows once more.
That’s right… Cao Youdao is also an Emissary of Hell. He would also have contemplated the possibility that mobilizing all of his Yin spirits at once would be tantamount to opening his fields for my harvest.
“Newbie…” Arthis' voice had softened substantially, “You’re truly… too new on the job… You’re so new that I can’t even teach you anything without spoon feeding you…”
Qin Ye’s expressions darkened. I’ve already asked you in such a sincere manner earlier, so can’t you just have mercy on me and tell me nicely for once?
I know I’m new on the job. Shouldn’t you give me a period of time to adjust and fit in, then?
Arthis was naturally unaware of the thoughts on Qin Ye’s heart. After several more seconds of gasping for air, she finally continued, “Why wouldn’t Cao Youdao ever contemplate such a possibility? Rather, why do you think he isn’t afraid of the possibility that you would accumulate more merit points? You’ve failed to consider one crucial factor…”
“Cough cough… and that is… if Cao Youdao has a shard of King Yanluo’s Seal in his possession, the both of you would already be… cough cough cough… able to detect each other’s presence by now…”
“But why can’t he see you?”
“Why… did he only discover your presence incidentally through your meeting with Zhang Baoguo?”
Qin Ye’s mind exploded with clarity. He drew a deep breath and exclaimed with disbelief, “Then that item in the pit wasn’t a shard of King Yanluo’s Seal?”
“No!” Arthis cut to the chase, “The treasures of Hell aren’t limited to the three primordial treasures… cough cough… there are naturally other treasures that have also been used by Yama-class entities in Hell for a protracted period of time, causing them to become terrifying existences themselves as well…”
“Gathering from the earlier conversations you’ve had with Cao Youdao, if my guess isn’t wrong… the treasure in the pit isn’t a shard of King Yanluo’s Seal at all. Rather, it is the fabled… cough cough… Hell’s Records!”
“It records the entire roster of all Emissaries of Hell, including their rank, station and merit points! As long as they attain the requisite amount of merit points and enter the appropriate entry into the records itself… they would automatically be promoted to the next rank!”
“Therefore… cough cough… in his eyes, he’s the only one who can be promoted, regardless of the number of vengeful apparitions you slay! It’s also for this reason that he dares to throw caution to the wind and send the entire horde of Yin spirits combing through the city in search for you. Humans can’t see him… and that means that you are the only person who could possibly stand in his way. He firmly believes that his position right now is as safe and secure as Mount Tai… Yet little did he know that his complacency is going to be the prime opportunity for you to cause his downfall!”
Qin Ye’s gaze burned with passion. He made a pulling action from his chest, and his proof of identity as an Emissary of Hell immediately emerged, “In other words… he’d never dreamt of the possibility that I could be a genuine Emissary of Hell?”
“And all this while, he’d thought that I was just like him, a survivor of Hell’s great collapse only by virtue of our possession of one of Hell’s treasures. In other words, he’s still clueless about the fact that I hold the very last proof of identity as an Emissary of Hell, and that I can automatically be promoted!”
Arthis' voice grew faint as a candle in the wind once more, “Don’t be fooled by his pretension of confidence… cough cough… He’s nothing more than a counterfeit! All of the names written on Hell’s Records would already have annihilated when Ksitigarbha gained enlightenment. The names of Netherworld Operatives aren’t written on Hell’s Records. Only those who are of the rank of Soul Hunter and above qualifies to have their names recorded. In other words, the entire Hell’s Records must be empty right now. Only you… have the right to put your name into the book…”
“And he… he’s not an Emissary of Hell. He’s merely an ambitious, evil ghost!”
So that’s how it is!
It was as though the door to these perplexities in Qin Ye’s mind was finally opened wide!
I finally understand… there’s a way out… there’s truly a way out of this madness!
“I understand.” Qin Ye shut his eyes and drew a deep breath, “We’ve dealt with the issues of opportunity and strength, and that leaves us with one final issue to address.”
“As soon as he discovers my presence, he’ll have ample opportunities to recall all of his Yin spirits. Even if I successfully attain the rank of Soul Hunter, I’ll still be unable to deal with thousands and thousands of Yin spirit on end. Therefore, I’ll need a helper to restrain them. This helper must be strong enough to put pressure on him, and have sufficient depths of resources to buy me enough time to attain my Soul Hunter Rank. Having regard to these qualities… I can only think of one entity that would qualify…”
Wang Chenghao couldn’t take the suspense any longer, and he blinked his eye at Qin Ye, “Who’s that?”
Qin Ye shut his eyes and declared, “Special! Investigations! Department!”
“What?!” Wang Chenghao nearly jumped out of his seat, “Brother Qin! H-have you gone mad?! G-given our identities, they would most certainly experiment on us if given the opportunity to do so!”
“Wrong.” Qin Ye stared at the writings on the table with a complicated gaze in his eyes. Sometimes, it is only when a person casts aside the oft-trodden path that he would discover new possibilities of reaching his goals.
In this case, it was a dangerous, rickety bridge.
Yet even though it was dangerous, it represented the only viable method to cross the vast chasm right now.
“All signs have been pointing to this moment.” Qin Ye eased his breath and explained the situation, “Tonight, as soon as Cao Youdao mobilizes his forces amounting to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Yin spirits in order to comb through the entire City of Salvation… there is bound to be an equal or even greater reaction force from the mortal realm!”
“Don’t underestimate the Special Investigations Department. I’d initially thought that I’d seen everything that they’re capable of. Yet the more I learn of them, the more I’m forced to acknowledge the sheer depths of their abilities. Tonight, we’re not going to ask them for help. Rather, they will help us out regardless of whether we ask them or not!”
“After all, Yin and Yang are naturally opposing forces. When it was in existence, Hell was the intermediary holding these two forces in harmony. But now…” Qin Ye smiled, “I imagine that even Cao Youdao must be thinking of using tonight as an opportunity to measure up the depths of the Special Investigations Department’s resources. He’d be killing two birds with one stone after all!”
Wang Chenghao had got the gist of it all, “Are you saying that tonight, the Special Investigations Department, and that man called Cao Youdao, are going to go head-to-head with each other? And in so doing, the Special Investigations Department is going to be our greatest ally?”
Qin Ye nodded his head. This is the first time… The City of Salvation is going to be the first frontier for the direct confrontation between the netherworldly forces and the mortal realm.
And the fabric of coexistence between man and ghost might very well be ripped asunder tonight!
What’s the government going to do in future?
The impact of Cao Youdao’s actions were going to be far more devastating than the earlier incident in Clear Creek County! The incident in Clear Creek County might have been easily explained as a simple supernatural incident. But the remnant ghosts who survived Hell’s collapse in the City of Salvation are about to make a public declaration of sovereignty to the entire mortal realm!
Who could resist them?
Who could go on living like that?
In the wake of this incident… No. In fact, as soon as the incident breaks out tonight, all manpower available to the Special Investigations Department in the Insignia Province and other surrounding cities would immediately flock to the City of Salvation right away. And I’m afraid that there might even be Hellguard-class inspectors around!
But now was hardly the time to consider the aftermath.
“Cao Youdao… you’ve become far too conceited just because humans can’t see you…” Qin Ye stood by the window and gazed into the gray skies as he sneered, “Well, tonight, I’m going to give you a massive gift…”
“A gift you’ll never forget…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter