As Qin Ye left the police station, he glanced at his cell phone. It was already midnight.
He couldn’t help but be awestruck by the stark contrast between areas with high supernatural incidence ratings and low supernatural incidence ratings. In Daehan, neon lights lit up the sky, and the streets were filled with singing, dancing and other forms of revelry. It was reminiscent of how Cathay used to be in the past, before everything went downhill with the supernatural outbreak. Now, it was rare to find any shops open in Cathay after 7.00 p.m.
Qin Ye sighed in his heart as they checked into a decent-looking hotel. Qin Ye, Wang One Tail and Oda Nobutada each had one room to themselves. As soon as Qin Ye entered his own room, he set up a barrier sequestering him from the rest of the mortal realm, and then pulled out the spirit pen.
“Where is she?”
The spirit pen didn’t respond. Qin Ye frowned and promptly tightened his grip around the pen. At once, his arm moved as though he had a life of its own, and the pen began to write on a piece of paper.
“You don’t know?” Qin Ye’s eyes glistened with a frigid chill. As though sensing something terrible looming on the horizon, the pen immediately wrote on, “My Lord, Daehan is as large as a province in Cathay, and it naturally requires an Infernal Judge to be able to locate someone in such a large region. Unfortunately… I’ll only be able to locate her presence if we’re in the same city.”
“The closer we are, the clearer the sensation will get. Besides, I was nearly reduced to dust in the battle with Crow Tengu and Black Yaksha earlier. Please understand my situation, my Lord.”
Qin Ye nodded, “You must have suffered from many grievances to have become a spirit pen in death. Show me your spiritual form. Let me take a look at your true appearances.”
With that, the ballpoint pen fell onto the paper with a soft clack. A soft nethergale swirled around the four corners of the room, before finally coalescing into the form of a teenager before Qin Ye.
His entire body appeared pale and pasty, almost as though he’d been soaking in the waters for far too long. The rims of his eyes were dark, while bloody tears trickled out of the dark crevices in his eyes. A stream of black blood also poured out from his slightly agape lips. It was an incomparably hideous sight.
He stood at approximately 1.7m tall, and he sported average appearances at best. He was dressed in the uniform of a regular Daeian high school, replete with a suit and tie ensemble. That said, his limbs were twisted beyond belief. It appeared almost as though every joint had been bent backwards in an impossible fashion.
What a strong aura of resentment…
Qin Ye stared at the Yin spirit with some amazement. As soon as the teenager appeared, the lights in the room snapped and fizzled out, and the room was filled with a somewhat muffled ambient sound.
Bloop… bloop… Qin Ye frowned. It was the sound of people breathing out underwater.
The rate of burbling sounds soon quickened, growing more and more urgent. It was as though one was drowning in an endless sea of blood. He could even feel his entire body covered with a somewhat sticky and cold feeling. Just then, the hoarse, mournful voice of a teenager echoed in all directions.
“I don’t want to die… dad… mum… save me…”
“There’s a demon here… I don’t want to die… I’m only 15…”
To think that your resentment would be so strong and intense that it could even affect the real world… Qin Ye glanced around with astonishment. Several seconds had passed since all the lights had gone out, and his eyes were slowly acclimatizing to the darkness. Thus, he could tell that the spirit pen’s image had been spiritually projected onto all of the window panes around. His facial muscles were twitching, while blood was pouring out of every orifice in his body as he stared resentfully at the world.
He abhorred the living.
“After I died, I saw a bunch of souls clinging desperately onto my body. At once… I became who I was.”
He became a Hellguard as soon as he passed on?
What intense resentment for the world… Qin Ye raised his brows curiously as he revised his earlier assessment of the spirit pen. Then, he snapped his fingers, and the lights came back on. Qin Ye turned to look at the mirror in front of him with great interest. He could still see his own image in the room within the mirror’s reflection, but it appeared hazy and disorienting, almost as though he were drifting underwater. Meanwhile, the spirit pen continued to drift about in the vast abysses of waters within the reflection, bleeding profusely from his seven apertures as he continued staring intently at Qin Ye.
“Logically speaking, you shouldn’t be filled with that much resentment even if you’d died by drowning.” Qin Ye didn’t have the slightest fear of the spirit pen. Instead, he simply stared at the mirror in front of him with great interest, “I’d initially thought that it was only a weak benign spirit that had attached itself to Xia Jinse. Who would’ve thought it would be an evil ghost as powerful as you are? But it stands to reason as well. The lord and master of the Hanyang Underworld is only an Infernal Judge. I can’t believe you’ve managed to survive for such a long time as an Anitya Hellguard without being caught by the underworld. You must have died a horrific death in order to progress that quickly. What is your name?”
Almost as though his mind were suddenly filled with terrible memories, the spirit pen gnashed his teeth and trembled softly, “Kwon Kyung-ho…”
“How did you die?” Qin Ye opened a bottle of water and continued his line of questioning placidly.
Had the spirit pen not been his only hope of locating Xia Jinse at this point in time, Qin Ye would undoubtedly have purged him right there and then.
Unfortunately, Kwon Kyung-ho remained silent.
He simply hung his head in silence, without any signs of moving. Just as Qin Ye was certain that Kwon Kyung-ho wouldn’t answer him, he suddenly heard a hoarse voice, “Five years ago… sigh… forget it. It’s been too long… and I don’t feel like talking about it…”
Just like human beings, ghosts had their grievances and regrets as well. Qin Ye didn’t intend to press the point either. He lay back onto the bed and nodded softly, “How long have you been following Lee Jung-sook?”
Kwon Kyung-ho was the most important piece of the puzzle to Qin Ye right now. Incidentally, he was also the only piece of the puzzle Qin Ye had to work with at this point in time.
He’d clearly been following Lee Jung-sook for some time.
Lee Jung-sook, otherwise known as Xia Jinse, was an incredibly powerful lady. She’d actually managed to consolidate her power and seal her position as the shadow empress of Samsung, one of the mainstay pillars of South Daehan’s economy!
Qin Ye wasn’t interested to find out just how one lady and one ghost had encountered each other. Rather, what he was more curious about was the fact that if Xia Jinse had encountered a true evil ghost, then there was a high chance that she would have been in touch with the forces dealing with the supernatural in Daehan as well!
And given her identity and position of power, she would most definitely have been in contact with the upper echelons of the demon hunters in Daehan!
Incidentally, that would be Qin Ye’s best bet if he were to uncover the truth about the living hell plaguing Gyeonggi Province in Daehan!
“Who has Lee Jung-sook been in contact with? When she dealt with Black Yaksha, she used two bullets loaded with the ashes of saints. Where did those things come from?”
“I’ve been following her for three years. She was first exposed to these things in a small church in Hanyang. Zion City Church…” Kwon Kyung-ho spoke raspily, “The pastor is called Ahn Jun-ho, a devout clergyman. You know, it’s possible to tell at a glance whether a man was pious and devout or not. All you had to do is to look behind that man and see if there were any spirits following him. And to this end, that man didn’t have a single spirit within a ten meter radius of his presence.”
“The church isn’t large. Ahn Jun-ho couldn’t have been the person dealing with Miss Lee. He was at best a conduit. Given the organizational hierarchy of the Daehan Catholic Church, Ahn Jun-ho was probably just executing orders to relay information to Miss Lee or pass her some items. It seemed to me that the person behind Ahn Jun-ho had agreed with Miss Lee to communicate through Ahn Jun-ho as a conduit.”
Qin Ye lowered his eyes and pondered for some time, “Has he always been at Zion City Church?”
“That’s right. I understand he’s been there for the last five years.”
“And how are the defenses of the church like?”
“Very weak…” Kwon Kyung-ho chuckled, “I’d eaten a hypocritical cleric two years ago, and they still haven’t found the cause of it to date.”
Excellent… Qin Ye tapped his fingers gently on his bedside table, before adding, “Incheon is only approximately 50 kilometers from Hanyang. We’ll head straight there tomorrow morning.”
The second day. Qin Ye got up at 8.00 a.m. sharp, and took a taxi straight to Hanyang. Soon, a bustling city appeared on the horizon.
This was the capital of Daehan, Hanyang!
That said, it wasn’t quite as prosperous as Eastsea. After all Eastsea was well-known for its construction and infrastructure mania. As far as Hanyang was concerned, its infrastructure and urban facilities were probably comparable to some of the second-tier cities in Cathay at best. Even then, the streets were still bustling with activity.
It was now September, right smack in the peak of summer. Everyone in Hanyang was dressed immaculately. Striking beauties dressed with the latest fashion trends could be seen strutting down every part of the high street.
Their complexion and the colour of their pupils were all similar to that of Cathayan people. Qin Ye was initially curious as to the sights that he would behold, but he soon got used to the fresh ‘scenery’ around him.
Things here were hardly any different from back in Cathay. The only difference probably lay in the language of the land.
“Things aren’t too different around these parts…” Wang Chenghao was clearly dismayed by the lack of freshness in his surroundings, and he continued to mumble and grumble, “I mean, that’s all there is to Hanyang. The city centre is located near Namsan, and Myeongdong is located in the vicinity as well. You’ll see many schools around, including Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, and Changyonggung… Eh, speaking of which, isn’t our cab travelling in the direction of Myeongdong? I recall taking this highway that runs around the mountainous region the last time I’ve come here…”
Qin Ye turned back and responded casually, “Daelim One Apartments .”
“It’s situated next to Hanyang Eagle Peak Elementary School and Kwanghee Middle School. The Yingchunghwa Park and Eagle Mountain are situated just behind, together with… Zion City Church.”
“Lee Jung-sook has a building there that only the spirit pen knows about, and I’ve got a way to get my hands on the key. It’s where we’ll be staying for the time being while we’re here in Daehan.”
“There’s… a building?!” The young child of a landlord was incredibly startled, “Please be mindful of the words you’re using…”
“I mean what I say. It’s one building.” Qin Ye rolled his eyes, “The spirit pen mentioned that records would reveal there to be 11 buildings constructed in the development of Daelim One Apartments. But the truth of the matter is that there is in fact a 12th building, known as Building 6B.”
Qin Ye pulled out his phone and booted up the map of Hanyang, located Daelim One Apartments, and then pointed to the map, “6B is this building. The entire building is owned by a lady called Kim Tae-ji, who is known to be as close as a sister to Lee Jung-sook, and incidentally also one of the minor directors of Samsung. Even then, the true owner of this building is in fact Lee Jung-sook. The layout of this building is completely different to that of other buildings around.”
“For instance, it has a massive underground garage, and every apartment in the building is at least 150 square meters large. More importantly, it’s the only building that doesn’t have its view of the Han River blocked by the Zion City Church or the two schools behind.
Wang One Tail gulped nervously. His pride as the prodigal son of a landlord had crumbled in an instant.
This is why humans should never compare with others…
To think that I’d still acted all high and mighty back in Clear Creek County. Sister Lee would’ve guffawed at my naivete…
I mean… who even counts assets by the buildings…
Wang Chenghao scanned through the contents of his phone, desperately searching for a way to change the topic of their conversation, “Speaking of which, don’t you think there are many churches in Daehan? There’s practically a church in every neighbourhood… Catholicism seems to be rife around these parts…”
“That’s right…” Qin Ye turned back and stared out of the window, “Who knows? Perhaps the living hell ravaging through Gyeonggi Province… has something to do with the support of the Orthodox Church…”
Just then, the car finally came to a halt. The Daelim One Apartments development was now located right in front of them.
They got out of the car and looked up at the sprawling apartment complex. There weren’t as many people in Daehan as there were in the major cities in Cathay. Naturally, this translated to a wider gap between buildings, and beautiful landscaping. Furthermore, this wasn’t considered the most upscale of developments. It would be middle to high-end at best. Lee Jung-sook clearly knew what it meant to remain under the radar.
Things here weren’t vastly different from a regular Cathayan development. The security guard was merely ceremonial in nature. All they had to do was to hang around outside the gate, before tailgating the ajummas returning from their marketing into the development. And then, they simply waltzed right up to the front of Building 6B.
A 25-storey building… The prodigal son of a landlord stared agape at the massive building and gulped nervously. At once, he began to calculate what he could actually purchase with his assets… Eh?! I think I might have donated all of my assets!!!
Building 6B was ostensibly different from any other buildings around. The entrance to the building was protected by an electronic lock mounted on a fiberglass door.
“This entire building belongs to Miss Lee.” The spirit pen flew out and hid in Qin Ye’s sleeves, “It’s normally unoccupied. Each of the eight apartments on each floor has its own decors, while the top floor is hers entirely. It sports Cathayan decor, and the entire floor plate is connected throughout. Without either her permission or that of Miss Kim Tae-ji, nobody would ever be allowed access to this place.”
“The access code is Irewi54#@. There’s likely nobody around right now. Kim Tae-ji generally comes by once every six months. If no one is in, you can punch in the code and enter the building directly.”
Qin Ye nodded and punched in the access code. At once, the LCD screen next to the electronic lock flickered on. Then, just as he was about to enter Building 6B, an elderly woman in her seventies sporting delicate makeup appeared on the screen.
Neither Qin Ye nor the lady said a single word. Qin Ye hadn’t expected someone to be around, nor had she expected any visitors today. After a few seconds of awkward silence, she finally spoke with unmistakable wariness, “Who sent you?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter