The rise in the ground level wasn’t obvious, and nobody took notice at first. After all, it wasn’t an uncommon sight for undulations to appear in the ground. But after approximately five minutes, everyone could sense that something was amiss.
One of the managers who was still hydrating himself glanced over, completely dumbfounded, and the cup in his hand fell straight to the ground with a soft thud. The bearded director likewise glanced over with widened eyes and his jaws agape. The mound of sand was approximately ten meters wide, and approximately one meter tall. It was unmistakably conspicuous.
“What is this?” The crew members subconsciously shifted away from the mound, leaving a wide berth of space spanning dozens of meters between them and the sandy mound. Then, right before their eyes, the sandy mound suddenly exploded violently. With a loud cry, a man and a dog flew right out of the mound.
The Harken landed on all fours on the ground and barked furiously, “I--....”
However, it immediately noticed the quizzical looks of all the crew members around. At once, it barked sensibly, “Woof…”
“Cough, cough, cough…” Meanwhile, Qin Ye lay on the desert ground, turning his head to the side as he coughed up a mouthful of sand. But before he could even explain himself, he found a bearded man peering down at him from above, “Actor?”
Haha… mortals… Qin Ye rolled his eyes and turned away. He didn’t have any intention to respond to the bearded man’s insipid questions.
“Ancient military officer?”
Qin Ye rolled over and got up, dusting off the sand on his body. At once, he heard a series of gasps of awe coming from behind.
“Where’s this prop from?” “He wouldn’t actually be an ancient military officer, would he?” “Look at the fine details on that…”
Blue skies, white clouds, and desert all around. Unfortunately, the mortals around him were interfering with his enjoyment of the sights and sounds around him. He glanced at the sky, and then sighed softly as he whispered in vexation, “Stop.”
At once, everyone around him froze, and Qin Ye and the Harken took this opportunity to vanish into the shadows. Meanwhile, everyone on scene froze for exactly five seconds before they snapped back to their senses. Then, the bearded director straightened up as though he had just snapped back from his dreams, and he waved his hands impatiently, “What are you doing standing around for? Get to work! There’s still a month to go before the end of our production, and we’re only halfway through. Do you all intend to breach the filming contract?”
Nobody dared to disobey the head honcho’s commands, and they promptly returned to their own stations. However, as they did so, they couldn’t help but stare blankly at the sky in confusion.
Did something happen earlier? Did I forget something?
Incidentally, it was also at that moment that the alarm back in Northriver Province’s Special Investigations Department office went off for a split second, before resuming normalcy once more.
“Is this… around Yan Capital?” The Harken sat beside Qin Ye at the rest stop, staring at the vehicles as they passed by.
The desert was unexpectedly small compared with other deserts. It was only approximately 1,000 acres in size - a drop in the ocean next to the other major deserts in the region. It wouldn’t take either of Qin Ye or the Harken more than a casual stroll to get from one end to the other. Furthermore, there were lush green trees and spinning windmills located right across the rushing rivers.
A single river was all that separated the two seemingly different worlds.
This was the rest stop of a well-known tourist attraction, and it was incredibly well-designed. There were restaurants, cafes and even hotels around. Tour buses and cars were all parked neatly at the rest stop, and it looked no different to the rest stops along the highways connecting two first-tier cities. The traffic flow in this region was massive, and there were easily ten different groups of film crews in the region.
Naturally, many who were loitering around the rest stop were actors and actresses dressed in costumes of all sorts. Most were gathered in groups of threes to fives, chatting about everything under the sky like an ancient tavern. But it was precisely also because of the crowd the rest stop attracted that Qin Ye blended right in with his heavy sword as well. That said...
“What production crew is he from?” “Did the scriptwriter get something wrong? How could he fuse a modern persona with ancient martial arts? Isn’t this a fusion that was only popular several years ago?” “Now, don’t say that! Something like this is in trend on the internet right now. Have you been reading webnovels these days? A crossover of an ancient martial artist in modern times, or an ancient medical practitioner in modern times, setting out on a journey to find immortality. It’s actually quite exciting…”
“This kid… With his looks, he’s probably the protagonist of the show. But how old is he? Perhaps he’s linked to the production crew somehow…” “Hey, keep it down. We’re located right next to Yan Capital after all. That’s where the big shots and their family are all located. You’d be wise to tread carefully. I mean, what’s a little bit of investment in a production crew for them?” “I guess there’s no point comparing with others…”
Gossip was clearly the talk of the town. Even then, Qin Ye ignored everything that was being spoken of him, ordered a drink and found his way to a seat located by the side of the window. There, he pulled out his phone and began tapping duriously on it, “Tianmo Desert. Located approximately 100 kilometers from Yan Capital. Famous tourist attraction and popular filming site. Most desert scenes of local drama serials and movies have been filmed here in this place. This would make sense, particularly since it costs a bomb to travel into the major deserts around.”
“Hmm? How do you know these things so well? Is there a story behind this that you’ve not mentioned before? Pray tell!”
Qin Ye could’ve sworn that the Harken was slowly changing for the worse.
What was once a great and majestic divine beast of Hell was now nothing more than a despicable dog that takes delight in the misery of others.
Why can’t those around me act a little bit more positively?
That said, he refused to look deeper at the root of the problem here.
“We’ve got to inform the leaders of the mortal realm about Genghis Khan’s Tomb.” He searched through his phone book as he continued to speak softly, “This is a huge find, and the Resentment Crystals are likely hidden right underneath this tomb itself. Unfortunately, Hell hasn’t developed its archaeological industry just yet, and we can only rely on the professionals of the mortal realm in this regard. Truth be told, I’m still reeling from the shock of learning that Temujin’s Tomb is located right here in Northriver.”
The Harken retracted its gaze and pondered for a few moments, “That said, we shouldn’t actually be this surprised by the find.”
“After all, Genghis Khan’s Tomb has long been speculated to be located here in Northriver.” It leaned over the table and lapped at Qin Ye’s coffee, only to draw an expression of ire at once. Thus, the Harken coughed softly and continued, “30 years ago, the archaeological expert uncovered a tomb near Mount Colt, Kalgan. That was the incident that first sparked the interest of experts in Mount Colt.”
Qin Ye leaned on his hands and listened intently.
After all, the netherworld was far more in tune with the affairs of the dead than the mortal realm could ever be.
“Mount Colt is shaped like a stallion with its head down drinking water. Everyone knows that horses are considered the supreme animal as far as the Mongols are concerned. Their status is comparable to cows to people of Hindustan. Naturally, some of the experts speculated that Mount Colt could very well harbor a series of tombs where Mongols are buried. An investigation was carried out, and a startling discovery was made.”
It lowered its head and began lapping up the coffee in the cup again - Eh? Why does this cup of coffee taste especially fragrant today?
Qin Ye could barely resist the urge to kick the dog on the table far away from him.
“The experts discovered a cave located deep in the hearts of Mount Colt, where diagrams of the twelve zodiacs were located in a non-sequential fashion. That said, it was discovered that the order of their arrangement… turned out to be exactly representative of the zodiac signs of each of the Yuan Dynasty emperors! Overcome with joy at their discovery, some of the experts even posited that this could only mean that the tomb complex of the Yuan Dynasty emperors was located close by!”
Qin Ye tapped his fingers gently on the table.
Was this a coincidence?
Perhaps. But that didn’t change the fact that the Tianmo Desert was also located in Kalgan City!
Furthermore, there were still mysteries surrounding the origins of the desert. Qin Ye couldn’t help but consider the legends of how the desert simply came to be overnight. But if the Tianmo Desert was somehow linked to the discoveries in Mount Colt, then everything would make sense.
Uncovering such secrets might be one of the few joys of being an Emissary of Hell…
He continued listening intently, and the Harken explained with great patience, “There’s one other seemingly unrelated event that might deserve your attention, and that pertains to an incident that happened towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty. There’s a village known as Dale Village currently located approximately ten kilometers away from Mount Colt. This village was formerly known as the Chang Yuchun Village, named after the Ming Dynasty general Chang Yuchun himself. Back then, Chang Yuchun had personally driven the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty out of the frontier fortress, Juyongguan, after their great victory over the emperor’s forces. The death toll back then was in the hundreds of thousands, and Hell had no choice but to send out Judges to clean up the battlefield and help souls pass into the netherworld.”
The Harken proceeded to pick up Qin Ye’s coffee cup with both paws and drink it leisurely, “You might not understand some of Fengdu’s processes just yet, but certain operations, such as the large scale extradition of souls into the netherworld, would require in depth investigations. That said, the Second King Yanluo personally saw to it to seal the dossier which set out the investigations of that time.”
“Sealed?” Qin Ye raised his brows, and then proceeded to add a spoonful of milk to the coffee, to which the Harken promptly nodded with great thanks. Then, the Harken went on, “That’s right, it was sealed, and nobody was allowed to inspect its contents. That said, I was naturally excluded from such restrictions. From what I can recall, the results of the investigations back then were… unknown.”
“Back then, the Yuan army had clearly been routed, and there was no reason to fight this battle. And even if they were to fight, they should have retreated back and perished at the passes between Northriver Province and the Mongol Empire’s territory in an attempt to buy time for the emperor’s escape. But they didn’t. Instead, they simply fought and fought, as though they were hell bent on taking down the enemy forces, even at the cost of their own lives. But now…”
The Harken set down his cup and mused, “There’s a possibility that this war had all been for the purposes of defending the emperor’s tomb. After all, the Tianmo Desert isn’t too far away from where Mount Colt is located.”
Qin Ye sighed softly.
The world would never know that somewhere out there, in a world completely invisible to them, that there are pairs of eyes always watching the actions of each person, recording everything that was done and not done in keen detail.
The Harken continued, “Truth be told, I was still in doubt back then when I read through this report. But now, I understand everything.”
“And therein lies the crux of why Zhao Yun was tasked to guard Temujin’s soul.”
Qin Ye rubbed his chin as he hazarded a guess, “Is it because Yin spirits can unlock their fullest potential if they return to their birthplace?”
“That’s right.” The Harken gave Qin Ye a nod of approbation, “All Yin spirits can tap on their fullest potential so long as they return to their birthplace. Thus, this had to be done, so that even if Temujin somehow managed to escape the two seals, he still wouldn’t be able to leave Northriver Province, because Zhao Yun would immediately sense his movement. This… was not a coincidence at all. Everything had been calculated to the tee. In fact, I wouldn’t even put it past the Second King Yanluo to have erased Zhao Yun’s name from Hell’s Records when the old Hell collapsed, so that he can continue to do his duty so long as Temujin’s soul remained.”
Qin Ye nodded.
This had to be the case. Otherwise, how could Zhao Yun still be relaxing in the mountains right now?
Shouldn’t he be in a rush to suppress the three Daolords before they go out of control?
In that instant, it suddenly struck him that everything happening around him appeared to be individual pearls strung together by the thread of cause and effect to form a perfect pearl necklace. And in that regard, everything was slowly coming together now.
He had more or less figured out the cause and effect of everything that was happening.
With that, he retracted his gaze and switched on his phone once more. The Harken leaned in curiously, “What are you looking for? Short videos on Tiktok to while your time away?”
The look of concern nearly caused Qin Ye to spit out a mouthful of coffee.
“I’m looking for someone!” He barked back with an ashen expression, “Don’t you know how big the Yin Mountains are? How can you be certain where Brother Zhao is located?”
The Harken frowned, “Brother Zhao?”
“... I’m just using a term of endearment. But that’s not the point! The point here is that Brother Zhao might be in a pinch right now, and we’re likely to see records of supernatural incidents where he’s located! So long as we can locate the epicenter of all supernatural events in the Northriver Province, we’ll likely be able to find clues of his whereabouts!”
“And to that end, the Special Investigations Department will naturally have records of these things!”
The Harken raised its brows quizzically, “Are you looking to connect with the three strongest experts in the mortal realm again?”
“No.” Qin Ye responded flatly, “Like I said before, I want to negotiate at arms’ length with them, and I don’t want them to think that Hell is indebted to them in any way. Thus…”
“I’m looking for someone I know and trust.”
“I’ve spent the last hundred years or so tilling the land and cultivating the soil. How else do you think I wormed my way into the First Academy of Cultivators in the first place?”
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