Qin Ye wasn’t able to decide for a long time.
There was no need for him to meet with the Special Investigations Department right now. Would it be good for him to be seen repeatedly asking the mortal realm for assistance?
Wouldn’t the leaders of the mortal realm be wondering what use is Hell good for?
Would they not wonder why they should be sponsoring and supporting Hell’s endeavours?
Hell had been absent from the mortal realm for decades now, leaving the mortal realm struggling to fight back the forces of the netherworld and find balance for themselves. Could Hell really justify surfacing so abruptly and asking for tens of billions of dollars worth of supplies from the mortal realm?
No. There was no possible justification there.
Qin Ye knew full well that having too many official meetings with the mortal realm could be counterproductive. Thus, he simply tapped on the table, brooding over the options available to him. Then, suddenly, his eyes lit up, and he immediately typed the words “cultivator forum” into the search bar.
At once he got a new set of search results, albeit far fewer than pages created by the general public. But this stood to reason. After all, there were far fewer cultivators than there were regular human beings. All in all, there were only approximately a dozen pages of results.
He searched through the pages quickly, and soon found the cultivator forum for the cultivators in Northriver Province. There was only one such forum, and it was marked with the words “official”.
“Excellent. There’s no need to register before looking into these forums…” He immediately entered the website and began trawling through its contents, “After all, they need money for maintaining forums like these, and in order to do that, they’ll have no choice but to let other cultivation-related companies see and understand what exactly they do. Furthermore, it would make sense to omit the registration requirements, since it’s rather foreseeable that the ones using these forums might also be operating from within the military or police force, or even the Special Investigations Department. This makes it more convenient for me as well…”
His fingers typed rapidly, and he couldn’t help but be reminded of the old times just over a decade ago when his typing speed was important for his employment as a typist…
He immediately typed in the keywords “Yin Mountains” and clicked on the search button with bated breaths.
A second later, he was directed to the next page.
There was only one post.
And the title of the post was none other than Yin Mountains.
Is there really nothing noteworthy sighted in the Yin Mountains?
He immediately looked into the thread.
The post was long, and it was accompanied by numerous photos. However, due to the lapse of time, many of these photos were no longer stored with the database, and they were instead replaced by X’s. Fortunately, the text accompanying the post was still there, and Qin Ye got straight down to its details.
Just as I’d thought… Qin Ye chuckled victoriously as he read the post - Forums are truly the best place to look into…
Besides, given the sheer number of clicks required to pick up on these details, the contents of these posts generally don’t show up in the search engines, and they’re naturally far more resilient to censorship and have the ability to remain under the radar for a far longer time!
In other words, even if someone was out to censor all records pertaining to the Yin Mountains, they wouldn’t have trawled through all of the forums as well. And sure enough, Qin Ye’s guess had been right on the mark.
“Today, I went out to the Yin Mountains to practice with my martial brother.” It was an entry that had been written in the style of a diary, “Master told us that there have been some low-level supernatural activity detected in these parts in recent times, and it’s most suitable for rookies like us to get some experience. Whilst I hate to admit it, I am in every way a rookie when it comes to such things…”
“The Yin Mountains are very scenic. Soon, we found a place to set up camp and retire for the night. Well, the truth of the matter is that we didn’t actually set up a physical camp, since our cultivation levels already enable us to go a whole night without sleep. What I meant was that we’d found a cave to meditate for the night.”
“And that was when it happened… You guys would never guess what I saw!!!”
The sheer number of exclamation marks already revealed how shocking it was for the rookie cultivator. Qin Ye read on.
“There was the sound of knocking…”
“It was the clear sound of knocking! And I could’ve sworn that it was coming straight from the mountainside! But… according to the maps and our records, nobody stays in those places! There’s no sign of human beings living in those parts at all!”
“I immediately alerted my martial brother. After all, we’re talking about the location of supernatural activities. Sure, it might be a low-level supernatural activity, but even the slightest mistakes could cost us our lives! I wondered if I was just hearing things, but Martial Brother confirmed my suspicions - he heard the knocking sounds as well!”
“The sound was very strange. I could’ve sworn that it sounded exactly like someone knocking on a stone sculpture or something. It was obviously taking place a great distance of at least a kilometer away, and yet… I could hear it as though it was happening right next to me! In fact… it sounded as though it was taking place right behind me!!”
“Drumbeats of the mountain gods… I’ve heard legends before. I’m not sure how true this is, but I’ve heard that the mountain gods of these legends are in fact all mountain ghosts, and all of them are Hunter-class Yin spirits to boot! But… why would Hunter-class Yin spirits appear in this place? And how could they even dare to cause such a huge ruckus?!”
Qin Ye stopped scrolling for a moment.
He had a wild hunch.
A hunch that told him that these knocking sounds… might not in fact be knocking sounds or the beats of drums.
Rather, they could very well be the explosions of Yin energy triggered when dense Yin energy gathered in a space too small for their existence, thereby forcibly compressing them into unstable forms that explode spontaneously!
It was the Yin energy attempting to consume itself through wear and tear, so as to fit the rest of the Yin energy in that limited space. This wasn’t the absence of Yin energy. Rather, it was that the entire area had been so filled with Yin energy that it had practically engulfed everything, causing everyone to feel as though the presence of Yin energy was the natural appearance of things!
He read on.
It was a different line of text, evidently written on the next day. He could already imagine the martial brothers huddling up close to each other, listening to the eerie knocking sounds drumming fear deep into their hearts, and they couldn’t help but redirect their focus to their phones to distract themselves from the tense situation around them.
After all, neither of the young cultivators trapped in the dark wilderness would want to say a word at this moment, for fear of drawing the attention of the terrifying “mountain ghost”.
“It was a long, dreary night. Thus, by the time the sun rose on the second day, we both felt a little bit worse for wear. But just as we were leaving the cave, we noticed that… our surroundings were completely consumed by a dense fog.”
“This fog was so dense that we couldn’t see where we were going! Heck, we couldn’t even see the fingers on our outstretched arms! The trees loomed over us as though they were eerie shadows of the night, waiting to pounce on us and tear us apart with their teeth and claws. Master has once said that if you are in the wilderness, and you feel something behind you, never, ever turn back. Because as soon as you do, the thing that is trying to get your attention will immediately snuff out the flames on your shoulder.”
“So, I didn’t turn around, but… I heard it! I really did! There was someone right behind us, and to our side! Someone was talking!”
“It wasn’t a scream, nor was it a wail, but it sounded more like the conversation between farmers in a rural village, asking how the other family’s harvest was doing, and checking on each other’s kids. We plodded on. But as we walked, the voices only grew louder! They were clearly talking about some inconsequential things, but it practically drove us both mad!”
“And that was when we knew that we’d entered the location of a supernatural incident. We were dead sure of that! I’m typing these things as we’re both walking ahead. I don’t even know if we’ll come out of this alive. A supernatural incident taking place over such a large area can only be caused by Hunter-class Yin spirits!”
“I don’t know how far we’ve walked, but the fog has cleared up, and we’re… we’re actually located in the middle of a village!”
“It’s an ancient village, and the ground is covered with wild grass, but… there are people around! There are actually people around!”
“There are some villagers, who are looking at us with dull eyes, almost as though they’re looking at dead people. No… in fact, the entire village looks as though they’re living zombies. And they’ve even placed their coffins in their own homes! Holy crap!”
“No… there’s more… there’s…”
It was there that the rest of the content vanished.
There were a few comments left under the post. A user going by the handle of “Heaven has Eyes” posted - “Thank you for the tip-off. I have notified the Special Investigations Department, and three investigators have been dispatched to investigate the Yin Mountains. I pray that they might arrive in time. If you manage to return safely, please respond to this message. I shall continue to monitor this post in the meantime.”
It was a formal and official message. However, it was clearly targeted at the writer of the post. Furthermore, Heaven has Eyes’s handle has two eyes located behind it - an indicator that he was a moderator of these forums.
Qin Ye immediately read on. Heaven has Eyes left a second comment - “?”
Qin Ye raised his brows quizzically. The third comment was still left by the same person - “Fellow cultivator?”
The fourth and the fifth comments were both succinct messages, with nothing more than a question mark.
And there was no sixth comment.
Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he turned his attention to the time of each post.
First comment: 4 May 2016.
Second comment: 13 May 2016.
Third comment: 23 May 2016.
Fourth comment: 1 June 2016.
Last comment: 2 July 2016.
“A whole month without any response?” Qin Ye licked his lips, “This is a post by a registered member. Given the contents of his post, he’s probably a local cultivator of the Northriver Province. And given his strength and experience, his exposure and privileges should extend to nothing more than this forum either. Coupled with the habits of a young kid these days, he wouldn’t forget to close off this post by reporting back his status. And that’s not even considering the fact that the person leaving these comments was none other than the moderator of these forums.”
“So, what happened here? Is the author of this post… dead?” He glanced at the author’s handle.
‘One Sword One Mind’. This ID… is rather old fashioned, wouldn’t you say? Qin Ye raised his brow quizzically. But just as he was about to navigate away from the page, his eyes suddenly lit up.
There were a few lines of small text in black-and-gold lettering under the author’s handle.
“Registered member of the Northriver Cultivation Union. Inner Disciple of the Cloud Crane Sect. Special Investigation Department ID No: C-532896.”
Good stuff… He sighed soft and returned to the website of the Special Investigations Department.
If memory served him well, the professors of the First Academy of Cultivators would have informed him that the registration numbers of all cultivators are recorded in the database on the website!
“C-532896…” He typed in the characters of the cultivator’s ID, and then…
Search Result: The cultivator you are searching for has been suspended.
Sigh… His grip around the mouse tightened for a moment. This could only mean one thing.
Or, at the very least, his whereabouts are unknown. This would be the only explanation for the revocation of his identification number for the use of the next cultivator in his place.
That said, the added convenience of this search function was that he could even check on the date of suspension of this particular cultivator!
He scrolled down to it.
6 May 2016!
Furthermore, there were other words set out right next to the suspension date: “Suspected dead.”
He sat right in front of the computer and lowered his head, ostensibly deep in thought. Then, after several minutes of silence, he finally looked up again with a deep smile on his face - Interesting… Truly interesting… It seems that there’s truly something hidden in the depths of the Yin Mountains. Moreover, the Special Investigations Department is clearly involved in all these things. Let me guess. How did they find out? The three investigators they dispatched?
No… That’s probably not the case. If Brother Zhao was there, they would’ve dispatched the entire Special Investigations Department, and even the army and armed police! I’m more inclined to think that nobody returned from the earlier investigations. Thus, the Special Investigations Department must have sent more investigators, and possibly stronger investigators as well. After all, a supernatural incident that results in five missing people is already considered big news to the Northriver Province.
But… would the next batch of investigators be able to investigate successfully and return with their reports?
Qin Ye stood up and gently ran his finger across the desk - Unlikely. Thus, this site would turn out to become no different from a bottomless pit, swallowing up every investigator that was dispatched for investigations. To make matters worse, not even the Special Investigations Department knows whether these people are still alive or not. All they know is that this place is dangerous and bizarre, but they’re unable to ascribe it a danger rating altogether because of the sheer amount of uncertainty involved. Is that why… it wasn’t marked on the map at all? Or perhaps it is, save that it’s now classified on the most extreme end of the scale?”
If my guess is right, this place must be completely overrun by investigators of the Special Investigations Department right now, and protected by the armed forces of the nation! Brother Zhao, you’ve truly raised the stakes this time, haven’t you?Previous Chapter Next Chapter