Qin Ye did so accordingly. Soon, the image changed, and the heavy, ancient stone door on the screen burst open, revealing intense rays of light from within. The voice spoke again.
“Sentinel S9527 verified. Logged in. Please bear in mind the following terms.”
“One: All information seen here is strictly confidential and shall not be disclosed to the public at large. Any breach of this term will be considered a mid-level breach of secrecy.”
Two: Spamming and flooding are strictly forbidden. Once discovered, the first-time offender shall be suspended for one hour. A second-time offender will be suspended for a period of twelve hours. Third-time offenders will be suspended for one day. Fourth-time offenders will be suspended for seven days, and the fifth-time offender’s account will be suspended permanently.”
“Three: Please abide by all applicable social and moral norms at all times. Any instances of offences reported by users and verified by Styx’s hive mind shall be suspended for three days.”
“Welcome to Slay, the exclusive app of Cathay’s supreme organization, the Special Investigations Department.”
Boom… As soon as the voice finished speaking, the bright light on the screen faded away, revealing an ancient-looking interface.
It looked intense and heavy.
The interface was red and white in colour, and the sides of the interface looked like etchings of the remnants of the Three Star Mound The forum was located in the center of the interface.
In turn, the forum was separated into four distinct sections - gossip, information, interaction, and tasks.
Qin ye didn’t hesitate to click on the gossip section. After all, this was undoubtedly the most convenient place to glean new information.
There was a wide variety of posts on the page. That said, the most eye-catching one was a blood-red coloured stick post at the top of the page.
“Caution: City of Salvation, Insignia Province, will be disclosing the truth to its populace in three days’ time.” -- Director of the Certification and Administration Division.
He quickly clicked on it and read on.
“Everyone should know about the massive outbreak of supernatural incidents in the City of Salvation. It is impossible to hide the situation there any longer.”
“The City of Salvation’s government and the Special Investigations Department have come to a consensus. In three days’ time, the City of Salvation will be the first region on Cathay that will reveal to its citizens about the truth of the supernatural, and the Administration Division has approved of the following official letter. All cultivators, cultivation sects, organizations and institutions, and branch offices of the Special Investigations Department are to take note.”
“One: The City of Salvation will be placed under direct administration. Cultivation shall become the top focus and priority henceforth.”
“Two: With the assistance of our sponsors comprising twelve of the nation’s largest companies, including the Black Ant Group, the Value Garden Group, Fido Real Estate, etc, Cathay’s first ever Academy of Cultivators has just been registered. The total investment to date is RMB 42 billion. We shall commence the selection and enrollment of the first batch of students after winter, on a date to be further confirmed.”
“Three: All businesses and residences are to be relocated from the main city district. 350 hectares of the main city district is slated to become the campus grounds of the Academy of Cultivators. This size is second only to the two largest universities in all of Cathay. At present, Value Garden Group, Fido Real Estate, and five other developers have already begun directing and channeling their special assessment teams to the City of Salvation. The Cathay Construction Group will be in charge of assembling the manpower for construction works.”
Four: The City of Salvation is inviting all major cultivation sects, organizations and institutions, as well as all major cultivation research institutions to move in. The exact details of the preferential conditions will similarly be disclosed in three days’ time.”
A line of words written in crimson-red lettering sat on the bottom of the page.
“These are all the details I have on hand at the moment. The rest of the details will be disclosed together with the public broadcast at the downtown plaza of the City of Salvation in three days’ time. Currently, only cultivators are allowed to enter the City of Salvation. In three days’ time, the major directors of the Special Investigations Department, the Deputy Chief Inspector, the governor of Insignia Province, and the bookkeeper will all be in attendance personally. Dear friends, this bodes well for us.”
“Over the last few decades, we’ve been silently struggling and fighting against the advances and onslaught of the netherworldly forces. The fact that the netherworld is off-balance, and Hell has become silent, is something that is ubiquitously known to all of us. However, this remains completely unknown to the rest of the mortal realm.”
“Cathay cannot afford to allow the situation to worsen. We are a nation of more than a billion people. If something happens to us, it would spell disaster for the rest of the world as well. Therefore, the first thing we have to do is to maintain stability and order internally. It is also for this reason… that many ordinary soldiers continue to join our ranks and fight, and even sacrifice themselves, although they gain no fame out of it. It is all the more for this reason that our dear fellow Taoists have died for the country, yet cannot be publicly honoured for their contributions.”
“Too many have died fighting for the opportunity that we have been presented with today. The City of Salvation… shall become the first sacred ground for all cultivators of Cathay! And this is only the beginning. I firmly believe that we will see more and more of these sacred grounds sprouting up all across Cathay in no time!”
“Fellow Taoists, we’re not going to see considerable results or progress in the war with the netherworldly forces in the near future. We might not even see results in the next few decades. But, that said, it is only if we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, with the rest of the citizens of the country that we can even begin to hope for the final victory against these forces. It is my sincere hope that all fellow Taoists who can afford to spare the time will join us at the City of Salvation and build a home for yourself there. Help us make it a home for all cultivators in Cathay. I, in my capacity as the director of the Certification and Administration Division of the Special Investigations Department, personally guarantees that as long as you are a cultivator, all past misdeeds of yours shall be forgiven. We shall let bygones be bygones!”
The sticky post exploded with a slew of responses!
“The City of Salvation has experienced a massive outbreak of supernatural incidents? Is this real? Why haven’t I got wind of it?” -- Verified user, Chenzhou rogue cultivator, Huang Zi Ang.
“I’ve heard that the news of the incident is currently suppressed across all of Cathay. Is it true?” “Those damned things have finally decided to make a move? How’s the situation over there?”
The director’s further post in response to the thousands of comments was also bumped up to one of the top comments. Again, it was written with striking, blood-red lettering, “The exact details of the situation there will be pinned to the sticky note at the top of this thread in three days’ time. Please be patient. That said, we can reveal that the mortal realm has come out on top of this battle with a resounding victory. Of the ten hunting zones in the City of Salvation, only one remains. It’s not going to take much effort for us to expunge the evil ghost in the last hunting zone. The City of Salvation could very well soon be the first and only green zone on Cathay’s map since the last thirty years!”
“With a green zone… the future of cultivators is going to be much more secure!” “That’s right. My master was assassinated by an evil ghost when he was attempting a breakthrough some time ago… I’ve got to have revenge for my master!” “Esteemed director, couldn’t you just disclose some of the terms of the preferential conditions? I’m an owner of a small antiques shop. I wonder if I qualify for the benefits to relocate to the city?”
The countless responses were widely varied.
Qin Ye and Arthis grew taciturn. Both of them were deep in thought.
“What great decisiveness…” Arthis finally exclaimed after a long time.
The developments had all pointed towards the fact that civilization would reach yet another point of inflexion in three days’ time!
Cultivation was the stuff of legends; while the netherworldly forces were only depicted in movies. Yet, the truth about these matters would all be made public on the very same day! Furthermore, the entire City of Salvation was going to become the first ever city of cultivation!
And this wasn’t the most incredible thing.
What happens next?
What happens after the establishment of the first city of cultivation? A second? A third?
The City of Salvation was most certainly no more than a pilot test. Just like what happened to the special administrative regions in the country, there was no doubt that these special-purpose cities were going to start sprouting up across all of Cathay in no more than five years’ time!
This was the resounding bugle horn symbolizing the mortal realm’s official declaration of war!
“They’re trying to introduce a paradigm shift for the integration of cultivation as a regular career path for the purposes of sustainability.” Qin Ye replied as though in deep thought. His fingers tapped rapidly on the screen simultaneously.
“What are you doing?”
Qin Ye raised his eyebrows and smiled, “Haven’t you noticed?”
“I’m told that the existence of S-class entities are few and far between within the Special Investigations Department. Most of the people who’ve commented on this page are only D-class or E-class.”
Arthis was somewhat baffled, “What do you mean?”
Qin Ye hit the ‘send’ button and smiled enigmatically, “First, I’ll act as an ignorant idiot…”
Bloop… A comment appeared, “Could I ask if the residents within the City of Salvation are still allowed to leave afterwards?” -- Verified user, Sentinel, City of Salvation.
Then, over ten responses came rushing in within an instant!
“What the hell?! S? S?? This is the first time I’ve seen an S-class user leaving a comment!” -- Verified user, Ghostwriter, Liu Wen, Mountainflower Village.
“Look at that! Just look at his location!” -- Verified user, Trainee Practitioner, Lin Fengcai, Eastlake City, Eastwood.
“City of Salvation? City of Salvation?!! You’re an eyewitness?!” “Holy shit! A living eyewitness! And you’re still able to post about the matter? Do you need a babysitter, honey? The kind that can warm the bed beside you and laugh at your jokes?” “Esteemed author of the post, what in the world is going on in the City of Salvation? Can’t you tell us some details? There’s no news about the incident anywhere else!”
Qin Ye’s heart was greatly gratified by all of their reactions.
But Arthis didn’t smile at all.
“What’s this…” The soul sphere hovered just beside Qin Ye’s body. Then, several seconds later, she nodded her head knowingly, “The safeguards in place.”
“That’s right.” Qin Ye snapped his fingers, “It first occurred to me when I noticed the director’s sign-off.”
“Look at it. All of the users whose registration numbers are prefixed by E or D, and even C, have their exact locations and names reported in their sign-off. It even reports their exact profession. However, the director’s sign-off didn’t contain these details.”
“And take a look. Starting from the B-class users, their names and professions are no longer reported. When I registered my fingerprint with the system, my identity would already have been verified by Styx, and it is likely that there are in place other anonymous entities who hold greater authority to deal with users like the director and I. On the ground, it is unlikely that the moderators of the forums hold any authority to access Styx’s data directly. After all, there’s simply no reason for them to hold such access to vital information about the core members of each region. In other words, my identity is presently unknown to any of these people!”
On the internet, one can never be certain whether the person you’re chatting with is a human or merely a dog.
Take Qin Ye for instance… This husky has already successfully infiltrated the pack of wolves, crept into their inner circle, and is now even analyzing the organization’s internal app with much subterfuge. The information that had originally only been privy to the Special Investigations Department was now also available to the eyes of an Emissary of Hell…
“There’s way too much room for manoeuvre in here. For instance…” Qin Ye typed out an enigmatic yet beautiful phrase, “I am what I am; I blaze with a unique conflagration”. However, despite clicking on the ‘post’ button, he discovered that the message simply wouldn’t send!
“What the hell?!” Qin Ye was horrified. Bloody hell… This is Styx x BeiDou! How could it possibly crash?!
Ding… A message popped up on his phone at the very next moment, “Dear S9527, your account has been suspended for one day. Please cherish your privileges and avoid spamming or flooding. Thank you.”
There’s not even a little bit of grace period allowed?! How could the Special Investigations Department be so impersonal about these things?!
Just as his heart was roiling with furious complaints, he received a voice message.
“Hello. You must be a newly registered user. I must remind you that your classification as an S-class user is reflective of your natural endowment and talent. It is not meant to be a bragging right. Furthermore, there are unspoken rules that S-class users don’t post on the forums unless absolutely necessary. It would be prudent to keep posts about yourself to a minimum. Finally, please feel free to utilize the search function in the app. You will also find available for download at the gossip section a chat tool specially developed by the Special Investigations Department. Please use that app to link up with other fellow S-class users instead.”
“A one-day suspension is a warning of sorts. Please cherish our community. Feel free to browse the other three sections in the meantime. You’re welcome.”
Ding… Qin Ye was instantly kicked out of the gossip section. The bulging veins on his forehead throbbed uncontrollably.
Aaaarrgghh… Does a husky have to face the provocation of the previous wolf king before succeeding his throne…
“Tsk, tsk, tsk… It seems like the parents of the wolf clan aren’t too pleased with you, are they… After all, of their thousands of obedient wolf cubs around, another one with a different coat of fur and a different bark has just appeared. It’s harsh on the eyes…” Arthis laughed uproariously, “Kiddo, when do you think of returning home the most? But regardless, you’re not going to be able to return home anytime soon. Kekeke...”
When do I think of returning home the most?
Qin Ye pondered silently for a moment.
And then, he muttered faintly, “Our base is under attack.”
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