Qin Ye shook off the thoughts on his mind and steeled his resolve as he made his way towards the stage while waving robotically at the audience. It felt as though a field of green wolves’ eyes were scrutinizing his every move, causing his husky fur to stand on end.
“Seems like our little colleague here is quite surprised by the decision.” Zhou Xianlong pretended to engage the audience with some humor. Simultaneously, he glared at Mayor Zhou - Didn’t you inform him beforehand?
Mayor Zhou returned the look with some measure of confusion in his eyes - I did!
The decision to invite Qin Ye onto stage was something that had already been set in stone some time ago.
After all, talk is cheap, but seeing is believing. If someone apart from Zhou Xianlong would take the stage and demonstrate what they had all been referring to all this while, it would most certainly facilitate the citizen’s understanding of the situation.
He was an S-class agent who had broken nine hunting zones in just one night, and then answered the call of duty and joined the Special Investigations Department. Furthermore, all who had participated in the battle two nights ago had nothing bad to say about him. What better choice was there than to invite Qin Ye on stage? After all, it wouldn’t make any sense for any Judge-class or Hellguard-class experts to take the stage for a simple demonstration of abilities, right? Hunter-class experts weren’t too outrageous, yet they also wouldn’t be so weak as to leave no impact with the audience as well. It was the perfect decision.
Qin Ye’s smile was so twisted that he may as well have been crying. His hand was still primed at his waist, ready to pull out his saber at the moment’s notice.
What do you mean surprised… This is just pure dumb astonishing!
Zhou Xianlong walked towards Qin Ye. Then, under Qin Ye’s watchful and wary gaze, he gently handed a certificate of honor to Qin Ye with a faint smile, “Twenty thousand merit points isn’t easy to come by. They may be exchanged for some pretty decent rewards. You can browse the options on the app. Even our Hellguard-class agents have only accumulated forty to fifty thousand merit points over the course of their entire stay with us.”
“Mm…” Qin Ye nodded with a stiff smile on his face.
Apart from smiling, he truly didn’t dare to say much else.
Zhou Xianlong looked at his disposition and raised his eyebrows curiously, “Are you… still able to hang in there?”
“I’m still alright…” Qin Ye’s mind was almost drawing a blank. The king of the wolves is standing right before the husky, staring him down and asking if he’s comfortable in the den of wolves… Of course he would be alright! Can’t you let me go now?! I don’t think I could hold on much longer!
I can’t even breach properly because of your Judge-class aura, alright?!
Even Arthis was completely silent.
“That’s good.” Zhou Xianlong heaved a sigh of relief, “Then, why don’t you give everyone a demonstration.”
What did you say?
I don’t think I heard you correctly!
Qin-husky-Ye maintained the dry smile on his face as he stared at Zhou Xianlong in horror.
His fur was standing on end.
He had the urge to give himself a few tight slaps across the cheek!
You’re pretty good, aren’t ya? What did I say earlier?! Director, I think I’ve got the wrong script! This line wasn’t in the script earlier!
Zhou Xianlong thought that Qin Ye’s expression was one that merely evinced a lack of understanding in this regard, so he smiled once more and explained, “Demonstrate your abilities to the camera and the audience. It doesn’t have to be too profound, but it must still be shocking and awe-inspiring. Let everyone see with their own eyes what a cultivator is all about.”
Then, before Qin Ye could respond, he turned back and addressed the audience, “Perhaps everyone watching at home don’t know what exactly an inspector does. So, I’ll leave everyone with a first impression with what you’re about to see.”
Don’t say anymore… please…
Qin Ye looked tearfully towards the heavens. Even if the heavens collapse, I beg of you… stop speaking right now!
You’ve already strung up this husky. What else do you want from me? What do you want?!
Then, almost as though he heard the cries of Qin Ye’s heart, Zhou Xianlong’s voice broadened in an instant, “Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I’m inviting the world's youngest investigator in history, S9527, to demonstrate once and for all the prowess of a cultivator!”
Clap clap clap! Thunderous applause erupted, and countless envious gazes landed upon Qin Ye.
“Pfft.” The handsome man in the third row of seats snorted disdainfully, “If only I’d been there that night… nine hunting zones… I could give it a shot…”
“How fortunate.” A lady beside him exclaimed, “This demonstration is the perfect opportunity to leave an impression with the future Academy of Cultivators as well as the top brass of the Special Investigations Department! Why don’t I have such luck as well?”
Qin Ye felt like his mouth was no longer his own. He tried his best to maintain the smile on his face as he responded, “Chief, kindly allow me five minutes to prepare myself.”
Zhou Xianlong nodded. Qin Ye walked to the side of the stage and immediately muttered in a low voice, “What do I do?! All of my moves rely on Yin energy! Displaying my skills would be tantamount to suicide! And don’t worry, you can count on the fact that I’ll sell you out just before I die!”
“You bloody… don’t panic!” Arthis was shoved right into a spot. It had been centuries since an Infernal Judge has had to deal with such an awkward situation in person. She murmured, “It’s fine! The shard of King Yanluo’s Seal is one of Hell’s divine artifacts, and a single piece would contain more than enough power to fool the whole lot of them! Other than the eruption of Yin energy when you’re promoted to an Infernal Judge, the shard will be able to keep you concealed at all other times!”
“But even though that deals with your abilities, what about your clothes? You can only unleash your abilities when you enter the Hell’s Emissary state, but they’ll be able to recognize you immediately from your clothes even if your abilities are masked by true energy! It’s far too obvious! The mortal realm has its records of the Hell’s Emissary uniform as well!”
“So hurry up and think of something! Or should I unseal the soul sphere and release you right now?”
“Don’t… please don’t… I feel like it’s better being in here than out there. There must be a better solution out of this conundrum.”
“Aren’t you always goading me into unsealing the soul sphere?!”
“Do you think the circumstances right now can be considered anywhere near remotely ordinary?!” Arthis bellowed. Then, after seconds more of deliberation, her eyes suddenly gleamed brightly, “I’ve got it!”
“You can change the appearances of your Hell’s Emissary uniform! But you only get one chance at it with every rank you attain! As long as you transform your uniform to something that is completely different, then, coupled with the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal masking your Yin energy, you’ll most certainly be able to muddle your way through!”
“What form should it take?”
“It’s up to you! Isn’t there an information explosion these days? Can’t you just use one of the more domineering transformations that you see all the time in the animes these days? Iron Man! Hulu Kid! Hatsune Miku! The options are endless! Just use any one of them!”
“What kind of nonsense is Hatsune Miku…” Qin Ye gritted his teeth. The more anxious he got, the less he was able to come up with something. Just then, a male voice echoed beside him, “Mr Qin, the chief has asked me to check on whether you’re ready.”
Qin Ye gritted his teeth, “I. Am. Ready!”
With a stiff smile on his face, Qin Ye took center stage once more. More than three million pairs of eyes were on him at this very moment.
Zhang Linhua’s eyes widened immensely. He couldn’t believe that this “godfather” of his was in fact someone from the Special Investigations Department!
He finally understood some of the more enigmatic references that his father had earlier made.
“Just… what kind of opportunity have I passed up upon there…”
Most of the others watched their screens with great interest. What’s a cultivator? Is it like those fictional characters who are able to leap over clouds and summon fog and mist at a whim? What kind of terrifying battle power is this young teenager going to show everyone?
“Go ahead.” Zhou Xianlong nodded his head with a faint smile. The stage right now was akin to any celebrity endorsement of products. It was going to be the first impression of a national brand name.
Qin Ye drew a deep breath. His temples tensed up as his eyes met with the innumerable inquisitive gazes from below. Yet the only thought on his mind right now was - Transform, transform, transform…
Bloody hell… the more I think about it, the less I think it’s suitable! Everything’s unsuitable!
That’s more science fiction than fantasy, isn’t it?
“Mr Qin?” Zhou Xianlong raised an eyebrow, “You may begin.”
He’s prompting me again… Qin Ye smiled stiffly as he cursed in his heart and attempted to buy himself a little bit more time, “Then… I guess I’ll begin, huh?”
Zhou Xianlong nodded his head with a faint smile. But this time, his gaze had grown far sharper than before, as though he were saying - Damn kid! Hurry up!
There was no avoiding it. Qin Ye drew a deep breath. Then, as everyone watched with bated breaths, he coughed dryly once more, “I… I’m really starting now.”
All of the important men on stage smiled faintly as they nodded their heads.
Their smiles were subtle.
Boom!! Gritting his teeth, thick dense energy abruptly erupted from his body and began to swirl powerfully around Qin Ye, forming a three-meter tall vortex of energy from nothing.
One of the directors witnessing this sight nodded his head in affirmation, “The quality of true energy is quite decent, and the magnitude of the explosive force was quite substantial as well. He truly deserves to be called a genius for breaching nine hunting zones in one night.”
“That’s right… I recall that back then, breaching two hunting zones in a night was already considered quite the feat.” The other director chimed in excitedly, “The nature of his true energy has transformed. I imagine he must be of the lineage of invokers, whose arts have almost been lost to this world. I wonder what powers he’s going to invoke. Buddha? Or the City God?”
Those who were seated in front of their screens and watching with bated breaths immediately gasped in shock. And then the entire city exploded with uproarious chatter!
“Seriously?!” “Is this really something that humans can do? That’s not cinematic effects, is it?” “Holy crap! That’s a cultivator? Really?”
The astonishment from a live demonstration was completely different from that that one saw on films!
After all, everyone knew that films were created with the aid of computer graphics. But now… everything that they were seeing was as real as it got! Everything was happening before their very own eyes.
What’s in the dense fog?
What’s going to come out of it?
Somewhere, in a villa, a chubby boy tightened his grip around his mouse. In the school, several students of the same age held their breaths as they awaited the huge reveal. Yet elsewhere, a lady sitting in front of her LED screen also set down her snacks and stopped chewing entirely.
Millions of people were watching intently.
In the main plaza, Qin Ye’s entire body appeared to be transforming into a different state. One second… two seconds… three seconds later, the cocoon of mist that was swirling around his body exploded violently!
A figure appeared from it.
“He’s coming out!” The director’s gaze gleamed brightly, “Let me take a closer look…”
But before he could finish speaking, he found the rest of his statement lodged in the back of his throat.
In the very next moment, the entire plaza was rendered completely silent.
No… not just the entire plaza - it was the entire city that had been rendered completely silent.
“Haa…” Qin Ye wiped off the sweat on his forehead. The first thing he did was motion to reach for his waist, before slowly relaxing his stance once more.
Very good. Nobody attacked me.
That means that the pack of wolves hasn’t discovered my true identity…
Then, as he reached out to wipe off the sweat from his forehead, he suddenly noticed that he was presently wearing a pair of gloves on his arms.
“This is…” He suddenly had a bad feeling in his heart as he wiped the sweat from his face. Then, as soon as he glanced down, he almost exclaimed in horror and collapsed from shock.
Millions of people were staring at his appearance right now. He was wearing an old jungle combat helmet with a pair of red-framed goggles resting on it. He wore a red scarf, green army boots, and carried two backpacks that ostensibly contained rolls of drawings and blueprints in them.
“This is…” Of all of the people who were watching the screen with bated breaths, seventy percent of the young men and women found themselves completely dumbfounded for a moment, before they burst out into an uproarious laughter.
“Awesome! Awesome!!” One high school student rolled on the floor, laughing, “Teemo! It’s Teemo! Hahaha! This is all scripted, isn’t it?! It has to be! I’m laughing my ass off!”
“That’s a perfect cosplay of Teemo! Awesome! I’m a huge fan!” “Holy crap… T-t-this is too outrageous, isn’t it?! You’d scared my pants off, and then you show me this?!” “God, please bring Teemo back to the meta! I’ll only accept losses to it!” “Awesome +1… Even though I thoroughly respect the Special Investigations Department, why do I have the urge to laugh so badly? I can’t… I can’t hold back anymore… Hahahaha!”
“Ah-hahaha!!” The handsome man in the third row rocked back and forth as he laughed, “Holy shit! I can’t! I’m going to die of laughter!”
Su Feng stared at the man on stage in complete bewilderment, blinking his eyes vacantly as though he were out of it.
On the main stage, Qin Ye stammered as he addressed the ashen-faced Zhou Xianlong once more, “Chief… would you believe me if I said that… all of this is a misunderstanding?”
1. A hero from League of Legends. https://leagueoflegends.fandom.com/wiki/Teemo/History