“What was that sound?” The other four in the room were all Hunter-class experts, and they immediately asked in unison.
“... Nothing. I need to make a trip to the washroom.” Qin Ye stood up and made a beeline towards the washroom. As soon as he entered, he immediately pulled out the soul sphere, “What’s that?”
Arthis was somewhat lost for words, and it took her several seconds before she finally responded, “The Seven Star Soul Suppressing Pagoda… It’s hard to explain exactly what it is, but I guess you can say… it’s a type of formation array.”
“Those bones aren’t just plain, simple bones. Each and every single one shown in the blueprints comes from the bones of an ancient demon…”
“Hang on.” Qin Ye interjected, “Demon? What’s with the sudden new patch?”
“There’s nothing strange about this.” Since they were in a cubicle in the washroom, the soul sphere floated out, “Man, ghost, and demon all live among the three realms of this world. Demons have spirits as well, and these spirits also enter Hell when they die. That said, the flourishing of humanity has come at the cost of dwindling demonkin. Even I have only encountered two or three in the past, all of whom were hardly noteworthy existences.”
“On the other hand, there used to be some demonkin spirits residing in Hell. But… truth be told, they’re quite the pitiful existence as well. While they’re on earth, apart from their cultivation, the demonkin are completely disconnected from society. Incidentally, it’s even more difficult for demonkin to hide their presence than Emissaries of Hell. Then, as soon as they perish, their lack of marketable skills or abilities prevents them from thriving in Hell. Most of them end up making a living by acting all adorable in the Fengdu Central Zoo…”
“......” Qin Ye grew taciturn. For some strange reason, he had the feeling that the Fengdu Necropolis that he was supposed to reestablish was something absolutely strange and peculiar. Am I getting delusional?
Arthis’ voice grew somber, “Going back to the topic at hand, if this were indeed a Seven Star Soul Suppressing Pagoda, the bones that you see are at least a thousand years old, hailing back to the era when the three realms thrived equally. In turn, the entity that the Seven Star Soul Suppressing Pagoda is intended to suppress is most certainly a millennial ghost! The incident with the ghost combing your hair is merely a mirage caused by the mysterious entity’s leakage of Yin energy. It was completely devoid of any killing intent to begin with… Furthermore, after considering the matter further, I think I can safely conclude that the government’s decisions weren’t made on the spur of the moment.”
Qin Ye deliberated for a few seconds before clarifying, “Are you referring to… why the government has decided to establish the First Academy of Cultivators in the City of Salvation?”
“That’s right! There are so many other options - Southend Mountain, Greenwich Mountain, Dragontiger Mountain… All of these places are perfectly fine alternatives! Furthermore, there are several other great mountains that are closely affiliated to Buddhism and Taoism as well. Even though they might not be green zones, they’re still no worse than yellow zones. Furthermore, these other locations would most certainly welcome the establishment of an Academy of Cultivators in their vicinity. So, why did the government have to pick the City of Salvation of all places?”
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered with a bright glimmer, “Unless… there’s another unstated reason that makes it absolutely necessary to establish it in the City of Salvation… That’s right, it would be far too conspicuous building a Seven Star Soul Suppressing Pagoda in the middle of the city. The public would never agree to it either. Relocating millions of citizens for that very purpose would be met with an even greater resistance. Cao Youdao’s insurgence has given the government the perfect opportunity… With this as a cover story, everything would make sense and be completely justifiable.”
Without waiting for Arthis to respond, Qin Ye continued, “At the same time, our previous conjectures still hold true - there exists a deeper, darker secret hidden in the recesses of the City of Salvation. Perhaps it could even be a ghost king who has existed for over a millennium. But it must either be sealed or dormant. Otherwise… with Yin energy readings that are in the tens of millions, its presence alone could justify sending half of Cathay into a state of emergency! The government wouldn’t even dare to begin constructing a soul suppressing pagoda in this place!”
“That’s right. The Seven Star Soul Suppressing Pagoda is also known as the Reverse Mandara. Once constructed, all they have to do is to enroll up to a thousand students who possess dense true energy at their disposal, and they can be sure that the suppressed entity will no longer have any chances of breaking through the formation array. In other words, it can be said to be one of the heavyweights in the world of sealing arts… It’s unfathomable. It’s truly unfathomable that such designs are still being passed down in the mortal realm.”
After getting a better understanding of things, Qin Ye once again returned to the elegant, private room.
He nodded at the gathering of Hunter-class experts and took his seat once more. Su Feng unraveled the drawing again and continued, “Everyone, even though I’m not certain why exactly my supervisor has rejected the blueprint, I can say with the utmost certainty that this is a seal.”
“Take a look here, The Harken, the Pixiu Chimera… each and every beam has the exact same statues on them. And if you look from a topological view… what do you think you’ll see?”
Su Feng pulled out a red pen and marked all of the statues on the blueprint with a red dot. Li Runxue took a look and exclaimed in shock, “Taiji?”
That’s right. All of the densely packed statues actually formed a Taiji pattern when viewed overhead!
“It gets even better…” Su Feng pressed the pen down heavily on the blueprint and marked out a particular spot, “The Yang eye of the Taiji symbol is placed directly over the last remaining hunting zone in the entire City of Salvation! The fourth hunting zone! I postulate that this is a massive seal! And there’s an eighty percent chance that I’m right!”
With a blank look on his face, Qin Ye asked, “What are you guys going to do about the fact that it’s a seal?”
“It’s what we are going to do.” Su Feng smiled faintly as he looked straight back into Qin Ye’s eyes, “Don’t you think… we ought to take a look and learn of the truth ourselves?”
“The truth about the City of Salvation, and the truth about the existence that possesses energy readings at thirty million Yin. After all, you wouldn’t want to take up a teaching post at a location that is potentially sitting on a time bomb, would you? How can we possibly live while watching over our shoulders all the time?”
Without waiting for Qin Ye’s response, he continued, “Moreover… of all people in attendance at the conference, including the Judge-class experts, that mysterious entity still locked right onto you. Are you sure you want to repeat that earlier experience again?”
“Old Su, you didn’t share this piece of information with us.” Lin Han looked at Qin Ye with a beckoning expression that seemed to delight in his misery, “Yo, wanna tell us about it?”
Of course I’m going to tell you about it… but why do you have an expression that gives me an urge to slap you to death?
Qin Ye rolled his eyes at him and recounted to everyone his earlier experience. Everyone grew taciturn. Moments later, Li Runxue finally spoke up, “Then, there’s even more reason for us to make the trip.”
“Courting death?” Qin Ye chucked coldly.
“No.” Su Feng was unexpectedly also on their side, “Mr Qin, you’ve just joined the Special Investigations Department, and there are many things you’re not yet aware of. For instance, you’ve got no clue as to just how precious and rare these merit points are.”
“Whenever we complete our regular tasks and assignments, we get anywhere from as few as 50 to as high as 100 points. These merit points can in turn be exchanged for some surprising rewards with the Special Investigations Department, ranging from weapons, spirit stones, or other resources. They’ve got practically everything in their stores! I’d even heard that the treasury of the Special Investigations Department had been handed down from dynasty to dynasty. If this is true, we’re essentially talking about thousands of years’ worth of accumulated wealth. Can you imagine what kind of treasures lay in store for us?!”
“With merit points, we’ll be better equipped. With better equipment, we’ll be able to earn more merit points. It’s an unending cycle of growth… Even if we leave aside the weapons and artifacts that we can get, the spirit stones that we can exchange merit points for are in and of themselves a universal currency that can be used in all human societies, including foreign nations. Mr Qin… do you know how envious we are of the 20,000 merit points you have in your possession? How many spirit stones would I be able to get? How long would it take us to accumulate such wealth?”
Qin Ye blinked, “How long?”
Li Runxue snorted, “Even if we personally undertake missions day and night without rest, we’d still need at least five years to accumulate 20,000 merit points!”
“And the exchange rate for spirit stones is 10 merit points for a single spirit stone. You do the math yourself.”
Two thousand spirit stones!
Just then, the soul sphere in Qin Ye’s pocket suddenly bumped into his leg, and Qin Ye coughed dryly, “Excuse me. Washroom.”
The impassioned atmosphere in the room was instantly interrupted, and everyone’s lips began twitching uncontrollably. As soon as he left the room, Lin Han blinked vacantly and probed curiously, “Does he have kidney problems?”
“Do you want to test it for him?” Li Runxue sneered.
“Sister Xue, it seems like you’re getting more and more comfortable in the driver’s seat, aren’t you? When did you get your license?”
As soon as Qin Ye entered the washroom, he immediately pulled the soul sphere out of his pocket, and Arthis automatically floated up, “Two thousand spirit stones! You might want to seriously think about it!”
Qin Ye rolled his eyes, “Is my life only worth two thousand spirit stones?”
“Actually, what’s there to think about? Your life is worthless--... cough… sorry, Freudian slips are a common symptom of old age… Put down your saber, we can talk things through civilly…”
Arthis coughed dryly, before speaking with a more serious tone of voice, “I know you’re reticent to even consider this suggestion. Someone like you who prioritizes his own life above all else under the sky would never know what it means to know your boundaries. No… perhaps you might know your boundaries too well… Whatever the case might be, it’s a fact that your cultivation doesn’t require these things at all. You can rely solely on your proof of identity as an Emissary of Hell to rise through the ranks. That said… this is something that is of crucial importance to the reestablishment of Hell!”
“I’ve done some calculations. The mortal realm’s ability to extract and harvest the solar and lunar essence is profound and effective. If you possess two thousand spirit stones, you’ll almost have enough to construct the first prototype soul induction platform.”
Qin Ye’s temples throbbed, “First? And it’s still only going to be a prototype?!”
“Naturally… Cathay has six or seven hundred cities and several thousand provinces. Each and every place would require a soul induction platform. However, I’m talking about the primary soul induction platform here! In other words, this is the first place that the Yin spirits would see as soon as they enter Hell for the very first time!”
“With the soul induction platform in place, Yin spirits would continue to pour in endlessly. It’s part of their nature and instinct! And it’s only with the manpower on hand that you can truly begin to rebuild Hell from the ground up!”
Qin Ye was baffled, “But how does this have anything to do with the soul suppressing pagoda we were talking about earlier?”
“Of course it’s got everything to do with it!” Arthis’ voice grew agitated, “Think about it… This evil ghost is presently in either a sealed or dormant state, but we simply cannot afford to let it wake up! As soon as it does, everything is over! So why don’t we add another layer of seal just under the Seven Star Soul Suppressing Pagoda?”
Qin Ye’s eyes immediately widened, and he stared at Arthis as though he had just seen a ghost, “Are you saying that we should build the damn entrance to Hell right underneath the soul suppressing pagoda? Are you out of your mind?! Haven’t you learnt from the lesson of the incident with Ksitigarbha yet? That’s right… back then, none of you had ever expected him to fulfill his great vow right from the onset, huh? But what was the result? A sky-piercing explosion that devastated all of hell! Do you want history to repeat itself?”
“That’s just a possibility! Do you know what ‘possibility’ means?!” Arthis responded with exasperation, “Besides, the soul induction platform requires a place of extreme Yin. The fact that such a terrifying existence has been suppressed and trapped in this location for such a long time would naturally imply that the place of suppression has already become the most natural hunting zone around! Have you ever considered how dense the Yin energy in that area must be? Apart from this place, can you think of any others that might even be remotely as suitable as this? Are there other locations with denser Yin energy?”
“Secondly, having such a terrifying existence near the entrance would be a form of assurance that nobody would come probing about as well! The entrance would be incredibly safe.”
“Hell can automatically absorb the Yin energy in its surroundings. This is undoubtedly the best location of choice to lay down the cornerstone of Hell. With all due respect, I can’t think of a better place than this. Furthermore, the dual-seal would ensure that the evil ghost would never be able to awaken or break out of its suppression. In other words… it would become a perpetual source of Yin energy that will continue to power the new Hell!”
Qin Ye shut his eyes and pondered deeply over Arthis’ suggestions.
He understood everything that Arthis was saying. The soul suppressing pagoda would naturally be built over the location where the government estimates the evil ghost to be. And Arthis was suggesting that he should in turn establish the entrance to Hell between the soul suppressing pagoda and where the evil ghost was located so that the evil ghost’s Yin energy would be continually absorbed by Hell. That way, under the twofold suppressive effects, the evil ghost would be reduced to a harmless little rat-on-a-wheel as long as it remained dormant.
“Then… what would happen if it wakes up?” He asked cautiously.
“That’s why you’ll have to go take a look personally.” Arthis responded, “As long as you can ascertain that its sealed state remains intact, this is absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”
“It would also mark… the starting point of your ascension to King Yanluo!”