Qin Ye returned to the elegant room once more.
“Huiren Kidney Tablets. Everyone benefits.” Lin Han declared emphatically. Qin Ye immediately told him to get lost.
“Let’s continue.” Qin Ye muttered with a light cough.
He didn’t give Arthis any promises as to what he would do. However, he was prepared to listen to their plan.
Su Feng nodded, “Alright. Picking up from where we left off, Mr Qin, merit points can only be earned through missions and assignments. But this time… I can almost guarantee that, as long as we’re able to investigate and learn of what exactly lies underneath, the reward won’t be less than this amount.”
He held up three fingers.
“Thirty thousand?” Qin Ye’s eyes quivered slightly.
“It’s thirty thousand each.” Su Feng licked his lips like a hungry wolf.
“Furthermore, the merit points we obtain for completing a mission are but secondary rewards when it comes to places like this. The main draw is something far more delightful. The denser the Yin energy in a place, the higher the likelihood of discovering a Yin artifact. If we go by the standard rate of exchange, a Hunter-grade Yin artifact would be worth 10,000 points; a Hellguard-grade artifact would be worth 30,000 points, while a Judge-grade artifact would be worth… 100,000 points!”
Everyone’s breaths grew slightly ragged as soon as they heard the astronomical number. Lin Han drew a deep breath, “If the Yin energy readings of thirty million are accurate… then any other oddly shaped stone we find down below could easily bag us fifty thousand points! And this is the price of the internal market. If we expand the scope to include the black market, then the price would only be higher! With some luck, each of us would be able to walk away from this with tens of thousands of merit points!”
Qin Ye muttered softly, “But what if our luck isn’t as good?”
Lin Han grinned, “Then we’ll all perish down there.”
“I believe that our luck won’t be that bad.” Su Feng pursed his lips, “Thirty million Yin energy… It makes my scalp go numb just thinking about it… But if we don’t stake everything on the line and grasp this opportunity, are we going to simply wait around for a good mission or assignment to land on our laps?”
Li Runxue looked at Qin Ye, “There are countless people vying for good missions all the time. Not only is it difficult to nab a good assignment, many of these assignments would require us to travel far and wide as well. Now that we’re presented with such a perfect opportunity that doesn’t require travel either, why not give it a shot? Or are you simply… afraid?”
Everyone blinked their eyes awkwardly as they gave Qin Ye an incredulous look.
Su Feng adjusted his glasses, “No… Mr Qin, you… are you injured? You might not know how difficult it is to earn merit points with the Special Investigations Department. Solar and lunar essences are things that can be obtained elsewhere, but there are some invaluable treasures that can only be obtained through merit points alone. You’ll appreciate just how important these things are in no time.”
Lin Han blinked and coughed lightly. The earlier abrupt silence had made him somewhat uncomfortable, “You… you’re not afraid, are you? You’re the hero who has breached nine hunting zones in the span of one single night… Your earlier silence was truly unexpected…”
Qin Ye was instantly filled with an irresistible urge to slap Lin Han across the cheeks!
What do you mean, afraid? This is called deliberation! Can’t you give me some time to prepare myself? I was still contemplating how viable the plan is, so can you just stop jumping to conclusions like that?!
How can I possibly worm my way out of the situation now?!
“About that…” Four pairs of eyes were staring transfixed at Qin Ye as he cleared his throat, “I was just wondering whether the merit points exchange list can be found on the Special Investigations Department’s app? I haven’t had the chance to look at it yet.”
It was a feeble attempt at changing the topic.
“You can find it on Momo.” Li Runxue blinked as she continued probing, “You… you’re not really afraid, are you?”
“O-hehehe… How could I be afraid… Ah-hahaha…”
His laughter was so awkward that it made the rest of them feel embarrassed for him.
The atmosphere in the room was as awkward as it got. Seconds later, Qin Ye coughed dryly, “But seriously… when are you planning to make your move?”
“The day after tomorrow.” Su Feng responded affirmatively, “The training for teachers is commencing in a week’s time. As far as I know, we’ll be under military-like regimentation. Who knows what will be in store for us? If we don’t move soon, we might not have the time in the coming weeks.”
Qin Ye stood up, “Alright, we’ll communicate through Momo then. We’re all in the group, right?”
After he left, the smile on Lin Han’s face faded away, and he looked at Su Feng, “How was that?”
“What do you think?” Su Feng asked Li Runxue.
Li Runxue continued to twirl her flying daggers as she raised an eyebrow, “I can’t tell at all.”
“My profession is a threebloom heart-querying seer. As long as someone looks at me for more than ten seconds, I’ll be able to see their innermost thoughts for a brief moment. But this man… his heart appears to be shrouded by a layer of black mist. I can’t see a single thing.”
The originally playful smile on Lin Han’s face also subsided as he remarked, “A person who’s able to break nine hunting zones in a single night can’t possibly be a slouch. At the very least, he can’t possibly be as unreliable as he seems.”
“To put it nicely, it seems like he’s putting his own safety before matters of principle. But if we put it bluntly, it seems like he’s just afraid of dying… That said, someone with his track record cannot possibly be like this. I’m of the view that there’s more to it than meets the eye.”
Even Zhuo Qinfen thought to chime in, “That’s right. I believe this is all a pretence as well. Unfortunately, his acting skills aren’t good enough. This is a good thing. It means he’s also wary of us, and it also means he’s not confident of taking us down all by himself either.”
Silence. After some time, Su Feng finally nodded, “Well, that’s that. I’ll notify everyone of the assembly time tomorrow night at eight.”
Qin Ye was completely unaware that the party of S-class experts had only elevated their assessment of him after concluding that he was merely putting on a pretence. Yet the truth of the matter was that he was truly afraid and cowardly. He had been showing his true colours earlier.
He switched on Momo and delved into the app for a closer look. This was part of Arthis’ plan.
“Brother Qin… are you really thirsting so badly?” Wang Chenghao’s voice was filled with righteous indignation, “I haven’t seen you use any other app these days apart from Momo!”
Qin Ye rolled his eyes, “... Why does it feel as though you give me less respect these days? What happened to the adorable, innocent Sledgehammer Wang I used to know?”
“He’s probably already vanished after being tainted by your lack of morals and integrity…” Arthis lamented.
Ignoring the ragamuffins around him, Qin Ye delved deeper into the app. Naturally, the first thing he did was to skim through the pictures profiles of the goddesses on the app.
“This app is so filthy that I can’t even fathom what people might use it for!” Qin Ye cursed hatefully. The fact that he could only browse their profiles led to a classic case of sour grapes. Gritting his teeth, he clicked on ‘My Profile’ -> ‘Merit Point Redemption System’ -> ‘Customer Service Enquiries’.
Qin Ye was quickly connected, and he immediately typed, “Where’s the list of items I can exchange my merit points for? And how would I receive the items redeemed?”
“Hello. This is your customer service bot. Dear customer, the answer to your question is located under category A question 7 of our list of frequently asked questions. Please wait while we redirect you…”
Ding… “The shipping and delivery of all cultivation resources are handled by the Thousand Miles Cultivation Group. As long as the delivery is within Cathay, their guarantee is that you will receive your goods within two calendar days. The redemption exchange list is set out below.”
The internet speed was incredibly quick, and a long list of redemptions appeared before Qin Ye’s eyes in less than five seconds’ time.
“Yin artifacts: ghost infant skull - Operative-grade - 5,000 merit points; Hunter-grade - 10,000 merit points; Hellguard-grade - 30,000 merit points.” Qin Ye watched a video preview of the artifact on his phone as he murmured to himself.
As he scrolled through the list, he discovered a wide variety of peculiar artifacts, including ghost tears, root of an old lightning-struck locust tree, ghost portrait fruit, and so on.
“What’s the Special Investigations Department doing collecting these things?” He asked with some measure of surprise.
“Naturally, for the purposes of their investigation. Furthermore, some of these are important components for setting up certain formation arrays.” Arthis’ voice wavered slightly, “Kid… joining the Special Investigations Department was a really good move. This place is like a treasure trove!”
“Some of these things aren’t things that the mortal realm would use at all! But that said, you’ll definitely be able to find a use for most, if not all of the components in this list in the process of rebuilding Hell. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to develop a high-end luxury tomb for ghosts. What would constitute luxury? It’s naturally objects that would make it comfortable for their stay! Without Yin artifacts acting as the foundation, no amount of renovation works will suffice!”
“And there’s also your governmental office, court of law… all of these need to be built on a firm cornerstone. It’s a huge waste of time if you go about looking for the artifacts of your own accord. But with the Special Investigations Department doing the searching for you, all you’ll need to do is to gather merit points for the necessary redemption at a later stage… It’s simply too convenient for you!”
Qin Ye was dismayed. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t shake off the image of a little rat sneaking into the cookie jar and moving cookies away surreptitiously.
This was akin to biting the hand that feeds him. The punishment for such crimes is the “three knives punishment”!
However, his heart was nevertheless still inclined towards making the trip in three days’ time.
That’s right. He was lazy. But the precondition for his laziness was that there must be no life-threatening circumstances to begin with.
The fact that a ghost was combing his hair in broad daylight meant that something was wrong with the seal that was suppressing the terrifying 30 million Yin presence! Furthermore… why?
Why was its target him?
Why was it him of all people present that day? Was it because he was an Emissary of Hell?
The lack of clarity meant that he couldn’t rest easy.
The next night, Su Feng disseminated a pile of information.
And all of it pertained to the fourth hunting zone.
Since he had already made up his mind, Qin Ye set aside the lethargy in his heart and began to pore through the details.
The picture revealed a small, old building, half of which had already collapsed, while the other appeared to be in the process of demolition works. The mottled white exterior of the walls revealed traces of its decades of existence. Furthermore, the corridors in the building were filled with innumerable marks and blood stains that appeared to have been scratched and clawed out by hand. It was a striking, horrific image.
Entering the building alone, even in daytime, would most certainly make one’s hair stand on end.
“Was it once a nursing home…?” After spending three hours on the documents, Qin Ye finally switched off the Momo app and retired for the night.
The meeting time was fixed at 11 p.m tomorrow night.
The next day passed quickly. When night fell once more, Qin Ye donned his camouflage uniform and arrived at the agreed meeting point early at 10.30 p.m. That said, the others had already gathered by then.
Everyone had coincidentally put on camouflage uniforms. Lin Han and Li Runxue each carried a one-meter tall flat chest on their backs. On the other hand, Zhuo Qinfen had a series of flying daggers pinned tied to his belt. Each and every one of them could be said to be armed to the teeth.
They were picking a fight with an existence with Yin energy readings of thirty million. Even if it were in a sealed, suppressed state, they couldn’t afford to be complacent at all.
Even if the risk of death were incomparably low, nobody wanted it to become an eventuality at all.
The neighbourhood where the nursing home was located was hardly considered prosperous. They gathered at a tall building to the side that overlooked the nursing home. There, they could see that the dilapidated nursing home was cordoned off by a red rope with innumerable talismans tied on it. Hundreds of soldiers stood guard and patrolled around the building.
“This is the City of Salvation’s last remaining hunting zone.” Lin Han spoke in a soft voice, “It’s definitely sealed off even if it hasn’t been broken. We don’t have permission to enter the premises. However, they’ll be changing shifts at 11 p.m. sharp. As arranged, we’ll enter through the third entrance at that time.”
Nobody said a single word after that.
Time passed by minute by minute. Everyone had shut their eyes to rest for the moment. The night breeze tickled the trees and caused their leaves to rustle gently. The nursing home grounds stood imposingly at night, as though it were a growling behemoth, waiting to devour the next sign of life that encroaches upon its territory.
Tick tock… tick tock… As soon as the clock struck eleven, everyone opened their eyes at the same time. Su Feng nodded his head gently. Then, drawing a deep breath, he ordered, “Now!”
As soon as the rest heard his command, all five figures leapt off the building without hesitation.
2. In the pugilistic world, one of the punishments for doing something irreparably wrong is to use a sharp knife to pierce your body in three places, creating six holes in total (both front and back).