Qin Ye had just recalled the begrudging expression on Zhang Linhua’s face when his father Zhang Baoguo had asked him to pay his respect to his godfather just a little while ago.
Zhang Linhua had subsequently put him in the spot.
He had seen too many of Zhang Linhua’s type. Their impersonal interactions hadn’t extended much beyond that of mutual benefit. And there were a number of incidents that occurred immediately thereafter to boot. He had thus already cast their earlier interactions to the back of his mind.
He sized up Zhang Linhua - Is he here to make amends?
Is he going with the flow? I guess he has learnt a thing or two from his father’s political assignments. But it’s a pity that he’s still a little bit lacking in some ways. I guess Old Zhang needs to do a better job raising his kid…
The fact that Qin Ye had remained silent caused Zhang Linhua to grow anxious. His heart thumped wildly under the cover of his radiant smile.
He knew full well what he had done.
It might have been a small thing to Qin Ye, but it was nevertheless something huge to him.
“Godfather.” He no longer had any qualms addressing someone ostensibly younger than him as godfather. In fact, he even did his best to maintain the radiant smile on his face, “Why don’t we… take a walk?”
Qin Ye smiled. He was too lazy to put on a show with Zhang Linhua, so he chose to show his hand instead, “Put away your tricks. I’ve seen my fair share of these in my lifetime. Your acting skills are still somewhat lacking.”
Qin Ye continued placidly, “Don’t worry, Old Zhang and I are buddies for life. Truth be told, I’d already forgotten about that incident had you not reminded me about it. On account for Old Zhang, I’ll forgive you this once. But…”
He gazed deeply into Zhang Linhua’s eyes, “If there’s a next time, I won’t give you any more face, even on account of Old Zhang.”
“Yes!” Zhang Linhua was a bright man. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have made it to the student union in the first place. He knew that Qin Ye had revealed all of his cards at once, and all he had to do was to tolerate and bear with it. In any event, it was clear that Qin Ye wasn’t giving him any grounds for rebuttal.
“Take me around.” Qin Ye finally spoke up. Zhang Linhua immediately pushed the cart in front of him and explained, “Godfather, the Flowing Courts are over there…”
“One other thing, don’t call me godfather anymore.” Qin Ye added calmly.
“You can just call me senior.” Qin Ye smiled, “The term ‘godfather’ isn’t something to be used loosely.”
“Sometimes, there’s just no way of salvaging the opportunity once it has passed.”
Zhang Linhua had the sudden urge to give himself two tight slaps across the cheeks!
Why was I so stupid in the past?!
Even if you were displeased about having to address him as godfather, you didn’t have to intentionally trip him up afterwards! He’s a good friend of your dad’s after all! Why were you so rash back then?
Unfortunately, there was no use crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done.
“Alright…” He took a deep breath, and the smile on his face became far more sincere and natural, “Senior Qin, the Flowing Courts are the best dorms in the entire Insignia University. Back then, it used to be occupied by a group of old professors. The school had only slightly over a dozen professors the last time. I’ve taken a look at the list of instructors this time. There’s no way all of them would be able to fit into these dorms. Why don’t we… go in and take a look around?”
Qin Ye thought for a moment, “How about the building I’ve lived in before…”
Before he could finish speaking, Zhang Linhua sighed with a bitter smile, “Senior Qin, I was wrong back then. I’m guilty as charged.”
Qin Ye looked at him with some measure of surprise. By taking a step back, this kid has actually made progress. He’s got his father’s talent for politics.
“I’m not talking about that. I want an apartment that is near the dorm I used to live in. Is there one that is suitable?”
“But there…” Zhang Linhua’s face turned pale. Several seconds later, he muttered in a hushed voice “Senior Qin, it’s… unclean there.”
“Don’t worry. It’s impossible to still find an unclean location across the entire City of Salvation right now.”
“No!” Zhang Linhua grew somewhat anxious. Having made a mistake once, he simply couldn’t afford to make a mistake the second time. His voice deepened, “There’s nobody in Insignia University now. The curfew has also been lifted. The only reason why we’re staying behind in the campus grounds is because the campus is being repurposed for the First Academy of Cultivator’s use, and they still require the assistance of students familiar with this place. So we’ve been particularly busy during this period of time, and we’ve been working overtime until eleven or twelve at night everyday.”
“And the building that you’ve been staying at before… It was precisely that night that I noticed… something unclean there. I haven’t told anyone else. After all, I’ve only seen it once.”
Qin Ye’s eyes quivered, and his expression grew serious.
Many things had changed ever since that single fateful night.
Qin Ye postulated that it must have been a result of the powerful fluctuations of Yin energy that night that had affected the terrifying thirty million Yin existence. And it was precisely because that entity was alarmed that… it could have in turn triggered some other changes that were still unknown to everyone.
“Find me a suitable apartment nearby and help me move my stuff in. I’ll go take a look.”
Zhang Linhua didn’t have any other objections. He left pushing the cart, while Qin Ye slowly made his way back to the dormitories he had once stayed at before.
“You… are you thinking of heading down to Cao Youdao’s lair to have a look around?” Arthis whispered.
She could feel waves of Hellguard-class true energy sweeping across the entire campus ground from time to time. Even though she was unfamiliar with the various cultivation systems in the mortal realm, she nevertheless knew that Hellguard-class experts would develop a keen sense akin to a form of spiritual consciousness that could replace their eyes. Thus, she was cautious not to move too brazenly.
“That’s right. There’s the ranking battle on New Year’s Day, and then I’ll have to head straight into Mount Tai City immediately thereafter. There’s no time left.” Qin Ye whispered back, “Let’s secure the contingency first. If there’s really no way of breaking into the ranks of the SRC… we’ll fall back on the next best option.”
Arthis sighed, evidently filled with reluctance.
A recognizable treasure was placed right in front of their very eyes, yet they were only allowed to pick up the gleaming fish’s eye next to it.
Who wouldn’t feel reluctant under such circumstances?
“Furthermore…” Qin Ye paused as he pointed to a freshly constructed area, “Do you see that over there?”
It was a cemetery.
It was built in the western style, possibly because it took up less space. Blocks of tombstones stood silently in the ground, and there was a three meter tall structure erected in the center of the entire grounds. A bouquet of white flowers was placed in front of each tombstone.
“I’ve taken a quick look earlier.” Qin Ye whispered “That’s… a cemetery erected in honour of all the cultivators who had given up their lives that night.”
“Their names are engraved on the monument over there.”
Without waiting for Arthis’ response, he chuckled bitterly, “I know, as a Judge who had previously ruled over the Province of the Great Heavens, you would probably label this as useless sentiments, wouldn’t you? But… it doesn’t change the fact that these people have perished because of me.”
“I will never tell anyone about this. And I’ll never tell anyone where Cao Youdao had perished, or who had killed him. But…”
“Humans…” His gaze grew somewhat distant and empty, “Are still creatures of conscience.”
“Otherwise, after decades of existence, I’d no longer be the same person I currently am…”
Arthis grew taciturn. After a long pause, she finally responded, “So, you’re thinking of bringing something back from Cao Youdao’s lair to pay your respects at the cemetery?”
Qin Ye snorted coldly, “Thousands of people died that night because of him. Since he’d once been an Emissary of Hell, there’s nothing wrong in using his ashes to pay respects to the dead.”
Arthis nodded, “Indeed, there’s nothing wrong.”
“Having betrayed the creed that Yin and Yang should never cross paths on the pretext that he was carrying out his duty as an Emissary of Hell, he absolutely deserves to die.”
Nobody said a single word after that. Qin Ye slowly walked back to his previous dormitory. As soon as he arrived at his room, the first thing he looked at was the cabinet.
There used to be three humanoid paper effigies here for the three spirits which he hadn’t taken with him.
They ought to be around. It might be best to ask them about the current situation.
“Have they been taken away by someone?” He furrowed his brows and immediately shook his head, “No… this place… is the same as the fourth hunting zone. I can’t feel a single shred of Yin energy!”
“Something’s not right.” Arthis confirmed, “Even if the City of Salvation has become a green zone, it doesn’t mean that it has become completely devoid of Yin energy altogether. The only thing the green zone signifies is safety. However, the fact remains that countless Yin spirits are still floating about at every corner of Cathay right now. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to detect a single shred of Yin energy!”
“Is there really something wrong?” Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed. He patted the dust off the blanket and laid down casually.
He, too, would like to see who would dare cause trouble at the stronghold of Cathay’s cultivators.
Are they tired of living?
Time trickled by slowly. Qin Ye woke up at noon to have a meal, and then slept straight through the afternoon.
By the time he woke up again, it was already dusk.
Qin Ye looked at his phone. 6.30 p.m.
The public broadcast of announcements were no longer playing in the City of Salvation, and there was a peculiar silence in its absence.
The entire campus was now completely empty. The only thing that remained was the rustling of leaves with the gentle evening breeze.
Yawning, Qin Ye walked to the bathroom.
The white fluorescent lights lit up the bathroom brightly. These were old dormitories, and the bathrooms sported a row of mirrors that had been nailed to the white powder-coated walls. The mirrors were covered with splotches of stains from the remnants of toothpaste froth and facial foam. The bathroom smelled strongly of the odor of men.
A long sink that can rarely be seen these days sat approximately one meter from the floor. This was where the students would wash their faces, rinse their mouths and even place their basins. There was a row of blue coloured taps lined across the top of the long sink.
It was a typical men's bathroom.
Somewhat sleepy, he took a look at himself in the mirror, and noticed in his peripheral vision that the rest of the bathroom was completely empty. Thus, he lowered his head to the sink and began to wash his face.
Whoosh… As the cold water splashed across his face, he felt somewhat refreshed and reinvigorated. But just as he looked up once more at the mirror… he noticed that apart from his own reflection, there was a coloured humanoid paper effigy standing right behind him!
And it looked like it had been standing there all this while, gazing icily at Qin Ye.
Shk! Without warning, the paper effigy plunged the pair of sharp scissors in its hand straight towards Qin Ye’s carotid artery. Qin Ye chuckled coldly and kicked the humanoid paper effigy away. Then, before it could even clamber up to its feet, a pale bone knife was already resting on the forehead of the paper effigy.
“You… how…” The paper effigy’s hoarse voice was laced with some measure of bloodthirstiness.
“How did I know that someone else was already here?” Qin Ye smiled faintly as he pointed to the surroundings, “This is an old-school dormitory.”
“There aren’t sensor-operated, automatic lights.”
“These are manual, switch-operated lights. There’s no way the bathroom would still have its lights on after we’ve been gone for so many days.” He brought the knife over to the humanoid paper effigy’s jaw, “I’d brought you guys these paper effigies. I’d killed Cao Youdao, and I’d taken revenge for you guys. And here I was, wondering just where you guys had done… Is this how you’re going to repay me?”
“Tell me. Why on earth can’t I detect the Yin energy emanating from your body? And who gave you the gall to make a move against an Emissary of Hell?”
It appeared almost as thought the humanoid paper effigy had lost its memories. A look of resentment surfaced on his twisted facial features. Suddenly, the paper effigy shrieked, and a green flame emerged from its feet, incinerating it and reducing it to ashes in an instant.
Thud… Just then, a dull sound of something landing on the ground echoed from the other end of the corridor outside.
Bzzt… bzzt… The lights flickered, and suddenly went out.
Thud… thud, thud!
The dull sound was hardly consistent, and it sounded just like an old man walking along the corridor with the aid of crutches.
A lonely campus sitting under the scarlet skies of dusk. The dormitories were completely empty, and yet something… something that seemed to have its Yin energy obfuscated from all senses, was presently approaching the bathroom!
It was almost… a resurgence of the fourth hunting zone!Previous Chapter Next Chapter