Qin Ye took a moment for consideration, before beginning, “This was quite the high-profile incident back then. News of the incident was splashed across all microblogs, vlogs, forums and news sites. Even celebrities were reposting and commenting on it. It could probably qualify as viral news. Five years ago, That Amorous Affair made a forum post, stating that the CEO of the Hyatt Corporation had forcibly engaged in sexual relations with her whilst she was still a minor.”
“She added that she had at all material times been unaware that the CEO was already married, and that he even had a child that was not much younger than she was. She added that CEO Wang had represented to her that he was single, and that his feelings for her were genuine. At that time, she found the prospects of becoming madam to the CEO an irresistible thought. CEO Wang’s generosity towards her tipped the scales for her, and she finally agreed.”
Arthis thought aloud, “It’s normal for a man to lust after a woman.”
Qin Ye shook his head, “But this was just the beginning. The plot twist… came exactly one week later.”
“This post was originally tepid at best. While the term ‘minor’ struck a nerve with some people, few people could bother themselves with the private affairs of the CEO of the Hyatt Corporation. After all, he was hardly on the same level of public scrutiny as a real estate magnate and his ilk. That said, there will always be people in this world who think themselves as know-it-alls, possess the all-seeing eye, and have the capacity to be the defender of the world. These people would fervently chime in with their weak, timid voices, hoping that by doing so they would finally establish for themselves a foothold of belonging in this world.”
“The post was first made public on the Tianya forums. It should still be accessible now. I didn’t personally look up her post at the time of the incident. That said, I did hear from multiple sources that many people who had read the post began to condemn her instead, accusing her of being a social climber and selling herself out just to become rich and famous. These accusations came from people who stood each on their own lofty pedestals as they condemned the rest of society as trash. Therefore…”
He gazed deeply at CEO Wang, “One week later, in a fit of rage, That Amorous Affair leaked… audio recordings and photographs.”
There was a moment of silence.
Wang Zemin’s soul trembled unsteadily, yet Qin Ye continued with a neutral tone of voice, “What’s the easiest way to gain attention on the internet? Do something extraordinary. Incidentally, That Amorous Affair was quite beautiful. Furthermore… CEO Wang’s size… was something that others would do a double take at. Umm… even I did a double take at it.”
“Do you still remember the Eel Gate incident? It’s easy to go viral these days. All you have to do is to look pretty and do something that others wouldn’t ordinarily dare to do. And if this was something to do with sex, it would almost certainly go viral in an instant. After all, the creation of such content is akin to tossing a bloody piece of meat into a sea of sharks. The voracious humans lying in wait for the next piece of viral news would immediately snap at it and devour it. Just like that, That Amorous Affair’s forum post continued to top the forums for an extended period of time. After one week, it finally caught the attention of several mainstream news platforms, and it was subsequently reported in all forms, shapes and sizes, whether in headlines or tabloid. Just like that, the relatively unknown Hyatt Corporation instantly shot to fame.”
Arthis acknowledged thoughtfully.
“Overnight, her photographs and audio recordings went viral and spread like wildfire throughout the internet. Thousands of vigilantes who thought that they had grasped the truth of the matter went straight towards Hyatt Corporation’s humble website, hurling abuse and words of condemnation. They were vigilantes who perceived themselves to possess the moral high ground to berate and cuss others with the most abusive of words. They thought that this was their right.”
Wang Zemin sighed soullessly as he muttered with a firm resolution, “I didn’t do it.”
“But my voice was far too insignificant at this point. I remember posting about it on Weibo. Yet my voice was almost immediately drowned out by the spit of those who think that they are the voice of reason! Building upon a single account of the incident posted by That Amorous Affair, all of these internet users began to hurl allegations at me, even picking out non-existent ‘loopholes’ in my account to paint me in a bad light!”
“I immediately shut down the company’s website and started my own investigations, piecing together information to identify the culprit. Finally, I discovered who this person was. She… was in fact a 25 years-old fresh employee in my company! She’s not a minor at all!”
“Just one week ago, she called in a report for a pay revision, but I personally turned her down. After all, there were only a few employees within the Hyatt Corporation, and I personally took charge of these affairs. She alleged that her wages were too low. Certainly, her salary was a bit low, but... there's no boss willing to pay workers any more than absolutely necessary! Hell, we all try to pay as little as we can! At the end of the day, it takes two hands to clap. These arrangements only work because one is willing to dish out the punishment, while the other is willing to receive it. It’s a partnership by mutual agreement. If you can’t accept these terms of engagement, find another job. At least, this was how I thought society worked. Yet, I had thoroughly underestimated just how cruel the human heart could be!”
Qin Ye nodded his head, “That’s why you chose to sue.”
Wang Zemin chuckled bitterly as he gazed up at the ceiling, “Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever thought about how twisted the human heart is? The moment we commenced a legal action in the courts, the entire Weibo was instantly silenced.”
“Countless self-professed clairvoyants and vigilantes immediately changed their tacts and contemplated the possibility that there was more than meets the eye. ‘Were we wrong? This matter is not as simple as it seems’. Such reactions abounded.”
“The lawsuit was an overwhelming success. Facts were facts after all. Hyatt won. I won. However… the results were not quite what I had expected.”
His voice rose sharply, “In the end… all I ever got was a few hundred messages saying ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I was wrong’!!”
“Overnight, it was as though the rest of the tens of thousands of words of humiliation, abuse and curses had never been uttered once before! Three words were all I got! The longest message of apology didn’t extend beyond ten words! And these messages ranging from three to ten words from the two hundred or so people were the only words of remorse I had received among the tens of thousands of people who had previously wronged me! The majority simply chose to forget everything that had ever happened in the past!! They’re no different from rabid dogs hiding behind their devices, waiting for the next piece of meat to show up to satiate their ravenous appetite!!”
His voice gradually crescendoed to a climax and reverberated through the cold corners of the house. Several seconds later, he lowered his head once more and gnashed his teeth, “The price of rumour-mongering is far too light. That’s what emboldens these keyboard warriors. If the law doesn’t punish the evildoers, these seemingly harmless evildoers will eventually become a cancerous cell to society!”
“In their eyes, they had done nothing more than speak a few words each. Yet, their actions had forced me to leave the Eastsea Province altogether.”
Arthis was silent. Ah, she must have seen too many final farewells in her time, much like when she bade farewell to Jayna Proudm…
In truth, Arthis had merely been puzzled and had taken time to consider the matter, “Since that’s the case, why then did the woman turn into an evil spirit?”
Qin Ye replied just as calmly, “Since the result was clear and simple, the winds in the internet immediately shifted as soon as the verdict was out, and those who had initially condemned and cursed Hyatt turned around and lashed out at That Amorous Affair even more viciously.”
“This was because they wanted - more than ever - to cover up their own misdeeds. These internet vigilantes hardly possess any conscience to begin with. Yet, the modicum of shame that remained in them compelled them to do something to close this chapter in their lives. And what was the best thing to do in their minds? Leave a comment under Hyatt’s response? No, they knew no remorse. Instead, they chose to remain as venomous as ever. It’s as though they were telling CEO Wang - ‘Look, I’m helping you out here. I’m condemning her on your behalf now.’ As to Hyatt’s ordeal, these people had selectively forgotten about it. After all, it was difficult to slap yourself. Slapping others still achieved the more resounding result of the two.”
Arthis clicked her lips, “Tsk, tsk, tsk… humans… There are times when humans can be far less adorable than ghosts.”
“But of course.” Qin Ye’s gaze was deep and abstruse, “Ghosts will always be ghosts, but humans can sometimes become inhumane.”
“We resented That Amorous Affair. Yet at the same time, we felt sympathetic towards her as well. This was because, having received an endless barrage of humiliating messages and furious words of condemnation, she finally chose to end her own life.”
“She jumped off the roof of the Hyatt Corporation.”
Wang Zemin laughed, “Do you know something? When I first learnt that she had leapt off the building, I was the one who issued the orders that no one was to go collect her body. I was pleased. Incredibly pleased. In fact, I’d never been so ecstatic about something before! At that time, I felt like my hatred for her could only be expiated after witnessing her corpse weather the elements for three whole days and nights…”
Just then, an astonished voice rang out from the corner of the room, “Dad?”
Qin Ye was taken aback and turned around immediately. Wang Chenghao had already come to his senses for some time, and he had been watching all of this in complete bewilderment from the corner of the room.
Clinkity-clang… Just then, the bowl in front of the altar was overturned, and Yin rice was scattered all over the floor. Pak pak pak pak.... The sources of light in the house extinguished all at the same time.
It was the clash between Yin energy and Yang energy. And the ghosts had snuffed out the light.
“Quick! Get to the point!” Qin Ye bellowed, “What happened next? How did you die?”
Wang Zemin was taken aback. Within moments, his appearance began to fade and grow more and more illusory. He glanced at his own hands in dismay and yelled anxiously, “After that woman died, I’ve been suffering from nightmares everyday! Then, one week ago, an unknown sender mailed me a piece of stone, and I secured it within my office safe! The code is 200086 - Ah Hao’s birthday! The day after tomorrow is his birthday!”
“As to how I died… I’m not too certain either. It feels as though I’d gone to sleep and never quite woke up…”
As soon as he finished speaking, the sound of chains resounded from the void above them. Wang Zemin, together with his unfinished words, had finally disappeared from the face of the mortal realm.
With a blank expression on his face, Qin Ye picked up the bowl of chicken blood and splashed it all over the altar. This was to leave no traces of Yin energy behind. Then, Qin Ye made his way towards Wang Chenghao. Still somewhat dazed, Wang Chenghao stared blankly at Qin Ye as he asked, “This… what’s going on? M-my dad’s spirit? What the hell happened here? Earlier…”
Before he could finish babbling, Qin Ye struck him forcefully on the back of his neck. Wang Chenghao’s eyes rolled back, and he passed out completely in an instant.
When the lights came on once again, nobody spoke. Both of them were deep in their own thoughts.
“So that woman’s lingering obsession was with the fact that she didn’t become the CEO’s wife? That’s ridiculous.” Arthis muttered indifferently.
With a teacup in hand, Qin Ye chuckled lightly, “I can imagine that despite your immensely long life thus far, you must not have interacted much with the living. Humans are peculiar creatures. When no hope is in sight, we'll just quietly await our doom. But if we were to catch a glimmer of hope, only to see it fade out once more? That overwhelming feeling of despair is sufficient to turn the kindest of persons into the vilest of evils.”
“So what do you plan to do?”
“Simple.” Qin Ye glanced at Wang Chenghao, “Won’t everything be over once he gets the stone back?”
Seconds later, Arthis pressed the issue with some measure of disbelief, “Are you saying that… you don’t intend to grant deliverance to this ghost?”
Is that how things work now?
Qin Ye glanced at the pokeball with ridicule. “Naturally! Why clash head-on against the enemy team when you can simply take a tower from under their noses? The goal is to claim towers, not heads!”
“But… weren’t you hell-bent on making the first move just some moments ago? What caused the sudden change of mind?”
Qin Ye sighed faintly, before putting on philosophical airs: “As I mentioned earlier, when no hope can be seen we humans tend to just await our doom like the lazy slackers we are. However, the reverse is also true; as soon as hope peeks out over the horizon, mankind will do anything in our power to strive towards our goals.”
“That's a completely glib and deceptive answer. Also, is it really a good idea to spare an evil ghost in the presence of a former Judge like me? Didn’t you put up a little bit of a fight earlier? If you keep at it and work harder, you might one day even impress me!”
“You’re asking the impossible!” Qin Ye presented himself righteous as he responded in a dignified manner, “Unless I’m forced into a corner, it’s just not in my nature to struggle. Not in this lifetime!”
1. This refers to an incident in March 2017 when a female broadcaster, in order to increase the number of views and gifts to her, inserted an eel into the orifice between her legs. Her stream instantly went viral. Those involved in the eel’s gate incident were arrested in May 2017 and prosecuted. In 2019, the main anchor Kiki was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison, together with a fine of RMB50,000.
2. Yet another MOBA reference.