Qin Ye made a mental note of it and tapped on the next post.
“Cathay’s distribution of battlegrounds.”
Under the planning of the Special Investigations Department, three provinces in the east fall under the jurisdiction of Cathay’s northern district. The headquarters is located at Skytribute City.
The northwestern district governs the Flatspring Province and the Northline Province. Its headquarters is located at Torumba City.
The south district governs four provinces along the southern coastal area. Its headquarters is located at Pearlriver City.
The west district governs five provinces in the west. Its headquarters is located at Lotus City.
The central district governs six provinces in central Cathay, and it is the district that controls the most provinces across all of Cathay. Its headquarters is located at Westrand City.
The east district governs four provinces in the Eastsea region, and its headquarters is located at the Eastsea City.
Apart from that, there are two other independent districts.
The Yan Capital district, which governs both the Yan Capital, the Skyford City, and one other province in the region.
And finally, the Monkey district, which governs the Su Province and the Hang Province!
“Eight large districts…” Qin Ye muttered, “Arti, could it be that… the mortal realm has eight Prefect-class experts?”
“That’s impossible.” Arthis shook her head, “The mortal realm probably has Prefect-class experts, but they should already be considered the strongest forces in the entire mortal realm. One of the reasons why I didn’t dare to reveal my true nature in Clear Creek County earlier… was precisely because I was afraid that there would be a Prefect-class expert nearby. Don’t you forget that Clear Creek County belongs to a region that is home to the most prestigious Taoist Ancestral Court.”
Qin Ye’s response was made in passing, but Arthis immediately grew somber, “There’s a 90% likelihood.”
“Do you remember when I unleashed my display of authority back then?”
“That display of authority was essentially an incarnation of my being formed from Yin energy, and it wouldn’t normally dissipate for a month. But back then… the incarnation lasted for no longer than a single hour.”
She drew a deep breath, “I could feel that… as soon as my incarnation took form… a pair of eyes in the direction of Lotus City immediately shot its gaze straight towards me…”
“It was terrifying… That entity could very well even be a peak Prefect-class expert. But that feeling was incredibly fleeting. Perhaps it couldn’t be bothered with us as soon as it noticed the extent of my incarnation… In fact… in fact, I get the feeling that it was attempting to communicate with us… No, perhaps that entity had even clearly noticed our conditions back then with a single glance and guessed what had happened to Hell… But that’s not right either. Someone at his level would already have some form of access or communication with Hell, and that’s probably why that entity didn’t show up in the end.”
Qin Ye drew a breath of cold air, “You mean… I’d clothed myself with the Hell’s Emissary state under the watchful eyes of a Prefect-class expert?”
“Mm, he might even have taken a few more glances at you, given that you’re the last Emissary of Hell in existence. Hehehe, you’re invaluable.”
Qin Ye began to pack his things.
“... What are you doing?”
“What am I doing?! Of course I’m going to make the pilgrimage to Mount Qingcheng to pay my respects to my master! If I dally any longer, he might very well kill me with a single slap to the face!”
“... Don’t be anxious. I was just kidding earlier… He wouldn’t be able to ascertain your identity in any event. After all, it’s an immutable rule that Emissaries of Hell are invisible to the mortal realm. Otherwise, Cao Youdao would’ve been arrested a long time ago after having created such a huge ruckus. The expert would at best only be able to hazard a guess. He wouldn’t be certain of anything.”
Qin Ye rolled his eyes. He finally understood why they still weren’t considered wanted persons after the incident at Westriver.
There was a possibility that the Prefect-class expert might have given instructions to that effect, so that their actions stopped at sending the investigations dossier to the City of Salvation.
Ah, and there’s still the matter of freezing the bank card of Lord Midas.
“There’s actually a Prefect-class existence in the mortal realm…” Shaking his head, he made a mental note in his heart to move about more cautiously in future.
“There’s actually no need to be too worried.” Arthis persuaded, “Cultivators generally live much longer than normal human beings. I could sense that the Prefect-class expert is at least two hundred years old. Furthermore, I’d intentionally released my senses as we travelled across the various provinces. So far, I’ve only sensed one Prefect-class expert in Westriver, and vaguely sensed one or two Judge-class experts along the way. Nevertheless, the existence of such experts are clearly few and far between.”
“Let’s take a look at the number of people in the mortal realm who have truly embarked on the path of cultivation, according to this… app? Based on the figures here, there are slightly over thirty provinces, and Insignia Province has slightly over two hundred such cultivators. If we multiply that figure by thirty-five, we don’t even have eight thousand people. With such numbers… as soon as the war with the netherworld breaks out, even the most harmless of Yin spirits flying across the sky is going to pose a problem to the mortal realm.”
Qin Ye asked a question that had always been on his mind, “What’s the difference between a full-blown war compared with what’s going on now? Aren’t we also seeing throngs of Yin spirit flying across the skies? Aren’t there also many innocent citizens who are witnessing the existence of ghosts for the very first time?”
“It’s not the same.” Arthis explained, “You won’t be able to see the dangers at times like this… But when the time comes for them to emerge from hiding and rally together, the multitudes of otherwise helpless Yin spirits would automatically be drawn to the evil ghosts that have been around for a thousand - or even thousands - of years! They would practically form a kingdom of Yin spirits! Mortals wouldn’t perish immediately, but they would definitely flee for their lives. In other words… the netherworldly forces would then have a territory to call their own!”
“Think about it. In the one hundred years’ of Hell’s absence, how many Yin spirits do you think are lingering about within Cathay right now? For all you know, you might even be surrounded by dozens of such onlookers when you visit the bathroom. This is why you absolutely have to fight your way into the SRC and dig a tunnel to reach the Exalted Father…”
Qin Ye clutched at his hair as though in pain, “I say, dear, couldn’t your options be just a tad more realistic? Even a groundhog wouldn’t be able to dig through that surface and reach the Exalted Father, would it? Instead of egging me on, why don’t you start thinking about what other locations within the City of Salvation we can fall back to.”
That’s right. The plan was stranded.
Even though nobody was willing to admit it, it was clear that Plan A had fallen through. The SRC security was probably on the highest alert, and it probably wouldn’t let up within the next few years. The prospects of checking back in on the Exalted Father were practically zero.
Qin Ye continued to scroll through the posts. On the other hand, Arthis grew taciturn for some moments, before abruptly exclaiming, “Actually… it’s not that there aren’t any.”
“What?” Qin Ye continued flipping through the posts as he responded casually.
The soul sphere floated in front of his face and tyrannically covered the screen of the phone as Arthis continued explaining, “What I’m saying is that it’s not as if there aren’t secondary, fall back locations.”
Qin Ye blinked - But that doesn’t seem very likely, does it? What other place could we possibly have… No!
“There really is another place…” He squinted his eyes, “You’ve thought of this a long time ago, haven’t you?”
“There must always be a contingency plan.” Arthis sighed, “When you’re working with an Emissary who doesn’t know a single thing other than eating, drinking, and pooping, the rational one in the partnership will always have to pull his own weight and consider the big picture…”
“... I’m warning you. We may be familiar with each other, but that doesn’t preclude me from suing you for slander!” As soon as he finished speaking, Qin Ye sat up straight and rubbed his chin as he probed further, “Cao Youdao’s lair?”
If memory served him well, Cao Youdao’s lair was based in an ancient tomb, and the Yin energy in that location was reasonably abundant as well. After all, Cao Youdao had already based his operations in the ancient tomb for a hundred years on end.
But, compared with establishing the entrance just above the Exalted Father’s head, this alternative was still lacking far too much - it could even be said to be lacking in an order of magnitudes.
If the Exalted Father possessed sufficient Yin energy to see through the entire construction works of the soul induction platform, Cao Youdao’s lair can only be said to have sufficient Yin energy to construct a single step of the soul induction platform.
Arthis murmured, “Don’t be so anxious. I still have faith that the little fly that you are will be able to find the right crevice and crawl into the precious egg… Look, even though the Special Investigations Department was so tightly sealed, you were still able to find the right crevice and crawl into it. The SRC shouldn’t be a problem for you…”
“... Are you having trouble finding the right vocabulary to use?”
“Alright, let’s be more civil about this. Should I say you’ve got olfactophilia then?”
“Damn it…” Qin Ye rolled his eyes at Arthis, “Coming back to the topic at hand, it’s inadvisable to make a move right now. The First Academy of Cultivators hasn’t been constructed yet, so classes would naturally take place using readily available venues. And there’s only one such suitable venue in the entire city.”
“We’ll cross the bridge when we come to that. I’ll find an opportunity to make a trip down in the meantime.”
He thought for a moment before tapping on the Momo app.
After joining the group, the first thing that immediately caught his eye was the new group message “Wealth and strength, democracy, culture, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, friendliness.”
Did I click on something wrong?
That’s impossible. There’s only one group on Momo.
He took a closer look at the name of the group: Socialist Successor.
His lips twitched as he tapped on the group. He was immediately greeted by a large string of chat messages.
There were only about two hundred people in the group, but the quality of information exchanged on a daily basis was fairly good.
“Any fellow Taoists from Moonriver City? There’s a D-grade mission nearby for which the top ten landlords in Moonriver are offering a reward of one million for. Please send me a private message if you’re interested.”
“Question to moderators: Operative-class experts experience a shortness of breath during their attempt to break through the Hunter-class bottleneck. What’s the cause of this?”
“Fellow Taoists in the southern district, beware! A B-grade spiritual zone has been identified close to the source of the Pearl River. The entire area is presently sealed off, and the impact radius spans an incredible area of five thousand square meters. Do not come over!”
“A C-grade hunting zone has appeared in Hulunbuir. There are suspicions of a mutated Yin spirit involved. Are there any Taoists interested in observing and learning from our seniors? Kindly take this poor soul along!”
It was completely different from the useless spam posts on any of the other boards or forums. In fact, these posts even gave an insight or a peek to the rest of Cathay.
And most importantly…
No suspension of account! No suspension of account! No suspension of account! Important matters should be repeated for emphasis!
Furthermore, he was even the moderator of the group, and he had already exercised his power to suspend two accounts!
He organized his thoughts and began to join the fray.
Muscular Pretty Boy: Guys, is there any word on when the Insignia University, City of Salvation branch is going to be demolished? It’s the location where the Academy of Cultivators is going to be built.
Woman on a Swing: Yo, our younger brother is here! Come, let your older sister check on your muscles.
The Blade that Cuts the World: Huh… Women.
Woman on a Swing: Blade, what do you mean? Don’t you know what this app is called? Momo! Besides, take a look at my name! Woman on a Swing! It’s self explanatory.
Qin Ye thought about it in great detail.
The chatter in the group continued to go off-tangent: But that’s the normal Momo. Don’t you have any targets on this app?
Woman on a Swing responded strongly: Target? Of course I do! Just the other day, I’d watched a video recording of our cute and adorable little dog here… It’s just as well, since I’d been getting sick of all the meat I’ve been having over the last few days, and I was just thinking of becoming a vegetarian for a day or two.
Berserk Old Dog: It’s beneath me to be associated with you!
Woman on a Swing: That’s fine. My preference is towards men like Pretty Boy who are big and full of vigor anyway.
White Dog Laughing at the West Wind: <chuckle emoticon> How do you even know he’s big without looking?
Woman on a Swing: What do you know? I’d zoomed in on certain areas with a magnification of ten times, and I noticed a slight bump there… <blushing face emoticon>x2
Group message: Woman on a Swing’s account has been suspended for a day.
Qin Ye wiped off the sweat from his forehead. Women… are truly scary.
I can’t believe that they can even uncover such private information like that. Wasn’t I discreet enough?
Some people… no matter how much they try to remain discreet, still can’t help but shine in the sky like the brightest star and be discovered by the most discerning eyes…
Vast Ocean Smile: Please keep your personal hookups to private messages only. The admin is ramping up their surveillance, and they’ve already shuttered dozens of groups in recent days. Be careful. Didn’t you notice that the group has even changed its name? Besides, nobody has heard anything about Insignia University being demolished at all. I imagine that the First Academy of Cultivators will be using the campus grounds for two years. The Cathay Construction Group is fast. Two years should be sufficient time for its construction works.
Qin Ye’s heart was filled with rage: Teacher Vast, thanks for your message tonight.
He had punched in those words through gritted teeth.
Vast Ocean Smile: … I’ve got some things to attend to, so I’ll take my leave first. I don’t think I’ll be online in the near future. We’ll chat again sometime.
At least you’re quick on the retreat!
Qin Ye was just about to close the group in a fit of anger, when another thought suddenly struck him. He began typing once more: Does anyone know how the manpower situation at Insignia Province is right now? I hear that SRC has a branch in the area. Are they still looking to hire?
Berserk Old Dog: Is this fellow Taoist interested in the SRC?
Forever Spring: Nobody knows anything about the SRC. It’s top secret. But it seems like the manpower in the City of Salvation is generally somewhat lacking. Let me take a look. Hang on a moment.
Three minutes later, Forever Spring: 4 Hellguard-class experts, 24 Hunter-class experts, 180 Operative-class experts, and 1,432 trainee cultivators. Ranked 18th across all of Cathay.
“Weak as hell.” Arthis sneered, “The fact that there are four Hellguard-class experts is a telling sign that Insignia Province’s overall in charge should be a Judge-class expert. It’s not easy. Hell previously had three Judge-class experts overseeing each province on earth, two of which would be stationed in the mortal realm while one of whom would be managing affairs in the netherworld. That said, I suppose it’s not too bad having a Judge-class expert given the current climate of modern day society.”
“There exists a great disparity in power between them and Hunter-class and Operative-class experts. Although these experts aren’t strong, they undoubtedly still form the foundation of the entire organisation. The number of Yin spirits appearing every day is far too great, and there’s simply no way to purge all of them without the aid of Emissaries of Hell. It’s fortunate that there are few incarnate revenants in the present era. Otherwise… Cathay would have been thrown into chaos a long time ago.”
1. This is considered one of the birthplaces of Taoism.
2. This is actually an area in Inner Mongolia.