One thousand Yin spirits from the construction industry arrived in the palace’s back hall in no time. They trembled in silence as they glanced about at the terrifying and imposing statues lining both sides of the hall. Qin Ye surveyed the throng of Yin spirits. A good number of them were drenched to the skin, and the Yin energy emanating from their respective beings were all ostensibly weakened.
They weren’t humans, but they were still living creatures. Few, if any, living creatures enjoyed the feeling of getting drenched like that.
“The new Hell has just been inaugurated, so we’re a little tight on finances and manpower. Please bear with it for now.” He muttered casually, “This palace is none other than Hell’s Gate, and it occupies a vast area. This is the main hall, and there are annex halls on both sides as well. As a show of good faith and sincerity, we shall adjourn to the annex hall for our meeting.”
After all, sitting on prayer mats around the feet of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva as they were having their meeting felt somewhat kitschy.
He had scouted out the annex halls earlier. The facilities there were simple, but decent. Most importantly… it resembled a massive conference room, and there were sufficient chairs and tables to go around…
Nobody said a word in objection. The memory of Tiger Gao’s death was still fresh in their minds. Just like that, a thousand Yin spirits followed Qin Ye’s lead and made their way to the entrance to the annex hall. Qin Ye looked around, “We’ve got a tad too many. Those with more than three years of experience with clerical work, please raise your hands.”
Dozens of hands went up in the air instantly.
“You, you, and you…” Qin Ye pointed at a few Yin spirits, “I want you to be our record keepers for this meeting.”
“Now, department managers, department heads, and anyone else who have held such positions or higher, please fall out.”
There was a far smaller response this time - only seven hands were in the air.
That’s about right… Qin Ye was satisfied. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Hell was no larger than a village right now. There was no reason for it to be tossed about like a hotcake.
“Good. Those who have just been called upon, follow me.” Qin Ye pushed on the door and walked into the annex hall proper. The rest who had been called followed suit.
This was the left annex hall. It was huge, and the hall sat on a plot of land which was approximately the size of a football field. The facilities were simple and bare. There was only a fifty meter round table placed in the center of the room, as well as a mountain of chairs stacked up to the side.
There were no ancient tables, reclining chairs or even landscape paintings. Ah, there were several hundred palace lamps floating about overhead. Unfortunately, none of them had candles on them.
“It’s slightly unpresentable. Please bear with it.” Qin Ye felt his face burn up with embarrassment. Isn’t it an understatement to call it ‘slightly unpresentable’... this is no different from a massive slum!
The image of a first industry summit chaired by a Yama-King should have been more like the following--
First, the chairperson would grab hold of the gilded ring of the beast head door knocker. Then, he would push open the massive golden door with vermillion lacquer, revealing a number of beautiful Yin spirits within, all of whom were waiting patiently to serve each of them. There would be a wide variety of them, including the ones with a beautiful smile, ice queens, as well as the sweet girls-next-door.
All of them would be dressed in either gorgeous long-sleeved ancient garments made with fine silk, or alluring cheongsams that accentuated their curves.
Each of them would gracefully serve up a fragrant pot of exquisite tea and a beautifully-arranged fruit platter. A grand portrait of Qin Ye would be placed in the middle of the main podium, flanked only by a red-star flag on one side, and a flag bearing Hell’s unique insignia on the other. A row of dark lacquered tables would radiate outwards from the podium in concentric circles, and the tiered public gallery would be located just beyond that.
As they took the stage, the elite Yin spirits of these industries would be on their feet, giving them an uproarious applause as paper money scattered everywhere like confetti… Eh… why has this image become more and more like a mourning hall? Has my aesthetics been swayed by what I’ve seen lately?
Regardless, what should have been was a far cry from what reality truly was. At the very least, it shouldn’t have been this silent, gloomy and tragic.
And there wasn’t even tea available for anyone.
“Have a seat.” He forced himself to remain spirited, and maintained a contrived smile on his face as he gesticulated for everyone to take a seat.
If he revealed his decrepit spirits right now, would any of the Yin spirits feel any confidence in the prospects of rebuilding Hell?
As the Yin spirits in the room began to settle down into their seats. Qin Ye glanced around at them. Most of them were middle-aged men, and only one of the participants could be considered an elderly. Qin Ye cleared his throat, “I declare that the first summit of Hell’s construction industry commences now!”
There was a soft rustling sound as five scribes scribbled down the minutes of meeting.
A sparse applause ensued. However, it was evident that even the applause was somewhat contrived.
No matter what kind of grandiose terms he used, nothing could conceal the reality of their poverty.
Qin Ye was determined not to let these things bog him down. The meeting had to go on. Where the development of a city was concerned, the most important things were infrastructure and medical facilities. But given that medical facilities were not an issue to ghosts at all, the primary goal here was to prioritize infrastructure! He smiled at everyone, “Gentlemen, please introduce yourselves.”
“Yes, my lord.” A man with a chiseled face rose from his seat and nodded at everyone around the table, “Radius Real Estate Group, Mount Tai City branch. My name is Sun Anshan, and I’m the general manager of the Radius Plaza project. I accidentally fell to my death in a freak accident while doing my inspections. Colleagues, I look forward to the exchange of ideas.”
Everyone looked at him as soon as he began speaking. Qin Ye was no exception to this as well.
Radius Real Estate Group… was a prominent name.
The Soaring Dragon Developers were the top dogs in the industry within the province. That said, even the landmark building in the provincial capital, Mount Tai City, didn’t bear the mark of the Soaring Dragon Developers - it bore the mark of the Radius Real Estate Group.
It was none other than the Radius Plaza.
In fact, there were several Radius Plazas constructed within every provincial capital and city in the region. These Radius Plazas were places synonymous with entertainment, food, consumer goods and leisure. These plazas eventually became a ubiquitously known brand name. Riding on the coattails of these plazas of theirs, the Radius Real Estate Group surged to fame and became one of the top three real estate groups in Cathay!
Anyone who was put in charge of the Radius Plaza project in Mount Tai City couldn’t possibly be an average man on the street.
As soon as he sat down, another middle-aged man stood up and introduced himself, “Soaring Dragon Developers, the fourth general manager of the Soaring Sky Street, Qian Tianyi.”
“Merck’s Developers. You might not have heard of us before. We’re definitely not anywhere near as prominent as the two gentlemen before me. We mainly focus on developments in third and fourth tier cities. I’m the project general manager of Merck’s Tesseract, the most upscale development in Honour City, Insignia Province.”
“Smooth Sailing Construction. General manager of the Clearstill Lake park project in Mount Tai City, Hu Feng.”
Qin Ye eyes lit up once again. Smooth Sailing Construction was among the top dogs of Cathay’s construction industry. But their expertise wasn’t in properties. Rather, it lay in infrastructure!
There was a saying in the construction industry that the three cornerstones of the construction industry are gold bridges, silver roads and copper houses.
Do you think that construction of properties was the most profitable?
Wrong. This perception had only arisen because the public could only understand and relate to the prices of properties. As soon as one looked deeper into the profit margins of bridge construction and infrastructural projects, the profits margin of property construction projects would immediately become comparatively insignificant. Furthermore, property construction projects were always subject to the risks of marketability, whereas bridges and roads were all governmental projects!
And it wasn’t just the profits that were set in stone - even the nameplate of the few trusted governmental partners were as well!
“Clearstill Lake, the most scenic location in Mount Tai City - one of the top landmarks developed in partnership with the government. Yet Mr Hu looks to be only in his early forties. Promising.” Qin Ye remarked with a smile, loosening the somewhat tense atmosphere.
His casual remark caused everyone to loosen their breaths, and the rest of the introductions continued in a much more lighthearted manner. Everyone was less deadpan than before.
“Ah Property Developers, a small company. My name is Zhao Guangliang, and I’m honoured to have been appointed as the project general manager of single property development. I’m a small fry compared with you guys.” “Clarion Cathay Construction and Engineering, Song Ming. I’m in charge of the construction equipment department, and we’re considered a downstream company in relation to the construction industry. Pleased to meet you.” “Blazing Maple Group. We provide after-sales services as well as source for pre-sale investments. My name is Li Chuanyi.”
Qin Ye nodded slightly after the round of introductions.
Not bad. Their expertise covers the full spectrum of works.
He deliberated for some moments before speaking again, “Everyone, we’re basically trying to build everything from the ground up again. I’ve already instructed some Yin spirits to level the ground. Please let me know if you’ve got any thoughts on these matters. It would be good to discuss any issues openly.”
“Equipment.” All of them were desperately trying to leave a good impression with the person in charge of Hell. None of them would remain under the radar at a time like this. Hu Feng immediately elaborated, “Without equipment, it’s simply impossible to level the ground with mere manpower. Even if you could somewhat level the ground, you still wouldn’t be able to lay the foundation. Furthermore, commencing the construction works without the aid of any of the modern day equipment is simply a herculean task.”
He looked at Qin Ye sincerely and continued, “It’s not that we can’t find people who know the workings of ancient architecture. The question is more of how many of such people we can find? One in a hundred thousand? One in a million? And would they know how to set the beam? Would they know how to go about constructing an ancient building? My lord, the lack of equipment would make things far more difficult than it already is.”
“Chief Hu is right.” Qian Tianyi built on it, “And this is only the nonnegotiables we’re talking about. Apart from that, there are several other variables that need to be discussed and firmed up before the actual construction works can commence. For instance… what style would you be constructing the building with?”
Qin Ye froze.
He had a feeling that he had forgotten something.
As soon as they noticed the frown on his face, everyone immediately trembled and shrank back in silence. Qin Ye realized this and smiled faintly, “Chief Qian, please continue. I don’t know a single thing about the construction industry. My earlier reaction had resulted from a separate train of thought altogether.”
It was only with this assurance that everyone set their hearts at ease.
Which of these men of prominence didn’t have several hundred men or several teams of engineers under their charge while they were still alive? Even the accounts that they dealt with on a daily basis were easily in the hundreds of millions.
Yet… regardless of the magnitude or importance of the company meetings they’ve been to in the past, none of them had ever been as afraid and nervous as they were right now.
After all, they were having a discourse with an owner of the realm who possessed the power to obliterate them without a single word of caution…
Qian Tianyi gulped nervously. Back in the mortal realm, he hated it most when others addressed him as “Chief Qian”, because it sounded synonymous with “former chief”. What was the meaning of that?!
But now, he knew he had to repress any feelings of ill will. He revealed an incomparably sincere smile on his face, “My lord, it’s like this. Haven’t you thought about the architectural style of the building you wish to construct?”
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered. He finally remembered what he had forgotten earlier.
Architectural drawings! Drawings from the design institutions!
Construction was hardly something as simple as fixing up building blocks to form a building. There were considerations of the building’s shape and structure, as well as its composition. Everything needed to be done up in detail by a professional design institution! Only then would it be ready for the construction company’s execution of works.
For instance, Qin Ye was free to design the new order of Hell with the flair of modern day architecture. He could even model it after the buildings in Dubai!
Likewise, he was free to model his buildings after the famous Su Provincial Court of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, the High Gates of the Tang and Song Dynasties, or even the renowned Ebang Palace of the Qin Dynasty.
But nobody has any clue as to even the style of building Qin Ye wanted. What should I do?
“Does anyone know how to draw up architectural plans?” Qin Ye looked up and asked everyone.
The seven men exchanged awkward glances. After some time, Song Ming coughed lightly and responded, “There aren’t many people in these design institutions to begin with. Most of those who managed to secure a place within have their own connections as well. Few are able to enter of their own qualifications… My lord, why don’t we try asking the ones outside?”
Before Qin Ye could respond, one of the scribes immediately rose from his feet sensibly and went out of the annex hall. Ten minutes later, he came back in panting, gasping and shaking his head, “My lord, none of the Yin spirits out there come from the design institution.”
Qin Ye massaged his temples bitterly. The different trades were worlds apart, and his oversight spelt disaster for his plans.
Furthermore, he had just discovered another crucial problem - the palace was so large that it took ten minutes for a messenger to head out, ask a simple question and then return to the annex hall. It was far too troublesome.
Should I just keep everyone waiting?
No. Certain things should be kept discreet and lowkey.
Bloody hell… If I’m already facing so much trouble now, how am I supposed to provide them with electricity later on? How am I supposed to provide cell phone coverage and data signals?! Isn’t… isn’t that a little too much to ask of me?
Qin Ye forcibly extricated himself from his destructive thoughts, and he addressed everyone with a resolute expression, “Leave this matter to me. Let’s continue.”
With a somewhat contrived smile on his face, Qin Ye added, “This is the first summit of Hell’s construction industry after all. Even though certain things are somewhat lacking, I believe that everyone’s experience and wisdom will more than make up for it… right?”
“But of course.” These were all men of prominence that innumerable people in the mortal realm looked up to on a daily basis. Yet their hearts trembled in unison at this very moment as they frantically mulled over the colossal question posed to them.
Dear, how would you like the city to be built? What kind of basic facilities do you need? I’ll hold the line. This is pretty urgent.
What?! You’ll tell me tomorrow?! Dear… I’m sitting in front of a ferocious tiger that is grinning at me with its full set of fangs! It’s the kind that’s even more fearsome than dealing with the chairman of the company! I think you can start making arrangements to collect my corpse tomorrow, you hear?
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