One hour to the general assembly.
There were no longer any seats at the front of Hell’s Gate.
The Yin spirits who couldn’t find any seats began to sit around on the ground, or squat and stand around. Slowly but surely, they packed themselves densely into the entrance around Hell’s Gate.
All of the Yin spirits had arrived within the first hour of the announcement. Even the machine operators had ceased their operations, and everyone awaited the general assembly with eager anticipation.
The seven division heads personally took charge of the construction of the main stage at the entrance of Hell’s Gate. It was simple and crude, constructed entirely out of wood, and was finished with some simple decors made out of black spider lilies and red leaves of the trees around. Yet, its plain looks did nothing to quench the enthusiasm of the ghostly citizens around.
Whispers of excitement could be heard amidst the cacophonous buzz of loud discussions around. The tide of sound rose and fell from time to time, yet not a single one of the Yin spirits took their eyes off the main stage for a single moment. Wouldn’t it be good to catch some shut-eye while you could? Certainly, but now was hardly the time for that!
Nobody rushed the commencement of the general assembly. Then, approximately one and a half hours after the initial announcement was made, the construction of the stage was finally completed. Then, as soon as the two hour mark arrived, Arthis’ domineering voice boomed throughout Hell, “Silence.” The entire venue quietened down instantly.
Under the baptism of gazes from everyone present, Qin Ye and Arthis slowly made their way up to the stage in their Hell’s Emissary state. Su Dongxue and the seven division heads followed closely behind.
Everyone but Qin Ye took their seats. On the other hand, Qin Ye walked up to the podium with his hands behind his back as he steadfastly surveyed the vast sea of Yin spirits below. Then, his voice sounded like thunder in the air.
“Today marks a historical moment.” Qin Ye got straight to the point without any unnecessary lead-ins, “This day shall be one that is deeply engraved into the annals of history. Because, right here, and right now, we have decided the future direction of Hell.”
He had originally only intended to talk about it casually. But for some strange reason, when he noticed the sea of eyes staring straight back at him with great expectancy; when he noticed the construction equipment and machinery parked in the distance, all of which had been halted; and when he saw the great forests that had been cleared for almost one thousand meters around Hell’s Gate, he felt a chord strum powerfully within him.
Tell them what you’re thinking. Tell them your thought processes in full.
The audience were no longer humans, yet they still bore some human characteristics. Their fleshly bodies had faded away, but their spirits were still present. He sincerely believed that the ghostly citizens would all understand what he was trying to communicate to them.
“When I first took up the mantle, there was not even an inch of grass on these lands. I’d thought about giving up on so many occasions, but I still decided to accept the burden of this tall order and push through with my duties.”
“I had no money, and no manpower, and I could only take things one step at a time. I know everyone isn’t used to these things. After all… anyone who has experienced the vibrance of modern day society would find it difficult to get used to the boring life of the ancient society that Hell is.”
“There’s no internet here, no television, no movies or cell phone. The only thing that greets you everyday is the boundless dark skies and rolling Yin energy. But, everyone… this is going to be our home for the rest of eternity. As the new person-in-charge of Hell, it is my duty to make things better for everyone!”
Seconds later, a sparse applause sounded, and it quickly spread throughout the crowd like wildfire, burgeoning into an endless, thunderous applause.
Qin Ye’s chest rose and fell slightly. This was the moment that he truly experienced the weight of the word “responsibility”.
A man of character has his strengths and weaknesses.
He’s not a great hero, nor is he a mighty lord. But as long as he had been alive, he would have experienced the weight of responsibility and duty, no matter how small and insignificant it might have been.
That said, the expectations of tens of thousands of ghostly citizens was a heavy burden to bear.
He continued, “Therefore, we, the remnant who have managed to survive the great collapse of the old Hell, have established a developmental plan for Hell. Having lived in the mortal realm for close to a century, I know that rhetorics and hyperboles are useless. Thus, let me get straight to the point.”
Arthis knew exactly what Qin Ye was getting at, and as soon as Qin Ye nodded meaningfully to her, she moved her finger slightly. In an instant, all of the Yin spirits stared at the stage with their mouths completely agape in shock.
Right in the middle of the stage, a massive scroll unfurled itself, spanning one hundred meters across and fifty meters tall. This was an intricate drawing of a breathtaking building!
The first impression of it was an ancient-style building.
It was four storeys high. The length of the building was well in the thousands of meters, and the width of it was in the hundreds of meters. The building was ostensibly constructed using red wood with black tiles, with innumerable traditional decorative knots hanging from its eaves. There were also a string of red lanterns hanging on the sides of each and every door. When they were all lit up, the entire building gave off a glow of luxury and magnificence.
The windows were etched with decorative patterns, while the door was a typical Cathayan folding door carved with beautiful designs, some of which depicted lotus ponds, while others depicted that of magpies welcoming spring. A large yellow palace lamp hung directly over each door, with the room number of each room painted in bold strokes over the surface of these lamps.
A massive screen was placed right at the grand entrance of the building. However, this was not a painting. Instead, it was a traditional Su embroidery that was somewhat translucent. A number of paper lanterns and kites of different shapes and sizes were hung neatly from the ceiling at the hall behind the screen, adding a specious, traditional Cathayan flair to the entire design.
And this was nothing like the pretentious modern designs that were only superficially Cathayan in order to please their intended audience. Rather, the present design of the building was traditional Cathayan through and through.
Two statues of prowling Harkens were placed right outside the vermillion building, all of which were enclosed by tall white walls and a towering vermillion arch which served as the gate to the compound.
The massive building was built around a central courtyard with three ponds, all of which were at least two to three hundred meters in length. Some flowers that were native to Hell floated along the top of these ponds. The flowers looked like they had been lightly brushed with pink blushers, and yet a light netherflame glowed eerily at the pistil of these flowers. Beautiful red-leafed willows swayed gently along the side of these ponds.
A number of ancient seats, benches and tables were placed abundantly along the waters, while a stony path led straight into a stone pavilion dozens of meters large in the center of each pond. Soft silk at the pavilion flowed gently with the wind, while the faint aroma of incense diffused from the central incense burner into the surroundings. It was poetry personified.
With the aid of Hell’s arts, Arthis had created the perfect rendering of the building from simply its drawings. These renderings were far more effective than any modern day rendering technology!
All the Yin spirits were completely dumbfounded as they stared blankly at the massive scroll. The entire scene was shrouded with pin-drop silence.
“This is… a residence? Or is it an office space?” An old man trembled and stretched out his hand as though he were attempting to touch the scroll, “Can we… live in a place like this from now on?”
“That’s as Cathayan as it gets. It would be… amazing to stay in a place like this.” Another elderly Yin spirit in his seventies who wore a white lab coat stroked his beard as he exclaimed aloud.
“It’s perfect… is this part of the neighbourhood? I’ve heard from those in Yin Construction that it is!” “This is definitely going to be part of a high-end neighbourhood. Holy shit! You can’t even dream about something like that when you’re still alive!” “The surrounding wall is practically one hundred thousand square feet large… are we really going to build something like that over here? That’s incredibly exciting!”
It didn’t take ten seconds for the entire venue to erupt with incessant discussion and clamour!
“Silence.” Qin Ye heart was full, and his sense of accomplishment was already bursting at its seams. Yet, he kept a placid expression on his face and continued steadfastly, “This is the first milestone of Yin Construction.”
Everyone’s eyes immediately lit up with the confirmation, and they stared intently at Qin Ye.
Don’t beat about the bush! Hurry up! How are you going to divide up this luxurious development? Do I have to sell you my ass? Hurry up and tell us!
Qin Ye steadied himself and continued explaining without missing a beat, “Firstly, I have to let everyone here know that this building can only accommodate twenty thousand households. This is Yin Construction’s first mid-to-high-end luxury development, but it will certainly not be its last.”
“As you all know, Hell is a realm of its own, and it’s subject to the elements as well, be it rain, wind or even hail. Although these elements aren’t in any way life-threatening to any of you here, it will still be unpleasant to be exposed to these things. Our hearts and minds are directly aligned with yours - we want exactly what you want, and we desire exactly what you desire. Therefore, the first project to be launched is what you see in front of your very eyes right now - Qin Gardens Phase One.”
He appeared to be in full control of the atmosphere right now. All of the Yin spirits listened intently as soon as Qin Ye opened his mouth to speak.
Personal welfare and the allocation of rooms! Dear… the first thing on the agenda in Hell is welfare, and not labour. This government’s pretty decent, isn’t it?
“The financial system of Hell hasn’t been established yet. Therefore, the allocation of rooms in the Qin Gardens is going to depend on each of your contributions to the efforts of Yin Construction. There’s no need to rush. There’s also no reason to rush. Once the first phase is complete, we’ll start on the second phase. Eventually, all of the Yin spirits will have a home to retire to at night and food for daily consumption.”
Yin spirits didn’t need to sleep and eat to live. Nevertheless, these were still part and parcel of the pleasures of life.
They’ve already died once, so why shouldn’t they seize the opportunity to enjoy life a little?
“There are currently eight thousand four hundred and seventy-two people on active duty in Yin Construction. When this general assembly ends, those who are interested in participating in the great reconstruction efforts of Hell should approach the seven division heads for registration right away. The City of Salvation is only the first city to be developed in this manner. In future, there will be a second city, and then a third city… until every single netherworldly region in Cathay has become subsumed by the overarching banner of Hell!”
“The next five years are going to be crucial to the future expansion of Hell. Fengdu shall slowly be rebuilt, one piece at a time. Anything that you have access to in the mortal realm shall also be similarly available in Hell! Alright, we’ll have ten minutes of questions from the floor right now. The first general assembly of Hell shall end in ten minutes’ time.”
Several hands shot up into the air as soon as he finished speaking.
Qin Ye casually picked a female Yin spirit who was evidently a white-collared worker. She immediately shot to her feet and excitedly expressed, “My lord, then does this mean that we will have cafes, spas, beauty salons and other similar shops in future?”
That’s quite an astute question, isn’t it?
Qin Ye felt a little stunned. A question like that… how am I supposed to answer it?!
This… is completely outside the scope of our considerations right now… don’t you think that you’re thinking a little bit too far ahead?
“As long as the mortal realm has it, Hell will do it even better!” But at a time like this, he could only bite the bullet and respond affirmatively. And then, he immediately pointed towards the next hand in the air.
“My lord!” This time, it was a middle-aged man wearing a ramrod straight suit, “Then, are there going to be any luxury goods in Hell in future? Secondly, are there going to be any of the less important facilities, such as gyms, chess or card rooms… oh, or even activities like bridge competitions? What about basketball leagues, football leagues, and the like?”
I’ll be damned…
Can I just give you a flying kick right now?!
Qin Ye fervently repressed the urge to send the man flying - Well done… you guys are truly on the brink of outsmarting me. Can’t you just fix your eyes on the present and gloss over the future for now?
“These things will all be on the horizon in future. The possibility of reincarnation only arises after we establish the six paths of reincarnation, the Eighteen Abysses of Punishment, the Naraka Bridge and the Three Births Stone. Before that time comes, what you have to do is to focus on atoning for the sins of this life, and incidentally improve on the quality of life of all citizens in Hell. This way, you will be able to strive for a better rebirth in your next life. In this regard, as soon as Hell’s overall development reaches a certain level, we shall be broadening our perspective and to start developing Hell more holistically in all aspects, be it moral, intellectual, physical, aesthetics and labour.”
1. These are decorative handcraft art that symbolize good luck and prosperity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_knotting