“Let’s end the discussion here for now.” He closed his notebook and added, “Rally your spirits. The reestablishment of Hell is a thousand-year project. We can’t afford to rest on our laurels. We’ve started off on the right foot, but the journey ahead is still long and arduous.”
Everyone grew taciturn and introspective. Arthis’ words had caused everyone to remember what exactly Hell entailed.
It was a reflection of the mortal realm - anything that was present in the mortal realm should be present in Hell as well!
There would be the print and the press, delectable cuisine, residences, transportation, communication channels, and each and every major governmental department seen in the mortal realm. There were even buildings, facilities and establishments that were unique to Hell, including the six paths of reincarnation, the Eighteen Abysses of Punishment, the Naraka Bridge, the Three Births Stone…
And then there were still amenities such as electricity and telecommunications… This… was tantamount to a process of developing an entire civilization from scratch!
Even if they were indeed standing on the shoulder of giants, how insurmountably tall was this order? It would be a gross understatement to call this merely a difficult task!
It was only when everyone had taken their leave that Qin Ye rubbed his temples and cleared his throat, “Invite them in.”
Why do I get the feeling that… this meeting is going to reek of drama and tension, almost as though I’m having a tiff with an aunty from a neighbourhood committee? This just feels like a poor showing…
A troupe of five Yin ghosts were brought into the annex hall in no time. The person leading the small group was none other than Huang Liangchuan. Even though this man undoubtedly possessed the wealth to squelch Qin Ye while he was still alive, he still had no choice but to behave himself like an obsequious little quail in front of Qin Ye right now.
After all, who could forget Qin Ye’s cold-blooded showing of exterminating hundreds of Yin spirits with a single slash just a little while ago?
“My lord, this little one is Huang Liangchuan.” Huang Liangchuan cupped his hands respectfully, “While I was alive, others often addressed me as the glass magnate. Naturally, I’m nothing more than a digit under your charge right now. My lord, please feel free to ask if you require anything of me.”
Qin Ye discreetly sized up the Yin spirits standing before him - Not bad. Quite the proper attitude.
None of the Yin spirits dared even raise their heads to look at Qin Ye straight in the eye. All of them stood tall in a disciplined manner, and none of them dared to be presumptuous and take a seat before they were told to do so. They might have been a wealthy and influential person in the mortal realm, but as soon as they entered Hell, they were but one of many Yin spirits around.
Arthis had earlier mentioned that companies and corporations would thrive and flourish with the gradual expansion of Hell. However, whether the exceptional businessmen of the mortal realm could perform in a similar fashion and make a name for themselves in the netherworld was quite something else.
“Is there something you wish to discuss?” Qin Ye asked in a plain, straightforward fashion. He didn’t even ask them to take a seat.
Huang Liangchuan truly lived up to his name as a shrewd and experienced man, and he didn’t reveal a single trace of dissatisfaction at Qin Ye’s display of authority. Instead, he only smiled more radiantly. The billionaire of the mortal realm cupped his hands and bowed respectfully, like a monk welcoming his guests, “We truly deserve death for involving the esteemed King Yanluo for such trivialities. But this old bag of bones has risked the life and limb of his friends to seek an audience only for the sake of Hell’s development. I hope Your Excellency will be magnanimous and look past our transgressions.”
Qin Ye smiled.
“Just this once. There shall be no next time.” Qin Ye leaned back on his seat and added placidly, “If you ever partake of any actions that may be interpreted as a challenge against Hell’s authority again, then… you should be prepared to follow in Gao Dahu’s footsteps. These are peculiar times, and everything shall be subject to the most exacting of standards.”
“I understand. There will be no next time.” Huang Liangchuan gently heaved a sigh of relief. He could finally relax his tense heart.
Before coming here, the group of them had the impression that their King Yanluo was capricious and moody. Just the other day, he had killed Gao Dahu without even batting an eyelid, and yet he was already painting the picture of an ideal life to everyone in Hell today.
Therefore, they simply couldn’t figure him out.
Earlier, when Qin Ye made his casual remark, they had even experienced a trace of killing intent from him.
“Take a seat.” Qin Ye gestured to them, yet none dared to take a seat. Huang Liangchuan took one step forward and did a ninety-degree bow, “My lord, it’s like this - the few of us here possess some assets in the mortal realm. But as you already know, we cannot bring the things of the mortal realm to Hell with us.”
Qin Ye nodded his head, “I’m also curious as to how you intend to make good on your offer of ten million RMB to us.”
Huang Liangchuan explained courteously, “My lord, it’s simple. These friends of mine also come from families with assets worth tens of millions in the mortal realm - probably even well in excess of that. And we all… have some hobbies of our own.”
He was a man of influence and authority in the mortal realm, and he naturally began to lapse into his usual style of speaking as he dropped clues in an inviting fashion, “For instance, my hobby… is in antiques.”
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered. He suddenly understood everything.
But he didn’t interrupt at all. Huang Liangchuan continued, “This is Mr Mo. He deals in feed, and his interest lies in jade artifacts.” “This is Mr Qiao, and his interest lies in jadeite.” “This is…”
After a round of introductions, he added softly, “We’ve all got our own private collection. Unfortunately, we all passed on too suddenly, and none of us ever had the opportunity to tell our sons and daughters about these collections of ours. I’m afraid it’s going to take our children the better part of half a year of going through our assets and accounts before they would even discover the existence of such a private collection of ours. Therefore, you need only retrieve these assets of ours before they gain access to them. I can’t say for these friends of mine, but I assure you that my collection… is filled with good stuff.”
His eyes gleamed with passion as he deliberately paused for a moment. Qin Ye smiled slightly, yet Yin energy erupted from his body in the very next second.
Huang Liangchuan and his friends were all caught unaware, and they immediately gasped in shock. Their legs buckled, and all of them knelt down onto the ground in an instant.
Qin Ye’s voice boomed like an evil ghost, “You were all in positions of authority and influence back in the mortal realm. Have you already forgotten what superiors hate most of their subordinates?”
None of them responded.
Huang Liangchuan’s forehead was already percolating with sweat, and he immediately got the urge to give himself a tight slap across the face. Oh, how quickly the tables have turned. He spoke with a certain flair that had developed over decades. Qin Ye’s genial disposition earlier had caused him to let his guard down, and he had lapsed into his old way of speaking with his subordinates without realizing it at all.
Qin Ye swept his gaze coldly across the room as he continued, “What I hate most… is when my subordinates act all clever and attempt to keep me on tenterhooks.”
“Don’t make me guess. If you’ve got a request to make, do it in a single breath. I’ve got no time to play guessing games with you.”
Seconds later, Huang Liangchuan cupped his hands and responded hoarsely, “My apologies, my lord. It was an oversight on my part. There won’t be a next time.”
“You would do well to remember this.” Qin Ye added, “None of you here are indispensable in Hell, so don’t you think for a moment that your time of glory in the mortal realm makes you a special existence in Hell.”
“The soul of the Red Topped Hat Businessman, Hu Xueyan, has been here before.”
“The soul of the great businessman, Shen Wansan, has been here before.”
“Even the soul of the great emperor investor Lü Buwei had been here before.”
“Every single one of the wealthiest people in the history of Cathay has been here before. Even the lords of flaunting their wealth, Shi Chong and Wang Kai have been here before.”
A pair of dark-grained silk shoes appeared in Huang Liangchuan’s field of vision. Huang Liangchuan’s scalp immediately went numb, and his entire body began to tremble vigorously. It was as though his soul had shrunk back in shock.
It was only at this moment that he truly understood what the twofold separation of Yin and Yang truly meant.
It wasn’t just the separation of life. There was also the separation of identity.
Qin Ye’s placid voice resounded right above his head, “How do you think… you compare with those legends?”
“I… wouldn’t dare…” Huang Liangchuan responded with a quivering voice.
Whoosh… The shoes turned around and Qin Ye sat back down onto his chair before continuing with an equally equable voice, “Then do it properly. My time is precious. I don’t have the time to waste with you. Rise.”
“Yes.” The five ghosts wiped off the cold sweat on their foreheads, and Huang Liangchuan chuckled dryly. This time, he continued flatly, “My lord, I’ve got an old mansion in Ink City where I’ve hidden four treasures. The most valuable of these is a genuine Tang Dynasty pottery.”
He breathed out, relieving some of the pressure weighing on his heart as he continued, “The Tang Dynasty pottery is akin to a holy grail among antique collectors. I recall a pair of Tang Dynasty ceramic horses at a Sotheby auction back then had gone for USD 4.17 million, or approximately 28 million RMB! Furthermore, the Tang Dynasty pottery I own... is a pair of dragon and phoenix!”
Qin Ye’s gaze flickered intently, and he nearly even shot to his feet.
Dragon and phoenix… even a prince isn’t entitled to use such items. This means… that this is something that was only used by the royal family!
We’re talking about a genuine set of dragon and phoenix Tang Dynasty pottery… Qin Ye immediately responded, “How much do you estimate these items would fetch?”
“At least six million. In USD!” As if to make up for his previous mistake, he immediately added, “The other pieces aren’t half bad either. Each one is at least worth one million USD. These all form part of my prized collection back then. These items of mine are worth at least ten million USD. Given the current exchange rate in the world, I would imagine these artifacts of mine are worth approximately sixty million RMB!”
Qin Ye drew a deep breath.
Sixty million… no wonder he’s called the glass magnate. Even a small private collection could command such an astronomical figure!
With this, he would no longer need to worry about capital until the construction of the first development of Hell is completed!
“My lord.” The other Yin spirits quickly chimed in as well, “Our personal collection isn’t as good as his. However, I’ve got an imperial green jadeite in my collection. It’s definitely worth a thing or two!” “I’ve got a phoenix seal that is approximately the size of my thumb. The entire body of the seal is etched out of Hotan jade. In fact, this piece of jade comes from the Dushan region, one of the four most renowned jade producing regions of Cathay. The price of this seal is at least five million RMB!”
Qin Ye made a mental note of the details of each and every item. And finally, he got to the nub of the issue, “So how do I obtain these treasures? How do I sell them? What do you want in exchange?”
The five men exchanged glances and responded in a well-rehearsed fashion, “These are our contributions to the reconstruction efforts of Hell. We don’t dare to ask for much. A simple residence would suffice.”
Qin Ye smiled faintly. He didn’t mind.
If they had asked for the sun and the moon off the cuff, they would no longer be able to ingratiate Qin Ye to themselves. It was far more prudent of them to bide their time and wait for a better opportunity to bring up the matter again in future.
“It wouldn’t be difficult for my lord to obtain these items.” Huang Liangchuan smiled, “The key to my villa is hidden underneath the third rose at the entrance. My stash is located in a locked vault under my bed. The passcode is 432REW. The vault is too small to require maintenance or cleaning. My lord can rest assured that there is no one who knows of this passcode.”
Another old man chimed in, “Selling these goods is even easier. The wealthy have their own circles, and auctions within these circles isn’t an uncommon thing. It’s just that the ordinary man on the street wouldn’t be aware of such affairs. You’ll need an invitation to the auction, as well as have your qualifications verified by the relevant organizers. The organizing contractors are reliable, and they would never disclose any of your personal particulars.”
An auction? Qin Ye deliberated for a moment before concluding solemnly, “Your good intentions have been well-received. Don’t worry, I’ve always been fair and just in the way I handle things. Your sacrifice today will not be forgotten.”
Everyone breathed a silent sigh of relief.
His word was sufficient to allay any concerns of theirs.
Qin Ye waved his hands to dismiss them and fell into deep thought.
I’ve got my capital for the following works to be executed, but… this is only sufficient for a part of the works.
One hundred million RMB… He wasn’t entirely sure whether this sum of money would suffice for the construction of the entire development. After all, there wasn’t any labour costs in Hell, nor did he have to bear some of the other miscellaneous expenses that were incidental to the construction works in the mortal realm.
But… even if the capital sufficed for this present project, what about the next one?
And the next project would concern the entire neighbourhood.
Their current project pertained to housing, a necessity that the citizens of Hell were willing to invest in. But what about the soul induction platform, or the Fengdu governmental buildings? Would the citizens still be willing to invest in such projects at that time?
Even before that, there was still the underlying question of whether he would come across so many wealthy people in the first place!
There are many people in Hell right now because the Yin spirits in the vicinity had all sensed it when Hell was first re-established. There was naturally a far lower likelihood of encountering such wealthy spirits in future. Furthermore, it couldn’t be just any other wealthy Yin spirit - it had to be a wealthy Yin spirit who still had access to their wealth!
After all, most people would no longer have access to their wealth when they died, because they would have left everything to their descendants or willed it away.
“I should still find a more sustainable source of wealth… The best way to do this would be to establish trade links with the mortal realm, including a currency exchange. But… what the Hell am I going to use to trade with the mortal realm? My glorious good looks?”
1. A notable chinese businessman in the 1800’s, he was prominently the only person of the merchant class who was awarded the red-topped hat, an imperial accolade, during the Qing Dynasty. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hu_Xueyan
2. Another notable chinese businessman of the Ming Dynasty who did so well he was exiled by the emperor. Even in exile, his connections and influence formed the basis for the development of an ancient tea route for the transport and trade of tea, china, handcrafts, etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen_Wansan
3. He was a chinese businessman of the Qin state during the warring states period (291-235 BC) who transitioned from business into politics. One of the most famous stories about his switch was recorded as follows: On returning home, he said to his father, "What is the profit on investment that one can expect from plowing fields?"
"Ten times the investment," replied his father.
"And the return on investment in pearls and jades is how much?"
"And the return on investment from establishing a ruler and securing the state would be how much?"
"It would be incalculable."
"Now if I devoted my energies to labouring in the fields, I would hardly get enough to clothe and feed myself; yet if I secure a state and establish its lord, the benefits can be passed onto future generations. I propose to go serve Prince Yiren of Qin who is a hostage in Zhao and resides in the city of Jiao. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%BC_Buwei
4. These were two wealthy persons who loathed each other, and often attempted to outdo each other’s extravagant display of wealth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shi_Chong