Qin Ye smiled at him and nodded, “Why did you stop? I find your insights interesting.”
Gu Qing’s mouth was slightly agape as he pointed to himself and stared into the distance.
Qin Ye also shifted his gaze and looked to the distant horizon as he continued hoarsely, “This, here, is the capital of the new Hell, Fengdu Necropolis.”
“But there’s nothing here right now.” He turned to Gu Qing once more with a burning passion in his gaze, “But in ten years’ time, I hope to see tall structures and sprawling buildings.”
Gu Qing gulped nervously and trembled slightly, “Me?”
“That’s right.” Qin Ye responded earnestly, “We’ve already established the Netherworld Construction Incorporation before your arrival. Everyone in the Netherworld Construction Incorporation, or Yin Construction for short, is a veteran in the construction industry. But their specialties lie in development of buildings or commercial centers. We don’t have anyone like you, with experience in urban planning or massive-scale construction projects. You’ve even planned the construction of an entire city on your own!”
“The soldiers have all been accounted for, and what we were lacking was a general! And it is precisely because of this that we spared no effort in rescuing you from the extraterritorial emissaries when they came for your soul. Had we not done so, I’m afraid the first thing you would have seen when you first woke up would have been the pyramids of Aegyptus.”
Their gazes met, and Gu Qing’s eyes were clearly filled with shock and disbelief.
Moments later, he trembled, “This place… how big is it?”
“Five square kilometers.” Qin Ye explained earnestly, “But… in future, its size will be nine million six hundred thousand square kilometers! And the names of each and every designer shall be engraved at the entrance to their corresponding ghost cities! I’ll be erecting a monument in every city to record and honor the names of all who had participated in the planning and design process in some way or other. Your name shall go down in history for millennia on end with each everlasting city that rises.”
Gu Qing took a deep breath and shut his eyes.
How often were city planners honoured for their work like that?
The cities might endure for a long time, but the names of their birth parents are often lost in time forever. Qin Ye’s words were simple, yet its implications were far greater than they seemed. His promise was essentially for the eternal glory for every planner involved!
Furthermore… it was a promise that extended to all nine million six hundred square kilometers that was to be developed!
This was on a completely different scale from any other project he had embarked on before! It was a project of a millennium, far grander than even the Three Gorges Project!
Gu Qing’s eyelids trembled slightly. He could still remember the time when he fought fiercely against his competition in the design institution when the aid to Alkebulan programme came along, and a city needed to be built. But right now, there was no need to vie for the position at all. A single nod of the head, and he would be the birth parent of the new Hell! The chief engineer, the chief designer and the chief urban planner, all rolled into one! His name would live on in the annals of history with each city that rose and stood for the rest of eternity!
It had to be said that Qin Ye’s last hundred or so years in the mortal realm hadn’t been lived in vain. He had a perfect grasp over human desires and emotions.
“Are you certain?” Gu Qing opened his eyes after a long time and asked with excitement in his voice.
“Are you sure… you will be erecting a monument in each city to record and honour the name of the planning team involved?”
Qin Ye gazed directly into his eyes and nodded, “Of course. Furthermore, these details shall be recorded in the city museum as well. All who come to Hell shall read about your deeds as soon as the education system is established. The records of your contributions will even be used as case studies and form part of textbooks to come.”
Gu Qing could feel his heart pounding furiously. After several minutes of intense deliberation, he bit down on his lower lips and nodded his head enthusiastically.
“Very good.” Qin Ye stretched out his arm solemnly, and Gu Qing reciprocated with a handshake that was even firmer than before. The veins on the back of Gu Qing’s hands bulged slightly. Qin Ye smiled, “Then, I sincerely welcome you to the ranks of the Netherworld Construction Incorporation, or Yin Construction for short. You are henceforth appointed the first CEO. There are currently over twenty thousand under your charge, all of which are veterans in the construction industry. There are also seven division heads at your disposal. You’re clothed with the authority to act at your discretion.”
Gu Qing drew a deep breath, shook Qin Ye’s hand firmly once more, and then released his grip. Looking much more relaxed than before, he smiled, “Then, could I trouble Mr Qin to give me a brief rundown of Yin Construction in general right now?”
As the duo walked down the paths around, Qin Ye explained everything to Gu Qing in detail, including the origins of Hell and its reserves right now. As the saying goes, trust those you employ wholeheartedly; and don’t employ them if you’re unable to do so. In order to drive home the point that they could only rely on themselves, and not the old Hell, Qin Ye even told Gu Qing the truth about the old Hell’s non-existence.
Gu Qing stared intently at Qin Ye as he mulled over Qin Ye’s explanations, seeking clarifications from time to time. But as more and more was revealed, Gu Qing’s expressions began to change. Half an hour later, he stared at Qin Ye with an almost despondent gaze.
Are you seriously not pulling my leg?
With no money and no resources, what can we do even if I push out a design drawing?
“Cough…” Qin Ye coughed dryly. He probably felt embarrassed at how the impoverished state of Hell was well beyond his chief designer’s imaginations, “There will be difficulties, but we will have to overcome them. Therefore, do let me know if there are any pressing ones we need to discuss…”
Qin Ye could see Gu Qing’s lips trembling immediately, and he immediately supplemented, “But there’s no guarantees that we’ll be able to resolve them right away.”
Gu Qing: ……
Stay calm… stay calm… I mean, as an elder, what’s the point of getting into an argument with a young teenager like that? I’m not angry. Really, I’m not…
He drew several deep breaths and sorted through his thoughts before finally speaking his mind, “Mr Qin, I suppose there are a few key questions that need to be addressed from the onset. Firstly, are we at risk of any enemy invasion?”
Qin Ye nodded, and then shook his head, “Are you thinking of putting defense mechanisms in place? There’s no need for that. I’ll tell you the reason in future. But for now, you can work on the assumption that no enemy would step foot into this place.”
You must be kidding. The Harken is still dormant in slumber right below our ass.
Gu Qing sighed in relief, and then held up a second finger, “Secondly, did the old Hell ever have any specialty produce for exports? Similar to the gold and minerals in the mortal realm? Or is there any way to find out?”
Qin Ye smiled bitterly and shook his head, “I don’t think so. Even if there were, I’m not sure about it. I’ll do my best to search for these things. The upheaval in Hell was just too abrupt back then, and many sources of information were destroyed in the process. I might not be able to find the answer to this.”
Arthis had already taken her leave as soon as Qin Ye began to explain things to Gu Qing in detail. That said, she had never discussed such matters before either. But this stood to reason as well. After all, she had been an esteemed Judge back in her days of glory, so how could she be bothered with such trivial matters?
When she took office as a Judge, someone probably told her, ‘there are no mines here’, and she probably took those words at face value without bothering to do a more thorough investigation.
That’s right. This was how well Qin Ye understood her!
“This is of particular importance. Resources are one of the most decisive factors in determining the direction of a city’s development.” Gu Qing furrowed his brows in distress and then probed further with what little expectation remained in his heart, “The development of all cities are directly tied to their access to resources, and especially so in our case right now. Mr Qin, if I may put it bluntly, given everything you’ve apprised me of earlier, and in light of the fact that Hell’s system of fiat currency hasn’t been established yet, the only thing we can do is to establish a trade route to barter trade the specialty produce from Hell for resources from the mortal realm.”
That was the only stable stream of resources available to them.
Qin Ye furrowed his brows. This was something he had been desperately looking for as well.
There were only a handful of tycoons like Huang Liangchuan in Hell right now, and while the resources obtained from trading in their personal possessions could tide them through their financial woes for the moment, it wouldn’t be able to last an entire lifetime.
But… what resources did Hell have?
He turned to look around. There was only the vast canopy of the dark skies, the dark hills, and the fiery leaves of the red trees. Everything was monotonous and austere. Qin Ye chuckled bitterly, “Where would I find specialty produce in such a plain region?”
“That’s not entirely the case.” Just then, Arthis’ voice resounded from afar. A small paper crane fluttered over and landed on Qin Ye’s shoulder, “It’s true that every city had a specialty produce back in the glory days of the old Hell.”
Without missing a beat, she continued, “For instance, when I was stationed in Peace City back then, our specialty produce was a kind of Yin bamboo that was immeasurable sharp, comparable even with the best steel in the mortal realm. They could be used as armor for our soldiers, with the added benefit of flexibility. Each piece of bamboo was worth as much as ten thousand coins back in those days.”
“Another example is the Province of the Great Heavens, which is known for production of their dark crystals in Eastsun City and its six subsidiary counties. These dark crystals are a unique combustible fuel-like material that produces neither smoke nor pollutive substances. A single catty of it can be burnt to keep a family of three warm for an entire month during the harshest month of winter… But for some strange reason, I can’t seem to find any traces of mines in the new Hell. I’ve also looked around for unique trees, but no matter where I look, I only see a single species of trees here.”
“Hang on…” Qin Ye stared at Arthis as though he had just seen a ghost, “Winter? What the hell is winter in Hell? Are Yin spirits even afraid of winter?”
The paper crane froze, and then trembled as though an epiphany had just struck, “That’s right! That’s how it is!”
“I remember now!” The paper crane flew up and exploded into a vortex from which Arthis’ true form began to descend. She pressed on her temples as she expressed her thoughts, “That’s right… Hell wasn’t built in a single day. In fact, it had developed over an incredibly long period of time!”
She continued, “This is the revised history of Hell - Over three thousand years ago, when Hell first began, there were no seasons nor storms in Hell. It was paradise in the underworld. One thousand years into its formation, Hell underwent the first great change. Torrential downpours began, and Hell began to experience seasons. Two thousand years later, Hell experienced another great upheaval, and Yin beasts began to surface in the lands. Then, by the end of the three thousand years, Hell experienced three great cataclysms, or auroras, a tide of beasts, and a great fire. But each of these great upheavals was accompanied by the appearance of boundless treasures.”
Qin Ye frowned, “What does this mean for us?”
Arthis explained earnestly, “How did the earth as we knew it come about? The very same evolution applies to Hell as well. First, there were plants, then there were animals, and finally there were natural resources. That said, things are going on much more quickly right now. Back then, the laws of the world were incomplete and non-existent when the old Hell was established, and there was therefore no seasons nor concept of climate. This was why it was called paradise back then. But as Hell developed, so were its laws perfected. This gave rise to the incipience of seasons and disasters, as well as treasures.”
She sighed and gave Qin Ye a glance which seemed to mean - “Aren’t you glad I remembered all these things? Shouldn’t you be thanking me?”
Yet her gaze was immediately met by a death glare.
What do you mean?
How could you only just remember something as important as that? What good is your brain for?
Gu Qing didn’t notice the sparks flying from their exchange of glances, and he instead held his chin and opined after some time, “In other words, it isn’t likely that there would be mineral deposits in Hell right now? And it’s only with the development of Hell that we will begin to see the appearances of more natural resources?”
“There definitely aren't any mineral deposits right now.” Arthis responded with a grave expression, “For instance, the formation of coal in the mortal realm was a process that had taken thousands upon thousands of years. Where was coal when earth was first created? The same goes for the dark crystals of Hell. I imagine we’ll have to wait until Hell grows to the size of a county before we start seeing its appearance once more.”
Gu Qing knitted his brows together. The conditions for the development of Hell was far harsher than he had anticipated. Things were in a far better state than this when he had rendered aid to the construction efforts of Alkebulan in the past. Certainly, they didn’t have access to natural resources either, but what kind of entity was the Cathay Construction Group? He had access to as much finances and influence over policies as was justifiable. But what about now?
He sighed wistfully and looked around. Then, all of a sudden, his eyes brightened, and he stared transfixed in a particular location.
They were walking along the path beside one of the construction zones. It was currently an empty plot of land with tree stumps of varying heights. The trees had apparently been freshly cut.
And that was exactly where he was looking at.