“I’m all ears.” Emperor Wu of Song smiled and sat down. He was beginning to take more and more interest in Qin Ye.
Thick-skinned, black-hearted, and considerably bold at times. Perhaps he’s not the sort to perform and excel in battles and wars… but then again, to require the presence of King Yanluo on the battlefield naturally means that Hell is on the brink of annihilation.
A person of power and authority need only be adept at managing his subjects.
“As you know, the new Hell has just been founded, and all prior trade routes established by the old Hell are no longer in existence. However, development and growth doesn’t just happen behind closed doors…”
“You’re thinking of establishing a trade route with Hanyang?” Emperor Wu of Song immediately understood what Qin Ye was getting at.
“You’re not willing?” Qin Ye set down his wine glass and locked eyes with Emperor Wu of Song.
Emperor Wu of Song didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he simply swirled the contents of his glass about, as though mulling over something. Seconds later, he finally responded with a deep voice, “And if I say that I’m not willing?”
“Then what incentive is there for me to cross your name off Hell’s Records?!” Qin Ye’s tone of voice suddenly turned authoritative, “Why should I tolerate the declaration of independence of an underworld that doesn’t benefit Hell?!”
“And what gives you the confidence to stand in our way?” Emperor Wu of Song sneered, “You’re not going to tell me that you still have millions of powerful Yin soldiers and billions of Yin spirits backing you, are you?”
Qin Ye chuckled contemptuously, “That’s ridiculous. You guys probably know better than me what the state of the new Hell currently is. But as long as nothing changes, you’re technically still part of Hell’s officials, and if I summon you, it is your duty to respond. Otherwise… I believe Lord Harken would be happy to have a private chat with you on my behalf.”
Emperor Wu of Song laughed mockingly, “If Lord Harken could speak to us as readily as you suggest, then what reason is there to grant me my independence? My guess is that Lord Harken isn’t in a good state right now, and it probably wouldn’t be easy to even elicit a response from him. At the very least, the price to pay for his response isn’t worth Hanyang’s independence.”
Qin Ye glanced placidly at Emperor Wu of Song, “But that’s still Lord Harken when all is said and done.”
With that, both sides grew silent.
They had both sussed out the extent of cards hidden in the hands of the other. Qin Ye was flaunting the strength of Lord Harken. Emperor Wu of Song might have guessed that Lord Harken was incapacitated to some extent, but he wasn’t aware of the exact extent it was. Besides, no matter how weak and frail he had become, it was still Lord Harken!
Lord Harken was a Yama-class divine beast!
After a tense, protracted pause, Emperor Wu of Song finally withdrew his gaze and glanced at the glass of wine before him, “What specialty produce is there in the new Hell?”
Qin Ye heaved a sigh of relief in his heart. They were negotiating. It was a process that entailed giving and taking. If one party only gave and the other party only took, it would be no different from seizing and encroachment. Emperor Wu of Song clearly didn’t want to risk getting on the wrong side of the new Hell, especially since they reeked of the scent of Lord Harken right now. Naturally, he was clearly not privy to the nitty gritty details of the relationship between Lord Harken and the new Hell, including the fact that Lord Harken couldn’t wait to crush the new King Yanluo either…
Qin Ye was clearly a master of seizing the opportunity and making use of every advantage he possibly had.
“We’ve got plenty.” Qin Ye shrugged his shoulders, “If not for the fact that our citizens are unable to consume all of the goods produced, I wouldn’t have bothered proposing this transaction to begin with.”
Emperor Wu of Song’s lips twitched uncontrollably - I don’t even know to what extent I can believe this man’s words right now!
He could tell that Qin Ye was the type of person that would be incredibly difficult to deal with if one was unable to crush him in one fell swoop from the onset.
“And if I agree?”
“Then we’ll set up a seaport city which both parties can use to facilitate transactions.”
“That’s huge.” Emperor Wu of Song gently flicked his wine glass, “Do you plan to discuss the particulars of those plans right here and now?”
The terms and conditions of such a massive joint project wasn’t something that a single person could hammer out off the cuff. There would be a great deal of costs and benefits to weigh and consider. Qin Ye wasn’t good at such things, so he would most definitely need a good subordinate by his side to do a proper breakdown and analysis of the situation. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring anyone out with him this time.
“Of course not.” Qin Ye leaned back into his seat lazily, “I’ll be inviting all interested feudal officials to have a tour around the new Hell in December. Perhaps…”
He smiled mysteriously, “You might not even be willing to declare independence at that time anymore. Who knows?”
Emperor Wu of Song remained silent. His mind and his terrifying instincts were yelling out to him from within, condemning these actions as no more than a poorly-disguised delay tactic.
After all, an agreement to establish a trade route between two underworlds would take no more than a month to properly draft up.
But before he could respond, Qin Ye immediately added, “And if you’re wondering why I need half a year, it’s because… I’ve got another request.”
Emperor Wu of Song gazed deeply at Qin Ye, and his voice carried a trace cautionary tone, “King Yanluo Qin, I’ve been extending you some indulgence on account of your stature, but you shouldn’t push it too far either.”
Anyone else might have held back immediately upon hearing Emperor Wu of Song’s warning.
That is - only if they’re not Qin Ye.
After all, Qin Ye was the type of person who wouldn’t cower in the slightest until one held the blade right next to his neck. That said, he was also the type to sprint away faster than anyone else could as soon as there was a blade on his neck.
As soon as Qin Ye assessed a person to be as harmless as a house cat, he would be the first one to take advantage of the person’s weaknesses and climb all over his head.
“The previous matters discussed were just incidentals.” Qin Ye ignored Emperor Wu of Song’s words of caution as he smiled, stood up and began to approach Emperor Wu of Song’s table. Locking eyes with the other, Qin Ye continued, “This is the most important request I have. I… hope that the Cathayan underworld and the Hanyang underworld can form a strategic alliance.”
Emperor Wu of Song’s golden pupils flickered wildly as he locked eyes with Qin Ye.
Neither shifted their gaze away.
The entire world appeared to be in turmoil in that very instance.
Underworlds have always been probing and investigating each other covertly and furtively. Lordless regions have also been tacitly recognized as disputed territories that underworlds would hardly cease to vie over. The more territory an underworld held, the more Yin spirits they had. And the more Yin spirits they had, the quicker the development and growth of their underworld! It was a virtuous cycle that was prevalent everywhere, even in the East.
Singapura, Birmania, Khmer Empire, Felipinas, Malaya… These were all countries that didn’t have their own independent underworlds, and the management of their underworld relied greatly on the existence of foreign garrisons of Yin soldiers. As soon as a strategic alliance is formed, Hanyang would have to support Hell’s foreign expeditions with troops of their own as well.
Hell was just reestablished. How many Yin soldiers could they possibly have right now?
Nevertheless, Emperor Wu of Song was moved.
This was because he knew full well that these lordless regions were all places that Cathay had once ruled over. Having once been a vassal state of the Cathayan underworld, it wouldn’t be difficult for the lordless regions to get used to the resumption of Hell’s governance over them. The strategic alliance would thus be able to consolidate their forces and stabilize the new state with far greater efficacy than before. Besides, recent times had largely been peaceful, and their invasion of these lordless regions would most certainly cause a stir among underworlds around the world! That said, with the strategic alliance in place, Hell would naturally be the one to draw all the flak from the international community of underworlds.
Qin Ye was naturally aware of these considerations. However, one had to be willing to invest a little in order to have any prospects of gains. It was impossible to reap a harvest without sowing any seeds.
“Where do you plan to move against?” Emperor Wu of Song licked his lips avariciously and asked with a hoarse voice.
“Nippon.” Qin Ye responded coldly, “I intend to mobilize troops against Nippon, march straight towards Amano-Iwato, and take down Izanami within the next half a century.”
“Because it would bring me joy.” Qin Ye smiled faintly.
“That’s a reason as good as any other.”
Fifty years was but a snap of a finger to them.
Having lived for a thousand years, what was fifty years to someone like Emperor Wu of Song?
“But Nippon has its own underworld…” Emperor Wu of Song smiled like a bloodthirsty tiger. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but remind Qin Ye of the dangers involved, “Are you sure that the new Hell will be able to stand tall against the potential joint sanctions of foreign underworlds if you start an inter-underworldly war? I’m not going to take a charge on this one.”
“Besides, their terrain is intricate and complicated. If you don’t have anyone familiar with the Nipponese terrain and forces, it’s going to be a tall order to lead an army across the seas, invade Nippon and take down Amano-Iwato.”
“And this is not to mention the eight million Kunitsukami that are guarding their lands. Furthermore, even if you manage to succeed, who are you going to appoint as a feudal lord over those lands? We no longer live in an era when people are ignorant. If you don’t find the right person, all of your efforts will be for naught.”
“King of Hanyang doesn’t have to worry so much about these matters.” Qin Ye stood up and adjusted his garbs, “Well then, I guess I’ll see you at the end of this year? I believe that these two potential agreements and the other ancillary matters that would enable them would be more than sufficient food for thought for the next half a year.”
You must be kidding… Why else do you think I reaped the soul of Oda Nobunaga for?
For now, Oda Nobunaga would spearhead the consolidation of forces in the new Hell and lead the newly established security forces. Then, once Hell finally takes down Yomi-no-Kuni, he would undoubtedly be the most ideal person to be stationed there and take charge of all affairs in Nippon moving forward!
Intransigent or intractable?
Die! Die! Die!
Emperor Wu of Song didn’t respond any further. He simply raised his wine glass slightly as Qin Ye walked away, closing the large mahogany doors behind him as he stepped out of the hall.
With that, Emperor Wu of Song was left completely alone.
“Interesting…” He sipped his wine in silence. Ten full minutes later, he suddenly threw his head up and laughed uproariously, “The first King Yanluo was skillful and strategic. The second King Yanluo possessed cultivation that was practically unparalleled - so much so that even the legends had it that the heavens were forced to look at him as equals. And yet, when it comes to the third King Yanluo, he seems to be as cunning as a fox?”
“Moving against Nippon… What great ambition… Wouldn’t it be too boring if I were the only other person getting involved in such a great task?”
Snap… He snapped his fingers, and a wisp of Yin energy transformed into a robin in front of his very eyes. He promptly instructed, “Get in touch with the feudal officials Zhou Gongjin and Yang Jiye, and tell them that I’m inviting them for a visit to my homeland at the end of the year. As for the other great officials… I’ll mull over it a little bit more before extending my invite to them.”
Qin Ye was naturally oblivious to the matters taking place in the great hall after he left.
As soon as he stepped out of the ship’s cabin, the first thing he saw was Arthis waiting for him.
“You’re still alive?”
“Why can’t I be alive?” Qin Ye gave Arthis a look of ridicule, before lowering his voice to a whisper, “I know what you’re going to ask, but now’s not the time nor place for such discussions. We’ll speak more once we’re out of this place.”
Arthis naturally had no objections to that. Dawn hadn’t risen, and the lands were still dark. Qin Ye transformed into his Hell’s Emissary state and promptly took off with Arthis, and it took them no more than forty minutes to arrive back at the hotel.
Thereafter, the lights in their room remained lit for the next two hours.
“You seriously managed to convince Emperor Wu of Song to visit us at the end of the year to ink the deal on the trade route and the strategic alliance?!” Arthis’ exclaimed in a shrill voice. She was filled with great disbelief.
Qin Ye picked at his ear in exasperation, “Calm down, calm down. There’s no reason to be kicking up a fuss.”
Yet, Arthis couldn’t help but find it all too unbelievable, “How is that possible… We’re talking about Emperor Wu of Song over here… How in the world did you manage to do it?!”
“Simple. By relying on facts and astute reasoning. He stands to benefit from this cooperation as well, so why wouldn’t he?” Qin Ye rolled his eyes.
“... Tell me intelligibly! Why did you have to invite him over to Hell at the end of this year?!”
“Alright.” Qin Ye slumped lazily back into his bed and rolled over, “Truth be told, I simply want them to take a look at the state which Hell is in right now.”
“Even a blind man can tell that Hell’s well on track to growth and prosperity. I also want them to understand that Lord Harken is right below the new Hell. Naturally, I wouldn’t actually allow them to get close enough to examine Hell proper. They wouldn’t dare to overstep their boundaries either. My intention is to stem any ambition for the arrogation of power in their hearts before they can take root. I’m almost certain that there would be feudal lords who are planning to use this opportunity to usurp the throne. Thus, I plan to borrow the lips of Emperor Wu of Song to declare to them once and for all that they can never afford to step on our toes!”
Arthis’ eyes flickered wildly - It’s certainly wise to stem the problem at its roots. And once that is done, we would never have to look over our shoulders again.
Otherwise… there might be an Emperor Wu of Song today, and then there could be another feudal lord tomorrow. In this regard, Arthis knew far better than even Qin Ye himself just how much of a handful they would be for Hell to handle. After all, she knew the exact identities of the feudal officials that had been assigned overseas by the old Hell!
Though few, each one of them were undoubtedly the best of the best!
Additionally, she knew the hidden implication of Qin Ye’s words - as long as they were able to consolidate these forces under their wings, then Hell’s strength would most certainly soar from height to height!
“Are you sure he will come?”
“Definitely. Because my proposal is one that he simply can’t refuse.” Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed, “Furthermore, I’m almost certain he won’t be coming alone. He’s also worried about his own safety. After all, ‘invincible’ means nothing in the face of a divine beast with a Yin energy reading of thirty million. He will most definitely be calling on the other feudal officials as well!”
4. A cave in Japanese mythology where the goddess of light is said to have hidden, thereby depriving the world of light. I gather from the context that this has to do with where Izanami is located, or perhaps allows access to where Izanami’s home is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amano-Iwato