Qin Ye heart shrank back in fear, “T-t-t-the Book of Life and Death is a sentient artifact?! Just like Ming Shiyin?!”
The future King Yanluo clenched his buttcheeks tightly in fear, to the great amusement of a certain wicked Judge. Moments later, she rolled her eyes, “Not really.”
Qin Ye coughed in embarrassment, before turning back to his ghostly citizens, addressing them with a sonorous voice almost twice as loud as before, “That concludes the first order of matters, and I’ll go on to announce the second order of matters - I hereby declare that in one month’s time, at the induction ceremony of the Book of Life and Death, we shall be establishing Hell’s first armed battalion, which shall also be known as Hell’s First Battalion. It shall be led by Mr Oda Nobunaga. Everyone, please welcome him with a round of applause.”
Unfortunately, no applause was forthcoming at all.
All of the Yin spirits simply began to glance at each other - What’s going on? Everyone knew full well who Oda Nobunaga was, but they simply couldn’t wrap their minds around why he was appointed the battalion head of Hell’s First Battalion of all people!
The atmosphere soon grew awkward.
Fortunately, Oda Nobunaga didn’t take it to heart. Instead, he solemnly walked up beside Qin Ye, and then bowed deeply to the gathering of Yin spirits before addressing them with reasonable language proficiency, “My name is Oda Nobunaga. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Thank you.”
Clap clap clap… Su Dongxue winked and immediately began to clap, rousing nothing more than sparse applause from the audience. However, Qin Ye promptly raised both of his hands to silence the crowd, “I know that everyone must be confused by the sudden turn of events. But, here’s the thing - because of the collapse of the old Hell, all of the famous generals across the history of Cathay have already been whisked off into paradise by Lord Ksitigarbha. Moreover, Hell presently only receives Yin spirits located within the City of Salvation. In other words, we simply don’t have access to any battle-hardened generals at this point in time.”
Then, his voice deepened, and he continued with gravitas, “We’re going to be receiving several formal feudal officials as guests in Hell at the end of this year. But this shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity for prosperity or friendship. The world of underworlds has no room for friendship. The only common language that every underworld speaks is that of strength and weakness. If these feudal officials see that the new Hell is feeble and powerless, and completely without troops at the end of this year, you should be able to guess what will happen soon after.”
The bombshell news that Qin Ye suddenly dropped caused the entire gathering of citizens to gasp in shock and exchange glances of horror. They were completely lost for words.
Hell… isn’t the only underworld around?
The pain and suffering of war… might afflict and plague Hell?
“Will they… invade us?” One of the citizens standing at the front blurted out in disbelief. Having experienced peace and prosperity in Cathay over the last few decades, the present news came as a rude awakening to them.
“Most certainly.” This time, it was Oda Nobunaga who spoke up with great certainty, “Complacency has caused even the strongest of empires to fall - including the Qing Dynasty that existed just a century or so ago. They must have thought that they were strong and mighty, and Cathay would be impervious to foreign invasion back then.”
Qin Ye built on what Oda Nobunaga had said, “Therefore, it is imperative that we increase our strength so that outsiders don’t covet our lands with great avarice! None can be trusted. We have no choice but to view all outsiders with great vigilance! After all, we’re the only ones who can protect our own lands!”
“We didn’t have a general, so I traveled far and wide to the reaches of Nippon to locate a great daimyo who was willing to pledge his allegiance to us. We don’t have an army, so we sought out the legacy of the old Hell for solutions. Everything was done so that we could speak with other underworlds with our backs straight! Everything was done so that we don’t have to be kicked around and looked down upon by others! Now, tell me, does anyone still have any objections to the establishment of Hell’s First Battalion?!”
Seconds later… “No!” “Not at all!” “We’re in complete support of it!” “We’re fully behind it! Your Majesty is right! Nations without armies won’t be looked upon as a nation at all. As Cathay rises in the mortal realm, Hell cannot fall behind either!”
There was a thunderous clamor. Arthis glanced at Qin Ye discreetly - As expected… those who’ve lived through war and strife have a great fire in their bellies. Qin Ye’s methods may be unorthodox, he can’t do any wrong when it comes to these things.
The pain and suffering from decades ago was still fresh in the minds of the citizens around. After all, those who had risen from the ashes back then could never forget the sight that had been etched in the deepest recesses of their hearts. In that very instant, several citizens who found their hearts deeply stirred by Qin Ye’s message secretly made up their minds to do anything it took to be conscripted into Hell’s First Battalion.
Qin Ye knew that he had made the problem patently clear to everyone. That said, he knew that this was still insufficient.
Wars will invariably lead to death, and nobody wants to die. ‘For the greater good’ isn’t a good enough reason to convince the masses to fight and bleed. For that, I’ll need more.
“Silence.” He suppressed the stirring emotions in his heart and continued, “It’s only going to be a matter of time before Hell squares off against other underworlds, factions and Yin spirits in wars, battles and skirmishes. Our army isn’t going to be one for mere show of power and deterrence. Sacrifice is inevitable. And it is precisely because of that that I give you my word to honour those who are willing to step up! Firstly, on the day that Hell’s First Battalion is inaugurated, I’ll also commission the construction of a monument right in front of Hell’s Gate where the names of all Yin soldiers who have perished in the line of duty shall be recorded. This is an everlasting honour and glory that shall belong to you and you alone! No matter how large Hell gets in future, the Martyr’s Monument shall always remain right in front of Hell’s Gate!”
Qin Ye was intent on honouring the profession of warriors and soldiers! Make it a glorious thing to join the army! The mortal realm was doing something similar, but Qin Ye felt that it wasn’t quite enough. After all, how many unsung heroes of wars or anti-narcotics officers were there who were silently martyred in the line of duty each year? Their life’s work should be celebrated, and not fall into obscurity!
The mortal realm had failed to place sufficient emphasis on the establishment of ideological norms during the nascent period of Cathay’s reformation. Unfortunately, it was already too late by the time they realized their mistake. Hell was modelling its government after Cathay reformative efforts, yet… they didn’t have to take the exact same path.
Qin Ye knew all too well the tragedy of capitalism and the deification of money and wealth. After all, he had experienced the reformative and transformative process in full back then, and he had witnessed the days when society would even ignore an old man that had fallen down.
“Secondly, all soldiers shall be given first dibs on Qin Gardens Phase One. And if they perish in the line of duty, their property shall be held in abeyance for the benefits of their next-of-kin. Finally, the army shall be given priority over all entertainment and recreational facilities and amenities!”
Everyone was ostensibly surprised. Seconds later, countless hands shot up into the air, “I’d like to sign up!” “My life for Aiu--... Hell!!” “Applying to join Hell’s First Battalion!” “Is there an age limit to this?” “Do we need to have any prior experience in the army?”
The value ascribed to an item had to be presented in comparison with other objects of known value. This was the only way to effectively convey its value to the citizens. Otherwise, they might not even know the value of a diamond when presented with it.
As far as the citizens were concerned, they had been idling about for almost a year, and the carrot of entertainment and recreational amenities were no different from a godsend to them.
Furthermore, those who had slept under the stars and been exposed to the elements for a year would most certainly appreciate the value of a roof over their heads!
“Silence!” Qin Ye’s voice thundered, “All applicants are to approach Su Dongxue’s team of Death Inquisitors in two weeks to submit their applications. Now, we move on to the third order of business.”
“Naturally, this would pertain to the establishment of Hell’s Media Group.”
He cleared his throat, “I think everyone deserves to know and be constantly updated of the things we’ve done, and the things that we’re doing. Furthermore, there’s still the matter of the imperial court meeting that will be taking place at the end of the year. If we can successfully negotiate a deal with the other feudal officials, then that might lead to the bilateral opening of borders and the issuance of visas for foreign journalism. That way, you can all learn a little bit more about the world that we live in, what the other underworlds look like, why we have to establish Hell’s First Battalion, and the kinds of threats we’re truly facing.”
After forty more minutes of spirited speech, he finally wrapped up the main orders of business with a dry and parched throat.
“Finally, I’ll be setting up ten Community Suggestion Boxes.” He pressed on despite the hoarseness of voice, “All who have good suggestions may post them into these chests. We’ll collect them every Mondays and I’ll personally vet through all of them. However, please note that only suggestions should be posted - not complaints! All offenders will be punished severely.”
Whew… It’s finally over. He massaged his temples wearily. He had already given the citizens enough information to mull over for the next few weeks to come, and it was perfect to end on this note. Thus, he waved his hands, “That concludes the general meeting today. Back to work, everybody. Yin Construction needs all the help it can get. Hell will never shortchange those who have worked hard for its development.”
With that, the citizens dispersed.
That said, they invariably left in groups of threes to fives, discussing the matters announced with great excitement. Everyone could tell that Hell was approaching a period of soaring development. The year of desolate silence and dreariness had ended, and the initial batch of Southsea Huanghuali had opened up endless possibilities to Hell!
Was there anything to be afraid of when everything was starting on a clean slate?
The human race would never cease to exist, nor would underworlds perish forever. Most importantly, the citizens of Hell had begun to see that hope was real! They were assured of the fact that someone had their backs no matter what they did.
“I’d like everyone to take some time to digest the announcements I’ve made earlier.” Huang Liangchuan, Gu Qing and the Yin Construction division heads remained behind. Qin Ye rubbed his temples softly, “We’ll hold an inaugural meeting to discuss the five-year plan of Hell moving forward. All relevant personnel must be present.”
Gu Qing asked anxiously, “My Lord, are there any other projects left to consider? If not, I imagine that the focus right now would be on the implementation of the various tasks. Your earlier speech was excellent, but if we get down to the details, it seems that there’s much to be done.”
Qin Ye sighed, led the crowd back to the annex hall, and slumped back into the chair as he gazed vacantly at the ceiling, “I’m aware of that as well. But the first priority right now is to give Su Dongxue some time to organize the government. Besides…”
He straightened his back and looked sternly at all who were around, “Tomorrow’s meeting should only involve all who are already part of our present government.”
None of the ones present were daft, and they immediately understood that there was more to the meeting. Hu Feng probed further, “Is… there something of particular importance to discuss?”
“More so than today.” Qin Ye stood up and snorted coldly. A trace of murderous intent could be seen in the depths of his eyes, “Do you think that I’ve said everything today only to stir the passion and enthusiasm in the hearts of my citizens?”
Without missing a beat, he added, “No! The truth of the matter is that even I’m not aware of the exact number of feudal officials who will be visiting Hell at the end of this year. These visitors are in a way considered ‘our own’, and we naturally won’t be able to conceal the truth about Hell from them. But… if Hell doesn’t get its act sorted out soon enough, they would most certainly see us as no more than a delectable piece of meat. When that time comes… ‘our own’ might well become blades pointed straight at our hearts.”
He looked around at those in the annex hall, “There’s no such thing as true friendship between nations. The only thing of value are mutual interests and benefits. Since we don’t possess the ability to retain them as tributaries any longer, it would be prudent to release them on amicable terms. That said, mark my words - we will one day let them know that Hell is still their homeland!”
“And it’s precisely because of the pressure that ‘our own’ has placed on us that Mr Nobunaga and I have returned to the old Hell to retrieve some items.” Qin Ye waved his hand, and a large pile of Qiankun Pouches appeared on the table, “These pouches contain some of the most important parts of the old Hell’s legacy. You can delegate your regular work to others, but sorting out Hell’s legacy is something you absolutely have to do personally! We cannot afford to get third parties involved!”
“Incidentally, this period of time coincides with the summer vacation in the First Academy of Cultivators, where I am located back in the mortal realm. I’ll split the workload with all of you. Furthermore, nothing is more urgent than reviewing the designs from Hell’s legacy and picking out the most suitable armor and weapons for production right now.”
“After all…” Qin Ye’s voice deepened, “It’s no more than six months until the end of the year…”
There were priorities. And given the circumstances, one of the most important things to do right now is to enable Oda Nobunaga to train an elite force for the imperial court meeting at the end of the year!
After all, power and authority flows from the barrel of a gun.
“Understood.” Everyone looked up with great sobriety. They had a vested interest in Hell’s sustenance and development, and they would never betray Hell. Gu Qing muttered, “Then, let’s start by getting acquainted with these things. My Lord, where shall we begin?”
“With this.” Qin Ye picked up a Qiankun Pouch and opened it eagerly. Truth be told, this was something he had already wanted to do back in the old Hell.
His Yin energy flowed into the pouch, and it promptly opened up. Then… a tiny one-inch map flew out from the pouch, before slowly expanding in front of everyone’s eyes. Within moments, it expanded fully to the size of ten by three meters! Incredible!
It was a map of the East Continent, with various colours and markings decorating the entire map. Oda Nobunaga’s eyes gleamed brightly, and then he promptly turned around and bellowed, “Murai-kun, immediately stand guard outside the door. Nobody is to come in. Kill all who refuse to comply!”
Murai Sadakatsu left, and everyone else began to study the map. One by one, their eyes widened with great disbelief at the familiar names that were marked on the map!
These were none other than the names of the feudal officials!Previous Chapter Next Chapter