Whoosh… Qin Ye glanced down at the forest below. It was easily apparent that the further he travelled from Hell’s Gate, the lower the proportion of Southsea Huanghuali trees there were in the forest. He gulped excitedly and asked cautiously, “Hey Arthis… Do you even have a driver’s license? I’m not too comfortable with the fact that you’ve suddenly taken the wheel on this road trip…”
Arthis smiled faintly. A split second later, her trajectory changed from a smooth parabolic arc into that of a characteristic Brownian movement, and Qin Ye cried out miserably.
Qin Ye’s face was already incomparably pale with fright by the time they touched down a few minutes later.
“Eh? You’re afraid of heights?”
Nodding, Qin Ye clutched at his chest and gasped for air as he stared at Arthis with great displeasure, “So have you seen me fly around Hell to begin with? Hell, I don’t even dare to get anywhere close to the window seats on a plane!”
Hell was his underworld. In other worlds, he was akin to the god of that realm, and flying was naturally within the ambit of his abilities. Yet, it was only when Arthis addressed her mind to it that she finally noticed how Qin Ye had never ever truly taken flight in his own realm before!
Arthis’ eyes gleamed brightly in an instant, almost as though they were filled with a mother’s tender love, almost as though she were saying - “Tsk, tsk, tsk, look at how stubborn our cute, widdle Yanluo is!”
“... What kind of a devilish look is that? Forget it… I can’t be bothered with you anymore. Can we please focus on what tree this is instead?!”
The duo were already standing right in front of the forest of silvery-white trees. They took a deep breath, and began to scrutinize the trees.
These were… banyan trees.
At least, they looked that way.
The entire forest of these white trees spanned at least ten square kilometers of land! The size of the forest itself was already larger than twice the size of what Hell used to be before the great expansion.
However, it wasn’t the sheer vastness of the forest that surprised them. Rather, it was the fact that a colossal super-tree rose straight out of the heart of the forest, and the diameter of its trunk was easily at least a hundred meters!
In fact, it wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to say that approximately 70% of the total area occupied by the entire forest was covered by the thick, bushy canopy of the super-tree itself! The rest of the forest comprised of far smaller “banyan” trees, each of which appeared to hold up bushy leaves that contributed to the thick, silvery canopy above.
Its bark was black, while its leaves were white. Each and every piece of leaf from the super-tree was approximately the same size as the human face. Its age was unknown, but it was easily apparent that the colossal tree had probably seen a fair number of years. Innumerable branches extended out of the colossal trunk, while gnarly roots intertwined endlessly along the ground like the majestic dance of dragons. The crown of the super-tree extended outwards in a chaotic yet elegant fashion. Anyone standing under the canopy of the super-tree would immediately feel as though he were being embraced by the forest.
“Banyan trees are known for their massive crowns, some of which can even be twenty times as wide as the width of its trunk. But, that said… this is on a completely different level…” Qin Ye drew a deep breath and looked around at its surroundings. Beams of light peeked through the dense canopy of leaves, casting a dark shadow onto the forest floor below. It had to be mentioned that Hell’s sun was different from that in the mortal realm - its light was dim, and it did not emanate any warmth at all.
Just then, Arthis pointed to the distance, “That’s not all… Take a look.” Qin Ye looked over, and his jaws dropped with great incredulity, “That’s… Are you telling me that the smaller ‘banyan’ trees around are all in fact no more than the aerial roots of the super-tree in the middle? Doesn’t that mean that…”
The entire forested area spanning ten square kilometers was the result of a single super-tree!
The main trunk had a circumference of a hundred meters, while it stood as tall as eight-hundred meters in height! This was practically akin to the megaflora of the prehistoric ages! Not even Qin Ye could hold back his great astonishment right now!
It stood majestically in front of his eyes like a glorious mountain range, while the silvery-white canopy of leaves were like the boundless oceans.
How large exactly was ten square kilometers?
To put things into perspective, it would be the same size as half of the area occupied by the average county-city.
After staring dumbfounded at the incredible sight, Qin Ye finally managed to retract his gaze and sigh with amazement, “My goodness… Is this going to be one of the most idyllic places in Hell in future?”
The forest floor was already covered with layer after layer of its silver-white leaves. They appeared pristine and untouched, almost like a layer of newly fallen snow. There was even a somewhat pure and holy aura about it. Coupled with the super-tree that rose straight from the ground, Qin Ye couldn’t help but feel as though… he were already in paradise.
It was simply unfathomable that one could witness such a magnificent sight in Hell!
The two exchanged glances awkwardly, wondering how they should deal with the startling changes in Hell. But it was right at that moment that they both heard a series of footsteps behind them - the surveying team, Gu Qing, Huang Liangchuan, as well as the seven division heads had all rushed over as quickly as they could. Yet, like Qin Ye and Arthis, the trailing team was completely thunderstruck by the spectacle before them.
“Dear heavens… A-are these banyan trees?” “How could there possibly be such a massive banyan tree?!” “I’d thought for a moment there that I was transported into a fantasy realm…” “This… is just beautiful… It’s unbelievable… It’s not even something you’d be able to dream of back in the mortal realm!”
There were gasps of shock and surprise everywhere. Meanwhile, Qin Ye massaged his brows and put on a high and noble persona once more, “Silence.”
Everyone immediately quietened down and formed up in ranks before him. And then, he sighed, “Everyone, we’ve got a massive problem in front of us right now.”
“What are we going to do about this tree?”
Everyone immediately understood where he was coming from. But the more they thought about it, the more they furrowed their brows.
Indeed, how should one deal with the super-tree?
If this landscape formed part of the mortal realm, then needless to say, it would be classified as one of the greatest wonders of the world that would undoubtedly be on everyone’s bucket lists! It wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to call it a divine tree or the tree of gods! And there’s no telling just how many Cathayans and foreign tourists would travel from far and wide just to “make a pilgrimage”.
After all, a great banyan so large that it could cover an entire city was practically the stuff of legends and myths!
And there was no reason why Hell should treat it any differently!
This would be the first scenic sight in Hell. All they had to do would be to enclose the entire space within, and then select a few entry points. That would almost guarantee them a steady stream of visitors!
Everyone was already sick and tired of seeing Hell’s Gate looming tall and majestic over the lands, right underneath the dark canopy of the skies and the constellations of eerie netherflames. The abrupt appearance of such an enthralling sight was like a breath of fresh air altogether! One could only imagine the brimming thrill and excitement in the hearts of all Yin spirits who couldn’t wait to explore these unchartered territories.
In fact, with a size that large, one could even consider hollowing out a part of it to make a suspended tree house in the forest… And there wouldn’t even be an issue with building a tree house right at the top of the super-tree, because its colossal trunk would certainly have room for a giant, spiral staircase leading straight up to its peak. In fact, this would create a completely unprecedented experience that not even the mortal realm would have dreamt about! It was the stuff of fantasies! The mere prospects of it made their hearts thump wildly.
The appearance of the super-tree would most certainly support the establishment of the monetary system. In fact, it would even kickstart the internal tourism industry with a first wave of hype, giving the government a great boost to its income revenue. The first scenic location in Hell had far greater implications than merely that of a beautiful sight.
What if the super-tree was also a specialty produce?
For instance… What if it bore fruit?
Banyan trees are fruit-bearing trees after all. As far as Hell’s banyan tree was concerned, there simply wasn’t telling where the fruits would be borne, whether on branches or leaves, or even attached to the trunk directly. And who was to say that the fruits wouldn’t be useful?
Or how long it would take to even bear fruit?
And what if Hell only discovered later on that the fruits were incredibly useful? If they had already developed the entire region into a tourism destination, wouldn’t they have to forbid or restrict further entry to the region? And wouldn’t that incur the wrath of the citizens and incite public outcry? This would be a huge problem unless they could launch a second tourism destination at the exact same time to placate the citizens. But… the present great expansion was a result of the massive amounts of Yin energy that Hell was imbibed with through the induction of the Book of Life and Death, and the next great expansion of Hell would only take place at least fifty to sixty years later. How would they deal with the situation if a public outcry were to take place before then?
And even if the specialty produce didn’t lie in fruits, could it possibly lie in its wood or flowers?
The work to be done was hardly as simple with mere planning prior to implementation. It required far more from everyone, reviewing their plans and considering all possible alternatives at every step of the way.
Nobody spoke up. It was clear that this was a good thing. The only question was how much of a good thing was it. After ten minutes of mulling over the matter, Gu Qing finally broke the silence, “Why don’t we… take a closer look at it for now and see if we can identify anything useful off the cuff?”
Arthis responded somewhat disparagingly, “Are you sure you’ll even be able to discover anything given the current state of Hell’s research industry?”
“If we can’t find anything useful now, we can still treat it as a tourism destination.” Qin Ye finally made the call, “We’ll need consistency in our policies if we are to earn the trust of our citizens. The first tourism destination in Hell will not only support the establishment of the system of currency, it will even kickstart tourism and plant the seed for the budding hotel and food and beverage industries…”
He turned and gazed deeply at the great banyan tree - What a pity… Given its size and the circumstances surrounding its appearance, there has to be something extraordinary about it. We absolutely have to find out what exactly it is. Unfortunately… Hell doesn’t even have a laboratory for these purposes right now!
We need talent! We can never have too much talent in Hell! If only there were some scientists, life sciences experts, and botanists around. I would do everything it takes to keep the great banyan tree off-limits until the laboratory is set up!
Unfortunately, he didn’t have such talent in Hell.
So, rather than to sit around and engage in pointless speculation, he would rather secure the immediate benefit that was staring him straight in the eye.
Nobody had any objections.
“Since we’re the ones in charge of Hell right now, and the government isn’t quite fully functional just yet, I’d suggest coming to a consensus by a show of hands.” Arthis wasn’t too well-versed in the matters of governance and policies, but she knew that things wouldn’t go too wrong as long as she stuck close to Qin Ye’s decisions.
Qin Ye was the first to raise his hand, “I suggest that we conduct a week-long investigation and inspection of the great banyan tree. If we’re unable to come to any form of conclusions within the week, or if it becomes apparent to us that we won’t be able to find the answers we’re looking for within the week, then we’ll start making preparations to establish the tourism industry, and launch this place as a tourism destination. We’ll also start establishing a centralized hotel system and catering company for food and beverages. These are my proposals.”
Everyone exchanged glances, before hands slowly rose into the air, “Seconded.” “Agreed.” “This is probably the best way moving forward right now.” “No objections.”
Qin Ye began to count the hands in the air - One… two… three… ten hands. That’s about ri--... Hang on--
“Where’s Huang Liangchuan?” He furrowed his brows, “Is he objecting to my proposal? What’s the reason for that?”
There were eleven people gathered in this place, yet only ten hands had been raised into the air. The only one who hadn’t given his approval was Huang Liangchuan.
But, upon closer inspection, Qin Ye soon discovered that the reason why there were only ten hands in the air right now was because Huang Liangchuan had run off somewhere - he wasn’t among the group right now.
“Bank President Huang.” Qin Ye’s voice grew cold, “What are you doing right now?”
Saying that Huang Liangchuan was afraid of Qin Ye or held Qin Ye in awe was too much of an understatement. As soon as he heard Qin Ye call out his name with a frigid tone of voice, his entire body trembled violently, and then he immediately grabbed a pile of leaves from the ground and ran back to where the group was.
“You’re…” Everyone stared at him with great disbelief. He was the man who had been avidly promoting the monetary system over the last month or so, and also the same person who was slated to be the next president of the central bank of Hell. And yet, here he was, with a handful of leaves, presenting himself with a disorganized appearance. His eyes were even slightly red because he had tripped over the roots after scrambling back too hastily.
That said, he was evidently excited - extremely excited.
Completely oblivious to the judgmental looks on him right now, Huang Liangchuan rushed before Qin Ye and began to explain himself with a trembling voice, “M-m-m-m-my Lord… t-t-t-the leaves…”
Qin Ye picked up a leaf from Huang Liangchuan’s hands in bewilderment.
It was smooth to the touch. In fact, it was so smooth that he couldn’t even feel the presence of any veins running through the leaf. This feeling… Qin Ye furrowed his brows. I’ve felt it before… but… where?
Suppressing the doubts in his heart, he took a closer inspection of the leaf in his hand. It was smooth as a mirror, and yet he could vaguely make out traces of fine, dense lines underneath the surface of the leaf.
In fact, he could see that the pattern of the veins weren’t messy at all. Rather, it was incredibly neat, and so fine that he wouldn’t have noticed them had he not strained his eye with such a close inspection.
The leaves felt magical, and yet he just couldn’t put a finger as to how exactly it was magical. Everyone frowned at Huang Liangchuan. They simply couldn’t understand what made him so excited that he wasn’t even able to speak properly anymore. Nevertheless, Huang Liangchuan continued to shiver with excitement and wave the leaves victoriously, “My lord… T-t-t-his… is money! It’s money!!”
“I’ve counted my fair share of money back in the mortal realm! T-t-t-this is definitely money!!!”
Everyone frowned even more deeply. Qin Ye remained unresponsive as well - Does he mean to exchange these things for money? With other powers? Who’s going to buy them? Arthis had mentioned previously that the specialty produce of every underworld is completely different from each other, and this is probably the first time that such a godly banyan tree has appeared, so how could anyone possibly know of its uses?
Hang on a minute…
Just then, Qin Ye’s eyes abruptly lit up, and he turned to look at the leaf in his hands once more, before raising his head to gaze into the massive crown hanging overhead. And then, goosebumps crept all over his skin!
“Are you saying that…” Qin Ye’s voice even grew slightly hoarse, “These leaves… are all…”
Huang Liangchuan nodded fiercely, and he responded with such great exhilaration that he was practically shouting at the top of his voice, “It’s banknote paper!! This is definitely cotton paper material!! Even if the quality is different, it feels exactly the same!!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter