Qin Ye didn’t dally any longer. He was invigorated with great passion right now.
However, he knew he had to suppress the excitement in his heart. After all, he was still on the plane right now, and he had to take every advantage of the situation to run through and carefully analyze his plans once more.
The imperial court meeting had just been given a whole new complexion to it. Qin Ye secretly vowed to himself to rise to the occasion and deliver such an outstanding showing that it would completely silence the twelve envoys - especially Liu Jinu. And then, he would make them willingly open up their borders and establish a trade corridor between the underworlds of Cathay and Daehan.
“Not enough… Hell still isn’t sufficient right now…”
“Our goals are too scattered. We need more clarity. For now, we should focus on streamlining and tackling one or two crucial issues before the end of the year. For instance, since we’re going to become arms dealers as soon as the trade route is open, then the first thing that we should focus on is developing a set of armor!”
“I’d oversimplified matters earlier. Things like armor require more than just the carapace of the blight vermin. I’ll still have to consider matters such as the cords to be used, and the skill of my craftsmen, and so on. I should suspend all other research and the less important construction works to focus on the development of the armor. That way… we’ll be able to produce something truly exquisite by the end of the year - something that will cause the eyes of the twelve envoys to burn with envy.”
He opened his eyes and stared at the white walls around him. This was the first time he had been so calm and composed in his entire life. After all, it was the first time he had of his own volition decided to put his best foot forward to do something.
He was going all out!
Qin Ye had always left himself a way out or an exit strategy. Even at the battle of the Strait of Tsushima, he always had the option of abandoning the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl and retreating on his own. But this time… was the first time he truly wanted to give it his all, and leave no regrets.
Life was filled with complexities and choices. A hundred years wasn’t a long time, but neither was it short.
Nobody could love him. After all, he could at best only be a part of their lives for five to six years, before he would have to start afresh in order to leave no traces behind.
Not only would it leave a lingering regret in the heart of his loved one, it would also leave an indelible mark in the deepest parts of his heart. The more of these there were, the more tender his heart would grow, and the more vulnerable he would be to the vicissitudes of life.
Thus, he learned to harden his heart instead. He learnt to laugh at what life had in store for him, and he learnt to live a carefree life. After all, his interactions with the people around would only last for a handful of years at best, so what reason was there not to live an unbridled, unrestrained life? And then, they would part ways after a few years, knowing and recognizing their existence from afar, but never to interact again. Just like that, he would silently watch over them, silently think about them… until they silently pass away.
And yet, amidst these thoughts of resignation, he had finally found the one strand of hope for a relationship that stands the test of time. The world was only so large. Qin Ye refused to believe that someone ageless and immortal like himself would be unable to locate a single person!
His thoughts drifted into the distant future as he continued to murmur to himself, “If I want the Lord of Hanyang to locate someone for me, I’m afraid it’s not going to be enough to leave things status quo. After all, the new Hell is a far cry from what the underworld of Hanyang currently is. He’ll at least have to treat me as an esteemed guest or an equal if I’m going to be able to broach such a request to him. In other words, I’ll need sufficient strength and status!”
“And this is especially the case if I want to assure the safety of the person I’m looking for. In other words, I’ll need them to treat me with the utmost respect, almost as though they’re looking at the god of wealth in their own lands. For that, it’s not going to be enough to be an ordinary arms dealer. I’ll have to bring out something that they absolutely cannot live without!”
His eyes gleamed brightly, and he gradually sank into the mires of his thoughts and considerations. As he mulled over these things, the plane slowly began its descent into the City of Salvation.
Zhou Xianlong and his entourage of people were already waiting to receive them at the airport as soon as they arrived. They expressed their deepest condolences for the passing of Wang Chenghao. The academy held a memorial service for him, and every single student attended it.
Ye Xingchen gently bit his lips as he stood in the crowd in silence. Everything seemed rather surreal to him.
This was his first true friend in the mortal realm after all.
He was born to a family of cultivators. When he matriculated in the First Academy of Cultivators, he was assigned to the same room as Wang Chenghao. They would from time to time cook instant noodles in the dark after lights out, discuss the films that they had watched, and even trained together. And yet… Wang Chenghao was gone just like that.
Qin Ye was also given leave for a month, and told to rest in his own dorm room. Several members of the SRC even personally made the trip down to check on his wounds. After all, the multitude of instruments and devices while he was on the plane had picked up on the anomalous condition that his body was plagued with, and it was simply outrageous that they weren’t able to spot any traces of the injuries that were causing him such immense, excruciating pain. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they tried, none were able to discover anything amiss.
Since there were people coming and going to and from his room everyday, Qin Ye developed the habit of sleeping during the day, and waking up only at 9.00 p.m. to return to the new Hell to deal with Hell’s affairs. After all, if someone were present when he suddenly pulled out a pile of documents for his approval, he wouldn’t be able to explain himself.
Whoosh… Back in Hell, Qin Ye sat right in front of his desk, sorting through stacks after stacks of documents. It was now already mid-October, almost a month since his return to the City of Salvation. Naturally, the date of the imperial court meeting drew closer and closer.
The SRC had already withdrawn their medical facilities and personnel back in the mortal realm. To make matters worse, the Talisman of Life and Death had triggered a second time while Qin Ye was in Hell, afflicting him with pain that was worse than death itself. Fortunately, with suppressive effects of the Book of Life and Death, there was no threat to life and limb just yet.
“Lord Qin.” Su Dongxue walked in and knocked on his door, “All the ministers are here, and there’s not a single absentee. Shall we convene the meeting now?”
Qin Ye put on a pair of glasses. He had been reading too much recently, so much so that his eyes were getting slightly dazed. He adjusted his glasses and responded softly, “Let’s begin.”
Su Dongxue was now the first Secretary General of Hell. She bowed and left. And then, within moments, a dozen or so people entered, including Arthis, Wang Chenghao and Oda Nobunaga.
“Take a seat.” Qin Ye nodded, and everyone took their seats promptly. Arthis and Wang Chenghao glanced at Qin Ye, and they registered a slight measure of shock in their hearts.
It’s only been a month…
Qin Ye had always been maintaining a noble and cold persona. And what exactly did that mean? It meant that it was the impression that others got from the way in which he carried himself. It wasn’t particularly reflective of his own personality.
But everything was now different.
Even Arthis could sense that Qin Ye exuded a far greater aura of dignity than before. It was still noble and cold, yet it was no longer a mere pretension. Instead, they had begun to tell that it was now part and parcel of his identity in Hell.
“Indeed… the power of love is immeasurable… No, perhaps I should say that anyone can achieve such a measure of growth as long as they steel their convictions and put their best foot forward…” Arthis secretly sighed as she sat upright. She was the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister of Hell. How could she still be fooling around if King Yanluo of Hell was being so prim and proper? Wouldn’t that amount to impudence?
“I’ve read everyone’s reports.” Qin Ye picked up a document and signalled for the secretary beside him to pass it around, “This is the first diplomatic instrument of Hell that has been drawn up by our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Li Mohan, and it seeks to summon the twelve envoys back to Hell to participate in the imperial court meeting. Please take a look. If there are no strenuous objections to it, we’ll be sending it to the various envoys in early November.”
This was the first act of foreign diplomacy in the history of the new Hell! Everyone naturally knew that they couldn’t afford to make any mistakes with this!
Thus, they looked through its contents very carefully, and they also raised points for discussion from time to time. Then, only when every crinkle had been ironed out, did they finally return the document to the front. Qin Ye knocked the table gently, “Any other objections?”
There was silence.
“Very well. Let’s finalize this version and have it printed. Agent Li Jixi shall be personally responsible for dispatching these documents.” He set the documents back in place, while the scribes around him quickly recorded the minutes of the meetings. Then, after a few moments of silence, he continued, “Twenty days ago, I asked everyone to suspend their works and direct the best craftsmen and workers to the design and development of the best style of armor and methods of production. I’d like an update on that.”
A female ghost stood up. She was Wang Shu, the Minister of Logistics. In life, she used to be the vice mayor of the Annan City, Insignia Province. When she passed on, she was transported back to be buried in her hometown at the City of Salvation, where she was picked up by the new Hell.
“Lord Qin, I’ve finished making the arrangements. We’ve got several professors who are adept in the field of research. We’ve also got several chemists and physicists who have been transferred to work under Mr Oda’s charge. That said, might I suggest undertaking a more holistic developmental work? It might appear as though there isn’t much progress right now, but… as soon as the construction work is done, and the engineering industry takes off proper, that’s when we’ll start to see things properly taking shape around Hell. Most of the issues faced by the other industries have been resolved by these key members of their respective industries. To have them suddenly transferred out might unduly hinder the progress of developmental works in other fields.”
Qin Ye nodded.
That said, he was selfish. After all, who was to say that the King Yanluo of Hell couldn’t be selfish?
“I’ve got my own reasons for this.” Qin Ye responded placidly, “Burgeoning industries would never be able to support the existence of an army. I’m afraid none of you here understands what wars among Yin soldiers entail. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing it once. Let me put it differently, why do you think the feudal officials are returning at the end of the year?”
He paused and glanced at his ministers with an impassioned gaze, “They’re here to suss things out! They’re here to pry at our weaknesses! They’re here to see if we still possess the ability to suppress them and keep them in check!”
“I’ve re-assessed the considerations just a little while ago, and the most important thing right now… is to bare our fangs!”
“In other words, we need to show off our military prowess!”
“It might appear as though we’re too focused on the military right now, but the benefits to Hell as a whole would never be less than focusing on a holistic development on Hell!”
Wang Shu didn’t push her point. Given her extensive involvement in the political scene, she knew far better than anyone here the dangers of speaking out of place. After all, only the ones at the top of the organizations would know the full extent of considerations involved before they set their minds on a particular course of action.
Thus, she commenced with her report, “It has been 28 days since Lord Qin’s orders. We’ve since embarked on the study of various sets of armor based on the information that we’ve gleaned from the old Hell’s legacy. To this end, we excluded from our study all armors that are empowered by talismans. Our findings are as follows.”
“One. Such military armor and weapons can only be forged in a special building called the Hall of Tremors. This is Minister Arakshasa’s field of expertise. Otherwise, there’s simply no way to cut the blight vermin’s carapace into shape. Incidentally, the Hall of Tremors gives us access to a special forging process that is unique to Hell.”
“Two. The joinery of the armor is done using plant fibers. Plants that exist in the netherworld are completely different from those that exist in the mortal realm. Most importantly, they contain fibers that are incredibly tough and yet extremely soft and malleable. Taking into account the advice of Mr Murai from the research division, we’ve decided to use the fibers found in the stalk of the Paramnesia Flower. The effects are quite remarkable. To summarize, we’ll need to cut the blight vermin carapace to shape in the Hall of Tremors, and then assemble the pieces using the plant fibers. Theoretically speaking, we’re ready for production. But I’m afraid that the actual speed of production won’t be too high.”
Qin Ye frowned, “What’s the estimated speed?”
“If we mobilize ten thousand Yin spirits in the production process, we’ll be able to manufacture three hundred sets in three days. And this would be considered an optimistic estimation.”
That’s a little on the low side… Qin Ye tapped his finger on the desk. All twelve envoys have at least five thousand Yin soldiers under their command. Even if only six of the twelve sought independence, that would still mean thirty thousand soldiers to equip with armor. That was an order that would easily take a year to fulfill. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the envoys that must have begun to assemble their own forces after hearing nothing from Hell over the last hundred or so years. Just like Liu Jinu.
I’m afraid that a reasonable estimate might easily be in the region of sixty thousand instead…
Once doubled, the production would easily take two to three years. Such dismal speeds would spell an extended equipping process, a commensurately low rate of cash flow, and a poor reputation to start things off. It might even lead to complaints and grievances.
What if… we explore the premium boutique route instead?
This was an idea that had just occurred to Qin Ye, and he immediately slammed the table with a bright glint in the depths of his eyes.
Everyone turned to look at him somewhat curiously. However, he didn’t mind. Instead, he simply continued to explore the notion further in his mind.
That’s right… we can go with the premium boutique route. I’ve been so fixated on the twelve possible trade routes that I’ve completely forgotten about… the Yin spirits that I’ve been trying to transact with.
These are all Yin spirits who have been feudal officials for centuries on end, yet the ones who have actually kept with the times would be few and far between! I mean, just take a look at Liu Jinu!
They’ve got their own pride, so… they might even be slightly snobbish and snide about Cathay’s present lack of attention to their heritage and ancient culture. If that’s the case… we can use it to our great advantage!
Sure, some aspects of modern day society may be undesirable, but there had to be good reasons for which it was still called progress.
For instance… the existence of luxury goods.
In other words, Qin Ye was thinking of branding himself as the LV of arms dealers!Previous Chapter Next Chapter