It’s been a hundred years… That is to say, there are still a hundred and fifty years remaining…
Qin Ye rubbed his chin as he mused in thought - Would a hundred and fifty years be sufficient?
Would it be sufficient to round the bend and overtake the other vehicles that are in the lead right now?
In other words, he essentially had a hundred and fifty years to expand Hell across all nine million six hundred thousand square kilometers that Cathay spanned across. Furthermore, he would have to establish an undefeatable army and a strong economy so that Hell wouldn’t fall prey to the other underworlds as soon as their protective barrier vanishes. The fleeting thought of a coalition of underworlds rushing straight towards Hell instantly sent chills down Qin Ye’s spine!
Qin Ye tapped the table gently. After a long time, he finally murmured, “There’s no hope unless we can establish the trading port.”
Economy was the cornerstone of any powerful nation. Without money, everything they did would be no different from empty talk. Although their harvest this time was plentiful, it had to be said that such a harvest was only due to the imperial court meeting that occurred only once every fifty years. Besides… a harvest worth ten billion Yin spirit stones?
Cathay’s gross domestic product was in the region of trillions a year. This was hardly a drop in the ocean.
“Your Majesty is right.” Yu Qian nodded deeply, “The memorandum of understanding inked between the new Hell and Liu Yu sets a time limit of two years for the commencement of sea trade. If we can’t meet that timeline, the amount of damages we’ll have to pay would be exorbitant, and the new Hell might even have to enter liquidation. Hell is just starting to spread its wings, and we simply can’t afford to taint our name with such notoriety.”
“Two years…” Qin Ye sighed softly. Then, he coughed dryly and then probed further, “Do you think that there’s any viable means to get around the potential damages? What if we blacklist him on WeChat, or tell him that our phone has stopped working?”
There was a brief moment of silence.
Five seconds later, Yu Qian stared at Qin Ye as though he had just seen a ghost, “My lord… please refrain from entertaining such thoughts! This is the debut of a new Hell after all. What would people think of Hell if it reneges on the very first memorandum of understanding it signs? This is a mark that will forever taint Hell’s image! How are we supposed to carry out negotiations with other underworlds in the future?”
Yang Jiye also added anxiously, “Your Majesty, we must not do so! This concerns the image of Hell as a whole, and it deserves the very best attention that Hell can give. Everything else must be put on the back burner. Either withhold our signature from the memorandum of understanding, or go all out in fulfilling it as soon as we’re committed to it! Hell simply cannot afford to taint its reputation right off the cuff!”
“I’m just kidding…” Qin Ye pouted slightly - Why are the two of them getting so uptight? What spoilsports… Where is their sense of humour? Do they really think I’m someone like that?
Eh? Come to think of it… I guess they’re not wrong to suggest that I’m shameless…
Yu Qian and Yang Jiye were aware that Hell had far too many things to work through right now. Thus, they sensibly cupped their hands to Qin Ye, “Lord Qin, if there’s nothing else you have for us, we’ll be making a move first. Licchavi and Felipinas need their leader. Rest assured, if anything happens to Hell…”
Both men turned to Zhou Yu at the same time, only to realize that he was simply fanning himself casually without a single expression of concern on his face.
“We’ll personally march back for Hell!"
“Good. Hell has a multitude of affairs to deal with, so I won’t be sending you off. I wish you all a safe journey back.”
Both men bowed deeply, and then promptly took their leave.
With that, Zhou Yu and Qin Ye were the only two remaining in the room.
Neither said a single word, and it remained just like that for some time until Qin Ye finally broached the first question, “Lord Zhou, why haven’t you left yet?”
Zhou Yu stood up, pulled out a scroll from his bosom and offered it to Qin Ye respectfully with both hands, “Lord Yanluo, I’ve come in a hurry this time, and have thus failed to bring the tribute with me. This is the list of tributes from the Tangming underworld for the last one hundred years. I’ve already sent out a messenger bird last night, and I estimate that the goods should arrive in the new Hell in the next ten days’ time.”
Fire God Zhou Yu, the man who single handedly torched eight hundred thousand troops in one fell swoop. He was considered one of the best, even among the twelve envoys.
So… what reason was there for the sudden change in attitude?
Qin Ye received the scroll, unraveled it and then began to read through its contents. His eyes immediately gleamed brightly. Then, he continued scanning through its contents for the next five minutes, before finally turning to Zhou Yu, “Lord Zhou… is this… a peace offering?”
“One hundred and twenty trunks of secret virtue, fifteen ocean treading beasts, one hundred thousand tonnes of Yin spirit stones…” Qin Ye slowly rolled up the scroll, shut his eyes and then murmured with a soft voice, “What is it that you’re looking for?”
Zhou Yu smiled faintly, “The Tangming underworld hopes that we can scratch each others’ backs. If Lord Qin is willing, I’ll be willing to send a merchant fleet to the harbor city in two years’ time as well.”
Zhou Yu is far craftier than what was reported in the history books!
What he was doing was essentially showing Hell some attitude. He might appear to be standing on Hell’s side, but it was also clear that he wasn’t willing to oppose Liu Yu’s faction, especially since Hell was undoubtedly weaker than Liu Yu’s faction as they stood right now. That said, it was also clear from the imperial court meeting that Hell had great potential, and it was anyone’s guess what could happen in the next hundred years. Thus, he was clearly doing all of this in order to keep his options open. In other words, he wanted to see just how much the heavens would favour the development of the new Hell.
He also knew full well that Hell wasn’t strong enough to do anything about the attitude he was showing, much less fall out with a feudal official of the old Hell. Besides, there wasn’t any pretext under which Qin Ye could do anything to him in any event, especially when his attitude took the form of goodwill to Hell.
This way, if Hell indeed grows powerful enough to be able to deal with the twelve envoys in a hundred years’ time, and while he might not be conferred a title as high as Yu Qian or Yang Jiye, he most certainly wouldn’t meet with a fate as terrible as Liu Yu and the rest of his faction. But if the new Hell gets razed to the ground a hundred years later, then… he would at the very least be able to preserve his title and the rest of his life.
Everything about the future was unknown, and he wasn’t ready to commit to a single position just yet.
“Sitting on the fence guarantees my survival no matter what eventuality occurs.” Zhou Yu didn’t resent the fact that Qin Ye had called out his true agenda. Instead, he simply smiled back, “Besides, in order to express my sincerity, I’ve made some special arrangements over and above the tribute list that I’ve offered to Lord Qin. To this end, I’ve arranged for the Lan Xang underworld to send twenty thousand sets of Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows replete with one million crossbow bolts to the new Hell.”
Qin Ye’s expressions finally shifted slightly.
The Karmic Fire Divine Crossbow… These were weapons that could be said to be Zhou Yu’s hidden trump cards, and they were the one and the same artifacts that Zhou Yu had earlier used to rebuff the other feudal officials right outside the entrance to the new Hell. Was he truly willing to send something so useful to Hell?
“What is it that you’re looking for?” Qin Ye asked for the second time.
Zhou Yu shook his head, “This is just a small token of appreciation that I’m sending to Lord Qin. So long as Lord Qin remembers what I’ve done for Hell today, I don’t need anything else in return.”
Next to the hawkish personalities of the feudal officials in Liu Yu’s faction, Zhou Yu was clearly more akin to a seemingly harmless dove.
The room was silent once again. This time, Qin Ye mulled over the matter for ten full minutes, before finally looking back up and shaking his head placidly, “There’s no need.”
“The new Hell has no use for any armaments right now. And even if we do, we could always make our own in the Hall of Tremors. Many thanks for the thought, Lord Zhou.”
With that, he quickly got to his feet.
Nevertheless, Zhou Yu promptly called out to Qin Ye before he could even take his leave, “Are you sure you don’t need it?”
Then, without missing a beat, Zhou Yu chuckled softly, as though his following words would be laden with deep, profound meaning, “Hell’s priority right now is to expand into other cities and develop new colonies. If you can’t establish a sea port city, every bit of headway made during the imperial court meeting would have been completely in vain.”
Qin Ye glanced back at him coldly, “You dare rise up in arms against Hell?”
“I’m not talking about me.” Zhou Yu shook his head and sighed wistfully, “It seems like… the Judge who is by your side hasn’t apprised you of what exactly the establishment of a new city is going to entail, has she? The dangers of exploring new frontiers… are definitely beyond anything you could fathom. I’m not trying to toot my own horn over here, but I can assure you that without my assistance, you’ll never be able to pave the way to the sea port city.”
“I’ll stay around in the new Hell for another week, and I sincerely look forward to the time when Lord Qin returns with a change of heart.” He stood up and bowed, “The messenger bird has already been sent, and the ordnance should arrive within the next fifteen days’ time. I believe… Lord Qin would have use for these artifacts soon.”
With that, Zhou Yu took his leave.
Qin Ye placed his hands behind his back and paced back and forth within the annex hall. After a long time, he chuckled softly to himself, “In other words, I’m going to have to accept this debt of gratitude whether I like it or not?”
“Interesting.” He transformed into a nethergale and made a beeline towards the construction site, “I’d like to see just what kind of dangers there are laying in wait for us incidental to founding a new city. Are these really dangers that Oda Nobunaga can’t handle on his own with ten thousand Yin soldiers? Do we really need to accept these Karmic Fire Divine Crossbows?”
But he quickly paused in his steps almost as soon as he got out of Hell’s Gate.
The soul induction platform was located not too far away from Hell’s Gate. Thus, as soon as he stepped out of Hell’s gate, he noticed that the soul induction platform was now covered with a strange phenomenon. Countless paper money was scattering everywhere on it, and there was even a barely audible trace of the Great Goddess of Mercy mantra echoing from the center of the platform.
In fact, it wasn’t just paper money that was scattering all over the place. There were even countless illusory lotus flowers that were drifting down from the skies. Each of these flowers were lit in the center with a speck of netherflame, and they turned into ash as soon as they struck the ground. A pillar of pale, white light shone from the sky and lit the center of the soul induction platform.
“Is this a new special Yin spirit?” Qin Ye paused for only a moment, before immediately rushing straight over, only to realize that Wang Chenghao and Arthis were already present and waiting for him.
“It’s great that you’re here. I’ve got some instructions.” Qin Ye looked expectantly at the soul induction platform, “I want to meet with all leaders to plan and iron out the next phase of Hell’s development. Wang One Tail, tell Su Dongxue to have the developmental plan formulated by the government at the ready for tomorrow’s meeting…”
“There’s no rush for that right now.” Arthis stared intently at the soul induction platform, “Don’t you find that… the Yin energy emanating from the soul on this platform is… rather familiar?”
Qin Ye furrowed his brows and took a closer inspection. Then, he turned to Wang Chenghao with a startled look on his face, “This is your Yin energy… Has the Shukaku in your body finally awakened? Has it finally decided to come down and join you in Hell?”
Bloody hell… I don’t have a Shukaku in my body!!!
Wang Chenghao held back the spittoon of blood in his throat, while his lips twitched uncontrollably, “About that, Brother Qin, I’ve just asked Sister Arakshasa, and she’d mentioned that this is a phenomenon that occurs when someone burns something in the mortal realm in offering for someone down below. I’ve thought about it for some time. It’s just past December now, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be time for the final examinations back in the First Academy of Cultivators?”
Qin Ye blinked his eyes at Wang One Tail, as though saying - What’s that got to do with me?
I’ve even deprioritized securing my professorship just so that I can deal with these things, so what exactly are you trying to say over here?
“No…” Wang CHenghao stared back at Qin Ye, almost as though he were a retard. Then, he grabbed Qin Ye’s arm and spoke with a slight tremor in his voice, “Brother Qin… how long have you been in Hell? By my calculations, it must already have been two weeks, right?”
Qin Ye thought for a moment, and then nodded his head.
There had been too many things to deal with over the last two weeks, all of which required his personal attention in Hell. He had initially only intended to return to Hell at night. But ever since returning to Hell two weeks ago, he began to take personal oversight of everything leading up to the imperial court meeting, and he had thus stayed the entire duration in Hell.
Wang Chenghao gasped, and then shook Qin Ye hard, as though he were trying to awaken Qin Ye from his stupor, “Brother Qin… wake up! Think about it carefully. Don’t you think that you might have forgotten something important?”
Qin Ye frowned, “I’ve forgotten to scatter your ashes over the great oceans?”
“Have you forgotten that your physical body is still back in the mortal realm?!!” Wang Chenghao dropped the bombshell.
It was like a thunderbolt out of the blue.
Sweatdrops immediately started beading up over Qin Ye’s forehead. His expressions looked contrived and horrid, and his lips quivered uncontrollably. Then, staring deeply into Wang Chenghao’s eyes, he grabbed his hands and spoke with a drifty voice, “About that… are you s-s-saying that… I’ve already been comatose for over two weeks back in the mortal realm?!”
Wang Chenghao had no qualms pushing the psychological blade deeper into Qin Ye’s heart, “That’s right. And this is the period of time when the final exams are being conducted. I think that if you rouse from your state of comatose right now, War God Zhou’s first words to you would probably be - ‘Instructor Qin, after much deliberation and discussion, and having regard for the state of your physical condition right now, the academy’s leadership has decided that you are no longer suitable to continue your stint as an instructor of the First Academy of Cultivators…’”
Before he could even finish speaking, Qin Ye transformed into a stream of nethergale and vanished from where he was.
Bloody hell… no wonder I had that nagging feeling at the back of my mind, as though I’d forgotten something important!
The First Academy of Cultivators… I’ve been so involved in the affairs of Hell that I’ve completely forgotten about my duties back in the mortal realm!
Damn it… what’s going to happen to all my teaching credits?!!
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