Wang Chenghao grew silent.
He was slowly ruminating over what Qin Ye had said. After all, he had always wondered why Qin Ye hadn’t immediately reached out to the mortal realm for aid and assistance as far as Hell’s development was concerned.
And now, he finally understood some of the considerations that had gone through Qin Ye’s mind. A hundred years of inactivity on Hell’s part was naturally a good foundation for mistrust and doubt to arise. Should the mortal realm unconditionally invest in Hell once more? You must be kidding.
Loquaciousness and eloquence wasn’t going to get Hell anywhere as far as the negotiations were concerned. Just take a good look at the leaders around. All of them were expert negotiators in their own right, and they would be easily able to see beyond the farce of words and fully grasp the substance of what lay behind.
At best, they might make small tranches of investment. But if they don’t see any returns in the time to come, they would immediately pull back their resources and choose to rely on their own abilities instead.
On the other hand, what Hell needed the most right now was Yin spirits, because they could only develop Yin soldiers if they had Yin spirits in the first place. In turn, it was only with sufficient Yin soldiers that they could slowly but surely begin to take back some of the land that had been lost to Hell. These were all issues that couldn’t be solved as easily as the injection of funds and resources.
Granted, the founding of cities would necessarily translate to the reaping of souls that had gathered over the last hundred years. But… what’s going to happen to the city itself?
Infrastructural works, such as the construction of a national highway that connects city to city, was still something that could only be accomplished with an investment of proper ghostpower. Yin beasts, nature, and even Limbo were all variables that could easily wipe out Yin spirits who were involved. Without sufficient Yin spirits, the amount of resources generated by cities would far outweigh the ghostpower available to process them. Efficiency would fall. And then, to make matters worse, how were they supposed to pay dividends to the mortal realm’s investments in the absence of national highways? Make another rift connecting Limbo and the mortal realm? Impossible.
The confluence of factors above were most certainly going to cause the terse cooperation between the two realms to collapse as quickly as it was formed.
“Therefore, it would be prudent to first establish the national highway before we commence the partnership between Hell and the mortal realm…” Having sorted through his thoughts, Wang Chenghao finally glanced at Qin Ye in amazement, “Brother Qin, you’re amazing. To think that you were able to--...”
Qin Ye smiled coyly, “I know I am. But it would be good if you could keep all illicit thoughts to yourself and maintain propriety around me at all times~~”
The words of praise that Wang Chenghao had for Qin Ye immediately dissipated into thin air. He was completely blown away by Qin Ye’s outstanding ability to completely halt all avenues for conversation.
“But that’s not all.” Oda Nobunaga smiled and interjected, “There’s another reason why Lord Qin has done what he has done. Eastmount Province is where we’re going to be facing off against the alliance of Yin spirits. Rather… perhaps it might be more appropriate to call it the alliance of warlords!”
“This is a sign of chaos descending into the world. The end of any dynasty would always see the rise of warlords. That said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The alliance means that they would likely be gathered in a single location as their base of operations. So long as we destroy them, we’d immediately be able to declare that the entire Eastmount Province has been liberated from the forces of the netherworld. The other riffraff that remain in the remote regions of the province aren’t worth considering at all.”
Oda Nobunaga turned to Qin Ye with great admiration, “Next to the liberation of a county, the liberation of an entire province is a far better bargaining chip. That’s how you snag more investment from the mortal realm. Much respect, Lord Qin. Your grasp of the human heart and ability to seize the opportunity at the best possible time is practically flawless. With you in charge, I’ve got absolute confidence that we will be able to take down Nippon in the time to come.”
Qin Ye smiled, “I’ve got to have something to show for my hundred or so years in the mortal realm, don’t I? At the end of the day…”
Qin Ye’s eyes flickered with a cold gleam, “Everything hinges on our eastbound expedition to Martial City. Pave the national highway, and take down Qufu no matter what it takes! Then, with the mortal realm’s investments, as well as the commencement of trade at the sea port city… Hell’s development would most certainly soar to new heights!”
Granted, it was always an option to construct his national highway from the City of Salvation. However, that would immediately disclose the location of his base of operations. He couldn’t afford to lose his cover back in the mortal realm either.
The eastbound expedition was therefore the very first steps to Hell’s great expansion. It would propel them right out of the limitations of being a town and allow them to broaden their horizons to consider the implications of cities, provinces and even districts! And then, when Hell’s foothold was firm and stable, it would finally be time to confront the three strongest forces within the mortal realm - the three daolords. At that time, the restoration of King Yanluo’s Seal would finally be in sight.
“Truth be told… there’s still one additional reason why I’ve decided as such.” Qin Ye turned his eyes to the billowing Yin energy ahead of him. They slowly walked into the cloud of Yin energy, with the ten thousand Yin soldiers in tow. Oda Nobunaga heard his words, and immediately gasped in shock.
There’s still something else?
Oda Nobunaga had thought that he had already figured out the hidden intentions behind Qin Ye’s decision. He had never expected there to be yet another layer of considerations hidden beneath the surface!
Unfortunately, Qin Ye’s enigmatic words had been uttered right before they had entered Limbo, and what Oda Nobunaga had heard was so faint that he couldn’t be sure whether his ears were playing tricks on him or not.
Tap. Tap. Tap. There were the soft sounds of three footsteps, followed soon by the rumble of footsteps caused by the rest of the army, who promptly surrounded Qin Ye, Oda Nobunaga and Wang Chenghao in the center and pointed the tips of their spears outwards. Everyone held their ground in a watertight circle of defense.
Limbo. There was a sea of blackish-green mist everywhere, and the grounds were covered with flowers of paramnesia. These parts around Limbo were far larger than where the Harken was located. If one looked closely enough, he might even be able to see the vague silhouettes of mountains and ravines in the far distance.
No Yin beasts… Qin Ye furrowed his brows, desperately recalling to mind the characteristics of Limbo that he knew. As the realm that was sandwiched between Hell and the mortal realm, it was known for its abundance of Yin beasts. Unlike Hell, where the Yin beasts thrived in flocks, the Yin beasts in Limbo were far sparser in comparison. To this end, it wouldn’t be surprising to see only a single Yin beast appearing in a ten kilometer radius. That said, whenever the density of Yin beasts increased, it would invariably give rise to the king of the pack, otherwise known as the monarch beast.
Apart from that, notwithstanding that Limbo was technically located between the mortal realm and the underworld, it was a realm that was far larger than either of the other two realms. Does this even make sense? Perhaps not. At the very least, Qin Ye couldn’t understand the logic behind it, but he knew better than to attempt to understand such matters through the perspective of mortal logic. This was obviously a matter that involved spatial doctrines - something that he took little interest to. It was for the same reason for which the Harken appeared to be located below Hell, but Hell was in fact located beneath the Harken.
These weren’t matters that could be understood through the lens of simple human logic.
“Lord Qin.” Oda Nobunaga strode right over to Qin Ye’s side and pursued the point, “What did you mean earlier?”
Qin Ye made a shushing gesture, before flying high into the sky and responding to Oda Nobunaga’s query with a hushed tone of voice, “Not much. It’s just a hunch on my part. But if my guess is right… we might actually be able to reap some unexpected rewards in our trip down to Limbo this time.”
He looked around, but it appeared completely desolate everywhere around him. Not a single Yin beast was in sight. In fact, there was only a single tree stump across the large plains that were in sight. It was anybody’s guess how many trees had been logged in order to make way for the march of sixty thousand Yin soldiers.
However, he didn’t stop looking. Instead, he looked up, and slowly began to scan across the entire horizon, until finally… he noticed the faint silhouette of what appeared to be a city!
“It actually exists?” Even Qin Ye couldn’t help but exclaim in disbelief. He swiftly transformed into a nethergale and took Oda Nobunaga and Wang Chenghao with him.
“This is…” Both Oda Nobunaga and Wang Chenghao also couldn’t help but gasp in shock as they saw the towering silhouettes in the distance slowly grow larger and larger.
“A city… There’s actually a city here?!” Wang Chenghao exclaimed with great disbelief. In fact, they could tell at a glance that there was a well-built ancient-style citadel, replete with long city walls outside, outposts, fortified towers, and watch towers everywhere.
A terrifying thought suddenly occurred to Oda Nobunaga, and he abruptly turned to Qin Ye once more, “This was the other reason that you were talking about? Your guess was actually right?”
“That’s right…” Qin Ye smiled and sighed with great emotion, “War… is truly the best means of prosperity...”
“What the hell are you guys talking about?!” Wang Chenghao was completely dumbfounded. Unfortunately, no one was in the mood to respond to his outburst, because both Oda Nobunaga and Qin Ye were staring intently at the city with blazing passion in their eyes.
Whoosh… They flew over to the city ahead of the rest of the Yin soldiers. After setting the other two on the ground, Qin Ye flew higher into the sky and looked around the city, taking in the sights and sounds in the vicinity around.
The city was surrounded with ten-meter high masonry walls. He couldn’t tell what kind of adhesive was used between the blocks forming the walls, but he could tell that there were even some kind of sharp horns or barbs that were protruding from the external facade of the walls. These looked razor-sharp, almost as though they were plucked out from the teeth of Yin beasts. The city didn’t look luxurious, but it was clearly designed with practicality in mind. There were several precincts within the city, and each of these precincts appeared to be built around the concept of military regimentation. It was patently clear that this was a military city, or a garrison of sorts!
There were some houses within the city walls that were constructed out of wood. However, the majority of them were still houses built out of stone. The ground was flat. There were furnaces for forging iron scattered around various parts of the city. There were even stores, restaurants, and… what appeared to be brothels.
However, there was not a single Yin spirit in sight.
The banners and flags perched atop several houses and tents fluttered soullessly with the wind
Qin Ye’s body flickered softly, and he soon appeared right in front of the smithy in the city. Oda Nobunaga immediately ran over.
The smithy was incredibly large, spanning approximately a thousand meters from end to end. Qin Ye’s guess was that this had to be the official smithy of the military garrison. As soon as he entered, he was immediately greeted with a startling sight. The first thing that caught his eye was the fact that the furnace hadn’t even been extinguished of its netherflames.
Qin Ye walked around, deep in thought. He could tell that the smithy was divided into various sections, in the style of an assembly line. There were even several sets of unfinished armor left on the work benches, with their work tools scattered all about. The furnace itself was ten meters large, and a bright green netherflame raged within it.
“They haven’t been gone for long.” Oda Nobunaga thought aloud, “In fact, they couldn’t have departed more than half a day ago. In all likelihood… they must have chosen to abandon this city as soon as the Universal Grand Shift was triggered.”
There was a small mound of black objects lying right beside the furnace. Qin Ye picked up one of these and looked at it. A briquette? Charcoal fire? Perhaps. It felt like bones, but there was clearly something else that had been added to the mix. He tossed it into the furnace, and the netherflames immediately snapped and crackled.
It really is a charcoal fire…
“Chemicals industry.” Qin Ye maintained a placid expression on his face and walked towards the workbenches where the assembly lines lay. There, he pointed to the armor, “Military industry.”
“They’ve already established the industries of processing materials and forging armor.”
Qin Ye soon walked out of the smithy. The rest of the Yin soldiers had just arrived, and had just formed up in ranks. Oda Nobunaga nodded at them, and they immediately spread out across every part of the city, kicking down doors and clearing the rooms.
Qin Ye ignored the Yin soldiers. Instead, he turned to the street of restaurants, gambling dens, brothels, etc, and began to count out all of the industries that had been established, “Entertainment industry, sex industry, urban planning… The development of their civilization is at least twenty years’ ahead of what Hell has right now.”
Wang Chenghao was observing the conversation between Qin Ye and Oda Nobunaga all this while. He knew that he was far too inexperienced to be interjecting with his insights, or lack thereof. Therefore, he paid close attention to the details and picked up what he could. After all, he wanted to do his best; he didn’t want to disappoint either of his mentors at all.
Qin Ye and Oda Nobunaga continued to discuss everything around them for some time, before Wang Chenghao suddenly gave in to his curiosity and blurted a question, “I’ve got another question that I’ve been dying to ask for some time… Why don’t you seem to be in a hurry at all? We’re talking about twenty years’ ahead of Hell! A single decade can already be considered an era in and of itself! Moreover, this city isn’t even in the underworld. It’s located in Limbo! Why do you both seem so--...”
“Why do we seem so overjoyed?” It finally occurred to Qin Ye that there was a young, naive Wang One Tail that was following them, and he promptly turned back and chuckled softly, “It’s simple… it’s because… this is simply a teaser of the spoils of war that are to come in future.”
Spoils of war?
Are you mistaken? How is their rate of economic development considered a spoil of war?
“That’s right… the more developed they are, the more spoils of war we’d be able to take over as soon as we take down Qufu!” Qin Ye looked around excitedly, “So what if the city isn’t in Hell? That doesn’t matter. It’s not unusual for Yin spirits to pass through Limbo when they enter the underworld in any event. This city is more than qualified to act as an entrance leading right up to Hell. But beyond that, what’s most important is technology, as well as the Yin spirits that have such know-how!”
“This garrison gives us an insight as to the extent of development in Kong Mo’s capital! This is what I’d hoped to see! So long as we can take down Qufu, we’d be able to devour all their technology and make it our own. And even if we aren’t able to do so, we’d still have earned ourselves a free city. And in the worst case scenario, if we turn these cities into nothing more than launching pads within Limbo, we’d still make loads from these expeditions! In other words, all your base are belong to us!”