Just then, Wang One Tail peeked around the corner once more, “Brother Qin… the various ministers are all ready and waiting on you.”
“Tell them that I’ll be there in approximately twenty minutes.” Qin Ye waved his hand and continued staring at the contents of Hell’s Records that were still hovering before him.
“Accretion of entries in the Annals of the New Hell (in progress). Initial stages - 50,000 merit points. First Inspector-General (in progress). Initial stages - 20,000 merit points.” He gently ran a finger along the text of Hell’s Records as he read it aloud, “One gave me 50,000 merit points, while the other 20,000 merit points… And these are both recorded to be in its initial stages. The merit points to be had from pushing these achievements beyond its initial stages would probably be immense.”
“Accretion of entries in the Annals of the New Hell… All I’ve done was to task the book keepers to keep a close record of all activities. Does that also count? And if these initial steps are already worth 50,000 merit points, then what kind of completion bonus am I going to be entitled to? Considering that the old Hell has collapsed, and we’re starting off on a completely clean slate, we’re practically recording knowledge that is going to benefit Hell for thousands of years to come! It only makes sense that I’d get a commensurately high number of merit points for completing these records!”
“Inspector-General… If memory serves me well, Inspector-Generals used to be the provincial governors of ancient times. If I had to hazard a guess, this seemingly unimportant title is only made important as a result of necessity. Hell currently lacks officials in high places, and it desperately needs someone to take the reins as the King Yanluo of Hell. That’s probably why it’s worth so many merit points.”
But he soon frowned slightly, “No, that can’t be it either. There must be a reason why upper grade Emissaries of Hell are treated differently from middle grade or even low grade ones.”
Thinking aloud was slowly helping with demystifying the process, “There’s one thing that the last two points have in common, and that is the fact that they’re not limited by the confines of a city or location in general. Rather, they’re more focused on the big picture of Hell’s development. That’s why the merit points awarded are so substantial to begin with!”
His eyes flickered with excitement. If this were indeed the case, it would be excellent!
First of all, the commencement of sea trade next year would most certainly reap me a huge harvest of merit points!
That would be an incredible milestone! It could even be considered a historical moment!
Secondly, capturing the daolord would also net me a handsome profit! After all, the daolord was once considered the cornerstone of the six paths of reincarnation. Capturing him would be no different from the act of rebuilding the six paths… No, in fact, such an achievement might be even more lucrative than what I’ve done to date! With any luck, I might even be able to earn myself sufficient merit points to blow right past the bottleneck and into the realms of an Abyssal Prefect!
Qin Ye suddenly slammed his fist into his palm - I wonder how many merit points I’d get for reclaiming the old Hell from the onslaught of the blight vermin?
That said, this isn’t a very realistic thought for now. There are millions of blight vermin to talk about, not to mention the monarch vermins in the mix. It’s impossible to make a move against them right now. And that leads to the other issue, when Hell is finally strong enough to make a move against the blight vermin, I wonder how much of the old Hell would be left…
The mist in his mind slowly began to clear up. With folded arms and a glint in his eye, he continued to articulate his thoughts aloud, “Truth be told, I should have noticed that the requirement of 5,000,000 merit points for the next promotion was well beyond the realms of normalcy. A regular Emissary of Hell might be able to attain the ranks of Infernal Judge if luck were on his side, but the number of merit points required for the next breakthrough to the ranks of an Abyssal Prefect is simply an order of magnitude higher. I should have known that the requirements were no longer limited to that of personal achievements by then.”
He propped up his hands on the railing and watched the sprawling mass of netherflames slowly shifting about the square on Ashmound’s inner city. His thoughts were now clear.
He had to widen his perspective from a fixation on his own personal achievements to a broader view of national achievements. That was the best way to secure the most merit points for himself!
“Well then… I guess I’ll have to test out my hypotheses, one by one…” He took a few deep breaths to regulate his surging emotions, before finally turning around and heading down the stairs, “Perhaps it’s not going to be too difficult to become an Abyssal Prefect after all.”
Inner city. There were at least fifty Yin spirits seated neatly in a massive hall right now. The atmosphere was somewhat tense, and none of them spoke a single word to the other.
They were all dressed differently - most were dressed in traditional Cathayan tunics, while some were donned with mourning clothes. They also sported each their own distinct facial features. Yet the one common feature that they all possessed was the fact that they all carried themselves with an air of dignity and nobility around them.
To that end, the sense of dignity was nothing more than an aura about them that distinguished them from other bystanders because of their outstanding self-confidence. It was an aura that leaders would generally develop over time, especially after getting used to having charge over others and people answering to them.
The hall that they were seated in was large and opulent, lit softly with majestic palace lanterns that blazed with pale netherflames. They were seated in three blocks, each of which contained several rows of seats. The tables and chairs were all constructed out of pure wood, while an exquisite screen embroidered with scenic mountains and flowing rivers provided the perfect backdrop behind them. The entire hall had a seating capacity of over a hundred persons.
Unable to bear with the stifling silence any longer, a bald, middle-aged man spoke softly to the man beside him, “Old Ge, what kind of person do you think Mr Qin is like?”
The person called Old Ge was a slightly plump man in his fifties. Old Ge looked up softly, before murmuring back, “At the very least, I can tell that he’s a diligent person.”
“But apart from that, I can’t say for certain. Just like you and your team in the Ministry of Industry, our team from the Armaments Division have likewise never personally seen him before. That said, I’m sure we can all tell from his approvals that he’s been reading the reports we’ve submitted with great diligence and caution. Little Xu.”
Old Ge nodded at a young man who was standing by the door, “Are you ready?”
“This is our first meeting with our new government. We can’t afford to have anything go wrong.”
“Rest assured.” Little Xu was a young Yin spirit in his late twenties. Even though he was clenching his fists nervously, his voice remained just as placid and calm as ever, “Everything has been prepared. With Minister Qian of the Ministry of Internal Affairs personally overseeing the meeting this time, nothing is going to go wrong.”
Everyone gathered in the hall spoke with confidence and preparedness, and with a steady tempo. In fact, their interactions were so textbook perfect that it looked no difference from the provincial-level meetings back in the mortal realm!
Just then, the door suddenly opened up, and Qin Ye drifted into the hall eerily in his Hell’s Emissary state. A soft nethergale swept into the room. Five other Yin spirits followed closely behind him, namely Wang Chenghao, Su Dongxue, Arthis, Oda Nobutada, and Yang Yanzhao.
The Yin spirits already gathered in the hall froze for a moment, before they promptly rose to their feet and bowed slightly to the guest of honour, “Mr Qin.” “Leader, you’re here.” “Greetings, Your Excellency.”
None of them spoke with any measure of flattery. Every single word they spoke exuded sincerity and earnesty.
Almost as though such interactions had been drilled into their skulls through endless repetition.
“At ease. Take a seat.” Qin Ye made a pressing motion with his hands. His heart was in flux because he knew exactly who each of his ministers were!
Over the last month, he’d worked himself to death poring through the census of the citizens of Ashmound. But it was precisely because he had done so that he had managed to pick out each and every single one of these pearls in the ocean. He was even willing to vouch for each and every single one of them. After all, these were all talents that were in high demand no matter where they went.
They were all sensible people. Although Qin Ye had told them to be at ease and take their seat, none of them took their seats until Qin Ye made the first move.
“I’m the Third King Yanluo of Hell. You may address me as Yanluo Qin.” Qin Ye spoke without any restraint at all. Ever since becoming the lord and master over Hell, he had been through the battle of the Strait of Tsushima, to the pit of a thousand, and even a great war involving over a million Yin soldiers! He had seen way too much to be fazed by a simple meeting with talents in the world.
“I only care about one thing, and that’s pragmatism. I don’t care how you’ve dealt with such affairs back in the mortal realm, but I don’t want you to bring any of those bureaucratic habits picked up in your officialdom down with you into Hell. We’ll have a secret poll every twenty years. Those who are capable will be promoted, and those who aren’t will be demoted. Everyone…” Qin Ye smiled faintly, “I hope that I’ll continue to see some familiar faces in the next twenty year cycle.”
It was a short speech.
The Yin spirits who were present exchanged knowing looks at each other. Others might not understand what Qin Ye was getting at, but how could these old fogeys be unable to read between the lines?
Pragmatism was everything. Yanluo Qin didn’t need good speakers; only results.
“This is the very first provincial ministry meeting.” Qin Ye continued without missing a beat, “Ashmound has officially returned to Hell, and the change of leadership will naturally see the creation of new posts, offices and ministries. All major ministries will have to meet and coordinate with each other. Unfortunately, I’ve had my hands full before this, and I wasn’t able to call for a meeting with all of you until today. Pardon the neglect.”
“Don’t say that.” The leader of the officials immediately responded, “Everyone has their own roles and responsibilities. In truth, we’ve all been so busy that we’ve hardly managed to catch a wink of rest as well.”
Several members of the meeting immediately chuckled softly to the lighthearted quip. Qin Ye was no exception to this, “Put bluntly, this is all because we don’t have enough civil servants in Hell. The purpose of our meeting today is to clarify and streamline each of our roles and responsibilities. I’d also like to take this opportunity to simplify any processes and do away with any unnecessary rubber stamping or approvals. I don’t want a repeat of what we see in the mortal realm right now, when a single docket would have to be pushed across eight ministries before it can finally be approved. Time savings equates to efficiency. This would be a time to air any issues, grievances or clarifications alike, so that everyone has a better understanding of the workflow ahead. Meanwhile, I’ve also instructed the imperial chef to prepare a banquet. Once we’re done here, we can adjourn the meeting to the banquet hall, where we can all unwind a little and get to know each other better.”
With that, he nodded to Su Dongxue. She bowed slightly, and then took over, “As Lord Qin has mentioned, efficiency is everything. Ashmound’s founding is an opportunity to start afresh. With that, may I have the pleasure of declaring the commencement of Hell’s first conference of provincial governors open.”
“First order of business - roll call.”
She opened up a scroll and began to read from it, “Former eleventh governor of Eastmount Province, Zhang Zeguang.”
A hand was raised. Su Dongxue saw it and nodded at the man, and he put down his hand once again.
“Former twelfth provincial secretary general of Eastmount Province, Liu Zili.”
Another hand was raised.
“Former tenth governor of Eastmount Province, Zhu Tao.” “Former eleventh provincial secretary general of Eastmount Province, Zheng Tongguang.” “Former director of Eastmount Province’s Department of Land and Resources, Huang Mingyue.” “Former deputy director of the same, Sha Liming.” “Former director of Eastmount Province’s Department of Finance, Wang Wu.” “Former deputy director of the same, Tao Rong.” “Former director of Eastmount Province’s Department of Reform and Development, Ma Ronghua.” “Former deputy director of the same, Jiang Siyuan.”
“Former mayor of Qizhou City, capital of Eastmount Province, Wan Quan.” “Former secretary general of Qizhou City, capital of Eastmount Province, Mo Gaoming.” “Former director of Eastmount Province’s Market Supervision Administration, Ren Fangyuan.” “Former director of Eastmount Province’s Department of Education, Tang Zheyuan.”
One by one, she continued to call out their names, only to see a compliant show of hand to signify their attendance. Qin Ye smiled softly as he watched the roll call.
Kong Mo, oh Kong Mo… You really don’t know what kind of hidden gems you’ve been missing out on!
How could you simply allow these people to disappear into the sea of Qufu’s citizens? On the basis of different political ideals? Instead, you sought to forcibly rule over a city using an antiquated governance style that is over a thousand years old? Do you really think you can hold par against the wisdom of these collective professionals?
We’re talking about the gathering of top talents of their times - provincial governors and ministry heads in their own times! Do you know how many people would die to even meet a single one of these talents? Yet, to think that all of them would be assembled and reunited under Hell’s charge right now! There are even a large number of municipal-level or county-level leaders that haven’t been called just yet, simply because we haven’t had the opportunity of assigning them the right roles!
The fact that only provincial governors and mayors were called didn’t mean that Qin Ye was making light of the work of a county governor. After all, he knew full well that even the governor of a large county was one who had influence and control over hundreds of thousands of people all at once!
But credit where it was due, the provincial governors were undoubtedly the cream of the crop - those who had risen through the ranks despite the competition until they sat right at the top of a province, watching over tens of millions of people all at once!
Hell was reaping the reward of a demographic dividend right now!
Just how many governors and secretaries has Eastmount Province seen over the last hundred or so years?
No… In fact, there’s more!
Qin Ye glanced excitedly to the side, where ten men dressed in old-fashioned military uniforms stood silently. Their chests were completely covered with medals and awards.
Eastmount was a province where a Marshal-ranked military commander was based!
Granted, the most famous Marshals across Cathay were those buried in the Yan Capital Revolutionary Cemetery, but there were still two generals, three political commissars and five divisional commanders, all of whom were active during the second Cathayan-Nipponese War, also known as the war of resistance!
This had to be the greatest rewards reaped from seizing control of Eastmount Province!
No… this is only the tip of the iceberg...
Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed slightly as he stared blankly at Su Dongxue. His heart was clearly on an emotional rollercoaster today. He was finally free to count the spoils of the last war for expansion, and the accounts were only slowly beginning to unfold...
1. Political commissars were no different from political leaders, and are generally heads of party cells in the military, and generally in charge of political education and ideology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_commissar