Qin Ye rushed right back to the netherworld.
He didn’t want to learn such trivial things if he could even help it at all!
I’m the boss of 20 million Yin spirits!
Can you please take your concerns about Yin Talismanology elsewhere? I’m a busy man! Do you think I have the time to be dealing with Spirit Particle Affinity? If I don’t understand, I’ll just ask the expert on this subject matter! What’s the big idea summoning me here just to talk about these things?! Where’s your respect for your superiors?!!
Sigh… That said, should a big man like me really be so calculative with a mere Yin beast? Don’t worry, I’ll continue to supply you with catnip. I would never put down a Yama-King--... I mean… a pet just because of such a minor transgression!
With that, his entire being transformed into a ferocious nethergale and vanished from sight. When he next appeared, he would already have arrived back in Hell, right in front of King Yanluo’s office on the fifth floor of the building located in the inner city of the Mythic Palace of Reflections.
“This is my first time coming in here.” He surveyed his new office with great interest. Even though he was already mentally prepared for it, he still found himself enchanted by the sprawling view in front of him.
It was both luxurious and austere at the same time. The two seemingly divergent styles blended seamlessly into each other.
The entire office spanned nearly a hundred square meters in size, while most implements were constructed out of a striking maroon wood with deep black accents.
The ancient Cathayan desk was approximately two meters large, while the Ming Dynasty chair replete with a lush yellow cushion complemented it perfectly. The entire furniture set appeared to be made for each other with a running theme of brilliant lotuses and exuberant carps carved onto their surfaces. It was tastefully exquisite, and hardly ostentatious in the slightest.
Two rows of lattice shaped bookshelves lined both sides of the room, while the covers concealing the contents of each compartment came together to form the exquisite carvings of Zhong Kui capturing ghosts. Each compartment even sported a golden latch that was etched with the designs of the xiezhi unicorn. It was classy and charming.
The corners of the room were decorated with lacquered gold vases with sculpted golden lotus flowers. His seat in the office gave him the best vantage point of the view outside, and it felt as though he were on top of the world. It was a view befitting of the ruler of the lands around.
He rapped gently on the table, fervently suppressing the intense excitement from his heart. At once, a Yin spirit outside walked in and bowed respectfully, “Leader.”
Qin Ye glanced at the side of the table where a calendar was placed. It was 25 July - the date appointed two weeks ago for the provincial ministry meeting.
“How are the preparations coming along?”
“Rest assured that everything is going to be of the highest quality.”
Qin Ye nodded, “Then, let’s begin.”
Dong… Dong… A dulcet bell sounded from the sixth floor of the building, reverberating grandly across the vast expanse of the inner city of the Mythic Palace of Reflections.
Back in the governmental building. As soon as the bell rang, all high officials who were qualified to attend the provincial meeting promptly shot to their feet. Gao Ming, the former mayor of Martial City, packed up his documents and smiled faintly, “Chief, everything’s been prepared.”
This was the Department of Ghost Resources, and the appointed minister was none other than Zhang Zeguang, the eleventh governor of the former Eastmount Province. Gao Ming was also his former subordinate in life, and they were familiar with each other’s working styles. Needless to say, they got along fine with each other.
However, Zhang Zeguang didn’t respond directly to him. Instead, he stood by the window and simply gazed into the distance. A system of streets spread out into the distance, running in various directions under the overwhelming canopy of clouds in the skies above.
What an unnerving moment…
After a few seconds of silence, he pushed on the door and stepped out of his room. Moments later, he arrived right in front of a conference hall, where a gathering of high officials had already assembled. Each of them greeted each other with some measure of reservation before making their way into the hall.
Zhang Zeguang immediately raised his eyebrows in surprise as soon as he entered the room, “What’s this…?” And he wasn’t the only one; almost every other Yin spirits around were glancing around the hall with great astonishment.
Kong Mo had never treated his subjects with any measure of importance at all. Such gatherings of high officials in grand conferences were nothing more than a distant fantasy of theirs.
But as soon as Zhang Zeguang entered the hall, he suddenly discovered that the conditions in Hell couldn’t be said to be worse than the treatment he used to get in the mortal realm at all!
The conference hall was approximately two hundred meters wide and filled with hundreds of seats. To that end, each seat came with a corresponding long table and a luxurious seat for each individual high official’s personal use. There was even a bright chandelier hanging over each table, illuminating it with the most pleasant netherflame for reading purposes.
Each table was furnished with a teacup and writing pads. Female attendants shuttled silently between the rows of seats and tables, topping up the teacups with water or their beverage of choice. An army of dozens of scribes were also seated right at the back of the hall, ready to record the proceedings with the utmost precision.
The main stage was located right in front of the rows of tables and chairs, while a huge mosaic of the Eighteen Abysses of Punishment hung on the wall behind the main stage, striking awe and fear into the hearts of each high official in attendance today.
It was indescribably majestic and austere; opulent and magnificent. It was far beyond what any of them could have ever imagined! It was absolutely befitting of the grand scale of their provincial meeting!
The air was filled with a sense of ceremony and ritual.
Qin Ye was seated right on the main stage, taking in the expressions and reactions of each and every renowned Yin spirit as they entered the room. His heart was filled with a sense of achievement. Just then, a vortex of Yin energy erupted from beside him, and Arthis appeared moments later.
“What have you been up to?” Qin Ye smiled and raised his eyebrows lightheartedly, only to realize that Arthis appeared somewhat uneasy.
“What’s the matter?” He froze, and then smiled once more, “Is it because you’re dissatisfied with where your seat is located? Look, there are only two seats located on the main stage right now, and that’s for both you and I. Nobody can deny your contributions to Hell thus far.”
“Yanluo Qin.” Arthis responded stiffly, “Do you think… you can handle everything?”
Qin Ye frowned.
Arthis seems strange. Even her smile appears forced.
There’s no reason for such a reaction of hers. After all, we’re still enjoying the spoils of war of the Battle of Qufu. Incidentally, we’ll be taking stock of our intangible spoils of war today through this provincial ministry meeting of ours. This will dictate the direction of Hell’s development in future. Even I can’t help but keep my heart from overflowing with excitement and accomplishment, so what the hell is wrong with her right now?
“Menopause?” Qin-treading-on-thin-ice-Ye whispered softly.
Instantly, a palpably murderous aura erupted from Arthis, before promptly fading away. Then, she turned to stare intently at Qin Ye once more, “Answer me.”
Qin Ye furrowed his eyes and glared at Arthis as he rubbed his chin, “What’s the matter with you? Ah… forget it. Women like you all have their own little secrets, but… I can indulge in this question of yours.”
“Of course I can!” He declared with confidence, “Aren’t things going to be the same as before? Sure, Hell’s territory might have expanded a little, but I’ve also done away with the need for sleep as soon as I became an Infernal Judge. Wouldn’t I be able to clear any work that comes my way with six hours a day?”
“But that’s six after-work hours we’re talking about.” Arthis responded placidly, “If any issues surface when you’re clearing your work, there won’t be any Yin spirits around to respond to your queries.”
“You wouldn’t be able to communicate directly with them. And besides… are you really that confident in your own abilities?”
She glanced at Qin Ye, “Ashmound City has 20 million Yin spirits, and occupies a land size of over 100 square kilometers. Beyond that, there’s still the affairs across the entire province of Eastmount and Breakwaters to consider as well. Are you sure everything can be resolved with only six hours a day? And what if your duties call in Martial City, and you’re no longer able to return to Hell that night? None of the high officials are going to get any face-time or audience with you until you set aside time for them in conferences such as these. So, with that meagre commitment of time each day, are you truly confident that you’ll be able to lay a firm foundation for Hell’s development from this point forward?”
Qin Ye’s smile faded away.
“What exactly are you trying to get at?” He gazed deeply at Arthis, “Are you suggesting that I’m not trying hard enough?”
“If I’m not trying hard enough; and if I’m not committed enough, would we be where we are today?!”
He had a vague idea of what Arthis was getting at, but his heart was all over the place right now.
Things aren’t supposed to be like this today.
Arthis didn’t avoid his gaze either. They locked eyes for several tense moments, before Arthis finally added calmly, “You’re spending way too much time in the mortal realm.”
“There’s no need for you to be in the mortal realm any longer.”
“Hell’s great collapse means that people who straddle both realms like you are bound to perish. Sure, you can say that you’re extending Hell a helping hand, but Hell is likewise extending you a lifeline at the same time. Since you’ve already accepted this task, you should be mindful of the responsibility that weighs on your shoulder.”
She continued to speak with a deep voice, “Ashmound isn’t the same as the old Hell.”
“Have you not realized this? Or are you simply unwilling to consider these things?”
Qin Ye’s smile had completely faded away by this point. He paused for a moment, and then muttered back, “The Harken must have said something to you, hasn’t it?”
“Impossible.” Qin Ye turned his head away, “I know you too well. Such thoughts would never ordinarily occur to you. What audacity… to think he would start finding fault with me as soon as he regained his senses… Who does he think he is?! Am I the King Yanluo of Hell, or is he the King Yanluo of Hell?!”
Qin Ye slammed his fist down onto the table in a fit of rage, causing a wave of Yin energy to erupt in a mighty shockwave that quickly spread to his surroundings. The garments of all Yin spirits around fluttered wildly, and everything went silent in an instant.
Everyone look at Qin Ye in great astonishment - What’s going on? Haven’t Yanluo Qin and Lady Arakshasa always been on fairly good terms? Why does it suddenly appear as though there’s now a rift between them?
“Did I get your G-spot?” Arthis glanced slyly at Qin Ye, “It looks like you haven’t actually thought things through, huh?”
Qin Ye sighed, “Give me a year’s time.”
“And I’ll take this throne.”
Arthis lowered her eyes softly, “Given the current situation… do you really think that time is on your side? Do you really think that you have a year to settle your affairs outside?”
“What’s going to happen in the interim? Kong Mo still runs free, while the daolord is still knocking on our doors with the massive army of his. We now have sufficient Yin spirits under our charge, and we’ll be able to send scouts to probe at the enemy forces. However, many of these missions will culminate with results that need to be acted upon immediately. Are you sure you can give such matters the requisite attention it needs from back in the mortal realm?”
“Have you ever considered what’s going to happen in the event of an urgent crisis? What if a meeting needs to be convened in Hell right away, but you’re stuck in your duties back in the mortal realm? What would you do?”
“You wouldn’t come… Just as much as you know me, I know you equally well. Sure, you might know exactly what needs to be done in order to discharge your duties as a King Yanluo of Hell, but your heart isn’t with Hell. If things carry on like this… it’s only going to be a matter of time before calamity befalls us.”
“I’ll get everything sorted as quickly as I can.” Qin Ye responded placidly, “Some things require time; and some relationships require… farewells.”
With that, he turned to the rest of the Yin spirits that had already assembled in the hall and began to address them without giving Arthis the chance to respond further, “Everyone, thanks for waiting.”
Fifteen minutes had elapsed since the agreed time for the convening of the meeting, and yet not a single one of the Yin spirits mumbled or grumbled.
“I hereby declare the first provincial ministerial meeting of Hell now in session.” His voice was filled with sobriety and austerity, “Before we begin with the agenda, I’ve got a few words to say.”
He swept a fierce glance across all Yin spirits, “Hell is lacking in many ways now, and our role here is to get things done. I don’t care much for the pretension and charade that some of you might be used to back in the mortal realm, nor do I care for platitudes or cliches. If you can’t get used to the style of governance here, then please settle for being an ordinary citizen of Hell and wait patiently for the six paths of reincarnation to be built. Hell’s payroll only supports the Yin spirits that are useful to us.”
“Apart from that, I hope you don’t bring any of your own standards and baggage into Hell. This is a brand new Hell, and results are the only way to accrue goodwill and merits to yourself to ensure a better rebirth, visit the mortal realm or even relay a dream to your loved ones. Remember, you are public servants, and not slave masters! Anyone found to be abusing your powers shall be punished severely!”
“And now, let us begin proper.”
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