The activities in Hell went into overdrive following the announcement of the festivities celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festivals.
All officials in Hell were busy, regardless of whether they held executive roles or not. The implementation of a new unified currency in exchange for all prevailing currencies of old was no trivial matter. Furthermore, the development of the Spider Lily Island didn’t merely comprise the establishment of an amusement park, it even incorporated a variety of stores, including clothing stores, food and beverage stores, costume stores, and so on and so forth. Everything was to be rolled out under the government’s oversight.
The civil servants of Hell were so busy over the next few days that they barely had any time for rest!
In fact, even the ordinary Yin spirits of Hell were busy with their own affairs. During this time, there was an endless queue of Yin spirits leading straight into the Central District that continued straight through the night, clogging up the streets so much so that the government of Ashmound had no choice but to establish four new exchange points in each of the other four major districts of Hell. Each of these had 2,000 tills, and Hell had no choice but to hire several thousands more civil servants to plug the gap in their workforce!
Each moment that passed saw more and more Yin spirits exchanging their old currency for the new currency of Hell. The hearts of Hell’s citizens grew more at ease, and they slowly began to eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Hungry Ghost Festival itself.
That said, they were also apprehensive. Although they had personally experienced some of the differences between the netherworld and the mortal realm, they couldn’t profess to know the limits of just how different things could be. The only thing they knew thus far was the fact that announcements could simply be broadcasted instantly throughout the city, and this was something that Kong Mo had never done in the past. Thus, with the new notes of Hell now in hand, they began to wonder why Spider Lily Island hadn’t made its appearance just yet.
The new notes of Hell were exquisite. They were black-edged notes printed on white paper. The front side of it was printed with Qin Ye’s image, while the back of it depicted an image of Fengdu Necropolis, with two smaller emblems of blooming spider lilies at the lower two corners of the notes. Huang Liangchuan had clearly put in a lot of thought and effort in the design of the notes.
Unfortunately, the passage of time didn’t help with the tension in their hearts. Time kept on moving, marching towards the 15th at a constant tempo.
And then, on 10 August, at exactly 10.00 a.m., mortal realm time, the sky suddenly cracked open with a crimson rift. Then, to the great horror of all Yin spirits who were watching, a massive claw fell from the sky with a mighty bang, slamming a huge crater into the ground directly outside Ashmound City. Following that, the thick clouds in the sky began to swirl about wildly, before transforming into a hole in the sky that was tens of thousands of meters wide!
Thunder rumbled, and forked-lightning arced menacingly in the sky. A single Yin spirit stopped dead in his tracks, followed by another, and then tens, thousands, hundreds of thousands, and then tens of millions. Soon, everyone halted what they were doing to observe the terrifying phenomenon in the sky. The citizens of Ashmound erupted into a clamor in an instant.
The preparations leading up to the much-anticipated Hungry Ghost Festivals were finally beginning!
All who were anxious and even flustered at the absence of any preparations finally heaved a sigh of relief as the burden of anxiety was lifted from their backs. Although they couldn’t see what exactly was going on beyond the city walls of Ashmound, the massive rift in the sky and the hole in the swirling clouds was sufficient proof of the sheer scale of the engineering project in Ashmound right now!
The Harken had made its move!
The clamor soon faded away, and everyone watched with bated breaths amidst pin drop silence. The sense of anticipation at what was to come made everyone’s scalps tingle with great excitement. They all stared intently at the vault of heaven, eagerly awaiting the next transformative event that was about to take place. Then, just minutes later, there was a loud bang, and a black tide of Yin energy suddenly descended to the ground. At once, the tense silence was completely shattered, and the hearts of the Yin spirits were all ignited with great passion!
The Yin energy poured down like a mighty waterfall pouring right out of the skies, almost as though the heavens had crumbled. The fluid that poured out appeared completely dark, but crystal clear, almost as though it was liquid glass. The Yin spirits could tell that the seemingly liquid glass appeared to stack atop each other as they fell to the ground, just like a series of building blocks. The deafening roar of construction instantly drowned out the silent cheers across the entire city, and it continued for several more hours until it finally ceased entirely. Then, as the works finally came to a close, the diminishing construction noise once again gave way to the wave of whistles and cheers that tore through the city. Everyone located within buildings that were slightly on the taller side desperately crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the works that had just been completed.
Unfortunately, the city walls were so high that they couldn’t see anything at all. That said, the fact that they were unable to see first-hand the end-result of these constructions didn’t quash the flames of excitement in their hearts. Instead, it only tickled their curiosity all that more, causing them to grow fidgety and stir in their seats.
11 August. The sky cracked open once again, and countless facilities descended from the skies. The upcoming festivities were like a young lutist playing lilting tunes, tickling the hearts and drawing in the souls of all Yin spirits. This time, a ferris wheel, a pirate ship, and even an entire water park were among the facilities that were gently set in place, as though by an invisible hand.
Everyone watched the amenities fall into place with great excitement as more and more scrambled to adopt the new currency of Hell. Everyone knew full well that only the true, orthodox Hell could achieve something like this! The present Hell was by no means led by a team of scam artists!
So it turns out that one can enjoy entertainment facilities in Hell too. It’s all a matter of whether Hell has the heart to do something like that for us.
Everyone felt incredibly cherished.
There were only four days until the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Hell had already distributed Hell’s notes worth close to a trillion in value. On average, each Yin spirit would have obtained approximately 50,000 HL in value Even then, this was hardly considered a significant amount given that this constituted the wealth of Yin spirits accumulated over decades of time.
Fortunately, Hels came in several denominations, including 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 8,000 and 10,000. Otherwise, it would be impossible to have printed so much money in a single month’s time. After all, Hell had neither sufficient printers nor sufficient power supply to support an expansion in their production. Hell still needed to locate an alternative source of electricity or energy.
12 August, 4.00 p.m.
The first batch of Yin soldiers that had been deployed to the Spider Lily Island finally returned from their shift. At once, all of their friends and acquaintances alike swarmed around them like an unsolicited tidal wave, instantly filling their usually vacant and quiet residences into an echo chamber of questions, “How’s the situation over there?” “Would Spider Lily Island be ready in time for the Hungry Ghost Festival?” “How much more work is there to be done?” “Is it truly as miraculous as what we see over here?”
Unfortunately, the only response they received was nothing more than a wistful sigh, almost as though the Yin soldiers were still completely immersed in their unfathomable, otherworldly experience.
“It’s absolutely astonishing… Never in my wildest dreams have I imagined construction works to go on like that… There’s simply no way to put it in words. Anyway, you’ll know on the morning of the 15th…”
“All I can say is that it’s remarkably spectacular. I can’t wait to go in and give it a spin!”
That night, the rate of distribution of the new notes of Hell reached a new height, amounting to a total of 430 billion HL in value. To date, more than 60% of the total savings in Ashmound had already been traded in for the new currency of Hell.
14 August. This marked the end of four consecutive days of preparation work. In the afternoon, a batch of equipment and facilities once again fell from the sky without any warning, before the hole in the clouds finally closed up.
Then, a split second later, the entire city erupted with an uproarious cheer! Later that night, at 7.00 p.m., the citizens of Ashmound flocked to the exits along the city walls like the dark canopies of the skies, replete with countless gleaming netherflames in their eyes. Their excited chatter filled the air like ceaseless waves, ebbing and flowing along with the rising tide.
Tang An was among the Yin spirits that had flocked to the city wall exits. His heart was practically thumping with excitement. He wanted to scream! He wanted to roar! He wanted to share his joy with everyone around him!
There was only 5 hours remaining until the grand festivities finally kicked off!
He already had the perfect plan of the places he was going to visit. He longed for kindred spirits to share his joy, to scream together on the roller coasters, and to splash about in the water parks. Yet he soon discovered that the younger Yin spirits appeared to be the minority among the Yin spirits that had gathered.
Just then, Tang An heard a voice call out to him, “Old Tang, where are you planning to go first? Shall we head there together?” He turned around with a brilliant smile, only to realize that the other person was likewise beaming from ear to ear.
There was a tacit understanding between them borne out of their deep desire to confide in others, yet an inability to locate a kindred spirit. Locating each other amidst the crowd of seniors felt like a breath of fresh air alleviating the stifling sensation in their hearts.
“The Dark Airship!” Tang An responded without any hesitation, “I’ve been eyeing that ride for the longest time! The Lord of Destruction looks amazing! Speaking of which, I’ve never been to an amusement park before! Have you?”
“Same here! Shall we go together?” They weren’t from the same neighbourhood. In fact, it might even be a stretch to call them acquaintances, given that they had done nothing more than to exchange a few words or nod at each other when they crossed paths. Even then, they were speaking with each other like long lost friends who were once again reunited with each other.
“It’s a pity that I didn’t get to enjoy such luxuries in life before I died…” Don’t talk to me about pity! Do you know how terrible a feeling it is being trapped in the ward from the time I fell sick until the time I passed away?” “Ah, that’s right, have you checked out the Light of Yin and Yang?” “Are you kidding? Look at the mass of Yin spirits over there! Those uncles and aunties from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s have all been queuing there since who-knows-when! Do you think you’d even be able to get a foot in before the holidays are over?”
There were sights similar to this spawning everywhere around the city wall. People of various generations and times were spontaneously forming their own social circles and sharing their speculations about the Spider Lily Island with great excitement. Meanwhile, everyone had each set their eyes on a specific goal.
Every minister standing on the wide terrace of the building located in the core of the Mythic Palace of Reflections only felt their eyes burn with passion as they saw this sight unfold. If ghosts could shed tears, perhaps the ministers would already be bawling and weeping by now.
The entire Ashmound City was filled with unprecedented vitality and passion. In fact, the energy that filled the air was so dense that it even exceeded the electricity in the air back when the prospects of returning to the mortal realm was announced for the very first time. The latent energy undergirding the entire city could only be likened to a young volcano, ready to erupt at the moment’s notice!
Naturally, everyone who had been involved in the planning process couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment swell up in their hearts. It was an incredibly satisfying sight to behold.
Zhang Zeguang, the Minister of the Department of Ghost Resources, was the overall in charge of the operations, and he roared with passion, “Are we all ready?” Ye Su, his deputy minister, responded with great excitement, “10 o’clock! 10 o’clock! Everyone is to take their positions. We cannot afford to make any mistakes!!”
Thousands of civil servants located down below responded in unison, “Yes!!!”
As time trickled by, more and more Yin spirits congregated outside Ashmound City, just like the sight Qin Ye had seen on the fateful day they lay siege to Qufu. But this time, it was different. The Yin spirits were moving willingly and spontaneously.
The Yin spirits were gathering silently and patiently like the rain clouds in the sky.
And they were all waiting for exactly the same thing - the arrival of midnight.
It was a spectacular scene, comparable to the annual New Year’s Eve festival in metropolitan nations.
Time trickled by slowly. Then, when 10 p.m. arrived, the bell on the Mythic Palace of Reflections tolled. Without warning, an endless volley of fireworks shot right up into the sky, erupting like brilliant flowers blooming in the dark night skies.
Bolt after bolt of light lit up the sky. The first wave was silvery white, just like a flurry of cold winter snow. Then, before the dust could even settle on the first wave, a second volley whistled into the sky, lighting it up with a majestic display of striking crimson.
Like a series of flowers blooming in formation, the grand display of fireworks signified the start of the festivities, leaving in the wake of its gorgeous showing a lingering smoky fragrance.
At once, the eternal darkness looming over the dark skies of Hell lit up with a glimmer of brilliance. At once, the hearts of the Yin spirits were lit with the fuse of fascination and their faces the expressions of elation.