Time passed by quickly.
A week later, Wang Chenghao stood right beside Qin Ye in King Yanluo’s office, waiting on him as Qin Ye flipped through the large red-coloured stack of documents that was one-foot thick.
“1,000,000 kilograms of Black Netherjade; 1,000 Sun Roosters; 500 kilograms of Kirin Blood; 1,000 kilograms of Authentic Dragon Horns… The Supreme Venerable Soverign, otherwise known as the Taishang Laojun.” Qin Ye finally got through the final page of the documents, and massaged his temples. His heart was filled with complex emotions beyond words.
These weren’t information. These were a complete inventory of the tributary gifts he had received.
These were gifts brought by the Lords of the Land on behalf of the members of the heavenly realm to congratulate Qin Ye’s ascension to the throne as the Third King Yanluo of Hell.
Qin Ye had dove straight into work as soon as he emerged from his short stint of self-seclusion. It was only then that he truly understood the sheer amount of responsibilities he had been abdicating from back then. It had only been a few hours since the commencement of his work, yet there were people coming up to him almost every ten minutes, either sending in their respective department’s reports, or registering the opinions of the respective ministers on certain important issues.
This gave him a brand new perspective of King Yanluo’s office. Previously, nobody would seek an audience with him because he returned in the middle of the night. Naturally, he was also completely oblivious to the thoughts and concerns of the ministers under his charge. But now, his personal exchange with his ministers and subjects filled him with a greater appreciation and fulfillment for the work that he was doing.
In his rare moment of respite, he’d thought to flip through the reports of the Lords of the Land, only to discover to his great surprise that each and every Lord of the Land was backed by a reputable immortal or deity.
Immortals… He rubbed his neck as he turned around and gazed upon the dark night skies, “I’ve never felt this close to immortals before…”
Taishang Laojun, Taiyi Zhenren, and Erlang Shen…  These ubiquitous names were all featured in some form or other on these red documents sitting on his desk. He didn’t know what each of these tributary gifts could be used for. In fact, he hadn’t even heard of them back in the mortal realm. That said, he could tell that these gifts were all extraordinary in their own rights.
Wang Chenghao didn’t speak either. He’d been scuttling about all day, acting as Qin Ye’s arms and legs, and he was glad to finally have been given a breather. Even then, he couldn’t help but look intently at Qin Ye, scrutinizing Qin Ye’s every movement.
Something about Qin Ye felt different from before.
He couldn’t say what exactly it was. In part, it felt as though Qin Ye’s old thick-skinned self had returned, and yet, it also felt as though he had gained an aura of dignity and nobility about him, so much so that Wang Chenghao couldn’t tell if it were still appropriate to be joking about Qin Ye.
In fact, Wang Chenghao wasn’t the only one who sensed these changes in Qin Ye’s demeanor. All of the ministers who have had the opportunity to interact with him found Qin Ye a lot more reserved, cautious and meticulous than before. They could even tell from the manner in which Qin Ye’s personal assistants were treating him that there was now an added degree of reverence and awe.
That’s right - they might have been treating Qin Ye with respect for the office he occupied in the past, but all that has changed to reverence and awe for the person himself.
Just then, the Second King Yanluo entered the room and addressed Qin Ye directly, “The first thing you’ve got to do is to familiarize yourself with Hell’s Records. It contains the exact specifications and materials required to construct the six paths of reincarnation.”
“I’m sure you’ve already started to realize the importance of maintaining good relations between Heaven and Hell.”
The Second King Yanluo leisurely sat down onto the sofa in the room, and Wang Chenghao sensibly offered him a cup of tea. His intuition told him that this was not a man to be messed with.
“The specifications and materials required to construct the six paths of reincarnation?” Qin Ye turned around in shock, “Isn’t it too early to construct that right now?”
“Not at all.” The Second King Yanluo sipped his tea placidly, “Firstly, you’ll have to decide on an appropriate location. There are many strange localities hidden across the three realms, and especially so in the mortal realm, otherwise known as the foundation of the three realms. We’ve been unable to discover these hinterlands precisely because Hell hasn’t been able to properly comb through these lands before.”
“For instance, the six paths of reincarnation is an amenity that occupies an incredibly large area, but the truth of the matter is that it used to be located in a special dimension that exists between realms. This dimensional rift could be as small as a drop of water, or be represented by the form of a valley or a cave by the ocean. Think about it, the six paths are supposed to accommodate hundreds of millions of sinners. How much space would you need to hold that many people? That’s easily larger than a major province in Cathay! Hell doesn’t have such luxury of space to support the physical existence of the six paths of reincarnation. Therefore, the next best choice is to have it situated in a special dimensional rift, one which we more commonly call the Sumeru Mustard.” 
Qin Ye took a sip of tea and sighed softly, “Unfortunately, Hell is still a far cry from what it used to be. We don’t have many Yin soldiers to begin with. Having just put the Battle of Qufu behind us, I’d like to wait at least another year before conducting a mass conscription exercise if possible. That should give the citizens sufficient time to ease into the new regime and earn their trust. That puts our current numbers at only slightly over 10,000 Yin soldiers. To make matters worse, this is the tally before we take into account the fact that Susa Boy had easily killed thousands more. So where are we supposed to find the requisite manpower to explore new frontiers?”
Qin Ye gently set his teacup back onto the table, “Moreover, I’ve got no clue where exactly this Sumeru Mustard is going to be located. It’s going to take an incredible investment of manpower from Hell’s security forces to locate this. Going by my current estimates, I don’t think it would even be possible to commence the construction of the six paths of reincarnation before Hell’s population size grows to the hundreds of millions, and there exists at least 10 million Yin soldiers under our command--…”
But his voice soon trailed off, because he realized that the Second King Yanluo was simply holding his teacup and smiling intently at Qin Ye.
The smug expression that the Second King Yanluo was wearing told Qin Ye that there was something more than meets the eye. At once, Qin Ye coughed dryly, “Allow me to ponder about this a little while longer…”
The Second King Yanluo waited patiently for the next few minutes as Qin Ye pored through the deepest recesses of his mind for an answer. Then, his eyes suddenly lit up, “Cui Jue’s Laws of Yin-Yang Coaction?”
The Second King Yanluo nodded with a smile, “Good lad. You are teachable after all.”
Bloody hell… Qin Ye fervently resisted the urge to give the old man a tight slap across the cheeks.
Qin Ye despised all men who looked more handsome and charming than him.
Forget it… Since I can’t defeat him, I’ve got no choice but to endure it with long-suffering instead. Qin Ye coughed dryly as he gently tapped the table, “You’d earlier mentioned that there are many places in the mortal realm that conceal great secrets, but have remained undiscovered all this while because there’s no way Hell can comb through those lands. But according to the Laws of Yin-Yang Coaction, what exists in the mortal realm would exist in the netherworld, and the converse is also true. In other words, so long as I can locate the existence of the Sumeru Mustard in the mortal realm, it must necessarily flow that the same thing would exist in the netherworld.”
“But therein lies the problem - how am I supposed to go about with a search like that?” He didn’t go on. If there’s one thing he learnt from his governance of Ashmound, it would be the fact that hope was of paramount importance.
And the greatest hope that one could give to the ghostly citizens of Hell is the hope of returning to the mortal realm!
It could be the hope of making a trip back to the mortal realm; it could be the hope of relaying dreams to their loved ones; and it could even be the hope of reincarnating for good and regaining life back in the mortal realm!
The construction of the six paths of reincarnation was most definitely one of the most important milestones in Hell’s development! Once the works were complete, Hell could then properly be said to have regained its true function across the three realms. This would be the best way to keep the citizens of Hell under control!
“There’s no hurry.” Unexpectedly, it was the Second King Yanluo who interjected with a response, “The six paths and the Eighteen Abysses of Punishments may both be considered part of the core functions of Hell. Not only would they require specialized materials for constructions, they are even contingent on a deeper study of special disciplines, including Yin Talismanology and Yin Spirit Biology, and the like. It’s still far too early for Hell to be delving straight into these things. That said, this doesn’t mean that Hell can’t start laying the groundwork for the future.”
He stood up, “Anyhow, it’s fine if you don’t fully grasp what I’m driving at right now. For now, what do you say to getting started on breaking down Hell’s legacy?”
Qin Ye retracted his smile and nodded deeply, “That’s right. You don’t have much time left in these three realms, do you?”
“Two months.” The Second King Yanluo responded casually.
How are there still two months?!
Aren’t you supposed to be leaving earlier? Does time flow differently where you come from?! Or did someone somehow manage to nail you to the chair?
Do you know how costly it is to maintain your existence? Do you know what kind of pressure your existence brings to me? Do you know how hard it is to feign diligence everyday just because of you? Besides, haven’t you heard of the QQ messaging platform? Can’t you just leave your instructions by way of messaging? Are you personally hanging around Hell because you’re coveting my flesh?!
Fear filled his guts, while his heart surged with rage. Even then, he sensibly suppressed the outpouring of emotions in the interest of preserving his own life.
“Well then… shall we get right down to it now?” Qin Ye asked with a contrived smile.
If I could have it my way, I’d much rather learn of Hell’s legacy through the QQ messaging app, rather than right under the close scrutiny of your watchful gaze!
The Second King Yanluo did nothing more than raise an eyebrow at Qin Ye’s response, and at once, Qin Ye’s surroundings began to turn illusory and fade away.
Moments later, when everything became clear once more, Qin Ye was astonished to discover that he was now located in the midst of a boundless sea of lotuses.
Both he and the Second King Yanluo were seated in the middle of a boat approximately ten meters in size. The carvings on the ship were incredibly exquisite, and it looked as though it had materialized out of the finest ancient paintings.
“Red flowers, green leaves and white lotus roots. The Three Religions all stem from the same root.  They were both located at the head of the boat. The Second King Yanluo gently poured out a cup of tea and handed it to Qin Ye, “My body has been tainted by the karma of the Three Religions, so I’d thought of creating this Green Lotus Cave. I hope it’s not an eyesore to you.”
He must be seeking validation of his efforts…
Qin Ye coughed lightly as he held up his teacup, “It’s alright.”
The Second King Yanluo chuckled as he patted the side of the boat. At once, the boat rocked softly, and began to traverse through the boundless sea of lotuses. As the lotuses were swept to the sides, it revealed countless koi fishes gathered under their boat, almost as though the koi fishes were holding up the weight of the boat and ferrying them along the waters. The lotus leaves were massive, while the stalks looked like the trunks of towering trees that extended high into the skies. The brilliant sunlight in the distance shone right through the gaps between the lotus leaves, casting patchwork shadows on the shimmering waters below.
It was a tranquil sight that offered Qin Ye a reprieve from the hectic lifestyle of a King Yanluo of Hell.
“You seem to know how to enjoy life.” Qin Ye set aside all pretension, kicked his legs up and lay back on the boat as he stared at the lotus leaves hanging overhead, “Tell me, how long has it been since you first developed the intention to pass on your duties and responsibilities, and retire in his place of tranquility?”
Thud… The Second King Yanluo followed suit and laid back, crossing his legs and shaking it casually, “The only other person to ever have come to this little domain of mine apart from you is Bo Yikao. But he’s an idiot. Don’t you ever learn from him.”
“Haha… Aren’t you a pot calling the kettle black? Didn’t you set me up for this as well? Speaking of which, is this supposed to be one of the traditions for handing over one’s duties to their successors now? I feel obligated to carry things forward properly…”
The Second King Yanluo leaned his head on his hands and muttered back lazily, “... I have no idea what you’re talking about. Besides, do you know how boring it is to stagnate in the same place for hundreds of years on end? As soon as a government takes shape, everything will continue to run like clockwork so long as there aren’t any major exigencies which precipitate changes. But, even then, your subjects would still long to stand out from their competition, constantly reporting to you the most illustrious things they’ve done. You’d have no choice but to end up nodding like a little bob-headed machine. And since they’re part of your own government, you can’t even smack them like you would swat a pesky fly!”
It was an incredibly peaceful sight. Both of them were clearly enjoying their moment of respite, and they continued to stare blankly at the passing sky for the next five minutes or so, before Qin Ye finally broke the silence, “Speaking of which, I still haven’t got your name. Your current title is too long, and it’s rather difficult to keep addressing you by that.”
“C’mon, not even a peep? You’re going to leave soon, aren’t you? I’ll have to burn some incense for you in the coming few Qingming festivals, but it’s far too much work writing out ‘Second King Yanluo of Hell’ for every time I have to do so…” Qin Ye shut his eyes, “And if you’re thinking of saying ‘peep’, just know that even my patience has its limits. Do you know how much I’ve wanted to send you to the after-afterlife? It’s too bad that I’m no match for you.”
Still, no response.
Truth be told, Qin Ye hadn’t expected a response from the Second King Yanluo. By now, he had already sat up, reached over the waters and begun paddling in the water, enjoying the touch of the koi fish gently pecking at his fingers. Thirty more seconds passed. Just then, the Second King Yanluo suddenly spoke, “Xu Yangyi.” 
“Never heard of it before. It’s not a bad name, but why does it sound like ‘potato’?” 
“I’m glad that’s the case, because it would raise questions about your identity if you’ve actually heard of that name.” Xu Yangyi responded placidly, “Speaking of which, can’t you move over slightly? You’re not tall, so why do you take up so much space?”
… Fine, tall freak. Stop being such a bully!
1. He is one of the three pure ones, the highest divinities of Taoism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daode_Tianzun
3. The Sumeru Mustard takes its name from a sutra which states that Mount Sumeru can be inserted into a mustard seed. In turn, Mount Sumeru is known to be the centre of all universes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Meru