Qin Hui nodded, “That’s right. There’s no guarantee. This is why we have to take a gamble. Furthermore… there’s no room for retreat.”
“Do you know why we’ve managed to stay alive all this while?”
“Do you know why we’ve managed to occupy three large districts, and Lord Harken has remained indifferent all this while?”
He took a deep breath and stared Su Daji in the eye, “Because the current King Yanluo is a living person, and he’s still new to the netherworld.”
“A living person?” Su Daji’s eyes narrowed, and then she gasped in horror, “Taisui fungus… There’s actually such a thing in this world?!”
She suddenly paused.
She wasn’t daft.
After all, if she were daft, she would never have lived for as long as she did. If she were daft, she would never have been able to earn the favour of the incumbent kings, regardless of how many times the one sitting in the throne had been. If she were daft, she would never have gained such a measure of influence to dictate who lived and who died around her.
Therefore, she immediately understood everything. And it was precisely because she did that her heart instantly grew cold and frigid.
We’re the whetstones… We’re the best whetstones to sharpen this new King Yanluo of Hell!
Qin Hui continued, “They had left us around to sharpen the Third King Yanluo of Hell. Right now, Hell already has a reasonable base of operations, and they’re sitting on tens of millions of Yin spirits. Furthermore, they even have the backing of the Harken and the Second King Yanluo. Don’t you think… they might very soon turn their attention towards us?”
“Do you think we still have the luxury of time to be sitting around without making a decision?”
“Or do you think you’ll be able to breach the Array of the Nine Gods that locks us in Cathay?”
Qin Hui’s voice quickly grew hoarse. In that instant, his heart couldn’t help but stir with excitement, almost as though he were relishing his newfound status as a representative of Hell.
His once-cold heart ignited with passion once more, and he continued hoarsely, “If you can’t, then there’s no choice but to fall in line.”
Su Daji didn’t say anything. Her chest simply rose and fell greatly with every breath. She pursed her lips and squinted her eyes as she scanned the wreckage that lay around Pearl River.
Some time later, she finally responded, “Truth be told, I didn’t have any intentions to meet with you from the onset. You’ve made the trip from afar, evidently from the east. I sensed a great stir coming from Eastmount Province during the Hungry Ghost Festivals that had just passed, and I’ve more or less made some sense of what happened there. In fact, I’d already guessed that you’d already defected to Hell before you came to me today.”
Qin Hui had an unnaturally dry smile on his lips.
You say that, but… Yanluo Qin has never given me his word before…
That said, he firmly believed in his own ability to curry favour with the incumbent.
“I wanted to indulge in this drunken reverie of mine - even just for another day. Who would’ve thought…” She glanced hatefully at Qin Hui, “You didn’t give me a chance at that at all.”
There were times when negotiations didn’t have to be complicated at all.
And these were times when the stakes involved were all too clear. It was a life-or-death situation.
However, she soon flipped the decision right back, “But… we’re not without a third option.”
Qin Hui raised a brow in consternation - Are you mad? How can there possibly be a third option in front of both that man and Lord Harken? However, he held back and sneered, “Daolord Dong?”
“With all due respect, Dong Zhuo is a man who often lets his own greed get the better of him. What he’s done in his lifetime is no less heinous than us. He burnt the imperial capital Luoyang, causing countless mortals to die as a result. The souls who perish unjustly mourned and wailed for over a decade. Yet you… expect him to share what he has with us? Do you know why I decided to come to you? It’s precisely because I think that there’s still hope with you. And him?”
Qin Hui shook his head, “He’s a write-off.”
Su Daji snorted, “Anything can happen when we’re in a corner. Do you know something? I’ve just returned from a trip to Westriver last month. During this trip, the Daolord of the Beast finally told me something.”
Su Daji whispered softly, “He’s… gotten hold of shards of King Yanluo’s Seal!”
“In fact, he’s only two pieces short from putting together the complete King Yanluo’s Seal!”
At once, Qin Hui jerked his head up and stared at Su Daji with great disbelief.
“There’s no doubt that the final two pieces must be in the possession of the new Hell.” Su Daji licked her lips and chuckled, “Don’t you think there might just be a chance at a great reversal if we gave it our all?”
“I personally think that this is the only way to secure our path ahead.”
Qin Hui quickly composed himself again. Credit where it was due, Qin Hui was probably the one who had the keenest sense of danger of the three. He immediately shook his head, “How can three Prefects possibly suppress the Harken?”
“It’s a grievously wounded Harken.” Su Daji responded placidly.
Qin Hui sneered, “Do you think its injuries would remain there forever?”
“All we need to do is to move before it gets better. And even if we fail, all we need to do is simply to strike a deal with the shards of King Yanluo’s Seal in hand. Faced with the threat of absconding with the shards of King Yanluo’s Seal, I refuse to believe Hell wouldn’t relent. We’re talking about one of the divine artifacts of Hell.”
“And what about him?” Qin Hui stared at Su Daji, “What about the Second King Yanluo? Have you forgotten what kind of existence he is?”
Su Daji smiled radiantly, “This is why I’m telling you this.”
With a soft sigh, she shook her head and gazed high into the sky, “Because… there’s no chance of defeating him…”
Qin Hui’s eyes flickered wildly, and he took a step forward, “So?”
“Allow me some time to mull over these things.” Su Daji withdrew her gaze and glanced southwards, “One month.”
“I’ll give you my response in a month’s time.”
Qin Hui’s heart was filled with elation, almost as though he had just participated in a coup that had given the forces of resistance a new lease of life. He felt as important as someone who had been invited to the opening ceremony of the new Hell. Suppressing the wild surge of excitement and anticipation in his heart, he spoke as calmly as he possibly could, “Don’t say that I didn’t warn you - certain things might not be worth as much as time wears on.”
“If we defect now, we practically get first dibs on any location we desire in Hell. In fact… we might even be granted the opportunity to develop our own clan. But the longer we wait, the more Judges and Prefects Hell is going to see, and we’d be lucky to be given a less than important office in Hell.”
Su Daji waved her hand, “I’ve already prepared a chamber for you to spend the night. Get lost.”
Qin Hui couldn’t be bothered to verbally butt heads with her any longer, and he promptly left in a stream of nethergale.
Su Daji watched him leave silently, and then continued to stare into the darkness for several more minutes. After that, she suddenly spoke, “Shen Yin.”
“Here.” A voice as hoarse as a grinding stone responded, and a figure completely shrouded in a nethergale bowed respectfully to her.
“I’m giving you a letter. Take it with you…”
Shen Yin maintained a bowed posture as he eagerly awaited his orders.
After ten minutes, Su Daji finally made up her mind, “Take a trip to Martial City.”
“Yes.” Shen Yin received the letter respectfully, and then vanished without a trace. Several minutes later, Su Daji spoke once more, “Huan Xing.”
“Here.” A lady’s figure walked out of the shadows and knelt down submissively before Su Daji.
“Immediately notify all generals that… they are to cease all expansion efforts right away.”
“Meanwhile, consolidate all forces at the Fulling Province, and inform all officers in the rank of Soul Hunter and above to return right away.”
Qin Ye naturally wasn’t aware of the ongoings in Pearl River Province.
Right now, he was simply scratching his head time and again over the numerous questions in his mind.
There were too many things happening right now!
First of all, the City of Salvation had already completed most of its infrastructural works. Infrastructure was the foundation of any nation’s development. Cathay was able to maintain such an incredible rate of expansion only because of the extensiveness and sufficiency of their infrastructural works to begin with. Meanwhile, Oda Nobunaga had left him a stack of reports on his desk, each of which were over a centimeter thick. There was no way he couldn’t return.
Secondly, the developments within the City of Salvation were all going according to plan. The Ministry of Communications had informed him that they were making arrangements for a political show for him, with the intent that he should return to show his support for several key projects in the City of Salvation, such as a tour around the newly reclaimed tea mountains, as well as the new menagerie where they would breed Yin beasts. After that, Hell’s Media Group would publish a full-page feature in the papers, discussing how deep Yanluo Qin’s love for his country and his people ran.
Thirdly, it was necessary to look into the works of the Frontier Brigades and construction corps. These were the steps that were necessary to take complete control of Eastmount Province, and thereby secure themselves the leverage required to commence negotiations with the mortal realm. It would also fortify their position and allow them to launch further operations to reclaim the rest of Cathay. In other words, it was a conquest for the unification of the… Cathayan Underworld.
There was even a fourth item on the agenda. Rus and Hanyang were slated to send merchant ships at the end of the year. This was the first time Hell was going to be opening its borders to the netherworld out there. No… rather, it was only limited to the East Continent. Hell was opening a small crack in its door. This was Hell’s first probative attempt at stepping out of its shell. He had once consulted the Harken on the possibility of opening a sliver of their borders for a period of time.
This was a big deal. It was a source of riches for Ashmound City, and it was also necessary for the purposes of increasing the variety of products available to Hell. Hell’s Ministry of Finance had already gritted its teeth and tightened its belt to set aside a sum of money to establish a port city at the mouth of the Yellow River.
It wouldn’t be large - probably not larger than a village at that. However, its importance was a far cry from its unassuming size.
Fifth, there were other administrative matters to look into. The rollout of several policies had taken place smoothly, but unfortunately, the follow-up thereafter was hardly smooth, to say the least.
For instance, as far as the monetary system was concerned, one of the burgeoning issues was how the citizens were constantly finding their savings increasing. This might be a good sign in the mortal realm, but it was a sign of danger in the netherworld - it indicated that there were no longer sufficient supplies on the market to support the existing consumption of Hell’s citizens! Even the amusement park that had been built just a few months ago wasn’t able to support the spending power of the citizens. After all, they couldn’t possibly play every day. They had to work on most days, and they would at best visit the amusement parks on their days off or on the weekends. How much could a day ticket or two cost? Besides, the citizens would grow weary of even the most exciting attractions after some time.
It’s not enough… Qin Ye was practically paralyzed in his chair. Thoughts of finances were like a black hole that sucked him dry of all of his energy. And the only way to fill this black hole was nothing more than the opening of the trade routes at the end of the year - something that brought Qin Ye right back to point number four above!
Furthermore, there were various other ancillary issues, such as Hell’s Media Group. Given Ashmound City’s size, there were only so many things that could be reported on. As the quality of reports dwindled, they slowly even began to report on the most mundane things, including the death of Yin beasts.
Last, but not least, there was the order of business number six - the most terrifying one.
And that was none other than the development of nuclear weapons.
To do, or not to do. That was the question.
Should Hell devour the Resentment Crystals Vein? If so, how? And if not, how were they going to prevent the Russian Underworld from laying their hands on it?
From there, there was another order of business that arose.
Arthis had been sent to the Mongol Empire. She was the only other powerhouse in Hell that could be sent out into a foreign land apart from himself. Naturally, he was waiting eagerly for her return.
There were a multitude of things to be done. Qin Ye felt like he was going crazy.
To make matters worse, these were the pressing issues faced by Hell. Apart from that, there were other not-so-pressing issues, including the three daolords, the unification of the nation, and how Hell was going to step back into the international arena…
Qin Ye shuddered.
He didn’t even want to think about these things.
“Do you finally understand the difficulties in being the King Yanluo?” Harken-dog squatted on the table, sipping its tea as it enjoyed the look of anguish on Qin Ye’s face. At once, Qin Ye gnashed his teeth, “You’re certainly having it easy… Why don’t you make yourself useful and read some official documents?! You can approve them as well!”
“You’ve got to get used to it.” The Harken lay comfortably on one a ‘Ashmound City’s First Quarterly Agricultural Report’, “You best focus your mind on the works here in Eastmount Province. That way, you’ll finally be able to earn yourself some leverage to communicate with the mortal realm once more. Then, you can finally get them to ship us some bodies of the academicians that have perished to fill the hole caused by the lack of talents in Hell. And with some talents in Hell, you can finally organize your own team of administrators and finally rid yourself of this sea of suffering.”
Qin Ye threw his head up and stared at the ceiling in despair, “You guys should rejoice that you have such a diligent and wise King Yanluo to tide us through these dark ages…”
The Harken continued to take a jibe at him, “So how do you plan on getting started on the mountain of tasks?”
“One at a time.” Qin Ye massaged his temples as he began to get down into business, “I’ll finish it one day. One Tail, get the hell over here! Immediately send a messenger bird to notify the City of Salvation that I will be attending the inauguration ceremony of the infrastructural projects in the City of Salvation.”
As for the rest?
Haste makes waste. Slow and steady wins the race.
After all, Hell would be in chaos if its main pillar of support lost its cool.Previous Chapter Next Chapter