Su Daji and Qin Hui glanced at each other, and then turned back to the seas with a look of great disbelief.
These were Cathayan seas. Ships of the netherworld would never be so bold as to enter this place without Hell’s permission. After all, they know full well that Hell would never allow ships to call in the Cathayan ports without first seeking an entry permit.
What the hell is going on here?
Su Daji was just about to transform into a gust of nethergale to fly over when Qin Hui suddenly pulled her back, “Hang on.”
Su Daji turned back in confusion, only to notice Qin hui adjusting his clothes, “Later on, do as I say, and don’t say a word.”
“This is credit that has just fallen from the skies and right into our laps.”
Su Daji didn’t say a word. After all, she knew that she was miles away from Qin Hui as far as political acumen was concerned. At once, the duo transformed into a gust of wind and appeared right at the edge of the Array of the Nine Gods.
The golden curtain before their eyes was hardly opaque. Those on the inside could see everything outside clearly, while those on the outside could only see the mortal realm within. Everything of the netherworld remained completely obscured by the golden light. As soon as they arrived, Qin Hui immediately turned to Su Daji with a gesture of silence, and then pointed to the sea.
There appeared to be a horizontal log drifting on the surface of the waters.
No. To be more precise, it wasn’t so much a log than a piece of carved wood. Upon closer inspection, it almost looked to be a carved whale.
Furthermore, they could see a ghastly figure standing atop this piece of wood.
The figure stood with a hunched back, and was wearing tattered clothes so torn that it could barely cover his entire body. He stood barefooted on the log. Clearly, this was no Cathayan Yin spirit, nor any Emissary of Hell.
In fact, Qin Hui and Su Daji could see that one of the man’s feet was in fact an artificial wooden limb. Two spots of blue netherflames flickered wildly from his eyes. His left hand carried a lamp, while his right hand rested on a crutch. The seas around this man sloshed about wildly, escalating in the swell of the waves, until finally, the surface of the seas transformed into a hundred-meter large whirlpool with him located at the very center of it. Even then, he stood firmly in the heart of the terrifying whirlpool, lofty and unfazed.
“Beacon.” Su Daji’s eyes narrowed, “The lamp in his hand is a beacon lamp. But what exactly is he directing? A fleet of ships?”
Just then, there was a loud bang! The entire surface of the seas erupted with a terrifying tsunami, while a colossal three-masted galleon emerged from the heart of the whirlpool!
Whoosh! Seawater flowed off the surface of the galleon like massive waterfalls. From where they were, Qin Hui and Su Daji could see a multitude of skeletal sailors emerging from the whirlpool behind the galleon. The galleon’s sails were covered in seaweed and shells, but they were promptly raised at once, revealing the emblems of skulls and bones.
And it was only then that they discovered the Yin spirit that was earlier standing on the log was now standing on the bow of the ship!
And the bow was etched with the carvings of a white whale.
“This is…” The netherflames in Qin Hui’s eyes flickered wildly, and then he exclaimed in horror, “The Black Pearl?!”
Su Daji recoiled with disbelief, “This is the legend of the age of discovery and exploration. Legend had it was swallowed up by a great beast, and that the hundreds of sailors on board had all become slaves to the great beast. Their whereabouts have become completely lost to time. How could they have ended up here?”
Then, just as the Black Pearl finally settled down on the surface of the seas, the loud blare of a horn sounded, reverberating endlessly into the waters around. Following that, a massive tail emerged from the darkness in the distance and then slammed its huge tail down onto the surface of the waters!
It was a fish.
A completely transparent fish.
But it was precisely because of this that one could see the internal structures of the fish. Its entire body was supported by clear bones holding up its skin, but there was nothing else - no muscles nor internal organs. Instead, it was clear that the space within the fish’s belly contained over 20 large ships, each of which easily spanned 100 meters from end to end!
“Alkebulan Undead Fish.” Su Daji’s lips parted, and she frowned in confusion, “In the Alkebulan lore, their gods were the ones who first made creatures in the seas. Who would’ve thought that these things would still be around? It must have been more than 10,000 years since the time of its creation until now! Do they seriously exist?”
“That’s not important. Right now, what’s more important is why they’re here.” Qin Hui snorted coldly as he watched the Black Pearl and the Alkebulan Undead Fish make their way slowly over towards the edge of the golden curtain. And then, they stopped in unison, almost as though they were waiting for something.
“Playing games.” Qin Hui snickered softly, and his body vanished from the spot. When he next appeared, he was already located on the other side of the golden curtain where the Alkebulan fleet was. His movements were so quick that not even Su Daji could react in time. Instead, she simply clenched her fists tightly and pursed her lips.
Let’s get it right here…
We still bear the status of evil ghosts, not Emissary of Hells!
So why are you already acting with such a profound sense of justice welling up within you? Why are you already acting as though you’re an Emissary of Hell?
“Identify yourself and your purpose here. Are you aware that it is a crime to enter our territorial waters uninvited?” Qin Hui’s voice was stern and somber. 13 Alkebulan ships lit up at once in response. Clearly, none of them had expected someone to have already been waiting for them here. After a minute of tense silence, a voice finally responded, “Emissary of Hell?”
“Prefect Qin Hui.” Qin Hui was tempted to also state his official position in an attempt to relish in the glory of being an Emissary of Hell, when he realized to his dismay that… alas, he didn’t have an official position.
At once, shadows began to appear on the surface of the fleet of ships. Seconds later, the representative of the fleet spoke again, but this time, with greater respect, “Sir, there’s been a misunderstanding. This is the Alkebulan merchant fleet. Under the instructions of the other Prefect Qin, we have just established a trade route between Hell and the Alkebulan Underworlds. This is the full inventory of the cargo on board these ships right now. Please, have a look.”
The man dressed in animal skin stepped out with a golden scroll tied up using a scarlet string. As soon as the scarlet string was undone, the scroll immediately flashed with dazzling golden light, and then went straight through the Array of the Nine Gods and into Qin Hui’s hands.
Qin Hui took hold of the scroll and stared out into the open seas with a trace of complex emotions in his eyes. He didn’t even bother glancing at Su Daji when she finally arrived beside him.
Hell has established trade routes!
And the first shipment already contains over 20 ships? Are there more hidden in the shadows? No… when did he manage to do this? How did he manage to do this?!
Isn’t Hell in a lacklustre shape right now? How did they manage to get the Alkebulan Underworlds to agree to trade with them? And on such a large scale? What are they offering up in exchange for the exports of the Alkebulan Underworlds? How smooth must the Third King Yanluo be to be able to convince these other underworlds? And to do so without disclosing a trace of Hell’s current condition at that?!
As an Abyssal Prefect that had been trapped beneath the six paths of reincarnation, he knew all too well what sea trade meant to the development of an underworld. In fact, one might describe this as the turbocharger that would give Hell the boost it needed on the highway of development!
Hell would soon be back on track to catch up with the other powers in the world!
The two exchanged an awkward glance for the third time. And this time, not only was there shock and horror in their hearts, there was even a trace of relief.
“I suddenly feel rather relieved.” Su Daji shut her eyes and shuddered slightly, “Had I not known any better and submitted when I did, I’m afraid that… I wouldn’t be able to survive any more than three years…”
“You’re right. Once Hell is back on track, there’s simply no stopping them.”
Qin Hui gulped nervously. If not for the fact that Yin spirits didn’t have sweat glands, the scroll in his hand would already have been soaked through by now.
The new Hell’s rate of development is simply unbelievable. Granted, they might have been springboarded by the presence of ready-made cities, but the fact that they’re able to re-establish sea trade means that the reversion to Hell’s heyday is practically on the horizon. It’s truly a good thing we submitted when we did… Dong Zhuo, you old fool…
“Since there was a prior agreement as to the appropriate time of entry, then might I ask that you wait patiently for now. I will present your manifesto to the King Yanluo of Hell.”
With that, they promptly took their leave and made a beeline straight back to the coast.
Neither Su Daji nor Qin Hui said a word on the way back.
After an inordinate amount of time, Su Daji suddenly quipped, “I just recalled that you still have an army of 100,000 Yin spirits, don’t you? That’s just as well, because I’ve got the same number under my charge as well.”
“Oh?” Qin Hui frowned and looked up at her.
Su Daji took a deep breath, “Given Hell’s rate of growth, it’s not going to take the new Hell more than five years to muster an army of that size! Qin Hui, don’t you think that… our token of peace-offering to Hell… is somewhat lacking?”
Qin Hui’s lips quivered, evidently deep in thought. Seconds later, he responded hoarsely, “Are you suggesting that… we present Dong Zhuo’s head to placate the new King Yanluo of Hell?”
“Would that suffice?”
“Certainly.” Su Daji smiled, and then licked her lips avariciously, “I only wonder if… Lord Qin would be willing to give us this opportunity. What if… he actually wants to use it to train his old soldiers?”
“Opportunities must be seized by the horns.”
The sudden realization had not only quashed any trace ambitions lingering in Su Daji’s heart, it had even caused her to understand just how potentially fatal her indecisiveness could have been.
Defect now, and the new Hell might still have some use for them. But if they dallied for even a few more years, then perhaps the only use Hell might have of them is to banish them straight to the depths of the six paths of reincarnation once more!
“Is this Ashmound City?” Zhao Yun surveyed the sprawling city before him with great interest, “But it’s not real enough. As expected, this truly is the Mythic Palace of Reflections. What a pity. There used to be Eight Great Clans of Hell, each of which even had three core artifacts on which their entire clan was built. Too bad it’s all no more than a fragment of history now.”
Every city of the old Hell used to be occupied by at least one of the Eight Great Clans, and such was the arrangement for thousands of years on end. But not only did they enjoy the great privilege of reaping the rewards of the riches of their city, they were also tasked with the responsibility of defending their cities from foreign invaders as and when required.
Not even the least of the Eight Great Clans should be made light of. For instance, the city located at the edge of the Province of Bod used to be under the charge of the Zhao Clan.
Emperor Zhao of the Han Dynasty.
Back then, when the coalition of seven underworlds joined forces and besieged Hell, the Zhao Clan was the ones who first held back the hordes of armies pouring out of the Aegyptian Underworld. Everything was clearly recorded in the annals of Hell’s history.
Naturally, the unbalance in power was so stark that apart from the Eight Great Clans, not a single other famous clan was able to do so much as to even make ripples in Hell. Not even Cao Cao’s Clan could make a splash for themselves under the oppression of the Eight Great Clans.
Nobody said a word as they flew through the city. Zhao Yun was taking in the extent of Ashmound City’s development, while Qin Ye was observing the changes that had taken place since he’d last been there.
Arthis was the acting regent of the state - not that he would’ve appointed her if he could help it, but there was simply no other viable option at the time. After all, Oda Nobunaga was helping the operations back in Everburn City, and Qin Ye still couldn’t trust the other Emissaries of Hell.
But as they drew closer to the city tower in the middle of the city, Qin Ye slowly began to furrow his brows.
“My Lord?” Zhao Yun turned back, “I think that it’s highly commendable that you were able to develop things to such an extent in just a few short years.”
Qin Ye shook his head.
It wasn’t enough.
He could see that the stores by the roads were open, and yet there weren’t many people entering or leaving the stores. Upon closer inspection, Qin Ye could even see that most of the shelves were nearly empty. Meanwhile, there were a couple of merchants who would use loudspeakers to advertise the newest products that were soon about to hit the shelves, and countless Yin spirits would be gathered there at once.
Commerce was the bloodline of any nation, and so long as commerce didn’t function properly, then the use of currency would also fall through. And the main reason for the current situation right now was simply a lack of supply of goods. Supply couldn’t keep up with demand.
After all, Ashmound City couldn’t truly be said to be self-sufficient, especially when it came to the production of many goods. After all, many of the new industries that had just been founded were still in their nascent stages, and it would take them at least a decade before things finally took off… at least, in the absence of a large injection of supplies.
Such as by way of sea trade.
Or through their negotiations with the mortal realm.
If things went on like this, Ashmound City would soon lose its vitality. Furthermore, now that the national highway between Everburn and Ashmound had finally been established, the situation would only worsen. Qin Ye bade a beeline towards the office with a frown on his face, casually nodding at the Yin spirits that he passed by as he marched straight into the head office. At once, he was greeted by two murderous glares.
“You dare come back now?!” Arthis slammed down hard on her table and shot to her feet at once, “You--...”
And then, she paused.
Her gaze drifted past Qin Ye’s inconsequential figure and landed directly on Zhao Yun’s body.
“Ah… ah! AH!!!” Arthis covered her mouth and squealed loudly as she vanished from her spot at the desk. When she next appeared, he was already dressed in the most ladylike suit she had in her possession, replete with crimson stilettos, and she muttered shyly, “Oppa…”
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