The figurative fire of Hell was picking up.
Qin Ye wanted nothing more than for these flames to spread across the entire Hell. After all, when the government had its mind set on one goal, there was no reason that it wouldn’t be able to achieve it.
Back when the talks of the seaport were first made public, the citizens of Hell didn’t think this was going to be a blazing conflagration of such a magnitude. Everyone had expected it to be nothing more than a spark, just like the other incidents that came before it. But now, they knew better. They knew that things were slowly but surely going to pick up.
7 February. 10 days before the New Year. It was also on this day that Hell’s Media Group launched a special edition of Hell’s Weekly with emboldened captions: Sea Trade in Full Swing! The Russian Flotilla Arrives! Hell Sets Foot Onto the International Arena!
“... Three days ago, Hell’s government, led by none other than Yanluo Qin himself, arrived at the Ashmound Port for a final inspection. This is the second time in a week that Yanluo Qin has inspected Ashmound Port to ensure everything is in order. This is also the first time that Hell will officially be making a splash with the other underworlds on the international arena…”
“... Minister Zhao of the Ministry of Labour has issued a statement confirming that 22 companies have already expressed their intention to submit tenders for the use of the goods imported through sea trade. The Ministry of Labour expects the opening of the Ashmound Port to create approximately 50,000 jobs for all of Ashmound City. Moreover, Ashmound City will see a surge in materials of all sorts, ushering in a new state of abundance. All parties interested in submitting tenders should comply with the following…”
And that was just the front page. On that day, countless entrepreneurs keen on doing business in the afterlife spent several hours dissecting the information presented on this special edition of Hell’s Weekly.
And that was just the headlines.
Sure, a special edition might not mean much to ordinary citizens, but every experienced entrepreneur out there who could think for themselves would most certainly be able to smell the profit in the air.
Everburn City, Qin Gardens. A group of middle-aged Yin spirits gathered around in a small room no larger than 90 square meters, standing around as they huddled close to a set of papers that were spread open on the table, “An auction? But one that auctions agreements and rights, rather than goods?”
“These agreements require us to bid by committing to a number of jobs to be created, a certain amount of profit generated, and yet mentions nothing about actual transactions? And they require us to place a performance bond with them?”
“And the fulfilment of these agreements are to be assessed at a fixed time later on. Those who fail to meet the standards that they have committed to will be blacklisted by the government, and thereafter… banned from all commercial activity for a period of 20 years?” The Yin spirit located at the center of the group looked up abruptly with eyes that were gleaming brightly, “It’s a wager. The government is wagering with private enterprises and individuals. How fresh… Those who can earn the trust of the government right now will come out heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition and become industry leaders, while the losers would end up working for Hell’s government for free.”
Silence. Seconds later, everyone began to chime in.
“How committed is Hell in improving the consumer market? Are they going to plug the gaps between demand and supply more conscientiously moving forward?”
“What do you mean plug the gaps? Hell’s government has always been plugging these gaps, and it’s just that it wasn’t effective before. At the very least, you can’t deny the fact that Hell’s government has on several occasions done its level best to stimulate domestic demands to date.”
“Over the last two years, three policies were made to stoke the consumer market, but none were effective enough. This is the fourth policy, and the most promising one yet…” A plump-looking Yin spirit pursed his lips and quipped, “But why does Ashmound City get first dibs on everything? Isn’t Everburn City supposed to be the capital city?”
“It matters not.” The man in the middle stood tall and glanced about, “Everyone, are you in?”
“Dare you make a wager with the government of Hell?”
That’s right. The entrepreneurs could sense the winds of profit even from Everburn City, some distance away from Ashmound City!
There were entrepreneurs reacting from as far as Everburn City!
“Of course we’re going!” Nobody refused. One of the Yin spirits who appeared to be in his sixties suppressed his excitement as he continued, “There are still ten days left until the new year. We can apply to have Mr Nobunaga escort us so that we’ll arrive in three days! If Hell is truly intent on increasing demand, then we’ll definitely see more news about these things in the time to come!”
The night came and went, and it was soon the next day. Almost as though confirming their suspicions, another special edition of Hell’s Weekly was released again. Nobody expected consecutive releases of Hell’s Weekly. Sure, the first special release might have alerted the most perceptive of entrepreneurs, but the second special release, and on the very next day no less, was more than sufficient to stir the rest of the Yin spirits in Ashmound City to great interest. Everyone began to meet together to discuss the pros and cons of sea trade.
Of course, not everyone was willing to make a wager with the government of Hell like how Meng Zhiming was, but many were able to sense that these developments were going to be quite vastly different from the ones before. Unfortunately, time waited for no man. Some of the more reserved ones who were still planning to adopt a wait-and-see approach had their options foreclosed by the 8 February special issue that stated that 14 February was the deadline for all registration.
Meanwhile, another exciting piece of news was also announced on the 8 February special issue of Hell’s Weekly - the fact that 17th was going to mark the day of a shopping festival that would take place concurrently with the submission of tenders! It was a sale that would come straight from the docks to both cities of Hell!
Caption: Hell has declared that the 17th February of every year shall henceforth be designated as the Great Sale. There’s nothing you can’t buy, only things you cannot even begin to fathom!
Nobody had expected such taglines to appear on national papers, but the fact of the matter was that it did.
It was now patently clear that their Yanluo Qin was one who was pragmatic before anything else. Everyone scrutinized the special issue for details. The spark had ignited a brilliant flame of Hell that was now spreading beyond the borders of Ashmound City and into Everburn City itself.
Material scarcity was a disease.
A social illness.
Was there anyone who didn’t want their rooms to look beautiful and vibrant?
Was there anyone who didn’t want to dress up nicely and keep with the fashion trends?
Was there anyone who didn’t like travelling and sketching their surroundings in their free time? Was there anyone who didn’t want moments of peace and relaxation in the midst of their busy schedules?
Everything was subject to supply and demand, and prone to scarcity!
Entrepreneurs only accounted for a small segment of the population. Therefore, Qin Ye knew that if the small flame was to spread into an undying inferno, then he would most certainly need something else that would cause the flame to spread to the hearts of all ordinary citizens. And the Great Sale naturally fit the bill perfectly.
“Carnival? Isn’t that the same as the Hungry Ghost Festival?” “I didn’t have enough fun back then during the Hungry Ghost Festival. There are so many things to buy! And I only managed to go to the amusement park once.” “I’m afraid it’s bigger and better this time! Look, the options for consumers are practically limitless!”
On that day, 17 other companies were added to the register.
4 transport companies, 3 shipbuilding companies, 2 advertising companies, 2 catering companies, and the others dealt with major upstream raw materials production and processing companies, such as plants that produced plastic.
Although the registrations were supposed to close on 14 February, there were still a number of people who preferred to adopt the wait-and-see approach. Most of the Yin spirits were considering things such as: What do I do when these raw materials are used up? Can the Frontier Brigades or the Construction Corps discover new materials? How long will sea trade be open for? How many underworlds are we trading with? What’s the scale of our trade routes?
Without such information in hand, few Yin spirits were prepared to make such lofty commitments to Hell.
There were always those who rode the wind, and did their level best to catch the first glimpse of dawn. But most of the rest were content with riding the wave when it finally arrived.
9 February… 10 February… As time wore on, the government’s ramped-up promotional efforts slowly began to bear fruit. Over these two days, more details were released about the Great Sale, and they even began to discuss how exactly the Great Sale was to be conducted!
Ashmound City and Everburn City were both connected, and Hell’s Media Group functioned as one unit across both cities. Even the monarch beasts were deployed to ensure that the papers hit both cities at the same time.
And after several consecutive days of bombarding the citizens with full-page headline news, replete with striking red words, even the small-time vendors slowly began to buy into the narrative that Hell was promoting - this was the one. The streets were abuzz with excitement, and everyone was openly discussing the news about the opening of sea trade, as well as the Great Sale on the 17th.
“Are we really going to have a celebration?!” Everyone could smell the eager anticipation in the air, and even the bluntest of entrepreneurs couldn’t help but grow anxious at the prospects of making a quick buck.
That’s right, these entrepreneurs weren’t big-time entrepreneurs, and they naturally knew that they weren’t able to pass Hell’s audit even if they applied for the loans and permits. After all, their businesses back in the mortal realm reaped profits that were only in the realms of a million, or the ten millions at best. Hell would never entrust them with the very first batch of raw materials without seeking payment on their part. That said, even they couldn’t help but feel a little desperate for action within, and they were eagerly anticipating the time when the benefits cascaded down onto them.
After all, how often was it that a weekly publication launched several special issues releasing news of the very same policy for several days in a row?
They knew that so long as the whales moved, even the smallest of businesses in related industries would naturally reap the rewards that would cascade down onto them. Who will be the industry leaders of the future? Who will be the ones wagering with Hell?
“It’s just sea trade! I’ve read the papers, and I don’t see Hell promising continuing sea trade in future! How many underworlds will trade with us? What are the specifications? How many tons of cargo are we talking about?!” A middle-aged man clutched his hair with both hands, “The first shipment might seem like a lot, but how sparse would they be when spread between two large cities? By my estimate, they’ll last a year at most! And then, what happens next?”
“And how can the government be asking us to make such commitments? How is this any different from a gamble?! Who would dare sign something like that? Sure, I can provide jobs, but if Hell isn’t going to promise us sea trade in future, then who’s going to support my company if, say, I were to open a packaging company?”
“That’s not the right thing to say.” A young Yin spirit in his thirties propped up his glasses, “Everyone, it’s time for us to head over to Ashmound City. No. Rather, we absolutely have to go right now! The companies that dare to launch right now would claim the lion’s share of the profits for themselves! These are the companies that will end up monopolizing the raw materials market!”
The group of Yin spirits went silent at once. Then, after some time, a lady piped in with a sullen expression, “Do we really have to travel all the way to Ashmound City to join in the fun? But we’re small-time Yin spirits. How are we supposed to compete with those whales who are willing to make a wager with Hell with everything riding on the line?”
“No, it’s precisely because there are whales who are willing to make such wagers with Hell that we can stand up under their shelter and hope to get a bite of the crumbs that fall off the table!” The young Yin spirit responded, “Besides, we can always fight for the subcontracts. After all, even with their commitment, they wouldn’t dare hire a large number of people all at once. This means that they will definitely be outsourcing some work to the smaller companies around! We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of tons of materials! This is a business opportunity that simply cannot be missed!”
Other similar discussions were sprouting up everywhere among the small-time business people. Just like that, batch after batch of Yin spirits slowly began to gather at Ashmound City, stoking the excitement as the air buzzed with electricity.
10 February. 31 companies had registered for the bidding of contracts by now. Leaders from all walks of life had slowly begun to appear, and the number of people gathered in Ashmound City increased day by day.
10 a.m. Su Menglai officially joined the fray and registered a company known as Dingxin Enterprise. He was none other than the former chairman of Dingxin Technology, ranked 35th among the wealthiest people in Cathay, with a net worth of 50 billion RMB.
Dingxin Technology was a business that started out with high-precision equipment, before making its foray into the real estate industry, the heavy industry, and then several other aspects of the light industry. And this time, the resources he was targeting was none other than the steel substitutes, as well as the establishment and maintenance of operational assembly lines.
In the afternoon, Xi Song also officially joined the fray by registering his company known as the Makino Group. Xi Song was the former CEO of Makino Group, and he was ranked 66th among the wealthiest people in Cathay, with a net worth of 32 billion RMB.
The Makino Group was known for their livestock. Their farms included seven fishing grounds along the coastal regions, and twelve livestock farms, amongst other agricultural land that they owned. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that they had a mark in most of the fresh produce in Cathay, including juice, yoghurt, dairy products, meats and so on and so forth.
And the reason why he had chosen to enter the fray was precisely because he noticed that one of the Alkebulan ships known as the White Headed Stork VII was carrying seedlings and livestock that could be bred and grown! These included fleshy Yin beasts, fishs, and even 500,000 tons worth of seeds and seedlings!
The winds were churning.
And the clouds were slowly coming together, as though they were on the cusp of a massive superstorm!Previous Chapter Next Chapter