There were many representatives in the warehouse. The ones on the left side of the warehouse were the representatives of the Alkebulan Underworlds, of a total of 37 Yin spirits. Not a single one of them wasn’t illustrious in their own right, ranging from art directors of Alkebulan Tribes, ministers in charge of humanities, negotiators, and representatives or members of other relevant departments.
Meanwhile, a row of representatives from Hell stood on the right side of the warehouse. There were 35 Yin spirits in total, including Wu Daozi, an expert in art, together with various provincial and other ministerial officials. Wu Daozi was here largely for his expertise in assessing the value of art pieces, while the rest of the officials were here in the event any important political or geopolitical issues needed to be discussed. There were also experts from Hell here to take charge of the negotiation process, up to the stage when the prices were finalized.
Qin Ye sat right in the center of the warehouse. Truth be told, he didn’t need to be here, because Hell was more than prepared for these negotiations. However, as the future King Yanluo of Hell, he knew it was still his duty to be here.
Sure, he might not need to be involved in every nitty gritty process in Hell, but it was still part and parcel of his duty to have a general understanding of the processes involved in arriving at a particular end.
The two rows of tables and chairs were separated from each other, while the center of the warehouse was intentionally left open for the purposes of displaying and rating artwork to be presented. Even then, Qin Ye could’ve sworn that the eyes of the Alkebulan representatives appeared to be gleaming more than usual.
“There are in all seven mainstream sources of artwork in the netherworld.” Wu Daozi took his seat beside Qin Ye and explained calmly, “Cathay, Argos, Alkebulan, Aegyptus, Hindustan, Nippon, and Inca. It is well accepted that great collectibles are produced by these regions, and the resultant art pieces are generally seen as a good store of value. In fact, there are even times when such art pieces can be used as a medium of exchange, much like fiat currency. These can even be liquidated for dark gold or spirit silver easily. The prices of these materials fluctuate from time to time, and the Federation of Underworld keeps the latest updates on the value of these materials.”
Qin Ye nodded slightly. Dark gold and spirit silver were both considered precious metals. Even though he wasn’t too certain about the value of art in the international arena, he did have an impression of the value and importance of both precious metals through his tutorship with the Second King Yanluo.
Wu Daozi continued, “At present, there are four main mediums of exchange in the netherworld. The first is naturally the system of currencies of each underworld, primarily dominated by the P4 underworlds. That said, our absence over the last century would likely have cost us our international standing in this regard. The second medium is Yin spirit stones and Yin jade. The third would be precious metals, including dark gold and spirit silver. Lastly, the other medium of exchange that is most widely accepted would be artwork from the seven mainstream sources in the world. When Hell returns to the international arena in future, there’s a high likelihood that balance would be restored to this order once more.”
Qin Ye nodded. He finally understood everything. Why was Usonia of the mortal realm such a powerful nation? It was precisely because of the hegemony of the dollar. Likewise, everyone was vying for the hegemony of their currency here in the netherworld as well. Unfortunately…
Qin Ye sighed. Hell was miles away from being a threat to the rest of the P4 underworlds right now.
The most pressing issue right now was to rebuild Hell, and then enter into negotiations with the mortal realm. And it was only when those pressing issues had been resolved that he could finally unify Hell, before moving onto the international arena.
He didn’t want to wait 150 years before opening Hell’s borders if he could help it. That was far too long. Hell had already been missing from the international arena for far too long, so much so that even the Nipponese Underworld and the Russian Underworld had come knocking on their doors. And if such lesser underworlds were already itching to probe at Hell, how much more would other stronger underworlds be making plans against Hell?
It was going to be a long journey ahead until he could finally break the ice. And it was also precisely because of this that he’d already prepared himself for the worst. For instance, the fact that Hell might no longer even be considered one of the P4 underworlds.
Let’s just take things one step at a time… He perked up his spirits and turned back to the warehouse. As they spoke, Yin energy gathered from all directions and coalesced into a porcelain vessel.
It was a vase that was approximately one foot tall, with cloud-like handles and etchings of flowers. The firing process of the vase also left a distinct hexagonal pattern on the surface of the vase. Finally, it was placed right on top of a mahogany base. Words composed with netherflames appeared right above the vase at once: “Blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty. Special imperial army edition. Estimated age: 700 AD.”
“Blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty?” Nadia immediately shot to her feet, “Is it really the blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty? And one used by the imperial army, the God’s Whip, to boot?”
Qin Ye smiled and twisted his finger. At once, the image of the porcelain immediately expanded for all to take a closer look.
“Unbelievable…” An old man stared intently at it as he adjusted his glasses, “These are all characteristic of the porcelain at that time. Peony, lotuses… It’s beautiful! And those firing patterns, and even the faint traces of Yin energy exuding from this artifact… It’s the real deal!”
Authentic blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty!
The eyes of all representatives of the Alkebulan Underworlds lit up at once. Blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty were considered precious amongst art experts because of the history it represented. Nobody had ever expected Hell to trade away such incredible treasures right off the cuff.
“Lord Qin.” Just then, Nadia looked up and queried with suppressed excitement, “How many pieces of such wares does Hell intend to export this time?”
Qin Ye picked up his teacup and took a sip, “How many do you want?”
“All of them!” Nadia responded at once, “These are incredibly rare artifacts! In 2003, at an auction in Siam, a single piece of blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty was sold for 6 million Yin spirit stones. Then, in 2006, a similar vase with elephant-shaped handles was sold in Al-Qahirah for 200 million Yin spirit stones. The premium it fetched was precisely because it was a royal artifact. On the other hand, yours is an imperial army artifact, and you’re also selling it in bulk. Our valuation of it would peg it at approximately 10 million Yin spirit stones per piece. What does Hell say about setting off the value of these artifacts from the value of our shipment this time?”
Qin Ye was just about to give the nod in a heartbeat when Wu Daozi immediately turned to him and whispered, “My Lord, our cultural heritage is an important thing. If we decide to sell so many pieces of blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty at once, I’m afraid that--…”
“Deal.” Qin Ye nodded at once, “We’ll be selling 500 articles of various shapes and sizes this time. As for the specifics, I’ll leave you to discuss it in greater detail with the relevant departments of Hell.”
Did you dig up the tomb of some Yuan Dynasty emperor or something?!
The mention of this number caused Nadia to tremble with great excitement. The injection of these porcelain pieces would most certainly stir up great interest in the international crowd, and as the sole source of such goods right now, the Alkebulan Underworlds were going to be propelled into stardom. They might even be able to hold a special auction for all interested parties in the Alkebulan Underworlds, and become the focal point of all who covet such porcelain pieces!
“Our ancestors thank you for your kindness and generosity.” She smiled at Qin Ye, and then glanced back. At once, a dozen or so appraisers and negotiators from the Alkebulan Tribes stood up and walked over to Hell’s tables across the warehouse.
It was only then that Qin Ye leaned back and whispered back to Wu Daozi, “These so-called national treasures are only considered treasures because of scarcity and rarity. But once you discover more of them, their value would naturally be diluted.”
“What makes you think that there are very few blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty in stock?” Qin Ye smiled as he continued, “That’s a misconception arising out of the fact that you haven’t seen the treasure trove left behind by the Zhu Clan. The fact of the matter is that most of these porcelain pieces had been stuffed deep into the Zhu Clan’s troves when they overthrew the Yuan Dynasty warlords.”
Wu Daozi’s eyes glistened brightly, “How much are we talking about?”
“Nothing too significant.” Qin Ye smiled as he glanced back at Nadia, who was now conversing excitedly with the representatives of the Alkebulan Underworlds, “200,000 pieces. And that’s just the stuff that is not so good. We would never sell the good stuff, such as the royal pieces. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more artwork where that all came from.”
Wu Daozi immediately clammed up. Hell could practically devour the entire shipment from the Alkebulan Underworld for free, without having to fork out even a single cent. That said, it was prudent not to do so.
After all, treasures were only treasures because of scarcity and rarity.
“Now, please take a look at the second category of goods we have for sale.” An Emissary of Hell announced, and a series of paintings appeared in the grand space between the two sets of tables. At once, Nadia paused and snapped her head back in surprise.
Hundreds of paintings all at once.
Most of them were paintings of landscapes of Cathay, which were a dime a dozen, if not for the seal imprinted on each of the paintings. These seals single-handedly caused the value of these paintings to soar manifold!
Dong Qichang, Xu Wei, Wen Zhengming, Shen Zhou, Tang Yin, Ni Yunlin, ZHao Mengfu, Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, and so on and so forth. There were paintings from practically every single famous painter of both the Yuan and the Ming Dynasties represented in the series of paintings!
“The ancestors have blessed us…” Nadia covered her lips as she rushed forward to Qin Ye. Her sudden movements cause the Yin soldiers standing guard around Qin Ye to motion to draw their weapons. However, Qin Ye shook his head placidly, signalling for them to stand down. Meanwhile, Nadia ran right up to Qin Ye’s table and bowed respectfully.
“My Lord… Please allow the Black Mamba Underworld to be the sole agent for this batch of painting! We guarantee at least five times the profit from these sales! There’s a huge demand for such paintings, even within our domestic market!”
Qin Ye looked back at her with some measure of surprise - These are just some regular paintings. Is there really a need to be this excited?
As though he could read Qin Ye’s mind, Wu Daozi immediately leaned over and whispered into his ear, “Hell is known in the international arena for a few things, namely silk, paintings, porcelain, and tea. Over time, these have become known as the four treasures of Hell, and of these, paintings are the rarest of them all. After all, painting requires inspiration, while the others can be reproduced with sufficient practice and time.”
Qin Ye nodded. But before he could even respond, several members of the Coalition of Alkebulan underworlds rushed over madly, “Nadia, you’re supposed to be the Chief Advisor of Art representing the Coalition of Alkebulan Underworlds before you are the Minister of Arts and Culture of the Black Mamba Underworld!” “How can you claim the profits for yourself right now? Aren’t you being a little bit too shameless?” “Do you think any one of us here doesn’t want these paintings for our own underworld? C’mon, let’s be civil over here!”
Several emissaries of the Alkebulan Underworld immediately ran over and began dragging Nadia back. Even then, she yelled with great reluctance, “My Lord! Please give us a chance! The Black Mamba Underworld has a lot of experience in hosting auctions for artwork! It’s the best choice you can make!”
“Haha… Do you think we don’t have one in the Golden Rhino Tribe?” “You must be mistaken! How can you call yourself the best without even consulting us from the Hornet Tribe?!” “None of you have the right to speak before the Sunbird Tribe, the ones most experienced in the field of international auctions!”
Nadia was dragged back forcefully against her will. She even tugged hard at the tablecloth on Qin Ye’s table. Meanwhile, Qin Ye chuckled listlessly, “Artists can be crazy at times--...”
Just then, he suddenly paused.
Nadia grabbed hold of the tablecloth, struggling against the rest of the emissaries who were forcing her back. Then, just as she lost her grip of the tablecloth, Qin Ye noticed it - there was an incredibly subtle trace of Yin energy emanating from the table, where her left hand had been just moments ago.
But, subtle as it may be, it was something that could never elude the eyes of an Abyssal prefect. Qin Ye’s eyes narrowed at once - Nadia is just a Soul Hunter…
How did she manage to do this?
Qin Ye discreetly set his hand right down where Nadia’s palm had been moments ago, only to realize that there was a small rune of Yin Talisman arrangements left behind on the table.
Very obscure. And I can even tell that it was instantly generated, almost as though this rune had already been branded into her bones and her blood. She didn’t even need to address her mind to its creation… His palm emitted a brief moment of black lustre, and then he felt something appear in the palm of his hand. Then, he discreetly brought his hand back to his side and glanced down at his palm. At once, his pupils narrowed.
“So that’s what it is…” He licked his lips avariciously as he glanced back at Nadia. She was a slightly obese Yin spirit who appeared just as naive as any other. In fact, she was still arguing desperately with the rest of the representatives of the Alkebulan Underworlds right now. Regardless, a wry smile crept up the corners of Qin Ye’s lips, “I’ve been schooled. Never judge a book by its covers. Anyone can potentially be hiding a deeper secret under the facade of their appearances…”
There was a white feather in the heart of his palm.
It was withered, yet exuded pristine purity. This was the feather of the Plumed Serpent God!Previous Chapter Next Chapter