The president’s eyes narrowed slightly.
This Abyssal Prefect might appear to be easygoing, but the truth of the matter is that… he’s incredibly hawkish. Is this what the leaders of Hell are all like?
They appeared to be asking a simple question, but the fact that they were all seated here, eagerly awaiting Qin Ye’s response meant that they didn’t have much choice.
It signified belief.
No. It was more than that. It signified trust reposed in Hell.
It was an indication that they sincerely trusted Hell to bring that glorious ray of hope to them, and that they would be willing to pay any price for the break of dawn on this endless nightmare of darkness!
What they wanted most was a promise, and Qin Ye had at least shown through his actions and words Hell’s intention to reclaim all the land that was lost to them. Apart from that, there was nothing more that they could prove right now.
“Will it affect the mortal realm?”
“Perhaps, but not by much. After all… this isn’t the mortal realm’s fight.”
“Then how will you ensure the eradication of all supernatural incidents in the future?”
“In the upcoming war for unification, we will be reclaiming cities and provinces in a systematic fashion. And whenever we do so, we will establish a corresponding city god in the mortal realm to link up with the lord of the land. Once that is done, the wandering spirits will immediately feel Hell’s summons and instinctively drift towards Hell’s Gate. As for the evil ghosts in the vicinity…” Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed coldly, “Rest assured, we have our teams of specialists who will be taking care of them all. After all, most of them wouldn’t even be Hellguards to begin with. And from my short stint with the Special Investigations Department, I understand that even in the more urbanized areas, it’s only when a confluence of factors are present that we would see the emergence of Hellguard-class Yin spirits.”
He paused for a moment, and then continued, “But needless to say, the evil ghosts of the mortal realm can hardly hold a candle to the mighty Emissaries of Hell who are trained to purge them!”
Sigh… There was a series of sighs of relief. Qin Ye’s attitude was firm and resolute, and nobody could detect any falsity in his voice. It was an uplifting message that filled their hearts with hope and relief.
“If Hell has any requests, we will do our best to meet you midway.” One of the old men finally responded, “But only if these requests are within reason.”
Qin Ye had already thought about what to ask for. Thus, he nodded and responded without any hesitation, “Before the unification is complete, I hope that… any deceased academicians, scholars and talents of the mortal realm, or even any calligraphers and artists and the like, can all have their remains transported to Martial City for a period of time before their burial or cremation.”
“If left alone, they would turn into wandering spirits. Of course, these wandering spirits would all find their way to Hell once the war for unification is over, but that’s naturally barring any unforeseen circumstances, such as if… these wandering spirits have any undying grievances that cause them to turn into an evil ghost. That would be a pity.”
He didn’t explain why Hell needed these people, but it wasn’t difficult to guess why either.
“Not a problem.” The president immediately gave his word without even conferring with the rest of his team, “This is a minor issue. Please go on.”
This is where they state their main requests…
Qin Ye pursed his lips, and then waved his hand gently. At once, a scroll unfolded in the air, “The second request that Hell has is also the more important one. We hope that… the mortal realm can support us.”
Everyone was staring at the contents of the scroll that was filled with lines of words. A few moments later, not even the president could help but stare with widened eyes.
The first line read: 100 million tons of steel!
Do you know that Cathay’s annual steel production is only slightly over 700 million tons? And you’re asking for a seventh of it all at once?!
It might not seem like a significant number, but in the grand scheme of things, the sudden fall in the amount of steel to go around could easily give rise to a shortage of building materials, leading to a surge in prices and thereby unduly influence the entire construction industry!
And this was only the beginning.
The second line: 2.5 billion tons of sand!
Lei Jun gasped. Cathay used approximately 20 billion tons of sand every year, and it was even facing a shortage of supply in this regard. And yet, even then, Hell was asking for more than a tenth of this?
The third line: 7 million units of construction machinery and equipment, including excavators, booms, levellers, and so on.
The fourth line… fifth line… sixth line… And the list went on for a grand total of 25 startling lines. All in all, what Hell was asking for amounted to a seventh of Cathay’s overall production capacity!
Even the president couldn’t help but grow taciturn.
“Why?” He looked Qin Ye dead in the eye.
Qin Ye bowed deeply, “Hell isn’t asking for a price for its services, nor is this in any way a threat. Rather, Hell has just been formed, and we’re still developing the most basic of our industries. Given our production capabilities, it’s simply impossible to manufacture such sophisticated machines like the mortal realm. The construction of houses and buildings in Hell largely requires wood and stone, and it is for this reason that we’re asking for the raw materials. And then, there’s gravel and cement for infrastructural works, as well as other chemicals and materials that require precision technology to produce. These are all things we have no means of achieving right now.”
“And if Hell is lacking in these basic amenities, then the government would be seen to have failed its people. You might not know this, but I’ve personally experienced several Yin spirit riots to date. How does one form a city without placing roofs over the heads of Yin spirits, or giving them a place to call home? Where would the Yin spirits go? Don’t forget, there are a good number of rifts between Hell and the mortal realm right now, and we’ve only got 23 million Yin spirits under Hell’s command. The number of civil servants are even fewer and far between. Training more would also take time.”
Everyone fell into deep thought. After some time, one of the elders of the assembly shook his head, “It’s too much. There’s simply no way we can accede to this request of yours. Something like this will easily cause great fluctuations in our own market…”
“Sorry.” Qin Ye coughed gently, “Hell hopes that… you can provide these materials to us every year.”
“At least until the end of the war for unification.”
Whoosh… Everyone’s eyes widened at the same time - Young fella, don’t you think you’re biting off more than you can chew?
“Impossible.” The president finally spoke up, “You’re asking for too much. We still need to keep the balance in the mortal realm. Moreover, what you’ve told us about the end of the war for unification is nothing more than an estimate. What if it drags on even longer?”
Indeed. I may be asking for a lot, but I’m not asking for a price for my services… Qin Ye smiled faintly and waved his finger. At once, a map of Cathay appeared suspended in mid-air.
“The war for unification will not encounter any problems.” He stood in front of the map and expounded, “I trust that you would all have learnt of the recent changes to the three eastern provinces, the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, Fulling Province, Insignia Province and Eastmount Province. That’s a total of nine provinces. The number of supernatural incidents in these regions have all dwindled substantially!”
“And this is all the results of Hell’s hard effort over the last few months!”
“Granted, it’s a culmination of our efforts after these last two years, but… I’ve no qualms saying that we’ve restored at least a third of Cathay’s economy!”
The reverberations from his voice lingered in the grand hall.
Most of the leaders were staring intently at the map of Cathay in front of them right now. And then, they turned back to the president.
This was a matter of great importance that not a single one of them apart from the president had the authority to say anything about.
Tap… tap… The president tapped his finger on the table, and then suddenly quipped, “Indeed, it is as you have mentioned. Over the last few months, these nine provinces have reverted back to the green alert status, and some of them have even resumed normalcy, just like before the supernatural disaster struck. Naturally, we’re still observing the situation. But… how do you prove that this is due to Hell’s efforts? Will we see the resurgence of supernatural incidents in the near future? If we restore order to the cities, how do we know such order isn’t going to be thwarted by future incidents again?”
The citizens of these cities knew full well that there were two sets of leaders that their livelihoods rested upon right now, the first being the city government, and the second being the Special Investigations Department. As a result of the supernatural outbreak, most citizens had decided to live as close to the governmental headquarters for safety and security. This was not a good thing.
I knew you would ask this… Qin Ye smiled faintly, and then he flicked his wrist. At once, a set of screens formed entirely from Yin energy appeared in mid-air.
Some of the images revealed the situation at Fengtian. Su Daji sat atop the city tower, purging the nest of ten thousand captive ghosts as she tore through the multitude of evil ghosts in the city.
Some of the images revealed the situation in Insignia Province, where the Umamawari horse riders charged through every city, county, townships and even villages, cutting down every Yin spirit that they came across.
There were even images showing the efforts of the Frontier Brigades exploring the Eastmount Province under the escort of elite Yin soldiers who had experienced the Battle of Qufu, slaying even monarch beasts as they ploughed through the lands. They appeared mighty and invincible.
These sets of composite images sent everyone’s blood boiling.
This was the sight of the invisible war taking place in the background. This was the tussle between the netherworld and the rogue Yin spirits that had run rampant for far too long. But, little by little, their traces were slowly being erased from the world!
“The mortal realm probably hasn’t done much over the last few months.” Qin Ye spoke with great sincerity, “And this is only the first round of purging. As you can see, the supplies that Hell has asked for are currently well beyond our production capacities. We’re not asking for any luxury items. These are all supplies for the purposes of establishing infrastructure! Everyone, the Yin and the Yang are but two sides of the same coin. We’re striving for the sake of eternal peace in the mortal realm, so we humbly urge you to consider Hell’s proposal in all earnesty!”
Nobody said a word.
The three rows that represented the top brass in Cathay’s leadership sat still as a towering mountain. Even though Qin Ye had already braced himself for a moment like this, his heart still thumped wildly.
These were experts in the political arena. Their silence, the gaze in their eyes, and even the posture with which they were seated put immense pressure on Qin Ye’s shoulders.
Meanwhile, Qin Ye placed his hands behind his back. His palms were already damp with sweat. He could tell his relative inexperience before these leaders. But, even then, he couldn’t help but hazard guesses at where their inclination lay right now. Are you going to accede to these requests, or even entertain these requests of ours? Say something!
Just then, a voice suddenly echoed out in the hall, “This venerable one is late. Amitabha…”
The door opened up, and Master Chan Ming and the Master of the Sword of the Yellow Emperor were both standing right there at the door.
This was a gathering of the three top experts of the mortal realm!
“Please take a seat.” A lady gently nodded her head. However, the two experts immediately walked up to Qin Ye’s side and glanced at the images suspended before them. After some time, Master Chan Ming finally sighed, “Master Qin, you’ve kept to your word.”
“Peace has returned to these provinces. I promise that I’ll set up a shrine for you so that incense may be offered up to you.”
Then, before Qin Ye could even respond to him, he immediately clasped his palms together and bowed to the team of leaders before him, “Everyone, I urge you to consider Hell’s proposal.”
“The supernatural disaster must absolutely be quelled. But in order to do that, we need to tackle the root of the problem. Our interests in the long run should never play second fiddle to our short-term interests. Therefore, please consider lending Hell a helping hand before they become self-sustaining. Otherwise, should the Yin spirits rebel from Hell due to their dissatisfaction with Hell’s conditions, they would most certainly turn back to the mortal realm. And that would naturally mean… the appearance of evil ghosts once again.”
The Master of the Sword of the Yellow Emperor immediately added, “Leaders, the supernatural outbreak has subsisted for over ten years, and we’ve not even informed our citizens of what exactly they’re facing. We’d initially been planning to disclose everything to them, but it’s only because of Hell’s intervention that the weight has been lifted off our shoulder, and we were able to soldier on. But if these supernatural incidents were to make a resurgence, the resultant panic and disorder will be far greater than the first time it happened!”
There was nothing wrong with their reasoning. But… there were a multitude of other considerations to take into account. How were these experienced policymakers going to decide?
Agree to Hell’s requests, and the mortal realm would have to tighten their belts for another five years, and the nation would go through yet another period of hardship. It hadn’t been easy for them to rise up through poverty, so who would want to return to the 70’s and 80’s when they were constantly in want?
Qin Ye didn’t expect the two top experts of the mortal realm to speak up for him. He pondered for a few moments, and then added, “There is one more thing that Hell can offer in exchange for resources, over and above the eradication of supernatural incidents, and that is in terms of artwork.”
“Such as?” One of the vice presidents responded.
“Blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty, and a large number of relics from the Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, including paintings and calligraphy, as well as…”
“That’s not necessary.” The president looked up abruptly and locked eyes with Qin Ye, “I agree.”
That was unexpected.
His response had come suddenly and out of the blue, but not a single soul objected to it, almost as though a perfectly logical and reasonable assent had been given. Qin Ye raised his brows slightly, but it was right then that he understood what an air of dignity meant.
The president was just gazing intently at him, without any measure of avoiding his gaze. His gaze was deep and abstruse, almost as though he was peering straight into the depths of his soul. Meanwhile, he could also sense a trace of distance and nobility exuding all about him.
He was determined to end this 10-year long nightmare once and for all.
He was determined to let Cathay stand tall without any more restraints.
He didn’t want to wait any longer. Cathay couldn’t afford to wait any longer!
“But, I have conditions.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter