The appetizer was served shortly. It wasn’t the usual salads that one would expect. Rather, they were dried red dates and crispy seaweed pancakes. And it was even served together with a refreshing pot of tea.
It was a sweet cinnamon tea that was served cold. Traditionally, the tea would be made by boiling ginger and cinnamon together with sugar or honey, and then cooled before drinking. Qin Ye took a sip of the tea. It tasted sweet, and bore a strong cinnamon flavour. It didn’t suit his taste buds, but it immediately dispelled his earlier impression of monotony that he had of Daeian food.
Lee Jung-sook didn’t immediately respond to Qin Ye’s query. Instead, she picked up a piece of the snacks that came with her tea and held it in her hands. It was a glutinous rice ball filled with red bean fillings, green on the outside, and red on the inside. The juxtaposition of colours was beautiful.
“How’s your relationship with the Cathayan government?” She suddenly asked.
How is it?
They’ve probably got pictures of me spreading all across the system right now. I used to be one of the runners for the Special Investigations Department after all… No, in fact, you can say that I was probably a pillar of support for them. Speaking of which, that’s a rather pointed question…
“Cough… You can say that we’re more than mere acquaintances.” He gave a vague response, “Why are you asking anyway?”
The food was served promptly, presumably because of Lee Jung-sook’s status in Daehan. The first course was chestnut porridge. It looked crumbly on the surface, but the thick chestnut paste beneath was fresh and moist, and yet also tasted pure and sweet. It tasted completely different from the dishes one could get back in Cathay.
“Because of you.” Lee Jung-sook hadn’t eaten a single thing since morning, and she probably didn’t even catch a wink of sleep the night before. Thus, she immediately dug into the porridge and ate a mouthful of it. The sweet, soft and creamy texture of the chestnut paste immediately hit the spot, and she nodded in approbation.
“Of course.” Lee Jung-sook frowned slightly, “Haven’t you realized it yet? Once Daehan agrees to your conditions, and even if the quantum of what you’re asking for is cut by half as I’d earlier predicted, do you know what’s going to happen to Daehan?”
She leaned back into her seat, “Both light industries and heavy industries would immediately bustle with orders. Unfortunately, these are orders that wouldn’t translate into any value for the industry. Millions of people in Daehan would be working for you, and yet it wouldn’t pay their wages at all!”
“The government would have no choice but to compensate these industries for their losses. The national economy will naturally decline. In 2018, Daehan’s growth rate fell slightly below 3%, a new low across the last 6 years. In 2017, the growth rate was 3.06%. If Daehan were to fulfil your demands, my preliminary projections are that it might be difficult to keep our growth rates even above 2% for the next 5 years or so.”
Qin Ye listened intently to her analysis.
He had never studied economics before, and had previously planned to further his own education later in this regard as soon as the economic experts in Cathay finally entered Hell. But now that the opportunity to learn had arisen, he naturally wouldn’t pass up on it.
Lee Jung-sook was just about to go on when the waiter walked over again. He was a man who appeared to be in his thirties, and slightly on the plump side. He gently set down a colourful tray on the table and explained everything in fluent English, “Platter of Nine Delicacies. Shredded pumpkin, shredded cucumber, shredded mushroom and other shredded vegetables rolled into a wheat crepe and dipped in mustard sauce. Please enjoy.”
Is this a vegetarian version of the famous roast duck dish from Cathay? Qin Ye watched with great interest as the waiter carefully prepared the rolled delights for him. Unfortunately, neither he nor Lee Jung-sook were really in the mood to be eating right now.
But just as the waiter left, his hand accidentally bumped into a cup of water, and a little bit of its contents spilled out and splashed onto Qin Ye’s clothes. At once, Lee Jung-sook raised a brow with a frigid expression on her face, “How can you be so careless? Is La Yeon that lax with their new waiters these days?”
“Sincerest apologies!” At once, one of the managers of La Yeon rushed in and bowed deeply to Lee Jung-sook, “Miss Lee, please accept my sincerest apologies. He’s only been here for three months, and he’s still a little bit rough around the edges. Please don’t take it to heart.”
“Forget it.” Qin Ye waved his hand, indicating that they should take their leave. What’s a King Yanluo of Hell doing arguing over something so trivial with a mere waiter? He obviously didn’t do it on purpose anyway.
Besides, it was clear that everyone knew just how important Lee Jung-sook was to the establishment. Would anyone intentionally make a mistake just to get on her wrong side? Would anyone really be suicidal like that?
“Thank you very much!” The manager and the waiter bowed deeply once more, and then hurriedly took their leave.
Shk… As the door shut gently behind them, the manager couldn’t help but heave a sigh of relief and wipe off the cold sweat percolating on his forehead. Then, he turned to the waiter with great displeasure, “Mr Zu, I’ve only allowed you to serve this table because I know how she favours people of Cathayan descent. But you’ve let me down today. Do you know who Miss Lee is?”
“I’m sorry, there won’t be a next time.” Mr Zu lowered his head and responded softly.
“We’ll be docking 10% of the service charge you receive this month as a punishment. Go back to your room and get some rest.” The manager pointed to the corridor in annoyance, and Mr Zu left, sighing in resignation.
All of La Yeon’s employees had their own rooms in the dormitories on site. At once, he returned to his room that was approximately 40 square meters in size, which was just about enough space for two beds and their belongings.
Bang! The door slammed shut behind him, and the plumpish Mr Zu abruptly looked up, beaming from ear to ear. He gently lifted his hands and examined it with great disbelief.
“They’re here… They’re finally here!!!”
“I knew that Fengdu would never forget about us!!” His throat quivered as he was overwhelmed with emotions, “This is the fragrance of pure Yin energy… and I can tell that he’s definitely not an insignificant being in Hell! We… finally have a chance to return to our own country!!”
“No wonder I sensed something amiss earlier! It’s a good thing that I went out of my way to create the right opportunity to spill some water on him!!”
He paced about the room excitedly. Several moments later, he slapped his head with sudden realization, “Ah, that’s right, I’d best let the others know right away. Who knows when this Emissary is going to leave?”
Without hesitation, he promptly whipped out his Samsung cell phone, opened up his messaging app, selected the “Fengdu Orphans” group and sent a voice message like a pro.
“π: Everyone!! An Emissary of Hell has appeared in La Yeon! We can return to Cathay soon!
π: Come gather in Hanyang at once! And if you can’t get here in time, you’ve got to notify us. I’ll do my best to keep him around!”
Daehan, Hyundai Group.
The largest heavy industries group was known as the Hyundai Consortium. They had under their wings a multitude of businesses, including construction, shipbuilding, automotive, steel, machinery, trade, transportation, cement production, metallurgy, finance, electronics, and a dozen or so other industries. They were ranked 38th among the world’s top 500 companies, and one of the five major consortia in Daehan, together with Lotte, Sunkyong Group, LG, Samsung.
Hyundai Group’s headquarters. They were looking at a bridge that connected both banks of the Han River. Construction equipment roared like a wild beast on both ends of the river. A middle-aged man with an air of somberness about him listened intently to the reports of the two directors standing beside him.
This was the largest project in Daehan that the government had embarked on over the last few years. The Hanyang Bridge was going to be 2.7 kilometers in length, the longest of the 29 bridges that currently connect the west and east banks of the Han River at present. It was also going to be the first major political achievement ever since Mr Moon came into power as the president of Daehan. It goes without saying that the Hyundai Group treasured every opportunity to preside over this project.
That said, the most peculiar part of the reporting process was that even as the director explained with great proficiency, there stood another man beside him who was translating everything for the middle-aged man. And the language that he spoke with… was none other than Cathayan!
“Chief Engineer Lu, so that was a brief update of the situation. I’m afraid we might have to revise the construction programme as a result of that. Apart from that, the city government has broached a query as to whether the bridge would be too narrow for their purposes…”
Just then, Chief Engineer Lu raised his hand and pulled out his earbuds and stuffed it into his ears. He listened for a moment, and his eyes immediately gleamed brightly!
“Flaunter: Are you sure your information is accurate?!”
“π: Absolutely! I’ve personally made contact with him and verified this information. Haven’t you guys noticed that something has been brewing in Daehan in recent years? And didn’t you sense how terrifying the Abyssal Prefect that had just emerged was? But where has it gone? Don’t you get it? When has Hell withheld our assistance from the Hanyang Underworld whenever something happened?”
“π: After all these years… the Emissaries of Hell have finally emerged once more! Haven’t you heard? Zhao Chun, who is currently employed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has already begun making his way here 10 minutes ago! Wu Daozi, who is currently teaching at the University of Siam has already purchased a train ticket, and he will be making his way here this afternoon. Meanwhile, Zhang Heng, Zhang Zhongjing and Shang Yang haven’t replied yet. Judging by the time, they should still be at work right now.”
“Flaunter: Wonderful… After a hundred long years, we’ve finally been given the opportunity to return to our home. <crying emoticon>”
He finally set down his cell phone and took a deep breath. The director on site whispered softly to him, “Senior Lu, can we continue?”
“I resign.” Chief Engineer Lu looked at the director and spoke firmly.
The interpreter froze at once.
“Translate this for me.” Chief Engineer Lu glanced at him, “I’ve been engaged on an annual basis to begin with. It’s already October, so it’s just about right that I tender my resignation this year. There’s no need to renew my contract this year.”
The entire scene was filled with silence. A few seconds later, the director yelled at the top of his voice, “Senior! You can’t leave just like that!!”
The other director immediately chimed in at once, “That’s right! You’re the chief engineer hired by the Hyundai Group with an annual salary of 10 million USD! You’re probably the most powerful and influential chief engineer we’ve ever had! You can’t leave just like that! Are you not satisfied with the salary? That’s negotiable! Ah, or is it the issue of profit sharing? That’s something we can discuss as well!”
“There’s no need…” Chief Engineer Lu gazed to the west, almost as though he could see the faint traces of Hell across the horizon.
“There will always come a time when a tired bird will have to return to his nest… This is where my current season ends, and a new chapter begins for me…”
Back in La Yeon. Qin Ye sipped his makgeolli as he asked, “So?”
“So, Samsung is looking to expand its operations.” Lee Jung-sook explained indifferently, “Cathay is obviously a good place to start. This won’t be the first time we’ve made a foray into the market, so people will already know a thing or two about our products. But this time, I intend to personally helm operations there and stand toe to toe against the top dogs, Xiaomi and Huawei.”
Qin Ye raised a brow, “And the Daeian government is permitting such a move on your part?”
Lee Jung-sook sneered, “Make no mistake - we live in a capitalist world.”
“Cheongwadae has nothing on Samsung.”
She sat upright and smiled as she lifted her glass, “So, Mr Qin, I hope you’ll look out for me in future. At the very least, I can rest assured knowing that you’ve got my back.”
So that’s how it is.
She’s looking for a backing before making a move?
Qin Ye finally understood her intentions. True enough, she was worthy of being called the Queen of Samsung. Even though most would be thinking of how to calm the repercussions of the fallout between nations, she had already started to consider things well beyond the horizon.
They continued to chat for a little while. Lee Jung-sook essentially wanted Qin Ye to guarantee her safety and even sign an agreement with Hell seeking an assurance that no supernatural incidents would break out in Samsung’s factories and work sites. In turn, Qin Ye proposed a fee for his troubles. Broadly speaking, they managed to come to a landing on the value of approximately one million RMB in respect of Samsung’s main factory per year of operations, which would be converted into objects and items to be sent directly to Hell.
“Cheers.” After some time, the two finally clinked their glasses. Moments later, Lee Jung-sook picked up her belongings and left.
The food was great, and Qin Ye continued to enjoy the delectable cuisine that had been served to him. He had gained much from this trip to Daehan. All that remained were the upcoming negotiations with Rumyantsev and Liu Yu. He was intensely pleased with the outcome. In fact, he was so pleased that he even began to contemplate developing his relationship with Lee Jung-sook.
Should I attempt to deepen this relationship of ours?
It wasn’t a matter of the utmost urgency. After all, both sides had matters of great importance that they had to attend to.
“Hmm?” Just as he bit down onto a piece of fish, the entire table suddenly began to tremble gently. It started only with the glass of water, before it slowly spread to his knife and fork, and then his plate. Finally… the entire table trembled softly.
Is this… Yin energy?
But why didn’t I sense anything earlier? Why did I only sense it when the latent Yin energy manifested itself?Previous Chapter Next Chapter