Rumyantsev picked it up for a closer look with a deep frown on his face.
One billion was just above the bottom line of his mandate. Broadly speaking, the Russian Underworld’s GDP was in the region of 80 billion Yin spirit stones last year. They could make excuses and say that they had been unaware, and that everything was unintentional, but so long as it wasn’t an economic tussle or a full blown war, reparations of one billion Yin spirit stones was still something that they were willing to pay to make the problem go away.
But what astounded him most was the fact that the list of items sought was far too broad, so much so that… it didn’t even look like they were asking for reparations any longer. After all, if it was reparations they were looking for, they could easily have asked for Yin spirit stones and be done with it. That would be most convenient for both parties. Thus, he couldn’t quite understand what was going on.
Without saying a word, Rumyantsev handed the list to Liu Yu for his perusal, and Liu Yu immediately knew what was going on. Hell was still scrambling to get back on its feet, and there were naturally things that it desperately needed.
Unfortunately, this was the final ace up his sleeves. Unless Hell was bent on pushing him to his limits, he would never play this card.
That said, he could still give Prefect Zhong a hard time. After all, he was thoroughly disgusted by the manner in which Prefect Zhong was acting.
“First on the list. Specialty produce of the Russian Underworld, 15 tons of Yin cotton seeds. I recall Hell importing more than 100 tons of this over a hundred years ago. Why does Hell need something like that again?” Liu Yu lifted his wine cup and sneered coldly, “Has Hell lost its edge in the agricultural and farming industry? That can’t be, can it? After all, Hell had historically always been known for its agricultural and farming industry.”
Qin Ye picked up his wine cup and pretended to take a sip from it. However, the truth of the matter was that he was already increasingly vigilant.
The list of demands was definitely suspicious. After all, it covered a broad range of goods. The difficulty with his present negotiations with the Russian Underworld was how to keep them placated about Hell’s demands without arousing their suspicions too much.
He had thought of many ways to deal with this, but had finally settled on a particular play.
“I don’t think there’s a need to justify what Hell desires.” He set down his glass gently and turned to Rumyantsev, “Mr Marquis, these are reparations, not a trade deal.”
That’s right. It was all about maintaining Hell’s hegemony!
On what basis are you asking these things to begin with?
We’re not discussing trade deals!
Rumyantsev didn’t say anything more. Instead, he simply went on to the next item, “You need the seeds of tea trees as well? Hell is one of the largest tea exporting underworlds in the netherworld. In fact, 95% of all Yin tea in the netherworld had historically always been sourced from Hell. Although the Russian Underworld’s Triumph Yin tea is decent in taste, it could never hold a candle to the much-sought after tea produced from Hell--...”
“Marquis Rumyantsev.” Qin Ye’s voice grew cold and frigid, “Are you sure the Russian Underworld is sincere in paying reparations for its trespasses? Why are you bargaining? Are you trying to tell us to change the list of items sought for reparations?”
Rumyantsev didn’t say a word.
The more he looked through the list, the more he felt that there was an issue with the items sought. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
If he had to attribute his uneasiness to something, it would be the fact that the list of reparations sought was completely unlike what self-sustaining major underworlds generally sought. Rather, it appeared more akin to those often sought by the smaller underworlds.
But how could Hell possibly be considered a small underworld?
Such a possibility was summarily dismissed from his mind. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the slightest bit aware just how infinitely close to the truth he had come in that very instant.
That said, the dismissal of these thoughts didn’t diminish his political awareness in the slightest bit.
Shelving the queries in his mind, he skimmed through the entire list of demands earlier, and then calculated the value of the same in his heart.
Yin cotton was a useful material for weaving fabrics. In fact, it was one of the most quintessential agricultural produce in the netherworld, alongside silk. Clothes made of Yin cotton would fill the Yin spirit wearing it with a touch of warmth, just like that of the mortal realm. It was one of the most highly sought materials in the netherworld.
That said, it was also a reasonably accessible product that grew easily, especially in frigid climates, and the Russian Underworld naturally exported an incredible amount of it each year. In fact, it was precisely because it was so accessible that… Rumyantsev couldn’t help but feel somewhat uncomfortable with it.
Abyssal Rainbow Flower, ranging from number one all the way through number seven. Each number corresponds with one of the colours of the rainbow, and they were each sub-divided into three different classifications, namely, low, medium and high. These flowers were mainly used in dyes. To this end, Hell had actually demanded 200 tons of these flowers at one shot. This was easily worth millions of Yin spirit stones. Furthermore, what was most peculiar about such a request was the fact that Hell had never imported such goods from the Russian Underworld because they had their own substitute products used to make dyes. What kind of madness was this?
Evil Eye. Its name was bizarre, but it was actually a plant that looked similar to the poppy, save that it had an eyeball in the place of stamens. The flowers of these plants could be harvested, processed and made into high quality tobacco. Its rhizomes was also known to be the main ingredient used in premium Yin beast feed. At present, at least 30% of all known Yin beasts show no aversion to the Evil Eye rhizome, nor do they trigger any allergies or side effects.
Then, there was the Rift Grass, otherwise known as the Dead Arhat in Hell. It was a material rich in fiber, and widely used to produce paper in the netherworld. Aren’t the mountains of Hell covered with these plants? I’ve once visited Hell, and I could’ve sworn that I saw terraced cultivation of such Rift Grass… The more he thought about it, the more perplexed he was.
Sphinx Bamboo, another material used to make paper, albeit that of far higher quality. Their shoots were also known as jade bits, and served as a source of food for the citizens.
Drunken Jewel, a material necessary for brewing alcohol... Soulfall Tree, foodstuff… Earthbound Dragon, foodstuff… Inflamed Abomination, foodstuff… The entire list appeared to cover every aspect of need, and yet disclosed nothing. The more Rumyantsev looked at it, the more he felt as though a higher power had instructed him on exactly what to ask for. He could tell that there was clearly more than meets the eye, but he simply couldn’t quite understand what it was.
He carefully counted the items on the list - Dozens of foodstuff-related items, and dozens more related to daily necessities… It sounds almost as though they’re stocking up for a global supermarket of sorts!
Meanwhile, Qin Ye lowered his eyes and fervently suppressed his racing heartbeats as he stole glances at Rumyantsev from time to time.
Even though Shang Yang had already modified several items that were sensitive so as to conceal the current needs of Hell, Qin Ye still couldn’t help but get nervous at Rumyantsev’s intense scrutiny.
This time, Rumyantsev mulled over the list for half an hour before finally setting it down, and then tapping his finger on the table pensively.
Something’s not right… There’s something amiss with Hell’s request right now! I don’t know what it is, but… I have a bad feeling simply agreeing to their request!
“The scope of goods you’re asking for is too wide, and we might not be able to gather them on such short notice.” He smiled bitterly and looked Qin Ye in the eye, “So, could I counter-propose that we pay the reparations by way of Yin spirit stones instead?”
Ah? Liu Yu set down his chopsticks and glanced at Rumyantsev in surprise. He couldn’t help but give him a round of adulation in his heart for his intuition and keen senses!
After all, Liu Yu knew full well that if reparations were made in the form of Yin spirit stones, rather than in kind, Prefect Zhong would never be able to fulfill the request that was entrusted to him!
Hell didn’t need Yin spirit stones! Even if Hell had already launched their own fiat currency, the production in Hell could never support a market of supply and demand!
The pursuit of these ordinary items doesn’t cohere in the slightest bit with Hell’s status internationally. But if they chose to refrain from making a demand like that… Pfft… I’m certain that the wily old Third King Yanluo of Hell must be worried sick by the outcome of this seemingly unimportant task he had entrusted to Prefect Zhong.
Qin Ye glanced at Rumyantsev, and then responded placidly, “I have strict orders that the list should not be altered. Besides, do you even have the Kremlin’s mandate to bargain with us like this?”
Rumyantsev grew taciturn.
He had in fact been instructed as such. However…
The Tsar would never have imagined being presented with a list of demands like that!
Furthermore, Prefect Zhong’s adamance in seeking the items set out in the list filled Rumyantsev with even greater bewilderment than ever.
“I’m not bargaining. All I’m asking is that we pay in Yin spirit stones a price equal in value.” Rumyantsev remained completely calm, yet scrutinized every micro-expression made by Qin Ye, “Could it be that… Hell isn’t in need of Yin spirit stones at all? Or does Hell find these things which Hell already has are worth even more than Yin spirit stones?”
Such an incisive question!i
Qin Ye cursed in his heart, before drawing a deep breath and looking up at Rumyantsev with a meaningful smile, “Do you know why the Tsar had specifically instructed you as such?”
“Pray tell.” Rumyantsev raised a brow quizzically in response.
Qin Ye chuckled. Then, he imbued a wisp of Yin energy with his voice spoke directly into Rumyantsev’s ears, “How’s the Black Fortress located under Severny Island been?”
Clatter! Rumyantsev abruptly shot to his feet and stared at Qin Ye with great disbelief.
That’s the Russian Underworld’s KGB headquarters… He actually knows where the KGB headquarters are located?! I dare say not more than 50 Yin spirits of the Russian Underworld even know of the existence of this place!
At once, every bit of doubt in his heart was completely cast out of his mind.
Hell was still the same Hell - as powerful as it had ever been! The revelation of the Black Fortress’ location had been disclosed directly to him to quell all resistance on his part!
And he knew better than to push any further!
“You--...” Rumyantsev spoke with a slight tremor on his lips. However, Qin Ye immediately interjected him and raised his glass placidly, “Don’t worry, Hell has never failed its allies.”
At once, Rumyantsev collapsed back into his seat in relief. Meanwhile, Liu Yu glanced at the two with great interest, wondering what Prefect Zhong had said to unsettle a Marquis so much.
Having successfully seized the initiative, Qin Ye smiled and pressed the issue, “Now, let me ask you again - do you still have any issues with the list of demands Hell is making?”
“Not at all.” Rumyantsev pulled out a handkerchief and wiped off his non-existent sweat.
He no longer had any suspicions about Hell or the requests that were being made.
“When and how should we make the delivery of goods?”
Fortunately, Hell had always played hardball in these bilateral negotiations. Fortunately, Hell used to be one of the strongest underworlds around. Otherwise, had Rumyantsev delved any deeper into the possibility that Hell could be no different from a small underworld, it would most certainly spell disaster for Hell’s future development. Qin Ye swirled the contents in his cup, concealing the fact that his palms were mildly damp with sweat.
“Cathay will be opening its seaport city to be located at the mouth of the Yellow River, near Martial City, or Ashmound City.” He explained, “The city has just been built. Ashmound City is slated to be opened for ten days just before February next year. We will keep the Russian Underworld notified of the exact dates of this opening in advance, and we expect to see the Russian Underworld’s merchant ships during this window of opening.”
Rumyantsev abruptly paused and looked up in astonishment once more.
Its borders… Hell is opening its borders!
Even if it’s just a city, we can glean much of what might have happened to Hell over the last 100 years! Has the change of political regime been concluded? Is Hell finally prepared to retake its throne on the international stage once more? A series of thoughts immediately filled Rumyantsev’s mind, and he couldn’t wait to return to Rus immediately to convey the earth-shattering news. He’d been rattled several times over the course of this short banquet, and he clearly had much to report directly to the Tsar!Previous Chapter Next Chapter