Chapter 649: Cold Shoulder (1)

Rumble… Yin energy flowed in every direction, rushing out of the grotto temple and sweeping right across the entire island.

The surrounding waters trembled, almost as though something had disturbed the still surface of a mirror. Moments later, waves that were tens of meters tall began to slosh about wildly, causing the little island to look no different from a small boat in a storm.

Back within the grotto temple. Qin Ye stood still with his arms folded. The violent Yin energy gently tousled his clothes and even caused the candles in the room to flare up with a magnificent flourish. Just then, a scarlet eye opened up right in the heart of the vortex overhead, and a hoarse voice boomed, “Abra? I remember your name. You--...”

And then, the voice suddenly stopped.

The eye in the sky abruptly turned into a slit that stared transfixed at Qin Ye.

Emissary… Emissary of Hell!

How did he appear in this place?

At once, a multitude of thoughts surged straight into Babulu’s mind, and everything fell silent.

“Deputy Chieftain Babulu.” Qin Ye smiled and nodded, “This is the first time we’ve met. Pardon the sudden call upon your tribe, but I hope I didn’t cause too much of a disturbance.”

The eye in the vortex quivered softly. Moments later, the Yin energy coalesced together, and a tall dark-skinned man stepped out of the vortex in the sky and quickly walked up to Qin Ye with a bright smile on his face. He extended his hand, “Angels of the East. It’s been a long time. This isn’t a disturbance at all. How could the angels of the East be a disturbance? It is our honour to have you here.”

He spoke in fluent Cathayan.

Babulu was very tall. He stood at approximately two meters tall. His hair was naturally curly, but the ends of his hair appeared to transition seamlessly into wisps of Yin energy. Two clumps of jade green netherflame blazed where his eyes were. He wore garments made of animal skin, and carried a multitude of exquisite accessories and adornments.

With each word he spoke, the surrounding space trembled slightly. Even the Yin energy pouring out of his seven apertures pulsated wildly as he spoke.

Incredibly strong.

This was a sign that he’d already been an Abyssal Prefect for a long time, so much so that he could no longer contain the Yin energy in his body. Put differently, he was so strong that Yin energy was spilling out of his body.

This was qualitative strength at its best, and not quantitative strength. Babulu must have consolidated his own cultivation several times in order to reach the level that he was at today. And Qin Ye was able to confirm all of these suspicions of his as soon as they shook hands.

Advanced Prefect-class Yin spirit… and one that is not far from the realms of a Yama-King at that…

He’s clearly laying the foundations for his breakthrough to the realms of a Yama-King. I’m afraid that he’s quite possibly the next master of the Black Mamba Underworld.

Qin Ye understood many things with that simple handshake of his. However, this did not in any way hinder their probative diplomatic etiquette. Both remained just as polite and yet guarded against each other. Likewise, as soon as Qin Ye retracted his hand, Babulu glanced at his own hand with surprise, “Taisui fungus… Cathayan specialty produce. By international standards, that would be an S-class treasure. And even by your own classification, it would be a superior A-grade treasure… These are treasures that one can never buy with wealth. To think that something like this actually exists…”

Qin Ye smiled, “It’s all a matter of destiny.”

“That’s right. Regrettably, in all of our previous exchanges with each other, we’ve always asked if you have any news of when the next taisui fungus might appear, but to no avail. I wonder if we’ll have the fortune of seeing something like that emerge in the next international auction, after Hell emerges from its seclusion from the world. Haha, please, this way.”

This was a masterful manner of beating about the bush, raising incidental references about the elephant in the room, but never actually talking about it.

Both sides chatted as they walked, but neither took the initiative to ask any questions to the other. Even though Qin Ye was incredibly anxious to get an answer from the Malagasy Underworld, he chose to play along and chat freely with Babulu.

It wasn’t always a good thing to make the first move. After all, it might be interpreted as over-eagerness, and that could potentially cause the other party to reassess the leverage they had in the discussions and potential negotiations ahead.

The grotto temple wasn’t large. Thus, they soon found their way to the entrance. Babulu smiled, “Well, then, where would Prefect Qin like to put up for the night?”

“Hell’s Embassy remains in the Black Mamba Underworld to this day. But admittedly, it hasn’t been cleaned out for a while. If you wish to stay here, I’m afraid you might have to be patient as we get that sorted out. Alternatively…”

He hung his head low and smiled mischievously, “Our Mythic Spirit has a private shrine. It’s a stately residence, and it’s as private as it gets.”

It’s begun…

Qin Ye maintained the formulaic smile on his face even as his eyes gleamed brightly. Babulu was implicitly asking the true purpose for which an Emissary of Hell is here in the Black Mamba Underworld.

Is it public business, or private business?

This was what international politics was like. Every moment of interaction was an opportunity in and of itself. This was a forest - a dark and harsh forest where the strong devoured the weak. Every underworld was a hunter hiding in the darkness, waiting for the right opportunity to devour its prey and satiate its appetite.

One of the P4 underworlds… This may be an olive branch… or it may be a result of the unforeseen changes in circumstances… Babulu had clearly detected the precursors of change.

“The shrine.” Qin Ye responded calmly.

Babulu opened the wooden door in front of them as he spoke.

Whoosh… A nethergale swept by. As the door opened, his surroundings transformed right in front of his eyes.

What should have been a small island surrounded by corpses had now transformed into a sanctuary filled with ancient trees. The flowerbeds of spider lilies outside were only separated by a yellow stone paved road that led straight out into the distance. Several animalistic totems bearing candles lit both sides of the path. A stone building stood right at the end of the road, among the flowers and the trees. A dozen dark-skinned butlers dressed in western suits bowed deeply at once as they greeted him, “Welcome.”

Qin Ye stepped out of the gate. And then, he stopped, “I’d like to meet with the Mythic Spirit as soon as possible. This is a matter of great importance, and I hope deputy chieftain Babulu could help me pass on this message of mine.”

“Naturally.” Babulu smiled back radiantly and bowed deeply with his hand in front of his belly, “Alkebulan would never leave its allies in the lurch.”

Clatter… clatter… thud. As Qin Ye walked out, the gate slowly shut by itself, leaving Babulu on the other side. Moments later, the radiant smiles on their faces faded away, only to be replaced by an expression of coldness.

Something’s not right…

Qin Ye lowered his eyes and gazed blankly at the stone path on the ground as he slowly made his way towards the villa in the distance. The negotiations concerning the situation in the East had already begun.

However, the Mythic Spirit had yet to make his appearance!

The Mythic Spirit was a Yama-class entity. There was no way Qin Ye would be able to conceal his own presence from the Mythic Spirit of Malagasy as soon as he entered the Malagasy Underworld. There was no doubt about this. Back in Eritrea, despite having only stopped over for a ten minutes transfer, it was already sufficient time for the Mythic Spirit of Eritrea to react and send its foreign minister to board Qin Ye’s plane.

The reason why he had waited so long for Abra in the mortal realm was precisely because he wanted to communicate directly with the Malagasy Underworld through their dedicated channels so as not to draw too much attention to themselves. Furthermore, he was hoping that by doing so, he could bridge the gap between the fact that he was an Abyssal Prefect, and the Yama-class Mythic Spirit of Malagasy.

Unfortunately, their Mythic Spirit hadn’t showed up.

And that’s not all, he didn’t even get to interact with the foreign minister of the Black Mamba Underworld!

Why was that the case?

Furthermore, as a deputy chieftain, Babulu didn’t even bother to show me around the Black Mamba Underworld. Given Hell’s reputation, they would know full well what a Prefect-class Emissary of Hell means. He stared blankly at the villa as he walked closer and closer. Various thoughts continued to pour into his mind, So, why are they giving me the cold shoulder?

There were many possibilities, and he didn’t want to take a stab in the dark. Unfortunately, with the way things turned out, he was left without a clue on how to move things forward. He slowly approached the villa with just as placid an expression as ever. At once, one of the butlers showed him around his room.

It was luxurious. Not as refined as it could be, but it was gorgeous and charming in a wild and bold way. Everything came together nicely in the villa.

All of the furniture in the villa was made of solid wood, and most were adorned with natural branches or roots. The rooms were even decorated with vibrantly coloured flowers - not many, but sufficient to add a splash of colour like a finishing touch on a masterpiece.

Skulls of Yin beasts hung all around them, and one of the multicoloured Yin beasts even appeared to have been made into a vase with a blooming lotus flower emerging from its mouth. A candle rested at the heart of the flower, lit with a gentle flame. In other rooms, there were gilt candlesticks of various shapes holding up softly flickering flames. Everything looked mysterious yet elegant at the same time.

Qin Ye couldn’t tell what incense was lit, but it filled the entire villa spanning 200 square meters with a refreshing and relaxing scent. The table in the main hall was already well stocked with fruits and drinks, as well as some local delicacies. Moreover, they had clearly prepared porcelain utensils out of consideration for their guest’s heritage.

Upon closer inspection, Qin Ye discovered that these utensils appeared milky-white like jade, and almost transparent. His best guess was that these were utensils crafted out of a specific type of gemstones. The patterns etched on them were surprisingly exquisite, just like a traditional Cathayan landscape painting.

“Feel free to ring the bell to call us if you need anything. It’s our honour to be able to serve you.” The butler bowed deeply and left through the main door.

Qin Ye sat on the chair adorned with plush cushions. They didn’t appear too thick, but their material made Qin Ye feel as though he were sitting on clouds. It was incredibly comfortable.

He picked up a cup, and a strong fragrance rushed straight through his nostrils. It smelled exactly like the coffee of the mortal realm. However, he chose not to drink it.

The Malagasy Underworld is clearly faring better than its mortal realm counterparts… He slowly scanned the paintings and decor around him - The entire underworld is undergoing an orderly development. Even their manufacturing industries aren’t too bad. In fact…

He turned to the magazine on the table - The entertainment industry and communications industry are both clearly better than Hell as it stands right now.

Qin Ye set down the cup and casually picked up the magazine and flipped through its contents. It wasn’t thick by any means. Furthermore, he couldn’t read the language on the cover page. However, every article was translated into four languages.

Aegyptian, Argosian, Hindustani, and Cathayan.

He looked through its contents. He had neither access to information, nor any leads to go on right now. Although he’d done a fair amount of preparation before coming, one could never be prepared enough. The magazine might be thin, but it was at least a decent source of information.

Thus, he carefully read through its contents. Then, just 10 minutes later, his eyes narrowed abruptly as he stared at one of the articles.

“So that’s it…” He took a deep breath and tossed the magazine back on the table. Then, massaging his table, he exclaimed under his breath, “Well, that complicates things...”

…………………………………………………..

A stone temple. It was one that was designed with traditional Alkebulan flair, as well as Aegyptian elements.

Although Aegyptus hadn’t unified Alkebulan, its influence had clearly reached most of the major tribes around.

The stone steps leading up to the temple were thousands of meters wide. Emissaries were stationed all around the steps like orderly rows of ants. Each row of emissaries were located exactly 200 meters apart from the other, while ten-meter tall torches were located at regular intervals all around them. The entire area was filled with a sense of sacredness and splendour, and it made any Yin spirit around feel indescribably small.

The surroundings were quiet despite the grandeur of the temple. All in all, it looked like the abode of the gods. The temple itself was approximately 1,000 meters wide and 200 meters tall. One could only imagine how important the person residing within must be.

Babulu was kneeling quietly on the ground in the temple, before an altar almost a thousand-meters wide. Copious amounts of Yin energy raged from the heart of the altar, interspersed only by wails of aggrieved spirits. It was as though the altar were the very embodiment of the underworld itself.

“Lord Mythic Spirit, Prefect Qin has already been settled down.” He kowtowed to the ground, and then asked with the utmost respect, “But… is this really for the best?”

Silence.

Babulu continued, “To give an Emissary of Hell the cold shoulder… They’re not an underworld that we can afford to mess with. Although we’ve got you, they… have military formations, forbidden arts, and other means hidden up their sleeves, such as the Yama-Kings of the Ten Palaces, the Sixfold Ghost Kings, and the hundreds of Abyssal Prefects at their disposal. Lord Mythic Spirit, any of these are stronger than the chieftains and deputy chieftains that we have in Alkebulan!”

“Are you certain that leaving him at the villa wouldn’t give rise to any diplomatic disputes? After all, no underworld has ever treated Hell like this before!”

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