Qin Ye’s back was damp with cold sweat.
In negotiations, one would sometimes encounter an unforeseen problem that threw a spanner in the works, just like how things were right now.
What in the world is a Rain Swallow?
He’d never even heard of something like that before. But the fact that the Mythic Spirit had only asked for ten Rain Swallows suggested that this was something extremely precious and valuable.
A specialty product?
Something used for special hobbies?
Or perhaps… armament? Armament specially produced by the Zhu Clan?
At once, the mention of these foreign words acted like a sudden surge in the tide that threatened to breach the floodgates of his tightly guarded heart.
And there was an abrupt period of silence. An awkward, protracted silence.
Qin Ye’s mind spun rapidly during these three seconds. Unfortunately, Black Mamba clearly wasn’t willing to give him the luxury of time to think of a proper response. At once, the scales on his eyes shifted as though he were raising an eyebrow quizzically, “Hmm?”
“The esteemed Mythic Spirit must be pulling my leg.” Qin Ye’s heart thumped as hard as war drums on the cusp of a great battle. His blood vessels throbbed as though they were bursting at the seams, but he did his level best to maintain a placid and calm smile on his face, “I’ve never heard of something like that.”
“Is that so…” Black Mamba shut his eyes softly. At once, the Yin energy drifting about in the grand hall immediately began to swirl around them as though a vortex were in the brewing. Black Mamba tapped his fingers lightly on the table, “Prefect Qin, I hope you understand something here.”
“Hell holds a lofty status as one of the P4 underworlds. But, even then, the Black Mamba Underworld is still an underworld with the presence of a Mythic Spirit as well. In fact, there are at least 30 Alkebulan Underworlds, of which at least 20 possess the might of a Mythic Spirit. And this is the current count that we have.”
“It’s a great choice that you’ve chosen to land here in the Malagasy Underworld. This is one of the most geographically superior locations. With this as a launching pad, you can effectively reach the entire eastern Alkebulan, and it would be our honour to cooperate with you in this regard. However…”
He lowered his head, and a deafening clang suddenly echoed throughout the entire grand hall, almost as though ten thousand swords clashed mightily against each other at the exact same time. It was absolutely chilling.
“It takes two hands to clap, and I’d like to know exactly what we’re getting into.”
Qin Ye shut his eyes, and the corners of his eyes twitched slightly, “Unfortunately, you’re speaking of knowledge that comes with a continuing relationship. This isn’t something that can simply be communicated through verbal means.”
Persona… I’ve got to maintain the persona of Hell! I’ve got to play hard ball!
Bloody hell… I’m practically placing my life on the line!
Black Mamba was clearly neither the Harken nor the Second King Yanluo of Hell, and he had no interest in accommodating Qin Ye’s requests. Instead, the only thing it was concerned about was the interests of the Black Mamba Underworld. In other words, Qin Ye was effectively negotiating with an unbridled Mythic Spirit in the presence of several high-ranking emissaries! The pressure on Qin Ye right now was immense, to say the least.
“Mr Qin.” Babulu placed his hands on his abdomen and leaned back coldly, “Didn’t you say that you were a trusted member of the Zhu Clan?”
“If they really trust you as much as you say they do, then why aren’t you aware of the Rain Swallows?”
Qin Ye’s mind spun right into overdrive. If he were a machine, then there would most certainly be steam coming out of his head right now.
He picked up his glass of wine and took a sip, “I’ve also mentioned that who I am isn’t quite so much as important as the potential benefits that are to be had by your underworld. Is there really a need to be pushing so hard?”
He had no other choice.
He’d already been pushed into a corner.
And he had no choice but to abandon his purported identity as a member of the Zhu Clan in order to survive. His best course of action now was simply to remain as vague and ambiguous as the Black Mamba Underworld would condone.
“Besides, if I’m not aware of something called the Rain Swallow, it just means that it’s a high-level secret that I’m not privy to. Everyone…” he gently set down his wine glass with a soft clink, “I… don’t bear the surname Zhu.”
Black Mamba stared intently at him as he said these things. Five seconds later, he suddenly chuckled and finished the contents of his wine glass in one go.
“It just slipped my mind. The Rain Swallow isn’t something that the Zhu Clan had promised. I’d gotten it all mixed up… I guess I am getting old after all…”
The tension in the room completely dissipated once more, only to be replaced by lighthearted chatter and banter. Qin Ye was deeply relieved that he’d finally extricated himself from that difficult situation. Even then, he couldn’t stop his heart from thumping right out of his chest.
As expected of an old Yama-King… To think that he’d come up with something to catch me off guard completely out of the blue.
It was a question that was completely unrelated to the agenda that they had for today, but it had completely thrown Qin Ye off his rhythm.
Think of it this way. Both sides were posturing aggressively and yet maintaining a rock solid defense all the while. But Black Mamba’s masterstroke of a negotiation tactic had suddenly taken Qin Ye by surprise, forcing Qin Ye to dig himself a hole and tear a gap in his own defense by admitting that he didn’t in fact bear the Zhu Clan’s surname. All they needed to do right now was to seize the tempo of the negotiations before Qin Ye could get back into the rhythm of things.
And to that end, rhythm was a mystical thing in every negotiation. It might have nothing to do with the information available at hand, and yet… it could easily determine the winner and the loser of an entire negotiation at hand.
“Can I ask one more question?” As expected, Black Mamba didn’t give him any breathing room at all, “Since the Zhu Clan is so bold as to take to the seas, does that also mean that our fleet of ships can start docking in Hell once more? Is the Pearl River port of Hell open for business again?”
“Unfortunately not.” Qin Ye kept his wariness about him, and he continued to maintain a poker face as he explained, “We’ve risked much with this foreign mission of ours. As things stand right now… foreign emissaries may enter, but none may leave.”
“The Black Mamba Underworld should be aware of the lockdown that Hell is experiencing right now. Hunter-class darkfeathers and Hellguard-class darkfeathers may enter Hell under the right conditions, but none have ever stepped out of Hell to date.”
“So, that’s the case…” Babulu sighed softly, and then quipped back, “Then, could you shed some light as to what exactly is happening to Hell? To think that Hell has gone into reclusion for a century on end. As far as I’m aware, there have already been several underworlds who’ve been planning to jointly impeach Hell since 80 years ago, with the hope that they can take Hell’s place as one of the P4 underworlds.”
Qin Ye sighed softly.
He had been waiting for this question all this while! He’d already predicted that they would at some point talk about the elephant in the room. It appeared as though the Black Mamba emissaries were all driving a wedge through the crack that had appeared in Qin Ye’s defenses, but the truth of the matter was that this was a question that was the key out of this difficult situation!
Not only was he going to respond to this - he was going to respond well!
Because this was something that would allow him to pad the negotiations and segue straight into the main topic for discussion!
The elders who were all savoring their wine couldn’t help but notice the protracted pause, and they glanced over inquisitively. In fact, even Babulu couldn’t help but tighten his fist around his beast-skin garments.
If Qin Ye wasn’t planning to respond to questions about Hell’s current situation, then the easiest way out would have been to rebuff the question with a simple “no comment”. However… he was actually silent.
Didn’t that mean that he was actually prepared to answer the question?
Were they finally going to understand the mystery surrounding the hundred-year reclusion of Hell?
This was a mystery that had confounded the international arena for far too long! The implications of their response would be far too great!
Black Mamba stared at Qin Ye in consternation, but chose not to rush him in his response. Half a minute later, Qin Ye sighed softly, “Are there other Emissaries around?”
At once, an electrifying sensation surged straight through Black Mamba’s mind. Without hesitation, he waved his hands and caused the gates to slam shut with a loud bang. Thereafter, a massive source of Yin energy filled every corner of the grand hall, causing the candles around the hall to flicker wildly.
Finally, he closed his eyes and appeared to sense his surroundings for a moment, before turning to Qin Ye once more, “I swear in my capacity as a Mythic Spirit that there’s nobody else here apart from the ones you see around you.”
Qin Ye picked up the wine glass and fiercely gulped down its contents. Then, he opened his lips, paused for a moment, and then closed his mouth again. He repeated this action several times in the next few moments, and even then, nobody interrupted him.
Tell us, please!
This is the secret to unlocking a century-old mystery! We’re so near, and yet so far! Hurry up and tell us!
After an inordinate period of time, Qin Ye finally spoke up, “You should be aware of the personality of the Second King Yanluo of Hell.”
The scales of Black Mamba’s face rattled softly.
How could they be unaware of that?
Just a hundred years ago, he was known to have struck out at all of the major underworlds in the netherworld, and yet not a single one of them dared to speak out against him. What’s more, he had practically showed up at each of their doors, challenging their authority of his own accord, beating up all opposition forces until he arrived right before their respective gods of death, and then finally defeating all of them in one fell swoop.
Thanatos, Anubis, Quetzalcoatl, Yamaraja, and other large and small rulers of various underworlds… None of them were able to defeat the revered Second King Yanluo of Hell.
And to make matters worse, he managed to achieve all of this in three days’ time.
The emissaries present felt as though a bolt of lightning had crashed right into their bodies, and every fiber of their being was tingling with excitement.
The secret was finally about to be unveiled!
Nobody interrupted Qin Ye as he continued, “However, he didn’t appoint the Third King Yanluo of Hell.”
Gulp… Someone gulped anxiously in the midst of the otherwise silent grand hall.
“He published a set of ten difficult questions that are now more known as the century puzzle. The one who can solve these ten questions would be allowed to take over as the next King Yanluo of Hell. Thus, he’d activated the Array of the Nine Gods in the interim, and has every intention of leaving it in place until the Third King Yanluo of Hell is appointed.”
So that’s how it is…
That’s how it is!
Black Mamba spoke softly and cautiously, almost as though the name of the Second King Yanluo of Hell was a matter of taboo, “And you’re able to come out now… because… the century puzzle has been solved?”
“Hardly so.” Qin Ye chuckled bitterly, “Only half of it has been solved.”
“There are Emissaries of Hell who have managed to crack five of the questions. According to the words of the Second King Yanluo, only the wise and the brave, and the benevolent and the virtuous of our generation would be able to crack the century puzzle. In fact, he claimed to have been a failure to Hell, and therefore seeks to appoint one who is even more qualified than he to lead Hell.”
Why did he have to step on someone who’s passed on into another world?
Unfortunately, that was just how a certain Qin Dogballs was like…
Babulu couldn’t help but ask, “That is to say, if all goes well, Hell will finally end its period of reclusion in another hundred or so years?”
QIn Ye nodded, “That’s right. And it’s precisely because a certain somebody had solved five questions that he was able to leave Hell and come to the Black Mamba Underworld today.”
He was practically reciting verbatim his prepared response to the question that he knew would come up at some point in time.
And there were two reasons as to why he had prepared a response as such.
Firstly, there were times when it was better to let them know why Hell was in reclusion and fill the gaps in their minds, rather than allow their imaginations to run wild. Even though the fact was that Hell was no more, it was far better to fill their minds with a cover story that they were presently merely undergoing a change in regime.
Secondly, he did so in order to dispel their suspicions and put to rest any plans to impeach Hell. Otherwise, how could they possibly explain the need for 200 years of reclusion for a simple change of regime? Wouldn’t such reclusion be more distinctive of a civil war?
Obviously, the ten questions or the century puzzle sounded far better. Moreover, the fact that this was something that emanated from the Second King Yanluo of Hell only went to show just how difficult it was going to be.
With this, he would have laid the groundwork for the true purpose and reason as to why he was here.
It was only then that he would finally be able to explain why Hell couldn’t possibly make a move even though the Russian Underworld was acting up right at its doorstep!
After all, no matter how much Hell looked down on the Russian Underworld, they would never under normal circumstances condone the presence of a neighbouring underworld’s possession of Forbidden Arts!Previous Chapter Next Chapter