“Don’t ask about the specifics, such as what the questions are. Although these are matters of common knowledge to all Emissaries of Hell, I’m unfortunately not at liberty to disclose these.” Qin Ye swirled the contents of his wine glass about, “Because as soon as I do… the Second King Yanluo’s wrath would come crashing down on me like a heavenly thunder. I don’t wish to perish in this place.”
He sipped his wine silently as he swept a glance around the table.
Every single Yin spirit, including Black Mamba himself, were all deep in thought.
Keep guessing… You guys wouldn’t be able to enter Hell to verify this anyway. Sure, you might be able to send in some darkfeathers, but none can get out!
In other words, you’ll never be able to verify anything I’m saying right now! Besides, from your perspective, my honor as an Abyssal Prefect, a trade negotiator and a representative of one of the Eight Great Clans is clearly riding on the line. That being the case, do you think I’d really be lying to you right now?
You have no choice but to take my words at face value and assume that this is where Hell stands right now. Furthermore, given the Second King Yanluo’s cantankerous nature, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to pull a stunt like this.
Speaking of which, Brother Xu, rest in peace. Let us never see each other again…
Just then, something appeared to occur to Black Mamba, and he immediately leaned back into his seat for some time, before finally speaking up, “Are you allowed to disclose this much to begin with?”
Qin Ye smiled back, “After a hundred long years of reclusion, we’d been given the opportunity to make a trip out after clearing the fifth question. I’m not sure about the other Great Clans out there, but as for the Zhu Clan, shipping routes are our main source of wealth. We simply cannot afford to be cut off completely from it. Naturally, it was our top priority to ride on this opportunity to bag ourselves some profit. I’m afraid that an opportunity like this would be hard to come by once the new King Yanluo ascends the throne.”
This was how he was padding the groundwork.
Hell had to get bigger and stronger than ever before. After all, it was only during this trip out when he saw the sheer number of ghost ships sailing on the Red Sea and the pyramids floating in the sky that he finally understood how terrifying the P4 underworlds truly were.
Whether in terms of strength, geography and even influence, they were terrifying in every way!
And if they were that strong, how could they possibly still be dabbling in smuggling operations with the lesser underworlds?
Qin Ye went on, “Although the Second King Yanluo has placed restrictions on everyone, us Eight Great Clans are admittedly not reined in as closely. Besides, we’re all descendants of emperors at some point or another. Furthermore…”
He smiled and glanced at everyone, “This is, in a sense, a cautionary word that time is truly of the essence.”
“This period of free trade is at best only going to last for another hundred or so years…”
Just then, Black Mamba suddenly jerked his head back and stared at him.
Did I say something wrong?
Qin Ye raised his brows quizzically. However, he knew that this wasn’t the time to be considering these things. Thus, without missing a beat, he continued, “At the very least, things will have to stop for a time when the new king ascends the throne. After all, we wouldn’t want to get on his bad side at the incipience of his new reign. Everyone… do you still have any questions?”
Nobody said a word.
This was far more than they had expected, and they were all busy digesting the information. Several seconds later, Babulu finally smiled, “No more. Lord Mythic Spirit, what do you think?”
“Yes.” Black Mamba finally nodded his head and gazed deeply at Qin Ye, “We would gladly welcome Hell with open arms. As for the specifics, we can leave it to our emissaries to iron out the details.”
This was going to be a protracted process detailing the particulars of the goods to be sold and purchased, as well as the terms of trade. Generally speaking, it would take at least a month to draft up the inventory of goods, and then another three or four months to negotiate the payment terms. If everything went without a hitch, and luck was on his side, he might just be able to launch these shipments right after the New Year Festivities in Cathay.
Wouldn’t that excite the citizens?
First, they would get to see their family, and then, they would understand that Hell is thriving and prospering more by the minute! Who wouldn’t take pride in something like that?
Babulu stood up with a smile and raised his glass, “Then let’s toast to the reestablishment of trade relations between the Black Mamba Underworld and Hell. As you Cathayans say, bottoms up!”
“No hurry.” Qin Ye’s heart thumped wildly. He could even feel his breath grow warmer by the minute as he continued to build his case.
This is just the appetizer…
The main dish is going to be served shortly…
Tensions ran high, and he felt like a bowstring drawn back so far that it was practically on the verge of snapping.
“There’s something else that I wish to talk to you about.”
“Something more important than commerce?” Ancestral Shaman Cain spoke up for the very first time, rubbing his chin as he looked curiously at Qin Ye, “Or are you saying that… this is the true reason for which you’re here today?”
Qin Ye stood up and bowed slightly, “You can say that, but that would be a little bit of an overstatement. After all, it’s not a big deal for Hell to begin with. In fact… it’s just a slight inconvenience to us.”
Black Mamba playfully swirled about the contents in his wine glass, “Wouldn’t something that can inconvenience one of the P4 underworlds be a source of great trouble to us?”
“But what if it’s closely related to your underworld?”
“Oh?” Black Mamba leaned back and lazily crossed his leg, revealing a gently coiled tail that rested behind him, “Closely related… Well, then it would all depend on whether we possess the ability to deal with it. If your earlier business proposition is going to be dependent on whether or not we’re going to resolve this inconvenience of yours, then chances are, we’ll probably have to reject your proposition. After all… something of inconvenience to Hell would never be a trifling matter to us.”
He ran his finger across the mouth of the wine glass, “300 years ago, when the ancient city of Atlantis declared its own kingdom, this was also labelled a small inconvenience by Hell. However, the war that ensued saw the death of several dozens of Abyssal Prefects.”
“700 years ago, when Transylvania’s ancestral vampire came to life again, Hell once again called it a matter of small inconvenience, but it doesn’t change the fact that eight Marquises from the Argosian Underworld perished in the line of duty.”
“Look, the Black Mamba Underworld is unfortunately not of the same caliber as one of the P4 underworlds. Something that is trifling to you… might well be something that is well beyond our means to deal with.”
Black Mamba licked the scales at the corner of his lips with his forked tongue as soon as he finished stating his piece. Meanwhile, Qin Ye nearly cursed in his heart.
Bloody hell… Things were all going so smoothly with the business proposition, so why are you suddenly going back on your word at the earliest sign of trouble?! Do you know how shameless you look right now?
Suppressing the fury in his heart, Qin Ye raised his brows right back at Black Mamba, “And what if I tell you that it’s got to do with Forbidden Arts?”
At once, the netherflames in the eyes of all emissaries flickered wildly.
Clink… The wine glass in Black Mamba’s hands instantly shattered, followed soon by a period of tense silence. After some time, Black Mamba spoke in a chilling voice, “Prefect Qin, mutual respect is of the utmost importance in any bilateral meeting. Forbidden Arts… is a matter of taboo here in the Alkebulan Underworlds. Haven’t you learnt anything from the elders in your clan?”
The Yin energy in the surroundings stirred intently, causing the temperatures to suddenly dip sharply. Meanwhile, Qin Ye could feel a sharp murderous intent looming over his head.
However, he wasn’t intimidated in the slightest. Instead, he couldn’t help but feel more excited than ever.
What intense hatred…
The great war in which Thanatos unified Europa had occurred far too long ago, and he’d only heard the rough gist of it from the lips of the Harken. That said, he wasn’t aware of the specifics, including how many chieftains, deputy chieftains, and Mythic Spirits perished in this great war.
But, from their reaction, he could now tell that the damage to the Alkebulan Underworlds was probably far greater than he had originally fathomed!
Excellent… The deeper your hatred, the better. I was just afraid that your hatred didn’t run deep enough for my purposes.
“But there are certain things that we cannot simply gloss over.” Qin Ye stood up and spoke with an even louder voice. This was clearly the climax of the negotiations. He steeled his mind and continued to speak with an outpouring of emotions.
And that was when Black Mamba laughed.
He laughed viciously and wickedly, unleashing in full force the unbridled murderous intent of his heart, “Very well.”
“Since you’re a Prefect of one of the P4 underworlds, I’ll give you one opportunity to explain yourself.” He took a deep breath, and the sides of his cheeks flared up like a cobra that was poised to strike, “I hope… you can satisfy me with your answer.”
Qin Ye bowed deeply. Then, without padding the topic any further, he cut straight to the chase, “The Russian Underworld is currently researching and developing Forbidden Arts.”
Whoosh!!! At once, the entire grand hall was filled with murderous intent.
“And what does this have to do with us?” They clearly weren’t used to hearing the topic of taboo being discussed so openly. Thus, Shaman Cain instantly sneered back, “The Russian Underworld is located right next to Hell. This is clearly the duty of one of Hell as one of the P4 underworlds. According to the usual practice, you should immediately convene an executive meeting under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Forbidden Arts and submit it as an agenda to be decided by the Federation of Underworlds!”
Yet Qin Ye simply responded with indifference, “If that were possible, we would’ve done it a long time ago. Besides, I’m only relaying a piece of information to you. What the Alkebulan Underworlds choose to do about it is none of Hell’s business.”
“But to this end, Hell has already decided that it will remain passive to it.”
“Why?” Babulu’s eyes were flickering wildly. But before he could even finish speaking, he recalled something of great importance.
That’s right… Hell is currently undergoing a change of regime. How could we expect them to even make a move?
No, in fact, it doesn’t matter whether this is a change of regime or not. Hell has gone into reclusion for the last hundred or so years. Even if this isn’t a change of regime as alleged by Prefect Qin, something massive must be stirring within Hell right now. They obviously wouldn’t be able to do a thing about the Russian Underworld!
It had to be said that had Qin Ye not done everything he did earlier to pad the blow, he would probably already be greeted by a storm of reproach by now. “This is your duty as a member of the P4 underworlds! What are you saying now? What do you mean?”
However, Qin Ye’s words had insidiously sown the seeds of a preconceived notion in their minds.
Hell was undergoing a change of regime, and every single Emissary of Hell was fighting for the title of successor to the throne. Naturally, nobody could possibly be bothered about Forbidden Arts right now. Besides, Forbidden Arts wasn’t a big deal to one of the P4 underworlds to begin with. And for that matter, Hell has always maintained a relatively cordial relationship with the Russian Underworld, particularly since they share one of the world’s longest border lines.
“What about the Second King Yanluo?” Black Mamba was no longer smiling as he quipped back, “Does he not care?”
“It is regrettable.” Qin Ye bowed deeply, “You’re all keenly aware of the might of the Second King Yanluo. His power has already long exceeded the laws of the Heavenly Dao, and now… I’m afraid none of us know which parallel universe he’s gone to. Unless and until the century puzzle has been cracked and solved, he won’t be coming back.”
“Then what about the Yama-Kings of the Ten Palaces?!” Black Mamba shot up to his feet, and the scales on his body rattled wildly, “Hell is one of the P4 underworlds! Do you intend to violate the obligations expected of you?!”
“Oh…” He was dancing on a knife’s edge right now, and his mind spun intensely - If this were a true Emissary of Hell living under the regime of the old Hell, what would he say and do?
He spent the next few moments processing various possible responses. He clenched his fists tightly and gnashed his teeth. And then, finally, he stood straight and glanced haughtily at all of the Yin spirits around, “So what?”
“You!!!” Shaman Cain abruptly shot to his feet, together with Babulu and the other three elders who stared intently at Qin Ye.
“Do you think we really have the time to concern ourselves with such things before we get our internal affairs sorted out completely? And even if we had the luxury of time, why shouldn’t we delve deeper into the pursuit of profit rather than such tricky international affairs?” Qin Ye swirled the contents of his wine glass slowly as he smiled back at everyone, “Besides, we already have Forbidden Arts in our possession. I’m only tasked to relay this matter to you for your consideration. Oh, and might I add…”
He paused for a moment, “What they’re dabbling with is likely the second generation Forbidden Arts.”
“Moreover, we see the shadows of the Argosian Underworld aiding them from behind.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter