Neither of them said a single word in that instant. The Mythic Spirit’s scales flared up, and copious amounts of billowing Yin energy poured out of his body at once. Even then, he remained silent for a long time, before finally speaking, “Before I accept this gift, I’d like to know Hell’s view on such matters in future.”
Now that their interests were aligned, Qin Ye immediately understood Black Mamba’s question to mean how Hell would react once the Black Mamba Underworld was exposed for developing Forbidden Arts.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care. It’s none of our business.” Qin Ye smiled meaningfully as he slowly raised his wine glass.
You don’t know that the Black Mamba Underworld is developing Forbidden Arts?
Nope. We weren’t the ones who gave them the Forbidden Arts initiation module.
And since that’s the case, it’s naturally none of Hell’s business. Who do we look like? Some kind of charitable organization that would resolve such issues for the greater good of the netherworld?
Black Mamba immediately understood the intentions behind Qin Ye’s words.
“Very well…” He straightened up and smiled, “We’ll ink the deal in three days' time. Once that’s done, I’ll immediately convene a meeting with the Coalition of Alkebulan Underworlds.”
Qin Ye raised his wine glass again and smiled brightly, “To success.”
Clink… The clink of their glasses were as crisp and clear as they had ever been.
Qin Ye didn’t stay for much longer. Instead, he tore off the latter half of the secret memorial and kept it for his own reference. After all, he didn’t quite understand what secrets that part of the secret memorial contained, and he naturally wouldn’t give to the Black Mamba Underworld anything more than he needed to.
Likewise, the Black Mamba Mythic Spirit didn’t linger about any longer either. After all, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that his heart now filled with more eagerness than Qin Ye himself.
20 minutes later. As soon as Qin Ye returned to his villa and shut the door behind him, he immediately slumped to the ground with his back against the door.
He felt like tightly wound clockwork that had finally been given a chance to loosen up. He held down his chest as he fervently repressed the wild thumping of his heart. Colour slowly returned to his face as he took several long sighs of relief.
“Interesting…” He massaged his throbbing temples as he glanced out of the room into the distant skies, “The stratum of international politics is truly interesting…”
“Who would’ve thought that things would end up this way? Preparation goes a long way, but what bridges the final gap between nations is the crucial moment of inspiration that can often be hard to come by.”
Just then, he sat up abruptly. His mind was incredibly worn out, but even then, he felt strangely invigorated. Thus, he sat up straight on his sofa, pulled out a piece of paper and immediately began to write on it.
He wanted to seize the moment while his mind was still buzzing with excitement and adrenaline to jot down his thoughts and insights. After all, even though these were all valuable experiences that would forever be etched in his heart, they would also serve as experiences upon which he could grow and mature as a leader.
“My experiences in the field of international affairs are clearly lacking. I’d thought that I’d done enough, but everything thus far was clearly still within their expectations and speculations. Everything that I’d planned failed to reap the results that I’d anticipated. International politics is incredibly unpredictable. Nobody would stick to the script if they could help it.”
“Fortunately, the curveball that neither of us expected swung things in my favour. If not for the fact that I had this final ace hidden up my sleeves, I’m afraid that I might already be returning to Hell with my head hung low by now…”
With inspiration abounding, Qin Ye penned down thousands of words in one fell swoop, until his weariness finally got the better of him.
Alright, I guess it’s finally time to get some rest… He shook his arms softly. Both his mind and body were completely drained.
I’ll get some rest in preparation for the final closure.
All in all, he would have taken approximately one month from the start of these operations until he finally wrapped things up. Naturally, one could only expect it to take an even longer time to convince the Coalition of Alkebulan Underworlds. That would take things well beyond his deadlines. However, Qin Ye wasn’t too worried.
“The winds are changing.” He smiled and glanced out the window once more. He’d now gained himself a reliable partner, and he sincerely believed that having devoured the temptation of the Forbidden Arts whole, the Black Mamba Underworld would do whatever it took to bring things to fruition as quickly as they could!
And with that, time flew by quickly, and three days passed in the blink of an eye.
Qin Ye got up early in the morning of the fourth day. But as soon as he did, he noticed that there was already a carriage waiting in front of his villa to take him straight to the Temple of the Black Mamba.
Rumble… The heavy stone door opened once more, and then slowly shut behind him after he stepped inside. And as soon as he did, a series of candles immediately began to light up.
There weren’t other emissaries around, but Qin Ye wasn’t perplexed in the slightest. After all, they had essentially sold out their own interests in order to curry favour with Hell. Naturally, the Black Mamba Underworld wanted to keep their tacit partnership as discreet as possible.
There was a finely carved stone table located right in the heart of the otherwise silent hall. But this time, there was a sheepskin placed gently on the surface of the table. It emitted soft golden lights. Upon closer inspection, one would discover that the golden light in fact came from brilliant golden words that appeared to hover right above the sheepskin.
Is this what an international treaty looks like?
Qin Ye read it carefully without saying a word. The treaty wasn’t long, and the terms and articles of the agreement were hardly as convoluted as they were in the mortal realm. At the very least, they were devoid of the twists and turns of legalese, and far more easily understood.
Each party’s obligations were set out with patent clarity. 20 minutes later, Qin Ye finished examining the articles on the treaty, and pulled out Fate once more.
With broad calligraphic strokes, Qin Ye inked Hell’s signature on the treaty. And as soon as he did, the sheepskin blossomed with a brilliant golden light. Surprisingly, it slowly drifted into the air, and then vanished without a trace.
Just then, a hoarse voice echoed from the end of the round table, “This is a treaty that has been written with my blood. Once signed, it will bind both parties until both parties have completely discharged their obligations.” At once, two spots of netherflames emerged from the darkness, and a ten-meter serpent head appeared in the darkness filled with roiling clouds of Yin energy.
Whoosh… Yama-class Yin energy erupted from its body and filled the room in an instant. Qin Ye stood before the behemoth, feeling incomparably small. Yet, even then, his heart thumped wildly out of his chest.
They locked eyes. After several seconds, Black Mamba finally spoke, “Have you ever heard of the divine inquisition?”
The huge serpent head shrunk back slightly, and the soft rattle of his scales echoed in the darkness. He continued, “This is a technique that is unique to the Alkebulan Underworlds. It comes from Aegyptus. Although they’ve already proceeded to shift their capital away from Al-Qahirah, certain things of legacy would still be passed down onto us.”
“And to that end, the divine inquisition… can be considered one of the strictest forms of inquiry. The Mythic Spirits would all come together to invoke the ancestral Mythic Spirit, the Plumed Serpent God, who is more commonly known to you as Quetzalcoatl. It is a trial that uses Lord Quetzalcoatl’s bones as a scale, with one side of the scale loaded with one of his feathers, and the other side with the words of the trial-taker. So long as the trial-taker speaks falsely, the Plumed Serpent God will give him... a rap on the wrist. But not to worry. He wouldn’t actually dare to harm an Emissary of Hell.”
“I’ve already sent a Black Missive out to the rest of the Mythic Spirits.” Black Mamba paused for a moment, and then continued, “Furthermore, I’ve taken the liberty to apply for a divine inquisition on your behalf.”
Qin Ye’s eyes shrank, and then proceeded to ask with caution, “Does the divine inquisition mean that… the Plumed Serpent God will know the truth about everything that is said during these negotiations?”
“No!” Black Mamba’s forked tongue emerged from his lips as he hissed back with his explanation, “Five questions.”
“That’s all the divine inquisition will entail!”
So, that’s it.
The two locked eyes in tacit understanding once more.
This was the payout.
It was what Qin Ye had gained in exchange for the secrets of the Forbidden Arts.
It was already difficult enough to negotiate with one Mythic Spirit, much less an entire troupe of Mythic Spirits representing the interests of the Coalition of Alkebulan Underworld all at once. But with the divine inquisition, things might appear to be harsh and strict, but the fact of the matter was that it would also alleviate the pressure of negotiations off his back.
Thus, Qin Ye nodded and quipped back, “What are the specifics?”
It would be ideal if he could be given a rough idea of the kinds of questions that would be asked.
But, as though he could read Qin Ye’s mind, Black Mamba responded placidly, “Dream on. The divine inquisition is a technique that is incomparably close to the realms of Forbidden Arts. No written records of this technique can be found, and the manner of invoking this technique is only known to Mythic Spirits through transmission by word of mouth. If I even come so close as to attempt to pass on this technique to someone else, the Plumed Serpent God will immediately come to know of it. Unfortunately, our cooperation isn’t without risks.”
Just then, Black Mamba’s colossal figure slowly began to vanish into a vortex of Yin energy, “But, like I said, there’s no need to be too concerned. So long as you’re telling the truth, the divine inquisition isn’t as scary as you think…”
With that, Black Mamba’s Yin energy vanished completely. Qin Ye mulled over Black Mamba’s parting words for a few moments, and then proceeded to leave the grand hall as well.
There were still 28 days until the New Year.
Although Black Mamba had assured him that he could simply take things in his stride, Qin Ye knew full well that it would still be ideal to be in his best mental shape in facing such a tremendous trial.
After all, he was already on the final stretch of this journey! He couldn’t afford to let up in the slightest and ruin all of his efforts!
East Alkebulan’s Great Rift Valley.
This was one of the few rifts in the world that could clearly be seen even through satellite imaging. These rifts were located in East Alkebulan, and stretched from the lower valley of the Zambezi River in the south, through Lake Malawi, before splitting into an irregular triangular shape that ends up at the edge of the Red Sea.
These faults were practically a paradise for all who loved nature. A myriad of rare animals, plants and insects can be found thriving within the various climates and environments existing along these fault lines. These ranged from lush grasslands and plains to barren mountains and canyons. It was a perfect weaving of nature’s tapestry filled with the marvels of the world.
Flocks of flamingos like rolling pink clouds could be seen standing at the edge of the waters, preening their pink feathers.
With their long, elegant legs, they would flip over the shells of clams hidden close to the edge of the waters. As the clams playfully spun deeper and deeper into the waters, a piece of seemingly harmless “driftwood” next to the flamingo would suddenly spring into action and snap the unsuspecting flamingo into two.
It was a crocodile, masters of the waters. With a swift snap of its jaws, it would plunge its razor-sharp teeth right into the flamingo’s body, before slowly dragging its unfortunate prey deeper and deeper into the waters.
But little did they know that all of them were but supporting characters in a film that was being produced.
In the woodlands just 500 meters away, a middle-aged man slapped his thigh excitedly, “Nice!” He had just managed to capture the perfect hunting scene that he was looking out for. Behind him, dozens of others who appeared to be his subordinates applauded in unison.
“Excellent! That’s perfect!” “With this, we can finally wrap up our “Mother Nature” series!” “It’s all thanks to UNEP’s sponsorship! This is going to be the best nature documentary that we’ve seen in the last five years! I’m willing to bet good money on that!”
“Shh, shh! Lads!” Another white-bearded man clapped his hands as he walked over. He proudly wore the badge of the United Nations Environment Programme on his chest. Then, he adjusted his black-rimmed glasses and glanced around. But just as he was about to address the crowd before him, the computer screens in front of him suddenly flickered in unison.
The cheering came to an abrupt halt, and the old man rushed over promptly, “What’s going on--...”
A split second later, with a loud bang, an unbelievable gale suddenly picked up from the entrance to their tent, and practically threatened to uproot their well-perched tent!
“My god…” The old man glanced out of the tent and looked to the distant skies. And he wasn’t the only one. Everyone around him did the exact same thing, staring blankly at the skies even as their expensive equipment threatened to collapse all around them.
It was almost as though all of the birds of the Alkebulan Continent had gathered together, forming a massive black cloud in the sky as they swooped right past overhead!
The old man’s eyes lingered for a second, and then he immediately turned towards where the birds were all flying from.
They’d been filming nature documentaries for a long time, and he could tell that their flight pattern wasn’t so much a migratory movement. Rather, it revealed a flight response triggered by an unnatural phenomenon.
For instance, an earthquake… or a volcanic eruption.
Or, for further instance, when a terrifying beast had appeared out of nowhere and was charging right at them.
As he glanced into the distance, he saw right across the horizon, countless dark and dense clouds gathering quickly as they blotted out the sun completely. It was almost as though the gates of the underworld had just descended upon the world.
Something… was approaching...Previous Chapter Next Chapter