Chapter 688: Game of Thrones (4)

Everyone knew the importance of doing all things in moderation. The Mythic Spirits could all sense that the Tsar was already on the verge of exploding, and they had already come close to stepping on his bottom line. Therefore, they tacitly stopped making their demands.

That said, all the Tsar had done so far was nothing more than a mere statement of his intentions, and they would never allow the three gods of death in their hands to return to the hands of the Russian Underworld right now. After all, what would they do if he suddenly reneged on his promises?

Naturally, it would be far safer to keep the three gods of death where it was safest, such as… with them.

A rift tore open in the void, and Aristotle, Catherine the Great, and Peter the Great promptly vanished into the crack. The Tsar’s eyes flickered wildly, but he said nothing.

He had lost. And as a loser, he naturally needed to play by the rules.

The international community had to treat each other with some measure of regard and respect, and the Tsar knew full well that there was no way they could make the problem go away so summarily. Nobody would condone such rule-breakers.

“Well, then…” The Tsar glanced at the Resentment Crystals and was just about to go on when another voice suddenly interjected, “Hold on.”

Qin Ye walked forward slowly with the Harken in his hands and raised an eyebrow quizzically, “Your Excellency the Tsar, are you looking down on me, looking down on Hell, or looking down on the Second King Yanluo here?”

The Tsar’s gaze landed directly on Fate, and his body trembled slightly.

These were tall allegations that he couldn’t afford to ignore.

“These matters have occurred within Hell’s region of administration. It wouldn’t be too good for you to act so presumptuously and completely bypass your regional administrators, would it?”

The Tsar gazed deeply at Qin Ye, “We’ve already got an in-principle agreement in place, and all Hell has to do is to give us the nod. What more do you want?”

“But we didn’t give you any permission to privately enter the Tomb of Genghis Khan, did we?!” The Harken raised its head sharply and barked coldly, “And that’s only one of your transgressions. And the second crime you’ve committed is that Peter the Great had earlier placed two Emissaries of Hell under direct house arrest. Are you trying to start a war?!”

“You’ve time and time again acted with such audacity as though to test Hell’s bottom line. Nameless god of death… what exactly are you trying to do here? Or do you think that just because you’ve somehow linked up with the Argosian Underworld that you no longer fall within the purview of Hell’s influence anymore?!”

The Harken raised its voice so greatly that the ground even began to tremble softly for miles around. The dirt and debris on the ground rolled about like little beans on the ground. Meanwhile, the Harken’s ferocious roar caused the Tsar’s eyes to flicker even more wildly.

It was almost as though Hell had suddenly taken hold of the awls already driven through his heart and twisted them around.

He could pay any price if that meant having the Resentment Crystals in hand. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Not only had he lost his spoils of war, he even had to pay war reparations to the underworlds involved.

He tightened his fists discreetly under the cover of his long sleeves. And then, he relaxed, and then clenched his fists once more. It was only after several repetitions of this action that he finally looked up with a deep breath and spoke hoarsely, “This is all a misunderstanding, and we’re willing to take responsibility for it. We’ll send you a token of apology in the near future.”

“You must be kidding.” Qin Ye barked back without hesitation, “Hell has been the victim in this entire situation. Since when is it the abuser’s turn to dictate the terms of compensation?”

Abuser?!

The Tsar was incensed by Qin Ye’s choice of words, and the veins on his forehead throbbed and bulged.

Is there anyone more abusive and explosive than Hell in the entire netherworld? Are you even aware of the sheer number of times Hell has brought their military might to a civil discussion at the international arenas?

How many times have you resorted to violence to gain a bigger slice of the cake for yourselves? And now, you’re actually trying to play the victim?!

Even then, the Tsar fought back every desire in his heart to tear Qin Ye to shreds, “Please speak.”

Qin Ye didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he took the next few moments to pick and choose his words.

He hadn’t expected the Tsar to act so swiftly, and the Mythic Spirits of the Alkebulan Underworlds to react so violently either.

Their trouncing of the Russian Underworld’s expedition force had surprisingly forced the Tsar himself to enter the fray to defuse the situation and speak directly of their compensation to the victims.

What should I ask for?

If I’m going to maintain Hell’s image, then I can’t ask for the disclosure of any of the Russian Underworld’s patents to us. After all, Fengdu would’ve had practically everything they’ve had. Mines aren’t a good source of compensation either for the very same reason. As for Yin spirit stones, there’s not much use for those things right now, especially given the state of development of Everburn and Ashmount City.

His mind spun quickly with thoughts. After ten seconds, he finally spoke in a deep voice, “First of all, the Mongolian Underworld shall be returned to Hell, and Hell shall be at liberty to set up its own city god and Lords of the Land in the Mongol Empire. It goes without saying that the Mongol Empire would be considered part of Cathayan territory.”

“Not a problem.” The Tsar agreed to these conditions readily. Truth be told, the Russian lands were so vast yet sparsely populated that even after all these years, they were still discovering new minerals and ore deposits.

The Harken shifted slightly in Qin Ye’s bosom.

Sure, the Mongol Empire wasn’t a large territory by any means, but its return to Hell was more of the resolution of a longstanding dispute on sovereignty!

Back then, due to Cathay’s internal strife and external pressures, the Mongol Empire was able to declare independence primarily due to Rus’ influence. But now, after centuries on end, the Third King Yanluo of Hell was finally able to recover what was originally theirs!

Furthermore, it was a declaration of sovereign might! This was the first international development that most of the other underworlds were going to witness!

And it naturally carried more symbolic meaning than anything else.

The reinstatement of sovereignty to these lands, as well as the cessation of proliferation of Forbidden Arts was already well worth their efforts thus far.

The Harken glanced at Qin Ye subconsciously. Unbeknownst to it, the Harken was subconsciously anticipating what Qin Ye was going to say next.

“Secondly.” Qin Ye deliberated for a moment before going on, “Hell had originally no intentions of interacting with foreign underworlds while it’s under lockdown. But now that things have come to this, there’s no reason not to go with the flow.”

At once, everyone’s expressions turned grave.

“In the next few years, Hell will set up a trading hub here in the Mongol Empire for the purposes of bilateral trade between the Russian Underworld and Hell. This will be a ground trade center. At the same time, the Russian Underworld must open up all of its ports to Hell’s vessels and allow docking. Likewise, Hell will also be opening up its Ashmound Port for sea trade after the new year.”

Nobody said a word. The Tsar’s gaze gleamed brightly.

Doesn’t that all sound favourable to the Russian Underworld?

That said, he refused to believe that Hell was in fact after a win-win situation.

Especially not after experiencing the vastly different means that Hell has employed this time. Their true purpose would never be expressed in such a forthcoming manner!

“This will go on for a period of 150 years.” Qin Ye smiled and looked up at the Tsar with a bright glint in his eyes, “All imports shall be as dictated by Hell. The complete list of these imports shall be delivered to your diplomat as soon as we open the sea port next year. You must ensure the complete fulfillment of all these products demanded. Naturally, it goes without saying that Hell will also export products of corresponding value. The Russian Underworld is not at liberty to pick and choose the products of Hell’s export.”

They were clearly going deeper and deeper into the rules, and the Tsar’s heart slowly grew more and more uneasy. Something told him that the bombshell would soon be dropped, and it was likely going to be something that ate away at them from the inside.

Meanwhile, even the Harken didn’t quite know what Qin Ye was getting at, but it chose to listen intently and believe in Qin Ye.

Qin Ye paused for a moment, and then licked his lips, “Finally, the products exported by the Russian Underworld shall have a 150% tariff imposed on them, while the products exported by Hell, regardless of the type of good it shall be, can only be imposed with a 5% tariff.”

Whoosh! The Harken snapped his head up and stared at Qin Ye. Likewise, the other Mythic Spirits stared at Qin Ye as though they’d just seen a ghost. The Tsar’s eyes flickered wildly, and he couldn’t even stop the trembling in his body.

How ruthless…

This was a large bite at the fatty piece of meat that was the Russian Underworld, so deep that it plunged straight into the bones!

They had chosen trade over mineral deposits. Prior to this, the bilateral trade agreements between the Russian Underworld and Hell, comprised tariffs in the region of 8-60% for various goods, ranging from basic raw products to highly specialized products like drawings and artwork. And now, Hell’s current demand threatened to completely shatter their understanding of the tax system involved!

This meant that if the Russian Underworld wished to export to Hell a high-grade Yin Talisman, or the designs of a machine, then not only would they have to export these products, they would even have to pay a tariff that was more than the expected sale price!

And on the other hand, all Hell had to do was to pay a little bit back for their exports of commensurate value!

Worse still, this arrangement was going to subsist for the next 150 years! The potential costs to the Russian Underworld was far greater than the cession of the five S-class mines to the Alkebulan Underworld!

Dead silence.

“It seems we’ve got much to learn.” Black Mamba lamented with a sigh, “This is one of the future successors to the throne of Hell. It’s no wonder they’re known as one of the P4 underworlds.”

The Tsar placed his hands behind his back and clenched his fists tightly. His chest heaved and fell with every agonizing breath he took. His heart was searing with excruciating pain. After a long time, he gnashed his teeth, “Isn’t this proposal… a little too unfair to us?”

“Your Excellency the Tsar.” Qin Ye lowered his head and gently stroked the Harken as he continued, “Are you saying that… you would like to see a representative of Hell appear at the next netherworld conference of the Federation of Underworlds?”

No… I don’t… please calm down…

The Tsar gritted his teeth and forcibly suppressed the intense desire to tear Qin Ye to shreds. His mind was on the verge of collapse, “I mean, what if Hell chooses to export items that we don’t need? Could I at least know what goods Hell intends to export?”

“Artwork.” Qin Ye smiled.

I’ve got far too much artwork back in the Longxing Temple that I don’t know what to do with. Otherwise, do you really think that I’d even think of opening a Mongol Empire trading hub with you?

It was but a single word, and yet it also caused the Tsar to shudder violently.

Artwork… Damn Hell and their artwork!

Cathayan artwork was worth a lot of money, but unfortunately… they were only going to be allowed to charge a 5% tariff on that!

Generally speaking, the highest tariffs in the mortal realm are levied on the export of luxury goods, which can easily go as high as 50% of the goods. But now…

The Russian Underworld could only charge a 5% tax on the same!

5%?!

Just 5%?!

No… This isn’t the right time to be straining relations with them any further… The Tsar clenched his fists so tightly that even his bones were starting to crack. Even then, he maintained a placid expression as he continued to probe further, “Please note that the Russian Underworld will not be able to export high-grade Yin Talismans, designs and drawings, or other precious goods just because Hell is exporting artwork to us.”

“There’s no need.” Qin Ye continued, “You can rest assured. What we need are nothing more than basic household items. I can even guarantee this with the reputation of the Second King Yanluo of Hell.”

Very well, case closed.

The name of the Second King Yanluo was a terrifying conversation-stopper. The Harken couldn’t help but glare at Qin Ye - What kind of monster are you? He’s already left the world, and yet you continue to bring up his name again and again, almost as though you’re reminiscing about the good old times. Is there really a meaning to all this?

“Your Excellency the Tsar, what do you think?”

“I think…” The Tsar repressed every measure of anger in his heart, and he nearly sobbed in response, “It’s feasible.”

“Very well. Finally--…”

“There’s more?!” The Tsar exploded. His anger was already bursting at the seams, and he glared daggers at Qin Ye, “Emissary of Hell, enough is enough. It’s a virtue to leave others with a dignified way out.”

Qin Ye smiled and bowed, “Naturally.”

“What I was going to say is that, finally, since the Mongol Empire will be returned to Cathay, it will form Cathay’s Outer Mongolia Province. Since that’s the case, any information and records that you’ve gleaned of the Tomb of Genghis Khan should also rightfully be returned to us.”

The Tsar heaved a sigh of relief. Then, he lifted his hand, and a scroll flew out and landed directly in Qin Ye’s hands, “That’s only natural.”

He no longer wished to remain in this place. Over the last century, the Russian Underworld had proven itself to be a glorious empire. How much did they gain for their role in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty? How much reparations had they demanded? They had even played a crucial role in ending the Second World War. Unfortunately, who would’ve thought that just after a mere century, they would be forced to give up so much of what they had obtained?

And they even had to agree to the cession of the Mongol Empire!

They weren’t even able to protect two of their own gods of death!

It was incredibly humiliating. It was as though a viper had bitten straight down onto his heart, sucking his blood dry and refusing to let go. Thus, without saying anything more, the Tsar’s body slowly began to vanish. He didn’t even bother to retrieve the ashes of the 10,000 imperial army that had perished in the line of duty. Finally, after a long period of silence, the Tsar’s figure vanished completely, and the luminous staircase in the sky faded back into the darkness once more.

It’s over…

Qin Ye heaved a sigh of relief and looked around with great emotions in his heart.

It’s finally over. The plot that had been brewing for decades, from the appearance of the Resentment Crystals, to the execution of the script of death, until the shocking finale taking place at Khuree. This entire episode had finally come full circle and drawn to its close.

Hell had secured for itself substantial benefits that would propel its rate of development to new heights. But Qin Ye knew that this wasn’t the time to be considering such matters. After all, as one of the successors to the throne, there were still some loose ends he had to personally tie up.

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