Yama Rising - Chapter 650
“Cold shoulder?” A voice responded from the black fog in front of him, “Babulu… You are destined to be the one taking over the honourable title of Black Mamba. You should start developing your own views on international affairs.”
“This isn’t the cold shoulder, Deputy Chief Babulu. We’ve put him up in the best villa, and given him all the food he can ask for. His needs have all been met. How can you call this the cold shoulder?”
“All-Knowing One…” Babulu straightened up his back, “The Emissaries of Hell have finally emerged from seclusion after a hundred long years. This is an event of great significance. The fact that he’d entered these lands through the contact we’d left in the Cathayan mortal realm means that he’s obviously here to speak with you. And you were clearly aware when he first stepped foot into our lands, but you chose not to send anyone to meet with him. You… should know how powerful Hell is. I… simply hope that your decision here wouldn’t spell trouble for the Black Mamba Tribe, especially not a threat at the level of one of the P4 underworlds.”
“Have you forgotten about that time in the Middle East, when a coalition of powerful underworlds, including the Argosian Underworld that had laid waste to our lands, joined hands against Hell? Don’t you remember the result back then? Don’t you remember the 100-meter tall pyres of the dead that Hell left in the wake of its march?”
“Ever since that day, Hell had always been accorded the highest respect during their foreign missions. To date, Hell has already gone into reclusion for a period of 100 long years. Is it really fine for us to be treating them like this on their very first foreign mission after such a long time?”
The entity hidden in the black fog sighed softly, “Babulu, you’ve got one perspective, but you haven’t considered the rest. The Coalition of Alkebulan Underworlds is no different from a smattering of multifarious underworlds that seek their own interests. The only reason we’ve managed to survive to this date is because of the protection proffered by each Mythic Spirit to their own nation. That said, not even the lesser underworlds would look to us when it comes to matters of international affairs. So, if that’s the case, why…”
A parchment scroll flew out of the fog and fell into Babulu’s hands.
“Why would they agree to our request?”
Babulu opened it and skimmed through its contents. At once, his eyes flickered wildly, and he cried out with disbelief, “Volgograd Parasitic Inkstone Mine? We actually succeeded in our tender?!”
His voice trembled with excitement.
Volgograd, once called Stalingrad, was formerly known as Tsaritsyn. Located on the banks of the Volga River, it was known for its idyllic scenery, pleasant climate, and rich produce. Given the operation of Cui Jue’s Law of Yin-Yang Coaction, the underworldly Volgograd was commensurately rich in produce as well. To this end, they had various types of rich mineral deposits.
“That’s right.” Black Mamba Mythic Spirit sighed softly, “78 years ago, Volgograd discovered one of the largest veins of Parasitic Inkstones, and they hope to be able to mine a total of 100 million tonnes of it per year. The total content of the mine is estimated to be as high as 6.7 billion tonnes. It was an earth-shattering discovery that shocked the entire netherworld.”
“These Parasitic Inkstones can be used in so many different ways, and are particularly coveted for the crafting of armaments, including shields, bows and spears. Back then, every single one of the P4 underworlds made them offers for cooperation, but the Russian Underworld didn’t respond to a single one of these requests. They didn’t mine the Parasitic Inkstones themselves either. In fact, the nameless god of death made clear to refuse any diplomatic missions sent for the purposes of such discussions. Thus, this matter came to an abrupt closure just like that.”
“But, just a few days ago, the Russian Underworld sent out a series of letters inviting various underworlds across the netherworld to tender for a right to jointly tap into this Parasitic Inkstone Mine that is codenamed “Mole”. The list of underworlds eventually accepted is particularly of interest…”
In that instant, two massive eyes lit up in the heart of the black fog, each of which were approximately one meter large. The Mythic Spirit’s soft scales clacked softly as they rubbed against each other, while it hissed intermittently, almost as though it were laughing, “The list is set out right under the agreement. Take a look.”
Babulu immediately took a closer look at the scarlet list of accepted underworlds appended to the back of the agreement. Seconds later, he gasped, “This list of accepted underworlds…”
Apart from the P4 underworlds, it included several others, such as the Nipponese Underworlds, three underworlds of Usonia, the European Underworld, the Middle Eastern Underworld, and five different Alkebulan Underworlds!
This can’t be right…
The Black Mamba Underworld had put in its tender to the Russian Underworld knowing that they stood little chance. To their minds, a mine this large would at best be able to support the joint mining operations of ten underworlds. Any more than that, and they probably wouldn’t even be able to properly divide up the mining zones to begin with. That said, the Russian Underworld had accepted 15 underworlds at one go!
This was far more than the Mole Mine could support!
Furthermore, such mining operations were the prime opportunity to make a quick buck, and the P4 underworlds would naturally scramble to seize the lion’s share of the pie. The rest would generally be divided among the more influential underworlds out there, including the western underworlds. Alkebulan and its disorganized underworlds would generally be left with nothing more than the crumbs off the table.
This was something that the Alkebulan Underworlds had already gotten used to.
So, who would’ve thought that they’d actually been able to secure an offer this time?
Furthermore, there was something particularly strange about the list of accepted underworlds. Some were recognized for their advances in Yin Talismanology or their clout in international affairs. However, of the South Usonian Underworlds that were chosen, the Brasilian Underworld was known to be one of the lowest on the list. And yet, it was still chosen. The only possible justification was that the Brasilian Underworld still held some measure of clout among the South Usonian Underworlds, but even that, that was hardly sufficient justification for its selection for the Mole operations.
“This list…” Babulu frowned, “Is a little bit odd.”
“Good. You’ve detected the peculiarities with it. Although some of the underworlds on this list are only to be expected, the Alkebulan Underworlds and the South Usonian Underworlds are definitely not one of the ones to be expected.” Black Mamba’s voice contained a trace of bemusement in it, “So, what do you make of it?”
What should we do?
Without hesitation, Babulu declared affirmatively, “This is an opportunity!”
“Such inkstone mines are rare in the Alkebulan continent, and most of them are located in Central Alkebulan, where the Lion Tribe’s territory is located. Besides, with a mine as large as this, there would be Parasitic Inkstones lying everywhere. The Black Mamba Tribe absolutely needs an opportunity like this one!”
Black Mamba chuckled, “Then, let me teach you something else about international affairs. In the international arena, good things never come free. The Russian Underworld has made such an attractive offer to the world, not because it desires riches, but because… they’re trying to please the international community!”
“What is taken out must be put back. Babulu, you’re smart, but you’ve only lived for 500 years. The nameless god of death has existed for thousands of years, and his methods are far more devious than you can ever imagine.”
“The fact that he’s offering something of such great importance to the world means that they naturally expect something of commensurate importance back. And coincidentally, we find ourselves catching a little Emissary of Hell traveling in secret. Clever Babulu, do you know why I’m giving the Emissary of Hell the cold shoulder now?”
Babulu got up to his feet. The netherflames in his eyes flickered wildly as he slowly paced about plaintively. Ten minutes later, he finally turned back and looked Black Mamba right in the eye, “Lord Mythic Spirit, are you saying that this has got something to do with Hell? But, perhaps it’s not convenient for them to step in or apply direct pressure right now, and that’s why Hell has sent an Emissary all the way here to Alkebulan?”
“And you’re giving him the cold shoulder because you want him to get anxious and ask to see you, so that you have greater leverage over the request that he’s about to make of you? Furthermore, it’s only when he’s anxious that he would be more likely to spill the beans?”
The huge eyes in the cloud of Yin energy narrowed slightly, revealing traces of a smile, “As expected… You’re well suited to be a chieftain. Don’t be anxious, Babulu. You’re still a little bit rough around the edges. That said, this position of mine will eventually be yours.”
“I wouldn’t dare!” Babulu immediately knelt down and bowed deeply.
“There’s no need to be shy. This is how an Alkebulan Underworld passes on its legacy. It’s all in the natural order of things…” Black Mamba continued, “Now, go. Serve the Emissary well, but no matter what, stymie him at every step of the way and don’t give him any chances of meeting up with me. In fact, it would be ideal if you don’t even show up.”
Back in the villa. Qin Ye stared at the ceiling with his thoughts spinning wildly.
He had just read in the magazine that the Black Mamba Underworld had won the tender for the Russian Underworld’s Parasitic Inkstone Mine.
Such news was like a hand, reaching deep into the tranquil lake of Qin Ye’s heart and endlessly stirring up waves on the surface of the lake.
A particular teaching of both Arthis and the Second King Yanluo of Hell came to mind - The underworlds that exist to date would never be fools. The international arena is far more complex than you make of it.
At once, he understood why the Tsar was doing something like this.
“If they are to appease the underworld, they would first need some leverage in their hands…” He shut his eyes and crossed his fingers across his abdomen, gently tapping from time to time, “With such a partnership in place, it would dampen the potential international pressure regardless of what happens later on.”
“Furthermore, given the conjectures made by the Harken and Shang Yang and his team, the Russian Underworld would need some aid to kickstart their research and development if they are indeed thinking of making its foray into the field of Forbidden Arts. These developments in Yin Talismanology are top secret information, just like the mortal realm’s test reports leading up to the development of nuclear weapons. It would be unrealistic to expect none of the P4 underworlds to be involved in these developments.”
“Who the culprit is doesn’t really matter too much. After all, given Hell’s reclusion, everyone is eyeing the delectable piece of pie left behind by Hell. The culprit would have started the Russian Underworld off with some relatively unimportant research data or test results, and the Russian Underworld would naturally assume that they have a potential ally in that regard. Now, they’re clearly moving on to establishing good relations with several underworlds all at once… They must be serious about their foray into the Forbidden Arts…”
Qin Ye massaged his temples as he poured himself a cup of coffee. It had to be said that Alkebulan was an interesting place. To think that he would find himself drinking coffee out of a traditional porcelain class, rather than tea.
“This is probably not the final step in the Russian Underworld’s plans either. After all, something like that wouldn’t be sufficient to grease the palms of these underworlds. If I were the Tsar, I’d also dangle other baits to draw in their potential allies deeper. Besides, this is only the acceptance of the tender. From here, it’s probably going to take a few more years before they would finally be able to actually tap into the mine. By then, I’m afraid that news of the Resentment Crystals Mine would already be out of the bag, and the underworlds involved would have to decide whether they are to give up on these potential gains to pursue an international sanction against the Russian Underworld.”
It was truly troublesome. He wasn’t underestimating the Russian Underworld. Rather, it was simply unfortunate that this was his first foray into international politics, and in his inexperience, he hadn’t expected the Russian Underworld to have so many cards hidden up their sleeves. It was just like playing chess against a grandmaster who was able to think several steps ahead of him.
He shook off these stifling thoughts and once again addressed his mind to the issue at hand.
What do I do?
What am I supposed to do to break this impasse?
Admittedly, it would be important to talk about the gravity of the situation, but would they be willing to abandon the potential gains with this tender of theirs?
Furthermore… they’re not even willing to grant me an audience right now. How am I supposed to compel them to meet up with me?
And to make matters worse, there are easily dozens of underworlds here and their corresponding Mythic Spirits to reach out to. Where do I begin?
Unfortunately, time wasn’t on his side. He didn’t know how long it was going to take him to be able to drive his point across, and yet he had already committed to giving his response to the Russian Underworld by the upcoming new year.
That was just under 50 days away.
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