Qin Ye remained absolutely silent. However, Black Mamba Mythic Spirit didn’t rush his decision in the slightest.
Qin Ye subconsciously played with the wine glass in his hand even as his mind continued to churn with a multitude of thoughts.
What’s the hidden request beneath these words?
What is their true purpose?
He has obviously already found the loopholes in my assertions, and yet he still decided to accede to my requests. Why?
And why did he decide to meet with me in private today?
Qin Ye stared blankly at his own reflection in the wine glass, even as Black Mamba continued to stare curiously at him. Everything was shrouded in mysteries, but he knew that the ripples on the surface concealed the one true purpose that lay beneath.
Just then, something suddenly occurred to him.
No… Perhaps I’m just reading too much into his intentions. What if… I just take things literally?
Wouldn’t they simply be… attempting to please Hell?
As soon as this notion surfaced in his mind, it immediately began to take root and form a whole new perspective in which he was able to interpret Black Mamba Underworld’s present actions. At once, his eyes lit up.
That’s right. That must be it! They must be looking to curry favour with Hell!
They must think that they’d found Hell at its weakest moment! In fact, this is indeed the case, but I’m willing to bet that they can’t even begin to fathom just how weak Hell is right now!
They’re not in the least bit trying to trip Hell up! And that’s because Hell would still be one of the P4 underworlds even after it emerges from its current state of lockdown! Therefore, it’s choosing a far more prudent approach to send aid in Hell’s greatest time of need - even if it means giving up on some of the immediate benefits to be had with the Russian Underworld!
They must be looking to hitch a ride with Hell’s vessel, especially in the time of a change of regime. After all, the successor to the throne - regardless of who it might be - would most certainly remember this huge favour from the Alkebulan Underworlds. Therefore, the Black Mamba Underworld is simply looking to seize the initiative to forge closer ties with one of the P4 underworlds!
And since he’s going to willingly sacrifice the interests of the Black Mamba Underworld, he doesn’t want others to witness these actions on his part! He doesn’t want others to witness how he’s going to be clinging tightly to Hell’s thighs!
But… is their suggestion even possible?
He was faced with practical difficulties.
Moreover, Qin Ye didn’t want to get embroiled in international affairs if he could help it. He was only in his current predicament because of a confluence of coincidences. If he were to reestablish diplomatic ties with a foreign underworld right now, things could very easily devolve into a sticky situation in future where he would get drawn into a whirlwind of international politics without even realizing it. And this was especially so in a war-torn place like Alkebulan!
But how was he to rebuff their advances in this regard?
How can he rebuff them and yet maintain the same level of dignity and haughtiness of one of the P4 underworlds?
And how can he do all that, and yet still convince them to willingly work for Hell’s benefits?
Success or failure, everything rested on what he was about to do next.
“Prefect Qin.” After a long time, Black Mamba slowly curled up its tail and rested leisurely on the table, “Are you suggesting that… these terms aren’t good enough for Hell?”
“We’re only talking about a million sets of blight vermin armor. It’s only half a month’s work, given Hell’s production capabilities. So long as you give us the nod, you’ll gain for yourself the most trustworthy ally in the Alkebulan Continent. Besides, I can assure you that the Malagasy Underworld is certainly the best place to land after a long voyage at sea.”
But where in the world am I supposed to get a million sets of blight vermin armor?!
Heck, I don’t even have the requisite numbers to forge them right now!
No, in fact, I don’t even have an army with which to harvest these blight vermin carapace!
Qin Ye nearly cursed aloud - No… there must be something I can offer them that is of commensurate value to that of a strategic partnership so that I can still get their agreement to render us aid.
But what else do I have with me right now? Do I really have to hand Fate over to them? No… that’s it! There’s actually something else that I still have to offer!
The Second King Yanluo’s secret memorial to the throne! The drawing of the Forbidden Art module!
He nearly crushed the wine glass in his hand as soon as such a thought occurred to him - But… is it really appropriate for me to be handing over something of such immense value?
His mind was in chaos right now. But, three seconds later, his eyes immediately gleamed brightly.
I can… This is something I can actually do!
After all, the Forbidden Art module was only an initiation module. He had at best a cursory understanding of Forbidden Arts, but he could at least tell from the location of this module that it was intended to be that of an initiation module. Naturally, this would still place them miles away from the actual development of Forbidden Arts capabilities.
Besides, he was further aware that the Harken had already made a copy of these drawings, and there was no fear of losing such know-how to the Alkebulan Underworlds!
If Forbidden Arts were temples, then the initiation module would be no more than the access qualification to each individual temple. Extrapolate from it, and one might be able to get a glimpse of the hallway. It’s importance may be worth 30 points of a hundred. But even then, the know-how to an initiation module was nothing more than 1% of the actual research and development of Forbidden Arts as a whole!
And more importantly, Qin Ye simply refused to believe that a mere Black Mamba Underworld had the potential to develop Forbidden Arts to begin with - Be it financial resources or ghostpower and talents, they simply don’t have what it took. And if that’s the case, they would have no choice but to rely on Hell in future… Hang on a minute! Doesn’t this seem somewhat similar to the situation with the Russian Underworld?
He wasn’t sure whether the Black Mamba Underworld would agree in the face of such temptations, but… he knew that this was the best solution he could come up with on such short notice.
That said, all things considered, he was willing to bet that he had a reasonable chance of success with this!
After all, a similar situation was still just as likely to give rise to a similar outcome, notwithstanding the different underworlds involved.
He didn’t have the luxury of time to deliberate any further. The tension in the air was thick and tense, while Black Mamba’s gaze was practically burning a gaze through his soul. Thus, Qin Ye finally looked up, “Unfortunately, I cannot agree to that.”
Black Mamba’s pupils narrowed abruptly, and his scales flared up for a moment, before he quickly recomposed himself, “Oh?”
“Doesn’t Prefect Qin need to relay matters of such importance to the Second King Yanluo before calling the shots?” He lifted his wine glass and pretended to size up Qin Ye, “After all, Prefects in the P4 underworlds would never be clothed with the authority to make such decisions on their own, would they?”
I’ve got to make sure that nothing goes wrong from this point forward… Qin Ye bowed softly, and then looked Black Mamba in his eyes, “I hold sufficient authority to wield and use Fate.”
Black Mamba’s scales immediately flared up once more as he stared at Qin Ye with great disbelief.
There was only one way that Emissaries apart from the King Yanluo of Hell was able to use Fate.
And that was if King Yanluo had personally bestowed that Emissary with the right to do so. Someone personally clothed with the authority to use Fate must be one of the core members of Hell!
Black Mamba couldn’t help but revise his earlier assessment of Qin Ye - A change of regime, huh? Is this one of the new noblemen that have appeared in Hell? And he’s managed to stand on the right side of the tension?
“So…” Black Mamba took a sip of his wine, “What else can you decide?”
“A lot.” Qin Ye chuckled, “Hell’s government wouldn’t bother itself with international affairs until its change of regime has finally been concluded. Therefore, it is impossible to enter into a strategic partnership with the Black Mamba Underworld. And as for the blight vermin carapace armor, it is with much regret that I inform you that it is unfortunately not for sale outside of Hell. That said, I’ve got a counter proposal here that I think Lord Mythic Spirit might take interest in.”
Black Mamba responded coolly, “Please, go on.”
As soon as he did, Qin Ye waved casually in the air, and a scroll appeared right before Black Mamba’s eyes.
He set down his wine glass and opened it slowly. And as soon as he did, the scales on his entire body immediately flared up once more! And even his beady serpentine eyes widened as he stared at the scroll with abject disbelief.
Time trickled by slowly. 10 minutes later, he finally rolled up the scroll, got to his feet, and then began to pace about the room quickly.
Second generation Forbidden Arts! And the initiation module at that!
International affairs were full of twists and turns. Nobody knew just how many hidden cards their counterparts to the negotiations were hiding in their hands. But, even then, Black Mamba had never expected the ace up Prefect Qin’s sleeves to actually be that of a Forbidden Arts initiation module!
It was completely beyond his expectations!
He paced about the room, paused for a moment, glanced at Qin Ye, and then repeated this entire sequence of actions over and over again. It was a bowl of sweet, irresistible poison. If the Black Mamba Underworld accepted this, then they would end up with the same fate as today’s Russian Underworld.
But… can they really resist it having tasted its sweetness?
Perish the thought.
The wounds that they had sustained centuries ago were one of the deepest wounds that still echoed with pangs of excruciating pain in the hearts of every Alkebulan Underworld. There were no underworlds out there that didn’t wish to possess Forbidden Arts capabilities, especially the Alkebulan Underworlds. This was the perfect opportunity to repay blood for blood! This was their opportunity to unify the Alkebulan Underworlds! And this opportunity… had abruptly appeared right beneath Black Mamba’s nose!
All he had to do was simply to nod his head.
Qin Ye smiled as he swirled the contents of his wine glass, “What’s wrong? Lord Mythic Spirit, is it not to your liking?”
His words sounded casual and mischievous, but the truth of the matter was that he was barely concealing the excitement in his heart.
Black Mamba abruptly turned back and stared intently at Qin Ye, and Qin Ye immediately understood the contemplations of his heart.
He could see the tension between risks and rewards in the eyes of Black Mamba. He could sense the dissonance in Black Mamba’s heart right now.
“You’d better think fast and think well.” Qin Ye sipped his wine and repressed the furious thumps of his heart, “We’ve got to give the Russian Underworld our response after the Spring Festivals. This gift is the final token of Hell’s sincerity to the Black Mamba Underworld. If you still can’t agree with this, then… I’m afraid we can only say that we’re not destined to be together.”
“Sigh…” Black Mamba snorted back coldly, “Token?”
At once, Yin energy erupted from his body, and he suddenly appeared right before Qin Ye’s eyes, leaning menacingly over the table as he stared intently into Qin Ye’s eyes. His eyes were now scarlet, and he licked his lips viciously with his forked tongue as he chuckled sardonically, “You’re not even covering up your intentions… You say that you wish to deal with the Russian Underworld’s foray into Forbidden Arts, but isn’t that all a backhanded way of employing the same tactics with us?”
“Whose idea was this? Ksitigarbha? The Second King Yanluo? Or one of the potential successors to the throne? What a cruel tactic. What viciousness…”
Qin Ye looked down. The revelation of the secret memorial had drawn a far greater reaction than he had anticipated, so much so that Black Mamba wasn’t even suppressing his own boundless YIn energy right now. Naturally, Qin Ye couldn’t help but feel as though he was standing in the face of a titanic python. The vicious, bloodthirsty aura that was seeping right out of Black Mamba’s body was absolutely stifling.
Even then, Qin Ye gnashed his teeth and stared right into his own reflection in the wine glass as he responded, “You can always refuse it.”
Truth be told, his hair was all standing on end by now, and his hands were balled up into tight fists under the table. He was also holding tightly to Fate in his hands.
“Refuse?” Black Mamba vanished at once, and then reappeared in his seat once more, staring intently at Qin Ye with his beady little eyes. Five minutes later, he placed his hand on the scroll and tightened his grip around it, “Why would I?”
Qin Ye held the wine glass gingerly, and he couldn’t help but heave a huge sigh of relief as he felt a huge boulder finally come off his chest.
Hook, line and sinker.
Alkebulan’s history, the implication of Forbidden Arts, the balance of powers in the world, and the sudden emergence of this scroll earlier, all came together like a confluence of factors that finally split the shackles tying down the Alkebulan Underworlds!
Perhaps these negotiations could have gone better had he had more time for preparation.
Perhaps he could have done better had he come to the table with more experience under his belt.
Yet, despite all that, he had still managed to overcome all of the odds to secure the goal that he’d set out for!
His fingers trembled slightly. Not even Qin Ye could have anticipated that this last-ditch attempt to salvage the situation on his part would determine the success or failure of his negotiations. That said, he knew that he couldn’t claim all of the credit for his success in this regard. After all, the true reason for success was the confluence of a multitude of factors. All he had done was to employ the right key to open the door that was already in sight.Previous Chapter Next Chapter