Empire Of The Ring - LightNovelsOnl.com
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It was natural since he had entrusted his rough diamonds to Youngho before. If Youngho changed his mind and decided not to come back, Klimov would have lost years of his effort.
After absentmindedly greeting Youngho's company, he pulled Youngho into his office alone. He wanted to get paid for his diamonds.
"How did it go?"
"They are real diamonds, aren't they?"
"I couldn't get all of them appraised since I didn't want to get suspected that I found those from our state."
Youngho decided not to tell the truth.
"Whoa, whoa, wait. You didn't even get them all checked yet?"
"I showed some of them to my friend who knows about diamonds. He said that they are rough diamonds but he can't tell their value since they're not processed."
"Also, the price of diamonds these days have dropped quite a lot. He said that I'd better keep them for a while before selling them."
"Now, don't you get so disappointed because we can always sell them when the price goes up. If you don't have anywhere else to sell them, I'll buy them from you, Lieutenant Colonel."
Youngho suggested as if he was doing a favor for the colonel.
"Would you really do that for me?"
"Of course. Since we're partners in the Taiga forest, I should help you out. I think I'm going to sell them when the price goes up in the future, so I don't mind buying them from you now. I'll consider them as my saving."
Hearing Youngho's suggestion, Klimov's eyes were again filled with hope. Being military personnel, he could not dream of making such money that Youngho would pay him for rough diamonds. He would probably go crazy to find as many rough diamonds as possible during his service in the military since his term would not last forever.
He could not mention about the diamond to anyone since he would lose his reputation and privilege as military personnel if the government found out that he had been hiding the diamonds. Thus, the deal between the two would stay a secret forever.
"We can't let you roam around without any guards. Especially, if something bad happens to you, Mr. Lee, my position will be at stake too."
"Our survey area is quite large and we will have to move around constantly. If we move with soldiers, our schedule will get delayed. Our employees used to serve in Korean Navy Special Forces, we'll be fine without local soldiers. Also, we have a GPS. I'm certain that we won't lose our way."
"Then I'll set up an outpost for you. I'll store gas and food there so you can use them if you need."
"I'll appreciate it if you could do that, Colonel."
The expedition team already had satellite pictures of the region and had fully prepared for the trip, but Klimov was still fearful that something might happen to Youngho's group. After receiving 27,000 dollars from Youngho for rough diamonds, He treated Youngho like a fragile gla.s.s. It was because Youngho was the only source of money for now.
He was quite enthusiastic about collecting more diamonds for this summer, mobilizing his underling soldiers. Youngho doubted that the soldiers would not know that what they were looking for was gems but he decided to trust Klimov since he a.s.sured Youngho that he had a certain way of deceiving them.
"Mr. Lee. Please do make a call to the unit every morning with your satellite phone. If you need it, we'll mobilize our helicopter to aid you."
"I'm afraid that we're bothering you too much."
"Well, this is one of our duties as a local unit. You don't have to be sorry."
Klimov used the kindest words of the world, but his excessive kindness was all because of the diamond deal he had with Youngho.
A temporary bungalow was set up 40 kilometers away from the local military unit.
Klimov ordered his soldiers to build it with logs all over the place within a day.
It seemed that the expedition team could use that as a base during their survey period. The team would not have to camp out anymore.
In Siberia, a distance of 40 kilometers was considered just around the corner, only below -40 °C was considered cold, and alcohols that contained a volume of less than 40 was not considered a decent drink. It was weird that people were obsessed with the number 40, but it was true.
Although it was below -40 °C, the snow-covered Taiga region did not feel so cold because there was no wind. Some might ask what was there to investigate in the snow-covered land but there were a few places that did not freeze because of hot springs. The purpose of this expedition was to investigate those regions.
Since the surface of the earth would be exposed, the geological survey would be possible and the expedition would be a success if the team could find rough diamonds. Youngho refused to be guarded by soldiers because of the diamonds.
Where the team was headed was quite far away from where Lt. Col. Klimov found the valuable rocks but they could be anywhere in the region. It was because there used to be an active volcano and the whole region was affected by it.
"Boss, look at that. There's a whole reindeer pack."
Il-kwon who was driving the snowmobile stopped the vehicle and pointed at a direction.
The snowless place was covered with moss, and hundreds of reindeers that had been eating moss hastily fled away by the sound of the vehicle's engine.
"Dr. Park, what do you think? This must be a hot spring zone."
"There's no other way to describe this phenomenon. The heat from the spring must be being transferred to the surface of the earth. We might be able to bathe in the hot springs if we get lucky."
The group enjoyed the warmth of the surface as they got off the vehicle and walked on the land full of moss.
"It feels like spring here."
"I didn't know there was such a blessed land in Siberia where it's below -40 °C."
"We need to make a reindeer barbecue tonight. Security team leader Hong, why don't you catch a reindeer for us?"
"Can we even catch it? I mean, you don't think they're a natural monument or something, do you?"
"A natural monument? That's ridiculous! Just catch one. We'll be full for several days with the meat from one reindeer."
Finding a green land after driving on cold, white, and snowy land for a long while, Youngho felt like he found a paradise. From little ponds of water, steam rose. When he put his hands above it, it was even quite hot.
"Dr. Park. We should camp out here tonight."
"Where there is a reindeer, there would be a wolf. We'll have to give up a good night sleep."
"Come on. We have several rambos here. We'll return with wolf furs then."
Birch tree branches were burning and the reindeer meet on sticks were being cooked.
It was said that the natives here ate reindeer meat with its blood still dripping and Russian people were quite stunned to find that out in the beginning. However, it was because they did not know that the raw reindeer meat was a great source of vitamin for tundra natives.
The reason that the natives who could not find a lot of vegetables did not get scurvy was that the meat and blood of reindeers were full of vitamins such as C and B2.
"This tastes so good. I don't smell any yucky odor in this."
"People say that it's not so bad even if you eat it raw. Would you like to try it?"
"I don't even like to eat rarely cooked steak."
Park Young-sun who was munching down the meat waved off Youngho's offer as he picked up another stick. Although there were already a few empty bottles of vodka on the ground, everyone was still fine. Due to the fresh air and great food, they did not get drunk so quickly.
"Man, no matter how much I drink, I don't feel tipsy. There's a reason that Russian people are heavy drinkers after all."
"Hong Sung-ki. The wolves will be coming tonight. Don't drink too much."
"They won't be able to hold in front of an automatic rifle gun."
All people in the expedition team were pumped up now since they were having a relaxing moment in a long while.
"Quiet. I think we already have an uninvited guest."
"What? Is there a wolf when it's still bright in the day?"
"No, I think it's a person."
Youngho's keen ear had sensed a minute sound from the opposite side of the forest.
"Does this place belong to Evenks?"
"We migrate alongside the reindeer. The whole Siberia is our territory."
Out of nowhere, an Evenk, the native of the land, appeared at the campground.
The man who showed up on a complex-looking sled that was led by a reindeer looked like a traditional Asian man.
Thinking that he might have caught a reindeer that belonged to him, Youngho cautiously asked him.
"Is the reindeer that we killed one of yours?"
"No, this one is wild. I thought soldiers were here because of the gunfire but it was you."
Youngho had heard of natives that raised reindeers in the open but most of them were known to reside in the tundra region. However, according to him, natives who lived in a family unit and raised reindeers stayed in the Taiga region during the winter since it was comparatively warmer than other regions.
The Evenk was b.u.mmed that Youngho's group was not soldiers since he came to ask for ammunition in exchange for reindeer meat.
"We've got enough ammunition too but these are for AK rifles. I don't think this will be helpful for you."
"It doesn't matter because we used the same barrel. Can you spare some of yours? The wolves are quite problematic these days. We need more ammunition. I want to exchange it with reindeer skin."
"We don't really need animal skin but we'll share ammunition with you. Take as much as you want. But would you please do us a favor?"
"We're surveying this region but it's difficult to figure out some places with this map only. I was hoping you could guide us to other areas with hot springs."
"Places like this are all over the region. There's a river that never freezes at about a distance of five kilometers from here but why are you surveying this area?"
"We received permission to log the area so we're looking for a place to build loggers' barracks."
"Are you going to log the whole forest?"
He seemed to be startled to hear about logging.
"We'll be logging in the winter only. We don't know how many decades will it take until we are done. You won't have to worry about leaving here immediately."
"We Evenks don't have a certain place to live because we've been migrating alongside wild reindeers and hunting them. We don't have our land."
Evenks had lived near Lake Baikal in the past and all over Siberia as well.
He said that because the Taiga forest had been selected as a logging region and the number of reindeer had been decreasing, many now lived in the tundra region. If Youngho logged the forest, the Evenk and his family would lose their winter base. They could find another place but it would not be easy to find a warm place that was full of moss like this.
"If I preserve this place, will your reindeer be able to get through the winter?"
"This place has not enough moss for our reindeer unless you preserved other hot spring areas nearby with this one."
It was not a difficult request.
Since he did not jump into the logging business because he was desperate for money, he would be fine with leaving some hot spring zones alone. There were more than enough areas where he could log and he was rather interested in collecting diamonds now. He did not want to damage the Evenk family's living bases.
The Evenk promised that he would come back for them the next morning and left with a lot of ammunition.
"Dr. Park, will wild reindeers still remain here when we log the rest of the forest?"
"The wild reindeers will leave because of the noise of machinery but tamed reindeer would stay with their owners."
"Phew, what a dilemma. I didn't know this region was a living place of wild reindeers."
"We should plan logging areas without disturbing the animal's moving paths. That's all we can do. This place will be exploited anyway even if we don't."
The next day, an Evenk man named Irtysh came to the campground with his reindeer sled to guide Youngho's group around the forest.
Many Evenks used names derived from surrounding regions, so there were a lot of people who had the same name. That was why when people said that they knew someone; they had to the person's name, and which forest he was from. So, the Evenk Youngho met was Irtysh of the forest of hot springs.
Although the natives had their own language, they did not have their own letters. Their language was about to die out but recently it was written in Cyrillic characters in Russia.
The reason they could communicate in Russian was that the Russian government had made a policy requiring young nomads to attend boarding schools in order to make nomadic people settle down. However, it was not enough to settle down nomads that traveled with reindeer.
"Irtysh, I heard that there are special stones found near the river here. Have you seen them?"
"You're talking about s.h.i.+ny stones. They are often stuck in big rocks but they're not popular for our people here. We value red stones more than them."
"You're saying that it's not that there are little grains of rocks scattered on the ground but they are stuck in rocks?"
"There are quite a lot of rocks that have gems stuck in them."
Youngho could not believe his ears.
According to him, there were rocks that had rough diamonds in them.
If there were diamonds that had not been separated but preserved in rocks despite weathering and floods, they must be huge in their size.
Since he referred to the rocks as s.h.i.+ny stones, it seemed that Evenks did not know the value of diamonds yet.