Empire Of The Ring - LightNovelsOnl.com
You're reading novel online at LightNovelsOnl.com. Please use the follow button to get notifications about your favorite novels and its latest chapters so you can come back anytime and won't miss anything.
Only Kim Il-kwon and Suh Min-seok were left, and all the family members and leaders of the state went back. His children had to go to school, and Jong-il and In-soo had to go back to take care of their work that piled up.
Youngho met many politicians in the city, but there was someone left that he wanted to meet the most before he left. It was because Eriksson's boss from the Information Agency asked to see Youngho. Since Youngho still could not believe that he met the British Foreign Secretary, Eriksson's call was quite surprising too. He wondered what the top man of the Information Agency would say. To face Youngho in person meant that the agency fully recognized him as its partner. It seemed that Youngho's role in connecting the leaders of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to other influential politicians of different countries was one of the main reasons that the Information Agency's boss decided to meet him.
"Duke of the Arirang Autonomous State, this is Vincent van Basten, the co-representative of the Information Agency."
"Pleasure to meet you. I'm Basten."
"This is Lee Youngho. Are you a Dutch aristocrat by any chance?"
Youngho asked because many Dutch aristocrats used 'van' in the middle of their names.
"You are indeed the Duke of the Serbian Grand Duchy. Yes, my family once used to be a n.o.ble family in the Netherlands, but after World War II it was stripped of its peerage."
"I must have touched a sore spot. Forgive me if I've been disrespectful."
"Not at all. I don't mean to hide it. The shameful past is something that must be settled. It doesn't suit my personality to hide what someone else might find out one day. I don't want to disappoint a good partner like you for that."
He then began to talk about his shameful past as if Youngho had asked. His father was an entrepreneur who supplied n.a.z.i military supplies. In those days, he worked hard to produce and supply weapons but after the war, he was branded a war criminal. Then he was imprisoned and deprived of his n.o.bility's t.i.tle.
Although his father built up great wealth by making war supplies, it became a shameful past for his offspring. He smiled and said that he was still hiding from the world because of it.
"I still don't know if I deserve to hear about your past."
"I'm telling you because I don't want to hide anything from my future partner."
Youngho thought that people like him could be the most cold-hearted and scary people.
He told him all of his weaknesses open-heartedly even though there was still Israel's clandestine organization which was tracking down people who had cooperated with the n.a.z.is, but it seemed he did not care about that.
"Now, I'd like to hear about your relations.h.i.+p with the Archduke family of the Serbian Kingdom. I can't help but wonder how much of the Archduke's legacy is still left. Are there still diamond stones left?"
"Well, I would've told you even if you didn't share about your past. It's not a special legacy."
"It sounds like you're saying you don't have anything to offer to us."
"There is a little more left, but if the descendants of the kingdom in the Balkan keep bringing it to us, we will continue to supply it."
"Hahaha... There is the widow's cruise. I'm looking forward to it."
"One of the elders from our state is in the Balkan Peninsula just now. I think he might be bringing some more. I'll send the stones by Eriksson's side soon."
"Thank you. It's a blessing to have such people around you. How on earth did you a.s.sociate yourself with the Archduke family as a Korean? My hobby is writing. If you'd share your story with me, I think it's going to be a good material."
"It's not much, and it's not a secret or anything like that. It was just a coincidence."
Youngho told Basten how the state began.
"The Archd.u.c.h.ess of the state of Arirang who's also my wife is from a slum in Turkey. The girl whom I met at a flea market turned out to be the maid of the fallen Archduke family."
Basten had a look of a curious boy as he listened to Youngho's story. It seemed business was now behind the scenes.
"She and her siblings were in such a difficult situation that I couldn't help to help them. As we spent a long time together, I learned about the secrets of the siblings. They still kept the old legacy of their family intact."
"Old Legacy? What was that like?"
"Well, it was a piece of cloth, and it had an intricate-looking emblem on it. Out of curiosity, I went to museums and other places in France to find out about the history of the family. It turned out to be the last Archduke family's emblem of the Serbian Kingdom."
"That's fortunate that they had been keeping the family legacy for hundreds of years. So?"
"And by some strange chance, I came across the descendants of Serbian knights, and they recognized the emblem of the Archduke at first glance."
"Oh! What a coincidence!"
"The descendants followed my wife and me after that moment. They said that they must protect the Archd.u.c.h.ess. That's why we had to get together and live together, and that's how we became a state in later days."
"That's a beautiful story. You've fascinated me by your story today."
When Youngho told him a slightly adapted story of his relations.h.i.+p to the Archduke family, Basten seemed quite impressed by it. He seemed to be a cold-hearted person when he talked about his family's past. However, as soon as Youngho spoke about his story with Fatima, which seemed it could only appear in a third-rate novel, his eyes sparkled like an innocent boy. He was a man of unique personality.
"The profits we've earned from dealing with you have been tremendous. There were no complaints or noise from other clients who bought items from you or your friends. I wanted to have that kind of relations.h.i.+p in the future too, so I asked Eriksson to arrange a personal meeting with you so I can get to know you personally."
"I'm just blessed with great connections. My boss, Michael, recommended your company, so I've been very careful when doing business with you since I didn't want to disgrace him."
"Michael and I are old friends. I asked him to recommend someone I can trust. His recommendation was a great deal of luck for us as well. Since you're also a man of strength and your state is armed, we can be confident in you."
"Our autonomous state is still an infant. It's still a small force."
"It's compet.i.tive to have a legal military force these days. I've always envied it. We often get ourselves into dangerous situations when doing business. No matter how protected you are, accidents can happen anywhere. In that sense, your state is an object of envy to us. It's late but I would like to thank you for saving Eriksson's life. I've prepared a small gift to thank you for all you've done for us."
What Basten put forward was a battery technology. The autonomous state produced electricity from solar power which must be charged with batteries during the day because electricity production would stop at night. In case of cloudy or rainy days, the state had installed generators in important facilities because the batteries lacked the capacity to store a huge amount of electricity.
However, Basten gave him a gift of new technology that could make ESS—Energy Storage System—that was one step further from the batteries that the state had. Eriksson once asked Youngho to think about what technology was most needed in the state, and Youngho told him to find whatever that he thought it was best for the state. This was indeed the best and most-needed technology in the autonomous state. Youngho could not help but be glad.
Unused electricity would be wasted if left alone, leaving more than 30 percent of the produced electricity in the air. If enough DSS was secured, there would be a breakthrough opportunity to improve energy efficiency by reducing power consumption.
"This is such a huge gift. I would have to give you something equally valuable in return, but I don't think I deserve it."
"The factory deal in Krasnoyarsk was a big deal for us, too. We are receiving gifts from you every time. Next month, we'll be paying the rest of the balance."
"I'm sure Mr. Nikolay will love it. He decided to invest in Azerbaijan with the money he made from the factory's sales."
"It is my pleasure to see our clients' satisfaction. That's what we do. But I've been getting greedy lately. So I'm here today to ask you a favor."
Finally, Basten was getting to the business.
"I'll do my best to help."
"I'm glad to hear that. Could we possibly get some more gold bars? We're trying to secure safety a.s.sets, too."
"If it's a safe a.s.set, isn't diamond stones one of them?"
"Their prices can crash at any time because they are controlled by the British market. Well, diamonds that were used for industrial use could be used as strategic a.s.sets though."
Youngho thought that there must be a reason for him to collect gold bars. The last gold bar that Nikolay sent might not have been auctioned off, but it could have been bought by the Information Agency. If so, the agency was saving safety a.s.set over cash even though there was no reason for the dollar or the euro to plunge unless there was any sign of some sort of world emergency.
Still, it was foolish to naively ask why. It was Youngho's job to figure out why he had to make a sharp turn to safe a.s.sets.
"Let's check to see if there's more from Siberia. Aren't gold bars easy to buy with money?"
"You can buy a few kilograms of gold bars at any time. But if you're looking for tons of gold, it's not easy because banks from all over the world are involved."
In other words, central banks were bent on saving gold bars, and it seemed like something was happening sooner or later. Even Basten, who had not been active in the frontline, was making such a request to get gold bars.
Although Youngho wanted to ask what was going on, he had to close his mouth. It was still good that he found out that something was going on from this conversation. He would have to get to the bottom of this using his connections.
Even if there was urgency, he did not have to freak out since he also had seven tons of gold bars in the Serbian ranch.
"Chairman Nikolay, I've been informed that all of the balance of the factory sale will be paid next month."
"Really? I didn't think it would be possible until the end of this year. It's quite fast."
"You'd be able to settle in Baku by this winter. The Azerbaijan government said it would issue you permanent residency. You can apply for citizens.h.i.+p in a year."
"That much benefit is nothing for foreign investors. It doesn't only benefit you but the government as well."
"I thought it would be more complicated. As expected, Mr. Lee, you have great power in Azerbaijan."
"I'm calling because I have other business to talk about."
"My friend wants to buy more gold bars. Would you be able to find some more?"
Although Youngho knew that the gold bars were from Nikolay's own possession, he did not directly say it since no businessman would want to reveal his properties to others.
"How can I say no to Mr. Lee's request? Let me check it out. By the way, how much do they say they need?"
"They're going to buy it on a ton basis. Can you get that much amount?"
"Maybe it's possible. I'll call you once I've found out."
Basten and Eriksson were listening to the phone conversation between Youngho and Nikolay next to Youngho.
Youngho intended this to highlight the fact that gold bars had to be obtained from someone else other than Nikolay and to show his status in Siberia.
"Do you think he can secure gold bars?"
"It didn't sound like it was going to be a difficult task. He decided to call me as soon as he found out."
"Thank you, Duke."
"But if you wanted to buy gold bars, I would've been able to help you through Eriksson."
The offer to buy more gold bars was a matter that could be conveyed by Eriksson as well, but it was a little strange that Basten had to come personally to see Youngho.
"I wanted to see you in person on the pretext of the wedding. Of course, I didn't just come here to meet you though. There's something else too."
"Oh, I see."
If it was someone other than Basten, Youngho would have asked what the other business was, but he shut his mouth tightly. It was because he thought that he would get involved in a very complicated matter if he asked.