Empire Of The Ring Chapter 342
Youngho’s group was escorted to a place with a big stream that was 50 meters wide, but its volume was not quite large. It was flowing along a gradual slope and only a little part of its rim was frozen. Hot springs were bursting out from different nearby places.
Youngho dipped his hand into the water and it was lukewarm. Irtysh pointed near the water where rocks were gathered. Each of them was about the size of a grown man’s head. After searching in the rocks for an hour, Youngho could find one that had rough diamonds bedded in them. The stones varied in their sizes as some were as big as an adult’s thumbnail and some were as tiny as a kid’s pinky nail.
“Boss. Are you sure that these are all rough diamonds?”
“Most of them are for industrial use but if we’re lucky, some of them might be processed into jewelry. Open your eyes wide and search for more!”
“Boss. So, are you saying the first one who finds it gets it?”
Hong Sung-ki hastily took off his shoes and got in the water. Seeing the diamonds had boosted up his enthusiasm.
“Phew, I’m the owner of this land, but if you find a good one, I’ll get you a diamond for your future fiancé.”
“What? You can’t be serious to ask us to find diamonds without any reward. If you take all of the things we found, what fun is there for us?”
“Il-kwon. Throw him out. He’s just too greedy for this job.”
“Okay, okay! I’ll bring you whatever I find.”
Hong Sung-ki and Choi Sang-ho rolled up their pants and began searching in the water to find more rocks.
“These people must know that these are gems since they were educated in Russia. I wonder why they don’t pay so much attention to these.”
“The natives here still believe in Shamanism. They might think that touching these will bring them bad luck. Irtysh said that his people only value red stones.”
“That might be true. Natives who won’t settle down in any region wouldn’t care about diamonds. They will value a reindeer more than these gems.”
Irtysh could not understand Youngho’s group which was searching in the water for hours to find the shiny stones. As it became noon, Youngho gave him a combat ration. He loved it as he hastily finished the whole thing quickly and asked for more. Natives would not have such high-calorie food that was marinated with different spices and sauces.
When Irtysh left, Youngho gave him combat ration packets for every member of his family and taught him how to cook it. He thanked Youngho as he promised to come back to the campground tomorrow morning.
“Boss. I guess there’s no reason for them to search for diamonds and break rocks. They won’t find a market or people who know the value of the stones here.”
“There might have been a problem in the past when they introduced the diamonds to outsiders. That could be a reason why they don’t touch them anymore. We won’t know whatever happened between the natives and Russian settlers in the past.”
“I heard that they had a fierce battle between the natives and the Russian settlers in the beginning. Maybe all of that was for the treasure.”
“Imperial Russia’s wealth is known to have unimaginable wealth. Probably that was all taken from this kind of remote places.”
Imperial Russia’s palace was decorated with jewels all over it. It must have collected treasures as it took over Siberia and the Far East. The palace in Saint Petersburg was proof of its enormous wealth. Youngho assumed that the diamonds here must have taken part in building Imperial Russia’s wealth. Many people still believed that the treasure that Russia’s last dynasty was going to siphon was sitting somewhere in Lake Baikal.
The taiga and tundra regions in Siberia were a blessing to Russia. Despite their extreme cold in the winter, they were full of oil crude, gas, trees, and all sorts of mineral resources. Youngho envied Russia’s natural treasures. If he had a hundredth of its natural environment, he would not have to worry about the next generations of his family.
With the help of Irtysh the Evenk, Youngho’s group was guided to different regions of the Taiga forest. When they got lucky, they picked up some rough diamonds, and they also found some intermittent springs too.
Youngho was not sure about the summer in this place, but it seemed that he could stay here in the winter as long as he was within the ranges of hot springs. At a severely cold region where his lung felt like freezing when he breathed in, the existence of hot springs was like a pleasant gift to Youngho.
It would have been great if everything was going to be smooth sailing from here, but wolves were causing troubles now. Since the warm hot spring regions were full of moss, herbivores gathered there. It was natural for predators to come according to the law of the food chain.
There were too many wolves that the team could not relax for a moment at nights. The wolves in the region seemed to stay nearby all the time, so when people went out to take care of nature’s call, they needed to take another person along to look out for them. However, it was a little too much to build a log cabin for a bathroom.
Youngho admired the Evenks who lived in a place like this. It was a place where people could not last a day without a means to chase away wolves, but the Evenks had been surviving here for thousands of years.
As they had done enough survey of the land now, they decided to finish their first expedition. Besides, people were getting tired of hunting wolves.
“You retreated because of wolves? That’s why I wanted you to take my soldiers. Our soldiers would’ve fired a mortar to chase them away. They won’t come near if you fire at them several times.”
“I can’t destroy their natural habitat. We can avoid them instead.”
“Wolves are considered a hazardous animal here. Our unit often earns some finance from selling reindeer and wolf skin.”
Since the unit was located in a remote region and not at a border, the Russian government did not spare a huge budget for the unit. It seemed that the unit had been doing side businesses to cover its operating expenses. They must have killed countless wolves under the pretext of making money for the unit’s expense.
“You must’ve had a good supply of animal skin here.”
“Yes, are you interested in it?”
“I have a small animal skin factory in Kazakhstan. We mostly sold wolf skin there, but I guess reindeer skin would be great too.”
“There’s a furrier who collects our accumulated fur regularly. If you want to take them, I’ll gladly give them to you, Mr. Lee.”
“Wouldn’t the furrier get upset if I did?”
“Well, he won’t say anything if we tell him that we don’t hunt here anymore.”
Klimov treated Youngho’s group as honorary guests with great hospitality for the next several days until the group left. There was no luxury in the military unit, but Youngho thought that being able to take a shower in the freezing Siberia was indeed a luxury.
Klimov, who would be able to see Youngho in the summer, asked him to visit again before the summer since he wanted to sell accumulated furs and rough diamonds to him as soon as possible. He would be collecting everything he could until Youngho came to visit next time. It seemed like the reindeers, wolves, foxes, and deer nearby would be annihilated by him soon.
Youngho thought that he should get gifts for the soldiers too when he visited here next time since they would be the ones who worked hard to collect diamonds and furs. They would go crazy for combat rations made by Eti, the food company in Turkey.
Leaving every expedition tools and machines to Sergeenko, the group got on an airplane with a light heart. The team had found out that the Taiga forest had so many potentials in ways it could be exploited. There were tons of things that would make Youngho rich in the forest. Most importantly, Youngho was glad that he found diamonds from a new place. It meant that he would not have to rely on Lt. Col. Klimov to supply diamonds for him. Getting animal skins from him was an extra gain of this trip.
Also, the existence of hot springs opened up another possibility to Youngho. It turned out that the Taiga forest was a livable place for people. He might be able to make a vacation spot around the hot springs. If he built simple log cabins and bungalows and promoted the remote vacation experience to people, it could be a great tourism item. Spending the summer in the Taiga forest and enjoying hot springs and reindeer hunting in the winter would attract rich people.
Logging business would not have to be his priority business anymore. Since he did not want to destroy the natural habitat, he wanted to make a business that could go along with the preservation of the natural environment.
As for the logging business, there were tons of other people who would do the job for the American lumber company. It would not be a problem if Youngho was not its primary supplier.
But before that, he would have to set up off-limits areas. If people found out about the rough diamonds, the whole logging area would be returned to the Russian government at once. Russia only granted logging, not collecting other mineral resources. Youngho would have to negotiate it with the Russian government before he signed a contract, but it did not seem that the government would permit him to collect minerals so easily.
The group returned to the autonomous state after ten days of the expedition trip. The state felt like spring compared to the weather of Siberia. There was snow all over the place because the wet season of the winter just began, but it was nothing compared to the Siberian cold that felt like it was going to freeze Youngho’s lungs when he breathed.
Seeing Leon, who was playing at the airport as he waited for Youngho, Youngho thought that this place was a good place to live. In Siberia, people would not dare go outside in its cold weather. Rena and Jelyan clung to Youngho’s legs that he could not go forward anymore.
It seemed that the autonomous state was doing fine since the kids were out in the airport. If there was a problem, Fatima would not have let her kids outside the house.
Standing next to Youngho’s family, Kim Chun greeted him with a bright smile.
“Boss. You must be exhausted.”
“Well, we’ve had a great trip because you’ve been working hard for the autonomous state while I was gone. It looks like the state is doing great.”
“It’s the same as before when you left. The second group of immigrants is doing great so far. This might be news for you. Our pilots have successfully managed to fly Jets on their own.”
“Oh, yeah? How many have had success?”
“We’ve got five so far, but the instructors said that all of the pilots would be able to fly by the end of next week.”
“Whoa, those young fellas will be ahead of me then. I should start practicing again tomorrow.”
“Oh, please. Just use a pilot already and don’t think about flying on your own.”
“I’m still young. Are you saying I should now take the back seat? You must not have been feeling well now that you’re over 40, Mr. Commissioner.”
“What are you talking about? You know I’ve stopped bullets with my body. I’m the first person who was injured by an outside force in the autonomous state.”
Kim Chun treated highwaymen as if they were the autonomous state’s archenemy. He was once shot by robbers on an industrial road and always talked about the event as a legendary tale.
Kim Chun’s unique exaggerative tone and expressions made people around him laugh all the time. He had a special power that made people smile.
The follower couple also greeted Youngho, but what they were wearing was quite strange.
Suh Min-seok had a wolf fur hat and gloves, and Kim In-hwa had a scarf and arm warmers on.
“Where did you get those expensive fur products?”
“I killed two wolves last year and sent them to the factory. I just received them from stock.”
“Well, I brought wolf skins from Siberia, but you won’t need them I guess.”
“Mr. CEO, I earned this with my effort. If you brought stuff as a gift, you should still give them to us.”
“What kind of logic is that? It all depends on the heart of the giver.”
“Oh, please give them to us! You have no idea how much we needed fur. I wouldn’t have gone to the hunting trip with people if I didn’t need them.”
The couple clung to Youngho to the point where Youngho felt sorry.
He now felt that he was at the autonomous state now since he was teasing the two.
“Where did all the Jets go? And where’s Mr. Park?”
“He rushed to Almaty yesterday. He must have reached Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan by now.”
“What’s going on there?”
“Some of the Koryoins that were going to move to the state in the spring were allegedly attacked by Uzbek rebels.”
“I don’t have the details about the event, but they own a small ranch there, and they called us when they were attacked, but we lost contact with them afterward.”
What Youngho was worried about came true.
A Koryoin who owned a ranch must be well-off in Kyrgyzstan. It seemed that Uzbek rebels who were rebelling against the Kyrgyz government were now randomly attacking other ethnic minorities too.