Empire of the Ring

Chapter 28
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Chapter 28: Country of Fire, Azerbaijan (3)

Two months passed since the Fatima siblings came to Baku.

Every weekend, they came to the farm and helped out with any work needing assistance. The farm was located on the hills and the temperature was lower than the inner city of Baku. It was still October, but the farm was busy to prepare for the winter, even though the lowest temperatures in winter would be only about 30 degrees in Fahrenheit, it often snowed due to the wet season in the winter. The workers were busy fertilizing and covering the grounds for all the plants before the wet season, in order to cultivate flavorful grapes next year.

Youngho’s farm was always crowded with workers seeking jobs in every morning. They came to his farm because it was the biggest scale among other farms in Baku and had a lot that needs to be done.

Youngho’s farm was renowned for good wages and for providing foods to workers. In addition, his farm was equipped with new farming gears and equipment that the workload for laborers was less than the other farms.

Azerbaijani laborers were not rich but they tend to be generous to their guests, so Youngho also emphasized to Gerhardt’s wife, who was now the cook on the farm, to prepare enough food for everyone.

Poor farmers even came on the weekends to do work that Youngho did not even ask for. The gap between rich and poor was big and it was hard for the poor to make it in Baku where prices were high. Not knowing how to deal with laborers, Youngho had lots of trouble over the farm site.

When he came to the farm on the weekends, Youngho tried to teach Gerhardt and Szechenyi how to use pistols. The public security was maintained well in Baku, but there were lots of people who carried guns, it was necessary to learn how to use weapons to protect oneself. Gerhardt had served in the military but he still needed to get used to shooting with pistols.

Youngho gave him a pair of the mystical leather shoes and trained him in the shoes. He made sure that Szechenyi would never tell anyone else about the shoes. He trained Szechenyi because he was the only man in the family, who had to protect his sisters when he goes back to Istanbul.

Szechenyi had turned 15 last month. Whether or not it was because of the ring’s effect, he had grown bigger than any other friends in his age. Youngho also taught him martial arts and special combat skills as much as he could. Because Szechenyi had unconditional trust in Youngho, he endured physically challenging trainings from him. Szechenyi studied hard during the day and trained hard in the evening.

Youngho thought that the commoners should be trained as well because of the potential local battle or war. Too many people had died on this land in the past. The first one in danger when a war breaks out were women and children, you’d never know how armed soldiers would react under pressures. Everybody should have a gun in their household to protect the family. That was why Youngho had stored lots of ammunition with five shotguns that the director got him and many pistols he bought from the black market, in the safety room at the farm.

Gerhardt’s house at the farm was almost completed and looked like he could move in before the winter comes. It was all possible with the help of construction workers from the construction company. They worked hard trying to earn Youngho’s favor but he still could not forget how they blamed him for their fault. Youngho was waiting to see what he could do to get even with them.

“Oppa, what are you up to these days? I can’t get a hold of you. Karajan said you are living with Turkish children, what is that about?”

It was Yunsuh on the phone, she sounded extremely curious about the siblings.

“So the word has spread to Korea?”

“So, an awfully pretty lady and her little siblings?”

“Yeah. She’s pretty just as much as you”

“I can’t wait to hear about her. So, is she going to be my sister-in-law?”

“She’s only 19 now, how can she be your sister-in-law?”

“Goodness oppa, you have no shame. You have ten years of age difference.”

“He, Hey! don’t get me wrong. I just met them on a business trip in Istanbul and just happened to stay together. They are actually helping me.”

It was true, they have become like a family to Youngho, who was living in a foreign land.

“Oppa, I support you no matter what. Her nationality doesn’t matter, if you like her I ship you two.”

Yunsuh was overly misjudging. Youngho was embarrassed to think of him and Fatima that way.

‘How can she look at me and Fatima that way?’ he thought.

“Please don’t over react. I’ll take her to Korea on Christmas, so you’ll see.”

“Okay, but what the heck is grape farm? Karajan told me that you are at the farm every time I called.”

“I am involved in a government-supported grape farm business now.”

Youngho did not tell her about the details because she did not know anything about the CIA, and he could not tell her about where the money came from.

Knowing that Youngho likes farming, Yunsuh did not ask any more about the farm.

***

Edward of the US CIA visited Youngho’s grape farm. He came to look around as a person in charge of the business because he had supported information expense that’s worth a million dollar to Youngho’s. Recently Azerbaijan and the U.S. government collaborated to invest in expanding pre-existing oil pipeline, and their relationship seemed to get better. However, the US was still not in position to impose sanctions against the war. Edward was stressed over the war.

Armenians who reside overseas were willing to have a war to get the land of Nagorno-Karabakh officially recognized as Armenian territory. Some of them even insisted Armenian ownership over Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic located next to Armenia, which was an overseas territory of Azerbaijan. The voice of Armenians in foreign lands was becoming even louder, not considering about what would happen to the people in the land. Youngho who was listening to Edward, spoke in frustration,

“Ed. I don’t understand why Armenian government is willing to take the risk of a war because of the influence of Overseas Armenians.”

Edward wiped his face under stress and answered him.

“The overseas Armenians are the ones maintaining the country’s finance and government with their money. If there is war, it’s their money they’re going to use. It’s inevitable for the Armenian government to be influenced by the overseas.”

Armenia was the country that had 3 million people residing in the land and 7 million living in overseas. And many overseas Armenians were successful and well-off people. Because they sent money to their country, they had powerful voice over the nation.

With the conflict with Azerbaijan, Armenia was being pushed to a war. The war would eventually happen but the question is when. Youngho and Edward had a drink together out of frustration.

The war would strip away Youngho’s businesses in Baku too because war shrinks consumption. Who would buy teacups and plates for their house or clothes to dress up during the war when they are struggling for their lives? Moreover, the business that would be most affected by the war will be the farming businesses because no one would carefully take care of plants during the war risking their lives in the field. This would then cause the lack of food to eat.

For a second, Youngho wondered whether he should start growing wheat by expanding his farm. Even though the UN relief organization would help people so that no one dies out of hunger. Youngho was still worried thinking he could store foods to help people around him. He suggested to Edward,

“Ed. What do you think about storing some grains and basic living supplies?”

Edward’s face brightened.

“What a great idea, Lee! You are such a treasure. That would be a great way to relieve the poor and hungry while voicing ourselves.”

Youngho’s current situation did not allow him to take immediate action, but he decided to think about ways to carry out the plan.

If Youngho could buy mass amount of grains, he could make a lot of money when the prices go up, but his morality was stopping him. The war could break out at any time. Youngho had a pity on the people of Azerbaijan and Armenia who would fight and die for the highland that was almost barren. It was understandable since Armenia was a small sized country.

Youngho could feel the shadow of the coming war was approaching.

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