The more Li Yao heard, the more surprised he became. He observed Han Yuantai up and down carefully.
Before his dialogue with Han Yuantai, and especially when he suppressed two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators easily, no matter how he reminded himself, he could not help but look down on the ancient Cultivators and feel too confident about himself.
He even found it difficult to consider his trip a perilous mission like his adventure in the Blood Demon Sector. Instead, he felt that he was having fun in an Ancient Cultivator Theme Park.
It never occurred to him that a world of ancient Cultivators that was entirely blocked from the universe could produce such an insightful man as Han Yuantai!
Han Yuantai was already remarkable. What kind of great hero would Han Baling, the magnificent leader of Ghost Qin, be?
What amazing accomplishments would such people have achieved if they were born not in the Ancient Sages Sector, which was enshrouded in the dark nebula, but in the boundless sea of stars outside?
But maybe it was not too late.
Whether Li Yao was willing to or not, the ‘ancient Cultivators’ who dominated the Ancient Sages Sector would break out of the dark nebula and appear in the world of modern Cultivators one way or another!
What would happen when three hundred ancient Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators appeared in the federation, the Imperium, or the Covenant Alliance?
Li Yao calmed himself down and pretended that he did not buy it. He sneered, “You must be exaggerating. The Cultivators in the Southland of Sorcerers have a long history, too. Why aren’t such things happening here?”
“The Southland of Sorcerers is different from the main territory of the Great Qian Dynasty,” Han Yuantai replied very peacefully. “With all due respect, Master, the Southland of Sorcerers is still in an underdeveloped phase. There are few Cultivators in the first place, and the sects here are mostly small, with a membership of ten or so people.
“Take your master Elder Five Despairs for example. He only had two disciples, and he lived in a residence deep inside the mountain. He never had a high demand for the villages and tribes nearby.
“Also, despite the unfavorable climate in the Southland of Sorcerers, the yields of farmlands here are high enough for the ordinary people. If they are left with no choice, they can always feed on bananas if crops cannot be grown.
“Therefore, while the rest of the world is plagued by wars and famines, the Southland of Sorcerers is a unique, peaceful place!”
Li Yao was rendered speechless for a moment.
Although Han Yuantai was from the northern prairies, he truly had a lot of general knowledge about the world.
The Southland of Sorcerers was a typical tropical and subtropical rainforest. It seemed unlikely for a prosperous civilization to develop here. But if the locals did not have a high requirement on their living conditions, it was easy for them to survive by feeding on the bananas, cassava, and jackfruit.
Therefore, although most of the barbarian Cultivators looked ugly and creepy, even if they took one person for food every day, they would be eating only three to five hundred in a year.
But it was nothing unusual for a million people to be killed in a famine caused by a great war.
Therefore, it might be inappropriate to judge a regime superficially.
Li Yao sighed to himself and raised his eyebrows. “Is the rest of the Great Qian Dynasty different?”
“Of course. For ordinary people, the environment in the Great Qian Dynasty’s main territory is much harsher than in the Southland of Sorcerers,” Han Yuantai replied unhurriedly. “There are a hundred times more Cultivators in the Great Qian Dynasty than in the Southland of Sorcerers. Also, they are highly organized, greedy, and manipulative. Their demands on the folks are a hundred times higher than the barbarian Cultivators’!
“In the states of the Great Qian Dynasty occupied by the Cultivation sects, even including the fertile land of honey and milk in the southeast, the folks are merely struggling to survive under the oppression of the Cultivation sects!”
“Really?” Li Yao blinked and said, “I’m told that the southeast of Great Qian is the land with the most abundant spiritual energy. Of the hundred and eight natural paradises in the Ancient Sages Sector, more than half are in the southeast. How can the people’s lives be difficult?”
“You might not know the details, Master.” After a chuckle, Han Yuantai said, “It is exactly because the land in the southeast is too fertile that people’s lives are difficult!”
“Oh?” Li Yao was truly puzzled this time. “How so?”
“It’s simple. Because of the land is brimming with spiritual energy, naturally, the crops in the land belong to the Cultivators. How can the ordinary folks deserve them?
“In the southeast, near the towns occupied by the Cultivation sects, of every fifteen acres of farmland, at least seven are dedicated to the ‘spiritual rice’ that is specially grown as food for the Cultivators. Such rice grains are as large as pearls and contain bountiful spiritual energy. They are also known as Jade Crystal Pellets. Because of food’s contribution to the buildup of Cultivation and the refill of spiritual energy, it is the most common food in the Cultivation sects.
“Since the Jade Crystal Pellet has so many merits, the ordinary folks who grow it are of course unqualified to enjoy it. All the Cultivation sects forbid such folks from eating a single Jade Crystal Pellet!
“Also, they are not able to eat such food even if they want to. The intense spiritual energy inside the food can only be dissolved with Cultivation arts in order to provide nutrition.
“If the ordinary people eat the food accidentally, one grain of the rice will be enough to blow up their stomach and kill them!”
“What about the other eight acres?” Li Yao asked.
“The Cultivators can’t just feed on rice.” Han Yuantai smiled. “The remaining land will be used to grow ingredients for pills, fodder for rare animals, and raw materials for the Cultivators’ robes.
“As a result, most of the produce of the fifteen acres of land are for the Cultivation sects. What the folks have is just half an acre.”
Li Yao was dazed. “Only half an acre?”
“Not half an acre,” Han Yuantai said. “For the local Cultivation sects, however much they despise the emperor of the Great Qian Dynasty, they have to submit taxes more or less. Most of the taxes, as you can imagine, are from the half acre of land.
“The Jade Crystal Pellet is a good thing. With the Jade Crystal Pellet, the training will be very efficient. Also, together with the enhancement of the natural paradises, the Cultivators in the southeast are larger in number and stronger on average. The more Cultivators and the stronger they are, the higher the demand on Jade Crystal Pellets. The more Jade Crystal Pellets that they eat, the more Cultivators. The more Cultivators, the greater the consumption of the Jade Crystal Pellets… When do you think such a vicious cycle will end, Master?”
Lost for words, Li Yao furrowed his brows.
“Therefore, even in the prosperous land in the southeast, where people can squeeze oil out of the soil, the folks are starved every year and can barely make ends meet. Why else do you think the Riot of White Lotus broke out?”
His interest piqued, Li Yao craned his neck and asked, “I’ve heard of the White Lotus Cult recently. What is it exactly? I’m told that it was founded by a woman named ‘Mother White Lotus’ Wan Mingzhu, who claimed to be ‘mother of all ghosts’. Is she really so tough?”
Han Yuantai nodded and said, “‘Mother White Lotus’ Wan Mingzhu is certainly the troublesome leader of spectral Cultivators in the Ancient Sages Sector. She is definitely among the top ten experts of the Ancient Sages Sector. Even my brother Han Baling thinks very highly of her!
“However, the rise of the ‘mother’ was merely the doing of the Cultivators in the southeast themselves.
“As I said earlier, the Cultivation sects in the southeast, in order to raise more Cultivators, expanded the coverage of the ‘Jade Crystal Pellet’ and the marvelous herbs in the farmland. Ninety percent of the yields of the farmland were unenjoyable for the ordinary people. As a result, the folks in the southeast were hungry all year long. When there was anything wrong with the climate, famines would break out.
“During a famine, a person might resort to anything when they are too hungry. Although knowing that eating the Jade Crystal Pellets meant death, a lot of folks still couldn’t bear the temptation of a round, fragrant Jade Crystal Pellet.
“They would die of starvation if they did not take the food, and they would be killed because their stomach was blown up if they did. Therefore, they might as well take the food and die with a full belly!
“Such things happened all the time, but however gory the situation was, the Cultivators would not plant any crops edible for ordinary people on their precious land at the risk of starving themselves!
“However, it never occurred to the Cultivators that the Jade Crystal Pellet, as a supreme hybrid strain of rice only invented hundreds of years ago, had an expected feature.
“The Jade Crystal Pellet boasts immense spiritual energy. Although the ordinary people would be killed because they could not digest the spiritual energy, it would nurture their soul when they were dying and make their souls purer and stronger. Their odds of being transformed into spectral Cultivators was significantly higher!
“Haha. After a famine, it was common for countless folks to die because they stole the Jade Crystal Pellet as food. Corpses whose guts were flowing on the ground were left everywhere. However, there were countless ghosts full of hatred, too!
“Those folks were harmless ants who posed absolutely no threat to the Cultivators when they were alive. However, the Jade Crystal Pellet had nourished their soul and endowed them with the capability of inhaling and exhaling natural spiritual energy.
“Also, because of their miserable death, their hate often lingered on in their soul, turning them into very troublesome, haunting ghosts!
“The White Lotus Cult is an organization made of the haunting ghosts and their families.
“Because the Jade Crystal Pellet cleansed their soul, they were able to keep part of their memories when they were alive, unlike the more common ghosts that kill anyone randomly they met. They still recognized their family, and they blamed the Cultivation sects for their misfortune!
“Naturally, the haunting ghosts that transformed from the ordinary people were the spectral Cultivators of the lowest level. Even the Cultivators in the Refinement Stage could kill dozens of them easily. Therefore, the Cultivation sects did not think much of it in the beginning.
“However, the famines in the southeast would never end as long as the coverage of the Jade Crystal Pellet and marvelous herbs was not reduced. There would only be more and more haunting ghosts.
“A million haunting ghosts are savaging the southeast today. Even if the Cultivation sects could eliminate 999,999 of them, the lucky survivor would absorb the hatred of their companions and grow even stronger!
“It is the same logic as how you raise the ‘king of insects’ in the Southland of Sorcerers. When many insects are kept in the same cage for elimination, the last survivor will certainly be the strongest of all!
“Mother White Lotus Wan Mingzhu is deservedly known as the mother of all ghosts, born after absorbing the hatred of a million haunting ghosts!”