Li Yao was fascinated.
On his way there, from the chitchat between the father and the daughter of the Ling family and the conversation among the barbarian Cultivators, he had heard the names of the top Cultivators. ‘Mother White Lotus’ Wan Mingzhu was the one with the highest frequency.
However, the barbarian Cultivators did not know much about the outside world, and Ling Shoujing and Ling Lanyin, because of their biased stance, decried Wan Mingzhu as a brutal, hideous ghost queen while mentioning how exactly the ‘ghost queen’ rose in the southeast where the Cultivators were most powerful.
It was the first time that Li Yao had heard the story from a different perspective. Whether it was true or not, it was refreshing enough.
“The White Lotus Cult already thrived quietly in the southeast almost eighty years ago,” Han Yuantai said. “The Cultivators labeled the White Lotus Cult as unpardonable devils. Claiming that they were ‘slaying evil and serving justice’, they suppressed the White Lotus Cult cruelly and broke into the headquarters of the White Lotus Cult hundreds of times!
“However, soon after the Cultivators announced that the White Lotus Cult had been completely demolished, new haunting ghosts of the White Lotus Cult were generated in the fertile land that was brimming with Jade Crystal Pellets again!
“Mother White Lotus herself had been executed by multiple Cultivators almost a hundred times. However, before long, she would be reincarnated in the hatred of the public again!
“The southeast is of paramount importance to the Great Qian Dynasty. As you have mentioned yourself, Master, half of the hundred and eight natural paradises of the Ancient Sages Sector are in the southeast. Almost all the powerful sects have established important branches if not their headquarters in the southeast!
“The southeast is the world of Cultivators. Why has it been haunted by so many ghosts for decades? How has the ghost queen trained enough to become one of the top ten experts in the world? Is it not a sign that the Great Qian Dynasty is on the brink of its doom?”
Li Yao slightly nodded. “Well…”
Observing his face, Han Yuantai thought that the old monster was changing his mind. Overjoyed and excited, he raised his voice and said, “The situation in the southeast is relatively better. A thousand Cultivation sects are there to suppress the enemy after all. The Riot of the White Lotus Cult often dies as quickly as it appears. The overall peace can be sustained for now.
“However, in the northwest of the Great Qian Dynasty, ‘Heaven Battering King’ Qi Changsheng’s bandits are utterly untamable!”
Li Yao nodded and said, “I’ve heard the name of Heaven Battering King Qi Changsheng a lot, too. I’m told that he is also a super expert who rose to fame during my decades of seclusion. He is even more dominating than Mother White Lotus Wan Mingzhu. What’s his background exactly?”
Han Yuantai burst into laughter. “He doesn’t have any background at all! He was just a soil rat! However, during such a world-shifting era, one’s background is the least decisive factor for one’s success. Everybody can achieve great things with bravery and determination!
“The northwest of the Great Qian Dynasty used to be the center of the Ancient Sages Sector a hundred thousand years ago. Dozens of ancient dynasties thrived around the place, but after such a long time, the hundreds of thousands of years of consumption have almost drained all the spiritual energy. It is now a poor and desolate land with barely any resources.
“The folks in the southeast are still ‘qualified’ to be exploited by the Cultivation sects, but in the northwest, they do not even stand a chance to be exploited because there is barely any land, however infertile it is, in this area!
“Of all the barren land, the relatively acceptable part is all under the control of the Cultivation sects. Not the slightest scrap of land will be shared with the ordinary folks.
“A lot of folks starve even when the climate is ideal. You can imagine how serious the famines are when there’s a natural disaster!
“When there’s a famine, the peasants are forced to leave their homes and gather into locust-like mobs. If they plunder any food in their foray, they will survive one more day. When they are too hungry, they are even bold enough to attack the headquarters of the Cultivation sects and even lunge at the mighty Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators!”
“The hungry folks in the southeast boast some combat ability after they are transformed into haunting ghosts by the Jade Crystal Pellets,” Li Yao sneered, “but the northwest peasants have no access to the Jade Crystal Pellets, do they? Then, what can a million ravenous peasants do to the impenetrable Cultivation sects and the marvelous Cultivators?”
Han Yuantai nodded heavily. “That’s exactly what the court and the Cultivators thought in the beginning, Master. Therefore, for decades, their attention was focused on the White Lotus Cult in the southeast. After all, however many homeless peasants there were in the northwest, they were still ordinary people. Ordinary people attacking the headquarters of the Cultivation sects was like eggs hitting rocks. It’s just a joke!
“However, it would appear that the Great Qian Dynasty is truly doomed because the most bizarre things happened!
“The northwest of the Great Qian Dynasty was the earliest prosperous place in the Ancient Sages Sector. The Cloud Qin Empire, the first unified dynasty in the Ancient Sages Sector, rose from the northwest a hundred thousand years ago!
“Dozens of dynasties and countless traditional sects had been headquartered in the northwest. There were too many tombs, residences, relics, and secret treasures below the ground there, many of which escaped the explorers’ attention after millenniums of excavation!
“Therefore, quite a few people in the northwest lived in ancient tombs, residences, and relics. The grave robbers are known as ‘soil rats’!
“The ancient tombs, especially those of high-level Cultivators, were often deployed in the best terrain, secured by special rune arrays. The magical equipment of the tomb owner was often buried together with them, too. If…”
“You are fooling me again,” Li Yao interrupted coldly. “The tombs of the high-level Cultivators must be protected by the most powerful barriers. Even a Cultivator might be killed if they broke in recklessly. How can an ordinary grave robber come and go freely?”
“It is, of course, the case for the tombs in the recent ten thousand years,” Han Yuantai explained, “but even the strongest Cultivator cannot resist the passage of time!
“Spiritual energy can be vaporized, and venom may go dry. The traps will decay and collapse. For the solidest tombs a hundred thousand years ago, one earthquake might have been enough to trigger and deactivate all the traps inside, exposing the central room inside the tomb. If fortunate enough, even an ordinary person can go into the tomb and return with full loads easily.”
Li Yao thought for a moment and realized that it did make sense.
He had excavated quite a lot of ancient relics himself. The underground fortress of the Star Ocean Imperium on Spider Den, ‘Chaos’ Ba Yanzhi’s mausoleum, and even Kunlun had all been in serious states of disrepair.
That was why the latecomers were able to enter easily and retreat in one piece.
“Even if the soil rats who rob those tombs are ordinary people in the beginning, after activities in such tombs filled with spiritual energy for a long time, it is possible for them to become Cultivators if they are lucky enough to survive!
“Heaven Battering King Qi Changsheng was such a soil rat in the beginning.
“It was also one of the few professions that could provide enough food for a person in the northwest.
“Rumors among the Cultivators have it that he accidentally discovered an ancient tomb from ninety thousand years ago whose owner had turned into a deadly wraith.
“Then, there’s no telling what incidents Qi Changsheng went through in the tomb, or maybe it was because something in him earned the deadly wraith’s appreciation, but he was granted an indestructible body afterward!
“The profession of soil rat was certainly not intolerable for any Cultivation sect.
“Exploring the relics is the Cultivators’ privilege. If the filthy ordinary people are qualified to claim the ancient relics, won’t everything fall into disorder?
“Therefore, Qi Changsheng soon became a brutal bandit wanted by almost a hundred sects in the northwest!
“The guy truly deserved to be called a brutal bandit. Before he grasped the ‘Thousand Miles of Bare Land’ technique, his most dominating technique, he was surrounded by hundreds of Cultivators. However, he fought a bloody way out with a broken saber and escaped!
“It’s said that the dry land in the dozens of square kilometers was dyed red after the battle. The bloody cloud soared up and did not fade away until three days later. It was truly a breathtaking battle!
“After breaking out of the siege, Qi Changsheng decided that he should pursue further. He summoned all the soil rats in the northwest and joined the army of the homeless peasants!
“The soil rats who earned their living in the ancient tombs certainly had their own expertise. Their participation significantly improved the capabilities of the army of the homeless peasants. After countless sacrifices, they were finally able to break into the headquarters of the first Cultivation sect!
“Everything became easier after the headquarters were broken into!
“The homeless peasants claimed all the crystals, magical equipment, herbs, Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures, and Cultivation arts in the Cultivation sects!
“A lot of Cultivators were captured by Qi Changsheng, too!
“Qi Changsheng intentionally kept the low-level disciples in the sect alive and asked them to mince the high-level Cultivators in the sect into pieces and eat the flesh!
“Even if the high-level Cultivators had already been killed by Qi Changsheng, the disciples were still forced to cut up their flesh and eat it!
“Whoever disobeyed the order would be minced immediately, and their flesh would be divided between everyone, too!
“Slaying their seniors and even swallowing their senior’s flesh were the greatest felonies. Nobody could save the low-level Cultivators!
“Henceforth, the low-level Cultivators could only work for Qi Changsheng because they would not be embraced by any Cultivation sect!
“In the meantime, he released false messages and pretended that he was still attacking the Cultivation sect, attracting the other sects to reinforce it.
“While keeping the homeless peasants in the headquarters as bait, Qi Changsheng led the low-level Cultivators who had just joined him and ambushed the headquarters of the reinforcing sects when they had dispatched their available forces to save the sect being attacked!
“After another Cultivation sect was breached, he did exactly the same. The captives were divided into two parts. The low-level Cultivators were asked to surround the high-level Cultivators and join his gang after they committed the unpardonable felony!
“After they joined the gang, they were coerced into attacking the nest of the third Cultivation sect without any breaks!
“Just like that, the army of low-level Cultivators under Qi Changsheng’s command snowballed and swept across the entire northwest!
“When the Cultivators who reinforced the first sect finally annihilated all the homeless peasants that he had intentionally left there, Qi Changsheng had already broken into the nests of twelve Cultivation sects. By plundering the crystals, magical equipment, Cultivation arts, and low-level Cultivators, he turned the previous mob into a brutal army of Cultivators, the Heaven Battering Army!”