Although he was asking for forgiveness, there was not the slightest guilt on his face. He was even releasing his intimidating aura blatantly in front of Qi Zhongdao, as if he would not hesitate to have a fight if the conversation did not go well.
“This guy is Duan Yuanwu, the young leader of Roaring Tiger Hall. His father, Duan Tiande, is also a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator,” Dan Fengzi said to Li Yao in a low voice. “The son is in the beginning level and the father is in the middle level.
“With their blood bond, the two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators have practiced very delicate skills of joint attack. When they integrate their Nascent Souls together, their combat ability is close to that of a high-level Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator! Inside the Tiger Apparitions Array, they are scared of nobody. Even Master Righteous One will have to consider it carefully if he intends to break into the array by himself!”
“Leader Duan was heavily wounded and almost mentally deranged while resisting the natural disaster?” Qi Zhongdao pulled a long face. “Is that so?”
“It indeed is.” Without batting an eye, Duan Yuanwu said coldly, “Master Righteous One, if you find it hard to believe and insist on meeting my father, please come into the city. I’ll lead you to where my father is resting, Master!”
Hundreds of Crouching Tiger Cannons and Fiery Crow Ballista had been set up there, and two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and ten at the peak of the Core Formation Stage were inside the city. Even Qi Zhongdao would not be able to walk out of the trap unharmed.
After pondering for a moment, he said, “If so, please send my regards to Leader Duan. Later, the Grand Mystery Sect will deliver gifts to help Leader Duan’s recovery. I can talk about the issues with Young Leader Duan, too!”
“Please, Master Righteous One!” Duan Yuanwu clasped his fist. “I’ll do whatever I can!”
“Alright!” Pointing at the dense disaster victims below his feet, Qi Zhongdao said, “The febrile typhoon has just passed, and the Sorcerers’ River is flooding. The prosperous land in the southeast has been reduced to a kingdom of swamps. As a result, so many folks have lost their homes. They are struggling on the brink of death to survive! If they are left aside, there will be great disasters in the future! Plagues, riots, armies of ghouls. The situation will be beyond control!
“All Cultivators have the heart to serve justice and help the people. Roaring Tiger Hall is among the most famous sects in the West River State. It is your responsibility to guard the land and shepherd the folks. Please open the gate and provide a shelter for the disaster victims, Young Leader Duan!”
“If I may speak, Master Righteous One.”
Without blinking, Duan Yuanwu replied loudly. “It’s not that Roaring Tiger Hall is heartless, but our city is too small. A few days ago, when the febrile typhoon just passed and the flood was not here, almost a hundred thousand local disaster victims moved into the city. The facilities and assets have all reached their limits now. We cannot allow any more disaster victims to come in even though we want to!
“If we open the gate now and introduce the disaster victims into Roaring Tiger City without sufficient food, medicine, and assets, Roaring Tiger City will only end up being an enormous graveyard where everybody will die together!
“Roaring Tiger City is just a tiny city. How many disaster victims can be accommodated here? If you are truly seeking a way of living for them, Master Righteous One, please guide the disaster victims to East Peace County. That is one of the largest cities in the entire Great Qian Dynasty. I’m sure that millions of people can be accommodated there!”
There was not any emotion on Qi Zhongdao’s dark face. He was even more indifferent as he nodded and said, “Fine. It’s reasonable that Roaring Tiger City is too small for so many disaster victims. Then, please allocate some of the assets in Roaring Tiger City to the disaster victims so that they can establish tents outside of the city to block the chilly rain and eat for now!”
Duan Yuanwu shook his head and said, “We have neither tents nor food!”
“Hehe. Hehehehe. The Roaring Tiger Hall is the largest sect in the West River State. Not just the southeast, it is one of the most famous and powerful sects in the entire Great Qian Dynasty!” Qi Zhongdao sounded even more dissatisfied. “All Cultivators know that not only does more than half of the land in the West River State belong to Roaring Tiger Hall, the Black Wind Roaring Tiger Flag of Roaring Tiger Hall is also flying in the fertile land of the states and counties nearby.
“Right now, the many sects including the Grand Mystery Sect and the Purple Pole Sword Sect, as well Master Bitter Cicada of the Stupa Temple, have come all the way here for disaster in the southeast. Is it honorable for Roaring Tiger Hall to offer not a single grain of food for the disaster victims as a local sect of the southeast?”
“Do forgive us, Master Righteous One and fellow Cultivators. This is definitely not Roaring Tiger Hall’s excuse!” Duan Yuanwu said neither humbly nor pushily. “It never rains; it pours. Before, Roaring Tiger Hall had already planned to bring out all out stored food to the disaster victims. When the rice and wheat for the Cultivators were already dissolved carefully with certain medications and turned into a paste that was edible for the common folks. It’s a shame that one dark night a few days ago, the barn caught fire, and all our stored food was burnt to the ground!”
Qi Zhongdao’s voice was even colder. “Not sooner, not later, and it caught fire precisely when the large batch of disaster victims came close?”
“An accident wouldn’t be an accident if it was foreseen, right?” Duan Yuanwu made a gesture to the bottom of the fortress. Then, a few tough-looking Cultivators in robes made of tiger hide carried a few boxes of blackened stuff to him.
Duan Yuanwu kicked over the few boxes and declared, “Please take a look, fellow Cultivators!”
Inside the few boxes was tiny, broken, black residue that had a weird burnt smell. Under the wind, the scent was blown into the air and turned out to be crops that had been burnt up!
“The fire burnt up the food that Roaring Tiger City had stored for more than three years. Right now, more than a hundred thousand disaster victims are still waiting to be fed inside Roaring Tiger City. Everybody in Roaring Tiger Hall is in distress. We were thinking of being so brazen as to borrow some food from Master Righteous One and the fellow Cultivators. How can we bring out any grain of food now?”
Duan Yuanwu sighed. Even his gold, shining beard seemed to be getting lackluster.
“Young Leader Duan!” Qi Zhongdao was shaking in anger. “Now is not the time to consider the selfish benefits of a single sect. This is not an issue for the Grand Mystery Sect, the Purple Pole Sword Sect, the Gold Armor Clan, and Thunderstorm Valley. This is even not an issue for Roaring Tiger Hall. This is about all Cultivators. This concerns the big picture of the world of Cultivators!
“Right now, the Grand Mystery Sect, the Purple Pole Sword Sect, the Gold Armor Clan, Thunderstorm Valley, the Monster Taming Pavilion, Flying Spirit Island, and dozens of other sects have all dispatched tremendous food that is being shipped here as fast as possible. It will be delivered in a couple of days! As long as Roaring Tiger Hall provides a sum of food so that the disaster victims could survive the toughest days, you will be making an unparalleled contribution!”
“Human beings differ from the plants in that we have feelings. If there was food, not just a day or two, Roaring Tiger Hall would do our best to support the victims for half a month!” Duan Yuanwu slapped his thigh and was almost crying out. “But it’s a pity that there isn’t any food!”
“Young Leader Duan!” Qi Zhongdao was so exasperated that his voice was as tough as iron and mixed with a hint of coercion. “Did it not occur to you that, with so many people gathered in front of Roaring Tiger City, should anything happen to them, Roaring Tiger City will be the first one to suffer the blow of the army of ghouls that comes into being after their death!”
“Haha. Hahahaha!” Duan Yuanwu wiped his face. His fake tears were immediately replaced by dominance. After a few chuckles, he eyed the dense crowd below the city in disgust before shouting, “Roaring Tiger City is as well-defended as any city can ever be. If certain blind ghosts dare to attack Roaring Tiger City, let them taste how strong the Tiger Apparitions Array and my fists are!”
By the ‘certain blind ghosts’, he was obviously not referring to the folks who were struggling to survive.
For a moment, the atmosphere became even more intense. The two parties were so at loggerheads that even the air was cracking!
Duan Yuanwu, who was only in the beginning level of the Nascent Soul Stage, confronted Qi Zhongdao, who was at the peak of the Nascent Soul Stage, remotely. Protected by the Tiger Apparitions Array and the hundred Crouching Tiger Cannons, Duan Yuanwu was not eclipsed at all!
The negotiation surprised and baffled Li Yao.
It was inappropriate for him to directly ask Dan Fengzi why Roaring Tiger Hall refused to open their barn, which would imply that he cared too much about the disaster victims. Rolling his eyes, he changed a way of asking and chucked. “I didn’t know that Master Righteous One’s title would be so useless. Even a Cultivator at the beginning level of the Nascent Soul Stage dares to show no respect for him at all and refuses to offer any food!”
“Of course, respect cannot be shown here,” Dan Fengzi said in a low voice. “Offering food is a bottomless hole. Once the barn is open, the whole sect will go bankrupt. So, not just Master Righteous One, even if Emperor Phoenix… no, even if the heavens came here in person, he will still show no respect, and the sect would still resist to the end!”
“Oh?” Blinking, Li Yao commented, “I truly don’t understand what is on the mind of the locals of the central plateaus. Although there are a lot of disaster victims here, since Roaring Tiger Hall is the largest sect in the West River State possessing tremendous farmlands, do they not have enough food for the victims to survive the famine? Why do they reject so strongly that they are offending Master Right One, Master Bitter Cicada, and us?”
“Elder Spiritual Vulture, that’s because you are not seeing the whole picture, but that’s understandable,” Dan Fengzi explained. “The Southland of Sorcerers is vast and unpopulated. Bananas and other fruits are everywhere in the forests, too. There can’t be too many people who suffer from hunger, right?
“If the hundreds of thousands of victims here were all there are, it would be simple enough for Roaring Tiger Hall to deal with them with the assets that they stockpiled earlier!
“However, the victims have legs. Once the news that Roaring Tiger Hall has opened its barn is out, the millions of disaster victims in the states and counties nearby will all crowd toward Roaring Tiger Hall!
“By then, we will be seeing not hundreds of thousands of disaster victims but ten times more. When the millions of victims surround Roaring Tiger Hall, each of them waiting to be fed, Roaring Tiger Hall will be drained even if it has a whole canyon of food!”