“Fellow Cultivator Ba?”
Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar, in his ragged, stinky clothes, was surrounded by a bunch of elegant-looking leaders and elders, as if he were the moon around a bunch of stars or an emperor who was served by the eunuchs.
As the secret treasuries were opened one another, the Cultivators’ expectations were raised time and time again, only to be shattered without exception. The more impatient ones of them could not help but ask, “Where are the secret treasures where the Black Devil Cult has accumulated its loot for decades?”
“Well. Here, and here. Aren’t they all secret treasures?”
There was no telling where Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar found a black tobacco pipe. He puffed on it comfortably and pointed with the pipe. “The seals of the leaders of quite a few sects are in this place. They are enough evidence that Roaring Tiger Hall has been conspiring with the Black Devil Cult to lay waste to so many sects, aren’t they?”
“Of course, but…”
The Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators all grew anxious. “The seals of the leaders are certainly very important evidence, but didn’t you mention that the secret treasures that the Black Devil Cult had accumulated for more than thirty years were hidden beneath Roaring Tiger City, Fellow Cultivator Ba? Where are those secret treasures exactly?”
“Oh. Those secret treasures…” Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar turned around the tobacco pipe and used it as a back scratcher when he extended it into a hole on his collar and scratched his back. He said with a smile, “I only overheard the Duans talking about that earlier. There might be, but I didn’t hear quite clearly. It is also possible that they changed the secret treasures into different appearances and traded them for resources to build this city. Haha. I was merely listening as a thief, and I couldn’t catch everything they said. Why don’t you go to the Duans and interrogate them? You’ll certainly find satisfactory answers!”
Duan Tiande, Duan Xingyi, and Duan Yuanwu had just been obliterated, without the slightest shred of a soul remaining. How could they be interrogated?
Many high-level Cultivators’ faces were almost deformed in fury. It was not until then that they realized that they had fallen victim to Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar’s prank.
Unsatisfied, somebody demanded him, “Fellow Cultivator Ba, didn’t you claim that you saw it with your own eyes?”
“Why, indeed I did!” Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar nodded solemnly. “I saw these warehouses and seals with my eyes personally. Did I lie to you? As for the information about the secret treasures, I heard it loud and clear. The Duans could testify for me. That was exactly what I told you just now. Then, you began ‘slaying the evil and serving justice’ impatiently. What, was it not what this beggar said just now?”
“Well…” The elders and leaders of more than ten sects, who were all big shots in the world of Cultivators, blushed and look at each other in bewilderment, not knowing what they should say.
“Fellow Cultivators!” Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar chuckled, “The way I see it, let’s leave the secret treasures aside for a moment. So many disaster victims outside of the city are waiting to be fed. A lot of them are dying in the cold from hunger every minute. Spectacular as crystals, magical equipment, and Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures may be, can they be taken as food or worn as clothes?
“Right now, is there anything more qualified as a secret treasure than the delicious meat and rice? After all, such ‘secret treasures’ can save people’s lives! Everybody here was shouting about serving justice just now. Has it never occurred to you that life is the highest justice?
“You are jumping up and down angrily, but you won’t get anything valuable from this beggar even if you capture me and search my belongings. Why don’t we hurry to open the barn and provide food for the disaster victims so that the situation here can be stabilized! Do you really want to attract Mother White Lotus’ ghoul army to this place before you stop the fuss?”
All the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators were lost for words. They coughed in embarrassment at the same time.
Qi Zhongdao stepped forward and glanced around coldly before he announced, “Open the barn and distribute the food!”
Hundreds of boiling pots were set up below Roaring Tiger City. The smoke billowed up and turned into hundreds of white pillars that pierced into the sky and dispersed into puffy clouds.
Many disaster victims had been too starved to feed on fish or meat right away. Even the porridge that they consumed needed to be dissolved to the point that it was as thin as water for their recovery.
Although the porridge was thin, the meat powder of animals had been added to it, and a lot of herbs were used to neutralize the meat. The golden, fragrant porridge was the most delicious food that most of the folks had ever eaten.
The main sects set up their banners and divided the zones.
The larger sects such as the Grand Mystery Sect and the Purple Pole Sword Sect had more pots under their control, while the smaller sects managed fewer pots. They gathered the disaster victims below the banners of their sects!
The story that the disaster victims heard was that Roaring Tiger Hall were evil, lawless bandits who had committed too many crimes. Today, they finally had their karma. The other sects had come to annihilate the sect together.
Justice had been served!
Seeing that the folks had been exploited by Roaring Tiger Hall to such a miserable extent, the main sects found it insufferable and provided food so that everybody would survive those troubled times!
For a moment, all the disaster victims were kneeling in gratitude and kowtowing like wheat in the wind.
When Li Yao passed by the dozens of boiling big pots, it was exactly the disaster victims who kneeled before him gratefully that he saw.
Li Yao felt that he had become one of the statues with a gold surface in the temples.
He did not like the feeling and felt very uncomfortable.
Dan Fengzi appeared out of nowhere and asked warmly, “Elder Spiritual Vulture, is there something bothering you?”
On this trip to the southeast, the leader of the Purple Pole Sword Sect had been particularly friendly to Li Yao. Naturally, he had his reasons.
After pondering for a moment, Li Yao said straightforwardly, “I’ve been reflecting on the last words of the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators of the Duan family. It is already appalling enough that Roaring Tiger Hall has been conspiring with the Black Devil Cult, but did the famous ‘six major sects’ such as the Grand Mystery Sect and the Purple Pole Sword Sect also have a disreputable past when they rose up?”
Dan Fengzi laughed. “Elder Spiritual Vulture, do you believe the crazy talk of those few fiends of the Duan family before their death? There was nothing clandestine about the Purple Pole Sword Sect’s rise. However, some of the information is indeed confidential. If you are willing to remove the ‘visiting’ from your title and join the Purple Pole Sword Sect as a formal elder of our sect, Elder Spiritual Vulture, you will certainly learn everything that you want to know!”
Li Yao’s eyes shined coldly as he sniffed. “I thought that I made my position clear last time, leader. During my fifty years of seclusion, I thoroughly studied the legacy of Yan Zhu, the sword forger from Great Zhou. I have only left my mountain to gain reputation, establish my own sect, and spread the knowledge of Great Zhou. Right now, certain juniors in the world of Cultivators have given me the nickname ‘Grandmaster of Great Zhou’, which does not sound bad.
“How can a ‘Grandmaster of Great Zhou’ be under somebody else all the time? It is already my limit to work as a visiting elder. There’s no way that I will join the Purple Pole Sword Sect completely!”
“Elder Spiritual Vulture, you have grand ambitions. The Purple Pole Sword Sect is too small to keep such an unparalleled expert like yourself!” Dan Fengzi sighed. “However, it is easy to be famous in the world of Cultivators, but it is much more difficult to establish and run a sect.
“The base, the land, the disciples, the vassal families, the revenues… Everything is a headache!
“Establishing one’s own sect is like wire-walking on a bottomless abyss. Even a family as tough as the Duan family, which had three Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, met such a dishonorable end after they founded Roaring Tiger Hall!”
“Indeed!” Li Yao sighed as well. “Since the Duan family had three Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, they probably could’ve built up Roaring Tiger Hall without resorting to such crooked methods. Why were they so eager for instant success and quick profits by working on the ‘Black Devil Cult’?”
“If they didn’t, somebody else certain would. You don’t think that the Black Devil Cult is the only evil organization causing trouble in the southeast, do you, Elder Spiritual Vulture?” Dan Fengzi explained. “It’s because Roaring Tiger Hall knocked over all the disobedient sects in the West River State after decades with the help of the Black Devil Cult, which then fed the flesh and meat of the victims back to Roaring Tiger Hall, that Roaring Tiger Hall had its glory today!
“If Roaring Tiger Hall had not established the Black Devil Cult, other sects might have secretly established the Red Devil Cult, Yellow Devil Cult, or Blue Devil Cult. Chances are that Roaring Tiger Hall would’ve been annihilated decades ago. They wouldn’t have survived till today!”
Frowning, Li Yao asked, “So, is it really nothing unusual for the justice defenders and the villains to conspire with each other among the Cultivators?”
Dan Fengzi smiled but did not give a direct answer. “When all the birds are shot down, the fine bow will be laid to rest. When the cunning rabbits are dead, the hounds will be useless. If a janitor raises a cat, he wants the cat to catch the rats in the house. But what can the cat do if all the rats are caught? It is the Cultivators’ responsibility to slay evil. What can the Cultivators do if there are no evils?”
“So, are you suggesting that we should slay evil when there is evil and when there isn’t any evil?” Li Yao asked.
Dan Fengzi’s eyes suddenly shone. He clapped his hands. “Well said, Elder Spiritual Vulture!”
After a long pause, Li Yao took a deep breath and said, “This is not exactly what I imagined before I left the Southland of Sorcerers.”
“What did you think before you left the Southland of Sorcerers, Elder Spiritual Vulture?” Dan Fengzi asked.
“The Southland of Sorcerers is an uncivilized land of barbarians. Everybody resides in the forests and caves as different tribes,” Li Yao said. “Every barbarian Cultivator is the protector of a tribe. They are responsible for banishing demon beats, suppressing evil, fighting against the hostile tribes, and so on. Although there are foul practices such as blood sacrifices, there aren’t many mysteries. When there are conflicts between different tribes, open competitions in the Black Rock Arenas are the more favored resolution!
“I’ve got nothing to hide from you, leader. A hundred years ago, I was an ignorant barbarian Cultivator who dominated the forests. I didn’t feel that anything was wrong with such a life.
“However, after I was reborn from the Poisonous Dragon Lake and received the legacy of Yan Zhu, I was edified by the demeanor of Great Zhou for fifty years. My mindset gradually changed. I felt that my eyes were opened and that the things that I had done in the past were not worth mentioning at all!
“The Southland of Sorcerers was too small for me. So, I decided to travel in the central plateaus and see how much ‘Great Zhou’ was left in ‘Great Qian’, which is also based in the central plateaus. It never occurred to me that—”