A wine barrel was smashed into pieces next to the plank. The broken pieces rained upon Iron Saint Qi Zhongdao’s face due to the counterforce.
“Why?” Qi Zhongdao sounded like a cluster of cold ice enveloped by scorching fire. He said painfully, “Why do the Cultivators from the main sects not understand the importance of the big picture at all? As long as a sect provides a tiny bit of food, millions of disaster victims will be spared, so they will not cause any trouble or be manipulated by Mother White Lotus!
“This is the best approach to prevent a ghoul army from appearing. It is certainly much better than slaying evil in a hurry after thousands of ghouls have shown up, isn’t it?
“But—but I didn’t know that their duplicity would be so appalling!
“Thankfully, Fellow Cultivator Ba, you revealed the schemes of Roaring Tiger Hall and the Black Devil Cult in time and gave us a reason to attack Roaring Tiger City. We have fortunately found a large batch of food that is enough for us to pass the crisis!
“What would’ve happened without Fellow Cultivator Ba’s tremendous help today? Would they have felt satisfied when they saw millions of disaster victims die and turn into aggressive ghouls? I really don’t know if those people have a heart or a brain!
“Yes. We seem to have resolved the crisis with the assets confiscated from Roaring Tiger City. However, none of the heroes in the world are blind and can see through their blatant petty tricks easily! Through such approaches, they may gain slightly for now, but all the southeastern sects will be disheartened. The reputation of the main sects of central plateaus has been trampled on! How are we going to cooperate with the southeastern sects in the future when there is absolutely no trust between us?
“Shortsighted, penny wise, and pound foolish, yet they are still gloating. That is simply too idiotic!”
Qi Zhongdao cursed aloud with the boost of the wine until he was trembling. His eyes seemed to be on fire, and crimson magma was about to flow out.
He swallowed. His throat uttered a weird sound, as if his vocal cords were burningly hot. His voice shivered as he said, “The Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty seem to be in their heyday, but does anyone here, as a top expert in the world of Cultivators, not know the truth?
“The White Lotus Cult is savaging the southeast, the Heaven Battering Army is stomping on the northwest, and Ghost Qin is coveting from the north. One moment of carelessness, and we will be doomed forever!
“At such a dire time, all the main sects are still profiting at the expense of others, busy in conspiracies and internal conflicts. Even the rules on the surface are now being kicked away and utterly disregarded!
“If things go on like this, the country will no longer be a country! Even if the White Lotus Cult, the Heaven Battering Army, and Ghost Qin were just minor diseases in the beginning, if the Cultivators continue messing around like this, they will escalate into fatal illnesses soon. When the illnesses are too severe to be treated, it will be too late for regrets!
“If the Great Qian Dynasty does fall apart, there will be at least a hundred years of lawless bloody wars. All the sects and Cultivators will be involved in the turbulence. They will either live like a devil or die the most miserable death!
“If the Great Qian Dynasty is a high tower, the Cultivation sects and the Cultivators are already at the highest level of the tower. What benefits can we get by destroying the tower? Why can’t those people understand such simple logic?”
Clenching his fists, he was going to punch the crooked tree hard.
However, the half-dead, shaking crooked tree somehow reminded him of something. He simply turned the direction of his fists and slapped his thigh hard.
“Brother Qi, don’t be so anxious. What you said is the most correct and sensible logic.” Ba Xiaoyu was also half drunk. Belching, he said with a smile, “But correct and sensible as it is, you have been working as the leader of all the Cultivators for too long to understand what is on the mind of those below you.
“Yes. Food is just a minor issue right now. The price of food in other places is still low.
“However, what will happen when the influences of the natural disasters spread and when the harvest season comes without a harvest?
“Then, the food price will soar possibly by ten to twenty times. Famine will doubtlessly spread through the southeast area. The Cultivation sects in the southeast will be willing to pay any price for the precious food to consolidate their forces!
“If the food is delivered here and now to solve the imminent trouble in the southeast, what benefits can you get except for the gratitude of the poor folks?
“However, if you wait until the southeast is short of food in the harvest season, you will be able to sell your food at an astronomical price!
“Don’t be so hasty to argue. I’m not done yet. The great profits in the harvest season are just part of the reason. There’s another reason that is even more important. You can steal talents here!
“The southeast is a place where the spiritual energy in the world congregates. The ordinary folks here, nurtured by the natural spiritual energy, have a much higher chance of awakening their spiritual roots than the folk elsewhere do. They all make the best apprentices for training!
“Before, this place was dominated by the southeastern sects, and it was difficult for foreign sects to recruit disciples here!
“The natural disasters, however, give the sects from central plateaus a great opportunity to act in collusion and get what they want!
“No one wants to leave their home for an unfamiliar Cultivation sect far away and struggle like a dog for a slim chance of survival unless they absolutely have no choice.
“If you really deliver enough food here, allowing the disaster victims to survive the crisis peacefully, how many of them will willingly be recruited by you? Even if they do want to join a Cultivation sect, they can always choose a local force in the southeast!
“Therefore, even if there is food, it must not be fed to the disaster victims so easily. They must be half-starved first so that they will be fascinated by the thin porridge. Then, after realizing that there is plenty of food in the sects in the central plateaus and it is their only chance of survival, they will participate in the entrance tests hosted by the main sects.
“Only the strong, talented folks will be given enough food after they pass the entrance tests and sign the lifelong indenture!
“In such a way, the Cultivation sects will build up their own force with the elites of the southeast while diminishing the potential of the southeastern sects without offending anyone. Is it not the most ideal plan?”
“This is against the rules!” His eyes bloodshot, Qi Zhongdao declared angrily, “Recruiting disciples in the territory of other sects across the border is very likely to raise large-scale friction and riots. There will be major chaos. I never did such a thing when I was the leader of the Grand Mystery Sect!”
“It’s a pity that you are not the leader of the Grand Mystery Sect right now, Brother Qi. Forgive my bluntness, brother, but is there any essential difference between a ‘grand leader’ and a wife who is divorced from her husband?”
With a sharp tongue, Ba Xiaoyu grimaced. “Brother Qi, do you still think that we are not already in chaos? Rules only make sense if everyone respects them. If I am the only one who respects the rules while the rest don’t, won’t I be at a huge disadvantage? I’m no fool. Why would I respect the bullsh*t rules at all, even if the rules come from the well-respected leader of all the Cultivators? Such rules are utterly meaningless!”
As if struck by lightning, Qi Zhongdao was dazed for a long time. He suddenly laughed in amusement. “Excellent. Excellent. You couldn’t be more right, Fellow Cultivator Ba! I am no leader of all Cultivators at all; I am just a champion at anyone’s mercy!
“When the main sects were planning to threaten the emperor together, they remembered me as a ‘leader’ and respected me as much as they could. After the emperor and Wang Xi fell, did any of them regard me as a leader at all?
“When the main sects went to intimidate the Purple Pole Sword Sect and split its enormous interests, I became a high and mighty ‘leader’, supported by everyone again, and I had to fight a life-and-death battle with ‘Sword Maniac’ Yan Liren! After the interests were divided and the Dragon Spring Meeting ended, did I matter to any of them at all?
“Because of the natural disasters in the southeast, somebody was required to go through all the trouble summoning the forces in the world and moderating the messy relations among them. So, I became the leader again! Even during the attack on Roaring Tiger City, the ‘leader’ had to lead the charge. Then, if ‘Emperor Phoenix’ burst into fury in the future, blaming us for acting without permission, I would certainly be the one guilty of the crime!
“Haha. Leader, leader. Is there such a bullsh*t leader in the world?”
Heartbroken, Qi Zhongdao was roaring toward the sky.
“Fellow Cultivator Qi, you are drunk,” Master Bitter Cicada said.
“I am indeed drunk. I’ve been drunk for so long that I thought that I could change the world and everything by myself!” Qi Zhongdao sat down on the plank and sighed. “But why is this happening? Why can’t any of them look ahead into the future and consider the big picture and the interests of all the Cultivators?
“I always had high hopes for Master Dawn Moon and thought that he would be able to lead the world of Cultivators with his charisma as the manager of the largest sect in the world! He never disappointed me in the past. I don’t know when he became so unworthy!”
“Perhaps, it is not Fellow Cultivator Dawn Moon who has changed but this world.”
Tapping the empty wine barrel with his bailer, Master Bitter Cicada sighed.
“Perhaps, this world has already turned into an impenetrable wine barrel that is filled with the dirty, filthy wine brewed with fame, fortune, and power. Those who fall into the barrel are drifting up and down in the wine. How can they not become intoxicated?”