After flying for thirty thousand miles above the great lake, Wu Qi suddenly saw a huge silhouette appear off in a further distance, on the surface of the water which had now turned dark green. He focused his vision to look at the silhouette. It was a huge, black turtle, whose carapace measured over four thousand miles in circumference, on top of which was a small island.
The turtle had its neck and limbs retracted within the shell, exposing only an about one hundred miles long tail as it floated lazily on the surface of the water. Every now and then, the tail would swing, hitting the water and raising waves that went as high as ten thousand feet. When the waves fell back to the lake, they produced deep, muffled rumbles that sounded like the rolling of thunderclaps, sending a vast amount of mist to as far as several tens of miles away. And when the sunlight shone onto the white mist, a rainbow would stretch across the sky.
It was the Qing Xu Immortal Pass, the public marketplace closest to An He City where Immortal cultivators on Pangu Continent could gather.
Originally, the lake was a huge mountain range that stretched for several billions of miles. Some years ago, a disciple of an unknown almighty Immortal secretly established a Daoist rite temple in the mountains and began to pass on the Dao. At its peak, over several hundred thousands of mortal disciples were teaching and cultivating the Dao in this place. However, it had greatly infuriated the authority from Yu Dynasty. A Prefecture Overseer, who was too eager to gain himself some merit, sent a great army to besiege the Daoist rite temple without thinking twice about the consequences. The war lasted for two years, and it leveled the entire mountain range, even creating a huge sinkhole that went several tens of thousands of miles deep, which turned into the current great lake.
As a result, the almighty Immortal exploded with fury, calling many of his powerful Immortal friends to seek for an answer on Pangu Continent. Unexpectedly, the almighty Immortal was involved in nepotism with some of the most powerful people in the Heaven. Through the connection, the Prefecture Overseer was demoted to a common man, while several hundred Generals from Yu Dynasty who participated in the besiege had their title of nobility reduced.
Still, the almighty Immortal was not content with the answer. So, he simply found a huge ancient extraordinary turtle from some outer heavenly realm and threw it into the great lake, placing a small island on its back and establishing a marketplace where all Immortal cultivators could gather. Clearly, the almighty Immortal was very narrow-minded, and he purposely created the marketplace to disgust the people from Yu Dynasty. As he had a very strong backing, and because the current Human Emperor was too weak to counter the almighty Immortal, Qing Xu Immortal Pass managed to continue its development until today.
But this place was, after all, on Pangu Continent, the nominal territory of the Human Emperor, and the face of Yu Dynasty had to be preserved. Therefore, the Human Emperor had established an outpost on the small island, and deployed a General to station here with an army of one hundred thousand soldiers. They named the place 'Qing Xu Immortal Pass'. The meaning of immortal pass was actually a custom. Any Immortals visiting the place would have to report themselves at the General's office, where they had to get their identity certificate. Only those who had obtained their identity certificates could freely enter the various cities of the human race on Pangu Continent.
For a cultivator such as Wu Qi, even though he had an identity of someone from Euphoria Heavenly Palace, if he accidentally entered a territory ruled by some Prefecture Overseer, no ministers from Yu Dynasty would have to be responsible for his death. However, if he could obtain an official identity certificate from a Yu Dynasty office such as the one in Qing Xu Immortal Pass, having his background registered, he would be able to freely enter any cities of the human race, and none of the ministers from Yu Dynasty could kill him at will.
After all, there were many cultivators from outer heavenly realms visiting Pangu Continent to purchase materials for cultivating from the marketplaces officially operated by Yu Dynasty, and Yu Dynasty had profited astronomically from these transactions. Therefore, those Immortal cultivators who had obtained an official identity certificate could not be freely killed.
"En, isn't it the same with a passport?" Wu Qi retracted his escape beam, changed into a different Daoist robe, and slightly adjusted his facial appearance. After that, he retracted his four celestial fiend puppets, stepped onto a cloud, and slowly flew towards the Qing Xu Immortal Pass.
When he was about one hundred miles away from Qing Xu Immortal Pass, a group of human warriors, about a couple dozen of them, were seen slowly approaching him from the front, riding on a dragon-shaped flying ship. A captain stood on the nose of the ship, his hand holding a painting as he kept sizing Wu Qi up. "You, the Immortal cultivator, where are you coming from? What is your purpose for visiting Qing Xu Immortal Pass? Do you have any companions?" The captain asked in a loud voice.
With his sharp eyes, Wu Qi managed to see the drawing on the painting: three adults and two junior Daoists. They were Wu Qi and his companions' drawn when he was fighting against Feng Qingwu not long ago. He smacked his lips and praised the efficiency of Yu Dynasty's officials inwardly. Then, with cupped fists he said, "Fellow Daoist, I am Greed, and I plan to purchase some medicines at Qing Xu Immortal Pass. I've always been a loner with no companions or whatsoever."
The captain snorted coldly, picked up a rounded mirror hanging on the side of his waist, and pointed it towards Wu Qi. Immediately, a misty and yellowish beam sprinkled onto Wu Qi's body, and a patch of faint green gleam flashed across the mirror's surface. "You are really daring to cross Qing Xu with just a cultivation base of peak-stage Nascent Soul realm. Hmph!" The captain said with a cold grin.
He pointed his finger at Wu Qi's nose fiercely and snapped, "Once you land on the island, the first thing to do is get your identity certificate at the General's office. Without it, a wrong step taken will get you killed, a trouble caused will get you killed, and a wrong word said will get you killed! All in all, without having an identity certificate, we have a myriad reasons to kill you!"
Wu Qi bowed and offered a greeting, not speaking a word. The captain gave him a ferocious glare and cursed a few more words before waving his hand and ordering the flying ship to fly away slowly. Even as they left, the cloud behind them stirred, from which another fleet of thirteen identical flying ships slowly flew out and continued patrolling the area behind the first flying ship.
Wu Qi gave the fleet a quick glance. Each one of them was fully filled with soldiers who were armed to the teeth, and he reckoned there were about three thousand of them. Twitching his lips, he grumbled under his breath, "Do you really have to deploy so many soldiers just to catch me? I wonder how many members of the human race are there on Pangu Continent. Why are there so many soldiers running about everywhere?"
After staring at the departing flying ships for a while, he shook his head and said, "Apart from a few leaders whose overall strength is very close to Heaven Immortals, some mid-ranked leaders are comparable to Nascent Soul and Gold Core cultivators, and the rest are just ordinary soldiers. What's the use of these soldiers when facing cultivators? Seeking their death?"
He spent some time to search through his memory. But no matter from Yu Hehuan's confession or Shui Xin and Shui Yi's memories, he could not find any information related to these ordinary human soldiers. But, Wu Qi had a feeling that the human race would not be so stupid. It could not be real that these mortal soldiers were just cannon fodder in the battles with cultivators. There must be a reason to why they were traveling with flying ships. Nevertheless, the exact purpose of these soldiers was something Wu Qi did not know right now.
Flicking his sleeve, Wu Qi continued flying slowly forward on a cloud. When he was thirty miles away from Qing Xu Immortal Pass, he felt his body become heavier, and even his cloud had nearly shattered. A restriction on airspace was enforced starting from there, and the further he went, the stronger it got. When Wu Qi finally arrived at the island, he was rendered speechless by the strength of the restriction. Apart from Heaven Immortals, no cultivators were able to fly in the sky. They could only walk with their feet.
Following the invisible divine will road signs found in the void, Wu Qi flew all his way to the region near the huge turtle's head.
He glanced around, noticing that the natural energy was repelled from the island by a tremendous force. With only very little natural energy on the island, apart from Heaven Immortals who had a formidable cultivation base, if any cultivators below the realm of Nascent Divinity depleted their energy here, they would be exactly like an ordinary mortal. On top of that, the ground was paved with a thick layer of Energy Repelling Black Iron. It was a strange mineral which had a very strong resistance against all Dao magics of five elements, and could cut off all natural energy. It was usually used by Immortal cultivators as a building material for their treasure vaults, as it was very efficient in preventing the penetration using various escape arts.
Upon landing on the island, two men clad in black linen robes and having tall back crowns on their heads came approaching Wu Qi with double-quick steps. Cupping their fists and wearing a straight face, they said with a deep voice, "Please follow us. Is this the first time for you to visit Qing Xu Immortal Pass? Do prepare ten lower-grade energy stones for your identity certificate."
Wu Qi gave them a look, then followed them towards a black hall along one of the main streets. The area had many pitch-black, square halls constructed with stones. Each and every single one of them had huge stone pillars erected before the entrance, on top of which was a notch fully filled with sticky fuel, and a green flame leaping as high as ten feet. Though it was broad daylight, the green flame cast a pale green hue to the surrounding area.
There were cultivators that kept landing in the area, and were greeted by men wearing the same black robes and black crowns. Similarly, they were escorted to the black hall where Wu Qi was heading to.
Wu Qi gave those cultivators a look over his shoulder. Among them, the weakest was at peak-stage Xiantian realm, while the strongest one possessed a cultivation base of mid-grade Heaven Immortal realm. However, regardless of their cultivation base, when facing these men in black, who obviously did not have any cultivation base and emanated no aura of an expert, all of the cultivators just followed their footsteps with a gloomy face. Nobody was uttering a word.
And this was the deterrence Yu Dynasty had for all the ordinary Immortal cultivators.
In contrast, the situation in outer heavenly realms was much better. At least, those Immortal Monarchs from the Heaven still had the courage to attack the Marquis sent out by Yu Dynasty. But on Pangu Continent, it seemed the official from Yu Dynasty had completely suppressed Immortal cultivators. Apart from very few territories which were invaded by immortal sects, such as An He City, the rest of the land was totally under the influence of Yu Dynasty.
Wu Qi suspected that perhaps it was because of Qing Xu Immortal Pass that places such as An He City could still exist today. Perhaps because of the bad example it had set, it had become rather easy for immortal sects to invade Pangu Continent, and made Yu Dynasty adopt a softer approach against the invasion. Otherwise, with only Patriarch Muji and Arhat Wrath backing An He City, Yu Dynasty would have already wiped out all the immortal sects found in the region around An He City, given their formidable overall strength.
He followed both men and entered the hall. It was full of long tables, and behind of every table sat a scholar who had a straight face. Both men escorted Wu Qi to one of the tables. The scholar sitting behind the table asked sulkily, "Tell me your name, background, and the cultivation techniques practice by you... Is it Daoist, Buddhist, Demon, Ghost, or... mm, Qing Xu Immortal Pass does not welcome Evil cultivators, while Demon and Ghost cultivators have to behave themselves here. Also, if you bring any prohibited items such as a Heavenly Ghost from the Ghost Domain, you will be banned from entering Qing Xu Immortal Pass."
Then, he pulled out a booklet as thick as a brick from a drawer and threw it towards Wu Qi. "The fee for your identity certificate is ten lower-grade energy stones. This is the '1,000 Injunctions of Qing Xu Immortal Pass', and it costs one hundred lower-grade energy stones. The total is one hundred and twenty-five lower-grade energy stones!" The scholar said coldly.
Wu Qi was taken aback. Holding the thick booklet in his arms, he asked, "One hundred plus ten, how does the total become one hundred and twenty-five?"
Together, the scholar and both men standing next to Wu Qi gave him a ferocious glare. The man standing to his left snapped in a low voice, "For you, an Immortal cultivator, wealth comes very easily! But, if you cause any trouble in Qing Xu Immortal Pass, we are the ones who will help you settle it!"
Wu Qi suddenly understood. So, he also had to pay fifteen lower-grade energy stones as the labor fees for the three of them?
Twitching his lips, Wu Qi told them a background which he simply made up, then fished out two mid-grade energy stones and placed on the counter.
The scholar took the energy stones and shoved into his own pocket immediately. Instead of returning Wu Qi the change, he gave Wu Qi another small medallion forged using black iron. Then, he forced a smile and said, "The medallion proves that fellow Daoist is a well-behaved cultivator, a cultivator from the Righteous League. It will provide you a greater convenience on the island!"
Wu Qi opened his mouth and said nothing. Clenching his jaws, he took over the identity certificate which was just a piece of paper, and an iron medallion that weighed less than 50 grams.