As the blue pearl powder drifted away in the breeze, Niu Han clasped his hands behind back, the smile of victory on his face. The old fisherman's arm shivered as he staggered forward, fixing his eyes on Niu Han as he said, "Sir Niu Han, how could you…?"
The surrounding villagers took a step forward together, further narrowing the tide space within the courtyard. Flame of anger raged in their eyes, and their bodies nearly pressed against Niu Han's. He grinned coldly, tilted his head up, and gave a stern cry, "Do you want to be like Old Chan, failing to submit even one offering for three years straight?"
"Who wants that? Move your feet and stand before me now!" He cried with a fierce voice, glancing around with a savage look on his face.
There was a moment of dead silence, as the villagers were exchanging helpless looks among each other. Their eyes were still filled with the same flame of anger, but it was now mixed with a deep grief and helplessness. The entire village had become spiritless, with only Niu Han's villainous laughs lingering in the air. "You ought to understand that I am not someone you can afford to offend! Why are you still crowding here? Get out of this place right now! If you want to defend them, get the hell out of Ling Ao Island, only then you will have the right to do that!"
Gradually, the encirclement of the villagers became loosened. One villager retreated, then followed by another, and soon more followed suit. Before long, apart from the few young men who stood before Lu Chan'er with their faces red, the rest of the villagers had moved several dozens of feet back. Many were being pushed out of the courtyard, and some simply climbed up to the wall, throwing helpless glances at the domineering Niu Han.
As the villagers retreated, Wu Qi, who was hiding behind them previously, was exposed now. Niu Han gave him a suspicious glance, but then shook his head nonchalantly. He pointed his finger at the old fisherman and scolded, "Old Chan, if you fail again to submit the offering this time, don't blame me for punishing you according to the law! Your entire family, oh, that means you and Lu Chan'er, will be banished from Ling Ao Island!"
He paused, then wagged his head complacently and continued with a smile, "Old Chan, you've failed to submit even one qualified pearl for three years in a row, and it shows that you have no respect for His Majesty. According to the law imposed by the Treasure Gathering Hall, you will be punished by having all your belongings confiscated. And you... tsk, tsk, can your old bones still endure the beating of three hundred strokes?"
An uproar of complaints rose from all directions. Many villagers started to shout again.
Niu Han's eyes went wide as he gave the villagers a fierce glare and snapped, "What? Are you trying to rebel? Ha, do you really think that the sharp blades used by the army serving my brother-in-law can't chop off your b*stard heads? Ah? Are you trying to rebel? Let me tell you, there are plenty of people out there who want to come to Ling Ao Island and live a good life. How hard is it to just kill all of you b*stards and recruit a new group of treasure harvesters?"
The uproar came to a sudden stop. Niu Han hummed a little tune complacently, then suddenly changed his tone, now very mild and gentle, "Old Chan, you're getting on in years, and it has become riskier for you to harvest treasures in the ocean. Why don't you just wed Lu Chan'er to me, and I'll serve you while living and give you a proper burial after death?"
Ablaze with anger, those young men standing before Lu Chan'er took a step forward, and one of them shouted, "Niu Han, you are too despicable!"
Niu Han snorted coldly. All of a sudden, he pulled out a palm-sized bone talisman from under his sleeve and crushed it. A beam of white light rushed out from the crushed talisman and twined around his right arm, extending it to about twenty feet long and as thick as a water bucket. He grunted, thrusting the long arm forward as he smashed the palm down. The few young men cried out shockingly as the palm slapped them several hundreds of feet away. Wu Qi even heard a series of bone cracking noise. He reckoned that at least half of their bones were crushed with the slap.
After throwing away the few 'flower guardians' with a slap, Niu Han clutched his palm on the old fisherman's throat. "Old Chan, I know you came from outside Ling Ao Island," Niu Han said with a frown, "You've seen the world, and that makes you tougher to handle when compared to other people on this island. You know my brother-in-law is just one of the Generals stationed here, and the other three are keeping their eyes on him, which is why I dare not to take Lu Chan'er with force. But, you better not push me too far!"
He exerted more force to the palm that clutched on the old man's throat and shouted, "Don't push me too far! I've proposed to wed her, but you rejected! Just to let you know, I can always drive you out of Ling Ao Island, then bring some soldiers and kill you out there! And, Lu Chan'er will still have to warm my bed every single night!"
The ever-increasing force from Niu Han's fat fingers made the old man's bones creak. "I've been holding myself down for three years!" He said frustratingly, "I can make any girls on this island to warm my bed, but not Lu Chan'er, who you've guarded like some extremely rare treasure! You better not push me into desperation. Otherwise, even if it will cause my brother-in-law to be impeached by his colleagues, I'll still fu*k her!"
The old fisherman's eyes rolled backward with his throat being tightly clenched. Although the strength of his fleshly body could allow him to fight against a Nascent Divinity body cultivator, but he was, after all, old and weak, with only thirty percent of energy left in his body compared to when he was young. On the other hand, Niu Han had used a standard bone talisman allocated to all Great Yu's army to activate a spell similar to that of a celestial fiend, which instantly increased his overall strength, and even strengthened the bones, tendons, and muscles on his right arm by one hundred times. With the old fisherman's current overall strength, how could he break loose from Niu Han's restraining hand?
He struggled, shaking his head violently, yet it only made his bones creak even louder. If the situation remained unchanged, he would soon be strangled to death by Niu Han.
Lu Chan'er yelled and cried with terror, leaping forward as she wanted to save the old fisherman. However, the few soldiers with greasy faces came before her, spreading their arms to block her from going further. They laughed and joked, teasing her with their glib tongue and never allowing her from getting closer to the old fisherman.
One of the soldiers said in a clownish tone, "Lu Chan'er, soon we're going to address you as sister-in-law. Tsk, since we are of the same family, why are you so scared?"
Wu Qi could not look on any further. He shook his head, reaching out one hand to grab Niu Han's large arm. Although the Primordial Gold Talisman had destroyed all his fake Nascent Souls, and he did not cultivate back any of them in the recent days, his pure muscles strength was still not something that Niu Han could have matched even with the help of the bone talisman. He placed all five fingers on Niu Han's elbow and exerted some forces into them, making the bones in the arm creak. Niu Han cried with pain and quickly loosened his grip.
Suddenly, a white mist sprayed out of Niu Han's thick arm, and before long, it had returned to its original look. As a severe pain was constantly washing through his arm, Niu Han felt exasperated. He pointed his finger at Wu Qi and cried out, "Daoist, what are you doing?"
Wu Qi gave him a smile, squatting down to pick up a few silvery-white pearls. "Grandpa Chan, one mid-grade energy stone for one pearl, what do you think?" He said indifferently, "Something quite unforeseen has happened to me recently, and I've lost all my energy stones. Can I exchange them with gold according to the appropriate rate?"
On Pangu Continent, the value of a lower-grade energy stone was about ten gold ingots, and one mid-grade energy stone was about one hundred lower-grade energy stones. According to that calculation, Wu Qi would have to pay one thousand gold ingots for each pearl. Nevertheless, since he had brought a lot of gold, silver, and jewelry from Great Yan's secret vault, he was wealthy enough to purchase these pearls.
The old fisherman was stunned, and he took a few steps back. Lu Chan'er came hurrying up to hold him from the side.
Wu Qi swept his hand over the Black Dragon Spirit Ring, and immediately, numerous gold ingots shot out of his chest in a stream, neatly arranged into a small golden pyramid in the courtyard. He stared at the old fisherman and said with a smile, "If these pearls were to put on sale in the immortal markets, most probably they would have a price tag of one mid-grade energy stone each. I'm pretty poor recently, as all my energy stones and magical treasures were destroyed. It is just the right time for me to purchase these pearls and craft them into some defensive treasures for myself."
The old fisherman opened and closed his mouth, as if he was about to say something, but Niu Han had already jumped up and gave a hysterical roar, "How presumptuous! I've already ordered all three major merchants on Ling Ao Island to not purchase anything from this old fool! Where do you come from, Daoist? Do you know that apart from the three major merchants, no itinerant cultivators are allowed to have a private trading with any of the villagers on the island?!"
Wu Qi gazed coldly at Niu Han, shook his head and said, "I'm just a passerby! Niu Han, a beautiful girl is a gentleman's desire, but you shouldn't force the girl when she doesn't like you. You have a good brother-in-law who gives you some power in hand. However, you've used that for your personal gain, forcing innocent girls and people for your own pleasure. Don't you feel ashamed? To cut others some slack is to give yourself the leeway in time of need. Niu Han, you shouldn't push things too far!"
The old fisherman's eyes flickered as he grabbed Lu Chan'er's palm tightly.
Lu Chan'er narrowed her eyes and stared at Wu Qi. A bright gleam sharp as blade could be seen flashing in her eyes. The old fisherman turned around and gave her a look, then saw her nodding slowly and moving her lips with faint words coming out of her mouth, "A barely passable conduct."
Wu Qi's stern and just words had turned Niu Han's face blue with anger. "Cut the bullsh*t!" He snapped, "Somebody, kill this unruly Daoist and feed his corpse to the fishes in the Dark Abyss! Kill this old fool as well! Lu Chan'er, I'm gonna to fu*k you today!"
While Niu Han was jumping up and down and cursing to his heart's content, the old fisherman breathed out a faint sigh, shook his head, and said, "Just as I've expected, your quality has deteriorated from generation to generation! Sigh, Niu Han, you've induced a calamity for your clan!"
The old man came before Niu Han and gave him several dozens of slaps in the face, ripping and tearing his facial muscles. Niu Han shrieked with pain, but before he could produce further noise, the old man flicked his finger and pointed it heavily onto Niu Han's forehead.
Niu Han shuddered, and his eyes rolled backward before falling heavily to the ground. A white smoke rose from his body, and all of a sudden, he transformed into a one-foot tall toad with a puff, croaking and leaping here and there in a panic.
Wu Qi felt his scalp went numb instantly as he was seized by a great terror once again. He backed off with trembling steps, staring at Grandpa Chan in shock as he did that.
The ability to turn a human into another creature was exactly the same with turning tiny grasses into Chinese cabbages. They were the powers from the same realm.
The old man gave Wu Qi a smile and a nod. "I've been staying here for a few years, wanting to relax initially. But, little did I expect that I'll bump into such matter." Glancing around, he told the transfixed villagers with a long sigh, "You've disappointed me!"
While the long sigh still lingered in everyone's ears, the old fisherman gave Wu Qi a look, before dragging Lu Chan'er and transforming into two grayish-white seagulls with a twist of their bodies, who then gracefully soared up into the sky and dwindled into the white clouds.
Wu Qi's hands trembled, and he shook his head with a bitter smile. "Why am I trying to be a hero for no apparent reason? Have I seen things recently? Why do I keep bumping into these mysterious figures?" His murmur ended with a long sigh.
The toad who transformed from Niu Han croaked again, which reminded Wu Qi about the person behind him. Without hesitation, he leaped into the air, transformed into a beam of light, and sped away towards the Dark Abyss of Northern Ocean.
He had given up the idea of finding out more information on Ling Ao Island.
After flying at top speed for three days and three nights, he finally arrived at the border of the Dark Abyss.
Right when he entered the territorial sky of the Dark Abyss, a wave suddenly rose from the surface of the water.
A Yaksha, whose face was blue and teeth stuck far out, body covered in bowl-sized fish scales and a dozen horns poking messily out from the top of his head, emerged from the wave as he pointed his finger at Wu Qi and shouted, "This territory belongs to the Great Ancestor of Northern Ocean. Daoist, considering this is the first time you've offended our territory, I'll let you go now. Leave quickly, or you'll be killed!"
Wu Qi was struck with great joy. He had come to the right place.