A sorrowful wail echoed out. A cultivator, who was walking with difficulty while dragging an iron mine car behind him, suddenly collapsed and fell to the ground. It happened that he was walking on a downward slope, and when he collapsed, the iron chain slipped from his shoulder, causing the mine car to lose control and roll down the slope. It went over hundred feet down before slamming into a rock wall with a loud rumble and tumbling into a deep trench next to the tunnel.
A supervising Yaksha gave a fierce hiss, waved his hand, and unleashed a beam of blue light towards the cultivator, aiming right at his temple. From the look of how it flew, the blue beam would soon pierce the cultivator's head and claim his life.
Off in the distance, Wu Qi was surveying the layout of the entire mine with a few Yakshas around him. "Stop!" He cried.
The Yaksha was taken aback, and quickly beckoned at the blue beam. It had touched the cultivator's skin, but deviated its course at the most critical moment, leaving only a shallow scratch on the cultivator's temple. Warm blood streamed down his cheek while the blue beam spun and returned to the Yaksha's palm. The Yaksha turned around, cupped his fist to Wu Qi, and called, "Deputy Supervisor!"
Shaking his head, Wu Qi waved his hand and said coolly, "Let this fellow Doaist have some rest. Bring him some food and water!" The few Yakshas around him had a puzzled look on their faces. Wu Qi gave them a look and said with a long sigh, "I know it gives you pleasure to kill them, but who is going to extract the ores for us if you kill them all?"
The few Yakshas rolled their eyes as they exchanged a glance with each other. One of them bent forward and said carefully, "Deputy Supervisor, Supervisor Lu has said that we need to exercise stern supervision on these cultivators. He said that as this mine has only limited amount of Nether Ocean Dark Gold Copper, it will just take a few years to extract them all with a few thousand cultivators. And since more cultivators will be sent here, a few casualties will not affect our progress!"
Wu Qi gave the Yaksha a cold gaze. All of a sudden, he pulled out the sword hanging on the hip of one of the Yakshas standing next to him, then swung it and chopped off the first Yaksha's head. Blue blood sprayed out from the broken neck like a fountain. He wiped away the blood that had dotted his face, then threw the sword to the ground.
Numerous cultivators came rushing out of the surrounding pits, carefully observing the commotion. Meanwhile, those supervising Yakshas stared at Wu Qi with terror in their eyes as they moved their large bodies backward in panic. It was even worse for the few that had accompanied Wu Qi, as they had now dropped to their knees, their foreheads knocking on the hard floor while crying out loud for mercy.
Wu Qi raised his single arm up high and shouted in a stern tone, "Fellow Daoists, I do not care what reasons have brought you here to the Northern Ocean, and why are you being trapped in this place. But now that I've been made into a person in charge of this place, I'll never let another Daoist die innocently!"
Then, he changed his tone, now grieving and almost in tears, "My fellow Daoists, you've gone through the hardships for several hundred, some even thousands of years just to have your current cultivation base. I am an immortal cultivator myself. Thus, it is natural for me to know how tough it is to cultivate on a daily basis just for that tiny bit of energy, what kind of ups and downs we have gone through in the journey of cultivating immortality!"
A faint glow began to shine from the once grayish and dull eyes of those cultivators, and an unusual life force surged from their numb and stiffened bodies.
Wu Qi continued with a loud voice, "I am a lucky one, for the Goddess has taken me as her disciple. Although I am just an outer sect disciple, I am also the deputy supervisor of this mine! Today, I shall take the liberty to make this decision: so long as you work hard every day, you will be served with food and drinks, and none of you will be starved anymore! Work harder with all your effort, my fellow Daoists. Once we have all the ores extracted from this mine, I'll definitely urge Supervisor Lu to fulfill his promise!"
He paused for a brief while, then cried out at the top of his voice, "From today onwards, no supervising Yakshas shall kill another cultivator without permission! I will personally kill those who disobey this order!"
One after another, all the Yakshas went down on their knees and answered with respect.
The sudden announcement had stunned all the few thousand cultivators who were trapped in this mine. Before long, someone let out a loud cheer, and it was immediately followed by the joyful cheering and clapping of the rest of the cultivators, while some even jumped up into the air excitedly. For that moment, the loud cheering and clapping and stamping of feet had briefly shaken the mine. The sheer excitement had put color on their cheeks.
Everyone was moved, especially the cultivator who Wu Qi had saved previously. He even dropped to his knees in the tunnel with his tears all over his face as he kept kowtowing at Wu Qi.
Wu Qi smiled faintly as he watched the few thousand cultivators cheering and jumping for joy.
Lu Buwei had ruled over these cultivators with endless fears and death threats, like the dark night that veiled above a graveyard. But, Wu Qi's announcement had viciously ripped a large opening on the dark curtain which Lu Buwei had purposely built, allowing a faint light to shine through it. And, he did that for three purposes.
Firstly, it was for the gratitude of these cultivators. Among them, there must be some who had yet given up their conscience. Perhaps, Wu Qi could recruit them and turn them into his own power in the future.
Secondly, Wu Qi wanted to ruin Lu Buwei's scheme. Despite what Lu Buwei was up to, nothing could go wrong when Wu Qi went against him.
Thirdly, Lu Buwei would definitely respond to Wu Qi's plain intervention. And once a conflict broke out between them, regardless of the result, it would be heard by Goddess Miao Xin. Wu Qi had a feeling that she would be more than happy to see him creating troubles like this.
This was the third day since Wu Qi arrived the mine, and he had started to purposely break the rules imposed by Lu Buwei.
Wu Qi flew across the distance and came before the cultivator who was kowtowing, raised him up and patted his shoulder. "Don't give up, fellow Daoist," Wu Qi encouraged him with a deep voice, "I can promise you that as long as I still hold power in this mine, even if it is just a little, I'll never allow any fellow Daoist to die uncleared of a false charge!"
The cheering from the surrounding cultivators became even louder.
He waved his single arm to offer a greeting to all the cultivators, then glared at those Yakshas and roared, "What are you waiting for? Go prepare the food and drinks now! Quick, quick! From now on, when a fellow Daoist wishes to drink some water, bring the water to him or her immediately, and when a fellow Daoist is hungry, bring him or her food at once! Also, if any fellow Daoist is having a headache or fever, I want you to take good care of them like they are your grandfather and grandmother!"
All the cultivators stood with a straight back now. Half of them were looking at Wu Qi with gratitude in their eyes, while half were glancing disdainfully at those Yakshas, who were kneeling on the ground in a cowardly manner and dared not to raise their heads up. Amidst Wu Qi's loud and fierce scolding, these Yakshas ran out from the mine in a flurry. Before long, they returned with a large quantity of water and foods made of seaweeds and fishes, and distributed to all the cultivators in the mine.
A few exquisite chambers were hewed in the mine. They had side rooms, and even front and backyards. They had everything that one expected to find in an ordinary home, such as a stone table, stone chairs, stone bed, etc. And, there were even bookshelves embedded on the rock wall, on top of which were a few books that introduced the terrains, local products, and local customs and practices within the regions around Dark Abyss of Northern Ocean.
These chambers were provided for Lu Buwei's disciples, who would visit the mine on a regular basis to monitor the work progress of all the cultivators. Since they were Miao Ying Palace's disciples, they could not be treated the same way as the rest of the cultivators. The chambers were furnished with all necessary facilities for living and enjoyment well-matched with their status.
After ordering the Yakshas to provide sufficient amount of food and drinks to all the cultivators, Wu Qi had picked himself the most luxuriously decorated chamber. Right now, he was lying face up on a stone bed, reading the books he found in the chamber. Miao Ying Palace was the author of these books. The information was very detailed, and they even included the topography for the north, northwest, and northeast areas of the Dark Abyss of Northern Ocean.
According to the books, the northern region of Northern Ocean was now a large and densely populated province. If one traveled straight north for a distance nearly the same as the distance between Zhong Province and Northern Ocean, one would arrive at the administrative center of Ming Province, another first-grade province of Great Yu.
Because of the extremely long distance between them, there were not many interactions between Ming Province and Zhong Province. Their mortals could never interact with each other, and it was rare for cultivators who visited Pangu Continent to travel between the two provinces. Besides from the merchants who visited Ling Ao Island to purchase aquatic treasures, not many cultivators were willing to roam about near the Dark Abyss of Northern Ocean. It was a hostile land for visitors.
Word by word, Wu Qi memorized all the information found in the books. Right after he finished the few books, he heard hurried footsteps coming from outside of the chamber. Soon, Lu Buwei pushed open the stone door and barged into the chamber with a group of green-clothed Daoists, his face black with anger.
"DEPUTY Supervisor!" Lu Buwei called out loudly, emphasizing on the 'deputy'.
"Supervisor Lu!" Wu Qi rose to his feed lazily, throwing the book in his hand onto the stone bed. With his head tilted sideways, he stared at Lu Buwei and asked with a cold grin, "I thought Supervisor Lu will only come down here once a month to loot the treasures. Why are you here again today, even though you visited us yesterday?"
Lu Buwei moved a few steps closer to Wu Qi, pointing his finger at Wu Qi's face as he cried out in a stern tone, "How dare you to break the iron rule I've imposed?"
Wu Qi stared into Lu Buwei's eyes without showing any fear. "What bullsh*t rule is that? I do not like it! You are purposely harming our fellow Daoists! Although I am not a good guy, but I do still have a kind heart! Supervisor Lu, could you be a Demon Immortal cultivated from some savage beast such as wolf, tiger, or leopard? If not, how can you be unmoved by feelings, murdering your peers with all sorts of cruel methods?"
Lu Buwei's face turned even uglier. Keeping a straight face, he grinned coldly and said, "What a compassionate Deputy Supervisor!"
After letting out three wild laughs, he spun and left. The few executing-disciples behind him gave Wu Qi a pitiful glance, then turned around and left with Lu Buwei.
Wu Qi came to the chamber's entrance, waved his hand at Lu Buwei as he laughed and said, "Mind your step, Supervisor Lu. The floor is slippery!"
His laughter was very loud, but his eyes were cold, freezing cold.
He turned around to look at those supervising Yakshas, who quickly bowed their heads in terror, bowing and offering their greetings to Wu Qi.
Lu Buwei did not show himself for the next day and the day after. Nevertheless, a few of his disciples had occasionally shown their faces in the mine.
On the fourth day, the leader of Yakshas came to Wu Qi in a cringing manner and whispered something to him.
"Deputy Supervisor, the yield of ores has dropped twice as much for the past few days. It is now less than thirty percent of the yield in the past! If this situation is to continue, all of us will be seriously punished by Elder Miao Xin! You are safe because of the spirit herb that you've offered her, but we are going to die soon!"
The leader dropped to his knees, slamming his head on the rock floor as he begged Wu Qi for help.
Wu Qi was shocked. His face turned black as he cried out fiercely, "Gather around, everybody! I want everyone here within the time to finish a pot of tea!"
With his voice echoed across the mine and went into all the pits, several thousand cultivators began to rush out of their pits.