Chapter 446: Lower District

Chapter 446: Lower District

Lin Jie headed through the half-opened path that led to the Lower District.

He could transform into a dragon at will, but he still maintained his human form. He stepped onto a simple and temporarily constructed elevator that creaked with every movement as it made its way down the narrow and confined elevator shaft where one could only see layers upon layers of black rock.

Lin Jie stepped out of the elevator and traversed along the underground passageway. Were he human, Lin Jie would have a very bad feeling about this place. He could sense familiar scents and auras that were very similar to his source of power.

Lin Jie squinted slightly and could make out the gray fog that spread throughout the Lower District.

While the Lower District felt like a bad place, at this moment, Lin Jie felt like he was truly stepping on the ground.

The entire Upper District was a steel machine set upon the Lower District. All of its mechanisms were built on the blood and tears of the latter. To put it in a simple analogy, if the Upper District was a running steam train, then the Lower District was its burning furnace. The resource was coal, but it was ignited with humans.

Lin Jie concealed his form and continued forward through this secret passage. He imagined that he would one day be able to leave this pathway, but gradually realized that he had no way of leaving because the entire Lower District was within this tunnel.

This was a world formed by dark intersecting mining tunnels. The ground was muddied and sloshed with every step. The tunnel walls were constantly seeping water and covered in moss. This place was in eternal darkness, without a hint of green or sunlight.

Further ahead, Lin Jie could make out tattered tents and beds set up in stone buildings constructed in the mine. Due to there being little temperature disparity underground, people here only had a single-person accommodation, and everyone only wore black robes.

Lin Jie adjusted his black cloak and revealed himself. Unfortunately, no one cared.

Hunched residents, who were like walking corpses, held pickaxes and tools, and the clanging of mining resonated everywhere. Lin Jie noticed that each of them had their faces tightly wrapped in dirty bandages, and only the tentacles on their chin squirmed weakly as if they were dead.

However, all of them had eyes like wild beasts. Lin Jie frowned as he observed these Lower District residents. Even if he hadn't come to intervene, these beastly eyes would one day destroy the whole of Norzin.

They were oppressed by layers upon layers of exploitation, trading their lives in exchange for scarce food and resources just to go on living.

Black cloaks were ubiquitous within the Lower District, and the people here seemed to have not considered any other colors, or perhaps because pure black was the only suitable one for the Lower District's position.

This was a place even darker than the Village of Dark Night.

In the past, Lower District denizens only cared about completing their daily tasks quickly so they could go to the designated point in the Upper District to exchange some food. This was especially so in recent years, with the sharp decline in resources. Those that were late would need to mine with greater effort, so they didn't pay any attention, nor even notice that Lin Jie lacked tentacles on his chin.

Survival was their priority, and other matters were put on hold.

"Haa... It's practically impossible to sell books here..." Lin Jie was bumped into by a man frantically grabbing for ore. He watched as others scrambled as frantically and sighed. "I'll still have to try my best..."

Lin Jie continued forward. Perhaps I could pick a storefront.

With this mindset, Lin Jie walked for hours and finally arrived at a sparsely populated mine. Here, he saw many women and children collect resources. Apparently, fit and strong men wouldn't come here because of the scarce resources.

This place isn't bad, it's nice and quiet... Lin Jie couldn't help but feel a little pleased.

Opening a bookstore in this area seemed like a decent idea. Lin Jie didn't care about the environment, no matter how harsh it was.

Suddenly, he felt a tugging on the hems of his cloak, but when he turned his head, he didn't see anything.

"Hey! Red's here!" Lin Jie heard a child-like voice and immediately lowered his gaze to see a little girl that looked like a mushroom.

The girl also wore a black cloak, but she wasn't covered in dirty bandages. Her skin wasn't greenish like most Lower District denizens but slightly reddish, though it had the same rough, scaly texture as others.

This girl seemed slightly different from the other emaciated residents—she was a little chubby, and her round face even looked a little funny when paired with such a primal, scary, and grotesque appearance.

She's probably the sort that can put on weight just by drinking water... Lin Jie mused, mesmerized by the chubby and cheerful tentacles swaying on her chin. It was ridiculous that even a creature corrupted by the evil god could be such a funny sight.

"Can't you see me? ...You're the s-sort that's con-conde... right?" The little girl who called herself Red frowned, forgetting the word she was trying to say.

"Condescending." Lin Jie helped her.

"Ah, right! It's condescending!" Red's face lit up, then suddenly remembered she was supposed to be angry and immediately withdrew her smile.

"You, stop being condescending!" Red exclaimed loudly. "Red is just... just a little short."

"Do you see clearly now?" As Red said that, she raised her hand to mark her height, which was only as tall as Lin Jie's thigh.

"I see it." Lin Jie chuckled.

Red then let go of Lin Jie's cloak and folded her arms. "You snuck in from the Upper District, right? It's too much to swagger around like this. Don't you know how to be more careful?"

"Careful about what?"

"The clothes on you, and the color of your skin... Upper District people always look down on us. Humph, but actually, they'll lose their minds immediately when they touch the fog. I've seen several Upper District people get killed by them because of this."

The little girl then put her hands on her lips and pouted, the few strands of chubby tentacles on her chin looking like fried intestines.

Them? ...Ah, I see. Lin Jie suddenly realized that some of those that snuck in weren't killed by the corruption but by the Lower District denizens instead.

Were there ones who dared to rebel amongst the blindly oppressed?

"Then, why did you remind me?"

"Because... because I want you to bring more people from the Upper District here! Don't you Upper District people like to make friends?" the young girl said matter-of-factly. Then she pointed her bone knife at Lin Jie and said menacingly, "You are now my hostage. Come with me back to my shack, and don't let anyone see you, or else I'll kill you."

Lin Jie was slightly surprised. He had initially wanted to open a bookstore inconspicuously and wait for people to come to him. However, life would occasionally bring about interesting encounters. If he always relied on his so-called omniscience, he would miss out on a lot of surprises.

Thus, Lin Jie smiled and said, "Alright."

Red tugged Lin Jie's clothes and occasionally told him to behave, but Lin Jie didn't seem to be afraid, unlike those arrogant people from the Upper District... Though Lin Jie did seem a little arrogant.

But it's not the same sort of arrogance, thought Red to herself. It's the sort that makes people can't help but feel that he is powerful, right?

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