Abdin realized that someone must have manipulated their minds to flee their homes. Approximately one hundred and fifty thousand men lived in these six towns. Who could influence them all at once? And who was it that knew about the expansion and the repercussions?

No one alive knew the workings of the castle except for Abdin. And of course his cousin, Yunusu. But Yunusu was dead - he had been dead for ages.

Besides, the first and second expansions had happened in less than a day. To think that Biyakis had somehow arranged for an evacuation was out of the question. How would they even know if it would be six towns not ten? This must be the handiwork of someone with detailed knowledge about the castle's machinations.

But no one except himself knew how the castle worked. So what could be going on?

"You said you had the urge to lock your market stall and go home?" Abdin asked one of the men to make sure. "And your family has already packed up when you arrived home. The three of you left in haste?"

"I didn't know what came over me, it wasn't my fault, I didn't do anything wrong, please believe me..." The man stammered, his body shaking like a wind-blown leaf.

"Calm down. No one is going to hurt you." Abdin released a bit of his cultivation pressure to suppress the man and force him to calm down.

A cold wind blew and the man stilled. "Your Grace," the man said in a calm voice. "I wasn't the only one. By the time I reached home, everyone on the street has already packed and ready to go. Everyone. Adults and children alike. Together we all set out. It... It felt like it was the norm to migrate at the time. I didn't know what I was doing until I was far away from town, and by then, the castle was already looming over us."

Abdin was quiet. Manipulating the minds of all those tens of thousands of people at the same time seemed quite showy and arrogant. But that was the lesser of his worries. Who was it that had uncovered the secret of the castle? There was no reasonable answer to this question. And the lack of a clue made him all the more worried. He hated riddles.

He stood silently for a long moment.

"Take them back to their people. Anyone who has lost his home and wants to stay in this castle can do so. Anybody who wants to stay must be registered as a citizen of the castle. They must recognize me as their one and only ruler and they must cut off all ties with Biyakis."

"Done, Commander." Tairen and Walik answered in unison. They were to oversee the return of these men to their people.

Tairen understood Abdin's motive for inviting more people to the castle and also supported that. At the moment, only such a method could build the castle and at the same time protect them. But he stood true to his orders, namely, making at least thirty core formation experts in ten years to raise the status of his sect to dominate the region.

However, at the rate things were going, there might be no Biyakis in the next ten years. The castle could overrun everything and that would force them to alter their plans.

If care was not taken, they might be forced to become servants of the castle for good. What measure would he take to prevent that from happening?

After a while, he gave his father a sidelong glance. The elderly man called Walik was Leader San, the sect leader of Will of San. He had suppressed his cultivation down to the foundation establishment stage as a disguise.

Leader San had many reasons for abandoning his seclusion and coming to the castle. One of which was to shore up his cultivation using the abundant spirit ki in the castle. His decision proved to be the right one since he was already approaching pseudo-deva at a rapid pace.

Before coming to the castle, Walik had a remaining lifespan of nine years and seven months. But at the moment, that had increased to ninety-seven years and some months. His luck was pretty good. In the entire castle, only his son knew what he looked like. He had been in seclusion for more than eight decades. So very few people knew his real appearance.

The old man didn't appear to notice Tairen's sidelong glance. He hurriedly took some fifty soldiers and led the ten men out of the castle.

Abdin watched them go before turning to Renga. "You'll class everyone in the castle into three groups. Those with a higher cultivation base should be allocated houses here," He said pointing to the houses in the third castle. It had the highest density of spirit ki. Except for some buildings, Abdin could give the rest to the inhabitants. "The ones with the average cultivation should stay in the second castle. Those with the least cultivation should stay at the first castle. Tell them this arrangement is temporary. Any time a person's cultivation progress slows down, someone of higher cultivation would reclaim their home while the said person moves back."

"Done, your Grace," Renga said and stole a glance at Sulat before moving off with five hundred men toward the older castle. He felt powerful whenever Abdin gave more importance to him than his old rival. Was he so lucky or was he being tested?

It was now Sulat's turn. The man had seen the look in his opponent's eyes. It was a challenge - who would get the most important post between the two of them? He bowed deeply before Abdin. "Your Grace. Wuran's head awaits your orders. I shall follow your orders with my life," he said, his forehead almost touching the ground.

Abdin sized him up. This sly man was already on the first step of the foundation establishment stage. A hundred and fifteen years of cultivation base. It was apparent that he understood the ways of cultivation more than Renga and also had a more responsive body. But ever since he showed signs of discontent after he was denied the position he sought earlier, Abdin had felt colder towards him.

Getting the support of the commoners would take some time, so for now, Abdin gave more importance to their cultivation. That was his reason for allotting houses according to cultivation levels. He wanted to instill a spirit of competition in them, to awaken the spirit of progress in the search for cultivation.

But when it came to people closer to him, Abdin leaned more toward loyalty and trustworthiness than the power of cultivation. He had come across men like Sulat many times in his long life, and most of them were never satisfied if they didn't get what they wanted. They were patient snakes that would wait for the right moment to bite you.

But, even people like them had their uses.

"I'm giving you a new assignment," Abdin said, raising the man's expectation. "I need you to keep a head count of every family in my country at all times. I need to know their number all the time. Get a book and start right away."

Sulat creased his brows when he heard Abdin using the term 'country' to refer to the castle. But that wasn't his biggest worry. He wanted a post that could give him authority over the men at all times, something to make everyone aware of his power. In short, a job like the one Renga had. What use would this post do him? Sulat thought miserably.

"Yes," Abdin said, correctly reading his thoughts. "I appoint you the leader of the ministry of population in our country. You are hereby exempted from anything to do with security. Pay careful attention to it because I want to start seeing a result in a week."

His expectations were hereby shattered, and Sulat swallowed bitterly. His job as the deputy of the defense ministry was more useful. He inwardly lamented. But having witnessed the sheer strength of Abdin's cultivation, he was in no position to argue with him.
He forced a smile and accepted the post.

Sulat turned to leave but Abdin stopped him. "Take fifty men among the soldiers from Wuran and hand the rest over to Renga. Record keeping needs no soldiers."


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