Chapter 1144: Waiting for an Opportunity

Han Li immediately composed his expression again before walking toward the pavilions as if nothing had happened.

Daoist Master Swift Crane and the yellow-robed man also only took cursory glances at Han Li. They were surprised to see that his cultivation base was quite advanced, but they didn't pay him any heed as they led the four Core Formation cultivators toward the center of the city.

Han Li also walked on ahead without even turning his head, giving off the impression that he was merely passing by.

However, right at this moment, Daoist Master Swift Crane and the yellow-robed man's lips began to move, but they uttered no sounds, thereby indicating that they were conversing using voice transmissions.

Han Li had his back to the two of them and his footsteps faltered slightly again. However, he quickly continued onward, getting further and further away from Daoist Master Swift Crane and the others.

After rounding a final corner, Han Li walked into a rather stylish pavilion.

Two hours later, he finally exited the shop, accompanied by a cultivator who appeared to be the manager.

However, he didn't immediately depart. Instead, he walked into a nearby shop...

When Han Li finally made his way out of the fifth shop, he had exchanged all of the superfluous treasures and materials that he was carrying for over 100 high-grade spirit stones, a result that he was very satisfied with.

However, just as he began to walk away, he suddenly discovered that several unfamiliar Core Formation cultivators had appeared nearby. All of them appeared to be simply casually shopping around, but the peculiar expressions flashing through their eyes suggested a more sinister purpose.

Han Li chuckled coldly and immediately decided to stray from his original plan. As such, he began to walk along the street out of the market, then exited the stone city on foot altogether.

The cultivators were all using concealment techniques as they pursued Han Li. However, after making it out of the city gates, all of them turned to look at one another.

Han Li had been enshrouded under their spiritual sense this entire time, but he had somehow disappeared! Their surroundings were entirely devoid of Han Li's presence. 

This turn of events naturally had the cultivators scrambling around in a panic.

Some of them had been deployed by the shops that Han Li had visited while others had noticed that Han Li had visited many shops, and had been seen off by the managers in a respectful manner on each occasion, thereby alerting them to the fact that major transactions had taken place.

Han Li was posing as a late-Core Formation cultivator, but in the face of a sufficiently tempting reward, these people were not going to back down. Many of them had already decided in advance to join forces.

However, following Han Li's mysterious disappearance, these cultivators could only search through the surrounding area in a dumbstruck manner. None of them were able to find Han Li in the end, so they could only return to the stone city with frustration and disappointment in their hearts.

Not long after all of them had left, azure light suddenly flashed in the air above the spot that Han Li had just disappeared from. Immediately thereafter, an indistinct humanoid figure began to appear. Spiritual light then flashed from the humanoid figure's body and it transformed into Han Li with his original set of features.

Han Li took a glance at the stone city and a deriding sneer appeared on his face.

If it weren't for the fact that he didn't want to alert the Nascent Soul cultivators in the city to his presence, he definitely wouldn't have let those cultivators return to the city alive.

As such, they were extremely fortunate to have been unable to see through Han Li's concealment technique. Otherwise, Han Li would have destroyed those Core Formation cultivators with ease.

After looking around from his vantage point up in the air, Han Li decided on a certain direction and flew away as a streak of azure light.

A short while later, the streak of azure light descended on a col.

This was an extremely tranquil place with beautiful flora and fauna, as well as heavy mountain mist that refused to disperse.

Han Li only took a cursory glance around him before nodding to himself.

He raised a hand and a stack of formation flags of different colors appeared. A dozen or so streaks of light shot forth, all of them disappearing into the surrounding mist.

A layer of white mist then rapidly rose up from the ground, merging with the mist in the col to form what seemed to be a single inseparable entity.

Han Li's body was concealed within this mist.

After setting up that concealment formation, he patted a certain spirit beast pouch that was hanging from his waist.

A loud buzzing sound erupted as tens of thousands of Gold Devouring Beetles flew out from the pouch, creating a golden cloud that hovered in front of him.

Han Li sat down with his legs folded in front of him and began to chant something. Azure spiritual light began to flash over his body and a loud boom erupted, following which the beetles transformed into golden flowers that shot forth in all directions.

Almost at the exact same moment, Han Li abruptly opened his eyes, which were initially shimmering with a remarkably bright light before then falling extremely dim.

This was the secret technique that Han Li had once unleashed in the Devilfall Valley to split his spiritual sense into over 1,000 strands. It was a technique he had mastered on his own using the Great Development Technique. The technique allowed him to divide his spiritual sense into countless thin strands, which he could then temporarily imbue onto a Gold Devouring Beetle. Thus, it was the equivalent of suddenly attaining over 1,000 new pairs of ears and eyes.

This secret technique appeared to be similar to the technique Han Li had used to imbue the Gold Devouring Beetle with a wisp of his spiritual sense, but it was actually completely different.

One of them involved splitting up his spiritual sense into countless tiny strands at once, then borrowing the senses of the Gold Devouring Beetles to detect and search for what he was unable to with his spiritual sense. This could only be accomplished by using his soul to directly instruct the beetles, and they couldn't be allowed to stray out of a certain range as his spiritual sense would be automatically withdrawn in that case. 

The other technique involved individually imbuing a creature with a fragment of his soul, then allowing the soul fragment to manipulate the living creature in a flexible manner based on a set of instructions received from Han Li in advance. He didn't have to use his soul to control the living creature in the process and if he wanted to, he could even instruct the spirit insect to attack an enemy. To a certain degree, it was similar to an avatar technique. Furthermore, as long as the time limit wasn't reached, there was no distance restriction on how far the manipulated creature could stray.

Unless there was a situation in which he wasn't able to use his spiritual sense for some reason, the former of the two techniques was essentially useless. However, the latter was an extremely useful technique that not even many late-Nascent Soul cultivators could master. As such, the two were simply incomparable.

After all of the Gold Devouring Beetles flew out of the white mist, some of them burrowed into the ground while others rose into the air. In the blink of an eye, all of the spirit insects had disappeared.

Han Li sat at the center of the formation with his eyes closed and a cold expression on his face.

Time passed by slowly. The sun in the sky gradually descended toward the horizon and when night finally fell, the entire Lightning Sky Island was plunged into darkness.

However, the stone city remained brightly-lit as a series of moonlight stones that were charged full of spiritual power glowed in the night, making the stone city as bright as if it were still daytime. In contrast, everywhere outside of the stone city appeared to be extremely dark and sea winds howled constantly, as if there were countless demons and devils lurking within the darkness.

Cultivators didn't really care whether it was day or night as they could use their magic power to grant themselves night vision, but the range of their vision would be significantly inferior compared to how far ahead they could see during the day. However, that was not the case in the Scattered Star Seas. There were many sea demon beasts in the outer seas so if one were traveling over the sea or even staying on an island at night, they could still be approached and attacked by demon beasts who were proficient in concealment techniques.

After all, cultivators weren't normally on high enough alert to constantly be releasing their spiritual sense. As such, many more cultivators perished as a result of these sneak attacks per year than compared to those who perished during official culls of demon beasts.

As such, unless if there were urgent matters to be attended to or if one felt that they were powerful enough to look after themselves, all of the cultivators on the island would become more alert at night. The locations where cultivators were gathered would have all of their restrictions activated, and all of the cultivators who hadn't traveled out to sea would retreat back into those establishments.

Within the stone city that was surrounded by mountains, the eight stone towers lit up in unison. A blue barrier of light shielded the entire city within in case there were demon beasts who attempted to sneak into the city.

However, in the darkness of the night, there were a few people wearing conical bamboo hats who crept silently over to a certain city gate.

The guards at the gate consisted of a Core Formation cultivator along with several Foundation Establishment cultivators. The person at the forefront of the group lifted their conical hat slightly to reveal their true features, upon which the guards hurriedly opened up a slit in the city's restrictions to allow them to leave the stone city.

As soon as these people left the city, they flew into the darkness as streaks of light. disappearing in the blink of an eye.

All of them were traveling quite quickly and none of them were saying anything.

However, when they had reached over 50 kilometers away from the city, one of them suddenly uttered a confused sound as they faltered in the air. A thin white thread shot forth, immediately disappearing into the air behind them.

The other cultivators also flattered upon seeing this and they all turned to look behind them.

A sizzling sound erupted, following which a burst of piercing golden light suddenly appeared in the night sky extremely far away. The white thread seemed to have struck something and following a peculiar screeching noise, the fist-sized ball of golden light began to plummet toward the ground.

"What's that?" one of the other cultivators exclaimed.

Meanwhile, the cultivator who had unleashed the attack gestured with his hand, upon which the white thread shot back toward him at his behest. The threat spun through the air before transforming into a thin snowy white needle that fell into his hand.

Only then did he reply, "I'm not sure. It seems to be some sort of spirit insect, but I don't know if it's wild or has been tamed. In any case, the spirit insect must have a very hard exoskeleton as it wasn't punctured by my White Sorrow Needle. Go and recover the body of that insect; I want to see what kind of spirit insect it is."

The two cultivators with him immediately responded respectfully before flying toward the pitch-black ground as two streaks of light, in search of the golden spirit insect that had just been slain.

However, the two of them returned with gloomy expressions after 10 minutes.

"Sect Master, the spirit insect doesn't appear to have died. We were unable to find its body over there!" one of them reported in an uneasy voice.

"It didn't die? Do you think my White Sorrow Needles are sewing needles? You're telling me that it was unable to kill a mere spirit insect?" The cultivator who had unleashed the attack seemed to have been irked by that response.

"Brother Bai, that thing really did seem to have survived. I was unable to find it, either." the other cultivator suddenly chimed in in a grave voice.

"Really? Let me have a look!"

The cultivator who had unleashed the needle was shocked to hear this. He hurriedly released his spiritual sense to carefully search through the surrounding area.

A short while later, a strained expression appeared on his face. There really wasn't any sign of that golden spirit insect in the surrounding area.

In his astonishment, his lips tremored as he transmitted his voice. The other two cultivators immediately each raised a hand in unison. One of them summoned a small green hammer, while the other unleashed countless thin white threads that shielded all three of them within.

"Who's following us? Don't sneak around like a coward; come out to meet us!" the cultivator who had released the white threads yelled. At the same time, his gaze scanned through the surrounding area as an astonishing aura erupted from his body.

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