Chapter 1242: A Helping Hand

"Do you know Fellow Daoist Han, Violet Spirit?" Hu Qinglei asked. His voice wasn't very loud, but they sounded like booming thunderclaps to Violet Spirit.

Violet Spirit hurriedly withdrew her gaze from Han Li as she forced a smile onto her face, and replied, "Brother Han is indeed an acquaintance of mine." She was trying to act in a calm and collected manner, but the drastic rise and fall of her chest clearly suggested that she was unable to contain her emotions.

"Violet Spirit, I didn't think that I would meet you here," Han Li said with a wry smile. However, his expression quickly reverted back to normal.

Hu Qinglei was silent for a moment before continuing in an indifferent voice, "It's great to hear that Violet Spirit and Fellow Daoist Han are familiar with each other. Why don't you offer some wine to Fellow Daoist Han, first, Violet Spirit? After entering my Devil Palace, you must cut all ties with your past life, so this cup of wine can act as a final farewell to Fellow Daoist Han." He didn't seem interested in asking about what relationship Han Li and his concubine-to-be shared.

The forced smile on Violet Spirit's face immediately stiffed upon hearing this.

One of the servants beside her handed her a jade platter, which was carrying a wine flagon and a green cup.

Violet Spirit looked down at the items on the platter, and her silky hair obscured most of her face, making it impossible for anyone to glean her current facial expression. However, she only faltered for a brief moment before gently picking up the wine flagon.

As she did so, the tense atmosphere that had descended over the palace lifted considerably.

The dark expression on Hu Qinglei's face also eased upon seeing this.

Han Li looked on in silence as Violet Spirit poured out a cup of wine before raising the cup with both hands. She raised her head and made her way over to Han Li in a graceful manner.

At this moment, all of the emotion had disappeared from Violet Spirit's face. She had adopted her cold and aloof facade again, and she was appraising Han Li as if he were a complete stranger.

Han Li's lips twitched slightly upon seeing this, but his expression remained unchanged.

"Fellow Daoist Han, please accept this cup of wine." Violet Spirit's voice was extremely flat and monotonous, as if those words were being spoken by a mere vessel without a soul. Her pitiable display evoked within all of the cultivators present a sense of sympathy...

Han Li didn't immediately reach for the cup of wine that was being offered to him. Instead, his gaze roamed up along Violet Spirit's arm, over her body, then finally settling on her intricate porcelain-like features.

His eyes slowly narrowed, and a tense atmosphere returned to the palace.

Hu Qinglei's expression remained unchanged, but a cold light flashed through his eyes.

Xiang Zhili seemed to have sensed something, and his brows furrowed as he took a glance at Hu Qinglie. Meanwhile, Eccentric Wind merely chuckled as he looked at Han Li and Violet Spirit's peculiar interaction, and it was impossible to glean his thoughts.

As for all of the other Nascent Soul cultivators, all of them also wore contrasting expressions, but it was quite apparent that most of them were looking forward to the imminent misfortune that was about to befall Han Li.

Han Li raised a hand and suddenly took the cup of wine from Violet Spirit before downing its contents in one go.

This turn of events came as quite a surprise to everyone within the palace. Hu Qinglei raised his eyebrows for a split second before his expression reverted back to normal.

A mixture of complex emotions surfaced in Violet Spirit's blank eyes, but she didn't say anything, either, as she took the empty cup from Han Li and prepared to turn away.

Just as everyone had thought that Han Li had bowed to Hu Qinglei's unspoken intimidation and that it was time to move on, Han Li suddenly said, "Hold on! If I'm not mistaken, a restriction seems to have been placed on your body, right, Violet Spirit?" 

Violet Spirit shuddered once again as her footsteps unconsciously faltered.

The entire palace had fallen silent as everyone looked on with bated breath. Even a pin drop could be audibly heard amid the deathly silence.

Hu Qinglei's face remained completely expressionless as he calmly down the wined in his own cup, then said, "Have you had a bit too much to drink, Fellow Daoist Han? You're speaking like a drunkard!" 

The discontent in his words was already very apparent.

"Don't worry, Brother Hu; I may have had a few cups of wine, but I'm still very much sober and capable of coherent speech." Han Li chuckled nonchalantly as if he were oblivious to Hu Qinglei's displeasure.

Hu Qinglei looked down at the crimson ring on one of his fingers as he mused, "Is that right? Let me ask you something, Violet Spirit; do you think Fellow Daoist is already drunk but simply doesn't know it himself?"

Violet Spirit's expression changed several times in quick succession upon hearing this, and she opened her mouth to say something, but failed to utter a single sound.

Hu Qinglei seemed to have sensed the hesitation in Violet Spirit's heart, and he turned his gaze toward her.

As he raised his head, everyone was given a fright at the sight of his face, and chills began to run down their spines.

Hu Qinglei's facial features had been completely normal just a second ago, but a layer of black Qi had suddenly appeared over his face and at the same time, his eyes had turned red and were shimmering with a cold light. Those were not the eyes that a human should possess.

"Fellow Daoist Hu, you..." Xiang Zhili wanted to say something, but was abruptly cut off by Hu Qinglei's frosty voice.

"Even if this is a friend of yours, do you expect me to suffer in silence in the face of his insolence? If he doesn't give me a proper explanation today, then I'll make sure he never leaves this place!"

Xiang Zhili could only give a wry smile upon hearing this. Instead of trying to persuade Hu Qinglei, he turned to Han Li with a shake of his head, and said, "Junior Martial Brother Han, you're aware of what you're doing, right? I won't be able to help you here; you'll have to give Brother Hu an explanation yourself. I trust that you'll be able to give Brother Hu a proper explanation."After saying that, Xiang Zhili closed his eyes to meditate, appearing as if he weren't interested in intervening with this matter.

Even though Xiang Zhili hadn't said much, Han Li could read between the lines and tell that he was trying to protect him.

It was just that Xiang Zhili and Hu Qinglei were both Deity Transformation cultivators and he clearly didn't want to engage Hu Qinglei in a direct conflict. As such, he could only offer a few cautionary words before detaching himself from the situation.

A faint smile appeared on Han Li's face as he turned to Violet Spirit, and asked, "Violet Spirit, we've known each other for many years and you're one of my few close friends. You have a restriction in your body, which suggests that you've been forced into this arrangement. I don't want to offend Fellow Daoist Hu, but I'm not heartless enough to completely ignore the situation when it's possible that you're being forced to do something against your will. I want you to be honest with me; are you willing to become Brother Hu's concubine? If so, then I naturally wouldn't insist on ruining a mutually loving relationship. However, if you're not willing..." Han Li's voice trailed off here, but the implications behind his words were quite apparent.

"I..." Violet Spirit's face was filled with a mixture of urgency, hesitation, helplessness, and a series of other emotions. She seemed to be eager to respond, but didn't know what to say.

"There's no need to ask her; it doesn't matter whether she's willing to become my concubine or not. What are you going to do even if she's being forced into this arrangement against her will? Are you going to forcibly take her away from here?" Hu Qinglei turned to Han Li with a deriding sneer.

"So you really are being forced against your will. Is that right, Violet Spirit?" Han Li asked for confirmation.

Violet Spirit was petrified of Hu Qinglei, but Han Li had progressed to the late-Nascent Soul Stage and didn't seem to fear Hu Qinglei. Upon making these observations, a desperate impulse flashed through her heart as she gritted her teeth, and replied, "Several years ago, I unintentionally revealed my true appearance and was forcibly captured by a few Heavenly Devil Sect elders. I was never given a choice in the matter."

Hu Qinglei merely remained silent and listened with a cold smile on his face. All of the other cultivators present also displayed minimal reactions.

Forcibly abducting female cultivators was very frowned upon in Righteous Dao sects like the High Zenith Sect, but it was an extremely commonplace occurrence in Devil Dao sects, to the point that it was regarded as something that was completely justified and reasonable.

All the cultivators present naturally weren't related to any Righteous Dao sects, so it was no surprise that they weren't appalled in the slightest.

"That's all I needed to hear, Violet Spirit. Brother Hu, I have no intention of causing any offense to you, so there's no need for you to be angry. Everything in this world has a price; I'm willing to offer something in exchange for Fellow Daoist Violet Spirit's freedom," Han Li said in a calm voice, appearing as if he were completely oblivious to Hu Qinglei's discontentment.

"An exchange? You think you have what it takes to strike a deal with me?" Hu Qinglei faltered slightly before a peculiar look appeared on his face.

"Do you think I'm unworthy, Brother Hu?" Han Li asked.

"That's right! You don't have what it takes to offer me a deal! You may be more powerful than the average late-Nascent Soul cultivator, but you're still nothing in my eyes. Do you really think you're my equal just because Fellow Daoist Xiang brought you here with him? Besides, what can you possibly offer to tempt me? Oh right, I heard you've got two spirit treasures. If I want to, I can simply kill you and take those spirit treasures!" Hu Qinglei threatened in a sinister voice. At the same time, a layer of black light surfaced over his body, and it seemed that he really did intend to kill Han Li.

A cold light flashed through Han Li's eyes as he transmitted voice to Hu Qinglei. "Fellow Daoist Xiang must've told you about my spirit treasures, but did he also tell you about my Immortal Vanquishing Beads? Besides, do you really think I handed over all of the information I have regarding the spatial node? Or are you confident that you can capture me alive and use a soul search technique on me despite the Immortal Vanquishing Beads I possess?"

The menacing look on Hu Qinglei's face changed drastically upon hearing this. He stared intently at Han Li with a cold expression and suddenly fell completely silent.

Moments later, Hu Qinglei transmitted his voice to Eccentric Wind. "Fellow Daoist Wind, does this brat really have an Immortal Vanquishing Bead?" 

Hu Qinglei was using some type of secret technique to transmit his voice without moving his lips, and even Han Li was unable to catch him in the act despite his powerful spiritual sense.

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