Han Li and Yan Li were both startled to hear this elderly voice, and the two of them exchanged a bewildered glance.
"Let's go, this man's far too powerful for us to oppose. According to the wisps of spiritual sense I'd imbued my spirit insects with, his cultivation base is beyond that of even the demon monarchs." Even though Han Li was feeling quite uneasy, he still put on a calm facade.
Han Li's calm and collected demeanor as quite a soothing sight for Yan Li, and she nodded in response.
Thus, the two of them slowly drifted over to the entrance of the cave.
The passageway on the mountain face wasn't very large, and nor was it special in any way; it was merely a square entrance paved with ordinary bluestone.
After flying into the passageway for over 1,000 feet, the two of them arrived in an antiquated hall with fine white sand all over the floor.
The hall was over 1,000 feet in size, yet in such a cavernous space, there were only a few items of furniture. Aside from a few tables and chairs, there were only several pots of strange plants situated in the corners of the hall.
These plants were each no more than a foot tall, but Han Li could smell their essence even from afar. Just the scents emitted by these few potted plants in the hall alone made him feel as if he were situated within a lush forest.
At the very center of the hall was a chair, on which sat a grey-robed elderly man.
The man possessed a mundane appearance with his meter-long beard his only noteworthy facial feature, and he was also looking back at Han Li and Yan Li.
"You two are humans!" the elderly man said in a slightly surprised voice.
Han Li's heart jolted upon hearing this, and he bowed slightly as he replied. "I see that Senior knows of our human race. May I ask for your name, Senior?"
"Hehe, I don't just know of the human race, I'm a human myself. As for my former name, there's no need to mention it. You may refer to me as Senior Jiang," the elderly man chuckled, and a benevolent light appeared in his eyes as he looked Han Li and Yan Li.
"What? You're a human as well, Senior?" Yan Li exclaimed in shock.
"Why? Is it really strange that I'm a human?" the elderly man chuckled.
"Of course not. It's just that we didn't expect to see one of our brethren so far away from the human territories," Han Li hurriedly explained.
The elderly man before them was truly an unfathomably powerful being whom they couldn't afford to offend.
"I hail from the human race, but my current body is no longer the one I originally possessed. Instead, I managed to obtain the body of an extremely rare Chang Yuan Race being by chance. These beings are proficient in all types of abilities, and they are endowed with several incredible abilities from birth, each and every one of which are far beyond even the most prodigious cultivators of our human race," the elderly man said in a slow voice as he inspected his own hands.
Han Li had never heard of this Chang Yuan Race, but this elderly man's appearance and voice were exactly the same as that of a human.
Thus, a peculiar look appeared in Han Li's eyes.
"There's no need to be perplexed; my current appearance is still the same as it was back when I possessed a human body. It took me a lot of effort to refine this Chang Yuan Race body to perfectly resemble my former body," the elderly man explained.
The process being described by the elderly man was an unimaginable one to Han Li, yet the man was speaking about it as if it had been a relatively simple feat. This made Han Li even more awestruck by the man's unfathomable powers, and he said in a respectful voice, "Please forgive us for our ignorance, Senior!"
"Come to think of it, ever since I left the human race all those years ago, I've never returned once, so I'm rather interested to hear what the human race is like now. Would you two be willing to tell me about it?" the elderly man asked in a pleasant voice.
"We'll be sure to tell you everything we know, Senior," Han Li immediately replied after exchanging a glance with Yan Li.
The elderly man chortled with elation as he rubbed his hands together, and said, "Great! I wonder how many of my past friends and acquaintances from the human race are still alive."
After that, the elderly man paused momentarily as he appraised Han Li and Yan Li, and a hint of surprise appeared on his face.
"The two of you don't possess any exceptional cultivation bases, yet the cultivation arts you're using are quite interesting. One of you is a semi-ghostly being; it's been over 10,000 years since I've seen someone adopt such a cultivation path. As for you, your magic power is quite diverse; you possess a hint of devilish nature, and your body is extraordinarily powerful for a being of your cultivation base. You're either using several types of cultivation arts at once or walking the path of simultaneous cultivation," the elderly man mused in an absentminded voice, but his words struck Han Li and Yan Li like a bolt of lightning.
Yan Li's face paled slightly, and Han Li's expression also changed drastically. The two of them had been laid completely bare before the elderly man after just a single glance!
Han Li forcibly repressed the astonishment in his heart and forced a smile onto his face, yet just as he was about to say something, golden light flashed in the elderly man's eyes as he uttered a faint cry of surprise.
He then waved a hand toward Han Li, and before Han Li had figured out what he was doing, the 72 Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords in his body suddenly tremored in unison. Immediately thereafter, they were forced out of his body by a burst of enormous suction force.
Han Li was stunned by this development, and grey light instantly erupted alongside golden arcs of lightning at the same to form a protective barrier around himself as he exclaimed, "What is the meaning of this, Senior? Have I offended you in any way?"
At the same time, azure light flashed within one of his sleeves, and a dozen or so lightning beads fell soundlessly into his hands.
Meanwhile, black light flashed from his other hand as he summoned the spirit beast bracelet that was filled with Gold Devouring Beetles.
He had a large number of treasures in his possession, but only those two things could assist him in this situation.
The elderly man completely ignored Han Li as he inspected the 72 shimmering golden swords in the air. As he did so, a peculiar look appeared on his face, and he murmured to himself, "From the style and refinement methods, it appears that these are indeed Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords, and there just so happen to be exactly 72 of them as well. The color isn't quite right, so you must've added something to them. Oh? So you refined these swords using Golden Lightning Bamboo; you sure are a wealthy man! Even I wouldn't be able to gather so much Golden Lightning Bamboo..."
Han Li was naturally quite surprised to hear the elderly man identify the Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords. All of a sudden, an incredible thought occurred to him, and he was completely rooted to the spot.
After a while, the elderly man heaved a faint sigh and withdrew his gaze from the 72 swords before closing his eyes.
Almost at the exact same moment, Han Li regained control over his swords, and he immediately made a hand seal, upon which all of the swords disappeared into his body in a flash.
He then appraised the elderly man with a peculiar expression and fell completely silent.
Yan Li could sense that there was something amiss as a bewildered look appeared on her face, but she wisely chose not to say anything.
After a while, the elderly man opened his eyes again and turned to Han Li with a smile as he said, "Hehe, looks like the Azure Essence Sword Art I left in the human world fell into your hands. You must be a cultivator who ascended to the Spirit Realm from the human world, right? I wasn't able to perfect this sword art, yet you were still able to refine all 72 Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords as your bonded treasures and infuse Golden Lightning Bamboo into them. That's quite a remarkable feat."
The elderly man clicked his tongue in wonder as he spoke, and he was appraising Han Li as if he were some kind of precious treasure.
"I did indeed come into possession of the Azure Essence Sword Art, and it's also true that I'm an ascended cultivator. So that means you really are Senior Qing Yuanzi!" Han Li faltered slightly before extending another respectful bow.
The Azure Essence Sword Art had been the main cultivation art he had used throughout his time in the human world, so he was naturally awestruck now that he was seeing Qing Yuanzi in person.
"Qing Yuanzi? I kind of am, I guess. To be accurate, I'm only half of Qing Yuanzi." The elderly man smiled in response.
"Half?" Han Li didn't know what to make of that bizarre statement.
"Back when Qing Yuanzi was traveling the other continents, he was attacked by several powerful enemies at once. He managed to survive the battle, but his physical body was destroyed, and his soul was also on the brink of falling apart. In that dire situation, he encountered a Chang Yuan being, and he forcibly took over that being's body, then fused their souls together in order to repair his own soul. Hence, half of my memories belong to Qing Yuanzi while the other half belongs to that Chang Yuan being. That's why I was able to progress so rapidly in my cultivation and scale to these heights, so it's not entirely incorrect to call me Qing Yuanzi," the elderly man explained.
Han Li blinked in a speechless manner upon hearing this.
"Back when I obtained the body of this Chang Yuan being, I wasn't able to inherit all of Qing Yuanzi's memories, but I retained all of his memories about the Azure Essence Sword Art. By infusing Golden Lightning Bamboo into your swords, you've created the ideal wood-attribute flying swords. It's a pity that you were too impatient later on and refined it with a bunch of other materials, thereby making the spiritual nature of these swords so chaotic. Otherwise, you'd have forged a far stronger connection between your heart and your swords, and you'd be able to dominate all beings of the same cultivation base with just a set of flying swords alone. Hehe, back in the day, Qing Yuanzi didn't have any treasures other than his Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords, yet he was able to defeat Spatial Tempering Stage beings at just the Deity Transformation Stage, and after reaching the Spatial Tempering Stage himself, he was feared even by Body Integration cultivators," the elderly man said in a wistful voice.
Han Li stroked his chin as a wry smile appeared on his face.
Perhaps this elderly man was right, but back when he was in the human world, he was constantly in severe danger, so how could he not have been impatient?
In reality, with his current powers and abilities, he could also easily defeat Spatial Tempering Stage beings, and after reaching the Spatial Tempering Stage himself, he'd be quite confident in his chances against Body Integration Stage beings.
Of course, he couldn't say that to rebuke the elderly man, so he could only feign a slightly awkward expression.
"In any case, you inherited the Azure Essence Sword Art, and I possessed close to half of Qing Yuanzi's memories, so it can be said that we have an affinity with one another. Let me ask you something, and be honest with your reply; did you two come into the infernal river with those intruders?" The elderly man's voice suddenly turned quite cold and forbidding at the end.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
"inb4 old guy with the chopper is the azure bamboo sword formation creator, and he considers han li some kind of accidental inheritor" (Trancq, chapter 1510 comments section, 2020)
Either Michael from The Office is a clairvoyant or he's read this part of the book already 😂