After passing through a long corridor and going around in a wide arc, Han Li and the others skirted around the main hall of the shrine and went straight to the rear hall.
There was a discreet secret chamber inside the hall, which was a white stone staircase that led underground.
There were several more secret guards situated at the opening of the staircase in an alert manner, and Xu Jiao waved a hand to dismiss them, upon which they immediately bowed before stepping away.
Han Li and the others descended into the slightly dim staircase. The passageway was a little dark, and there were chilly winds occasionally blowing toward them from down below. There were fist-sized moonlight stones embedded into the wall on either side at regular intervals, causing the brightness in the surrounding area to fluctuate as one progressed down the staircase, creating many overlapping shadows that were slightly eerie to behold.
Thankfully, the stone staircase wasn't very long, and everyone soon appeared in an intricately designed massive underground hall.
Han Li narrowed his eyes slightly as he cast his gaze around him, upon which he discovered that this was a hall that was around 3,000 to 4,000 feet in size, and it was entirely paved with a type of black jade. There were complex and mysterious white runes carved all over the walls and the ceiling, and these runes were releasing white spiritual light that made the interior of the hall as bright as day.
The most eye-catching thing in the hall was an extremely intricately-crafted tall platform at the center of the hall.
The platform was hexagonal in shape, and was surrounded by a massive formation.
At the center of the platform was a circular pond that was filled with some kind of vibrant red liquid. Despite its resemblance to blood, it didn't smell like blood at all. Instead, it was releasing a peculiar fragrance.
There were a dozen or so Xu Family cultivators within the formation with their eyes closed in seated meditation surrounding the hexagonal platform. Xu Yan and Xu Huo were among these cultivators.
"We pay our respects to Senior Han. Thank you for extending your assistance to our Xu Family." Han Li had been accompanied to this place by Xu Yuan and Xu Jiao, so it was quite obvious what he had come here for. As such, Xu Yan and Xu Huo immediately rose to their feet in an elated manner before bowing to him in unison.
"Don't be so quick to thank me; it's yet to be seen whether I'll be of any assistance," Han Li said with a shake of his head.
Xu Jiao paid no heed to this and waved a hand toward all of the other Xu Family cultivators so they could also come and pay their respects to Han Li.
All of these cultivators were at the Deity Transformation Stage, so they were clearly the true core of the Xu Family.
Every single one of them was casting surreptitious glances at Han Li with awe and veneration in their eyes, clearly already aware of the fact that he was a Body Integration cultivator. After receiving an instruction from Xu Jiao, all of them immediately rose to their feet before extending a grand welcome toward him.
Han Li waved a hand in response before casting his gaze toward the pond with an intrigued look in his eyes.
"We created this substance according to the method recorded in the Great Blood Soul Technique. The spirit liquid in this pond was created using the blood essence of the members of our Xu Family alongside many rare and precious spirit medicines. Not only is it mandatory for awakening the blood soul, we can also use the blood Qi in the pond to delay the dissipation of the blood soul," Xu Yuan explained.
"I see. However, the most important element of this awakening ceremony is the item that lies under the spirit liquid, right? Without that item, no matter how much spirit liquid there is in the pond or how profound the formation is, it'll be very difficult to unleash the blood soul secret technique," Han Li said as faint blue light flashed through his eyes.
Xu Yuan's expression changed slightly upon hearing this, but he immediately recomposed himself before explaining, "Indeed, Senior, it seems that you've figured it out already. The item under the spirit liquid is the most important treasure of our Xu Family, the Blood Crystal Coffin. Without this treasure, there's no way to manifest a blood body that a blood soul requires as a vessel."
Han Li swept his gaze over the massive formation several times before a thought suddenly seemed to have occurred to him. After a brief pause, he chuckled, "Blood Crystal Coffin, eh? Hehe, I think I understand what this awakening ceremony is all about."
"Is that so?" Xu Yan and Xu Huo faltered slightly upon hearing this, clearly not entirely convinced by Han Li's claim.
The entire Xu Family had to pour all of their efforts into preparing this awakening ceremony, and they only just barely managed to arrange everything after working for over half a day.
Han Li may have been a Body Integration cultivator, but it was still very difficult for them to believe that he could glean the intricacies of this setup after taking just a few glances at it.
Xu Yuan and Xu Jiao were also quite surprised to hear this.
"There's no need to be perplexed, fellow Daoists; it's just that this ceremony has a similar function to the cultivation art of a foreign race that I once saw," Han Li explained with a smile.
At the same time, his mind wandered back to a certain cultivation art that he had seen during his time in the Heavenly Cloud Races.
This foreign race wasn't all that renowned, but this particular cultivation art of theirs allowed one to split their soul into many segments. As long as a single segment of their soul could enter a physical body that had been painstakingly prepared in advance, one would immediately be able to replicate an identical clone of oneself.
This cultivation art was quite extraordinary, and the cultivation mantras were rather similar to cultivation arts of the human race, so Han Li had felt as if he had stumbled upon a brilliant treasure and immediately replicated a copy for himself.
However, later on, he discovered that in order to use this cultivation art, one had to possess a certain hidden innate ability that only that particular foreign race possessed. Otherwise, cultivating it would result in backlash.
As such, he could only wistfully give up on that endeavor.
Of course, there were disparities between humans and the beings of that foreign race, and there were also massive differences between the details of the two secret techniques, but that cultivation art could certainly be used as reference here.
Han Li had originally estimated that he would only have a 30% to 40% chance of success, but with this newfound knowledge, he was confident that those chances would be increased to around 70% to 80%.
Of course, Han Li naturally wasn't going to disclose this situation to everyone present. He merely strode slowly around the pond and the formation while intently scrutinizing the spirit liquid in the pond. Meanwhile, all of the Xu Family cultivators were appraising him with different expressions on their faces.
After making several laps around the pond, Han Li said, "Alright, perform the ceremony as usual, and I'll step in at the appropriate opportunity."
He then turned and strode over to a corner of the hall before sitting down with his legs crossed and his eyes closed.
Xu Jiao's brows furrowed slightly upon hearing this, and after a while, it really did appear as if Han Li was going to meditate here. He finally couldn't repress the urge to speak up any longer, yet just as he was about to say something, Xu Yuan suddenly transmitted his voice to him.
Even though the voice transmission was very brief, it still sent a stir running through Xu Jiao's heart, and after a brief hesitation, he decided not to say anything.
After that, they joined all of the other Xu Family cultivators and entered the formation before meditating around the platform.
Time slowly passed by, and day gradually transitioned into night.
As night fell, some of the Xu Family cultivators began to stir from their meditation.
Many of them looked up toward the platform at the center of the formation with peculiar looks in their eyes.
After a short while, Xu Yuan, Xu Jiao, and the others also opened their eyes before turning their attention toward the platform.
After an indeterminate period of time passed, bright light suddenly erupted from the ceiling of the massive hall. A series of white runes began to surge through the air above before forming several simple small formations in mere moments.
In the next instant, a loud buzzing sound rang out, and the small formations shuddered before releasing several pillars of white light that vanished into the pond on the hexagonal platform.
Han Li's expression stirred slightly as he abruptly opened his eyes, and almost at the exact same moment, the spirit liquid in the pond began to churn violently.
A vortex began to appear at the center of the pond before rapidly rotating, and a series of silver runes of different sizes appeared and flashed within the waves, creating quite an intriguing sight to behold.
"It's time! Activate the formation!" Xu Yuan yelled in a thunderous voice, sending slight tremors running through the entire hall.
All of the Xu Family cultivators answered in unison before making hand seals and chanting incantations.
A string of dull thumps rang out in quick succession, and spiritual light flashed from within the formation before 18 pillars of crimson light erupted from all over the formation.
Every single pillar of light was about as thick as a large bowl, and they erupted directly into the ceiling of the massive hall with no end in sight.
As the three Spatial Tempering cultivators present, Xu Yuan, Xu Huo, and Xu Yan naturally occupied the three most important points in the formation. As everyone was chanting incantations to activate the formation, they each flipped a hand over to produce a red flag that was several inches in length.
They blew on their respective flags, and the flags immediately began to rotate on the spot.
This was clearly a well-rehearsed procedure for the three Spatial Tempering cultivators already, and they immediately bit through the tips of their own tongues before opening their mouths to expel a ball of blood essence each.
As soon as the three balls of blood essence emerged, they exploded into blood mist amid a dull thump, and the blood mist instantly enshrouded the three flags.
A sharp noise began to erupt from the small flags, following which each of them expelled a burst of light to completely absorb the blood mist around them.
Immediately thereafter, the three small flags began to expand drastically in size amid a flash of bright crimson light.
After just a few flashes, they had transformed into three massive flags that were emanating tremendous baleful Qi.
Crimson light erupted from the flags in a frenzy, constantly pouring into the entire formation, and fusing with the crimson light being released by the formation to encompass the entire pond.
The scent of blood and gore emerged alongside that peculiar fragrance before fusing as one to form a strange scent that struck those who inhaled it with a sense of drowsiness.
Right at this moment, a burst of rumbling suddenly rang out, following which a massive ball of light that resembled a crimson fireball slowly emerged from within the depths of the vortex in the pond.
There was a crystalline coffin that was shimmering with red spiritual light hovering peacefully within the crimson ball of light, and as soon as it appeared, all of the Xu Family cultivators adopted serious expressions.
Spiritual light of different colors revolved around them, and some of them had turned pale while their bodies began to tremble, clearly indicating that they were already releasing their magic power to their maximal extent.Previous Chapter Next Chapter