The entire exchange convention had taken almost a day and a night, and when Han Li returned to the Immortal Welcome Palace, it was noon the next day.
He summoned Hai Yuetian and Qi Lingzi to his room, and he was relieved upon hearing confirmation that nothing out of the ordinary had taken place during his absence.
After sending his two in-name disciples away, he entered the secret chamber before taking a seat on a futon.
He then flipped a hand over to produce a blue spirit beast bracelet, which he tossed up into the air.
A burst of blue light swept forth from the bracelet, and a translucent ice cage appeared before him.
Within the ice cage was the snowy white Ice Phoenix, and it clearly didn't expect to be released so soon. It hurriedly flapped its wings to release a silver halo of light that instantly concealed its body, then turned to Han Li with a cautious expression.
After catching sight of Han Li, a hint of disbelief immediately appeared in the Ice Phoenix's eyes, and it exclaimed, "It's you? How could this be?"
It had the pleasant voice of a young woman, but it was slightly cold and forbidding.
"Long time no see, Fairy Phoenix. I didn't think that we would be reunited here," Han Li sighed as he appraised the Ice Phoenix.
This Ice Phoenix was naturally none other than the very same Ice Phoenix that had ventured with him into that spatial node back in the human world. In the end, they had been forcibly separated by spatial storms, only to be reunited now.
This Ice Phoenix had once stood at the very pinnacle of the human world, yet after just a few centuries, she had been reduced to a state where she was unable to even take on a human form, and had been sealed into a cage as a spirit beast. Han Li couldn't help but think to himself about how fate and fortune worked in such remarkable ways at times.
At the same time, he was filled with indescribable emotion at the sight of the Ice Phoenix that he had worked with to travel to the Spirit Realm.
She was the reason behind his decision to accept the exchange proposed at the convention.
"So it really is you, Brother Han. That must mean you were the one who exchanged for me during the convention. Have you already reached the Spatial Tempering Stage?" The Ice Phoenix's voice was still as cold as ever, but it was trembling slightly.
"That's right, it is indeed me. As for my cultivation base, that's something that you'll find out soon enough. Never did I think that I would meet you during the Black Realm Exchange Conference, and under such remarkable circumstances, at that. It appears that fate has decided that it's not yet time for us to completely sever our ties. Let me get you out of this cage first." Azure light flashed from one of Han Li's fingers as he spoke, and he tapped his fingertip onto the golden and silver talismans on the cage.
The talismans immediately drifted off the cage amid a bright flash of light, and the cage was also opened at the same time.
"Thank you, Fellow Daoist Han."
The Ice Phoenix was still slightly bewildered, but she was naturally elated to see this, and she flapped her wings before flying out of the cage as a ball of white light.
Immediately thereafter, the Ice Phoenix's body swelled drastically to over five feet in length amid a flash of silver light. The feathers on her body were glittering and transparent, and it looked as if she had been carved out of profound ice.
The Ice Phoenix stretched her elegant body before shaking her head in a forlorn manner. "Unfortunately, I'm unable to metamorphosize, so I'll only be able to converse with you in this form. Please forgive me, Fellow Daoist."
"That's alright, with the foundation that you've built up in the past, it would be a simple task for you to return to the metamorphosis stage after the seal within your body is lifted," Han Li said with a smile.
"I see you've identified the seal within my body, Brother Han. This restriction was planted by that Body Integration cultivator, and it's quite troublesome. According to him, it seems that only other Body Integration cultivators will be able to undo the restriction." The Ice Phoenix had clearly assumed that Han Li was only at the Spatial Tempering Stage, so she didn't think that he would be able to do anything.
"Hehe, is that so? Let me give this a try," Han Li chuckled before suddenly reaching out with a pristine white hand and laying it onto one of the Ice Phoenix's pristine white wings.
A burst of five-colored flames immediately surged forth, flooding into the Ice Phoenix's body in a frenzy.
The Ice Phoenix felt a burst of glacial power instantly flow through her meridians before crashing violently against the layers of restrictions within her body. The restrictions were quickly destroyed, and she was naturally ecstatic to see this, but also very astonished.
To think that he could undo these seals so easily; could it be that he was already at the Body Integration Stage? That was downright incredible!
It was somewhat plausible that Han Li had been able to progress to the Spatial Tempering Stage within a few centuries if he had encountered some miraculous opportunities during this time, but the Body Integration Stage was surely beyond his reach.
These thoughts flashed rapidly through the Ice Phoenix's mind, and after the restrictions within her body were undone, she opened her beak to say something, but in the next instant, her heart stirred slightly, and she reflexively swallowed her words.
After breaking the restrictions, the burst of glacial power within her meridians didn't leave her body right away. Instead, it converged toward her dantian and surged into her demon core.
The Ice Phoenix was slightly bewildered by this, but Han Li's enormous true essence was far too powerful for her to resist, so she could only passively accept this injection of glacial power.
Moments later, her aura spiked drastically, and she reached a certain bottleneck in the blink of an eye.
A dull thump rang out, and a ball of piercing white light erupted forth, inundating her entire body.
Only then did Han Li withdraw his hand with a faint smile on his face.
The scintillating white light swirled before fading away, and a silver-robed woman appeared before his eyes.
The Ice Phoenix had managed to adopt her human form.
The silver-robed woman's eyes were filled with excitement, and she examined her own body in an elated manner before extending a grateful curtsey toward Han Li. "I must thank you once again, Fellow Daoist Han."
"There's no need to be so polite and formal. If we hadn't worked together several centuries ago, I definitely wouldn't have been able to come to the Spirit Realm on my own. Besides, the burst of true essence that I injected into your body is only enough to temporarily boost you to the metamorphosis stage. If you want to be able to permanently maintain this form, then you have to go into seclusion right away. Otherwise, once this burst of true essence fades away, you'll be forced to revert back to your original form," Han Li reminded.
"Of course. With the assistance of this burst of true essence, I'm sure I'll be able to return to the Deity Transformation Stage far faster than I would otherwise be able to. It seems that you really have progressed to the Body Integration Stage, Fellow Daoist Han. It looks like I'll have to refer to you as Senior Han from now on," the silver-robed woman sighed with a peculiar look on her face.
"I was only able to reach this cultivation base through enormous turns of fortune. With your aptitude as an Ice Phoenix, it'll only be a matter of time before you reach the Body Integration Stage as well. You are my only acquaintance from the human world here in the Spirit Realm, so please refer to me as an equal. Otherwise, I would feel rather uncomfortable," Han Li said in a nonchalant manner.
The silver-robed woman could tell that Han Li was being genuine, and said, "In that case, then please pardon me, Brother Han."
"How were you captured and reduced to such a pitiful state, Fellow Daoist Phoenix?" Han Li couldn't help but ask.
"Now that you mention it, you are partially to blame for my misfortune," the silver-robed woman replied with a wry smile.
Han Li faltered momentarily before an enlightened look appeared on his face. "Oh? Could it be that the restrictions I planted in your body back then activated after we were separated?"
"Indeed. You sure planted some extremely profound restrictions within my body, Brother Han. It took me close to 100 years to just barely refine them, but I was severely debilitated as a result and was targeted by a bunch of cowards. I managed to escape through the use of a secret technique, but my cultivation base plummeted thereafter, and I ended up in this current state. Come to think of it, if that Body Integration cultivator hadn't stepped in to save me, I would most likely be dead by now. However, after he discovered that I was unable to metamorphosize, he merely treated me like a spirit beast and was preparing to make me his bonded spirit beast. I naturally refused to accept such an arrangement, so I was locked up in this cage," the silver-robed woman explained.
Han Li nodded in response before asking, "Oh? Do you know who this Body Integration cultivator is?"
The silver-robed woman considered this question momentarily before replying, "I'm afraid not. That man is very proficient in illusionary techniques, and would often change his appearance and location, making it impossible for me to glean his true appearance. The only thing that I'm sure of is that he's a Devil Dao cultivator of your human race and not part of the demon race."
"A devilish cultivator? There are only a few renowned Devil Dao Body Integration cultivators in our human race; he should be one of them," Han Li said with a contemplative nod.
"Regardless of who he is, he did save my life. Then again, he did try to force me to become his spirit beast thereafter, so I guess we're even now." The silver-robed woman didn't seem to harbor any resentment toward her Body Integration Stage captor, and it was impossible to tell whether she actually thought this or whether she had no choice but to say this as she couldn't exact vengeance on a Body Integration cultivator anyway.
Han Li smiled in response before changing the subject. "Now that you're free, what are your future plans? Are you planning to return to the demon race? The Black Phoenix Race has also inherited the bloodline of the Heavenly Phoenix, so I'm sure you'll be treated quite well there."
The silver-robed woman's composure immediately cracked upon hearing mention of the Black Phoenix Race, and she gritted her teeth in a resentful manner as she said, "The Black Phoenix Race? Hmph, the cowards who targeted me and dealt those debilitating injuries upon me were none other than members of the Black Phoenix Race. If I go to them in my current state, I may as well serve my own head up on a silver platter!"
Han Li was quite surprised to hear this, and after a brief pause, he continued, "The ones who injured you were members of the Black Phoenix Race? That makes things quite troublesome. What are your plans, then, Fairy Phoenix?"
The silver-robed woman contemplated this question for a long while before finally replying in a hesitant manner, "I want to stay with you before I recover my magic power; is that alright? As a Body Integration cultivator, I'm sure you'll be more than capable of protecting me. I'm simply far too weak in my current state, and the fact that I'm an Ice Phoenix is bound to attract endless problems for me. No matter where I hide, someone will track me down, and I could end up in an even worse situation than before."Previous Chapter Next Chapter