"Well..." Buddhist Master Tian Chan turned to Master Black Rain with a rather hesitant expression.
Master Black Rain pondered the situation for a moment before making a decision. "Brother Han is one of the most powerful beings in our human race, so he'll be a great ally for us. I think the two of us may not have that great a chance of completing our objective, but if Fellow Daoist Han were to assist us, then we'll have a much greater chance."
Han Li was even more intrigued upon hearing this, but he merely waited in silence. Sure enough, after receiving Master Black Rain's approval, Buddhist Master Tian Chan nodded with a smile, and said, "I was thinking the same thing. In that case, allow me to explain the situation to you, Benefactor Han. I hope you'll be willing to lend us your assistance."
Han Li considered this for a moment before giving a conditional reply. "I'll be sure to do so if it benefits the state of our human race."
"We were actually instructed by the holy island to come here for the Earthly Hellish Flames," Buddhist Master Tian Chan revealed.
Han Li had already anticipated this to be the case, but his heart still sank slightly upon hearing this. However, what Master Black Rain said next immediately put his heart at ease.
He could see the peculiar look that had appeared in Han Li's eyes, and he immediately added, "To put it more accurately, we're here for a certain spirit item within the Earthly Hellish Flames."
"There are spirit items within the Earthly Hellish Flames? I've never heard of something like that before," Han Li said in a rather surprised manner.
"Indeed there is, and this spirit item takes 50,000 years to come into fruition. Have you heard of an item known as the Pipe Dream Stone, Benefactor Han?" Buddhist Master Tian Chan asked.
"Pipe Dream Stone? Is that the top-grade material used to set up large illusionary formations?" Han Li asked as his brows furrowed slightly.
"Indeed. However, what we're searching for is not an ordinary Pipe Dream Stone; it's a Pipe Dream Stone Spirit, which has already attained intelligence. Not only can this type of stone spirit only emerge among Pipe Dream Stones, a rigorous set of conditions must be met before they can come into existence. As such, not many people are aware of its existence, and the stone spirit here was something a senior of our race unintentionally discovered tens of thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, that senior was unable to capture it, and it was startled into fleeing into the Earthly Hellish Flames.
"Even Grand Ascension cultivators wouldn't dare to venture into the Earthly Hellish Flames lightly, so there was no way that anyone could pursue the stone spirit. However, the mighty figures of the holy island have recently conducted divination and predicted that the day of the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit's tribulation will arrive soon, so there's no way it can continue to hide in the Earthly Hellish Flames. As such, this will be the only chance we have to capture it," Buddhist Master Tian Chan explained.
"I see, so the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit has already been residing within the Earthly Hellish Flames for tens of thousands of years; no wonder I've never heard of it. However, even if it is a stone spirit that has attained intelligence, it shouldn't be all that powerful; wouldn't it be a simple task for you to capture it?" Han Li asked.
"This Pipe Dream Stone Spirit is far different from normal stone spirits. Not only does it possess the abilities common to all stone spirits, it also possesses the ability to instantly conjure up powerful illusions that one could fall into without even realizing it. The senior of our human race who first discovered the stone spirit was quite a renowned figure at the time, but not only was he unable to capture the stone spirit, he was trapped in its illusions for half a year before finally managing to escape.
"On top of that, it was said that the ordeal had heavily taxed his body and caused him to fall severely ill after he escaped. The task that we've been assigned with is to capture the stone spirit alive, so even though Buddhist Master Tian Chan and I have made extensive preparations, our chances of success still aren't very high," Master Black Rain explained.
"I see. The innate abilities of spirit items such as stone spirits are generally all extremely powerful, so it's no wonder that the two of you are proceeding with such caution. By the way, would you happen to know the reason why the holy island sent you two to capture this stone spirit?" Han Li asked.
"It seems that the demon core within this stone spirit is going to be quite an important asset against the Elder Devil Race, and this task was delegated to us by Master Mo Jianli through the holy island; that's all the details that I'm aware of," Master Black Rain replied without any hesitation.
"The instruction came from Senior Mo?" Han Li drew a sharp breath upon hearing this.
"Hehe, Fellow Daoist Tian Chan and I are relatively powerful figures in our human race; if it weren't for the fact that Senior Mo was the one who delegated this duty to us, we wouldn't have come to this place," Master Black Rain said with a smile.
"In that case, it's only right that I do my part as well. Please tell me what you need me to do," Han Li said in a serious manner.
Buddhist Master Tian Chan was ecstatic to hear this, and he replied, "Hehe, I knew that you wouldn't turn us down, Brother Han. We don't actually need you to take on any complex tasks; all we need is for you to assist us as the situation requires. If the stone spirit manages to slip past us, we'll be counting on you to stop it so that it doesn't manage to flee back into the Earthly Hellish Flames."
Master Black Rain also expressed his gratitude toward Han Li.
A thought then suddenly occurred to Buddhist Master Tian Chan, and he asked, "By the way, why are you here when Deep Heaven City is in such a perilous situation, Brother Han? Do you have something you need to do here as well?"
"Indeed. I need to use the Earthly Hellish Flames to refine a few treasures of mine, but that naturally pales in significance next to the task that you two have been assigned," Han Li replied.
"Thank you for prioritizing our objective above your own, Brother Han. I'll have to ask you to refrain from approaching the Earthly Hellish Flames for now. Otherwise, if the stone spirit detects the presence of outsiders, things could become rather troublesome," Buddhist Master Tian Chan said as an apologetic look appeared on his face.
Thus, after exchanging some more pleasantries, Han Li joined the two of them and sat down beside the crater as well. He cast his gaze toward the bottom of the crater, and his brows furrowed slightly. The crater was several acres in area, but it was clearly divided into two completely different parts.
The top half was comprised of ordinary grey stone, but the bottom half of the crater was as smooth as jade. On top of that, that section of the crater was of a sinister dark green color, and at the very bottom was a cloud of yellow mist that was surging incessantly. The occasional burst of rumbling could be heard coming from within the yellow mist, and it was flashing erratically with faint light, as if it were concealing some type of living creature.
Han Li's eyes narrowed slightly, and he abruptly flipped a hand over to produce a white formation plate.
He flicked his wrist, and the formation plate was instantly hurled toward the bottom of the crater as a streak of white light.
As the formation plate passed through the top half of the crater, nothing happened to it, but once it entered the bottom half, layers of ice suddenly began to appear over its surface. It was quickly completely sealed in ice, then thudded heavily into the mist before shattering amid a crisp crack.
"The Yin Qi here really is as powerful as the rumors proclaim!" Han Li murmured to himself, but his expression remained unchanged.
"Hehe, it's said that the Earthly Hellish Flames here arise directly from the depths of hell. Even though it's in the form of flames, it contains extraordinary glacial power. Unfortunately, this glacial power is completely different from normal glacial power and can't be refined by a living being. We humans can only use it to refine some special treasures, and that's quite a pity," Buddhist Master Tian Chan chuckled in a wistful manner.
"The powers of Yin, Yang, and the five elements stem directly from chaos; they're the foundation powers of the laws of heaven and earth. The Earthly Hellish Flames here are imbued with extremely astonishing glacial powers, so it only makes sense that its uses are very limited. Otherwise, if a person using a glacial cultivation art could absorb the Yin Qi here as they pleased, their cultivation base would progress at an unprecedentedly rapid rate; there's no way that such an outrageous cultivation shortcut could exist," Master Black Rain interjected in an indifferent manner.
"Indeed. However, I've heard that these Earthly Hellish Flames could be one of the entrances that lead directly into the infernal realm. If that's the case, then these flames really are very intriguing," Han Li said with a smile.
"That's a rumor that's been circulating since ancient times, but these Earthly Hellish Flames are incredibly lethal. Body Integration cultivators like us can only delve around 10,000 feet into it at most, and even Grand Ascension cultivators will be at risk of losing their lives once they reach any deeper than 100,000 feet. Hence, no one can verify that legend," Buddhist Master Tian Chan mused in a contemplative manner.
"Hehe, there's no need to entertain such a thought for too long. If these flames really do lead to the infernal realm, then what awaits us on the other side will only be a hellish landscape rife with malicious ghosts and vengeful spirits. The ultimate pursuit of cultivators like us is naturally to ascend to the True Immortal Realm, where we can truly attain eternal life," Master Black Rain chuckled.
Buddhist Master Tian Chan shook his head with a serious expression in response. "I beg to differ. Those of us who follow in Buddhist teachings believe in karma and causality. In order to pursue immortality, one must first..."
Thus, the two began to share their viewpoints on the matter, and an impromptu debate suddenly commenced, one that Han Li found to be rather amusing.Previous Chapter Next Chapter