"Rest assured, Master; I devoured that Azure Dragon's Nascent Soul, so he's as dead as dead can be. However, prior to his death, he chose to unleash a powerful ability rather than continue to repress the poison, and I had to expend some energy to keep him at bay. Hence, I had no choice but to meditate for two days, then snuck back into the city with a group of Deep Heaven City scouts, so there's no way that anyone would've detected me," the Leopard Kirin Beast said with a smile.
"You did very well. Now, I can focus wholeheartedly on making a breakthrough to the late-Body Integration Stage," Han Li also replied with a smile.
"Heehee, with your cultivation aptitude and all of the trump cards you've prepared, I'm sure you'll be able to make this breakthrough with ease, Master. I'll be congratulating you in advance!" the Leopard Kirin Beast chuckled.
"I certainly hope so. Now that you've completed metamorphosis, there's no need for you to continue to remain in the spirit beast bracelet; you can cultivate in the secret chamber next to mine. If you need anything, just let Qi Lingzi and the others know," Han Li said in a solemn manner.
"Thank you, Master! I've been dying to get out of that spirit bracelet! I'm going to cultivate in the other secret chamber now; I'll return if you need me after you go into seclusion, Master," the Leopard Kirin Beast replied with an ecstatic look on its face.
Han Li naturally had no objections and allowed it to depart.
After the Leopard Kirin Beast left, Han Li took a deep breath before making a grabbing motion with one hand to summon a voice transmission talisman. He then released the talisman before closing his eyes again to continue meditating.
A short while later, a female voice suddenly rang out from outside the secret chamber. "Brother Han, have you summoned me because you're about to begin your breakthrough?"
The voice was extremely pleasant to the ears and belonged to none other than the Ice Phoenix.
"Indeed, Fellow Daoist Ice Phoenix," Han Li replied in a calm manner as he opened his eyes.
Several days later, there were seven or eight elders of Deep Heaven City discussing something together in a secret chamber.
Both Buddhist Monk Jin Yue and Fairy Silver Light were among them.
"So Master Azure Dragon really did perish. That's quite a pity, especially at a time like this," the white-robed elderly man sitting on the main seat sighed.
"If it weren't for the fact that Azure Dragon left a soul lamp in the city after he joined the panel of elders, I wouldn't have believed this to be true, either. According to the cultivator looking after the soul lamps, his one was snuffed out within half a day of his departure from the city," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue said with a wry smile.
"Hmph, he was asking for it! He knows that there are devilish beings everywhere around the city, yet he still dared to restrict the guards and forcibly teleport away. If you ask me, he only has himself to blame," Fairy Silver Light harrumphed coldly.
"Hehe, Azure Dragon may not have been killed by devilish beings; perhaps he died by the hands of someone else. Didn't the guards at the teleportation hall say that someone used the same teleportation formation as Azure Dragon right after he left? Perhaps that was the perpetrator," a burly black-robed man said.
"Are you suspecting Fellow Daoist Han?" Fairy Silver Light's expression darkened slightly upon hearing this.
"Please don't jump to conclusions, Fairy Silver Light; I never said that. All I said is that maybe Azure Dragon didn't perish by the hands of devilish beings," the man immediately denied. It was quite clear that he was quite wary of Han Li.
Fairy Silver Light merely smiled and remained silent.
"Alright, seeing as Master Azure Dragon forced his way out of the city, he has renounced his status as a member of our panel of elders. As such, there's no need for us to investigate this matter. Our top priority now should be the devilish army that has surrounded the city," the white-robed elderly man said with furrowed brows.
"But Master Azure Dragon is a mid-Body Integration cultivator; don't we have to at least provide all of the cultivators in the city an explanation of how he died? Also, will this affect Fairy Lin Luan's attitude toward our city?" the owner of the Origin Pocket Pavilion, Elder Gu, said in a contemplative manner.
"There's no need for that. If we don't say anything, no one will know about Master Azure Dragon's death. Even if people find out later on, it'll be after the devilish tribulation. During these perilous times, everything can wait until a later date. As for Fellow Daoist Lin, she's an extremely intelligent woman; I'm sure she'll know how to handle the situation," the white-robed elderly man said in a cold voice.
Everyone else exchanged a few glances upon hearing this before nodding in agreement in the end.
"Alright, seeing as no one has any objections, let's discuss Fellow Daoist Han next. Buddhist Monk Jin Yue, I heard that you sent someone to invite Fellow Daoist Han to a gathering two days ago, but he had already gone into seclusion; is that true?" the white-robed elderly man asked.
"It is. I wanted to make a last-ditch effort to try and convince Fellow Daoist Han to coexist with Fellow Daoist Azure Dragon in the city, but his disciples told me that he had gone into seclusion and wasn't going to be seeing any guests," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue replied.
"It seems that he predicted that you would try to seek him out, so he's intentionally avoiding you," the white-robed elderly man said in a contemplative manner.
"Perhaps so. A few days ago, I saw the juniors who had been bribed by Azure Dragon, and all of them were as pale as ghosts. I heard that Fellow Daoist Han is extorting them for a huge sum of spirit stones and materials; I wonder if they'll be able to gather everything that Fellow Daoist Han demanded of them," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue said with a peculiar expression.
"Hehe, those little brats deserve to be taught a lesson for sticking their noses into something like this! If you ask me, Fellow Daoist Han has already let them off the hook quite easily. If he weren't wary of the backers behind those juniors, I'm sure he would've punished them even more severely," the white-robed elderly man chuckled coldly.
"That's true. Having said that, the way that Fellow Daoist Han has addressed this matter has truly been a relief to me. If he had insisted on enforcing a more severe punishment on those juniors, that could've led to quite a conflict as well," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue sighed in a resigned manner.
"Indeed. If things really had escalated to that extent, then even I would be scratching my head," the white-robed elderly man chuckled.
"By the way, I heard that Azure Dragon was defeated by Fellow Daoist Han in just three attacks; surely that's an exaggeration, right?" the black-robed man asked.
"No, it's true. Fellow Daoist Han's powers were truly incredible; even the average late-Body Integration Stage most likely won't be a match for him. Fairy Silver Light and Fellow Daoist Gu were also present; I'm sure they'll back me up here," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue replied with a serious expression.
The black-robed man turned to Fairy Silver Light and Elder Gu upon hearing this, and Fairy Silver Light displayed no reaction, while Elder Gu gave a solemn nod in confirmation.
The black-robed man was even more astonished upon seeing this, as were all of the other cultivators present who hadn't interacted with Han Li much.
"Surely he's not actually more powerful than a late-Body Integration cultivator. That Master Azure Dragon has quite a resounding reputation, but if he couldn't even withstand three attacks from a cultivator of the same cultivation base, then his reputation was most likely overinflated in the first place. Just because Fellow Daoist Han was able to defeat him doesn't mean he's actually that freakish of a talent." The black-robed man was really grasping at straws now.
"I'm afraid you're mistaken, Fellow Daoist. That Master Azure Dragon was a half-demon who can adopt a half-dragon form, and that, in conjunction with his Buddhist cultivation arts, presented a very formidable package. However, he had made the mistake of picking the wrong opponent. Fellow Daoist Han is a simultaneous cultivator, and is capable of taking on a giant ape form with powers that exceed even Azure Dragon's half-dragon form. He severely wounded Azure Dragon with his first two attacks alone, and could've even killed Azure Dragon with his third attack had he intended to do so. Thinking back, if I were to face Fellow Daoist Han in battle, there would be no alternative for me other than to flee with all my might," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue said in a serious manner.
"In that case, it seems the rumors about Fellow Daoist Han being hunted by Sacred Ancestor clones were true. With his powers, it's not all that far-fetched that he was able to escape from such formidable beings," the white-robed elderly man remarked.
"I don't know how he managed to escape from those Sacred Ancestor clones, but I did bear witness to him killing several devilish lords in quick succession," Fairy Silver Light also chimed in in a solemn voice.
Many of the cultivators present were very alarmed to hear this.
"It seems that Fellow Daoist Han truly is an exceptional talent. With his assistance, our chances of securing victory against the devilish army would be significantly increased. Buddhist Monk Jin Yue, try to recruit him to our panel of elders again; tell him he can raise any conditions, and we'll do our best to satisfy him," the white-robed elderly man said.
"Alright, but I think the chances of that are going to be very slim," Buddhist Monk Jin Yue replied in a rather pessimistic manner.
"I'm aware of that. Otherwise, he would've joined the panel of elders the first time we invited him. In any case, it can't hurt to try. Alright, setting this matter aside for now, we received a report from our scouts stating that the devilish army is very likely going to launch an all-out assault on our city in several months to a year," the white-robed elderly man said as a grim look appeared on his face, and all of the other elders' hearts jolted upon hearing this.Previous Chapter Next Chapter