“It was stolen?” Han Li’s gaze flashed with distrust.
“Although Senior isn’t convinced, this matter is completely true!” Lady Fan then revealed a wry smile.
“Two months ago, our store was undergoing a large transaction. The profit was such that our Exquisite Sound Sect wouldn’t have had to conduct business for another ten years. Thus, our sect collected a large amount of materials and sent them off, escorted by our Sect Master Wang and the majority of our experts. However, a group of masked cultivators intercepted our convoy. The techniques of their six Core Formation cultivators were profound and evil, and the remaining cultivators were proficient in cooperative techniques. Our sect master was overwhelmed and died at the scene, and the storage pouches holding the items were stolen. A majority of our ordinary sect disciples perished in the attack as well. Were it not for two of our elders throwing caution to the wind and using secret techniques that lowered their cultivation, they would’ve killed us all and no one would’ve known.” The woman’s voice had turned gloomy and her expression turned remorseful.
“It wasn’t a trap setup by the buyer?” Han Li instantly blurted out.
“That is impossible! Our buyer was a member of the Four Elements Merchant Union. They have a flawless reputation. Why would they ruin their reputation over robbing such a minor amount of goods, given their strength?” Lady Fan lightly shook her head and denied this with a pale face, revealing an appearance of frail powerlessness.
Han Li coldly gazed on and didn’t say anything. He didn’t have the slightest intention of consoling the woman.
In response to Han Li’s indifference, Lady Fan could only softly put away her grief and continue her explanation, “That small stalk of Heaven Lightning Bamboo was the treasure of a small sect. However, the sect had declined extremely far and only had a single remaining descendant. As such, the single descendant had sold the item to our Exquisite Sound Sect. My sect master had carried this item on his body and planned to auction it off at Heavenly Star City after the deal was concluded. We didn’t expect it to be plundered as well.”
“But when my sect master was transporting these goods, he had conducted a minor trick on them and we were able to quickly track down their hideout as a result. However, these thieves have quite a few Core Formation cultivators among them, and our sect doesn’t have the strength to take them down. As a result, this meeting wasn’t just about purchasing your goods. We were also assigned the responsibility to scout out high level cultivators for assistance. Seniors’ magic power is quite profound. If you are willing to help us, we wouldn’t mind giving you the Heaven Lightning Bamboo.”
The woman chose her words carefully before arriving at her original intention. Han Li’s expression was indifferent when he heard this, but his eyes continuously shifted around as if he were thinking about something.
When Lady Fan saw this, she knew Han Li was weighing the advantages and disadvantages, and she hurriedly attempted to make the deal sweeter, “If Senior still feels the price is low, our sect is willing to gift an outstanding beauty to Senior as a servant.”
“Not interested!” Han Li bluntly rejected her without the slightest consideration. The woman immediately revealed disappointment in response.
Han Li lightly exhaled and asked a question that greatly surprised the woman, “Has the Heaven Lightning Bamboo been refined? Can it continue to age?”
“It hasn’t been refined. The Heaven Lightning Bamboo was carefully nurtured by that small sect for over a hundred years. It can be further nurtured and continue to sprout out more stalks without a problem. Could it be that Senior doesn’t wish to use it to refine a magic treasure and wishes to leave it behind for his descendants? However, the Heaven Lightning Bamboo grows extremely slowly. After every thousand years, it only grows by only a inch. It is truly difficult to breed!” The woman asked, baffled.
Han Li didn’t respond to her question, lowering his head in contemplation.
Just when Elder Zhao started to appear impatient, Han Li finally came to decision and calmly said, “In addition to the Heaven Lightning Bamboo, we still require another item as payment. After all, Crooked Soul is taking action alongside me.”
“That isn’t a problem. Our sect finds these conditions acceptable!” Lady Fan agreed to the conditions with a beaming smile as if she had no intention of arguing.
“Since this is the case, send someone to inform me at my cave residence when the time comes. Surely your esteemed sect should know where it is.”
Without waiting for Lady Fan to say anything more, he cupped his hands and quickly left with Crooked Soul, not allowing her any additional opportunities to use any of her bewitchment techniques.
Han Li’s blunt departure left Elder Zhao and Lady Fan looking at each other in dismay. Lady Fan’s eyes revealed complicated emotions as her face continuously shifted between clear and gloomy.
After returning to his cave residence, rather than quietly waiting for the Exquisite Sound Sect to call on him, he visited a few of his Core Formation cultivator acquaintances and made a few inquiries about the Exquisite Sound Sect.
Surprisingly, they had all heard of this sect before. One of them even had previous transactions with them.
According to what they said, the Exquisite Sound Sect was acceptable and their business dealings were good. However, their sect had only had women in positions of power for generations. This included the position of sect master.
The Exquisite Sound Sect’s strength couldn’t be said to be powerful. Apart from the sect master, the only other high positions were the Envoy of the Left and the Envoy of the Right. As such, it was only natural that they would employ two or three guest elders as support. Among mid-grade powers, they could be considered to be among neither the best nor the worst.
But even with their strength being nothing of note, they weren’t to be easily provoked. This was because the female cultivators of the Exquisite Sound Sect were each as beautiful as a flower and well cultured. Those in power would often fight over their outstanding female cultivators to be their Dao companion. As such, they received quite a bit of both open and hidden support.
However, what Han Li was most concerned about was that while their reputation was decent, he heard that they had plotted a small number of malicious conspiracies to murder other cultivators. But what was most famous about the Exquisite Sound Sect were their bewitchment techniques. There were a large number of male cultivators that had become completely infatuated with their sect’s female disciples.
After acquiring this information, Han Li felt that he now had a general understanding of the Exquisite Sound Sect. After some consideration, it seemed that he would have to take this job as he was unable to resist the Heaven Lightning Bamboo.
As such, ever since he had returned to his cave residence, he started to quickly craft grade three puppets without end.
Half a month later, a sound transmission talisman flew into Han Li’s hand. After Han Li took a look, he tranquilly arranged his items and then brought Crooked Soul along with his two Bloodjade Spiders out of his cave residence.
When he arrived at one of Heavenly Star City’s gates, the young woman named Lian’er was waiting for him apprehensively. When she saw Han Li and Crooked Soul arrive, she hastily ran over to them with a smile and said, “Seniors! My mistress wishes for me to bring you to the island we’re gathering at. We will then set off on our journey afterwards.”
Han Li nodded his head and wordlessly spit out his Green Brilliance Dagger. After wrapping the girl in the dagger’s light, he flew off.
Crooked Soul turned into a streak of yellow light and followed after them.
This seemed to be the young woman’s first time using a magic treasure to fly. Between occasionally giving Han Li some directions, she continuously gazed at Han Li’s swordlight with great curiosity. But whenever her gaze met Han Li’s, she bashfully turned her head away.
The young woman and Han Li were quite close within the sword light, almost touching each other. If Han Li slightly lowered his head, he would be able to see her white, flawless neck and smell the woman’s sweet fragrance, taking advantage of his minor amount of luck.
The woman seemed to have noticed this and her cheeks blushed a result, leaving Han Li feeling quite amused. He couldn’t help but wear a mysterious smile.
He had guessed that since Lady Fan sent her personal servant to guide his way, she was attempting to use a genuine beauty to entrap him as her bewitchment techniques had proven ineffective on him.
With that thought, he inwardly sneered and presumptuously took a deep whiff of the young woman’s scent, causing her to slightly tremble. Her delicate, white ears turned pink, and she appeared somewhat panicked.
However, Han Li’s imprudent actions stopped there, and he didn’t progress a single step further. The young woman eventually regained her calm and continued to give Han Li directions.
An hour later, Han Li descended onto a small barren, nameless island.
About a hundred meters away from the mountaintop, in addition to Lady Fan and Elder Zhao, there were over a dozen people sitting in meditation or whispering amongst themselves.
There were five Core Formation cultivators, and the others were late Foundation Establishment. It seemed that the Exquisite Sound Sect had spent quite a bit of their influence to gather this many people.
Upon seeing her servant arrive together with Han Li and Crooked Soul, Lady Fan couldn’t help but reveal happiness and hastily walked over with light steps.
“It is truly fortunate for our Sect that you two Seniors have agreed to come! Let me introduce you to the others!” The woman’s eyes appeared to be overflowing with emotion.
She introduced Han Li and Crooked Soul to a Core Formation cultivator surnamed Meng and four Foundation Establishment cultivators.
But what was baffling was that after Lady Fan introduced them to these people, as if in an attempt to demonstrate her power, she didn’t introduce them to the others.
Lady Fan looked at a pretty woman wearing lotus green clothing, and Han Li followed her gaze, realizing that the cultivators she hadn’t introduced to them appeared to be affiliated with the green clothed woman.
The woman had long eyebrows, upturned eyes, and a tall, slender nose. Her elegant eyes seemed to conceal a baleful aura. From a single glance, one could tell that she held a position of authority. However, her appearance aroused a desire to conquer her among men.
This woman coldly laughed after seeing Lady Fan, but she appeared slightly shocked upon seeing Han Li and Crooked Soul. She then turned around and whispered to a middle-aged cultivator behind her, not paying attention to Lady Fan in the slightest.
“Who is she?” Han Li asked with a calm expression.
Fan Jingmei gave a start before begrudgingly giving an answer, “Zhuo Ruting, our sect’s Envoy of the Right.”
“Hm.” Han Li couldn’t help but take another glance at this woman, much to the displeasure of Fan Jingmei.
Han Li didn’t have any unbecoming thoughts towards this Zhuo Ruting. He merely felt that the grace and appearance of this woman gave him a feeling of strong familiarity, and he couldn’t help but sink into contemplation.
Lady Fan grew sullen upon seeing this and turned to speak with Crooked Soul. However, Crooked Soul remained expressionless while she spoke and didn’t utter a single word in response, leaving her even gloomier.
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