Two hours later, Luxiu emerged from the hall and was met by her entourage, who had been impatiently waiting outside the hall. The three tool refinement disciples were sincerely waiting at the side, not daring to neglect them as the young cultivators of the entourage came from exceptionally high backgrounds.
When the County Lord emerged from the hall, her young entourage immediately surrounded her.
“County Lord, how did it go?”
“Did that person ruin your Bloodvein Silver?”
Questions were asked with great fervor.
The young woman brushed aside the hair from her face and let out a sweet smile, saying, “Nothing went wrong. Many thanks for your concern. Senior Martial Brother Han has already assisted me in refining the material and with great success.” Her blatant demeanor from before was nowhere to be found.
When Han Li walked out from the earthfire hall, the corner of his mouth unconsciously twitched at the sight.
“Hehe! Youngster Han. You are truly cunning to coax the location of Black Phoenix from the young girl. Do you plan on heading to visiting the island lord for a Black Phoenix Plume?”
“Of course. Since it is a known method of reinforcing the Triflame Fan, I must do my utmost. I don’t want to waste so many rare materials and hard effort on something of lacking power. After all, common ancient treasures don’t have much of an effect on late Nascent Soul cultivators. Let’s go. They’ll be staying at the Royal Serenity Monastery for the next few days. I’ll be staying inside seclusion to avoid having my cultivation interrupted by them.” Han Li spoke with an indifferent tone before heading back towards his residence.
In the following two days, County Lord Luxiu had quietly looked for Han Li, hoping that he would refine more materials for her. But Han Li had already placed a sign that he had already entered secluded cultivation and even placed a simple restriction in front of the door, causing Luxiu to resentfully turn back with a pout.
After two days passed, the County Lord left the monastery and the entourage of young cultivators followed after her, leaving the Tool Refinement Hall back to its usual affairs.
As months slowly passed by, apart from occasionally refining a few materials, Han Li would wholeheartedly dedicate his time to cultivating the Brightjade Arts. The consistent completion of his refinement tasks earned him the increasing respect of Elder Wei, who found time to give Han Li further explanation on the finer points of material purification. Later on, he would give a few rarer materials to Han Li to refine.
When Han Li noticed this, he punctually refined these rarer materials without the slightest delay, much to the astonishment of Elder Wei. Eventually, Elder Wei noticed Han Li’s talent for tool refinement and assigned him even more tasks, occasionally finding more time to teach Han Li as well. During this time, Elder Wei was also occupied on the refinement of something and left a small portion of the materials over to Han Li to deal with.
Not long after, Han Li astonishedly discovered that he was given rare earth-attribute materials to refine. He couldn't help but feel shocked. There were sparsely few treasures that were completely refined by earth-attribute materials and most of them possessed astonishing strength.
However, this had nothing to do with him. No matter the conditions, he would stick to his original plan and slowly cultivate to the second layer of the Brightjade Arts, faintly noticing astonishing changes to his body as time went on.
One day, a few people from Pure Revelations Academy delivered a message to the Gan Clan that Teacher Yan had suddenly passed away from a grave illness.
“Illness? When I last saw him, it didn’t seem like he was ill.” When Han Li found out about this, he found it to be quite unexpected. With his spiritual sense, he also sensed many foreign cultivators have recently appeared near the Royal Serenity Monastery and were secretly observing it. It appeared there was something on the verge of happening.
‘Let’s not stay here for too long, or I might be drawn into something very troublesome.’ Rich in experience, Han Li came to a firm decision.
In his remaining time, he began to cultivate the Brightjade Arts with greater care.
One year later, an event of moderate note occurred at the Royal Serenity Monastery. An external affairs Qi Condensation disciple made a sudden disappearance and stirred the notice of many high-grade cultivators in the monastery. When the monastery’s Nascent Soul-stage nun heard this, even she involved herself in the investigation.
Normally, the disappearance of a single low-grade disciple among several thousand wouldn’t be cause for any concern, but it happened that this disciple was a capable and hardworking disciple of the Tool Refinement Hall. As he was of great use, this stirred quite the commotion amongst the higher echelon of the monastery.
As this was ongoing, the old Daoist nun in the monastery was sitting in an armchair while two yellow-robed Daoist Nuns stood at her side, one at the age of forty and the other in her late twenties.
“What’s going on? With the heavy restrictions of our Royal Serenity Monastery, how could a single disciple disappear without anyone’s knowledge? Do you two have anything to say?” The old Daoist Nun coldly spoke with a gloomy expression.
The middle-aged Daoist nun hesitated before answer with a respectful tone, “Reporting to Martial Senior, I’ve already examined the restrictions in the sect and found them to all be intact. There is no sign of an external force infiltrating our monastery. It seems that either a spell formation master was involved or the disciple left of his own accord.”
The old Daoist nun frowned and asked, “A spell formation master? Our monastery’s protective grand formation isn’t something that one of the few spell formation masters in the Great Jin is capable of breaking. But if he escaped from the inside, that isn’t a particularly difficult task. What was that disciple’s name and what were his origins?”
The younger Daoist nun hastily answered, “The disciple was named Han Li. He was a vagrant cultivator that Martial Niece Hualian picked up two years ago from Pure Revelations Academy. “
“Han Li? His name is exactly the same as the elder that our Ye Clan recruited recently?” The old Daoist nun asked in shock.
“That’s right. When I heard of the disciple’s name, I was stunned, but it was most likely a coincidence. How could a Nascent Soul cultivator and Qi Condensation cultivator possibly be related?”
“A coincidence? Although there are many coincidences in this world, it just so happened that someone involved in that item’s refinement had disappeared. Furthermore, this person had the same name as a newly acquired elder in our clan. Regardless if this is truly a coincidence, the matter must be thoroughly investigated. Send men to the capital and closely question this Elder Han. See if he has any connection to this disciple Han Li. Also, call over that girl Hualian. I want to personally ask her about how she recruited this disciple. It seems we’ve fallen for a trap of Pure Revelations Academy. We also can’t have the speed of the Tool Refinement Hall to decrease. We must finish refining that item in three years, or it will delay the great event.” The old Daoist nun uttered these orders without the slightest change in expression.
“Yes, Martial Aunt!”
“As you command!”
With repeated acknowledgments, the two yellow-robed nuns then bid their leave.
When the old Daoist nun saw the two leaving the building, she let out a long sight before leaning back in her chair and slowly closing her eyes.
Three months later in the Yi Province’s largest market city, a youth bought an unknown ore at an unremarkable shop for the high price of thirty thousand spirit stones.
Five months later in the Fan Prefecture’s Fan County Trade Fair, a masked cultivator purchased three pieces of Firegrant Wood for the price of fifty thousand spirit stones.
Half a year later at the Feng Province’s Kailong Prefecture, a local mid-grade sect suddenly had an Iron Rhino Horn disappear from them. They suspected that it had been stolen.
Eight months later, the Qu Region’s top clan was suddenly paid a visit by a large mid-Nascent Soul cultivator with an ugly appearance. He wanted to trade a thousand-year-old spiritual herb and a grade seven demon core for the Rainbow Light Wood in the clan’s collection.
As a result, the clan master had his two Nascent Soul elders meet this Nascent Soul cultivator to turn him away, but as a result, the mid-Nascent Soul cultivator used his vast abilities to easily turn the elders into two blocks of ice.
The clan master was shocked and with no better choice, he was forced to agree to the trade. As a result, the large ugly man took the wood and tossed the spiritual herb and demon core onto the ground with howling laughter. The clan master then had to expend a great effort to free his two elders from the ice. Although their lives were still intact, they suffered a great loss in vitality.
Over the short span of a year, a young man, masked cultivator, and a large ugly man began to appear all around the southern portion of the Jin Empire, collection various rare materials. The youth would buy strange materials that few could recognize; the masked cultivator repeatedly won auctions in great displays of wealth as if he had an endless stream of spirit stones; and the large ugly man would imprudently visit the various noble clans in the area as well as a few smaller sects, forcefully exchanging rare materials in their collections for his spiritual herbs and demon cores.
Of course, it also stood to mention that larger sects would often have a few of their materials mysteriously disappear overnight.
The youth and the masked cultivator were hardly noticed apart from some particularly sharp individuals. As for the large ugly man’s forceful exchanges and the frequent disappearance of materials, they had caused great tremors in the southern portion of the Great Jin’s cultivation world.
The various cultivation sects were furious at the theft of their materials and they dispatched disciples to find this mysterious thief. As for the large ugly man, the various sects backing the victimized clans had begun sending men to find the whereabouts of this imprudent-mid Nascent Soul cultivator.