The masked cultivator let out a dry laugh and spoke with a fearful tone, “Fellow Daoist Sun, you’ve arrived quickly, but I’m afraid you’ve found the wrong person. I was only chasing after a demon beast and had mistakenly entered your mountain range. I also witnessed the uproar of low-grade demon beasts and was trying to find the cause of it as well.”
As purple light covered the old woman’s face, she snorted and spoke with an imposing voice, “You were chasing a demon beast? Does Fellow Daoist Ma think that I’ve gone senile? You’re a mid-Nascent Soul stage cultivator well known throughout the empire for your movement techniques. What beast would have you pursue it to our Heavenpeak Mountain Range? I’ve already searched the area of over a hundred kilometers around us, and apart from you, I wasn’t able to find any other cultivators that were capable of what had just happened.”
“What happened? Could it be that the demon beast uproar damaged the High Sun Palace in some manner? I respect late-Nascent Soul seniors such as yourself as shown from my politeness, but I can’t help but think that you’re framing me. Although I might not prove to be your opponent, I’m not helpless either. There are a few disciples in my sect that know I entered the Heavenpeak Mountain Range. It’d be better for you to give it another thought before you provoke a war between the Righteous and Devilish Dao.” Although the masked cultivator appeared fearful at the idea of a fight, he was unyielding and golden light began to shine from his eyes.
The old woman narrowed her eyes and after a long while, she coldly asked, “You truly didn’t do it?”
The masked man relaxed after hearing her and he assumed a submissive attitude. “If Fellow Daoist Sun needs me to, I can swear a devilheart oath, but I still don’t know what happened to your sect.”
The old woman’s expression relaxed and said, “Fellow Daoist doesn’t need to swear an oath. You shouldn’t be the one who did it. With your position in the Devilwood Sect, you wouldn’t have done something disgraceful of your rank. Besides, I’ve never heard that you have the abilities to attract demon beasts. But since your esteemed self came over to our Heavenpeak Mountain Range to find a demon beast, it must be quite rare. How about you tell me about it?”
Knowing that he had to tell the truth to free himself of suspicion, he hastily explained, “The demon beast is truly rare, but I fear it isn’t nearly on the same level as your sect’s Vast Yang Bird. It was an Armored Earth Dragon that had just ascended to grade seven. I discovered it in a mountain in the adjacent province, but it was extremely clever and was proficient in earth movement techniques. I’ve chased it for nearly a week before arriving here.”
“A grade seven Armored Earth Dragon!?” the old woman shouted in astonishment, “That truly is a rare demon beast, especially one at such a high grade. It is no wonder why Fellow Daoist Ma was so rash. Now that Fellow Daoist had departed, does that mean you had captured it? I’ve long heard of the beast’s fame, but I’ve never been able to see it with my own eyes. Could you give me a look?”
“I fear I must disappoint you, Fellow Daoist Sun. In the demon beast uproar, my secret technique suddenly lost effect and I could no longer track the beast down. But...”
“But?” A glint appeared in the old woman’s eyes.
“But just as I was looking for the beast, I saw a streak of azure light pierce through the sky. It was rather quick and didn’t appear to belong to a cultivator from your palace. I reckon they had something to do with the strange uproar in the mountain range. I was thinking about pursuing them and figuring out what had happened, but it were too fast. I lost sight of it after a moment. Then, Fellow Daoist Sun found me.” The masked man let out a wry laugh.
The old woman’s expression stirred and she quickly asked, “An azure streak...and you said that they were just here? Which direction did they go?”
The masked cultivator blinked and calmly answered, “They flew out of the mountain range. With your abilities, you might be able to pursue them.”
With a new trail acquired, she quickly uttered, “Many thanks, Fellow Daoist Ma. I will be taking a look for myself. And since that Armored Earth Dragon disappeared, you should leave the mountain range as well. Our sects and allegiances are at odds and have their own territories. When I return, I don’t want to you see lingering here.” Then she took off in a stream of golden light.
When the masked man saw her fade into the horizon, he let out a sneer and muttered, “That old witch is as hard to deal with as the rumors said. After she acquired the information she wanted, she immediately turned hostile. Our sects are at odds? Hah, you just want to take the Armored Earth Dragon for yourself! If I sensed it correctly, that azure streak should have something to do with the disappearance of the Armored Earth Dragon. And the speed was no less than a late-Nascent Soul stage cultivator; it won’t be easy to chase them down. She also appeared quite flustered when she arrived as if that other cultivator had made the High Sun Palace suffer quite a bit. What a happy affair.”
He then lowered his head to look at the spirit beast pouch at his waist. With a smile, he muttered, “Although it’s not the Armored Earth Dragon, I did acquire a Blackblood Spider, making the trip quite worth it. That dragon’s appearance was rather convenient for that person. He drove it mad using some unknown method.”
The masked man suddenly raised his head and then muttered, “Actually, it must have been a method of attracting demon beasts. I’ll have to quickly report this to Senior Martial Brother Mu.” After looking around him one last time, he surrounded himself in green light and tore through the skies.
The old woman surnamed Sun flew out for nearly half a day and continuously swept her spiritual sense past thousands of kilometers, but she hadn’t discovered anything suspicious. Helpless, she could only return and quickly suppressed information of what had happened. If the other sects found out, the High Sun Palace would become a laughingstock.
Fortunately, the person who acted against the Vast Yang Bird only took away its tail feathers instead of killing it. Given thirty years and many spirit medicines, it should fully recover its strength. As a result, she could only bottle up her grievances, but in private, she had dispatched a small group of elite disciples to investigate if there were Nascent Soul-stage eccentrics that were looking to refine a treasure that used the Vast Yang Bird’s feathers.
In addition to gaining revenge for the spirit bird, she also wanted to find this person to acquire the method to attract demon beasts. If she could obtain it, taming demon beasts or acquiring their cores would be a simple and easy matter.
Of course, she wasn’t the only one with that in mind. The Devilwood Sect had also sent out many of their own disciples to see if any unfamiliar Nascent Soul cultivators had recently appeared near the Long Province.
The hidden actions of the province’s two superpowers frightened a few of the shrewder clans and sects in the region. They all guessed that the balance of the region would soon collapse, and that war between the two great sects would occur.
As various smaller powers were panicking, forming alliances, and withdrawing from the region, the atmosphere of the entire Long Province grew tense.
Of course, Han Li had no idea that his actions would provoke such an outcome. At that moment, he had established a temporary stone room on top of a nameless mountain to examine the spoils he acquired, the five near-illusory flaming feathers.
In a rather good mood, Monarch Soul Divergence idly said, “The woman who chased you at the end should’ve been the High Sun Palace’s late-Nascent Soul cultivator. While her cultivation was exceptional, her spiritual sense was rather ordinary and she wasn’t able to detect you after you restrained your Qi. Else, it could’ve proven quite troublesome.”
Han Li chuckled and said, “At worst, I’d only have to use Bloodshadow Evasion once. I don’t believe there is another sacred beast incarnation in this world that I could run into. However, I did have no choice but to hide. That old woman cultivated a movement technique that was quite faster than mine.”
“Of course, and it also appears the risks you took have paid off. Not only have you acquired this many flame feathers, but a rare Armored Earth Dragon as well! If you can tame it, there will be a high chance to acquire other worldly treasures in the future.” Monarch Soul Divergence said with satisfaction.
“That’s right, but this demon beast is fully grown. How can it be easily tamed? I’ll only be able to succeed due to luck.”
“It is no matter. Taming a fully grown demon beast actually isn’t as difficult as one would imagine. Highly intelligent ones are particularly easy to tame.” Monarch Soul Divergence spoke with a calm tone filled with experience.
Han Li raised his brow and revealed a trace of surprise. “Oh, so it was like that?”
“You’ll find out. From how intelligent this Armored Earth Dragon appears, it shouldn’t be too difficult to tame.”
“I hope so,” Han Li chuckled, “But I had better first wear down the beast’s temper and then find a better time to tame it. First, I’ll handle these flame feathers and then head to the Jin Capital’s trade fair. It’s time to see what the greatest city in the Jin Empire is like.”
“I’ve visited the Jin Capital once in the past. Although it was a city of mortals, it was quite imposing and unordinary.” Monarch Soul Divergence praised.
“I want to see the Jin Capital even more now. Fortunately, we’re not too far away. Treating the feathers should only take a day. Three months should be more than enough time for me to arrive.” Han Li calmly said.
Following a flash of azure light, all but one of the feathers disappeared without a trace.
Han Li flung the remaining feather in the air, breathing a cloud of azure Nascent Flame upon it. Suddenly, the feather lit up in a gorgeous display of blue and red light.
He then shut his eyes and sat down cross-legged as he grasped his hands in an incantation gesture and sank into meditation.