Monarch Soul Divergence’s voice eventually broke the silence and he deeply said, “Have you ever heard of Divine Flow Clay?”
Han Li looked at the stone with surprise, “Of course I have. It’s also known as Illusory Paste, a rare material used to refine complicated magic tools, and is said to be able to create any artifact. It also has the unique property of restoring any damage that it suffers. Could this unremarkable thing be it? I’ve heard that Divine Flow Clay was white and as smooth as jade.”
“Youngster Han, don’t be alarmed. This is truly Divine Flow Clay. However, ancient cultivators had mixed it with something else, and had peculiarly refined it into something known to them as Flexile Spirit Jade. Those that can recognize this material can’t number more than a dozen. I had found some information regarding this in an ancient cultivator residence and have long forgotten it. Have I not been reminded of something similar to it, I wouldn’t have remembered.”
Han Li pensively asked, “Flexile Spirit Jade? What’s the difference between that and Divine Flow Clay?”
“Hadn’t you already discovered it? Not only will this material recover from deformation, but it can absorb the magic power of a cultivator’s strike. If an attack condensed with spiritual power were to damage it, it will decrease more than half the injury. The sole weak point is that the clay doesn’t offer any additional defensive power against direct attacks. But even so, its value is still no lesser than Auric Essence.”
Han Li smiled when he heard this and asked, “So it was like that. Senior plans on weaving the Divine Flow Clay into the puppet's body?”
“Isn’t it obvious? When the puppet’s body is fused with Tailstar Silver and Divine Flow Clay, it will require no defensive treasures. There will be hardly anyone in this world that will be able to easily destroy it.” Monarch Soul Divergence proudly said.
“Then let’s do it.” Han Li spoke without the slightest hesitation.
“Yes, but for now, let’s set it aside and refine the other puppet parts first. I reckon that we’ll be finished with all the parts in a year.”
“Alright,” Han Li agreed. With a wave of his sleeve, he swept away all the items in a mist of azure light. Afterwards, he slapped his storage pouch and took out eight jade boxes storing different materials before starting to refine another puppet part.
In the eyes of a cultivator, a year was merely a moment. Apart from Han Li refining the puppet parts during this time, his Six-winged Frost Centipedes had suddenly evolved after consistently taking a Snow Soul Pill every month. After they molted, their bodies grew several times larger, and developed yet another pair of wings. Not only did their speed greatly increase, but they were far more nimble as well.
But after they evolved, the pills were no longer effective. It appeared their next evolution was still far away.
One day, Han Li was inside the hidden chamber with closed eyes and a sparkling silver puppet floated in the air in front of him. His fingers continuously shifted, each of them connected to a different part of the puppet by a golden thread. Slowly revolving a foot above the silver puppet’s head was a bamboo tube that faintly glowed with green light.
After an unknown amount of time, his expression stirred and fingers came to a stop before eventually opening his eyes.
“It appears there are no problems. The puppet has been fused to perfection. It is very surprising that I was able to so smoothly join it together.” Han Li stared at the puppet in front of him and revealed a trace of joy.
Monarch Soul Divergence’s voice sounded out from the tube. “That puppet is something that I had researched, and with my instructions, there isn’t a single possibility of a mistake. Now that everything else is finished, we can begin the soul fusion.”
“Will Senior reconsider? This is the first time you’re using this soul division technique. It could greatly influence the possibility of your reincarnation if it goes awry, and will your soul be able to persist after you split it?”
Monarch Soul Divergence softly chuckled and casually said, “I’ve spent most of my life dedicated to the art of puppets. I am perfectly willing for my soul to become one. And even if I don’t use this soul splitting technique, the end of my lifespan will soon approach. I’ve also already given you the remaining layers of the Great Development Technique. I hope you will succeed it and pass it onto a new generation.”
When Han Li heard this, he tensely frowned and let out a long sigh. “Since Senior has resolved himself, I won’t say any more. I hope for your success.”
Monarch Soul Divergence now heartily laughed, and a green light suddenly emerged from the bamboo tube, splitting it in half to reveal a small silhouette glowing with golden light.
This small silhouette was a puppet that was several inches tall. It was intricately detailed and made of a material that was neither wood nor gold, modeled after a middle-aged man with a refined appearance.
Green light shined from the eyes of this miniature man and then it sat down cross-legged. As soon as it muttered an incantation, a speck of green light flew out of its mouth and expanded to the size of a fist, then floating back onto the miniature man.
When Han Li saw this, his lips opened but no sound came out.
Monarch Soul Divergence began to utter the spell with greater speed and the green light grew ever brighter. Han Li squinted at the sight and was forced to use his Brightsight Spirit Eyes.
Then, Monarch Soul Divergence let out a scream of agony, causing the hidden chamber to tremble.
As Han Li watched with amazement, the light split in two. The larger ball of light flew towards the silver puppet and the smaller one flickered before flying into the miniature man’s mouth. With the green light faded away, the miniature man returned into view, but this time, it had a slumped head and the eyes shined ever dimmer.
Han Li didn’t dare to delay. He flicked his fingers at the puppet, had its mouth open, and drew in the ball of green light with silver threads. Afterwards, the puppet glowed with silver light and its body began to tremble.
His face sank and he spat out a stream of purple flame, striking at the puppet. With a loud crackle, a dense layer of ice spread across and firmly sealed it in place.
He had now sighed with relief, but worry appeared on his face as he raised his head to look at the miniature man in the air.
“So this is what it feels like to divide one’s soul...how incredible...I suspect I am the only cultivator in the entire world to experience this feeling.” Monarch Soul Divergence’s wild cackle suddenly sounded out from the small puppet, but his voice sounded quite weak as if he were extremely ill.
Han Li couldn’t help but ask, “Senior, are you alright?”
“Don’t worry,” Monarch Soul Divergence reassured him with an excited tone, “Although I won’t last long, I’ll still be able to persist for half a month. Quickly now, fuse the soul to the puppet and allow me to witness it’s true might before I pass.”
Han Li raised his brow and said, “Of course, but before that, I’ll use a Soul Concentrating Talisman to help stabilize Senior’s remaining soul.” Then with a wave of his sleeve, he released a crimson talisman.
“A Soul Concentrating Talisman, how rare! It is a bit of a waste to use it on someone who is about to perish.”
With a tremble of his wrist, the crimson talisman glowed with light and struck the small puppet. A red mist suddenly burst out and was quickly drawn into it. Han Li then calmly said, “This is something I’ve acquired from the storage pouch of a Nascent Soul cultivator I killed. Precious as it may be, I didn't spend any effort to acquire it and may as well make use of it.”
With a stronger voice, Monarch Soul Divergence said in an odd tone, “Not bad, I feel quite better, but don’t expect me to repay you.”
“...I am only repaying the help you gave me in the past.”
Monarch Soul Divergence snorted several times and then beckoned to the two halves of the bamboo tube. With a rustle of air, they shot towards him and closed around him once more. Afterwards, it floated back to Han Li’s side.
Han Li didn’t say anything further and beckoned to the large chunk of ice. Purple light flashed from it and the frost covering the puppet began to thaw.
He sat again on the ground cross-legged and slapped the top of his head. In a flash of azure light, a Nascent Soul emerged and flew over to the puppet.
Three months later, Han Li emerged from the desolate island and streaked across the air in azure light.
Bitter Bamboo Island was a small obscure isle in the nearby seas of the Great Jin, and was surrounded in blue mist all year long.
The island’s master was Old Man Bitter Bamboo. Although he wasn’t widely famous in the mainland’s cultivation world, a few mid and late-Nascent Soul eccentrics on the continent held him in fear.
To those overseas, he was particularly famous. Although he was only a mid-Nascent Soul cultivator, he had over three hundred and sixty-five glacial Bitter Bamboo swords created from the Divine Mulberry Tree on the island, and was held at the same level as the three great overseas cultivators.
On Bitter Bamboo Island, the Divine Mulberry Tree served as the center of a grand formation that consisted of over ten thousand trees. The formation itself was quite wondrous and its reputation widespread amongst oversea cultivators for tens of thousands of years as one of the many fantastical ancient formations that still existed. Even if a late-Nascent Soul cultivator was to intrude, their abilities would be greatly weakened.
One day, however, an uninvited guest appeared near the island.