Light flashed in the distant sky, followed by a streak of azure tearing through the sky like a bolt of lightning, arriving fifty kilometers away from an island covered in mist. The light faded away to reveal a youth wearing Confucian robes and carrying a bamboo tube on his back.
Han Li looked down at the mist, but his vision was completely concealed. He raised his brow and tried once more with blue light flashing from his eyes. A moment later, his expression became sullen.
He muttered, “The grand Myriad Tree Formation is worthy of its reputation. Even with the use of my Brightsight Spirit Eyes, I can’t see through their restrictions.”
“Of course. This trip will make a great target to test the puppet's strength. Not only is Old Man Bitter Bamboo an optimal opponent, but you also need the tail feathers of their Black Phoenix for the Triflame Fan.” Monarch Soul Divergence’s weak voice sounded out from the bamboo tube. Ever since he had performed the soul division, his strength had been on the decline.
Han Li worriedly asked, “Exactly, but will you be able to persist?”
Monarch Soul Divergence softly chuckled, “Don’t worry, with the aid of the Soul Concentrating Talisman, I won’t easily pass away from this world before seeing the true might of this puppet.”
Han Li nodded and looked down once again. He narrowed his eyes and slapped a storage pouch at his waist. Then in the glow of azure light, a pale middle-aged cultivator with a stature similar to Han Li appeared.
The cultivator wore yellow robes and had impeccably smooth skin. Under closer inspection, it had a clear resemblance to the miniature puppet that Monarch Soul Divergence housed himself in, but the eyes glinted with cold light and its expression was void of emotion.
Although Han Li had seen this puppet many times before, he couldn’t help but take another look.
The Flexile Spirit Jade was truly miraculous and created the appearance of a lifelike person. Under Monarch Soul Divergence’s refinement instructions, the grey stone had turned into the color of flesh and was fused with Tailstar Silver to become the puppet’s outer shell.
Because Flexile Spirit Jade could change shape, one could place a thread of spiritual sense inside and control the puppet to speak and change appearance.
However, there was one glaring problem with using the puppet. Full use of its abilities for repeated attacks could only be sustained with high-grade spirit stones for a puppet as grand as this, but they were incredibly rare. Though they are all in high demand in every market, Han Li was able to gather a few of them. He reckoned that if it were to attack in full force, it would consume one high-grade spirit stone in a quarter hour.
“Let’s begin,” Han Li calmly said. Since the puppet had been refined, it needed to be tested.
The puppet raised its hands and spread out its fingers, immediately gathering mists of blue light around each palm. In the blink of an eye, it condensed into huge blinding spheres that carried an astonishing pressure.
With a flick of its wrists, the light spheres shot forward in a line and disappeared deep into the mist.
Han Li expressionlessly glanced down in silence.
Shortly after, a world-shaking eruption burst out and the calm mist now wildly surged. Two broad pillars of wind erupted into the sky and wildly wreaked havoc, scattering three hundred meters of the mist around them like a storm. The surrounding winds howled furiously in rage as they blew.
Han Li took advantage of the chaos and looked again, faintly catching sight of a large island. A barrier of green light appeared above it and seemed to cover most of it.
A dozen streaks of various colored light then flew directly towards them without restraint. It was clear that the attack had alarmed the cultivators on the island.
Han Li examined them and saw that there was a large disparity of power among them. They ranged from Foundation Establishment to Core Formation stage and were being led by a late-Core Formation cultivator.
“Who are you two? Why have you- Yi! May I ask why you two Seniors have paid our island a visit?”
When the old man arrived, he originally thought to rebuke and interrogate them, but when their leader swept his spiritual sense past Han Li, he discovered he possessed mid-Nascent Soul cultivation, much like his master. When he wasn’t able to see through the others cultivation especially, he felt his heart drop and his tone quickly changed.
Han Li blinked and smiled, saying, “I’ve long heard of Fellow Daoist Bamboo’s famous reputation, and decided to pay him a visit. Could you make a report?”
The old man in charge was surprised and then also smiled, “That is unfortunate. The master had entered seclusion several years prior and cannot meet with guests. If you two Seniors have any important requests, can you first mention them to me? The matters of Bitter Bamboo Island have been left in my charge.”
Han Li calmly said, “Fellow Daoist Bitter Bamboo is in seclusion? What a pity, but it’ll be fine since you can handle it. I heard that your esteemed island was nurturing a Black Phoenix, is this true?”
The old man felt his heart tremble. “What does Senior mean?”
With an unchanged expression, Han Li calmly said. “It’s nothing much. I just want to refine a treasure that will require three of its tail feathers. I am willing to trade a grade-seven and three grade-six demon cores. Are you willing to agree?” After that, he summoned four jade boxes in front of him with a sweep of his sleeve.
He casually pointed to each of them, and they opened to reveal four various-colored demon cores with one of them slightly larger than the others.
“Exchange these for phoenix feathers?” The old man asked with confusion. As Han Li’s request was beyond his expectations, he couldn’t help but feel at a loss.
Han Li’s smile faded to reveal a solemn expression. “That’s right. Your Black Phoenix should be a grade-seven demon beast. It should be a fair trade with this many demon cores and show that my intentions are sincere.”
The old man’s expression wavered for a long while before eventually shaking his head. “These demon cores would be more than enough for the trade. However, this isn’t something that I can decide.”
When Han Li heard this, his face turned cold as he silently glared at the old man.
When he saw that Han Li appeared angered, his heart sank and hastily explained, “Please don’t misunderstand, Senior. I don’t mean you any disrespect, but the Black Phoenix is undergoing a crucial point in its cultivation. We cannot do anything that would harm it.”
“So it was like that, but I cannot give up on those feathers. How about this? I’ll add another grade-seven demon core to compensate you for your loss.” Han Li frowned and then took out another jade box.
The Bitter Bamboo Island cultivators then looked at each other in dismay.
“What, are you still unwilling to accept?” Han Li gloomily sighed and then looked at those present with an icy expression.
The old man trembled under Han Li’s frigid gaze. After taking another glance at the unknown cultivator at Han Li’s side, he eventually gritted his teeth and said, “Since this matter is so incredibly important, I truly cannot make the decision. Please wait a moment, I will take upon the risk of offending the master and send him a message. Let us wait for his reply.” If he handled this improperly or ended up provoking a powerful enemy, he would be punished regardless.
“Good, I’ll wait.” Han Li nodded and his face relaxed.
As a result, the old man made certain of the details and then released the voice transmission talisman back to the island. Knowing the vast cultivation of the two cultivators, he had no other choice but to disturb his master.
Han Li didn’t wait for long. As he examined the restrictions on the island, he heard an aged voice echo out.
“So it was a Nascent Soul-stage Fellow Daoist that has paid a visit. I hope you’ll forgive me for not coming out personally to greet you.” With that said, Old Man Bamboo then commanded his disciples, “Bring them to the Phoenix Pavilion. I’ll come shortly.”
The old man hastily bowed in salute and respectfully replied, “As you command, Master!” Then, he turned and smiled, “Seniors, please follow me. The Master has agreed to meet you.”
Han Li glanced around and said with an unchanged tone, “Good, I was interested in taking a look at this well-renowned island.” Afterwards, he descended with the puppet in tow.
With the assistance of the late-Nascent Soul stage puppet, Han Li reckoned they wouldn’t be able to restrain him even if they activated the Myriad Tree Formation.
In the blink of an eye, the party flew into the island through an opening in the barrier.
As soon as Han Li entered, he suddenly felt a wave of spiritual Qi immerse his senses. He looked down below at the large verdant trees, seeing them grow up to heights of over a hundred meters. There were a large variety, including those that were rarely ever seen.
Among them, there were a dozen that were clearly larger than the others, mulberry trees that were a bizarre purple. They were strangely arranged throughout the island, presumably in accordance with Daoist principles.
Han Li frowned and suddenly asked the old man, “These are your islands Divine Mulberry Trees, wasn’t there only said to be one? How can there be a dozen?”
The old man stole a few glances at the unknown cultivator and silently thought, ‘Why has he never spoken or face moved? Could he possess a peculiar character?’