Since the topic of the tree wasn’t a kept secret, the old man explained, “These Divine Mulberry Trees all stem from the same roots, so they are considered to be the same.”
Han Li clicked his tongue in awe, “That is quite eye-opening. It is said that the Divine Mulberry Tree is only exceeded by the Three Great Divine Trees. “
Afterwards, Han Li followed the cultivator to an area seemingly filled with trees, and suddenly felt the nearby spiritual Qi shake. The scene before him blurred and massively changed, revealing a kilometer tall mountain. Surrounding the mountain were buildings of various sizes with a few cultivators darting back and forth between them.
“You all can go ahead and attend to your own matters,” the old man commanded the other cultivators. He then turned to Han Li and said, “Seniors, please follow me.”
They followed the old man to the top of the mountain where there was a huge hall carved out of a giant tree. There were four cultivators wearing green armor outside of the hall, each of them with a halberd in hand.
When the old man brought Han Li to the entrance, the four remained completely still as if they were statues.
Han Li curled his lips and felt a bit of surprise.
Although they were only Foundation Establishment cultivators, the wood spiritual Qi their body emitted was the purest he had ever seen from a cultivator of their grade, and their equipment were all top-grade wood-attribute spiritual tools. It was a remarkable sight.
As if having seen through Han Li’s surprise, the old man smiled and took the initiative to explain, “These four are our Wood Spirit Soldiers who were personally trained by the master with the aid of the Divine Mulberry tree’s power and they cultivate a peculiar art. Although their cultivation isn’t high, they are skilled in joint attacks. If Senior has the opportunity, you could give them some pointers.”
Han Li nodded and said, “They truly are unordinary cultivators.”
When the old man saw that Han Li appeared indifferent, he tactfully dropped the matter and they entered the hall.
The wood hall wasn’t a complex structure. Apart from the main room, there was only one side chamber. As soon as they entered, they found a tall man standing with his back turned to them. He wore long green robes and had snow-white hair.
When the old man saw this person, he deeply bowed with a solemn expression and silently stood in place.
Han Li stared at the man and asked, “Are you Old Man Bitter Bamboo?”
The green-robed man chuckled and turned around, “That’s right. You are quite unfamiliar to me though. Since you’ve dared to ask of my name, you Fellow Daoists must be from the mainland?”
Han Li narrowed his eyes when he saw this person. He had a young and handsome face that belonged to someone in their early twenties, but there was a faint layer of green Qi surrounding his face.
Han Li was quite shocked as he expected to meet an old man with a faceful of wrinkles. This Old Man Bitter Bamboo was like himself; his appearance was halted through the use of some sort of technique.
Although he was smiling, when he saw Han Li, a peculiar emotion was betrayed from his eyes.
Han Li politely said, “In truth, we aren’t cultivators from overseas. My surname is Han and this is my Senior Martial Brother Li. I hope you won’t take offense at how I’ve boldly paid you a visit.
Old Man Bitter Bamboo examined them both and smiled, saying, “So it was like that? I would’ve welcomed you if I could. Fellow Daoist Li’s cultivation is particularly profound, I can’t even determine it. It is quite eye-opening.”
Han Li smiled and said, “Fellow Daoist Bitter Bamboo is too modest. Your reputation is resounding throughout the land.”
Old Man Bitter Bamboo chuckled and said, “How about you two first try our island’s unique mulberry tea before we begin any talks?”
Afterwards, he curtly clapped his hand and several young female cultivators walked in with a tea set. After steeping a cup of a faint green tea for each of the cultivators, they respectfully took their leave.
Han Li lowered his head to look at the tea on the table and saw that it was filled with wood spiritual Qi. With a shifting air, he asked, “Does this tea have anything to do with your Divine Mulberry Tree?”
Old Man Bitter Bamboo proudly said, “Fellow Daoist is quite perceptive. The tea is infused with the leaves of the Divine Mulberry Tree and has quite an effect on clearing the mind. There is no other such tea in any place in the world.”
“Hmm, I truly have to taste it then.” After sweeping his spiritual sense past the tea, Han Li found no problem with it and took a sip.
When Old Man Bitter Bamboo saw the other cultivator sitting there without drinking the tea, he asked with an odd expression, “Fellow Daoist Li, do you not like tea?”
In a voice lacking any emotion, the puppet said said, “Ever since I’ve begun fasting, I’ve never partaken in any food or drink outside of my cave residence.”
“Ah, it seems I’ve been quite imprudent.” Old Man Bamboo betrayed a trace of annoyance on his face, but he quickly concealed it.
‘Since this eccentric dared to act this way in front of me, he must be confident in his abilities. Could it be that he is actually a late-Nascent Soul cultivator?’ As these thoughts appeared in his mind, he felt a trace of fear towards this person.
After taking a few more sips of the tea, Han Li put down the cup and asked, “Fellow Daoist Bamboo should know our reason for coming. What do you think about my proposal?”
With an unsightly expression, Old Man Bitter Bamboo frowned and shortly grimaced, “I’ll be honest. This trade is quite difficult for me. The Black Phoenix is currently at a crucial moment in its growth. I am unwilling to agree to the exchange no matter how many demon cores you offer. Who knows if there will ever come a time that the phoenix will have another breakthrough.”
“Then you mean to say that you don’t agree?” Han Li pursed his lips, but he wasn’t surprised to hear this in the slightest.
“Hehe, if I truly refused you two, I fear that you would be unwilling to return empty-handed. How about this, as cultivators as powerful as we are, how about we compare a few of our techniques? If one of you are able to defeat me in battle, I may be willing to agree to the trade, but if not...”
“If not, we will immediately leave and never mention this matter again,” Han Li said without hesitation.
Old Man Bitter Bamboo swept his gaze past the two and mysteriously smiled. “Good, it is settled then. I haven’t had a measure of strength in nearly a hundred years. Which one of you will I be fighting?”
Under Han Li’s control, he willed the puppet to say, “If you find it acceptable, how about sparring with me?”
“That’s fine. I’m also quite curious to see Brother Li’s techniques. We will compare pointers above the mountain, come!” When Old Man Bitter Bamboo saw that his opponent would be the man with the mysterious cultivation, he solemnly stood up from his chair.
Han Li and the puppet followed after him.
The old steward that had remained silent this entire time couldn’t help but reveal an excited expression. A battle between Nascent Soul cultivators wasn’t something that was often seen.
Soon, Han Li was floating over three hundred meters above the mountain and wore a calm expression. He stood a hundred meters away from Old Man Bitter Bamboo and the puppet.
In the air nearby, there were eight additional Core Formation cultivators that were watching with wide-open eyes.
“Go!” Old Man Bitter Bamboo shouted. He formed an incantation gesture, and a blinding light suddenly covered his body. Over a hundred faint green flying swords were released around him in specks of light, filling the air with an astonishing pressure.
The glowing swords flickered and arranged themselves in a strange formation. They then began to revolve above Old Man Bitter Bamboo, producing a strangely hostile intent.
When Han Li saw this, his expression suddenly froze.
‘Having refined so many flying swords, it is only natural for him to comprehend sword formations so well.’ Although he had already guessed as much, he was still shocked to see it with his own eyes.
Monarch Soul Divergence clicked his tongue and excitedly said, “Youngster Han, it seems this person has quite a bit of skill. This will allow the puppet to reveal even more of its powers! Let’s first test the puppets defensive abilities.” His voice didn’t carry a trace of doubt.
“Understood.” Having used so many rare materials to refine it, Han Li was also excited to see what would happen and he commanded the puppet to act.
From a distance, he saw it open its mouth and spit out a palm-sized shield. In a flash of light, it transformed into a huge silver shield in front of it. In quick succession, the puppet formed an incantation gesture and various-colored talisman characters appeared in the air, condensing into a rainbow barrier covering both shield and body.
Old Man Bitter Bamboo yelped when he saw this and asked, “Could you be from Nanjiang’s Sacred Poison Sect? This ability appears similar to their sect’s trademark Spiritmark Technique.”
Han Li’s heart stirred when he heard this but he commanded the puppet to curtly speak, “No.”
An odd expression appeared on Old Man Bitter Bamboo’s face and then he replied, “Oh? So I was mistaken. However, there is an undeniable resemblance.” It was clear he was doubtful.
However, he didn’t ask any further questions. When he saw that his opponent did nothing, he felt as if he was being underestimated. Annoyed, his expression turned sullen and he began to mutter an incantation.
The hundreds of flying swords above him began to buzz and tremble before shooting out from the formation as three-meter-long swordstreaks, obsuring the sky with their barrage. They all combined into a huge ray of light enroute, producing an astonishing pressure and dazzling radiance.