Han Li fiddled with the jade slip in his hand as he pondered. Then with a flash of azure light, the jade slip vanished and Han Li began to walk in large strides towards the location it described.
After passing through a majority of Soaring Heavens City, Han Li arrived at a remote corner of the city where an ordinary mixed-goods store was located. This store had a black wooden sign on its entrance, reading the “Jade Union Pavilion” in large flamboyant calligraphy.
Han Li examined it before slowly walking into the building. The interior wasn’t large — he only walked into a hall that was about twenty meters in length. A majority of the items being sold were common materials and talismans. To the side, there was an exquisite side door that led to the back.
There was a middle-aged man in grey robes behind the sales counter near the entrance. He appeared to be looking through a small ledger. Han Li swept his spiritual sense past him and saw that his cultivation was very low, only in the realm of Qi Condensation. Furthermore, the shopkeeper’s appearance was rather ordinary.
The middle-aged shopkeeper immediately smiled and stood up upon seeing Han Li enter and he quickly welcomed him.
“Senior, what is it you wish to look at? My store is filled with all sort of goods. It will definitely be to your satisfaction.”
Han Li smiled and he flipped his hand, revealing the green jade slip in his grasp. After he placed it in the shopkeeper’s hands, the shopkeeper had a vast change of expression and he quickly placed it away. He asked with a respectful tone, “May I ask for Senior’s name?”
Han Li casually answered, “Han Li!”
“So it turned out to be Senior Han. Martial Ancestor has already mentioned Senior Han would be coming, but I hadn’t expected it to be this soon. Please follow me.” The middle-aged man invited Han Li to the back once he finished speaking. Han Li nodded his head and silently entered.
To his surprise, it led to a warehouse with all sorts of cabinets and trunks placed all over. The walls were particularly filled to the brim.
The middle-aged man stepped forward and walked in front of wood cabinet. He gently pushed one of the corners, causing two of the adjacent cabinets to separate and reveal a stairway.
The middle-aged shopkeeper led the way and explained, “Out of fear that occasional guests would sense any restriction, we had a mechanism placed from the mortal realm.”
Han Li didn’t feel particularly surprised by this.
The middle-aged man then stepped on a tile and caused a wall to open with a muffle creak, revealing an eerie passageway down.
The shopkeeper stood to the side and smiled, “This Junior doesn’t have the qualifications to enter. Senior must go on his own.”
Han Li frowned and swept his spiritual sense downwards and felt faint spiritual Qi fluctuations in the passageway. When he examined further, he found a layer of restrictions there, but Han Li was able to judge it with his spell formation knowledge to be a simple spirit obstruction barrier. Although Han Li could forcefully break through it, the people within it would be sure to notice it.
Han Li revealed slight hesitation. Although he was sure that the Heavenpeak Sect elder wouldn’t try anything foolish within Soaring Heavens City, he didn’t wish to enter a sealed area with someone whom he didn’t know was friend or foe.
As Han Li hesitated, the people from within formation seemed to guess what Han Li thinking. A moment later, the barrier was removed, allowing Han Li’s spiritual sense to see within. Han Li’s heart stirred at the deliberate show of trust, and he was amazed by what he discovered.
“It’s him! That’s a surprise.” Han Li muttered to himself and walked down the passage without any further hesitation.
When the middle-aged man saw that Han Li descended, he sealed the passage and return the cabinets to normal before going back to tend to the shop.
The passage was very long, and descended about a hundred meters deep to preserve its secretive nature. Eventually, Han Li saw the light from within the darkness and knew that he had arrived at an exit. He quickened his pace and found himself in a stone room.
The room was rather large, but it was completely empty apart from a few praying mats. Facing its entrance were two men that were sitting cross-legged on such a mat. They both looked at Han Li with a smile. Han Li remained silent, choosing first the find an empty prayer mat to sit on.
Han Li smiled to one of the two and returned the smile, “I absolutely didn’t think that Fellow Daoist would find me. It is truly a surprise to find you here.”
This person wore a tall crown and blue robes. Marquis Nanlong wryly smiled and said, “Truly, even I found it difficult to believe that I had escaped calamity. When we separated, I believed I had escaped, but they had tracked me down using a secret technique. They had caught up to me at the edge of the Moulan Plains. However, the Heavens favor the persistent, and I later found a group of high grade spell warriors that were looking for us.
In the resulting confusion, I was able to fortunately return as my pursuers were vastly slowed down by the spell warriors.” After that was said, a hidden intensity appeared on his face.
His face was far more pale that Han Li had remembered and his eyes were listless. He must’ve suffered much damage to his vitality. Of course, the person by his side was the old white-robed Heavenpeak Sect Elder he had met earlier.
“Fellow Daoist Nanlong has earned my appreciation from being able to escape under those circumstances. But shouldn’t Brother Nanlong be resting in his cave residence rather than urgently finding me? There was no hesitation either to send a disciple to bother my concubine. I am at somewhat of a loss.” Han Li’s smile faded away and there was faint annoyance in his tone.
“Hehe! Fellow Daoist misunderstands. I only did it because I had no choice. Fellow Daoist should know there are now people pursuing us. This secret plan was to escape their notice.
This is Fellow Daoist Jadepearl of the Heavenpeak Sect, a friend I would trust my life with. He was originally to come with us on the last treasure hunt, but it was a pity that he was occupied with sect matters at the time.”
Marquis Nanlong’s attitude towards Han Li had entirely changed from when he first saw him; it was no much more respectful. It seemed that he was deeply moved when he saw Han Li killing another Nascent Soul cultivator.
At that moment, the white-robed old man chuckled and saluted Han Li. He spoke with a regretful tone, “If my methods have offended you, I hope Fellow Daoist Han won’t take it to heart. It was the only way.”
Han Li waved his hand and said, “It’s fine. Since there was a reason, I’ll let it go. However, did Fellow Daoist Nanlong seek me out because or something from the jade box?”
Marquis Nanlong solemnly said, “Fellow Daoist guessed right. According to my sources, the Ghost Spirit Sect paid a heavy price to bribe our previous party members. They are determined to acquire Master Cang Kun’s map and method to enter Devilfall Valley. Fellow Daoist Han just happened to acquire one of the items needed to enter Devilfall Valley. When combined with my map, we will be able to avoid a majority of dangers in the valley, allowing use to acquire the treasure.”
Something soon came to Han Li’s mind, “An item essencial to entering Devilfall Valley? Do you mean the black ring?”
Marquis Nanlong grew excited and a bit of color returned to his complexion, “The Heaven-Earth Ring is true within Han Li’s possession. This is great.”
“The Heaven-Earth Ring?” Han Li frowned and felt the name to be somewhat familiar. He suddenly grew alarmed and looked towards Marquis Nanlong. He bewilderedly asked, “The Heaven-Earth Rings that Wise Huang refined from meteor iron? I heard that ordinary, the ring doesn’t possess great ability but when it came across Greatnorth Essence Light, it is able to control the essence light to kill others and become formless. It is considered a magic treasure of little interest.”
“Fellow Daoist is truly knowledgeable. It is precisely that item. The Heaven-Earth Rings are divided into Yin and Yang. The Yin rings are able to protect oneself from essence light while the Yang Rings are able to control the essence light to attack. Fellow Daoist Han should be in possession of the Yin ring.
Originally, Master Cang Kun drew assistance from the ring and managed to pass through the valley’s essence light area unscated. To my knowledge, although there are other methods to pass through the Greatnorth Essence Light, but it would require an extensive formation placed down by many cultivators or treasures that are lost or incapable of being acquired.”
“Fellow Daoist means...” Han Li glanced at the two and began to ponder about the dangers and what there was to be gained.