Chapter 683: Two Choices

Han Li turned his head and coldly glanced at the two Core Formation cultivators that were passing by, causing them to immediately swallow their words. He didn’t recognize the two middle-aged cultivators, nor did he know which sect they belonged to.

At that moment, the shopkeeper and his two assistants had already been thoroughly forced to the ground due to their close proximity to the immense spiritual pressure. They were incapable of moving in the slightest, seeming panic-stricken, only to grow even more terrified upon hearing that Han Li was a Nascent Soul cultivator. They hurriedly tried to beg for forgiveness, but they could barely even gasp for air, let alone speak.

The surrounding cultivators all paled, while a few of the more cowardly ones had already fled in fear of being implicated.

Han Li showed consideration for Sun Huo, and the pressure had little effect on him apart from his initial recoil. But once he recognized Han Li, his expression changed before he deeply saluted him and said, “Disciple Sun Huo pays his respects to Martial Ancestor Han.”

Paying no further attention to the three men in front of him, Han Li turned around and looked at the half-torn talisman in Sun Huo’s hand. He nodded his head and said, “It seems there is no need for introductions. You already know of my identity.”

When Sun Huo recalled the rude words he spoke to Han Li at the sacred area, he felt greatly worried and humbly apologized with sincerity, “Disciple was unaware of Martial Ancestor’s true form. I hope he will forgive disciple’s arrogant words.”

Han Li looked at Sun Huo and slowly said, “I had yet to become a sect elder at that time, so of course I won’t blame you. However, that torn talisman of yours seems to have something to do with me.”

Sun Huo was stunned as something suddenly came to mind. He joyfully said, “Could this ruined talisman be...”

Han Li waved and cut him off, “Leave this matter for later.” Han Li’s eyes then narrowed as he gazed at a silver streak of light flying across the sky.

The only cultivators that were allowed to fly in Soaring Heavens City were obviously the Nine Nations Union protectors. They were responsible for keeping order during the entire duration of the trade fair. 

Sun Huo didn’t dare to speak any further and obediently stood still in place. However, his heart was brimming with uncontainable excitement, and his grasp on the talisman paper grew even more careful.

At that moment, the streak of light arrived before Han Li to reveal a yellow-haired old man possessing mid Core Formation cultivation. A small golden sword was embroidered on his chest, the emblem of an enforcer.

The old man could sense Han Li’s astonishing pressure from a distance. However, this area laid within his jurisdictions. Even if there was a Nascent Soul cultivator showing their might, he had no choice but to confront them.

Once the old man spotted Han Li motionlessly standing on the road, he saluted him and said, “Junior is an enforcer of Soaring Heavens City, Wu Fei. I am unaware as to why Senior is angry. Might I ask how I can help?” Given the vast disparity in their cultivation, it was only natural for the enforcer to speak respectfully.

Hands behind his back, Han Li indifferently said, “It’s not much. I was merely walking through the street when I heard this shopkeeper speak a few words about our Drifting Cloud Sect. Therefore, I merely wished for him to repeat what he said.”

“Ah! The shopkeeper certainly spouted nonsense. How dare they offend Senior? You three, hurry up and apologize.” The old man felt an immense headache upon hearing Han Li. When the matter pertained to a sect’s reputation, it was hard to say how severe the matter was. As such, he first offered a word of appeasement before rebuking the shopkeeper and his associates.

Han Li immediately withdrew his spiritual pressure, allowing the three to tremblingly crawl up from the ground. With a bloodless complexion, the shopkeeper immediately said, “Senior, Junior’s words were completely mistaken. Junior truly meant no disrespect to your sect. Just now that Fellow Daoist had ruined a firecloud talisman, but Junior will no longer be pursuing any compensation. Junior can only offer his apologies.”

When Han Li heard this, he frowned and his expression grew gloomy. With a sinister smile, Han Li said, “What? You believe that I will let you off so easily? First let me take a look at the firecloud talisman in that box. If it truly was refined by a grandmaster, I will pay the spirit stones on this disciple’s behalf. But if it isn’t, hehe...”

The shopkeeper reacted quickly and hurriedly spoke before Han Li could glance at the wooden box, “There is no need Senior! That firecloud talisman is an ordinary talisman. Junior accepts any punishment!”

Han Li said nothing further and took a glance at the enforcer.

When the old man saw this, he knew what to do. He immediately bowed and said, “Please be at ease Senior. This shopkeeper will be heavily punished for his transgressions. Senior may hand this matter over to me.”

“Since that’s the case, then so be it. I don’t have the leisure to handle such a petty affair. Sun Huo, you’ll be coming with me!” Han Li’s body blurred, and reappeared at Sun Huo’s side. Then with flashes of blinding yellow light, the two disappeared into the ground. 

The cultivators nearby yelped in admiration at such a marvelous earth movement technique. They hadn’t seen such a thing before.  

Upon seeing Han Li depart, the old man immediately felt relieved. But when he glanced at the three offenders who were heaving large sighs of relief, his expression grew icy, “You three will follow me and tell me the truth about everything that happened. This matter won’t be forgiven so easily.”

When the shopkeeper heard this, his relief instantly turned to misery.

A moment after this exchange, Han Li appeared with Sun Huo in a flash of yellow light inside a secluded stone building.

Han Li deeply glanced at Sun Huo and said, “Here will be fine. Let me take a look at that torn piece of talisman paper.”

“Yes, Martial Ancestor!” Sun Huo presented the torn talisman paper to Han Li without any hesitation.

Han Li took the talisman paper and quickly glanced at it before silently taking out the other half. Under Sun Huo’s unwavering gaze, Han Li put the two halves together and found that they matched without a single flaw.

Sun Huo’s deepest fear disappeared without a trace before he deeply saluted Han Li without any hesitation, “Sun Huo pays his respect to Master.”

Han Li calmly nodded his head and turned the talisman paper to ash with a flicker of red light. Sun Huo was startled by the sight but immediately calmed down. Han Li found the youth’s willpower to be satisfactory.

Han Li calmly asked, “It seems you’re a descendant of Sun Ergou, but don’t go calling me Master in such a hurry. First, how about telling me what generation descendant you are?”

Sun Huo immediately relied, “I am a seventh generation descendant of the ancestor.”

“During that year, Sun Ergou pledged that the Sun Clan that he raised would hold me as their master [1], but because of a few peculiar matters, I had to leave the Heavenly South. As such, the Sun Clan has never truly served me nor have I offered the Sun Clan any protection. Now that a descendant of the Sun Clan has successfully entered the cultivation world, that pledge may no longer hold. But since I had some relation to your ancestor, I will give you two choices.”

Han Li smirked and calmly continued, “The first option is that I directly give you some good cultivation supplies, such as medicine pills and magic tools. From then on, there will be no relation between us. Don’t hold any hope that I will show any further consideration towards you. The other choice is that you fulfill the pledge of your ancestor and serve me as my retainer. I would in turn place a restriction on your body to prevent you from betraying me. Also, I will assign you tasks that will be potentially dangerous. However, I will also do my utmost to increase your cultivation and provide you with cultivation guidance. There will be benefits far beyond your imagination and so long as your aptitude isn’t too poor, there may be hope of you achieving Core Formation.”

Once this was said, Sun Huo’s expression wavered and he appeared to be at a complete loss for a moment. It was clear that this scenario was far from what he had expected.

After a long while, Sun Huo’s expression grew resolute, “Martial Ancestor, I...”

Han Li abruptly interrupted Sun Huo and said, “There is no need to rush. Give me your answer once the trade fair ends. Consider this an opportunity for you to make certain of your decision. Take this time to make careful deliberations and you find me at my cave residence once you return to the State of Xi.” 

Sun Huo felt that this was a rather generous proposal after some further thought and hastily agreed, “Disciple will do as you command. Many thanks for your understanding, Martial Ancestor!”

“Good. Now, that that’s taken care of I have other matters to attend to. Look after yourself!” Han Li nodded with a relaxed expression and disappeared in a flash of yellow light.

Sun Huo didn’t leave immediately. Instead, he muttered to himself for a long while and sighed before slowly walking out.

By the time Sun Huo was leaving, Han Li had already returned to his residence and raised his head to look at the night sky while a strange expression slowly surfaced on his face.

[1] Sun Ergou was luggage carrier that was roped into serving Han Li (first appeared in chapter 100). In the past, he looked after Crooked Soul while Han Li was at Yellow Maple Valley. In chapter 335, Sun Ergou swore servitude to Han Li in exchange for the protection of his clan. He was given torn talisman paper as an identifier.