The green-robed man hesitated momentarily before asking, "Are you alright, Senior Martial Brother?"
"I'm fine. It's just a pity that all of my efforts have gone to waste!" A wry smile appeared on Master Arctic Dragon's face as he rose to his feet. The lotus of light beneath him instantly crumbled, disintegrating into specks of spiritual light which soon disappeared.
He then descended gently onto the massive rock down below.
"That really is a pity. Your spiritual sense was only slightly lacking, Fellow Daoist Arctic Dragon. Otherwise, you would have succeeded in making your breakthrough. In any case, the secret technique that you have invented is indeed a feasible method progressing to the Deity Transformation stage." The old woman heaved a forlorn sigh before offering words of encouragement.
"Indeed, Madam Long. It will be exceedingly difficult for someone to possess a glacial flame themselves, then to find a glacial location like the Profound Jade Cave, but I'm sure many people will try to replicate your method, Fellow Daoist Arctic Dragon," the monk chimed in with a smile.
Master Arctic Dragon grimaced upon hearing the monk's words, but he merely shook his head with a resigned expression.
He then looked down at his own hands, and a hint of emotion flashed through his eyes at the sight of his firm and supple skin.
"Fellow Daoist Arctic Dragon, seeing as there is nothing else to be done here, isn't it time for you to withdraw this formation spell and allow us to return to the stone hall to recover our energy?" Han Li asked with furrowed brows. At the same time, he glanced around at the light barrier that had just appeared around them again.
"No hurry. I still have some things I need to take care of, and I'll withdraw the formation spell once I've done everything I need to do," Master Arctic Dragon replied indifferently without even looking up at Han Li.
The green-robed man and Bai Mengxin took a glance at one another before hovering expressionlessly above Master Arctic Dragon.
"What do you mean by that?" The monk had figured out that something was amiss and his expression immediately darkened. The old woman didn't say anything, but a wary look had also appeared on her face. Her hand rustled in her sleeve, as if she were grabbing onto something, and she turned to appraise the trio from the North Night Palace with a cold expression.
"No need to be alarmed, fellow Daoists. I bear no ill will toward any of you. I would simply like Brother Han to return something that belongs to me." Master Arctic Dragon finally raised his head to look at Han Li while the silver daggers around him began to emit a ringing sound. At the same time, there was already golden light shimmering within his eyes, seemingly as if he had already recovered all of his magic power."Return something that belongs to you?" Both the monk and old woman turned to Han Li with a hint of surprise on their faces.
"Sure you jest, fellow Daoist. This is my first time here at the North Night Palace, and I've never taken anything from here."
A peculiar look appeared on Master Arctic Dragon's face upon hearing Han Li's words, and he fell silent for a moment. All of a sudden, he flipped his hand over and a ball of blue light appeared over his palm. Within that blue light was a miniature cauldron.
"That's the Celestial Blue Cauldron!" the monk exclaimed. He then rummaged around in his sleeve with a stunned expression before producing an identical miniature cauldron.
His gaze traveled back and forth between the two cauldrons, unable to comprehend the situation.
Master Arctic Dragon turned to Han Li with narrowed eyes, and said, "No need to be alarmed, Fellow Daoist Mo Jiu. Your cauldron is not counterfeit; it is also a genuine Celestial Blue Cauldron. It's just that there is not just one Celestial Blue Cauldron, but a pair instead. Furthermore, both of these ancient treasures are merely replicas of something else. What I'm asking for from Fellow Daoist Han is none other than the Divine Spirit Treasure, the Heavenvoid Cauldron. You do have it, am I correct?"
"A Divine Spirit Treasure? You have a treasure of that caliber, Fellow Daoist Han?" the old woman exclaimed. She also turned to Han Li with a hint of disbelief and greed in her eyes. The monk was naturally stunned by this revelation as well, and he, too, turned his attention to Han Li.
Prior to coming here, the two of them had inquired Master Arctic Dragon about Han Li.
Master Arctic Dragon had informed them that he was a cultivator from the Heavenly South Region. It was absolutely astonishing to them that a cultivator who hailed from such a small place would be in possession of a Divine Spirit Treasure.
Han Li didn't immediately deny his possession of the Heavenvoid Cauldron. Instead, a half-smile appeared on his face as he asked, "Oh, so you're referring to the Heavenvoid Cauldron. I don't mind you asking about it, but I'd like you to answer a query of mine; how are you so sure that I have the cauldron? And in what way is your Spirit Void Hall related to this cauldron?"
"Sounds like you really do have the cauldron. As for how I knew that you possessed the cauldron, that's not something I need to keep a secret. Your Purple Apex Flames have been infused with the Celestial Ice Flames imbued within the Heavenvoid Cauldron. Aside from the Celestial Blue Cauldron replicas, the Heavenvoid Cauldron is the only treasure in the human world that contains such a glacial flame. Coincidentally, I refined my own Celestial Ice Flames to the maximal extent recently, so I'm naturally very sensitive toward Celestial Ice Flames of a lower grade," Master Arctic Dragon explained. Even though he was almost completely sure of the fact that Han Li possessed the Heavenvoid Cauldron, he was still ecstatic to hear the notion being confirmed by Han Li himself.
"So that means you knew I had the Heavenvoid Cauldron from the first time you met me?" Han Li asked with furrowed brows.
Master Arctic Dragon appraised Han Li with a solemn look and said, "Indeed. I didn't think that you would admit it so willingly. I had thought that you would deny possession of the cauldron and I had prepared many more follow-up questions to interrogate you with, but it appears that wasn't necessary. The Heavenvoid Cauldron was a spirit treasure carried by the Fairy Ice Soul, the matriarch of our North Night Palace. Our matriarch had set off to travel the world with this treasure over 100 years ago, but it was nowhere to be found following her return. That's why the Spirit Void Hall was constructed. I have no interest in learning about how you obtained such a treasure, but it does indeed belong to our North Night Palace. As long as you're willing to hand it over, I'll be more than happy to let you go."
An enlightened expression appeared on Han Li's face, and he chuckled to himself as he looked at Master Arctic Dragon, but didn't say anything.
It was quite clear that Han Li hadn't taken his implicit threat seriously at all, and Master Arctic Dragon's expression darkened upon seeing that.
"I heard from Mengyao that you are an extremely powerful man. Even though your cultivation base is only at the mid-Nascent Soul stage, your combat prowess is comparable to that of a late-Nascent Soul cultivator, and even a demon beast like the Silver-Winged Demon is unable to harm you. If we were located anywhere else, perhaps I wouldn't be able to do anything to you, but we're currently standing in my formation spell within the Profound Jade Cave. Furthermore, you only have 30% of your magic power remaining at most, while the effect of my secret technique is still in effect. Both my body and my magic power are at their peak. Need I break down your chances of securing victory under such damning circumstances?" The golden light in Master Arctic Dragon's eyes shimmered even more brightly as he spoke.
The green-robed man and Bai Mengxin were also looking intently at Han Li, anticipating an imminent battle.
"Who would have thought that you would turn on me after I offered my assistance to help you break through your bottleneck? Is this how the North Night Palace repays others for their kindness?" A cold smile appeared on Han Li's face.
"Have I not repaid you enough? Not only did I give you a copy of the mantra for refining glacial flames, I also gave you a copy of the secret technique that I had devised after countless centuries of pondering. Furthermore, the main reason you decided to help me is so that you can witness the secret technique in action, is it not?" Master Artic Dragon harrumphed coldly.
Han Li glanced at the monk and old woman beside him and said in a cold voice, "Really, now? That makes some sense when you put it that way. However, I'm not the only person trapped here in this formation spell. A Divine Spirit Treasure is an extremely important matter; are you planning on killing these two to silence them?"
The two of them both stirred upon hearing Han Li's words. In particular, the monk looked down at the miniature cauldron in his hand with a dark expression.
"Hehe, I'm afraid your mind games will prove to be in vain here. I have known those two for many years; they wouldn't turn on me no matter what you say." Master Arctic Dragon chuckled coldly in response.
"This is a matter to be taken care of between Fellow Daoist Han and Fellow Daoist Arctic Dragon; I wish to take no part in this." The old woman glanced at Han Li coldly before her body flashed through the air, upon which she reappeared at the border of the light barrier.
Han Li's eyelids twitched slightly upon seeing this.
"We are all here to help Brother Arctic Dragon break through his bottleneck, so let's not turn on one another now. How about this? If the Heavenvoid Cauldron really does belong to the North Night Palace, I propose that the palace offers Fellow Daoist Han some compensation in exchange for the cauldron. I think all of us want to see this being settled diplomatically."The monk was trying to act as a mediator.
Master Arctic Dragon's expression eased slightly upon hearing that, and he offered, "The palace is currently in a rather tumultuous situation, so I would like to avoid making Brother Han my enemy as well. As long as you're willing to hand over the cauldron, I can give you a large sum of magic stones as remuneration. The compensation I'm willing to offer will ensure that you're never left wanting for magic stones for the rest of your life."
However, Han Li suddenly burst into laughter upon hearing that and looked up into the sky without saying anything.
Master Arctic Dragon's expression darkened again upon seeing this. His shoulders trembled slightly with rage and the blue flames all of his body sprang up violently, transforming him into a massive blue fireball.
The green-robed man and Bai Mengxin also began to make hand seals. A dozen or so glittering and translucent flying swords shot forth from one's body, while the other produced two short black halberds from their sleeves. The weapons circled in the air around the two of them, emitting a peculiar screeching sound.
A resigned expression appeared on the monk's face upon seeing this, and he uttered a Buddhist prayer before flying over to the border of the light barrier to join the old woman. He was clearly not going to intervene in this matter either.
However, on the way to the border of the light barrier, the monk suddenly changed directions and flew toward Han Li.
Han Li's expression faltered upon seeing this and before he had a chance to decipher the monk's intentions, the monk suddenly transmitted his voice to him, "Brother Han, take this Celestial Blue Cauldron. I'll assist you in the upcoming battle."