Five thin wisps of spiritual Qi poured out from the spirit stone. The spiritual Qi was cool to the touch and remarkably substantial, crawling up Han Li's fingers like five tiny snakes.
Han Li was caught off guard and given a fright as he reflexively withdrew his fingers from the spirit stone.
Even so, the five tiny snakes still squirmed into the meridians in his arms before dissipating on their own.
All of a sudden, a burst of spiritual power that was filled with exuberant vitality spread through his entire body.
Han Li was immediately enshrouded by a warm yet cool sensation, making him feel extremely comfortable, as if he were floating on a cloud.
So this was a top-grade spirit stone? As expected, the spiritual Qi that it provided was far superior to that from high-grade spirit stones.
Han Li hurriedly absorbed this influx of spiritual power with elation in his heart.
Absorbing just that small amount of spiritual power had the same cultivation effect as half a month of meditation. If he were to absorb all of the spiritual power in the entire spirit stone, it would save him at least 10 years of arduous cultivation!
Of course, he wasn't going to succumb to that temptation and waste such an exceptional treasure. A spirit stone that contained such an immense amount of spiritual Qi naturally had to be reserved for critical junctures during breakthroughs.
Han Li flipped his palm over and a small azure box appeared.
He carefully placed the top-grade spirit stone into the wooden, then plastered several talismans of different colors onto the box before stowing it away into his storage pouch.
Han Li let loose an internal cry of elation as he shot forth into the distance as an azure streak of light.
Several months later, Han Li was close to returning to Silver Shark Island.
However, he immediately realized that something was amiss. As he approached the island, he didn't encounter so much as a single cultivator. That was very bizarre.
When Han Li finally caught sight of Silver Shark Island from afar, the scene presented before his eyes made him falter involuntarily.
A blue barrier of light had appeared over Silver Shark Island and at the same time, restrictions on the island all seemed to have been fully activated. After sweeping his spiritual sense through the surrounding air, Han Li discovered that there was no one around. It was as if all of the cultivators were seeking refuge within the restrictions on the island.
Han Li was rather taken aback upon making this discovery, and he also scanned through the nearby seabed with his spiritual sense. After verifying that there weren't any abnormalities present, he began to fly toward the entrance to the island with a hint of bewilderment in his heart.
The fluctuations of the restriction were more steady there, so it was most likely the designated entrance of the formation.
After flashing through the air a few times, Han Li reached the barrier of light and the azure light around his body receded.
He looked at the light barrier before raising a hand to send a voice transmission talisman flying into the barrier.
He then hovered in the air expressionlessly, awaiting a response from the other side.
"Which fellow Daoist is returning to the island at a time like this? May I know your name?" a wary male voice sounded from the other side of the light barrier. At the same time, a burst of spiritual sense scanned toward Han Li.
Han Li's expression darkened as azure light erupted from his body. The spiritual sense was immediately repelled, and Han Li also lashed out at it in an offhand manner.
A muffled groan rang out behind the light barrier, clearly belonging to the owner of the spiritual sense.
"Hmph! Is my name something for juniors like you to interrogate? Hurry up and ease the restriction! I have some matters to attend to on this island," Han Li harrumphed coldly.
The cultivator repressed the sharp pain in his spiritual sense as he hurriedly explained, "My apologies, I was not aware that you were a Nascent Soul Stage senior. Under normal circumstances, I would naturally grant you passage without asking any questions, but a large horde of demon beasts from the nearby ocean suddenly attacked the island just a few days ago. I was sent here to guard this restriction, and I must verify the identity of all cultivators returning to the island before granting passage."
Han Li recalled back to the scenes where the demon beasts had attacked Green Spirit Island, and his expression eased slightly as he said, "Is that so? How do you plan to verify my identity?"
"Would you be able to provide me with your name and a brief introduction, Senior? Alternatively, do you have any items that can prove your identity?" the cultivator behind the light barrier asked in a timid manner.
"Will this suffice?" Han Li's brows furrowed as he raised a hand, sending a streak of golden light disappearing into the light barrier.
It was none other than the guest elder badge given to him by the Heavenly Star Sages.
"Please forgive me, Senior Han! I'll let you in right away," the man's surprised voice sounded from behind the light barrier.
Han Li's heart stirred slightly upon hearing this and a peculiar light flashed through his eyes, but he quickly recomposed his expression as he awaited entry into the island.
A short while later, the blue light barrier before him tremored, and a small opening appeared.
Han Li's body swayed and he flew in through the opening, which slowly sealed over amid a burst of buzzing.
Han Li's eyes immediately lit up as he flew into the light barrier. There were over 10 white-robed Star Palace cultivators standing in front of him, all of whom were divided into two rows.
The azure light receded and Han Li was revealed to these cultivators.
"We pay our respects to Senior Han." A middle-aged cultivator hurriedly stepped forward before extending a respectful bow to Han Li.
Judging from his voice, he was the one who had been conversing with Han Li earlier. This man was a Core Formation cultivator and his face was slightly pale, clearly still recovering from the spiritual sense backlash that had just been inflicted upon him.
"You're the only ones guarding this place?" Han Li raised an eyebrow with a hint of surprise on his face. Aside from the one Core Formation cultivator, all of the other Star Palace cultivators were only at the Foundation Establishment Stage. This was not a formidable force by any stretch of the imagination.
"The demon beasts launched an extremely fierce assault against the island a few days ago, and all of our other fellow Daoists have retired to the town within the island to rest, leaving only disciples like us to guard this place in shifts. However, please rest assured, Senior Han; the closest town to this place is only just over 50 kilometers away, and there are over 100 Star Palace disciples there who can come to reinforce us at any time," the man explained.
"Why are you calling me Senior Han? How do you know of me?" Han Li's expression darkened as a burst of astonishing spiritual pressure erupted from his body, forcing the man to stumble back in retreat as his expression changed drastically.
The man steadies himself, and hurriedly replied, "Senior Han, we've received portraits of your appearance several months ago from the Star Palace, and we were told to constantly be prepared to do your bidding."
"I see. I didn't think the two palace masters would pay so much attention to me." An ambiguous light flashed through Han Li's eyes and a smile suddenly appeared on his face as the astonishing spiritual pressure abruptly disappeared.
The man heaved an internal sigh of relief as a fawning smile appeared on his face.
Right at this moment, Han Li turned his attention deeper into the island as he asked, "Have you notified everyone else of my arrival?"
The man gave an honest reply. "I have. We were told to immediately notify the elder on the island of your arrival should you come here."
"I see." Han Li remained expressionless and it was impossible to identify what he was thinking. However, a shiver suddenly ran down the man's spine as a hint of unease welled up in his heart.
Right at this moment, a streak of white light appeared in the distance, rapidly approaching them.
Han Li turned to look up into the sky with narrowed eyes.
"It's Elder Zhao coming to welcome Senior Han in person," the man hurriedly said in a fawning manner.
Han Li merely nodded expressionlessly as he stood still with his arms crossed.
The man was slightly surprised at the sight of Han Li's careless display.
He wasn't aware of the fact that Han Li was a late-Nascent Soul cultivator. After his spiritual sense had been repelled, he didn't dare to try and ascertain Han Li's cultivation base again, so he simply assumed that he was an early-Nascent Soul cultivator that the Star Palace had only recently recruited.
The streak of white light descended before revealing an elderly man with a head of white hair. This man wore a brocade robe with a jade belt around his waist, and his brows were thin and long. He was an early-Nascent Soul cultivator.
The elderly man immediately identified Han Li from within the crowd, and his eyes lit up as he strode toward him. He cupped his fist in a salute, and said, "Please forgive me for failing to provide a timely welcome, Fellow Daoist Han."
The elderly man wore a warm smile on his face, as if he and Han Li were old friends.
Han Li raised an eyebrow as he replied in an indifferent manner, "You're far too kind, fellow Daoist. I heard the situation on Silver Shark Island has been a little hectic of late; are you the one calling the shots on the island, Brother Zhao?"
"Hehe, there was a horde of demon beasts that attacked the island, but there wasn't even a single metamorphosis stage demon beast among them, so they were taken care of with relative ease. I'm not the one overseeing things here on the island; that would be Ning Changcai. However, he's currently away at the moment, investigating the reason behind the demon beasts' unprovoked attack against the island. I was actually sent here with the sole purpose of welcoming you, Fellow Daoist Han," Elder Zhao said with a smile.
"You were sent here to welcome me?" A hint of surprise finally appeared on Han Li's face upon hearing this.
"Indeed. The palace masters have asked me to pass on a message to you: they insist on meeting you again when you return to the inner seas. Truth be told, I've been waiting on this island for you for several months already, Fellow Daoist Han," the elderly man explained with a smile.
"Oh? What business do they have with me?" Han Li's brows furrowed slightly. He had a feeling that there was some serious trouble brewing.
"Hehe, this is not the place to discuss such matters. Please come with me to a quieter location, Brother Han," the elderly man suggested with a mysterious smile.
"Sure, then let's head over to that small mountain over there." Han Li looked around with a contemplative expression before suddenly pointing to a small mountain around 10 kilometers away.
Elder Zhao turned his gaze toward the small mountain, and immediately agreed, "As you wish, Brother Han."
Han Li nodded in response, and after the elderly man delivered some instructions to the Star Palace disciples, the two of them flew toward the mountain together.
The mountain wasn't very far away, so the two of them naturally arrived in a very short time.
Han Li landed on the mountain and said in a calm voice, "What message would you like to pass on from the palace masters, Fellow Daoist Zhao? You can tell me now."
"Haha, there's no need to be so cautious, Brother Han; I have fantastic news to deliver to you." The elderly man stroke his beard with a smile.
"Fantastic news? What are you referring to?" Han Li was taken aback upon hearing this.
"Fellow Daoist Han, you're not yet at 500 years of age, right?" the elderly man asked with a smile.
"So what if that's the case?" Han Li was struck by a peculiar feeling, but he didn't deny this.