Han Li didn't immediately rise to his feet. Instead, he turned toward that direction expressionlessly.
The two approaching cultivators had clearly seen Han Li from afar, and they immediately accelerated toward the small island that he was situated on. The streaks of white light soon appeared above the island, before receding to reveal a man and a woman.
The woman appeared to be around 25 or 26 years of age with skin as fair as snow and luscious black hair. She wore a vibrant green palatial dress and her entire body was emanating a regal and esteemed aura. In contrast, the man was a white-robed scholar who appeared to be around 40 years old. His looks were very ordinary, yet his brows were as dense and dark as swords. There was a sinister aura radiating from his body and his expression was as cold as ice.
The two of them hovered in the air at altitudes of around 300 feet, appraising Han Li from above.
Han Li slowly rose to his feet and his body drifted into the air.
Moments later, he was standing at the same altitude as the two of them.
"I've heard a lot about the Heavenly Star Sages, and I am immensely fortunate to be able to see both of you today, Fellow Daoists." Han Li put on a smile that was neither cold nor enthusiastic.
At the sight of Han Li's indifferent display, a vibrant smile appeared on the face of the woman in the palatial robes, who had seen Han Li once before, and he exuberant smile on her face presented a glorious scene akin to that of myriad flowers blossoming at once.
"There are only so many late-Nascent Soul cultivators in the Scattered Star Seas; seeing as you agreed to meet us, we were, of course, not going to leave you hanging. This is my Dao Companion, Ling Xiaofeng. The two of us do indeed have a bit of renown, but not many people actually know our real names," the woman said.
Han Li smiled and didn't say anything, yet he turned his gaze toward the man beside her. His eyes just so happened to meet Ling Xiaofeng's cold gaze, and shudders ran through both their hearts in unison. They couldn't quite put their finger on the reason for this, but both of them were suddenly struck by the feeling that the other was not to be messed with.
"I heard from Elder Zhao that you already have a Dao Companion, and she's also a Nascent Soul cultivator. That's rather unfortunate news for us, Brother Han. However, it's impossible that our Star Palace would've completely failed to have heard of a new female Nascent Soul cultivator in the Scattered Star Seas, even if she's been in seclusion for an extended period of time. You must be from the Great Jin and not from our Scattered Star Seas, right, Brother Han?" Ling Xiaofeng asked. Han Li's expression changed slightly upon hearing this, and he exclaimed, "So the two of you have also been to the Great Jin before!"
Han Li exhaled as countless thoughts flashed his mind, and he neither confirmed nor denied this notion. However, the tone of his voice led the Heavenly Star Sages to automatically believe that their speculation rang true.
The man nodded with an expression that suggested he suspected this to be the case all along. "The Great Jin is known as the holy land of cultivation in the human world; Of course my Dao Companion and I have visited it before. However, even though there's an ancient teleportation formation that can take one from the Scattered Star Seas to the Great Jin, the teleportation formation on the other side is situated in an extremely mysterious location, and even with the power levels of my Dao Companion and me, that place still poses some risk to us. As such, aside from the past masters of the Star Palace, there have been very few Nascent Soul cultivators from the Scattered Star Seas who have visited the Great Jin. Of course, there aren't many people who know about this ancient teleportation formation to begin with. However, our Star Palace is located quite close to the teleportation formation, and a palace elder is permanently settled there to guard the formation. If you teleported to the Scattered Star Seas using that formation, there's no way that the two of us would've been oblivious to your arrival. Aside from that, it's possible for someone to fly here from the Great Jin, but the journey will take upward of 10 years, and will be quite a perilous one. There's almost no one who would do something so stupid. How did you get to our Scattered Star Seas, Brother Han?" Wen Qing asked with undisguised curiosity in her eyes.
"I merely arrived here by chance and not intentionally. As for the method through which I got here, it's very difficult to replicate, so you don't need to be concerned about anyone else emulating it." Han Li gave half of a reply and didn't elaborate any further.
Ling Xiaofeng and Wen Qing looked at one another, and they could see the confusion in each other's eyes, but they did press the issue any further. The man asked, "Has Elder Zhao informed you of our objective for meeting you here?"
Han Li was silent for a moment before chuckling as he said, "He did mention it. Apparently, the two of you wish to discuss with me matters regarding a breakthrough to the Deity Transformation Stage. I naturally couldn't refuse such a tempting invitation."
"Indeed. The two of us have been stagnant at the late-Nascent Soul Stage for several centuries, but I'm sure we can still provide some insight that can prevent you from going down the wrong path, as well as several methods and secret techniques that will assist you greatly in making a breakthrough to the Deity Transformation Stage. Of course, whether you'll be able to succeed or not in the end will be up to you," Wen Qing continued with a pleasant smile on her face.
"Oh? That does sound great, but surely you wouldn't disclose those secret techniques to me free of charge, right?" A hint of caution flashed through Han Li's eyes.
"If you had agreed to become Yuling's Dao Partner, then we would naturally have unconditionally presented you with this information. However, seeing as you turned down our offer, we can only strike a deal with you, Brother Han," Wen Qing said in a slightly forlorn manner.
"What deal would you like to propose?" Han Li's eyes narrowed as he looked at Wen Qing with a calm expression.
A serious look appeared on Wen Qing's face as she replied, "It's quite simple; I hope to provide these secret techniques and insights in exchange for your assistance to help our daughter take care of the Star Palace, all the way until she can look after the Star Palace on her own."
"You want me to assist Fellow Daoist Yuling?" Han Li's brows furrowed with a contemplative expression on his face.
The Heavenly Star Sages weren't in a hurry, either. They waited patiently while Han Li digested their proposition.
"Fellow Daoist Ling is currently only at the early-Nascent Soul Stage, right?" Han Li asked.
"Indeed, she is." A smile reappeared on Wen Qing's face, as if she could already guess what Han Li was going to ask next.
"How long do you think it will take for the two of you to help Fellow Daoist Yuling reach the late-Nascent Soul? 100 years? 200 years? Or even longer than that..." Han Li asked.
"The two of us have a way to help our daughter reach the mid-Nascent Soul within 100 years. As for progressing to the late-Nascent Soul Stage, that's no simple matter and it'll be up to her to get there on her own," Ling Xiaofeng replied coldly.
"Then do you think she'll be able to take care of the Star Palace on her own without a late-Nascent Soul Stage cultivation base? You wouldn't be expecting me to spend several hundred years of my life helping her out, would you?" Han Li stroked his chin as he chuckled coldly.
Wen Qing's smile stiffened slightly upon hearing this, but she quickly recomposed herself.
"If you think that condition is going too far, then we can change to another one. As I'm sure you're aware, the clowns at the Starfall Coalition have constantly been provoking our palace. If you can assist us in killing the Archsaint of the Six Paths and Wan Sangu, then we would also be willing to offer the aforementioned methods and secret techniques. As far as I know, you have turned many of the Starfall Coalition's Nascent Soul cultivators against you after obtaining the Heavenvoid Cauldron, so this will be a win-win situation for both of us," Wen Qing offered with a smile.
"Even though the Archsaint of the Six Paths and Wan Sangu are vastly renowned great cultivators, I'm sure the two of you will fancy your chances against them. Besides, I have no intention of getting swept up in any feuds in the Scattered Star Seas. After this, I plan to go into seclusion to cultivate, so I'm afraid I can't help you with this, either. "
Wen Qing's smile faded after Han Li turned down her second condition. Even though she didn't say anything, she was clearly becoming quite displeased. At this moment, Ling Xiaofeng said, "Brother Han, you may not aware of this, but the secret techniques that we are offering to provide to you have only been invented after countless years of effort and research from several past masters of the Star Palace. They are priceless treasures to late-Nascent Soul cultivators like us. You're not hoping to obtain them from us free of charge, are you?"
Ling Xiaofeng's expression had cooled even further.
Han Li completely disregarded the two sages' discontent, and clasped his hands behind his back as he said, "I wouldn't dare to dream of it. According to my knowledge, all of the past masters of the Star Palace were late-Nascent Soul great cultivators, yet very few of them actually managed to reach the Deity Transformation Stage. I'm sure the methods and secret techniques you're offering are very valuable, but I really am rather skeptical of their efficacy. Of course, referencing these things will surely be of great benefit to me, even if they can't directly assist me in making a breakthrough. However, it's too much to ask of me to expend several hundred years to help your daughter or to take such a massive risk in assisting you two in battle. Please state some simpler conditions. I definitely won't consider anything that's too complex or too ambitious."
The expressions of the couple's faces immediately darkened upon hearing this. However, they didn't say anything in response. Instead, they exchanged a glance and began to communicate using voice transmission right before Han Li's eyes.
Han Li's lips twitched slightly upon seeing this before looking up into the sky expressionlessly.
A short while later, the couple seemed to have finished their discussion. Ling Xiaofeng turned to Han Li expressionlessly, and said, "For everything we're offering, we're only asking you to assist our daughter on three separate occasions. As long as you can do that, we have a deal."
Han Li contemplated this condition momentarily before replying, "I can agree to that. However, I will only step in when Fellow Daoist Yuling's life is under threat, and I'll only do what I can."
"Alright. There's no need for you to swear a vow or do anything of that nature. As a fellow great cultivator, I'm sure you'll keep your promises, Fellow Daoist Han. I have three Myriad Distance Talismans here that were refined by ancient cultivators using special methods. Even if you're millions of kilometers away from our daughter, you'll be able to see anything that she writes on her talismans replicated on your talismans. Please keep the safe, Fellow Daoist Han." Ling Xiaofeng swept a sleeve through the air, and three shimmering white talismans appeared. He then swiped a finger across the three talismans and a thin golden line flashed past, upon which the three talismans split up into six.
Three of those talismans disappeared into his sleeve, while the other three shot forth toward Han Li as three streaks of white light.
Han Li raised an eyebrow as he caught the three jade talismans before taking a cursory glance at them.
The runes on these talismans were quite complex and even though they had been split in half, there was still spiritual light shimmering over their surfaces, thereby indicating that these were no ordinary artifacts.
Han Li flipped his palm over and stowed them away into his storage pouch.