Han Li was in seclusion in the secret chamber for four days and four nights.
When he finally emerged from the secret chamber with a pleased look on his face, he discovered that Lü Luo was sitting with his legs crossed outside the restriction of his cave abode, and it was unclear how long he had been waiting out there.
Han Li contemplated the situation for a moment, and he could roughly guess the purpose of Lü Luo's visit. As such, a faint smile appeared on his face as he opened the restriction outside his cave abode and strode out to meet him.
Lü Luo was ecstatic to see Han Li, and he hurriedly rose to his feet as he cupped his fist in a salute. "Junior Martial Brother Han, I heard from Martial Niece Tian that you went into seclusion to refine your treasures. I thought I'd have to wait a few more days, but you've come out already!"
"I obtained some things in the Great Jin, so I decided to refine my treasures again. I initially planned to be done in two or three days, but it took a little longer than I expected. My apologies for keeping you waiting, Senior Martial Brother. Have you come here to speak to me about the Ancient Sword Sect and the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion?" Han Li asked in an unhurried manner.
"That's right. Almost all of the elders from those two sects have been deployed, and it seems that some of them don't believe you've actually reached the late-Nascent Soul Stage," Lü Luo replied with a smile.
"Alright, then let me meet them to dispel their suspicions," Han Li said in a calm manner.
"That would be best." Lü Luo was naturally very pleased with this proposal.
As such, the two of them immediately flew toward the Drifting Cloud Sect.
A short while later, the two of them appeared outside the main hall on the main peak of the sect.
There were a dozen or so Foundation Establishment Stage disciples guarding the hall, and all of them immediately rushed forward to greet Han Li and Lü Luo in a respectful manner. However, there were a few of them who couldn't but steal a few glances at Han Li.
Han Li's brows furrowed in response, and he harrumphed lightly.
The harrumph could easily be construed as Han Li merely clearing his throat, but to the disciples who were stealing furtive glances at him, it felt as if a thunderclap had erupted right beside their ears, and shivers ran down their spines as they hurriedly buried their heads into their chests.
Lü Luo paid no heed to Han Li's gesture as he asked, "Are he fellow Daoists still in the hall?"
"Yes, the seniors from the Ancient Sword Sect and the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion have been meditating within the hall this entire time, and nothing has happened," one of the disciples quickly replied.
Lü Luo nodded in response.
Meanwhile, Han Li had already ascertained the cultivation bases of everyone in the hall with his spiritual sense.
There were two mid-Nascent Soul cultivators and three early-Nascent Soul cultivators in there. It appeared that the grand elders from both secs had arrived in person.
At his current power level, even a normal late-Nascent Soul cultivator would be no match for him, so he naturally didn't regard the cultivators in the hall as a threat.
Thus, he didn't say anything and strode directly toward the hall.
Lü Luo faltered slightly upon seeing this before hurriedly following along, making sure to walk a step behind Han Li as a gesture to highlight who the star of the show was.
Lü Luo had only taken a few steps when, to his surprise, he discovered that Han Li had "disappeared".
He could physically see Han Li, but if he were to use his spiritual sense to try and detect Han Li's presence, he would discover nothing but empty air.
Lü Luo immediately drew a sharp breath, yet at the same time, he was feeling slightly concerned.
This type of complete aura concealment technique could only be used by high-grade cultivators against cultivators of a lower caliber, whose spiritual sense were far inferior to their own.
As an early-Nascent Soul cultivator, even though he could clearly see Han Li walking right in front of him, he was still completely unable to sense his presence. This meant that if Han Li wanted to assassinate early-Nascent Soul cultivators like him, he could literally sneak up right next to them without drawing any attention to himself.
Of course, he was also rather concerned. After all, Han Li was unleashing this type of secret technique in order to intimidate the grand elders of the Ancient Sword Sect and the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion, but he had only recently reached the late-Nascent Soul Stage, while the two grand elders were both seasoned mid-Nascent Soul cultivators. If it turned out that his spiritual sense wasn't powerful enough, his concealment technique would be seen through, and far from being intimidated, the two grand elders would scoff at him for playing a childish trick. At times, there was only a fine line between stamping one's authority and making a fool out of oneself.
Of course, Lü Luo was aware that Han Li wouldn't dare to use such a technique unless he had a high degree of confidence in his ability to pull it off.
Even so, he was still feeling rather uneasy, and his emotions were quite conflicted.
There was only a short corridor leading up to the hall, and before long, Han Li and Lü Luo had arrived at their destination.
Everyone immediately turned their attention to Lü Luo, then turned to appraise Han Li with astonishment in their eyes.
Lü Luo was greatly relieved upon seeing this.
It appeared that none of the five Nascent Soul cultivators had been able to detect Han Li's presence, after all.
The five cultivators' expressions changed drastically as they rose to their feet in quick succession.
An elderly man with a head of messy hair stood up, and the astonishment on his face was replaced by a slightly grave smile as he said, "Fellow Daoist Han really has become a late-Nascent Soul great cultivator already. Even with my mid-Nascent Soul Stage cultivation base, I was unable to detect your presence."
This man was none other than the grand elder of the Ancient Sword Sect, Eccentric Jin!
A purple-robed man quickly came to his senses as well as he said, "Indeed. It's only been just over a century, yet Brother Han has already reached the late-Nascent Soul Stage. The rate of your cultivation is simply unheard of."
This man was Eccentric Pyre of the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion.
Han Li had encountered both of these men back when he was attending a ceremony at the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion, and he had even fought Eccentric Jin once before.
In response, Han Li merely smiled, and said, "I was only fortunate to have stumbled upon some opportunities during my journey. I was unaware that all of you will be visiting, and I apologize for making you wait so long, Fellow Daoists."
"Haha, don't mention it. To cultivators like us, days pass by in the blink of an eye," Eccentric Jin chuckled.
Han Li smiled upon hearing his as he turned his attention to the other three cultivators. Two of them were new Nascent Soul cultivators from the two sects, while the final one was a young woman with a set of gentle facial features. This was the female Ancient Sword Sect cultivator he had also encountered during the ceremony at the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion.
This was quite a haughty woman who had once attempted to use a rather profound secret technique on him, but completely failed to assess the limits of his abilities. However, it did leave Han Li with a rather deep impression of this woman.
Han Li swept his spiritual sense toward her, and a hint of surprise appeared on his face as he said, "You look well, Fairy Brightscent. I can see that you've already reached the early-Nascent Soul Stage bottleneck. You should be able to progress to the mid-Nascent Soul Stage in about a decade."
The young woman's expression was slightly strained at the sight of Han Li turning his gaze toward her, and her face paled significantly upon hearing Han Li diagnose her recent cultivation progression to a fault.
Prior to meeting Han Li, the most skeptical among the five Nascent Soul cultivators about Han Li's progression to the late-Nascent Soul Stage wasn't Eccentric Jin or the other mid-Nascent Soul cultivator. Instead, it was none other than this young woman.
Over a century ago, during the ceremony held at the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion, this young woman had also only recently reached the Nascent Soul Stage. However, she possessed a treasure that allowed her to cultivate at several times the speed of a normal cultivator. Through the use of this treasure, she had made several breakthroughs in a short period of time, thereby allowing her to reach the Nascent Soul Stage at such a young age, and she was lauded as an exceptional prodigy in the Ancient Sword Sect.
However, during the ceremony, she had encountered Han Li, who had apparently been cultivating for a shorter span of time than her, yet possessed a superior cultivation base. As such, she couldn't help but want to test out Han Li's abilities. In the end, she was completely unable to verify the extent of Han Li's power, but she still wasn't willing to concede and settle for second-best. She thought that with the assistance of her special treasure, it would only be a matter of time before she caught up to Han Li.
However, only a century had passed by, and Han Li had returned from his travels as a late-Nascent Soul cultivator.
Fairy Brightscent was stunned upon hearing this, and refused to believe it to be true.
However, Han Li had just displayed the might of his spiritual sense, and when he cast his gaze toward her, the young woman had been struck by a sense of asphyxiation. Furthermore, he was able to easily identify her cultivation situation with unerring accuracy.
All of this was extremely shocking to her, and only after a few seconds did she manage to force a smile onto her face.
"As expected of Brother Han, your assessment of my cultivation base is completely spot on. Looks like you really have become a late-Nascent Soul great cultivator. With Brother Han overseeing the Dreamcloud Mountains, no one would dare to offend our three sects."
"Haha, indeed, Fairy Brightscent. At Junior Martial Brother Han's current age, our Dreamcloud Mountains will be safe for at least 700 to 800 years. As for other forces offending our three sects? Hehe, on the contrary, I think it's time for our three sects to expand out of the Dreamcloud Mountains," Lü Luo suddenly said.
Everyone stirred upon hearing this.
Han Li remained silent with a smile on his face, but he slowly withdrew his secret technique, and his aura reappeared before becoming more and more powerful. He was most definitely displaying the spiritual pressure of a late-Nascent Soul cultivator!
The five cultivators in the hall were feeling rather unsteady on their feet in the face of such devastating spiritual pressure, and there was no doubt in their hearts that Han Li had indeed reached the late-Nascent Soul Sage.
After that, Lü Luo began to discuss his plans for expansion with the cultivators from the other two sects. At the very least, they were planning to take over the entire cultivation world in the State of Xi.
From his words and mannerisms, it was clear that he was already regarding the Ancient Sword Sect and the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion as subsidiaries to the Drifting Cloud.
Eccentric Jin and the purple-robed man looked at one another, and they could both see their own resignation mirrored in each other's eyes. Lü Luo pretended to be completely oblivious to their dismay.
Somewhere within the outer valley of the Devilfall Valley, Mu Peiling's trio emerged from a rather obscure cave, and all three women wore urgent expressions of concern on their faces.
Liu Yu's footsteps faltered as her brows furrowed, and she said, "This is already the last possible place where Illusionary Spirit Herbs could be growing, but we still haven't found any. Could it be that all of the Illusionary Spirit Herbs on the outskirts of the valley have been picked already?"
The woman with the Song surname was also finding it difficult to maintain her former composure, and she replied, "That's not entirely impossible. If we were to enter the inner valley, we should definitely be able to find some of this herb."
"No, we definitely venture into the inner valley. It would be far too dangerous for us with our cultivation bases." Mu Peiling's expression changed drastically upon hearing this.
Song Yu blinked with a contemplative look on her face, and said, "Not necessarily. I know and old friend of Martial Uncle Han's, and she gave me a map of a safe route into the inner valley. As long as we don't stray from that route, we should be able to minimize the risk of encountering spatial rifts in the inner valley."