When Han Li heard Ling Yuling, he swept his spiritual sense past the carriage beasts and nodded, saying little else.
Its driver was a bald two-meter-tall giant drove it. Although he only possessed Foundation Establishment cultivation, his upper body was bare and revealed steel-like muscles, giving him a menacing aura.
When everyone boarded the carriage, the large man raised a white whip and cracked it.
The green flood dragons that were lazily resting in front of the stone hall quickly raised themselves and began to slither in the air. The carriage then launched into the air in a white streak, traveling at a speed that rivaled an early-Nascent Soul cultivator.
A quarter-hour later, Han Li and company arrived above a gate at Heavenly Star City.
At that moment, the power of windfire was bombarding the blue light barrier relentlessly.
Even with the protection of the light barrier, the muffled explosions trembled throughout the city, startling mortals and low-grade vagrant cultivators alike.
Although the light barrier appeared quite durable, under the sustained attack of the grand formation outside, it was only a matter of time before the barrier broke.
As Han Li stood outside a desolate city gate, he examined the situation on the outside of the island.
The situation appeared far from good. It was about the same as when he entered. All he could see was azure and red. Even with his vast abilities, he couldn't see far past it.
He indifferently glanced down at the city and saw thousands of low-grade cultivators hiding behind the other city gates nearby. They were either meditating while sitting cross-legged or preparing magic tools and talismans, making their final preparations.
Old Man Zhao and the large purple-robed man then walked out of the carriage. They were talking with the other elders with a grave expression.
Footsteps sounded from behind him, and before he turned his head, he heard a sweet voice speak to him. “Brother Han, I have a request for you. I don’t know if you would be willing to accept.”
“What is it?” Han Li turned around, showing not the slightest surprise on his face.
Ling Yuling stood behind him wearing faint green palace robes. Her beautiful face wore an unclear expression and her brow was tensed as if she were discussing something of great importance.
Ling Yuling gritted her teeth and produced a faint blue jade slip, handing it towards Han Li with a hopeful gaze. “The next battle will decide the life and death of our Star Palace. To tell the truth, the Starfall Coalition attracted a few cultivators that previously remained hidden in bitter cultivation. Even with Brother Han’s assistance, our chances of victory are only half. If we win this battle, we won’t further trouble you, but if we were to suffer a grand defeat, I hope you will be able to take the people listed in the jade slip away from the Scattered Star Seas. I hope you’ll consider it.”
“What do you mean by that?” Han Li frowned.
“It’s nothing much. The people I listed are closely related to me. Although I am confident no one knows the relationships between us, there is still a possibility the Starfall Coalition will exterminate them if we are defeated. It would be much better if you were to take them with you. You aren’t a cultivator from the Scattered Star Seas. You should be capable of doing this.” Ling Yuling spoke with a tone of complete trust.
Han Li looked at her in silence.
As his silence continued, she misunderstood. She smiled and said, “Of course, if you do this for me, it will fulfill your agreement with my father to act three times.
You’ve already fulfilled a part of the agreement by dealing with Wan Tianming. If you agree to this matter, the agreement will be fulfilled even if we win and you don’t have to take action.”
After another moment of silence, an odd gaze appeared in Han Li’s eyes and he said, “Fellow Daoist Ling, please consider this carefully. My agreement with your father was to save you three times when your life was in danger. Don’t you think that using one of these requests like this is against the intentions of the two sages?”
“I am well aware, but I am the Star Palace Lord now. If we are truly defeated in this battle, the Star Palace’s ancient legacy will be extinguished as a result. What use are two extra chances at life? It would be better for my close relatives to be saved. As for my own protection, my mid-Nascent Soul cultivation should be enough.
Han Li looked at her lovely pitiful expression for a long while before replying with an emotionless tone, “Fine. In that case, I will accept your request. If you lose this battle, I will bring them away from the Scattered Star Seas.”
With beauty blossoming from her face, Ling Yuling charmingly said, “Your words leave me without worry for the future. With your amazing abilities, you will be able to make it out safely no matter how badly this war turns out.
Han Li smiled and then turned his gaze to outside the city.
With Ling Yuling acquiring Han Li’s agreement, she tactfully left him alone and withdrew.
Several hours later, voice transmission talismans were sent out notifying that preparations were complete and the gates to Heavenly Star City were opened. Tens of thousands of cultivators rushed out at the same time, quickly leaving the city’s blue barrier and disappearing into the azure and red mist formed from windfire.
Heavenly Star Palace’s massive deployment was instantly discovered by the Starfall Coalition cultivators that were assigned to protect the formation.
The Starfall Coalition immediately deployed large numbers of cultivators to fight and had their retainers immediately control the grand formation, fully activating the formation’s might.
Although the spell formation didn’t have any effect on cultivators above Foundation Establishment, it could produce grave injuries to anyone at Foundation Establishment and below.
After the various Windfire Pillars were activated, the azure red mist that was slowly floating in the air began to violently turn, condensing into azure-red balls of light and promptly exploding.
For a time, light flashed within the grand formation, followed by sounds of unceasing explosions.
If common Foundation Establishment cultivators were to enter the formation without any preparations, they would’ve been immediately torn apart by the power of windfire.
But for this battle, the Star Palace made meticulous preparations. Each and every cultivator had various-colored light barriers appearing on their bodies, warding off the attacks of windfire and preventing any significant injuries to the low-grade Star Palace cultivators.
At that moment, the Starfall Coalition cultivators guarding the pillars met the Star Palace cultivators head-on. The sounds of battle and death immediately sounded from the formation.
At nearly the same time at the edge of the grand formation, at the very top of a giant kilometer-tall pillar of windflame, several cultivators were staring into the distance.
Their leader, a middle-aged man with a tense squarish face, wore a purple robe and a jade band. He held his hands behind his back. He was Wan Tianming. His current calm demeanor was far different from when Han Li had seen him last.
Standing not far behind him was an old man with dark skin and an old woman with red and green clothing. The two wore similarly grave expressions.
“It seems the Star Palace is truly launching a full-force attack. They used so many mid-grade talismans in this very attack that it could bankrupt an ordinary clan.” The dark old man muttered. This was the cultivator surnamed Long, who escaped in a panic when Han Li rushed the formation.
“They must be staking it all in one throw. This must be related to the person who rushed into the city!” Wan Tianming calmly said.
“I see it as a desperate move! However, Fellow Daoist Long, is the cultivator who killed Fellow Daoist Hua so fearsome? Even with you two united, this fellow was still able to kill one of you in an instant?” Green light flashed from the old woman’s eyes as she looked at the old man. She possessed mid-Nascent Soul cultivation.
When Old Man Long heard the woman mention Han Li, his face turned pale and stroked the new arm he produced from a secret technique. A long while later, he replied with a wry smile, “More than just fearsome. Fellow Daoist Hua was by no means weak, but he wasn’t able to put up much resistance. Had I been any slower in escaping, I feared I wouldn’t be standing here today. He most likely isn’t a mid-Nascent Soul cultivator, but a late-Nascent Soul grand cultivator.”
A sneer appeared on the old woman's face and she bluntly said, “A grand cultivator? I see that Fellow Daoist Long has been frightened to the extent where his mind became muddled. Apart from Fellow Daoist Mo, how can there be other late-Nascent Soul cultivators from the inner seas? The Star Palace would’ve already recruited them otherwise, and whittle away at our alliance after such a long period of time.”
Old Man Long’s face grimaced as a result.
Wan Tianming faintly smiled, “That isn’t certain. The image of the cultivator that Fellow Daoist Long produced for me is somewhat familiar. After several days, I came to recognize the person. It is someone that Fellow Daoist Qiu should know as well.”
“Oh? Could Brother Mo explain?” The old woman asked in astonishment.
“Do you remember when the Heavenvoid Cauldron emerged into the world several hundreds of years ago? When our alliance issued a kill order on a cultivator named Han Li?” Wan Tianming leisurely asked.
After a short moment of thought, she came to an instant realization, “The Heavenvoid Cauldron? That Han Li!? Was that the person who broke through the formation? Yi! They do bear a strong resemblance, but how can this be possible? That person was a Core Formation cultivator in the past!” She shook her head, wearing an expression of disbelief.
Wan Tianming looked in the direction of the grand formation and indifferently said, “You don’t need to be so surprised. Over a hundred years ago, before the death of the Heavenly Star Sages, I acquired a secret report that Han Li appeared near the Yellow Sand Sect as a Nascent Soul cultivator. Then, he used a Star Palace teleportation formation to the outer seas. At that time, the Star Palace Sages attempted to recruit him, but to little success. I suspect that the disappearance of Swift Crane and other elders of our alliance are largely related to him.”