After her face returned to its normal pallor, Ling Yuling made her way into the space beyond the jade door.
Han Li naturally followed her inside.
Beyond the jade door was an astonishingly spacious cave close to 10,000 feet wide and over 1,000 feet tall. The walls of the cave were all paved with unidentifiable azure rocks, and there were some moonlight stones embedded into those walls, illuminating the cave in a faint white light.
However, none of this was able to attract Han Li's attention in the slightest; his eyes had been completely drawn to the small mountain at the center of the cave.
It would actually be inaccurate to call it a small mountain. In reality, it was only a gargantuan rock.
The rock was around 500 to 600 feet tall with a wide base that tapered as it up toward the peak. From a distance, it would indeed appear as if this were a miniature mountain.
The surface of the mountain was completely black and very mundane-looking. It was quite a jarring notion that this massive nondescript rock was the legendary Divine Essencefused Mountain.
"This is the Divine Essencefused Mountain?" Han Li's footsteps faltered as he looked at the mountain before him through narrowed eyes.
"That's right. It was once greyish-white in color, but after my parents refined a small portion of it, it turned into this pitch-black color." Ling Yuling had stopped a few steps in front of Han Li, seemingly unwilling to advance any further.
Han Li stood on the spot and carefully examined the mountain for a long while before striding past Ling Yuling as he slowly approached the mountain.
As he drew closer and closer, Han Li could sense that the five-elemental power emanating from the mountain was growing noticeably more powerful. The spiritual power within his body was once again being whipped up into a frenzy.
However, Han Li was already prepared this time, so the effects of the five-elemental power were quelled after activating his Azure Essence Sword Art again.
Before long, he had already reached the small black mountain.
Han Li had his hands clasped behind his back as he walked around the mountain. There was blue light shimmering incessantly within his eyes, as if he were trying to completely see through the entire mountain.
However, his ever-reliable Brightsight Spirit Eyes disappointed him on this occasion.
Even after injecting all of his magic power into his eyes, his vision was still unable to seep into the mountain in the slightest, let alone glean its internal structure.
As for attempting to assess the mountain with his spiritual sense, the proved to be even more futile. Before his spiritual sense had even managed to approach the mountain, it was forcibly warped and kept out by the five-elemental power.
Han Li stood with a contemplative look on his face before suddenly stepping forward a few steps and stroking the mountain with his hand.
He discovered that the mountain was as smooth and cool as jade, a texture that completely belied its appearance.
A hint of surprise appeared on Han Li's face.
"You seem a little bemused, Brother Han. You're not suspecting this mountain to be fake, are you?" Ling Yuling asked with a smile.
"Hehe, regardless of whether it's real or not, this thing can certainly disrupt the spiritual power of the Nascent Soul cultivator. Even if it's not the so-called Divine Essencefused Mountain, it's most likely a treasure of the same caliber, what's the point in forging something like this?" Han Li chuckled.
"I'm glad you think that, Brother Han. If you really do plan on cultivating the Divine Essencefused Light, then you'll have to think about what you want to do with this mountain. If you want to take this mountain with you, even with your extraordinary powers, you most likely won't be able to travel far with it. Back when my father had first discovered this mountain, he had to cultivate the first few layers of the Divine Essencefused Light first. Even then, he was only able to transfer it from the outer seas to the Star Palace with the assistance of many palace disciples, and the process took him over 10 years. I suggest you cultivate for a few years in our Star Palace first so you can at least master the first two layers of the Divine Essencefused Light, then consider moving this mountain," Ling Yuling suggested.
"It sounds like what you're saying is that I won't be able to take this mountain unless I cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light first. Is it really that troublesome to transport?" Han Li asked with a slightly skeptical expression.
"Hehe, I'm not saying anything of that nature. You are definitely no less powerful than my father was at his prime, so perhaps you have some other type of secret technique that will allow you to take the mountain with you. Otherwise, you really will have to devise a course of action before you act, Fellow Daoist Han," Ling Yuling replied with a smile.
Han Li considered the situation for a moment before murmuring to himself, "I'll give it a try first."
After making up his mind, he made a hand seal before casting an azure incantation seal toward the pitch-black miniature mountain before him.
Azure light flashed and the incantation seal shot forth through the air. However, when it was still around a foot away from the mountain, the incantation seal was suddenly warped, and exploded before dissipating into specks of azure light.
Han Li's brows furrowed as he quickly made seral more hand seals, casting incantation seals of different colors one after the other.
However, no matter what kind of incantation seal he tried, his efforts remained completely futile. All of them merely self-detonated before they could reach the Divine Essencefused Mountain.
A grim expression appeared on Han Li's face as he pressed his palm against the surface of the mountain.
On this occasion, he didn't immediately withdraw his hand. Instead, he began to chant something, and spiritual light shimmered on his hand as he attempted to forcibly cast an incantation seal directly into the mountain.
However, as soon as the incantation seal left his hand, Han Li sensed an immense invisible power surging toward his hand.
The spiritual power within his body that he had just managed to settle instantly escaped from his body, surging violently into the mountain.
Han Li's expression changed drastically as he let loose a low cry. Scintillating golden light immediately radiated from his vajra barrier, following which he abruptly rammed his spare hand into the mountain.
His body shuddered as he stumbled back, cutting off the mountain's enormous suction power.
Only then did Han Li heave a sigh of relief as his expression eased slightly.
If a normal early-Nascent Soul or mid-Nascent Soul cultivator had been in his shoes, their cultivation base would most likely have been damaged by that ordeal alone.
Ling Yuling's heart also jolted with shock upon seeing this, and she hurriedly asked, "Brother Han, are you alright?"
Han Li nodded as he replied, "I'm fine. This mountain is indeed rather peculiar; it appears that I won't be able to take it with me through normal means. I want to stay here for a while and see if I can think of another way to take this mountain with me. If it still can't be done, then I'll devise an alternative course of action when that time comes, is that alright?"
"Of course! However, even though you're quite powerful, I'd advise you not to stay here for too long at a time before you cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light. By my estimations, you should only stay here for a maximum of three to four consecutive days; any longer than that, and your cultivation base could be hampered. I'll come back to check on you in three days," Ling Yuling cautioned.
Han Li nodded in response, and Ling Yuling handed over her jade badge to him before departing after a respectful curtsey.
After Ling Yuling had left the cave, Han Li immediately waved the jade badge in his hand toward the jade cave. As he injected his power into the badge, countless talismans flew forth from within, plastering themselves onto the jade door again.
Following a burst of low ringing, the door closed itself once again.
After doing all that, Han Li didn't immediately begin to examine the Divine Essencefused Mountain. Instead, he released his spiritual sense to carefully assess the cave around him.
After verifying that there weren't any restrictions within the cave, he pulled out a stack of formation flags from his storage pouch in an unhurried manner before tossing them toward various corners of the cave. A dozen or so streaks of light immediately flew through the air before disappearing into the ground.
Bursts of yellow mist began to billow out from the ground, concealing the entire interior of the cave in the blink of an eye.
Han Li was feeling quite reassured after that, and he focused his attention on the small mountain again.
He had seen a mountainous treasure like this once in the past in the form of a powerful ancient treasure by the name of the Thousandfold Mountain. However, the Thousandfold Mountain merely resembled a mountain but in essence, it was still identical to a normal treasure. As such, it was nowhere near as troublesome as this mountain to tackle. In comparison, the Divine Essencefused Mountain was like a hedgehog, and no matter how he approached it, its figurative spikes seemed to be unavoidable.
A ball of azure light suddenly flew out from within his sleeve before taking on the form of a small child. "Hehe, that little girl seems to be very keen for you to cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light."
It was none other than a projection of the Endless Sky Beast in its human form.
"I also get the feeling that this Palace Master Ling really wants me to cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light. If I recall correctly, the Divine Essencefused Light seems to be very difficult to cultivate, and even though it's been circulating throughout the Scattered Star Seas for a long time, only the Heavenly Star Sages have managed to achieve much success with it. If I want to cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light, I'll most likely have to borrow the power of this mountain. However, in that case, I'll most likely be bound to this mountain, just like the Heavenly Star Sages were," Han Li analyzed in a calm manner.
"Oh, so you're saying that little girl is trying to plot against you?" the small child asked.
"I wouldn't put it in such severe terms. However, according to her plan, I'll most likely be trapped in Heavenly Star City forever and be forced to join the Star Palace. Otherwise, do you really think the Heavenly Star Sages would be kindhearted enough to give me those secret techniques in exchange for my assisting their daughter on three separate occasions? On top of that, even though they gave me many secret techniques that could help me progress to the Deity Transformation Stage, it doesn't take much analysis to figure out that only the Divine Essencefused Light is a truly viable option. They're clearly setting up a trap for me here," Han Li chuckled coldly as he looked at the Divine Essencefused Mountain.
"Aren't these two afraid that you'd see through their ploy?" The small child pursed his lips.
"As long as I'm intent on progressing to the Deity Transformation Stage, I'll most likely have to take this route, even though I know it's a trap. Hence, the Heavenly Star Sages aren't afraid that I'll see through their tricks as I'll have no choice in the matter anyway. However, if I can somehow find a way to take this mountain away with me before I cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light, then I won't have any concerns. It appears that the Heavenly Star Sages are quite confident in this Divine Essencefused Mountain. But then again, it's no wonder that they're confident; they were trapped here by this mountain for several centuries, so they've most likely tried everything they could. I probably won't be able to do anything about this, either," Han Li sighed as he stroked his chin.
"Then why don't you emulate the Heavenly Star Sages and borrow the power of this mountain to cultivate the Divine Essencefused Light? After you reach a certain level of mastery, you'll be able to take this mountain back to the Heavenly South Region, won't you?" the small child suggested with a smile.