"It requires that many living souls to be sacrificed?" Han Li's expression changed drastically upon hearing this.
"Hehe, I was already giving you a conservative estimate. If you want to truly unleash the power of the Crimson Soul Flag, you'd require tens of millions of living souls. I was only giving you an estimate of several million as you're only looking to use the flag to store an object. A true Crimson Soul Flag isn't a Divine Spirit Treasure, but it won't be too far away from a normal spirit treasure, either. It's sought after by countless cultivators for its spatial abilities," the small child chuckled.
"Tens of millions of living souls? Unless I demolish an entire large city or island, there's no way I'd be able to gather so many living souls! Wait... maybe I can gather those souls without having to do something so heinous." Han Li firmly shook his head initially, but a thought then suddenly occurred to him.
"Have you found a feasible method, Fellow Daoist Han?" The small child was rather taken aback by Han Li's reaction.
Han Li didn't give an immediate reply to the small child's question. Instead, he patted his storage pouch again, and green light flashed, following which two small green flags appeared in his hands.
Each flag was only several inches in size, but they were shimmering with green light and covered in runes, indicating that they were clearly remarkable treasures.
These were the two Ghost Sifting Banners that he had obtained during his journey to the Great Jin, and one of them had even been taken from Old Devil Qian himself. As for the other one, it had undergone devilfication from injection of devilish Qi, and had been in the possession of the second Nascent Soul.
"What are these?" A faint light flashed through the small child's eyes, but he didn't recognize these flags. It was no wonder that this was the case. During Han Li's journey to the Kunwu Mountains in the Great Jin, the avatar of the Endless Sky Beast hadn't developed intelligence yet, so it naturally wouldn't have seen Han Li obtaining these two treasures. However, it could naturally detect the astonishing soul Qi emanating from the two Ghost Sifting Banners.
"Will I be able to refine the Yin souls on these banners again and use it to create the Crimson Soul Flag?" Han Li asked.
The small child carefully examined the Ghost Sifting Banners in Han Li's hands before replying, "That is indeed possible. However, even though these two treasures aren't of the same caliber as a Crimson Soul Flag, they're still extraordinary items in their own right. If you do that, they would be completely ruined. Furthermore, the souls contained within these banners are nowhere near enough to refine the Crimson Soul Flag."
"It's alright, these two treasures are indeed quite powerful, but I already possess more than spirit treasure, and they're no longer very useful to me at my current cultivation base. As for the lack of souls contained within these banners, if I had a dozen or so of these banners, that'd be enough, right?" Han Li asked in a meaningful voice as he stroked his chin.
"A dozen or so? I get it now; these are just two banners that are a part of a whole set, right? Does that mean you have even more of them with you?" The small child was rather surprised after arriving at this revelation.
"I don't have any other flags like this at the moment, but I know where the rest can be found. In reality, I know of another type of treasure containing far more souls than these Ghost Sifting Banners. It's a pity that the treasure is currently in the possession of a Deity Transformation Stage demon beast. That's not someone I can mess with at the moment." Another thought occurred to Han Li, and a rather forlorn expression appeared on his face.
He was naturally referring to the Myriad Demon Flag in the possession of that old devil from the Myriad Demon Valley. He had personally experienced the immense might of that flag, and he knew that the demonic souls contained within that flag were of a far greater quantity and quality than those stored within the Ghost Sifting Banners. That treasure would undoubtedly be more suitable for refining the Crimson Soul Flag.
The small child naturally wasn't aware of what treasure Han Li was referring to, and he had no intention of asking about it, either. He merely said in an indifferent voice, "If you can gather enough souls, then I'd be willing to bestow the Crimson Soul Flag's refinement method upon you free of charge. This Divine Essencefused Light is quite interesting, and I'm also curious to see how powerful it would be after you master it. Are you planning to set about gathering those banners as soon as you return to the Heavenly South Region, Fellow Daoist Han?"
"There's no hurry. Everything will have to wait until I reach the pinnacle of the late-Nascent Soul Stage and completely refine my Glacial Flame Cinque Devils first. After all, the remaining Ghost Sifting Banners are in the possession of a Nascent Soul Stage devilish cultivator as well, so I'll work on improving my cultivation base first. Let's return to the Heavenly South Region for now," Han Li replied with a shake of his head.
"Alright, we'll do as you wish. After we get back, I'll give you the Crimson Soul Flag's refinement method so you can gather all of the secondary materials and won't have to waste time on that later." The small child shrugged nonchalantly before the projection of its body vanished.
Han Li was ecstatic to hear this, and he accelerated through the air, quickly disappearing into the distance.
Several months later, Han Li returned to the Heavenly South Region using that ancient teleportation formation.
He stowed away the Six-Winged Frost Centipedes guarding the teleportation formation before destroying the formation once again and departing from the cave.
Another two months later, Han Li returned to the Dreamcloud Mountains in the State of Xi. He merely informed Lü Luo of his return through the use of his voice transmission talisman before immediately flying back to the interconnected peaks. At this point in time, Nangong Wan was still in seclusion.
Han Li naturally didn't go to disrupt her cultivation. A few short years of separation was nothing to cultivators like them.
The entire cultivation world in the Heavenly South Region wasn’t even aware that the number one cultivator of their region had departed from the Drifting Cloud Sect at all.
However, Lü Luo heaved a long sigh of relief upon receiving news of Han Li's return. The Drifting Cloud Sect was being held up entirely by Han Li's reputation. Unless three or four more Nascent Soul cultivators appeared in the sect, the Drifting Cloud Sect's status as a super sect would be in question if Han Li weren't around.
As soon as Han Li returned to his cave abode, he deployed a flying sword to send a jade slip to Liu Yu. The jade slip contained a list of secondary materials required to refine the Crimson Soul Flag, and he was requesting for her to try and gather those materials during his period of seclusion.
After that, he entered the secret chamber again and continued to cultivate the final layer of the Azure Essence Sword Art, as well as to refine the Glacial Flame Cinque Devils.
Time passed by like flowing water.
50 years flashed past in the blink of an eye.
During this period, Han Li sensed that Nangong Wan had emerged from seclusion once, and he immediately also temporarily concluded his cultivation to meet her. The two of them then traveled together for half a year.
During their travels, Han Li completely basked himself in his intimate relationship with Nangong Wan and after the two of them returned, they began their bland seclusion again.
Come to think of it, cultivators were rather pitiful beings. On one hand, they possessed powerful abilities and lengthy lifespans far beyond the reach of mortals, but on the other hand, they were like hamsters galloping on a wheel, constantly cultivating prior to the conclusions of their lifespans to try and grasp the extremely infinitesimal chance of attaining immortality.
This lifestyle would be bearable for those who were naturally born with immense willpower, but it was enough to drive some normal cultivators insane.
If they were to continue cultivating, their chances of attaining the Great Dao were impossibly slim anyway, and they really didn't want to spend the rest of their lives in seclusion like this. However, they had already embarked on the path of cultivation and were unwilling to give up on the opportunity to attain immortality, no matter how negligible their chances were.
Furthermore, it was also extremely tempting to progress in one's cultivation base as doing so would further extend their lifespan.
As such, there were two extremes that existed in the cultivation world.
There were some mid-grade cultivators with lowly aptitude and cultivation bases who weren't optimistic about their chances of making further breakthroughs, so they gave up on cultivation altogether. Some of them lived leisurely lives surrounded by concubines and enjoyed themselves until the ends of their lifespans, while others returned to their hometowns, founded an aristocratic family there, and ruled over the place from which they had hailed.
On the other end of the spectrum, there were high-grade cultivators who felt themselves to be much closer to the ultimate objective of attaining immortality, and were unwilling to waste any time. They were completely absorbed in their cultivation, and paid no heed to anything else.
Han Li and Nangong Wan were clearly part of the latter group. One of them was at the late-Nascent Soul Stage while the other was at the mid-Nascent Soul Stage, so they stood at the tip of the pyramid among cultivators of the human world. As long as they could ascend to the Spirit Realm, they really wouldn't be far away from immortality.
As such, even though the two of them loved each other very much, they were able to exercise a lot of self-restraint when it came to indulging in their relationship.
Dual cultivation was useful for advancing one's cultivation base, but the cultivation arts they were using didn't involve dual cultivation as a device of progression, and the improvements in magic power that dual cultivation brought about were quite negligible to them at their current power levels. The two of them were concerned that excessive indulgence in dual cultivation would negatively affect their mindsets and their determination in their pursuit of the Great Dao, so they had to hold back when it came to the physical aspect of their relationship.
Instead, due to their common pursuit of the Great Dao, the two of them had formed a very strong tacit understanding of one another, so even though they were exercising celibacy to a certain extent, the bond between them was still extremely resolute.
Thus, after going into seclusion again, neither of them were quick to come out again.
One day, a thunderclap suddenly erupted amid clear skies in the air above the interconnected peaks. All of the world's origin Qi within a radius of several hundred kilometers around the main peak was suddenly triggered.
Countless fist-sized balls of light of different colors emerged from the ground, the rocks, and the threes, then converged rapidly toward the main peak, creating a shimmering spiritual cloud several hectares in area, putting on a spectacular light show to behold. Han Li's cave abode stood at the very epicenter of this marvelous phenomenon.
Such a startling turn of events had naturally alerted all of Han Li's disciples, who were also living on the interconnected peaks, as well as Nangong Wan. All of them rushed out from their seclusion chambers and looked up into the sky with stunned expressions.
The interconnected peaks were very close to the Drifting Cloud Sect, so the higher-ups of the sect had naturally detected the events unfolding here. A dozen or so streaks of light immediately shot forth from within the Drifting Cloud Sect's restriction formation, heading directly toward the interconnected peaks.
The two people at the forefront of the group were none other than Lü Luo and Song Yu, the latter of whom had also reached the Nascent Soul Stage. Both of them were wearing rather solemn expressions.
A short distance behind them, there was a white-robed woman flying through the air with an elated look on her face. She was naturally none other than Liu Yu.
During these past years, her cultivation base hadn't progressed very much, but she was the most important figure in the sect below the Nascent Soul elders due to the fact that she was essentially Han Li's spokesperson.
Even Lü Luo and Song Yu treated her with a lot of respect.