"Have you agreed to join our Tian Peng Race?" A young woman asked with a pair of bright shimmering eyes.
"I won't be allowed to leave if I don't agree, right?" Han Li sighed in a resigned manner.
At this moment, he was situated within a pavilion with this young woman, along with an elderly man and another beauty.
These two new early-Body Integration Stage Tian Peng Race elders were currently appraising the Thunderstorm Wings on his back with scorching yearning in their eyes.
"You've made a wise decision, Fellow Daoist Han. As long as our race's holy disciple can pass the trial, we'll be sure to repay you." The young woman's voice was filled with elation, but her calm tone also suggested that she had already predicted Han Li's answer well in advance.
"If the trial really is as you describe, then I really haven't offered much assistance here. However, at the same time, I don't want to be completely at your mercy once I've outlived my usefulness, so I have two conditions. I hope you can accept those two conditions so I can assist your race's holy disciple without any qualms or concerns," Han Li suddenly said.
"Conditions? Go on, then," the elderly man prompted with furrowed brows.
"I want a Kun Peng Relic, as well as the right to record my name on the replica scroll of the Tian Peng Vow," Han Li replied with a faint smile.
"You know of those things?" All three Tian Peng beings' expression changed drastically in unison upon hearing this.
"That's impossible! Our race only has a dozen or so Kun Peng Relics in total, and every one of them was left behind by our race's past grand elders when they passed away; how could we give one to you? As for the Tian Peng Vow, our race only has three replica scrolls, and there's no space on them for you to record your name," the elderly man immediately refused with a dark expression.
"Indeed, those two items are both extremely valuable to our race. Would you be willing to accept any other conditions?" the beautiful woman among the trio asked.
The young woman didn't say anything, but she wore a contemplative look on her face."I'm not asking for the Kun Peng Relic solely for myself. Only after consuming the relic will I be able to grasp the power of the Kung Peng and manifest a Kun Peng body. Only then will I be able to pose as your race's holy disciple and not have my cover blown by other races. With the relic in addition to the Kung Peng feather and Kun Peng true blood that I've fused with my body, I should have the right to record my name on a replica scroll of the Tian Peng vow. That's the only way to show me that your race doesn't harbor any ill will toward me after the even," Han Li said in a calm voice.
"How do you know of these things? Did someone in our race disclose this information to you?" the elderly man asked with a steely expression.
"That shouldn't be the case. Fellow Daoist Han stayed for an entire day within the Omniscient Pavilion in the city, so he most likely gathered this information from the books in there. I almost forget that all humans can possess eidetic memories once they reach a high enough cultivation base," Jin Yue said in a calm voice.
"Even so, we absolutely cannot accept these conditions." The elderly man shook his head in a stubborn manner.
"Why not? if a holy master doesn't appear among your race during this trial, you'll most likely be removed from the 72 branches of the Flying Spirit Race, and you'll be forcibly conquered by other more powerful branches. Compared to that, I think what I'm asking for is very reasonable, unless the three of you were planning to turn on me after the event from the very beginning," Han Li said in a slow voice.
Both the elderly man and the beautiful woman's expressions darkened upon hearing this.
After a brief silence, Jin Yue suddenly said, "Alright, I accept your conditions."
"Grand Elder, we should discuss this matter in greater depth!"
Both of the other elders hurriedly tried to dissuade her.
"There's no need for further discussion. It's just as Fellow Daoist Han has said, this crisis could quite possibly spell the downfall of our race. In contrast, his conditions are indeed very reasonable. I'm making an executive decision here; speak no further on this matter," Jin Yue said in a cold voice as she raised a hand toward the two elders.
The two elders glanced at one another hesitantly upon hearing this, but they decided to keep their mouths shut in the end.
"I can accept the conditions you stated, but in order to ensure that you'll do everything in your power to assist our two holy disciples to pass the trial, I'll need you to sign a blood vow. If no holy master emerged from our race following the conclusion of the trial, as the Grand Elder, I can sacrifice some of my lifespan to remove you from the Tian Peng Vow, then kill you on the spot." Jin Yue's gaze suddenly became as sharp as daggers.
Han Li's heart stirred slightly in response, but he merely put on a faint smile, and said, "Rest assured, Senior. If the holy disciples fail to pass the trial due to lack of effort on my part, then I'm willing to accept any punishment you hand down to me."
"Good. Go back and prepare; I'll send someone to get you tomorrow so we can hold your spirit initiation ceremony and officially welcome you into our race," the young woman said in an implacable voice.
Han Li naturally had no objections, and he immediately cupped his fist in a farewell salute to the tree elders before departing.
The elderly man looked on as Han Li exited the room, then took a deep breath and exhaled before turning to Jin Yue with a heavy expression. "Grand Elder, I still oppose this course of action. I can accept giving him the Kun Peng Relic, but if we record his name onto the replica scrolls of the Tian Peng Vow, none of our brethren will be able to do anything to him unless he commits the few extremely severe crimes listed in the vow. Beings from foreign races could easily use this against us and bring calamity to our race."
"I'm naturally aware of this. However, you seem to have forgotten something, Elder Xu. The Tian Peng Vow can only restrict our brethren; have you forgotten about that traitor from 3,000 years ago?" A peculiar look appeared on Jin Yue's face as she spoke.
"Could it be..." The beautiful woman among the trio was beginning to understand where this was going.
Jin Yue gently stroked her hair as she replied, "A few days ago, I met the Flying Spirit Generals that have recently returned to the city with the worshipful offerings, and I learned some things about that human from them. According to them, this human cultivator appears to only possess the cultivation base of a mid-Flying General, but he's actually at least as powerful as an early-Great Spirit General. With him on our side, our holy disciples are virtually guaranteed to pass the trial, so I'm willing to make these concessions. Furthermore, when all is said and done, as long as this human is willing to stay in our holy city and doesn't come into contact with any of his brethren, we don't have to resort to that final step. What we do have to be wary of is those enemies of our race plotting against us during the trial."
"Your wisdom is unmatched, Grand Elder!" The two elders were greatly reassured.
On the other end, Han Li had just arrived back at his residence when he encountered a few visitors.
They were none other than Feng Xiao, Bai Lei, and Bai Ning, who had returned to the city with him.
The three of them greeted Han Li in a very warm and enthusiastic manner and stayed to chat with him for the better part of half a day before departing.
After seeing off this trio of siblings, Han Li's smile faded as he returned to the room with a contemplative look on his face and closed the doors.
Sure enough, eight Tian Peng beings came to find him the next morning, four of which were male while the other four were female. Even though their cultivation bases were only at the Foundation Establishment Stage, they were all very young, so their aptitudes were quite brilliant.
After casting a glance at the eight of them, Han Li didn't say anything as he departed behind them toward a certain location in the holy city.
After flying over more than half of the entire city, Han Li appeared within a strange building situated on a corner of the city almost half a day later.
This building was a massive plaza that kind of resembled an arena. The entire plaza was circular in shape and was surrounded by massive stone walls that were roughly 1,000 feet tall, taking up an area of several kilometers.
Atop those stone walls stood hundreds of stone bird statues, and all of them were flashing with different colors of light. They had clearly had some kind of restriction placed on them, and the light emanating from the statues combined to form a rainbow barrier of light that enshrouded the entire plaza.
At the center of the plaza stood a sacrificial-altar-like tall platform that was entirely constructed from pristine and flawless white jade.
Han Li currently stood atop the jade platform with a dozen or so white-robed Tian Peng beings standing around him in a solemn and intimidating manner. There were both men and women among them, and all of them were at the Spatial Tempering Stage.
Jin Yue and the three Tian Peng Race elders stood right in front of Han Li while a pair of young women who appeared to be servants stood behind them, holding a silver disk each.
"Fellow Daoist Han, all of the preparations have been made. In order to completely activate the power of the Kun Peng Relic and Kun Peng Blood within you prior to the commencement of the trial, the two elders and I will be unleashing our abilities to assist you in refining those two items in a short time. We'll then be bestowing upon you the transformation technique of our Tian Peng Race. I hope you won't disappoint us, Fellow Daoist Han," Jin Yue said as she looked directly into Han Li's eyes.
"Rest assured, Senior. I've already made a promise to all of you, so I'll definitely do everything within my power to assist the holy disciples," Han Li replied in a serious manner.
"Good. Fuse the Kung Peng True Blood into your body first and Elder Xu will activate the power of the spirit blood, the forcibly fuse it with your blood so that they become one and the same. The process will be a little painful, but I'm sure you'll be able to handle it. After that, you can consume the Kun Peng Relic, and I'll personally assist you in refining the relic. You have to take care during this process not to suffer backlash and go into Qi deviation from the power of the relic. After all, you're not a true Tian Peng being, so this procedure may be rather perilous," Jin Yue cautioned.
Han Li naturally nodded in response.
Han Li's willingness to cooperate was very pleasing for Jin Yue, and she also nodded before waving a hand behind her.
One of the female servants immediately made her way over to Jin Yue in a respectful manner before offering the silver disk in her hand to the grand elder.
Jin Yue took an indifferent glance at the silver disk before flicking a slim finger toward the screen of light.
White light flashed erratically before disappearing soundlessly to reveal a small thumbs-sized azure vial. The vial was rather antiquated and appeared to be made from neither metal nor jade.
Jin Yue looked at the small vial as faint silver light flashed from her body, and her expression suddenly became extremely solemn and dignified.
Meanwhile, all of the other Tian Peng beings bowed in unison toward the small vial with expressions of awe and veneration on their faces.