Just as Han Li was appraising these strange beings, one of the crimson-robed figures suddenly asked, "Are you interested in my spirit servants, Fellow Daoist Han?"
"Spirit servants? Forgive me for my ignorance, Senior; this is my first time hearing about such things," Han Li replied truthfully.
"Hehe, it's no surprise that you haven't heard of it. These spirit servants are a type of semi-puppets that I've refined," the crimson-robed figure chuckled with a hint of smugness in his voice.
"Semi-puppets? I really would like to know more about them now," Han Li said with a hint of surprise in his eyes.
"You seem to be quite interested in these spirit servants; you must also be familiar with the puppetry arts, right? I'd be happy to provide some guidance, but let's go to the Yinflame Palace first" the other crimson-robed figure interjected.
Han Li naturally wasn't going to state any objections, and he merely nodded in agreement.
Thus, the group entered the palace, and the gates slowly closed behind them.
The Chaotic Turtle Beast that was outside the palace also disappeared into the lava again.
After a while, Han Li and the two crimson-robed figures appeared within a large hall that was over 1,000 feet in area.
Everything in the hall had been constructed from some kind of strange black and red jade, and upon making contact with the material, Han Li was struck by a scorching sensation, which then turned into a flow of icy coolness.
This was quite an interesting material.
Han Li was quite intrigued as he felt the interchanging hot and cold sensation making its way into his body from the jade chair that he was sitting on.
At this moment, he was situated on one side of the hall, while the two crimson-robed figures naturally sat together at the center.
The jade tables before the three of them were all piled full of exotic fruits and delectable wines, and there were humanoid figures enshrouded in pink mist standing off to the side, attending to their needs when required.
Every time someone finished the wine in their cup, one of the humanoid figures would rush forward for a refill in a respectful manner.
These humanoid figures in the pink mist were different from the earlier ones that were enshrouded in grey mist. Not only were all of them quite slender, the mist around them emitted a pleasant fragrance that evoked within one a sense of relaxation.
At such close quarters, Han Li was naturally able to examine these spirit servants from time to time, and a contemplative look appeared on his face.
"Have you gleaned the secrets of the spirit servants, Fellow Daoist Han?" One of the crimson-robed figures downed his cup of spirit wine before turning to Han Li with a hint of a smile in his voice.
"I'm afraid I can only identify that these beings seem to be spirits, but also like objects, yet also like neither at the same time. As for the exact intricacies involved, that's definitely beyond me," Han Li replied with a smile.
"You're not wrong! Spirit servants are indeed beings that are a mix between spirits and objects. They possess souls and their actions appear to be identical to that of a normal person, but most of what they're doing is merely instinctive, and they're being controlled by me using a puppet secret technique. As for how they came to be, I discovered two types of spirit bodies on the Bloodflame Mountain that are unable to attain intelligence, and I infused them into puppets," the other crimson-robed figures explained, finally revealing the origins of these spirit servants to Han Li.
"Infusing spirit bodies into puppets!" Han Li's expression stirred upon hearing this, and he instantly recalled back to how he had once infused his second Nascent Soul into his humanoid puppet.
"Indeed. These spirit bodies are yet to manifest complete souls, so they're extremely docile, yet they possess a certain level of spiritual nature, thereby allowing them to complete some simple instructions. On top of that, they're able to fuse together with puppets, so they're perfect for refining spirit servants. It's exactly because of this that I decided to settle permanently on the Bloodflame Mountain," the crimson-robed figure explained.
"This is also a result of your proficiency in the puppetry arts, Senior. Otherwise, even if others were able to find such spirit bodies, they wouldn't be able to incorporate them into puppets." Di Xue had made the process sound quite simple, but infusing spirit bodies into puppets was extremely difficult. As someone who was proficient in the puppetry arts himself, Han Li was naturally well aware of this.
As such, those words of praise were truly genuine.
The two crimson-robed figures glanced at one another, and one of them offered, "If you'd like, I can teach you the secret technique required to infuse spirits into objects."
"I haven't done anything for you yet, Senior, how could I ask for a reward that I don't deserve?" Han Li was rather surprised, and a hint of hesitation appeared on his face.
"Haha, it's just a little trick that I managed to invent during my free time; there's no need for you to be so polite, Fellow Daoist Han. I'm going to require a lot of assistance from you in the coming month and a half, and I hope you'll help me to the best of your abilities," one of the crimson-robed figures said with a smile, his tone became even more polite.
As such, Han Li could only accept this offering with gratitude.
"Senior Di Xue, seeing as I'm already here, would you be able to tell me how I can assist you in refining your puppets?" Han Li asked.
"There's no hurry. You've only just arrived at my Bloodflame Palace, so you should drink to your heart's content, then have a good rest. We can discuss those matters tomorrow."The crimson-robed figure waved a hand to brush his question aside.
Han Li could only comply with a wry smile and down another cup of spirit wine.
All of a sudden, one of the crimson-robed figures clapped his hands a few times, and a series of shuffling footsteps sounded from outside. All of a sudden, a peculiar fragrance wafted through the air as 12 beautiful young women in five-colored dresses made their way into the room.
Han Li cast his gaze toward the faint pink mist emanating from the bodies of those women, and he quickly realized what they were.
These women were also spirit servants, just like the other beings enshrouded in pink mist in the room.
However, the pink mist on their bodies had become extremely faint, thereby revealing their true appearance.
Han Li didn't know what materials their bodies had been refined from, but judging from their appearance and complexion, they appeared to be identical to normal Flying Spirit Race women, and they even had a pair of azure wings on each of their backs.
A flash of blue light appeared in Han Li's eyes, yet he was unable to glean any illusionary techniques concealing the bodies of these women, so this was indeed their true appearance.
Han Li was quite astonished that these puppets were able to resemble actual living beings so closely.
Back when he was in the human world, his late-Nascent Soul Stage humanoid puppet was able to fool others into thinking that it was a living being partly due to the fact that its skin had been made from a precious material known as Soft Spirit Jade, which closely resembled human skin. On top of that, very few cultivators in the human world were able to use their spiritual sense to assess the true nature of a late-Nascent Soul Stage puppet, so it was able to regularly confuse his enemies, making them unable to tell whether it was a true human or not.
However, the bodies of these spirit servants had clearly not been constructed from Soft Spirit Jade. Even when he forced his spiritual sense out of his body to examine these women, his spiritual sense was somehow kept out.
Thus, Han Li fell into deep thought as he looked at these women.
If he had to find a difference between these women and normal human beings, then he could only say that the light in their eyes was a little dull, seemingly indicating a slight lack of spiritual nature compared to a normal person.
Just as Han Li was looking on in wonder and bewilderment, a few young men that were also enshrouded in faint grey mist appeared on either side of the hall.
All of them had fine and delicate facial features, and they sat down onto the ground with their legs, holding a series of strange musical instruments in their hands.
Moments later, delightful music began to play in the hall, and the beautiful women put on a mesmerizing dance.
Their five-colored dresses fluttered through the air as they danced gracefully around the hall, sending the peculiar fragrance they were emitting spreading to all directions.
Han Li sat still in his chair, seemingly have been completely entranced by these gorgeous dancing figures as he remained silent with his eyes narrowed.
The two crimson-robed figures glanced at Han Li out of the corners of their eyes, and both of them then looked at one another after witnessing Han Li's seemingly intoxicated state.
After a while, the music stopped and the 12 women also stood motionlessly on the spot.
"What do you think of these spirit servant dancers, Fellow Daoist Han? Even though they're not spirit servant guardians, all of them are proficient in hundreds of types of rare dances, and it took me quite a bit of effort to refine them," one of the crimson-robed figures suddenly said with a smile.
"They are indeed quite extraordinary. At the very least, I can't tell them apart from real living beings," Han Li praised in response.
"Hehe, seeing as you like them, I'll give you these 12 spirit servant dancers and 24 spirt servant musicians as a gift," the crimson-robed figure said with a smile.
The other crimson-robed figure then raised a hand before Han Li's surprised eyes, and flicked his fingers in quicks succession toward the dancers and musicians.
Plumes of crimson threads shot for from his palm, instantly puncturing all of the spirit servants.
After the crimson threads were withdrawn, all of the spirit servants fell to the ground, completely motionless, as if they had truly become inanimate objects.
At this moment, the crimson-robed figure made a grabbing motion with his other hand.
All of these spirit servants instantly shrank down to wooden puppets that were only around an inch in size each, then flew onto Han Li's table and arranged themselves in a line.
"I've withdrawn the seals within the bodies of these spirit servants. You'll only have to refine them again with the secret technique that I'm going to give you, and you'll be able to control them," the crimson-robed figure chuckled.
"I can't accept this gift, Senior; I've done nothing to deserve it!" A peculiar look appeared on Han Li's face as he looked at the line of wooden puppets on his table.
"Hehe, they're just a few little toys, so feel free to accept them. Unless, are you unwilling to accept them because you think they're not a worthy present?" The crimson-robed figure's expression darkened slightly.
Han Li's expression changed slightly upon hearing this, and a wry smile appeared on his face as he cupped his fist in a salute. "In that case, I'll have to accept your kindness, Senior."
Thus, he swept a sleeve over the table, and azure light flashed, following which all of the spirit servant wooden puppets disappeared.
"Haha, you should've accepted them from the start. Here's the spirit infusion secret technique I was referring to earlier; you can take it and have a good look at it tonight. It'll be beneficial to my puppet refinement later on if you could master this secret technique," the crimson-robed figure chuckled with a content nod before raising his hand to send a black bamboo tube flying toward Han Li.
"Thank you, Senior." Seeing as these two were essentially forcing these presents on him, Han Li made no further efforts to turn them down as he made a grabbing motion to catch the object in his grasp.