In the instant that the black lightning struck Han Li, he felt his surroundings blur before he was teleported away amid a rush of dizziness.
Thankfully, he was extremely familiar with teleportation at this point, and as soon as he reappeared, he forcibly suppressed his vertigo and discomfort as he made a hand seal to revert back to his human form.
Grey light then erupted from his body, instantly creating a protective barrier around himself, as well as Yan Li, who was still yet to return to her senses.
Only then did he carefully inspect his surroundings, upon which he discovered that they were situated on a tall platform constructed from beautiful jade.
There were a dozen or so azure stone pillars around the platform, all of which were extremely intricately carved with countless runes flashing over their surfaces.
This platform was a small spell formation.
As these stone pillars flashed, a film of murky white light was created, enshrouding the entire platform beneath it. Outside the light barrier was a vast expanse of black mist that made it impossible to see what was going on outside.
Thankfully, all of the mist had been kept out by the barrier.
Han Li's brows furrowed upon seeing this.
"Brother Han, what is this place?" Yan Li finally recovered from her rush of dizziness, and her face paled slightly as she took in her surroundings.
"Looks like we've been teleported elsewhere by the ghostly mist." Han Li was quite calm in comparison.
"Does that mean we're no longer in the infernal river?" Yan Li was elated to hear this.
"I'm not so sure about that. Judging from the teleportation experience I've accrued in the past, that didn't seem like long-distance teleportation across realms to me, so we should still be in the infernal river," Han Li replied with a shake of his head.
Yan Li was quite disappointed to hear this, but a thought then suddenly occurred to her, and her expression changed drastically as she exclaimed, "Junior Martial Sister Yuan is outside out of the black mist, and she hasn't been teleported here! Doesn't that mean we've been separated from her?"
"Not to worry, Fellow Daoist Yan; with Fairy Yuan's resourcefulness, she'll be fine even if she's on her own. What we have to focus on is determining where we are first. As long as we're all still in the infernal river, it shouldn't be a difficult task to find Fellow Daoist Yuan again," Han Li said in a calm voice.
Yan Li's anxious expression eased slightly upon hearing this, and she said, "Apologies for letting my emotions get the better of me there, Brother Han. It's just that I've very rarely ever been separated from my junior martial sister, so this is quite a jarring experience for me."
"It's alright, I'm glad to see that you and Fellow Daoist Yuan share such a close bond. However, we have to address the predicament that we're in at the moment first before we can worry about her," Han Li replied with a wry smile before making his way over to one of the nearby stone pillars.
He glanced at the runes on the pillar through narrowed eyes before casting his gaze out of the light barrier as a faint blue light flashed through his eyes.
The black mist around here was quite dense, but Han Li was still able to pierce through it with his spirit eyes to assess their surroundings.
"Hmm?" Han Li's expressions suddenly changed slightly.
"What do you see, Brother Han?" Yan Li made her way over to him with a concerned look on her face.
"Aside from this platform that we're situated on, there are six other platforms just like this one in a circular formation nearby. Also, we appear to be in the belly of a mountain," Han Li replied in a slow voice.
"The belly of a mountain? If we still haven't left the infernal river, then who would've constructed these things here?" Yan Li murmured to herself as she furrowed her brows.
"That's too difficult for us to speculate about. What I want to know is how this being was able to control the ghostly mist to teleport us here. Perhaps they're somehow related to the Rahu Beast," Han Li mused.
"We won't be able to find any answers if we keep taking shots in the dark like this; we have to get out of this place first," Yan Li sighed.
"Of course. We don't know whether the owner of this place harbors ill will toward us. It looks like we're being protected by this barrier, but it can also be said that we've been confined in a prison of sorts. Our top priority is indeed to get away from here. I just had a look at the runes on the pillars, yet they're extremely profound. At the very least, with my knowledge base in spell formations, I was unable to understand most of the runes, so we'll have to break out of this place using brute force," Han Li decided as he stroked his chin.
"Is that so? I've also done some research into the art of spell formations, so let me have a look as well." Yan Li seemed to be rather confident in herself.
"Oh? It would naturally be best if you could break this formation here." Han Li faltered upon hearing this before stepping away from the pillar with a smile.
Yan Li immediately strode toward the pillar and began inspecting it with rapt focus, seemingly completely absorbed by the runes on the pillar.
Meanwhile, Han Li clasped his hands behind his back as he made his way around the light barrier, trying to search for any alternative ways out.
Around 10 minutes later, Yan Li exhaled as she withdrew her gaze, then turned to Han Li with a forced smile on her face. "This restriction is indeed far more profound than any I've encountered in the past, so I won't be able to help out here."
"That's alright, I'll try my flying swords." Han Li seemed to have predicted that this would be the verdict, and he swept a sleeve through the air, upon which a small golden sword shot forth from within.
The flying sword then transformed into a shimmering golden longsword that was around three feet in length.
Han Li pointed directly at the white light barrier up ahead, and the golden longsword flew through the air before striking the light barrier with ferocious might.
White and golden light flashed amid a dull thump, following which the golden longsword was repelled with ease.
Han Li's expression changed drastically as he hurriedly pointed a finger toward the flying sword to stabilize it in mid-air.
He had guessed that this light barrier would be quite resolute, but not to such an extent that his Azure Bamboo Cloudswarm Sword wouldn't even be able to leave so much as a single scratch on it.
Yan Li also wore a surprised expression upon seeing this, and she immediately opened her mouth to expel a black banana leaf fan, which she waved toward the light barrier with all her might.
Inky-black flames surged through the air, only to repelled once again the same manner as the golden sword, while the light barrier remained completely unscathed.
"How is this restriction so powerful?" Han paused momentarily before raising an arm to reveal pitch-black hand.
He spread open his five fingers before pressing his hand flat against the light barrier, then unleashing a powerful burst of grey light.
The seemingly indestructible light barrier began to emit a low ringing sound as the grey light swept over it, following which ripples began to appear on its surface.
A faint smile appeared on Han Li's face upon seeing this.
It was just as he'd expected; as long as this restriction contained any five-elemental power, then there was no way that the Divine Essencefused Light wouldn't be able to do anything to it.
With that in mind, Han Li began to circulate his magic power, and the grey light surging from his palm became more and more dazzling while the white light barrier began to termor more violently.
The entire light barrier began to warp and twist with Han Li's hand at the epicenter.
Yan Li's eyes widened with surprise and elation upon seeing this.
She'd seen Han Li unleash his Divine Essencefused Light on multiple occasions, so she was aware of just how powerful it was, but she didn't think that it'd be so effective against restrictions as well.
Moments later, a dull thump rang out as the light barrier was finally twisted to the point of shattering by the Divine Essencefused Light.
The black mist outside immediately swept toward the white jade platform as a result.
Han Li immediately transformed into his bird form again before rising into the air. Yan Li was also well prepared as she injected her magic power into the azure feather, conjuring up a ball of azure light around her before ascending toward Han Li.
Han Li had already assessed their surroundings using his spirit eyes, so after adopting his bird form, he immediately flew toward a certain direction in the mist without any hesitation.
After a few flashes, his eyes lit up at the sight of the azure and yellow barrier up ahead.
This barrier was an extremely simple one, so he immediately crashed through it without adopting any defensive measures.
The barrier was easily shattered by his massive bird body, and he descended onto a patch of rocky land on the other side of the barrier before reverting back to his human form.
Yan Li also flew through the barrier behind him in hot pursuit, then landed beside Han Li.
Han Li hurriedly turned around to discover that the azure and yellow barrier behind them had sealed over in the blink of an eye, keeping out the black mist that was trying to seep into the area.
Only then did Han Li heave an internal sigh of relief.
Right at this moment, Yan Li exclaimed, Brother Han, there's someone over there! Should we go and have a look?"
Han Li's heart stirred upon hearing this before he hurriedly turned toward the direction that Yan Li was pointing toward.
Several hundred feet away from them, there was a shimmering white passageway situated on a bluestone face, and Han Li raised his eyebrows as he took a closer look.
Only then did he realize that there were standing atop a platform on a steep mountain face, and the jade platforms he'd seen earlier was situated at the foot of the mountain.
Instead of making his way over to the passageway in the mountain face, Han Li paused momentarily before flicking two fingers through the air.
Two specks of golden light flew out of his sleeve before transforming into a pair of fist-sized golden beetles, which then flew toward the opening of the passageway.
Meanwhile, Han Li sat down onto the ground with his legs crossed and his eyes closed.
Yan Li knew that Han Li was sending those beetles into the cave as scouts, so she also waited patiently nearby.
After a while, Han Li's face suddenly paled as he abruptly opened his eyes and sprang to his feet.
"This is bad! There's someone with an unfathomable cultivation base in that cave; my spirit insects have been captured!"
As soon as Han Li's voice trailed off, an elderly voice rang out around them from all directions.
"I was wondering who had broken my Seven Gates Yin Locking Formation; turns out I've got some guests. Seeing as you're here, why not come in and have a chat with me?"