Two days passed by in the blink of an eye.
At the summit of a nameless massive mountain, there was a huge spell formation that was around 1,000 feet in radius.
There were eight tall platforms around the formation, atop each of which stood a giant flag with golden and silver runes shimmering on those flags.
Han Li stood at the center of the formation, while the elderly man, Yuan Yao, and Yan Li stood outside it.
High up in the misty sky, there was a barely visible white rift that was over 1,000 feet in length.
"Fellow Daoist Han, I can borrow the power of this spatial rift in the infernal river and use the formation to teleport you away, but I can't guarantee your destination. However, it's most likely the case that you'll still end up in an area somewhere near or within the Flying Spirit Race," the elderly man said.
"Thank you for your words of cautions, Senior," Han Li replied in a respectful voice.
"Alright, it's about time we began. I'll activate the formation and send you away from the infernal river. By the way, take this with you; when you've collected enough items, you can follow the instructions on that thing to return to the infernal river again. That thing is a disposable treasure, and I only have one, so look after it well." The elderly man raised a hand, and two items were sent flying toward Han Li.
Han Li hurriedly caught the items before focusing his gaze on them, following which he immediately exclaimed, "A Star Defying Plate?"
The two items in his hands were a round plate that was shimmering with white light and a blue jade slip.
"Oh? I'm surprised you know of this thing. However, this is only a replica of a Star Defying Plate, but the materials required to refine this thing are extremely hard to find. I originally refined a few of these, but I've used up all of them aside from this one. Inside that jade slip contains the method for you to access the infernal river using that plate; you can take a good look at it later. Aside from that, you can have your Gold Devouring Beetles back as well," the elderly man said as he swept a sleeve through the air.
An azure flash of light emerged from within his sleeve, quickly revealing itself to be a miniature wooden tower.
The treasure rotated in mid-air, and two specks of golden light flew out from within.
Those were none other than the Gold Devouring Beetles that the elderly man had taken.
Han Li was ecstatic to see this, and he immediately extended a hand to draw the beetles back to him.
"You're incredibly fortunate to have been able to nurture mature Gold Devouring Beetles, Fellow Daoist Han, but let me tell you this; mature Gold Devouring Beetles may be quite fearsome, but they can only display their true power in large numbers. If only a few are unleashed at once, it'd be quite easy for a high-grade cultivator to trap them using a wood-attribute treasure. As opposed to focusing on these beetles, it would be more beneficial to work harder on your own cultivation. Of course, if you can nurture hundreds, even thousands of these mature Gold Devouring Beetles, then most of the Spirit Realm is your oyster as the majority of wood-attribute treasures won't be able to trap so many matured Gold Devouring Beetles. At the same time, it's important to remember that controlling such a large number of Gold Devouring Beetles would be so taxing our one's spiritual sense, that even Grand Ascension cultivators like me won't be able to handle it. Hehe, of course, if you can nurture a legendary Gold Devouring Beetle Monarch, then even True Immortals would most likely refrain from engaging you in battle, let alone a Grand Ascension cultivator like me," the elderly man chuckled.
"Gold Devouring Beetle Monarch?" This was the first time that Han Li had heard of something like this.
"Oh? You don't know what that is? Ah, that makes sense. Only the Mayfly Race and other races that are closely affiliated with insects know of Gold Devouring Beetle Monarchs, so I suppose it's no surprise that you're oblivious to them. If you ever get the chance to do so, you can go and conduct some research on your own about this matter. This beetle monarch is a legend that has been around for countless years, but I've never actually heard of anyone successfully refining, so it's not something to be overly fixated on," the elderly man explained before making a hand seal.
A loud rumbling noise erupted from the sky above, and dense dark clouds began to surface as howling winds were swept up.
The elderly man then began to chant something in the wind, and even though his voice wasn't very loud, it was still quite clearly audible.
An astonishing scene then ensued.
The elderly man didn't appear to have done anything else, but the massive flags on the eight platforms suddenly tremored in unison. The flags flapped in the wind as the entire formation began to emit a faint buzzing sound.
Spiritual threads of all types of different colors surfaced around the formation before sweeping toward the massive flags as streaks of light.
As the eight flags flashed within the spiritual light, bursts of astonishing spiritual pressure emanated from the formation as one rune after another emerged.
Han Li was situated at the very center of the formation, so he could quite clearly sense just how fearsome the power imbued within these runes were.
If any single one of those runes were to explode, he definitely wouldn't be able to withstand the explosion even with his current immensely powerful body.
Han Li's expression changed slightly as he took a deep breath.
Yuan Yao looked on from outside the formation, and a hint of concern also appeared in her eyes.
The eight giant flags rotated at once before blasting forth eight pillars of light that were as thick as large bowls, all of which disappeared high up into the sky in a flash.
The white rift overhead immediately shimmered with brilliant light, and instantly became several times more visible than before.
The elderly man swept a sleeve upward upon seeing this, and a dull thump erupted in the air above the formation, following which an azure sword projection that was several tens of feet in length appeared amid a flash of piercing azure light.
"Sever!" the elderly man yelled before pointing two of his fingers at the huge sword projection up above.
The azure sword projection immediately adopted a vertical position before flying up toward the white rift in the sky.
A loud ringing sound suddenly erupted in the surrounding sky as the air abruptly tightened, as if all of the world's origin Qi nearby had been sucked away by this sword.
In the instant before the giant azure sword struck the white rift, it expanded countless times further, taking up the entire sky as if it were a divine weapon.
The azure sword then proceeded to slice open that white rift amid a loud tearing sound that was audible throughout the entire heavens.
A thin long black rift emerged within the white rift, and the elderly man waved a hand through the air to dispel the gargantuan sword.
At the same time, eight gigantic runes, each of which was around the size of a cabin, surfaced near the black rift, shimmering with bright golden light.
Han Li felt the air around him tighten, immediately following which the runes from the formation beneath his feet hovered toward him in unison.
His heart jolted with shock upon seeing this, and just as chills were running down his spine, the runes transformed into lights of different colors before revolving rapidly around him.
His surroundings suddenly blurred, and he was struck by a rush of dizziness.
Following a strange high-pitched screech, a pillar of five-colored light erupted from the center of the formation, then disappeared into the black rift in a flash.
At the same time, the light emanating from the entire formation faded, and it ceased to function.
At this moment, Han Li was already nowhere to be seen.
"Master, has Brother Han really been teleported away?" Yuan Yao was unable to hide her concern any longer as she turned to the elderly man.
"Rest assured, Yao'er, the teleportation formation worked extremely well, so he should be back in the Spirit Realm by now. Within 1,000 years, he'll return to the infernal river again, and you two will be reunited," the elderly man chuckled.
He could also sense that Yuan Yao's feeling for Han Li seemed to have gone beyond simple friendship, so there was a suggestive tone to his words. Yuan Yao blushed slightly upon hearing this, but she made no effort to defend herself as she looked up into the sky again.
The black rift up above was gradually sealing over, reverting back to a white rift that was slowly blurring again.
Yan Li wrapped an arm around Yuan Yao's shoulder, and smiled as she said, "Let's go back, Junior Martial Sister. It's just as Senior Jiang says; you'll see him again if fate dictates it to be so. Your cultivation base and powers may not be able to match against Fellow Daoist Han's at the moment, but with Senior Jiang as your master, I'm sure you'll have at least matched him by the time he returns."
"Hehe, you're not wrong there. That Han brat is indeed quite an extraordinary cultivator for someone of his cultivation base, but under my tutelage, you're almost guaranteed to progress to the Spatial Tempering Stage, and there's a 40% to 50% that I'll even get you to the Body Integration Stage," the elderly man said in a confident manner.
"I'll be sure to cultivate to the very best of my abilities, Master!" Yuan Yao immediately rid her mind of all unnecessary thoughts and emotions as she extended a grateful bow toward the elderly man.
Just as Han Li was teleported out of the infernal river, Liu Zu, the white-haired beauty, the crimson-robed figure, and the Purpleblood Puppet were situated on a set of plains located countless kilometers away from the greyish-white mountain ranges, struggling to survive amid a sea of insects.
There were countless winged centipede-like creatures with hooked tails swarming toward and attacking them from all sides.
These strange insects were each around three to four feet in size, and they were extremely ferocious with no fear for their own safety whatsoever.
At this point, Liu Zu had already transformed into a massive black insect himself, and countless streaks of black light were erupting from his body to puncture the insects around him.
The Purpleblood Puppet had already expanded to over 1,000 times its original size at the crimson-robed figure's behest, and it was relentlessly blasting pillars of crimson light out of its six eyes.
The white-haired beauty had also donned her suit of black armor again, and a sea of green flames was erupting from her war hammer to keep all of the surrounding insects at bay.
The demon monarchs clearly held the upper hand, and but all three of them were extremely frustrated as no matter how many of these strange insects they killed, there was always more to replace them, and it seemed as if there were no end to their numbers.
Close to 10 kilometers away, there was a praying-mantis-like creature with a human facing appraising the battle from afar with a frosty look on its face.
In the air above this creature, there was semi-spherical object around 1,000 feet in diameter, and it was flashing erratically with silver light as countless winged centipede creatures surging toward the demon monarchs in the distance in a frenzy.