Han Li was flying beside Yue Zong with a contemplative look on his face as he cast his gaze toward the sea of mist in the distance.
All of a sudden, his expression changed slightly. When they were further away, he had failed to notice this, but after drawing closer, he could hear a dull rumbling from within the azure sea of mist, as if a loud thunderstorm were raging within.
At this moment, Yue Zong suddenly drew to a halt, and the crimson light around his body faded as he appeared before the azure mist.
He flipped a hand over, and a shimmering golden badge appeared in his grasp. He then raised a hand, and the badge disappeared into the mist as a streak of golden light.
The dense mist that yielded almost zero visibility suddenly parted in the face of the streak of golden light, forming a natural passageway.
"Stay close to me and make sure you don't stray from this passageway. Otherwise, you'll be in big trouble," Yue Zong cautioned before flying ahead again.
Even though Han Li didn't know what kind of trouble would await him if he were to fly into the azure mist, he certainly wasn't going to find out, and he followed close behind Yue Zong as he was told.
Xian Xian was also flying along behind them, and she couldn't help but ask, "I've also been to these Golden Devil Mountain Ranges once before, and if I recall correctly, shouldn't we have entered from another location?"
"Ordinary beings would naturally have to enter from there, but I've built up a bit of reputation for myself here, so I'm exempt from that requirement," Yue Zong explained with a shake of his head.
Xian Xian nodded and fell silent upon hearing this.
Thus, the three of them continued to fly along under the guidance of the streak of golden light, and before they knew it, they had traveled close to 10 kilometers into the sea of mist.
All of a sudden, Han Li's eyes flashed as he suddenly caught sight of a cluster of buildings around 500 meters below them. After drawing closer, he discovered that this was a small town set up in a long and thin formation consisting of two rows of stone cabins. These stone cabins were all of different sizes, and there were hundreds of them down below.
At the very center of a small town was a massive pavilion that was several hundred feet tall. The pavilion had a total of five levels, and it was quite an eye-catching structure that was constructed from massive grey stone blocks.
There seemed to be some people walking along the streets of the small town, but there weren't many of them.
Yue Zong let loose a low cry and headed directly toward the pavilion at the center of the small town, followed closely by Han Li and Xian Xian.
The three of them appeared in front of the massive pavilion almost at the exact same time, and Han Li discovered that there was a horizontal plaque hanging above the gates, which were several tens of feet tall. The words "Lightning Cloud Pavilion" had been inscribed onto the plaque in flowing and graceful ancient text.
"Come with me, Fellow Daoists. This is the place where we receive restriction badges; I'm sure you've been here before as well, right, Fairy Xian?" Yue Zong asked with a smile.
"Indeed. However, on the last occasion that I was here, I had to go somewhere else and buy a Cloudsplit Badge before I could enter this place," Xian Xian replied with a nod.
"The Cloudsplit Badge that you purchased is only a temporary badge, and those expire after a month. In contrast, the treasure I just used to split apart the azure mist just then is one that can be used over and over again, and it was something that was given to me by a senior responsible for guarding this place seeing as I came to these Golden Devil Mountain Ranges quite frequently. The sea of mist is a little troublesome to traverse, but even if you get lost in there, it won't kill you; you'll just be trapped in there for a month or two before someone from this place rescues you. What we have to do now is collect Lightningbane Umbrellas, which are the items that will truly grant us passage into the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges. Otherwise, the divine lightning restriction is something that even holy race beings won't be able to force their way through," Yue Zong explained before making his way toward the pavilion.
The pavilion gates were wide open, and the first level was completely empty, giving off the impression that people rarely ever visited the place.
After hearing Yue Zong's introduction, Han Li nodded before also striding toward the pavilion, while Xian Xian followed along behind him.
The trio quickly made their way through the pavilion gates to find that there was nothing on the first level aside from a few tables and chairs. Thus, they scaled the staircase onto the second level, only to find that there was nothing there, either.
As such, the three of them continued up to the third level, where they discovered a white light barrier at the entrance.
Yue Zong completely ignored the light barrier and passed directly through it. Han Li raised an eyebrow before also following suit in an expressionless manner to discover that the barrier posed no impediment at all.
However, Han Li's expression immediately changed slightly after emerging on the other side.
After passing through the entrance, the sound of chatter and activity could be heard from above the staircase, and it seemed that there were many people on the third level.
Yue Zong and Xian Xian had naturally also heard this, and expressions of surprise appeared on both of their faces, but Yue Zong's remained unfazed as he calmly scaled the staircase first.
The voices from the third level immediately cut off, indicating that the people there had also noticed Yue Zong's arrival.
At this moment, Han Li also made his way onto the third level, upon which he discovered that the level was only just over 200 feet in area, but it was packed with people.
There were over 30 foreign beings in different attire sitting on the ground in a cross-legged manner, and the only other things in the room were a round stone table at the center of the room, as well as the futons of different sizes that the beings were sitting on.
As soon as Han Li's trio appeared, everyone naturally turned toward the three of them.
"Oh, it's Brother Yue!"
"So you came as well, Fellow Daoist Yue."
"Haha, I knew you wouldn't be willing to give up on this opportunity, Brother Yue."
After identifying that it was Yue Zong who had arrived, many of the beings in the room extended warm greetings toward him, and among them, there were even beings with superior cultivation bases compared to Yue Zong.
The other beings who didn't recognize Yue Zong also stirred upon hearing his name, and some of them were appraising him with enmity in their eyes.
It seemed that even though they didn't recognize Yue Zong, he was indeed quite renowned around these parts.
However, there were four or five beings in the room who displayed no reaction even after hearing Yue Zong's name, and they were merely appraising Han Li's trio in a discreet manner.
Han Li swept his spiritual senses throughout the room, and he was quite surprised that all of the beings here were at or above the Deity Transformation Stage. In fact, close to half of them were Spatial Tempering Stage beings, and there were even three beings at the pinnacle of the Spatial Tempering Stage.
There were also some beings who were using treasures to conceal their spiritual powers, so even Han Li was unable to ascertain their cultivation bases.
In contrast to Han Li, Xian Xian was rather intrigued by the resounding reputation that Yue Zong clearly had in this place.
Yue Zong cupped his fist in a salute to everyone before heading toward a thin elderly man with grey hair, and asking in a respectful manner, "You're here as well, Senior Yan; did something happen in the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges?"
This elderly man was one of the three beings who were at the pinnacle of the Spatial Tempering Stage, and he was appraising Yue Zong with a benevolent smile on his face, seemingly closer with him than all of the other beings here.
"Did you not know anything before coming to this place? Aren't you aiming to enter the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges?" The elderly man was rather surprised to hear Yue Zong's question.
"I am indeed going to enter the mountain ranges, but that's for another reason. As far as I know, this is a period during which a mass influx of devilish Qi is taking place, so why are there still so many people gathered here? Could it be that all of them are here for Lightningbane Umbrellas?" Yue Zong asked with a serious look on his face.
"Of course. No one would come here unless they were looking to enter the mountain ranges. As for the reason behind this, that's a long story. Hmm? Who are those two fellow Daoists?" the elderly man asked in a hesitant manner as he cast his gaze toward Han Li and Xian Xian.
"It's alright, Senior Han and Fairy Xian are my companions, with whom I'm going to be entering the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges together, so you can tell them what you're about to tell me as well, Senior Yan. It seems that the three of us are the only ones here who are still in the dark," Yue Zong chuckled with a wry smile.
"That's true. Long story short, a humanoid immortal zoysia suddenly came to our town and wounded a cultivator a few days ago, then fled into the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges," the elderly man replied after a brief contemplation.
"Humanoid immortal zoysia? Did I hear that right?" Xue Zong's expression changed drastically upon hearing this.
Han Li and Xian Xian also exchanged an astonished glance.
"There's no mistaking it; it was indeed an immortal zoysia. While it was trying to escape, someone wounded and secured a few drops of its spirit immortal blood, which they sold in the two for a staggering amount of spirit stones," the elderly man confirmed.
"It's extremely rare for spirit medicines to attain human forms, and it's not necessarily the case that spirit medicines will attain sentience and a human form after existing for a certain period of time. Spirit medicines have to encounter many miraculous opportunities before they even have a sliver of a chance of attaining a human form. It seems that even in the entire Spirit Realm, there haven't been many precedents of such spirit medicines. If this news were to spread, all of the 13 Heavenly Cloud Races and even beyond would surely erupt into a massive frenzy. All of these beings gathered here must've arrived after hearing this news," Yue Zong mused with a peculiar look on his face.
"That's not going to be the case, Brother Yue. Perhaps more people will gather here from the 13 Heavenly Cloud Races in the coming days, but beings from further away won't have any chances of capturing the immortal zoysia. Not only is it proficient in two types of earth movement techniques, it seems to have also attained a movement ability that allows it to attain a shadow form," a young man with a clean-shaven face interjected with a chuckled.
"It has a shadow form? If it possesses such a legendary movement technique, then what's the point of venturing into the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges? With that ability, it would be impossible even for holy race beings to capture it," Xian Xian exclaimed with a stunned expression.
"Hehe, we're naturally not going to take the risk if it's only bound to be futile. This immortal zoysia was quite unlucky in that it attacked a cultivator who just so happened to have mastered a type of Golden Origin Restrictive Light. Even though he was caught off guard and severely wounded, his instinctive retaliative attack also struck the immortal zoysia. When it tried to escape by adopting its shadow form, it only managed to activate the ability halfway before the restrictive light took effect, and it was forced to revert to its normal form. However, it also possesses some kind of ability that makes it insusceptible to the Lightning Cloud Formation, and it passed directly through the restriction before escaping into the Golden Devil Mountain Ranges," the young man explained.