Han Li withdrew his gaze before stomping his foot gently down onto the flying carriage, and it immediately embarked on a slow descent.
The flying carriage was quite enormous, so the Dark Azure Guards down below naturally noticed it, and bursts of spiritual sense were immediately sent sweeping toward them.
Han Li swept a sleeve through the air, and azure light flashed, following which the flying carriage abruptly vanished. The five of them then descended near the teleportation formation.
"Captain? Is that you?" A cry of surprise suddenly rang out from one of the Dark Azure Guards.
Han Li faltered slightly upon hearing this before casting his gaze toward that direction. In doing so he discovered that there was a burly green-eyed man standing among the Dark Azure Guards, and he was rather familiar to Han Li.
This was none other than Zhuo Chong, who was one of the guards that he had led back when he was last in Deep Heaven City.
At this point, he had already progressed from the late-Nascent Soul Stage to the early-Deity Transformation Stage, and he was staring at Han Li with a stunned expression.
"Oh? Long time no see, Fellow Daoist Zhuo. Congratulations on becoming a Dark Azure Guard," Han Li said with a smile.
"It really is you! Hmm? Have you already progressed to the Spatial Tempering Stage, Captain?" Zhuo Chong was initially elated to see Han Li before a shocked expression reappeared on his face.
He discovered that his spiritual sense was completely unable to glean Han Li's cultivation base, so he could only assume this to be the case.
"I did indeed manage to progress to the Spatial Tempering Stage during my travels; I didn't think that I'd meet you here even before I entered the city, Fellow Daoist Zhuo. How are all of the other fellow Daoists in our former group doing?" Han Li asked with a smile.
"Well, not long after you left, the foreign races attacked Deep Heaven City, and close to half of us perished during that battle. The rest then chose to leave Deep Heaven City, and Fairy Xu and myself are the only ones who decided to stay," Zhuo Chong replied.
"Fairy Xu is still in the city?" Han Li asked as a peculiar look flashed through his eyes.
This woman was a descendant of Fairy Ice Soul, which was someone he had to meet in order to complete the task that Senior Weng of the Heavenly Cloud Races had assigned to him, so he was naturally interested in hearing about her.
"Fairy Xu has also reached the Deity Transformation Stage, and she's now a mid-Deity Transformation cultivator. By the way, Fairy Xu regularly mentions you, and she's always saying that she wouldn't be where she is today without your guidance," Zhou Chong said with a suggestive smile, seemingly under the impression that there was something going on between the two of them.
"Hehe, I didn't do much; you can barely even refer to that as guidance. Fairy Xu has attained her current accomplishments due to her own outstanding aptitude," Han Li replied with an indifferent shake of his head.
Meanwhile, as Han Li spoke with Zhou Chong, the four human cultivators were quite relieved to see that Han Li was acquainted with one of the Dark Azure Guards.
It seemed that he had been telling the truth about coming from Deep Heaven City himself. As such, they no longer had to worry that he was a foreign being attempting to infiltrate the city in disguise.
Such occurrences were not exactly rare, after all.
The scholarly man also recognized Zhuo Chong, and he said, "I'm glad to see that Brother Zhuo is acquainted with Senior Han. We were only able to make it back here as Senior Han stepped in to save our lives from a perilous situation."
"Oh? Did the four of you encounter some danger?" Zhuo Chong was rather taken aback to hear this.
"That's an understatement; the four of us almost perished to a Spatial Tempering Stage Stone Origin Turtle," the scholarly man replied with a wry smile.
"Hehe, our captain was able to kill Spatial Tempering Stage foreign beings even as a Deity Transformation cultivator, so he'd certainly have no issues killing a mere Stone Origin Turtle now," Zhuo Chong chuckled.
The four human cultivators nodded emphatically to express their agreement to this sentiment.
"I'd love to chat with you some other time, Fellow Daoist Zhuo, but I have some matters to attend to and I would like to enter the city first," Han Li said with a hint of a smile on his face.
"Ah yes, how negligent of me; you must've traveled here from afar, so you must be quite exhausted." Zhuo Chong hurriedly stepped away to grant Han Li passage to the teleportation formation behind him.
Han Li nodded at Zhuo Chong before striding into the formation before vanishing amid a flash of spiritual light along with the four human cultivators who had accompanied him.
Zhuo Chong looked on at the empty formation with a slightly forlorn look on his face.
"Do you really know that Senior Han, Brother Zhuo?"
"Was he really your captain? Could he really kill Spatial Tempering Stage beings at just the Deity Transformation Stage?"
"Why were we unable to glean his cultivation base? Could it be that he's cultivated some kind of special ability?"
All of the other Dark Azure Guards couldn't help but express their curiosity.
"Of course it's true. Captain Han was a very renowned figure among the Dark Azure Guards back in the day, and with his abilities, even the average Heavenly Guard may not be a match for him. I also benefited greatly from his guidance back in the day. Otherwise, I may not even have been able to progress to the Deity Transformation stage. It seems that he's progressed to the Spatial Tempering Stage, so his powers are naturally even more unfathomable; it's no wonder that we can't glean his cultivation base," Zhuo Chong replied, and at the same time, he couldn't help but speculate internally about where Han Li had been during these past years.
Of course, never would he imagine that Han Li had gone on an epic trip that had spanned multiple different continents.
Meanwhile, spiritual light flashed within an ordinary-looking hall, and Han Li slowly emerged from the teleportation formation before casting his gaze around him.
The four human cultivators also emerged behind him.
"We're already at Deep Heaven City now, so it's time we parted ways, fellow Daoists," Han Li said to the four of them.
"Thank you for saving our lives, Senior. We'll be residing in the Spring Slumber Pavilion for now; if you have any need for our services, please don't hesitate to call on us," the scholarly man said with a respectful and earnest bow.
Without Han Li's intervention, all four of them would've almost definitely perished, so his words were genuine.
"Spring Slumber Pavilion? Alright, I'll keep that in mind. Perhaps I really will have to trouble you later." Han Li nodded as he gave the scholarly man a final meaningful glance, then departed from the hall.
The four human cultivators faltered slightly before extending respectful bows in unison.
After departing from the hall, Han Li emerged in another massive hall that had a radius of over 1,000 feet. There were other people who were also entering and exiting the other halls connected to this one, but there weren't very many of them.
Not far away from the exit of the giant hall stood two rows of Dark Azure Guards who were holding Foreign Spirit Discs, with which they were carefully assessing each and every cultivator entering and exiting the hall.
There was also a golden-armored Heavenly Guard who stood behind the Dark Azure Guards with his arms crossed, appraising everything within the hall with a cold expression.
Han Li immediately identified this Heavenly Guard as a mid-Spatial Tempering cultivator, and after a brief pause, he strode directly toward the guard.
The Dark Azure Guards outside the city were only responsible for guarding the teleportation formations so they didn't get damaged by foreign beings and beasts, while the guards here were truly responsible for verifying the identities of those looking to access the city.
In the past, Deep Heaven City gave out temporary transit badges to everyone who entered the primordial world. However, Han Li hadn't returned to Deep Heaven City for so many years, so he naturally didn't possess such an item, which could prove to be a little troublesome.
There weren't many people in the giant hall, and Han Li was the only Spatial Tempering cultivator.
The Heavenly Guard immediately cast his gaze toward him, and even though Han Li remained completely expressionless, he was using an aura concealment secret technique.
A surprised expression immediately appeared on the Heavenly Guard's face.
The Heavenly Guard's body swayed, and he appeared in front of all of the Dark Azure Guards in a wraith-like manner before cupping his fist in a polite salute. "I am Yu Lingzi. Your cultivation base is truly astounding, Fellow Daoist; may I ask your name and where you came from?"
"My name is Han Li, and as for where I came from, hehe, I was a Deep Heaven Guard over 300 years ago," Han Li replied.
The Heavenly Guard faltered momentarily before his expression darkened slightly. "A Deep Heaven Guard? Surely you jest, Fellow Daoist; I've been a Heavenly Guard for several hundred years; why have I never seen you before?"
Han Li merely chuckled and suddenly raised a hand to send a ball of azure light flying through the air.
The Heavenly Guard's pupils contracted as he made a grabbing motion to draw the ball of azure light into his hand, upon which he discovered that this was an azure jade pendant.
One side of the pendant was inscribed with some beveled silver runes, while the other side had the code "C56" written in golden characters.
This was none other than Han Li's Dark Azure Guard badge from centuries ago!
"You're a Dark Azure Guard?" The Heavenly Guard found this to be rather difficult to believe.
"Indeed, is there anything wrong?" Han Li asked.
"Not at all, but I'll need to verify this badge first," the Heavenly Guard replied in a cautious manner.
"No problem. Go ahead," Han Li said in a calm voice.
The Heavenly Guard nodded before rubbing his hands together, and the jade pendant immediately began to flash with faint azure light.
"This is indeed a Dark Azure Guard badge, but your Dark Azure Guard number was canceled over 100 years ago, so you're already a free man, Fellow Daoist," the Heavenly Guard said with a slightly peculiar look on his face.
"I completed an extremely perilous mission many years ago, and I was a free man from the moment I completed the mission," Han Li replied in a calm manner.
"An extremely perilous mission from over 300 years ago?" A thought seemed to have occurred to the Heavenly Guard, upon which a shocked look surfaced in his eyes.
"Looks like you also remember what happened back then," Han Li chuckled.
"So you were one of the members sent on those missions. Apologies for my rudeness; you may leave now. However, I'll have to take this Dark Azure Guard badge," the Heavenly Guard said as he cupped his fist in a respectful manner.
"Of course. I haven't returned to the city in many years, so I have no other proof of identity and had no choice but to bring out this item," Han Li said in a nonchalant manner.
The Heavenly Guard nodded before waving a hand, and the Dark Azure Guards immediately parted to grant Han Li passage.
Thus, Han Li emerged from the giant hall and flew away as a streak of azure light.