At the center of the sea of mist, the sky was still silver, and the sun was still golden. However, aside from that, there were no clouds or mist, nor any signs of wind blowing through the area.
There was no sound at all within a radius of around 50 kilometers; it was as if everything had been isolated by a type of mysterious energy.
Time slowly passed, and the strange phenomena within the sea of mist remained unchanged. However, on the second day, some shimmering black spots began to appear within the golden sun.
On the third day, those spots formed a black clump at the center of the sun.
On the fourth day, the black clump began to elongate and thin out in the process.
On the fifth day, a long and thin black line had taken shape on the surface of the sun, and from a distance, it looked as if it were a tightly-shut giant golden eye, creating a very peculiar sight to behold.
On the sixth day, everything remained unchanged except the golden light radiating from the sun was becoming more and more dazzling and bright.
At noon of the seventh day, Han Li suddenly opened his eyes as he sat inside his cave abode, and at the same time, the black light on the giant golden eye formed by the sun also slowly opened.
Within the black light, a seven-colored ball of light that resembled a pupil appeared. The surface of the ball of light was swirling in a dazzling manner, striking one with the incredible feeling that it was able to see through all things in this world.
Moments later, a long cry akin to a dragon's roar erupted from the mountain and directly into the heavens.
Within a certain space, there was a pristine white palace hovering in mid-air. Within it, several shimmering yet blurred humanoid figures, each of which was seated on a platform that was several hundred feet tall above the ground, were conversing with one another from afar.
The faces of these humanoid figures had all been concealed by spiritual light, and there were several disciple-like figures standing behind each of them, all of whom were acting in a very respectful manner.
At the center of the platforms was a black and white flower with a diameter of around 1,000 feet. The flower was emanating a fragrant scent and was very mysterious to behold.
All of a sudden, a blurry humanoid figure with seven-colored spiritual light revolving around him suddenly let loose a faint cry of surprise.
"What's going on, Fellow Daoist Xuan Ming?" a figure enshrouded in white light next to him asked.
After a brief hesitation, the rainbow figure replied in a truthful manner, "Someone's cultivating the Spirit Refinement Technique, and they've mastered the first stage. The phenomena that they triggered was detected by my immortal treasure."
"The Spirit Refinement Technique? That technique has already been listed as a restricted technique within all of the major immortal areas; how could someone still dare to take the risk to cultivate it? In any case, just send someone to detain them; why is this situation worthy of any alarm?" The white figure was still rather perplexed.
"I would naturally have sent someone already if things were as simple as that, but the phenomena my immortal treasure detected came from a certain lower realm, so it's not being cultivated by anyone in the immortal areas," the rainbow figure explained with a wry smile.
The white figure faltered momentarily before chuckling, "Someone from a lower realm? That is indeed rather surprising. Someone must've taken the technique to that realm on a visit. In that case, it doesn't really matter, then. The Spirit Refinement Technique is quite difficult to cultivate even for those in the True Immortal Realm like us, so there's no way someone from a lower realm can master the final stage."
"You're right. I've been assigned the task of overseeing these matters, but it's naturally beyond my realm of jurisdiction if someone outside of this immortal area cultivates this technique. Even if that man masters that technique, he won't be able to get past the people at the guidance platform when he ascends anyway," the rainbow figure replied with a smile.
The conversation between the two of them was quite brief, and the other people present paid some attention to it at first, but after hearing that this merely concerned someone from a lower realm, they also quickly brushed off the subject, and the matter was soon glossed over.
The rainbow figure also didn't mention this subject any further as if he had truly forgotten all about it.
Han Li exhaled, and his heart was filled with elation as he sensed the world around him with his vastly enhanced spiritual sense. He had finally mastered the first stage of the Spirit Refinement Technique, and even though he still hadn't reached the Body Integration Stage, the power of his spiritual sense was comparable to that of the average late-Body Integration Stage being.
His spiritual sense instantly spread out of his cave abode and emerged out of the mountain, upon which his brows furrowed slightly.
The phenomena in the sky had already vanished, and everything in the surrounding area had been severely ravaged.
The ice, snow, and winds had been extremely fierce, and not only had most of the plants in the area disappeared, the remaining ones looked as if they were all hanging by a thread.
The top half of the mountain was completely bare, presenting an extremely bleak and desolate sight to behold.
Han Li's spiritual sense scanned through the surrounding area a few times before extending outward, instantly sweeping through everything within a radius of hundreds of kilometers.
All of a sudden, his expression changed slightly, and his spiritual sense paused at a certain mountain on the border of the sea of mist before encompassing the entire mountain.
There were Spatial Tempering Stage spiritual sense fluctuations emanating from within a cave abode at the foot of that mountain, and even though several layers of restrictions had been set up around the cave abode, they were easily torn apart by Han Li's insanely powerful spiritual sense.
Thus, a wisp of his spiritual sense penetrated through several layers of restrictions before tracking down the Spatial Tempering cultivator.
Within a secret chamber sat none other than the white-robed man.
Han Li didn't bother to disguise his spiritual sense at all, and he had forcibly barged his way through the restrictions, so as soon as his spiritual sense appeared inside the secret chamber, it was immediately detected by the white-robed man.
Thus, he opened his eyes and smiled as he said, "Greetings, Fellow Daoist, I am Gu Yun from the Southmoon Mountain. Congratulations on mastering your new ability!"
"Southmoon Mountain? Is that the mountain near Chenwu City?" Han Li asked in a hesitant manner.
"Hehe, that is indeed the one. Do you know of our Gu Family, Fellow Daoist?" The white-robed man was rather taken aback.
"I don't know much about the Gu Family, but I have heard of the renowned Southmoon Mountain. The cultivators who are rumored to be residing on that mountain must be your Gu Family, right?" Han Li asked in a slow voice.
"Hehe, I'm sure you've heard of true spirit families, right, Fellow Daoist? Our Gu Family is a true spirit family, and in order to ensure the continuation of our bloodline, we very rarely interact with the outside world. Not many people know about this, but with your powers, it's only a matter of time before this information is revealed to you," the white-robed man chuckled.
"A true spirit family? Do you know of the Ye Family and the Long Family?" Han Li asked after a brief pause.
"The Ye Family and Long Family are two of the largest true spirit families. Our Gu Family is certainly not weak, but we're still inferior to those two families. Do you recognize people from those two families, Fellow Daoist?" the white-robed man asked in a hesitant manner.
"I have indeed encountered some people from those two families, but they were only fleeting encounters. Now then, why have you decided to stay in this place?" Han Li asked.
"Hehe, this is where one of the branches of our Gu Family is situated, and I just so happened to be passing by. Much to my surprise, you were also here cultivating your new ability, and I wanted to get to know you," the white-robed man replied with a smile.
"I see. I've already completed my cultivation now; if you don't mind, you can come and meet me at my cave abode. I'm also quite curious about the true spirit families, so I'm sure a meeting will be mutually beneficial for us," Han Li offered.
"That would be ideal! I'll come over right away," the white-robed man agreed in an elated manner.
"Alright, then I'll be awaiting your arrival in my cave abode."
Han Li's voice gradually faded away, and moments later, his spiritual sense disappeared from the secret chamber.
Around 15 minutes later, a streak of white light flew out of the mountain before reaching the border of the sea of mist in just a few flashes.
Several large silver runes flashed within the mist, and it suddenly parted to reveal a path that was several tens of feet wide, leading directly into its depths.
Gu Yun immediately flew down the path, and the white streak of light soon vanished into the distance.
At this moment, the mist closed over again, and the path disappeared.
By the time Gu Yun reached the mountain at the center of the sea of mist, Han Li had already emerged from his cave abode and was standing in front of the gate with a smile on his face.
Upon verifying that Han Li was indeed a cultivator at the pinnacle of the Spatial Tempering Stage, Gu Yun's smile widened even further.
After exchanging some pleasantries, they entered the cave abode one after another, and after staying in Han Li's cave abode for about half a day, the white-robed cultivator emerged from the sea of mist with a disappointed look on his face.
He then issued some instructions to the elderly man who was the leader of this Gu Family branch before departing.
Meanwhile, Han Li was situated within the secret chamber of his cave abode, appraising a white jade slip in his hand with a contemplative look on his face.
"So the Long Family is the number one true spirit family and has Body Integration cultivators among their ranks; I'll have to be careful of them in the future," Han Li murmured to himself, and the jade slip vanished amid a flash of light.
This jade slip had been given to him by Gu Yun, and there was some information about the true spirit families recorded in there, thereby giving Han Li a rough understanding of those families.
Of course, none of this was particularly confidential information, and all Spatial Tempering cultivators would eventually be able to learn all of this through alternative avenues, so Gu Yun had only done him a slight favor.
Han Li had invited Gu Yun to his cave abode as he wanted to learn more about the Long Family, which he had opposed alongside the Ye Family to foil their plans in the past.
Even though several centuries had already passed since then, this wasn't enough time for cultivators to forget their grudges.
Seeing as he had returned to the human race and planned to settle here permanently, he had to develop an understanding of his potential enemies so he could address them appropriately.
Thus, he was inclined to invite Gu Yun over for a conversation after learning that he was a member of a true spirit family.
Just as he had expected, after conversing for a while, Gu Yun invited him to join their Gu Family as a guest elder, an offer that Han Li naturally turned down in a euphemistic manner.
With his current powers and cultivation base, there was no way that he would bind himself to any family. On top of that, with his immense wealth, the conditions that Gu Yun offered, which he thought to be very alluring, couldn't tempt Han Li at all.
After contemplating the issue for a long while, Han Li shook his head to set the matter aside for now. He then flicked his wrist, and a scroll that was around a foot in length appeared before him.