"In that case, the seeds I have may not be up to your standards," the demonic woman sighed as the excitement in her eyes faded.
"There's no need to be disheartened, Fellow Daoist; I'm not here just to exchange for medicine seeds this time. If you can gather some materials for me, I'll still be willing to trade myriad-year spirit medicines for them," Han Li said with a smile.
"That's right. I have a list here; please track down as many items on the list as you can from your demon territory," Han Li said as he swept a sleeve through the air to toss her a white jade slip.
A fair white hand emerged from within the black Qi to catch the jade slip. After briefly injecting her spiritual sense into the jade slip, she immediately exclaimed, "A lot of these materials are spirit bones and inner cores of us demonic beings; you sure are quite bold to request for such things, Fellow Daoist. Are you planning to refine some treasures?"
"I am indeed planning to refine a few treasures. As for spirit bones and inner cores, aren't demonic beings like yourself often sourcing them as well?" Han Li countered.
"Hmph, that may be true, but even if we have to use spirit bones and inner cores to refine something, we make sure to use materials from other races and never turn on members of our own race. In contrast, such requests from a human like you are considered to be quite taboo in our demon race," the woman harrumphed coldly.
"If you ask me, it doesn't seem like you care too much about this. Otherwise, you wouldn't be telling me all this," Han Li chuckled in a nonchalant manner.
The woman hesitated momentarily upon hearing this before replying, "It doesn't matter to me as long as you don't request any materials secured from beings of our race. However, even in our demon territory, the items you've listed in your jade slip are very rare. As such, I'll only be able to gather most of the items on the list, and they'll all be quite expensive."
"That's alright, as long as the items are to my liking, I'll definitely offer you satisfactory myriad-year spirit medicines as compensation," Han Li replied in an elated manner.
"Alright, that's all I needed to hear. However, it won't be very convenient for me to take these items to Deep Heaven City to trade with you. If you're really interested, then let's trade on the Myriad Treasure Convention to be held several years from now. That's a large exchange convention that's held by our human and demon races once every 1,000 years, and the venue for this edition of the convention has already been decided; it'll be held on the Nine Immortals Mountain between the Xuan Wu Region and the Heavenly Fox Territory," the woman said.
"The Myriad Treasure Convention? I have heard about this. In that case, it looks like I'll be attending this convention in a few years." Han Li contemplated this offer momentarily before nodding in response.
"Alright, then it's decided. I'll bring out the spirit medicine seeds I have, and you can see if any of them catch your eye. After that, we can exchange items that we can use to identify one another so we don't have to waste time searching for each other during the convention." The woman smiled, and a hint of seduction had crept into her gentle and pleasant voice.
Han Li had no objection to this and agreed to that arrangement.
After a while, Han Li emerged from the hall with a faint smile on his face.
This trip to the market had reaped him many unexpected rewards.
The materials on the list enclosed in that jade slip that Han Li had given to that woman weren't just for pill and tool refinement; many of them were items he required to refine the High Zenith Azure Mountain. The refinement of this mountain was going to be far more troublesome than that of the Extreme Essencefused Mountain.
Not only did it require far more materials, many of those materials were extremely rare and difficult to find in the Spirit Realm. Thankfully, there were many other substitute materials listed in the refinement method, and many of these materials were spirit bones and demon cores.
There naturally weren't many materials of this nature to be found on human territory, so he didn't even bother giving this list to the four cultivators.
However, after encountering that demonic woman in the hall, he naturally decided to give her a list of those materials.
The demon race wasn't all that powerful, but it encompassed countless types of different beasts, and it had existed in the Spirit Realm for so many years, so they had to have a massive supply of materials such as spirit bones and inner cores.
If that woman could source most of those materials for him, she would be doing him a huge favor. If he were lucky, perhaps he would be able to track down even more of those materials during that Myriad Treasure Convention.
As for the rest, he would just have to slowly search for them over time.
With that in mind, Han Li returned to the first shop that he had visited in an unhurried manner. The shopkeeper had already prepared a storage bracelet and was respectfully awaiting his return.
Han Li took the storage bracelet and briefly examined its contents, upon which his brows furrowed slightly.
As he had expected, there weren't many materials in the storage bracelet; it seemed that he would have to rely quite heavily on the four cultivators to gather the rest of what he needed.
After issuing the spirit stones for the materials, Han Li departed from the shop and didn't go anywhere else. Instead, he rose up into the air as a streak of azure light and headed straight for the Immortal Gathering Pavilion, which was a place that was designated for high-grade cultivators to stay in Deep Heaven City.
Even though it was referred to as a pavilion, the Immortal Gathering Pavilion was actually a cluster of a dozen or so pavilions.
Each pavilion was 13 levels tall, and all of them had been extremely intricately crafted. Every one of them was separated by over 10,000 feet, and there were formations and restrictions that isolated them from one another.
Not only was this place extremely expensive to live in, one didn't even have the right to live here unless they were at the Spatial Tempering Stage or above.
Of course, this Immortal Gather Pavilion mostly provided lodging for Spatial Tempering cultivators. There had been Body Integration cultivators who had lived here before, but they were extremely rare, and perhaps only one or two of them would turn up every several hundred years.
Thus, Han Li made no effort to conceal his Body Integration Stage aura and directly revealed it to the owner of the Immortal Gathering Pavilion.
The Deity Transformation Stage owner was naturally given a massive fright, and immediately chose the pavilion in the best location for Han Li, and also sent the most beautiful servants to his pavilion.
Han Li wasn't planning to stay here for too long anyway, so he accepted these arrangements.
After asking the servants to clean up the pavilion, he went to the top floor and began to meditate.
The next morning, Han Li was meditating atop a futon when he suddenly opened his eyes, and murmured to himself, "Looks like someone decided to come, after all. However, this aura is a little unfamiliar, and it's mid-Body Integration cultivator, so it looks like it's not Elder Qi from last time."
This was rather surprising to him, and moments later, the sound of gentle footsteps rang out from downstairs, following which the nervous voice of one of the servants sounded from down below.
"Esteemed senior, Buddhist Monk Jin Yue of our city has come to visit."
Han Li's heart stirred slightly upon hearing this name, and he replied, "Alright, I'll come down right away."
He wasn't overly familiar with the other elders of Deep Heaven City, but this Buddhist Monk Jin Yue was one of the two ascended Body Integration cultivators of Deep Heaven City, and Han Li had heard much about him.
However, it was said that this elder was constantly in seclusion within a secret area of the city, and almost no one ever got a chance to see him aside from members of the panel of elders.
It was no wonder that the servants of the pavilion were so nervous now that such an important figure had suddenly come to visit.
However, he had expected this visit as he had revealed his cultivation base to those two Dark Azure Guards, so even if this Buddhist Monk Jin Yue hadn't come to visit him, another elder of Deep Heaven City would've most likely been sent here in his stead anyway.
With that in mind, Han Li made a hand seal, and spiritual light flashed around him, following which his body suddenly became blurry and indistinct.
In the hall on the first floor of the pavilion, there was a monk with a golden kasaya draped over his body inspecting a piece of antique artwork hanging on the wall. There were several beautiful servants beside him who wore extremely excited expressions, and all of a sudden, the monk abruptly turned toward an empty corner of the hall.
In the next instant, azure light flashed in that corner, and a humanoid figure appeared. It was none other than Han Li.
"I hope you don't mind my unannounced visit, Fellow Daoist Han," the monk said as he extended a salute toward Han Li.
"Not at all. I've heard much about you, esteemed Buddhist monk." Han Li hurriedly cupped his fist to return the salute before focusing his gaze on the monk before him.
This was an elderly monk with a white beard that was around half a foot in length. His face resembled a pile of wrinkles, and his eyes were nothing more than narrow slits; it was as if he were so old that he couldn't even open his eyes properly.
"Hehe, I was made aware by you through a letter that Elder Qi sent to me not long ago. I heard that you've progressed from the Deity Transformation Stage to the Body Integration Stage in just a few hundred years, and you're also an ascended cultivator. On top of that, you've also been a Dark Azure Guard, is that all correct?" Buddhist Monk Jin Yue smiled as he cut straight to the chase.
Han Li faltered momentarily before smiling as he replied, "You sure are a straightforward man, Fellow Daoist Jin Yue. Indeed, that is all correct. I encountered many vastly fortunate opportunities during the past several centuries. Otherwise, there's no way I'd be at my current cultivation base."
"Hehe, all those who have reached our level have encountered their fair share of miraculous opportunities. However, even if your rate of progression isn't completely unheard of, there are definitely very few humans in history to have achieved what you have," the monk said in a benevolent manner.
Han Li naturally offered a modest response.
"I heard from Elder Qi that you have no intention of joining our Deep Heaven City. That's a real pity; if you had agreed, then I wouldn't be the only ascended cultivator left on the panel of elders," the monk said in a disappointed manner.
"The only ascended cultivator left? If I recall correctly, isn't Daoist Master Lei Luo on the panel of elders as well? Could it be..." Han Li's voice trailed off here.
"Fellow Daoist Lei Luo perished back when the foreign races attacked our city," the monk sighed as a wry smile appeared on his face.
"That's very unfortunate. I had only been aware that two elders had passed away, but I didn't think that Fellow Daoist Lei Luo would be one of them," Han Li replied in a surprised manner.
The monk uttered a few solemn Buddhist mantras before continuing, "Even though you've already declined Elder Qi's invitation, as a fellow ascended cultivator, I would still like to extend another invitation for you to join our city's panel of elders. As I'm sure you're aware, us ascended cultivators are different from native cultivators, and the vast majority of ascended human cultivators have gathered in Deep Heaven City."