The purple-haired man was a human cultivator, but he also seemed to know about this, and he said in a slightly surprised manner. "Fairy Ling Long? Is that the concubine that returned with Divine Wolf Celestial Kui from the lower realm? I heard that not only is this Fellow Daoist Ling Long a direct lineal descendant of Senior Ao Xiao's, she's also extremely adored by Divine Wolf Celestial Kui."
"That's right. Back when Fellow Daoist Ling Long returned from the lower realm, she was only at the late-Deity Transformation Stage, yet last time we met, she had already reached the pinnacle of the mid-Spatial Tempering Stage and seems to be about to progress to the late-Spatial Tempering Stage soon. Perhaps she'll also be able to make a breakthrough before the devilish tribulation arrives. After all, that woman's aptitude was vastly renowned even in the Silvermoon Wolf Race. If it hadn't been for the fact that she had been trapped in the lower realm for so long, perhaps she would be one of us already," the masked woman sighed.
"No matter how outstanding her aptitude is, the fact that she was able to improve so drastically by staying by Senior Ao Xiao's side for just a few centuries is testament to Senior Ao Xiao's extraordinary powers. However, if she's the divine wolf's concubine, then why is she staying with Senior Ao Xiao? Does Senior Ao Xiao have some plans for her?" the purple-haired man asked in an intrigued manner.
The masked woman hesitated momentarily before speculating, "I'm not particularly sure about the details there. However, I heard from others in my race that some strain seems to have appeared in Fairy Ling Long's relationship with Fellow Daoist Celestial Kui after she emerged from the lower realm. Apparently, it was Senior Ao Xiao who stepped in to take her away. Perhaps it's because they're both displeased by how Divine Wolf Celestial Kui had left her in the lower realm for so many years."
"Alright, the important thing is that Senior Ao Xiao is alive and well; there's no need for us to speculate about others. Next, we should discuss the imminent arrival of the envoys from the Yaksha Tribe and the Wood Tribe. Those two tribes have most likely sent envoys to us with the devilish tribulation in their consideration." The white-robed elderly man suddenly moved on to another topic.
Everyone else's expressions stirred slightly, and they all began to listen with intent focus.
Thus, time slowly passed by, and the meeting between the elders of Deep Heaven City lasted for over half a day before it was adjourned.
Two days later, a certain teleportation formation within Deep Heaven City suddenly lit up, and two humanoid figures vanished from the center of the formation.
At the same time, a loud buzzing sound suddenly rang out from a certain formation within a large city that was far away from Deep Heaven City.
Bright white light suddenly erupted from a carefully guarded teleportation formation, and the chatting guards were all startled by this before immediately turning their attention to the teleportation formation.
This teleportation formation was deemed to be extremely important by the mid and high-grade cultivators in the city, and it was regularly maintained and tightly guarded. However, due to the astronomical teleportation fee required to use it, very few people actually make use of it at all. The teleportation formation would only be used a handful of times per year at most, and its users were naturally all powerful cultivators.
Thus, as two humanoid figures began to appear at the center of the formation, the Core Formation guards immediately stood up straight and put on respectful expressions.
A young man emerged from the teleportation formation first, and he looked around before asking one of the armored guards, "Is this Maple Forest City?"
"This is indeed Maple Forest City, Senior. We welcome you to our city!" the armored guard replied in a respectful manner.
The guards had already assessed these two with their spiritual sense, but were completely unable to ascertain their cultivation bases, so they naturally didn't dare to display any rudeness to the two of them.
"Good." The young man smiled before striding out of the hall with another woman with skin as fair as jade, who had just emerged from the formation as well.
These two were naturally none other than Han Li and Fairy Xu, who had just teleported here from Deep Heaven City.
Even though the Xu Family wasn't actually in Maple Forest City, this was the closest city to the one the Xu Family was in that was still accessible via teleportation.
After passing through several lines of guards, the two of them finally emerged from the hall, and they found themselves on a massive bluestone plaza.
The plaza was very plain and simple, and was constructed from massive azure tiles with no other eye-catching embellishments. However, there were some pavilions surrounding the plaza.
Aside from the several groups of armored guards patrolling the area, there were no other cultivators around.
Han Li spread his spiritual sense into the distance, and his expression changed ever so slightly.
The plaza was situated halfway up a mountain that was over 10,000 feet tall, and there were many buildings, as well as rows of orderly streets, surrounding the foot of the mountain.
Han Li turned toward the summit of the mountain to find that there was a small palace up there. Not only was the exterior of the palace quite lavish and grandiose, there were several auras within it that were of the Spatial Tempering Stage.
It seemed that those were the high-grade cultivators who were responsible for overseeing the city.
Han Li withdrew his spiritual sense before waving a sleeve through the air in an expressionless manner. A burst of azure light swept forth from his body, enveloping himself along with Fairy Xu, and the two of them instantly departed as a streak of azure light.
Within a certain room in the palace at the mountain summit, there were three Spatial Tempering cultivators sitting around a table that was filled with delicious dishes, and they seemed to be enjoying a very pleasant conversation.
All of a sudden, they abruptly fell silent before exchanging a few astonished glances with one another.
"What was that? That burst of spiritual sense was so powerful; could it be that a Body Integration Stage Senior suddenly came to our city?" an elderly man in a brocade robe murmured.
"Judging from how powerful that spiritual sense was, it seems that it really is a Body Integration cultivator. I wonder if it's one of the sovereigns or one of the elders of Deep Heaven City," a middle-aged man in a suit of white armor said in a bewildered manner.
The third cultivator was a young man wearing a shimmering golden headband, and he said, "From what I've heard, the sovereigns are all busy preparing for a major event in Deep Heaven City, so there's no way that they would have the spare time to come here; it should be one of the Deep Heaven City elders."
"Oh, if it's an elder of Deep Heaven City, then he must be merely passing through the city. He seems to be in quite a hurry, so there's no need for us to go and greet him." The brocade-robed elderly man heaved a sigh of relief as his expression eased slightly.
"That may be the case, but our Maple Forest City is quite a secluded place in the Tian Yan Region; what's an elder of Deep Heaven City doing here?" The white-armored middle-aged man was still a little concerned.
"Hehe, who knows? Those Body Integration Stage beings have always been mysterious and unpredictable anyway. As long as he's not here for us, why should we care what he's up to? I'm glad he's not sticking around in our city," the young man said as a slightly twisted look appeared on his face.
The elderly man was clearly quite careful and cautious, and after a brief pause for contemplation, he said in a solemn manner, "That's true. However, we should still tell all of our subordinates to be more careful during this time so they don't cause any trouble for us."
"Indeed. Our city isn't under the jurisdiction of Deep Heaven City, but that was still a Body Integration Stage being, so it can't hurt to be more careful," the white-armored man replied with a nod.
The conversation between the three of them seemed to suggest that they were trying to hide something deplorable they had done.
Unbeknownst to Han Li, his arrival had struck the three city lords with a strong sense of unease.
Under Xu Qianyu's guidance, they flew out of Maple Forest City before continuing southbound.
According to her, this was the nearest city to the Xu Family that was inhabited by cultivators, but it was still around a month's travel away from where the Xu Family was situated.
Thus, not long after this, Han Li released a flying carriage, and the two of them got on the carriage to continue in their journey.
This place was clearly quite secluded, and after flying a few hundred thousand kilometers away from Maple Forest City, there were barely any humans that could be seen on the ground below.
Even the occasional small towns they passed by were inhabited by both mortals and cultivators.
However, around half a month later, they had entered a hilly region, and there were no traces of any living beings other than some beasts that roamed the valleys.
What was rather surprising to Han Li was that although this hilly area wasn't completely devoid of spiritual Qi, the spiritual Qi here was clearly far more sparse than it was in other places.
As for spirit veins, that was something that they hadn't encountered a single one of even after flying for so many days.
"Why did your Xu Family decide to settle in a place like this?" Han Li couldn't help but ask.
"Please allow me to not answer that question for now, Senior. You'll find out the reason for yourself soon," Xu Qianyu said as a mysterious smile appeared on her face.
"Oh? That sounds very intriguing." Han Li truly was growing a little curious, but his expression remained unchanged.
After flying for another half a month or so, the yellow and green hills down below suddenly began to take on a red tinge. Regardless of whether it was the mountains, the soil, or the plains, all of them had become slightly red.
In the beginning, Han Li hadn't paid much heed to this. However, after flying for a few more days, the entire ground down below had completely turned into a reddish-yellow color, and he couldn't ignore this phenomenon any longer.
After carefully sweeping his spiritual sense over the ground a few times, a contemplative look appeared on his face.
"Looks like you've finally figured it out, Senior," Xu Qianyu chuckled.
"I see. So there's a large copper essence mine here; no wonder your family decided to settle here despite the lack of spiritual Qi in the area," Han Li said with a smile.
"Indeed. The seniors of our family had engaged in some heated arguments about whether the family should settle here when they first arrived in this place over 10,000 years ago. In the end, they decided to settle here, and our family has become quite wealthy as a result, but the cultivation of the members of our family has indeed been hampered. It's hard to say whether the benefits or the downsides outweigh the other," Xu Qianyu sighed in a slightly resigned manner.
Han Li nodded upon hearing this, but didn't say anything in response. Xu Qianyu also fell silent and left Han Li to his thoughts.
Several days later, a hint of lush greenery finally appeared in the sky in the distance, and the spiritual Qi surging toward them struck Han Li with a sense of reinvigoration. He knew that they were finally about to reach the Xu Family.
Sure enough, not long after that, a small lush mountain range appeared before his eyes. There was only an ordinary spirit vein in this mountain range, but the spiritual Qi here was still vastly more abundant than it was in the surrounding area.
There were all types of buildings on the dozen or so mountains in the mountain range, and there were some profound fluctuations between the mountains, clearly indicating that some powerful formations and restrictions had been set up.