Han Li and the others followed Jin Yue to a massive hall at the center of the holy city, and they all took a seat.
Following instructions from Jin Yue, several young female servants immediately made their way into the hall, setting down things like spirit tea and spirit fruits onto the tables.
Up to this point, Jin Yue was still treating Han Li like a normal guest, and there didn't seem to be any abnormal response from her.
Han Li calmly took a sip of the spirit tea offered to him before giving a slight nod.
"What do you think of this tea, Fellow Daoist Han? This is the Fragrant Maiden Tea that can only be found in our holy city, and only several tens of kilograms are produced per year. Not only can this spirit tea only be picked at dawn, it can only be picked by beautiful virgin maidens. Otherwise, it'll be far less fragrant," Jin Yue said with a smile as she also took a sip of tea.
"This tea is indeed quite delectable," Han Li praised.
"If you like it, I can gift some to you," Jin Yue said with a smile before clapping her hands together, then turned to a servant standing beside her, and instructed, "Go to the tea orchard and bring five kilograms of our finest Fragrant Maiden Tea."
"Yes, Grand Elder!" The servant was rather surprised to be called upon, but she immediately gave an affirmative response before hurrying out of the hall.
Han Li was also rather surprised by this gesture, but his expression remained unchanged as he cupped his fist in a grateful salute. "Thank you, Fellow Daoist Jin."
The other elders were quite taken aback by this as well, but none of them said anything.
"Allow me to make an introduction. Everyone, this is Fellow Daoist Han, the human who once saved our Tian Peng Race during the holy disciple trials. I'm sure all of you have heard of him, but not all of you have seen him before," Jin Yue explained to the elders who were only meeting Han Li for the first time.
"What? That's him?"
"Didn't he die in the earth abyss?"
The other elders were quite stunned to hear this, with the exception of Elder Xu and the other female elder who had met Han Li in the past, and they both exchanged a wry smile.
"I encountered some opportunities in the earth abyss and managed to escape from the demon monarchs. After that, I returned to my own human race. You wouldn't fault me for that, would you, Fellow Daoist Jin?" Han Li asked in a calm manner.
"Of course not! If it weren't for your efforts several hundred years ago, there was no way that Bai Bi and Lan'er would've passed the trial and become holy masters of our race. Your actions saved our Tian Peng Race, and in doing so, you fulfilled our agreement, so you had earned your freedom. However, I must say that I'm truly stunned to see that you managed to become a holy race being even though you were only a Deity Transformation cultivator several centuries ago. I presume you had something do with the disappearance of the four demon monarchs. If you don't mind, would you be able to disclose what happened between you and the demon monarchs?" Jin Yue asked, and all of the other elders immediately turned to Han Li, eagerly awaiting his response.
However, Han Li merely smiled, and replied, "I was only made aware that the four demon monarchs had disappeared after I entered the territory of your Flying Spirit Race. Speaking of which, this has something to do with my visit. I can't disclose to you what the events that took place between me and the demon monarchs, but I can promise you that there's no way they'll be able to return to the earth abyss. As for the progression in my cultivation base, this is a result of some opportunities that I encountered in the primordial world. It seems that you've also made significant strides in your cultivation base, isn't that right, Fellow Daoist Jin?"
Han Li's blatant refusal to answer Jin Yue's question made her rather displeased, and a cold look flashed through her eyes as her expression fell slightly. "If you're unwilling to disclose the information, then I naturally won't force you to do so. However, there must be a reason why you suddenly appeared outside our holy city in your Kun Peng form. Have you returned to intimidate our Tian Peng Race now that you've reached the holy race?"
Seeing as Jin Yue had cast aside her pretenses of geniality, the other elders also turned to Han Li with cold unfriendly looks in their eyes.
As opposed to being alarmed by this situation, Han Li smiled, and asked, "What did you think of my Kun Peng Transformation, Fellow Daoist Jin?"
A peculiar look flashed through Jin Yue's eyes upon hearing this, but she harrumphed coldly, "Hmph, it is indeed quite impressive that a foreign being like you was able to refine Kun Peng True Blood to such an extent."
"Do you really think it's that simple, Fellow Daoist Jin?" Han Li chuckled in a mysterious manner.
"What are you trying to say, Fellow Daoist Han? I don't enjoy playing guessing games," Jin Yue asked in a cold voice as her eyes narrowed slightly.
In contrast, Elder Xu and the other elders were rather perplexed by this exchange.
A hint of a smile appeared on Han Li's face, and as opposed to offering a reply, he flipped a hand over to summon a white jade slip, then tossed it over to Jin Yue with a flick of his wrist.
"What's the meaning of this, Fellow Daoist Han?" Jin Yue asked as she reflexively caught the jade slip.
"Rest assured, Fellow Daoist Jin; I think it would be in your best interest to inspect the contents of the jade slip before we continue in our discussion," Han Li replied calmly.
Jin Yue was still rather skeptical, but after hesitating a while longer, she still adhered the jade slip to her forehead before injecting a wisp of spiritual sense into it.
Moments later, she exclaimed, "This is..."
Her reaction naturally created a stir among the Tian Peng Race elders, but she was too ecstatic to pay them any heed and was completely absorbed by the contents of the jade slip.
A faint smile appeared on Han Li's face upon seeing this, and he took another sip of tea in a relaxed manner.
Thus, a peculiar atmosphere settled over the entire hall as time slowly passed by, and only after a long while did Jin Yue finally remove the jade slip from her forehead as she heaved a long sigh.
She then turned to Han Li with an extremely complex expression, and asked, "Where did you get this cultivation art from? Don't tell me that you created it; this cultivation art is extremely profound, but it's clearly designed for us Tian Peng beings."
"As expected, you managed to identify the crux of the matter right away. However, the identity of the person who invented this cultivation art isn't important; what's important is the value that this cultivation art will bring to your race," Han Li replied with a smile, seemingly having already predicted Jin Yue's question.
"This is clearly only half of the cultivation art; I presume you're not just showing it to me for the sake of it. Tell me why you've come to visit our Tian Peng Race," Jin Yue interrogated in a threatening manner as an extremely terrifying burst of spiritual pressure erupted from her body.
"Haha, I'd be more than happy to answer your question, but this is quite an important matter, so I wish to speak to you in private," Han Li chuckled before adopting a serious expression as he turned to the other Tian Peng Race elders present.
"Alright, we'll do as you say. Elders, please vacate the hall. You can come in after Fellow Daoist Han and I conclude our discussion," Jin Yue instructed without any hesitation, and it was quite clear that she held the cultivation art in the jade slip in extremely high regard.
"Alright, we'll be taking our leave, then."
The Tian Peng Race elders were quite reluctant to leave, but they didn't dare to oppose Jin Yue, so they could only vacate the hall.
Moments later, Han Li and Jin Yue were the only ones left in the hall.
"Let's continue our discussion, Fellow Daoist Han," Jin Yue prompted as her expression eased slightly.
However, as opposed to immediately offering a response, Han Li swept a sleeve through the air to summon a dozen or so small five-colored flags.
The flags then transformed into streaks of light of different colors and vanished into the surrounding space.
In the next instant, a five-colored light barrier appeared around Han Li and Jin Yue.
Jin Yue was slightly alarmed by this, but she quickly identified this light barrier to be nothing more than a simple sound isolation restriction. Even so, she was still rather displeased. "Are you concerned that someone would eavesdrop on us even though I'm here with you?"
"Please forgive me, Fellow Daoist Jin, but this is a very important matter, so I have to take all of the necessary precautions," Han Li replied in a serious manner.
"Alright, but before we continue, there's something I have to verify; do you have the other half of the cultivation art as well?" Jin Yue asked as she raised the jade slip in her hand.
"Hehe, rest assured, Fellow Daoist Jin; I wouldn't be proposing an exchange if I didn't have the other half," Han Li replied without any hesitation.
Jin Yue's expression eased significantly as she heaved a sigh of relief. "Good. Now then, what kind of exchange would you like to propose?"
On this occasion, Han Li didn't stall any longer and cut straight to the chase. "I want to enter the earth abyss, so I'll need you to arrange that. This special refinement method of the Kun Peng True Blood is what I'm offering in return."
IGT: Okay, so after doing some edits to this chapter I felt it reasonable to leave a note here about the names "Kun Peng" and "Tian Peng". You probably know that the Kun Peng is the mythological beast that can take the form of a bird or a fish. The first part of it's name "Kun" refers to it's fish form, and "Peng" refers to it's bird form. I spoke about this with johnchenn a while back, and he explained that the term Tian Peng translates directly into "Heavenly Peng", because their race focuses only on it's bird form.
I thought about it for a bit, wondering if every instance of "Kun" should be changed to "Tian", since Han Li only ever utilizes the bird form just like the Tian Peng race, but decided in the end that Tian Peng should just be used for the name of the race, and every other reference to their True Spirit should be Kun Peng. This chapter originally kept on calling the transformation and the true spirit blood by the name Tian Peng, reminding me of this again. I'm sure there are older chapters that switch terms around, potentially leading to some confusion, so I hope this clears it up a bit.