"It seems that only the Sacred Ancestors are aware of the reason behind this desperate devilish invasion; even the average devilish lord has been kept completely in the dark. We've taken huge risks in the past to capture devilish lords alive, but we've been unable to glean any relevant information even after using soul search techniques on them," the white-robed woman said in a resigned manner.
"Hmph, regardless of why the Elder Devil Race is doing this, we definitely can't allow them to do as they please. The backup measures we've prepared have all been implemented, and two of them are mostly complete; they should be enough to put a severe dent in the devilish army. Even if the true bodies of some Sacred Ancestors were to descend into the Spirit Realm, it won't make any difference. The only matter of concern is that our sources have confirmed that the three patriarchs of the Elder Devil Race will descend into the Spirit Realm together. If that happens, even if all of the Grand Ascension Stage beings of our races join forces, we most likely won't be a match for them. I've heard that all of the three patriarchs are old monsters who have lived for hundreds of thousands of years and are only one step away from ascending to become true devils," the red-haired man said with furrowed brows.
Everyone's expressions darkened even further upon hearing this, and the white-robed woman sighed, "The three patriarchs of the Elder Devil Race are all Tribulation Transcendence Stage ancient devils. Even in the entire Spirit Realm, there won't be many beings who can defeat them, let alone our races. The only beings that would be capable of defeating those patriarchs would be the true spirits revered by the major races, but our races are far too weak; where are we going to find a true spirit that would be willing to help us? If we can't find a way to counter the three patriarchs, our fate will be sealed even if we can withstand the attacks from the devilish army."
Just as everyone was beginning to exchange concerned glances, a clean-shaven man suddenly spoke for the first time. "There's no need to be overly concerned. Back when Master Mo Jianli left the holy island, he said that he would seek out the Grand Ascension Stage beings of the other races to devise a way to counter the devilish patriarchs. A long time has passed since then; perhaps they've already found a way."
"Is that true, Fellow Daoist Xun? Why haven't we ever heard of this?" the red-haired man hurriedly asked as a surprised look appeared on his face.
Everyone else was also both surprised and elated to hear this.
"Only Brother Luo and I are aware of. Prior to Senior Mo's departure, he had told us not to reveal this information unless the situation demanded it, so we never mentioned it to anyone. Now, the situation seems to be dire enough for me to divulge this information," the clean-shaven man sighed.
"Is that true, Brother Luo?" the white-robed woman immediately turned to the elderly man for confirmation.
"Hehe, Fellow Daoist Xun speaks the truth; Senior Mo did indeed inform the two of us of this prior to his departure," the white-haired elderly man confirmed with a smile.
"That's great! That must mean that Senior Mo already has a plan. It looks there's a good chance we'll be able to transcend this devilish tribulation in the end."
Everyone was very relieved to hear this, and they immediately began to discuss this new information among themselves.
"Alright, before we begin discussing specific arrangements, I have something that I need to announce. Fellow Daoist Black Rain, who departed from the holy island not long ago to capture the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit, has, unfortunately, perished. He had been accompanied by Tian Chan of the Holy Sovereign City, who informed us that they had parted ways after the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit had been captured. However, not long after that, Fellow Daoist Black Rain's soul lamp was snuffed out," the red-haired man said with a grim expression.
The elation in everyone's eyes immediately faded upon hearing this.
"Master Black Rain is a mid-Body Integration cultivator; how was he killed so quickly? Could there be some foul play involved here?" the clean-shaven man asked in a suspicious manner.
"I don't think so. The Pipe Dream Stone Spirit is indeed extremely rare, but it's not very useful to the average person. On top of that, Fellow Daoist Tian Chan mentioned a witness. At the time, they just so happened to encounter another Body Integration Stage fellow daoist who helped them capture the stone spirit. Without his assistance, it wouldn't have been so easy for them to capture the stone spirit," the red-haired man replied with a shake of his head.
"A witness? Who is it? Is it someone else from the Holy Sovereign City?" the elderly woman asked with furrowed brows.
"No. Come to think of it, I'm sure most of you have heard of him. The other witness is Fellow Daoist Han, who progressed to the Body Integration Stage just a few centuries ago," the red-haired man revealed.
"Are you referring to Han Li? I heard that he's a freakish cultivation prodigy from your human race who only took several centuries to progress from the Deity Transformation Stage to the early-Body Integration Stage," the elderly woman said with a surprised look in her eyes.
"Hehe, I'm afraid your information is outdated, Fellow Daoist; this Fellow Daoist Han is already a mid-Body Integration cultivator now," the white-haired elderly man chuckled.
"What? He made another breakthrough? That's way too fast! I had thought that the rumors of his cultivation aptitude were mere hyperbole, but it seems that they were understatements, if anything!" The elderly woman was even more astonished now.
All of the other Body Integration Stage beings presented were also quite stunned to hear this.
"Perhaps. If it weren't for the ongoing devilish tribulation, Fellow Daoist Han would've most likely already become a member of our holy island. Setting that aside for now, have you tracked down Fellow Daoist Han to ascertain the details of what happened to Fellow Daoist Black Rain?" the white-haired elderly man asked.
"I tried to do that, but after getting into contact with Deep Heaven City, I was told that Fellow Daoist Han had disappeared. It seems that that time of his disappearance coincides with that of Fellow Daoist Black Rain's death," the red-haired man replied with a wry smile.
"He disappeared?" The elderly man's expression darkened upon hearing this.
"According to the information we received from Deep Heaven City, Fellow Daoist Han encountered the clone of a Sacred Ancestor while reinforcing Heavenlean City, and he had gone missing after that. However, according to Fellow Daoist Tian Chan, Fellow Daoist Han had most likely encountered Tian Chan and Black Rain after he had escaped from the clone of that Sacred Ancestor. However, after the three joined forces to capture the stone spirits, Tian Chan was the only one who returned safely to the Holy Sovereign City, while the other two both went missing," the red-haired man said.
"With Fellow Daoist Han's aptitude, there may be hope for him to reach the Grand Ascension Stage in the future. It would truly be a pity if something has happened to him. However, cultivators like us are constantly defying the natural order anyway, so it's common for us to die early, especially during this devilish tribulation," the elderly woman sighed in a wistful manner.
"If Fellow Daoist Han really has perished, then he can only lament his ill-fortune. However, in contrast with Black Rain, Fellow Daoist Han didn't leave behind a soul lamp in Deep Heaven City, so it's impossible to tell whether he's currently alive or not. Regardless of how Black Rain perished, the problem is that the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit that he captured has also disappeared. Without that stone spirit, the first step of our preparations can't be implemented. This is a pressing matter that concerns the survival of our two races, so we have to think of a way to rectify the issue right away," the red-haired man said with a grim expression.
"This is indeed an urgent manner."
"Is there anywhere else where we can find another Pipe Dream Stone Spirit?"
"Can we replace the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit with something else? Do we not have a backup plan prepared in case of this exact situation?"
Everyone quickly began to offer their opinions and insights.
"A Pipe Dream Stone Spirit is far from easy to find; the one that we sent Fellow Daoist Black Rain to capture was one that was discovered tens of thousands of years ago. As for substitutes, we did indeed prepare a few, but resorting to those substitutes will hamper our preparations, and it's hard to say whether we'll be able to achieve the intended effect in the end," the red-haired man said.
Everyone fell silent upon hearing this, and a tense silence descended over the entire hall.
"Leave the Pipe Dream Stone Spirit to me; I have more important matters that I'll require your assistance with, fellow daoists."
A faint male voice suddenly echoed throughout the hall, and everyone was rather bewildered to hear it.
An ecstatic look immediately appeared on the red-haired man's face, and he sprang up from his chair as he exclaimed, "Senior Ao Xiao, is that you?"
Almost at the exact same moment, the gate of the hall was opened from the outside, and two people strode into the hall one after another.
The first person was a man who appeared to be in his thirties with a faint smile on his face. He wore a set of silver robes and had a head of long black hair that trailed down to his waist.
Behind him was a stunning silver-haired beauty with skin as fair as snow, and shimmering silver locks that looked as if they had been forged from pure silver.
"We pay our respects to Senior Ao Xiao and welcome Senior Ao Xiao to the holy island!"
All of the people in the hall were ecstatic to see the silver-robed man, and they hurriedly rose to their feet before extending respectful bows.
This man was the only Grand Ascension Stage being of the demon race, the vastly renowned Patriarch Ao Xiao.
"No need for formalities. I can see that there's a mix of familiar faces and ones that I'm only now seeing for the first time here," the silver-robed man said with a smile.
"Please take a seat, Senior Ao Xiao," the white-haired elderly man said as he hurriedly vacated the main seat in the hall.
Patriarch Ao Xiao nodded before taking a step forward, and everyone felt their vision blur before he somehow appeared in front of the chair, then calmly took a seat.