"I did. He was a very troublesome opponent, but I managed to kill him in the end," Han Li replied with a faint smile.
"You have truly made an unmatched contribution in this battle and sealed our victory, Fellow Daoist Han!"
The white-robed elderly man became even more ecstatic upon hearing this, and he abruptly took a deep breath before letting loose a thunderous roar. "Devilish scum, your Sacred Ancestor has already been slain; the only fate that awaits all of you is death!"
His voice rumbled throughout the entire battlefield like an explosive thunderclap, and it was clearly audible to all human, demonic, and devilish beings.
The human and demons all cheered with elation as morale was instantly boosted significantly, while the opposite was true for the devilish army.
The devilish lords immediately turned their attention toward the white-robed elderly man, and their hearts were filled with astonishment upon seeing the absence of the Xue Guang clone and the burly devilish lord.
The white-robed elderly man and Buddhist Monk Jin Yue then immediately rushed toward the battle that was taking place closest to them. This was a battle between two Deep Heaven City elders and two devilish lords, and the latter's expressions changed drastically as they exchanged a bewildered glance.
"Run!" one of the devilish lords, who was an azure-armored elderly man, roared.
The other devilish lord was entirely enveloped in black Qi, and he harrumphed coldly as he rubbed his hands together before thrusting them forward.
A loud boom rang out as countless bolts of black lightning erupted forth, thereby temporarily forcing back the two human elders. Immediately thereafter, the devilish lord released an inky-black canoe, which he flew onto in a flash before instantly fleeing the scene.
As for the azure-armored elderly man, he had already summoned an azure flag, and he swept it through the air to release a burst of azure light that completely inundated his body.
The devilish lord vanished amid a flash of azure light, then re-emerged amid a burst of spatial fluctuations several thousand feet away before disappearing yet again.
The two devilish lords had fled without any hesitation. The two Deep Heaven City elders who were battling them were naturally unwilling to let them escape, and they immediately prepared to set off in pursuit once the black lightning was nullified.
However, the white-robed elderly man and Buddhist Monk Jin Yue immediately urged them not to go.
The white-robed elderly man's lips tremored as he transmitted his voice to the two elders. "Don't worry about those retreating devilish lords; help out our other fellow daoists first!"
Immediately thereafter, he changed directions and flew toward another battle. The two elders were instantly enlightened upon hearing this, and they also went to assist other allies.
In the blink of an eye, the entire devilish army had been plunged into complete turmoil.
Many of the devilish lords were already fleeing the scene, while some of the more stubborn ones tried to continue onward, only to be surrounded by multiple human and demon Body Integration cultivators at once, and some of them were slain on the spot while others were forced to flee after sustaining severe injuries.
Without the presence of the devilish lords, the low-grade devilish beings on the battlefield naturally flew into a blind panic, and they also began to retreat in a horrified frenzy.
The humans and demons had also suffered severe casualties, but their morale was at an all-time high as they rushed forward in hot pursuit.
Thus, countless devilish beings began to rush away from Deep Heaven City, pursued by all types of attacks that felled those who were lagging behind like flies.
None of the Body Integration cultivators of the city joined in on this effort; they merely looked on as the entire devilish army crumbled before their eyes.
Shortly thereafter, the entire devilish army had been chased far away from Deep Heaven City, and all of them heaved a collective sigh of relief. The battle had truly been won now.
At this point, even if another Sacred Ancestor clone were to descend upon this battlefield, they wouldn't be able to reverse the situation.
Han Li stayed around for a while longer before flying back into the city with the Leopard Kirin Beast. The entire city had already been made aware of the devilish army's defeat, and everyone was celebrating on the streets to express their elation.
Thus, the city had suddenly become a very lively and bustling place, and even Han Li was feeling very gratified upon seeing this. However, he displayed no intention of stopping as he continued to fly back to his own abode.
Not long after that, he reached the stone pagoda before flying into it without any hesitation.
Instead of returning to the top floor, he went directly to the secret chamber that was over 1,000 feet below the stone pagoda. He activated the restrictions there, then issued the Leopard Kirin Beast a few instructions before immediately going into a meditative state.
His energy reserves were severely depleted, and there were all types of conflicting medicinal power within his body. As such, it was naturally best to address the situation as soon as possible, which was why he had returned early to go into seclusion.
As for the human and demonic army, they were led by a group of Body Integration cultivators and pursued the fleeing devilish army for three days and three nights. During this process, they slew next to no devilish lords, but around 50% to 60% of the low-grade and mid-grade devilish beings had been wiped out.
This had been a truly crushing victory for Deep Heaven City, and embarked on a return journey in extremely high spirits.
Of course, the elders had sent out a lot of scouts to spy on the rest of the devilish army in case they decided to launch another attack.
Once they returned to the city, all of the people who had participated in the battle received an extremely warm welcome, and a massive feast was arranged in celebration.
Unbeknownst to the vast majority of the city, the Deep Heaven City elders hadn't participated in the celebrations. Instead, they were having a secret meeting in a certain secluded hall with some other Body Integration cultivators, some of which were obscure cultivators who had been in seclusion in the city for many years, while others were reinforcements sent to Deep Heaven City by the holy island.
All of the Body Integration cultivators were currently listening with stunned expressions as the white-robed elderly man recounted how the Xue Guang clone had been devoured by Han Li's Gold Devouring Beetles.
"To think that he was able to nurture over 10,000 mature Gold Devouring Beetles; that's incredible! So this Fellow Daoist Han was responsible for killing both the Xue Guang clone and the late-Body Integration Stage devilish lord who was far more powerful even than a Sacred Ancestor clone," a burly man with a heavy black beard murmured.
"In all honesty, I'm quite embarrassed. I wasn't able to do much in this battle at all; my greatest contribution was trapping the Sacred Ancestor clone for a while with Fellow Daoist Jin Yue's assistance, but we wouldn't have been able to kill the clone had it not been for Fellow Daoist Han's Gold Devouring Beetles. On top of that, Fellow Daoist Han had already slain that other late-Body Integration Stage devilish lord before that," the white-robed elderly man said with a wry smile.
"You're being far too self-critical, Brother Gu. Without the treasure unleashed by you and Fellow Daoist Jin, it would've been very difficult for Fellow Daoist Han's Gold Devouring Beetles to hunt down that Sacred Ancestor clone," a green-haired elderly man countered.
"That treasure was something that Master Mo Jianli had bestowed upon us; I wouldn't dare to take credit for something like that!" the white-robed elderly man said as he shook his head emphatically.
"Without the huge amount of blood essence that you and Fellow Daoist Jin had expended, the treasure wouldn't have been able to take effect; your contributions are far more significant than you proclaim them to be. If even your contributions don't count for anything, then the rest of us would've done less than nothing!" the green-haired elderly man chuckled.
At this moment, a woman in a long blue dress said with a smile, "Even setting that aside, the extensive planning done by you two prior to this battle is an extremely significant contribution. Having said that, judging from your description of this Fellow Daoist Han's powers, he definitely ranks among the top five most powerful beings among our two races; I certainly can't leave without meeting someone like him. Where is he currently staying right now?"
"Indeed, I would also like to meet him," someone else immediately chimed in.
"Fellow Daoist Han has expended a lot of energy during this battle, so he went into seclusion as soon as he returned to the city. That's why he's not present at this meeting, and this is most likely not a good time to try and meet him," the white-robed elderly man said.
"Ah, forgive me for being overeager. In that case, we'll pay Fellow Daoist Han a visit once he comes out of seclusion," the woman said as a slightly forlorn look appeared on her face.
The other elders wishing to meet Han Li were also rather disappointed to hear this, but they naturally couldn't press the issue any further.
"Fellow Daoist Han has made the most significant contribution in this battle, but it was thanks to everyone's collective efforts that our city was able to survive this ordeal. I won't cheapen your efforts by extending any words of gratitude; just know that if you ever need assistance from our city, we'll be sure to oblige," the white-robed elderly man said as he cupped his fist in a salute, and his words were echoed by the other elders of the city.
The other Body Integration cultivators were quite elated to hear this. After all, a promise from the elders of Deep Heaven City was a very valuable intangible asset.
"We may have won this battle, but we can't get complacent. After all, close to the half the devilish army and almost all of the devilish lords have survived. If that Sacred Ancestor Xue Guang decides to bite the bullet and send another one of his clones into the Spirit Realm, we'll most likely have another gruelling battle on our hands. If we want to prevent that happening, we have to take advantage of this opportunity to launch a counterattack and wipe out the remaining devilish army; we can't afford them any chance of making a resurgence," the white-robed elderly man said as a cold look appeared in his eyes.