Everyone else immediately nodded in agreement, and thus, the Deep Heaven City elders quickly assigned a series of missions, sending out most of the Body Integration Stage beings present to continue hunting down the devilish army.
The rest of them remain behind and oversee the repair of all of the damaged formations and restrictions.
Of course, the most important thing was to send out some people to destroy the nearby devilish nodes right away. If they could do that, then even if the devilish beings were to send reinforcements, they wouldn't be able to arrive near Deep Heaven City.
These were all extremely urgent matters, so as soon as the assignment of these tasks were completed, everyone took their leave to carry out their respective duties.
Thus, the only two people left in the hall were the white-robed elderly man and the green-haired elderly man, the latter of whom was one of the holy island envoys.
The two conversed with one another for a long while before departing, and following their conversation, the white-robed elderly man seemed to be in high spirits, indicating that he had received some type of good news from the holy island envoy.
Not long after that, a significant chunk of the remaining devilish army in the nearby area was slain under the efforts of the Deep Heaven City Body Integration cultivators.
However, the remnants of the devilish army had been led away by the devilish lords and joined other devilish armies in neighboring areas.
Thus, the human and demonic cultivators naturally didn't dare to pursue them any further, and they returned to the city after setting up a large number of watchtowers on the borders. Thus, the battle of Deep Heaven City had finally drawn to a true conclusion.
Deep Heaven City had secured the final victory, but as many as a third of their defensive forces had been destroyed in the process. There were even a few Body Integration elders who had perished during the battle, as well as countless casualties among cultivators at or below the Spatial Tempering Stage.
Thankfully, they had managed to crush the devilish army and wipe out a considerable number of devilish beings, thereby securing the first major victory since the commencement of the devilish tribulation.
Of course, Deep Heaven City's victory didn't mean that the human and demonic races had actually gained the upper hand. On the contrary, the situation was only becoming more and more desperate for the other major human settlements. As for whether they would also be able to turn the tables, only the heavens knew the answer to that.
Following Deep Heaven City's victory, many vagrant cultivators and remnants of cultivating families and sects converged to join the city. There were even vagrant cultivators and small powers from neighboring areas that were willing to take the risk to flee toward Deep Heaven City, and as a result, the cultivators that the city had lost during the battle were easily replenished.
Even if another devilish army were to turn up soon, Deep Heaven City would be well equipped to fight them.
Thus, Deep Heaven City was accumulating power as quickly as it could, and a year passed by in the blink of an eye.
On this day, a special guest arrived at the stone pagoda that Han Li was living. Hai Yuetian and Qi Lingzi immediately invited the guest into the hall on the top floor of the stone pagoda, and as soon as the guest took a seat, he said to Qi Lingzi, "I have an urgent matter to discuss with your master; inform him of my arrival."
Qi Lingzi was feeling rather uneasy, but he still replied, "Forgive me, Senior, but Master is currently in seclusion and told us that he wouldn't be entertaining any guests."
"It's alright, I arranged this meeting with your master well in advance. Just inform him of my arrival; Fellow Daoist Han won't blame you for this," the guest said in an aloof and nonchalant manner.
Qi Lingzi hesitated momentarily upon hearing this, but he knew that this guest was no ordinary Body Integration cultivator, so he could only agree to this request in the end. "In that case, I'll do as you say, Senior."
Thus, he flipped a hand over to summon a voice transmission talisman, then said something into it before letting it loose.
Han Li had been in seclusion for an entire year in the secret chamber beneath the stone pagoda, and all of a sudden, golden light flashed from his body as he slowly opened his eyes.
At this point, he was close to returning to his peak condition, and he made a grabbing motion to draw a streak of light into his grasp out of thin air.
He swept his spiritual sense into the object, then murmured to himself, "So it's him. Looks like I really will have to come out to meet him."
As soon as his voice trailed off, he stood up from his futon, then flew out of the secret chamber as a streak of azure light.
Moments later, the azure light faded at the center of the hall on the top floor of the stone pagoda, revealing Han Li within it.
"We pay our respects to Master!"
Qi Lingzi and Hai Yuetian immediately extended ecstatic bows toward him."No need for formalities. Brother Long, you seem to have arrived far earlier than the time we agreed on. Aren't you afraid that the devilish army will take advantage of your absence to destroy your Long Family stronghold?" Han Li asked.
The guest was none other than the Long Family patriarch, and he was currently appraising Han Li with a hint of astonishment in his eyes.
"I naturally made ample preparations before I departed the stronghold. I had heard that you had slain a Sacred Ancestor clone and a late-Body Integration Stage devilish lord in the battle that took place a year ago. At the time, I was rather skeptical, but it seems that I was wrong to have my doubts. Your rate of progression truly puts me to shame, Fellow Daoist Han. Having said that, you've instilled me with even greater confidence in the journey we're going to make. As for why I arrived here earlier than expected, that's because some unexpected circumstances arose."
"I was only able to make such quick progress as I had encountered some unique opportunities during the past few years. As for slaying that Sacred Ancestor clone, I was only able to do so after receiving a lot of assistance from Fellow Daoist Gu and the others," Han Li explained in a nonchalant manner.
"In any case, it's a matter of immense pride to be able to kill a Sacred Ancestor clone. On top of that, you've only just progressed to the late-Body Integration Stage, so you'll only become more powerful as you consolidate your cultivation base. Even now, I'm most likely already no match for you," the Long Family patriarch sighed.
"Hehe, you're being far too modest, Brother Long. Can you tell me what those unforeseen circumstances that you were referring to are?" Han Li chuckled in response.
"That's a long story..." the Long Family patriarch said as he cast a hesitant gaze toward Qi Lingzi and Hai Yuetian.
Han Li was immediately able to read between the lines, and he turned to his two disciples, and instructed, "You two can leave for now."
The two of them naturally had no objections and departed from the hall.
After that, Han Li swept a sleeve through the air to release a streak of azure light that vanished in a flash, and in the next instant, a layer of white light appeared to encompass the entire hall.
"Alright, there's no one else here aside from the two of us now; go ahead, Brother Long," Han Li said with a smile.
The Long Family Patriarch nodded as a solemn look appeared on his face. "As you may have already guessed, we're going to have to enter the Elder Devil Realm earlier than planned. I received news that our two races are going to be launching a counterattack against the devilish army in the next few years, and the devilish patriarchs will also be descending into our Spirit Realm. Regardless of what the outcome of that battle is, we most likely won't have a chance to enter the Elder Devil Realm. As such, if we don't want to miss this opportunity, then our only option would be to enter the Elder Devil Realm prior to the commencement of this battle."
"The three devilish patriarchs!" Han Li's expression changed slightly upon hearing this.
"So you've heard of them as well. These three patriarchs are the most powerful of the elder devils, and normal Sacred Ancestors are completely incomparable to them. I heard that many of the Grand Ascension Stage beings from foreign races in our Spirit Realm have fallen by their hands," the Long Family patriarch said in a grim voice.
Han Li's expression also darkened upon hearing this, and a contemplative look appeared in his eyes.
The Long Family patriarch remained silent and waited for Han Li's response.
Only after a long while did Han Li break the silence again. "According to my knowledge, the three devilish patriarchs never leave the Elder Devil Realm; even those foreign race Grand Ascension Stage beings only perished by their hands after venturing into the Elder Devil Race. Are you sure that they're going to be descending into the Spirit Realm?"
"Are you suspecting me of falsehood, Brother Han?" the Long Family patriarch asked.
"No, it's just that what you're saying is a very important piece of information, so I have to verify it," Han Li replied.
"In that case, you can rest assured, Fellow Daoist Han; I received this information from the holy island, and it was revealed by Senior Ao Xiao of the demon race," the Long Family patriarch said.
Han Li was quite surprised to hear this, and he hurriedly asked, "Senior Ao Xiao went to the holy island?"