"Let's go. You acted quite quickly just now, but there's still a chance that someone could've been alerted," the woman said as she stowed her disk away.
She then swept a sleeve through the air, and a burst of pink light emerged to sweep up the duo, then rose up into the air before flying away as a ball of light, heading directly toward the cluster of coral islands.
As she flew along, the woman peered into the distance through narrowed eyes in an expressionless manner.
The black-armored man cast a few furtive glances at her, and after a while, he finally couldn't help but ask, "Mistress, why did the altar suddenly explode at the end there? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. It's just that the backlash was more powerful than I anticipated, so I was unable to control it in the end. I haven't suffered any injuries, but those eight substitute puppets have all been destroyed; I won't be able to conduct divination until I refine a new set," the woman replied.
The black-armored man's heart stirred upon hearing this. "I see. Then the divination..."
"I wasn't able to complete the divination, but I did derive signs from it. The signs are quite ambiguous and even self-contradicting in some areas, but one thing's for sure: this group of people possesses something that can help me make a full recovery. Follow them closely, but make sure not to tip them off; I need some time to think so I can truly grasp what the signs are telling me," the woman said.
"Yes, Mistress, then let's give chase right away. Not only did they gather so many Body Integration Stage beings, they also traveled all the way here; they must have a massive objective," the black-armored man speculated.
"Regardless of what their objective is, we'll find out eventually if we keep following them," the woman said.
"You've already planted a tracking mark on that human woman, and we're in the shadows while they're completely out in the open; there's no way they'll be able to escape from us," the black-armored man chuckled.
The woman merely nodded and offered no reply, and the black-armored man also fell silent.
Several hours later, Han Li and the others had already stopped in the air above a massive coral island that was several hundred kilometers in size. They were hovering at an altitude of tens of thousands of feet, appraising a devilish stronghold from afar.
The devilish stronghold occupied close to half of the area of the entire island, and it was surrounded by grey walls that were over 1,000 feet tall. On top of that, there were layers of restrictions set up near it, and it was encompassed within several black light barriers.
There were devilish guards wielding all types of weapons on the stronghold's walls, as well as two-headed devilish birds flying over the stronghold.
In the air above the stronghold, there was a gargantuan black cloud that was several hundred acres in size. The cloud was churning incessantly, and arcs of silver lightning could be seen flashing within it alongside rumbling thunderclaps, giving off a very eerie and formidable appearance.
"Is this the right stronghold? Didn't you say that there weren't supposed to be many devilish beings guarding this place?" Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns asked with a dark expression, and the other Holy Spirits were also clearly very displeased.
Han Li and the other human cultivators didn't say anything, but they also turned to the Long Family patriarch with skeptical looks in their eyes.
"Please don't misunderstand, fellow daoists; I sent scouts to this place not long ago, and at the time, this had only been a very small stronghold. This has also come as quite a surprise to me; it seems that more devilish beings must've been deployed to this place," the Long Family patriarch hurriedly explained with a wry smile.
"I'm sure you wouldn't lie about something like this, Brother Long, but what do you plan to do now? Should we change to a different node? With so many devilish beings present, there are most likely devilish lords among their ranks; there's a good chance that our original plan will fail here," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns said as her expression eased slightly.
"There's not enough time for us to scout for another node. We've already ascertained the properties of this node, and it's the most suitable one for us. If we were to go through any node, even if we could arrive in the Elder Devilish Realm, we'd immediately be plunged into very perilous situations. It is indeed true that our original plan most likely won't work here; Devilfeign Beads are able to fool even high-grade devilish beings, but they're lacking in resistance against the power of restrictions. With so many restrictions, here, we could easily have our covers blown and be surrounded by the devilish army. As such, I suggest we simply conceal ourselves and fly toward the node. If we're exposed, then we'll just have to barge through by force. With our combined powers, even if one or two devilish lords were to stand against us, we'd be able to kill them right away. Once we enter the Elder Devil Realm, there will be no way for them to track us down," the Long Family Patriarch said as a cold look flashed through his eyes.
"I agree. With our combined powers, there really isn't all that much for us to fear, and forcing our way to the node is the simplest and most efficient way," the man from the Lin Family agreed with a nod.
"But if we do that, the devilish beings in the Elder Devil Realm will immediately receive news of what we're doing; that'll be very detrimental to our journey through the realm," the woman from the Ye Family said with her brows slightly furrowed.
"The Elder Devil Realm is an extremely massive place, and we won't be going to the cities with large gatherings of devilish beings, so even if they're made aware that foreign beings have entered their realm, there's no way for them to effectively hunt us down. Besides, it's not exactly an uncommon occurrence for foreign beings to enter the Elder Devil Realm. From what I've heard, many powerful beings from the races of our Spirit Realm would venture into the Elder Devil Realm from time to time; the devilish beings may not pay our group much heed," the black-robed elder from the Long Family countered.
Han Li merely remained silent as he stroked his chin with a calm expression, while the Holy Spirits were discussing the matter with one another through voice transmission.
Moments later, a verdict was reached, and the Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns turned to the Long Family patriarch as she said, "It will indeed be too much of a delay if we were to switch to a different node, so we'll do as you say, Brother Long. If our cover is blown, then we'll just have to force our way into the node, but I hope there won't be any further errors on your part once we enter the Elder Devil Realm."
The Long Family patriarch's eyelids twitched slightly, but he replied in a confident manner, "Rest assured, fellow daoists."
"In that case, let's begin right away. I'll unleash the full power of this Smokecloud Flag and do my best to get us as close as possible to the node without setting off any of the restrictions here," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns said in a serious voice.
She then made a hand seal, and several streaks of light shot forth into the surrounding air, then vanished in a flash.
Blue light flashed through Han Li's eyes as he cast his gaze around him to discover that a layer of cloud and mist had appeared in the surrounding area. After just a few flashes, the cloud and mist became extremely thin, and it was barely visible even to his spirit eyes.
Han Li's heart stirred upon seeing this, and he immediately withdrew his spirit eye ability. However, Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns seemed to have sensed something, and she turned to Han Li with a meaningful look in her eyes. However, she didn't say anything and merely led the way toward the node above the devilish stronghold.
Han Li's eyes narrowed slightly, but his expression remained unchanged as he flew slowly toward the node in the distance with everyone else.
They were only several tens of kilometers away from the node above the stronghold, but during their flight, they encountered seven or eight groups of patrolling devilish guards. However, the cloud and mist that Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns had conjured up managed to conceal them flawlessly. There were some occasions where they were practically brushing shoulders with the devilish guards, yet they weren't able to sense anything.
However, when they were less than 10 kilometers away from the devilish stronghold, they finally set off an extremely profound restriction.
A dull thump rang out without any warning, following which countless black spikes shot forth out of thin air, hurtling directly toward them from all directions.
"We've been exposed! Prepare for battle, fellow daosits!" Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns immediately yelled as her expression darkened.
She then waved a hand through the air, and the layer of cloud and mist around them suddenly formed a dense light barrier that kept all of the oncoming black spikes at bay.
Everyone else immediately released their treasures and abilities upon seeing this, and the surroundings restrictions were instantly torn apart in the face of their combined powers, following which all of them flew toward the node above the devilish stronghold like lightning.
Such a massive commotion naturally alerted all of the devilish beings in the surrounding area, and countless balls of light exploded near the stronghold as spiritual light spread over the entire sky.
At the same time, groups of armored devilish beings riding atop all types of devilish steeds rose up into the air in a menacing manner.