"According to my knowledge, there's a type of devilish beast known as the Eight-footed Devilish Lizard that can be found only in the Illusion Howl Desert. This type of devilish beast can fly, but they can move as fast as the wind in the desert. If we can find a few of them to act as our steeds, we'll be able to traverse through the desert at a far faster speed," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns said.
"In that case, we can consider the final route. After all, that route would be a lot safer than the sea route," the woman from the Ye Family said with a contemplative look on her face.
"I'm afraid it's not that easy, Fairy Ye. The devilish cores and bodies of the Eight-footed Devilish Lizards are extremely valuable, and they've almost been hunted into extinction as a result. The remaining Eight-footed Devilish Lizards have all either been domesticated by powerful devilish forces or are residing deep within the desert, so it would be next to impossible to find them," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns sighed in a forlorn manner.
"Would we be able to replace these devilish lizards with other spirit beasts or devilish beasts? I have a few spirit beasts that are very fast when traveling over land," the woman from the Ye Family suggested.
"The Illusion Howl Desert is even more restrictive on spirit beasts; spirit beasts that are normally extremely fast and agile will immediately become completely lethargic and useless once they enter the desert. Only the devilish beasts that inhabit the desert are unaffected, and Eight-footed Devilish Lizards are the fastest among them; the rest of the devilish beasts in the Illusion Howl Desert aren't even half as fast as Eight-footed Devilish Lizards," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns said with furrowed brows.
A hint of disappointment appeared in the young woman's eyes upon hearing this.
In contrast, a peculiar look flashed through Han Li's eyes.
The fact that Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns knew so much about the Elder Devil Realm indicated that the Spirit Realm had prepared just as much if not more so for this as the Long Family had. In fact, they seemed to be even more familiar with the geography and powers within the Elder Devil Realm than the Long Family was, as evidenced by the fact that the Long Family patriarch had no idea about the Eight-footed Devilish Lizards.
"If we really want some Eight-footed Devilish Lizards, we can just destroy one of the major devilish powers near the desert and take their Eight-footed Devilish Lizards," Elder Hui of the Long Family chuckled coldly.
"With our powers, we have nothing to fear as long as we don't encounter any Sacred Ancestors, but if we do that, we'll be causing a huge commotion that could attract a lot of attention from devilish powerful beings. If they begin to track us or intercept us on the other side of the Illusion Howl Desert using teleportation formations, we'll be in huge trouble," the Long Family patriarch countered with a shake of his head.
"That's true. However, is there a way where we can steal these devilish lizards without getting into a conflict with these devilish powers? Alternatively, would it be possible to exchange some things for these devilish lizards? They may indeed be very valuable, but surely they can still be bought for a price," Zang Xing of the Spirit Race objected.
"I think trekking through the Illusion Howl Desert is the best option," Jin Gu of the Spirit Race said in a concise manner.
The young woman from the Ye Family pondered the situation for a moment before giving her verdict. "I support Brother Lin's opinion. Trekking across the Illusion Howl Desert is going to take too long, and there's no guarantee that we'll be able to get enough Eight-footed Devilish Lizards. As such, flying over the sea is a more viable option."
Everyone else was carefully contemplating the issue and didn't hurry to express their opinions.
"Fellow Daoist Han, which route are you leaning toward?" the Long Family patriarch asked as he turned to Han Li.
Han Li was silent for a moment before asking in an unhurried manner, "Before I answer that question, I'd like to ask you something, Brother Long: how long will it take for us to get to the Illusion How Desert from here?"
"It'll take us around a year to get to the Illusion Howl Desert. Of course, that's under the assumption that we don't encounter any impediment along the way. Why do you ask, Brother Han?" the Long Family patriarch asked in a surprised manner.
"From a risk minimization perspective, I'm naturally leaning toward the Illusion Howl Desert route, but if we can't gather enough Eight-footed Devilish Lizards, then the journey will take too long for it to be worth it. In that case, the time saved by taking the sea route would be enough to outweigh the relative risk. Hence, I think we should take both routes at the same time," Han Li said.
"What do you mean by that?" Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns asked with a contemplative expression.
"We can go to the outskirts of the Illusion Howl Desert and search for the nearby devilish powers to see if we can gather enough Eight-footed Devilish Lizards. If we're able to do so, then we'll naturally take the Illusion Howl Desert route, but if not, we can turn back and take the sea route. At most, we'll only be delayed by about two years, which should still be acceptable for us," Han Li replied.
"That's not a bad idea! I support Brother Han's plan," the woman from the Ye Family said as an elated look appeared on her face.
After a brief pause for contemplation, the man from the Lin Family also expressed his approval. "This is indeed a more refined plan."
"What do you think, Fellow Daoist Thousand Autumns?" the Long Family patriarch asked as he turned to Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns.
"I'll have to discuss this with my brethren before giving you a response," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns replied.
"Of course, go ahead," the Long Family patriarch agreed with a nod.
Thus, the Spirit beings got into a huddle and began to discuss the options presented to them.
At the same time, the Long Family patriarch was also having a secret conversation with Elder Hui through voice transmission.
All of a sudden, the voice of the woman from the Ye Family sounded beside Han Li's ears. "Brother Han, the method that you proposed is very sound; I think the Spirit beings and Fellow Daoist Long will all agree to this in the end. However, judging from the previous interactions, it seems that Fellow Daoist Long was inclined to take the Illusion Howl Desert in the first place, while the Spirit beings seem to be leaning more toward the sea route. We don't know what they're thinking, but regardless of what the final decision is, we have to be wary of them."
Han Li took a brief glance at her to find that she was looking vacantly into the distance, as if she hadn't just transmitted her voice to him.
Thus, Han Li also turned away and transmitted his voice in response. "Thank you for the words of caution, Fellow Daoist Ye; I'll be sure to keep my guard up."
The young woman offered no response to this, but a faint smile had appeared on her face.
As expected, after their discussion, the Holy Spirits all expressed approval of Han Li's plan, as did the Long Family patriarch.
As such, they immediately set off and skirted along the border of the grassland to the west.
Unbeknownst to all of them, there was a ball of pink light tailing them from close to 10,000 kilometers away.
At the same time, within an extremely secretive restricted area in the Spirit Race territory of the Spirit Realm, there was a giant formation with a diameter of over five kilometers that was flashing with spiritual light on a patch of charred ground.
The entire formation was buzzing incessantly, and countless runes of all colors were surging forth in a frenzy, forming a series of massive runed chains that were binding onto a giant figure at the center of the formation.
The figure was around 1,000 feet tall and was clad in a suit of antiquated golden armor. There were around a dozen crimson devilish projections flashing erratically behind him, and these projections were letting loose ghastly cries and howls.
The giant figure currently had his hands held up in the air, and there was a silver net several tens of feet above his head, trembling incessantly as it kept a massive silver bead at bay.
The bead was around an acre in size, and its surface was riddled with complex patterns. The giant humanoid figure was very handsome, but he was sweating profusely and staring up at the massive silver bead with a look of shock and fury in his eyes.
In the air around the formation were eight Body Integration Stage Holy Spirits, each of whom was holding a formation plate, and they were also sweating profusely as they poured their spiritual power into the massive formation.
Tens of thousands of feet directly above the center of the formation was a shimmering golden palace. It was hovering in the air in a completely still manner, creating a rather surreal sight to behold.
"Who are you? Why do you possess an Immortal Sealing Bead? Are you a spirit servant who escaped from the True Immortal Realm?" the giant humanoid figure roared in a vicious manner.
The cold voice of an elderly man rang out from the golden palace in response. "You don't need to know who I am. You possess a Spirit Capturing Heavenly Net, so you are a sworn enemy of our Spirit Race. Now that you've been captured in this Devil Trapping Formation, this Immortal Sealing Bead will put an end to your life."
"You really think this will be enough to kill me? I've already cultivated a golden immortal soul! You're delusional if you think a being from a lower realm like you can kill me! Once I escape from this formation, I'll destroy all of your souls and refine you to become my treasures!" the giant humanoid figure roared in a furious manner.
The cold voice rang out once again from the golden palace. "I'm naturally aware that even the combined powers of the Devil Trapping Formation and Immortal Sealing Bead won't be enough to erase the soul of a true immortal, even though you're currently not even as powerful as I am. However, if I were to seal you, then slowly refine you using the true flame within my body in tandem with Earthly Infernal Flames, I'll be able to refine your soul into an Immortal Soul Pill in 100,000 years."