Chapter 2057: Trouble
The person who had walked in was a tall and slender purple-haired woman who appeared to be in her twenties with a short white horn on her forehead. She had a graceful disposition, and was appraising Han Li with a faint smile.
The appearance of this Layman Futian had truly come as a surprise to Han Li.
"Were you not aware that I'm a woman, Fellow Daoist Han?" the purple-haired woman chuckled.
"Indeed, Fellow Daoist Bai Yunxin didn't mention this to me. Please forgive me for my rudeness," Han Li said as he cupped his fist in a salute toward the woman, and his expression immediately returned to normal, but there was still a hint of shock in his eyes.
"That's alright, this isn't the first time this has happened to me. After all, the title of Layman Futian is quite prone to causing misunderstandings. It's just that the past patriarchs of our Bai Family had all been referred to as such, so it wouldn't be right of me to change the title," the woman explained with a smile.
Han Li was quite enlightened upon hearing this.
There were indeed some families in which certain titles were passed down in order to improve cohesion and as a piece of heritage.
This may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but it was actually quite effective in some cases.
The purple-haired woman took a seat across from Han Li, then waved a hand to dismiss the servant in the room, all of whom obediently departed, making sure to close the door behind them.
The woman swept her spiritual sense briefly over Han Li's body, and said, "I heard from that junior of mine that you don't show yourself in public much; it's no wonder I've never heard of you. However, I can sense that you're very proficient in your devilish art; you must've become a devilish lord quite a while ago, right? Even I'm unable to ascertain your exact cultivation base."
"I cultivate in the dao of slaughter, so I'm always cultivating in the plains where there's an abundance of devilish beasts, and as a result, I don't interact much with others. As for the time I've spent as a devilish lord, I'm afraid you're wrong there; I only became a devilish lord several centuries ago. The only reason you're unable to ascertain my exact cultivation base is because I've cultivated a special secret technique," Han Li replied with a smile.
At the same time, he also swept his spiritual sense toward Layman Futian, only to find that her cultivation base was completely unfathomable to him as well.
It was clear that this woman either had an aura concealment treasure or had cultivated an ability of that nature. With Han Li's current level of power, there was surely no one of the same cultivation base who could possess magic power that was unfathomable to him, so that wasn't a viable alternative.
The woman's heart jolted slightly upon hearing this, and a barely detectable hint of elation appeared on her face. "The dao of slaughter? I haven't come into contact with devilish arts of that nature much, but I'm aware that all fellow daoists who cultivate in the dao of slaughter possess combat prowess that's far superior to others of the same cultivation base."
"Devilish arts of the dao of slaughter are indeed very powerful, but they're also very difficult to cultivate. I'm aware that I won't be able to break through my current bottleneck through cultivation and slaying devilish beasts alone, and that's why I've decided to emerge from seclusion," Han Li explained.
Han Li's words seemed to have resonated with the purple-haired woman, and she sighed in agreement, "I'm not cultivating in the dao of slaughter, but I've also been stuck at my current bottleneck for over 1,000 years. Making progress after becoming a devilish lord is a very arduous task, and fortune often plays a big role."
Han Li nodded before suddenly changing the subject. "I've heard that the Illusion Howl Desert is a renowned restriction area in our holy realm, and I was planning to rest in this city for a few days before entering the desert to continue my cultivation. If I can encounter some opportunities in there, then that would naturally be ideal."
"Our Bai Family isn't exactly a massive powerhouse, but we have some influence around these parts and we know quite a bit about the Illusion Howl Desert. If you need anything, feel free to tell me; I'll get my juniors to fulfill your needs as best as possible," the purple-haired woman said.
"In that case, I really do have something to ask of your Bai Family," Han Li said with a smile.
"Oh? Go ahead, Fellow Daoist. As long as it's something within our Bai Family's capabilities, I definitely won't turn you down," the woman replied.
"I heard that any being who enters the Illusion Howl Desert will be rendered unable to use any movement techniques, and that the only way to traverse through the desert is by walking, which would take 50 to 60 years. I intend to cultivate in the Illusion Howl Desert for a while, but I don't want to spend that much time in there, so I was planning to purchase an Eight-footed Devilish Lizard from your Bai Family as a steed; would you be able to sell me one?" Han Li asked in a straightforward manner.
"Truth be told, Yun'er already told me about this earlier," the purple-haired woman sighed upon hearing this.
"Is this a difficult matter for you?" Han Li asked as his eyes narrowed slightly.
"Let me put it this way: if anyone other than a devilish lord like you were to mention this to me, they would perhaps have already been evicted," the purple-haired woman replied.
"I had heard that Eight-footed Devilish Lizards are extremely important to all of the major families in the city and that they were strictly not for sale; would you be able to explain to me why that is?" Han Li asked as he stroked his own chin.
"Of course," the woman replied after a brief pause, "Eight-footed Devilish Lizards are very valuable; their devilish cores, bones, and even blood and flesh can be used to refine a type of extremely rare Qi refinement pill. However, that alone isn't enough for our major families to hold the lizards in such high regard. As I'm sure you're aware, Illusion Night City has only managed to exist here due to the mines and spirit medicines that can be found in this area. Sales of those items earn the city high yearly profits, which are enough to cover the costs of our major families.
"However, the city was founded here tens of thousands of years ago, and the nearby mines and spirit medicines have already been completely exhausted. As such, all of the specialty local products we currently produce are sourced from deep within the Illusion Howl Desert. Even though there's a good supply of such items in the desert, Eight-footed Devilish Lizards are necessary to ensure that they're transported back to the city promptly and safely. Otherwise, with all of the perils present in the desert, it would be virtually impossible to make it back on foot.
"After all, the desert is a renowned restricted area even in the entire holy realm, and it's very difficult for the average person to enter and leave it at will. As much, the lizards are vital to our major families for their ability to traverse through the desert, and less lizards would mean less yearly profits for our families; I'm sure you can understand why we're so unwilling to part with them now," the woman explained.
Han Li's brows also furrowed slightly upon hearing this. This made things quite troublesome.
The prosperity of these families hinged on these Eight-footed Devilish Lizards, so it would be very difficult for him to source them through conventional means.
As these thoughts appeared in his mind, Han Li reflexively glanced at the woman to find that there seemed to be something that she wanted to say, and a faint smile immediately appeared on his face.
"Fellow Daoist Futian, you didn't turn me down outright, so there must be some margin for negotiation. How about you tell me what I have to do for you to sell an Eight-footed Devilish Lizard to me? I'm sure the price alone isn't the issue here, right?"
The purple-haired woman faltered lightly upon hearing this before chuckling, "It seems you're a very skilled observer, Fellow Daoist."
Han Li merely remained silent and awaited a response.
The woman's smile faded upon hearing this, and after a brief pause, she continued, "If you had come three years ago, then there would've been no way that our Bai Family would've sold an Eight-footed Devilish Lizard to you, but now, there's room for negotiation. Our Bai Family has encountered some trouble, and we need someone of your powers to assist us."
"Oh? I'm sure you're not the only devilish lord in your Bai Family; what kind of trouble could stump you?" Han Li asked as his expression changed slightly.
"Truth be told, the issue lies in an extremely important mine in the Illusion How Desert that belongs to our Bai Family. Several years ago, it was taken over by a devilish-lord-level devilish beast. The beast is extremely powerful, and our Bai Family has been unable to evict it, so we could only recruit other allies to help us. If you can lend us your assistance, then we'd stand a far better chance. If we succeed, I can give you an Eight-footed Devilish Lizard as repayment," the woman replied with a wry smile.
"How many devilish-lord-level allies have you already recruited?" Han Li asked after a brief pause.
"I've already invited two. In addition to myself and another grand elder of our Bai Family, we have a total of four devilish lords thus far," the woman replied.