Chapter 2073: Countermeasures
On a certain day two months later, Han Li and everyone else gathered together in a temporary cave abode outside the city.
The man from the Lin Family had only just barely managed to arrive before the agreed date, and everyone was appraising him with peculiar expressions. He had once bore the appearance of a middle-aged man, but his hair had since turned white, and his skin had shriveled and wrinkled significantly, making him resemble an elderly man.
What was even more shocking was that one of his eyes had gone missing, as if it had been gouged straight out of its socket.
On top of that, his aura had been reduced to less than a third of its former power, and it seemed to be extremely feeble as well.
"What happened to you, Fellow Daoist Lin?" the Long Family patriarch asked in a grim voice.
"I encountered a horde of Soul Sucking Beasts in the plains and had most of my true essence devoured by them. Thankfully, I was able to escape after detonating several of my most powerful treasures," the man replied with a wry smile, and his voice had also become extremely hoarse and unpleasant to the ears.
"Soul Sucking Beasts? Those beast aren't all that powerful; how did they reduce you to such a sorry state?" Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns asked with a surprised expression.
"Normal Soul Sucking Beasts certainly wouldn't have posed a threat to me, but I encountered a Body Integration Stage mutated Soul Sucking Beast," the man from the Lin Family sighed in response.
"A mutated Soul Sucking Beast?" Everyone's expressions changed slightly upon hearing this.
"That's right. Initially, it was hidden among all of the other Soul Sucking Beasts and disguised itself as one of them, and I fell prey to its surprise attack," the man from the Lin Family confirmed with a strained expression.
The Long Family patriarch was silent for a moment before asking, "That's truly unfortunate. What are your plans from here onward, Fellow Daoist Han?"
The man from the Lin Family hesitated momentarily before giving a resigned reply. "I'm in far too bad a condition to enter the Illusion Howl Desert; I have to return to the Spirit Realm and go into seclusion right away for several centuries to facilitate a full recovery. Hence, I'm planning to rest here for some time before I retrace our original route and return to the Spirit Realm."
The Long Family patriarch was unsurprised to hear this, and he said, "Indeed, in your current condition, you'd be taking a significant risk by continuing onward. How about this? We'll stay here for another month so you can recover in peace before we continue on our way."
Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns was silent for a moment before nodding in response. "We have no objections."
Elder Hui and the woman from the Ye Family couldn't help but exchange a concerned and forlorn glance upon seeing this.
Among the rest of the human cultivators, one of them was carrying injuries, while the other's cultivation base was far inferior to that of Han Li and the Long Family patriarch, so perhaps one of them would be the next one to be forced to drop out.
Meanwhile, a thought suddenly occurred to Han Li, and he said to the man from the Lin Family, "I have a pill that could be beneficial to you, Fellow Daoist Lin."
He swept a sleeve toward the man from the Lin Family as spoke, sending a small white jade vial flying toward him.
The man from the Lin Family faltered slightly upon hearing this before reflexively catching the vial with a rather perplexed expression.
Even though he had been traveling with Han Li and the others this entire time, the two of them hadn't interacted much, and they certainly couldn't be considered to be friends. As such, it was naturally quite befuddling to him that Han Li was giving him a pill at a time like this.
The man from the Lin Family hesitated momentarily before removing the lid of the vial, and a strong medicinal aroma immediately spread throughout the entire room, thereby immediately drawing everyone's attention.
The man from the Lin Family hurriedly took a whiff, upon which a hint of elation appeared in his eyes, and he immediately tipped over the vial, to reveal a green pill with spiritual patterns all over its surface.
"This is an Essence Tempering Pill!" the man from the Lin Family exclaimed as the elation in his eyes became even more pronounced.
Not only was this pill extremely precious, it was perfect for his current condition in that it could help him recover a significant amount of his lost true essence. As such, he wouldn't have to worry about a major decrease in power even after he recovered from his injuries.
Everyone else's expressions also changed slightly upon seeing this.
Even for Body Integration Stage beings like them, an Essence Refining Pill was quite a sought-after item.
The man from the Lin Family was extremely excited, but he quickly calmed down before transmitting his voice to Han Li. "Fellow Daoist Han, this pill will indeed benefit me immensely, but there must be a reason why you're willing to give it to me; please give me an explanation."
Han Li smiled and also transmitted his voice in response. "Brother Lin, I have a favor to ask of you; would you be willing to help me?"
The man from the Lin Family thought about this for a moment before gritting his teeth as he replied, "How can I refuse you after you've given me this Essence Refining pIll? As long as it's something within my capabilities, I won't refuse."
"There's no need to be so wary, Brother Lin; I'm only asking for a small favor from you. I recently rescued a little human girl in the city, and she has some connection to me, so I'm hoping you can take her back to the Spirit Realm with you and look after her for a while until I return. The rest of the journey is far too dangerous, so there's no way I can take her along with me; that should be well within your capabilities, right, Fellow Daoist?" Han Li asked in a calm manner.
The man from the Lin Family was rather surprised by the simplicity of the request, and he agreed without any hesitation, "That's not an issue at all. I can assure you that the little girl will return to the Spirit Realm safely as long as I can do the same."
"Good," Han Li replied with a nod before falling silent.
Having established the reason behind Han Li's actions, the man from the Lin Family immediately swallowed the pill.
In his current condition, the earlier he could take this Essence Refining Pill, the greater the chance that his powers would be preserved, so he naturally didn't want to delay even for a moment.
The Long Family patriarch could tell that the two of them were discussing something through voice transmission, but none of them enquired about the content of their conversation.
It was quite clear that Han Li has asked the man from the Lin Family to do something for him in exchange for such a precious pill, but that was a matter that was solely between them, so it naturally wasn't in their place to pry into such matters.
Now that the issue with the man from the Lin Family had been resolved, everyone naturally began discussing the Eight-footed Devilish Lizards.
The Long Family patriarch calmly recounted his recent interactions with the Zhao Family, and everyone's brows furrowed slightly upon hearing his recount.
"So the Zhao Family is asking for a Myriad Year Purple Blood Zoysia and an Ice Crystal Heart for a single Eight-footed Devilish Lizards? That's downright absurd! It sounds to me like they have no sincerity at all," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns said with a frosty expression.
"I think the Zhao Family is interested in more than just an exchange," Han Li interjected in an indifferent voice.
"Oh? What do you mean by that, Brother Han?" the woman from the Ye Family asked.
However, Han Li merely smiled and offered no response.
The Long Family patriarch continued with a cold smile, "Hmph, I'm guessing that not only is the Zhao Family not planning to give me an Eight-footed Devilish Lizard, they're plotting against me for my wealth. After all, the items that I previously offered are enough to tempt the two devilish lords of their family."
"You seem to be quite confident, Brother Long," Holy Maiden Thousand Autumns chuckled.
"Indeed. Seeing as the Zhao Family is unwilling to part with any of their Eight-footed Devilish Lizards, the other three families most likely won't agree to an exchange, either. In that case, I'll take the bait and lure the two devilish lords of the Zhao Family away while all of you infiltrate the Zhao Family and steal their Eight-footed Devilish Lizards. After that, we'll enter the Illusion Howl Desert right away," the Long Family patriarch replied as a cold look appeared in his eyes.
"That's a great idea! No one from the Zhao Family will be able to stop us if their devilish lords are away. However, have you already found where they're keeping their Eight-footed Devilish Lizards?" the woman from the Ye Family asked.
"Hehe, I haven't just been twiddling my thumbs in the city these past few days; I've already ascertained that the Zhao Family keeps its Eight-footed Devilish Lizards in two places. One of them is a restricted area that's surrounded by many restrictions, which will be quite difficult to access even with the lack of devilish lords present. As for the other place, that's a temporary resting place for the devilish lizards. I've discovered that several of the Zhao Family's devilish lizards will be returning in around half a month, and typically, they'll stay in that temporary resting place for several days, which will present us with a perfect opportunity. Brother Han already has two devilish lizards, so we should have enough once we capture those ones. However, make sure to refrain from killing and revealing your true cultivation bases if possible.
"Otherwise, if we attract the attention of some powerful devilish beings nearby, then we'll be in some trouble. After all, we have to traverse through the entire Illusion Howl Desert, whereas other devilish beings could simply get to the other side using teleportation formations and wait for us there," the Long Family patriarch cautioned.