Chapter 2154: Cottonwood City
All of a sudden, Silvermoon's smile faded, and she asked in a serious manner, "Brother Han, I heard from Grandfather that you have a way to decrease the influence of the Art of Indifference, but I have to remain by your side for a certain period of time; is that true?"
"Has Senior Ao Xiao already told you about this? It is indeed the truth. Senior Ao Xiao has a spiritual sense secret technique that can counter the Art of Indifference and allow you to continue cultivating, but this secret technique will only be effective for you when I cultivate it. Hence, you'll have to stay with me for some time," Han Li explained with a smile.
"Does my grandfather really possess such a secret technique? Why have I never heard him mention it before? And why is it that you have to cultivate it for it be effective on me?" Silvermoon asked with furrowed brows.
"In the words of your grandfather, the one who made the knot in the first place is required to undo the knot. I am the root cause of your inner demons, so you can only benefit from the secret technique when it's cultivated by me. This secret technique was something that Senior Ao Xiao created over 100 years ago precisely as a backup plan in the situation that something goes awry in your cultivation of the Art of Indifference. Once I cultivate the secret technique, you'll simply have to remain by my side, and the effects of the Art of Indifference will gradually be stripped away," Han Li explained.
"Is it really that simple? If I were to continue cultivating the Art of Indifference, its impact on me would only become exacerbated further and further; will this spiritual sense secret technique really be able to repress it?" Silvermoon was rather skeptical about this.
"I can't be sure of that as I haven't begun cultivating the secret technique yet, but it had been created after extensive arduous efforts were made by Senior Ao Xiao, so I'm sure it should be effective. On top of that, this spiritual sense secret technique should resemble the Art of Indifference in that the further I progress in it, the greater its effect will become," Han Li replied.
"Alright, but even if that secret technique does prove to be effective, how long would I have to stay with you? What if the effects of the Art of Indifference are never completely nullified? Would I have to stay by your side for the rest of my life?" Silvermoon asked.
"According to Senior Ao Xiao, you'll be able to undo the effects of the Art of Indifference on your own once you reach the Grand Ascension Stage," Han Le replied.
"The Grand Ascension Stage? That's an extremely distant goal for me. Looks like I'll have to stay with you for a very long time," Silvermoon said as a hint of a gleeful smile appeared on her face.
"You possess the Seven Star Moon Physique, which will grant you a greater chance than normal cultivators to progress to the Grand Ascension Stage, so don't be disheartened. Besides, during this process, perhaps Senior Ao Xiao will find another solution that won't necessitate progression to the Grand Ascension Stage," Han Li said with an encouraging smile.
"That's true, but it looks like I'll be staying with you for at least the next few centuries!" Silvermoon said with an elated smile.
After that, the two of them discussed some other things and even exchanged some cultivation insights and experiences.
Time quickly flew by, and as night was beginning to set in, Silvermoon rose to her feet to take her leave. "It's getting late, and my Art of Indifference is about to take effect again, so I'll have to go back to rest and meditate. Please forgive me if I display any rudeness toward you while the Art of Indifference is in effect."
"Rest assured, I won't take any offense to that," Han Li said with a smile as he also rose to his feet.
Thus, Silvermoon departed, and the door of the secret chamber was closed amid a flash of white light.
Han Li sat down with his legs crossed again, and his smile faded as a grim look appeared in his eyes.
After exiting the secret chamber, Silvermoon turned a few corners and arrived at a rather secluded corner before suddenly stopping in her tracks. "Come out Liao Ying; I have something to ask you."
Before she had even finished her sentence, spatial fluctuations erupted nearby, and a semi-transparent figure appeared before gradually attaining a substantial form, revealing it to be a slender black-robed woman.
The woman wore a copper wolf-head mask, and her hands were sheathed in a pair of black leather gloves. Not even a single inch of her skin was exposed, and she was hovering around a foot above the ground.
"What would you like to ask me, Young Mistress?" the masked woman asked.
"Liao Ying, you were in the hall during my grandfather's conversation with Brother Han, right? At the time, did my grandfather raise any other conditions to Brother Han aside from asking him to cultivate that spiritual sense secret technique? Don't keep anything secret from me," Silvermoon asked in a serious voice.
The masked woman smiled, and replied, "Master Ao Xiao transferred my contract to you, so I'm now a shadow guard of yours; I wouldn't keep any secrets from you. Initially, Senior Ao Xiao proposed for him to marry you as opposed to immediately mentioning the spiritual sense secret technique. Master promised that as long as Fellow Daoist Han agreed to this, not only would he share with Fellow Daoist Han his experiences and insights from his Grand Ascension Stage breakthrough, he would give Fellow Daoist Han most of the treasures in his collection as a dowry. However, Fellow Daoist Han refused that offer and only agreed to cultivate the spiritual sense secret technique."
"So Grandfather really did make such a proposal. He was most likely of the opinion that once I married Brother Han, the flaws in my mental state would be mostly repaired. However, with Brother Han's personality, there was no way that he was going to agree to this. If he had, I would've been rather disappointed in him. I'm sure Grandfather wasn't happy about being turned down, right?" Silvermoon asked.
"Master Ao Xiao was indeed rather displeased, but Fellow Daoist Han is no ordinary late-Body Integration cultivator, so Master Ao Xiao didn't say anything about the matter," Liao Ying replied.
"Of course. Brother Han is currently the most likely cultivator among the human and demon races to progress to the Grand Ascension Stage, so Grandfather wouldn't do anything to harm him no matter how displeased he was. Alright, you can go now, Liao Ying," Silvermoon sighed.
"I'll be taking my leave then." Liao Ying extended a slight bow before vanishing into thin air.
Silvermoon lingered for a while longer before also departing. The Art of Indifference was about to take effect soon, so she didn't dare to delay any longer.
In the secret chamber, Han Li was also reminiscing about his conversation with Patriarch Ao Xiao.
During their conversation, not only had Ao Xiao proposed for him and Silvermoon to get married, he also revealed something that came as quite a surprise to Han Li.
It turned out that Silvermoon's former dao companion, Wolf Monarch Tian Kui, had perished during a battle against the devilish army several decades ago, where he was ambushed by several devilish lords at the same time.
With him out of the way, Patriarch Ao Xiao no longer had any inhibitions about proposing a marriage between Han Li and Silvermoon, but Han Li had turned down the offer in a euphemistic manner.
In his heart, Silvermoon was more like a soulmate and a sister than a lover, so he naturally wasn't going to agree to marry her. 
However, he had made a decision that if Patriarch Ao Xiao's spiritual sense secret technique couldn't undo the effects of the Art of Indifference, then he would find a solution on his own.
With that in mind, he didn't think about the matter any further and closed his eyes to meditate.
Thus, during the next few days, Han Li began to cultivate the spiritual sense secret technique given to him by Patriarch Ao Xiao.
According to Patriarch Ao Xiao, once he cultivated this secret technique to a certain extent, he would automatically release a type of spiritual sense fluctuations that would repress the effects of the Art of Indifference.
Of course, this secret technique could also enhance one's spiritual sense, but obviously to nowhere near the extent that the Spirit Refinement Technique could.
Patriarch Ao Xiao had proclaimed the secret technique to be very difficult to cultivate, but much to Han Li's surprise and elation, he felt it to be extremely simple and straightforward.
After thinking about why this was the case, he realized that it most likely had something to do with his Spirit Refinement Technique.
The Spirit Refinement Technique was a secret technique from the True Immortal Realm, so in comparison, this spiritual sense secret technique was naturally extremely simple to cultivate.
In the short span of just two months, he had mastered the first few stages of the secret technique and achieved initial mastery.
During this time, Silvermoon had come to see him on several occasions during which she wasn't affected by the Art of Indifference, and they shared extensive conversations on each occasion.
After close to another month had passed, the ship finally entered the Wood Tribe territory that was still under the control of the united army.
However, it continued onward until it reached Cottonwood City, which was where the united army headquarters was situated.
Along the way, the ship encountered many patrol squads from different races, but all of them clearly recognized Patriarch Ao Xiao's flying treasures, and they all extended respectful bows from afar, not displaying any intentions to intercept it for examination.
Around half a month later, around a dozen gargantuan trees appeared in the distance.
Each of these trees was around 50,000 to 60,000 feet tall with diameters of around 300 to 400 feet, and they were all shimmering with a layer of green light.
These trees acted as pillars for a massive city that was split up into over 10 different levels. The entire city was constructed from all types of wood without any traces of stone or other construction materials to be seen, and atop the wooden city walls stood groups of guards from all races.
This was none other than the second largest city of the Wood Tribe and the headquarters of the united army, Cottonwood City.
1. In case anyone is confused, a soulmate doesn't necessarily always mean a lover. It can also just be a very close friend or something similar.