Chapter 331 : Orders
After carefully putting away the items he procured from the Emperor, Han Li looked up toward the rainbow light and quickly flew to a corner of the bamboo forest.
After a brief moment, Han Li arrived at a huge bamboo stalk with a formation flag stabbed into it and pulled the flag out.
The rainbow light barrier immediately disappeared without a trace.
Han Li smiled faintly and flew off to another corner of the forest.
Soon after, Han Li left the bamboo forest, having retrieved all of the formation flags and disks with exceptional care.
After experiencing the might of the improved "Five Elements Reversal Formation", Han Li had come to value it far more than before.
When Han Li calmly walked out of the bamboo forest, something caught his eye: the pulverized corpse of the Emperor of Yue. It seemed that when the rainbow light had disappeared, the body had fallen onto the ground.
Han Li wrinkled his bow and let out a sigh. He then shot a fist-sized fireball toward the corpse, turning it to ash.
Han Li would have lamented if the ashes of such a remarkable character had been blown into the wind after death. As such, Han Li patted his storage pouch, and a streak of golden light flew out, blasting a large hole in the ground.
Han Li then lightly waved his sleeve, sweeping the ashes into the hole with a gentle gust of wind.
Suddenly, white light flashed. Just as Han Li thought to close the hole, he paused.
With amazement, Han Li beckoned with his hand, causing an embroidered cloth to fly from the ashes and into his hand.
"This is…" Han Li took a quick look at it with curiosity.
This embroidered cloth was slightly yellow and appeared to be ancient. He did not know what it was made from, but it emitted a faint glimmering light. Han Li suspected that the embroidery was actually an indistinct map.
Han Li's curiosity was piqued and he hastily examined the map. After looking through it several times, he then lost all interest.
This was because after careful examination, it was certain to not be any terrain in the State of Yue as it was particularly unfamiliar. The drawing should be of a strange land. Furthermore, the cloth was clearly damaged and incomplete. He wasn't sure if it was even half of the original map or merely a tiny piece.
However, since the map only appeared after the Emperor of Yue had turned to ash, it seemed he had used some sort of secret technique to conceal it within his body. Else, his puppet beasts would've found it from the start.
From this, it appeared that the map was extremely important!
Han Li pondered for a moment before deciding to store the badly damaged map into the jade box along with the Five Elements Blood Cores.
Now was not the time to unravel this mystery. He had to hurry and find the others.
After all, with the Emperor of Yue dead, the aftermath would be quite troublesome!
When Han Li found Chen Qiaoqian and the others in front of the Cold Palace, he was met with some unfortunate news.
They discovered Wu Xuan's corpse within the Black Fiend School Master's private room; he had recently died as a blood sacrifice and had his blood essence absorbed.
When Han Li heard this, he was startled. But then he smiled bitterly and remained silent.
Because of this matter with the Black Fiend School, many of his own sect's Foundation Establishment cultivators had died. When Han Li returned, his master, Li Huayuan, definitely wouldn't look at him favorably. After all, this matter was brought up because of him!
After wallowing in the feeling of helplessness, Han Li bluntly passed the responsibility of dealing with the aftermath to Chen Qiaoqian and Zhong Weiniang. He then found an excuse to return first to the Qin Residence.
However, Han Li completely had not expected that as soon as he returned, he would meet an entirely unexpected visitor.
"Greetings to Martial Uncle Han!" A middle-aged man wearing embroidered clothes saluted him.
"Martial Nephew Ma! Why have you come to find me so late? Has something important happened?" Han Li's eye's flashed with confusion.
Han Li, who had just returned from the Forbidden City of Yue, did not expect to find the disciple responsible for contacting the sect from Yuejing to be waiting for him in his courtyard.
Furthermore, it appeared the disciple had been waiting for quite a long time.
"Martial Uncle, this one has just received news of an order. All Foundation Establishment disciples must hurry to the Seven Sect's main barracks at the border. The enemy has delivered a war ultimatum. In two months, the Six Devil Dao Sects will have a battle for supremacy with the Seven Sects of Yue. For this, all hands are to return to the battlefield. In addition, Martial Ancestor Li has sent a message to you!" The embroidered-clothed man solemnly said and handed a writ and jade slip over to Han Li.
When Han Li heard this, he was slightly startled, but he still maintained his calm expression as he took the two items and carefully examined them.
The writ's orders were exactly as he had been told. All Foundation Establishment cultivators out on missions are required to assemble at the border camp within a month of receiving the writ and the date of the decisive battle had already been determined. The spiritual signature at the end of the writ was also genuine.
Having finished reading the writ, Han Li submerged his spiritual sense into the jade slip.
A hollow image of Li Huayuan appeared within and spoke very plainly. He merely instructed that Han Li no longer needed to protect the Qin Residence and that Han Li along with his other disciples were to return to the border. He had previously received information that the Devil Dao's plan to infiltrate the State of Yue's secular world and wreak havoc was canceled for some unknown reason.
When Han Li heard the few words of Li Huayuan's hollow image, he was vexed to the point of spitting out blood.
Han Li strongly suppressed the sullenness in his heart and withdrew his consciousness from the slip.
After a moment of thought, Han Li looked at the items in his hands and said, "Leave behind the writ and jade slip. I will inform the others about this!"
The middle-aged man hesitated for a moment before respectfully replying, "Then, I will have to trouble Senior Uncle!". He then took his leave.
Han Li didn't speak any further and watched as the middle-aged man departed. Afterwards, he softly exhaled and slowly returned to his room.
On the morning of the second day, Han Li and the others sat in the guest hall and discussed their departure from Yuejing.
"Before I can travel to the border camp and participate in the great battle, I must first pay a visit to my clan. Thus, I will not be able to travel together with you all." Not long after she read the writ, Chen Qiaoqian said this as she lightly bit on her lips.
"I must deliver Senior Martial Brother Liu's remains back to his clan." Zhong Weiniang said with a haggard appearance and slightly red eyes.
Although it wasn't explicitly said, all the others undoubtedly intended to travel alone as well.
"I have no plans, so I'll travel together with Junior Martial Brother Han." Song Meng was quite forthright and patted the shoulder of Han Li beside him.
"Fourth Senior Martial Brother, I can't! I also have a few personal matters to attend to." Han Li had previously made plans and declined Song Meng with a slight smile.
"Let's forget about it then!" Song Meng appeared very disappointed
"How about I accompany Junior Martial Brother Song?" Chen Qiaoqian's sole surviving Senior Martial Brother said to Song Meng with a smile.
Song Meng's spirits were immediately raised. Now, he would have someone to swap pointers with along the way.
When Han Li saw this, he couldn't help but inwardly laugh! He didn't think that after such a bloody battle, his Fourth Senior Martial Brother would stay completely the same.
With that, everyone agreed that on the morning of the next day, they would go their separate ways.
By late afternoon, Han Li had already informed Qin Yan that the danger had come to pass and he would be departing the next day.
Qing Yan revealed great happiness at the news, but hastily said a few words urging Han Li to stay as a guest. Han Li refused with a faint smile, so Qin Yan could only drop the subject.
After speaking with Qin Yan, Han Li returned to his residence.
But he didn't expect that in an unavoidable garden on the way back, he would encounter Chen Qiaoqian wearing a white skirt with her back to him.
As she was admiring the flowers, she just happened to be blocking his path.
Having seen this, Han Li was a bit surprised and found it embarrassing to silently pass by her.
"Senior Martial Sister Chen, what a coincidence!" Han Li found a casual encounter preferable to just passing her by.
However, Chen Qiaoqian suddenly straightened her back and turned around to face Han Li with an appearance as dainty as a flower.
"It isn't a coincidence! I was waiting for you here!" Chen Qiaoqian spoke, slightly opening her almond-shaped lips.
With a complicated expression on her face, she stared at Han Li with her autumn-colored eyes.
"Waiting… for me?" Han Li looked astonished.
Although he did not know why, he felt both bitterness and joy in his heart.
After a moment of silence, Chen Qiaoqian spoke a few words that left Han Li astonished. "I heard that the White Chrysanthemum Mountains at the outskirts of Yuejing were gorgeous and one of the nearby marvels. Would Junior Martial Brother Han accompany me there to sightsee?"
"Sure!" Han Li had originally intended to refuse, but upon seeing the sorrow in her eyes, he had reflexively agreed. Was this the doing of the gods?
When Chen Qiaoqian heard Han Li agree, her face slightly blushed, revealing a happy expression; it complimented her incomparable beauty.
"That is great, Junior Martial Brother Han! Let's go now. If we wait until after the sun sets, we won't see anything."
Chapter 332: A Once Familiar Place
Immediately after Han Li agreed to accompany Chen Qianqiao, he felt slight regret.
He had previously came to a clear decision to no longer be tangled with this woman. But now, he had agreed to accompany her for some unknown reason. It seemed he wasn't as determined as he had thought!
Han Li inwardly shook his head and replied, "Alright. Then how about Senior Martial Sister ride with me in my Divine Wind Boat. We'll be able to arrive there much faster!"
With that said, Han Li took out his spotless white Divine Wind Boat and invited Chen Qianqiao to ride with him.
When Chen Qiaoqian saw this gesture, she smiled sweetly and entered the boat without any objections.
After a moment of flight, Han Li brought Chen Qiaoqian to the Yuejing's famed White Chrysanthemum Mountain.
The mountain was covered with all sorts of chrysanthemums, a majority being white. The scene was truly mesmerizing.
Contrary to Han Li's expectations, Chen Qiaoqian didn't speak to him after arriving on the mountain. They merely walked along the small mountain path minding their own business. Only when they occasionally saw a particularly breathtaking scene would they stop for a moment.
Han Li did not speak as he followed behind her, dispassionately gazing at her charming body without the slightest shame.
After two hours, Chen Qiaoqian had climbed to the mountaintop and stood on a small pavilion with Han Li to the side.
At that moment, no one was on the mountaintop aside from the two; not even a single traveler. As the two were unwilling to speak, it was extremely quiet.
It was unknown how long this subtle mood continued before Chen Qiaoqian broke it with a few faint words.
"Junior Martial Brother Han, after the great battle is concluded, I fear that I am going to be married off!"
Upon hearing those words, Han Li couldn't help but tilt his head and reveal an expression of astonishment.
"The groom is a direct lineage disciple of the great Qin cultivator clan, a disciple of Heavenly Imperial Fortress and a cultivator that has just reached Foundation Establishment! I've seen him several times and he seems decent. If nothing unexpected occurs, then he will marry into my Chen Clan and become my Dao Companion." Chen Qiaoqian spoke calmly and turned a blind eye to Han Li's appearance of amazement.
After a moment, Han Li's astonishment gradually waned, and with some hesitation, he politely said, "Then I must congratulate Senior Martial Sister Chen on finding a suitable marriage partner! Junior Martial Brother will certainly prepare a gift for you later….!"
It became clear as Han Li started to speak, that Chen Qiaoqian had no intention of listening to his words; those were not the words she had wanted to hear. She trembled for a moment before releasing a disk shaped flying magic tool and flying off with a cold face.
After seeing Chen Qiaoqian disappear into the distance, Han Li motionlessly stood in place with a cold expression. After a long while, he let out a long breath and dispiritedly flew off.
Although Han Li had already made his decision about Chen Qiaoqian, he still felt at a loss when confronted with her interest to marry him.
This was perhaps a common flaw that all men possessed! Even if they were called cultivators, they had the same emotions as mortals.
Han Li mocked himself as he flew back to the Qin Residence.
After returning to the residence, Han Li learned from the others that Chen Qiaoqian had already departed, starting her journey early.
When Han Li heard this, he bitterly smiled in his heart. It seemed that he had greatly disappointed Chen Qiaoqian, and now, she was preparing her heart to marry someone else.
Although he was a tad depressed, Han Li wasn't of the normal sort. With an ordinary expression, he nodded his head and joked around with the others for a while longer.
Like that, the morning of the second day had arrived and the others left the Qin Residence. Han Li was the last cultivator to remain.
Before setting off on his journey, he went to secretly pay a visit to Mo Fengwu. After all, they were acquaintances and he wanted to bid her farewell.
But when he arrived outside her home, Han Li spotted Mo Fengwu through a window, causing him to change his mind.
This was because Mo Fengwu was accompanying an old woman of about fifty years old that was reading scriptures out loud. She appeared completely at peace.
After Han Li silently looked on for a moment, he ultimately decided not to disturb her. He turned around and quietly left.
Toward this particular girl, it may be better if he didn't meet her!
'Perhaps living a peaceful life without being reminded of those painful memories is best for her!' Han Li thought with melancholy.
Han Li then left Yuejing and first made a trip to Jia Yuan City. Since he had promised to avenge the Mo Estate, he figured that he may as well pay a visit and take a look.
Although the Devil Dao hadn't come to stir trouble, he reckoned that Jia Yuan City didn't currently contain any high level cultivators due to the upcoming great battle. He only had to secretly get rid of the Rainbow Sect's Sect Master. Even if he angered a few Spirit Beast Mountain disciples, they wouldn't be able to find out it was him.
In addition to causing trouble for the Rainbow Sect, he thought he'd take a look to see how Sun Ergou was managing the Fourth Level Gang.
He had left behind this back up plan several years ago, and now, he wanted to see if it still held any use.
With that in mind, Han Li rushed toward Jia Yuan City on his Divine Wind Boat.
The last time he was in Jia Yuan City was over ten years ago. However, many of the memories remained vivid in his mind and left a deep impression on him.
Five days later, a youth appeared in front of a long established restaurant in Jia Yuan City. This person stood on the side of the street and looked at the restaurant’s sign with squinted eyes.
The person with the strange expression was Han Li, who had just entered the city. After standing there for a moment, he sighed and calmly walked in.
He went to the second floor and saw that the table by the window where he had sat at all those years ago happened to be empty.
Han Li happily walked over to it without the slightest hesitation.
Just as he sat down, a waiter politely wiped down his table and asked Han Li what he would like to order.
Han Li faintly smiled and ordered a few delicious appetizers, sending the waiter off to deliver his order. However, he did not come here just to satisfy his desire for delicious food.
With that in mind, Han Li turned his gaze outside the window.
The Mo Estate's huge residence still remained and it still had a burly man standing outside its gates. However, the huge sign on the gate no longer read "Mo Residence" but instead read "Li Residence" in large, golden words.
Looking at the "Li Residence" sign shining under the sunlight, Han Li unconsciously wrinkled his brow.
From what he had heard, the Rainbow Sect Master seemed to be surnamed "Li". It seems they now occupied their defeated enemy's nest.
Not knowing why, Han Li felt particularly bothered when he saw the sign saying "Li Residence". He found the previous "Mo Residence" sign somewhat more pleasing to the eye.
As Han Li was lost in thought, his dishes were brought by the waiter and simultaneously the sounds of banter were heard on the floor below. Several youths wearing embroidered silk clothes walked up the stairs followed by their burly guards; they appeared to be the young masters of a noble family.
Among these young masters was a man so thin he might blow away in the wind. He casually swept his gaze over the floor and impolitely beckoned to the waiter.
The waiter complacently ran over and hastily said with an enchanting smile, "Young Master Xia, do you have any instructions?"
"Call for the shopkeeper. Today, we're inviting an esteemed guest to dine with us. Have everyone on the third floor leave. We will pay for the damages." This skinny man spoke quite arrogantly.
The waiter didn't reveal the slightest bit of dissatisfaction, repeatedly nodding his head, before hurrying off to inform the shopkeeper.
After a short moment, a forty year old man arrived. Once he saw the thin man, he immediately agreed to his request with a smile. He then brought the waiter to the third floor to apologize to the customers who were already there.
It was unknown whether this shopkeeper was naturally so quick and efficient or whether this young master had a truly great background.
Not long after, all of the customers on the third floor had paid their bills and left. Not a single one of them had dared to complain.
Han Li lazily looked over before he returned his gaze to the bustling streets outside the window.
The newcomer was only a young master among mortals, an arrogant person only relying on the might of his clan, commonly found at all places. Han Li had absolutely no interest in him.
At that moment, the youth in charge, Young Master Xia, then nodded with satisfaction and descended to the ground floor.
Later, the sound of footsteps came up from below. This time, Han Li was startled and couldn't help but turn his head around and stare.
This was because among those heavy footsteps, feather-light footsteps could be faintly discerned. Only a Jianghu martial artist who practiced qinggong to a certain stage would be able to display such control.
This greatly piqued Han Li's curiosity.