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Chapter 344: Exterminating a Demon in a Formation 

Han Li didn't carefully study the fragments; instead, he carefully swept his surroundings once more. After he was convinced that he hadn't overlooked anything, he started to think about how he should deal with the huge mantis.

He didn't want to let this demonic beast slip by. After all, its forelimbs were rare, high-quality crafting materials, not to mention the other parts of its body.

As for subduing the monster alive, Han Li abandoned the thought after some consideration.

He clearly understood that he did not have the experience required to attempt it. Cultivators that control demonic beasts have learned to restrain magic beasts since their childhood and have become extremely familiar with the process. Wanting to vainly keep such a powerful spiritual beast was just wishful thinking.

As for the Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator, he had probably lost control of the mantis when he lost his body and changed appearances. Else, his spirit beast would've  remained in his control. The spirit beast would've loyally served him for a lifetime and never leave him. It was bound to be more loyal than a human.

As for whether Han Li should inform the Seven Sects and their allies of this information, he decided to wait for a few days and listen for any news since he had no way of knowing whether the Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator's information was genuine or not. After all, he could travel at great speed. Even if he was a few days late, he would be able to arrive at the Seven Sects' Camp before the deadline.

As a result, Han Li spent a day in the dense forest near the mountain cave, secretly setting up the "Five Elements Reversal Great Formation".

Han Li didn't lay out a portion of the great formation in a hurry, like he did at the Imperial Palace. He had set up the formation in its entirety; its power was naturally far greater than before.

At this moment, he saw the huge mantis leave to hunt for food. It had actually brought back a huge black tiger, leaving Han Li astonished.

This was the first time he had seen this kind of black tiger; it was definitely no common beast. However, it was quite unfortunate that this beast had met its end, merely becoming a wholesome meal for the mantis.

Having finished his preparations, Han Li quietly snuck into the mountain cave.

But just a short moment later, he was already rushing out of the cave on his Divine Wind Boat, flying straight toward his formation. A shadow closely pursued him; it was the huge mantis that Han Li had startled.

Because he had placed the formation nearby, Han Li entered the formation's territory soon after he left the cave. Although the mantis was somewhat intelligent, it couldn't possibly comprehend the formation spell and was easily trapped within the formation spell.

In the following two days, Han Li allowed the huge mantis to frantically run around within the Five Elements Reversal Formation, fully displaying the effects of the illusionary entrapment and the boundaries of area confinement.

After the two days had passed, the demonic beast was exhausted and no longer moved within the formation. At that moment, Han Li took out many puppets and started to unceasingly harass it from outside the formation, prohibiting it from resting.

Although the mantis' attacks were exceedingly fearsome, its defense was just ordinary. Because it couldn't approach the puppets attacking it, it was forced to use its scythe-like forelimbs to protect itself.

This continued for half a day until the demon mantis was no longer able to endure, allowing the puppets to strike at its body. Although its injures weren't heavy, its strength had been mostly exhausted. At this moment, Han Li took turns changing the puppets' spirit stones.

Seeing that it was almost time to finish up, Han Li summoned a treasure talisman, a small yellow knife. Under the cover of the puppets' attacks, it stabbed through the mantis' head, killing it within the formation.

Victorious, Han Li walked toward the demon beast's corpse with barely concealed excitement. He then took out his huge silver sword and cut off its incisive forelimbs.

Then with great expectations, he slowly opened the mantis' abdomen. He hoped that this demon beast was truly a grade five demon beast. As such, he would be able to acquire an exceptionally rare demon core.

Han Li's face suddenly revealed pleasant surprise, but his expression turned strange immediately after. He was shocked by the items he had taken out of the corpse, several identical shining white ovals with visible veins.

"Monster beast eggs?" Han Li spoke to himself with astonishment. He was a bit confused; he had been expecting a demon beast's core.

After Han Li recovered from his astonishment, he removed another seven eggs from the mantis' abdomen for a total of over ten eggs.

These eggs were the same size as a chicken's egg. Han Li couldn't help but laugh; this was truly a pleasant surprise.

He immediately thought of something and suddenly wrinkled his brows.  His brows remain furrowed as he placed his finger on a white egg and closed his eyes.

Shortly after, Han Li's face became unsightly. These eggs didn't contain the slightest aura of life and were clearly lifeless. This was quite common with regards to demon beasts. After all, how could an extraordinary demon beast leave behind offspring so easily?

With a gloomy expression, he tested the rest of the eggs. As expected, all the eggs were lifeless, causing him to feel depressed.

With an angry heart, Han Li thought of turning the eggs to ash, but after a moment of hesitation, he decided to keep them in a jade container.

"This mantis wasn't a common demon beast. Even if its eggs were dead, they could prove to be useful!" Han Li said with unwillingness.

After he picked off the mantis' gray wings, Han Li turned its corpse into ash and flew off toward the cave. Although his hopes weren't high, Han Li still wanted to see if there was anything worth taking.

Han Li's search resulted in a surprise.

Inside the cave, Han Li actually found a shriveled, gray-robed corpse. The corpse had an intact storage pouch at its waist.

As Han Li grasped the storage pouch, his heart was pounding heavily.

There was no question. This corpse was certain to be the remains of that Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator. When he ejected his soul from his body, he had actually left his storage pouch behind, leaving behind a pleasant surprise for Han Li!

Naturally, Han Li couldn't have known that the Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator had immediately perished because his injuries were too severe. He was only able to bind his Green Brilliance Dagger and condense a small amount of his Golden Core's spiritual Qi into that green ball, flusteredly taking two items with him before his soul left his body. After all, if he was too late, then his soul would perish along with his body.

The storage pouch in his hands had belonged to a Core Formation cultivator. After suppressing the giddy excitement in his heart, he submerged his spiritual sense into the storage pouch and carefully examined what was inside.

However, after searching through the storage pouch, Han Li no longer felt any of his previously held excitement.

The huge storage pouch was actually filled with jars and pots. A majority of them were demon beast feed for insects. This was naturally of no use to Han Li. The rest was just a bit better, containing all sorts of named insect specimens.

After a bit of investigation, Han Li found that most of the insects were still alive, much to his surprise. They had actually survived after several years without care. Their vitality was truly tenacious!

As for the high grade talismans, magic tools and treasure talismans that Han Li direly needed, not a single one of them could be found, leaving Han Li speechless.

Fortunately, Han Li had eventually reached the bottom layer of the storage pouch and found a green jade slip that greatly roused Han Li's interest.

The slip contained that Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator's experiences on breeding insects. Not only did it introduce over a thousand unknown insects to Han Li, but it also mentioned the secret techniques that were used to breed and control them. But what caught Han Li's interest the most was his ranking of which insects were the most ferocious.

The huge mantis was obviously on the list. Although it was gray, he had called it the "Golden-back Demon Mantis". This caused Han Li to be utterly confused for a moment.

This huge mantis was only ranked seventy-three in his list of strange insects. There were still over seventy-two even more fearsome insects on that list. Han Li, who had personally witnessed the strength of the "Golden-back Demon Mantis", was stunned.

Han Li eagerly looked through the list for most of the day before finally withdrawing his spiritual sense from the jade slip. After a moment of contemplation, he started to match the insects in his possession with the description of the fantastical insects he had read about.

The results left Han Li beyond dissatisfied!

Without considering any other uses the insects may have, their rankings were far too low! Only two of them were ranked above a hundred and the vast majority of them were ranked among two and three hundred!

Had that Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator heard Han Li's complaints, he definitely would've cursed him out! How could these strange insects be so easily acquired? Not to mention the top hundred rankings, even insects ranked in the top three to four hundred were rare breeds that were acquired over several hundred years of effort and violent struggle.

Chapter 345: A Small Old Man and Bell Tolls

After looking through the items in the storage pouch, Han Li bluntly moved all of the items into his own storage pouch before slicing the original storage pouch into pieces.

Although this storage pouch was clearly much better than his own, Han Li didn't dare to use it as he wasn't sure if the bag possessed any hidden traces.

Han Li then rested for another day before he felt that it was about time to leave. With Crooked Soul in tow, he flew toward Yellow Maple Valley instead of the Seven Sects Camp.

Han Li reckoned that if anything bad occurred at the Seven Sects Camp, the sects would be the first to receive this information. Therefore, he first headed to the sect in order to hear if there was any news. If nothing was out of the ordinary, then he would quickly convene at the Seven Sects Camp.

After flying for six days, he had uneventfully arrived at the Tai Yue Mountain Range.

Han Li didn't notify anyone. Instead, he first secretly returned to his own Immortal's cave first.

Once he entered the cave and closed off his formation from the outside, Han Li felt much more at ease. After all, he was in the safety of his own territory.

Han Li immediately rushed to the secret room containing his spirit well spring.

He found two fist-sized spiders floating in the spirit well spring, having already hatched from their eggs. Although they weren't large, one could tell that they were beyond ordinary from their sparkling and translucent bodies.

Upon seeing Han Li, the small spiders blurred, immediately shooting toward him. Han Li was surprised at first, but something immediately came to mind, and he didn't avoid them.

As a result, the two spiders steadily landed on Han Li's shoulders and mischievously crawled over Han Li's body.

Han Li faintly smiled. It seems the soul controlling restriction that used his blood essence had an effect. The two spiders already saw him as their parent and thus had shown such affection.

Delighted, Han Li picked up a spider off of his body and carefully observed it with curiosity.

Although spiders generally gave people feelings of great disgust and hate, this spider had a shining, pure-white body. It was extremely beautiful, giving people the notion of wanting to pet it in admiration.

But what surprised Han Li the most was that the small spider already had the Spiritual Qi of a fourth layer Qi Condensation cultivator. It was already a genuine low grade one demonic beast. It appeared it had great potential!

With regards to the white spider's ranking on the list, it was listed as the "Blood Jade Spider" at about rank one hundred. Although it was not as fearsome as the "Golden-Back Demon Mantis", it was a rare breed.

Han Li played around with the two small spiders for a moment before placing them inside a leather bag. Since he didn't know when he would be able to return, he naturally wanted to carry them with him so that he could properly train them.

Afterwards, Han Li went to his own bedroom and took out a small chest from underneath his bed.

The box contained storage pouches filled with all kinds of talismans. Han Li casually took two of them. Since he had nearly used all of the talismans on hand, he had to replenish them.

Having finished his affairs, Han Li left Crooked Soul in his Immortal's cave and confidently flew straight toward Yellow Maple Valley.

Perhaps it was because a majority of the people had already hurried off to the Seven Sects' Camp, Han Li only came across a few separated Qi Condensation disciples. He casually stopped one and made an inquiry about the circumstances of the valley. No news had arrived about misfortune falling upon the Seven Sects, much to Han Li's relief.

But since this had only come from a Qi Condensation disciple, Han Li couldn't let this matter drop. After a moment of consideration, he headed straight toward the Hundred Medicine Garden. As a mid Foundation Establishment cultivator, that small old man should have some reliable information.

A short moment later, Han Li had appeared above the Hundred Medicine Garden, but he was blocked by the white mist formation spell.

He had long returned its command medallion to the small old man and could no longer enter the Hundred Medicine Garden as he pleased.

Although Han Li had already witnessed the power of the Five Elements Reversal Formation, the small old man's simple illusion formation was still able to obstruct Han Li. Instead of entering by force, Han Li sent a sound transmission talisman instead; after speaking into it, it turned into a streak of fire, flying into the white mist.

Not long after, the white mist below him blew away, allowing him a path in.

When Han Li saw this, he chuckled and gently descended.

When he arrived at the center of the Hundred Medicine Garden, he found two people waiting for him.

"Senior Martial Brother Ma, it's been a while!" Han Li grinned at a small old man as he said this.

"Humph! Even without seeing each other, you still went and found trouble for me!" The small old man, the master of the Hundred Medicine Garden, didn't greet him with a smile and rolled his eyes instead.

"Hehe! Could it be that such an adorable disciple like Young Lady Xiao is not to your satisfaction?" Han Li continued to grin at him completely without concern.

With a slightly red face, the young woman saluted Han Li and greeted him with gratitude, "Xiao Cui'er pays her respects to Martial Uncle Han. Many thanks for Martial Uncle's great kindness!"

This young girl was the granddaughter of that Xiao grandparent-grandchild pair.

When the small old man heard this, he revealed an unsightly expression. But when he wanted to say something, Han Li quickly interrupted him. "Senior Martial Brother Ma, the reason why I came here is because I have a few important matters to discuss with you. It concerns something significant!" Han Li suddenly said with a solemn expression.

Having seen Han Li's solemn expression, the small old man wrinkled his brow. An instant later, he instructed Xiao Cui'er, "Guard the garden's entrance. I have a few matters to discuss with your Martial Uncle Han!"

"Yes, Master!" The young woman respectfully replied and silently walked to the garden's entrance.

Xiao Cui'er's obedient action was clearly to the small old man's satisfaction. He had even revealed a trace of a fond expression.

When Han Li saw this, he inwardly laughed. This Senior Martial Brother Ma said that he gave him trouble, but he was inwardly fond of Xiao Cui'er. Even so, he was still trying so hard to save face in spite of this!

The small old man brought Han Li into his guest room. After they both sat down, he insipidly asked, "Junior Martial Brother, shouldn't you be at the border camp? How do you still have time to come here for questions? Let's hear what's so important that you had to come here!"

Senior Martial Brother Ma wore an indifferent expression.

"… It's a long story!" Han Li sighed and bitterly smiled.

Because Han Li had been friends with the small old man for so many years, he knew that although the old man's words were caustic, he had a truly good character. Thus, he had told him about his encounter with the Controlling Spirit Sect cultivator. Naturally, Han Li glossed over the finer details of the fight and focused on the possibility that Spirit Beast Mountain was still working with the Devil Dao.

After hearing Han Li out, the small old man's expression became stiff.

A long while later, he eventually asked Han Li with a strange expression, "Junior Martial Brother Han! You exterminated the soul of a Core Formation cultivator? And Spirit Beast Mountain is still an agent of the Devil Dao?"

He was in complete disbelief as if he had listened to a tall tale.

Han Li's face became bitter in response.

It was no wonder why the old man was like this. No one could be convinced in such a short amount of time.

Han Li tensely wrinkled his brow and replied, "I don't know how reliable this information is. That's why I returned to the sect first to see if there was any news from the border camp. If nothing had happened, I would be able to go there with an easy heart." Han Li didn't conceal anything from the small old man, fully revealing his great desire to preserve his own life.

"There is nothing. We've only received requests to transport large quantities of spirit stones and other supplies. No negative news had arrived. It has all been very ordinary." The small old man said with a stern expression.

Han Li lightly sighed and stroked his nose, muttering, "It seems I was completely made a fool of by him! I want to curse that cultivator out to vent my gloominess. Or maybe I should be celebrating that nothing bad had happened to the main camp instead?"

Dāng. Dāng. Just as he finished speaking, the sound of a huge bell continuously tolled from the official hall.

The small old man and Han Li couldn't help but look at each other in dismay.

The bell tolls continued for the time it would take to finish a cup of tea before stopping.

The small old man had an extremely unsightly expression and took a deep breath. He spoke with a deep voice, "No less than eighty-one tolls. It seems your information is most likely true. The circumstances are far from great!"

"Let's go and see what happened. It might not have anything to do with my information." Han Li calmly said after a moment of silence.

"Humph! It'd be a miracle if it were not! If it's not a major defeat at the frontlines, what else would cause the Dragonwaking Bell to toll eighty-one times, representing a extermination level crisis of our sect?" The small old man bitterly smiled.

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